Kuronuma Sawako is completely misunderstood by her classmates. Her timid and sweet demeanor is often mistaken for malicious behavior. This is due to her resemblance to the ghost girl from "The Ring," which has led her peers to give her the nickname Sadako. Longing to make friends and live a normal life, she is naturally drawn to Kazehaya Shouta, the most popular guy in class, whose "100% refreshing" personality earns him great admiration from Sawako. So when Kazehaya starts talking to her, maybe there is hope for the friendships Sawako has always longed for. Maybe... there is even a little hope for some romance in her future.
Only rarely does a series break the mold its genre has cast for it and even more uncommonly does it set itself apart from all others. Such is the case with Kimi ni Todake. It takes all the classic shoujo romance stereotypes and plot devices and flips them on its head leaving us with a thoroughly rewarding and groundbreaking romance.
At first, Kimi ni Todake drew me in before I saw its first frame of film with its story concept. Our heroine is Sawako, a sweet and gentle girl with an awkward personality and an uncanny resemblance to Sadako from The Ring.
Desperately wanting others to understand her she is instead shunned and feared by her classmates. This all changes when she meets a boy named Kazehaya who is the first to truly see her and slowly she begins to draw herself out of her shell. The remaining story is one of self discovery as Sawako experiences the first feelings of love and friendship she has ever felt. While her situation is a bit contrived and not overly realistic, the way it is presented is so wonderfully sweet and beautiful that it is impossible not to love.
I firmly believe that in order to really fully appreciate just how special Kimi ni Todake is, you have to already be a veteran of at least a dozen or more of its shoujo peers. There are none of the usual tired clichés. Sawako isn’t the plain and perky heroine determined to get a man to fall for her who ignores her or treats her horribly. She isn’t out for revenge nor is she being pursued by a harem of bishounens with a desperate struggle to choose between them. Kazehaya isn’t a dick, for lack of a better term. He’s a guy who will be loved by viewers not because he’s hot, but because he’s just a really nice guy any girl would want to fall in love with and guys would want as a friend.
The feelings and situations presented to us are real and powerful but not in an overly dramatic way. Nobody has torturous family lives or tragic pasts or other situations that always feel forced in a way to create drama that could be better achieved with fantastic characters and storytelling. The concepts are simple, the pacing slow, and full of the required blushes and aw shucks moments. Much like its soft artwork and color palette, Kimi ni Todake is the kind of show you will sit back and relax too, forgetting about all the problems of your day.
This is not to say that it doesn’t have its faults. While just about every aspect of the series was wonderful to behold, the series already slow pace comes to an even greater crawl over the last 8-10 episodes. While I still enjoyed them immensely, I suspect some viewers will likely begin to lose patience at the lack of progress or action in the story. And while perhaps we are also being setup for a continuation at some point, since the manga is still ongoing, the ending was also not particularly ideal.
Sawako herself goes down as one of my all-time favorite characters. She is so completely earnest and innocent that she is impossible not to love. While her character concept is initially not all that unique she becomes so much more than just a socially awkward, shy, and moe girl. Everyone can find something to relate with her over and from a character development standpoint, the person she becomes by the end of the series is so remarkably different from her beginning that it’s truly amazing. Yet despite this enormous change she never deep down changes from what she really is at her core. Her closing monologue at the end of the show is a prime example of just how much she has grown.
Kazehaya is a rare breed for a romance series. First he is the one and only love interest. No reverse harems of bishies here to waste story time or antagonize the heroine. He is also unique in that outside series such as Kanon or Clannad, he is one of the only leads that looks and feels like a real person. He is never made out to be a caricature of the fantasies and dreams of young girls. He is not super wealthy, nor is he a famous athlete, or come from a notorious family. Sure he is really good looking, popular with the girls and the guys, and good at baseball but you never feel like these are things that he didn’t earn with his own merits. Unlike most of his anime contemporaries who have abrasive or aloof personalities but are still enormously popular because well they are supposed to be. They’re perfect men after all! His personality is the kind that draws people to him and his popularity is not just because he’s handsome. People like him because he's nice to them. What a novel idea!
