What They Say:
When introverted Yuu Haruna transfers to a school in Tokyo, his dull life takes a sharp turn. More into Twitter than the world around him, he crashes into the mysteriously charming Fuuka Akitsuki and the tune of misunderstanding rings sharply between them. But as they grow closer, will it be love that crescendos between them or will the sound fall flat?
The audio presentation brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English mix gets a 5.1 boost, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series has its outlandish moments along the way but the bulk of it is filled with basic dialogue. There are some areas where it shines a bit more in how it works with thoughts and levels, but most of it is pretty standard school and slice of life fare about it. It’s often kept to just a couple of people at a time so it has a nice and small feeling to it that serves the material well and it all hits a good stride quickly. I flipped between the two language tracks regularly and they both come across clean and clear and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2017, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread between two discs in a nine/three format. Animated by Diomedea, the show has a really good look to it as it brings to life the manga, especially in the color department. It plays to a real world style with some bright spots throughout it, especially in the hair design, that gives it some really nice life. The series sticks to simple material for a lot of it where it’s not high-motion animation but the band scenes stand out really well with the quality while the rest of it is pretty solid as well. The encoding captures the details really well with good color work that lets it shine strongly here. The designs are a lot of the appeal for me with the characters and that works really well here for me.
The packaging design for this release comes in a standard-sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs for the series as no DVD is included. The set comes with an o-card that replicates the cover artwork but it has the metallic elements to it. Using the character artwork of the title character from the Japanese releases, it’s a striking piece with the hair color getting the metallic attention along with the logo. It’s got a clean dan appealing looking with the design as a whole and the white background lets it all pop really well. The back cover uses the familiar key visual piece of Fuuka and Koyuki that looks great while below it we get some decent shots from the show itself that highlights the designs. The summary of the premise covers the basics well enough while the bottom has a good strip highlighting the Funimation digital copy. The technical grid is simple since it’s just one format and it breaks everything down cleanly and accurately. The case artwork replicates all of this but the reverse side has two more pieces of character artwork from the Japanese releases.
The menu design for this release keeps things simple with a static design that’s used for both discs. We get the character artwork of Fuuka and Tama together that lets the character designs stand out well with appealing expressions. The background goes with a few shades of blue and has the logo in red and orange along the left, which isn’t large but fits just right. The navigation along the bottom is a standard strip that’s done in red and has the standard selections in white. There’s not a lot going on here overall but everything is functional and easy to use both as the main menu and the pop-up menu during playback, which is what you want. But a little more style on some of these releases would be nice once in a while.
The only extras included here are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga of the same name by Kouji Seo, Fuuka is a twelve-episode series that aired during the winter 2017 season. It was animated by Diomedia and directed by Keizo Kusakawa, who has experience in this realm well but also with more outlandish productions. The manga itself began in 2014 and saw a pickup by Kodansha early on and it wrapped up a year or so after the anime ended at twenty-volumes. The anime didn’t capture the whole run of the series, obviously, but what we get here has a good complete feel in terms of a larger arc itself. It’s a well put together series that deals with high school life but without a lot of the usual cliches – instead opting for more traditional live-action cliches. Which I like as it feels different from what we normally get.
Serving as a sequel to the Suzuka manga, a series I enjoyed in both manga and anime form, the show focuses on Yuu as our lead character. He’s a pretty good kid overall and has just transferred into school in Tokyo where he quickly meets Fuuka. She stands out for a lot of reasons but one of them is definitely how she’s always got headphones on. The initial meet-cute outside of school is anything but cute, since he gets accused of being someone trying to take creepy pictures of her, but it’s an accident that gets him to listen to the CD she had that reveals her talents in that realm. The two do connect well early on because of both of their personalities and the way that Yuu is a bit more outgoing and able to draw her into his orbit a bit. Fuuka is definitely a bit of an introvert when she’s not on stage and that has kept her with few friends.
The show doesn’t lean too hard into Fuuka’s parents but does involve them to a decent degree, which provides for some nice callbacks for those that enjoyed them as the lead couple in the Suzuka manga. I like the continuity that we get in the track side of their lives since that was what drew them together and that Fuuka is just as gifted in her own way at it. But it’s clearly not the path she wants to follow and as she grows as a young woman, she’s deciding more and more where her real passions lay and seeing her move toward that is enjoyable to watch. Particularly as her parents aren’t trying to force her to give it all up in favor of what they feel is best. It feels very in-character for her parents. What also helps is that while Yuu and Fuuka definitely click, it’s not an easy connection. They’re both strong-willed characters in their own way and have their passions within music while also having trouble expressing things – at least until near the end when Yuu puts it all into song.
The nature of the series is one where it has a lot of ebb and flow to it because of the couple of groups that comes into play, including the one that forms around our leads. There’s always competition between groups and that runs through the background but we also get the complication of Koyuki, a childhood friend of Yuu that’s definitely in love with him. There’s a good bit of tension and uncertainty that comes throughout the series between the two but I really enjoyed the heartbreaking sequence where she does finally truly confess things up close and personal while trying to win him over only to have it not happen. The reactions of both sides is handled well but I definitely appreciated that, just like the material with Fuuka and Yuu, real choices have to be made throughout it and they do stick to it through the pain. It gives it a bit more oomph and weight which a good romantic drama definitely needs to stick.
A decent chunk of the show focuses on the other bands and what’s going on, including Fuuka breaking out on her own when things get tough with everyone that causes things to collapse. This isn’t bad by any stretch but my j-pop sensibilities are long out of date and I haven’t connected with music-driven series music in quite some time, so this is the bland part of the show for me. It’s enjoyable what’s presented here but it was the actual performance material that clicked for me as it’s really well animated. The designs help to be sure but the choreography is pretty good and with a sizeable enough group in play here with really good characters to work with, it all comes together well. The series is one whose design really is quite appealing in color and character and I think they nailed the look of it just right overall. While it may not be high-end or anything, it delivered exactly what it needed for me to really enjoy it.
Even after all these years, I’m still a sucker for a fun high school romantic drama. Fuuka makes out better than most because it has something to build on thanks to it being a sequel to the Suzuka manga and anime. Kouji Seo’s works always clicked for me and getting more of it animated was a delight. It’s a solid drama with a few outlandish character moments mixed in with some good music moments and performances and a strong visual design overall. The release may be a bit barebones in a few ways but the core of it is the show itself and it looks great, has a solid package design, and an enjoyable dub that will please fans.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closings
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: July 16th, 2019
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.