Hey, wait a minute. I knew Hibike! Euphonium was going to get a sequel but I didn’t expect they came out with it so soon. Or is it… So okay, it isn’t anything about that series but are they trying to make another ‘competitor’ for a high school symphony theme? However that is just what we assume when we read the setting of Haruchika ~Haruta To Chika Wa Seishun Suru~. Once you start watching this series, you will find how strikingly different it is. This show isn’t even a musical setting. Yes, it does involve a group of students of a high school band but that is where the similarity ends. This is more like a detective show. Say what? So put away your musical scores and instruments and instead put on your thinking caps because it is time to solve baffling mysteries of the high school from a bunch of kids who have too much time playing detective instead of practising their music. Hmm… Maybe they have got not enough members to play a proper symphony. Or they might be just too damn good either that they have time to poke their noses in other people’s businesses. What’s music got to do with it? They should have joined a detective club instead…
It is Chika Homura’s first day at Shimizu Minami High School and she wants to get a new start when the volleyball team bugs her to join them! She was once on a team but doing menial chores. It was tiring and she didn’t want to waste her youth like that. She thought of joining the wind instrument club to obtain a cuter persona and even had grandma bought her a flute. She meets the club’s teacher, Shinjirou Kusakabe and is surprised that her childhood friend, Haruta Kamijou is also part of this club. Apparently Chika was a big bully towards Haruta but she would have him not remember all that. The club currently only consists of 5 members. The others being Keisuke Katagiri the president and twins Kae and Sae Asahina. Thank God I’m not seeing double. But there is already an incident in the music room. Music notes written on the blackboard with red paint. There is also an ambiguous note left for Kusakabe. With the kind of white flowers next to it, they think it is a dying or revenge message. Since Chika is so blur on everything (like yours truly), Haruta explains that the music notes could be some sort of music cryptogram. Like that Art of the Fugue in which Bach hid his name inside the musical score. As they can’t figure it out, it is back to practising more music. You know Chika sucks at playing the flute when they comment she should be practising alone first. Chika doesn’t mind since she would get some private lessons from Kusakabe. I see…
Back to the music case, Haruta continues to decipher if this is some sort of substitution cipher code but it wasn’t. Time is up so they have to clean up the board. Chika decides to take a picture of this and send it to her mom. That is when Haruta notices something. He realizes everything and has solved it. It uses a simple code that combines notes and numbers to identify a letter based on a keyboard. The message is a personal love message to Kusakabe from a graduated student pouring her feelings into this message that she was unable to tell him so. Kusakabe had already deduced it a long time but as for who that student is, I guess it is best we respect that privacy. Chika never thought unrequited love could be so painful. Haruta thought he could figure something out on Kusakabe’s secret. He was a successful conductor who went overseas but when he returned to Japan, he gave that all up. He only came to this school last year to become a music teacher. Chika thought she could be early to the music room for once but Haruta is already there. Haruta believes Chika likes Kusakabe and the only reason why she joined this club. And then this disturbing thing we all find out because Haruta also hints he is in love with Kusakabe! OMFG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Unbelievable! This is the weirdest love triangle ever!!!!!!!!!!
The wind instrument club is handing out flyers to get new recruits. When Chika is pushy towards Miyoko Narushima, the latter is not amused and slaps her hand. Haruta knows Narushima is an accomplished oboist and wants her in the club (in their bid to have more members and compete in the Nationals at Fumon Hall). But something went wrong and she stopped. As they try to hear her out, they become her gophers to do errands. However she is still not opening up. Talking to her friend, Mayu Nishikawa, they find out the reason Narushima quit playing the oboe: The day she was at the Nationals last year, it was the same day her little brother Satoshi died. He was hospitalized for a long time and when his condition took a turn for the worse, Narushima may have felt guilty she wasn’t there in his time of need. They pay a visit to her house and she is not really keen on welcoming them. Inside her room is a cabinet filled with puzzles that her brother loved. Haruta wonders if she had solved them all. He doesn’t think so. Not in her current state because she is carrying a burden that can never be lightened and she is doing it alone. They can help her overcome it but she kicks them out. Before that, she gives them a Rubik’s Cube. This is one which she could never solve. Because all its blocks are white! She gives them a time limit to solve it but of course she is sure they can never solve it.
The days pass and go and they seem nowhere near in solving this mystery. On the penultimate day, Kusakabe hints something and soon Haruta knows what it is. This puzzle is not punishment and was made out of love. They call Narushima to solve it with them. She narrates how Satoshi loved puzzles and she used to spend time solving them with him until she joined a band. She believes this unsolvable puzzle is his punishment for her for abandoning him. Haruta explains that this scrambled message no matter how they unscramble will always return back to square one. He never told her a solution because he wanted her to step forward from this scrambled state. With the girls holding Narushima down, Haruta then starts painting different colours over the cube to make it look like a real Rubik’s Cube. This cube is a message left by Satoshi for her to keep moving forward and to paint her own pure white world in her own colours. Shortly when the paint dries, a layer starts to peel off. A hidden message is revealed after they unscramble it. Satoshi congratulates her for solving it. Narushima becomes emotional. Soon she picks up her oboe and as promised, joins the club, much to Chika’s delight.
