Born Sexy Tomorrow, as far as I know is the only piece of media in general I know of that owes its existence specifically to a Video Essay–in this case Pop Culture Detective’s “Born Sexy Yesterday.” In the context of the other (stunning) works of writer-artist team Michi and Archia, otherwise known as VVBG (Very Very Bad Girls), I find it an interesting reversal of the usual dynamic in their stories in a fun way. The story is told from the perspective of the flashy protagonist Blaze Galaxy, who, despite being the older party, is an eternally youthful irresponsible man-child who has to deal with when super-cyborg/android Jason imprints on him. While Jason also has character development, the story focuses mostly on the character of Blaze and how the presence and responsibility of Jason in his life forces him to reevaluate his life, open his heart, and become less of a shithead as they go on amazing adventures through a very beautifully worldbuilt and populated sci-fi universe.
While the original video essay was specifically critical of the use of the trope, especially as it related to gendered dynamics, the webcomic is interesting in my opinion in how it shows Blaze’s relationship to Jason. In the other works in VVBG’s BL repertoire, the older, dominant romantic figure is usually in the position of a mysterious, alluring pillar of steady support and guidance for their younger, more delicate and inexperienced partners. Their first work, The God in the Field, a loose gay adaption of the myth of Persephone and Hades, is the most clear example of this, as Hades plays an intimidating, but ultimately caring and protective lover to the young Persephone, who is frightened at first but assured and comforted by the gentle power of the elder god. This classic dynamic is repeated, in various different and fresh ways in their newer series, from fun crime comedy to dark fantasy romance to horror-drama. The dominant party is authoritative and protective, providing support, and the younger partner, through their relationship, learns more about himself and his own desires and is emboldened through their relationship.
Blaze is, for all intents and purposes, pretty pathetic at embodying that. Unlike the dignified supportive figure types described above, we see him abandon his adoring exes and lovers, cause justified resentment, and because of this he doesn’t believe himself capable of giving Jason the protection and safety that he feels Jason deserves. Jason calling Blaze “father” when he first awakens, assuming him to be his creator, is an interesting kind of foreshadowing especially given that later we see Blaze is someone who has impregnated and abandoned probably a whole bunch of illegitimate children, and who in the very first episode, when a guard pleads for his life saying he has a “brood” to take care of, glibly says “You should be thanking me” before gunning him down. With this background, it makes sense that Blaze gets creeped out and immediately forbids Jason from calling him any sort of paternal title. Not necessarily just because of any sexual confusion issues, but because Jason’s offer of unconditional love is something frightening and disturbing to Blaze, and he spends the first part of the story trying to awkwardly be a guidance figure to Jason and failing spectacularly, so much that at one point he gives up and tries to “do the right thing” by abandoning Jason in the hands of an actual responsible family, and trying to return to the way his life was before, dealing with his feeling of insecurity by trying to force himself play the role of protector and hero, to failure and disastrous effect.
But in the end of the first season at least, it’s okay–in a fun reversal of the beginning sequence (literal reversal, where they switch the outfits they originally wore in the beginning) Jason is the one who takes the initiative to pursue and take care of Blaze. Jason is devoted, with plenty of love to give to someone who maybe doesn’t quite deserve it, but he is not a mindless drone, and he decides how he wants to complete his mission as well. At this point in their relationship, while Blaze does own up to a sense of greater responsibility, he also isn’t really trying so hard to be an ill-fitting “father” figure anymore to Jason, and Jason is no longer trying to be a submissive baby-like figure as well–they’re now both trying to survive their wacky adventures together as a team, and learning more about who they are along the way. It’s a beautiful ending and one where we finally get to see the heroes be on some sort of the same page as they nyoom off into the distance in their spaceship.
Not everyone of course finds any sort of fictional age-gap romance between any genders attractive, and if that, and the fatherly overtones are not your cup of tea then the comic is definitely not for you. That being said, I greatly enjoyed Born Sexy Tomorrow because of its straightforward cheesiness and self-awareness of the trope it is referring back to. The power dynamic between the main pair is ridiculously exaggerated, but the imbalance is both played with in both lighthearted and dramatic ways due to Blaze’s buffoonery and Jason’s cleverness that, while there is action and peril, there is not much feeling of threat or ill intent between the two themselves aside from the usual emotional turmoil. Michi and Archia say in their second Q&A how, due to gaining inspiration from the original video essay, they were interested in the appeal of the trope as a kind of fantasy, but while also finding other ways to flip and play with gender dynamics, not just for Blaze and Jason themselves, but with the side characters as well. For me personally, as someone who dislikes the gendered assumptions of the original trope as well as the kind of gaze that goes along with it (aka women…must always be innocent and delicate and pristine and worthy of protection even if they are magical action goddesses or whatever blah blah), it was neat to see a take on the trope that reveled in the ridiculous fantasy appeal of it while also honestly approaching its main couple as actual interesting characters who both change and grow closer in a process that feels fun and organic, regardless of the tropes used along the way.
Some other things I enjoyed about BST, in no particular order:
- Hot Alien and Space designs, but specifically Alien women with variety! At this point in time I hate to have to compare anything to the mess that was Voltron: Legendary Defender, but one thing I enjoyed and still enjoy about that series was the fun space cartoon aesthetic and alien designs that didn’t have ridiculous sexual dimorphism, and BST definitely delivered on that front–it has a definite classic retro feel, but sleek in a way that feels very up to date as well.
- Overall as I mentioned earlier, the world of the story feels very interesting and well-thought out in ways I really appreciated– there’s a good deal of suspension of disbelief and silliness involved of course, but it’s a very lived in kind of universe, and while the story itself is fairly self contained, the Q&A section from the creators offer lots of fun insight into the world and characters.
- The dialogue is snappy and it’s a great balance of humorous and serious. There’s the usual action and peril and emotional ups and downs as to be expected from a scifi-action/romance story, but it doesn’t let itself get too dark or sinister, which is fun and overall gives it to me a fairly cozy feel.
- Of course and this goes without saying, but the art is gorgeous and fits the style of the story very well. I’d watch a cartoon of this if it was available, the designs and structure of the story feel like they would lend to that in a fun way.
Anyway, for those interested, Born Sexy Tomorrow is available to read on Tapas exclusively. It is is a paid series with 7 free episodes, but in my opinion is very much worth the price–its paid for by Tapas’ ink system (similar to Webtoon’s coin system), and if I recall correctly, definitely costs less than $10 USD for a season of 32 episodes of very high quality content.
I will be transparent and say that as both someone who has published before on Tapas as well as a reader, I personally find it rather clunky to navigate and it is not my favorite comics platform despite having a lot of my favorite creators on it. But I’m always happy to try and support the creators as well, and am happy for the folks who I know do it for a living. I started BST last year while commuting back and forth to school and work wanting something lighthearted and silly to read, and it’s a story that’s surprisingly stuck with me since then–I attribute this to the simplicity and fun of it. While I enjoy a lot of VVBG’s other more dramatic and darker/edgier works, BST just really made me smile. I can’t wait for the next season, whenever they are able to release it, and hope in the meantime others can find and enjoy this series as well.
(I call this section BL minute since I thought I should write more about the series I read and my thoughts, since while I do enjoy a lot of media with gay themes and context I feel like I don’t seek out specifically BL genre series as much as others I know… So when I get interested in specific series I tend to think about it a lot. But this took hours to write and edit down after like a year of mulling so…smh)