Monday, April 17, 2017

Anime Review : Kimi ni Todoke Season 1

Kimi ni Todoke

“A gorgeous romantic comedy that screams nothing but awesomeness. Though you can’t help but notice that the series might have overlook several things”

What is Kimi ni Todoke?

Kimi ni Todoke follows the story of Kuronuma Sawako, a girl who has the look of that of Sadako, a ghost from the horror film Ring. The series follows her as she struggles to make friends and discover her true feelings towards someone special to her.

What do i think about it?
A romantic comedy, eh?

Of course, that is one of the genre that i like. In fact, it is the genre that i really love. So, i can’t help but notice this anime. Even though it’s kind of old [Being on-air on 2009] and now 2016, i can only notice that i missed something good at that season. But then again, better late than never, yes?
I’ve only watched the first season and boy, did i enjoyed my time watching it? Yes i did.

Kuronuma Sawako, a girl who has the looks of a horror film ghost feels so fresh in this genre. I mean, sure the jokes is when her friends thought that she was a ghost, but the series did it perfectly and almost never reuse the same ghostly joke about her. Whenever her ghostly persona is brought up, it was about something different.

The female lead here came out of a horror movie, literally speaking.

While we’re at it, let’s talk about character design. While i liked Sawako’s character design, i absolutely liked the design of Ayane and Chizuru, Sawako’s first friends. When they were introduced, i was surprised. I thought they were just going to be one-off character, but instead, they become the main supporting cast.  Though, despite all that, Kazehaya feels bland to me, if not, normal. 

The first few episodes takes us on Sawako’s struggles on gaining the friendship of Chizuru and Ayane. Despite the fact that Ayane and Chizuru immediately accepted that Sawako is her friend, Sawako is reluctant to accept it, which causes a string of miscommunications and events, though that was wrapped up perfectly by the series. After several girls spread bad rumors of Chizuru and Ayane, Sawako defended them though she was almost bullied until the two girls came to her rescue and then reconciles afterward. It was heartwarming scene to see.

And before she knows it, Sawako is surrounded by her friends

Then we are introduced to Kurumizawa Umiko, a girl whom i know that’s gonna be a pain in the neck, especially for Sawako. Ever since seeing her, i have this feeling that she’s gonna be trouble and when it paid off, i wasn’t surprised [Seeing her deceptive attitude and facade towards Sawako], but what surprises me is Sawako’s reaction. She’s so innocent that she thought Kurumizawa was speaking her hearts to her.

Yeah, in this series, Sawako’s innocent heart and purity is the highlight of the show. It’s very fun to see her interact with her friends and everything else in her own innocent way.

This is when Sawako is being innocent and cute, which is the core strength of this series.

And then, Kurumizawa started scheming something.  She wanted to pair Sawako and Ryuu, a boy that sits behind her in the seating order. It backfires spectacularly thanks to the intervention of Pin-sensei [Which turned out to be one of the best moment in the series] and Kazehaya’s action when seeing them together.  Then, before long, Chizuru and Ayane knows that Kurumizawa is behind all those bad rumors about them and confronted her with Sawako. Even though she acknowledges that she’s behind those, she didn’t falter and stood on her ground until the trio leaves, before Sawako returned to Kurumizawa and [seemingly] reconciles with her. Then Kurumizawa confesses to Kazehaya and poof. She was gone.
Why do i say that? I really like Kurumizawa’s arc. Her character is so enjoyable to watch and when i first saw her, i thought it was gonna be a cliched “My friend has a crush on someone you like, so you have to give up” trope. But, Sawako somehow reverses that trope. That feels very fresh to me. 


