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Manga / Zetsuai 1989

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Zetsuai (1989) and its sequel series Bronze: Zetsuai since 1989 are one of the classics of the Boys' Love Genre.

The story concerns Kouji Nanjo, a young Idol Singer with a dark and violent past and a Big, Screwed-Up Family, who is out drinking one night and falls down on the street. He's found and picked up by a highschool student and promising soccer star named Takuto Izumi, who takes him to his home to recover. When Kouji wakes up in bed with Izumi, he immediately recognises him as a person he saw playing soccer six years before and fell in love with — though at the time, he took Izumi for a tomboyish girl. Now that he knows Izumi is a boy, he finds to his dismay that his feelings have not changed and are still as strong as ever, but Izumi has a fiery temper and a trauma-laden past that makes it hard for him to trust anyone, and Kouji's all too aware that as a public figure he's not free to fall in love with whoever he wants.

Zetsuai ran in the Shoujo magazine Margaret and was collected in five volumes, with the plot reaching no conclusion to speak of; the sequel series Bronze: Zetsuai since 1989 ran in Margaret and later in the josei magazine Chorus, and then was collected in 14 volumes but broke off due to the mangaka's illness; she eventually gave the series a proper ending in a doujinshi.

There were four associated light novels, and two single-episode OVAs, as well as a collection of associated music videos with the title Cathexis.

Zetsuai 1989 provide examples of:

