I’ve been ready to write my impression post of Kimi ni Todoke for some time now but I felt that I was lacking some sort of needed angle to best describe how I felt. I wasn’t quite sure what it was, I thought maybe I needed another show to compare it to, like I just did for Kampfer and Sora No Otoshimono, but nothing really fit until I finally sat down to watch Sasameki Koto yesterday. This was exactly what I was looking for and so here’s my impression post for Kimi ni Todoke and Sasameki Koto.
Kimi ni Todoke
Rating: episode 1 – 10.5/12 Strong A
Rating: episode 2 – 9/12 A-
Rating: episode 3 – 8/12 B+
Rating: episode 4 – 8/12 B+
Rating: episode 5 – 8/12 B+
Rating: episode 6 – 7/12 B
Anticipation Level: 1/5 – Low
Rating: episode 1 – 9/12 A-
Rating: episode 2 – 10/12 A
Rating: episode 3 – 9/12 A-
Rating: episode 4 – 10/12 A
Rating: episode 5 – 9/12 A-
Rating: episode 6 – 10.5/12 Strong A
Anticipation Level: 3/5 – Average to Medium
In Kimi ni Todoke, our main character is named Sawako but everyone calls her Sadako after the creepy girl in The Ring – mainly because she’s weird and creepy (in the awkward socialization sense that makes people weird and creepy) – but in reality she’s a very nice girl who dreams of finding someone who understands her and will be her friend. She also likes the most popular boy in her grade but doesn’t realize that its love she’s feeling. The story follows how Sawako opens up to people and finds friendship and what happens when a not-popular girl likes the most popular boy and, presumably, what happens after they hook-up. (That the two will become a couple is apparent before the end of the first episode.)
In Sasameki Koto, the main character Ushio happens to be a girl who likes girls – though only cute girls. She wasn’t smart enough to get into an all-girls school so she’s stuck going to a normal co-ed school and has had no luck finding a girl who meets her requirements. It’s revealed in the first episode that Ushio’s best-est and truest friend happens to like Ushio in that way but hasn’t said so to Ushio yet (probably because Ushio has stated that her best friend isn’t “her type” because she’s taller and not cute). The story follows the pair’s not-so-normal school life as Ushio continues to search for Ms. Right while her friend tries to be a true friend and help her even if it hurt’s her own chances.
The Fine Print
I might as well start off by saying it bluntly – Sasameki Koto is a better show then Kimi ni Todoke.
By no means do I dislike Kimi ni Todoke but it has it’s problems. The primary one is that it lacks a compelling story and has no dramatic tension. By the end of episode 1, we know she likes him and he likes her and there’s nothing really impeding them from getting together – certainly nothing that’ll take at least another dozen episodes. This isn’t Romeo and Juliet where they can’t be together because their families are feuding. This isn’t Toradora where the boy and girl both like the best friend of the other and so they plan to help each other get the one they like but end up liking each other. This isn’t even Sasameki Koto where one character is Ushio’s “best friend” but wants to be more but can’t because she’s too tall and not cute enough to be the right type for Ushio. And another character knows the “best friend” likes Ushio so he starts cross-dressing to get the best friend’s attention because he’s fallen for her but the best friend is not interested in the boy – even if he looks cute (and incidentally catches Ushio’s eye). In each of these three stories, there’s a reason to continue watching which is lacking in the case of Kimi ni Todoke. It’s like watching a football game when the winning team has put the third string people in because the score is 48-3 in the fourth quarter – it’s boring for everyone so they all flip to the game where it’s 16-14 and the outcome is very much in doubt. Or to put it another way, it’s like how Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 had to really work at filling up it’s episode count because there was nothing to do when the story was just “and they walked home after an earthquake”.
Another problem with Kimi ni Todoke is that the pacing is glacially slow which only reinforces the first problem because it makes one impatient that they’re drawing out what should take 2-3 episodes max. I think it would have been entirely possible to squeeze the first three episodes into one episode and then take the rumor arc (or whatever it’s called) and condense that down into a maximum of 2 episodes.
On the other hand, Sasameki Koto has built up a story that leaves enough questions that the viewer wants to come back to see how these questions get answered. Maybe the best friend will stay a best friend and decide that she likes the boy who’s willing to cross-dress for her to like him. Maybe Ushio will fall for her best friend or maybe she will fall for the cross-dressing boy, even after she finds out he’s a boy or maybe she ends up with someone else. I don’t know so I want to see how the story ends.
Another thing Sasameki Koto has going for it is that it knows when to be funny and knows when to be serious (and more importantly, the funny parts are funny and the serious parts are touching and interesting). Which is a tough thing to pull off, convincingly. Watching just the first episode would make one think the show is a serious show only – making it somewhat similar to Aoi Hana – but later episodes work in funny parts that play off of how people in love do silly things like how does one practice for a first kiss without actually kissing. So the result is almost Key-esque, namely Sasameki Koto might have you laughing one minute and feeling serious the next (luckily we haven’t gotten to any sort of Key style tragedy yet).
There is one area that Kimi ni Todoke beats Sasameki Koto – production values. Production I.G. does Kimi ni Todoke and it really shows. The animation style has that watercolor feel (without it looking like they copied J.C. Staff) which is perfect for this show and makes the show look lovely and the animation quality itself is very good. Great OP/ED as well as good background music. The voice actors all really work with their characters; in particular Mamiko Noto does a great job as Sadako and I couldn’t help but notice that Yuuichi Nakamura who did Tomoya from Clannad is voicing the guy sitting behind Sadako and he is my favorite character. On the other hand, there’s nothing really wrong with Sasameki Koto’s production values but it’s apparent that AIC isn’t working with as large a budget. It’s nothing that really detracts from the show but it is apparent when comparing the two and I wanted to mention it because I feel bad about talking so harshly about Kimi ni Todoke.
(As a total aside, is it just me or does some of the background music for Sasameki Koto use an accordion? It kinda sounds like it does but I don’t have much music knowledge.)
And I almost forgot another thing that Kimi ni Todoke does that I like – they use chibis. You can never go wrong with using chibis. So, with that, I’ve said pretty much all I wanted say about these two shows. In case anyone is wondering, Sasameki Koto became the sixth show that earned itself a folder this season and Kimi ni Todoke still has not. I don’t plan on dropping Kimi ni Todoke, though, so if the second half of the show really picks up I will make a post up to help counter this largely negative post.