Years ago, when I was at school, an openly gay friend let me borrow Gravitation, and it was quite timely, so I’m glad to have the chance to look at it again, to own the English release, and finally decide what I think.
The story begins with Shuichi, a young and budding musician, the lead singer of ‘Bad Luck’, struggling artistically to find inspiration, or meet his own standards, as they prepare to open a concert for their chart-topping rivals, ‘ASK’. With his lyrics faltering, he looks toward his hero, Ryuichi, but needs more, and walking through a park one night, loses hold of his lyrics. The page is carried by the wind, and caught by a tall, mysterious blond man, who takes one quick look at them, before pronouncing that Shuichi has no talent as a writer, walking off without any more than that.
Determined to prove him wrong, Shuichi finishes the song in time, but goes back and forth on the criticism of his abilities, and the man who delivered them. Almost immediately hearing a commotion in the street, Shuichi notices the man driving toward him, and dives in front of the car, hoping to let him know how he feels. Brought back to the man’s apartment, they argue, and Shuichi later returns to invite him to see their performance, and then judge, but revokes the offer when he continues to be offered nothing more than belligerence, telling him not to come, but finding himself on the other end of a kiss as a result.
From there, Shuichi continues to struggle not only with the distant and harsh figure, a romance novelist by the name of Eiri Yuki, he later learns, but with his own ambitions, and the demands of his eccentric managers. It’s true that Gravitation is a yaoi, or boy love, story, at heart, but just as much time is invested in Shuichi’s developing career and rivalry with other bands. His relationship with Yuki isn’t straightforward either. Cruel and cynical, Yuki thinks nothing of the kisses or occasional sex they have together – more than once tells Shuichi that it was a one off, and that he should leave. Over time, Shuichi eventually gets his foot in the door however (literally), and their relationship becomes slightly more stable.
The animation is generally solid, but frequently erratic, moving above and below average for its time between shots, with the dub also being fairly inconsistent, or at least the casting, particularly the English voice of Shuichi; although it fell short of being a deal-breaker, for me, at least. Both are fairly significant, but more lasting criticism can be found in the unrealistic and frequently loathsome characters – from conceited rivals, to conceited employers, and Yuki, who makes a point of being repellent … in a conceited way. The main characters are the only ones you really have to watch though, and for their part, Shuichi and Yuki do make a cute couple, and you’ll feel what you’re supposed to whenever they make progress in their relationship (usually in the dawn and twilight of an episode).
Overall, you’d have to be a yaoi fan, or at least someone who can tolerate boy love in the first place (who can’t these days?), to really enjoy Gravitation, but if you meet those criteria, then it’s neither too graphic nor too suggestive to offend anyone who doesn’t occupy the extremes. You might have noticed earlier that I said Shuichi was in the street, heard a commotion, and it happened to be Yuki’s car. Gravitation’s biggest flaw is its editing – jumping from one scene to another without precedent or logic. What matters most, and almost always will, in a romantic comedy, however, is of course whether you like the characters. While they might be flawed, Shuichi and Yuki are a well-known and popular couple. Yuki’s a jerk, but he’s handsome, and has reason to be. Shuichi’s inept at handling his feelings, but he’s cute, and good-natured. Isn’t that enough?
Loud, immature, sweet, innocent, technically poor. A good start for anyone half-interested, or more, in yaoi, but not among the best out there anymore. If you don’t mind the bubblegum pink exterior, teddy bears, chibi, uke and the innocence of it all, or like these qualities, then it might be a seven, but I stress again, Shuichi, Yuki, and their relationship is everything here.