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Gravitation is a romantic romp that simply is impossible to dislike. Seriously, I have yet to meet anyone who actually disliked it. I imagine there are people who would dislike it, even if only for the reason that they find the romantic elements offensive, but I have not personally met any who did if they actually watched it. Gravitation is a 13 episode anime based on the original manga by Murikami Maki. It follows a young group of lads who form a band during their high school years. Graduation is upon them, and they want to make it big. Shuichi, the vocalist, is desperately trying to finish writing the lyrics to a song so that they can make a cd to send around, and to perform at a concert they got themselves booked into. He has written the first part of the song and is suffering from writer's block, so decides to take a walk through his local park one evening. Darn it, a breeze blows the paper out of his. Luckily, some guy is walking along and picks it up. Whoa, he is one exotically gorgeous dude, and Shuichi is stunned, trying to figure out what a foreign person looking like that is doing wandering through his neighbourhood at night.
That person surprisingly turns out to be Japanese though, and cuttingly tells him that if that is what he wrote, he should give up as he has ZERO Talent. The guy then walks away. Shuichi is speechless, both at the unexpectedness of having seen such a beautiful person outside of TV or a magazine, having such a person turn out to be Japanese, and lastly by his extreme rudeness. Narked off beyond belief, Shuichi is offended to the extent that he becomes fired up, finishes the lyrics, and is determined to find that jerk so he can hear his band Bad Luck sing it before fans at a local concert. The problem is, he has no idea who the jerk was, so has to keep looking for him. He gets quite obsessed with this, and finally does find him. The two confront each other again, and the two polar opposites discover that the rules of gravitation seem to apply to them. Shuichi and Eiri Yuki (who turns out to be a romance novelist), simply cannot stay away from each other.
Yep, it is a romance, with two very unlikely people, a straight romance writer, and a straight techno band leader. Well, at least until now, they thought they were 100% hetero, but the attraction is one neither can break. One of the most publicly beloved boy's love mangas brought to the small screen, you might at first glance of the plot be forgiven for thinking it is a mere romance story, with two guys in love. If you think that, you would lose out. The story does have that element, but so much more. The story also follows the fortunes of Shuichi's band, Bad Luck, and the resurgence of his idols, a previously disbanded techno pop band known as Nittle Grasper, and we get a soundtrack that grabs the attention. It's worth watching for the music alone, and I have to confess that lately, the track Spicy Marmalade has been stuck in my head, while my son keeps playing Super Drive from it.
Plenty of angst is to be had here as well, as Shuichi and Eiri face the reality of forming a same sex relationship against all their previous love experience expectations, with the interpersonal relationship having unexpected consequences due to a trauma Yuki Eiri had in his youth that still haunts him today. The series is saved from being too dark though thanks to the comedic touches. Shuichi is an absolute air head, as is Ryuichi, Nittle Grasper's pink stuffed bunny toting lead. Add in other eccentric members of the music industry and the oil and water nature of Shuichi and Yuki's personalities, and you get many fine moments where you simply end up roaring out loud, though the situations themselves tend toward the realistic rather than the absurd.
The visual representations of Shuichi and Yuki's relationship is kept on the soft side, with nothing explicit shown, with hand holding and sweet kisses being all you actually see onscreen. The rest is suggested/mentioned, so I would not recommend this for viewing (or reading) by anyone under the age of 16. Speaking of visual representations, the art here is gorgeous. It was done digitally, but rather than CGI, we get the effect of finely hand drawn characters, preserving the feel of the manga chapters the anime follows. Lots of lovely eye candy here with large eyed bishounens (classically beautiful males), as well the smaller eyed handsome men often seen in shonen (aimed at males) manga and anime. It's a nice blend of the two styles, with the drawing style of the faces accurately tipping us viewers off as to the type of personality that character has. The use of colour is extremely well done as well. It's bright, though not garish, befitting a storyline about a colourful group of people who work in the entertainment industry.
Production values on the DVDs are also high. Presented in Dolby 5:1, it really does the musical soundtrack justice when played with a good sound system. The picture doesn't suffer badly either, with a decent compression rate so that the 13 episodes are spread over 4 single sided discs. The anime can be viewed with American voices dubbed in, and it is passable (though they sound completely wrong, especially when you hear the characters sing in the in the undubbed concert scenes), or better yet, watched in the original Japanese, with or without English subtitles switched on. Why? Because the seiyuus (Japanese voice actors who specialise in nothing but anime and cd drama voice over type work) here is a veritable who's who of giants in the field, and we get to see them really shine. Too many for me to list here, but you can find a list at http://www.seiyuu.info/extendedlisting.php?anime=Gravitation If you like to follow the work of these artists, you will undoubtedly find many names you will recognise.
Sadly, the box set on Amazon is a Region 1 release, so if you can't play multi region DVDs, you will be out of luck, but if you do a quick look around on anime specialty shops like I did, you will find an official region free box set version also available that has the original Japanese with English subtitles also available, as well as Chinese, in addition to the English dubbed track. This version is also cheaper by 50%, but lacks the liner notes and so on of the more expensive region 1 release. Fan subbed versions as usual are also available from watching online in all the usual places, including Veoh.com.
It's funny, has great dance tunes, beautiful people, and romance. What more can anyone ask for?