I’ve got to admit, I gave the Super Lovers manga a shot and it wasn’t my cup of tea. But here I am giving it another go with the anime, and I’m going in with an open mind.
Before I even begin to review the show fairly, I do need to disclose I stopped reading the manga after a few chapters and feel that I may have a better go of it this time around. I’m a fujoshi (yaoi fan) to the core and Super Lovers tops almost every yaoi manga list in existence. If it’s not number one, it’s at least in the top five pretty much everywhere I look. When I finally cracked open the book in an effort to read everything remotely popular in the market right now, I was immediately put off by Ren’s age. After some research, it appeared that he does get aged up later which is fine, but it immediately put the series in the “big brother complex” sub genre for me and that trope puts me off hardcore. Yet this manga kept topping the lists everywhere I looked and I just chalked it up to me having very different tastes than the average fujoshi. Whatever. There are hundreds of other titles to choose from. This one will fade from popularity, I thought to myself.
Imagine my surprise when this series got an anime adaptation and continued to top popularity charts across the board. And then imagine my even greater surprise when Crunchyroll picked up that anime adaptation for to simulcast to American audiences, thus bringing what I thought was a weird sub genre trope story into American mainstream anime culture. Sure, an anime adaptation and a pick up by Crunchyroll doesn’t mean I was wrong about the possible big brother complex issue or that the age dynamic is weird to begin with, but it does mean there could be something more to this story that I never got to on my first go at it. Something can’t be this insanely popular and rely entirely on a trope to keep it going, right? So with that in mind, I’m heading into this show ready to invest in Ren and Haru’s budding relationship without my preconceived prejudices.
Also, let’s be real here, us fujoshi don’t get much yaoi. We get maybe one season at a time at best, then many seasons without anything until we are so parched we’ll gobble up every last drop of BL that anime producers throw at us. I’m still bitter that we got a new season of Junjou Romantica before we got a new season of Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi. And I’m still bitter that nothing by Yamamoto Kotetsuko has been adapted into an anime. But hey, my bitterness over these things has nothing to do with giving this show a chance. So here we are. Let’s rock this.
Super Lovers starts off in an interesting place in both actual location and terms of narrative, especially for something in the yaoi genre. Essentially it starts with Haru traveling from Japan to visit his mother in rural Canada because he thinks she’s deathly ill. When he arrives he discovers she’s not only perfectly healthy, but adopted a Japanese boy out of the blue for seemingly no reason. The boy, Ren, is an odd kid to say the least. He doesn’t talk much, prefers to hang out with the dogs, and is just generally antisocial on all levels. But Haru takes to his new-found role as a big brother in stride and treats Ren with the love and kindness the poor kid so obviously lacked in his life before.
Haru’s mother reveals to him that the kid has a history of abuse, including cigarette burns on the bottom of his feet. Suddenly the kid’s antisocial demeanor makes a lot more sense, and the effects of Haru’s kindness on him are more pronounced. He goes from biting Haru and running away from him, to picking berries for him and helping take care of him when he’s ill. It’s a great character evolution for such a short time period. The development lasts only a few short chapters in the manga and somehow gets crammed into less than thirty minutes in the anime, but you still feel like these two characters formed a connection with each other. Ren is forever changed for the better thanks to Haru’s kindness.
But Haru was only able to stay for the summer and the episode concludes with him going back to Japan to his father and stepmother. It was at this point in the manga that I put the book down and decided it wasn’t for me, so what happens next will be new to me as well. This probably puts me in the minority of fujoshi who obviously love this series greatly, but I’m going in blind from here on out. All I know is that Ren shows up in Japan years later, but the circumstances and the relationship between them in the interim is a complete mystery for me. My original motivation for dropping the manga at this point was because I didn’t think I could watch a sweet brotherly relationship turn into a romantic one. I really did like what I read and I enjoy these two characters for what they are, but I can’t untangle the familial bond enough to enjoy what I know what’s coming next. But… here I am. This fujoshi is ready for round two and I’m ready to be proven wrong. Hit me with your best shot, Super Lovers.
How did you all enjoy the first episode of Super Lovers? Did it live up to the source material? Am I in for a treat or will I be hightailing it out of the show after a few episodes? Help me, fans, I’m dying to know.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.
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