Starting off as a manga, this Yaoi has quickly topped the charts on many people’s top Boys Love lists, and was picked up for an anime adaption with a second season coming in January 2017. The story centers around two boys who have been forced to become brothers after one of them gets adopted out of the blue. the older brother, Haru, is forced to take care of the younger, Ren, who has become distrusting of people after a troubled past in the orphanage. Haru works to break through Ren’s emotional walls, and their relationship develops from there.
There has been enough discussion around the rightness or wrongness of Ren and Haru’s relationship, and I want to steer away from that for the most part to talk about some other points of this anime that frustrate me. In this review, we’ll take a look at episodes one and two of Super Lovers and discuss key factors such as pacing, plot, and characterization. All of these are essential for an anime to succeed, and I feel like much of the negativity surrounding this anime is not just about the main relationship but also these factors that don’t seem to live up to other animes in the genre.
The biggest problem I have so far concerns plot and pacing. For one thing, all the dramatic moments in the first two episodes including Ren running away from home, Haru returning to Japan, and even when Haru’s parents die are glossed over fairly quickly. It’s made worse by the fact that the scenes like Ren running away from home are made out to be a joke, with comedic elements thrown in too soon for the drama to make an impact. It makes it seem like the writer/director doesn’t quite know whether the show should be a drama or not, seemingly forcing in dramatic moments and then playing them off with jokes that can seem out of place in some respects. I get that they want to keep the show light-hearted, but this just makes the dramatic moments seem really shallow.
The dramatic impact is made worse in these two episodes as the show does large jumps in time one after the other. Jumps in time can be used effectively, but in this case, only serve to disrupt immersion. The first one is when the show jumps right to the end of the summer when Haru has to go back to Japan only a short time after being introduced to young Ren. This was way too fast for me, and it felt like they just cut off that story arc right in the middle. They could have definitely done more with that, though I do understand the limited time they have and the fact that they needed a way to introduce the backstory. The biggest and most jarring jump is when they advance five years into the future after Haru gets back to Japan and his parent die. This means we have no idea what happened during those five years. All we know is Haru lost his memory of that summer, him and his brothers had trouble coping with their parent’s death (which included Aki blaming Haru for it), and Haru becomes a male host in order to pay for their education. One of those points in particular frustrates me: the fact that even before we meet Aki, Haru characterizes him as blaming him for their parents death. We go into the meeting with Aki expecting him to still carry resentment, and yet all we see is a strong attachment to him and jealousy when he finds out about Ren. I get that there’s been a five year gap in time since the accident and feelings may change, but you can’t introduce that piece of characterization and not follow through with it in some way. It makes it seem like they only put it in to give Haru that “bad boy with a troubled past” edge, which, as you’ll see later, doesn’t last very long at all, making this point of backstory and characterization meaningless. Might I also say that the whole amnesia plot is really cliché as well, and serves only to create that flip-flop from Haru taking care of Ren to vice-versa (which goes back to the latter after only a short while).
As much as I rag on and criticize this show, I do like the underlying story: two boys heal each other’s emotional wounds by building a sense of family. I do like Ren as a character as well. He’s someone who has been abused and neglected by everyone he has trusted, thus becoming more mature for his age and developing a general distrust of people. But with that combination comes a sense of naivete for all things involving social interaction. I think that goes for Haru as well, though I find his character a little more cliché than Ren’s. This inability to understand social interaction for both of them I think plays an important role in future episodes, but we’ll get to that in a future post.
I think this post has gone on long enough, though there is still a lot more to talk about. For now, feel free to debate any of my points below in a constructive manner, and I’ll be back with the next two episodes soon!