Thailand BL Content Seeking Japan Partnerships



Boys’ Love, or ‘BL’ as it is also known, was once a minor and lightly regarded type of Japanese manga catering mainly to female fans, delivering stories of handsome young guys falling in love with each other.

Now its popularity has spread beyond Japan to much of East Asia and beyond, while metamorphozing into a film, TV and online genre with millions of fans. Just how big BL has become was evident in a Wednesday TIFFCOM seminar on the BL phenomenon in Thailand: Beyond Borders: Exploring the Global Appeal and Diversity of Thailand’s Boys’ Love Contents.

The eleven speakers, including an official from the Office of Commercial Affairs, Royal Thai Embassy in Japan, vigorously pitched partnerships with Japanese content companies, which seemed to be a classic case of selling ice to Alaska’s indigenous inhabitants.

Members of the packed seminar room might beg to differ, however. From the presentations of the speakers, including copious video clips of happy same-sex couples cavorting and chastely kissing, the Thai take on the genre looked distinctly different from the darker, more conflicted depictions of gay relationships often seen on Japanese screens, reflecting perhaps a more relaxed cultural attitude toward non-binary people, including Thailand’s famed ladyboys.

At the same time, some companies, such as GMMTV with the Japanese gay-themed hit comedy “Ossan’s Love,” are adapting foreign content for local audiences.

Although some series titles – “Friends With Benefits,” “My Secret Love” – may have seemed suggestive, the aim is typically to rack up big audience numbers with stories of pure-hearted romance, not cater to consumers of adult content. Also, several of the companies pitching at the seminar, such as Star Hunter Entertainment with five series, including one dedicated to Girls’ Love (still a relatively minor genre), were plumping for BL not as a niche product but rather a core element of their corporate strategy.

Also, while trumpeting the vertical integration of his company, from talent representation to contents distribution, Halo Productions representative Tewarat Supunnium said, “We put our heart and soul into crafting a good story because we believe that a good story makes us empathize with other human beings and that is the noblest thing we can do.”


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