Sunday, June 19, 2016

DVD Movie Review #176 Gravitation

There are many odd things in this world and one of the many for me is the type of anime in the Yaoi and Yuri type. These are types of anime that involve same sex couples and relationships. They are an odd type of anime as they are typically done differently than your typical Brokeback mountain style story.  I have watched many of the Yuri variety (girl x girl) with a few that stuck out such as Kashimashi and I have also seen a couple of the Yaoi variety mainly from curiosity such as Earthian and Mirage of Blaze. In the end I saw a few similarities in them as both tended to really flaunt the relationships of the characters as being Gay and pushed them to the forefront for their target audiences (horny men and women). This has been a turn off for me on both fronts as I am no longer a teen and the appeal of Yuri has mostly worn off and Yaoi really didn’t have an appeal for me any more than gay porn. After watching the initial two I did decide to try my luck again when I found a copy of Gravitation for $20 (the copy I have typically goes for close to $200 so if anything I could turn it around. This of course showed me a very different aspect of the Yaoi series that I had previously only seen from a few Yuri titles.

Shuichi and his friend are in a band called Bad Luck. They are trying to make it on their own in the music world. Yuki is an emotionally distant but famous romance writer. The two meet through a chance of fate when Yuki spies and tells Shuichi how terrible his writing is. From this point a relationship slowly forms between the two.  This series from this point follows two distinct plots from the rise of “Bad Luck” and the emotional relationship building  between Yuki and Shuichi.

First lets talk about one of the main focuses of this series which is the muic (I know, I know the relationship is on your mind but we will get there). I really liked that they spent time concentrating on the songs and the musical development of the character. This series actually has a feel similar to those similar series such as Kirarin Revolution, Full Moon or in a lesser way K-ON. The songs for the opener and ender are a little dated but otherwise are pretty good overall.  There is actual comedy within the otherwise serious drama that can take place within the series. I found myself chuckling at some of the strange characters such as the strange child-like character of Shuichi’s rival yet with some surprising emotional depth revealed more towards the end. They did a lot of character building for the side characters as well such as Yuki’s fiancĂ© and her struggle with the likelihood that her relationship with her future husband is not going to come to fruition. The other members of Bad luck from their short tempered keyboardist to the loyal but Charismatic friend. Finally we get to our two main characters. Shuichi is an interesting character that is very different from the typical submissive character seen in a lot of Yaoi types. He is typically submissive in regard to his relationship with Yuki but shows strength emotionally that in the end comes out stronger. Yuki is by far the more complex character. He is the cool strong type with the sordid past and normally this character type annoys the heck out of me (damn you Sasuke Uchiha!).  Yuki is different in that he is guarded but obviously has more depth emotionally than some of his emotionally similar counterparts. When Yuki broke down and cried for the first time it was a truly touching scene showing that he isn’t just the arrogant bastard you meet at the beginning of the series but a real person.  The last part that I have to hold over is that they treat the relationship normally concentrating on the character’s emotions so that it isn’t uncomfortable like it was for many people seeing Yaoi or in some areas in movies like Brokeback mountain which felt disjointed at times. You know things are going on but you don’t feel you are watching soft core porn like with some in that category. It isn’t just “hey look at us! We’re a gay couple!, Ain’t it hot!” (Now for those of you who are into that I have heard that he manga is much more in that tone)

There are of course some glaring issues with this series. The main one is the English Dub. Yuki sounds like he is dead inside but is sounds more like the voice actor is dead tired of voicing the character and you kind of get that from multiple fronts in the series. The series also has an issue at times with the humor and its timing  I did feel some of the jokes were forced and this was not what was needed  at the time. I must admit this is what made Shuichi’s character a tad annoying at times. Some of the humor was decidedly odd, which isn’t too different from most anime but still it could turn a new fan off, such as the strange agent who constantly is walking around with an assault rifle in Japan (such are illegal for public use) or Shuichi’s constant costume changes. Finally I feel the series was a tad dated musically but this can be a problem in getting us to relate to the characters. I feel we have similar issues with series such as Bubblegum Crisis.  

In the end this is not a bad series but it falls short of a great series. It was a pretty well written romance with minor comedic elements thrown in. The series may be a little dated in some aspects and the timing may be off but these are by far only minor issues. Many of my fellow anime fans have difficulty in following a series strictly because it is Yuri or Yaoi but in this case I would say it is worth it for you to put your preconceived notions aside and give this one a shot.  


Overall Rating:  7/10


PS: There are two OVA episodes I feel that this exploits the flaws of the series a little too much and to me is unnecessary. I almost felt like it was forced in order to add more content to meet demand. Also thought they style took on a more manga esc look I felt like the animation quality fell a bit. I remember watching the musical performance and it didn’t even look like the animators and voice actors cared about synching the song with the mouth movements and this is for the Japanese track.


OVA Rating 4/10


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