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AKA: Bonds
Genre: Male romantic drama
Length: OAV, 3 episodes, 40 minutes each
Distributor: VHS and R1 DVD from CQC (ever heard of these guys?)
Content Rating: PG-13 (homosexual overtones, mild adult situations, mild violence)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Fake, Gravitation
Notes: Based on the manga by Kodaka Kazuma (Kimera), who really just ought to give up on getting his works animated at this point.



Samejima Ranmaru was once a famous Japanese fencer, until an accident (or was it an accident?) ended his career. Now he lives with his companion, Enjoji, who has been caring for him since. Enjoji's half brother, Kai, becomes enamored of Ranmaru. (This is as far as we could tell after reading the box for this video, in any case.)


Why did we watch this again?

We popped in Kizuna wondering why no one admitted to watching this. Was it because it was shounen ai, about male eroticism? Apparently not. It had very little actual homosexual activity to speak of. Or any activity at all. In fact, this anime was nothing short of pointless. The viewer is treated to random scenes of character interactions, none of which having to do with the previous scenes. For example, in one scene, we seen Ranmaru and his sister meeting, then you see some yakuza yapping about Kai in the next scene, without a single transition. The soundtrack was repetitive and pedestrian, and sounded suspiciously similar to "Kyousuke #1" from the Shin KOR movie. Played again and again. And the horrid subtitling job, which did *not* match the Japanese dialogue, didn't help the cause, either.

Oh, the subtitling job. I have not seen a worse subtitling job in my life, and this counts digital sources. It's so bad, you might as well just make up your *own* dialogue. Not that it matters much.

If there were a plot, or recognizable, much less likable characters, we may have actually enjoyed this somewhat, as the animation is fairly decent (considering that no one actually *does* anything meriting animation). But the characters are hardly developed at all. (Kai's yakuza? Who knew?) So much of this is left unexplained or unanswered that you wonder why they even bother to mention half the things they do. The dialogue, as it were, was so irrelevant and obtuse that none of the three reviewers present had a clue what was going on even after the credits had rolled, until they read the box. (Heck, the only way we knew they were yakuza was because they were dressed as the Turks from Final Fantasy VII. Heck, one of them had a staff just like Reno's!)

The yaoi genre of anime and manga is aimed, not at homosexual people (who are discriminated against in Japan as much as they are in most places in the world for reasons I can't fathom), but squarely at girls. (C'mon, guys are unhealthily obsessed with lesbians. It works both ways.) But only readers of the manga that ran in Be-Boy Comics would understand any of what was going on, and even they might be disappointed by this disjointed, bland, and completely colorless OAV series. We're not surprised it was cut to two tapes to begin with ... and the fact that the homosexuality was less serious than gratuitous was insulting. If you want shounen ai that's serious, yet funny, Fake is infinitely better, as it actually has an appeal beyond the superficial "hey-there's-some-gay-dudes-living-together" feel that Kizuna has. Heck, you wouldn't have known these guys were gay had they not kissed (which didn't even seem realistic to begin with) ... there wasn't any genuine feeling or emotion at all to these characters. It's THAT bland. Excuse us if we'd rather see people, gay or straight, actually act and interact like human beings. (Are we that spoiled?)

While the first episode has some love scenes (those were love scenes? I thought those were shadow puppets!) we can't in our right conscience recommend this to anyone of *any* gender alignment or lifestyle. With an inscrutable plot and mushy melodrama acted by ridiculously boring characters who are only homosexual because the creators want them to be, Kizuna just isn't worth watching for any reason, and certainly, absolutely not "because it's gay".

Utterly uninteresting drivel that tries to cash in on being "edgy" because it's "gay". "An animated love story for our time." For shame! (To think we wasted a rental's worth for it ... and a full hour or two of our lives, to boot.)Carlos/Giancarla Ross and Eric Gaede

Recommended Audience: Well ... many Americans would be turned off by the premise of homosexuality alone. But the fact that this tries to profit off of being "different" because it's supposedly shounen ai is pretty sad. There's very little violence to speak of (the yakuza beat up some guys in a scene Eric missed when he stopped to blink his eyes) and a scene or two when guys are about to make out, but are interrupted for some reason. Even adults would be bored by this tripe.

Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with (awful) English subtitles
Review Status: Partial (2/3)
Kizuna © 1994-2000 Kazuma Kodaka / Seiji Byblos / Daiei / Sido Ltd
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