Chika is probably sucking at her flute again and thinks another personal lesson by Kusakabe would suffice. But Haruta sees through her plan and suggests calling a specialist flute instructor to start from scratch! Boo hoo! Later Chika spots Haruta and Narushima helping the drama club since the club’s president, Shunya Nagoe is Haruta’s classmate. Also on this club is someone Narushima knows, Maren Sei. He is Chinese-American and wants to leave the drama club. She is baffled why she ended up in this club since he was a good saxophonist. Narushima is really concerned that something went wrong since his dream was to become a famous saxophonist like his father. Nagoe thinks she must like him. She didn’t deny… They agree to find a way to help him and have all parties happy. Haruta shows Chika an album Maren’s musician family have produced. If they don’t look alike it is because Maren is adopted. Maren looks through his suitcase supposedly left behind by his real parents. Something about a little brother and being abandoned. When Haruta has finished writing his story for Nagoe, the latter rips it apart! This has them start insulting the other’s club and thus it is decided an acting battle on stage to see whose club is better. Haruta will have Chika and Narushima on his side while Nagoya will have his star actress, Yaeko Fujima AKA Maya and Maren as well as handicap. The competition will be an unscripted play called Exit Game. Basically in the situational act they will have to try to convince a member of the other them to leave the stage (Narushima and Maren in particular) and the opposing team trying to prevent it.
The act starts out with the 6 of them as counterfeiters hiding in a base until the time limit of the statute limitations expire. So we’ve got pretty weird improvisations from both sides in trying to make or keep the other side from getting off. Like Haruta bringing in a little doggy and Nagoe accusing one of them to be an undercover cop. Then there is the time difference on their watches but Haruta mentions both times are correct. Because one time is Japan’s and the other is Suzhou, China. As the statute expiration doesn’t apply outside Japan, they’ll be stuck forever this way. But one of them is unrelated and can go free. Because of the earlier situational drama, the dog turns out to be a guy in disguise and this makes Maren the unrelated party. He can go home to his family. Maren disagrees his family is not in Suzhou. Flashback remembers he one day got a letter from his real little brother. Everything he was trying not to think about became reality. Haruta and Nagoe further reveal the combination code on his suitcase has a double meaning when said in Chinese. It is a message left by his real parents that he was not unwanted and that they always loved him. There is nothing wrong having 2 families and 2 homes. This entire drama and game was just a big elaborated setup to tell Maren this. Once again Chika got taken for a ride. Maren accepts this and leaves the stage. The wind instrument club won. End revelations reveal about China’s one child policy and despite Maren was their first born, he had a leg disability. Thus he was given up for adoption in hopes the new family would find a cure for his leg.
Maren joins the wind instrument club and now it has more members too. But they’re playing on the rooftop since the choir club is using the music room. A person pops up that makes Haruta shiver. Who is she? Minami is his sister. This architect is furious how disgraceful her brother is. Apparently he has been evicted from his apartment as it is being demolished and now he lives next to the school’s chicken shed. The chickens are his pets?! No wonder Chika is blowing her top too. Minami wants to take him to scout for apartments to rent and when Kusakabe offers to let him stay with him, you can hear Chika screaming at the top of her voice. No way is that going to happen! Chika agrees to help Minami find a room for Haruta and drags Narushima to help her. They learn a reason why Minami is scary: Her driving! Thank goodness they make it out in one piece. They go through a list of apartments for rent and find one which is quite suitable but the realtor mentions it has a problem: It is haunted. Narushima getting the goosebumps… Yeah, it makes Minami’s driving seem so harmless now, eh? They check out the place and meet the owner of this building, Amano. Apparently his uncle was the original owner but the nephew now inherits it after he died and put his name on his will that was written on the blueprint. But Amano says he intends to sell the place because of the inheritance tax and the only way he could pay it is by selling the building. Of course it is tough when it is rumoured to be haunted. Amano further explains his uncle loves to play pranks and it irks everybody because his pranks were really elaborate. Amano used to laugh with him with all the pranks but as he grew older, the responsibilities of society got to him. Burdened with debt of failed ventures, Amano eventually lashed out at his uncle when he played a prank on him. Their relationship was strained then. He thinks it is punishment for him to inherit this building since his uncle had a son and daughter. Other than this building, Amano also inherited a giant key to a sixth room. There are only 5 rooms in this apartment.
After they leave, Minami explains about vernacular modernism. In architecture, it means designs on house based on traditional beliefs. Therefore the haunted rumour which is believed to be the ghostly sound of a monk’s staff could be just vernacular modernism because what makes you think it is such a sound in the first place other than you beliefs. Haruta didn’t find any luck renting a house and he thought he could stay at Kusakabe’s. Fortunately or not, Maren called and offers a place to stay and even join his family for Christmas dinner. It is then Haruta hit an inspiration as he researches on the year 1982. Then he calls everyone from his club to witness this architectural miracle. He has Minami find a small slot hole and drop a coin inside it. Sounds familiar? Then they go look around for a keyhole. Yeah, there is one that fits this big key. As Amano turns it, a secret compartment opens and 500 Yen coins come flooding out!!! Haruta explains the will is a treasure map and this entire building is a huge piggy bank. The sixth room is a gap between the walls where the coins are. This is what made that ghostly sound. 1982 is the year these coins were introduced. With this much money, Amano can pay off the tax. So why did his uncle do it this way? Probably to surprise him. Later Haruta’s friends help him move his stuff into this apartment.
Akari Gotou sneaks into Shimizu to find Haruta. Seems Haruta has got a reputation for being a detective famed for solving mysteries. There is a mystery she needs him to solve regarding Elephant’s Breath. It is supposedly to be a colour but there are no samples of it. After displaying her exceptional trombone skills, Gotou starts explaining. Apparently her grandpa who was thought to be dead is now found alive albeit dying of a disease in a hospital. In the past, grandpa and grandma were to get married but he wanted to go to America to study arts. He saved up and went there in 1966 and despite the promise to come back, he never did. At that time she was already pregnant with his child. Visiting him in his hospital room, there are lots of paintings. From the way he acts with Gotou, Haruta can tell he has amnesia especially no memory of his time in America. Standing out from these paintings are 3 identical paintings of an elephant sleeping in a jungle. The only difference is the sky colour: Yellow, orange and black. Grandpa claimed to have seen Elephant’s Breath but each time Gotou interrogates about it, he dodges her question and turns into a senile old man. Gotou considers him a selfish fraud and wants to get that old guy to apologize to grandma for all the suffering. She thinks he is taking advantage of grandma’s kindness. On the topic of Elephant’s Breath, the famed novelist, Rudyard Kipling popped up. There is a story about an elephant escaped human captivity and had a chain around its leg. Other herds refused to accept him. One day he met a lost baby elephant and took him in like his own child. Many years when the baby grows up, he asks about the chain in which he replied it represents his sorrow, a curse he is burdened with. The baby then broke it to free him. When they show the paintings to Kusakabe, he immediately tells them to stop investigating this. Of course they can’t, right?
