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Kimi ni Todoke Episodes 1&2

October 14, 2009

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The beginning of  Kimi ni Todoke didn’t really grab me in any sense of the word, and I found it particularlyboring, but as I spent more time with that instalment and learned to appreciate what it was trying to do so I ended up warming to it quite nicely. While the end of that episode took us to the start of the summer holiday from school, episode two skips straight forward to the autumn, meaning rainy days and a stray dog which is as scared of Sawako’s looks as any human despite having her umbrella left behind to keep him out of the rain.

Episode 1:

When you have long black hair, an introverted and shy demeanour and the name Sawako which is so easily twisted to Sadako (or The Ring fame), I suppose you’re bound to be teased throughout your school life. So it goes for Sawako Kuronuma, who fits this billing perfectly.

Oddly though, Sawako isn’t a miserable, depressed girl however – Despite her loneliness, she still does her best to live up to the expectations of her classmates, even if she does so in what could be described as a naive fashion. In this sense, Sawako isn’t so different to Kimi ni Todoke‘s male lead Shouta Kazehaya, apart from the simple fact that Kazehaya is far, far better at living up to any expectations, and is thus the centre of attention and the most popular boy in the class. For whatever reason, Sawako has caught Kazehaya’s eye, and so this series (an attempt at a romance-based series from Production I.G. of all people) sets out to chart their burgeoning relationship.


In terms of this opening episode, we see Sawako finding a way at last to come out of her shell somewhat thanks to the guiding hand of Kazehaya (even though he doesn’t particularly realise he’s helping at all), while an end of school year “test of courage” proves to be the perfect occasion both for Sawako to gain popularity amongst her classmates by playing to her scary stereotype, and also for her to talk with Shouta and put their relationship on the right footing to kick off the series.

If this episode is anything to go by, you can expect very little in the way of darkness or depression from this series – Even Sawako’s borderline bullying is laughed off inwardly by her generally cheerful demeanour, while her getting to know Kazehaya isn’t fraught with difficulties and drama like so many other series, leaving them all but dating by the end of the first episode. If nothing else it makes for a refreshing change from a lot of other anime where the start of any actual relationship is the end-point for the series, whereas here it looks likely to become a staple part of the show pretty early on.

Episode 2

While rumours fly around the school suggesting that Sawako was rejected by Kazehaya at the start of the summer, we’re eventually allowed to flash back to see what really happened, while the pair of them continue to enjoy one another’s company at school to an event greater extent than before. Needless to say it’s this dynamic which underpins Kimi ni Todoke, and to be quite frank it’s a beautiful thing to watch. Sawako’s naivety and honesty proves to be quite disarming for the usually unflappable Kazehaya, who seems to be equally clueless when it comes to his feelings and how to deal with them (Hmm, that sounds familiar…), and this alone makes for some great moments – Add to that Sawako’s attempts to make friends and put out a positive side to disarm all of the negative rumours which surround her, and you’re left with simply wonderful stuff.

There’s really a lot to be said for the way this series takes a lonely, borderline bullied girl, and turns it not into a depressing tale of misery and woe but into one of hope and positivity… Even when things don’t go Sawako’s way (which is a lot of the time incidentally) she continues to look forward with a bright outlook and a certain sense of calm introspection which I find hugely admirable as both a personality trait for her character and as part of the wider story portrayed by this series; it really sits apart from the numerous anime where bullied girls end up as serial killers or vengeful types filled with hatred, yet this is show’s response is somehow far more realistic to my mind.

This, coupled with Kazehaya’s influence, leaves you rooting for the main characters right from the off, and as I observed last episode that’s quite unique in itself these days – A far cry from the Itazura na Kiss‘s and White Album‘s of this world. In fact, I can’t think of the last time a series like this left me with a constant smile on my face, and you know what? I really love Kimi ni Todoke for doing just that – Long may it continue.

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