Junjou Romantica Season 1 Establishes Conflicted Couples (Review)

Anime: Junjou Romatica (Season 1 Blu-Ray)

Released By: Right Stuf / Nozomi Entertainment

Release Date: July 11, 2017

Retail Price: $54.99

Anime series often cover a variety of relationships with no boundaries, (heterosexual, homosexual, young, old, etc) but the anime series Junjou Romantica manages to cover a few topics: age gap relationships and same-sex dating. The series is technically a Yaoi genre series which means it’s primarily an anime that in essence focuses specifically on gay men (also famously known for garnering a serious female fan-following.) Junjou Romantica is a prime example of one of these anime with a dedicated following, earning itself the rare third season benchmark after years of being one of the most discussed and widely known Yaoi titles.

Junjou Romantica (created by Shungiku Nakamura) begins with the story of three “couples” that the series focuses in on for it’s entirety, all representing different relationships in a spectrum of personality types and relationship viewpoints. The primary couple focused on in the first season (and in general) is comprised of Misaki Takahashi and Akihiko Usami. When we meet Misaki, he’s in preparation for college, very eclectic and in need of some help. His brother enlists the mind of Usami to tutor Misaki and a connection between the pair begins to blossom – but not your traditional relationship most definitely. With nearly a 10 year age gap, Usami begins to show an interest in Misaki (who is unsure of his feelings initially) and before you know it, Misaki and Usami are navigating through their peculiar relationship while trying to deal with their own baggage.

Misaki’s past is faintly explored in the first season, informing us that at the age of eight, he had lost both of his parents in an accident and only had the family tie of his brother, who he respects tremendously. Dealing with the guilt of his parents death (he had felt responsible because of rushing them home) he witnessed his brother decline his dream school to raise his younger brother – making Misaki want to prove himself as some useful (cleaning, cooking, etc.) As a young adult, Misaki decided he wanted to attend the school his brother was supposed to, but with the help of his brother’s friend Usami, a complication arises that could cause conflict with the three despite the brother not being majorly present in the series. Usami (a famous author for BL) is questioned when his feelings for Misaki’s brother are brought up, even through the medium of his work. That begins another major aspect of Junjou Romantica’s plot – is Misaki just the second best to Usami because of his family ties?

Though Junjou Romatica is the title given to Usami and Misaki, there are two other pairings that make up the series and offer a more stable dynamic to some capacity. There is the first, being Nowaki and Hiroki are called Junjou Egoist. Hiroki is a professor in his late 20’s who tends to be blunt, and a little on the tsundere side. Opposite him is Nowaki, mid 20’s who grew up in an orphanage and is probably the most genuine, kindhearted and cumulatively the best character the series has to offer. He has instances where he feels insecure about Hiroki’s relationships with others, which adds to a crossover with Usami – whom Hiroki once had a feelings for. Despite the tension and vast differences in personalities, this pairing is one to watch for as the most real life-like couples that face struggles that can surface in two very different individuals.

Lastly, the third pairing the first season introduces us to is known as Junjou Terrorist, made up of a young man named Shinobu and a much older (actually nearly double his age) Miyagi. When Miyagi divorced his wife (Shinobu’s sister) Shinobu was certain it was the time to act on feelings he had felt for his former brother in law for several years. First of all – major betrayal to a sibling, just saying. He is positive that they are meant to be together although Miyagi doesn’t have that same reaction. With Shinobu going above and beyond to prove his love, Miyagi begins to open up to the chance of something between them – creating another complex relationship that the series offers up for its viewers.

Junjou Romatica gives gay men a chance to be at the front of a story in anime (not often done) but a major part of that is for the fan-service sexuality attributes that the usual audience hopes for. There are some deeper themes that include insecurities, morality and if love truly does conquer, making Junjou a series that dabbles in expanding a Yaoi’s expectation – as best seen in the less adult based series Sekaiichi Hatsukoi. The animation and voice acting are taken seriously, meeting the expectations set by fans and now being a Blu-Ray, Right Stuf and Nozomi Entertainment have given the series a new visual peak for all die-hard fans and those who might just want to give Junjou Romantica a chance. Check out the series on DVD and Blu-Ray from Right Stuf!

Overall Score: 7/10

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

– All for a Nowaki centered spin-off series.

– I like the formula of depicting multiple couples in different episode installments to space out the storytelling.

– The more “adult” parts to Junjou are my biggest gripe, as one of the rare few who are in it for the storyline.

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