Who Rules The World ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘I can hide anything from the world. Yet I couldn’t hide anything from you.’

When it comes to Cdramas the use of CGI can go either way, but as expected of a series featuring Yang Yang and Rosy Zhao, the CGI and overall visual landscape of the whole series is of such a high quality that the audience feels fully emersed in this fantasy world.

The scenes featuring the martial arts were beautifully done with both Rosy Zhao, who played Bai Feng Xi, and Yang Yang, who played Hei Feng Xi, moving with grace and expertise in the fight sequences.

The writers did not obtain the rights to the original material ‘Qie Shi Tian Xia’ (且试天下) by Qing Ling Yue (倾泠月), so there are changes to the plot but the story remains enchanting for the series’ entirety. There are no unnecessary filler episodes or unreasonable plot developments to draw out the story, everything has its time and is resolved in a satisfactory manner.

It is nice to see more costume dramas featuring a unwavering love story that is only affected by events they face together. Both Bai Feng Xi and Hei Feng Xi understand eachother in ways no else can comprehend which means they never suffer due to a misunderstanding. Even in the early episodes where Bai Feng Xi is not sure of Hei Feng Xi’s true intentions she is forthright about her opinions but also quick to apologise if those assumptions were incorrect.

They strive to bring peace and harmony to the world even if they are not the ones who rule it but perhaps that makes them the most important kind of ruler? ‘Who Rules The World’ is a enthralling fourty episodes featuring an unwavering love story, elaborate power struggles and dynamic fight sequences. If you want a Wuxia series that concludes with a peaceful and bittersweet resolution then this series should be in your MUST WATCHLIST.

Synopsis:
Hei Feng Xi is handsome and elegant while Bai Feng Xi is majestic and unrestrained. Opposites attract as both are unrivaled in skill and intellect. Caught in the warfare and chaos of the martial arts and political worlds, the flowers of love begin to bloom amidst the blood that has been sacrificed within the last ten years.

They join hands, seeking justice, in a world of ever growing uncertainty. Will their love bring peace to a chaotic time and who will ultimately rule the world?

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

GENRE: Romance. Wuxia. Costume. Martial Arts.

Where can I watch this? WeTV. Netflix.

Ocean Likes Me ⭐⭐⭐

After his success in ‘Where Your Eyes Linger’ it was exciting to see Han Gi Chan cast in a new series. As a character Han Ba Da is far more reserved than his previous role and yet the series managed to be present a pure love story and not a journey of sexuality. Holland is also an openly gay singer so having him play the role of Tommy feels like a positive step in South Korea’s LGBTQ+ representation within the television industry.

Holland’s acting sadly lacked experience but Gi Chan seemed to be able to pick up some of the slack. At times the actor Gi Chan really did not look well but I hope that is to do with how he has chosen to capture his character rather than his personal health… Whatever is the case, Gi Chan managed to truely inhabit the role of Ba Da, who slowly had his heart warmed and brought out into the winter sun by Tommy.

The abundance of tenderness between Ba Da and Tommy really made this series shine. It is unusual for a Korean BL to feature much time where the couple is together but this became a sweet journey of healing. Tommy and Ba Da supoorted eachother to realise their dreams without any immature relationship drama.

The script was very minimal and the cinematography also stuck with generic shot types and compositions but ‘Ocean Likes Me’ still managed to be an enjoyable series. Hopefully more Korean stars will have the courage to follow in Holland’s footsteps and, in return, the South Korean public will learn to truely accept the LGBTQ+ community.

Synopsis:
Han Ba Da, is a chef who decides to open an udon restaurant overlooking the ocean. When choosing the best location for his new restaurant an accident results in him meeting Tommy, a musician who returns to his hometown after wandering and has a new dream. Together, both of them step towards their dreams and, with time, eachother.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

GENRE: Romance. LGBTQ+. BL.

Where can I watch this?
VIKI

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Love class ⭐⭐⭐

‘If we keep running away from fear, we miss the best things in life.’

