Super Lovers Season 1 Review

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When Haru gets called to visit his mother in Canada, he finds out that he has a new adoptive brother. The problem? He seems more wild puppy than human. As Haru works to gain his new brother Ren’s trust, a powerful bond is formed. Unfortunately, he has to move back to Japan after at the end of the summer, and Ren vows to live with him again one day. Seven years later, a lot has changed as Ren shows up at his door talking about a summer that Haru can no longer remember. Haru and Ren must learn about each other from the beginning and form some sort of family even as their relationship grows to something more than brothers.

Based off the best-selling manga, Super Lovers has topped the charts as many people’s top Boy’s Love romance, earning both praise and criticism for its portrayal of Haru and Ren’s confusing relationship. With one season wrapped up on Crunchyroll and another coming in January, this seems like the right time to delve into the good and the bad about this series. You can find a more in-depth and detailed look at episodes one through six in earlier posts, but here I’ll be sticking to a more general review.

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I think the biggest problem I have with this series has to do with pacing. Super Lovers likes to make large jumps in time in order to keep the plot moving when there may be years or months between events. Only these jumps in time seem to be concentrated around the first four episodes, meaning if you are a new-comer to the series, your sense of immersion is going to be disrupted at the start. Not to mention these jumps may end with a plot point that can seem like it came out of the blue considering everything that happened before the jump. The biggest of these being when the story advances seven years into the future after Haru leaves Canada for Japan, leaving us with a amnesiac Haru and a stoic 15 year old Ren. I think I would be fine if this was the only time this happens, but it keeps happening about two or three more times before episode four ends.

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If you weren’t deterred after the first four episodes, you might also notice some of the overused plot points that get dragged on for far too long. One of which is Ren’s apparent obsession with rice which is used again an again as both a gag and even once as an excuse to move the plot along. Luckily, the use of it seems to decrease as the series goes on. Not to mention the characters love flying back and forth from Canada all the time like plane tickets are completely disposable to them. This is a contributing factor to pretty much all the time jumps leaving holes where there should be continuous plot. With the addition of a stalker arc that is both dragged out for far too long and seems pretty out of place both in tone and even animation style, I could never fully get into the series or even consider giving it a high rating. I can’t even really blame the script-writers or director as they’re just trying to keep to the manga as much as possible.

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I also found the character of Haru to be generally uninteresting. He comes across as a very stereotypical Japanese view of a foreigner as well as the common “bad boy with troubled past” kind of character. Even with the addition of amnesia, the change that it brings to their relationship doesn’t seem to last long, and he goes back to his pre-accident personality pretty quickly with a few “brooding” or “dark” moments that are quickly eclipsed by comedy. Ren, on the other hand, is a pretty well developed character. Born to a family that didn’t want him, he carries a history of neglect and abuse that made him distrust people and have a general lack of social knowledge about interacting with others. His growth as a person from a closed-off child to stark and honest young man is explored surprisingly well both through his interaction with Haru and the secondary cast of characters that sometimes act as foils to him. And I honestly think the secondary cast is more interesting that Haru when they are given enough screen time.

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Honestly, if this series didn’t have a romantic element to it and instead focused on how the four brothers grew their sense of family with the addition of their new sibling, I would be completely okay with that. Alternatively, if the author had just stuck with the theme of the first episode and followed the life of young Ren, I would have been completely okay with that as well. But with the addition of the growing romance between Haru and Ren, we come to some conflicts of character that may be at the heart of why people feel an underlying creepy vibe from their relationship. The main reason I found myself feeling a little uncomfortable about them being together is because of the fact that we see them together at such an early age. When they first meet, Ren is eight and in need of a caregiver to teach him about the world and human relationships. We see Haru engage in parental activities such as bathing, play, dressing, and general discipline. When the story jumps forward, we still have that parental image of Haru in our minds, so it becomes this sense of taboo for them to eventually be together. What makes their relationship a little dangerous in my eyes as well is the fact that both of them are equally naive about love, but Haru isn’t aware of it. Ultimately this means that Ren, who looks to Haru as his moral compass, will pretty much believe everything Haru says in this matter. This leads to one particularly awkward scene towards the end of the season.

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While my opinion of this series as a whole is pretty low, I did find the story of abuse and growth surrounding Ren to be interesting, and I did genuinely like the characters of Aki and Shima. I just wish this series wasn’t brought down by relationship weirdness. I almost think you could split this into two different stories and have it work. Ren’s childhood and young-adulthood could be two separate stories: one about a young boy learning to trust again after abuse while finding his place in a new family and then one of a young adult’s first experience with romance while learning social skills. We’ll see how Season 2 is come January. You can look for my first impressions post at the beginning of that anime season.

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