Chika Homura begins her high school career with a goal: to develop a "cute girl" persona. After quitting the volleyball team despite her all-star status, Chika decides to join her school's underrated Wind Instrument Club and play the flute, believing it to be the most delicate and feminine instrument. For the first time in nine years, Chika reunites with her childhood friend and total opposite, Haruta Kamijou. Unfortunately for Chika, Haruta is not fooled by her efforts to become more endearing. But this does not deter Chika, and she develops a crush on the band instructor, Shinjirou Kusakabe—but so does Haruta!
However, Chika's high school life just won't go according to plan, as mysteries begin appearing around her and her friends. The club members must work together to solve the mysteries plaguing the school, all while trying to find more members to compete in musical competitions.
Ah high school club, music, and mystery? Here’s the thing about the show. We got a young girl named Chika who tries to renew her life by quitting the volleyball team and joining the wind instrument club. Because in life, that’s what we do right? We strive to improve ourselves and try out new ideas. The problem is, the club only has a few members and its being threatened to be shut down. To make matters worse, bizarre events emerges during their school year. Reunited with her childhood friend Haruta, this show seeks to turn ordinary every day stories into a bizarre package of formulaic
To start things off, the series adapts a novel series written by Sei Hatsuno. P.A. Works is in charge of the production but impressions aren’t high at first. The studio has been known for being a powerhouse at crafting technical visual qualities but Haruchika isn’t exactly impressive to the eye. More on that later, but right now, it’s more important to examine the storytelling and characters of this show.
In essence, the series combines elements of slice of life, mystery, school, and some bits of music. What could go wrong? The first few episodes introduces us the main characters, Haruta and Chika. From first glance, their relationship is off to a rocky start but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A mystery emerges and the club members decides to solve it. It shouldn’t take long to realize that Haruta is the brain of the group as he makes key analogies, references, and using clues for analysis. While having an intellectual mind, Haruta is a character that I’d describe as obnoxious with a dry sense of humor. Despite having some good intentions, his personality is portrayed often as rude either intentionally or unintentionally (I personally find it difficult to tell at times). Regardless, when you have a main male protagonist with a role like that, it’s really hard to feel attached to them. And furthermore, his relationships with others isn’t particular memorable either. This brings in Chika, the main girl of the show. Yes, she makes a bold attempt to change herself by trying to be “girly”. What does she become more instead? More annoying than she should be. At many stages of the show, it feels like she’s trying to become someone she’s not. It goes against being expressing her personality with honesty or being natural. Instead, Chika often behaves like a kid with lack of direction or purpose. She is quite friendly though, a trait that seems to be the opposite of Haruta. But when you mix these two together, it’s really hard to embrace their relationship as something special.
Special isn’t an easy word to use for this show’s storytelling either. To me, the show’s mystery comes off as a secondary factor. It’s kind of like Hyouka but presented more as a daily mystery story. What I mean is that cases are often resolved in no more than a span of a single episode. And more often or not, the show attempts to try variety with its mystery. Unfortunately, it’s rather dull and quickly loses flavor because a lot of the mystery themselves are fairly predictable. While it establishes some good mechanics with case on paper, it’s still not memorable enough to be recalled. However, the show does try some refreshing concepts by adding in music as a mix. These also tie in with some mystery cases including an episode focused on an inspiring musician. It invites some attention as the show can be more realistic. Plus, Haruta’s role in the show is very human. His behavior feels real and I think being aware of that might help enjoy this series; depending on the perspective of the audience. Later on in the series, the club does get more attention and other characters like Serizawa joins. While Haruchika is still more about the storytelling with Haruta and Chika as the main players, there are a few recurring characters that can carry the series.
That being said, the show isn’t necessarily bad but just uninteresting. If you focus on the story, each episode seems to be a standalone that focuses on some message, theme, or moral. While it still connects to the main premise, there’s less emphasis on the main purpose of the show (if it has or needs one). In other words, the show gives us less and less reason of why we should continue to watch it. Is it for the characters? The mystery cases? Or even the music? The comedy of the show isn’t well done as some jokes comes out as dry humor. In terms of relationships, don’t expect romance at all. Haruta has more interest in himself talking than dating Chika. In retrospect, the show doesn’t do well for attracting attention or make us feel like there’s something to write home about.
