Japanese BL drama, My Beautiful Man (Utsukushii Kare – translating to ‘he’s beautiful’) Season 1 ran in Japan and on streaming channels in late 2021.
My Beautiful Man is essentially a tale with two sides of a one-sided love story. Hira, along with everyone else in the vicinity, falls victim to classmate Kiyoi’s stunning optics and cold-as-ice demeanour.
But Hira takes a positive approach – for a guy who apologizes every other sentence – he’s happy enough to be in Kiyoi’s atmosphere, no matter what crappy mission he’s given by his king.
The six 24-minute episodes are realistically rendered, reminding you of every moment you’ve ever felt awkward in front of someone you admire. Hira lives them all, perpetually under the microscope of the uber-cool Kiyoi.
Later, we find that in a way Kiyoi is nearly as fascinated by Hira as Hira is of him. He can’t imagine what’s in his head, teasing Hira to get a reaction. It’s a game to see how far he can push. With Hira, it’s pretty far.
Whereas Hira is exactly what it says on the box – and sees the world in just as straightforward a manner – Kiyoi speaks in riddles and half-truths, never fully revealing himself and annoyed when others can’t read between the lines.
The first three chapters take us through the guys’ final year in high school. Hira narrates his own story of being on the outside and feeling saved by the stunning Kiyoi – how he spent his last year in school star-gazing at his king. Kiyoi characteristically takes his own sweet time, not revealing his thoughts until the denouement.
Even when Kiyoi gains a little tarnish, Hira remains steadfastly dedicated. Kiyoi’s mixed message on their last day of school is received as ‘I’m done with you now’ – of course it is. Hira expects nothing else from his shining star.
The second half depicts Hira’s first year in university while Kiyoi begins his career as an actor, doing small stage plays and a TV ad. The two reconnect through Hira’s mate whose brother happens to be Kiyoi’s stage director.
Based on the 2014 light novel, Utsukushii Kare, production value is surprisingly high for the BL or ‘boys love’ romance. Popular for years in south-east Asia, the sub-genre is gaining ground internationally as series pop up on various streaming services.
Riku Hagiwara plays the stuttering class-gopher Hira, while Yusei Yagi is Kiyoi, the most beautiful person Hira has ever seen.
To date, Hagiwara has a slew of movies and dramas to his name, but for Yagi it appears to be his first role. As a first acting gig, he’s completely convincing as the collected high school heartthrob as well as the injured human wanting to feel loved.
There’s an intentional lack of chemistry between them to start, yet both actors bring it. Quick tip – if you’re digging this story, pay attention to Kiyoi’s face during the finger-sucking scene. Beautifully relatable, in a short span you understand each character completely. Without giving away the end of Season 1, there’s more to tell in Season 2 and given the show has already been renewed, it promises to be just as good as this one.
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Verdict - 9/10