Suzuka combines teen angst with high jumping to create… Well, a teen high jumping angst anime. The first of its kind, as far as I know.
It’s the eve of his first day as the new kid in class at the big city high school, when Yamato finds himself smitten with the local rising star of track and field. Any doubts he’ll ever catch another glimpse of such beauty are promptly squashed when she shows up at his aunt’s boarding and bathhouse… As are his hopes of impressing the driven hottie! Two people could not be more different!
And as Suzuka remains completely uninspired by Yamato’s cheerfully irresponsible nature, things progress from bad to worse with record-breaking speed. Throw in the antics of a handful of high school stereotypes, and the kid’s completely out of his league! Love may not be a spectator sport, but Yamato’s sitting things out on the sideline.
I watched the fansubs of Suzuka quite some time ago, and it’s one of the few anime series that I’ve actually completed! It’s been so long ago, actually, that watching the DVD seemed like an almost new experience. Except that I know what happens in the end.
As far as anime go, Suzuka is average at best. This is one of my “guilty pleasure” anime that I’m sort of embarrassed to admit that I like. I guess I should go more into why I like it, despite the fact that I think it’s merely average.
The plot really isn’t that original. It’s your typical love triangle between Yamato, Suzuka and Honoka. I’ve mentioned how high school angsty romance anime bore me, but Suzuka is different. I think it’s just that I really like the characters. By characters, I’m referring mostly to Honoka.
If you look at the title of the anime, though, it’s Suzuka. Not Yamato, and not Honoka, so it’s pretty clear who’s going to “win” at the end. Though the story is told from the viewpoint of Yamato, it’s about Suzuka all the way.
But Suzuka is a psychopathic bitch! I really don’t like her much, even knowing what’s gone on in her past. Honoka is much more well-adjusted. And that, I think, is why I still like watching the anime, despite its shortcomings. Honoka is so awesome that I want to root for her to win, even though she’s obviously going to get the axe (metaphorically speaking, of course). I mean, nothing against Suzuka (her ahoge is pretty cute, too) but I vote for Honoka all the way! If you have a choice between hot psychopath and hot normal girl, who would you choose? Stupid Yamato…
Character Designs and Art:
Another thing that Suzuka actually has going for it are the character designs. I really like the uniforms that the girls at the school wear. Honoka is super cute, Suzuka is alright (she has big ears), Yamato’s Aunt is hot, and the female college comic relief characters are uber hot, too. Character designer, I salute you!
It’s too bad that the animation quality is really good in the first episode, but starts tanking around the third. These characters look too good for you to draw badly!
The Actual DVD:
I got the normal version of the DVD. Apparently there’s a collector’s edition that comes with an art box (whoopty doo!). This particular DVD has a reversible cover like a lot of Geneon’s. I actually prefer the original one though (of sweaty sitting Suzuka).
As far as extras go, there’s an “Aoba High School Year Book” which is a fancy way of saying “lame art gallery.” There’s also textless OP and ED. I found out by accident that they actually re-recorded the OP and ED in English! Most of the time companies just leave it in Japanese. While I commend their efforts, the result sounds like something I’d record in my room. Also, I really loved the original version of Start Line, since it totally sounds like an 80’s song. It’s probably another reason I stayed with this anime.
One more thing I’ll mention is that the subtitled translations seem a bit off. In the episode previews for episode 2 (I think) Suzuka says she made a honey and lemon drink for Yamato, without the honey. But the subs say “without the lemon.” Then Yamato says “sour!” It’s pretty easy to see the mistake by context, so I’m pretty disappointed in the translation. In another part they translate the bathouse as being “Asahina Bath” when I think it should be “Asahi Bath.” I’m not 100% sure on this one, but I think they wrote Asahina since that’s Suzuka’s name…
Suzuka is a pretty standard high school love triangle story. What sets it apart for me is the characters. Or rather, the hot characters. Maybe if enough people believe in Honoka, they’ll animate the Honoka path! Oh, Suzuka isn’t a Ren’ai game is it… Suzuka isn’t for everyone, but it’s my guilty pleasure anime of choice!