Kizuna: Bonds of Love
(絆 KIZUNA～恋のから騒ぎ～, Kizuna: Koi no Kara Sawagi?) is a yaoi manga, authored by Kazuma Kodaka. Released in 1994 and ending with the release of the final volume in 2008, it allegedly was one of the first and most popular manga to feature a homosexual relationship
. It also spawned 3 OVAs.
The story centers on the relationship between Kei Enjouji, a Tall, Dark and Snarky
highschool student, and Ranmaru Samejima, a Heir to the Dojo
. Enjouji fell for Ranmaru almost at first sight when they were kids and he saw Ranmaru practicing his kendo moves, and started pursuing a relationship with him. Ranmaru is at first reluctant, but Enjouji perseveres and they become boyfriends anyway.
However, their relationship won't be an easy one... since after Enjouji's mother Hotaru dies, she leaves him a letter revealing his heritage. Which happens to be linked to a powerful Yakuza clan, whose leader Takeshi Sagano is Enjouji's long lost father. Enjouji and Ranmaru attempt to keep up with their lives and go to college peacefully, but the Yakuza won't leave them alone, and specially not when Enjouji's half-brother Kai takes an interest in Ranmaru himself...
Provides examples of:
- Anguished Declaration of Love: Enjouji is good at these. Ranmaru far less so although he still has a stab at it once or twice.
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: any couple will get this at least once, and Ranmaru and Enjouji have half their relationship running on it.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: It's smartly dressed Yakuza and assassins. What do you think?
- Berserk Button: if you injure Enjouji, do not be in the vicinity of Ranmaru with a stick-like object.
- Big "NO!": Enjouji, when Ranmaru protects him from the people trying to kill him and gets hit instead.
- Bodyguard Crush: Masa and Kai.
- Bridal Carry: Enjouji carries Ranmaru back to bed this way while he was in his first stages of recovery from the accident in the third OVA and volume.
- Butt Monkey: If something funny or humiliating's gonna happen, Enjouji is likely to be on the receiving end. Unless we count the hit and run incident.
- Cast Full of Pretty Boys: lampshaded by the mangaka in volume 6 "Kizuna VI... the manga which has completely ignored the existence of women!!"
- Casual Danger Dialog: Roy is physically incapable of not doing this. Even when there's no one else around! Oh yes, he knows what he's doing but when he misses being blown up by about two seconds could he not laugh???
- Cheshire Cat Grin: Enjouji's adopted one when he was a kid and it doesn't seem to be going away any time soon.
- Cool Big Sis: Ranmaru's sister Yuki
- Consummate Professional: both in the Yakuza world, and that of professional killers. Roy tends to have issues with people who treat him like a rookie.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Ranmaru acts like this a bit about Enjouji, but it's nowhere near the serious extent to which Enjouji acts around Ranmaru. Apparently it's In the Blood because Kai acts the same way around Masa. Then of course, there's Jack, who will kill you if you sleep with Roy. No, literally. He will take a sniper rifle and put a bullet through your brain if you fuck his boyfriend.
- Deliver Us from Evil: Hotaru, though she wasn't exactly a villain.
- Determinator: Ranmaru. Kai also seems to learn this from him.
- The Dragon: Masanori Araki, to Takeshi Sagano. So much that he's been handpicked as Takeshi's succesor.
- Even the Guys Want Him: Ranmaru. Repeatedly, to the point where even his kendo club members tend to have a thing for him. Even guys trying to kill him seem to have enough time to remark on how hot he is. Although really, it's not like you could blame them.
- "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Roy (yet again), and Enouji, when the need arises. Both of them also tend to use Gallows Humor, none of which their partners find funny.
- First Name Basis: the principal couple, Enouji Kei (extroverted, casual) and Samejima Ranmaru (introverted, formal), normally call each other "Enjouji" and "Ran-chan". When Enjouji's half-brother Sagano Kai first rescues Samejima from a drugging and rape attempt and then essentially rapes him himself, Samejima in confusion and anguish calls him "Kei." Told about it later by Sagano, Enjouji realizes how badly Samejima was affected because "He only calls me Kei when he really needs me by his side."
- Heir to the Dojo: Ranmaru
- Heroic Bastard: Kei Enjouji, who didn't know for a long time and was not thrilled when he learnt about it.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Ranmaru in the form of a Diving Save.
- Hitman with a Heart: Jack has a soft spot for innocent kids... and Roy. Falls into The Atoner category in that he donates money to charities and orphanages as a way to atone for his career. He tends to be very much on the side of Never Hurt an Innocent. Roy, on the other hand is more of the persuasion that If The Innocent Was Stupid Enough To Get Involved, It's Their Own Damn Fault.
- Hot-Blooded: Kai and Ranmaru.
- Hypocritical Humor: Kai criticizes the relationship between his childhood friend Kumi and Kyousuke because of their age difference...never mind that there's a marginal age difference between Masa and himself.
- More ironically Masa has the same reaction when he finds out.
- Ill Girl: Hotaru, Enjouji's single mother, had respiratory problems that ultimately killed her.
- Ignored Enemy: if the enemy isn't worth their attention neither the Yakuza nor the hitmen will give them a second thought. If its Roy, he'll probably continue on a conversation like they're not even there. Although he does that anyway.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Given the slightest provocation, Ranmaru will start worrying that he's a burden to Enjouji or his being with him is interfering with his ability to be happy, and will - somewhat stupidly - consequently try to distance himself or provide Enjouji with the opportunity to break up with him.
