Gravitation: Volume 2: Stars on the Rise

**post by nichan**

I decided that since I’d watched the first disc of Gravitation in English, I’d take a go at it with the second disc. So here’s my opinion on the voice acting so far: There are, certainly, voices; this isn’t a silent series or anything. The problem is, however, that there is no acting. It’s… pretty blase and awful. It sounds like they’re phoning it in while waiting for their nails to dry.

On the other hand, the one thing I am noticing is that I like the English dialogue better than the English subtitles. If you’re willing to ignore the lack of acting in the voice acting department, and just focus on the words, the story tends to make more sense. Sometimes it even packs more of a punch. It’s kinda weird.

But, anyway! This is Volume 2: “Stars on the Rise”!

Track 4 : “Wave Shock”

Shuichi has decided to go all in with his budding relationship with Eiri, thus setting off a wild jump in the timeline: He’s going to move in. Heck, he’s going to move in whether or not Eiri asks. He’s going to move in whether or not Eiri even approves. Shuichi’s a man on a mission, and that mission is, well… You kinda get the idea, I think.

Eiri drives a point home.

So Shuichi arrives one day with all of his stuff and sets about putting it here and there. Once Eiri catches on to the plot, he boots Shuichi out on his butt, only for our pink haired hero to come bursting back in to make his plea. …As you can see, he kind of wins, if by “wins” you mean “gets his face smashed into the floor.”

Let me take a moment here to explain why it took Eiri a few minutes to figure out what Shuichi was up to – well, besides the fact that anybody would probably be floored if some kid just haphazardly showed up and started moving in without explaining. (Though, I think this is the premise of many a webcomic, eh?) Eiri’s, um… Eiri’s a bit of an alcoholic. They never really bluntly address it, but it appears that the first thing he does upon waking up is to pop open a can of beer and a pack of cigarettes. He comes across as emotionally distant, the only words that tend to escape his lips are insults, he never leaves the house, there’s no furniture in his living room, and I’ve always just assumed he reeks of smoke and booze. …I’m not exactly sure why I like him so much, but geeze is he somehow, quite inexplicably, bloody well awesome.

Anyway, though! Shuichi pushes his way through the door twice, tackles Eiri to the ground, and makes his case: He just really, really, really wants to be near Eiri, who seems somewhat taken aback to the point that he eventually relents. A little. A tiny bit. …He says Shuichi can stay for a week. But just a week, you hear me? No longer. And stop saying you love me, Shuichi. I don’t want to hear it.

Put down a rug or something, Eiri! Good god!

Their life together as a moved-in couple is a hint awkward. Shuichi doesn’t want to disturb Eiri while he’s working, and Eiri apparently doesn’t let him into the bedroom…

So, anyway, in the morning Shuichi runs off to work after telling Eiri to wait up for him that evening… And then Mika shows up, corners Eiri, and starts talking about some arrangement which, clearly, makes Eiri a very unhappy boy. They don’t really say what this arrangement is that they’re discussing, but don’t worry, ’cause it’ll come to light shortly. All you’ve gotta know is that Eiri basically glares her out of the room after telling her to go to hell.

Meanwhile, Bad Luck gets a new manager in the form of K. K is really super awesome, but he’s going to play a backseat in my reviews since I’m focusing more on the whole Eiri and Shuichi thing and less on the Bad Luck Tries to Make it Big thing. So… Lemme tell you a bit about K, shall I? He’s a somewhat ditzy American (not sure how much of this is the language barrier versus how much is just how blonde he is…) who loves to use guns to make his point. He’s Ryuichi’s former manager, but due to so far unmentioned events occurring in Ryuichi’s professional life, he finds himself available to become Bad Luck’s manager, whether they want him or not. He likes to plot and plan wild schemes to make things happen. He’ll hatch a few adventures throughout the rest of the series…

Well, K arrives on the scene and announces that Bad Luck is going to make their first TV appearance – in about a half-hour, actually. Shuichi nearly explodes in joy, even though it’s just a quiz show and not a music show, and even though he’s not exactly smart enough to compete: At one point they say something like, “In Japanese, ‘inu’ is ‘dog’. What is ‘cat’?” The answer he gives is bleeped out, which makes me laugh every time, ’cause I can only think of one word he’s said, and it’s not in Japanese.

