Rumbling Hearts Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Rumbling Hearts

Rumbling Hearts Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     January 30, 2007
Release Date: February 06, 2007

Rumbling Hearts Vol. #2
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.

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 this tragic young man, and the pair falls 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 episodes 6-10.

The Review!
Rumbling Hearts has its faults as it deals with Haruka's problem but it shows many more strengths with how it reveals some very powerful emotional moments with the various relationships.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Both this and the English language track are in a very basic stereo mix at 256kbps which leaves it feeling somewhat barren at times. The mix isn't terribly expansive to begin with so it doesn't impact it too much. With it being mostly a dialogue driven show, there isn't a lot going on with the audio even when it comes to placement. The songs are where the stereo channels get their most use but even those are fairly mild compared to some other shows. We listened to the show through on both tracks and didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally released in 2003, the transfer for this show is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. This release reverses a recent trend from FUNimation where several of their new shows haven't looked as good as they should, due to both gradient blocking issues as well as simply looking a bit fuzzy. Rumbling Hearts is one of the best looking releases from them in recent memory with a very clean print that is essentially problem free. Some minor bits of noise crop up in a few areas but they're negligible as is the very minor gradient areas which tend to show during fade in and fade out moments. Cross coloration is absent and aliasing is hardly an issue at all. This is a very pleasing on the eye transfer even with its occasional bit of intended softness.

The cover art for this release utilizes the Japanese artwork but it does is reduces it in size and surrounds it with a lot of white space. I'm not sure if this works or not but it is an interesting change of pace as it softens up the edges of the artwork and allows the title to feel more like a novel title than a TV series title. The character artwork is good with some nice vibrant colors and plenty of detail. The back cover continues with the very soft look to it as it has lots of whites and really blends down the imagery used of the clouds and sky. There are a couple of pieces of character artwork and a decent summary alongside the episode title listing but there are a number of shots included as photographs laid out around the bottom half that look really nice. The very bottom has the technical grid and other production information but is very difficult to read due to the small font and the soft blues on the white. No insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.

The menu really works the soft approach with a white background that has Haruka and Narumi in the background while a more vibrant image of Mitsuki is in the foreground. With the music that it uses and the design, it has an almost ethereal feel to it that's very relaxing. The navigation and title are done in very light colors as well that almost blend into the white at times but is still quite usable and easy to navigate. Access times are nice and fast but we opted to use the manual language/subtitle selection due to the angle issue and the continuing lack of labels on their subtitle tracks for on the fly changes.

The only extras included for this release is the opening and closing sequences in their "textless song" format.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The more I see of Rumbling Hearts the more I wonder if it's a show that will connect more with people who have undergone the emotional turmoil of a serious relationship. That isn't to negate those with casual relationships or anything, but the characters within the show have such strong performances and solid scripts here that make you care so much about them that they may not quite resonate unless you've experienced similar things. While the situation is "unique" here, the emotional side of it certainly is not.

The false reality is kept up for Haruka as she is still in the hospital recovering from being in a coma for the past three years. For some people, such as her parents and even her sister Akane to some extent, time has stood still. For others it's moved forward but not without some cost. Takayuki's life was one that went through a personal hell where he questioned everything that he did that led up to what happened and blamed himself. Mitsuki ended up eventually being able to draw him out of this but not without her own personal hell of feeling like she was betraying Haruka. The two worked things out, to some extent at least, and have grown much closer together over the past couple of years.

For Mitsuki though, seeing that Takayuki is spending so much time with Haruka combined with Akane's accusations, her fears of loss about Takayuki are quite strong. While at this stage Takayuki seems like he's willing to help out to get Haruka back to a normal state he doesn't quite seem like he's ready to confess his love to her and pick up where they left off. He understands, at least partially, the kind of issues that are at play but it's difficult to truly voice them. With Haruka's parents at first not wanting him around her at all for so long, having them come to ask him to visit her as often as possible to help her along only makes it more awkward. Mitsuki and Takayuki try to talk things out a bit but both have so much emotional baggage on the issue that it becomes not quite an argument but almost like subtle terse accusations.

Mitsuki's attempts to reinforce their relationship are well intentioned but her method for it and the way she brings it up just causes more problems. Each of them are willing to talk about certain aspects of what's going on but they both keep certain areas close to their chest. Amusingly, each has something of a quasi-confidant on the matter as Shinji seems to be the go to guy for each of them. But even this brings in something of a potentially growing problem as Shinji has certain feelings for Mitsuki but they're not quite clear what they are. He wants her to be happy and knows that being with Takayuki is exactly what she wants and he certainly wants Takayuki to be happy. With both of them though he does ask them the straightforward questions that all of them need to say to each other and truly talk about, the kind of talk where they reveal things that are in their minds and hearts for so long that speaking them causes tears.

While the secondary characters don't bother me too much and I can ignore Daikuji's antics easily enough, the only character that really bothers me in the show is Akane. Enough of it can be attributed to both age and sisterly adoration but her complete unwillingness to listen to anything from anyone just makes her far too obstinate. Like some of the other characters she is going through her own issues regarding Haruka's believing no time has passed. But her way of dealing with it and the anxiety that it brings with Takayuki back in their lives has her feeling like her time has stopped as well. Her reactions to Haruka's growing questions about some of the changes she's finally starting to notice in people and in herself is like a volcano waiting to explode. It fit in well with her character that seems to be about giving her opinion whether it's wanted or not but not listening to what anyone else has to say.

In Summary:
For different reasons than what is in the show itself, Rumbling Hearts resonates very strongly with me. At times it's almost painful to watch because of how certain phrases and emotional moments strike me. There is enough to not like about how the show is set up or in the way it's playing such an obvious manipulation game but it does it so well that I can't help but to enjoy it. So many scenes are memorable and there really isn't much in the way of true filler material here. Rumbling Hearts takes the school age romance and really gives it a good work out with a few twists and plenty of actual discussion and emotions. It certainly won't be for everyone but this installment reaffirms the way I had fallen for the first set of episodes.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Closing,Clean Opening

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI set to 480p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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