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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  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:48 AM)
    Ashura was an excellent example of how to through anime illicit and emotional response in an honest, non-melodramatic way.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:46 AM)
    @Bam: I’d be more than happy to take a look at some of those shorts anytime.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:44 AM)
    @Emma: there’s a lot of European animators that got active in the last 10 years or so that are really reinvigorating their animation scene, and every now and then I get introduced to some fabulous shorts.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Emma: no I don’t really mind gory ‘for the fuck of it’ violence, I even like it in some grindhouse type of works, but I just don’t think it’s always effective as a shock factor. Live-action is the most sympathetic for obvious reasons, but there are animated works that do elicit a deep response. Probably because of circumstances but also the details of the in-between animation, which can induce certain feelings of disgust.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:39 AM)
    *here and there
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:35 AM)
    @Bam: I really wish there was more arthouse anime now to give some kind of a balance to everything thats out these days.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:33 AM)
    Now I like my exploitation every so often, but yes Bam I really do wish that adult and mature storytelling could be better associated with truly, more pure mature themes.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:25 AM)
    I get choked up over Bergmans cries and whisper and Autumn sonata, I look back on a work by Key and Jun Maeda and wonder, think of how silly it looks to me now.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:24 AM)
    I also find it easier to get an emotional response from a honest drama, live action film, largely due to the real people doing the acting. Sometimes you get an actor whose just that good too…
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:22 AM)
    I’ve gotten my odd emotional reaction here from anime and manga but a lot of the time it feels like the jump scare in a generic horror movie, I got shocked but I felt minipulated afterwards it wasn’t genuine, the same goes for some anime/manga drama when it takes a melodramatic turn instead of a bleak, honest one.

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