Haruchika revolves around two main characters (in case you haven’t guessed from the title, their names are nonetheless Haruta and Chika), that are part of the Brass Band Club. Not only are Haruta and Chika trying to do their best for this club, and thus, attempting to get more members, they are also solving mysteries going around the school that, very conveniently, involve introducing new characters that play an instrument (and with every solved mystery, it often results in gaining a new member for the band club). While this seems like Haruchika is technically killing two birds with one stone, in the actual execution of it, it is anything but that.
In essence, the series combines elements of slice of life, mystery, school, and some bits of music. What could go wrong? The first few episodes introduces us the main characters, Haruta and Chika. From first glance, their relationship is off to a rocky start but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A mystery emerges and the club members decides to solve it. It shouldn’t take long to realize that Haruta is the brain of the group as he makes key analogies, references, and using clues for analysis. While having an intellectual mind, Haruta is a character that I’d describe as obnoxious with a dry sense of humor. Despite having some good intentions, his personality is portrayed often as rude either intentionally or unintentionally (I personally find it difficult to tell at times). Regardless, when you have a main male protagonist with a role like that, it’s really hard to feel attached to them. And furthermore, his relationships with others isn’t particular memorable either. This brings in Chika, the main girl of the show. Yes, she makes a bold attempt to change herself by trying to be “girly”. What does she become more instead? More annoying than she should be. At many stages of the show, it feels like she’s trying to become someone she’s not. It goes against being expressing her personality with honesty or being natural. Instead, Chika often behaves like a kid with lack of direction or purpose. She is quite friendly though, a trait that seems to be the opposite of Haruta. But when you mix these two together, it’s really hard to embrace their relationship as something special.
Also, on a side note, I’d like to point out that I did not mention Haruchika as having romance (unless you count a silly crush), and, despite the perfectly sounding ship name of “Haruchika”, if you are planning to watch this solely because it seems like a romance of the two main characters, don’t bother as Haruta has more interest in himself talking than dating Chika. (You will soon realize why in the first episode). Anyways, continuing on: there is no effort to include the music genre, and instead, it is used as this loophole that gives the anime reason to lack depth in the mysteries; each mystery revolves around a problem of a person, and this person happens to be affiliated with a musical instrument, so the end result of obtaining said person to be in the band is more important than the actual mystery. But despite all that, the band rarely performs in the anime. The mysteries don’t make up for this lack of music, either. Due to Haruta being the all-knowing Sherlock with no equal, he usually solves all the mysteries. The mystery of the episode DO gives us some sort of clue to clue us in, however there are some mysteries that go into the realms of “prior knowledge only Haruta knew” to solve it, with that although many of the mysteries are indeed interesting and moves the plot forward the mystery is overall decent for this fusion genred anime.
That being said, the show isn’t necessarily bad but just uninteresting. If you focus on the story, each episode seems to be a standalone that focuses on some message, theme, or moral. While it still connects to the main premise, there’s less emphasis on the main purpose of the show (if it has or needs one). In other words, the show gives us less and less reason of why we should continue to watch it. Is it for the characters? The mystery cases? Or even the music? The comedy of the show isn’t well done as some jokes comes out as dry humor. In retrospect, the show doesn’t do well for attracting attention or make us feel like there’s something to write home about.
Speaking of attractiveness, P.A. Works’ technical work took a step backwards. The character designs are lacking especially from this studio. While I was not expecting something glamorous, the outline of the designs just feels awkward. Plus, those exotic eyebrows are distracting and facial expressions looks cartoony. On the other hand, it’s interesting to see the show attempt at an avant-gante style to express cases. From moving lyrical notes to clever usage of coloring, the show makes the cases stand out as peculiarly attractive.
Music and soundtrack go hand and hand for this show. In other words, it has to coordinate well with each episode’s mood and delivery. This has been done well in most cases especially during eerie moments at the apex of a mystery. Other times, it’s lighthearted to portray the easy life style of a school setting. In retrospect, it’s done pretty well in that respect. The character voice mannerism for Haruta and Chika is somewhat difficult to get accustomed to. I guess it really depends on how you perceive their characters and personalities. But on the surface, Haruta and Chika sounds exactly what they are like – high school students who aren’t sure what to do with their time.
For a show like Haruchika, it’s probably a show that you’ll really have to enjoy watching to appreciate it. Otherwise, it’s pretty dry in storytelling, characters, and overall delivery. And despite being P.A. Works helming the series, the technical visual quality isn’t very impressive. Mystery context is rather predictable and most times isn’t attractive either.