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Manga / Junjou Romantica

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3 couples for a classic yaoi series.note 

Junjou Romantica is an ongoing Boys' Love manga by Shungiku Nakamura, which began in Asuka Ciel in 2002. It follows the interrelated stories of three different couples as they navigate the ups and downs of romantic relationships. The series has an anime adaptation, the first season of which ran for 12 episodes from April to June 2008, and a second season running another 12 episodes from October to December 2008. In March 2012, an OVA was released alongside the manga's 16th volume. A third season later premiered in the summer of 2015.

The central pair are university student Takahashi Misaki and Usami "Usagi-san" Akihiko, an eccentric, award-winning author. The two get off to a rocky start: Misaki has been raised by his older brother Takahiro ever since the two lost their parents years ago. Takahiro is oblivious to his good friend Usagi's unrequited love for him, but Usagi's feelings are obvious to Misaki. Misaki dislikes Usagi at first, but comes to sympathize with him and the two grow closer. When Takahiro and his new wife move away, Misaki moves in with Usagi to remain close to his college of choice. Despite often being at odds with each other, they fall in love.

Temperamental Kamijou Hiroki is a childhood friend of Usami Akihiko (yes, that kind of friend). Hiroki is heartbroken over his own unrequited love when Kusama Nowaki unexpectedly enters his life. Nowaki is an orphan who started working straight out of junior high; aiming for college, he asks Hiroki to be his tutor and won't take no for an answer. This being a BL series, the situation leads up to a love confession from Nowaki. Hiroki is initially reluctant, but Nowaki's kindness and persistence win him over. Their story picks up again six years later, a year after Nowaki suddenly left to study medicine abroad. When he returns just as suddenly, Hiroki is forced to think about what Nowaki means to him and the two must reevaluate their relationship.

Miyagi Yoh is a college professor and a colleague of Hiroki's. First seen playfully teasing the easily ruffled Hiroki, it is later revealed that his cheerful demeanor actually covers up a deeper sadness caused by a tragedy in his past. Miyagi finds an unlikely suitor in Takatsuki Shinobu, a high school student and his ex-wife's younger brother. Miyagi continually rejects him, but Shinobu stubbornly refuses to give up his pursuit. Miyagi begins to realize that he needs to move on and that Shinobu's affection may not be so unwanted after all.

Isaka Ryuuichiro is secretly in love with his caretaker and former Childhood Friend Asahina Kaoru. However, Asahina seems to be obsessed with Isaka's father... or so it seems.

Now has a Character Sheet.

Available subtitled on DVD.

This series provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Mahiro's hair is changed to black.
    • Shinnosuke's hair color is changed from something lighter to black.
  • Age-Gap Romance:
    • Usagi and Misaki have a ten year age gap between them.
    • It is a major point of conflict in the Junjou Terrorist sections featuring the 35-year-old Miyagi and his boss's son, the 18-year-old Shinobu. Miyagi worries about the relationship ruining his career and reputation if it gets out and Shinobu is self-conscious about his relative lack of sexual experience and the fear that Miyagi isn't taking him seriously.
    • This is strangely contrasted with Nowaki and Hiroki where one of their big issues in their relationship is the four-year age gap, mainly due to achievements which are tied to age: Hiroki is steadily advancing in his career while Nowaki is still a medical student.
  • All-Loving Hero: Misaki is constantly friendly to everyone, and will do anything to help them out (even if it's to his own detriment) to the point where by the time he has finished university he has spent all his time trying to help and take care of other people and has no plans for himself. This does not always work out well for him, either. In fact, the only person where this differs is with Usagi, where he typically plays the Deadpan Snarker and will shut him down whenever he can... that said, the moment he thinks there is something wrong he will immediately worry and do whatever he can to fix it.
  • Art Evolution: Notably from the first volume to the current one. Misaki now looks a bit manlier while Usagi now looks younger.
