Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Rec

Original Run: February 3, 2006 - March 31, 2006
Number of Episodes: 9
Genre: Romance
Based on the Series Created By: Q-tarou Hanaizawa

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Rec. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Fumihiko Matsumaru (voiced by Makoto Yasumura) is a bit down on his luck. He is struggling at work, and the girl he asked out has stood him up. At one of his lowest moments, someone unexpected comes into Fumihiko’s life.

Aka Onda (voiced by Kanako Sakai) is an up-and-coming voice actress, and she comes across a brooding Fumihiko. The two enjoy a spur-of-the-moment date and go their separate ways. Although the two never expected to see each other again, fate had other plans.

That night, Aka’s apartment building burns to the ground, and she loses everything. Learning of the situation, Fumihiko offers up his home. And just like that, the spark of romance is unknowingly lit.

Series Positives

To start, Rec does show its age. There were moments in this show that I have trouble believing would fly today. Nothing was drastic or unredeemable, but there was a grey zone. We will discuss further details later; I just wanted to be upfront before saying this next thing.

When people discuss contenders for the best romance anime ever, Rec, for some reason, tends to get overlooked. Why? This series is an incredibly charming love story and one that’s well worth its short run time.

Unlike other romances that play the destined-by-fate card, Rec doesn’t shove it in your face. There were no flowers or songbirds or grand gestures of intimacy. Aka Onda and Fumihiko Matsumaru were simply two adults who found themselves in a unique (but not at all fantastical) situation. The two felt real; you could believe they were a couple in the making.

The events that brought Aka and Fumihiko together were not big or flashy. Instead, they were subdued and (from an outside perspective) small. The two grew close through off-handed words of encouragement. One would lend their support to curb the other’s anxiety. A friendly “Welcome home” at the end of the day was what both of them looked forward to the most.

Have you ever had something come into your life – a significant other, a pet, a really good chair, etc. – and instantly, you forget how you had lived without that thing? Essentially, that was Aka and Fumihiko’s relationship. They were natural for one another, and their once-independent lives became a distant memory.

Now, that doesn’t mean there were no issues between them. On the contrary, it was when Aka and Fumihiko butted head that Rec was at its best. This series worked as a love story because its conflicts weren’t born from misunderstandings, romantic jealousy, or eye-rolling teenage drama. This show tapped into real-life stress. Fumihiko was particularly relatable.

Everyone has had one of those days when absolutely nothing goes right. Work is rough; you’ve forgotten your umbrella during a rainstorm; plans you were excited for fell through at the last minute, things are a mess. To top it off, someone else is riding high (be it well-earned or otherwise). That’s when, even though you know it’s unfair, the bitterness sets in. With everything piled up and at the breaking point, in comes a completely innocent friend or loved one with just the tiniest misspeak. And then the dam breaks.

That was Fumihiko; I remember a fantastic scene when a billion different things dumped on him at once. With no other outlet, he tended to turn his anger towards an undeserving Aka. Although this didn’t make him look good, I can’t say it made Fumihiko into an unlikeable jerk. After all – granted, I can only speak for myself – haven’t we all been there?

Of course, if Rec had left it at that, then this review would have gone in a different direction. By the end of the show, Fumihiko did everything he could to admit he was the one at fault; Aka had no share of the blame.

On the flip side, Aka’s part in this relationship was also understandable.

So we are clear, Aka never did anything wrong. She was pursuing her career, and through her hard work, she saw things take off. Aka did exactly what she said she wanted to; her intentions could not have been more precise. Nevertheless – and I know I have fallen into this hole – Aka couldn’t help feel guilty about her success when she knew someone she cared for (Fumihiko) was struggling.

Still, Aka was not one of those characters who were quick to give an unneeded apology. She was not the cause of Fumihiko’s stress, so she never said “sorry.” Also, she didn’t let Fumihiko guilt trip her (though that was something he never tried). There is a difference between feeling unwarranted guilt and giving unnecessary pardon, and Aka never mistook one for the other.

In a short span of time, Rec established two characters and a relationship between them that felt like the real deal. Honeymoon romances do happen, but any partnership that’s expected to last will eventually go through rough patches. Assuming both parties are equal (and they see each other as equals), healthy couples are the ones who discuss and own up to their mistakes when they make them.

By the end of this series, Aka and Fumihiko found themselves at the beginning of that path.

Series Negatives

Fumihiko was quite pushy with his advances towards Aka. This is the part that has not aged well.

To set the scene: The night Aka loses her home to a fire and spends the night at Fumihiko, the two have sex. Was their love or any kind of meaning behind it? No, it was just spur of the moment. Afterward, Aka told Fumihiko that despite sleeping together ONCE, that did not make them a thing. That should have been the end of the conversation.

Although Fumihiko always stopped when Aka said, “No,” he never failed to miss an “opportunity” to get closer.

This did not sit well with me. Fumihiko, for a while, seemed to think he was constantly on the verge of sealing the deal with Aka. Regardless if she was on the fence, Aka only said “Yes,” (SPOILER) to becoming boyfriend and girlfriend at the end of the series.

It was nice that Fumihiko never demanded anything from Aka. After all, he was the one who offered her a place to sleep. The two were living together, but they weren’t together, and it took Fumihiko a bit too long to realize what that meant.

Again, that’s why I liked Aka. She stood her ground and never caved in when Fumihiko went into one of his fallacious temper tantrums. (I had to look up the word “fallacious;” it means Fumhiko could be a whiny baby).

Final Thoughts

If you have a free night and want a down-to-earth romance story to watch, boy, do I have just the thing for you.

Although its age is starting to catch up, this series holds up incredibly well.

With two characters, relatable conflicts, and a satisfying ending, this show hits all the right notes you can expect from a top-tier love tale.

With that, Rec has earned a recommendation.

But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Rec? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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