About Youth is the latest Boys Love (BL) series from Taiwanese director Tsai Mi Chieh. Mi Chieh previously helmed HIStory2: Crossing the Line, and HIStory3: Make Our Days Count, among others. This time, she cast young, rookie talents to play the leads.
Ye Guang (Li Zhen Hao) is an elite high school student and popular campus idol. Xu Qi Zhang (Jyun Shen) is a guitar prince. He normally has a weak sense of existence but is transformed on the stage. The two boys have different backgrounds and values.
On the second lead BL characters, here’s their storyline:
Ray (Xu Shui Ting) appears arrogant but has a fragile heart. He accidentally found out that he was being cheated on by his boyfriend. Fortunately, Ah Jian (Andy Huang), came to help when the two boys started to argue. Ah Jian tries to comfort Ray. They don’t want to be just good friends and start seeing each other.
I’m biased towards school-themed BL because the boys are sweet and the acting is raw and tentative. But when the casting is done properly, there are gems to discover. In the case of Our Youth, the lead young actors have done quite well. The last episode aired on 19 Sept. 2022.
Episodes 1-2 serve as an introduction:
- It’s the typical case of a ‘boy meets boy‘ separated by social status – Xu Qi Zhang (Jyun Shen) is poor and relatively unknown at school but is part of a boyband doing gigs at night. Rich kid Ye Guang (Li Zhen Hao) is lonely, a classic case of having jet-setting parents;
- Cross-dressing Ray (Xu Shui Ting) falls for a jerk but gets some much-needed attention from Ah Jian (Andy Huang). The second BL lead looks promising
Episodes 3-4 move the story forward, especially the interaction of Couple 1 Jyun Shen and Li Zhen Hao. Dual episodes contain plenty of sweet, romantic moments.
Episodes 5-6 offer romance, conflict, parental intrusion, and relationship advances, especially between the second lead couple! It warns of impending ‘finis’ for this delightful mini-series. Lead actor Li Zhen Hao is in the spotlight – with his growing discontent at home. Also, there is a deepening relationship with Xu Qi Zhang (Jyun Shen). He did an angsty performance that is effective as it is relatable.
I’m enjoying the focus on the second leads as well – with their mild conflict still unresolved. The kissing was hot – maybe a bit awkward. But Ah Jian (Andy Huang) reciprocates Ray’s advances, then suddenly leaves Ray (Xu Shui Ting) feeling dejected and angry. You can’t get Ray back so easily!
The final two episodes satisfy my BL curiosity about this hyped BL youth drama from Taiwan. The rookie actors did quite well – especially Li Zhen Hao – with his take on youthful rebellion and angst. Jyun Shen’s single Mom added a layer of emotional stability. In comparison with Li Zhen Hao’s highly-strung parents. My only complaint – is the overbearing Dad who acts too conscious for my taste.
Adding drama, moods, and color to the whole series is the soundtrack – definitely worth listening to as a singular undertaking!
Photos – left: Ray (Xu Shui Ting) with his partner Ah Jian (Andy Huang) being romantic, while Ye Guang (Li Zhen Hao) and Xu Qi Zhang (Jyun Shen) initiate their first kiss (both reel and real) | Photo Credit KoKo Entertainment
- Couple 2: Ray (Xu Shui Ting) and Ah Jian (Andy Huang) got the screen time they deserved and went all-out for an amazing performance. After their initial fight about kissing and ‘readiness’, they made peace and establish what could be a romantic relationship in the long term;
- Couple 1: Ye Guang (Li Zhen Hao) and Xu Qi Zhang (Jyun Shen) level up their relationship with an awkward yet totally convincing kiss at the end. I thought the awkwardness added to the authenticity of the scene – making it real and believable.
Li Zhen Hao is the star of the show. His dramatic scenes were convincing. The confrontation with the parents, his emotional video confession, and his ongoing relationship with Qi Zhang was excellent. Mind you, Hao is only in his early twenties!
About Youth on Social Media
We have rookie actors playing all four main roles. Jyun Shen and Xu Shui Ting are both 19 years old. Huang and Li Zhen Hao are barely in their twenties. Series director Tsai Mi Chieh comes from a family of filmmakers. She has directed previously successful BL series including HIStory2: Crossing the Line, and HIStory3: Make Our Days Count, among others.
You can watch About Youth [for free] here.
A separate article on About Youth and its themes can be browsed here.
An old-timer BL fan way back in 2007. I started out loving BL after watching the Takumi-kun series from Japan, went on collecting BL manga, and watched old BL anime such as Junjou Romantica and the likes. Love of Siam allow me to transition into Thai, while Amphetamine gave me glimpses of Taiwanese BL magic. I love to write reviews and I’m one of the administrators of Psycho Weird.