Super Lovers Series Review: Not Sure About the Super Part – But They Are Working on the Lovers Part

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This is part of a series of re-posts of older reviews on 100 Word Anime. The original review came out in June 2016 and can be found here.

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My overall impression of this anime isn’t great and that hasn’t really changed since my first viewing of it or during the second season. To be honest, this is kind of one of those shows you watch because you really want more or a particularly genre but given how little there is you just kind of watch anything that is available. While there are certainly warm and touching moments and some really interesting dialogue exchanges there’s just too much sitting around and waiting for one of the many emotionally stunted characters to say or do something that should have already happened.

Outside of the main relationships, everything that happens in the plot happens because of narrative convenience, including amnesia, success in business with very little risk, admission into school, friend appearing, mother returning to Japan. While each of these events is plausible in and of itself, they really feel forced on the characters to make them act in certain ways because the plot demands it.

Last time I reviewed this I steered away from really getting into the age gap, and to be honest I’m not going to debate the morality of it in the real world, because quite frankly it isn’t appropriate. Is it problematic for a work of fiction to establish a relationship like this? Well that entirely depends on how far you separate fictional what-ifs from real experiences and some people will find this distinctly uncomfortable and so would be better off steering clear. I will admit, I find Haru very hard to take seriously as a character because of some of his choices and general lack of impulse control but ultimately that is a minor nitpick in an anime full of other general issues.

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Starting with the problems (and that way I can end on the positives):

01. Haru and Ren’s relationship doesn’t get a fair chance to develop in a cohesive manner. The time and continent jumps, and then the other characters who distract from this central story line just mean that everything about their relationship seems forced. Okay, some people are more concerned with the age difference and the fact that Haru is technically Ren’s key carer and with the power imbalance there is a lot wrong with the relationship in the first place. As I said above, I’m not getting into that one, but asking me to accept that Ren somehow imprinted on Haru as a child and just never got over that, despite having very little reason to continue feeling that way and even after being exposed to a larger group of people, just makes no sense. Granted, people do get fixated on others, but Ren’s level of mindless devotion is at times disturbing (more so then anything else about their relationship).

02. Haru’s brothers are all but completely unnecessary to the storyline and their characterisation is inconsistent at best. Is Aki actually angry with Haru? Apparently but then somehow he gets over it, except when he forgets he is supposed to be over it. Shima is little better when at times he seems all knowing and other times is just completely dense. And while a lot of what Haru does early in the season is so his brothers can all live together there just doesn’t seem much reason for this to need to happen. Particularly as the story then finds endless ways to send Aki and Shima off to school or work and remove them from the story. Just remove them in the first place and have them drop by when the occasion calls for it.

03. Haru’s mother, Haruko. Okay, Haruko needs her own entire post focussing on truly bizarre things anime parents sometimes get away with. Playing it off that she is super smart and probably has some master plan doesn’t make her a good mother. Or even a decent human being.Haru was hospitalised after returning to Japan and his parents were killed. He was not welcome in the house that took in his brothers. Why on earth would Haruko not do something to support her child in this situation? Why is he having to work as a host to save money to send his brothers to school? And even before then, who tells their kid they are dying in order to get them to fly by themselves to another country? Wow, she is horrible. Her final return at the end of the series did little to endear her to the audience or win her any points for mother of the year, either.

04. The pacing. After the initial time jumps and back and forths this anime settles into a very slow and languid style of story telling where time just doesn’t seem to be moving at all. That wouldn’t be so much a problem if the characters were interesting enough or if there day to day had some memorable moments scattered about but essentially they go to school or work and come home. Oh, I forgot, they found a dog.

05. Finally, the visuals. Normally this is not usually an issue for me with anime unless there is something particularly unusual about character design but I found the constant disappearing faces and vacant eyes when they weren’t doing a close up on a character really disconcerting. Again, not something that normally bugs me, but in this anime, when so much of it was characters sitting around talking so there wasn’t much else to distract, this really bugged me. I’ve read a lot of reviews with people saying how beautiful this anime is, and at times it really is; but that makes the times when it isn’t stand out more.