After this very arc, Kurumizawa was forgotten. All of a sudden, she was no longer appearing despite the impact that she has put into the series, like how Boromir from Lord of the Ring dies and never appeared, but the difference is that Kurumizawa is not dead. Yes, i know the series’ gonna focus on Chizuru and Ryu after this, but, during those hours at school, couldn’t they at least bumped their way and interact? To me, if Sawako and Ayane talked to Kurumizawa about this, she might’ve provided either help or insult, either way, that’s gonna be fun but no. They opted to relegate her to just background character who only made two more cameo appearance later in the ending. For me who actually likes her, that was a hard pill to swallow.

And then Kurumi fades away from the series...
Yeah, aside from her, there’s also Tomo and Ekko, Sawako’s earlier but forgotten friend that no longer makes any impactful appearance after Kurumizawa arc. While their abandonement feels okay to me, abandoning Kurumizawa is not, at least to me. Hopefully, in the second season, she’ll be used properly.

Moving on. The next arc focuses on Chizuru’s relationship with Ryuu. The goofy Chizuru and the slacker Ryuu seems like a good couple, especially after Ryuu admits that he likes Chizuru, but Chizuru later reaffirms that she likes his brother instead.

And when Ryuu’s brother, Tooru appeared, he brought with him a girlfriend and they are soon to be married. For some reason, i can already see this coming from a mile away, because of what Chizuru said earlier. And things started to be hectic for both Ryuu and Chizuru as their apparent miscommunication sets them apart until Tooru later returns to cool the situation.

From being oblivious about it...
Chizuru slowly understands Ryu's feeling for her.
Watching this arc feels like my heart just melted away. Yes, it might be predictable, but it feels somehow sweet, especially the way they resolved it. Though no confession, it was wrapped up nicely. And to me, this arc is the best out of every arc in this series.

However, while Chizuru gets her own prime time in this arc, Ayane isn’t, save for a couple of times when her boyfriend actually appeared [In a flashback] and slapped her.  While Ayane doesn’t really need any character-development focus since her character seems to be etched in stone the moment she first appeared, one is always appreciated, since this series seems like it’s building it’s strength from developing their characters. Kurumi, Sawako, and Chizuru developed well, so if Ayane gets her own focus, it’s bound to be better.

And after Chizuru and Ryuu’s arc, there’s an episode which focuses on Sawako’s reluctance on going to the Christmas party with everyone in order to not let her parents down since they [Her father] wants to spend their time with her. Though with the help of her mother’s maturity and Kazehaya’s phone call, her father allows her to go, after giving her a cellphone. 

After Chizuru's arc, the focus returns back to Kazehaya and Sawako.
Of course, when Sawako arrives, the party is over, but Kazehaya waited for her, thinking that she would come. The two shares a close moment together before going to the afterparty.

That  Kazehaya giving her a cellphone strap despite knowing that Sawako doesn’t have a cellphone yet feels kind of strange to me. However, Sawako saves the moment by giving her a stomach warmer [Which was intended to be given to her father, but her father mistook Kazehaya’s cap as his gift]. This is the first time i saw a girl giving a boy a stomach warmer for a christmas present. 

Sawako’s parents are always interesting and intriguing to watch, especially her father, whose emotion towards his growing daughter felt so real for me. Her mother cherry atittude also helped any scene they appear.  When her father gives off this sappy-feelings, her mother immediately cheers him up and that was great.

Then, we have the finale, the shrine-visiting event. Chizuru and Ayane wants Sawako to spend her time alone with Kazehaya, so they styled her hair and put on some make-up on Sawako, making her one of the cutest girl i’ve ever seen in the anime [Gosh, for some reason, she looks so different] and that is thanks to them. They then leaves her to Kazehaya and the two began to spend their time together.

For some reason, i very like this appearance of her. Worthy of a one-time only appearance.
This is the first time in ages that they finally has a moment to spend together, as the past episodes seems to focus on something other than their pairing. They spend their romantic night together, but the series closes without any closure on their relationship. No confession, no nothing. But it feels like it was a satisfying ending.

The story is good, just like i summarized up there. While there’s a lot of ups from this series, there’s also plenty of downs in this series.