Shuichi also announces that Bad Luck doesn’t need the prize money, but they sure would like to sing a song if they win…

A whole bunch of scenes in one small image!

Left to right, top row, then bottom row:
Box 1 – Eiri happens to turn on the TV just as Shuichi is announcing he wants to sing if his band wins the game.
Box 2 – Shuichi and crew react to getting a positive response from the people in charge of the show.
Box 3 – Hiro and Fujisaki react to Shuichi blurting out a curse word instead of saying “neko”.
Box 4 – Unbeknownst to everyone, Touma has worked his magic to guarantee that Bad Luck wins.
Box 5 – Eiri, possibly aware of what Touma’s done, mumbles to himself that Shuichi is an idiot.
Box 6 – ASK sees Bad Luck performing perfectly on TV without having a warm-up.

You see, Touma had been on his way by to go see ASK, who were also going to perform on TV, when he noticed Shuichi making a fool of himself. The show’s producers were going to let him fall on his face, but crafty man that he is, Touma presses them into letting him win. And though it’s never exactly shown, it’s kind of obvious that he feeds them the game winning question: They describe Eiri Yuki to Shuichi, who after enough blatant hints, finally realizes who they’re talking about.

ASK watches this unfold on TV and starts to flip out. Well, specifically, Mr. Droopy Eyes starts to totally lose his mind. Singing live on TV with no rehearsal should’ve been the worst possible environment for Shuichi to thrive, but thanks to stock footage and bad editing, Bad Luck magically winds up in different clothes, on a concert stage with lights, rocking out a stadium audience. …Hearing that Touma had had a direct hand in this, he starts to go even more crazy, and his burgeoning dislike of Shuichi turns into full out hatred.

On the way home from his triumphant showing on TV, Shuichi happens to overhear two girls squealing their excitement in scoring Eiri’s newest novel. And then… Then the camera pans to a hotel room, and this creepy girl announces it’s about time to go find the famous author.

Stalker, much?

Creepy girl: “Eiri, I can wait no longer.”

Track 5: “Winding Road”

Skip ahead a month.

Shuichi’s acting a little weird, and eventually Hiro realizes that it’s because he can’t believe how well things are going in his life. He’s got his music career starting to take off, he’s living with Eiri, he gets to jam with his best friend every day… And just when Hiro’s getting particularly annoyed by the whole thing, they suddenly hear a girl protesting in the dark of the park and go to investigate.

Come to find out, it’s the creepy girl from before, and she’s being accosted by a few hoodlums…

Hiro likes the creepy girl! Hiro likes the creepy girl!

So Shuichi and Hiro run over to defend her and beat up the bad guys. They then take the girl (who reveals her name to be Ayaka) to dinner to make sure she’s alright… Or, at least, that’s the surface story. It seems that the real story is Hiro wants a chance to flirt with her.

With Hiro contentedly looking after the totally oblivious Ayaka for the evening, Shuichi heads home. And, oh, guess what? He doesn’t have a key. So not only is he not allowed to sleep on the bed, he can’t even get into the apartment if Eiri is out! …If that’s what living with somebody is like, it’s no wonder I still live with my parents! I like sleeping in a bed, thank you very much!

Tatsuha, in the manga, has a sudden change of character halfway through, and it has always annoyed the daylights out of me.

