The first episode of ‘Utsukushii Kare’ (My Beautiful Man) season two was so bloody entertaining, it made me wonder if the makers were really going to top season one? However, while the beginning was fun and comedic, the next two episodes completely change the tone and pace of the show.

Directed by Sakai Mai and adapted from a novel by Nagira Yuu, season two picks off months after where the first installment ended. Hagiwara Riku and Yagi Yusei reprise their roles as Hira Kazunari and Kiyoi Sou respectively. The two are now boyfriends and live together in Hira’s house. While Kiyoi has become a rising star in the entertainment industry, Hira is in his final year of college. As their peers begin to get part-time jobs, Hira begins to suffer from crippling doubts again, wondering if he is good enough for Kiyoi. Can the two weather the new self-deprecating storm Hira is suffering from?

It was Hagiwara Riku’s electric performance as the introverted intense Hira that drove season one and he continues to portray his frustrating character with perfection, but Yagi Yusei stands out as the dual-faced Kiyoi and poignantly shoulders his emotionally vulnerable scenes. Kiyoi keeps branding Hira’s excessive displays of love as ‘disgusting’ even though he enjoys every bit of attention, but he isn’t able to grasp the complexity of Hira’s feelings. So even though both men hope for a stable long-lasting relationship with each other, their fractured communication makes things needlessly stormy for them. Despite all the tension, their chemistry remains electric.

‘Utsukushii Kare’ an interesting study of how people prioritize self-preservation over love – Kiyoi refrains from verbalizing his passion for Hira, in turn, Hira convinces himself he is going to be dumped eventually and treats Kiyoi like his overlord instead of lover. On the surface, it looks like Kiyoi is the God and Hira his love-slave, but their relationship is steered by the emotional whims of the latter. Because of their needlessly complicated equation, some of the episodes feel frustrating as a viewer. You wonder why the leads are so cryptic, even though they have lived with each other for a while.

Just four episodes long, season two is aesthetically shot and introduces a few new characters but keeps a sharp focus on its protagonists. The climax offers an unexpectedly smooth resolution to the story and yet leaves a lot to be explored.  

It’s a 7/10 from me.

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