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Rumbling Hearts

a.k.a. The Eternity Wish for You

a.k.a. Kimi ga Nozomu Eien

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Genre: Drama/Romance
Company: Studio Fantasia
Format: 14 episodes
Dates: 10/5/2003 to 1/4/2004

Narumi Takayuki doesn’t pay much attention to his studies. Though he does not know what he wants to do with his life after graduation, he lives worry-free and spends most of his time with his friends. After school one day, Takayuki’s good friend, Suzumiya Haruka, confesses her love for him. Although Takayuki does not share the same feelings for Haruka, he agrees to date her only to avoid hurting her feelings. However, after a few awkward days together, Takayuki begins to develop feelings for Haruka, and the future of their relationship looks bright… that is, until one life-changing day when things take a horrible turn for the worst.

summary by Keitaro

 

Reviewed: 04/16/2006 by
Grade: 68% av-Keitaro

Highs: Starts off with a bang; great side characters

Lows: More filler than actual content; aggravating lead characters

While sitting on the couch, flipping from channel to channel, occasionally I will come across one of those cheesy daytime soap operas. There is a reason that I flip to the next show without hesitation. Soap operas are generally overly dramatic and fail to convey any true emotion, much less keep me entertained. Overblown anime dramas typically hold up no better, and Rumbling Hearts does little to convince me otherwise. Though this series may initially show the promise of an exceptional, trend-breaking drama, it proves to be the disappointment I had expected from the beginning.

The letdowns were not initially apparent, as Rumbling Hearts starts off with a bang. I would go so far as to say the second episode is among the best I have seen in any anime. While the story regrettably doesn’t make any big leaps forward from that point, many side characters are introduced later in the story and save this anime from going down the drain. Takayuki’s coworkers add some much needed comic relief where the drama alone is not engrossing enough to carry the plot that goes on about ten episodes too long.

On the other hand, the main characters are a big downer. Takayuki exemplifies the stereotypical lead male protagonist in terms of both looks and personality, and Mitsuki is very underdeveloped. Her character is constantly misused and could have been so much more than just a fifth wheel. On the technical side, this anime is painfully mediocre. While the opening and ending themes are excellent, the background music is very forgettable and in too many instances nonexistent. What’s more, the animation is just lazy. On the plus side, the colorful style of art looks good, and with exception of Takayuki, the character designs are outstanding.

Despite the massive hype, Rumbling Hearts is not the best show in its genre by a long shot. Nothing about this anime stands out as particularly impressive. Despite there not being anything seriously wrong with it, I would hesitate to recommend this series with so many better dramas out there.

 

Reviewed: 04/16/2006 by
Grade: 64% av-Eek

Highs: Decent animation; the Diner girls

Lows: Unappealing main characters; rushed beginning followed by a flaccid middle

I subscribe to the notion that more drama happens at the dinner table than physical violence can create. However, there is a thin line dividing drama from melodrama, and for the most part, Rumbling Hearts frolics in the latter.

Even when things go right they do not matter very much. Namely, the animation is respectable compared to that of a typical modern anime. At quite a few occurrences, I was surprised to find some people and actions depicted in an incredibly fluid manner. This especially stuck out when the creators could have easily went with stills. Also, Daikuuji and Mayumayu (I like to refer to them as the Diner girls) are diamonds amongst coal. While they may be annoying for side characters at times, both are effectively used as comedic relief in an otherwise drab anime, and display some hints of depth, which caught me off guard seeing as how the lead characters have little.

And the things that do go wrong matter quite a bit. While the Diner girls are a welcome addition, the main characters are not. Both Takayuki and Mitsuki are unlikable characters because of their flat personalities and reckless actions, and while Haruka is an admirable woman, she is incapacitated for most of the series. If I find myself rooting for the side characters more than the leads, something is desperately wrong. It is hard to hide the fact that the storyline is also flawed. While the beginning has some strength to it, there is too much happening and not enough time to become emotionally attached to the characters. Following that, the middle only served as an excuse to waste precious time, have some sappy moments and prolong this anime beyond what is needed. With a hasty beginning and a flimsy middle, the majority of this anime’s story needs serious help.

While I realize that Rumbling Hearts wanted to take me for a roller coaster ride, it needs to entice me with something better than emotionally exaggerated and unlikable protagonists, as well as an unevenly paced storyline. Instead of being a serious romantic drama, it is a cheesier-than-brie melodrama. Let me put it this way: I would rather watch Ai Yori Aoshi.

 

Reviewed: 04/16/2006 by
Grade: 77% av-Madoka

Highs: Dramatic, serious story; portrays real emotion

Lows: Not enough time spent on past; distracting character designs

Another story making the transition from dating sim to television series, Rumbling Hearts concentrates on the drama of relationships instead of the usual pleasantry of romances. While this series convincingly portrays the emotions of friends and lovers in painful situations, more time spent on their history together and character designs that match the tone of the story would have increased the effectiveness of the drama considerably.

Don’t let the bright-colored hair and skimpy outfits fool you; this is not a fan service marathon, but a weighty drama. From the blue and pink hues of hair to the short, tight dresses of the medical staff and low-cut tops of Takayuki’s coworkers, everything on the surface gives the impression that this is not an anime to be taken seriously. The designs, while pleasing to look at, actually take attention away from the somber nature of the story.

Leaving an impression of real pain and unhappiness on the audience is a difficult feat, but the story underneath the flashy designs pulls it off. This anime spends a lot of time showing the emotional states of Mitsuki and Takayuki, and the investment pays off. The flashbacks of Takayuki’s emotional state early on and the later scenes of Mitsuki’s lonely drifting through life perfectly convey their feelings. However, there is too much time spent on the present when much of the story is based on the companionship of the four main characters in the past. Seeing them interact as a group and spend time just as friends would help the viewer understand where Mitsuki’s and Haruka’s feelings come from and make the significance of the unraveling friendships much more powerful.

Rumbling Hearts makes an effort to hook the viewer’s emotions, and more often than not succeeds. If you’re ready for a change from the carefree romantic comedies that dominate the romance genre, this anime might be what you’ve been waiting for.

 

Rumbling Hearts is licensed in the U.S. by Funimation, and episodes may be viewed legally in the United States HERE.


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