What the title says! I welcome you to an idea that hit me at 3:30 am on a Sunday and I urgently opened my notes app. Not for an extremely long apology for something ignorant that would get me canceled, but to make a list of BL titles that I’m currently reading and a song that matches them.
The inspiration didn’t come to me out of the blue, though. One day before reading an important update to one of my current, beloved BLs, I wanted to put on some music that would suit the series. Without thinking much, I opened a song I felt like listening to, and only after coming back to life from the emotional turmoil the chapter put me through that I noticed, the song fitted the chapter like the glass slippers fit Cinderella. You’ll obviously find the series and the song on this list, but this lucky coincidence was what sparked that idea a week later at an ungodly hour.
Without stalling for long, let’s get the drums rolling and get to the recommendations list! Links in the titles will take you to the platform the webtoons are being released.
The Shape of Sympathy – Nodeok
Being an adult usually means doing things that you don’t genuinely want to. Even if doing said things might hurt you deeply, at times, you have to be there to smile for and support the people you care about. This is the tricky circumstance that brings Yuri and one of his high school teachers Seonwoo back together. Both have to congratulate and send off the bride and groom to their happy, new life, even though doing so might tear them emotionally apart inside.
This series… We’ve come a long way, huh? The Shape of Sympathy is currently at episode 90 and finally, we see crumbs of progress between the male leads. Not complaining though! I’ve read another BL from Nodeok, which is sort of a prequel to this one and I know reading their works requires patience, but it’s exceedingly rewarding. Nodeok‘s exceptional in introducing complicated, messy predicaments that seem like there’s no way out but masterfully solve them, taking time to carefully untangle each and every node. Without giving away too much, up until now, Yuri and Seonwoo have been in a situation where they have been, for the lack of a better word, ‘using’ each other and I thought, what could be a better choice than Stateless & Shara Worden’s I’m On Fire?
Whatever you’ve done, just bury it
And swim back down to the ocean bed
And find the secret place where we buried those bones
While we explore our shipwrecks with pockets full of stones
I don’t care where we’ve been tonight,
It is of no consequence, my dear,
Just stay here, my arms are wide, my love
And the rest of the world could disappear and I wouldn’t care
Now, I think the lyrics can only truly make sense if you’re reading The Shape of Sympathy, and I know the summary above does no justice to how amazing of a BL it is, so I hope this beautiful and somber song will do a better job of convincing you than I do.
Wet Sand – DOYAK
Photography is a passion of Jo’s. So when I say he was admiring the clear night sky and the good-looking stranger who just moved into the flat across the street ending up in one of his photographs was unintentional, you have to believe me. Jo’s thumb refuses to cooperate with his brain that night, though. When he makes eye contact with the beautiful stranger, his finger slides on the screen and he takes another photograph. Of course, there’s no way he didn’t hear the shutter sound, and Jo awkwardly running away after that doesn’t help his case either.
Wet Sand is DOYAK‘s debut work. I wouldn’t say I’m going crazy over it, but I do look forward to the updates every 10 days, and hopefully, it will live up to the hype and the amount of promotion done. One thing I’m hoping DOYAK will delve more into is Ian’s backstory as an immigrant, lower-class kid, the gang he was affiliated with won’t end up simply being a gang but will at least show us a glance at organized crime and its relation to racial minorities. It could be an interesting take because gangs in BL are either super tamed that they aren’t gangsters anymore, or their only function is to provide a basis for violence.
The song I chose for Wet Sand, however, will enhance something different. And that’s sexiness!! Not only the most recent chapters were literally HOT off the press, but I also find the main character Ian to have this irresistible charm to him that I can’t help but find myself drawn to. One reason might be that he’s in touch with his body and desires, knows what he wants in bed, the pleasure he seeks is not one-way but exchange, and that confidence is tantalizing. Props to DOYAK for being able to convey that so strongly on paper!
Beta Off Not Dating – Saena & Dujja
The world needs to give Juhyeok a break. Thrown into a world full of alphas, omegas, and their pheromones as beta, poor Juhyeok has had enough of their senseless, ridiculous lovers’ quarrels, all those inconvenient mishaps that arise from their heat cycles and whatnot. What he wants for himself is to make enough money to quit his job and go someplace abroad where the majority of people are betas. That means no dating, no falling in love, and no emotional attachments. He’s disgusted by what dating seems to entail, anyway. Hence the reason why he’s not thrilled one bit when he catches the eye of his charismatic alpha superior and the cute omega junior.