The first five episodes of ‘Love Class’ explored the romantic journey of Ji Woo and Ro A as they are brought together by a class assignment. As a result, from episode one the audience is given countless sweet scenes but there are also some serious moments within the plot. The negative sides of social media and how there is frequently cases of negative othering for same sex relations are important issues for discussion this series only does so briefly. It would have been good for this topic to be explored further but ‘Love Class’ balances the serious shortcomings of society as well as the developing feelings of first love.

Ji Woo, played by Han Hyeon Jun and Ro A, played by Kim Tae Hwan,made a good pairing but they lacked the chemistry of some of the other recent Korean BL couples. If you were to compare this series to ‘Semantic Error’ or ‘Light On Me’ it does not shine so brightly. Ro A’s sudden choice to step away from Ji Woo after his steady pursuit felt like something uncharacteristic for his character. He is always protective of Ji Woo, but it was surprising for him to abruptly be concerned about how his sexuality would impact Ji Woo’s life. There are some scenes that build up to the decision but I do not belive it added much to the series. Ji Woo and Ro A could have spent time as a couple while learning how to cope with the sometimes negative attention from outsiders. It would be great to see an uplifting Korean BL that also comments on differing social perceptions of same sex couples within South Korea.

‘Love Class’ is a six episode bite that is not to be ignored but it is also not a series that has any chance of competing with the brilliance of ‘Blueming’ and ‘Semantic Error’. Hopefully, with time, Korea will continue to release more LGBTQ+ material that encourages its citizens to embrace that community….

Synopsis:
Ji Woo is a university student who belives he will forever live on the sidelines but things begin to change when he is paired with senior Ro A in a class that explores the psychology of dating. The same sex pairing may be due to class numbers but as they spend time together will feelings begin to develop?

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

GENRE: Romance. Teen. LGBTQ+. BL.

Our Days ⭐⭐⭐

‘Our Days’ is a simple exploration of youth that features love and friendship but also the unpredictabilities of life.

The first few episodes had a great pace, with the friend interactions adding a lighthearted and heartfelt note to each episode. The core group of chaotic friends did not have an abundance of lines but the dialogues’ pacing and conviction felt like a realistic representation of friends interacting. For the majority of the series Mon and So’s relationship was positive, with their slow development of feelings having a youthful purity but the writing took a slight deviation towards the end.

Although the audience is made to understand So’s behaviour there is a part of me that felt he was forgiven too quickly. The use of moving abroad to create drama also feels cliché and it lacked explanation. Often the script makes So sound like he is dying rather than moving away and Saint was done an injustice as a second lead character. However, the rest of the series was enjoyable and the clichés can be let go of on account of the cast’s proficient job bringing the scenes to life.

In many ways, despite lacking an original plot, ‘Our Days’ is a very well put together series. The warm yellow sepia tone to many of the shots with a mellow colour pallet and stark or high key lighting, created a selection of visually dynamic shots. Furthermore, aside from the cinematography, the soundtrack was cleverly paired with the changes in editing pace which succeeded in boosting the comical elements of the series.

Mhing, who played So, and Gap, who played Mon, may feel stilted during the moments of intimacy but they managed to claw back any loses in their other scenes. The same goes for the rest of the cast, although inexperienced, they all managed to bring the story to life in a convincing manner.

It will never be in the league of series like ‘Bad Buddy’ but if you enjoyed ‘You’re My Sky’ then ‘Our Days’ has a very similar feel to it. Aside from love and sport, this series shows the importance of reflecting on your shortcomings while having the courage to step outside your comfort zone. So pushes Moh to be honest with his feelings but also learns that sometimes good intentions can be misinformed. One should learn to let others come to their own decisions rather than making the choices we believe to be in their best interest. Perhaps, if like So and Moh, we learn these things, we would not need so much courage to love?

Synopsis:
Coming from rural Thailand, Mon moves to Bangkok to start university. On his first day in the big city, he meets So, a local musician, who shows him around. During a drunk night, So kisses Mon. Mon, confused, leaves. However, Mon quickly finds out So is also a freshman in his same faculty! Will So be able to move the seemingly unflappable and pessimistic Mon?

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

GENRE: Romance. Teen. LGBTQ+. BL.

Where can I watch this? Gagaoolala. Dramacool.

