Manga: Gravitation

"Love, the one force that simply won't be denied!"

Gravitation, created by Maki Murakami, is one of the few mainstream Boys Love manga and anime series out there, partly because of the non-explicit nature of the romance between the two main male characters, and also because it has an actual plot to it instead of the usual Plot? What Plot? typical of many BL series.

Shuichi Shindou wants, above all, to find success as a singer in his band Bad Luck along with his best friend Hiro. But life has something else in store for him: while walking through a park at night, the song lyrics he had been working on are blown out of his hand, and picked up by a tall, blond, and snarky stranger who mercilessly criticizes them. A hurt Shuichi is determined to track down the stranger (later found to be famous romance novelist Eiri Yuki) and demand an apology. But wouldn't you know it, he finds himself being strangely attracted to him by that unstoppable force called gravitation...

The rest of the series is about Bad Luck's rise to fame and the development of the rocky relationship between hyper Shuichi and emotionally cold Yuki who has a dark past of his own. They break up and get back together as the series continually seesaws between angst and comedy, but the gravitational pull of love keeps them together in the end, in spite of, or maybe because of, their vastly different personalities.

Gravitation was first made into a 2-episode OVA series and then later remade into a 13-episode anime series that somehow managed to pack the comedy, drama, romance, and music in equal spades without compromising the strength of any one. It's even become popular enough that many non-BL lovers have enjoyed it for its other qualities.

Not to be confused with Gravion, nor with a famous textbook on General Relativity by Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler, nor with Jason Rohrer's videogame.