    • The third season also has this due to the five years gap between this and the previous season. Especially Miyagi looks younger if the opening is any indication.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: For all that Misaki brushes off, derides, and criticizes Usagi's professions of love (and ownership), he sure is quick on the draw when his senpai seizes the chance to make a move on Usagi.
    • Also, when Mizuki enters the picture Misaki snaps into defensive mode literally within the space of five minutes of meeting him. Never mind that Mizuki's in love with Kaoruko.
    • Hiroki may be embarrassed by the slightest display of affection from Nowaki, but the second he thinks Nowaki might be feeling hurt or, worse, drifting away from him, out come the dramatic confessions. And occasional leather bags.
    • Miyagi initially showed strong resistance to Shinobu's repeated declarations of love, but panicked and raced to the airport the minute he thought he'd lost Shinobu for good.
    • For all of Kaoru's stoic persona, he completely lost it when Isaka decided to have a matchmaking dinner with the other company president's daughter
  • Auto Erotica: In the manga, Misaki and Usagi-san have sex in a car... right after Misaki breaks his ankle.
    • Once again they have sex again in the car after spending their night together outdoors playing with sand since Kaoruko forced them out of the house.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: The reason Usagi fell in love with Misaki is because the latter had understood his feelings and cried for him in the first episode, even though they both barely knew each other at the time.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: Misaki uses one in the second season after Haruhiko locks him in a room. It tears.
  • Berserk Button: Patient, affectionate Nice Guy Nowaki can stay positive in the direst of circumstances, but should anyone get too close to Hiroki, he gets...possessive. And, in one case, physical.
  • Big Fancy House: The Usami family's home.
  • Bowdlerise: Due to the manga abundance of sex scenes, the anime toned them down. Notable mention goes to Shinobu and Miyagi's first time is only implied in the anime with the former unable to sit in after their hot night, since Shinobu is indeed underage.
    • The Strip Othello, one of the more infamous chapters that consist of smut, is obviously not adapted.
    • Season 3 toned down the scenes even further, leaving only kissing scenes at most. The infamous Auto Erotica scene is cut obviously. However, the scene between Shinobu and Miyagi does get left in, albeit fast forward to the aftermath of the action.
  • Brick Joke: In the very first episode, when Misaki is guessing at Usagi's childhood, he guesses that he had a blonde long-haired dog named Alexander. No comment is made about this... until the second season, when Misaki gets to see Usagi's family home, notices the dog, and exclaims, "Alexander!"
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • Usagi is a talented, successful writer whose books have hit the best seller list no matter what genre he writes in. He also sleeps in a room full of toys, however, and has entire floors of his apartment devoted to, respectively, a 1/24th model of the Great Wall of China, a culture of marimo, and teddy bears. Oh, and Aikawa can speak for the validity of his deadlines.
    • Miyagi has a huge reputation among literary academics but spends much of his time slacking off, reading horoscopes and annoying his colleague Hiroki.
    • More shown in Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi and Mistake, but Isaka has some really odd habits and spends a lot of his time trying to find ways to get out of work. Everyone puts up with him though because he's a brilliant editor and Magnificent Bastard who you do not want to piss off.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Misaki can't seem to get up the nerve to say "I love you" to Usagi, even when he, uh, really really tries. Hiroki performs better under pressure, but not by much.
    • However, Misaki does manage to say it in Volume 8 when faced with a doubt-ridden Akihiko. Not that he ever says it again.
    • On a flip side, this reticence on Hiroki's and Misaki's part is also one of the reasons why Takahiro and Hiroki's family have no idea that their charges are in relationships with men.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Understandable, since it's a BL series with three main couples, but it still seems like Takahiro and Usagi's dad may be the only straight males in the entire series. Lately Mizuki and Kaoruko's relationship 'has gotten more attention, though. Considering how Nakamura develops this particular universe (8 different stories across 2 different series), we'll probably get a spin-off with them as well.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Aikawa is the only recurring female character along with Kaoruko as well as Takahiro's wife (it is a BL series, after all).
