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Oct 04 2010

A Critical Diagnosis of Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora

hantsuki-novel-scan

Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora, or Hantsuki for short, is a story of romance between a young boy and girl set against the backdrop of a hospital. In this environment in which the reality of death is very evident the two struggle to get closer to each other. This sounds like a wonderfully touching premise and in many ways it is. However the discrepancy between reality and how the anime portrays it severely impedes any sense of suspension of disbelief and subsequently the romance at the core of the story.

The protagonist Ezaki Yuuichi is infected with Hepatitis A while his love interest Akiba Rika suffers from a congenital heart defect specifically a hereditary heart valve disease. Too often characters are given the disease “weak body” which is acceptable sometimes such as when revealing or finding out the nature of the disease is important to character or plot development. However it’s often abused as a moe trait or to illicit sympathy from the audience in a cheap and lazy way.

I initially appreciated the inclusion of actual conditions in the anime’s story but it presented even more problems. By stating the names of real illnesses the writer must adhere to the associated symptoms and such to provide the viewer with a sense of realism. Hantsuki failed to do this. In particular heart defects are the most common type of birth defect and the specific one she suffers from is never fully stated nor is it ever mentioned that she was born with any other conditions. In other words the viewer is only told that she has weak heart valves. This is played up so much that the surgery to save her has a low chance of success. The truth however is that heart valve surgery is relatively routine and has a high chance of survival. It would be different if she had another complicating condition such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy that makes open heart surgery very risky. All that’s mentioned is that she has a weak body which as I mentioned above shows terrible laziness to do research. This is a critical flaw that isn’t easily forgiven for a series that has medicine as a central point.

Hantsuki managed to shatter the sense of reality in other areas of the writing as well. Doctor Natsume in particular acted in a manner unfit of a doctor and would have had his license revoked in normal circumstances. For the entirety of the series he was shown as emotionally compromised. It’s one thing to sympathize with patients but it’s another thing to let emotions endanger them. He shouldn’t have even been the one to perform the surgery regardless of how great of a surgeon he is supposed to be. An impartial physician especially in his state would not have been allowed to operate as that puts the patient at an unnecessarily elevated risk. Instead another doctor would have been called in.

Furthermore thanks to his unstable state he projected his emotions onto both Ezaki and and Rika. He cast Ezaki as himself in the past which led to his random outbursts towards Ezaki which would never be tolerated. Abusing patients is absolutely unacceptable. A doctor is not there to do that and only provide the advice and services rendered necessary by the patient and legal guardians. He acted recklessly and irresponsibly and and abused his authority whenever he saw it fit. Akiko may have also been viloent at times but at least she had a strong sense of duty and morality that kept the best interests of the patients in mind. In a real situation he would have been reported and the story would not have progressed to this state.

There were too many instances in which the drama seemed forced. I mentioned some of them above but there were also cases in which they came out of nowhere such as when Ezaki is about to sleep with another girl. Maybe it’s a case of the anime skipping development found in the light novel series but at least in the anime I would have appreciated some sort of coherence. On that subject the series also suffered from bouts of unneeded silliness especially in the form of Zebra Mask. It ruined the mood and tension too many times for my liking.

All of this together plus other things I have not bothered to state detracted from the core romance and theme of the story which is quite a shame. Watching Rika as she opened up and interacted with Ezaki was the best part of the show. During these scenes the lighthearted elements and dramatic portions actually made sense. Knowing full well that their time together is but transient, they continued to bring each other joy and smiles for however long remains. This is where the series shined but unfortunately not as brightly as it could have. Had the series focused more on these aspects and done its homework instead of introducing forced drama I would have enjoyed the series so much more. If you can ignore the inconsistencies then you might be able to enjoy this. However for someone invested in the biological sciences and medicine such as myself then it’s impossible to take it too seriously.

Permanent link to this article: http://honya-ch.com/2010/10/04/a-critical-diagnosis-of-hanbun-no-tsuki-ga-noboru-sora/

7 comments

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  1. rune_devros

    I think I remember seeing this several years ago on somebody’s recommendation. I guess it was okay at first, but I found some really bad pacing issues with it. I think I agree with pretty much everything you pointed out that was wrong with it. It’s probably a sign that it’s not that great when I can’t remember any really memorable scenes in it.

  2. Kawasumi

    Ohhh, Hanbun. . . i love this anime.
    The first anime that me and my mom watched together.

    Nice “analysis”. ^_^

    I hope (one day) for a 2nd season.

  3. Honya

    @rune_devros: I was really looking forward to it thanks to what I’ve heard too. It’s a shame really.

    @Kawasumi: I hope I wasn’t too harsh. It’s nice to know that you enjoyed it together with family though. The last novel came out after the anime finished so maybe.

  4. Kawasumi

    Nah, Honya-chan.
    Your review is awesome. (:

  5. shinryu43

    That’s what I thought too…. since Rika-san’s disease was just a weak heart valve (well some cases kill patients that are in their first years of their life [i’m saying babies]), a transplant of an artificial heart valve would have cured this problem….and probably (just pointing out) would have ended the dramatic scenes, right?? This anime would have turned out great if for example: Rika-san has cancer, or another type of incurable disease……. And I suppose the author failed to express the drama that was supposed to be the point of the story (the author should’nt have mixed in comedy with drama [ it kills the drama])……. Anyway it’s an anime so I could’nt say anything about Rika-san’s chief physician and the nurse (since anything can happen in animes)………Now I think (unfortunately) that some fans think that congenital heart disease is so fatal, since the author over exaggerated about the patient only surviving for atleast 4 years (it’s actually sad how authors toy with the lives of their creation, right??)…..To those who watched this anime and did’nt stake out the truth (or facts that are really important), they would probably be stuck into thinking that Rika-san would die in just 4 years with Ezaki-san………And unfortunately be sad with their lives just thinking about it ( I kinda felt that feeling too when I finished it [ fortunately I searched for answer the hour after I watched it])…I don’t like sad endings that don’t make sense…..(Sorry if this comment was harsh, but the thing I hate the most is how anime characters should suffer a tragic end [especially if it can be solved with a flick of a finger])

    1. Honya

      Agreed. If it was more focused and more well researched, it could have been much better.

  6. shinryu43

    oh and i’m just 16

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