The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Kimi ni Todoke

Title: Kimi ni Todoke aka Reaching You
Genre: Romance/Drama
Company: Production I.G.
Format: 25 episodes
Dates: 7 Oct 2009 – 31 Mar 2010

Synopsis: Kuronuma Sawako is incredibly shy but she can’t help but scare people with her appearance, which wouldn’t be out of place in a horror movie.  Because of this, she has a hard time making friends but there’s one person in her class who treats her differently… the bright and popular Kazehaya Shota.

The Highlights
Main characters: Sawako is generally charming but her naivety is sometimes frustrating; Kazehaya takes a while to become interesting.
Romance: Not momentous, but still incredibly sweet.
Seiyuu: Noto Mamiko is a touch forceful; I’ve run out of superlatives with which to compliment Sawashiro Miyuki.
Art: Some people also call this show “sparkles and bubbles”; generally looks very good, as expected from Production I.G.

I had a tumultuous relationship with Kimi ni Todoke.  There were times where it annoyed and frustrated me and there were times that I found it so uplifting and sweetly romantic.  In the end, I really liked it.  It’s a “dessert” anime, since it’s sweet enough to rot your teeth, but it’s earnest and heartfelt and Sawako’s character development, while occasionally feeling a tad contrived, is profound.

This anime is pretty much entirely about its main character Sawako, and the dominant theme early in the story is summed up by the title.  Sawako is a social blank slate, and it’s interesting to see how she changes her attitude towards people, how Kazehaya helps her and how she forms close friendships with Ayane and Chizu and earns the respect of her classmates.  Her incredible naivety is reasonably well rationalized to begin with, but some of her actions during the Kurumizawa arc really strained belief.  Here, her innocence is played up to counter Kurumizawa, but she constantly misjudges people, second guesses herself and fumbles with the basics of social interaction… and in such an extreme way that some viewers speculated she had a learning disability (not me, though, I just thought the writers were being too over-the-top with the portrayal of her naivety).  It’s the Kurumizawa arc that I liked the least, for this very reason… ironically, it’s Kurumizawa’s character development in the last episode of the arc that saves it.

The subsequent arcs were really endearing, fortunately, starting with the Chizu arc where Sawako’s social ineptitude wasn’t so much the focus, and the show dealt with more complex issues such as unrequited love, that didn’t have such clear-cut answers.  Kazehaya, who, in the previous arcs, almost resembles a passive object for various characters to crush on, begins to man up and take a more active role in the direction that his and Sawako’s relationship took.

This relationship unfortunately doesn’t progress very far, but I was expecting this considering the show is based on an ongoing manga and the romantic feelings between Sawako and Kazehaya make sense and feel right, so it’s only going to be a matter of time (and a second season) before something happens between them.  Almost all the relationships, in fact, whether between friends, couples and unrequited crushes are sweet and charming, which makes them, and all the onscreen sparkles and bubbles that go along with them, adorable to watch.  Speaking of the artstyle, besides the excessive brightly coloured bubbles that accompany almost any dramatic or romantic moment, expect to see animation that almost always looks good… even during the superdeformity scenes.  I usually dislike superdeformity but this, alongside of ARIA and Azumanga Daioh, is among the rare series that executes it well.  Overall, it has its flaws and Sawako can occasionally be trying, but more often than not she and the rest of the cast are delightful and it has one of the most meaningful and satisfying non-endings I’ve seen.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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