Zetsuai 1989 & Bronze (Zetsuai since 1989)

Rating: 2 Rampages Ooh, the blood, the angst, the...Christianity?  ano...

The plot concerns womanising rock idol Koji Nanjo (tall, long blonde hair), who has just been re-united with the person he fell madly in love with six years ago on sight, Takuto Izumi (shorter, brown hair). Unfortunately, Koji had been informed that Izumi was a girl, when the truth is that he's a boy, and a hostile, emotionally scarred boy at that. Naturally Koji is rather confused and it takes him a long time to come to terms with his feelings for Izumi. It takes Izumi longer still, partly because he is unsure of what he wants and partly because he doesn't want to fall in love with anyone, let alone Koji, who he initially dislikes intensely. Even when they finally do reach some kind of understanding, there are other problems to deal with, such as Koji's older brothers Hirose and Akihito, who are determined to split them up. Even those who do support them, including the insufferably cheerful Katsumi Shibuya, Koji's best friend and Koji's permanently anxious manager Toshiyuki Takasaka, cannot always be trusted to stay out of their affairs...

Bronze is the second OVA, set a few years after Zetsuai, and drawn in a different style. The voice actors, however, are the same.

I've got spider fingers, baby... Review:
Herself the Elf sez: Oh, the humanity! The angst! The melodrama! This show ranks up there among the most melodramatic anime of all time. Take the love-and-death angst of Weiß Kreuz and multiply it by a thousand, and you might be close to Zetsuai. It's eerily similar in that regard to those old Victorian romances, with their mysterious wasting illnesses, self-sacrifice and high tragedy. Either Koji or Izumi (or both) are almost constantly injured or sick...so the other can care for him tenderly, I assume. It's so overdone it's ridiculous; Izumi finds Koji drunk and lying in the rain, takes him home and nurses him back to health....then Izumi comes down with pneumonia, then Koji gets hit by a car and breaks his arm, then Koji goes and stands in the rain again, then Koji gets hit by a car again and is in a coma, then Izumi's old wound starts acting up....you get the idea. My friend Paulina, with whom I was watching this angst-filled mess, commented that the hospital should set aside a permanent room for these guys, since they're always sick or hurt. And of course they've also got to be constantly doubting their relationship, agonizing over their feelings, doing the Miaka trick of 'I'll run away because I only bring grief and trouble to people', and threatening to kill themselves. Ah yes, no cliché is left unabused. There's only about 2 minutes in the entire both OVAs that Koji and Izumi are actually happy (amazingly enough, these are also the 2 minutes that I actually enjoyed). But we can't have that, so something awful has to happen again.

Another thing that made it difficult for me to enjoy this show was the character design, which was done in that damned spider-boy style that's so prevalent in yaoi manga: ridiculously long and spindly limbs, absurdly wide shoulders, pointy chins, super-long necks, and fingers so long they look like spider legs. Sorry, but I find it hard to enjoy watching bishounen make out when they look like they've been horribly mutated in some kind of freak accident. You could see a bit of this style in FAKE, but it was rather toned down; in Zetsuai & Bronze they just look disturbing. When you're screaming at the screen for the bishounen to put his shirt back ON, you know there's something wrong. Bronze is drawn in a slightly different, more angular style, but they still look like mutants.

After FAKE, I had hopes that I'd get some yaoi gratification with this one. Alas, there's absolutely no sex (just a couple of very tame fondling shots) in either Zetsuai or Bronze, which makes the unbelievable melodrama all the more difficult to put up with. In retrospect, I don't know what else I should have expected from a show called 'Hopeless Love'...although I think it should have been called 'Invalid Love' or 'This Is Some Shitty Love'. Anyways, if you like high tragedy and lots of anguished romance, you might really like this show. I, however, was alternately laughing my ass off and cringing in pain. I'm just holding out for Ai no Kusabi now...I have it on excellent authority that *that* show's got plenty of action in it. ^_~

Only available fansubbed.