Visual Novel: Rumbling Hearts
The death and mutilation of innocence. A synopsis.
Guy dates girl. Girl gets in a car accident and is left in a coma, the girl's best friend eventually gets guy to get over his own misery then starts going out with him herself. Girl finally
wakes up from coma after three years
, drama ensues. Has a sequel of sorts in the form of the Muv-Luv
Kimi ga Nozuma Eien (君が望む永遠, lit. The Eternity You Desire), also known in the Anglo-phonic world as Rumbling Hearts, is a visual novel and anime series that depicts an abrupt and tumultuous transition from an idyllic lifestyle to that of unadulterated sorrow and tragedy.
Released in 2001 as a visual novel, it was later picked up and turned into a 14-episode anime series that was initially broadcasted from October 2003 to January 2004. In both manifestations, the protagonist, a third year high school student by the name of Takayuki Narumi, begins dating fellow classmate and introvert Haruka Suzumiya after much convincing from their mutual friend, Mitsuki Hayase, a talented swimmer who secretly harbors her own feelings toward Takayuki but attempts to suppress them in favor of her insecure and timid friend's happiness. Things seem to go blissfully well for the couple until wholly unanticipated disaster, in the form of a severe car accident, renders Haruka comatose and Takayuki guilty and psychologically decimated. Shortly thereafter, Takayuki's life proceeds to deteriorate at a rapid rate, eventually stifled by the personal intervention of Mitsuki Hayase, who definitively discards her promising career as a nationally-renowned swimmer to help Takayuki recover from his PTSD. Eventually, things return to a relatively balanced state, with both Takayuki and Mitsuki having become lovers and having largely transcended the drama surrounding the comatose Haruka from earlier (though through a somewhat shameless repression of her memory). However, once Haruka wakes from her coma after three years of purgatorial slumber, the bittersweet life that both Takayuki and Mitsuki mutually built for themselves, like its more effervescent predecessor, swiftly crumbles.
For those who seek an upbeat anime series with hijinks and the works, Kimi ga Nozuma Eien (aka Rumbling Hearts) is the complete antithesis to that genre, with the only "comedic relief" in the show being two of Takayuki's teenage co-workers, who, in all sincerity, seem grossly out of place within the framework of the cruel and melancholic plot.
Much like what the earlier paragraph mentioned, this tragic and excruciatingly realistic story of decaying innocence and transient love somehow gave birth to the Muv-Luv franchise, a series of visual novels centered around mecha and Evangelion-style
alien onslaught that is perhaps the biggest "Jump the Shark" moment in a given medium ever. Furthermore, the original visual novel, in contrast to many of its quasi-sequels of the aforementioned Muv-Lov series, has yet to be fully translated into English (despite being over 10 years old), partially due to its length and the fatalistic attitudes resonating throughout the VN-localization community regarding the matter.
Rumbling Hearts provides examples of:
- The Anime of the Game: Originally based off of an H-Game.
- Arc Words: Three years.
- Bittersweet Ending: (Mitsuki's route, which was followed by the TV adaptation): In the end, Haruka decides she can't be with Takayuki because he's not the same person he was three years ago; Takayuki finds Mitsuki and convinces her not to leave, and says he won't see Haruka again. It then skips to the first children's book Haruka wrote, about a character who just wants to get to the top of a hill to see her friends once more. The last shot is of Haruka standing in front of the tree, hopefully waiting.
- And even when they're together, Takayuki has foregone his chance for a better full-time job, while Mitsuki not only couldn't get back to her swimming career she abandoned long ago, she also lost her Office Lady job. But at least they're together.
- The OVA "second season" which follows a Haruka route ends with Takayuki and Haruka renewing their relationship and love for one another in the same spot where her traumatic accident occurs and in an almost sickeningly sweet Tastes Like Diabetes moment of all the onlookers clapping on for them. However, Mitsuki, who has almost been Demoted to Extra in this continuity, gave up her swimming career and didn't even get Takayuki either. But she and Haruka maintain their friendship as she willingly bows out of the Love Triangle.
- Break the Cutie
- The Cameo/Marth Debuted in Smash Bros.: The adaptation has the first animated appearances of Yayoi Isumi (Takayuki's landlady, originally from age's debut title Kimi Ga Ita Kisetsu) and Chizuru Sakaki (Akane's rival and best friend, originally from the quasi-sequel Muv-Luv).
- Catch Phrase: Ayu's "You can go step in cat crap!"
- Cute Little Fangs: Ayu, one of the waitresses in the restaurant Takayuki works at.
- Deconstruction : Of the very concept of True Companions by showing just how impermanent the bonds of childhood/ adolescent friendship truly are, especially in the face of major, life altering experiences. It also shows how trying to keep up the pretense after the bonds fade can only make things worse.
