What They Say:
Jealousy threatens to destroy the love of these very different couples.
Romantica: As Misaki’s final year in university begins, his time living at Usagi’s apartment is ending. But while Usagi might not be ready for Misaki to move out, his constant jealousy might just push Misaki out of his life altogether.
Egoist: Now seven years into their relationship, Kamijou and Nowaki barely see each other thanks to their busy schedules. When Nowaki discovers Kamijou has been sent a marriage offer, doubts begin to creep into the relationship. How would their lives have been changed if they had made different choices?
Terrorist: Shinobu and Miyagi are finally dating, but Shinobu’s constant doubts are straining the relationship. It doesn’t help that Miyagi keeps offering to break up with him, claiming he’s too old for Shinobu. When Miyagi’s ex suddenly shows up, Shinobu is sure the two will get back together. Is the age gap between Shinobu and Miyagi really just too big for them to maintain a relationship?
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 2015, 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 that’s pretty much in line with what the previous seasons were, perhaps with just a bit more color definition to them. 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 with the bears being a big part of it as the two guys are back to back with each other. I do like the cursive logo for the series as it adds a little bit of extra charm to it. The back cover uses the same framing while the white space is filled up with some nice artwork of Hiroki and Nowaki together. 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 some of the Japanese promos for it.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Junjo Romantic continues to be a series that I’m conflicted about and one that I get more so the more times I see it and as time goes on. My desire to see some engaging and interesting gay anime relationship material is strong because there are so many things you can do with it that will break from the usual and put a new spin on the usual. The problem is that the show, based on the manga by Shungiku Nakamura that’s still ongoing with twenty-two volumes since 2003, is simply filled with bad people. There are complex emotions in some of the earlier seasons in how they handle it but as time goes on and I get older myself, and exposed to a lot more relationships, the more everything feels toxic. It’s always been bad on some level but the third season just accentuates everything bad about the relationships.
The third season touches on all of the relationships but once again it gives a primary feeling to that of Akihiko and Misaki, which is fine because they’re the ones that I think are the most fleshed out while the others feel very secondary at best. That it’s been three years since Misaki moved in with him and that he’s close to finishing college provides for a lot of changes to be explored. Misaki is looking at next steps in terms of work while realizing his current place may be problematic during the search because he doesn’t want his connection with Akihiko to influence anything – even if connections are half the game. He’s also struggling with how he’ll fit in with Akihiko’s life once he graduates and he’s spending time with Todo, another college student with similar interests that he really bonds with but has his fanboy moments about a shared author hint at feelings toward Todo as well. And, naturally, Akihiko’s jealousy is impressive.
There are a lot of ups and downs with the relationship as it progresses because of all the usual reasons, a lot of it stemming from the couple’s inability to actually communicate and to make clear what their relationship is. I put a lot of the onus on this with Akihiko as the older of the two who should know a lot better. But he plays it like a game to some degree and then gets really intense when things seemingly turn real in a way that goes against what it wants out of Misaki. And this is all before putting in all the time where he’s forceful with Misaki – which is in itself not an issue in a relationship explicitly designed about such things – which just confused Misaki all the more. Each time something flares up in Akihiko he ends up basically going after Misaki in order to prove that he owns him in his own particular way. It’s not a good look for any of them but it’s worse for Akihiko.
When it comes to the other couples I have to admit that I really don’t have much interest in them. The show in past seasons tried to balance it a bit and they try here as well but it never feels like any of it lands. Shinobu’s time in trying to do things right with Miyagi has its moments, particularly the bit with the pumpkins, but so little of their relationship feels meaningful. With that in mind, Kamijou and Nowaki as characters are even less interesting even when a sudden marriage offer shows up to be dealt with and the uncertainties come into focus. Again, with each of these couples, the core problem is an utter and complete lack of honest communication. So every issue becomes magnified because of that and there’s various ways of “lashing out” in intensity over it that often involves what some would classify as assault.
Junjo Romantica is, once again, a thing. I’m really conflicted about this show because it’s one of the very few things with gay men as the leads while dealing with their relationships. You hope that it being out there can get more shows created but at the same time what it does is present such toxic and problematic relationships that it makes me cringe. I can get the appeal because I understand some of what drives this particular market and audience as it’s not alone when it comes to manga storytelling, but I just lament the lack of positive, engaging, and interesting explorations of relationships that don’t feature a lot of problematic assault-like material. This season is similar to the previous ones in terms of how it looks and I’m definitely glad to have gotten caught up on it, though it felt like it was out a lot more recently than 2015. How time flies!
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Promos, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
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.