The series teaches us how to trust our friends.
Also, how a girl would act around a boy he likes
The background, while some says it’s good, to me i’d say it’s pretty normal, since they focuses on school more and you know school is never a good background setting. But, when the series moves away from school, that’s when the background feels better. Look below for one of the good background images.The details they put on the foliages and others around were great, but does not last that long

The musical score is... Meh for me. I wouldn’t say it’s good, but i won’t say it’s bad either. Some of them sounds like they were recycled off some other music and by the latter series, it was repeated repetitively.  And boy oh boy... That ending song just rubs me off the wrong way. Is the singer needs a drink or something? Hearing that grating song feels like hearing someone scratching a chalkboard, it’s so painful to hear it, especially when i have to sit through it during the finale.

There’s also some other things that bothers me, such as when Sawako is stuck with her chignon-styled hair for almost more than 3 episodes. To me, she looks pretty awful in that hairstyle. I know sometimes someone looks different when they change their hairstyle, and that’s what i feel when i see Sawako in that chignon-style hair. Though, other hairstyles [Such as braid and that perfectly styled finale hair] looks good on her aside from her usually loosened hair.

And i can’t help but notice that whenever Sawako is ‘looking up’ to someone [Especially Kazehaya], she always envelops him with a bright light, as if an angel just came down to her, while surrounding herself with black lights. Was this some sort of symbolism? Perhaps. To me, it’s just her positivity that allows her to view anyone as an angel. That’s heartwarming if you ask me.

And on the overall performance of voice acting, i think Mamiko Noto is the best in this series. She manages to capture the timid and innocent voice of Sawako and she was fantastic to be heard throughout the series. Miyuki Sawashiro and Aya Hirano delivers a solid performance on their character, capturing the essence of their character nicely, though not as perfect as Mamiko Noto. The other feels okay for me, not bad but not special either. 

The background, pictured above, is one of the best this series has shown me, but only limited to a few.

In the end, Kazehaya is just a guy who has a crush on her and can't help but be flustered with her company.
Last but not least, most of the humor strikes. Since this is classified as a Romantic comedy genre [For me], there’s bound to be some laugh or two to be had. And the time i laugh the most is whenever Pin gets his screen time, either busting up someone’s scheme or just having fun his own way. While it’s not fresh, it feels satisfying for me.

Overall, Kimi ni Todoke is a very good series. A really enjoyable anime to be watched if one wants to feel sweet by the romantic interactions between the protagonists and at the same time, want to laugh at their interaction with their friends.

Though nothing is perfect, Kimi ni Todoke is certainly far from perfect. Hampered by many things that held back the series though, it is still a pretty fun ride to have.

Anyone who likes the genre should watch this, but i can’t recommend this to those who do not like this genre, since almost everything in this series might turn away anyone who’s not a big fan of this genre.

As the series ends, you can’t help but notice some ups and down, but at the end of the story, you just want more. Can’t wait to see the season 2 and see whether any oversight is wrapped up or not.

The good : Great characterization, especially Kurumizawa. Pairing of Sawako and Kazehaya feels fresh and innocent. Unique but alluring character design. Good storytelling, though far from perfect. Mamiko Noto’s voice acting. Satisfying conclusion.

The bad : Kurumizawa’s arc comes tad bit too early. Ayane didn’t get her focus episode. Some of the supporting casts are relegated to background character at the latter episode. Underwhelming musical score. Grating ending theme.

Highlight moment : Chizuru’s arc. The early kissing tease at episode 18.

Final score : 3.5 out of 5. Maybe i'll post the review for the second season another time. I have watched it but haven't written the review for it.

On a personal note : I recently got Persona 5 on my console and have been playing it relentlessly every single day. I think this is going to continue for a long time, since the last time i played Persona, i was hooked on it for at least half a year, and i think this is going to make the update a bit slower. But i expect to update it weekly and post my feelings on Persona 5 once i'm done.

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