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Haruchika ~Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru~ – Tackling the Issues


While not perfectly told, Haruchika had the audacity to try and be different.

Haruchika never had the best execution, but it tackled issues that many anime would shy away from or would be ignorant enough to ignore. I don’t mean to begin this by diving into politics, but I think Haruchika may be the most liberal anime I’ve ever come across. Perhaps if I went through my list of watched titles I could come up with a few other contenders, but Haruchika seems to have that distinction going for it. Japan is a fairly isolated and conservative nation, so it’s rare to come across an anime like this that hones in on several issues that perhaps wouldn’t be uncommon in the western world, but is somewhat of an oddity in its own country. The first and most discussed issue it deals with is homosexuality. The first episode ends by revealing that Haruka is in fact gay (or bisexual, but probably gay) and in love with his teacher. That surprised not only Chika, but most of the audience, and the response wasn’t great. While the first episode lacked that extra something to hook you in, that twist is no doubt what turned many people away.

If that is the case, it’s unfortunate, because Haru’s affection was dealt with in a respectful manner – it was a part of his character, yet it never totally defined him. And most importantly, it never led to a controversial teacher/student relationship. It seemed clear to me that it never would, but some people seemed to think that’s the direction the series was going. Instead, it was only brought up when we were dealing with mysteries that involved Haru and his teacher, allowing him to show how much he cared for him. It came off as infatuation more than anything else, which was the best possible route. Haru is sure to never end up with the man he thinks he loves right now, but that’s a good thing. The fact that he was even attracted to another male character in the first place was rather revolutionary. People think having a gay character in a series means it MUST be yaoi. That’s obviously not the case. However, isn’t it interesting when a relatively unimportant okama character shows up and is played for cheap laughs? I lie, it’s not interesting at all – it’s annoying and hypocritical. Many people are only okay with a gay male characters in their anime if he’s a raging stereotype that we’re not supposed to take seriously, feel affection for, or root for, and instead exists for us to laugh at/with (but mainly at) them. So I have to give credit to Haruchika for having the balls to have a main character who is gay, and for P.A. Works for adapting such material.

Unfortunately, P.A. Works didn’t do as good a job as they perhaps could have done. There’s no denying this is their cheapest looking show to date; not even Chika’s rainbow eyes can save it. The notable exception to his would be episode 4, which had crisp art, smooth animation, and all round brilliant direction. Too bad it only lasted for one episode (which I think was the best episode) before things returned to normal. This cheap quality hurt Haruchika because the execution just wasn’t there. While the series focused mainly on the characters, their struggles, and the mysteries surrounding them, if the presentation had been stronger then it wouldn’t have felt so… limp. I never outright hated an episode, but I often found myself thinking how the scenes lacked the impact they deserved. The pacing wasn’t always the best either; sometimes the mysteries felt stretched thin or were too rushed. It’s difficult to say what they could have done to prevent that, but what we did get wasn’t always the best. In the end, it’s not totally unfair to compare it to Hibike! Euphonium and Hyouka. The similarities are clear; if those shows had a lovechild, it would be this. Unfortunately for Haruchika, those shows already did their respective halves of this series better.

However, I have to give credit to Haruchika for being ambitious. While Haru was a borderline genius who seemed to know (or figure out) every single detail and answer of every mystery, plenty of the stories themselves were interesting. This comes back to my point on Haruchika’s liberalness. Not only did we get Haru’s sexuality, but we explored various subject matters that are very rarely dealt with in a serious manner. Examples include: the effect of China’s one child policy, allowing for an episode dedicated to adoption and what it means to be a foreigner in Japan; focusing on a character who is deaf (or partially deaf) and her relationship with music; exploring the effects of a Vietnam war veteran who suffers from PTSD; a teenager phoning a radio show to talk about taking their own life; and a female teacher and student being indecently exposed by another female classmate.

So while Haruchika’s execution wasn’t up to par, the fact that it spent episodes focusing on these serious topics is praiseworthy in itself. In the end, I think that’s how I’ll remember Haruchika: it wasn’t the prettiest show, nor did it have the best mysteries, but it was a commendable series for tackling real issues upfront. For that reason, it’s never going to be a financial success, and we’re likely never going to get a sequel, but I’ll always have affection for Haruchika for having the audacity to try.

March 23, 2016 at 5:22 pm
24 comments »
  • March 23, 2016 at 6:10 pmsamui

    My problem with Haruchika lies wih the lifeless execution and Haruta’s google search like knowledge. It killed my interest with the show but man, Chika was good. I like her energy and aw shucks appeal.

    • March 23, 2016 at 11:37 pmDualash

      I kind of felt the same way, especially when it came to the mysteries; the anime was more about the characters than the mystery, which I’m kind of disappointed since I love a good mystery, but at least the interactions from Chika and the others were entertaining.

