Why do I love it: Kimi ni Todoke


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I love Kimi ni Todoke, and looking around the community here at Japanator, I figure a lot of you do, too. When trying to describe my feelings towards it, "warmth" is a word I like to use pretty often. It's a sense of security that I feel when reading the manga or, more relatable,  watching the anime... it's not necessarily that I feel safe against a burglar when holding the paperback against him, or that I feel I'm bullet-proof when reading, but it's rather a feeling, or the wanting feeling, of having friends who care; of having people like you for you, and finding out you're in love without even knowing it.

This feature will not be about me retelling any events that I can compare to the story of Kimi ni Todoke. Instead, it will be about exactly why Kimi ni Todoke is one of my most beloved and favorite franchises of all time, and why I love and respect Sawako Kuronuma as a character, not in a sexual way, but in a way that we all can relate to even if we believe we share no common personality with her. There really is a science to why this series, and all subsequent anime following it, makes so many people feel happy and warm inside, and I'm going to try to get to the bottom of it.

When it comes romance, there's not too much in live-action that brings me the same emotions I feel in animation. Very few other mediums have me fall in love with a sweet story, simply because those mediums rely on unnatural acting between a couple of actors, something that has to be perfect before I can enjoy it. It's the lack of freedom, the suspension of disbelief that things like novels and animation have, where detail to body language is not as important as the words coming out of the characters mouths. Because we're conditioned to know that animation is not real, we aren't looking for a quivering lip, or a couple dancing fluently at a ball. The important aspects of animation romance are the words, and the emotion behind them. It's also the slightly exaggerated movements, like an eye twitch, or a hearty smile that show what the characters feel without spelling it out for the viewer. It's the ease of attention, the feeling of accepting imperfectness, that gives animation that feeling of lessening attention on detail, and focusing more on characters and how they relate to yourself through words. With that aside, lets move onto Kimi ni Todoke.

Did you watch the video above?  About one year ago, I had a job that gave me a paycheck every week. I also had a girlfriend who lived pretty far away, and I only got to see her a few amount of times during the month. Despite that, this video, the opening theme to the first season of the Kimi ni Todoke anime, was one of my most looked forward to things each and every week. Excusing the rather average direction of the animation, it was the song,  "Kimi ni Todoke" by artist Tanizawa Tomofumi, that made my week 25 times in-a-row.

Now, I'm a very impressionable person. Sometimes, that isn't so healthy. I base a lot of my thoughts about something from the moment I first see it. That's not to say I never learn more about people than what initially appears after my first impressions, but let's just say that I'm never going to eat octopus, or that I'll never re-watch the Iron Man anime again. To me, this means that the opening theme, which sets me in the perfect mood to watch an anime like this, plays a large...large role in my love towards Kimi ni Todoke. When it comes down to it, it does not really matter to me as much that the episode is as good as it could have been, but rather that I am in the perfect mood before, and after, I watch the anime. This opening is the key to that feeling. It's the symbolism that the opening has, in relation to the warmth I feel after every episode, that gets me psyched and excited to watch it. It's the concrete definition for Classical Conditioning.The anime itself doesn't completely make me love Kimi ni Todoke, rather it's the anticipation for feeling the warmth after the episode itself that I love the most. It's a very complex cycle. 

I'm not saying that the plot and animation itself isn't art, and that the focus should be only on the music. Of course the plot is important in maintaining the mood, and the scenes where the only things focused on are simplistic and work wonders. However, it's not the gripping drama, or the entangled character bio's that Kimi ni Todoke is best known for. To me, it's the fact that you want to care for these characters, not that you feel like you have to. In many tragic stories, there are always clear attempts to paint a character as sad and pathetic, and come off as someone who needs you to be rooting for them.

Sawako, as sad as her attempts to find friends and maybe love, has nothing but a cheerful, optimistic approach on life. This turns her from a mopey, "I-want-you-to-pull-through" character, into someone who I can actually look up to and learn a few things about. Sawako's best friends, Chizuru and Ayane, just end up reflecting the audience in that they are just as impressed by Sawako's outlook as we are, making them relatable for everyone to fall in love with, too. I don't believe Sawako is an all-too realistic representation of an actual teenage girl, and the absolute perfect innocence she has, as well as her ability to seem hideous to her peers despite in actuality being quite beautiful, screams cliche and unlikely in the real world. But I've never been focused on how realistically innocent and naive Sawako is when I say she's a great character, or even how the whole technicalities of the works are very lackluster. Instead, I'm much too focused on not only seeing Sawako change over her time in the quick-paced and unfamiliar surrounding she's in, but also having some changing occur to myself. There's a picky "film buff" in me, and he loves to break down movies to it's simplest form, and either suckle on the great choreography and cinematography of the project, or rip it a new asshole and point out all flaws, continuity errors and, overall, break all immersion. Kimi ni Todoke is horribly predicable, not very original and has a simplistic style at times.

And yet...

I set all of that aside. I whisk away any gripes with the animation, or the predictions of the budget the series had, because all that mattered to my enjoyment, in the end, was due to the pacing of the show, how loosely, yet still interestingly grounded into reality it was, and the excellently emotion-felt monologues Sawako delivered. To me, the strongest aspect an anime, manga, film, book, video game, comic, anything... can benefit from is an emotional attachment, or caring, for a main character. Put simply, when my mood is set from the opening, Sawako adds to that with her charming, and the ridiculously impossible innocence she has. It's as if it's nearly unfathomable to meet a girl as sweet and friendly as her, yet there's still some reality to the situation.

I think that's all that I can really explain for Kimi ni Todoke. I mean, it may not seem like it, even to me, but it's high up there with my favorite things of my entire life. It's not the first of its kind, yet I've hit such a great note along with this that it pretty much forced me to read any form of medium about it. It's opened up Kuragehime into the same boat for me, and I feel almost the exact same towards that as I do Kimi ni Todoke. And with the second season of Kimi ni Todoke on the way, what better way to begin the year for myself than with the loud scream of a certain onomatopoeia.

[Catch Kimi ni Todoke Season 2 on this seasons Annotated Anime from Brad, the lucky guy...]

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MARCContributor   gamer profile

don't even bother calling me out, I go by OxKing now cuz he's the ickest & more + disclosures



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