  • Censor Shadow: In the anime.
  • Cheerful Child: Misaki's nephew, and everyone featured in Junjou Minimum.
  • The Chew Toy: Takahashi Misaki tries to accommodate everyone, and it gets him burned every time.
  • Closed Door Rapport: When Nowaki confronts Hiroki about their breakup at Hiroki's workplace, Hiroki runs back to his office and locks Nowaki out, causing a bit of a scene. He is not persuaded to open the door.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Even when Isaka and Aikawa barge into the bedroom to drag Akihiko to his commemoration party, Akihiko refuses to let Misaki get away. Isaka even says he'll give them ten minutes - and then continues to sit on the bedside.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Nowaki disappears from Hiroki's life for a year without so much as leaving a note. Hiroki is understandably pissed off, and when Nowaki comes back they have a fight that lasts for weeks before finally being resolved. It's not until after they've made up and decided to move in together that Hiroki remembers that, um, actually Nowaki did tell him he was going to leave... and, in fact, Hiroki encouraged him to do so... it's just that Hiroki wasn't paying enough attention to the conversation to remember it afterwards. Ooops. Lampshaded by Hiroki in the end.
    Hiroki: Wow... that sure makes me look like the bad guy here.
  • Coming-Out Story: The refusal to come out for several main characters are actually quite common and realistic. Misaki and Hiroki have family-related problems (disappointment, disinheritment, Usagi being his brother's best friend etc.), and Miyagi has social stigma to age differences (for record, Shinobu was still underage when they began their relationship), his lover being his boss son and ex-wife's brother. Even Akihiko himself also doesn't want to disclose his sexuality to the public as said in the early story.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Nowaki and Shinobu have their moments, but Akihiko is made of this trope.
    • Mizuki is an odd example: the more he is jealous of Kaoruko's affection and attention toward Misaki, the more he attempts to be "clingy" toward Akihiko.
    • Hiroki literally punched out a doctor because he hugged Nowaki.
  • Destroy the Evidence: Anytime Akihiko publishes a Junai Egoist Novel, Hiroki buys as many copies as he can to the point were his entire apartment is filled with them.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Nowaki keeps persisting until Hiroki finally caves in.
  • Fertile Feet: In the first opening theme song, flowers spring up under the feet of Misaki and Akihiko as they walk as symbols for their blooming love.
  • First Love:
    • Misaki never went out with any girls due to him spending time taking care of his brother. Thus, Akihiko eventually becomes his first love
    • Nowaki falls in love with Hiroki at first sight the day that the latter was "dumped". Junjou Minimum subtly implied that he fell in love with Hiroki since the day he ran away from home and the latter comforts him and encourages him to live for the future.
    • Shinobu falls in love with Miyagi the day that the latter rescued him from gangsters on the way to his sister's wedding.
    • Akihiko has had fruitless love for Takahiro for a very long time and had to endure it. Same goes for Hiroki.
    • Miyagi has been in love with his former teacher for many years and refused to move on until Shinobu melts his icy heart.
    • Isaka has been in love with Kaoru for a long time. The feeling is mutual.
  • Flanderization: Since the anime did not adapted the chapters where Hiroki's dere sideshow, it would seem that he is a complete "tsun" in Tsundere (until he undergoes Character Development in Season 2) towards Nowaki.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Nowaki recalls the day he found out the orphanage owners weren't his real parents and tried running away. He stops at a park when his tires go flat, only to have his future lover walk by, inquires, and then start dishing out life lessons about the obstacles kids must get through before tattling to the patrolman. Years later Nowaki remembers the encounter and mentions it to Hiroki, but neither realizes it was each other. Made funnier by Hiroki remarking that he probably grew up to be a horrible person.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Three of the male characters: Misaki, Shinobu, and Kaoru, have name that are more or less associated with women than men. This is played even more with Misaki whose name uses kanji for "beautiful bloom" instead of more masculine "three capes".