While on the surface, Kazehaya and Sawako seem to be completely different people, deep down they both share the same confusing emotions and fears about the feelings each has for the other. The interaction between the two is truly special and lovely. Amazingly I never really lost my patience with them either or yell at the screen, “Oh come on just kiss her already!”
Kimi’s supporting cast is also quite remarkable. This is nowhere more evident than with Sawako’s new best friends, Ayane and Chizu. From the start of the story you never would have though these girls would have become her friends. They had almost written on their faces “villainess” and it was such a pleasant surprise to see these two develop into perhaps the best shoujo best friends I have seen yet. They are so completely different from one another that it is a bit surprising they are friends. Ayane is the beautiful, fashionable temptress, while Chizu is the butch and athletic type. Their reactions to Sawako kind of mirror the way the audience will perceive her. There bonds grow stronger as they experience things together, and overcome some adversity. They were truly a joy to watch.
Other characters come and go but are no less impactful to the story. The only real rival, Kurumi, who appears in the middle portions of the story never, outstays her welcome and while she would technically serve as the series villainess, she never really feels to me like a villain. Shockingly Sawako’s family life is also quite normal, she neither has a tragic home situation or a perverted father, and they are both loving and normal parents (both to her and to each other).
Artistically Kimi really shines. Its soft colors and artwork just match the beauty and sweetness in the story perfectly. It does a good job of mixing in comedic art along with its beautiful scenery to make every episode visually appealing and smile inducing. This is even more brought out with the spectacular musical score and cast. Mamiko Noto seems to have been born to play this role. It’s a typical character type for her, one that we have heard from her many times, but this will be one that fans will remember for years and years to come. I can’t say enough about the OP theme, I was instantly in love with from the first chorus and its animation is tremendous. I also found the ED to be equally perfect, though I suspect Chara’s gravelly voice to be unappealing to some.
Overall, Kimi ni Todake is easily a top 5 series for me and one of the best shows of the decade. It was immediately appealing to me from the first episode and I am extremely sad to see it end. This is how more romance shows should be done and is not to be missed by anyone who likes the genre in even the slightest bit. It really doesn’t get much better than this one.
How do you recognize that you’ve watched a great show? Do you wake up the next morning and think about it the whole day? Do you talk to people full enthusiasm and passion about the show? Or did you just get that feeling that makes your heart ache and feel all good and warm inside? Kimi ni Todoke manages to do all this.
Kimi ni Todoke starts off as an anime that could make you wonder if you’re actually watching said series. The very first scene is practically a half-horror scene attempted by the animators to make you understand in a snap what kind of person
the main character is. Kuronuma Sawako: a girl who looks a bit gloomy and scares away most of the people she’s nearby to. The reason because of that is a simple one: she’s very easily misunderstood. The tone of her voice sounds like a ghost that waited a thousand years in a closet and finally sees someone to scare away. Sawako may not have waited a thousand years but she does scare away people with her awkward attempt to greet someone, which earned her the nickname ''Sadako'' (the ghost from the movie ''The Ring'').
It’s natural that any person watching until now will get a feeling of sympathy. We see and hear things that play in Sawako’s mind, and in Sawako’s mind only. She doesn’t mean to scare anyone away. She doesn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. Even her life motto (''A good deed a day'') sounds like it’s something made up by a loving person who likes to help. This is by far the biggest message the story is trying to convey: no matter how good your intentions are deep inside, if it’s not coming out in the proper way, nobody will see it on the outside. Sawako is struggling with this harsh truth that tackles her every single day. She has no real friends, feels very lonely at times and has a hard time understanding social situations not knowing how to react. It all feels very sad for Sawako and she is just trying to fit in and help people. But she can’t because of her way of conveying a message to another person; she hasn’t learned to do that properly.
