As many of you know, at episode 5 I decided to cut Fuuka from my watch list. It hadn’t reached the bottom of my watch list and it wasn’t even in the ‘they made this’ category meaning functionally the show works just fine and yet this is the first show that I’ve gotten any number of episodes into that I decided to throw in the towel on. Which made me really think about why, of all the shows I started this season, I first chose to watch Fuuka and then decided to drop it.
The problem with that line of reflection was that there are just too many reasons that could be the main reason I dropped it. I featured this anime in my line up of bland romances in an earlier feature and while this was the best of the bunch that I looked at, I wasn’t exactly complimentary. In my 5 episode reviews I note both good and bad things about the series, though I noticed myself becoming increasingly tired of the show even during episode 4 so it probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I was over it at episode 5 but that doesn’t tell me what went wrong at least for me as a viewer.
Just to be clear, as I didn’t finish the show I’m not reviewing it. For all I know, it could turn out to be a sleeping masterpiece. However, if that is the case, I just haven’t seen any evidence of it in these episodes. So this is a discussion just to look at why this show did not end up working for me.
So I made a list. I went through each of my reviews and noted every negative thing or comment I made that might have contributed to my overall impression of Fuuka.
From episodes 1 and 2:
01. Fairly generic high school set up.
02. At times animation seems off when characters are walking.
03. Character does not learn from previous mistakes (though this was a positive in episodes 1 and 2 for humour value it quickly wore thin).
04. Fuuka is an overly energetic character who might annoy me (scratch that, she did annoy me).
05. Standard story.
06. Panty shots and totally unnecessary bathroom scenes.
07. Pep-talk from Fuuka totally changes Yuu’s character in space of 1 minute.
08. Near character drowning used for cheap plot contrivance (honestly, if you have to nearly drown someone at least do it for something for meaningful than teens thinking about a kiss when it is mouth to mouth and given he’d be hacking up sea water after that there’s almost no romance involved in this actual process).
09. Writers seem to not understand normal human interactions and only present characters through the lens of how other characters have acted.
10. I don’t care about these characters and their possible romance.
11. Teens fighting and not speaking to each other for most of an episode is boring.
12. Characters lack any sense of self-awareness about their own actions.
13. Yet another plot contrivance, now all the characters are a band.
Yeah, I didn’t even bother because between rehashes of the mouth to mouth sequence being viewed as something embarrassing and romantic. a main character tripping and landing face first in a girls breasts, and a band attempting to play a song when they don’t have music or actually all know how to play their instruments this was done.
Despite all of that though, I will admit I have watched worse anime through to the end. I’m watching worse anime that if I were to list every flaw would probably reach beyond the 13 points in 4 episodes I reached here. So while listing was fun and I very nearly wrote a break-up letter to this show just because I was annoyed, it didn’t get to the core of what is actually wrong with Fuuka.
And then it hit me.
I’ve described Fuuka as a romantic comedy most of the time but when I really thought about it, is Fuuka a romantic comedy? Certainly we have a main guy and a girl and early on they met under poor circumstances (generic and contrived though they might have been) and formed a false impression of each other. But that was cleared up nearly immediately and soon after they went on a kind of date and then they went to the concert together. The fight between them in episode 4 wasn’t used for comedic effect and didn’t advance their relationship so is this story actually a romantic comedy? Or do the romantic comedy elements just kind of give this anime some vague shaping and framework upon which it is…
Well, what is Fuuka trying to do?
Is it about Fuuka finding herself through this starting a band idea? It might be. That may be where it goes given after the fight in episode 4 it has given every indication it wants to head down the club/band route. But where does that leave Yuu?
See, while the anime is called Fuuka, Yuu was the one we were seeing events through the eyes of. And if the story is about Fuuka finding herself through the band what is Yuu doing other than learning to play bass?
And why did we need a random beach episode at all if the story was going to focus on the band? There seems no reason for this episode to exist because we could have got to much the same point by staying at school and just having idol girl come visit Yuu on her day off. According to MAL there’s 12 episodes so at episode 5 shouldn’t we know what the point of the show is and should they really waste large chunks of episodes?
As far as I can tell, Fuuka is following Yuu (the anime, not the girl but she’s doing a bit of following too). That could make this a slice of life but if so I’m not really sure what the point of any of what we’ve seen might be.
So my conclusion from all of this is that my issue with Fuuka is that it lacks identity and direction. Stories can get away without a clear path if they are interesting and novel in their approach and give the audience something else to divert their attention away from a plot that might not be altogether there. In the first episode, Fuuka was kind of borderline too generic but episode 2 kind of hinted that we were going to follow these characters and watch them grow and maybe fall in love. That was enough to make it worth giving a go. But that aspect of the plot, while there, is pretty sparse when you actually look at what the characters spend their time doing.
Fuuka can’t get away with it’s murky plot path because there is nothing else to hold our interest. Any romantic elements of this show are far too emotionless to hold our interest. The ‘comedy’, if you could call it that, is entirely focussed on clichés and overused tropes, the characters lack depth or consistency so their daily lives and dilemmas can’t fill the void, and there’s just no reason for me to keep watching this show.
While Fuuka is most definitely not the worst show this season has to offer, it represents my least favourite of all anime types. The type that it isn’t really worth criticising because its just walking over ground other anime have before and it isn’t doing it in a particularly terrible manner, but neither is it doing it well.