BT's Review - Rumbling Hearts

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BT's Review - Rumbling Hearts

#1 Post by BT » Sun Sep 27, 2009 11:45 am

Rescued from the RAC forum with permission from BT
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I was reading through the "anime that makes you cry" thread here and saw Rumbling Hearts (some might know it as Kiminozo) mentioned. So I had a quick look on ANN & Wikipedia to see what it is. It's based on a hentai game they say, what could happen here then... The reviews that I read said it was a love triangle situation and quite an emotional anime, so I thought buying the DVDs to watch it would be a good idea. When the box set arrived I ploughed through the sub version; and then started on the dub. Recently, however, I have not been watching much of anything (due to being very busy with uni work), but I have been trying to make time to watch Rumbling Hearts in dub. I wanted to watch both dub and sub before reviewing, so I could give a fair view of the content in both and to give me a further understanding of the show. Edit: Added some screen caps.
What is it about?

Rumbling Hearts is an anime aimed at a more mature audience, with very little "action" and all that other fluff. When the series starts you are introduced to the usual high school scene where a girl likes a boy, and the girls best friends hooks them up. Takayuki is the boy in question; he has a best friend called Shinji, although he's not really a "main character"; Haruka is your standard cute shy girl; and Mitsuki is the confident athletic girl who is kind of a "tom boy". So episode 1 is showing how Haruka and Takayuki hook up, but at this early stage in the plot we can see Mitsuki also is beginning to have feelings for Takayuki.

You get on to episode 2 and it's mainly about Haruka and Takayuki becoming closer, and Haruka's sister, Akane, is developed further. Their relationship seems to be progressing quickly and they become more comfortable around each other. However the end of this episode is a sudden shock; an extreme interruption in their relationship;
which involves a car accident where Haruka is put into a coma.
You may think I've just given away the best bit, but this is not the centre of attention in this anime, this is just merely the beginning.

Episode 3 and 4 then shift into the future (3 years later?) where it shows Takayuki "falling apart" and becoming a mess. But Mitsuki is there to help him, and she reveals her love for him, which begins their relationship. Haruka also wakes up around this time as well, which further begins to complicated things. The pace now begins to slow down here, which helps draw out the emotion and understand the pain of some characters.

The rest of the series then deals with the complex relationship between Mitsuki, Haruka and Takayuki. It's not just these characters affected by the tragedy though, but everyone around them, so even the minor characters have some importance in the situation.


Some Important Themes worth mentioning

One important theme touched upon by this anime is the passage of time, and how quickly things can change around us. For 3 years Takayuki is unable to move on and is stuck in a downward spiral. But just as he is getting back on his feet and moving on with Mitsuki, Haruka is back in his life. It's as if the one girl he loved when he was younger has returned, in the same mental state as when she "left". How would anyone know how to react in this situation? Should he/ can he move on? Or should he go back and attempt living in the past meanwhile hurting someone else close to him.

Another theme present, brought out through Mitsuki, is betraying a friend. Mitsuki feels guilt for being with Takayuki, feels as though she is betraying her friend. But her friend has been "gone" for so long, she feels she needs to move on. In some ways this is then present later on between Shinji and Takayuki.

Although this show has no real "fanservice" as such you get to see Mitsuki nude at some points. I feel the reason for this is to: first show her vulnerability and secondly show she is opening herself up to Takayuki. The art style also draws Mitsuki as a "sexy" woman, whereas Haruka is drawn with thin hands and pale skin to show her fragile state. But these traits don't match up with their personalities; bringing into play "never judge someone on their appearance".
This is also present at the end where Takayuki is talking to Akane about how he thought of Harukas personality. He didn't understand what she was really like and was unable to get past his initial perception of her being a "not very confident" person.
There are many other themes present and a lot more examples than I have given here. You can make your own mind up about them and how you thought they were put across. There's also plenty of symbolism with the use of props (Mitsuki's ring for example).

