Kimi ni Todoke: A cute, slow-paced romance

Posted on June 15, 2013

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Kimi ni Todoke is a romance manga written by Karuho Shiina, later adapted to an anime series by Production I.G., spanning two seasons. Due to the large number of romance shoujo anime in existence, it can be quite hard to point out a show that stands out from the rest in terms of its key features. After all, romance is the genre most likely to make use of excessively tiresome cliches. The astounding number of romantic stories basically using the same plot devices and story line structure makes them almost look alike. It numbs my sense of telling things apart, effectively killing my ability to appropriately respond to those scenes where you’re supposed to go awwwww or kyaaa!. As more and more romance shoujo anime show up every now and then, it becomes increasingly challenging to come up with something that is distinguishable from the romance “herd.”

And in my opinion, Kimi ni Todoke more or less succeeds in doing just that.

Plot: 8.5/10

Kimi ni Todoke’s setting is pretty generic: high school. While it’s understandable that many love stories bloom in this particular chapter youth, it also makes it hard to expect something new from the story at the same time. It’s just gonna be the good ol’ love triangles, a shy girl chasing after the guy, yadda, yadda, yadda. And guess what; it’s what Kimi ni Todoke mostly is about, just like your any regular high school romance anime. However, the series has a little trick up its sleeve.

Kimi ni Todoke invests a significant amount of time portraying the inner self of the main character, the socially awkward Sawako Kuronuma. We viewers are given access to her innermost thoughts; how she struggles with herself deep inside, her frustrations, her suppressed feelings of joy, her desires and fantasies, all of these are open for the close scrutiny of the audience. And it’s a big plus for the show. Kimi ni Todoke did well in demystifying the feelings Sawako felt through the course of the series for the appreciation and full understanding of the audience; why she’s socially awkward in the first place, how she takes friendship seriously, and how her feelings for Shota Kazehaya (the dude, obviously) develop in time. And they did this by providing an alternative way of observing the character; through their inner selves. A big chunk of the series actually consists of Sawako’s soliloquies, and it’s a pretty nice take on shows like romance. The other characters get to have the same treatment at times as well, albeit consuming less air time. Given these facts, it isn’t hard to deduce that Kimi ni Todoke is a notoriously slow-paced drama. This gives the show plenty of opportunities to make Sawako’s psyche as vivid and appreciable as possible, but there may be times when things get way too monotonous due to slow pacing, and can start to be pretty tiring, even stressful to watch, which Kimi ni Todoke is guilty of at times. It may be a strategy to coax viewers to patiently wait for the next episode, but such a strategy is a double-edged sword; it also warrants negative emotions from the audience; impatience, and the feeling of being a little cheated for watching a 22-24 minute episode that hardly settles things due to a very slow story pacing.

Still, on the whole, Kimi ni Todoke makes good use of Sawako’s introspection and a “take your time” pacing to give the plot more depth and clarity, and to make the characters more realistic and easy to sympathize with. A generic high school romance donned a new look through the creative usage of these plot elements, and it’s something you don’t see everyday.

Character Setup: 10/10

My explanation of Kimi ni Todoke’s smart use of slow pacing and character introspection should explain the score. The characters are well-defined; their personalities, quirks, and significance in the love fest plot that is Kimi ni Todoke. You can clearly see how the characters are different from each other, as well as how they complement each other. Another plus for Kimi ni Todoke is that the show allows us to sneak a peek on how other romances develop as well; not just Sawako and Kazehaya’s. And rightfully so; a very slow-paced, painstakingly detailed story about a single love team spanning nearly 40 episodes is a stupendously boring thought. We get to have a close look on characters like Ayane Yano and her problematic love life, that spark between Yoshida Chizuru and Sanada Ryu, as well as Kurumizawa Ume’s unrequited love, a side-story I liked the most.

Another good point Kimi ni Todoke’s character development is that it gives us a vivid explanation on how characters think when conflicts arise. Ever got annoyed over the fact that things could have worked out between two people if they talked everything out, but chose not to and then everything got worse? Kimi ni Todoke lets us take a look on what is going on inside the person’s head and understand their very thoughts, and still get annoyed. But then we discover the show’s inspiring efforts to make the characters as human as possible; they have their own insecurities and fears, and that makes “talking things out” in relationships not as simple as we thought it is. Several internal factors are at work; and just like that, we understand through the show how natural it is for these conflicts to arise; it’s not just a matter of mechanically adding a twist to a plot to give it more pizzazz, or making a mountain out of a molehill just to upset viewers. Kimi ni Todoke captures every fleeting moment between the characters’ relationships, giving even the most minute details considerable depth and beauty. In the end, you’ll thank the show for frustrating you with its characters as you appreciate their relationships with each other even more. You gotta give props to the creators for that.

Art: 8/10

The art is relaxing and pleasing to look at. The artists mix colors in an interesting way, giving the backgrounds more life. Characters are drawn in a satisfactory manner as well, though there are a couple of times when the faces look a bit awkward. The best part of the anime has to be its chibi art, which normally happens in the show’s funny moments. Seriously chibi Sawako is one the cutest things I’ve seen so far.

Sound: 9/10

Complementing the peaceful aura of Kimi ni Todoke is its relaxing music. It blends well with the show’s art. The opening and ending themes are worth listening to as well. Good music choice in general.

Replayable? It depends.

Are you really into romance? If so, then it’s a good idea to re-watch the series some time. It will surely retain the awwww and kyaaaa! factors of the show: watching the characters struggle to express their feelings in words is a wonderfully cute spectacle.

Overall: 9/10

Kimi ni Todoke is a memorable romance story for its creativity and concern for detail. You’ll end up appreciating the characters for their entirety, and will give you a perspective on how love and relationships work. Though I can’t recommend this show for those who are too impatient when it comes to romantic developments, it doesn’t change the fact that Kimi ni Todoke is one of the better romance anime out there.

Posted in: Anime