  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Kouji, multiple times. One of them he made into a song! Suffice to say, Izumi is not happy when he finds out.
  • Art Evolution: Starting volume 11 of Bronze, the art, especially the eyes, is more detailed & is at the same level the cover & artbook pictures have been for years.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: You don't get them more fucked up than the Nanjous.
  • Bokukko: Subverted. Young Kouji thought that young Izumi was one, but many years later he got quite the surprise. It doesn't help that "Izumi" is both a surname and a Gender-Blender Name (though mostly used by females) in Japan.
  • Destructive Romance: Kouji does many truly horrible, unforgivable things to Izumi throughout the manga that make you question if he deserves a happy ending.
  • Diving Save: At some point, Izumi kicks his soccer ball across the street. Serika goes to retrieve it and is almost hit by a car... then, when Izumi is going to help her out, Kouji pulls this and saves her himself.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Almost subverted with Kouji. He wants' to be able to suppress his feelings for Izumi and be Just Friends, but he ends up acting like this trope.
  • Driven to Suicide: Izumi's mother, eventually.
  • Dude, He's Like In A Coma!: At the beginning of the manga, Kouji can't bring himself to kiss Izumi or tell him how much he loves him while he's conscious because he's terrified that he'll reject him and never talk to him again, so he keeps on finding times when Izumi is sick, unconscious, drunk or in a deep sleep to make out with him. He also gives more than one Anguished Declaration of Love when he knows absolutely that Izumi won't hear it or remember it. Then he gets mad at himself for it afterwards.
  • Dumb Struck: Kouji goes mute after he's in a nearly fatal motorcycle accident. He's in a coma for a while and does come out of it, but when he wakes up he can't talk...
  • Everyone Can See It: Everyone can see that Kouji is in love with Izumi, including Izumi's little sister, except for Izumi.
  • Expy: Izumi is what Kojiro Hyuuga from Captain Tsubasa would've been if CT was a Boys' Love series. Minami Ozaki started her career as a Hyuuga/Wakashimazu djka.
  • Fan Girl
    • Serika is a Kouji fangirl. She's later mistaken for his girlfriend, which brings up Izumi's backstory into the public eye. Izumi is enraged by that.
    • Also, Minako Sasaki and Eri. The latter goes completely Yandere, though.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Kouji met Izumi six years ago when he saw him playing soccer and fell in Love at First Sight... but Kouji always thought Izumi was a girl until they met face to face in the present.
  • Freudian Excuse
    • It's easier to understand why Izumi is so hot-tempered and mistrustful of love when you realise that at the age of five, he saw his mother murder his father.
    • Also, the reason why Kouji's older brother Akihito hates him so much is because his mother was forced to leave the Izumi clan after Kouji was taken in by their old man and he never saw her again.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Kouji loves animals, especially dogs.
  • Gayngst: And how. Kouji eventually justifies his feelings (see If It's You, It's Okay), but he spends a lot of time angsting about the fact that Izumi is a guy.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Izumi has a scar on his left hip from the time when he tried to failed to prevent his mother from killing his father. Later, he cuts himself across that scar, thus giving himself a cross mark.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Just try getting close to Izumi. Kouji will not take it well. At all.
  • Hot-Blooded: Izumi
  • Idol Singer: Kouji, and a few of the women he dates.
  • If I Can't Have You… / I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Kouji swings between these two extremes with regard to Izumi. He's aware that I Want My Beloved to Be Happy is a better attitude, but he can't quite bring himself to feel that way and often talks about how he'd like to lock Izumi away. In fact, his behaviour tends to stop short of full-on If I Can't Have You…, but he angsts quite a bit about how he resents anything that makes Izumi happy if it takes Izumi's attention away from him.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Before he met Izumi, Kouji was a womanizer, and even after they get together he maintains that he's still heterosexual, just madly in love with Izumi. (In fact, he claims that thinking of other men makes him feel sick.)
  • Jerkass: Akihito
  • Love at First Sight: Kouji for Izumi. Izumi takes much longer to return his feelings.
  • Love Hurts: Kouji goes through a rather extended period of pain and suffering while trying to suppress his feelings for Izumi. It doesn't work out well for him.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Kouji and Izumi aren't entirely stable when it comes to each other, but the worst example is probably Izumi's parents, since his mother killed his father for cheating on her, and his father smiled while she did it.
  • Love Martyr: At one point Kouji cuts off his own left arm so that his family will leave Izumi alone.
  • The Masochism Tango: Kouji and Izumi's Masochism Tango is more like a full-length ballet, and it seems to run in Izumi's family, since his mother killed his father for cheating on him, then killed herself twelve years later.
  • Meet Cute: Lampshaded with Izumi's teammate Kasaya and his girlfriend Eri: he remarks that their meeting (he was crouched on the ground, and her skirt flew up, exposing her panties) was like something out of a shoujo manga.
  • Oblivious to Love: Izumi takes this to new heights of sheer stupidity.
  • Only Sane Man: How Katsumi Shibuya hasn't gone bonkers with all the stuff around him, the world will never ever know
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: "Zetsuai" is a portmanteau word invented by Ozaki, a compound of "zetsubou" (despair) and "ai" (love). Hence the series is sometimes referred to in English as "Desperate Love" (though Ozaki's preferred English translation is "Everlasting Love").
  • Ping Pong Naïveté: For someone who is street-savvy, lives on his own and has gone through enough trauma in his life to strip away his own childhood and force him into adulthood ten years too early, he is ridiculously naive when it comes to relationships, love and Kouji. Especially Kouji.
  • Rape as Drama: Kouji rapes Izumi's girlfriend Minako out of jealousy and tries to rape Izumi to push him away. Hirose also raped Izumi, and hired a prostitute to do so as well.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Although he does go out with a girl named Minako at one point to get Kouji off his back, Izumi is never genuinely interested in anyone but Kouji.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Many, many times.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Kouji. Izumi doesn't realise it for ages.
  • Stalking Is Love: Izumi not only eventually stops minding Kouji's persistent stalking but says it's why he's falling for him.
  • There Is Only One Bed: Twice; in the very beginning, when Izumi takes Kouji home to recover from his illness, and later when Izumi is staying in a tiny room near his workplace.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Hirose is the one who tries to uphold the Nanjou traditions the most, invoking this trope as the reason.
    • Also, Akihito pretty much worships the ground that Hirose walks on.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Kouji definitely occupies the lighter end of the trope. While he doesn't destroy planets with meteors or burn down orphanages, he's certainly one Yandere of a Seme with some serious shades of Love Makes You Crazy/Evil. Just ask Zarla.
  • Yandere
    • Eri, (also a Loony Fan) who reacts... badly to Kouji announcing his retirement and tries to stab him to death.
    • Kouji himself as well. And how.
    • And Izumi's mother.
  • Younger Than They Look: Despite all of the characters looking to be in their mid-to-late 20s, they are actually in their mid-teens.