If there is a second message this anime tries to portray, it has to be the message of hope. Because even for Sawako, light in the dark tunnel of social situations can be seen. You could say that Sawako actually is a clean slate of life that hasn’t been written on. The good things and the bad. Because that slate is almost empty, she’s never learned to interact, to recognize backstabbers and to clear up a misunderstanding. But also, she’s never learned to talk behind someone’s back, to steal anything or even to spread rumors.
Sawako is unique. An empty book that can be written in with all the things that life teaches us. That is one of the most brilliant ways to begin a story about an individual that grows up and steadily learns new things.
It’s actually unusual to write so much about a character in a show, even if it’s one of the most complex main characters. The story and the thought behind the story is what should be elaborately written about. But here, the character IS actually the story. Of course it’s possible to name all the events that happened in the show and write a bunch of thoughts about that. The truth is however that the story itself is very thin. And the best thing about that: it does not matter at all.
Which brings me to my next point. To understand why the story doesn’t matter, we have to look at the pacing of the show. Most stories tend to start off with a bang. Then there are some small events that explain all the things about that big happening and move the story forward. Then there is another peak in the story and the cycle repeats itself.
Kimi ni Todoke is nothing like that. You must realize that the pacing is extremely slow in this show. But the joke is that you must ask yourself the question if it matters to you. The story is about Sawako experiencing all the things in life that almost anyone can relate to. From your first classmate ever sitting next to you, to your first love in high school. It’s that emotional ride that makes this anime so darn special. And the pacing has a very, very important role in delivering those emotions. Basically, it actually makes it possible to notice all the small talk that the characters are having, the fun moments that they’re experiencing, the flowing rivers of sadness that are shown and even the growing love between characters. And most importantly: it’s possible to notice Sawako coming out of her shell. It’s because the pacing is that slow, you can notice and appreciate those things that come by in the anime.
In terms of art, it’s really crucial that you watch this show with an open mind without prejudices. Keep in mind that this is a ''shoujo''. This means that it’s a story with the point of view of a girl and most likely with some ''girly'' elements. But if you manage to overcome these things (or are a girl yourself), Kimi ni Todoke is a breath of fresh air to watch. While the animation may not be the greatest you will ever see, the art is amazing. It’s one of those anime which captures the feel of the manga almost perfectly. The scenery is beautiful and everything has this ''fresh'' feel, as if you’re diving in a nice cold bath after sweating.
Most of the time in animated shows, either the characters are well drawn or the backgrounds are. Kimi ni Todoke does both well with maybe the backgrounds being a tiny bit better drawn than the characters. Cute bubbles and sparkles pop up randomly in many scenes but actually fit very snuggly in the story strangely enough. And the people who composed the musical score deserve applause. The music captures those emotions portrayed beautifully and manages to play as a nice ear massage if listened to.
It’s too bad that Kimi ni Todoke has one of the most banal summaries you will ever see. Ever. Anyone who decides to watch an anime based on the summary he or she has read will most likely miss this gem of a show. If one day someone will invent a way to include snippets of emotions in a summary, Kimi ni Todoke will stand at the top of the charts and that inventor will hopefully be rich and famous. It’s also too bad that the anime is over. The manga is still going strong so there is hope for a second season; there are literally many who are begging for one. It’s not possible to fully share in words what this anime makes so special, it’s an experience you’ll have to call your own. And because you can relate to almost anyone in the show, it will give you that honest feeling. That feeling which makes you believe that life has more in store, that you CAN move forward and change things. Sawako manages to do it, and so does everyone.
This anime left a bad taste in my mouth. Before watching I read some of the previous reviews and was spurred to watch it after many comments stating how original it was. It's not. There are certain aspects of the anime that differ from the usual but really it was just another shy girl meets popular boy type of anime.
The first few episodes were definitely enjoyable, the back story to why Sawako is an outcast is different and interesting and so is how she begins to make friends. Unfortunately after about episode 6 or 7 you are wasting your time. This anime should have been
shorter as it moves at an incredible slow pace. Honestly it began to become a mission to sit through another episode. Not only were the episodes repetitive (never has a character cried so much before this) but you can pretty much guess what is going to happen in each episode after the first minute. Unfortunately there is no great ending to uplift the series, it just sort of flattens out part way through and never gets any momentum back.
