Review by: Felicia Day
Publisher: RightStuf!/Nozomi Entertainment
MSRP: $49.99 US
Running Time: 300 minutes
Release Date: Available Now
Let there be obstacles, confessions of love and a lot of teddy bears.
Season 1 of Junjo Romantica introduced us to three very different couples that have gone from courtship to jumping into a relationship that each of these six men are not familiar with but when it comes to falling in love they each realize that gender doesn’t even come into the equation. In Season 2 of the series, we discover that into each life some rain must fall but, then again, there’s always a sunny day.
Season 2 of Junjo Romantica follows the three couples again but this time there is more emphasis on Misaki Takahashi and Akihiko Usami’s romance as we find the two still living together. Just as we last left them, Usami is the one who sweeps the younger man off his feet – literally – and Usami tries to fight back only finding himself not able to really resist Usami’s kisses. About to seduce the young man, Isaka and Aikawa barge into their bedroom to announce that Usami will be attending a commemoration party in his honor for having won the Kikukawa Award for his latest novel. Usami doesn’t want to go but Misaki convinces the older man.
This is where the problems begin when – on his way to the party with a bouquet of followers – Misaki runs into an older man in the subway station. Misaki helps the older man but it turns out that this stranger is none other than Haruhiko Usami … his lover’s older brother. Haruhiko is both similar and different from Akihiko but it is clear that the older brother hates the younger Usami and is often at odds with each another. Surprisingly, since he comes to talk to Misaki on their way to the same place … Haruhiko suddenly tells Misaki that he is in love with him!
With another Usami chasing after him, Misaki’s life is soon becoming way too complicated as Haruhiko sends various presents to the younger man to the younger Usami’s great annoyance. Usami wants Misaki all to himself and he makes it clear that he should not talk to Haruhiko ever again. As fate would have it, Haruhiko manages to convince Masaki to come to the Usami family home where he reveals a number of things the young man didn’t know about his lover. Haruhiko also attempts to hide Misaki away from his brother but Akihiko arrives to steal him away.
In the course of the season, Usami becomes conflicted about Misaki’s true feeling for him since the young man has even yet to say the words “I love you.” Misaki doesn’t quite say it at first but – as he helps Usami out in a project and even rescues him from Sumi-Senpai, who reveals the real reason he as become friends with Misaki – Misaki does say it. In fact, it’s one of many great moments in this season.
Oh, there’s much more as Papa Usami shows up and while he seems like a nice enough gentleman, he slowly reveals that he does not want Misaki near either of his sons who are fighting over Misaki. Should Misaki do as Papa Usami says in order not to make any more trouble for the family or should he follow his heart and stay with the one he loves? Would he ever become a burden to Usami later in life? These are questions that Misaki will have to answer.
Meanwhile, the series cleverly fits the other couples into the story as all of these characters’ lives intersect at one some point. We find Hiroki Kamijou troubled and acting coldly towards Nowaki Kusuma and the reason is that the younger man seems to be drifting away thanks to his medical career. Then Kamijou comes home to find Nowaki sleeping half-naked with a fellow physician and comes to the conclusion that Nowaki is having an affair and, on top of that, he discovers that Nowaki was looking into moving away. However, nothing is as it seems and Nowaki sets the record straight in a way that makes Kamijou finally realize something about himself and Nowaki.
Then there’s Miyagi who believes that Shinobu is no longer interested in being in a relationship with him anymore since Shinobu is no longer showing up at his place. Then Miyagi makes a discovery of his own: Shinobu found an old picture of the older man and his teacher that he fell in love with a long time ago. So Miyagi grabs Shinobu and shows him the truth behind the woman in the picture as well as makes a confession that takes the young Shinobu by surprise.
The 12-episodes that make up this season find each couple hitting many rough patches that any relationship – straight or otherwise – face and it’s great to see each of these couples deal and overcome each of their problems. It’s refreshing to find a series that handles drama and comedy flawlessly and this second season seems to concentrate more on romance than highlighting fiery love scenes. In fact, there’s even more comedy elements in this season such as when Usami’s female cousin comes to visit or watching Usami’s reaction to Misaki easily saying “I love you” to his favorite manga-ka when he meets him.
In the end, what we have in Season 2 of Junjo Romantica is simply more of what we loved about the first season of this series. The relationships just don’t get more interesting but even more meaningful as each character discovers that there’s nothing stronger than true love and even when things seem strained there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Yaoi fans, there’s a reason that Junjo Romantica is so popular and if you pick this one up you will see why.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Misaki finds himself still living with Usami as their relationship hits a series of speed bumps that comes in the form of Usami’s older brother and the Usami patriarch. Meanwhile, Kamijou begins to wonder if Nowaki is heading in a direction that will lead him away from him. At the same time, Miyagi wonders if Shinobu is no longer interested in pursuing a relationship with him since the younger boy is distancing himself from him. Plus, will Misaki ever tell Usami that he loves him?
VIDEO QUALITY: A
This second season still looks just as good as the first with the exception that there are more cute and funny visual sequences in this one. There are also more romantic moments in this one than steamy ones … although that not to say you should ignore the 17+ rating. I said it once and I’ll say it again, this series definitely should be watched on DVD.
AUDIO QUALITY: A+
Once again, the voice acting in the series is excellent with standout performances scattered throughout this season. I absolutely love the score in this season that seems to have a romantic French feel to it that does the series justice. The new opening and closing theme songs are also wonderful with “Aioi” by JUNED being yet another great closing theme song.
The neat Liner Notes from the last release are, thankfully, back as well as a few trailers for each disc. Meanwhile, you can find original Japanese TV and DVD Spots for this series as well as the clean opening and closing theme songs. There’s also a 24-page booklet with character bios, production artwork and some fun extras as well.
Season 2 of Junjo Romantica is an even more heartfelt, funny, romantic and very entertaining second half to a series that has already shown us that this is exactly what makes us fans of the genre in the first place. Sure, the Misaki-Usami relationship gets more screen time but it’s hard to complain when their relationship is one of the more endearing and fascinating part of Junjo Romantica. This is definitely worth buying for any yaoi fan out there.
Review copy provided by RightStuf!/Nozomi Entertainment