I decided at about mid way last month that all the reviews I posted this pride month on Yaoi Playground would only be titles with good LGBTQ+ representation and when I finally finished reading BJ Alex a few weeks ago by the end I came to an amazing conclusion. This is a hardcore boys love title that shows a very realistic romance between its leads as well as realistic social commentary of the ‘gay experience’ in the modern age. This alone takes this from an amazing title to a modern masterpiece in my opinion when it comes to boys love. Though sex comes quickly in this story and it is the hot scenes that will draw you in, it is the growing romance and character development throughout the series that will keep you coming back for more.
The opening chapters of this manhwa almost feel like a cautionary tale of never meeting your idols, because reality can never live up to the fantasy we have in our head, and in a way this theme continues throughout the entire series. Reality can be harsh and cruel and so can love. First love can be even more complicated when we are still learning about ourselves and who we are and this is certainly true for Nam Dong-Gyun. When it comes to sex he is very naïve at the beginning of the story, but also quietly curious. What starts as an arrangement with his idol BJ Alex as just ‘sex friends’ with the term friend used very loosely soon snowballs emotionally for him when he comes to realize he wants more than just sex and that he has broken the one rule he was given when the arrangement started, don’t fall in love.
BJ Alex, Ahn Jiwon and even the person Ahn is out in public could not be more different from each other, even though they are all the same person, just different masks worn by him. One is the online streamer personality loved by millions of fans for his raunchy livestreams and has a loving attitude towards sex and his own sexual conquest. Ahn Jiwon on the other hand seems perfect to those around him, with his gentle smile and helpful attitude to those around him; but like the mask that BJ Alex wears during his livestreams Jiwon hides the real him behind his smiling mask of perfection. Hidden underneath is a cold angry man who keeps everyone around him at a comfortable distance. As the story continues Ahn Jiwon is the character that gets the most development throughout the story. Through learning about his past, we learn why he keeps people at a distance, why he hates love and why the visage of perfection he hides behind could be doing him more harm than good.
It is the last quarter of the manhwa however that the story goes from amazing to brilliant and there will be spoilers from this point onwards. So if what you have read so far makes you want to go read this manhwa over on Lezhin then please stop here and read the manhwa because I will be spoiling a huge plotline in the later half of the story.