Speaking of attractiveness, P.A. Works’ technical work took a step backwards. The character designs are lacking especially from this studio. While I was not expecting something glamorous, the outline of the designs just feels awkward. Plus, those exotic eyebrows are distracting and facial expressions looks cartoony. On the other hand, it’s interesting to see the show attempt at an avant-gante style to express cases. From moving lyrical notes to clever usage of coloring, the show makes the cases stand out as peculiarly attractive.
Music and soundtrack go hand and hand for this show. In other words, it has to coordinate well with each episode’s mood and delivery. This has been done well in most cases especially during eerie moments at the apex of a mystery. Other times, it’s lighthearted to portray the easy life style of a school setting. In retrospect, it’s done pretty well in that respect. The character voice mannerism for Haruta and Chika is somewhat difficult to get accustomed to. I guess it really depends on how you perceive their characters and personalities. But on the surface, Haruta and Chika sounds exactly what they are like – high school students who aren’t sure what to do with their time.
For a show like Haruchika, it’s probably a show that you’ll really have to enjoy watching to appreciate it. Otherwise, it’s pretty dry in storytelling, characters, and overall delivery. And despite being P.A. Works helming the series, the technical visual quality isn’t very impressive. Mystery context is rather predictable and most times isn’t attractive either. By the time I finished the show, there’s a sigh of relief. Why? Because Haruchika is snoozefest.
A famous idiom is, "To kill two birds with one stone."
But with Haruchika, it's more like "To miss two birds with 12 stones."
Haruchika revolves around two main characters (in case you haven't guessed from the title, their names are nonetheless Haruta and Chika), that are part of the Brass Band Club. Not only are Haruta and Chika trying to do their best for this club, and thus, attempting to get more members, they are also solving mysteries going around the school that, very conveniently, involve introducing new characters that play an instrument (and with every solved mystery, it often results in gaining a new member
for the band club). While this seems like Haruchika is technically killing two birds with one stone, in the actual execution of it, it is anything but that.
Also, on a side note, I'd like to point out that I did not mention Haruchika as having romance (unless you count a silly crush), and, despite the perfectly sounding ship name of "Haruchika", if you are planning to watch this solely because it seems like a romance of the two main characters, don't bother as you will soon realize why in the first episode. Anyways, continuing on:
As said before, there is no effort to include the music genre, and instead, it is used as this loophole that gives the anime reason to lack depth in the mysteries; each mystery revolves around a problem of a person, and this person happens to be affiliated with a musical instrument, so the end result of obtaining said person to be in the band is more important than the actual mystery. But despite all that, the band rarely performs in the anime. The mysteries don't make up for this lack of music, either.
The mysteries themselves are simplistic, which is why they can be solved in the time span of one episode, even less with the amount of flashbacks they have to try to get you to care about the new character. It's with this lack of time that should raise alarms to how the "detectives", in this case, Haruta and Chika (though it's really just Haruta), analyze the clues and ultimately, solve the mystery.
Answer: He doesn't.
Haruta doesn't really investigate. He listens, is confused enough so that we have to wait about 5 minutes for him to figure out. In that 5 minutes he listens to the flashback of someone, and after the flashback is up, all of a sudden he has all the answers to the mysteries with about 5 clues to back his reasoning up even though the most clues he actually investigated amounts to one.
Chika baffles me even more. She's so useless in the mystery portion; the most she has contributed to the solving of a mystery is her lightheartedness and cheerfulness.
That's pretty much all the characters are: Haruta is the detective, Chika is the motivator, and everyone else is either someone that plays an instrument or someone that will help with the club. That's it. The characters are all one-noted, with none of them shown to have any other dimension.
Continuing on with the characters, their designs weren't as well thought out as I have seen them do with some of their other series. For me, one of my main problems were the eyes that try to go for mesmerizing but fail and turns out to be muddled, childish, and off-putting, all of which can equally describe the series as a whole.
