Haruchika Review — Play That Funky Music…Anytime Now

Let’s get the last of these Winter anime over with so I can gush about Concrete Revolutio in the next review.

PA Works, why do you gotta make me hit you all the time? I like my narratives to be strong with characters that are actually engaging, and you handle those two elements about as well as an elephant handles being a ninja. Even your resistance in regards to jumping on the light novel trend means little when your regular novel adaptations somehow end up being more of a coma-inducement than the fucking Asterisk War, and don’t even get me started on your original anime. When Jun Maeda and Mari Okada are the ones who are keeping you on the radar, something has gone seriously wrong. Okay yes, you made Shirobako, but does anyone really count that one as a reason to pay attention to you considering it was made by people who owed you a favor rather than your usual team? Oh wait, some people do. Let me rephrase that again. Does anyone count that one as a reason to pay attention to you that is actually sane?

I say that, but I don’t think anyone really thought Haruchika was going to be good when it was announced or anything. There wasn’t really much fanfare pre-airing, and man the art in the promo images were ugly as sin. It’s actually kind of weird how many people complained about it in comparison to the novel’s illustrations upon airing as if they were living under a rock for the last few months. And speaking of which, I know the studio has a history of fucking up their novel adaptations, but I have a hard time believing anyone could have gotten this kind of narrative published in the semi-professional circles to begin with. Sure, 50 Shades of Grey exists, but at least the terrible prose put some sort of momentum in its drivel. Based on the anime alone, Haruchika feels like a rejected children’s book that would only satisfy people who legitimately enjoy the Barney movie.

The show is centered on two childhood friends, a girl with grayish-black hair named Chika and a boy with blond hair named Haruta, and their desire to form a music club with the help of their glasses-wearing teacher in order to experience the joys of youth. With Euphonium, Anthem of the Heart, the upcoming Classicaloid, and now this in the last year or so, I’m suspecting that Japan is going through some sort of musical revolution at the moment. But of course, it’s how you use the premise at the end of the day that matters, isn’t it? Euphonium used its music premise to explore the unfair nature of competitive orchestra play, Anthem used it as a vehicle to drive the characters’ personal drama, and Classicaloid…well it probably doesn’t even have a club and is probably going to be used for humor given it’s directed by one of the Gintama guys. So what exactly does Haruchika use music for exactly? Not a single thing. Threw me a bit really, considering you’d think a novel adaptation would at least stick to its main concept for the majority of the plot.

Although the main thrust of the show’s plot is gathering band members in order to join a competition, most of Haruchika’s episodes put that aspect on hold in order to dedicate time to the band member’s non-music related lives and personal troubles that Haruta and Chika must resolve in order to get them to join the band. For example, one guy is in the drama club and our main duo must help out with the play before he’ll agree to change after-school activities. Another girl has hearing problems – which admittedly would be detrimental to playing music – and is dealt with through those styrofoam cup phones that I have never seen actually work in real life. Then there’s that one episode where Haruta must deal with his own living situation. And ignoring the fact that this is character-building for the sake of character-building, every single situation is resolved by people showing kindness and not giving the subject matter the respect it deserves. If you want to put war trauma and homelessness in your school story, actually address war trauma and homelessness. Don’t say “these exist” and then just call it a day like someone running to be the local councilman.

Then there’s the mystery element. That’s right, Haruchika sells itself on being part of the mystery genre as well as the musical one, and it doesn’t fare any better at making a case for itself in that field either because said mysteries are more obligatory than a side quest in a Yakuza game. It has about as much mystery as an arc from Clannad in that it’s mostly just figuring out the character’s problem and deciding how to go about solving it. Even with the many ways you can stretch the definition of the term “mystery”, that’s like saying a television can be considered a fruit. How? It’s not even edible let alone organic. The only mystery I had in regards to this show is how the hell the producers could have possibly thought this would be entertaining to watch. I mean this show has even less life than Tari Tari, PA Work’s last musical anime (with the same team on this, no less), and that was far from a big hit.

Oh yeah, you’ll also notice in the premise that there’s a sort of love triangle in this show. Well that’s because Haruta and Chika both have a crush on their teacher. Not going to dignify that with a response. People were already initially paying attention to the show solely because they were surprised that Haruta was gay, and I shake my head at that about as hard as I shake my head at the entire concept. Nothing even comes from it anyways, so what was the point in even having it? What was the point of advertising this show as a musical mystery story if it has little music and little mystery?

In fact, that’s the main reason why this show was so terrible to the point that people forgot it existed: there’s no drive to anything that’s happening. It’s like someone wanted to make his banal slice-of-life story interesting by putting in apartment buildings filled with nickels and a woman cosplaying as a character from an Irish folktale rather than, I dunno, making your banal slice-of-life story interesting? Even the final scene when the band actually plays music for their competition at the very end is mundane to look at, with very basic movement and so little of it is actually shown to the point that it becomes clear that all this anime has are ideas. Ideas that it has no ability to execute properly due to terrible production, terrible writing, and terrible notions on what constitutes fun.

And because of the show’s lackluster approach to pretty much anything, I have absolutely no idea how to end this review on a strong note. Maybe with some more thinking, I’d find something – but I’ve wasted two hours writing about a crap show that people have already moved on from by now and I’m not going to waste anymore. Fuck this show. Goodnight.

Minor Quips

  • Yes yes, I know Mizushima made Another for the studio as well.
  • I actually don’t know how successful Tari Tari was and I don’t care.
  • So when is the Sound Euphonium recap film getting subbed?
  • Oops. I accidentally mixed the two leads in my initial review.

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