So one of these First Reactions finally took the full three episodes I allow them, and even after that I still don’t have much to say. Haruchika – Haruta & Chika is a slice-of-life anime about a wind instrument club, with supposed mystery elements, that I’m finding very very hard to get into.
Chika Homura, a flute player, joins the club to try to improve her image from tomboy to… generic anime high school girl B I suppose. Upon joining she meets the club supervisor, Shinjiro Kusakabe, who she immediately starts crushing on, and her childhood friend, Haruta Kamijo, who also has a crush on the teacher. It’s a love triangle that’s spice up a little bit by some yaoi, which is actually kind of a nice touch because it lets us know right away, “Yeah, nothing’s actually gonna happen here. Teacher x student is a no-no, and the childhood friend is gay so there won’t be anything developing between him and Chika. It’s just a souse of friendly rivalry.”
I’ve already said all there is to say about Chika at this point, and Haruta doesn’t offer much more yet. He’s a smart boy who thinks through his actions and likes puzzles. He’s also got just a dash of sass, particularly when interfering with Chika’s plans to move in on their teacher, which is a little fun to watch.
Unfortunately the wind instrument club, like all school clubs in anime, doesn’t have enough members and, if Chika and Haruta don’t find some new ones soon, it will be disbanded. This is used for a motive to get Chika and Haruta starting to recruit new members in episode 2, but by episode 3 they’ve got enough for the club to stay open, they’re just recruiting more because that’s the path we’ve started on.
So, the reason I picked this show up in the first place, and the only thing I have any significant comment on at this point, is the supposed mystery aspect. In the first episode, Chika and Haruta find a cryptic message of musical notes written on the wind instrument club room chalkboard. To decipher its meaning, by the end of the episode Haruta basically translates the message into German musical notation that isn’t used anymore, and then translates it to Japanese.
While it is neat seeing Haruta put it all together, and lay out his path to the answer, it is terribly dissatisfying for an audience who thought they might have been able to solve it. Unless you happen to know music, and Japanese, you’re out of luck. But, these are apparently episodic mysteries, so let’s take a look at the other two so far.
Episode 2’s mystery doesn’t involve any specialized knowledge, but it doesn’t use any deductive reasoning either. Even when Haruta (and it seems like he’s the one who’s going to solve all of these) figures it out, his solution seems more like a guess. In fact, it’s a guess I, and I expect most viewers, had, but rejected because there weren’t any clues to suggest it. Again, Hauta gets to bask in a spotlight explaining it, but it’s not satisfying as far as mystery fiction goes.
Finally, the third mystery. It’s yet another flop, where Haruta figured it out using a combination of specific knowledge about the Japanese language and luck. This one I could see working for a Japanese audience, who would pick up on the language stuff, but it doesn’t translate to an English audience. And again, Haruta basks in it, but I’m starting to have a problem even with that.
I’ve left out a lot of details about episodes 2 and 3 to avoid spoiling anything for anyone who might be interested, but I do have to go into them a bit more here. In both episodes, the mysteries revolve around some personal trauma of a character Chika and Haruta want to get to join the club. One deals with the death of a sibling, the other with adoption. And Haruta marches into these characters lives, into the home of one of them, and forces them to address these issues. He doesn’t know them well, and his “deductions” are largely just guesses. But he puts these characters through emotional pain anyway, and risks worsening their trauma, just because he wants them to join his club.
His guesses are right, and things happen to work out in the end, but I think that just makes it worse. It’s saying, “Hey, pester this stranger about their dead brother, and risk defacing the only memento they have of them. Don’t worry, they’ll thank you later.” I simply can’t get on board with that. I can’t suspend my disbelief enough to see Haruta as anything other than an arrogant, insensitive jerk.
If you’re looking at Haruchika for a mystery, look elsewhere. If you’re looking at it for more P.A. Works slice-of-life and friendly character, I wish you the best in seeing that, but I can’t enjoy it. I’ve dropped this show.
Don’t Lose Your Way