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You might think from that I hated this series, but that isn’t actually the case. At no point did I want to drop this show even on a second viewing. I did however want it to speed up a bit and maybe have a little bit more happening in each episode. So what is good about the series?

01. Ren. That might seem odd but Ren is a character I found very interesting. The best parts of this anime were the parts that dealt specifically with the trauma Ren had encountered prior to Haru and his adjustments to Japan and then to school life. What I particularly like is that Ren’s development as a person (not his relationship with Haru) seems fairly logical and cohesive. There aren’t sudden 180’s in his personality but there are small changes that build up over time. Even Ren engaging in conversation with some of the sub-characters was usually interesting but would have been better if I’d cared just a little bit more about the other character.

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02. Haru opening the cafe. Right, so his instant success is not particularly believable (no matter how many friends offer a helping hand) when you consider how many small businesses fail, but this move was a good one for Haru’s development. It showed him growing up and having an increasing sense of responsibility and allowed him to actually be in the story rather than at work or asleep. In terms of narrative devices the career change worked really well and seemed to fit with what we knew of the characters at the time.

03. The tone. This anime plays its story seriously and while there are sad moments and dark moments, mostly it has a very sweet tone. It feels consistent without abrupt changes in the writing style or music and while this does at times make it feel a little bit flat you aren’t suffering from the emotional whip-lash some of the other shows have given us this season.

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On balance there are less positives here than in the problem list but that isn’t a deal breaker. Watching this through it flows nicely if slowly and it tells its story affectively even if there are occasional distractions and detractors from it.

That said, I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend watching Super Lovers. Even after the second season, there just isn’t enough going on with the characters and the plot and progress is pretty glacial. There’s certainly better out there to watch. 


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Super Lovers Season 2 Series Review

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Overview:

Super Lovers season 2 picks up with Ren and Haru pretty much where season 1 left off. Their relationship is in limbo. That said, Ren is actively becoming more aggressive in his pursuit of a relationship this season.

I reviewed Super Lovers season 2 week to week over on my patreon, however the posts are public so feel free to check out my episode thoughts here.

Review:

There’s not much to say about this show. Either you made it through season 1, in which case you would probably continue happily on to season 2, or you didn’t. Season 2 does bring some revelations to the table about the accident and the various decisions made by the parents regarding the various adoptions, but mostly its more of the same. Ren and Haru don’t communicate well, some problem ensues, both look like a hurt puppy for awhile, and then one or the other manages some gesture that gets them both back on track.

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The support cast remain more or less one note. In fact, this season they feel even more tagged on, existing only to offer the occasional commentary on the relationship or be an audience to Ren or Haru’s various crises. Even an additional cast member in the form of a cousin with a complicated relationship to the brothers (who doesn’t have a complicated relationship in this show), doesn’t do much to liven up the support cast.

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Jealousy plays a key role through most of the story. Both Ren and Haru are possessive and for me that is most problematic thing in their relationship. The age difference is a little cringey, the could be brothers but not biological is a little off-putting, the power imbalance given Ren is dependent on Haru certainly concerns me, but the possessive nature of their emotions is where the relationship really sours for me. It kind of ceases to be cute and becomes close to emotional abuse when they both try to cut off the other’s relationships outside of themselves. The only consolation here is that it isn’t one character doing to the other but both characters are acting in an equally possessive manner.

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Really, though the largest problem the series faces (not the relationship but the show) is that the plot is practically non-existent. We just kind of drift from moment to moment with these ideas strung together only by the tenuous thread of where Haru and Ren are up to in their relationship. Its like trying to plot something from someone’s Facebook relationship status and its about as coherent really. It’s got a job, fought with my ex, had a dinner party, totally in love, invited on a date,  fought with my soon to be ex, went to the beach, and so on and so forth. The story is not compelling.

