「森島はるか編 第一章 アコガレ」 (Morishima Haruka-hen Dai Isshou – Akogare)
“Morishima Haruka Chapter 1 – Yearning”
While I have my reservations about this turning out be romance drama that will fill the void left by true tears, this first showing of AIC‘s adaptation of Enterbrain’s romance simulation game does show potential. In addition, it’s been indicated that this series will run for two-cour and likely 24 episodes, where four will be dedicated to each of the six girls’ sub arcs. Needless to say, I’m completely on board when it comes to an AIC-produced romance drama that will run for six months, especially with the awesome cast of female seiyuu voicing all the girls. To top it off, playing the male lead Tachibana Junichi is Maeno Tomoaki, who I often associate with playing characters with tough personalities but continues to impress me with his ability to play emotionally troubled ones like he does here. Junichi in particular doesn’t come off as a weak male lead, but simply one that’s emotionally scarred from being stood up for a Christmas Eve date two years ago. That becomes a fundamental theme of the story as a whole, as he hastily allows himself to fall in love again with a sudden confession in this first episode.
As I mentioned in the Spring 2010 Preview, the story in the PlayStation 2 game revolves primarily around his interest in his senior classmate, the gorgeous and easygoing Morishima Haruka (Itou Shizuka). Whether or not she’ll turn out to be the main girl in this adaptation I don’t know, but I was surprised to learn that the very first four episode arc is going to focus on her. I haven’t seen confirmation on exactly how many episodes this series will run for, though starting off with Haruka and potentially wrapping up with her in the final two episodes of a 26 episode run seems like one way of going about it. Along the way, Junichi would have encounters with the other five girls in their respective sub arcs and learn exactly how much he wants to be with Haruka. That’s sort of my initial outlook on the progression of this series for now, which doesn’t seem all that far-fetched since it’s somewhat along the lines of what Kanon did. In any case, I’m excited since this first showing almost made me fall for Haruka with Shizuka using her Katsura Hinagiku voice in a very playful and almost teasing-like manner as she gave Junichi all the signs that she’s interested in him.
Looking back, it’s kind of hard to imagine that it all started with Haruka catching sight of him helping first year Nakata Sae (Konno Hiromi) buy her lunch amidst the ravage pack of students. That in turn resulted in the fateful encounter between the two and Haruka learning of Junichi’s existence for the very first time. I honestly can’t blame Junichi for falling for Haruka so quickly, given how she’s the school idol of sorts and has been confessed to many times in the past, yet showed him very misleading signs of affection just because of the kindness he showed earlier. If that weren’t enough, she was really happy about bumping into him in the library knowing that he’d help her carry some books and even joined in on his game of leapfrog with Umehara Masayoshi (Terashima Takuma) and his other guy friends some days later. From my perspective, Haruka was clearly the biggest tease ever since she didn’t seem interested in Junichi in any way; however, I was more okay with it when it became more obvious that she simply isn’t aware of how popular she is amongst the guys. Be that as it may, Haruka asking Junichi if he’s only nice to her because he likes her, only to express disappointment when he dodged the question, did seem intentional after she had already let him astray.
Incidentally, the mood and setting allowed Junichi to muster up enough courage to actually just confess out of the blue, which Haruka was both surprised and happy about, but still turned down because she likes older guys. My immediate reaction was, “How cruel can you be Haruka after he finally opened up his heart to feelings of love again!?”, except I couldn’t stay upset with Haruka since she wasn’t trying to play with Junichi’s feelings. Anyway, it’s these type of emotional responses I was hoping to get while watching this series, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how their relationship develops from here on in. There are all the other girls to look forward to too, which includes class rep Ayatsuji Tsukasa (Nazuka Kaori), childhood friend Sakurai Rihoko (Shintani Ryouko), middle school friend Tanamachi Kaoru (Satou Rina), and junior classmate/sister’s friend Nanasaki Ai (Yukana) from the swim club. That’s in addition to Sae mentioned above, plus we have Junichi’s little sister Miya (Asumi Kana) to make things interesting. Production-wise AIC delivers here, and we also have Pony Canyon producing character-specific ending themes every arc, starting with Itou Shizuka’s. Finally, a romance drama has arrived, so here’s to hoping it turns out well.