I’m sure visiting the elephant at the zoo won’t reveal the colour of the Elephant’s Breath, right? The answer isn’t going to be so obvious. When Maren notes that during that period when America was facing riots from the African Americans, Japanese students were also caught in it and perhaps grandpa was seeking a safe place to sleep and since Lincoln Park is free, he might have done so and thus the paintings. Then it hit Haruta. When they go question grandpa again, the same answer and act. Gotou gets emotional now so Haruta tells grandpa to stop his acting. He knows he hasn’t been having peaceful sleeps for a long time. He has post traumatic stress disorder and being tormented by nightmares and flashbacks for 40 years. Grandpa did get caught up in the riots, lost his money and when he tried to get back on his feet again, he got swept up in another one. Grandpa reveals Elephant’s Breath isn’t a colour but the breath of a sleeping elephant. Because a peaceful resting place isn’t something you find yourself but something that’s offered to you. Gotou reconciles with him. Much later, Haruta apologizes to Kusakabe for carrying on. Kusakabe can see he has realized what has happened because Haruta too is bearing the burden of depression. Explain? As elephants in zoo sleep inside shelters, for grandpa to get this close to paint one means the elephant is in the real jungle. That jungle is a safe place in a hell zone on Earth. Grandpa was sent to fight in the Vietnam War. It seemed Japanese students were conscripted to fight. One might be familiar with the defoliants America used in the war. Agent Blue, Agent Orange and Agent White. Despite the name, their solutions were actually yellow, orange and black respectively. Depending on when they are sprayed, that was how the morning sky would have looked. Now that Gotou has heard the entire truth, rather than worry if he is the only survivor or killed many, Chika tells her she still has a job to destroy the elephant’s cursed chain by playing her trombone.
Aside Chika trying to recruit more boys into the club and convincing Haruta to date a girl other than her (?!), she shows him a picture that there is a shadow of somebody sneaking into their clubroom. Each time Chika thought she was earlier, somebody was there earlier. Coincidentally they never meet. A spring mirage? When some wind instrument club members scattered all over the school start playing an ensemble, Chika notices one unfamiliar sound coming from the classroom. Could this girl be the mysterious person? Realizing the club had a broken clarinet they go to check it only to find it missing. Taken for repairs? Apparently everybody else except Chika knows who that girl is: Naoko Serizawa. She is pretty famous. Her grandpa is a Diet member, her father owns a construction company and she is on her way of becoming a pro musician. However she hates concert bands. The talk about Serizawa taking makeup exams recently when she used to be tops. From her sudden fall in grades, her troubles following up on conversations, avoiding classmates and counselling sessions with Kusakabe, Chika is still bent on going to talk to her (despite being warned many times about their difference in level which might leave Chika more than getting burnt). Oh, here she is. Instantly Chika hugs her and tells her to join the club! Serizawa knows all about the club and especially Chika. Because her car almost rammed into her outside the school gates one day but thankfully they missed. Chika easily forgot about the situation because the butler gave her a bun as compensation. Anyway Serizawa declines to join. That is when Haruta tells everyone to be careful where they step. He believes she might have dropped something and snuck in at several times to look for it. She took and repaired the clarinet as thanks in case they ever find it. It is one of those rare times Chika realizes what is going on. She knows Serizawa’s issue after connecting all her recent problems: She lost her hearing.
Chika chases her down to talk to her. Serizawa reveals she is deaf in her right ear (from a volleyball accident) and lost her hearing aid in the clubroom. Thus it is hard for her to pick up conversations unless it is a quiet place. Chika’s ingenuity has her create paper cups so they can communicate easier. Back at the clubroom, Haruta hopes Serizawa would forgive them. Although her hearing aid is found, somebody stepped on it. Crushed. Yeah, Serizawa fainted! In the infirmary, Chika creates multiple paper cups for everyone. Serizawa reveals she picked up the clarinet just to get out of her broken home. Any instrument would do in fact. She also knows the club’s aim to play at Fumon but she breaks the bad news to them they can’t because they lack the minimum 30 members. Of course they can play symphonies for smaller bands might do the trick and Kusakabe has the ability to do that. Even so, they’ll be at a disadvantage compared to those with maximum 55 members. She wants them to go for category B instead and use this as experience. She questions Kusakabe’s decision of quitting conducting but yet still teaches music. Because music is all that he knows. Same for Serizawa. It is the path she has chosen and she believes the same for this club. That is why she apologizes she cannot join them yet. Haruta asks about losing her hearing aid in the music room. She was checking out the drums and timpani to see if they are working since her childhood friend used to play them and wanted to use it as motivation for him to go back to school. So when Chika came in, she panicked and bolted out. After Serizawa leaves, Chika is still gleaming because there is still hope to recruit Serizawa in the future.
