Sunday, July 25, 2010

君が望む永遠 (Kimi ga Nozomu Eien) (Rumbling Hearts)

Kimi ga Nozomu Eien (Literal translation: The Eternity You Desire), released in the U.S. as Rumbling Hearts, is a 2003-2004 romantic drama anime based on a 2001 visual novel of the same name (a visual novel that definitely fits in the dating sim category).  The story centers mainly on Takayuki Narumi (Japanese name order is used in this post) and his two friends Suzumiya Haruka and Hayase Mitsuki.  After a terrible tragedy occurs early in the show, the relationships among these friends and others (including their mutual friend Taira Shinji and Haruka's sister, Suzumiya Akane) are radically altered.  The anime explores these relationships and the effects of the tragedy on them; it is often cited as an accurate depiction of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the characters, due to this tragedy.  A major theme of the series is the necessity to take action, commit, and make decisions, not to just let life happen to you.

As for my reaction to the series, here it is: the art is pretty good, but nothing spectacular; I'd count the music the same way: it's unobtrusive, but not a soundtrack that really stands out to me.  The plot moves slowly, especially in the opening episodes before the tragedy; I often felt bored at times, due to the slow plot.  There is some comic relief in the series (mostly from the two waitresses at Narumi's work), but overall it is very heavy on relational drama.  For a while when I watched the show, I was undecided about whether to watch it; each episode I'd think, "That was okay, but I have a feeling it'll really take off in the next episode."  While I'm not sure if it really "took off" as I wanted until the last episode, but I did end up growing somewhat attached to these characters, to Haruka at least.  In conclusion, I found Kiminozo (as it is often abbreviated) to be a somewhat engaging anime with a worthy theme, but I wouldn't consider it top-tier.  I give Rumbling Hearts a 7/10.  WARNING: There is some nudity and sexual content in this anime, along with some instances of mild cursing (mostly from one of the waitresses); the tragedy involves some bloodshed as well, so it could possibly be disturbing.

A Deeper Look

As I said above, I think a main theme of Rumbling Hearts is the need for action. Most of the show's tension came from lack of action on the characters' parts. This also caused tension for me: I, like other viewers of this show, often wanted to smack some of these characters in the head, particularly Narumi. The majority of the drama in the show comes about from his lack of commitment: he won't choose between Haruka and Mitsuki. Now, I realize part of that might come from the PTSD, but I think it's something that's in the show from the beginning. For instance: when Haruka first confesses to him, he doesn't really give a definite response. And after he finally goes to her and says he'll date her, Shinji complains that Narumi won't take Haruka on a real date. And then when Narumi actually has plans with Haruka, he doesn't carry them out: he gets distracted by Mitsuki. Now, I know he's just trying to be a friend to her, but he could at least let Haruka know when he's going to stand her up, like at the festival! I also can't help thinking that if Narumi didn't stop to buy a ring for Mitsuki, he could have made it to the station in time and saved Haruka from the accident.

And that's just the first two episodes. I feel like most of the show is about Narumi not making a real decision: for a while, it seems like he only sees Mitsuki because Haruka is in a coma (hence her complaint of being Haruka's "replacement"). If Narumi would pick one or the other, Mitsuki or Haruka, the former wouldn't have gotten drunk repeatedly, slept with Shinji, and left Narumi, and the latter wouldn't have been led on so much. I think the show teaches by negative example; it shows, "Here's what happens when you don't take action and don't make commitments." By showing you the consequences of inaction and apathy, it drives you to actually do things.

Then again, maybe I'm being too hard on these characters. They did suffer a major tragedy, and they have PTSD (from what I've read). It's obvious that his affected Narumi very harshly at first, as shown in the flashbacks of Episode 5. But I can't help feeling that some of it is Narumi's fault as well; like I said, he showed signs of inaction and apathy before the tragedy. But, all in all, I think the show really is about how Narumi's inaction hurts everyone, himself included; isn't that what Shinji tries to knock into him multiple times?

On a side note, I could also say that the show (implicitly) depicts some results of premarital sex. I mean, Narumi had sex with both Haruka and Mitsuki, thus forming a deep bond with both of them...if he hadn't had sex, would he have been able to decide easier, and thus save everyone lots of pain and hurt? That's probably just me reading a message I want to see into the work, but it's something to think about.

In conclusion, then, Rumbling Hearts is not a show I'd watch again, and probably not one I'd really recommend. It does have some value, though, in teaching the dangers of inaction and apathy. I also have to admit that the "farewell" scene with Haruka and Narumi hit my heart a bit because it was bittersweet: Narumi didn't choose Haruka (the girl I was rooting for), but he did finally learn to make a decision. And that was Haruka's gift to him, as it was Mayauru's gift to his friend.

Thanks for reading. God Bless, and peace.

Nota Bene: The first two images come from Google Image Search, while the last image is a screenshot I made from the video of the final episode on Funimation's website. Thanks to Wikipedia for providing me with background information about the show, especially about the PTSD present in it. 

1 comment:

  1. Yeah this was a pretty depressing series. In a way it's like Inuyasha (mainly with the characters Mitsuki, Haruka, and Takayuki), but much deeper.

    I really felt sorry for Haruka considering that while she was in a coma, the man that she fell in love with slept with her best friend. What's worse is that everyone lies to her about still being in high school, even though it's been 3 years since the coma thing.

    and what's worse is that the poor girl didn't expect anything until when akane told her the truth. It really is a heartbreaking series at all and i don't know if i'll recover from it at all.