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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. 🙂 )