As some of you might already know due to my anime review on Super Lovers, I quite enjoy Boys Love -BL- stories, be it yaoi or shounen-ai anime and manga.
But though I truly enjoy this genre, truth is that more often than not the anime adaptations that are made tend to disappoint me -beering some exceptions of course-, and that´s mainly because all of them tend to follow the same tropes. Forceful possessive seme, reluctant feminine uke, some nonconsensual sexual advances, etc.
So… for a time there, I distanced myself from the genre -at least in the anime form- until… Hitorijime my Hero came along.
So… what makes this anime different?
Well… at the beginning nothing, if you watch the first 2-3 episodes of this anime there´s nothing to differentiate it from the likes of Junjou Romantica or Sekaiichi Hatsukoi -though granted both belong to the same author- ´cause we kind of have the typical uke/seme pairing with Kensuke and Hasekura.
Therefore it´s not ´til episode 4 where we are fully introduced to Kousuke and Masahiro when the differences between Hitorijime my Hero and other BL animes is noticeable.
You see Masahiro Setawaga doesn´t believe in heroes, after all, he has been pretty much waiting all of his life for someone to come along and save him from the helpless situation he´s in, with a mother that couldn´t really care less about him and nowhere to belong, so yeah… he doesn´t believe in heroes, or at least he doesn´t ´til accidentally he befriends the little brother of the “bear killer” a guy who seems to patrol the street some nights just to pick up fights with gangs and break them up.
Said “bear killer” is no other than Kousuke Ohsiba, a pretty smart and insistent guy who has never found a problem he can´t solve, but who somehow has being losing faith on being able to make a difference in the lives of other people and save them, ´til he meets the kid his brother just befriended, who dresses as a punk and pretty much hangs with them, but whose eyes are begging to be saved.
That´s pretty much the first chapter in what will be the tumultuous relationship between Masahiro a kid who desperately wants to be saved and find a place to belong and Kousuke, a hero who needs to be saved and shown that what he´s doing is not in vain and he can, in fact, make a difference in peoples life.
Both Masahiro and Kousuke -in whom is less noticeable but still- need saving and they find their hero in each other, Masahiro getting a place to belong and someone who cares from Kousuke and Kousuke getting someone to help him believe in and have faith in Masahiro.
That being said, the issue here is that there’s a really big age gap between Kousuke and Masahiro -12 years I belive-, and for once this age gap is not downplayed like in so many other yaoi animes, mainly ´cause by episode 4, Kousuke is an adult and Masahiro´s teacher and Masahiro… well he’s just a high schooler with an overly complicated family life.
And here, here is where Hitorijime my Hero differentiates from other series of this kind, ´cause for once there´s an arc about some of the friends finding out about their relationship and not being totally ok with it -and not precisely ´cause they are both male- as well as another showing how relationships with a big age gaps can affect the couple, especially when they are not on equal ground, taking a big emotional toll on them ´cause they have different concerns -due to what they see as important because of their ages-, as well as other issues.
The anime also made a big show on how these relationships can actually work -though I think I´d never be totally sold on it in real life- if some boundaries are made.
For example, I might be in the minority here, but I´m actually glad Kousuke and Masahiro haven´t had sex yet -at least in the anime- which it´s implied is due to the fact that Kousuke doesn´t think Masahiro is ready yet.
I mean yeah, Kousuke was at least partially forceful at the beginning, but after their rocky start -which for once didn’t include nonconsensual sex-, he kind of lets Masahiro set the pace.
Yes he asks him to make the first move at times, but I don´t think he is forceful -since he seemed to just want to let him know that he can totally do that-, and though he gets jealous at times, he never tries to cut down Masahiro´s time with his friends.
As for Masahiro, I think he´s one of the few ukes I like the most, ´cause though he made some really silly decisions, you kind of got where he was coming from due to his background, and after the initial confusion and denial, he pretty much doesn´t shy away from his feelings for Kousuke.
The series also did a great job pointing out why Kousuke liked Masahiro back and how it wasn´t just about Kousuke being a hero to Masahiro and saving him, but also the other way around.
That being said, the series isn´t without its drawbacks, mainly the quality of the animation, which varies from episode to episode, but overall this is a great yaoi anime, which definitely deserves to be considered a classic and desperately needs a second season!
So… if you´re a fan of this genre and haven´t seen this anime series…, what are you waiting for?!