I think was really annoyed me the most is the lack of development with the characters. There were so many beginnings of side stories and other love interests in this anime that never really developed. At least these could have livened up the second half of the series.
A few good things about this anime were the art, I thoroughly enjoyed the almost water colour style. The opening track is lovely to listen to as well and suits the anime perfectly. Kazehaya was actually quite a good character and was probably the most original out of all of them with his glass half full attitude that never wavered.
Overall I am giving this a 5/10 as although the first half was enjoyable the second half nearly put me into a coma.
Tales of romance never fail to tug at our heartstrings and entrance our species with a commanding power. Witnessing the innocuous meeting of two unsuspecting individuals struck by an incomprehensible tempest, finding themselves in a whirlwind of chaos and feeling, just piques our imaginative fancies. Thus, Love and all its related counterparts feel universal and evident in stories unfazed by time or land. It’s the one subject that transcends language barriers into a collective realm of human dreams. Why? It’s simply the unequivocal remedy to longing, to despair, to emptiness; a cure for an incurable illness. It fills voids that can’t be explained. As
fantastical and idealistic as this outlined notion of love is there has to be some hint of truth in it, as what else can explain this obsession with love and its inherent reflection in almost every facet of Art and story-telling (which echoes the deepest, most visceral part of human creation).
One form of this universally-binding phenomenon is brought forth in the series Kimi ni Todoke, adapted from the manga by Karuho Shiina. Within the medium, there are only a few other titles that can create a truly pure romance as the one portrayed in Kimi ni Todoke. Yes, it falls within the shoujo realm, which would imply a certain degree of fantasy (if not entirely) romances, naivety, and even immaturity. Kimi ni Todoke has all of this and probably to an uncomfortable degree for some viewers, but as with any tale of romance, it requires a willingness to believe; the rest is up to the work – whether to protect that faith or smash it, and Kimi ni Todoke falls gracefully within the former camp.
The 25 episode series follows a misunderstood, isolated high school girl Kuronama Sawako who due to her somewhat gloomy appearance and aloof nature has been branded as “Sadako” – the creepy ghost girl from the Japanese horror film Ringu – and her transformative journey through finding love, friendship, and herself. Along with Sawako’s love interest Kazehaya Shota and an entirely beguiling cast, Kimi ni Todoke excels in almost every single element of its ambitions and of its genre.
The story is simple and relishes in its simplicity. There are no contrived melodramatic shticks , or unnecessary drama to test one’s patience, or any other kind of forced devices creators use to plod the plot along. This series has a focus and sticks to it. This doesn’t mean that it’s not slow however. The pacing is relaxed; giving time to the characters to fully explore the situations, themselves, and each other. Many have complained about the gradual nature of its progression, but it’s undoubtedly one of its strength.
For one, there are many kinds of implicit love envisioned in this series – love of friends, romantic love, and love of self. The process that one goes through – from recognizing the existence of these feelings to actually feeling them to acknowledging them and finally acting on them – isn’t a quantifiable ordeal; but it can probably be inferred that such a definitive undertaking is gradual. This is why Kimi ni Todoke truly shines: its able to understand that process whether it’s in relation to loving somebody or loving themselves and realizing, that it takes time, especially first loves – a completely foreign territory for all. A worthy love story will try and present its notion of love as complete as possible, and the show definitely develops that with great care. This is evident through how much the of the content is focused on reveling in each and every step/phase that the characters go through. This not only refines the holistic love story, but also the characters; transforming them into vivid, dynamic personalities with purpose and charisma.
The characters are the strongest point of the series. The coupling of awkward girl with popular boy is overtly clichéd at this point, but it all becomes irrelevant in Kimi ni Todoke, because of how carefully it manages to add dimension to each trait; keeping the characters genuine to their core and albeit archetypical of the genre, giving them the ability to step beyond the clichés attached to them. The main characters – Sawako and Kazehaya – deliver this wonderfully.
