True Tears – Review

Title: True Tears
Episodes: 13
Company: P.A. Works
Genre(s): Romance, Drama
Air Dates: 6 January 2008 – 30 March 2008

Synopsis: Shinichiro Nakagami is an ordinary high school student except for his talent at drawing. There’s something about his artistic vision that keeps him going back to a teary motif, most likely stemming from a Hiromi Yuasa’s circumstances. Outwardly, Hiromi seems to show no sorrow and is very upbeat and energetic at school, but at home, her demeanor is much more solemn. Her behavior towards Shinichiro is already causing him quite a bit of frustration, and a meeting with Noe Isurugi only increases it further. Noe is different from most other girls in that she’s eccentric, mysterious, and is rumored to have the power to curse others, and yet, she and Shinichiro form a bond rather quickly. As their relationship develops, a tug-of-war ensues, and in the end, Shinichiro must decide what direction his artistic vision should go as well as which girl to open his heart to.


  • Excellent use of symbolism to detail the plot’s direction
  • Visuals are absolutely stunning
  • Music is really absorbing and enjoyable


  • Characters are largely unsympathetic and weak
  • Noticeable plot bomb near the series’ end
  • Ending was poorly executed as it used every cliché in the book to resolve it

Review: True Tears starts out really well and it shows all the promise of being a top tier romance series. Its characters are well-defined, the music does an excellent job of absorbing the audience into the series, and the visuals are beautiful and detailed. The plot is solid halfway through until its execution falters off and the series gets doused in cliché after cliché. While there are a lot of things True Tears does right, its shoddy execution towards the end almost undermines all it had set out to do early on, turning what could have been an excellent show into one that is merely passable.

The characters are fairly well presented because they are defined by the issues that they must contend with. Hiromi has to deal with Shinichiro’s mother’s cold, uncaring attitude, Noe must reconcile her inner feelings and determine what it means to cry, and Shinichiro must decide which of the two girls he loves more. While this plot isn’t exactly innovative, True Tears succeeds at catching the viewer’s interest through the way they frame the characters. Noe, in particular, is fun to watch because of her eccentricities, making her a fresh face in a tired sea of female character archetypes. Her struggles are pretty endearing, especially when she tries to come to terms with her feelings for Shinichiro and when she realizes that his feelings aren’t completely aligned with hers.

Unfortunately, the other characters aren’t up to par. Shinichiro’s indecisiveness ends up hurting both girls and does him no favors. While that sort of behavior is understandable for a kid his age, it’s still frustrating to watch. Even more irritating was Hiromi’s behavior and how catastrophe-prone it is at times. For example, she lied about who she really likes and showed an outward lack of sympathy to the motorcycle owner when his bike got into an accident. Her reaction to that incident was just cold and heartless, and her dishonesty towards her feelings for Shinichiro does little to make me sympathize with her plight.

The writers also make a few missteps along the way with some of the other characters. For example, Shinichiro’s mother’s coldness towards Hiromi inexplicably melts away and Aiko seemed to have been an afterthought because of how little of an impact she had on Shinichiro and the overall storyline. What they did manage to do right was to pace the story well and their judicious use of symbolism ranging from the plot of Shinichiro’s picture book, which served as a parallel to the storyline to the part where Noe’s finger bled, symbolizing how hurt she felt on the inside because of her glove, representing Shinichiro, did not protect her from the elements. Their approach to symbolism really showed a great deal of forethought and it succeeded admirably in complementing the storyline.

Furthermore, True Tears’s animation is extremely fluid and the background art is colorful and detailed. The series doesn’t disappoint in the music either with a lot of background piano melodies blending in seamlessly with the action on screen. And of course, the opening Reflectia performed by eufonius bears mention because it is a soothing and enjoyable piece.

In spite of its flaws, True Tears isn’t entirely without merit. However, they are still problematic enough that I would not recommend True Tears to any but the most ardent romance fans. And even then, it’s not even going to be at the top of the list because there are just far better romance shows to watch.

Score: Decent


Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

0 thoughts on “True Tears – Review

  • March 21, 2009 at 4:24 am

    Not sure if I am an ardent romance fan, but I find True Tears very good, and it’s probably my personal best true romance show to date.


    I don’t think there are a lot of serious, real romance shows, most are just borderline harem with a small bit of romance mix – nothing serious, lots of funny and embarassing moments, and usually with an ending that has no conclusion. Some have overdone the drama part (eg. ef1), or the characters are difficult to comprehend, their motives and reasoning are hard to follow, or the story doesn’t feel realistic enough like it could ever happen in the real world.

    Back to True Tears, I have to say I was charmed by Hiromi from the start. On my second watch, I watched it purely from her perspective and the show felt very different. Most of her actions, including some of “emo” things she had done near end made a lot of sense and the story became more understandable and justified. And the last confession scene was beautifully executed, a conclusive, emotional ending with a heavy impact on both the characters and the viewers, where a lot of romance shows I find, have failed.

    But of course, that’s just my little opinion on True Tears.

    Always looking out for serious, drama romance shows. Recommendations welcome~

  • March 21, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    I’ve already discussed my gripe about Hiromi above (I still say she’s cold-hearted at some points that it defies explanation) and I thought the plot disjunction were big enough issues to detract from the overall quality of the series. And mind you, I thought it started well. It might be a good reflection of reality, but I try to avoid realities like that. So far, so good!

    As for good romance series… Honey and Clover is always a candidate (though one can argue that it’s more slice of life, but it does turn pretty serious, especially in the second season). Clannad, for all its missteps still struck me as being pretty good and for what it’s worth, I also enjoyed Kimikiss because the characters are fairly down-to-earth. (Special mention goes out to Bokura Ga Ita as well despite the fact that I haven’t seen it to completion.)

  • March 21, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    I’ve watched a little of honey and clover… i couldn’t quite take the loli, but i’ll try watching it again in the future.
    Clannad is very good, i’ve always liked the key adaptations, and it’s one of the few real romance shows out there. Can’t wait for after story to finish so I can finally start on it.
    I’ll have a look into Bokura ga ita, have been hearing a lot of good stuff on it.
    Thanks for all the suggestions ^^

  • March 21, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    I will say that Hagu’s part isn’t quite as compelling as the drama between Mayama, Ayumi, and Rika. Mostly because those three characters are portrayed in a way that you can sympathize with them, and because you see where they’re coming from, it makes it all the more… bittersweet to watch it play out since the emotions run fairly high at times. Takemoto is also worth paying attention to because he’s your everyman/nice guy kind of character that most of us can relate to and the producers do a good job of making us care about what happens to him.

  • September 22, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Stumbled upon this review while browsing around and not sure how I missed it the first time around.

    I will respect your opinions zzeroparticle, but I must say I feel quite different about True Tears (and about Clannad apparantly from the way you describe it in your above comment, but that’s for another time).

    True Tears is frankly one of my all time favorite anime’s, not just romance. And when it does come to romance, it’s only #2 to Clannad (I do greatly like Kimikiss and ef (1st season) as well).

    I felt all the characters were perfectly crafted and most importantly real. I’ll take flawed people in my dramas than unrealistic ideals of them any day.

    The only character I will concede seemed to have a bit of a oddly sudden change was indeed Shinchiro’s mom and how she acted towards Hiromi later in the series.

    I’ll close by saying that I didn’t feel any awkwardness or really cliche-ness at the end of the series. I was rather impressed with the ending as it was. I must say that this was only perhaps the third romance anime (at that time) I had seen, so maybe I just wasn’t very familiar with the cliche’s your alluding too. Though since then I have seen many many more, and I still don’t quite understand where your coming from with that point.


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