- Gayngst: Yakuza style, and HOW.
- Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Kai has to slap Ranmaru to get him to pull himself together when he sees Enjyoji has been shot. Considering his Berserk Button and the fact that Kai left a sword in his vicinity, this may not have been the best idea.
- Green-Eyed Monster: The envy Kai has towards Enjouji drives a good part of their conflict.
- He also gets terribly jealous and threatened when he thinks Enjouji might be cheating on him.
- Last Minute Hookup: Kai and Masa manage to narrowly avoid this trope by being technically together for a couple of volumes, but they finally had sex in literally the last 20 pages. Anyone want to know how many volumes were leading up to that point? Here's a hint: too goddamn many!
- Loveable Rogue: Roy. Even Kai can't help but like him eventually - no matter how many times he threatens to move in on Masa. Enjouji also has a fair bit of this in him, particularly around his highschool years, but he never fully fits the trope as well as Roy does, and he outgrows it by the time he and Ranmaru are essentially married. Well... almost.
- Match Maker Quest: In order to get out of an omiai, Masa stages a confrontation where his intended bride-to-be's straight-laced boyfriend is exposed to her angry father. When the man meekly stands up to Masa to defend his love, Masa immediately praises him and gives them his full blessing, thus forcing her father to do the same.
- May-December Romance: Masa was - apparently - in his mid to late teens when Kai was born. He spends the majority of Kai's childhood acting like his big brother... which is why he has more than a few issues with how he feels about him later on. Kai, otoh, doesn't see the problem.
- Missing Mom: Hotaru's death is in fact a huge plot point. We also learn that she used to be a geisha, became Takeshi's mistress later, and when she got pregnant with Enjouji she bailed out on the Yakuza environment to protect her baby.
- Names Toknow In Anime: The OAV series has a top-notch voice cast: Ryōtarō Okiayu (Ranmaru), Keiji Fujiwara (Kei), Ryo Horikawa (Kai), Akio Ohtsuka (Masa), Akiko Hiramatsu (Yuki).
- Noble Demon: Jack, especially around Roy. The reason he initially leaves him is because he doesn't want him to follow in his footsteps to become a killer. Not that that helped any.
- Non-Linear Story: No, you did not miss four books between chapter 1 and chapter 2. Yes, you are going to have to pay really close attention to things like uniforms, scars and hair-cuts if you want to try to figure out which stories and chapters go where in the overall storyline. No, the chapters that interrupt story arcs haven't been accidentally put in the wrong place. And yes, expect multiple character origins told after they've been introduced for a couple of volumes. For anyone who gets lost, Kei's long hair and Masa's scar are good temporal landmarks.
- The One That Got Away: variations on this are all through the series. Even Ranmaru and Enjouji's relationship has traces of this. However, the only couple that play this without variation is Jack and Roy - followed by standard New Old Flame.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: you remember that chapter with the angels? Yeah. They have pretty wings though.
- Over-the-Shoulder Carry: Enjouji carries a struggling Ranmaru this way to bring him inside Rena's hotel in the third OVA.
- Parental Substitute: Masa practically raised Kai. Things get complicated when Kai develops a Bodyguard Crush in regards to him, and Masa is very conflicted due to his own feelings.
- Professional Killer: Roy and J.B. The guns and kill-people-for-money thing gives it away.
- Rape as Drama: Kai gets raped by one of Masanori's scorned lovers. Then we have the episode described in First Name Basis.
- Red-Headed Hero: Ranmaru
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Kei and Ranmaru respectively, especially in the beginning of their relationship, where Ranmaru was continuously cold and reserved while Kei was the one pursuing him with impassioned declarations of love.
- Retired Badass: a strange example in Ranmaru, who was forced to quit kendo after he was hit by the car trying to kill Enjouji. But that doesn't mean that if you piss him off enough he won't kick your ass into next week.
- Rescue Romance: What truly set off Ranmaru and Enjouji's romance was Ranmaru's Diving Save for Enjouji's sake, which causes him a Game-Breaking Injury and keeps him away from kendo competitions.
- It should be noted that although they already had a fully established and loving relationship beforehand, Ranmaru's injury completely changed the game and forced their relationship through the make-or-break hurdles.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Ranmaru and Kei's relationship has a lot of this, even though it's nearly always followed by Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moments. That said, Enjouji can occasionally take it too far and take a swipe at Ranmaru through his insecurities about their relationship that actually hurts him - cue him regretting being a Jerk Ass and trying to make it up to him.
- Invoked in volume 3 when Ranmaru tells Enjouji that it's okay for them to dump each other if they decide to marry women. Enjouji's response is to smack him across the face.
- Spoiled Brat: Kai, at the beginning. He gets better.
- Tall, Dark and Snarky: Enjouji.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Roy. It fits in with his Casual Danger Dialog compulsion.
- Tsundere: Ranmaru. Holy shit, Ranmaru. He's - generally - a type B though: nice and kind, but EXPLODES with the force of a bomb when he gets pissed.
- Kai on the other hand is a type A through and through... unfortunately for Masa.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Ranmaru slaps Kai and verbally beats him when he insults Enjouji way too much for his liking.
- Yakuza: Very involved in the storyline, due to Enjouji being the illegitimate son of a Yakuza boss.
- Yakuza Princess: Genderflipped with Enjouji's half-brother Kai Sagano. And possibly deconstructed, since being this screwed him up pretty bad.
- Yaoi: A staple of Yaoi series.