Midpoint Review: Kimi ni Todoke

You never forget your first

See my first Midpoint Review of Nyan Koi! here.

It’s taken 13 episodes for Sawako to realize that what she’s feeling is love. Why so long?

Shoujo romances are known for being drawn out, of course, and since Kimi ni Todoke is merely at the halfway point, the usual expectation is that Sawako and Kazehaya are not anywhere near calling themselves a couple yet. To some extent this expectation is fulfilled: Kurumi gets in the way, throwing the red herring of Ryuu in no small amount of desperation. (Kurumi getting 0wnz0r3d by Pin later on was classic, by the way.) Kazehaya himself is now dealing with the sudden shyness that comes upon him when he sees Sawako, a feeling which evidently is new to him, because he is a bit confused–though much less so than Sawako herself. She cannot even name the thumping in her chest and the excitement going through her, to a point where it sometimes began to seem unbelievable. Sawako is more sheltered than most, to be sure, but is it possible for a 15-year-old to actually not really recognize a crush?

Perhaps one reason for this long buildup is that Sawako, having been denied being loved in return for so long, can’t even imagine it would ever happen to her. That certainly helps explain her over-the-t0p reaction to Kazehaya’s proposal to start dating, which she labels as something so “mature” and completely out of the realm of her imagination. That scene, incidentally, was surprising in its resolution, in which the main pair now really do know where each other stands–but decides to actually hold off on starting a formal relationship. Normally this would be the climax of the cour or the show altogether, not the midpoint, and the rest of the episode seemed mainly dedicated to tying loose ends with Kurumi. It’s as if the show were cast adrift from the show’s main anchor and searching for a reason to keep going for another 10 minutes.

Kurumi is turning out to be the most complicated character in the series thus far. This is not saying a lot, however, because the characters in Kimi ni Todoke are not especially complex. The best developed parts are Sawako’s internal monologues, which ring emotionally true, and in Kurumi’s two-faced nature, which is not particularly nuanced. (Here, Karekano did one better by giving almost equal time to the interior thoughts of not only Yukino but also Arima. That his thought process was remarkably similar to Shinji from Evangelion can probably be chalked up to Anno being Anno.) Kimi ni Todoke, though, remains a character-driven show, and it still works as such, because its appeal derives less from realism than in perfectly calibrated wish-fulfillment. They’re real enough to believe in but, oddly, archetypal enough to feel like it’s universal–i.e., maybe there’s a Kazehaya out there for me too!*

PWNED

At some point, Sawako’s wide-eyed wonder at the kindness of others has got to wear off. It’s already getting repetitive, in fact. The process may already be starting as of the end of episode 13, so perhaps the second cour might be devoted to either a deepening or perhaps even disillusioning process. It would be a neat place to begin a different focus, perhaps signaled by a different theme song (though my love for the OP is almost as great as my love for the first ED of Honey and Clover, “Waltz”). Who knows what will come of these painfully nice kids–and isn’t the cast of most anime romances so painfully nice? I, for one, will certainly not be stopping my viewing as it goes on into 2010.

4 thoughts on “Midpoint Review: Kimi ni Todoke”

  1. Perhaps I can throw in as I’m not at 13 as of yet. But I can definitely vouch for this as a glaring issue I have with the writing of the series. We spend so much time with Sawako coming to terms to her burgeoning life, and rarely enough to counterbalance it. The fact that we hardly see much of her life prior to the changes happening come episode one leaves us with little but a suggestion that we should feel a certain way without earning it. Now many series have done this before, but it seems to become the show’s mantra as nearly every episode ends with a monologue that nearly perfectly echoes the one in the previous episode. As much as I enjoy many of the series’ other elements, this is where Kimi Ni Todoke is weakest, and it’s a little disheartening to see that it doesn’t change much.

  2. wintermuted: well, its one-sidedness is probably a function of its wish-fulfillment nature more than anything else. And yeah, that sort of thing is a lot more noticeable as it goes on; what seemed fresh at first does begin to wear after a while. Again, perhaps the process is at least beginning as of end of episode 13, which is not actually a “midpoint” as the story is simply continuing with no sense of resolution at the halfway mark the way some other shows often do. (See Toradora for an example of that.) It just keeps going, so clearly we’re not done yet.

  3. Jesus159159159: hey, we’re talking about Sawako here. “Even more mature” for her probably means a peck on the cheek.

    Oh. You were talking about THAT. But you see–that would mean the universe would implode. And then explode.

    :)

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