It’s the week of Valentine’s and you all know that means a romance anime review. This year, we have Given a 2019 anime from Lerche. They’re the studio behind the Danganronpa anime adaptations and nothing else I’ve reviewed. It’s based off of an ongoing manga by Kizu Natsuki. Who I’ve never heard of. So, no idea what to expect here.
Uenoyama Ritsuka is just searching for a spot to nap when he spots a boy, Satou Mafuyu lying down clutching a guitar. Uenoyama notices that the guitar’s in bad shape with rusted strings. He’s berating Satou which leads Satou to the realisation that his guitar’s strings can be fixed. Uenoyama turns out to be weak to sad puppy eyes and not only replaces the strings but, eventually, agrees to teach him how to play. From there, their relationship starts to blossom.
The biggest issue with the narrative is that some of Satou’s quirks stretch suspension of disbelief. Like, this guy doesn’t know that guitar strings can be fixed. I knew that in primary school and I’ve never played an instrument besides the recorder. He also doesn’t know very basic shit about bands like what promotional photos are. It’s like Kizu wanted to explain it to the audience even though literally everyone who’s watched this already knows this information. Then there’s the fact that he can just improvise song lyrics during a performance and have them go with the melody and make sense. Admittedly, I’m not a musician but I’m almost a hundred percent certain that writing lyrics isn’t something you could do on the fly that easily.
Moving on to the positives, the romance between Uenoyama & Satou is pretty well handled. I also appreciate the way they subtly hint at Satou’s previous relationship before actually going into details. The scenes where he’s just walking through various areas with a pained expression are really good because you get a strong sense that he has a painful connection and that it involves his previous boyfriend but they don’t give you the flashbacks until episodes later. It’s a nice way of setting up intrigue. Actually, everything about Satou’s past is nicely handled. I also appreciate the ending. It’s set up to look like there’s going to be some last minute drama but that gets pretty well subverted.
The main cast has some nice complexity to them. Uenoyama, Satou, Haruki & Akihiko are all pretty interesting characters. There are some side characters who have enough depth to seem real as well, like Uenoyama’s sister, Yayoi, Hiiragi and Murata. There are some strong interactions among them too. The entire band has an interesting dynamic. The one negative I can really say is that it’s kind of a wasted opportunity to never have Satou’s mum around since all we know about her is she’s away and she was okay with his previous relationship. It could have been interesting to see him interact with family like we do with Uenoyama.
Lerche deserves a lot of credit. This series looks pretty damn good. The characters, backgrounds, details for instruments and other active objects as well as the lighting during concerts is all strongly done. I’d say this looks the best of all the anime I’ve reviewed from them but it’s up against Danganronpa and its bad case of shounen design so, that shouldn’t be surprising.
Yano Shougo, Uchida Yuuma, Nakazawa Masatomo & Eguchi Takuya are all strong in this. There aren’t any poor performances. Yano’s singing is pretty amazing too. The music in this is really good just in general. The theme tune just suits the series perfectly.
In addition to all the stuff betwixt our main couple, we have Satou’s past romance. Akihiko is also shown to have been involved with a man in the past. It’s weird because he basically says the relationship is over but they’re living together and still seem to have romantic tension. Haruki very blatantly has a crush on Akihiko. This may be the gayest band I’ve seen in an anime since Bad Luck. Which I’m completely okay with.
Areas of Improvement:
- Don’t be quite so extreme with Satou’s quirks. Having him not know how to change his strings is one thing, having him not know that they can even be changed is quite another. It would also make more sense to have him have mostly written lyrics but be unsure how to finish them and then have that come out during the performance as opposed to just making them all up on the spot.
- Some familial interactions for Satou. I think it would really strengthen his character and add an interesting layer to the story.
- Either have Akihiko still be dating Murata or don’t have them living together. It really doesn’t make sense for him to just be living with his ex.
Honestly, this is a really good romance. While it has a few elements that don’t work all that well or could have been done better, the main romantic plot is great. The handling of Satou’s past tragedy is also really well done. And the characters are nicely complex. So, I’m giving it an 8/10.