- Episodes : 12
- Genre : Romance, Slice-of-Life, Ecchi
- Airing Date : January 2017 – March 2017
- Studios : Diomedea
Fuuka Introduction and Story (Spoilers)
Haruno Yuu was walking along, staring at his Twitter feed on his phone and just not paying much attention to his surroundings. A nearby girl yells at him to look out, and she jumps right onto him, knocking them both over. Since Yuu has his phone out, the girl thinks he’s taking up-skirt shots of her while she’s on the ground. She snatches it out of his hands and smashes it. In her haste to get away from him, however, she drops a CD. Yuu recognizes that her uniform matches the school he’ll be attending and sets off to return it to her. He learns her name is Akitsuki Fuuka and that her dad, Akitsuki Yamamoto, was an Olympic track star, netting a silver medal back in his prime. Everyone expects Fuuka to live up to her father, but she just wants to live a normal life.
Yuu and Fuuka slowly become friends over time and end up taking a job together, along with their mutual friend, Mikasa Makoto, at “South Wind”, a restaurant on the beach. While they’re there, however, they learn the restaurant’s owner is none other than Nobuaki Yahagi, the drummer of both Yuu and Fuuka’s favorite band, HEDGEHOGS. At this point, Yuu has been encouraging Fuuka to get into singing, and she decides she wants to show Nobuaki that she does have potential. He agrees to let her perform with some of his band mates, and is shocked to hear how good of a singer she is. Nobuaki, along with his fellow band mates, Iwami Hisashi and Tomomi, agrees to let her newfound band use their recording studio.
During all this, Yuu has reconnected with his childhood friend and crush, Hinashi Koyuki. Koyuki is now one of the most popular pop idol acts in all of Japan, and has secretly harbored feelings for Yuu all these years. The two start seeing one another more frequently, and Yuu eventually promises her that he’ll one day perform on stage with her. Koyuki’s elated with this, but the two make a pinky swear in public and get their picture taken in the act, which causes an uproar among Koyuki’s fanbase. She only makes things worse by publicly confessing that every song she wrote was written specifically with Yuu in mind. This only causes problems for Fuuka, Yuu, and their band, The Fallen Moon, who were only supposed to be playing for their high school’s cultural festival, but now have the attention of angry Koyuki fans that attend specifically to harass them. The Fallen Moon’s performance is so impressive, however, that they manage to win over the crowd in the end.
Eventually, Yuu and Koyuki start dating after a tearful confession by Koyuki, and at first it seems like everything is going well. Bubbling underneath the surface, however, are Fuuka’s own uncertain feelings. She has such problems making sense of what she’s feeling that she decides to go for a solo career and break up The Fallen Moon. Everyone tries to go back to their lives, but Yuu just can’t let it go. Koyuki notices this and tries throwing herself at him to pay attention to her, but in the end Koyuki accepts that Yuu just doesn’t feel the same way about her as he does for Fuuka. Yuu finally realizes how important Fuuka and the band are to him, and sets out to get everyone back together. At first, it seems like Makoto, who ended up as their keyboardist, is the only one who makes it back, but eventually Iwami Sara, Hisashi’s younger sister and prodigy guitarist; and Nachi Kazuya, their drummer, are won over too and decide to reform The Fallen Moon, with or without Fuuka. Yuu repeatedly tries to get Fuuka to come back, but she continues to avoid him. Eventually, Yuu finds Fuuka on the rooftop of their school, and he confesses he’s in love with her. Fuuka finally admits she feels the same, and returns with him for their return performance.
What I Enjoyed About Fuuka
Fuuka is an interesting beast. It does a great job depicting high school romance in a way that most anime don’t; rather than sweet and naive, it’s mostly confusing and frustrating for all parties involved. Yuu ends up reciprocating feelings towards Koyuki, not because he’s actually still interested in her, but because she was crying about how she loved him but it was finally time to split up because she knew that it was never actually going to happen and the timing seemed right. No one is really quite sure what they’re going through. Even Makoto, the seemingly most self-assured member of their group, ends up having to return to his rich family with his tail between his legs because he couldn’t predict Fuuka wanting to break up the band so she could go solo.
But what’s really fascinating, is the interplay it has with its source material; i.e. the manga. On the surface, it’s a pretty standard ecchi romance without a ton of comedy; with an ultimately happy conclusion with Fuuka and Yuu confessing their feelings to one another, and an embarrassingly sweet post-credits sequence in the final episode with Fuuka and Yuu to top it off. Anyone who was introduced to Fuuka from the anime, might see it as a series that doesn’t really offer much beyond light entertainment with a couple of bath scenes with cute girls. However, anyone who’s read the manga, realized as soon as Yuu and Koyuki started dating that the story was going in a vastly different direction from what they knew from the manga, which soon after an equivalent moment in the manga with a different character, would take a much darker, much more depressing route than the idyllic end that the anime presents. It’s almost as if the anime is purposely done to set up new fans who were introduced to the story through it, only to pull the rug out from underneath them if they decide to read the manga. We’re not sure if this was intentional, but there are just enough allusions to the manga that it’s hard to call it coincidental.
Fuuka’s a tough nut to crack. On one hand, it’s a direct sequel to Suzuka, an anime from 2005 that, honestly, didn’t really need a sequel since it ended pretty definitively. However, its connection to Suzuka is pretty tenuous at best, as the only connection is that Fuuka’s the daughter of the Suzuka and Yamato from the prior series. You could go into watching Fuuka without even being aware that’s a sequel to anything. One has to ask themselves then, “What’s the point of the series?”