Gen Y (Season 2) ⭐⭐⭐

For the first few episodes we are shown a glimmer of hope that the writers have learnt from their mistakes in the first season but sadly it seems that they have fallen back into the messy trap from the halfway mark.

The cast all does a great job in their roles. With Kim, who played Mark, and Copter, who played Kit, you can see how far they have come as actors. Despite the questionable direction the writers decided to take, their interactions have lost the initial awkwardness they once had, with both parties settling into character. Kit and Mark show that love is not all about intimacy but understanding, maturity and trusting in your mutual devotion. Although we get lots of moments of the couple together they each have their own lives and we are shown the sweet moments of domestic interactions inbetween their busy schedules.

As for the other pairings, each couple have their own merits with a scattering of scenes that helped the audience forget the ludicrous plot. When watching cast members such as Bank, who played Pok, and Bonus, who played Tong, do so well with a poor hand, it makes me thankful that they have already been cast again as a couple in another series.

‘Gen Y’ is honestly so frustrating to watch because the big budget and perfect collection of pairings is not enough to hide the major downfalls of the script writing. The production flaunted the large budget with costumes and lavish locations but failed to back it up with the writing it deserved.

It’s very rare that I wish for a series to be shorter but in the case of ‘Gen Y’ it may have prevented the random dramatic events that were thrown in with the intention of keeping the plot interesting. Sometimes simplicity is far better and if this series had continued on with the tone of the first few episodes it may have avoided the catastrophe. I can only hope that with the promise many of the cast members have shown with their ability to make the most of a poor situation, their future will be brighter and a selection of better scripts with be brought to life.

Synopsis:
Continuing on from season one, the stories of this collection of students is far from over. Will Kit and Mark stay together when Kit is offered a scholarship abroad and will Wayu choose his forever? Secrets are exposed that cause strife for Tong and Pok but as everyone finds their definition of love, they come to learn things about themselves. Will love and life continue on?

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

GENRE: Romance. Teen. LGBTQ+. BL.

Where can I watch this? YouTube.

Sasaki and Miyano ⭐⭐⭐

‘Sasaki and Miyano’ is a sweet animated series exploring the young love between Miyano and his school senior, Sasaki.

It was a nice twist to have the ML obsessed with Boy Love Manga without it pertaining to him being a homosexual. His feelings for Sasaki are carefully considered and amongst the youthful crush moments there are some careful ponderings on their blossoming affections.

Sasaki is a refreshly soft love interest who is honest with his feelings and not afraid to express them. It is this boldness that gives Miyano the support he needs in order to true to himself and what makes him happy. I do think it could have been even better with its representation of an LGBTQ+ relationship but it did a good job at explaining terminology and what it can mean to be a ‘fudanshi’.

The animators have often used shape language to convey the characters internal feelings without the need to constantly have character monologues. Triangles and circles often appear in the background design or around the characters with the connotations of various feelings. This style does take a while to get used to but it remains in keeping with the youthful tone of the series.

‘Sasaki and Miyano’ has a very simple plot that focuses almost entirely on the interactions of Sasaki and Miyano. Rather than an elaborate exploration of sexuality, this series is a joyus first love that touches on important issues without weighing down the audience with emotional stress. Despite Miyano struggling to digest sweet things, when paired with Sasaki their interactions run the risk of giving those around them, toothache.

Synopsis:
Miyano spends his days peacefully reading Boys’ Love comics until a chance encounter with his senior Sasaki. Intrigued by his feisty junior, Miyano, delinquent Sasaki uses every opportunity he can to get closer…

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

GENRE: Romance. Teen. LGBTQ+. BL.

Where can I watch this?
Funimation

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Cutie Pie ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘I love you in every way. Every version of you.’For those who read ‘Cutie Pie’ the excitement to see this story brought to life was extramental and it is everything we hoped for and more.

It’s unusual for a relationship to be established from the first episode but the writers have managed to make each of the twelve episodes mean something for the characters development. ‘Cutie Pie’ explores what really makes a successful relationship and the importance of being true to yourself while underpinning important moments with social commentary on the inequality that remains in society.