Left to right, top row, then bottom row:
Box 1 – Shuichi rings the doorbell because he’s lived there for a month and still doesn’t have a key…
Box 2 – Eiri’s younger brother, Tatsuha, answers and announces “Man, you’re exactly like Sis described you!” …Well, yes, I should think so: How many pink haired scrawny boys come ringing at Eiri Yuki’s doorbell on a daily basis???
Box 3 – With Eiri gone for the evening, Tatshua and Shuichi start to bond over their common obsession-love for Ryuichi Sakuma.
Box 4 – Problem is, Tatsuha takes his interest a little bit farther than Shuichi had been planning. “You can call me Yuki, so let me call you Ryuichi,” he says, hugging up on our pink haired hero.
Box 5 – Eiri just happens to show up in the nick of time and dryly mutters, “What’s wrong? Aren’t you going to continue?” when Tatsuha realizes he’s about to get his butt kicked.
Box 6 – Tatsuha announces he’s come to visit on account of a girl he’s looking for…

Well! Guess who Tatsuha’s come looking for? Why, it’s Ayaka! And… This announcement doesn’t seem to please Eiri in the slightest – though, admittedly, it’s hard to think of anything that makes Eiri less than mildly enraged. (Except for strawberry cake, beer, and cigarettes, I suppose.) (And maybe Shuichi, on a very rare occasion. Though… I might be stretching it, there.)

Shuichi, totally knowing who Ayaka is from having just met her, announces that he so knows where to find her. (Out being seduced by Hiro, of course.) So the next day he drags Tatsuha to the studio so that he’s there and ready when Hiro brings her to see how awesome he is on the guitar.

Problem is… Tatsuha’s looking for Ayaka, but Ayaka’s looking for Eiri.

She’s his fiancee.

Oops.

This could still work! They could form a V! And... I wanna see *that* anime, yo!

Aaaaawakarrrrrd.

Tatusha brings Ayaka as far as the apartment. Eiri seems, again, not entirely thrilled with having his fiancee show up, looks at Shuichi curiously, then finally decides to play along. He sends his brother and his boyfriend away and lets his fiancee in. …And she, like any good anime character, promptly faints.

After she wakes up, they have a bit of a chat. Firstly, she thanks him for lying her on the couch and draping a blanket over her (which seems more like a jerk move since it’s the same place Shuichi sleeps, and is therefore most likely his blanket…). Then she explains that she’d always thought their arranged engagement was a joke (Yup! Ayaka being engaged to Eiri is the very arrangement Mika had been talking about!) – until she’d fallen in love with him. Then she asks him to stay by her side when he tries to get up.

Eiri, being the awesomely sensitive fellow that he is, announces in his stoically numb voice that he’s living with Shuichi.

This is every yaoi fanfic ever...

So Ayaka’s reaction is to go back to the studio and slap the teeth right outta Shuichi’s mouth.

K corners Ayaka in the hallway on her way out and asks her for a favor, though it’s not revealed what he wants from her. Then she heads back to the apartment and has the following vague conversation with her fiancee:

There's a bit of inconsistency about how to spell Shuichi's last name. I'm in the "Shindou" camp, myself.

Left to right, top row, then bottom row:
Ayaka: “Why did you tell me about Mr. Shindou?”
Eiri: “Because it had gotten to be a pain.”
Ayaka: “Do you mean me… or Mr. Shindou?”
Eiri: “Beats me.”

At the same time that all of this is going on, K, being the good manager that he is, has arranged for Bad Luck to perform live at the same club house that Nittle Grasper had made their debut. Shuichi’s excited, but in a somewhat reserved way since he’s kinda just had the reality of Eiri’s life thrown in his face – or, rather, applied heavily via Ayaka’s palm. He’s begun to think that she’s better than he is because she’s Eiri’s fiancee, and because she’s a girl. There’s a very brief, totally-doesn’t-fit-into-the-rest-of-the-anime moment where Shuichi has this brilliantly serious conversation with himself that could rather nicely be referenced as a rally cry for gay rights, I think. …But maybe that’s just me. By the end of it, though, he’s decided that he’s just the same as Ayaka, and has just as much of a right to Eiri’s heart.

Combining images was the only way I could cut this down from 66 screen caps!

