Going through the few collections of DVD ‘singles’ I still own, one show stuck out to me – one I feel I’m unlikely to sell-off unless the UK ever gets a Blu-Ray release of it. That show is 2003’s adaptation of Rumbling Hearts (aka Kimi ga Nozomu Eien) – based off the 2001 visual novel of the same name.
I was reminded of this show again recently when watching last season’s Scum’s Wish – a show that arguably (and refreshingly) held nothing back when it came to the depiction of teenagers indulging their sexual appetites. In the medium of anime when we have so many times seen entire series go by with the very limit of romantic consummation being holding hands or a single kiss, Scum’s Wish was bracingly raw in its depiction of desire and the messy implications it can entail.
Rumbling Hearts was doing all this back in 2003. Whereas so many visual novel adaptations trim out the sexual content when converted to anime (Fate Stay Night, anyone…?) – Rumbling Hearts took unusual glee in showing us characters that, put simply, just wanted to fuck. To summarise the major plot beats – the show is primarily concerned with high schooler Takayuki and two female friends Haruka and Mitsuki – laying the groundwork for classic love triangle territory. Haruka is the shy, ‘innocent’ one whereas Mitsuki is depicted as confident, assured one.
Takayuki initially chooses Haruka – and after a lengthy ‘corrupting her innocence’ / performance anxiety scene, we see him go on to buy a ring for Haruka, causing him to be late for a later date with her. She gets hit by a car (Yes, Fuuka wasn’t the first to try this gimmick either…) and ends up in a coma. So what does Takayuki do next…?
He shags Mitsuki, that’s what. In the ultimate ‘girlfriend in a coma? Screw the next-best option’ scenario, the plot of Rumbling Hearts rapidly devolves into a guilt-wracked opera of Shakespearean proportions, further compounded when Haruka wakes from her coma and Takayuki must then pretend to not only still be dating her (but also that no time has passed, when in reality it’s a good few years down the line).
I love messy, screwy romance-dramas like this – a genre which sadly seems to have faded into the background of late; to be replaced by wistful ‘will they won’t they’ dramas so rote they’ve even started to parody themselves (My Love Story and Nozaki-kun spring to mind).
But no – more like Scum’s Wish and Rumbling Hearts please. Keep it messy – just like real life.