  • Gratuitous English: When Shinobu's friend from Australia comes to visit, Shinobu delivers the infamous "YEH! I WAH RORRING ON ZA FROOR RAFFING!" line. It only gets worse when Miyagi joins in with "he'r be wiz me fo'a whire". Note that Shinobu is supposed to be quite skilled in English, having studied in Australia for years.
    • Somehow, the Australian pen-friend manages to sound even worse than Shinobu.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Ijuuin-sensei, who is first seen as a frightening mess in the manga and anime, is revealed to actually be quite the looker in a later manga chapter, to the amazement of Misaki and his friend.
  • Hands-On Approach: Usagi starts to teach Misaki how to tie a tie after seeing him fail miserably. Usagi notices Misaki's shirt is buttoned up incorrectly. The situation escalated.
  • His Heart Will Go On: The first step of all the three couples' relationship deals with moving on from their first love to a new one.
  • Holding Hands: Each of the main couples in the opening.
    • In episode nine, Akihiko holds Hiroki's hand to keep him warm as he walks him home because they only have one pair of gloves between them.
    • It's also as close as Hiroki gets to expressing affection for Nowaki in public during their early dates.
    • Akihiko and Misaki on their trip to Hokkaido. Misaki is embarrassed, but Usagi notes that it's not like anyone they know is watching.
      • Which is somewhat weird considering Akihiko is supposed to be famous, but it's justifiable in that authors' faces are rarely as well-known as those of, say, actors or musicians.
  • Idiosyncratic Ship Naming: All named by the original author, no less. The ship names illustrate the running theme of their respective pairings.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Shinobu seems to be the only guy Miyagi's ever been interested in.
    • Misaki seems averse to the idea of going out with guys, and even states that he's not interested in them, but Usagi is a "special case."
  • I Have This Friend: Miyagi and Hiroki occasionally try to talk to each other about their relationship problems using this and "hypothetically speaking..."
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Hiroki tends to use this phrase in a slightly more life-affirming way, as it's his way of asking Nowaki to hug him close.
  • Indirect Kiss: Misaki to Usagi. "How's that for erotic?!"
  • Insufferable Genius: Shinobu and Usagi are different variations.
  • Intertwined Fingers: Featured in Hiroki and Nowaki's first love scene.
  • In Vino Veritas: Hiroki, who has trouble expressing his feelings even to his lover, is a very talkative drunk and loves to go on about Nowaki and himself. He invariably wakes up the next day having no memory of what he has said. Usagi takes advantage of this and gets him drunk whenever he needs more material for his BL novels.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Despite all of Mizuki's insults toward Misaki, he does motivate Misaki to improve himself into a better person and find his goal in life.
    • For all of Fuyuhiko's mean words, he does want to make sure that Misaki and Usagi's relationship is strong and true.
  • Last-Name Basis: Hiroki and Miyagi are referred by their last name by anyone who is not Akihiko or Risako respectively. Similarly, Isaka is not referred by his given name Ryuuichirou by anyone apart from Kaoru.
  • Lethal Chef: Both Usagi ("I tried boiling an egg in the microwave and it exploded...") and Shinobu ("Oil, meat, veggies! Oil, meat, veggies!"), probably because of growing up in rich families. Shinobu at least does improve into a more "bearable" stage.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: As seen in a flashback, Usami Akihiko used to be one of these until Hiroki befriended him.
  • Loop Hole Abuse: In chapter 29.5, Misaki becomes interested in Usagi's history and relationship with Hiroki. Usagi however, tells the former to kiss him as a cost for telling. Misaki's solution? Uses Suzuki to kiss him instead. Usagi is not amused.
    • Probably unintentional but early in the story, Miyagi does try to prove that there is nothing between him and Hiroki by citing that the latter is gay. Shinobu doesn't take it for a second.
  • Love at First Sight: Nowaki fell in love with Hiroki at first sight.