Discussion of the Ending and some of my thoughts
An important point dealing with time is how much it can change people. Since the series starts during school times and is then in the present we can see how the characters have progressed.

Looking first at Haruka she is very shy comes across as "weak" and being dependant on others. But at the end, she is very determined and strong. Although her physical appearance is frail, her willpower and drive to move on is staggering. She even cuts Takayuki "free" and tells him to move on. The person he has been stuck over for 3 years has finally told him to move on, probably the most powerful moment in the series.

If we then look at Mitsuki she started as a very confident active person. But as the series progresses she too begins to crumble and reveal weakness. You could probably say she has a break down and becomes the frail one. But unlike Takayuki's break down she takes control by trying to leave the source of her pain (Takayuki), even though she does end up taking him back in the end. This shows she's not totally dependent on others and can still maintain her independence.

For me the ending was an emotional moment. It was also the moment where I was able to release all the emotional pressure inside. Haruka is able to move on and become a successful picture book writer (her dream/goal). It shows she was strong enough to come out of her coma and continue on her life and achieve her goals. Mitsuki also gets Takayuki, and is able to be happy with him in the relationship they had built up. I also liked the reversal of "personality" between Mitsuki and Haruka, where Mitsuki now becomes the vulnerable one.

One thing that annoyed me about the ending was how Takayuki was so easily taken back by Mitsuki. He had totally ignored her, treated her badly, hurt her so much; yet he just walks back in, almost as if she was "the next best thing". Although you could argue Takayuki has come to his senses and finally realised who his "real relationship" is with; not his "young love" relationship he thought he had with Haruka. It's all a matter of opinion though, I personally disliked Takayuki, so maybe that is why I have come to this conclusion.


The Soundtracks

There are 3 things I'm going to look at: the use of music; the English(American) dub track; and the Jap dub track.

First, the music present is mainly piano melodies coming in to try enhance the mood. There will be slow quiet music for gentle and emotional moments, or quick "jumpy" music for more comical moments. The intro sequence isn't too hot in my opinion; I liked it up until the title "Rumbling hearts" appears, then it's just "meh". The ending is also not very memorable with a marching style; although it does fit in with a "winding down" feeling once you've reached the end of another emotional episode.

I really enjoyed the Jap dub track with subtitles. They were easy to read and all the voice actors were easy to hear and convey the emotions felt for that moment.

The English - or American - track varies in quality however. My first complaint is all the restaurant scenes feels "Americanised" with the "customer is always right crap". The work place for Mitsuki also feels very American and out of place. My next complaint is the volume of the voice actors. Even with 7 bloody speakers around me all I can hear is "whisper", I turn it up and the next minute they're screaming down the speakers.
At least the sex scenes weren't 110db (well it might be a spoiler :P).
But it's not all bad. As the series goes on the VAs get less annoying and sometimes deliver a good performance. It can also make it easier to understand the situation more hearing it in English instead of reading it.
DVD Contents and Structure

The complete collection comes with 3 DVDs: 2 containing 5 episodes and 1 containing 4 episodes. The only extras you get are trailers and text-less opening and ending, so nothing to scream and shout about. I believe there are OVAs available for this series, but these are not contained in this box set.


So, to conclude, Rumbling Hearts is a very emotional series. It deals with difficult situations and tragic love triangles (to steal the phrase of others xD). I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys love stories, or anyone who is interested in something "more mature". If you want pew pew lasers and muscle men fighting to the death, this is not a series to go for; but would still be worth watching. Watching this series is like being pulled back and forward by 2 people, up until the point where you finally snap. There's also plenty more to see in the series, even if you have read all my spoilers.

Also please feel free to comment of various aspects of the series if you've seen it; maybe we can get a discussion about it going.


*This review might be disjointed or might not make much sense (since that's how I'm feeling at the moment). This is because I've been very busy and my mind is else where. But if I keep waiting to write this I'll not be able to move on. (Of course I could just not write a review lol). *

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