- Demoted to Extra: If you only see the anime, you wouldn't notice that some extras like the doctor or some of her assistants, and Mayu/Ayu can be love interests.
- Evolving Credits: The series doesn't have the normal opening until the third episode, when the main story takes place.
- Gut Punch: Especially in the Visual Novel, but the anime also doesn't let up. Can't spell "rage" without "age", indeed.
- Half Truth: Everyone with respect to Haruka after she wakes up.
- Heroic BSOD: Takayuki, after the accident. He stays that way until Mitsuki finally snaps him out of it.
- I Coulda Been a Contender: Hayase Mitsuki, a once-in-a-generation swimming prodigy, has the makings of an Olympic-Grade Champion. She leaves it behind to take care of her best friend Haruka's boyfriend Takayuki, so suicidally depressed over Haruka's car-accident induced coma (which Mitsuki blames herself for) that he could not finish high school, and ends up with Takayuki herself. Three years later when Haruka awakens, Takayuki flirts on the edge of leaving Mitsuki. Adding insult to injury, Mitsuki (now a mere office lady) meets an old rival who is now an Olympic-level champion swimmer herself, doubly reminding her of the meaninglessness of her sacrifice. And to make matters worse, once she reveals what she did to the awakened Haruka, Haruka did NOT take it well and drove her away, destroying their friendship and really leaving Mitsuki with literally nothing.
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Mitsuki says this to Takayuki regarding Haruka.
- Locked Out of the Loop: See Half Truth above.
- Also Akane. Did her parents even bother to tell her that "Takayuki won't be seeing her anymore, since we told him to stop coming"? Nope, hence the incredibly painful to watch scene where Akane tells both of them off for not coming to visit (in the latter case, Mitsuki actually wanted to visit but was called a traitor by Akane herself).
- Love Triangle: Between the newly awakened Haruka, Mitsuki, and Takayuki.
- Market-Based Title: Rumbling Hearts is the official title for the North American release of the anime, and also the title of the opening theme for the original visual novel. The Japanese name for the series is Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien (The Eternity You Desire).
- Matchmaker Crush
- Mess Of Woe: Happens to Takayuki after Haruka falls into coma. If it weren't for Mitsuki, his place would have been even worse off.
- Mood Whiplash: The anime may be really sad and such... but the Omake in the end? REALLY lighthearted in comparison.
- Names to Know in Anime: Though these are not one to make their names instantly known, you'll hear Kissho Taniyama as Takayuki and Chiaki Takahashi as Mitsuki (although Chiaking used the pseudonym 'Tomoko Ishibashi' here)
- Omake: Instead of a next episode preview, there's an omake at the end of each episode.
- One Side of the Story: Akane, when she walks in on Mitsuki in Takayuki's bed - without knowing that her parents had just told him to leave, or that Mitsuki offering herself to him might have been the only thing that kept him from going off the deep end forever.
- This is an endless source of Dramatic Irony, since Akane is always out of the loop, making some scenes with Akane just painful.
- Plot-Induced Stupidity: Both straight and justified. A doctor treating TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) by demanding that everyone play along with a false reality? It speaks volumes that the same doctor frequently smokes in the hospital... near oxygen. On the other hand, there are several points of the story where characters do unbelievably stupid things that are completely consistent with their individual pathologies.
- Poor Communication Kills: Haruka's parents and the doctor might have had second thoughts about what they were asking of Takayuki if they knew about his relationship with Mitsuki.
- Running Gag: Haruka getting involved in a vehicle accident carries over to age's other works like Muv-Luv Alternative and Ayu-Mayu Theater.
- Shown Their Work: The producers of the anime series did their research on PTSD as it applies to Takayuki, and it shows.
- Tareme Eyes / Tsurime Eyes:
- Haruka and Mitsuki contrast each other as the two main love interests, with the former being softer and the latter more tomboyish and high-spirited.
- Mayu and Ayu shows the same contrast as well, where Mayu is more traditionally cute and Ayu shows a tsundere-like behaviour.
- Theme Tune Cameo: Mitsuki hums the opening at the beginning of Episode 8.
- Those Two Guys: Ayu and Mayu, the two waitresses who Takayuki works with at the Sky Temple family restaurant.
- Time Skip: Haruka is in a coma for many years after the car crash. Drama ensues.
- True Companions: Deconstructed as Takayuki and Mitsuki's devotion to Haruka takes huge tolls on the three.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Referenced in Mayal's Gift in the final episode.
- Writer on Board: The doctor's plan to help Haruka by having everyone pretend no time has elapsed might have passed for simple carelessness... if they hadn't done such a painfully-accurate portrayal of the effects of PTSD.