Y Series, Boys' Love, or 'BL', was once a minor and lightly regarded type of Japanese manga catering mainly to female fans, delivering stories of handsome young guys falling in love with each other.
Now its popularity has spread beyond Japan to much of East Asia and beyond, while metamorphozing into a film, TV, and online genre with millions of fans. Just how big BL has become was evident in a Wednesday TIFFCOM seminar on the BL phenomenon in Thailand.
The Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) has entered the Japanese market with a Soft Power Diplomacy push. Ten Thai BL series producers have engaged in trade negotiations with over 200 Japanese importers, estimated to generate more than 150 million baht.
Mr. Pornvit Sila-on, Director-General of the Department of International Trade Promotion, stated that as a member of the committee and assistant secretary of the National Softpower Strategy Committee, the department is committed to increasing the export value of Thailand's soft power. They believe that Y Series or Boys' Love (BL) will not only impact the domestic film industry but also follow the global trend of gender diversity. It's one of the most popular and rapidly growing content in the international market, with the global audience increasing more than threefold.
It is expected that the Thai Y Series or BL group will have a total market value of over 1,000 million baht. The department has found that the countries most interested in purchasing this content are from Japan. They have organized additional activities to create real export value from Thailand's soft power. On October 24 - 25, 2023, at the TIFFCOM event, the Foreign Trade Promotion Office in Tokyo led 10 Thai Y Series producers to meet and negotiate with more than 38 Japanese importers, with an expected yield of over 150 million baht from Thailand's soft power.
TIFFCOM is considered the largest market for the purchase and sale of films and TV programs in Japan and Asia. Mr. Chanthaphan Panchamanon, Director of the Foreign Trade Promotion Office in Tokyo, stated that they have received contacts from many Japanese film and series importers looking for new Thai Y Series content. They also see the opportunity to expand the export value of this content in the Japanese market with activities like Fan Meets between Thai Y Series actors and Japanese fans.
The office has invited more than 50 key companies in the Japanese entertainment industry, including TV channels, video streaming platforms, and leading film importers, to meet with Thai series producers. The goal is to develop more than just content sales but also to create a broader impact on Soft Power.
The Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) plans to continue promoting Thailand's soft power on the global stage.