For fans of anime and its Japanese print source of manga, they might already be well-verse in a particular genre of romantic stories involving boys (and just). In Japanese media it is called Yaoi. As the genre spread in the mainstream, especially in Asia, it took up a new label for familiarity: Boys Love or BL. Even in the Philippines, Filipinos are aware of and have even become fans of the BL genre with the introduction of such themed series from abroad like Thailand’s “2gether: The Series.” But Pinoy creative minds are not far behind especially looking at the hot new online series entitled “Gameboys.”
This is a production of The IdeaFirst Company, from which came some gay-themed film festival contenders such as “Die Beautiful” (2016) and “The Panti Sisters” (2019) which caught plenty of attention with audiences. The “Gameboys” online series, first announced last May, premiered on the 22nd of that month and, with six episodes already released of a planned ten, has already captured the imagination and fandom of Philippine viewers who are already enamored with BL as well as starved for entertainment in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Interestingly, the plot of “Gameboys” is remarkably topical.
Why? Because the story takes place in the middle of the COVID pandemic itself, and the circumstances of the young male main characters that are affected by the ensuing community quarantine lockdowns echo the challenges of making the series to begin with. Online gamer and live-streamer Cairo “Caimazing” Lazaro whiles away his necessary home confinement by playing online games, only to be shocked when he is beaten during a session by an “Angel2000,” a noob whom he has never heard of anywhere before. He is upset and calls Angel2000 out to compete, only to be floored further when the unknown gamer reveals himself as Gavreel Alarcon, a big Caimazing fan who is also interested in Cairo himself; very, very interested.
It is amazing to learn that the “Gameboys” series was conceptualized by The IdeaFirst Company as an exercise to keep the production studio busy during quarantine, as well as lift their spirits in the face of COVID-19. That dread pandemic was in the minds of the production team as they shot the scenes entirely online for health safety. But even with the necessary minimalism the end product looks well put-together. Two major reasons are the stars themselves, the titular game-boys.
At first glance Elijah Canlas (Cairo) and Kokoy De Santos (Gavreel) of 2015 indie film “Fuccbois” fame, are not quite like the pretty boys of other BL fare like Thai heartthrobs Bright and Win from “2gether: The Series” or even those of Japanese Yaoi. Still, they are easy on the eyes in that distinctive Pinoy way that they have endeared themselves to those who have watched them from day one. Furthermore, their splendid acting chops have sold their respective characters’ rivalry-turned-romantic overtones extremely well. Without a doubt, the high online praise for “Gameboys” is well-deserved.
“Gameboys” streams on the official YouTube channel of The IdeaFirst Company, with new episodes premiering every Friday. The series has already garnered almost 150,000 subscribers and over 5 million views collectively for the IdeaFirst channel.
Image courtesy of Starmometer