Posted by psgels on 5 July 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews


2008 came with an interesting trend: actually good shounen-ai series…. what? At least I liked them…

Granted, there’s no denying that this series is aimed at fangirls. Nearly every episode features some gay sex scene that… will feel rather awkward for any straight male like myself. The characters are way too quick to jump into bed with each other and make some hot steamy love. But at the same time, this series can brag about some very good romance, that even teach a lot of straight love series a thing or two.

Because the characters are nearly all adults, which shows an interesting difference with all the teenage romances out there. This series’ outlook on love and relationships turns out to be quite realistic. It’s about understanding your partner, (obviously) how they deal with sex, the sacrifices you make for each other and what it means to be in love with someone. Sure, the characters in this series are gay and all, but this series wouldn’t have been that different if it talked about straight couples. Apart from the fear of breaking the taboo of loving a member of the same sex, perhaps.

Because this series deals with three different couples, it can really take an in-depth look at gay romances, despite how disturbing this may sound, as it can take a look at different scenarios and situations and develop them. What really sold me in this series is the fact that it’s critical of itself. There’s plenty of self-jokes in this series and the pieces of comedy here and there are hilarious, preventing this series from becoming too dramatic for its own sake.

The graphics could have used a bit more work, though. Obviously, the visuals aren’t the most important thing in this series, but the character are very hard to keep apart for the first few episodes, which is the sign that the character-designer needs to feel ashamed of himself. The music does the job, although I do want to give attention to the excellent OP that this series has.

Obviously, if you’re one of those people who hates gays with passion, you should stay far away from this one. However, if you’re looking for some quality romance, Junjo Romantica is a pretty good recommendation. It’s an interesting look at how three different romantic relationships form and develop. The dialogue is witty and to the point. It may be a bit too angsty at times, but in terms of romance, it delivers. There seems to be a second season somewhere in the future, and I’m scared to say that I’ll be looking forward to it…

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 7/10
Setting: 8/10

10 Responses

  1. Akira says:

    Glad to see you enjoyed it. As a gay male, I’m kind of upset that there aren’t that many good shonen-ai series out there. Most of them are usually man-service shows for the fangirls and nevr focus on the appeal of shonen-ai: that “the factors of heterosexual relationships are removed” and the story can focus on simpler aspects of the relationship. More about his at: http://www.iwanihana.info/2008/05/a-word-on-andro.html
    I have yet to see a shonen-ai series that focuses on the prejudice and pain that many gay men face in society and family.

  2. ik says:

    I know what you are talking about when praising how relationships are dealt with here… a LOT better than what is usually seen in romance anime, much less boys love anime. The last series (from what I know) in the genre, Gakuen Heaven, was crap in that aspect.

  3. Sapphire says:

    As a straight female, I have to admit that I wouldn’t pick a shounen-ai or shoujo-ai series to watch. I don’t have any prejudice, don’t get me wrong, but I just can’t find interest in watching a romance which isn’t able to “speak” to me in any way. I guess I have to relate to it, even if just a little.

    psgels, I really liked your comments on Kaze no Shoujo Emily – it’s a beautiful series, even though I think Akage no Anne is better. Please pick more shoujo series :)

  4. becky says:

    “I’m scared to say that I’ll be looking forward to it…”

    Why are you scared? I mean, I realize your comment may be tongue in cheek, is it really so weird to be a straight guy that can like a story line that has gay characters? People are very self consious about these sorts of things, eh?

  5. saris says:

    Well, this one has a good storyline and character relationships, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Since I don’t mind the yaoi factor(I’m female anyway), this one turns out to be an excellence romance anime, much better than some shojo mangas nowadays, I get a good laugh from it and the angst is not too way cheesy. I hope there will be season 2 soon enough and yeah the OP is excellent I had to listen to it everytime I watch each episode ^^.

  6. anne says:

    You are awesome for reviewing this without joking about it or mocking it. Thank you! I do tend to agree with your assessment as well. From reading the manga the relationships only get better and there is less angst. I too look forward to the 2nd season.

  7. Lika says:

    “Nearly every episode features some gay sex scene that… will feel rather awkward for any straight male like myself.”

    *laughs* Stay FAR away from the manga then. xD

    “it can really take an in-depth look at gay romances, despite how disturbing this may sound”

    Oho? What’s so disturbing about gay romances?

    Anyways, it’s a pretty good series, though definitely not the best in its genre, but touching and funny and a good series to watch on a rainy day when you’re up to some romance for sure. Personally, Egoist is my favourite out of the three pairings.

