What They Say:
“Based on Shungiku Nakamura’s bestselling yaoi manga! Three intertwining love stories threaten to unravel as each couple struggles to find its own path.
Romantica: College student Misaki and his unlikely lover, the eccentric novelist Usami, are slowly growing closer. But their relationship could be in trouble when Usami’s older brother appears and the two begin to vie for Misaki’s attention!
Egoist: Nowaki loves Hiroki with all his heart, but sometimes, he’s afraid Hiroki doesn’t feel the same way. When Nowaki asks Hiroki for permission to address him by his real name, as others do, Hiroki flatly refuses. To Nowaki, this is just another reminder of the invisible gap that separates them… a gap that he must close, if they’re ever going to truly be a couple.
Terrorist: Miyagi is growing anxious. Shinobu used to be relentless in his devotion, but recently, the relationship has gone quiet. As a 35-year-old university professor, is Miyagi really content with living at the mercy of a younger man whose actions are still such a mystery.”
The audio has 2.0 release in Japanese only, and whilst the Japanese release was high quality to the point there was no adjustment to the volume, there were a couple of minor issues I noticed with the lip flaps not syncing with the subtitles (English only) – this was rare but did notice it in a couple of episodes, otherwise there were no other issues regarding sound quality, echoing, synching with subtitles, etc – the quality is high overall, just a shame no English dub (especially as at least one yuri series that got a UK release did get one).
The video is set in full screen format via NTSC transfer to PAL format with the show combining animation and colour in a more traditional sense, with no real problems with the subtitles, and to my surprise it is an older series (2008) – despite this, the animation is clear, tight and flows well on a Blu-Ray release and the animation is much more standard which is noticeable but refreshing in this day and age, albeit does give it a bit more of a dated feel.
There was no packing for this test release.
The menu is very basic – we have on the first disc an image of Misaki and Usami and on the 2nd disc we have an image of You and Shinobu on the white background with the menu below them as Play All, Episodes and on disc 2, credits and Extras (no options for subtitles on and off as one track in Japanese) – it works fine, it is quick with selection and you have a pop-up menu in the show that can return you whilst the show is still playing – works but is very basic and uninteresting (though the opening theme in the background is VERY catchy…)
The only extras are on the 2nd disc which are the show’s credits, the clean opening and ending, and a few promo videos.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I reviewed the first season not long ago as it was unique because as far as I know, was the first official yaoi anime that got released that was defined as one (compared to say Yuri On Ice) – being over 10 years old as well was strange that it took this long to come out in the UK and on Blu-Ray to boot, and reviewing it was interesting because it shows how the cultural differentiations between east and west can definitely make you think, because whilst one of the couples actually worked for me, the other two with a combination of age difference and Christian Grey like mentalities made me feel not so keen. The problem is one of those couples is the main focus and this continues into the second arc, albeit with a few new twists…
One thing I forgot to mention in the previous review is each of the couples is defined by a particular name – so the first couple, Misaki and Usami, is the Romantica couple, hence the main one. We start off with a bang as Misaki gets introduced to Usami’s older brother Haruhiko but don’t realise the connection until Misaki and Usami are at a party for a prize for Usami. It seems the brothers don’t get along, even Misaki seems to defend Usami despite their relationship still seemingly very insecure(Usami even says to Misaki that he has never told him he loves him and it seems higher ups don’t want their relationship to be exposed…). To add to the problem, it seems Haruhiko now also has a think for Misaki…though is it genuine or is it just to steal something else from Usami as it feels that way considering the brother’s relationship…
So Haruhiko keeps sending Misaki strawberries as a gift and Usami tries to replicate it, which leads to Misaki visiting Haruhiko’s house. Here, we learn he and Usami are half brothers and the relationship is very strained, and to make matters more worse, Haruhiko wants to claim Misaki for his own, even locking Misaki in a store room….yeah, it’s not really getting any better with the vibes. Fortunately Usami finds him and confronts Haruhiko with Misaki’s thoughts just of Usami…at least the relationship seems to be more focused on love now but again, the vibes definitely have a huge creep factor to it that Misaki is going to be the general ‘everyone falls for him’ type of character, not quite harem-esque but getting there…
The one pair I did enjoy was the one dubbed Junjo Egoist which is split between the Romantica couple episodes as there is sometimes a link between the characters – in this one, it is Nowaki wanting Hiroki to be the aggressor in their relationship, but thanks to a few things he feels insecure because of the career gap between the two and wanting to catch up to him. It’s a strange thing as the two actually have a talk about their relationship and you learn about Hiro and why he’s quite withdrawn – which is quite simply and yet sweet at the same time. It is definitely the most ‘sane’ of the pairings and even though there is some jealousy showcased, it doesn’t actually screw up the couple as it is clear that Hiroki does love Nowaki (a scene when one of his co-workers tries to make them jealous, Hiroki just smashes him to the floor) and the twist when it looks like Nowaki was going to leave him was a surprise, so yeah, definitely the one pairing that makes the most sense and the one I still enjoy without as much intellectual or emotional baggage.
