Super Lovers – Mid Season Review
Original Air Dates: April 6th, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: Kaido Haru hasn’t seen his birth mother in years since he moved to Japan with his father and step mother. But when he comes to visit her at her home in Canada, it turns out to be for an entirely different purpose other than a family visit. He finds that his mother has adopted a boy, Ren, who was mistreated at the local orphanage. Due to his mistreatment, Ren is kind of feral compared to most boys his age, and obstinate to boot. Haru works on getting Ren to come out of his shell and bond as brothers.
Mid Season Review – 5 Episodes (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Super Lovers, despite the implications of its title and promotional image, remains generally tame up throughout its first four episodes, rarely straying into uncomfortable territory that cannot simply be overlooked as bizarrely quirky or misconceptions about foreigners. The show skirts Western lines of sexual acceptability with flower adorned embraces between Haru and Ren during emotional struggles, or on the mouth kisses passed off as little more than a Canadian custom (I wonder how Canadians feel about this.) Much of the show is no where near as scandalous as many viewers might fear, but make no mistake; as the love between Haru and Ren blossoms so do the frequency of these awkward brocest romance moments.
Linny: Super Lovers truly did start off harmless with even the most controversial parts being little more than implied or a humourous misunderstandings rather than actually playing out as sexually explicit as the name implies. At the start, my main issues were more to do with how cookie-cutter bishonen these characters felt, from the oblivious and suffocatingly doting older brother, Haru to the tsundere Ren. As well as the incessant depiction of just how popular Haru is with not only the ladies, but his so ‘cool’ attitude that earns him a hero-worshiping lackey. Haru’s two other brothers are primarily relegated to side characters, popping in and out only when the plot requires it. On a nicer note, while Ren is a strong tsundere, initially I did sympathize with him for being an innocent kid who was not only physically abused but is stuck in a foreign land with no childhood friends or family. Even when he was a closed off handful, it was forgivable when you considered how badly he’d been treated prior to his adoption into Haru’s household.
Tom: Despite the uncomfortable territory Super Lovers strays (or jumps) into with episode five, I generally find Ren to be a likable character, if at times a bit too emotionally subdued. He’s someone who I want to see grow up to have a normal life (fat chance with Haru around) and move past his troubled childhood. Haru is kind of a jackass in the first episode, but grew on me throughout episodes two and three. If not for the growing uncomfortable nature of his and Ren’s relationship, I might even say he makes for a carrying and compassionate older brother. The rest of the cast is largely forgettable, existing as near nonentities for four of the five episodes, little more than plot devices to help develop the story and keep things moving.
Linny: And though I whined about the generic nature of the cast, there are still a handful of side characters who make the show enjoyable by injecting it with laughs. If there’s any part that feels like a major issue now that we’re halfway through, it would be how ridiculously inappropriate the innuendos get or how terribly the show handles its frequent time skips and location jumps. For the first four episodes, the characters are constantly switching between two countries with no lead up or exploration of their exploits country to country. The time skips are so glossed over and under explained that they leave the viewer disoriented and even irritated.
Tom: Serious drama crops up now and again, what with Episode 1’s post credit twist or episode 2’s stalker incident, but otherwise Super Lovers remains a feel good, light drama show, with most obstacles solved quickly either on screen or off. There’s never any lasting repercussions that aren’t laid to rest by the next episode.
Linny: Adding to the lack of tension is the lack of authentic characterization for almost every cast member. While most have come to expect ridiculous decisions and actions in our anime, it feels imbalanced when the story initially plays like a simple family drama yet the characters migrate to other countries on a whim, and their siblings and friends seem to have absolutely no desire nor spend any real effort to talk them out of it. Everything just works itself out and more often than not, we only know it worked out because ‘hey it’s several months or years later and everyone is fine.’
Tom: The series lack of drama means there isn’t much more to Super Lovers than its feel good nature and undercurrent brocest. The first half of the series is near harmless, until Episode five when the average viewer will find themselves bombarded with sequence after sequence openly toying with the budding love affair between teenage Ren and young adult Haru. I might be able to overlook this morally abnormal love story if the serious drama was there, but it’s simply not. At times the drama tries to feel like a big deal, particularly during one event where Ren’s new brothers are so mean to him he decides to move back to Canada. It’s a huge moment entirely undermined by its abrupt resolution with what feels like next to no effort on Haru’s part, who up and moves to Canada as if relocating one’s self across the globe is like taking candy from a baby. And then the next week they’re back in Japan. Globe trotting is apparently much easier than any working stiff has ever realized.