    If I may be too bold here (watch me get shot down, just watch), may I suggest Gravitation if you’re feeling brave enough to touch another BL series? There’s only thirteen episodes, the production values are very high, there’s actually a plot, the characters are quirky, there’s a lot of humor in it, the two sex scenes are about as nonexplicit as you can get (eg. they kiss and it pans out to darkness), and while it doesn’t
    deal with relationships in nearly as good depth as Junjo Romantica, it does a lot more with the stigma that comes with being gay.

  8. upie says:

    i feel elated after reading your review. FInally a straight male giving a straight review about this “gay” show. I’ve seen male bloggers and readers making fun of JR because the characters are gay. But looking past that, this series turned out to be better than some het-romance series, which those people failed to see. The characters basically were interesting, stereotypical i guess, but real and have depth. The script of course delivered well. The team definitely followed the manga closely and the series became a really good anime adaptation.

    “I’m scared to say that I’ll be looking forward to it…”

    Don’t let it bother you :) I cannot wait for the next season too!

  9. becky says:

    You know, the one thing that really annoyed me about the show was how passive Misaki was and how controlling Usagi san seemed at the begining of the series. I really disliked Usagi-san for awhile. It was nice seeing Misaki starting to behave a little more confidently ats the end of the last episode.

  10. Tan-Tan says:

    What I hate about this show (forced to watch it with friends) is the reality it shows most people charge to sex than to talk, and how fangirls simply love it.

    And yes. Usagi is what I’d call a real sex offender…and Misaki dumb enough to just accept it…sigh…but Misaki is adorable, I admit >>

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  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 10:32 AM)
    If a series wants to be sophisticated about complex concepts like war and conflict, then it has to presuppose the fact that it is part of human nature. Resources are limited, and even aside from that, greed exists. There is no way to take out a few head figures to stop a war- there will be a vacuum that will almost immediately be filled by a similar, if not worse, individual. A world “where no one cries” or suffers, or dies, etc, cannot exist as long as we have free will.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 10:26 AM)
    F/SN delved into this deeply with the Shirou/Archer dichotomy, but then it pussied out at the decisive moment. Archer was right, his arguments made perfect sense, yet the arrogant naive Shirou had to pull thru by sheer will alone, and a vague hope and promise that he’ll find a way somehow. I swear, I’m not sure if Nasu gave in to pressure to make a so-called “good prevails” ending, or that he honestly believes in it. Looking at his material, I’ll bet on the former.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 10:22 AM)
    hehe … that’s why you don’t get me started on Eva or Berserk.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 10:20 AM)
    It also delved into the depth of what a desperate goodie-two-shoes people-pleaser protagonist would actually be like, and the reception he would get from his peers, specially the women. That alone right there was a deconstruction of the majority of shonen main characters.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 10:00 AM)
    There was no hype machine back then. The internet was still in its infancy. So when a show became this popular there was certainly some merit to it. The organic/machine hybrid mecha was relatively new, and the scene construction and cinematography was for the most part immaculate. There’s a reason why the mecha genre is divided to “pre-Eva” and “post-Eva”.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 09:53 AM)
    It also didn’t hurt that the character, costume and mecha designs were slick and attractive, done by the under-appreciated Yoshiyuki Sadamoto.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 09:31 AM)
    It came up with clever scenarios to common mecha tropes, and answered the questions that would arise from them:
    -Why do we use mechas with melee weapons against alien invaders instead of conventional weapons? AT fields on Angels.
    -Why use kids to pilot them? The Gehrin Project.
    -What happens when you put kids in sever combat situations? Extreme PTSD.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 09:27 AM)
    These types of deconstruction shows that are run-of-the-mill now didn’t really exist back then. Eva did afterall became the tropemaker for Gainax endings. To see the creator’s psyche twist in front of our eyes was incredible. The show went from a regular monster of the week mecha series to a deranged psycho-thriller by the end of it.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 09:23 AM)
    Eva was fresh and quite unique for its time. Not that everything they did was original, but they certainly put their own twist on it. I also enjoyed the “fuck-you” ending of the tv series. Anno always defended it as intentional, but we all know it was really a budgetary constrain. well, at least we got the amazing End of Evangelion movie to supplement it.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 09:21 AM)
    @K-of: yup Eva geek here, guilty as charged. In my defense, I watched it week-to-week when it aired back in 96, and the landscape of anime was a lot different back then.

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