From episode one the cast have made sure that they have ensnared every emotion in each word and truely succeed in inhabitanting their characters. In the scenes of intimacy the chemistry sizzles off the screen while managing to maintain an air of tenderness.

The intimacy scenes are beautifully done. Aside from the incredible pairing of Zee Pruk, who plays Hia Lian, and New Chawarin, who plays Kuea, the side couples also managed to command the audiences attention whenever they were present. This is not a series where the side couples feel shallow or undeveloped, we are given delectable bites of all the pairings while remaining satisfied with the abundance of scenes featuring the main couples interactions.

Although every member of the cast was exceptional, it would not be right to praise this series without commenting on the exceptional new actor New. Being paired with Zee is honestly ingenious and New really succeeds in encapsulating the character of Kuea. Aside from his incredible singing voice, New manages to show the juxtaposition between Kuea’s true self and the side he belives Hia will accept, as well as the moments when the two sides blend into one.

Hia loves and understands Kuea in ways that Kuea struggles to comprehend but as they work through their problems they both gain the faith to no longer hide their flaws. Marriage may be a beautiful expression of love but it also requires both parties to have the courage to lay themselves bare. It is Hia’s paitence that leads to Kuea settling into the person he wants to be and truely accepting their love.

The last two episodes do diverge from the novel slightly but every change has been made with the intention of improving the content and I think it has been successful. Bam Bam’s novel is an adorable journey of love and ‘Cutie Pie’ manages to keep that tone while adding a depth that is absent from the original material. Hopefully with series like this, the LGBTQ+ representation within Thailand will continue to improve so couples like Kuea and Hia finally have the rights to make an eternal vow that bares legal weight.

Synopsis:
The sons of two companies have been betrothed since they were children but, when Kuea Keerati grows tired of pretending to be the perfect fiancé he belives he is expected to be, he calls off the engagement. However, his fiancé, Hia Lian, does not plan on ever letting him go.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

GENRE: Romance. LGBTQ+. BL. Marriage.

Where can I watch this? YouTube.

Secret Crush On You ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘In the same way you believe 1+1=2, I also want you to believe that my feelings for you will never change’

Even if you have read the book, when watching the first few episodes you would not expect this series to become one of the best most expansive Thai TV representations of the LGBTQ+ community.

Every pairing explores different insecurities and hurdles while maintaining a lighthearted and hopeful tone. It has to be acknowledged that Toh’s imagination is honestly in a league of its own and the writers have chosen to thrive in making the audience feel second hand embarrassment but amongst all those moments are important observations.

Like the book the stalking element is kind of romantisied and made slightly more creepy but it is not portrayed as right. The friend group do tell Toh its wrong and help him relinquish his method of keeping momentos. That being said, he never expects anything from Nuea and the explanations behind each action do bring the audience to understand. The quirky quartet of Som, Daisy, Jao and Toh are all insecure for different reason so their awkward and choaitic journey to self acceptance becomes beguilingly, empowering.

Issues surrounding low self-esteem, body shaming and societal judgment of a trans individual is explored. Unlike many other series that tend to straightwash and mock or villianise the more expressive members of the LGBTQ+ community, ‘Secret Crush On You’ criticises the injustices they face and show that members of the LGBTQ+ community, such as effeminate gays and those who identify as Trans, have the same rights to love. ‘Secret Crush On You’ does not straightwash, but rather celebrate people for who they are.

Faulty characters are the protagonists and they are shown to reform without promoting this notion that one needs to change themselves to be accepted. There is no such thing as perfect, love is about seeing the flaws in an individual and loving them more for it. Toh never has a ‘makeover’ to be in Nuea’s life and Nuea always takes the time to assure Toh of his affections.

Each character has to overcome a personal insecurity but, just like Toh and Nuea, through positive relationships featuring honestly and communication, the characters come to love themselves. The series concludes with a collection of healthy relationships littered with positive reinforcement and open affection.

It will take a few episodes to draw people in but the second hand embarrassment is worth suffering through. ‘Secret Crush On You’ is a series that makes characters who would typically be marginalised, shine and is not afraid to make the audience shy. Don’t hide on the sidelines, have the courage to be yourself and explore the love you have admired from afar.

