The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season

Title: Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season aka Reaching You 2nd Season
Genre: Romance/Drama
Company: Production I.G.
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 12 Jan 2011 – 30 Mar 2011

Synopsis: Kuronuma Sawako is slowly becoming closer to Kazehaya Shota as she opens up to others and gains more friends. However, rumors, misunderstandings and interference threaten to break the budding relationship between Sawako and Kazehaya. Will their true feelings ever reach one another?

The Highlights
Characters: Still sympathetic and likable, and both Sawako and Kazehaya make strong strides by the end.
Visuals: As high quality as the first season, with romantic scenes done especially well.
Misunderstandings: Lead to a highly frustrating first half that could be quickly resolved with a few words.
Ending: Nearly salvages the plot fumbles committed in the first half.

Kimi ni Todoke’s first season is a solid romance, if occasionally limp due to the personalities of the lead characters. And that limpness led to an ending that came off as too restrained, given the growth that had been seen in many characters. The second season of the popular romance has the opposite problem – a beginning that is fraught with troubles and frustration, but an ending that is strong, decisive and true to the heart of the show.

No review of Kimi ni Todoke should go without mentioning what a wonderful cast of characters it possesses. From the cool-headed Yano Ayane to the emotional and spirited Yoshida Chizuru to the now blunt, cutting Kurumizawa Ume, Kimi ni Todoke wields a group of characters that is both highly sympathetic and movingly real. They’re endearing, funny and ultimately good-hearted people.

Sawako and Kazehaya as characters were an occasional weak point in the first season – Sawako because of her lack of assertiveness, and Kazehaya because he seems more the nice guy stereotype than a real character. However, in this season Sawako takes more steps toward accepting her worth as a person, and thus becomes more engaging as a result. Kazehaya actually allows his flaws to surface, as well, and begins to feel more real.

The visuals remain a strong point as well. It’s easy to poke fun at all the sparkles and shoujo bubbles that are littered throughout each episode, but when Kimi ni Todoke needs to nail the atmosphere, it always comes through. Maybe it’s melodramatic and sappy; however, sometimes you just need a heaping helping of sap in your diet, and the mostly solid animation, bright, soft colors and, yes, the sparkles and bubbles, deliver that calming feeling in spades.

Unfortunately, Kimi ni Todoke’s second season nearly fumbles away this solid base from the start. The focus is almost entirely on Sawako and Kazehaya’s developing relationship, and the way it grows leads to huge problems in the first six or so episodes. Several levels of misunderstandings lead Sawako and Kazehaya to believe that the other person does not hold the same feelings as they do, i.e. feelings of love. These misunderstandings are kept up due to interference from several characters, notably new character Miura Kent, who tries to help Sawako but inevitably wreaks as much havoc as possible.

This drama rings hollow because it’s contrived. It comes off not as something real, but plotting concocted to stretch the story to fit 12 episodes. A few words or some emotional openness could solve the plot troubles, but nobody wants to take the initiative. We know Kazehaya and Sawako love each other. They are sure of their feelings. But their feelings cannot reach each other, and for reasons that frustrate in the worst possible way. It’s needless emotional torture, a sort of masochism where the writers keep the audience wincing as much as possible.

Thankfully, once progress starts again, the second season takes a large leap in quality. Sawako and Kazehaya think long and hard not just about why they like each other, but about who they are as people and what they mean to the other’s happiness. It’s a beautiful moment when Sawako breaks out of her tightly-wound shell and shows the confidence that she has deserved from episode one. Kazehaya, too, has his moments where he considers the type of person he is and how he interacts with people, which definitely makes him more interesting.

Kimi ni Todoke’s second season lives and dies by its focus on the show’s main relationship, particularly since, unlike the first season, the side characters sit mainly on the peripherals of the story. When that relationship is troubled, so too is the show itself troubled. But when it grows into something strong and healthy, then the series ends on a high note, although perhaps not high enough to justify the trials of the first few episodes.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Shinmaru

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