16 Jan 2008
Suzuka is a love story concerning one fresh-faced student (Yamato) and the girl-of-his-dreams, not to mention up and coming high jump star, the titular Suzuka. Following the trials and tribulations of this student-come-cleaner forms the focus of this series, which stands out in an unusual way - by being ordinary.
So, no espers, vampires, cyborgs or witches, just a story about a guy who meets a girl who barely knows he exists. And it's all the more splendid for it.
That's not to say that Suzuka is anime of the year, but it's honest storytelling, firmly fixed in the realms of the real-world, is a great relief for all of us tired out from too much wackiness.
But that doesn't make Suzuka dull. Sure, it takes a while to get going, but by volume 2 things are in full swing and the growing cast of characters is established well enough to make you care about what happens, and who it happens to. The same can't be said of Peach Girl, which tried the same forumula but fell on its face when it came to plotting and characterisation.
Suzuka's writing team have managed to find the right balance between gentle humour and slapstick, which makes Suzuka ideal for the older anime fan who doesn't need speed-lines and over the top mugging to the camera to get the subtleties of a joke. When the series does do slapstick, it's timed well enough to work, and like School Rumble, the English vocal cast perform well enough to make it funny for those who don't want subtitles.
So far as these opening volumes go, Suzuka makes the case for a worthy purchase. It's not going to stand out on the shelf, and it's not going to be adopted by hordes of cosplayers as the next big thing, but it's a mature and balanced anime, and for the UK that's a rarity.