Three People Bound by One Voice.
- Episodes : 12
- Genre : Music, Romance, Shoujo
- Airing Date : April 2017 – June 2017
- Studios : Brain’s Base
Fukumenkei Noise Introduction and Story (Spoilers)
Arisugawa Nino is a somewhat strange and lonely girl who, after losing the childhood friends closest to her, doesn’t form any other relationships. She holds onto an old promise that her voice would bring back those precious people one day. Six years pass and one of those very people ends up at her high school. Yuzu was Nino’s only friend after her childhood love Momo suddenly moved away. Giving her the nickname ‘Alice', he composed songs for her to sing. Singing was the only way Nino thought she could breathe, and it was the only thing she had connecting her to Momo. Physically unable to sing himself, Yuzu cherished Nino’s voice as a way to finally bring his music to life. After meeting each other again after 6 years, Yuzu says he wants nothing to do with ‘Alice’ but Nino refuses to listen to anything she doesn’t like. Her unchanging stubbornness winning him over, Yuzu relents and the two make up rather easily.
This isn’t too surprising, considering Yuzu’s secret feelings for Alice haven’t changed. Yuzu even started a band, In No Hurry to Shout, with Alice in mind and composed music he wanted her to sing. Eventually, he convinces her to join as she takes upon herself the mantle of Alice. Nino's feelings are unchanging as well, and Yuzu struggles to keep his romantic desires a secret while Nino still only pines for Momo. Nino’s constant honesty about her gratitude to Yuzu for being there for her and earnest smile only serve to further pain him. While Yuzu supports Nino as her friend in her dreams to reunite with Momo, unknowingly, Momo and Yuzu become friends. Now a successful lyric writer and composer himself, the two young men bond easily, neither knowing the girl they talk about longing for is the same Nino/Alice.
Nino eventually reunites with Momo as well but he is a totally changed person. The once sweet and protective young boy is now a cold and nasty person to Nino. Unable to shake off his apparent disgust of her, Nino has to come to terms with the empty promise that kept her going all those years. When fate brings all three together, their current relationships will be tested. Each person carries with them the conviction that certain lies must be told and certain feelings kept hidden so the one they cherish can be happy. But music reveals our secrets and raw emotions, and Nino, Momo, and Yuzu’s very beings are helplessly entwined with it.
What We Liked About Fukumenkei Noise
First and foremost, the inclusion and importance of music and song sets this anime apart, especially for music lovers. Fukumenkei Noise has some incredible songs and Nino’s voice is very distinct and powerful. It’s almost like a much more serious Gravitation in terms of both romance and music being pivotal to the plot. Unlike idol anime that focus on ‘good’ or ‘popular’ songs, Fukumenkei Noise demonstrates the power of emotions that songs -no matter how simple- can convey. Something as simple as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star means as much as a complex professional song written to convey feelings for another. Instead of succeeding and being better than other musicians, finding one’s place and connecting one’s true self with another are the fervent goals of the cast.
It also does a stellar job of having the protagonist bond platonically with others in ways that give her strength. Characters aren’t only introduced as romantic rivals or used as stepping stones to some goal and then disappear. Miou is a great character that goes from being essentially replaced as In No Hurry's vocalist and enemy of Nino, to channeling her determination and unrequited love to push herself to greater heights in a different band and ends up fixing her own shortcomings instead of blaming those around her. Though she hadn’t cared to make any new friends while waiting for the ones she lost, Nino eventually bonds with everyone in the band. Instead of using them simply for her voice to reach Momo’s ears, she comes to identify with her role as Alice and learns to sing not for Momo, but for herself and her new and oldest friends.
Probably one of the more powerful scenes is where Nino has determined to make Momo recognize her and her band, not as his childhood friend, but as worthy rivals. He has been nothing but cruel to her when everything she has done has been to reunite with him. She has realized how much more powerful her song became when she learned to sing WITH In No Hurry as a member, not as a solo artist with a support band. It is only after she learns to grow beyond what her love for Momo has given her that he shows a softer more caring side before telling her farewell, which greatly shakes her resolve. For a moment, she ponders forsaking the concert she and the others worked so hard for to chase after Momo as she’s done for years. It is not love for another that sways her, or even her unwillingness to forgive Momo, who up until this moment has just been cruel to her. Instead, it's her dedication to her friends and her own burning desire to honestly convey her feelings through song.
Fukumenkei Noise is a gift for those who take music seriously and feel particularly emotional about music. Certainly, other shows exist where music is important or is someone's livelihood, and even show instances where people have trouble doing as well when they are sad. What makes Fukumenkei Noise resonate so well is how prominently it shows music as a coping mechanism. It’s not always beautiful or performed well, and it’s even a little weird sometimes. Sometimes it’s screaming out a song that holds precious memories. Sometimes it’s coming up with silly, angry lyrics to help release pent up emotions. Some of the more intimate moments are when one character sings for another who’s beside themselves, even if there are no words. Just the act of singing for another carries weight.
