The expansion of Korea’s popular manhwa content (a comic-stylized narrative, comparable to Japan’s manga) has led to endless opportunities for storytellers to go all out regardless of genre. For some, there comes the long-running nature of a narrative with more than 100 chapters, for others, a chance at a live-action crafted drama adaptation, or even more impressively, an opportunity to earn a worldwide audience.
With volumes available in digital and print (in various languages to date) the Lehzin manhwa series BJ Alex happens to be the next big LGBTQ+ title to leave an impression on us as well as countless readers – solidifying that it actually has the potential to become one of the most beloved BL stories of its time.
That being said, we’re officially diving into what makes BJ Alex a worthwhile manhwa that’s sure to pique your interest. But first, this particular story recommendation is strictly for our mature readers – so are you ready to learn what BJ Alex is all about?
Volumes: 1-9 (Complete)
Print Editions: Available from Harumio (English and Korean ver.)
Every night at 10, Dong-gyun locks himself up in his room, grabs a box of tissues, and watches a live cam boy show hosted by Alex, a BJ (broadcast jockey). Timid Dong-gyun admires not only Alex’s ripped body, but his candor in sharing his sexual experiences with viewers. One night, Dong-gyun downs too many drinks at a school networking event and passes out. When he wakes up, he’s in bed staring up at a shirtless hunk. A hunk who looks an awful lot like…Alex.
As an intricately detailed study on sexuality conducted via art (and even discernably modernized depictions of adult performers), BJ Alex introduces its own unique physical attributes or traits belonging to its central characters, without fully experiencing other romance-heavy manhwa’s recurring struggle to render more than one or two standard presentations (but make no mistake, fitness still appears to be key here).
In this fan-favorite title, each and every visual asset creates a detailed depiction of everything from a character’s changing hairstyles to a wide range of clothing or even any NSFW wardrobe choices because every component is hyper-focused on creating an accurate illustration of these characters’ personalities – complimenting the juxtaposition of the main duo’s differing comfort level for physicality. By artistically displaying each personal threshold for the two leads, the series’ visuals offer a much greater appreciation for an erotic aesthetic from brazen live streams to anxiety-inducing interpersonal relationships on the mend.
The importance of visualizing this particular brand of a steamy story also requires a versatile display of distinguishable emotions from its core characters, including joy, ecstasy, anxiety, and sensuality, building a more natural spectrum for readers to follow. Obviously, BJ Alex visually rises to the occasion and fulfills that artistic dependency, constructing visual assets for the story that in many ways, strengthens the tone of this passionate and unexpected chemistry.
As the series goes on (with the utmost consistency in appearance), the backdrop and atmospheric preferences feel very ingrained in readers, making the title’s locations and overall world easy to get invested in for its balance of soft details and daringly bold panels. All in all, the art for BJ Alex is a definitive win for those who are heavily influenced by the prospect of sensual manhwa optics.
As an edgier romance-centered story (with steamy relationships at the wheel) BJ Alex isn’t alone when it comes to facing the complicated depiction of same-sex pairings, which universally speaking, remains a topic that’s difficult to positively spotlight in mainstream media. As of now, there have already been bountiful selections of manga and manhwa series that tackle same-sex relationships between men – but where BJ Alex differs, is its choice to pivot between obvious conflicts and depicting people at starkly different places on their own journeys.
Some characters within this world are created to feel like pillars of confidence who know everything there is to know about themselves (within reason), and others feel like they are coming into their own as each solid chapter inevitably flies by. As these men come into contact with one another, (not just our primary pairing) various underlying forces are designed to shift and for some, change becomes imminent, therefore establishing every character is on the verge of personal breakthroughs. But of course, that means positives and negatives go hand in hand. Thankfully, the positive changes outweigh the negatives (like confronting the toxicity of bullying) when looking back at the overall character arcs presented in the manhwa.
With the title being dispersed into nine full volumes, the sheer breadth of the story really gives ample time to draw out individualistic qualities that feel unique to each face within BJ Alex, wasting no time to keep these quirky characters evolving – both as couples working on forging a relationship and individually speaking regardless of any changing partner dynamics. Obviously, as the leading characters, you can expect to see a lot of Alex and Dong-gyun at the forefront (that’s a clear NSFW understatement), but the series does such a spectacular job at understanding its own identity via world-building, that there’s no shortage of ballsy character deep-dives during this long run.