With the Romantica couple, the jealousy on the other hand feels very controlling. Misaki trying to help a friend at a college festival leads to Usami forbidding it as he thinks the friend is after him, which strains the relationship. The strange thing is that the friend Sumi was actually interested in Usagi hence why getting close to Misaki, and the manipulation is on his side but to try and make it sound like Misaki doesn’t want him. Again, resolved when Misaki overhears and the two get back together but feels a) controlling and b) unnecessary. However, it does get a little more interesting when we get Usami’s father into the mix. Misaki encounters him but the two don’t realise how the other is, as the two meet when Misaki helps him out on a train as he has never rid on one before. They exchange gifts but thanks to Usami’s brother he realises who he is, causing inner turmoil whether to tell Usami that he met him. It also leads to Misaki finally saying he loves Usami, but the test comes when Usami’s father is trying to force Usami’s brother to marry his cousin Kaoruko. She visits Usami and wants out and instead wishes to marry him – which of course he doesn’t but still Misaki wishes to help her out. However, his father feels Misaki is a problem for both brothers but tries to hold his emotions in…which does lead to the strange realisation that Kaoruko also now likes Misaki, adding yet another to his harem and the first girl to it…hmmm…
There is a third couple as well which got very little development last time which was the one I liked the least in Junjo Terrorist involving Miyagi and Shinobu, mainly due to the age difference and the ‘it’s destiny’ plot. Miyagi feels he is being chased but at the same time feels lonely without him. It seems that Shinobu has found someone else when Miyagi does confront him, and the conflict between the two is pretty much over a photo of Miyagi’s past love which of course leads to him confessing to him and letting go of the past. Yeah, just like that…again, the compatibility and chemistry for these two is the least existent, granted it does get a lot less development than the 1st and even the 2nd but still…
The focus is mostly on Misaki and Usami as it ends with Misaki being invited to a lot of events from all the Usami men in the family – he goes with Usami to a hot spring but also discover that Usami refused a big inheritance fund, which leads to Misaki’s father finding Misaki and questioning their relationship. However, he does find some questioning as he knows Usami is fragile and doesn’t want Misaki to go in half-hearted because he could become a burden, which Misaki says he won’t be and he has helped Usami’s life for the better. It even ends with a bit of comedy as Usami hasn’t completed his manuscript, so Misaki has to deliver it and meets one of his favourite manga artists, so cue the fanboyism. Of course, it leads to jealousy and brings up Haruhito who tries to take advantage of him – it is seen as a ‘test’ to see if he can push him away without needing help but again, the creep vibes make it very uncomfortable. The two are back but again, things try to make him break up as Usami does stand up to his father, leading to Usami’s father realising Misaki can stand up to Usagi, which ends the show with some respect to him.
The problem as you can see is that with the focus on the titular Romantica couple, the parts of the show where the real generic issues and problems I have come much clearer. Whilst it isn’t as bad as the first season regarding the problems are solved by sex and the relationship is given more time to develop, Misaki is becoming a generic Marty Stu like character with everyone pretty much falling for him, leading to some very uncomfortable scenes which don’t help when you wonder if Usami is on to something when he gets jealous whenever Misaki is with another man, which does feel controlling…but then the show reveals that yep, he was right on the money, So it fails with Usami being possessive, but also with Misaki that everyone wants him.
Granted, the introduction of Usami’s father and brother do add more complications with the relationship and by the end of the series, it seems like the two are slightly more stable knowing they will be for each other despite both of their problems, leading to respect from Usami’s father, and knowing there is a third season (albeit done in 2015) combined with the ongoing manga, there is more to see where this goes, and of course, more with the other two couples, which only get 2 and 1 episodes each again. Granted, Romantica is the core couple, but with Egoist being the one I again enjoyed the most as their problems are solved more normally (well, except for the beating down of the jealous sempai) I did wish more was spread out evenly. That said, the Terrorist pair again really feels really put on, and considering it is only one episode (might be a blessing though) it is very poorly developed, and again feels like just a tacked on romance between the two.
Whilst the development of the main pair seems better, the second season fares a little worse because of the characterisation so not sure if I liked it more than the 1st. Maybe if Misaki wasn’t the love martyr as he is kind and nice, but very generic this may work out a bit better, but for the moment, the main pairing is better but still has the controlling vibes, but at least there is a chance for stability, which may hopefully make it go forward in the end. The sad thing is that the 1st season has the connections to characters with all three pairings and here, it is barely touched on so for that, it doesn’t synch up as well which ends up a little bit more disappointing overall.
Similar to the first season, at times it feels nice and sweet how the relationships are developed and depicted, but with the focus on the Romantica couple meaning their flaws are much more exposed, it makes the series seem a little weaker as despite the decent development that there is in the relationship thanks to the introduction of Usami’s brother and father, the ongoing problems due to jealousy and controlling can make it annoying and even comfortable at times. The Egoist pair again is the one that works better but with only 2 episodes, the Terrorist pair is still very tacked on and too short for any hope of development and Romantica flows back and forth from decent to annoying.
Clean Opening, Clean Ending, Japanese Promos
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B-
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: C-
Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: November 19th, 2018
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.