A girl tunes into a midnight radio to seek advice because she wants to die. But those old farts start talking about drinking sake and getting drunk. With the new term and Gotou joining the club, they watch a real band rehearse and were blown away by their gap difference. This motivates them to practice more but Kusakabe puts the brakes on it because he warns them if they don’t do well in their tests, he will have to cut their practice times. I guess this means Chika has to work hard, eh? She starts out great but soon loses motivation… She tunes into the radio to help study better. She enjoys this life advice programme until she realizes one of the callers is Haruta and is indirectly saying something about Chika! It is no wonder she kicks him the next day! He too listens to that radio. He explains the radio programme is a mystery since nobody knows where it is broadcasted from and has been on the air for around 2 years. With 7 elderly people giving life advices, it feels like this radio is coming from a hidden village straight out of a Japanese folklore. Chika saw a girl, Misato Asou running away from the student council president and refuses to get involved. But soon the student council president tells the club about their slashed budget (because their club achieved nothing). If they agree to help catch Asou who is from the geology club, he can help negotiate to increase their budget which is allocated to the geology club but they refused to accept it. And yes, everybody wants Chika to be their representative and she too drags Haruta into this.
As explained, Asou is the president of the geology club that currently has 8 members. They mine precious stones in Japan. Although precious stones are not common, they can still be found but this means trespassing private property. Because they sell their stones to a local university, that is where they get their funding via reward. They won’t accept the school’s funds because they hate school. Many of the club members are truants who won’t go to school except for the club. Asou managed to get them to join by barging into their homes. All but one, Hiyama, agreed to join her club. This year they found and even more valuable precious stone believed to be a blue topaz. But a strange message from Asou said she has found it but pretended she didn’t. So as the club members find Asou, Chika and Haruta enter the geology club but Asou already ran. They notice she too listened to the same radio programme. Haruta has done more research prior to it. That Hiyama guy is Kaiyuu Hiyama, a host of the radio programme. Haruta believes Asou’s message is she might have discovered the hidden village. Her pursue of the topaz must have led her to that place, an unregistered retirement home. Asou turns herself in when Kusakabe gets involved. Haruta guesses that as she tried to protect a colony of her own at school, there was also a boy the same age trying to protect his own colony. Asou brings them to see Kaiyuu at his home. He admits to running the radio and the old sages are old people living who have a fall out with their families or nobody to talk to. They just let them stay in their annex nearby. They started a radio show as Kaiyuu’s dad helped someone in the past ran a radio service. Asou returns the topaz to Kaiyuu as apology for trespassing (that is how she found out about their identity) and thanks for the sages’ advice for a silly girl who decided not to take her life thanks to their stupid advice and lost the will to die. When they tune in to the next programme, the old sages want Kaiyuu to return to schooling. They remember he played the drums and timpani. Sound familiar? Serizawa’s friend? Chika gets a bounty message from Asou that if they take him in, their club will get all their budget. See how money motivates to nab him?
I think I’m seeing a pattern… Kaiyuu now joins the wind instrument club. Chika is surprised when Serizawa would gladly give her personal flute lessons all day. The catch? She needs her help in stopping her aunt Kyouko who is coming to this school to be interviewed by a shady guy named First Love Sommelier. And Chika has to drag Haruta into this… Serizawa explains her aunt lives in Australia and will come to live with her in Japan after she graduates. Kyouko visited her a month ago and hired a local detective to trace her first love. Although she knew where he lived, his current whereabouts are unknown. The detective agency then sent her a provocative postcard questioning if her first love was real. They suggested Sommelier who researches about first love. This research lab is also a club at Shimizu run by Tooru Asagiri. Another weirdo? You bet. Serizawa is not too happy Kyouko is going to get her first love appraised by Asagiri. She disagrees with Asagiri’s theory about first love and memories, the reason why when people confront their first love many years later, they are shocked by the gap between reality and their memories. This club researches that by removing false and exaggerated elements from the memories by trying to reproduce exactly the circumstances of that time. In short, using fragrance to evoke those memories. Kyouko then explains her story. Her first love had something to do with onigiri. She was 19 years old and was lost in the forest and stumbled upon the Forest Brotherhood. Animal people? Please not she is talking in metaphor. She met and befriended this bear guy, Venganto and they make and deliver onigiri for the other Forest Brotherhood as well as the birds. One day Kyouko tried to taste an onigiri but Venganto became mad and attacked her. She was exiled from the group and they were never heard of since. Asagiri has completed an exact duplicate of the onigiri. Kyouko tastes it. Although she finds it different, she thanks Asagiri and rushes out. This makes Haruta wonder if this appraisal had another objective besides recalling her memories since it is confirmed the onigiri is perfectly accurate.
Late that night, Chika is surprised that Serizawa wants to crash at her place. She has forced Haruta and Asagiri to come along too. They will be heading to Hanamaki early in the morning because that is where Kyouko told her she will be going. So is that where Venganto is? The kids arrive at Hanamaki first and wait for Kyouko. She arrives and is surprised to see them here. Serizawa pleads to Kyouko to go back as nothing good will come in seeing Venganto. From the way Kyouko talks, Haruta could guess that Venganto is no longer in this world. As they drive to his grave, Kyouko explains that Venganto and the rest of the Forest Brotherhood all died of the same illness. At first she was looking to find her first love’s whereabouts and when she learnt he died, she got greedy and dug deeper only to find out things she shouldn’t know. Kyouko became scared when she realized the odds of succumbing to the same illness and that is when she got a postcard from Asagiri for this idea. Had the onigiri had the same taste, it would mean the Forest Brotherhood would be eating them and their cause of death buried in darkness. Thus the onigiri Venganto served her and the birds were normal while he served poisoned ones to his brethren. Hence on that day Venganto was trying to stop Kyouko from eating a poisoned onigiri and protected her by throwing her out, without telling her anything. As for why Venganto killed his comrades remains a mystery but it could have something to do with vengeance, the meaning of his nickname. And there might be some guilt he couldn’t live with that he had to kill himself too. Kyouko asks Asagiri for her first love appraisal. It was the real deal. Kyouko apologizes to her niece for worrying her. She was afraid of dying because she wanted to live with her. Serizawa gives her a hug.
