Junjo Romantica: Season 2

| November 11, 2014

I wrote in my review of Junjo Romantica Season 1 how little plot developed in that season outside the courtship of the three primary couples. No outside threats, no antagonists, just six men trying to find workable ways to approach their relationships with one another. We are talking about a Boys’ Love anime with a title that translates as “pure romance” here. But in Season 2, all that changes. Although the characters still struggle with their own insecurities and fight tooth-and-nail to maintain their socially-problematic homosexual relationships (socially-problematic within the diegesis of the series, that is, for they all must keep their love secret), the three relationships are invariably threatened by outside forces in the second, and final, season of Junjo Romantica.

The first season sets up potential conflicts for the six characters wherein their relationships could ruin their careers should their sexuality be exposed publicly. This worried me, for such a plot device would certainly take away from the series’ vital comedic elements. After all, narratives based on characters’ ostracization due to cultural prejudice make me incredibly uncomfortable, as they should any sane person, and are rarely intrinsically comedic. The threat of such narrative turns loom even higher in the second season as persons outside two of the three relationships (those between Usami and Misaki as well as Hiro and Nowaki) take a romantic liking to one of the men involved. By contrast, the third relationship, that between Miyagi and Shinobu, suffers not from such love triangles in this season, but from Miyagi’s obsession with the late love of his youth.

Usami and Misaki’s storyline here, just as in Season 1, offers the highest levels of intrigue of the three, as 19-year-old everyman Misaki finds himself at odds with Usami’s wealthy, industrialist family. As a result, their relationship accounts for the majority of the episodes here, again not unlike the first season. I had hoped that we would see more of Miyagi and Shinobu in particular this time around, but they are the focus of but one of the season’s twelve episodes, while Hiro and Nowaki are afforded two. Despite my initial dissatisfaction with Usami and Misaki’s eclipsing of the others, I really can’t argue with the producers’ decision to focus on them, for indeed their narrative offers the greatest of previously untapped, external antagonists, the Usagi family. Additionally, Misaki’s friend Sumi, who the first season had seeded as a threat to Usami and Misaki’s relationship, at last comes into play as a secondary antagonist in Season 2. As such, to have truncated their narrative any further would have left much unsatisfactorily unresolved.

The only real problem I had with this season stems from the new title sequence. Season 1’s title sequence, which I neglected to mention in my previous review, was terrific. In fact, I don’t think I skipped past the title sequence once in my initial viewing of those twelve episodes. One viewing of the second season’s titles, however, was more than enough and I skipped over it every time thereafter, with the sole exception of one incredibly unfortunate incident in which I found myself occupied with feeding the feeding of my son. In spite of Season 2’s off-putting titles and my aforementioned reservations about the narrative possibilities external antagonists offered such a series, I found myself wholly satisfied with the arc of Season 2, and thoroughly contented with the resolution of each couple’s narrative. Although the others receive little screen time in this season, Usami and Misaki really develop into their own here, moving far beyond the often one-note, comedic nature of their relationship in the season prior.

Nozomi Entertainment’s DVD presentation of Junjo Romantica includes only the Japanese audio-track accompanied by thorough English subtitles (i.e. no English dub). Special features on Nozomi’s Litebox DVD release of Junjo Romantica Season 2 on the set include a U.S. Season 2 trailer, clean opening and closing sequences, two TV Spots, two DVD commercials, liner notes, and trailers for other Nozomi releases.

About the Author:

Jef is a writer and educator in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, but sometimes he drops it and picks it back up again. He's also the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com and is fueled entirely by coffee (as if you couldn't tell).

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