Good kick, Hiroki. And nice teeth.
Apologies for not blogging for the past two weeks. I had been overseas. Although… someone did promise to review episode 3 for me, didn’t he? -_-
Anyway. Episode 3 has already been subbed, so I wouldn’t spend too much time on it. Episode 4 is well… Usagi and Misaki again, so I’m not going to spend much time there either, because I would rather concentrate on my thoughts on Hiroki and Nowaki, which is told in episode 3 and 5.
Screenshots are scant because I’m lazy. Sorry.
I thought this scene from episode 3 is pretty good.
- Hiroki, who is Usagi’s good childhood friend, is in love with Usagi. He has some intimate relations with Usagi, who pretends that he is his own crush, Takahiro instead. In the aftermath, Hiroki sits in the park with thunderclouds hanging all over his face.
- Hiroki meets Nowaki, who asks him to be his tutor. He refuses, but Nowaki steals his key.
- Hiroki wakes up to Nowaki, they talk, Hiroki agrees to teach him.
- At one such session, Hiroki realizes that Usagi is the man he loved once (instead of the man he loves).
- At another session, Nowaki kisses Hiroki while he sleeps. Hiroki wakes up, and Nowaki tries to confess his love to him, only to have Usagi interrupt.
- Jealous, Nowaki appears to say that he will take care of Hiroki, and closes the door to Usagi.
- Nowaki confesses his love to Hiroki successfully, and then leaves.
- Hiroki finds himself stalking Nowaki while he is working. He is seen by Nowaki.
- Nowaki finds him at his house, and they talk, after which they have sex.
- At work the next day, Nowaki receives flowers from Hiroki, who congrats him for getting into university.
- Nowaki runs to find Hiroki, and hugs him.
- Misaki meets Usagi’s editor, and is extremely jealous because they look great together (and other assorted reasons). Usagi sooths his fears in the next 20 minutes.
I must be weird, because I really like Hiroki’s exasperated face.
- 6 years later, we realized that Nowaki has just returned from New York, after an entire year of absence and non-communication.
- Nonetheless, Hiroki let Nowaki stay in his house because Nowaki claims that he has lost his house keys.
- Hiroki is cold to Nowaki, which caused Nowaki to attempt to leave, except that Hiroki stops him from truly leaving.
- ~*~fill in the blank~*~
- Hiroki wakes up the next day to find Nowaki gone, with only a note that says, “I’m leaving. Nowaki”, without any other details.
- Hiroki realizes that they had a truly abyssal dating relationship, with very little dating activities and even less true communication. He reflects that the state they are in now is probably his own fault, and that he should have paid more attention to the relationship.
- As a result, he decides to end the relationship by sending a postcard to Nowaki, saying, “Let’s break up.”
- We also meet Miyagi-sensei, who is Hiroki’s superior, a professor in the university Hiroki is assistant professor to. He is half of the third couple in the series.
- Hiroki moves, changes his number, etc. in an attempt to end the relationship properly. However, Nowaki finds him at his workplace, the university.
- They argue, Nowaki wanting to know what he did wrong, and Hiroki completely unable to calm down and answer him properly.
- In the end, Hiroki locks himself in his room, and Nowaki tells him to go to their usual dating grounds (a fast food restaurant) at 7 pm that day so that they can talk it out. Nowaki leaves.
- The pre-ending omake features Usagi using Misaki as a bed booster (and sex toy) because his usual hugging bear has been stained with udon by Misaki.
Communication problems in relationships. The most prevalent problem, IMO.
Let me begin by saying the Hiroki x Nowaki pair is the one I like the most in the manga. Very real problems, very strong emotions, and very good characterization. Sure, there were some story lines that are so obviously plot conveniences that it’s ridiculous. But if you read it with an open mind, it’s a realistic portrayal of a relationship.
The anime is not as good as the manga in this respect.
To be honest, there are very little significant differences (that I can tell, anyway… been some time since I read the manga) between the anime and the manga. But the delivery lacks a certain something. Hiroki lacks that special oomph that makes me like him so much. And Nowaki. He is totally cardboard, which very little depth.
Why is that?
Maybe it’s because I was holding so high expectations, which always mean hitting the ground would hurt like hell. Whichever the case, I can pinpoint a couple of points.
1) Character design: Is it my imagination, or does Hiroki’s head often looks too small for his body? Come on, people, be realistic. And stop making him too much like Misaki. He is a LOT stronger and interesting and complicated than that boy. Also, he is a lot better looking, even sexy with those glasses.
Hiroki’s kind of cute in glasses. Even, or especially, in fiery form.
2) Seiyuu: I’m sorry, Itou Kentarou. You are much better as Renji than as Hiroki. Put quite simply, I think his voice is completely wrong for Hiroki. It’s too deep, too brash, too completely un-Hiroki. Itou-san does brashness and bluster well, but fall slightly short of bringing out the vulnerability and complexities of the character.
3) Animation: Studio Deen is really putting their entire effort on Vampire Knight, huh? In episode 5, Hiroki has an identical sequence of reactions three times when Miyagi-sensei hugs him from behind. And the walking really fast to avoid talking to Nowaki? It could have been so evocative if done well. Instead, both Hiroki and Nowaki looked like robots.
4) Funny faces: Episode 3 is better than episode 5, because a) it’s happier, and b) it has more funny faces. Now, I love my angst, but stop with the emo! Hiroki’s actions and Nowaki’s expressions seems a bit overdone. And seriously, part of Junjou Romantica’s essence is the funny faces. I’m calling for more funny faces.
5) Music: Lacklustre. It was so much better in the last 4 episodes.
That is not to say, though, that episode 5 is totally without its good points. The thing I like in the manga is that I always feel for Hiroki, so I never think that he is being overly angsty or emo-ish or making a mountain out of a molehill. The anime achieves this to a certain extent, in that his inner thoughts as to why he wanted to break up with Nowaki were delivered well.
The seiyuu is chosen, and there really isn’t anything I can do about it now, and in any case Itou Kentarou, while having the completely wrong voice for Hiroki, is still a good seiyuu. But if Studio Deen doesn’t buck up and do a decent presentation, Junjou Romantica would slide down to just being another silly and completely boring anime.