Rumbling Hearts Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Revelation Films
  • MSRP: £15.99
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Rumbling Hearts

Rumbling Hearts Vol. #1

By Dani Moure     April 12, 2007
Release Date: April 02, 2007

Rumbling Hearts Vol. #1
© Revelation Films

What They Say
Haruka, Takayuki, Mitsuki and Shinji are four high school friends. Life's promise shines brightly on them until an accident leaves Haruka in a coma and her boyfriend, Takayuki, can't forgive himself. Mitsuki dedicates her life to helping this tragic young man and the pair fall into a guilt-ridden relationship. When Haruka awakens after three years, Takayuki is torn between his unhappy real-life relationship and daydream high school romance. He feels the tiny silver lining left in his life being mercilessly stripped away.

Episodes Comprise:

1. Friends To Lovers
2. Waiting
3. Betrayed By Love
4. Moving On
5. Lead Astray

The Review!
Rumbling Hearts marks a rare UK appearance for a drama based entirely around adult relationships.

I listened to the English 5.1 track for my main review, and really enjoyed the dub. The mix sounds good, with the music and effects coming across quite well. I noticed no dropouts, distortions or other technical issues with this disc. In terms of performances, occasionally the actors sometimes sounded a little older than they are supposed to be, but other than that it was a very solid and enjoyable dub, hitting most of the right emotional tones.

Like most recent shows these days with decent source materials, the transfer here is very good. I noticed no aliasing or other artefacts as I watched. Colours were reproduced well, and the transfer was very sharp and clean.

Unfortunately, like last year's Burst Angel release authored by Madman, this disc misses out on the alternate angles for the opening and ending, so we only get the English translated / FUNimation credits, with only the few Japanese credits they include.

Subtitles are in a nice yellow font, and I noticed no spelling or grammatical errors.

Rather low-key but in fitting with the tone of the show, the cover presents a nice image of Mitsuki and Haruka next to each other in school uniform, with a white background that makes the cover more subtle. The English logo is at the top of the cover, along with the volume number and episode numbers. The back cover presents a mix of artwork, screenshots and descriptions of the show, as well as clearly listing extras and all the technical information organised at the bottom of the cover. The reverse side features an image of older Mitsuki behind the disc, with an ad for the other discs in the series on the left side.

The menus are the usual Madman style we get these days, all mostly static. The main menu has a white hue, with the show's logo at the top, a picture of Haruka to the right and selections down the middle. A piece of background music plays over this menu. Sub-menus are all static in the same style, with no music playing. Overall access times are fast, but these kinds of menus do always seem by the numbers, lacking any creativity.

Starting things off with the bare bones in terms of extras, we get just the textless opening and ending here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Rumbling Hearts is a bit of an odd-ball when you consider its UK release. It's only the third completely new series Revelation Films have launched since entering the market, has no previously established fanbase due to past releases or tie-ins, and it's a genre of show that doesn't traditionally sell well at all in the UK. In fact, it's a pretty unusual genre entirely, because unlike most anime that focus on relationships, this show deals with the characters entirely as young adults in a very adult way.

That is what makes it stand out, what makes it true to life and ultimately what makes it so enjoyable. There's obviously the need to suspend disbelief at certain points like with any TV show, because a lot of coincidences take place that are there just to pile drama on to the characters, but this is the same in any bog-standard TV show. In many ways, Rumbling Hearts is best judged in the same ilk as its live-action counterparts rather than its anime peers, because it's so reminiscent of one. It deals with issues in a particularly adult way, and at least in these first five episodes, even if you find yourself thinking "I would never do that in the same situation!", chances are you can understand why the character has done what they have.

Every action has a reaction, and the characters are left to deal with everything as best they can. Life throws them a whole heap of trouble, but they have to get over it and get on with their lives, even if it's to the detriment of the people around them.

Of course, if you watch the first two episodes on this disc, you'll be forgiven for thinking I'm talking absolute rubbish. But these two episodes are very deceptive, because what lies beyond them and events that ultimately occur changes the lives of the characters forever. It all starts almost as a traditional high-school drama. We follow Takayuki and Shinji, two friends, as they go through the motions at school. Mitsuki is the star of the girl's swim team, and is friends with both boys, although she seems to harbour feelings for Takayuki. She forgoes her feelings though to set Takayuki up with her friend Haruka, a far more timid girl.

Then we get the standard anime fare for a bit, as we see Haruka and Takayuki struggle through their first relationship with all the awkwardness that brings. But when Mitsuki sees Takayuki on her birthday she takes him round the shops to get her a present, knowing that he's left Haruka waiting. And then the series takes a dark turn, leaving both Takayuki and Mitsuki with a whole heap of guilt and Haruka in a coma.

Things are a bit jarring at first when the show picks up three years later, as we don't exactly know how long it's been or what happened to Haruka. It plays out really well though with a lot of suspense, though thankfully the writers didn't skimp on the details and we do get fully up to speed on Mitsuki and Takayuki's current lives, as well as their relationships with the likes of Shinji and Akane.

The relationships are surprisingly well-developed over such a short period of time, and it's easy to get really involved and probably even take sides based on your own personal experiences. For instance, it's easy to see why Akane feels how she does " as though Mitsuki abandoned her friend and Takayuki just ran straight off with another girl " and feel sorry for her because of the pain she's going through, even if you can see the other side of the coin that after three years, they really needed to move on. It was particularly insensitive to go to the hospital together though; they should've known that wouldn't be good for Akane.

As the show settles down with Takayuki and Mitsuki moving on with their lives as much as possible, while Haruka is unfortunately stuck in the past, the final episode on the disc gives us a flashback to exactly what Takayuki went through. This episode is really important because without it, it would be easy to just think in a similar way to Akane in what Takayuki and Mitsuki did, but instead sticking the episode straight after Akane's little tirade about the hospital gives it maximum impact and almost manipulates you into feeling sorry for Takayuki especially, as you see just how hard he took it and how hard it was for him to move on.

Like everything in this show though, there is always two sides to the story, and that's what makes it so well rounded from an emotional point of view, and why it seems so realistic. Because even though we can now see why Takayuki has moved on, we can see why Akane has a particular hatred for Mitsuki given how she found out about her and Takayuki. In general every situation is like that, and it encourages you to form your own opinion about things rather than force absolutely everything down your throat.

In Summary:
Rumbling Hearts really hit a chord with me, and so I really enjoyed the first volume. It presents its relationships in a very realistic way and has the characters reacting in such a manner. The story is just there to dump more weight on the characters and essentially push them to their limits, but it's great to be able to form your own opinion about things without having one side forced down your throat more than others. The animation is pretty nice as well, making everything easy on the eye and the music, while nothing spectacular, is at least fitting. Overall I'm glad Revelation took a chance on this series and I hope it does well. It's good value and if you like a bit of angst and drama, chances are you'll love this show.

Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (5.1),Textless Opening and Ending

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Philips DVP 5100 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, Pioneer HTP-GS1 5.1 Surround Sound System.


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