Kusakabe collapses as he coaches the wind instrument club! OMG! Though it is not life threatening and just from overwork, you bet our students (especially Haruta) are calling for heads to roll when they find out he is also overseeing Fujigasaki Academy’s concert band. Iwasaki and Matsuda apologise but they claim their usual teacher, Sakai is suspended. When Kusakabe heard about this, he offered to fill in. Apparently Sakai is a righteous man so there must be something wrong if his suspension is still not lifted and even more perplexing is that he refuses to say anything. Haruta, Chika and Kaiyuu visit Fujigasaki and the room he used to teach. They claim Sakai’s behaviour before his suspension was weird because he changed the students’ sitting 3 times. They also meet the student teacher, Yuka Oogawara. Fujigasaki is her alma mater and Sakai was her homeroom teacher. Back then, she was a delinquent and didn’t exactly graduate from Fujigasaki. She broke some school rules and dropped out instead of getting an expulsion on her records. Sakai was the only one who stood by her side but at that time she found his zeal annoying. She said horrible things and stormed out and hasn’t talked ever since. They move on discussing the seat arrangements. Nobody knew why except the class rep and she too didn’t tell anyone why. The noticed the class rep being moved about throughout the arrangement and the final one like as though she is being protected by other girls from a stalker? Matsuda remembers Sakai had her lend him her handphone as he only uses the viewfinder looking around the class. No photos were taken. It is deduced there was a peeping tom. The culprit was nicknamed Asmodeus.
That student since last year has been uploading images of school girls online. Although the faces cannot be seen, you can identify the girl by her uniform. Class rep was first to noticed and more pictures were uploaded when summer came. Kaiyuu gets more information that the camera used was infrared. It has 2 specialties compared to an ordinary camera. It can take pictures in the dark or see through light clothing. Seeing how thin the summer uniform is, could it be pictures of what is underneath is being taken? Thus the seating changes could be Sakai’s challenge to Asmodeus and class rep was the decoy. Normally everything would have ended if the culprit is identified and reported. But the baffling thing is that Sakai covered up for Asmodeus and he is still suspended. It is believed Asmodeus is female. They go talk to the class rep who mentions she wanted Sakai to get an apology and a promise from Asmodeus never to do this again but Sakai refused her and never told her why. That is when she reported to the principal and he voluntarily took his suspension. Asmodeus is hinted as the girl who recently didn’t come to school and this might be Sakai’s way of making her reflect and repent her actions. The gang return to discuss what is it so risqué that Sakai would go so far to protect. Then it hit Haruta. Oogawara has always been wearing a suit even though it is summer. She does take it off when it gets hot like when the air-cond was broken last week. Then she too realized. Apparently Oogawara had a yakuza tattoo on her back and Asmodeus used this as her trump card. All Sakai wanted was to protect her and give her a chance as she is his former student and only regret. Oogawara now knows what to do in not let Sakai keep protecting her anymore. She is going to give her final lesson to those 2 students. Subsequently Sakai’s suspension is lifted, Oogawara thanks and apologizes to him. He promises to keep a student teacher spot open for her.
Chika saved a boy falling from his apartment so she is a little injured. What scares her the most is that she won’t be able to play in the district qualifiers today. But after Serizawa takes a look and treats her minor injuries, it is nothing to worry about. Kusakabe has something to do will be running late. Luckily Shimizu’s turn will be in the afternoon near the end. They are here early because many of them are making their debut and it is good for them to have some exposure. Sakai offers them to use their practice room since Fujigasaki will be performing early. Because Haruta is not around, Chika goes to look for him and bumps into a freelance journalist, Takuya Watanabe. Despite Watanabe is confident Shimizu will easily progress to the next round, ironically Chika is not confident of their own chances. Watanabe’s true goal is to interview Kusakabe because as one of the most talented conductors, he suddenly quit his job and vanished. If he could directly talk to him, he wouldn’t have the need to go through his students. Chika doesn’t like the way he disrespects Kusakabe but before Watanabe can stop her, Haruta trips him. It seems he has found a lost giant Tibetan mastiff dog. A man pops up to claim he is the rightful owner. And so does a little girl. Watanabe is amused in seeing a modern day Solomon judgment and will watch how this unfolds. As part of the bet, if they manage to identify the correct owner, he will write a story about the dog.
Unfortunately Haruta too wants to claim this dog! He claims he is living alone and wants it as companion. So unless they can show proof it belongs to them, he won’t have it over. While the man seems to have convincing proof and alibi, the girl is feeble and shy. She doesn’t know a lot of things. They check the dog’s collar to find a lock and a name on its collar: Pie Simata. The man shows proof his friend’s name as Shimata as the previous owner but the girl also mentions Shimata is her mom’s maiden name. Unfortunately she doesn’t know mom’s telephone number. The man shows further proof that he unlocks the lock with the password. But Haruta easily does too because everyone knows the value of the pi is 3.14. Haruta is suspicious of the man because Haruta had found it for quite a while so this might give enough time for the man to create proofs. He warns him what he is doing is amount to a crime. But the man also knows Haruta and Chika are in some regional qualifiers. Why did he not hand the dog over to the police or animal control? He can report them to their school and organisers too. Just when time is up because practice session is about to start, here comes Kusakabe telling them not to give up. He talks to the girl who reveals her parents are divorced and since dad got custody of her, she gave her the dog. It is also revealed mom named it from a character from Lewis Carroll’s back. It sounded hard to pronounce for her. Jabberwock. Haruta then connects the dots. He borrows Chika’s mirror and Pie Simata reflects to be Atami2 314. It could be a dog licence ID number. Looking it up at the register might reveal the address of her mom. So the dog is actually a direction left behind by her mom. The girl gets custody of the dog and the man is nowhere to be seen. Watanabe is impressed and decides to leave them off the hook today. He also gives the girl contact information of the animal control. The rest talk about the cruel effects of parents breaking up but Serizawa is here to pick them back to the hall for practice.