So...P.A Work's version of ''Hibike Euphonium'' and ''Hyouka'' LA takes it?..with mixed results.
LA will say this about the plot, the plot follows a format of "mystery of the episode" with sprinkles of character development and "getting more members" for the band sub-plotline. The mysteries are extremely clever and some of the mysteries do go further than a "simple" mystery although due to Haruta being the all-knowing Sherlock with no equal, he usually solves all the mysteries. The mystery of the episode DO gives us some sort of clue to clue us in, however there are some mysteries that go into the realms of "prior
knowledge only Haruta knew" to solve it, with that although many of the mysteries are indeed interesting and moves the plot forward the mystery is overall decent for this fusion genred anime.
Now time for the other half, time for the band sub-plotline, well this also gets the "decent" tag as well as the band development might as well be the character and band development for some of the more crucial characters within the band. With the "mystery of the episode" and the character being linked does bring us character development and works in its favour as they do become memorable but that only applies to the main cast, the episodes where it focuses on minor character NOT to do with the band get second billing and it's their mystery that gets more of the attention and again even that's not a bad thing either.
In terms of characters, well due to the fusion of genres, the main cast and heck even some of the minor cast members do get their time to shine and some are even unique and interesting with Haruta being the most interesting and unique. LA's favourite would actually have to be Chika however, LA doesn't know LA is drawn to quirky characters and even her "feminine yet not really feminine" schitck even holds out throughout the series. Oddly enough the two main characters Haruta and Chika the characters named after this anime have each side of the genres at hand, Haruta taking care of the mystery whilst Chika handles the characters and plot movement in gathering and getting to know the characters, the anime is self-aware of this.
The animation done by P.A Works is decent to baffling beautiful, what LA means is that this is one of P.A Works' least detailed animes LA has seen right down to the backgrounding in which P.A Works usually is great at, however with the decent character designs and "ok" backgrounding makes the animation "decent", where it becomes baffling beautiful is in two things for LA, the characters eye color and the instrument's. The animation on the eye color itself looks like a multi-colored rainbow at times (although they don't always just sometimes they go into extreme detail on JUST the eyes) and the instrument animation although not as great as ''Hibike Euphonium's'' animation overall, LA at least sees some sense of detail workmanship on making the instruments animated well.
The ending which is built up to both the competition and the odd love triangle that was brought up by the first episode and it leads to a "finishing episode" with the competition finishing but with the love triangle not even resolving, yes we get a "read the manga" ending, LA feels indifferent about this as at least one of the major plotlines finishes (in a rushed manner) but with the other plotline pretty much nagging LA to read the manga and see what happens next.
HaruChika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru does seem to cater between both it's mystery and music genre well, if your not in it for the mystery the music is backed up with it's characters and developing the plot along with it, the mystery in itself be it self-contained within it's own episode, it too leads to moving the plot forward and have that air of mysteriousness it needs to make it interesting all the way through the entire anime. Although this isn't P.A Work's best animated anime they have released, it seems this anime puts more care on it's characters, mysteries and plot more and LA enjoyed it all the way through from trying to solve the mysteries to seeing the band grow which by extension growing the cast. HaruChika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru isn't the best anime of Winter 2016, however it is CERTAINLY a unique one.
*Note - LA knows LA gave it an overall of 8, however if anything LA would really just give it a 7.5
This anime had too much plates spinning for it and it just couldn't handle them masterfully.
It is about a brass band club and their goal of winning a tournament for Kusakabe-sensei. So the anime goes about introducing recruits for the brass band club and alongside that, we get to solve a mystery with the leads Haruta and Chika, then the character gets recruited except for one. It is the basic routine of the anime except towards the end but every episode has a mystery.
Haruta and Chika don't have character development in this anime rather we get to know Kusakabe sensei more and the recruits. Those
who are already members of the band aren't given the spotlight. The other characters are just throwaway and never really appreciated.
The OP and ED are amazing and they really made me watch the anime. Even though this is a music anime, there's less focus on the music.
The art is so familiar with other animes of P.A. works and it isn't unique but it was beautiful.