Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: RightStuf!/Nozomi Entertainment
MSRP: $59.99 US
Running Time: 385 minutes
Release Date: Available Now
Who said love stories have to be traditional anyway?
While I’m not a huge fan of yaoi or boys’ love anime, I was tempted to give The Complete Collection of Gravitation a try just because word of mouth from the other girls in this office were positive. As it turns out, I not only enjoyed Gravitation but it opened my mind enough to give other series like it a try. Sure, the genre might not be for everyone but give it a chance and you might realize that love stories this entertaining shouldn’t be missed even if the romance is between two men.
Gravitation, you will quickly find out, is not only entertaining but genuinely funny and likeable … like a good shoujo story. It centers on Shuichi Shindo, a young musician who is the lead vocalist and songwriter for a band called Bad Luck that he shares with his hunky guitarist friend named Hiro. They even have a contract, a skittish manager named Mister Sakano and even a big name producer like Touma Seguichi. Unfortunately, Shuichi has writer’s block in a time when a new song is needed right away.
Hiro’s suggestion is to get a girlfriend but ,on the night he decides to head home via the local park, a lyrics sheet is carried by the gust and into the hands of a mysteriously handsome older blonde man. He tells Shuichi that his lyrics are awful and that he has no talent. Shuichi is haunted by the man’s words and he can’t forget the guy for reasons he can’t fully explain until he runs into him again. As it turn out, the mystery man is Eiri Yuki, a renowned novelist who uses Shuichi to brush a beautiful woman off and when Shuichi protests it is Eiri who kisses him!
So begins an unlikely romance between a young rocker and an older man who is a mystery to Shuichi. Strangely enough, this romance inspires Shuichi who sings with more emotion and is fired up for an upcoming concert where they will be opening for another band produced by Seguichi. Unfortunately, this brief burst of happiness is burst by the woman Eiri brushed off who reveals herself to be Mika, Eiri’s sister and the wife of producer Seguichi. This, of course, cheeses off Eiri who acts coldly towards the younger man is falling in love with him.
However, Eiri does make a realization that Shuichi isn’t like anyone he has ever dated before and – for a guy – he actually finds the young rocker cute. Eiri even shows up at the Bad Luck concert where Shuichi is stunned to the point that he doesn’t start singing until one of Shuichi’s favorite musicians, the talented but odd Ryuichi, comes to his rescue.
In the course of their on-again-off-again romance, Shuichi’s band starts getting plenty of recognition from the public to the point that Bad Luck is looking to surpass ASK – the band they opened for during the concert. They add a new member, Suguru Fujisaki, who plays the keyboard and synthesizer as the band starts getting gigs of their own. They even appear on a quiz show that elevates their fame as well as gains a new manager … a crazy gun-loving man named Mister K.
More importantly, however, is that the media also catches word that Shuichi and Eiri are not only dating but living with each another. Well, living together in a way that Eiri simply ignores the young man who wants to share everything with him and demands to know more about him. Constantly annoyed with Shuichi, Eiri is a conflicted man who will admit to the media that he and Shuichi are lovers but then act coldly towards him as well. This is the very definition of an emotional rollercoaster.
Despite all of this, however, Shuichi loves Eiri and will not give up on their relationship even when the older man tries hard to push him away. Many obstacles do get in their way such as Ayaka, a young girl who was once arranged to marry Eiri until the writer expressed no interest in doing so and then there’s Aizawa (the lead singer of ASK) who physically attacks Shuichi and tries to blackmail Eiri about going public with the writer’s violent past.
The true test of their relationship, however, comes towards the end of the series when Shuichi discovers Eiri’s mysterious past and an incident that haunts the man. When Eiri disappears, it is Shuichi who will go at great lengths to find him and tell him the truth about his feelings. Personally, the ending isn’t good as expected but it’s hard to complain when the rest of the story is just so much fun to watch.
As far as this series is concerned, it doesn’t take the love scenes too far so kissing is all we really get to see. The series also has a great sense of humor and the characters are developed well enough that you’ll have more than one favorite. On top of that, the music is great in this series and I’m not just talking about the closing theme song (“Glaring Dream” from Mad Soldiers is awesome). My only complaint is Shuichi sings the same great song throughout the series. At least the OVA episodes have Bad Luck performing different songs.
Speaking of the OVA, the set comes with Gravitation: Lyrics of Love. It’s basically two OVA episodes that make up one story. The story revolves around an upcoming music festival that will feature Bad Luck as well as other familiar bands such as the newly formed Nittle Grasper that features Bad Luck’s former producer, Seguchi. Shuichi isn’t in the mood to sing since Eiri is acting really cold towards him. Then, Shuichi makes an interesting discovery.
The Complete Collection of Gravitation took me by surprise in the most pleasant of ways. I expected many things but what I didn’t expect was to have a good time, which this series will show you if you give it a chance and – thanks to the charming characters, good music and cute humor – you might even come to like it enough to make a fan out of you. Compared to other series like it, Gravitation never really forces boys’ love down your throat but rather gradually eases you into realizing that this is a love story pure and simple. It’s also pretty darn fun to boot.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Shuichi and Hiro are a rock duo who finally have producer and manager support but, when he’s asked to write new lyrics, Shuichi just isn’t inspired to do so until he meets a hot stranger who criticizes his work. Shuichi finds out that the guy is a famous novelist named Eiri who he develops strong feeling for until they become romantically involved. Could a young rocker and an older novelist make it work or will public pressure destroy them both?
VIDEO QUALITY: B+
The series episodes look good on DVD so this is the best way to watch this series. The OVA episodes don’t look as good as the series, though. Visually, there are plenty of sight gags and the romantic stuff is reserved more towards kissing.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The original Japanese voices will rock you – literally – so you definitely have to see this in its original Japanese format. However, the English dub voices do a great job thanks to the likes of Rich McNanna (Shuichi) and Rome Elliot (Eiri). The music is amazing but a big part of me wishes that they didn’t recycle Bad Luck’s hit repeatedly throughout the series. At least the OVA kind of makes up for this with new songs.
Each disc comes loaded with extras that range from very helpful and fun liner notes to character profiles and trailers. There are even art galleries, clean opening and closing theme songs and a neat manga-to-anime comparison extra. The best extra, however, comes in the form of the Gravitation: Lyrics of Love disc that comes complete with two OVA episodes. RightStuf!Nozomi certainly knows how to add extras.
If you keep an open mind and give this series a chance, Gravitation will pull you into its amusing, likeable and even endearing story. Yes, the main love story involves two men but it never gets graphic and it never really distracts from the main story about a up-and-coming rock star and a novelist that meet in a time when both need somebody to lean on.
Review copy provided by RightStuf!/Nozomi Entertainment