If you watch romance anime for the joy of seeing characters grow closer together, fall in love, and share sweet moments, then Kizuna is not what you’re looking for. This is an anime about the harsher side of love. About dealing with each other’s shortcomings and overcoming lover quarrels. An anime about jealousy and cheating. It’s also very gay. I dig it.
Based on a manga by prolific BL author Kazuma Kodaka, the story of Kizuna follows two boys. Ranmaru Samejima and Kei Enjoji have been together since high school and now live together. Kei is the bastard son of a yakuza boss, who tried to leave behind his family’s business. When rivals attempt to assassinate him regardless, they end up wounding Ranmaru instead. Forever ruining his career as a kendo prodigy and instilling Kei with a deeply-rooted sense of guilt.
The anime is set some years after this incident after the two made amends and became a formal couple. This may seem like a missed opportunity for exploring the most intense time in these characters’ lives, but don’t worry; there is plenty of drama to still tap into.
From misunderstandings to romantic rivals to domestic abuse; there’s never a peaceful moment in Kizuna. Drama is always lurking around the corner, looking to drive a wedge between the couple. And when they just about got it sorted out, you can bet that the next issue is already waiting to strike.
This is driven to absurd and criminal levels. Much of the first episode, for example, deals with Ranmaru invoking the ire of a would-be rapist. A man who then resorts to criminal methods to get his vengeance after being beaten up the first time. Kei’s past also ends up getting the yakuza involved, adding even more crime to the couple’s daily lives.
Kizuna isn’t emblematic of a healthy relationship, but the absurdity of its drama is “fun” in its own way. If you’re in the mood for some soap opera-style lover quarrels with crime action on the side, then this series is well worth your time. The 90s version ran for two half-hour episodes and a 45-minute remake was released in 2001.