Winter 2017 First Impressions: Fuuka – Episode 01 Review

Yuu Haruna is a shy introvert who’s more comfortable on Twitter than around his classmates.  He has recently moved to Tokyo from his sleepy town to share an apartment with his three sisters now that his parents are working overseas.  On one fateful day Yuu is tweeting while walking across a busy street, only to be barrelled into by manic pixie dream girl Fuuka.  She accuses him of taking upskirt photos of her and destroys his phone.  After several strained encounters at school they manage to come to a truce and start up a tentative friendship. But will it turn into something more?

My feelings about Fuuka are mixed.  A large part of that gut reaction stems from the use of fanservice.  I knew going into the show that it had ecchi elements but I hadn’t expected them to be quite as heavily used as they were.  There are a whole bunch of panty shots in this first episode, which are always kinda skeevy.  Fuuka accuses Yuu of taking upskirt shots of her a bunch of times in this first episode, and on one of those occasions she’s not even wrong!  That’s not the sort of guy I’d want to be dating so for me it makes the core romance less believable.  In a later scene, Yuu is trying to live his life at home but all his sisters are hanging around naked in their frilly lingerie, which also seems creepy to me.  I can understand slumming around in old pjs while your bro’s around, but I wouldn’t be getting my best Ann Summers out like these ladies seem to be.

None of the characters are especially compelling so far.  Yuu is your typical shy everyman protagonist, but I must admit that his reliance on social media over forging real life connections was kind of relatable to me.  Fuuka is from Your Lie In April’s Kaori’s school of manic pixie dream girls – she doesn’t own a phone, she still listens to CDs in the 21st century, all signs that she doesn’t go along with the crowd, man.  I did appreciate how direct she is though – she initiates their date, and even says to Yuu when he says that they aren’t going out that “we don’t know that yet”, which is a breath of fresh air compared to a lot of the romantic fumbling you see in shows of this genre.  Koyuki, the other participant in the love triangle, hasn’t had a lot of screentime yet so it’s hard to know much about her personality and motivations other than her childhood crush on Yuu.

The artwork for this anime is clean and attractive.  The backdrops, especially in the city scenes, are beautifully rendered with great attention paid to colour and lighting.  The character designs look quite like what you would see in a P.A. Works series despite this being a Diomedia project and work well for this kind of show.   However, on the animation front there are occasional issues; for example, some unconvincing walk cycles at the beginning of the episode make some of the background characters shuffle around awkwardly.

My favourite part of the episode was probably the scene where Yuu is on his phone tweeting while waiting for Fuuka to show up for their date.  You can only see quick flashes of the messages that he’s receiving in response but there are some pretty funny lines in there – one of his followers chiding him for “the masochistic bragging of a normie” for meeting up with a girl stands out as one of the best tweets.

Like Masamune-kun’s Revenge, Fuuka is another Winter 2017 anime where I have some quite large misgivings about how core parts of the show will be handled but I am going to tentatively watch a few more episodes to see if it can change my mind.  After all, there’s very little else to watch this season!  Please impress me, Fuuka.

6/10

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