Based upon the manga by Kazuma Kodaka
Directed by Rin Hiroo
Music by Fujio Takano and Noriyuki Higami
Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:
- Lukewarm boy-on-boy action
- Aggressive lovers and quasi date-rape
- Lecherous professors
- Yakuza violence
Released by: Central Park Media
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Skip it.
Yaoi, or “shonen-ai” as it’s more properly called, is not to the taste of everyone. However, if you’ve wondered why heterosexuals should have all the fun in the anime romance genre, then Kizuna might just be for you. Like most shonen-ai, it was written by a woman for a female audience. Why male homosexual love appeals to so many women inside and outside Japan is a question for the psychoanalysts among us. This release presents the first half of an OAV from 1994.
The series is a serious look at the depths of love–what you will do for it and to preserve it, as well as the lengths you may have to go to get it. The story begins with a brief look at Ranmaru and Enjoji’s past: we learn that they have been together for a few years, since Ranmaru, who was hoping for a pro kendo career, was injured in a vehicular assassination meant for Enjoji Kei, the son of a Yakuza boss. Enjoji is undergoing increasing pressure to follow in his father’s footsteps. Enjoji does his best to make it up to Ranmaru, and they seem happy enough. Now everyone is in college, and a lecherous professor catches Ranmaru alone and hits on him. Ranmaru is “rescued” by Enjoji’s hated younger half-brother, Sagano Kai, who is also the son of the Yakuza don. Sagano reveals that he has always admired Ranmaru and hopes to steal him away from the mysterious and possibly criminal Enjoji.
For all that it would be considered an “adult” release here, that’s solely because of the homosexual relationship and not because of the explicitness of the love scenes. There are many heterosexual shows that are far more “racy” than this one, as demonstrated by the mere 16+ rating on this release. There are some sexual situations, but any kid who can handle your average R-rated Hollywood release can probably handle this.
The audio is good enough for what it’s asked to do. The Japanese cast knows what they’re doing of course and almost make you care about the characters despite the poor plotting. A note on the audio: there is no dub available on the disc, so you’re stuck with reading the movie instead of watching it. There are even a number of times when the subtitles are timed wrong, indicating the wrong speaker, confusing the love story and making viewing more annoying than pleasurable.
The visuals are decent, but not particularly well-done. The transfer is faded in places and does not seem to have been cleaned up. For a non-budget release, this is quite disappointing. I guess they figured anime fans were so hard up for shonen-ai that we’d take what we could get. Not so, especially since so many anime fans could take yaoi or leave it. There are, not surprisingly given the overall quality here, no extras or features. Substandard, especially since the feature itself is so short, and to end the story requires the pointless purchase of a second disc.
The real problem with this show is not the sexuality or gender-preference of the characters, but the fact that it’s just not very well-plotted. If you’re desperate for some shonen-ai, or just want to see what all the fuss is about in a relatively tame way, then this might be a decent bet (though Fake or even Legal Drug is a much better option), but if you’re looking to be won over, then this won’t be the disc to do it. The plotting is weak, overly-fragmented, and just plain mediocre. It’s not offensively bad, but it’s not particularly good either, especially given the rather annoying splitting of the short OAV into two pathetically short DVD releases.