Left to right, top row, then bottom row:
Box 1 – Shuichi, upon realizing that there’s no reason he shouldn’t ought to fight for Eiri’s heart, suddenly stops singing and screams, “Yuki is mine!”
Box 2 – Shuichi’s still thinking to himself after his declaration, “…that I love Yuki as much as I love to sing.”
Box 3 – Ayaka had dragged Eiri to the concert per K’s request (that’d been the favor he’d asked of her, because he was trying to make this happen without telling anyone). Eiri, upon hearing Shuichi’s possessive battle cry, actually SMILES and says, “His, huh?”
Box 4 – [*Silent jaw drop at seeing Eiri smile like that.*]
Box 5 – Eiri, still smiling: “He’s of the worst kind.”
Box 6 – Shuichi sheepishly apologizes to Eiri afterwards, but Eiri just calmly states, “I’m saying that I’ll be your lover.”

K had set things in motion to have Eiri and Ayaka right there in Shuichi’s line of sight during his big concert, and that had motivated Shuichi into declaring that Eiri is his, all his… After the concert, Shuichi kinda suddenly realizes what he’d said – and right out in public, no less! – and starts apologizing to Eiri. The cranky author, however, concedes the battle they’d been having over what sort of relationship they were in: He announces he’ll be Shuichi’s lover.

…I think this is Gravitation-speak for “monogamous boyfriend”. (Though, in the manga, Eiri is bi and spends his free time wooing the ladies when Shuichi’s not around to keep him nailed to the floor…)

Track 6: “Shady Scheme”

One day, Mika shows up at Eiri’s apartment and starts discussing the arranged marriage thing again. She argues that he can’t just back out of the contract all abruptly like that, and he argues that he’d never agreed to it in the first place. For some ungodly reason, Shuichi’s actually happy to see Mika, and then jumps right into the conversation to defend Eiri to the death. Problem is, once Mika and Shuichi get on a kick of trying to prove who adores Eiri more, it turns into confessions of super cute things he tends to do, like calling the stray cat downstairs “Little Mr. Meow” and feeding him crab. …Eiri’s tolerance for having his faults called out right in front of his face runs thin awfully quickly, and he boots the both of them out into the street.

Apparently Mika got tossed out the door with her wallet, but not her purse, so she can’t drive away, but she can take Shuichi out to dinner. They sit down at a table and begin to discuss the on-going relationship. She’s totally floored that Eiri’s been playing house for a month, then explains that she can’t imagine it’s going to go on much longer, and warns Shuichi that he doesn’t know the first thing about Eiri. …The whole having-a-fiancee thing, for instance, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Though, I'm not sure how Mr. Droopy Eyes knew where to find them...

The problem is, while they’re having this conversation over food, Mr. Droopy Eyes is proving he’s got a vendetta against Shuichi, and has invited a reporter to come listen in on the juicy details…

The next day, or something, Shuichi goes back to the apartment and apologizes to Eiri for talking about him getting lonely really easily, and not liking celery, and having to sleep on his stomach, and the whole thing about Little Mr. Meow. Eiri seems in a better mood (maybe because he’s just woken up to a fresh can of beer…) and instead apologizes to him for having lost his cool. They start to cuddle on the couch, but it’s not as sweet and mushy as Shuichi initially thinks it is:

Eiri sure gives off a lot of warning signals as being a really awful boyfriend, eh?

Left to right, top row, then bottom row:
Shuichi: “I want to learn more about you on my own.”
Eiri: “What would be the point?” (Note that his beer is on the table waaaaaaay across the otherwise unfurnished room. WHY NOT MOVE THE TABLE CLOSER, AT LEAST?!? GEEZE.)
Shuichi: “It’s lonely to think there’s something I don’t know!”
Eiri: [*Proceeds to use kissing as a weapon to force the conversation to come to an end.*]

After this, Eiri goes on a drive in his Mercedes (he’s got a handful of cars, I gather) and starts to have mysterious flashbacks to his childhood. He winds up crashing his car into the median wall, which is either the fault of suddenly having repressed memories surface, or it’s because he starts drinking the moment he wakes up

This is only a brief blip on the plot radar, though, and there’s no further mention of it. Instead, it’s revealed that the reporter who’d listened in on Mika and Shuichi’s conversation has produced a revealing news article in which she heavily suggests that the Yuki Shuichi had proclaimed his ownership of at the concert is none other than Eiri, famous romance novelist.