Under Kusakabe’s guidance, Shimizu’s wind instrument club progresses to the next stage. Serizawa and Katagiri argue about tuning an out of tune piano with Kusakabe’s help when this lady, Makoto Yamanobe challenges Serizawa to a bet. Serizawa starts playing the piano without using the out of tune keys. Makoto then takes out her melodian and beautifully plays a piece. Noticing her unusual melodian, she introduces this custom made clavietta from Italy. Kusakabe has business with Makoto but he cannot talk in front of his students. Haruta is jealous that the duo are close together and wants to expose this vixen since Makoto’s late grandpa was Kusakabe’s teacher. So with Chika and Serizawa they go to eavesdrop what they are to talk about. Seems her father dabbled in real estate and lost money. He is trying to auction off grandpa’s imperial Bosendorfer piano for millions but there is a problem: Its key is missing and without it, the piano will lose its value. Grandpa left in his will that the key was with her. Of course she has no idea and all she got was the clavietta. Makoto has disassembled the clavietta many times but never found any key. She is still very bitter of all the things she had to do after grandpa’s death like kowtowing to others on his behalf many times. But the worst of the lot was Kusakabe’s sudden disappearance from the symphony.
Later Makoto catches the trio eavesdropping. She explains about the custom made clavietta so she could adapt her sweaty fingers to play the piano. However it seems that Makoto never went pro despite all the chances. She questions Serizawa’s reasons to go pro and knows about her hearing problem. She believes Serizawa wanted to go pro because she might want to reach a place where she can focus on music alone, her own musical Eden. Next day, Makoto disassembles her clavietta again to show the kids. They examine the ivory keyboard but she claims it is made of some other material that makes maintenance hard work. She adds this clavietta was grandpa’s sympathy for her. She once lashed out at him for only allowing Kusakabe to touch Bosendorfer and in exchange he swapped the clavietta’s original keyboard with an ivory replica. Because Kusakabe has grown kinder these days, she believes whatever words left by grandpa on the clavietta, she won’t read it. Then it hit Haruta. Makoto cannot see very well. He has noticed her name card had a cut corner so she knows which the front side is. Also, she couldn’t recognize them when they were caught eavesdropping. Makoto explains her disease that weakened her eyesight. Gradually she couldn’t read and even music notes anymore. That is why she sympathizes with Serizawa. Haruta knows where grandpa’s last words are for her. If she notices a bumpy side of the clavietta, it is actually Braille. She reads it as it says… “I lost the key”. She laughs out loud and realizes grandpa is so himself till the end. In the aftermath, the lock on Bosendorfer was dismantled and its keys were all taken out and replaced with ceramic. The ivory keys were put on her clavietta.
When Haruta sees Kusakabe just finished talking with the guys from the Hamamatsu Symphony, he pretends to talk to them to get more details but they cannot say anything until it is official. From their reaction, Haruta can tell Kusakabe is being scouted to join their symphony. If that happens, this means he might ‘abandon’ them and not be able to perform with them at Fumon. Chika wants Serizawa’s honest opinion about the band. This is her brutally honest reply. If you ever wonder why a band that is so bad that makes everyone listen uncomfortable, proceeds this far in the qualifiers, it is because of how awesome it is to Kusakabe bringing them together as well as some of the very good ones like Haruta, Maren, Narushima and Kaiyuu. When Kusakabe is about to begin his usual practice, his baton breaks. This startles Chika as she thinks this is a bad omen. But what startles everyone is how Chika reacts to it because normally she wouldn’t give a damn. Haruta advises Chika to play it cool or else everyone will find out. The class then chips in to buy a new baton for Kusakabe. Can you imagine Haruta and Chika arguing which baton to buy and if that is not bad enough, who should be the one to give it! When they spot Kusakabe, the duo tail him and believe he is on his way to Hamamatsu. Haruta plans to tell Kusakabe not to go despite that offer is a good one. He also wants to tell him his feelings because if not, he will have regrets if he leaves. When Kusakabe leaves on a stop before reaching Hamamatsu, Haruta starts connecting the dots on why he was late on that qualifier day and the day he abruptly disappear from his symphony.