Obviously, this means this show may not be for those who don't much care for music outside of something fun to listen to. There's a good bit of drama as well, so for people wanting to just have a good, fun time, it may not be ideal. Below we will discuss the pros and cons.
1. The Music!
As if I hadn’t said it enough, the way music is used to further the plot and bring people together is nearly magical. The special way it opens up characters to the feelings they’d rather keep hidden or aids in conveying emotions they so earnestly wish to express helps those passionate about music to be pulled into the story. This isn't just about creating songs good enough to perform, this is the power of music to bind people together and understand each other on a deeper level. Our three main characters have dealt with some tragic pasts, and each of them pours themselves into music as an escape from pain and uncertainty. Plus, the songs from In No Hurry to Shout are just really good if you like rock! The technicality in Nino’s singing is also subtle but apparent. Her emotions affect her singing in different ways that require one with an attentive ear to really pick up on, thus making it more realistic and immersive. Those that perform know well how a simple change can leave a big impact and how important it is to find the right balance of control and expression.
2. Not Your Average Girl
Arisugawa Nino is such an interesting character that resembles obvious tropes but steers clear of them. She’s incredibly honest to a fault and remains aloof most of the time. It’s not always easy to tell when she’s joking or if she thinks certain things are totally appropriate even when they aren’t. She’s hard to read but not because she’s hiding things. She’s entirely devoted to Momo, yet she easily shows great concern and affection for Yuzu as her friend, which she doesn’t show to anyone else; even when she makes new friends. She’s strangely confident and shameless doing what she wants, even if that’s singing in front of strangers or classmates. She’s incredibly focused on working towards her goals, not just pining away hoping something works out. She’s also pretty bad at listening to others which is sometimes used as a joke and other times to show the power of music to resonate with her when words alone can’t.
3. Love is not the Answer
One of my favorite things about this show is how it is unlike many other shoujo anime where the girl makes choices either out of love or hate for a romantic interest. Usually, she spends a good amount of time either being bashful around any cute boy that looks at her or she's so focused on one guy that she snubs or ignores other well-intentioned boys. Nino’s unwavering feelings for Momo are what drives the story, but she learns that she can love and treasure their memories together while still finding new important reasons to sing.
Why You Should Skip Fukumenkei Noise
1. The Second-Hand Embarrassment!
Now, if you are not the type of person to run home after a horrible day, jump in the shower, and sing your heart out to whatever melancholic song is in your head, this may not be a show you’d enjoy. There’s no comedy whatsoever in how important songs are to these students. Even when Nino goes to a prestigious audition in order to meet Momo, she chooses to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in a very immature way as she did when they were kids. You might be wondering why singing a better song in a more mature fashion wouldn’t be good enough at getting Momo’s attention, but there’s lots of Nino caring very little for the stares and whispers around her throughout the show.
2. Animation Quality
While most of the time the animation is pretty good, the 3D CG concert animations are not. It’s unfortunate that performances are usually pivotal points of Nino’s attempt to get back the one she loved and lost all those years ago and suddenly you’re distracted by noodle arms and hair. It doesn’t get any better, and as more and more concerts happen you get distracted because now you’re looking for every out-of-place animation and it takes away from the seriousness of the moment.
3. I Just Want to Slap You!!
This may not be a big setback for many, but Momo’s character is infuriating at times, especially compared to the honest, head-strong Nino and the resolved Yuzu. Momo lashes out to keep Nino and Yuzu at bay despite wanting to be close to them. He decides for some reason that his pride is more important that hurting those that care about him because his mommy sucks. But Yuzu’s mom is terrible too and you don’t see him yelling at people and then lovingly touching their face while they sleep. One moment he tells Nino she’s not worth his time and then the next day says something that messes with her mind. It’s a shame he feels trapped in his situation and he does care for Nino, but it’s hard to feel sympathy for a guy who goes so far to be a jerk when Nino just wants to be there for him.
Thus concludes our review of Fukumenkei Noise! As someone who tends to feel a strong emotional connection with music, this is an easy recommendation for me. Recognizing it may not appeal to everyone, especially those who aren’t fans of more serious anime over a perceived whimsical topic, the characters are fresh and ambitious.
The fact that different relationships are explored between secondary characters helps breath more life into the story. Fukumenkei Noise manages to stay away from the tragic, pining ‘good guy’ character who considers their friendship with the protagonist painful instead of fulfilling, though not ideal. Nino, Yuzu, and Momo sometimes waver in their resolve, but ultimately they find the answer they were looking for, encouraged by the melodies that shape their lives.