Now we’ve taken a beginning look at Junjou Romantica‘s Usagi-San in the opening chapter of the hit BL manga — Junjou Romantica Act 1 — it’s time to pay closer attention to his new love interest, Misaki.
The 18-year-old brother of Takahiro, Usagi-San’s best friend, and the high school student Usagi-San is tutoring in an attempt to help him get into the university of his choice.
Because, yes, it would be easy to write Misaki off as a loud-mouthed, annoying, immature teenager who is so busy obsessing over his own problems, he doesn’t see what’s in front of his face.
Someone who seems to be the polar opposite to the elegant, mature, yet emotionally closed-off Usagi-San, and a boy who isn’t likely to hold Usagi-San’s attention for long.
Well, if you weren’t able to see what was in front of your face, that is.
Junjou Romantica Act 1 — Misaki — (Manga — Volume 1)
We first meet Misaki Takahashi in Junjou Romantica Act 1 as he arrives home with his report card, painfully aware for the first time, if he doesn’t improve his grades, he won’t get into his first choice university.
In fact, Misaki’s grades are so bad, he may not get into any university at all.
But that problem evaporates when he walks into the apartment he shares with his brother to find a guy about to kiss him. A guy, it turns out, who is his brother’s best friend — Akihiko Usami — hereafter known as Usagi-San.
This sets in motion one of the best Boys’ Love anime stories to ever emerge from Japan.
The story of Misaki and the man he falls in love with.
A man 10 years Misaki’s senior, a wealthy, award-winning, famous novelist and, oh yes, a secretive Boys’ Love light novelist on the side as well.
But…, if you expect Junjou Romantica Act 1 to head in one direction — namely Misaki being taken advantage of by the older man, well… you’d be correct.
For about 45 seconds at least, until the brilliant mangaka Shungiku Nakamura flips the situation on its head.
And proves Misaki isn’t quite the emotional lightweight or self-obsessed teen we first believe him to be.
In fact, by the end of Junjou Romantica Act 1, it is Usagi-San who has proven himself to be emotionally damaged, and Misaki so in touch with his own feelings he becomes the stronger one of the two.
Junjou Romantica Act 1 character analysis — Misaki — his personality is more complex than you think
Sure, Misaki is loud. Boy, is he loud.
Sure, he’s annoying.
Sure, he’s obsessed with Usagi-San being a ‘pervert’ (his word, not mine), and with ‘protecting’ his brother from the man.
But, as we quickly discover only a few more frames into Junjou Romantica Act 1, there is far more to Misaki than meets the eye.
After all, it is Misaki who understands how much Usagi-San loves his brother Takahiro and how well he treats him.
It is Misaki who notices the crushing pain Usagi-San attempts to hide when Takahiro announces he is getting married, and it is Misaki who sobs like a newborn baby because of it.
Not for himself, but for how emotionally devastated Usagi-San is when he realizes he has lost Takahiro forever.
It is also Misaki who opens his own heart and falls in love with Usagi-San. Long before Usagi-San has fallen in love with him.
Something he admits to himself by the close of the first act, as he holds Usagi-San and tells him to cry —
I felt those warm drops on my shoulder, and shapeless emotions came welling up inside me. If only I could stay together with him forever. If only I could become someone special to him. Thoughts like that went through my head, and I stood there unable to take my hands away, and let him go”.
As for the first stirrings of a fight we see between Misaki and his feelings when it comes to Usagi-San, don’t forget, because he is experiencing such strong emotions towards the older man, he doesn’t know what to do with them.
So, while it may seem he is rebuffing Usagi-San’s advances, he really isn’t.
In fact, for some gay men coming to terms with their sexuality for the first time, fight or flight are often the only choices when homosexuality rears its head. As flight isn’t an option for Misaki, who already realizes deep down Usagi-San is his forever love, fight then it must be.
Fight with Usagi-San about his love for Takahiro. Fight with Usagi-San over the plots in the Boys’ Love books he writes. Fight with Usagi-San over being told what to do.
Because, when fight gives up the ghost, the only thing left is to love Usagi-San with every part of his being.
And Misaki? He’s not quite ready to admit to the older man that’s how he feels.
What Misaki does have, however, is an ability to confront Usagi-San with every one of his flaws, to demand he himself is seen for who he is and what he wants, and not for who Usagi-San wants him to be, and to always insist on having his voice heard.
For Usagi-San, a lonely man who was never given the love he needed right from being a child, who uses sex as a way to get close to someone, and who has now closed himself off from others because of it, the loud, boisterous, overly emotional Misaki is so alien to him he cannot help but be pulled in.
In to Misaki’s net, that is.
Because yes, whether Misaki realizes it or not, his stubborn insistence on always putting Usagi-San in his place is what attracted the older man to him.
But it is his ability to be so in touch with his own feelings that he sobs in the street for someone he barely knows, is what ultimately grabs Usagi-San’s heart.
After all, when you have spent your entire life surrounded by unemotional people, and so closed off to everyone, the person whose emotions are strung up on a high-wire for all to see is the one you cannot pull your eyes from.
Especially when, by being in touch with those feelings, the teenager proves himself to be stronger than the older man.
Gay but confused by it. In love with an older man, but afraid to let those feelings out. Worried by what his brother would think as he is terrified of losing him. But still… refusing to run.
Yes, by the end of Junjou Romantica Act 1, while Misaki is still barely an adult, he is still a far more complex individual and a much stronger person than many people give him credit for.
In future Acts in the Junjou Romantica manga series, Misaki continues to prove that.
As for the Junjou Romantica manga, due to it first being published over a decade ago, it can be a bitch to find many of the volumes in English.
Start at Right Stuf, though, and you should be able to pick up most of them.
I am a Brit-American journalist, former radio DJ at 97X WOXY, and Founder/CEO of Leo Sigh. I’m also obsessed with music, anime, manga, and K-dramas. Help!