Therein lies the central issue with Fuuka. See, with the original manga, you absolutely could make an argument for its existence based on certain plot events, but the anime cuts those out. Its main function as an anime appears to be to entice potential new readers to read the manga, as it serves as a complete story on its own, but has more content to follow if you were to decide to continue the story through the manga. But that would only work if the Fuuka anime had the content to inspire such a time investment. While it’s certainly a pleasant enough story, with some attractive art and quiet storytelling, it’s not the type of anime that’s going to inspire any devotion towards it either.
1. Appealing Art Direction
Say what you will about the story, but it’s hard to deny that it’s certainly nice to look at. We’re not even talking about the animation, which is generally serviceable, but nothing to write home about (barring maybe some of the performance scenes). Many other RomComs go for more subdued coloring to give a more natural feel, or when they’re written as ecchi to appeal to guys, have much harder line work to draw attention to the physiques of each of the leading ladies. Fuuka, on the other hand, uses an interesting combination of softer outlines for the characters with very bright coloring. This gives the series a very warm feel, and single-handily sells the love triangle between Yuu, Fuuka, and Koyuki. You can really understand why Yuu would fall in love with Fuuka so quickly because of the unnatural sweetness she exudes.
2. Winks to the Manga
This might be a bit too meta for some, but please hear us out. Without going too deep into spoilers, the manga had a very notorious twist, which changed the direction of the plot out of nowhere. The anime changes the direction of the plot around episode 9, where Yuu and Koyuki end up in a relationship with one another, but still occasionally will have Fuuka mentioning how there was a careless truck driving by. The original author, Seo, is notorious for implementing frustrating plot threads that add unnecessary levels of conflict just as things look like they’re wrapping up, almost to the level of trolling the reader. Going into the anime with that in mind, it’s taking that mind game to the next level, telling a complete story of Yuu and Fuuka’s blossoming romance, only to then dangle the knowledge of a manga in front of the viewer in case they want more story.
3. Subdued Storytelling
Fuuka gives its viewer the benefit of the doubt when it comes to communicating its various characters. You don’t need to be told that Yuu is socially awkward and has very little going on in his life; you understand that immediately by his terse responses to questions, inability to assert himself, and the fact that all he does is look at his Twitter feed. There’s never a scene where Koyuki has to have an internal dialogue about how she fell in love with Yuu as kids and never let it go. Rather, you can tell just based on her body language and blushing whenever they meet. It actually demands its viewer to engage with the material, which is refreshing in a genre that has an issue with spelling out character motivations.
1. Haruno Yuu
There’s no getting around it: Yuu is a really difficult character to grow attached to. While the nervous, uncertain male lead who won’t make a move on any of the girls is a well-worn trope of the harem romance genre, they generally do try to build up the central lead more by giving them some greater goal or making them more affable when they’re not around the girls. Yuu really doesn’t have anything like that. In fact, his complete lack of social tact and passive attitude at times makes you root against him. It’s easy to see why he likes Fuuka, but, honestly, it’s a struggle to understand why Fuuka would have any interest in Yuu outside of the standard “He’s nice” excuse. Admittedly, the story ends with him finally making a decision for himself, devoting himself to The Fallen Moon, and taking charge of his own life, but it takes a long time to get there and by then, the damage has been done.
2. Too Many Well-Timed Coincidences
There’s some solid character growth in the story, but the amount of times that characters happen to run into one another is nothing short of baffling. HEDGEHOGS, the band that originally inspired both Fuuka and Koyuki to get into music, has a drummer that owns a restaurant by the beach, and Yuu and Fuuka just happen to get summer jobs there without realizing this. When Fuuka is regretting her decision to leave The Fallen Moon to pursue her solo career, Koyuki just happens to be around that day to inform her that she and Yuu have broken up. Sara and Yuu struggle to hit it off, but then, true to the trend, it just so happens that Sara has been a devoted Twitter follower of Yuu’s and then they immediately hit it off. You get the gist of it. It gets really hard to buy into the story when there’s just that much working in favor of the characters that they consistently get what they need based on luck rather than something they pursue.
3. By-the-book Storytelling
While some of the issues we have might have been more forgivable if it had a more interesting plot tying the series all together, when it comes down to it, we’ve seen this story before. Nerdy guy meets perky girl that immediately attaches herself to him for some reason, the two get to know each other, girl helps guy find direction in his life, the two have several back-and-forth “will-they, won’t they?” interactions, there’s some romantic tension thrown in with other rival characters who ultimately lose out in the end, and the main couple has a sweeping confession sequence where the two finally realize how they feel about one another to cap it all off. Following formula is not necessarily a bad thing, but Fuuka does very little different or unique with said formula to justify a full watch. It’s not particularly offensive, but the parts of the series that are interesting come from how it differs from the manga, which you wouldn’t know getting into the anime in the first place.
If you’re sick of fantasy comedy ecchi and are just dying to look at cute girls in a more down-to-Earth setting with the occasional bath sequence, Fuuka’s by no means a bad choice. However, if you’re looking for the next BIG romance story that’s going to shake the anime world to its core… well, Fuuka’s certainly not that. Its history and its overall purpose in the canon of Seo’s works is probably more interesting than the actual story being told here. Disagree? Want to talk more about the infamous truck sequence? Please, let us know in the comments below!