Synopsis:
Toh, Jao, Daisy and Som are a group of friends who suffer from insecurities that mean they only have the courage to admire their crushes from afar.

But one day Toh finds himself provided with a dreamlike opportunity that brings him to cross paths with Neua, his secret crush. In the head-spinning chaos, Toh needs to decide if he will keep his love a secret or have the courage to pursue the crush he belived to be unobtainable.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

GENRE: Romance. LGBTQ+. BL. Comedy.

Where can I watch this? YouTube.

Soundtrack #1 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Of course from Park Hyung Shik and Han So Hee, it was without any doubt that ‘Soundtrack #1’ was going to be good but these four episodes are honestly enchanting.

At just four episodes the audience is left wishing that it was longer but there are no loose ends; the plot is well rounded in every aspect. Although short, every minute is used wisely and the series feels like a tantalising bite of perfection.

It is great to see Hyung Shik and So Hee accepting such diverse roles and thriving in them. As Han Sun Woo and Seo Eun Soo they have a cosmic synergy. The all-consuming and yet selfless love that this pair of lifelong friends share, is something so purely beautiful it almost does not feel tangible. The fairytale romance paired with ethereal cast visuals and dreamy visual imagery makes ‘Soundtrack #1’ beguiling from episode one.

After years of what they believed to be unrequited love there is a shift of realisation that perhaps it is worth the risk. Sun Woo’s devotion to Eun Soo’s happiness even if it means he has to endure seeing her with others, felt like a plausible situation of two lifelong friends who are afraid to lose each other. Eun Soo never denies how special Sun Woo is to her, but rather the depth of feeling she has for him. The fact that they would rather both put aside their aspirations of love, to guarantee they remain in eachothers lives, is what makes this love story so emotive.

‘Soundtrack #1’ is a love story of two creative who express their hidden feelings through their chosen medium. Sun Woo through his viewfinder, and Eun Soo through her lyrics. As they both finally face how they feel, they fall easily into a relationship. After a nineteen years as best friends their relationship is not without its grey clouds but the light of a resolution quickly shines through. If you enjoy stories that explores a pair going from friends to lovers, then ‘Soundtrack #1’ should be in your MUST WATCHLIST.

Synopsis:
Two best friends who’ve known each other for nearly twenty years move in together for their relationship to begin straddling the line between friendship and romance.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

GENRE: Romance.

Where can I watch this? Disney.

The Sound of Magic ⭐⭐⭐

Within minutes of the first episode we are given an impressive musical number, an emotive main character and enchanting visual effects.

Lee Eul is not a character you would expect Ji Chang Wook to play and yet he really brought life to this mysterious individual. The audience is made to question themselves and their beliefs alongside the characters. The jumps between the hardships of life and the moments when the audience is taken on a bewitching journey of magic, made the whole series feel like a magicians deception.

Yoon Ah Yi, played by Choi Sung Eun, and Na Il Deung, played by Hwang In Yeop, were both characters who were unhappy with their respective lives for different reasons. Typically it would be a romance that would awaken them to the realities of life, but it is their experiences with Lee Eul that lead them down a new path. In many ways ‘The Sound Of Magic’ bears similarities with ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, Lee Eul is the mystical Willy Wonka who makes you question what is real and what we wish to be true.

‘The Sound Of Magic’ is not the lighthearted watch many will assume it to be but rather a musical journey of life with a sprinkle of possible, impossibilities. Although the visual affects that create the ‘magic’ are brilliant it is not the magic that holds the importance. Lee Eul gives Ah Yi and Il Deung a spark of hope in the gloom which enlightens them to have the courage to belive in themselves as well as having the courage to belive in others. No matter your age or definititon of magic, everyone should give themselves the chance to manifest a future that brings happiness. As Lee Eul says: ‘You should do whatever it is you want to do just as much as the things you don’t want to do.’

Synopsis:
A magician living in an abandoned theme park makes troubles disappear for a disenchanted teenager enduring harsh realities.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

GENRE: Life. Fantasy. Musical.

Where can I watch this?
Netflix

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