It’s been ages since the last time I have been fully satisfied by a boys-love anime story. I have watched given last year and it’s a whole lot different from a dramatic boys-love story while Banana Fish was also a personal favorite of mine but there’s a huge gap in its approach. That is why I am glad when I finally started watching Antidote (Jie Yao), it is one of bilibili’s Chinese anime lineup this 2020 which premiered last January. I am not expecting too much from it and nonchalantly watch it since I’d run-out of donghua to check last night and I am so happy that it didn’t disappoint at all.
I felt like the universe conspired for me to finally started watching Jie Yao since I’d been ignoring this donghua for the last 7 months. Now, with this fact, I seriously regretted that I’ve been sleeping on this one. Jie Yao or also known as Antidote is a boys-love donghua from bilibili’s 2020 lineup and was animated by Seven Stone Entertainment, the studio that gave us The Emperor’s Strategy, another awesome bl donghua in 2018. You might be thinking, what’s so special about this bl donghua? I dare say that the plot is pretty generic, however, the entire experience was amazing. I felt like all the scenes, the series of events, and the plot where drawn out from every single nerve cells in my brain. Yes, this is the type of boys-love story that I truly crave for, my cup of tea and I couldn’t be more happy and grateful for my experience of watching it.
I also enjoyed listening to Jie Yao’s opening theme song, it’s one of those donghua that I never skip the opening because it’s catchy and good to listen to. The animation quality was quite mediocre at best, at least better compared to some horrible 2D animation of any donghua out there. The visuals are pretty good though and the character designs are also acceptable. I really like how handsome are the two main characters are. There are some noticeable flaws in animation but I could always ignore that in exchange for good storytelling. One thing I really liked though is the foods in Jie Yao, oh damn, they’re all looking delicious and alive.
In this post, I would like to share my thoughts on Jie Yao as a donghua, as a boys-love story, and as something that I hold so dear. I’ll discuss lingering factors in its story, the interesting characters that made the experience even more convincing and fun, the unique bl cliche, and how wholesome Jie Yao was despite having some badass plot.
Jie Yao (Antidote) as a Boys Love Story
Jie Yao revolves around our two protagonists. The super rich-kid runaway Cheng Ke, and the bad-boy type gang leader Jiang YuDuo who actually had plenty of soft spots. Just like any other boys-love story out there, Cheng Ke and Jiang YuDuo started as opponents, who dislike each other at first meet. Nonetheless, Jiang YuDuo due to his rather helpful yet tsundere nature, soften his heart first to Cheng Ke.
Since Cheng Ke run away from home, he looked for a place to stay and ended up renting Lu Qian’s apartment and it’s Jiang YuDuo who is handling it as the landlord. What was supposed to be a landlord and tenant relationship between them became complex when Jiang YuDuo got mixed up with Cheng Ke’s conflict with his younger brother Cheng Yi. This complicated scenario was even intensified when Cheng Ke was harassed by Jiang YuDuo’s opposing group.
In line with this, Jiang YuDuo had to act like Cheng Ke’s bodyguard much to the latter’s chagrin. However, this is where they became connected, they slowly opened their heart to each other and became friends. What’s amazing is that, throughout the whole run of the donghua, the viewers can feel the chemistry between them and I can testify on that. I swear, every encounter between them whether they’re having some good times, friendly conversations, pissing each other, or even fighting, that chemistry gives off the feeling that Jie Yao sure is a boys-love story. We had interesting interactions between them until such time that Jiang YuDuo ended up staying at Cheng Ke’s apartment and believe it or not, in the eyes of bl fans like me, they look like some kind of couple staying under the same roof and it’s just romantic and casual as it gets.
“In times of trouble, I’ll be there, I’ll save you, and I’ll protect you,” this has been Jie Yao’s splendid boys love plot. If you think that Jiang YuDuo always saves Cheng Ke, such is not the case. I love that the story made Jiang YuDuo’s weakness’ clear as day, and it’s amazing how Cheng Ke is willing to offer a helping hand when things get rough for our gang leader. He is always there to offer moral support to YuDuo, especially when the latter is suffering from post-traumatic experience which makes him mentally ill. I’ll discuss this matter in the next section of this post.
As the story progress, we had witnessed Cheng Ke and Jiang YuDuo supporting each other even in their personal life. YuDuo pushed Cheng Ke to accept Xu Ding’s offer which gave way to him to pursue his desire as an artist. YuDuo also helps Cheng Ke resolves the issue with the latter’s family especially with his father. It’s also amazing how Cheng Ke supported YuDuo during the times that he undertook therapy. Cheng Ke also supported him in starting his new life when he’s out of the hospital and launched his own business later on. In the end, Jie Yao as a boys-love is a pure good vibes donghua with lovable characters that everybody will like.