They tail him to a graveyard and Chika’s clumsiness gave them away. As Chika explains their thoughts, Haruta notices the date on the gravestone is similar to those incidents. Could it be somebody’s death anniversary? He then tells Kusakabe to accept the offer since he told his students they have their own lives to fulfil. It should be the same for him. Just when you think Chika is going to dramatically confess her feelings, it is actually a confession that they don’t have enough money to get home! Oh Chika! Later Haruta tells Chika why he didn’t stop Kusakabe. Although there is no way they could tell what happened, Kusakabe is at the crossroads right now of whether to move forward or not. This qualifier might be the last time he performs with them. And here we are folks, Shimizu’s band performing with Kusakabe and we get to hear for the first time the entire symphony. In the end, they end up getting bronze. Oh shucks. Indeed it is the last time they’ll perform together. Everyone is so sad and depressing, blaming their own shortcomings. But leave it to Chika to cheer them up that it is not bad since they have come this far. More motivation with encouraging words from Kusakabe. After all that is said and done, Chika goes off alone to cry. At least she has Haruta to cry with her. But all that is blown away with a good news. If you’re wondering why Serizawa wants to come home with them, it is her way of saying she is joining the band. Finally. Katagiri announces the retirement of the seniors and will appoint a new president to spearhead the club. Everyone thinks Chika would be the next president and so Chika jumps the gun, excited to give her speech. Then Katagiri announces Maren as the next president. How embarrassing…
Nothing Says Springtime Like High School Detective Work
Basically in a nutshell this is the sum of my feelings watching this series. I expected it to be like Hibike! Euphonium but instead I got Hyouka material instead! Music and mystery solving. What an odd combination. Yeah, it never goes hand in hand here anyway. I assume that this is the series’ ‘cliff-hanger’ at the end because we still don’t know if Kusakabe is going to stay or move forward. We know it just wouldn’t be the same anymore since if we ever get another season, there’ll be new faces, old ones ‘retire’ and a whole new brand of dynamism that could be for better or worse. Who knows? That is a mystery we will leave for another time. As far as this season is concerned, if you want a refreshing break from the ubiquitous and typical setting of high school themes like super power action, slapstick comedy, harem comedy, fanservice comedy and/or pure drama romance (believe me, the romance here is just a paltry distraction. A little more on this later), maybe a little detective mystery might give the grey matter a little variety.
Shows like this once more give me mixed feelings on whether to classify either good or bad. In my case it is always somewhat in between because of a few factors. For instance, let us look at some of the mysteries and detective work. Now, each of the mysteries (if you could call them that) are interesting in their own right and the pacing was reasonably well enough that got me interested in listening and paying attention to every word they say as they work towards a way to figure out the mystery. Unfortunately for a person like me who is not well read, it takes out the enjoyment in figuring out some of the terms that cropped up. No doubt that they do explain what that term is but unless you are well read and well knowledgeable like Haruta and Kusakabe, most of us would be like Chika, lost and feeling what-the-heck-say-that-again-please. Therefore if you intend to fully enjoy this series without feeling stupid, you need to have a certain amount of knowledge and this isn’t just restricted to the music world. As seen, it covers a wide range of topics.
Since this series is mostly drama and that there will be a lot of talking and yes, I mean lots of them because many of what is said in speeches would be the clues that Haruta will eventually piece together and figure the whole thing out. So like I said, if you are like me who isn’t well read or knowledgeable, I find myself straining my ears and giving my utmost attention just to listen and make sense of what they are talking. I was trying to understand and perhaps piece together the puzzle. Unfortunately that never happened. Haruta always figures it out for me. I’m not saying my level of understanding is bad but it had me concentrating so much and yet I didn’t understand or get close to a solution (heck, I never came up with any solution), it just feels a bit frustrating. Even more so that many of the answers to the mysteries are just, well, simple. Not that all complicated. In a way, it sometimes feel a bit disappointing that after all that build-up and clues to the mystery, the answer behind it all turns out to be just average. Sorry, no solutions to mysteries that would unlock the secrets to the universe.
And very sorry too, if you are expecting some sort of musical setting or at least learn something or two about the music be it the instruments or musical history, you would certainly be mostly disappointed. At least Hibike! Euphonium and K-ON! had something to do with music. This one here feels like just a diversion. It does have a few musical points too (as part and in relation to the mystery) but not that in a way that one would think, “Hey! That is a great musical tip!”. I mean, it could have been any other club. It could have been a sports club solving mysteries, it could have been an art club solving mysteries, it could have been a science club solving mysteries using the power of science, it could have been a maths club using the calculations of numbers and mathematical science to solve and debunk any sort of problems. But I had a feeling they chose a music club because I am assuming nobody would see this coming. Nobody expects music lovers to be great detectives, right? Sure, there. There is your surprise factor.
Thus it just feels that the setting of having the wind instrument club trying to head for the Nationals feels more like a distraction and a side story to the mystery main dish. Because every episode feels episodic. Like a standalone. While it is great that in each episode there is a new mystery to be solved and breathes new interest for each episode, it lacks the continuity that might have made it even more epic. What I mean is that I was hoping that all or most of the mysteries would actually be connected and be part of a bigger puzzle. You know, maybe like Sakurako-san No Ashimoto Ni Wa Shitai Ga Umatteiru (ugh… This anime…). But then again, maybe that sort of big picture mystery won’t suit the setting of this series anyway. So who cares if Chika plays the flute or Haruta plays the horn because f*ck, you can’t even remember or care what the other members play. And even if you do remember who plays what, I’m sure we wouldn’t care how good they are because we know everyone else is good except for Chika who should be better off being in the volleyball club in the first place ;p.
Therefore when you have a show shown in that way, the characters suffer from potential development. It is expected that Haruta and Chika will hog the limelight because, heck, they got their names engraved on the series. But as for the rest of the other characters especially the other members in the wind instrument club, they feel forgettable. It is like they do not matter at all. Like Katagiri or even the twins. Aside from making up the numbers for a symphony, I don’t see how they contribute to the proper flow of the series. And I find it quite funny that after every mystery is solved, a new member joins the club. At least in the initial episodes. Like as though the reward for solving the mystery is for the central character involved in that series to join the club once their case is over. Come to think of it, so does this mean that solving the mysteries is actually part of a bigger conspiracy to recruit members into the band? And I am pretty sure that there are more members joining the club from time to time because I noticed there are extra minor background characters who don’t even matter, never had any dialogue. That’s what you get when you have a big band although Shimizu’s isn’t exactly a fully symphony either. No screen time privilege for those who are unimportant. Yeah, reminds me of Hibike! Euphonium in a way.