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Overall, I probably could have just stopped watching this at any point. I’ll admit, I’m still a little curious about where the two characters will ultimately end up and there was nothing so unwatchably bad about this season that I actually wanted to quit, but neither was I in any rush as the next episode came out. My episode reviews ran about a week behind the release of the episode which gave me plenty of time to delay watching and find other things to do.


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Karandi James.

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Super Lovers Season 2 Episode 1

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Review:

I wasn’t planning on reviewing Super Lovers episodically this season because during season 1 I kind of noted that every post on this series had much the same observations. But AnimeLab hasn’t released a new episode of Iron Blooded Orphans so now I have a gap in my schedule so here we go.

Episode 1 picks up more or less exactly where season 1 ditched us and Ren and Haru’s relationship is just as undefined as ever given they talk sometimes like they’ve already moved to being lovers and then at other times they just aren’t on the same page. Also they continue to go back and fourth between being overly touchy and making no connection. Haru’s mother is still there and wanting to take Ren with her only Ren has kind of emphatically said (at least for Ren) that he isn’t planning to leave. This leaves me wondering if Haru is going to do something stupid and Ren is going to leave before Haru follows him and brings him back (though haven’t we already had that storyline), or Ren is just going to stay in which case we are going through some senseless drama for the sake of it. It isn’t that I dislike this episode or this show (though the age difference and power imbalance remains an issue), it’s just that the characters are moving glacially and the plot is pretty much guy falling in love with maybe brother so little happening on that front. So, all things considered, I probably won’t continue with episodic thoughts on this but will just review the season when it is done but I may do up dates if other shows don’t have an episode to review.


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Super Lovers Series Review

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Super Lovers Overview:

The story of Super Lovers starts with Haru arriving in Canada, summoned by news that his mother is dying. Turns out she isn’t (and we’ll talk more about his mother later) and what she actually wants is for Haru to look after Ren, a child she has taken in (though it’s a little unclear about the how and why of that one).

At the end of his vacation in Canada Haru returns home where a tragic and yet convenient accident occurs leaving him with no memory of meeting Ren. Five years later, Ren arrives in Tokyo and after a little bit of back and forth between Japan and Tokyo, Ren begins living with Haru and Haru’s two half brothers.

This is a boys love anime and has a lot of the usual tropes associated with that. If that doesn’t bother you, read on.

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Super Lovers Review:

My overall impression of this anime isn’t great. While there are certainly warm and touching moments and some really interesting dialogue exchanges there’s just too much sitting around and waiting for one of the many emotionally stunted characters to say or do something that should have already happened.

Outside of the main relationships, everything that happens in the plot happens because of narrative convenience, including amnesia, success in business with very little risk, admission into school, friend appearing, mother returning to Japan. While each of these events is plausible in and of itself, they really feel forced on the characters to make them act in certain ways because the plot demands it.

There will be spoilers below so if you haven’t watched this series yet you might want to steer away. And I’m not really going to address the sensitive subject matter. Two guys, who may or may not be related, and have a heck of an age difference, are in a relationship (of sorts). Regardless of what I say below, if you don’t want to watch that, you aren’t going to watch this anime.

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In order to end on a more positive note I’ve decided to explore the problems I had with Super Lovers first.

For instance: Haru and Ren’s relationship doesn’t get a fair chance to develop in a cohesive manner. The time and continent jumps, and then the other characters who distract from this central story line of Super Lovers just mean that everything about their relationship seems forced.

Okay, some people are more concerned with the age difference and the fact that Haru is technically Ren’s key carer and with the power imbalance there is a lot wrong with the relationship in the first place. As I said above, I’m not getting into that one, but asking me to accept that Ren somehow imprinted on Haru as a child and just never got over that, despite having very little reason to continue feeling that way and even after being exposed to a larger group of people, just makes no sense.

Granted, people do get fixated on others, but Ren’s level of mindless devotion is at times disturbing (more so then anything else about this relationship in Super Lovers).



Also, Haru’s brothers are all but completely unnecessary to the storyline and their characterisation is inconsistent at best. Is Aki actually angry with Haru? Apparently but then somehow he gets over it, except when he forgets he is supposed to be over it.