One of the highlights of Jie Yao that I truly find cute is the Christmas and New Year’s episodes of the donghua. We had our two main characters spending the holiday with each other and it couldn’t be more romantic than that. I also love the scene where Cheng Ke painted Jiang Yuduo during his sand-painting exhibitions.
On Post-Traumatic Experience
As I have mentioned earlier Jiang YuDuo is suffering from a mental illness and it has been one of the key factors in the plot of the story. Due to his horrible childhood when he was tortured by his parents and gone through a severe traumatic experience as a child fighter in an underground arena. This horrible experience affected his life even as an adult. He ended up having hallucinations and became mentally ill that it affected even the people around him.
He ended up hurting Cheng Ke at one of the scenes where he had a mental breakdown. I love how Jie Yao was able to make good use of this scenario as an instrument to further deepen the connection between the two characters. Jiang YuDuo was quite aware of his situation, and Cheng Ke didn’t leave him no matter how dangerous it may seem for him to stay by his side. One of the key factors that hinder them was when Cheng Ke’s family find out about Jiang YuDuo’s mental state and forced him to return home and left YuDuo. However, Cheng Ke holds his ground and defended YuDuo from his younger brother’s accusation and even from his father.
It’s also amazing how Cheng Ke helps YuDuo overcome his fear of going to the hospital. Simply proving that Ke is a good influence to YuDuo as they both help each other grow as an individual whether they’re together or not.
Aside from Jiang YuDuo, there’s another character who’s mentally unstable in the story and that is Little Ant, YuDuo’s fellow captive child who also had a post-traumatic experience and it still affects him until his adulthood. He played the villainous role in the donghua, assaulting Jiang YuDuo in the final episode as he was still trapped with the memories of the past and still wanting to defeat YuDuo whom he never defeated before.
On Sibling’s Rivalry
One of the conflicts that make the story of Jie Yao goes on is the sibling’s rivalry with Cheng Ke and his younger brother Cheng Yi. This conflict had touched various factors in the story and affected both Cheng Ke and Jiang YuDuo.
I had to say this here but Cheng Yi is such a big loser and Cheng Ke is calm yet deadly and savage big brother. I love how lowkey Cheng Ke is and how he solved the issue with his younger brother as well as with his father later on. One thing we had proven from this sibling’s rivalry between the two brothers is that the younger brother was rotten through his core and got the punishment he deserved later on while Cheng Ke had used this as a stepping stone to find his self and stand on his own without relying on his family and eventually succeeding in following his desire and also getting the acknowledgment of his father on what he’s pursuing.
Jie Yao (Antidote) Characters & Development
Jie Yao as a donghua and a boys-love story develops rather naturally in a way that I don’t think it’s a slow burn but isn’t fast-paced too. The whole 13 episodes of Jie Yao just went on in a blink of an eye but I didn’t felt like it was rushed. Every episode was done well like there’s no time wasted in watching it as every scene really does matter.
If there’s one thing on which Jie Yao truly thrives as a donghua is in its characters profile. We only few characters in the story but they’re all put to good use and progress in the same pacing as the donghua. Now let me introduced you to the characters that you have to look forward and also be wary of Jie Yao.
Our rich-runaway kid. He wants to prove to his family that he can be successful too as an artist other than simply living behind the shadow of his father’s surname. I actually like Cheng Ke’s character on a personal level because he reminds me of myself at some point. As someone who’s gay, he’s the character that I could easily relate myself for various reasons. We’re both perfectionists, we’re both quite useless, we’re both aiming to prove something about our career to our family (and relatives and friends in my case). We’re both having issues with friends and acquaintances (on my end, I felt like I just couldn’t find anyone whom I can truly call a friend), and before Cheng Ke met with Jiang YuDuo he never felt to have real friends despite having some acquaintances.
Jiang YuDuo is our gang leader who’s suffering from mental illness but has a soft side and always offers his help to anyone in trouble. Despite his cold demeanor in the surface, I really like his soft side and how vulnerable he is. As a gay guy, I think I had a crush on him or maybe his character just embodies my preferences for men or any guy I would like to hang out with.
Other characters I liked from the donghua are Cheng Qing (Jiang YuDuo’s friend), Xu Ding (Cheng Ke’s close friend and business partner), Lu Qian (Yu Duo’s boss), and Yu Duo’s boys.
In the end, Jie Yao is just like any ordinary boys-love anime out there but was able to deliver a satisfying experience for its viewers. And if you’re wondering why it’s titled Antidote? Well, because Cheng Ke is Jiang YuDuo’s antidote and the same can be said too that YuDuo’s is Cheng Ke’s antidote on their respective struggles in life.
If you’re suffering from some kind of depression and looking for a good story of love, friendship, and more, I dare challenge you to watch Jie Yao (Antidote). So far, I have this donghua along with All Saints Street, Fog Hill of Five Elements, and White Cat Legend as my favorite Chinese anime of 2020.