The Last Song
Bad Luck takes its final bows as the curtain closes on the beloved band.
In July 2005, America will bid its final farewell to the beloved series Gravitation, with the release of the twelfth volume of the manga and the one-volume anime OVA. Fans will breathe a collective sigh and move on to new things, but they will never forget the warmth and vitality that made Gravitation so well received.
Shindou Shuichi, a young man out to become a rock star, becomes plagued by doubts after star novelist Yuki Eiri dismisses his lyrics as a passing dream. The meaning behind the title of this series becomes clear early on: Shuichi is drawn to Yuki by a strong force akin to gravity, as love is a word too common in music and writing to properly describe their relationship. Thus ensues one of the most unusual and enigmatic series in anime and manga history.
Although there are differences between the two mediums of anime and manga, it is safe to say that the beauty of the series can be found in both. Shuichi is the lead singer and lyricist for Bad Luck, a band made of himself and his best friend, Nakano Hiroshi. When his confrontation with Yuki puts him in a depressed mood, Shuichi hunts down the famed author. To his surprise, the encounter doesn't push away his doubts or his feelings. Instead, the young man finds himself falling in love with Yuki. The distant chain-smoking romance author with a string of ex-girlfriends has many secrets in his mysterious past, and Shuichi is warned multiple times that he simply does not know enough about Yuki. It seems that Yuki doesn't return Shuichi's feelings, or is he merely trying to play the noble martyr?
One of the things that Yuki finds irritable in Shuichi is his love and admiration for his favorite band, Nittle Grasper, especially his idolization of its lead singer, Sakuma Ryuichi. When Bad Luck gets signed at NG Records, headed by Nittle Grasper keyboardist Seguchi Tohma, and given the chance to work with another Nittle Grasper artist, Shuichi goes crazy. It's a dream come true for the band, and it marks the beginning of another set of bizarre character relationships.
The twisted tales of love and relationships in flux is the driving force for Gravitation, with the give and take relationship between Yuki and Shuichi at the middle. During the past few years, shonen-ai has become popular in America, and Gravitation has helped to path the road for others.
The series provides a handful of humor, sentimentality, wackiness and good times. A favorite character amongst many is the ever-present manager of Bad Luck, simply known as K. This gun-totting, hotshot American packs a punch and then some. His former boss back in America is just as weird. Flying across the world in a giant panda robot, "Rage", as she is known, follows her main squeeze to Japan and replaces K as Bad Luck's manager. She is smitten with Shuichi and would do anything to be near him.
Many changes take place in the band. Not only does the manager change, but the keyboardist as well. Original keyboardist Ukai Noriko leaves the band to go back to work with Nittle Grasper. What? Yep, Nittle Grasper reforms and challenges Bad Luck for the top of the charts, and the media falls in love with all this back and forth banter. As interest in Shuichi and Yuki as professionals in their respective industries soars, so does the interest in their relationship, which creates pressures of their own on the characters.
It seems as though every character is connected to another character. Yuki's sister is married to Seguchi Tohma, Shuichi's boss and rival as a musician. Hiroshi engages in a relationship with Eiri's childhood fiancée. K is married to a famous actress, and he has a son that Shuichi's sister meets. Noriko is married to an old man who happens to be a famous chef, and he gets Bad Luck on a cooking show, one of many trials for the band as they work their way to the top of the charts.
It's amazing to see what Maki Murakami has done with her visuals and her plots. It's entertaining just watching the panel designs switch from gorgeous works of art to becoming deformed and childlike. Murakami's first work, The Tragedy of a Narcissist was published in 1995 in Kimito Boku. Without a doubt, Gravitation is the manga that made her a star. She also works on Gravitation Remixes, which is a mature doujinshi that follows further the relationship between Shuichi and Yuki.
The feelings of overwhelming sadness and zealous joy within Gravitation bring a touch of reality into the unreal world of idol group. Even though they are so outrageous at times, the characters strike a sympathetic chord with fans. It pays to be Maki Murakami these days, because the anime and manga aren't the only methods of fixing your addiction. With a slew of merchandise, from T-shirts to Kumagoro plushies to CDs, Gravitation becomes even more accessible and mainstream for fans.
It's still up in the air whether Yuki and Shuichi will stay together, but fans that have been anxiously awaiting the end will find out soon. Hopefully, they won't be disappointed. It will be sad to let them go, but will be wonderful to see what happens to the group and to see what the OVA has in store for fans.