    • Shinobu falls in love with Miyagi since the day that the latter rescued him from the thugs.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Usagi, Haruhiko, and Ijuuin have passionate (?) feelings for Misaki, who is obviously in love with Usagi, while Kaoruko has a slight crush on him, and Mizuki, in turn, is in love with Kaoruko.
  • Magic Floppy Disk: What Usagi saves his writing on.
  • Manly Tears: Shinobu has the propensity to cry when Miyagi says something that proves that, contrary to what he thinks, their relationship is not at a dead end. After the grave scene in particular, Miyagi comments on Shinobu's "manly way of crying." note 
  • Meaningful Name: Members of Usagi's immediate family name's are related to the seasons. Haruhiko, Natsuko, Akihiko, and Fuyuhiko each correspond to their respective seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter).
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Isaka, whose chin doesn't follow the stereotypical style of Uke.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Miyagi, being the type of person to playfully glomp Hiroki just to annoy him, gets into a few misunderstandings when Shinobu walks in on them once or twice, even though Miyagi's just joking around - well, except maybe that scene in the Egoist arc. No one knows what that's about.
    • Arguably subverted when Hiroki comes home to discover Nowaki asleep and half-naked with another man on the floor. Nowaki says several times that nothing was going on and it wasn't what it looked like — but Hiroki never really thought it was, because he knows Nowaki doesn't lie to him. He does think something is going on, but he doesn't suspect Nowaki of cheating on him.
  • One-Steve Limit: Played with. The story has one male "Kaoru" and one female "Kaoruko".
  • Official Couple: The series focuses on three different official couples, with a fourth couple, Isaka and Asahina, featured as a manga extra. Then very late in the story, two additional couples join the picture, resulting in a total of six couples featured in the story.
  • One Head Taller: All three couples.
    • By the third season, the height differences seems to have shortened to half-head taller for at least the Romantica and Terrorist Couple. This can be justified by that both Misaki and Shinobu actually grows during the 4 years period of the story.
  • Only Sane Man: Both Misaki, Kaoru, and Miyagi have their moments as the most normal minded person in their own story.
  • Only Six Faces: While characters are differentiated by hairstyles, colors, and face shapes, some do look like each other.
    • Misaki and Hiroki does almost exactly resemble each other apart from hair color and eye size.
    • The only thing that differentiates Nowaki and Miyagi is the hair color and the presence of eye bags.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Shinobu. Even in the opening theme, he's never seen smiling.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Hiroki to Nowaki. A non-verbal approach.
  • The Power of Love
  • Promotion to Parent: Takahiro to his little brother Misaki in backstory. Misaki feels that his brother is overprotective at times, though Takahiro is probably justified in his worries because of Misaki's Extreme Doormat tendencies.
  • Puppy Love: Occurs in-universe with Junjou Minimum chapters, namely the central backstory of young Hiroki and young Akihiko, and one serendipitous encounter between young Hiroki and his future partner, Nowaki.
  • Race for Your Love: Miyagi rushes to the airport when he hears that Shinobu is going back to Australia.
  • Rape and Switch: It's implied that Akihiko is homosexual due to being molested by his male tutor when he was a very young child. While this is only a wild guess Misaki made when he attempts to figure out the older man's backstory, Akihiko never denies that it didn't happen.
  • Rape as Backstory: Implied with Usagi. When Misaki is accidentally guessing his life story correctly, part of what he guesses is that he was taken advantage of by an older boy (in the anime, "He did naughty things to you." In the manga, "He violated you."). Add to that the fact that "an older boy" in England told 10-year-old Usagi that a kiss was a "cheering-up charm"...
  • Red String of Fate: During the ending theme of season 3 one of these is seen tied on Misaki and Usagi's pinkies.
  • Running Gag: Misaki has the habit of meeting Usagi's family at the train station as they're trying to make sense of how to ride it. The first is Haruhiko (Akihiko's half-brother), then second is Fuyuhiko (Akihiko's father). The last is Natsuko, Akihiko's mother, being picked up instead seems to show just how different she is from her family.