Guys, Beta Off Not Dating is my weekly happy pill on Fridays!! It’s super funny and tender, and I love unconventional pairings in Omegaverse stories (alpha x alpha or alpha x beta). The alpha x omega couple in the workplace that gives Juhyeok the hard time actually drives me mad too, and by placing a beta at the center who can’t sense pheromones or does not go through the hormonal cycles, the series provides a certain distance where everything about this dynamic is… indeed crazy. It’s also super cute that he doesn’t pick up on the relationship or flirting cues that come to alphas or betas naturally. I need everyone to invest in this pretty webtoon!!
The song I chose for Beta Off Not Dating is a recent favorite from Charlotte Day Wilson, Keep Moving because it reminded me of the precious alpha director Sihyeon who is an amazingly sweet and respectful flirt to Juhyeok. The opening lines of the song “The wind embraces you / In ways I wish I could” feels like something that would 100% come out of his lips. Plus, the album this song appears in is called ALPHA, do you really think this is a coincidence?? I do want them to end up together, though! So hopefully, there’s no moving on in the webtoon.
Between the Stars – Sri
Byeol is devastated to hear his brother Hyesung has been in an accident. They only have each other to rely on, which also means they aren’t extremely well-off in financial terms, so it’s quite shocking to see Hyesung getting treatment in a very expensive private room and an incomprehensible amount of money in his bank account. He hears another student in his year, Woon, is the cause of this accident, but meeting him for a face-off (because how dare he hurt his precious brother!) unearths a side of that same precious brother Byeol had no idea about.
Remember I said when I was reviewing Sasaki and Miyano that whenever I go “UGHH enough with high school BL, give! me! adults!!” a new high school BL pops up like a meerkat and sweeps me off my feet? Yeah… I’m just so, SO smitten with this series, it’s no joke you guys. That adolescent fumbling with having feelings for a friend without relying on denial or forced misunderstandings, the way Byeol and Woon support each other when their personal struggles get too much for them alone to handle. It’s all too much for my heart! Just a very pleasant story about two teens trying to navigate through their youth and being good friends and a little bit of gay for each other. Sounds dull, I know, but the execution is *chef’s kiss*.
I was torn between RM‘s Closer and Nulbarich‘s Kiss Me but ended up picking the latter. It’s revealed early in the story that Byeol’s parents have passed away in a car crash where Byeol was present in the car, and ever since he isn’t able to ride buses or cars. It’s okay if he never gets over the fear, but I’d probably cry if I were to see his hair tossing in the wind, face warm in the setting sun and him comfortably sitting in the passenger’s seat next to Woon where Kiss Me plays in the background and they are traveling somewhere together. That kind of cinematic cliché gets to me, you know.
Define the Relationship – Flona & Chada
Karlyle is an alpha born into nobility and both his sex life and future partner-to-be are strictly controlled and picked by his grandfather because he has taken on the responsibility of continuing the family lineage instead of his younger brother. He doesn’t feel anything odd himself, but his partner has to report back about his “performance” in bed. That’s how his not finishing in bed becomes a conversation topic and Karlyle’s family doctor comes to suggest that he sleep with another alpha. Thus, curtains rise and enter Ash Jones with a contractual beneficial relationship, and a bouquet of roses at hand.
I don’t know which is sadder: ending season 2 on an extremely important and climatic point or having to wait for season 3 for God knows how long… As you may have guessed, we have finally reached the series that inspired me to write this post. I don’t think words are enough to describe how invested I am in the story and how badly I have it for Karlyle. He’s the most precious, fluffiest, babiest boy alive and if something were to happen to him I wouldn’t take it sitting down. Characters like him who are naive in the inexperienced sense but smart and attuned to their own emotions even though they may not voice them out due to reasons are just so lovable and precious to me, I want to bite my tablet whenever I see his kissable face. Ugh.
The gentle air of Dry Wood by Entertainment for the Braindead coupled with its beautiful lyrics perfectly encapsulates Define the Relationship as a series. It’s about two people who are more or less emotionally detached for different reasons that come together under terms but the more emotional work they put into this contractual relationship, the more they affect and end up healing each other. However, taking the recent developments into account and the realization Ash is going through, the lines “Should change my old habits / Put on my new shoes / And walk towards / And not away from you” seem ever so fitting!
This is the outcome when I have no one to take my keyboard away from me! Almost 2k words for an idea that seemed simple enough to write, although I had so much fun putting it together. Too bad I remembered that I actually wrote a post for music recommendations for manga before and the idea wasn’t even original but hey. Thanks a lot for reading till the end and hope you’ve managed to find a series or a piece of music that may be to your liking. I always welcome new recommendations so if there’s a song that you think fits your favorite series or a series I mentioned above, please let me know! See you tomorrow ~
Header panel taken from SCRAMBLUES by mame march.
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