Figuring out the Canon of BTS’s HwaYangYeongHwa

*This was cross-posted on my Tumblr and was done several months ago. I will be writing a follow-up with a full timeline for the HYYH series and Bangtan Universe!

I think almost everyone thought we were done with the HYYH era—I vaguely remember one of the members confirming this in an interview. When the WINGS era began, it was clear there were some links, but as explained by the members in interviews, WINGS was the story of the young boys who grew up and then met temptations. So it seemed that this was the post-HYYH era, but little did we know, there’s more to the story (apparently).

What sparked my interest in discussing canon was the release of the new Love Yourself posters and highlight reels (because the Chinese in the title is part of 起承转合, progression of  a story). At the time of writing this, only two reels have been released, but we can assume there will be four. And who knows what else after that.

This tweet hits the nail on the head, at least in my opinion. I’ve translated it below (it’s a little rough, but I think it’s correct…)  

“Because there is a BU logo on the back of the concept book and on the HYYH note, I went to look at the music video credits. The music videos that have BU attached are only “I Need U,” “Run,” and “Blood, Sweat, & Tears.” “Fire,” “Young Forever,” “Not Today,” and “Spring Day” don’t have it. I think that this BU is like MCU, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it means the world of the BTS main characters. So I think that the works that tell the story have this logo attached.  ‘BU content certified by BigHit Entertainment’: The videos where this sentence is in the description box are videos where the boys’ story is being told. And because the Love Yourself content that’s coming out now has this logo, the story is unfolding here. Like the short films and prologue video, the story-heavy videos have this logo. On the other hand, mix tapes and performance-heavy videos like “Dope,” “Fire,” “Not Today,” and choreography videos do not have this attached.”

Ah, that makes so much more sense now. We need to learn to separate songs, video story-telling, and what’s considered canon. I went through the videos and checked too. “I Need U,” “Run,” “Blood, Sweat, & Tears” and the Prologue video, WINGS Short Films, and the Love Yourself Highlight Reels all have the BU sentence. None of the other videos do. But what’s curious is that the Japanese versions of “I Need U,” “Run,” and “Blood, Sweat, & Tears” ALSO have this BU sentence in the description. So they should be considered part of this universe.

I expected that the sentence would appear on the Japanese version of BST after reading the HYYH note and that tweet. At first I didn’t think it was really part of the story, but rather a sort of re-representation of similar themes/story as its Korean counterpart, just like the Japanese versions of “I Need U” and “Run.” I really didn’t expect the logo to be on the Japanese versions of the latter two, because they don’t really add to the story. That’s really the only part that sort of confuses me, but I’m just taking it as they’re part of the universe because they are still related to the story of these same characters. Yes, these videos are choreography-based, which the Japanese version of BST is not. But they do show scenes that mimic the Korean videos, so the storyline is still present. Just ignore the choreo parts, because that’s not part of the story :)

I plan to work with ALL of the videos once everything is released from Love Yourself. Actually… I may work on it in the meantime and just update my explanations as we get more content, because the Love Yourself series is projected to last until the first part of 2018!!

So what about the videos that aren’t canon?

Of course, choreography videos and mixtapes have their own purposes. They’re for fun and artistic expression, so they have nothing to do with any of the series or the story. Anything prior to I Need U is not in the same “universe” (does the BU stand for Bangtan Universe? Who knows…).

Dope, Young Forever, Fire, Save Me, Spring Day, and Not Today aren’t canon. Dope was a B-side used for follow-up promotions. I think Dope was just for fun and follow-up promotions, which BTS doesn’t do the same way they used to. Fire and Spring Day are both the titles from repackages and supplements, so they are on theme with youth (even HYYH’s themes in general), but they are just that: supplements. They’re extra content that relates to the theme BTS wants to talk about. Young Forever also fits the overall theme. I think Not Today and Save Me were also just extra videos produced for fans—they communicate some similar messages, again showing a different side of the themes, but they’re also supplementary.

This is the most sense I can make of it for now! I do plan to try and analyze the entire timeline and story later.