The Bangtan Universe, also knows as the BTS Universe, is a story line inspired by the members of the band BTS. Through their music videos, short films, books, and a comic, the story of seven friends learning to overcome their traumas and tragedies has been perfectly tucked away for the most devote fans to explore. I happened on the BU on accident and would have loved a guide on how to explore this story, so I am making one for all future BU beginners.
This is a spoiler-free guide because I want it to be an introduction to people on how to learn the story themselves. There are plenty of recaps out there and even an entire site dedicated to this universe if that is what you’re looking for.
First and Foremost
The Bangtan Universe story is fiction and has no connection to the BTS members’ real lives. The characters are fictional and played by the band and have the names of the members. But nothing that happens in the BU actually happened to BTS.
Why does that matter? Well the BU is pretty dark and heartbreaking as it explores tragedy and trauma in various ways. Every character is suffering in some way, so it is important to know that the actual people playing their namesake characters are not actually suffering.
How To Follow the BU Story
I believe there are two ways to learn about and follow the story line of the BU: the release order method and the informational method.
Release Order Method
As the name suggests, you go through the BU based on the release order of the various media. The BTS Fandom Wiki has this all listed out so you can go through each piece in the right order.
While this is the way many fans had to consume the story, it is not the most direct or clear way. It is like following breadcrumbs where each breadcrumb is a small bit of story that leaves fans open to theorizing and trying to figure out what is happening. Subsequent breadcrumbs may or may not be chronological. It is overall more complicated to go this route, but if you are one who enjoys the challenge of figuring things out or you are a traditionalist who wants to follow it in the order it was created, than go with the release order method.
This method focuses on giving you as much story as available first and treats some of the content (like the music video pieces and short films) like Easter eggs and details.
You will start with the Save Me web comic, which gives you the most vital setup to what this crazy story will be. Following the comic you will want to read The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: The Notes 1 as it sort of picks up where you leave off with the comic. The Notes 1 will make a lot more sense having read Save Me first so definitely don’t change this order.
From here, you will know most of the story and the timeline of events thus far. The biggest perk of doing the Informational Method is you will have a timeline understanding right away. Now you can go back and watch the music videos and short films that are part of the BU and see all the pieces connect together. You can also explore the Graphic Lyrics books at this point, and spot the story unfold with connections to the songs associated.
The downside of this method is you don’t get to play along, theorize, and try and solve the mystery yourself. But if you are someone who doesn’t want to necessarily figure it out yourself and want to be taken on the journey by someone else’s lead, this method is the better one for you.
You’re Caught Up, Now What?
As of publishing this post, the story is not over. There are some unanswered questions for most of the characters and we were left on a cliffhanger. So expect more to happen in the BU.
Big Hit has already announced The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: The Notes 2 which presumably continues where we left off at the end of the first book. Some notes were released alongside the MAP OF THE SOUL: PERSONA and MAP OF THE SOUL: 7 which will likely be included in the second book. A video game about the BU was also announced as well as a K-Drama. If I had to theorize, I would assume that the game and K-Drama are just retelling the story in a new way and we won’t necessarily learn anything new from them.
I do intend on updating this guide as we get more of the story, the announced items release, and if any new announcements happen.
UPDATE (9/24/2020): Added how the Graphics Lyrics books can be read in relation to the whole story.
UPDATE (5/21/2021): The video game referenced is the mobilr game BU Story which, for the most part, is just retelling the story we know already.
The Notes 2 is indeed a continuation from where The Notes 1 ended, and contains a lot of story you can’t see anywhere else yet. So it is a vital addition to be fully caught up.