Why Kimi ni Todoke is setting itself up to be one of the best romance anime in a long while

3:00 PM on 10.20.2009 // Brad Rice

In this latest fall season, Kimi ni Todoke has been the show that I absolutely must watch as soon as the episode comes out. I was excited for the show because Colette had gushed about the manga already, and the added benefit of having Production I.G. handle animation meant good things.

To be honest, I wasn't quite ready for what I got into with Kimi ni Todoke. I had been watching the standard fare of titles with romance in them: Toradora and Kannagi, and reading titles like Sundome and Ane Doki to jerk me around with their never-ending relationship drama.

All I can say is, I'm so glad I've been watching this show. See why after the jump.

The premise of Kimi ni Todoke is fairly simple: we follow around Sawako, the quiet girl who always sits by herself and gets made fun of, as she begins to blossom and build her own relationships with others. She is particularly driven because of Kazehaya, a boy who she met and greatly respects because of how sociable and kind he is.

Of course, there has to be some sort of conflict. Kazehaya really likes Sawako, but she doesn't even realize that there is that sort of attraction. And, as far as the two episodes that have aired, is the main conflict. Kazehaya is determined to stick by Sawako's side until she realizes his feelings for her.

Sure, there's a predictable path that I can see from here. But the plot itself is not the real attraction to the show.

What makes Kimi ni Todoke so great to me is how frank and forthright things are treated in the show. A lot of the tropes are non-existent or have been reversed. While I'm not a connoisseur of shoujo manga, rarely does the ugly girl simply get fawned on by the prettiest boy in school. Many of the tropes of dealing with a high school romance -- especially one about a first love -- are absent, and that really enhances the show. There are no love letters or worries over indirect kisses. An overabundance of super-deformed modes and typical anime-style reactions are missing.

Filling that gap are threads that show Sawako becoming friends with more and more of her classmates, and slowly coming to understand her own feelings. At the same time, we see her classmates change and begin to understand her as well.

I suppose part of why I love this show is because all the characters may have their flaws, but they don't get crippled or necessarily wallow in them. Sure, Kazehaya got rejected, but that doesn't mean he isn't going to keep trying, and so he does. Sawako is a recluse, yes, but she isn't going to suddenly retreat  at the first sign of people taking a swipe at her. You don't abjectly hate the characters in the show.

As I sit here trying to describe the show, I frequently find myself at a loss of words. The feelings are there, and I can try and put them into words, but I feel as though I'm falling short of what the show actually manages to achieve. The easiest thing to say is "watch this show," but I can't really leave it at that. Let's try pitching it this way:

Kimi ni Todoke gives us a story of first love and coming of age in a world free of traditional tropes that attempts to deal with romance in a way that we can all relate to, drawing from our own experiences, and in the end, recapture a bit of the magic of falling in love for the first time.

As sentimental as that may sound, that's essentially what Kimi ni Todoke gives us: a little bit of that magic of romance. And I really can't wait to just keep watching it.

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Brad Rice, Founder
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Brad helped found Japanator.com in 2006, and currently serves as an Associate Editor. He's covered all aspects of the industry, but has a particular preference for the business-end of things, and... more   |   staff directory

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