Rumbling Hearts Box Set (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, September 17, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, August 07, 2007
What They Say
Meet four high school friends: Haruka, Takayuki, Mitsuki, and Shinji. Life's promise shines brightly on them until an accident leaves Haruka in a coma. Her boyfriend, Takayuki, can't forgive himself, and seems determined to follow Haruka into a comatose state. Mitsuki dedicates her life to taking care of the tragic young man, and the pair fall into a relationship floundering in guilt.
When Haruka awakens after three years, everyone must pretend no time has passed. Torn between his unhappy real-life relationship with Mitsuki and the daydream high school romance with Haruka, Takayuki feels the tiny silver lining left in his life being mercilessly and methodically stripped away.
Contains all 14 episodes.
Rumbling Hearts is like watching a slow moving emotional train wreck, as three young and conflicted friends navigate their way through complex relationships with each other.
For this review I watched the show primarily in the original Japanese language. The show is a character drama with the dialogue taking center stage in the sound mix. Music and sound effects are used to enhance the drama, but are never mixed to be too obvious or obtrusive. Both the Japanese and English tracks were clear and without issue, though I preferred the more forward mix of the Japanese dialogue.
The transfer for this show is pretty fantastic. Not only are the colors very rich and vibrant, but they are also extremely solid with barely any hint of problems. The only trouble spot is during the closing sequence of the last episode, where there is some noticeable artifacting. All in all this is a great looking transfer.
This collection comes packaged in a nice sturdy art box. The box art features a pale and cloudy blue sky as a background with nice bright character art that sports a soft overlay of white feathers. On one side, Akane and Mitsuki are hugging Haruka during their high school years; the spine features Haruka sitting pensively on her hospital bed in her nightgown; the top is graced by a cropped image of the Doctor and Nurse Miami which sadly leaves only the top of Nurse Amakawa's head and the barest glimpse of Nurse Fumio's red hair; the final side shows the cute Ayu and Mayu in their Sky Temple Restaurant uniforms.
The discs come in white keepcases, with very light and dreamy covers. The artwork uses toned down colors and has a very airy quality. The covers feature high school aged Haruka and Mitsuki standing back to back, adult Haruka in her hospital room, and adult Mitsuki in front of Takayuki's apartment. The back panels all feature part of the cover image along with some snapshots of moments from the episodes. The technical details are easily found at the bottom of each disc.
The main menu has a pleasing theme, with the sky as a backdrop to some nice character art and some subtle translucent ribbons overlaid over it all. The additional menus all use the sky as background, but feature shots from the show as scrapbook pictures. The images are overlaid by the ribbons as well as parts of the girls high school uniforms seen in the show. The menus for each of the three discs are different, with artwork representing the characters as they appear in the individual episodes. As an added touch each menu screen has a different musical theme playing.
This box set is pretty light on features, with just the standard creditless opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
High school is a tough time for everyone, not only do you have the social pressures of figuring out who you are and what you want to do with your life, but there is also all the tangles and turmoil of love. Haruka and Mitsuki have been friends since grade school, yet they are complete opposites personalities wise. Mitsuki is loud, devoted to swimming, and makes friends easily. Haruka is quiet, bookish, and shy; so shy that she runs away anytime her crush, Takayuki, is near. Mitsuki takes matters into her own hands and befriends Takayuki and his best friend Shinji in order to get Takayuki and Haruka together. When Haruka finally gets up the nerve to confess and Takayuki accepts her offer to go out, Mitsuki suddenly realizes that she also likes Takayuki.
Though Takayuki and Haruka are dating, it really takes them time to warm up to being in a relationship. But once they do, they really go for it, to the delight of Haruka's younger sister Akane. As things grow more serious with Haruka, Takayuki continues to maintain his close friendship with Mitsuki. Mitsuki is jealous of Haruka, but takes all of her pent up feelings and pours them into her competitive swimming.
Mitsuki runs into Takayuki one night on his way to meet with Haruka and she cajoles him into buying her a ring for her birthday. Takayuki feels guilty for how late he is for his date with Haruka, a feeling that intensifies when he realizes that she has been hit by a car and severely injured while waiting for him. If you think this is complicated, just wait until things really get going.
Haruka is left in a coma and is hospitalized until she can recover. Overwhelmed by guilt, Takayuki becomes a complete wreck. Mitsuki jumps in to care for Takayuki, abandoning her ambition of becoming a professional swimmer, and helps bring him out of his deep depression. As the years go by, Mitsuki and Takayuki form a deeper relationship and eventually become a couple, though the shadow of Haruka is always hanging over them. When Haruka suddenly awakens from her coma, not realizing that three years have passed, everyone's lives are once again thrown into turmoil. Takayuki is torn between his feelings for the sweet and innocent Haruka and the jaded Mitsuki.
Though Rumbling Hearts starts out feeling like a typical high school romantic coming of age story, it takes a sharp turn into deeper emotional territory. The show eschews the traditional format of equal time given to drama and comedy, and there is little humor in the show aside from the enjoyable antics of Takayuki's coworkers, Ayu and Mayu. This is a very straight story that sticks to its dramatic guns. The real life approach to the main characters makes the situations all the more painful and engrossing to watch. Takayuki, Haruka and Mitsuki all blunder their way into adulthood and difficult decisions, with much heartache and angst along the way, for the characters as well as the viewer.
Rumbling Hearts has more weight to the drama than most other romantic coming of age stories. The emotions and decisions of the characters are complex and difficult, without much of the typical comedy to soften things. The unexpected developments keep you glued to your seat waiting to see who Takayuki chooses and how it will all turn out. If you are looking for a heart wrenching love triangle, this show is for you. Rumbling Hearts is highly recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Audio,English 2.0 Audio,English Subtitles,Creditless Opening,Creditless Ending
Review Equipment: Samsung HLT6187S 61" DLP HDTV, Sony DVP-NS975V Progressive Scan Up Converting DVD player, Pioneer Elite VSX-81TXV DD/DTS receiver, HDMI cable, JBL Multi-Channel Speaker System with 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: TV PG
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Rumbling Hearts