*spoilers for UtaPri seasons 1 and season 4, ep 8*
They of the first time I ever distinctly looked at a pair of anime men and thought, “I can see why people ship that,” this post is in honor of some of my favorite idol boys, Jinguji Ren and Hijirikawa Masato.
Long ago, when I was but an otaku fledgling stretching her wings into the wide world of shoujo (read: like two years ago), I first watched Uta no Prince Sama Maji Love 1000%*.
Upon watching—and I remember that it was DISTINCTLY around the time of the now infamous Ren-taking-a-shower-is-pointless-but-for-fanservice scene**—it hit me that I felt some of the weirdest psudo-romantic tension between our two boys. And it KNOCKED ME FOR A LOOP. They’re both, at the series inception, competing for Nanami’s heart, and yet…
“Am… am I imagining this? WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THIS, BRAIN?” -me, circa 2016
Did their rivalry make them all the hotter to a female audience?? (answer: “yes.”)
Now, I don’t actively ship it, never have, and never will (REN BELONGS WITH NANAMI, YOU MASAxREN SHIPPING SWINE!! DON’T SINK MY SHIPS!!!) but the mere notion that I even noticed it speaks volumes regarding the type of relationship that these men share.***
It is the competitive, oddly supportive, nearly sexually tense relationship to make all others seem false. It is the deep and abiding “we-are-best-friends-but-also-low-key-until-it-is-suddenly-high-key enemies” relationship to end those of so-called “frenemies” that seem completely shallow in comparison.
These are my ultimate idol bros. Welcome to the Masa—
Why, YouTube, must my search provide MasaxRen doujinshi?
AND NOW IT’S UTAPRI WITH ONLY MASATO.
AND THE LATTER IS RAPIDLY DEVOLVING INTO FANGIRLING WITHOUT HOPE OF REDEMPTION OR COHERENCY.
HOW can I ship this many people with Nanami at ONCE????
It’s not fair how much I love my Utapri, and I haven’t seen it in so long, and I forgot how wonderful it is, and now…
I HAVE to go rewatch season 1 before I finish this post. BRB.
I’m basically hyperventilating because I forgot that the first words they say to each other are naught but to call each other a “flirt” and “stiff.” Two boys from rival financial conglomerates both attend the Academy for vastly different reasons. A youngest son and an eldest son, one sent at behest of his family and the other in spite—there resentment created by envy over each other’s circumstances is palpable.
These boys have known each other since childhood. Both exist under the burden of expectation, yet each envies the other’s position, creating an interesting dichotomy of disdain and mutual respect. And yet, no matter how many times they nearly come to blows between their clashing personalities or (in the early seasons) their synonymous romantic interest in Nanami, the two share an abiding concern (deeper than that they share with the other boys) and are there for the other when necessary. While many things change over the years (seasons) of UtaPri, this aspect does not.
Illustrative of this point is episode 8 of season 4, Uta no Prince-Sama Legend Star. While Ren was sent to the idol academy at the behest of his elder brother, Masato—as his family’s eldest son—is expected to give up foolish dreams and ultimately take over the profitable family business.
Masato’s father promised him a guarenteed year of schooling before he was exected to return home, and the young man has spent his time as a member of STARISH with this in mind. By the third season, Masato’s time at the academy is anything but assured when he hears that his father has collapsed. He will have to travel home for the first time since his academy deadline has expired. Ren takes it upon himself to reach out and express his concern, both over Masato’s emotional state regarding his father and the fear that he may be forced to take over the family business. Masato insists that he’s not the same man he used to be, but Ren—who has, again, known him since childhood—is understandably unconvinced…
Ren even shows up at Masato’s house to support him in standing up to his father during the social gathering intended to present him as the corporate heir. During conversation with Kira, he has a realization that perhaps what Masato needs is to be reminded of the bonds shared between them and the group in order to stand up to his father. He and Kira (who also understand the pressures of family business) arrive. When asked about it, Ren simply says that he’s there as his brother’s representative, but Masato knows better.
Even though it is Kira that sings with Masato as he proclaims his independence, Ren is the one who has known him longest and who, throughout the episode, expresses the most concern. How very well they know each other is clear.
In the end, wherever season 5 and the movie take us, I am confident that this relationship will never diminish, and of that I am glad.
How do you feel about the relationships in UtaPri? Let me know in the comments below!
Love, Peace, Geese,
I’m sorry I called you swine, RenxMasa shippers. You’re not swine. I was kidding. The ship just doesn’t make any sense after season 1, you know?
*This title makes me feel like I’m a 14 year old girl (which people HAVE mistaken me for) and also makes me want to laugh hysterically when I get to mention it to Husband.
**It is well worth noting that this is still some of the most obviously sexual female-oriented fanservice that I have ever scene, hence the reason it stuck with me, but I digress. (And one of the YouTube comments has me basically crying: “Is it weird that I watched this 14 times?” lololololol)
***Check my commentary on the finishing number of season 4 if you wonder why I’m referring to these idol boys as men.