Shima is little better when at times he seems all knowing and other times is just completely dense. And while a lot of what Haru does early in the season is so his brothers can all live together there just doesn’t seem much reason for this to need to happen. Particularly as the story then finds endless ways to send Aki and Shima off to school or work and remove them from the story. Just remove them in the first place and have them drop by when the occasion calls for it.

Aki and Shima - Unnecessary to Super Lovers?

But while we’re on family members in Super Lovers who don’t make sense, let’s discuss Haru’s mother, Haruko.

Okay, Haruko needs her own entire post focussing on truly bizarre things anime parents sometimes get away with. Playing it off that she is super smart and probably has some master plan doesn’t make her a good mother. Or even a decent human being.

Haru was hospitalised after returning to Japan and his parents were killed. He was not welcome in the house that took in his brothers. Why on earth would Haruko not do something to support her child in this situation? Why is he having to work as a host to save money to send his brothers to school? And even before then, who tells their kid they are dying in order to get them to fly by themselves to another country?

Wow, she is horrible. Her final return at the end of Super Lovers did little to endear her to the audience or win her any points for mother of the year, either.

Though character issues pale beside the issue of pacing.

After the initial time jumps and back and forths this anime settles into a very slow and languid style of story telling where time just doesn’t seem to be moving at all. That wouldn’t be so much a problem if the characters were interesting enough or if there day to day had some memorable moments scattered about but essentially they go to school or work and come home. Oh, I forgot, they found a dog.

Good relationships in Super Lovers.

Finally wrapping up the criticisms are my thoughts on the visuals.

Normally this is not usually an issue for me with anime unless there is something particularly unusual about character design but I found the constant disappearing faces and vacant eyes when they weren’t doing a close up on a character really disconcerting.

Again, not something that normally bugs me, but in Super Lovers, when so much of it was characters sitting around talking so there wasn’t much else to distract, this really bugged me. I’ve read a lot of reviews with people saying how beautiful this anime is, and at times it really is; but that makes the times when it isn’t stand out more.

You might think from all of the above that I hated Super Lovers, but that isn’t actually the case. At no point did I want to drop this show. I did however want it to speed up a bit and maybe have a little bit more happening in each episode. So what is good about the series?

Let’s start with Ren. That might seem odd but Ren is a character I found very interesting.

The best parts of Super Lovers were the parts that dealt specifically with the trauma Ren had encountered prior to Haru and his adjustments to Japan and then to school life. What I particularly like is that Ren’s development as a person (not his relationship with Haru) seems fairly logical and cohesive. There aren’t sudden 180’s in his personality but there are small changes that build up over time.

Even Ren engaging in conversation with some of the sub-characters was usually interesting but would have been better if I’d cared just a little bit more about the other character.

Ren - so cute.
Image from Super Lovers.

Likewise, I enjoyed the subplot of Haru opening the café.

Right, so his instant success is not particularly believable (no matter how many friends offer a helping hand) when you consider how many small businesses fail, but this move was a good one for Haru’s development. It showed him growing up and having an increasing sense of responsibility and allowed him to actually be in the story rather than at work or asleep.

In terms of narrative devices the career change worked really well and seemed to fit with what we knew of the characters at the time.

Also the tone of the story in Super Lovers works. This anime plays its story seriously and while there are sad moments and dark moments, mostly it has a very sweet tone. It feels consistent without abrupt changes in the writing style or music and while this does at times make it feel a little bit flat you aren’t suffering from the emotional whip-lash some of the other shows have given us this season.

Happy Family - Super Lovers

On balance there are less positives here than in the problem list but that isn’t a deal breaker. Watching this through it flows nicely if slowly and it tells its story affectively even if there are occasional distractions and detractors from it.

What really would make me hesitate to recommend this anime is the ending. And yes, I know there has been an announcement of a second season but that just means that we have to wait to know if this story is going to get a proper ending so you may as well wait until then to watch this.

Super Lovers is available on Crunchyroll if you are planning on checking it out.

If you have already watched it, let me know what you thought of the series below.


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Karandi James