First Look: Fuuka

fuukatitle
Manga by Diomédea
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Yuu Haruna, our protagonist, gets beaten up by a girl he hasn’t met before when she thinks he’s taking photos of her panties. Then they form a band?

Euri’s verdict: You Can’t Fish Well Without a Hook

Fuuka is easily the most middling show I’ve seen this season. It’s not awful, it’s not great, it’s kind of just there, probably wondering to itself who its audience actually is. In my opinion, this is the show’s biggest holdup, and exactly why we saw two episodes releasing at the same time instead of just one. First of all, this show is a sort-of sequel to the manga and 2005 anime Suzuka. As a follow up to that, it might be a bit more understandable why the show presumes that we care at all for our blue-haired heroine, though we of course have nothing extra to go on for our exceedingly bland protagonist. However, that was eleven years ago, and for anyone that didn’t watch Suzuka or wasn’t aware that Fuuka had ties to another show (like most of us), episode one is a boring, sometimes frustrating start to a by-the-books anime romance.

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After watching the first episode, I was ready to drop the show for good, but the availability of the second episode at least made me curious enough to see where the show was heading. And hey, there are positives! Episode two is by far the more interesting of the two, as we slowly learn more about the main duo and a few side characters, as well as see the set-up for the inevitable love triangle. It didn’t do much for our protagonist, surprise surprise, but it certainly is a start for fleshing out Fuuka and Yuu’s childhood friend. The craziest part to all of this is that the announcement of starting a music club at school comes after the end credits of episode two. Like seriously, that’s the damn hook that should have been in the first episode, where instead we were ‘treated’ to a poor attempt at slapstick humour (see Iro’s post below). I’ll give it another episode or so because I must admit that having a romance that feels proactive is kinda nice, but I’m not entirely hopeful even with the improvements that came with the second episode.

Iro’s verdict: That FUCKING Hachiko scene

So, there’s a scene where the male and female leads are supposed to meet at the statue of Hachiko in Shibuya, where he’s sitting on a bench behind Hachiko, and she’s standing in front of Hachiko, and they somehow don’t notice each other. He’s just sitting there tweeting about how he hasn’t met her, and she’s all, “HMM, I WONDER WHERE HE IS,” and they fucking start circling Hachiko in such a way that they do not meet. I’m not sure anything else this season has infuriated me more than that. If either of them had the peripheral vision of a fuckin’ geriatric blind man, they would have managed to meet. Fuck this.

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Aqua’s verdict: Hella Vanilla

Upskirt panty shots? Realistic body proportions? People going on actual dates? What year is this? 2004? The manga Fuuka is infamous for its allegedly infuriating twists and turns, though you probably wouldn’t be able to guess from this first episode. If anything, the anime Fuuka feels like the work of a mangaka who decided to just start writing without any a clue as to what he’d eventually end up with. A band, apparently. Or maybe the production company just threw that in at the last minute because they had no idea what else they could possibly draw people in with. A boy-meets-girl story as cookie-cutter as they come, Fuuka is entirely devoid of magic high schools, gender benders, dangerous secrets, alien invaders or anything else that could justifiably be considered a ‘hook’, which is both its greatest weakness and its biggest strength. Sure, there’s something to be said for a good old fashioned rom-com, but really, why settle for vanilla when you could have cookies and cream?

The main problem with Fuuka is that in spite of its more down-to-earth approach to teen drama, its true nature as an anime still shines through throughout. Panties get equal coverage to faces, assault is a common greeting and tweens lounge around in their underwear while squeaking cutesy nicknames at their beloved big brother. Yuu is a traditional milquetoast kind-of-pervert-but-not-really, hooked on Twitter as easy shorthand for introversion, Fuuka a textbook manic pixie dream girl – though the blue hair is probably just because she’s an anime character. Together, they work on at least a superficially enjoyable level, if only because there’s a reason why the tropes they embody exist in the first place. Just ask Zooey Deschanel how she made her millions. Yet for a show to be just about a boy and a girl getting to know each other, it needs some hella stronger writing chops than this one has. Characters with more than one identifiable personality trait, boys and girls interacting like normal human beings, embarrassing, awkward hormonal urges over tired and true tropes, that’s what Fuuka needs if it wants any claim at being refreshingly realistic. If only someone’d actually have the guts to make an anime like that––oh wait.

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5 thoughts on “First Look: Fuuka

  1. Hold it. You think SEIREN is “refreshingly realistic”? The umpteenth romance anime with the dullest dullard protagonist somehow having scads of girls throwing themselves at him?

    I haven’t watched FUKKA, but if you think SEIREN is better, oy vey does that say bad things about FUKKA!

    • So far, only one girl is flirting with him, and he actually has some character motivation that isn’t just chasing tail. For someone who likes Hyouka, calling out a show for a girl throwing herself at a dullard protagonist in the first episode seems pretty hypocritical.

    • As someone who hates the trope as much as you seem to, I didn’t really notice anyone “throwing themselves” at anyone in Seiren. If anything, I noticed teenagers having relatably bizarre conversations with each other and boys and girls for once interacting like they’re all members of the same species.

      It was positively refreshing to see classmates of the opposite sex in anime talking to each other without their conversation being in any way romantically charged or steeped in antiquated gender politics. The only girl who could realistically be described at “throwing herself” at the protagonist is Hikari, and whatever awkward romantic or sexual tension is there to me felt like it came more from her playful personality rather than from hackneyed, wish-fulfillment writing fumbles.

  2. That scene with the statue was pretty infuriating. I hate it when they do things like that in any movie or TV show. It wasn’t even that big of a statue.

    • Even better (worse?) is that the statue is pretty much the same size IRL. Watching the clip, I didn’t know whether to laugh or just bang my head repeatedly into the wall.

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