The Rise of Taiwan’s “Boys’ Love” Genre (II)
By Miyako Chang ∥ Translated by Sarah-Jayne Carver
Nov 15, 2022

Read Previous Part: https://booksfromtaiwan.tw/latest_info.php?id=196


Since then, BL works have thrived in Taiwanese fandom communities and have slowly come to occupy a certain portion of the romantic fiction genre. Within commercial manga publishing however, it seems like the field might still be waiting for BL to be officially established as a genre in Taiwan, as female manga creator Nicky Lee (李崇萍) seems to be the only one who continues to include diverse, gay male characters in her works. That was until 2012, when Sharp Point Press published a collection of BL stories called Youthful Orientation: Be Your Lover (青春取向 ~ Be your Lover ~ ) which featured Cory Ko (柯宥希), Lin Min-hsüan (林珉萱), and Mi Ssu-lin (米絲琳) among others, and acted as a precursor to Taiwan officially starting to publish commercial BL comics. Elsewhere, Taipei-born American comic book artist Jo Chen (咎井淳) who was best known for her work on Speed Racer (DC Comics) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Dark Horse Comics), was also an early writer of BL fanfiction and in 2010 she decided to self-publish a BL manga series called In These Words (言之罪) in Taiwan. The Japanese edition was published by LIBRE, Japan’s leading BL manga publisher, which prompted a huge surge in American-style comics that swept across Japan.

In 2015, Mi Ssu-lin’s Heart-Stealing Playboy (偷心郎君) series became the first Taiwanese manga by a lone author to be officially marketed as BL. The Taiwanese publishing industry has produced a lot of outstanding BL titles since then, including The Monster of Memory (記憶的怪物) by MAE, American-Style Domination (明日戀人) by MORIKU (墨里可), and Tomorrow Lovers (明日戀人) by Wulin Syunji (五〇俊二). One by one, famous female manga artists have also tried their hand at creating BL works, or BL-style works, such as One Hundred Spring Nights (春夜百景)  compilation by Tong Li Comics, Yi-Huan’s (依歡) side story “Nighthawk Romance” (鳶夜艷) from her Princess Chef (馥桂吉祥) series. Elsewhere, Cory Ko returned to her story that was featured in Youthful Orientation: Be Your Lover and developed it into the Why Not (有何不可) series, while Nicky Lee (李崇萍) wrote an original BL story called Fever (熱病), and Kuang Hsia Chia (廣下嘉) wrote her masterpiece Strangers Bound by Fate (陌生人) which was the work she’d wanted to create in the first place.

Original Taiwanese BL works have been going through a dramatic developmental period since around 2020, with titles like My Influencer Boyfriend (我的網紅男友) by Gui (桂), Day Off by Dailygreens (每日青菜), and The Shimmering Summoner (微光的召喚師) by Gene becoming so popular that they were translated into Japanese. Boys’ Love has also demonstrated that it is more than capable of holding its own alongside other genres, with The Monster of Memory by MAE winning the prize for Best Comic for Teenage Girls at the Golden Comic Awards in 2017, and His Hair Scrunchy (他的髮圈) by TaaRO winning the Golden Manga Award across all categories in 2021.

Taiwan was the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage and has the most progressive gender awareness in the region, making it a great environment for creating Boys’ Love works. The open exchanges with Japanese BL and Western SLASH culture have also contributed to the unique styles and perspectives within Taiwanese BL, as can be seen in the Glittering Rainbow (彩虹燦爛之地) series developed by Halftone Press which portrays the diverse realities of same-sex marriage. The latest big hit for the genre is NU: Carnival (新世界狂歡), an 18+ role-playing game developed for mobile devices that has been wildly popular with BL fans all over the world and achieved astonishing success thanks to its bold storyline and distinctive characters. Who knows what kind of spectacular works we’ll see next, it could even be said that Taiwanese BL is experiencing a golden age of creativity.