  • March 23, 2016 at 6:17 pmLyfe

    Great writeup, I haven’t watched this series and probably won’t anytime soon as I have a few shows to finish up already from this season and will likely move onto the Spring stuff. But it does sound like an interesting show none the less.

    • March 24, 2016 at 5:10 amSamu

      It’s certainly not the best show airing this past season, but it’s worth a shot, and is better than most initially thought it would be.

  • March 23, 2016 at 6:32 pmyfly

    I agree with your review. Though I did enjoy it, I found the execution was lacking.

    Aside from that a lot of the mysteries felt rushed/thin because they were trying adapt about 50 to 120 pages worth of material in a single episode. A mystery is better the more time is spent on the mystery, but I got the impression that they were trying to focus more on the characters’ interactions instead. These stories need more episodes or more running time. I personally believe that the source material is more suited for a jdrama series.

    I do recommend giving the HaruChika novel series a try. It’s good stuff. The other novels of Hatsuno Sei also tackle issues similar to those in HaruChika, but unfortunately these aren’t translated in English.

    • March 24, 2016 at 5:11 amSamu

      50-120 pages getting crammed or stretched was definitely noticeable, so I’m not surprised that can be confirmed. Thanks for the info. I may have a reason to check out the novels now.

  • March 23, 2016 at 7:01 pmichigo

    While the series focused mainly on the characters, their struggles, and the mysteries surrounding them, if the presentation had been stronger then it wouldn’t have felt so… limp. I never outright hated an episode, but I often found myself thinking how the scenes lacked the impact they deserved.

    Well said, Samu. The series just didn’t meld together the way I would have liked as a viewer. I did enjoy Chika’s rainbow eyes.

  • March 23, 2016 at 7:56 pmDollar

    I’m usually not one to watch a show just because I like the character interactions, but what made me not drop it was how entertaining I found Haruta’s and Chika’s friendly rivalry to be (and Kusakabe-sensei ♥♥ his voice is the hottest thing ever ♥♥). Otherwise, it was really nothing special. I agree that this WAS a vety liberal show and with the inclusion of a main character who just happens to be gay, but the focus on some of the other issues was kind of underwhelming. E.g. I didn’t find the one-child policy episode to be particularly enlightening in any way, nor any of the other world issues – although of course 1) it’s not that kind of anime and 2) I do appreciate that the series writer tried to do some different things. But the fact is, most of these issues felt quite superficial, like watching TV news cover LGBT issues. So even though I wasn’t expecting it to, the relatively liberal aspect didn’t impress me a whole lot.

    That said, I liked the series a lot more than its quality should’ve indicated.

  • March 23, 2016 at 11:29 pmFlareKnight

    No issues with it trying to be different….I just couldn’t stand the main character. Haruta just annoyed the heck out of me as a character. Everyone around the guy just felt like a tool for him to try and make the person he liked happy. Not a bad thing in general, but not when you are just messing with people for that selfish reason. There was just nothing in his personality I found likable. And no I didn’t care that he was gay. Was the only part of his character I didn’t care about one way or the other. He had a crush on his teacher, nothing crazy there. Just that his teacher was the same gender, oh well.

    Didn’t find the early mysteries to be that interesting either which left….basically nothing. Chika was fine, but not interesting enough to keep me interested in the show. So had an unlikable lead in Haru, uninteresting mysteries, and pretty poor effort on the band music side of it. Sure it wasn’t the focus but….might have been a better route for the story to focus a bit more on.

    In the end, reason I dropped it after the third episode. Enough was enough.

    • March 24, 2016 at 2:52 amET

      Same here. I had enough of Haruta’s selfish, insensitive, and arrogant personality by the third episode and dropped the series then. I rarely hate on characters in anime but Haruta is one of them.

      If he was a real life person, the unsolved crime rate would drop to zero just because he’ll be able to solve everything by magically pulling the answers out of his ass.

    • March 24, 2016 at 1:49 pmArche

      Thanks for putting my thoughts together. I actually liked most of the characters’ interactions (Although more twins and more mini-Chika would’ve been swell) they were just brought down by a really punch-able protagonist

  • March 24, 2016 at 2:21 amBROOKLYN otaku

    apologies….but come on….drop it, drop it!! Drop that Spring/summer PREVIEW PLEEEEEASE!!!

    this season was dryer than my grandmas maxi-pad, Im feening…i Need to see the next wave!!!!

    • March 24, 2016 at 5:12 amSamu

      Soon™

  • March 24, 2016 at 4:57 amNachtwandler

    And I don’t get why the Western community hate this series. Really. You found mysteries to easy? They meant to be done so average viewer can get all clues too.

