KIZUNA: KOI NO KARA SAWAGI
Navigating the world of yaoi is tricky because when it’s bad, it’s horrible. The flip slide is that when it’s good it’s usually great. This anime doesn’t quite reach greatness but it’s definitely special for a different reason. This is the rarest of rare finds, a yaoi that bucks the tropes! So that’s why I wanted to write a review for it since no-one else had. Here's my yaoi checklist for quick, useful info:
Is there consent?: Yes. Fully consensual.
Are they over-age?: Yes
Seme/Uke: Yes but it’s not as rote, obvious or played up as most yaoi.
Type of guys: Bishounen, typical "seme/uke" looks but they're not drastically different in physical build.
Smut level: Very low. Sex scene is very brief & you don't see anything. No need for lightsaber penises.
You can’t always do a lot with just 45 minutes but I feel like this anime did such a great job with ups and downs, backstory and current conflict, character development and resolution. It’s not perfect by any means but it’s well paced and not boring. Once the initial conflict is set up, the characters go off on their own accord and reflect on their past relationship. So through flashbacks, we get to learn how they met, how they got together and surprisingly a sub-plot of the uke battling potential paralysis - which was pretty touching and well-handled. I didn’t expect them to fit this much plot in 45 mins and for it to be done as well as it is. I have a couple of problems...and they are all to do with the last ten minutes or so. Firstly, why does the hotel lock you in your room until you ring to get out? That’s some horror movie hostel sex-slave trade shit and it felt like a lame plot device. Second, the punch at the end seemed a bit excessive for the argument they were having - like calm down, it’s not that serious.
The art holds it back a little, it’s fine but not great. Tbh, it’s up and down. There are some scenes it looks really good but it often looks a bit ropey. But then again what do you expect from a yaoi made in 2001. It’s fine. The sound is cheesy as hell. It actually crossed my mind to drop this anime during the OP! It sounds like bad 70's porno/elevator music. But it’s so cheesy it’s comical so whatever - I don’t particularly care that much about sound unless it’s god awful and the OST is fine I guess.
The selling point of this yaoi is that it's fully consensual sex between two adults - how often do you get to say that? Almost never. So I can confidently say that if rape/lack of consent or sex involving minors is an issue for you then this gets the all-clear. The main characters are already in a relationship at the beginning of the yaoi so even story line wise it's something new.
It’s a genuinely good story about a gay relationship that has been through strife and trouble and most importantly, their troubles aren't really gay-related. They are troubles you might experience in any relationship i.e. health issues/cheating. If you’re new to yaoi then trust me that’s pretty rare. This is by no means a masterpiece at all, it's a bit cheesy in places but it’s enjoyable enough and a bit different for avoiding the worst of the typical cliché yaoi tropes.