In case you have not read the review for the first season of this series, let me get it out of the way that Junjo Romantica falls in the genre of yaoi. For the uninitiated, this means that it’s a romance focused on the relationship between two male protagonists. So if that’s not your jam, you’re clear to stop reading from here on out.
Season one of the show establishes three sets of characters who become couples through various scenarios. Season two continues following their relationships, showing some of their hardships. I did appreciate the depiction of the less glamorous aspects, especially since some of the issues were ones I feel people can actually relate to and understand. The characters are imperfect-they get jealous, possessive, etc. - but they talk it through and resolve their issues with one another.
"I did appreciate the depiction of the less glamorous aspects, especially since some of the issues were ones I feel people can actually relate to and understand."
There are also small moments where you see the three couples cross each other’s paths in simple ways such as just walking past the car the other couple is in, stopping in at a shop they work at, etc. It helps establish that these three dramas are happening all in the same space, about the same time as each other. It gives a small sense of grounding.
With that said, it is a very safe, by the letters addition to this niche of romance anime. If you’ve seen or read a few yaoi series before, nothing in the show will seem very fresh, different or unusual. I did find myself feeling a bit nostalgic while watching it, as I used to be more into the genre when I was younger. But once the nostalgia wore off, there wasn’t much left to keep me interested. The art style is very typical, as are the character archetypes used for the protagonists. It’s hardly a pinnacle of animation prowess, and there are problems with quality consistency. The soundtrack for the series isn’t really anything worth mentioning either.
"To its merit, it successfully builds off of the characters introduced previously and brings some complexity to them."
I was also a bit disappointed to see only one of the three couples really get fleshed out. The other two relationships serve more as intermissions from the main plot rather than their own standalone stories. This is a shame, as the other two couples were ever so slightly less cliché and the people themselves were more interesting. Akihiko Usami, one of the main characters, is about as interesting and engaging as a cardboard cutout. Any character development or information to make him seem less dull is given via exposition dumps from other characters.
Compared to the first season, it doesn’t drop the ball or get any worse. To its merit, it successfully builds off of the characters introduced previously and brings some complexity to them. So if this is a show you already enjoy, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with what season two has to offer. I would not, however, recommend this show to someone asking where a good place to start with yaoi is. There are other stories out there that do a far better job of making a more engaging world, more complex characters and have better overall story telling.
Review by: Erin Conley | Published by: Right Stuf | Review Format: DVD