    • March 24, 2016 at 5:14 amSamu

      I think it’s less that the mysteries were easy (I wouldn’t have been able to figure out most of them), but more the fact that Haruta found a way to solve every single one without much difficulty. That part of his character wasn’t the best – he just felt like an excuse/reason to get to the answers, and most of the time it didn’t feel earned. And I say that as someone who did enjoy the show.

      • March 24, 2016 at 5:48 amNachtwandler

        Still. People on MAL, AniSuki and some other sources hate this series so much that it bothers me. You could ignore it because of not so high budget (although I think PAW got the best they could out of it) or MC but why hate.

        Although I don’t want to discuss it cause I personally really hate Hyouka while a lot of people dim it masterpiece.

      • March 25, 2016 at 8:09 pmcryarc

        Hyouka: the mystery is simple but presented in an interesting ways and the audience can try solving it ALONG with the main characters since they’re not Haruta which have google search for a brain.

        Haruchika: mystery meet Haruta, Haruta pulls out trivia knowledges he happens to know that conveniently is the key to solve the mystery, he explain it to the audience in a high and mighty arrogant way. Nope. It’s better if the only main in the mystery is Chika since Haruta ruins the mystery part.

  • March 24, 2016 at 9:03 amAika

    Haruta’s google like brain ruined the whole show for me, I Liked the big cast and Liked the mysterious, with more time the mysterious would have been much more amazing, i would have liked to see the whole cast trying their best in solving them, bun naah why bother haruta’s there.

    someone as smart as him shouldn’t even be in high school chasing a music related dream! he should be somewhere else unlocking the mysterious of the damn earth!

    • March 26, 2016 at 10:17 pmMockman

      I find it a little odd at how many people have reacted to Haruta’s intelligence. While perhaps it was a little concentrated because of the show’s format (and number of pages that were adaptated), it seems that people are too dismissive of his intelligence. There are people who are smart and knowledgeable. Maybe nobody talks to them and that’s why seeing one on TV (who isn’t played for gags) is so disconcerting to so many. But I guess that other than Chika, he isn’t especially close to any of the other characters so maybe there is something about him that places a barrier between him and others (unless you’re as stubborn as Chika is). For what it’s worth, I think what makes him more of a rare breed is his perceptivity and empathy.

      I’m glad to see it pointed out that the romantic feelings that he and Chika have towards their teacher are probably infatuation and unlikely to go anywhere. Maybe they’re destined to be together. As to genuine love, I would say that Serizawa’s feelings towards Chika are the most likely to be the real thing. If I were to go into the novels, this would be one of the aspects of the story that I’d find intriguing to look for, along with wondering what else the two main characters got up to as they continue to hang out together.

      I thought Chika was a great character, with her eyes, her hair, and her boundless energy. If they made a season two, which would surprise me, I’d watch that as well. This might be one of those shows that suffers from the time format (12 episodes of 24 minutes). Maybe 8 x 36 would have allowed them to tell fewer stories a little more fully. As an aside, while I enjoyed the fourth episode, I also liked the radio one.

  • March 24, 2016 at 5:04 pmGuren

    It was fun, but if there was a 2nd season announcement, I wouldn’t watch it.

    First of all, I’m more surprised of people who drop the anime for someone gay being in it than the fact that there is someone gay as a MC. If so, something is wrong with the world.
    Whatever, I’m still trying to assert in which gender should I put Haruchika in: it has music and shool-like interactions (way school-unlike actually), but both are only used for plot-running. It should be the same if they did it in a college, or even fantastic setting, no difference.
    So, then comes the…mistery? thriller? It lacks a lot to be called these. As you said SAMU, it shows music and puzzle-solving, but neither are the main plot. And the characters don’t help that much, as they are very…stationary I could say, they don’t evolve, they keep stopped in time, waiting for Haru & Chika to solve problems for them. To the point the 3rd year(s) are gone, splurting that nonsense of “our dreams” and so on, and I can barely remember his(their) name(s) (actually, I can’t). No good, no good, and it’s not my memory I’m talking about.

    BTW, Haru should sell his tantei abilities, he would be rich by now.

  • March 25, 2016 at 12:37 amgecd

    Would miss this show
    I don’t care about Haruta, but Chika is the best heroine this season

  • March 25, 2016 at 9:23 pmVaans

    Chika was the most entertaining character I’ve seen this season. And the one reason why I continue to watch till the end.

  • March 29, 2016 at 3:37 amExperticia

    I watched this anime because I found interesting two friends of different sex being rivals for the music teacher´s love. It´s something that can happen in real life… The grandfather who was a soldier in Vietnam or the uncle who saved 500 yen coins in a department building were two excentric characters which I enjoyed. It´s not a great anime but I think is good enough to entertaint in a second season. Maybe the two rivals will become a couple… Who knows…

  • March 29, 2016 at 3:41 amExperticia

    Correction: entertain.