Linny: I just cannot stop stressing how poor the time skips are. It uses them in literally every episode and while it’s of course ridiculous for us to expect a day by day play of the story, it’s equally ridiculous for the show to end one episode telling us Haru moved to Canada to be with Ren, and the next episode starting with Ren graduating middle school in Japan. Ren moved back to Japan for the rice, but considering he left Japan because he didn’t want to cause anymore tension between Haru and his brothers, it seems idiotic of him to forget all of that because of, well, rice! Yes, I get that Super Lovers is playing it up for laughs, but this show solves its drama with light hearted jokes, while developing a brocestual romance (Shut up! I know I made up a word there) and in the end, it feels like a rushed mess.
Tom: Perhaps even more pertinent, these time skips are wholly confusing. When Haru abandons his life in Japan and moves to Canada to be with Ren, it feels like a big moment that’ll have continuing ramifications. However, in Episode 4 we’re back in Japan with no immediate explanation for why or how. It left Linny and I confused for a solid portion of the episode, until they finally decided to explain all the events that occured off-screen, a whole six months worth as Linny noted. I’d be inclined to believe this was the anime attempting to squeeze as much of the manga in as possible, if the manga hadn’t done this exact time skip itself. So this isn’t an adaptation problem, but more an innate flaw and detriment to the base story itself.
Linny: For those who are squirmish at the thought of yaoi content, Super Lovers gets really awkward as it progresses. There is no overtly sexual incidents, but there’s plenty of extremely suggestive dialogue, and of course numerous kisses, which seem even weirder when you consider that it is between two people who consider themselves siblings, and they keep doing the super romantic eyes closed kissing with an overlay of flowers and lights, such as you would expect in a romance series. But on the other hand, for those who assumed it would be close to hentai, so far, there’s nothing like that in the show either.
Tom: There’s been accusations that Haru and Ren relationship is a clear depiction of grooming between an older man and a younger boy. I think those accusations are unfounded early on, as the show keeps their relationship innocent, if perhaps a bit odd at times. The accusations were little more than a knee-jerk reaction to the title and promotional imagery rather than the actual content of the first three episodes. Super Lovers becomes hard to defend however as we step into brocest territory from Episode 4 and on. Whether you believe Haru is grooming Ren, or not, there’s no doubt that the majority of viewers will find their relationship growing more and more uncomfortable, particularly as side characters begin to take note of Ren and Haru’s physical affection. I doubt Super Lovers will ever come right out and blatantly acknowledge their abnormal love affair, but it’ll become plain as day the further we delve into the season, and impossible to ignore. Episode 4 is probably the best place to jump off if you’re already feeling uncomfortable. But if you choose to stick around, and even Episode 5 doesn’t phase you, you’ll probably make it all the way to the end without ever feeling awkward and uncomfortable. More power to you. If you’re someone who generally enjoys this type of story, even the fetishized brocest, then I believe Super Lovers might really start to deliver on that angle as it moves into the second half of the season.
Linny: It is extremely difficult to ignore the romantic tones as you watch Haru repeatedly kissing Ren on the lips, eyes closed and in some very suggestive positions. What could have passed for a comedic and dramatic family life turns into super flirtatious and a bit incest-ey show by episode 5 without a doubt. Yes, they’re not actually biologically related but Haru keeps referring to Ren as his younger brother so it shouldn’t be surprising if some viewers dislike it and it makes the whole romance angle all the more awkward and uncomfortable.
Tom: Visuals wise, Super Lovers’ animation holds steady, although it never becomes particularly impressive over these five episodes. All the male characters are drawn as pretty boys with our mains often surrounded by blooming flowers and sparkles to sell their yaoi, bishonen roles. The blooming flower and sparkling backgrounds help to indicate when the story is trying to dress up the romance between Haru and Ren, even when the events on screen aren’t nearly as lovey dovey as the anime might dress them up. Outside of its handful of darker sequences, the show maintains a lighter, brighter more colorful visual palette.
Linny: If you’ve been enjoying Super Lovers so far, I could vouch for the cute jokes and even the brilliant twist courtesy episode 1. However, if you have been wary of the series, there really isn’t enough to defy or overshadow the more riskier tone and title. It’s not just the questionable theme, but the weird time jumps also cause this show to lose points regardless of it being a flaw from the source material itself. That excuse just makes me certain that I don’t want to read the manga either since it suffers the same problems nor do I want to continue watching the series for fear of the questionable content increasing in degree and frequency.
Tom: Super Lovers isn’t quite the cesspool of questionable morals and grooming pedophilia some people might fear it is. It does begin to cross lines and enter morally ambiguous territory most western media wouldn’t even dare to tread, but I never found myself terribly uncomfortable to the point of being grossed out. Rather I saw a light-hearted drama that’s geared towards a niche audience as it gradually ramps up its yaoi romance, giving viewers ample opportunity to jump ship before the topic becomes too much for them. More importantly, Super Lovers isn’t a very good drama, resolving too many of its conflicts too quickly. It has little going for it besides its niche appeal and Super Lovers is something I can’t recommend to a general audience going forward. It’s also not my cup of tea.
Super Lovers is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com