  • Rushed Inverted Reading: Hiroki once does this to hide his embarrassment in front of Nowaki. Nowaki doesn't notice, and neither did most of the watchers until the subs told them.
  • Second Love: Usagi was in love with Misaki's brother first, Hiroki was in love with Usagi before he met Nowaki, and Miyagi was in love with his teacher before she died.
  • Secret Relationship: Usagi and Misaki, not only from Takahiro but also to the public even though a few people knew about it. Misaki will always try his best to prevent anyone from finding out about their relationship throughout the series even though Usagi doesn't mind if anyone finds out.
  • Secret Test of Character: Haruhiko makes a move on Misaki at Usagi's publisher's office, but it was set up by Isaka to test if Misaki can stand up for himself.
  • Sexual Euphemism: Akihiko describes his and Misaki's nighttime activities in a not-so-blunt yet also not-so-subtle manner, "I make your this-and-that dirty and wet, then I thrust my this-and-that into you..."
  • Shout-Out: The butler names "Sebastian" and "Tanaka" could be interpreted as references to Black Butler. Unless of course Kuroshitsuji references this series instead.
    • It's also possible that due to Usami Akihiko being a walking stereotype of a rich boy with a troubled past, Misaki automatically assumes that the butler must stereotypically be named Sebastian. He was wrong since it turned out to be Tanaka, possibly one of the most ordinary Japanese surnames ever (like Smith for westerners). Even the Usami family pet names are stereotypical: Alexander for the long-haired dog and Tama for the cat.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Usagi uses this to stop Misaki from crying.
    • Also in Junjou Minimum, where Usagi effectively silences a ranting, sobbing Hiroki with this. His explanation to his understandably freaked-out friend is that he was taught it as a "cheering-up charm".
  • Sick Episode: In one Egoist chapter, Nowaki is ill and Hiroki runs down the list of nursing cliches while worriedly taking care of him. Of course in the end, it's revealed that Nowaki wasn't sick at all, just tired, and Hiroki was getting ahead of himself. And in the end Hiroki gets sick. It's implied that this is because he spent the winter night naked after having sex with Nowaki.
  • Snow Means Love: It's snowing in the scene where Usagi rather abruptly realizes that, oh, he doesn't love Takahiro, but Misaki instead. And then he promptly makes out with him against a streetlight.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Hiroki walks in on Shinobu and Miyagi in an embrace. Panicked, Miyagi yells, "I am not doing anything scandalous!"
  • Throw the Book at Them: Hiroki.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: As a flashback shows, Hiroki was in love with Akihiko for a long time. It didn't work out.
  • Unsound Effect
    Misaki: INDIRECT KISS!
  • Theme Naming: The Usami family: Akihiko, Haruhiko, and their father Fuyuhiko ("aki," "haru," and "fuyu" being the Japanese words for "autumn," "spring," and "winter" respectively).
  • Tsundere: Hiroki is a more volatile Type A, while Misaki is a nice-guy-slash-pushover Type B with berserk buttons that Usagi likes toying with a little too much. Kaoruko is also this toward Misaki.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Junjou Minimum.
  • Write Who You Know: invoked An in-story example, where one of the characters uses the names of people he knows for his stories. Misaki is quite annoyed when he finds he's been written into Usagi's BL novels...
    • And then there's Nakamura herself. In an adjacent series (set in the same universe) Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi the main characters work in a publishing company editing shojo manga. Most of their lives are spent trying to get mangaka to finish their work on time and hand it in! There are a lot of apologetic little notes in the corner along the lines of "this is what a good mangaka should do but, er..." It gets to the point where there is heavy leaning on the Fourth Wall.
  • Yaoi Fangirl: Aikawa, Usagi's editor. Her input greatly influences the content of the BL novels Usagi pens on the side. Misaki is not happy with her ideas.

Alternative Title(s): Junjo Romantica