So aside from the side characters like Serizawa, Narushima and Maren who all have their own set of problems but quickly solved and relegated to become assistant detectives in certain episodes, the main characters in focus are Haruta, Chika and sometimes Kusakabe. Even so, their characters are not deeply fleshed out and you’ll be more focused on the mystery at hand while each passing episode throws you a little bit and pieces of information about their past but not enough to form anything conclusive. Especially Kusakabe who is the series’ biggest mystery because we are reminded of how he suddenly gave up his prestigious job to do something mediocre like teaching (at least from his profession’s point of view) and that biggest mystery still bugs us right till the very end even though we are certain as ‘exposed’ in the end that somebody important to him passed away on that day. A person so important that could make a man with a secured future and one of the most coveted job in the world to just walk out. We’ll never know exactly the reason why and Kusakabe isn’t the kind who just talks freely. Sometimes it gets on your nerves that you want to know more but there is all there is to it. So wait for next season to find out more? If they had one.
It is not the first time that a young boy is being gay and secretly loves his teacher and I am sure you’ll find such relationship setting more common in yaoi genres but as for this one, it might be the first. It was shocking at first and even if there were gay relationships, usually they are of the same age. Because if the older one targets the younger one, won’t that be like paedophile and a shotacon? So with Haruta having more than just admire feelings for Kusakabe, I can only imagine the worst if his dreams actually come true. Making the love triangle even odder is Chika having some hots for that teacher too. This minor love triangle feels silly and a little distraction but if that feels like the most character development you’ll get out of them. Even so, that isn’t much. So hopes of seeing Haruta x Chika since that is what this show is called and they even have their names in the title shortened to HaruChika? I mean, sometimes doesn’t it feel that Chika is like a tsundere? Being cold and rude to Haruta at times? I guess her dream and road to become more feminine is still a long way off. Or did she forget about that already?
Haruta is your typical brains of the team and Chika like the total opposite being the ‘dumb’ one just for comical effects. Like I’ve said, Haruta is so well read and knowledgeable, he is like the modern Sherlock Holmes as he could guess the answer after thinking for a while and putting all the puzzle pieces quickly. Like as though he is reading from a script. On the other hand, you have Chika with a bubbly personality acting like a joker like mispronouncing certain terminologies because of her lack of knowledge in whatever that mystery is associated with. But it is hard to hate her because of her enthusiasm and drive, it makes her even more likeable and funny. Really. Sometimes she gets lucky but at most times she is just being Chika. Never change, Chika.
While the art and drawing feels fine and sometimes looking quite good and sharp (nice scenic sceneries and especially cute looking girls, am I to complain?), I noticed that the eye colours of the characters attract my attention. All characters have this effect although it is more prominent in some like Chika. Let me see if I can describe it well. In Chika’s case, it feels like there are dual colour shades for her iris and pupil. It feels like her eyes are like, uhm, gemstones? There is this mysterious attraction each time I stare into her eyes. Like seeing the universe?! Seeing this series is done by P.A. Works, it is no surprise that they have animated lots of beautiful looking series like Angel Beats, Hanasaku Iroha, Charlotte, Shirobako, Glasslip, Another and True Tears. So perhaps sometimes if you find their character designs and artwork to be familiar to these series, this is one reason.
The list of seiyuus is a long one. It is expected since you have different characters for every episode for each mystery. But for the main characters, I only recognized Chiaki Omigawa as the twins. I thought she voiced both the twins but it seems she only voiced Kae. It seems Sae is voiced by a newbie, Emi Miyajima (Mayumi in Haifuri). And I thought they sound the same or is it because I didn’t care as I assumed it was the same person. The rest of the casts from the wind instrument club are Souma Saitou as Haruta (Aoto in Divine Gate), Sarah Emi Bridcutt as Chika (Yuki in Shinmai Maou No Testament), Natsuki Hanae as Kusakabe (Kousei in Shigatsu Wa Kimi No Uso), Asami Seto as Serizawa (Chihaya in Chihayafuru), Haruka Chisuga as Narushima (Kuroda in Shoujo-tachi Wa Kouya Wo Mezasu), Nobunaga Shimazaki as Maren (Shido in Date A Live), Nobuhiko Okamoto as Kaiyuu (Karma in Ansatsu Kyoushitsu), Yuki Yamada as Gotou (Shiena in Akuma No Riddle) and Seiichirou Yamashita as Katagiri (Takahiro in Walkure Romanze). Guest voices include Hitomi Nabatame as Minami, Junichi Suwabe as Watanabe, Misato Fukuen as Yaeko, Ayahi Takagaki as Makoto and Rina Satou as Chika’s mother.
The opening theme is Niji Wo Ametara by Fhana. It is quite a lively and energetic piece befitting the series quite well. If you are very well familiar with Fhana’s brand of liveliness in their anime songs such as the openers of Comet Lucifer, Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2wei Herz, Bokura Wa Minna Kawaisou and the ending theme in Sora No Method, then you’ll feel right at home hearing this piece. But personally, I feel this one is the best of all the anime songs Fhana sings since I could feel some sort of energetic motivation while hearing the song. The ending theme on the other hand, Kuusou Triangle by Choucho isn’t that bad either but after hearing the great opening, seems to fall a bit short. Don’t worry, it still sounds fine.
Overall, not a bad series but it needs a lot of thinking and patience. Some say it isn’t a great detective mystery material but hey, they are just high school kids and for their level they showed great potential. Hmm… Maybe this is a reason they put a high school setting so that you won’t expect and compare it on par with Sherlock Holmes? Heck, better than being Milky Holmes, right? Haha! Those are in a different league of their own. Even with P.A. Works now developing a reputation for producing visually breathtaking and beautiful anime series but falling short in terms of its story and character development, many remain sceptical and add this series to its ever increasing list. In short, still not its best work since, uhm, Angel Beats? I suppose. Is it so hard to write a good anime these days? Not even Haruta can solve this mystery.