Some tropes include:
  • Art Evolution: Compare earlier volumes of the manga with later ones and it becomes very obvious. The sudden improvement happened to coincide with the author acquiring a troop of assistants.
    • It goes even further. Compare the last chapter of the original manga to the last released chapters of Gravitation Ex. The style seems to devolve into in very simplistic style by comparison, though this may have been an indication of her eventual hiatus.
  • Beta Couple: Hiro and Ayaka.
  • Big Applesauce: The story arc introducing Reiji takes place in New York.
  • Bishounen: As is the standard fare for BL.
  • Bleached Underpants: The infamous Remix doujinshi, by Murakami and her doujin circle, that is far more explicit than the original series. And then the Megamix series, which is even more so.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Again, unavoidable given the genre.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: It's easier to count the characters who aren't, as most of the cast aren't exactly people with their heads well placed on their shoulders. Especially in the manga. See character page for specifics.
  • Denser and Wackier: Hits the manga hard from book six onward.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In the OVA with Suichi's mouth and K's gun.
  • Double Standard: It's interesting, and at times painful, to contrast how these character types would be (and frequently are) treated in het romance. If Yuki was a woman, fans would hate her for "taking Shuichi's pure love for granted and treating The Woobie like crap". If Shuichi was a girl, she'd be bashed as "a Love Martyr who sucks up to her boyfriend despite him treating her like shit and sets back feminism x years". Since they're both males, fans barely notice the flaws of both characters, or bend over to justify them... while female characters with the same traits get routinely slammed, slutshamed, loathed, etc.
  • Dude, He's Like, In A Coma!
    • Strangely enough, this is averted in Gravitation Ex when Shuichi really is in a coma.
  • Eagleland: A significant amount of the manga takes place in New York City.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The high school setting and considerably more even tone of the first couple volumes of the manga are very much this.
  • Engrish: Unavoidable with so many Eagleland characters in the cast.
  • Expy: A lot of characters are this in relation to the ones in Help! See Pilot below.
  • Fake Band: Back Luck, Nittle Grasper, Ask.
  • Five-Man Band: Bad Luck, when K and Sakano are involved: Shuichi as the lead singer (The Hero), Hiro the guitarist (The Lancer), K the manager (The Big Guy; Noriko takes this role in the manga before K shows up), and Suguru the keyboardist (The Smart Guy). Their male producer Sakano, who frets like a mother hen with eggs balancing on the edge of the Eiffel Tower, is easily The Chick.
  • Freudian Trio: Both Bad Luck and Nittle Grasper.
    • Badluck: Shuichi (id), Hiro (ego) and Suguru (superego)
    • Nittle Grasper: Ryuichi (id), Noriko (ego) and Tohma (superego)
  • Fun with Acronyms: "Bad Luck" is occasionally abbreviated to "BL." Right, that's what it stands for.
  • Game Show Appearance: Multiple times in the manga, with the same host despite the game show being a different one each time.
  • Gayngst: Shuichi exhibits some of this occasionally, but Yuki actually plays this trope, er, straighter, given his backstory and how it is implied he became aware of his own sexual orientation.
  • Groupie Brigade: Used to show Bad Luck's increasing popularity. Taki also uses an escape from one of these to win Shuichi's trust.
  • Has Two Mommies: the temporary care of Riku.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Yuki in the beginning, Hiro throughout. Shuichi also takes very much care to remind people that actually, he's bi.
  • Humongous Mecha: Reiji's preferred method of travel is a giant panda mecha.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Subverted: At one point Yuki seems to suffer from this condition, even going to the extent of coughing up blood. However the illness turns out to be ulcers and goes away on its own.
  • Interrupted Suicide: In the final episode of the anime Shuichi arrives just in time to keep Yuki from committing suicide. Keeping up with the spirit of Mood Whiplash of the series, Shuichi is wearing a dog suit as he bursts through the wall just as Yuki is about to shoot himself.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Ayaka, Yuki's fiancée, willingly gives him up to Shuichi. Hiro might also do this with Shuichi to an extent, depending on how much you read into the Ho Yay. Reiji eventually delivered this to Shuichi as well.
    • Hiro actually quotes the trope at the beginning.
  • Love Can Make You Gonk: Shuichi does this on the rare occasion when something good happens with Yuki.
  • Love Triangle: The series progresses through several with Yuki and Shuichi being two sides of it at any given point, but it’s not until EX that this trope is truly played, er, straight, with Ryuichi making an open declaration of love to Shuichi and Tohma apparently forgetting that he has a wife.
  • May-December Romance Noriko and Tetsuya.
  • Meet Cute: Yuki and Shuichi do this twice; first when Yuki catches shuichi's lyrics sheet in the park, and then when Shuichi jumps in front of his car in the rain. Hiro and Ayaka also do this, when he and Shuichi save her from the guys who were hassling her.
  • Mood Whiplash: Any time a scene starts getting serious or dramatic it ‘’will’’ be derailed into over-the-top Super-Deformed madness.
  • Moral Dissonance: Arguably. However YMMV. As we find out that a large proportion of Yuki's backstory stems from an attempted rape. Fair enough considering how horrible that is. However the dissonance comes in that when Shuichi actually GETS raped by two guys no less as part of a vengeance/blackmail plan it is literally glossed over in almost one chapter and never mentioned again. However much Moral Dissonance can be argued on this one, at the very least there is Angst Dissonance.
  • Mythology Gag: Tatsuha and Ryuichi share their names with the characters in Help! who were used as the basis for Yuki and Shuichi. Tatsuha's ''thing'' for Ryuichi is a reference to this.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Shuichi and Yuki. Noriko and her husband as well. Also Tohma and Mika. Kind of a running theme in this series.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Not in the standard sense, but both Bad Luck and Nittle Grasper both contain blatant Homages to actual musicians:
  • Ocular Gushers: A common feature of Murakami’s flavor of Super-Deformed.
  • One Head Taller: Yuki and Shuichi.
  • Paparazzi: Once Bad Luck hits the big time, they become a recurring obstacle/antagonist.
  • Pet the Dog: Yuki starts getting these moments in episode eight.
  • Pilot: Gravitation is an expanded rewrite of an earlier doujinshi series by Murakami, collected under the title of Help! It was about a singer named Ryuichi Sakuma and how his relationship with novelist Tatsuha Uesugi affected his work in his band, Nettle Grasper. Ryuichi and Tatsuha were used as the basis for Shuichi and Yuki as well influencing the characterization of their namesakes in Gravitation. Secondary characters from Help! were moved into Gravitation without any real changes to their names or personalities. Short chapter summaries of Help! can be found here.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Daisuke Asakura, who composed and produced the entire OVA soundtrack. He also produced the TV series soundtrack and composed or co-wrote all of the vocal tracks and their remixes. (Koji Sakurai wrote the rest of the BGM tracks for the TV series.) This is especially important to note given the No Celebrities Were Harmed situation.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Murakami’s brand of Super-Deformed features a very, er, special variation of this.
  • Rape as Backstory: See Sympathetic Murder Backstory below.
  • Rape as Drama: Shuichi is gang-raped on the orders of rival musician Taki Aizawa in order to protect Yuki's reputation. But though Shuichi suffers physical injuries over it and has serious angst over it, he gets over the ordeal relatively quickly. The fact that he's able to do so makes Yuki cry for the first time in six years.
  • Rearrange the Song: The TV soundtrack features multiple instrumental remixes of all of the vocal tracks. One of these was actually turned into a vocal version in the anime: the slowed down rendition of "Sleepless Beauty" that Ryuichi sings when he crashes Bad Luck's concert.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Once the Denser and Wackier sets in, the entire manga is basically this.
  • Reused Character Design: Gravitation recycled the character designs from Help! which was already reusing the designs from Murakami’s access and B’z doujinshi. See also No Celebrities Were Harmed above.
  • Shout-Out: The series is built on this trope, and becomes immensely more enjoyable when you know exactly what is being referenced and why. The most obvious is Bad Luck and Nittle Grasper's origins (see No Celebrities Were Harmed above). The storyline about Shuichi obsessing over going to Disneyland with Yuki (and chanting "Mickey " repeatedly) is one enormous shout out to Daisuke Asakura's well known love of all things Mickey Mouse. There's also a glance at an Oricon chart featuring S.M.Revolution.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Much of Shuichi and Yuki's interaction in the first episode consists of Shuichi yelling at Yuki that he has no right to insult his lyrics and Yuki coolly responding that he really has no talent, climaxing in a kiss. Interestingly, this Will They or Won't They? phase is much shorter than typical because Shuichi from then on becomes completely devoted to Yuki, who plays the part of the cranky but ultimately protective lover.
    • 80% of Shuichi and Reiji's interaction boils down to this, but with grudging acknowledgment rather than actual kissing save for one incident where she finally gave up on him.
  • Smoking Is Cool: The entire Uesugi Clan. And K. And Noriko. And Hiro.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: Very rarely does anyone say anything nice about Yuki Kitazawa.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: Shuichi might be a victim with a notoriously open mind, considering how he never shows any interest men except for Yuki; particularly in the manga, where he actually has some brief displays of interest in women.
  • Super-Deformed: Quite a bit of the Mood Whiplash, especially in the manga, can be attributed to this. Murakami has a very special, very over the top and extreme way of doing this.
  • Sympathetic Murder Backstory: Yuki killed someone but it was in self-defense, they were trying to rape him. This trope is actually invoked in-universe when he reveals it because he does so in an effort to repel Shuichi. It only makes Shuichi like him more.
  • Terrible Trio: Ask.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. Yuki starts seeing a psychiatrist who is actually good at her job, prescribing him meds and giving him proper counseling.
  • There Was a Door: Shuichi does this a lot.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: OVA Shuichi handing out German Suplexes.