Here we go folks. “Black Eye” marks uncharted territory for me. Let’s see what Super Lovers has to offer.
As I stated in my last review, I gave the Super Lovers manga a shot and stopped. I didn’t stop because I wasn’t enjoying it, but rather because I loved what I was given too much and I didn’t want it to change. Indeed, everything in “Black Eye” is incredibly different from “Forest Green.” To start with, Haru is not the same man he was in the previous episode and I’m not quite sure how I feel about that. He’s become a “host,” which is a pretty popular job for protagonists in yaoi. From what I can tell, hosts an hostesses get paid to look pretty, serve drinks, and flirt with guests. And man, Haru certainly looks pretty. He’s so pretty, in fact, we get lovely sparkles all around him when he’s introduced to us again. Haru has become a hottie in the five years since the last episode. Sure, he was pretty before, but he was also just an “older brother” figure. Now he’s a grown man who basically gets paid to flirt with people and that’s an entirely different lens to focus this character through.
This episode is essentially the establishing episode for the rest of the series. We got a snippet of Haru’s past so many years ago, but now we’re told about what happened when he arrived back in Japan after his summer with Ren in Canada. He was in a terrible car accident that killed his father and step mother, erased his memory of the entire summer, an left him in charge of his twin younger brothers. There’s an enormous amount of guilt associated with the accident. They were picking Haru up from the airport and returning home when it happened, so there’s a sense that if he hadn’t spent the summer in Canada his dad and step mom would still be alive. It’s no wonder he feels obligated to put both his younger brothers through college. That’s some pretty extreme survivors guilt right there.
The accident also sets up a lot of baggage between Ren and Haru. While Haru changed Ren’s life completely, encouraged him to come out of his shell, and gave him a future to look forward to, Haru remembers nothing. Not a damn thing. It’s hard to believe that in the five years since his trip nobody sent him a picture of Ren or anything, but when the teen shows up in Japan expecting Haru to follow through on his promise to live together things get a bit awkward. Could someone have not warned Haru about this? Could his mom have, I don’t know, given him a call and said “you have an adopted little brother named Ren and he’s going to come live with you now, good luck!” or something? Damn, seriously. What is this? Poor Haru.
To rub salt in the wound, Ren isn’t exactly the easiest person to get along with. It’s not his fault, really. He had a really rough childhood followed by living with Haruko out in rural Canada which has given him pretty much zero social skills. The kid has no tact, doesn’t understand how to shop at a store, and is completely baffled by the panel order of manga. While the latter might seem silly, it just highlights how far removed he is from his Japanese heritage and how much of a fish out of water he is there. Poor Haru? Poor Ren, man. He has no idea what he’s doing and is way too blunt to elicit much sympathy from the exhausted and over-stressed Haru. The guy already has enough on his plate as is, so it’s not exactly surprising that he’s quick to annoy.
Despite all the stress, though, there is a certain something between them and I can understand why this series has become so popular. They aren’t cookie cutter characters. They each have incredibly unique backgrounds that may have elements from common tropes (amnesia, abusive childhood, etc), but form a solid foundation for fully fleshed out characters that mesh well with one another. I’m still not sure if I’m going to enjoy watching their relationship progress beyond the familial bond they have, but I’m willing to give it a shot. I enjoy them for what they are right now and if I’m eased into something more, it might feel like a natural progression. They give each other a sense of stability when they are together, even when they seem to be annoying each other, and it’s rather sweet.
The end of the episode also introduced the twins – Aki and Shima. Aki is instantly unlikable due to his antagonistic attitude towards both Haru and Ren, but he’s clearly carrying around a lot of anger issues from his parents’ death. Shima seems to be the calmer more rational one, but beyond that I haven’t really been able to form much of an opinion on him as a person. Next to Aki he seems like a saint. But if he were on his own he might just be some quiet guy in glasses with not much to him. I feel like the twins will have a large role to play in the ongoing story, though. They are present in both the intro and closing title sequences. I only hope Aki learns to deal with his anger issues or his bad attitude is going to get old really quickly.
So far I’m enjoying the new ground the story has covered for me since I set aside the manga so early. I still have lingering worries about where the show is going, but I enjoy what I’ve seen so far. Their relationship is definitely something special and I’m glad that these two characters found each other through so much trauma in their lives. Characters finding comfort after major hurt is a favorite trope of mine and I can’t help but be drawn to those types of narratives.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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