Trouble brewing!

Eiri finds out about it when he overhears two girls squealing in the bookstore. Touma learns about it by reading the latest copy of “Bop Peat”, which I assume is the industry standard on the grass industry. …Not sure why a magazine on peat is talking about Shuichi’s love life, but maybe landscapers particularly enjoy the music of Bad Luck?

Eiri’s reaction to this is to break up with Shuichi without explaining the situation. …And Touma’s reaction? Well, we haven’t gotten to that, just yet.

For not telling Shuichi his real motivation, at least he still has good reasons to list.

Eiri: “This is the end of the lovers’ game. You cry easily, you’re loud, and you just suck.” (He says “just” in the English dub, as compared to it being left out in the subtitles.)

Shuichi runs off to go drinking with Hiro, while Eiri mopes in his house, noticing all the places where his pink haired boyfriend no longer occupies space. He gets a phone call from Touma and explains that he’s solved the situation with the gossip by breaking off all ties to Bad Luck’s singer:

OH HO HO. This is a pretty important line and gives a lot of clues as to Eiri's mindset!!!

Eiri: “He’s better off without me.”

Things look pretty bad for Shuichi, now, but his luck is about to get worse. It seems that Mr. Droopy Eyes’ grudge hasn’t yet been sated. Sure, he’s outed Shuichi and Eiri in the gossip columns, and distracted from Bad Luck’s music by emphasizing their connection to the wildly popular author, but he hasn’t yet absolutely crushed them. …So he goes into the next stage of his plan:

Yah. This guy is something else...

It’s a little bit clearer in the manga than it is in the anime, but Droopy Eyes hires some thugs to beat up and then rape Shuichi. Yah, it’s kinda dark, isn’t it? Well… Hold on, ’cause things are just gonna get darker.

Droopy Eyes explains to the other members of ASK that he’s taken photos of Shuichi being raped. I think the plan here is to make our pink haired hero look like a slut, but it’s kind of hard to figure out. He’d offered to destroy the film if Shuichi would agree to coming out and making a big spectacle of being with Eiri, thus dragging both Bad Luck and the author’s careers into the scandalous mud pit. …But since Shuichi isn’t willing to so much as harm a hair on Eiri’s head, and since he realizes that this is Droopy Eyes’ only way to keep ASK’s position above Bad Luck, he refuses. Droopy Eyes keeps the film for future use, much to his band-mates’ chagrin.

(…You kinda gotta give it to Shuichi, here: He really sees Eiri’s seemingly invisible fragile side, and he wants nothing more than to protect him from the world.)

Anyway, our pink haired hero manages to drag himself to Hiro’s apartment building, then calls him and asks him to come down and get him since he’s kinda, you know, been beaten up and raped, and also, it’s raining and he’s sitting in a puddle. Hiro inexplicably hops in his car and drives from the back parking lot to the front door, instead of just going down the elevator to the front door and walking out. I totally don’t get that part. Apparently he’s excited to have a car?

In the manga, Hiro puts Shuichi to bed and then sneaks out to go talk with Eiri, asking him important questions and making a pretty good point (at least, that’s how I remember it…). In the anime, it’s not really explained so clearly what happens to Shuichi, but Hiro does go to Eiri, anyway:

Please and thank you.

Hiro politely asks Eiri why he hadn’t cut the relationship off before Shuichi got hurt, and calmly reminds him that he’d told him never to make him cry. Eiri reacts just as demurely.

So what happens??? How does Eiri react to Shuichi being raped? How does Shuichi react to being raped? Why in the world did they even put that in there in the first place???

Well! You’ll just have to wait until Volume 3: “One Million Copies!?”

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