Suzuka – advance review (episodes 1-5)

March 1, 2006 on 10:04 pm | In Suzuka | 7 Comments

For the life of me I can’t find time to sit down at my computer and watch anime and cap it at the moment. I’ve been watching Suzuka on the train, though, so I’ll say a few words about it.

Suzuka is one of the most horribly derivative anime ever made, if you go by a general series overview; it’s about a teenaged boy who moves to his aunt’s house for school. His aunt’s house happens to be a female only dormitory with its own bath house built in. Plus he has a crush on a high jumping girl who turns out to be his neighbour and upon whom he makes a bad impression.

Yet, despite that, there’s an air of charm to Suzuka: it doesn’t play to the violent stereotypes of this genre, nor does it emphasise fanservice. In addition to this, it is on some level a sporting anime and is presented in a distinctly unpretentious fashion.

The boy in question is Yamato, who has moved from Hiroshima to Tokyo to begin high school. His neighbour is the titular Suzuka, scouted to Tokyo for her athletic abilities. In the fourth episode, Yamato’s sprinting talent is discovered, and this brings to the fore feelings in Suzuka that she didn’t realise she had; feelings she doesn’t want to have.
At the same time Yamato’s friend Hattori tries to set them up, and everyone remains oblivious to young miko Honoka’s obvious crush on Yamato.

Yamato is a good character in that he isn’t a spineless loser; he’s just a bit clueless as to things that he has no experience of. The writing gives a lot of time to Yamato’s thoughts, so one can see that he isn’t an insensitive bastard but someone overly concerned about the outcome of his actions. One of the funnier parts of the show – a show that isn’t a comedy but at the moment isn’t a drama – is that Yamato publicly reacts to things, manifesting his mental state in hand wringing and various insane shakes.

Suzuka is naturally going to win the love battle, as she is the character of title. She’s a girl who doesn’t seem to want to be honest with herself, and therefore comes across as cold and reticent. Unlike Yamato, we’re not given a clue as to what she’s thinking beyond the tell-tale blush, but her self denial would be liable to get old if the series didn’t get shaken up a bit. At this point there are characters left to introduce, so I have great faith in that.

The ensemble that presently consists of Suzuka, Yamato, Honoka and Hattori is fun to watch and believable in their niceties. For an alleged womaniser, Hattori spends a lot of time hooking up other people and singing by himself. Hattori is presented as a rogue in his first appearance, but there is very little clue as to that thereafter. Honoka, on the other hand, begins as a shaky bundle of nerves but might become stronger during the series – despite her goal being a lost cause. I hope that she finds happiness with someone else in a way that doesn’t seem too contrived.

Suzuka doesn’t physically look special, although its OP and ED are several shades of wonderful. Somehow this increases the appeal to me as it reminds me of the early days of late night anime in the mid to late nineties, when things were low budget but had a special aura to them.
Suzuka has that aura of magic about it, and for that special feeling it simply can’t be beaten.


  1. It seems many have been captivated by this so called “aura of magic”, as you have nicely put it. For the most part, I would agree that Suzuka is a breath of fresh air in that it is a revert to normalcy. Yet, in my opinion, Yamato’s cluelessness began to wear down on me. The animation…fluctuates immensely from episode to episode and is never trully spectacular. Before I reveal too much, I’ll just end with the fact that I can’t bring myself to finish the series as I no longer have any interest in who Yamato ends up with(although the title of the anime seems to be a hint…)

    Comment by Chairman Zhang — March 2, 2006 #

  2. death to ice queen suzuka! honoka x yamato 4ever!

    Comment by delicatessen — March 2, 2006 #

  3. Because I’m weird, the slightly slipshod animation is one of the show’s appeals to me. I’ll see how the rest of it pans out – although with feelings this obvious this early in the series, it would be hard to string the “tension” over 26 episodes.

    Series that gave me similar feelings are Haunted Junction and Sakura Diaries. Of course, the feeling doesn’t always work out; Don’t Leave Me Alone, Daisy is a compelling but repellent example and Karin is disappointingly lacklustre despite its “aura”.

    Comment by Alex — March 2, 2006 #

  4. I greatly anticipate later reviews from you to see if your opinion of the show remains constant. At this early stage, I was captivated as well. I have also resolved to attempt to finish the series this weekend. Maybe my opinion will alter…maybe.

    Comment by Chairman Zhang — March 2, 2006 #

  5. Animation was Suzuka’s main weakness but the drama (especially in the second half of the series) doesn’t disappoint. If you are familiar with the kind of angst that prevailed in Shoujo shows in the 19980s and 1990s where you had to side with one character or another then be prepared for the same thing here. It will be interesting to see who you will side with by the end of the series as this show was notoriously known to polarise most of the people who have watched it (including me).

    Comment by Mohammad — March 2, 2006 #

  6. I’ll be curious to see what you think by the end of it… I too liked it fairly well at the beginning. By the end I wanted practically every character to die.

    Comment by Elfir — March 2, 2006 #

  7. Hi Alex,
    i found your message in the bottle this morning on the beach of Toki.
    The triforce is great! Thank you so much!!!

    Best wishes,
    (I hope it’s okay that i write this here.)

    Comment by Rina from Toki (AC WW) — March 3, 2006 #

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