What They Say:
Three very different couples caught up in a storm of pure romance!
Romantica: Misaki is struggling to prepare for his college entrance exams, so his brother arranges for a private tutor. But Misaki’s nightmare is just beginning when his tutor, Usami, comes on to him! How will Misaki ever manage to pass his exam? And why does he feel so mysteriously drawn to Usami?
Egoist: Just when Kamijou’s life is at its lowest, he has a chance meeting with a man who never lets anything hold him back: Nowaki. His name means “typhoon,” and he’s about to take Kamijou on a whirlwind ride that will turn everything upside-down.
Terrorist: Miyagi always seems to shrug off the cares of the world with a joke and a smile, but even he has problems, although he doesn’t let them show. Foremost is Shinobu, a relentless young man who’s adamant that they’re destined to be together.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only in stereo in uncompressed form. With this primarily being a dialogue driven show outside of some music cues here and there and the opening and closing sequences, this isn’t a show that stretches itself all that much – even in this particular form. A lot of the dialogue is basically center channel based but it’s a solid and clean track with a good presentation that fits the material well. The heightened moments of dialogue don’t go over the top thankfully and everything is clean and clear. While it’s definitely great to have it in this form as we get the mix as intended it’s not one that’s going to stand out much..
Originally airing in 2009, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The series is split across two discs with six episodes on each giving it a good bit of space to work with. The show has a very nice look to it with a lot of bold colors throughout and a very clean look to it, something that we’ve noted in the multiple times we’ve seen it on DVD. Like a lot of shows of this nature, it isn’t exactly high on active animation that moves a lot as it tends to focus on the characters talking and the like. The character animation is good though and it comes across very well here with a solid feel that comes across with better color definition and solidity this time around in high definition. There’s a softer palette at work here but the brightness feels like it’s up a little bit and that helps all of it to feel a bit more vibrant and engaging..
The packaging presentation for this release gives us a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs snugly against the interior walls. The cover is framed with lots of cute elements to make it light and flowery while pinks and grins mix within the overall border. The front of the case has a really nice image of Misaki and Akihiko together as Masaki tries to push some sweets into the mix that just look delectable. I do like the cursive logo for the series as it adds a little bit of extra charm to it. The back paper cover uses the same framing while the white space is filled up with some nice artwork of Hiroki and Nowaki together, though Hiroki is trying to push him away a bit. It’s also got the nice full set of stuffed animals here which is very cute. A lot of the cover is given over to text which breaks down the three relationships before delving into the lengthy features list. The technical grid is laid out clearly along the bottom in a small and tight but legible form that makes it easy to see what the release is about.
The extras for this release are kept to the second disc where we get the clean opening and closing sequence and the trailer made for the US release.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first season of Junjo Romantica was a fair bit of fun as introduced us to three different couples over the course of its twelve episode run, though the dominant relationship was that of Misaki and Usami. While the other relationships are important, it never felt like they really connected all that well at times or that they were meant to be the main on. There are passions among them, but it didn’t have the kind of intensity that we saw from Misaki and Usami. With this set, it’s much the same as the focus feels stronger on that pairing than the others, and it also introduces a number of supporting characters that interact with them from Usami’s family, which gives that storyline more prominence as well.
That storyline has its ups and downs to be sure as the two men have very different approaches to how a relationship works. The usual back and forth of the first season is still very much here as Usami is very possessive of him, so much so that he hates other people looking at him at times because Misaki is his above all else. For Misaki, he really dislikes this feeling, but there’s something to their relationship that makes it acceptable. Though he can’t formulate it into words, Misaki likes being the one that’s put in a cage since it lets him push back against it, which has him going against Usami each and every time. It’s a back and forth that provides for conflict, but it also brings them closer together with the passion it generates. There’s seemingly always subtext between the two of them with everything they do and it seems like it almost always ends with Usami taking what he wants from Misaki.
This relationship also draws some on Usami’s family side as his brother causes problems that help to illustrate some of Usami’s upbringing. We learn about how he used to play a lot with a child across the way, but he also spent a lot of time in a small room by himself where he’d write. When Misaki gets drawn into the household, seemingly as a captive no less, he ends up learning a bit about Usami in this way but it’s not the kind of writing he expected since he thought there would be journals there. The more we learn about Usami’s life, the more apparent it is why he got out of there as quickly as he could and insists that he wants nothing to do with it or any inheritances or other monies involved. Unfortunately, he can get out only so far based on how things work with the legalities and the like, but he does his best. Of course, family draws him back in regularly and uses Misaki to manipulate him.
The other relationships have their moments as they’re brought into play, occasionally touching lightly on the other ones, but largely I keep finding that all three relationships deal with the same issues in a way and it’s frustrating. All of the couples have such a power imbalance in them, usually with one of them being so strongly opposed to being in the relationship for different reasons, and so much shame in a way at times with how they feel about even being interested in another man, that it’s off-putting. With the age differences involved with most of them as well, it’s even more out there. When you look at the main relationship of Misaki and Usami, there’s such a desire to be free but to be caged by Misaki, it’s something that can be a bit much. If it was the only relationship like that in the show, it’d be one thing, but there’s nobody among the main three that are completely and simply in love with each other without all the drama associated with it. And that’s really unfortunate since there isn’t any baseline for normal. The relationships all work, I’ve certainly had my reading and experiences in understanding it, but with three couples like this, it’s overwhelming. You want each couple to work, but there’s no couple you can really get a hundred percent behind and feel like you know that relationship like you know your own
As much as Junjo Romantica frustrates me at times, and that hasn’t changed from viewing to viewing, it is a show that is fun and has its moments. There are outlandish pieces, and some of Usami’s family really can get grating, but the positives are definitely there. The reactions of the characters as they interact with each other and the situations have some good exaggerations to them and the forcefulness of certain partners definitely gives it a good feeling. There are some resolutions to be had here as it progresses towards the end and a buildup that makes sense with how Usami’s family is, but like most things in real life, relationships don’t have endings but evolutions and we certainly see that among all three of them. Similar to the high definition upgrade of the first season, Nozomi has done a solid job with this release in bringing it out with a very good looking release that represents the materials well and gives fans something that they haven’t had access to. It’s definitely the best it’s ever looked and sounded on home video here and worth it..
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, U.S. Season 1 trailer, clean opening and closing
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
Release Date: August 1st, 2017
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.