I’m a sucker for musical anime, competitions, and mysteries. That’s why when I saw Haruchika come in, I knew I had to review it. I have found that choosing to watch Haruchika is like choosing to eat ice cream for dinner: amazing at first, but not overly satisfying.
Haruchika revolves around a rekindled friendship, a love triangle, various mysteries, and a brass band competition. Protagonist Chika Homura enters high school vowing to revamp her image from tomboy to cute girl. She plans on doing this by joining the school’s Brass Club as a flutist; an instrument she has no experience in. She reunites with childhood friend Haruta Kamijo, a French Horn player in the Brass Club. Chika joins, and soon finds that she and Haruta share more than a love for music. They also both have a crush on the club supervisor, Shinjiro Kusakabe.
In this awkward love triangle, both Haruta and Chika vow not to backstab the other in their efforts to try and win Mr. Kusakabe’s affections. While competing for Kusakabe’s attention is important, being able to compete in brass band competitions is vital. Both Haruta and Chika work together to bring more members into their club so they can meet the requirement to compete. Along the way, the pair also solve mysteries for various students, most of whom end up joining the club as thanks.
With so much going on, the focus of the story does often get lost. At points, Haruchika feels more like a mystery show than a romance. The road to the competition feels like to should be a plot focus, but isn’t. The love triangle is only addressed in relation to current events, rather than an overarching conflict or plot point.
One thing commendable about Haruchika is the show doesn’t dumb down the mysteries or make them unnecessarily light-hearted. The mysteries are intense and I often found myself emotional when the mystery was solved. From hidden messages of support, to the horrors of war, to a mass poisoning, Haruchika doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the mysteries. It was actually a relief to see a show handle such complex issues rather than the superficial ones highschool anime typically address.
For a show with a focus on a brass band club, there isn’t that much to be said about the soundtrack. Chika spends much of her time learning the flute, so there aren’t many scenes with a focus on full pieces. Scenes that show the band practicing are often short, so there isn’t much to be said about any music. The opening theme “Niji wo Ametara” (We Could Weave Rainbows), and closing theme “Kuso Triangle” (Imaginary Triangle) are both lighthearted and upbeat, which matches the overall feel of the show.
The voice acting for the show was pretty good. All of the voice actors were very emotive, and really brought the characters to life. It’s always a little hard for me to judge shows with subs on voice acting, entirely because I don’t understand the native language. I always look for how expressive the voice actors are, and if the emotion matches the animation. The voice actors for Haruchika were exceptional in this regard.
Haruchika felt very similar to a lot of other shows done by P.A. Works. The design and style of the characters felt similar to Angel Beats and Sakura Quest. It was definitely pretty, but felt like something I’ve seen before. I did appreciate how all of the characters had really unique eye colors though.
While the voice acting brought the characters to life, their development falls flat. The only characters who experience any development are those in which the development moves the plot along. These are also the characters that inevitably end up joining the Brass Band Club. When it comes to Haruta and China however, they maintain personalities for the whole season.
The mysteries in each episode definitely make this show worth re-watching. I found myself want to solve the mysteries with Haruta and Chika. I plan on re-watching to see if I can “solve” the mysteries with our protagonists.
Packaging and Bonus Materials
When it comes to any special features or packaging, this box set has nothing to write home about. The bonus materials are pretty standard: textless songs, and anime trailers. The packaging is also standard: color-coded discs and a reversible slip.
While these things used to excite me, I’m unfazed now. I feel like there’s so much more they could have done to add in goodies to this box set. They could have added in a practice book, or practice schedule. There could have been commentary on episodes, or on the specific mysteries picked. Instead, it was all very standard issue.
If you’re looking for an anime that is fun, but sometimes forgets the plot, then Haruchika is perfect for you. Haruchika is now available for purchase on DVD and Blu-Ray. For those with a Funimation Now account, Haruchika is also available for streaming.