When others (like secondary pairings or comedic reliefs) are organically integrated into the narrative, they tend to provide new unexplored angles worthy of expanding on, and delicately adding to the complex relationship focus that keeps BJ Alex interesting – though its easily the push and pull from Alex and Dong-gyun that makes the title a great character-driven story underneath its (mostly unbuttoned) sensual demeanor.
Speaking of those crucial romantic components, there’s also the electric duo of Myung Dae and Oh Chanwoo, who together, create a starkly different relationship from the Alex and Dong-gyun repartee that the story is centered on. As opposed to Alex, Myung Dae is a much gentler, less assertive backbone in his own relationship (despite his similar broadcast jockey path), arguably making the most idealistic partner between the two men that everyone in this world desires. On the other hand, Chanwoo’s blunt delivery and overt sexuality with his relaxed partner Myung Dae stop him from being a carbon copy of his shy co-worker Dong-gyun, who like him, is drawn to a relationship with a publicized persona. By bringing these two supporting characters into the fold who are able to thrive in their own quirky love story – the series is given an essential spark that’s just as compelling and unique as its leading men. Well played!
Anytime you’re looking to explore a romantic title with mature themes, there’s a stereotypical preconceived notion that a lack of plot foundation will follow. However, BJ Alex takes its passionate vision and attempts to make it feel rooted in modern societal infrastructures (like social media duality) to advance its passionate story.
For example, as a realistic character who enjoys the notion of blending into a crowd or keeping to himself, Dong-gyun is an all-too-common modern personality type that isn’t naturally inclined to initiate anything. Like, ever. To the point that almost immediately, his bottled-up feelings and sexually frustrated inner thoughts reveal a suppressed fiery passion, manifesting in (what starts out as) an online obsession with a streamer that he’s confident is the man for him regardless of his romantic ideals, or several red flags on display. Basically, our lead here starts out as the epitome of a shy stan account who’s too fearful to put themselves out there with a fear of raw transparency. But just when you expect the title to regularly tease readers with that innate quality for its entire run – things quickly escalate and the recluse begins to live his “dream” which drastically (and oddly, organically) alters his patterns.
With every exchange of words, or even glances depending on the social setting, the constant rollercoaster pairing both have real feelings underneath their (mostly recurring) unsteady displays, making them both feel the need to thoroughly analyze one another’s actions. An occurrence primarily witnessed by the title’s consistent focus on Dong-gyun’s close watch over Alex’s attitude toward their physical relationship. Though for those who strive for positivity in their pairings, massive changes of compassion and kindness from the stoic Alex do successfully alter their communication enough to feel unpredictably reaffirming at every turn. Does this duo start out strong? Not at all. However, as you manage to stick through it, there are several promising signs of growth that you can’t help but feel proud of the top-tier romantic glow-up.
Overall, the title does additionally find great narrative success in its inclination to focus on the concept of embracing your own identity, with each character’s inner conflict taking a turn in the forefront on a chapter-to-chapter basis. Furthermore, (without fully diving into the conclusion) the outcome of the ambiguous romance is entirely dependent on both making changes that must be implemented in order to sustain something healthy and substantial for Alex and Dong-gyun as a unit. But if you’d like a hint… let’s just say that the wrap-up actually feels like the most perfect ending for a story with a lot of conflicts to overcome.
- Literally, any cutesy chibi-like transitional moment that plays into the title’s fun side. Often seen in Dong-gyun’s incessant awkwardness within the first 20 chapters (though, chapter 16 manages to hilariously utilize that asset in the end. iykyk.)
- Alex (Jiwon) going from majorly toxic to a (mostly) charming and protective partner. We stan a man who’s able to change and right his wrongs!
- A confession of one’s love for someone that felt long overdue.
- Myung Dae and Oh Chanwoo, who obviously weren’t the main focus of the story by any means, however, the pairing’s progressive and unconventional love story felt like a marvelous undercurrent that acts as a strong selling point for the BJ Alex manhwa.