Chinese BL novels have gained immense popularity in recent years, captivating readers with their rich storytelling and diverse themes. Among the remarkable titles is “SAYE,” penned by talented Chinese author Wu Zhe.
With a total of 145 chapters and 5 extras, this novel transcends conventional genres, delving into romance, a slice of life, school life, mature themes, and psychological exploration. However, what truly sets “SAYE” apart is its unflinching exploration of deeper issues such as family drama, bullying, terminal illness, suicide, forced coming-out stories, PTSD, domestic violence, and child abuse. Such complex themes have made “SAYE” a captivating, albeit emotional, roller-coaster for avid BL fans.
What SAYE is all about?
“SAYE” unfolds the poignant story of Jiang Cheng, an ambitious city boy with dreams of soaring high academically. However, his world shatters when he discovers the dark secrets of his own family, leaving him abandoned by his foster family and thrust into the unfamiliar world of a steel mill gang. Drowning in depression and a sense of entrapment, Jiang Cheng yearns for escape until a serendipitous encounter introduces him to Gu Fei and his little sister Gu Miao. Thus, begins their tale of freedom, redemption, and love, as they embark on a journey together, chasing the light amidst the shadows.
Jiang Cheng is a captivating character, a handsome and intelligent young man with a bold personality. However, beneath his confident facade, he grapples with anger issues and a tendency to cry and whine, reflecting his complex emotional struggles.
On the other hand, Gu Fei is the doting elder brother, seemingly tough with a thug-like appearance but possessing a heart that knows how to comfort and care for those he loves. His relationship with Jiang Cheng serves as the emotional core of the novel, drawing readers into their world of hope and healing.
Adaptations and Expanded Universe
“SAYE” has enjoyed an extensive expansion into various forms of media, a testament to its engrossing narrative and wide appeal. In 2021, it was adapted into a Chinese manhua (comic) featuring a story by Zuo Er Cong Yue and artwork by Xi Yao, with Wu Zhe credited for the original story. The manhua brought the characters to life through beautiful illustrations, garnering a loyal fanbase.
The story’s auditory magic was captured in the audio drama “SET IT ALL FREE,” which spanned an impressive four seasons, further immersing fans in the emotional journey of the characters.
As for the live-action adaptation, titled “Chasing the Light” or “Left Shoulder Has You,” Fang Cheng Cheng portrayed Jiang Cheng with great depth, while Wang An Yu took on the role of Gu Fei, effectively capturing the essence of their complex relationship. Directed by Niu Chao and Cheng Xiao Ze, the drama aired for 24 episodes on Tencent Video, drawing immense attention from both BL enthusiasts and the wider audience.
The Awaited Anime Adaptation
The most thrilling development for “SAYE” fans was the announcement at Tencent’s annual conference in 2021 that the novel would be adapted into an anime, titled “Warm Sun,” produced by Colored-Pencil Animation. However, since the initial announcement, no further updates have been disclosed, leaving fans both anxious and excited about the upcoming donghua adaptation.
Anticipations and Hopes
As the anticipation for the anime adaptation grows, fans eagerly await to see the vibrancy of Jiang Cheng and Gu Fei’s relationship brought to life on screen. The novel’s emotional depth and exploration of sensitive topics pose a unique challenge for the anime’s creative team, who must strike a delicate balance to maintain the story’s essence while adhering to the constraints of the animation medium.
“SAYE” by Wu Zhe stands as a testament to the power of storytelling, weaving a tale of love, redemption, and hope amidst life’s darkest moments. Touching on a wide range of genres and delving into thought-provoking themes, the novel has captured the hearts of countless readers, spurring adaptations across multiple media formats. With the upcoming “Warm Sun” anime adaptation, the legacy of “SAYE” is set to reach new heights, drawing fans deeper into the intricate world of Jiang Cheng and Gu Fei. As the journey from novel to anime unfolds, one can only hope that the essence of “SAYE” remains intact, allowing viewers to experience the heart-rending yet beautiful narrative that has enraptured audiences worldwide.