Hiatari Ryoukou: an underrated masterpiece

I first heard of Hiatari Ryoukou! back in 2006. I had just ended my first year in university, and its first few episodes were released by MJN. I had never heard of Mitsuru Adachi before, but I read its synopsis and was impressed by that enough to try its first few episodes.

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Despite its dated animation (it was originally aired last 1987), I was hooked. I was hooked because the series relied on crisp characterization and sparkling dialogue to make up for its characters’ lack of facial expressions. I liked the frank and upfront nature of its main characters, and I absolutely loved the subtlety in their dialogue. Sadly, MJN subbed only up to the eighth episode.

I never forgot about Hiatari Ryoukou, however. I had been much impressed with its first eight episodes that I looked up Mitsuru Adachi and religiously watched his anime series (except H2, because I heard it was bad). Touch was good, while Cross Game is one of my favorites. I kept on waiting, however, for future Hiatari Ryoukou releases.

I recently resumed my anime watching after I did away with my review and board exams. To my surprise, I discovered that HR had been subbed by ray=out until the 24th episode! I started from the first episode (having last watched the series back in 2006), and I grew to appreciate the series even more. The dialogue between the different characters was absolutely scintillating in its subtlety and suggestion – and that’s just from the first twelve episodes.

Though people are more familiar with Adachi’s later works (except Touch, which had preceded this series), there is a reason why the few who have watched this series feel strongly positive about it. In contrast to his other series that I’ve seen, this has less focus on the sport baseball. This series places more emphasis on its characters’ interactions, and that is why one should watch this with proper focus. Adachi masterfully illustrates and presents to us the slow conversion of Kishimoto Kasumi toward the charms of the equally confident and equally cheeky Takasugi Yuusaku.

And unlike more modern series, its major characters aren’t evil. They are determined to win the person they love, but they are upfront and frank with regard to their actions. For example, Keiko, a character besotted with Yuusaku, reminds the protagonists that Kasumi has a boyfriend whenever the two of them would seem to cross the line. Yet she does this matter-of-factly and without malice. Yuusaku, who is also interested in Kasumi, tries his best to take care of her but never crosses the line: in one episode, he even offered to take Kasumi’s pictures to send to her boyfriend.

I like this series because it is a throwback to the time when love was not adulterated, and when competition between prospective lovers wasn’t a vipers’ tangle. The main characters are sincere with their feelings, and show their love in their own special ways, but never undermine the emotions of others. That’s why I pray that more people should watch it.

It is that good.

(Also, please support ray=out! They’re currently searching for competent QC staff to help finish the series. They also accept donations. 🙂 )

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3 Responses to “Hiatari Ryoukou: an underrated masterpiece”

  1. miharusshi Says:

    My first exposure to a Mitsuru Adachi work was Touch. It’s hailed as a baseball classic, and is still treasured by its Japanese and overseas fanbase. I enjoyed it to some extent, but its slow pacing almost killed me to boredom. But something like that is rarely seen nowadays. I think I see why people like it even today, even though I did not love it that much.

    My second exposure was Q&A, which was kinda forgettable. Let’s skip that.

    My third, and probably the most pleasant Mitsuru Adachi title for me so far, was KATSU! It was a boxing-themed slice of life and romance. I really loved it.

    With these three works, I could say that Adachi is a master of subtlety. But the drawback, I guess, is how almost every heroine has the same personality. And Adachi has this obsession with laid-back protagonists. Lol. Anyway, it was really refreshing that his stories seemed so simple and yet had enough charm to pull me in.

  2. Michael Says:

    miharusshi:

    Thanks for this comment!

    I absolutely loved HR back when it was first subbed in 2006. I lost hope when it was no longer subbed after three years, but was grateful because there was Cross Game. I enjoyed Cross Game a lot.

    Touch, to me, was good, but it wasn’t as good as Cross Game. I had the same qualms with the series: it was too focused on baseball, and it was also too slow (even for me who had series similar to that as a staple).

    I’ll try to look into KATSU. Thanks for that recommendation. I’m not sure whether that has an anime, however.

    I think that the heroine is among the aspects that make HR distinct: she is indeed quite lively, but she’s a lot cheekier than Riku and Minami. The latter are more the ‘yamato nadeshiko’ types, while Kasumi is simply different. Then again I haven’t watched both Touch and Cross Game for a long time, so I may be wrong.

  3. miharusshi Says:

    Right. I forgot to mention that I read the manga of Q&A and KATSU! I would love to see an anime adaptation of KATSU! (because it looks like every single Adachi anime is baseball-themed), but it might suffer from comparisons with Hajime no Ippo, which I also highly regard.

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