Sawako is breath of fresh air amongst the littered trash of static shoujo protagonists. Having been alone most of her life, she is completely unaware of what social activities are and oblivious to the meaning of friends or boyfriends. Yet, the work doesn’t go for the angst-y, edgy teen-in-purgatory approach demanding pity and remorse. Rather, the series takes a much more light-hearted tone and creates one of the best shoujo heroines I’ve encountered. Sawako’s demure nature, unfiltered innocence and naivety, and fundamental goodness just radiates throughout, despite her initial appearance and reception. Best of all, she isn’t depicted as an idiotic, weak individual who can’t stand up for herself or what she wants. She is perfectly balanced which keeps her grounded, but also extremely lovable. Of course, some of her traits are exaggerated, but it does not detract from her character at all. I also have to applaud at how nuanced her development is even though the show narrates her every thought explicitly. It’s like reading a diary, and then finding yourself at the end of it, unknowingly standing with the same person.
Kazehaya is sublime. Following suit of the popular, cute, nice boy but stepping away from the trope to be something more. Kazehaya’s character is examined as deeply as Sawako, even though it’s often through Sawako. There is a definite reliability in her narration since a complete picture of Kazehaya is formed as a product. Like Sawako, Kazehaya is genuinely a good person. His kindness is infectious and it is through that kindness that he brings Sawako out of her isolation. Yet, he isn’t perfect and he isn’t detached from the narrative, existing only to be a fantasy achievement for the girl; instead he exists in her world, with her, with all of his feelings, vulnerabilities, and flaws laid right out in plain sight. Essentially, he feels as real as Sawako.
Both characters find themselves at the same crossroad trying to comprehend and deliver their feelings. It’s a pleasure to see how these characters overcome their internal turbulences, and grow. I cannot stress how happy I was to NOT see any trite misunderstandings or random trust issues. The show definitely has its share of drama, but it’s well-conceived and integrated smoothly into the progression without being imposing which is partly why development of these characters seems so effective. As much as this is a tale of love, it’s equally focused on growth and the latter is illuminated at every turn.
The rest of the characters are also well done. Everyone has their own distinctive traits, issues, weaknesses and the show does a great job managing them while giving them some room to be people beyond “the friends” or devices for the main characters. I came to love Ayano, Chizu, and Ryu as much as Sawako and Kazehaya, because of how finely the work asserted their importance – as individuals. Having a dynamic cast means more possibilities. One possibility is being able to keep the consistency throughout the series without compromising quality. Often times, romantic comedies feel like two separate things, rather than a cohesive narrating intertwining both. The comedy in the show is fantastic and befitting. It’s not added to act as filler or to make up for awkward static characters who exist solely to be comedic reliefs.
And to bring this sweet tale together is the art, tone, and music. The tone is always light, yet manages to convey the more serious situations with equal impact. This is mostly attributed to the art style and color scheme. A pure pastel palette is used; softened colors that keep the atmosphere consistently warm and inviting. The frames are often inked with white, garnered with flower stamps and filled with dreamy bubbles, allowing the fantastical spirit of romance to blossom endlessly. The sugary, wistful art and animation perfectly accompanies the tone and nature of the series. Yet it wouldn’t be complete without melody and song. The music in this series is also quite pleasant. Comprised of upbeat vocals, soft piano, gentle choruses, and simple music-box-ish tunes, the entire soundtrack supplements the show very well. Overall, all of these elements tie seamlessly together to elevate the series into the spotlight it so rightfully deserves.
Kimi ni Todoke is and should be the quintessential love story within the medium. It is the idyllic feel-good work that proudly shows why tales of romance will never fail to tug at our heartstrings. Storytellers will continue to tell age-old stories written with some cosmic force that involuntarily rev our own hearts. It’s through these variations of love, can we vicariously experience it too (or at least dream). To feel the stars fall down from the skies in to our eyes and color the world with a rosy tint, oh what a feeling it must be! And that is indeed the type of unadulterated love you will see, feel, and experience with Sawako and Kazehaya as they walk under the star-crusted skies in Kimi ni Todoke.
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