Earlier this week, I was able to see a sneak preview of upcoming romance anime Fuuka. And even only one episode in, I can tell this one is going to destroy me emotionally.
Fuuka is the story of Yuu, your average high school boy who moves in with his three sisters and transfers to a new school when his parents move to America. But before he even gets to school, he (literally) runs into a headphone-wearing girl carrying a bag of CDs. In a classic anime misunderstanding, she assumes Yuu, a Twitter-holic, was trying to take an upskirt shot of her panties, and she smashes his phone–and punches him in the face for good measure.
Of course, he ends up in the same class as the girl, Fuuka, and after a few more phone-related misunderstandings, the pair enter into a tentative friendship based on their shared love of up-and-coming pop star Koyoki–a young woman who happens to be Yuu’s estranged childhood best friend.
From the first episode, we learn a few important things about the characters. Yuu is used to being bullied by women–his three sisters tease him mercilessly–which makes him able to shrug off Fuuka’s initial physical and verbal abuse, giving them a chance to become friends despite the horrible start. He also has a strong sense of right and wrong, as he’s willing to come to Fuuka’s aid even when she has been nothing but horrible to him.
His only real outlet for his true feelings seems to be Twitter–as he uses it like an unfiltered, up-to-the-minute diary of his thoughts. However, like many people, he forgets that those he knows in real life–including his sisters–can read his Twitter at any moment.
But what’s even more interesting is that Fuuka is the one person who will never have that easily accessible insight into his mind that others have. Fuuka has rejected technology–she doesn’t even own a cell phone, much less a smartphone. She feels that it is a distraction from the most pleasurable thing in life, listening to music. Anything more than her trusty CD player would be a waste in her eyes.
Of course, in this day and age, the lack of a phone causes problems between the two–Yuu can’t even imagine life without a cell phone on him at all times. It’s an interesting character handicap that shows how reliant we have become on a technology only two decades old.
The third character in the main love triangle, Koyuki, doesn’t make a physical appearance in the first episode, but her presence still permeates the episode. She is on billboards and on TV. And through his sister’s teasing, we see how Yuu truly feels about her. While they were they best of friends growing up, Yuu feels that they live in different worlds now and fears he’d be in the way if they reconnected. Yet, obviously, she does not share his fears and is pulling the strings behind the scenes to set up their impending reunion.
Even a single episode in, the shape of Fuuka’s story becomes clear. While there are a few funny parts, this is not a rom-com; it’s a drama-filled tale of romance. While nothing heartbreaking has happened yet, I can feel in my soul that it is coming. And as a glutton for emotional punishment in my fiction, I have a feeling I’ll be checking out Fuuka each and every week.
Fuuka will begin airing in Japan on January 7, 2017. There is currently no word on a Western release.