Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 12

Well, after about 39 episodes of hand-wrining neurosis, I really couldn’t have asked for a better finale to Kimi ni Todoke. The two lovebirds finally know about their feelings for one another, and couldn’t be happier that they both feel the same way. They’re far more comfortable around one another, and no longer care what other people think (or at least, can live with what other people think).

Sawako and Kazehaya aren’t the only ones who’ve made progress. Kurumi and Kento are left to lick each other’s wounds – even if from the looks of it Kurumi isn’t all that interested. Chizuru has some really thoughtful things to say (I love it when this show treats her like a human rather than a clown), and Ryu’s confession to her – and her reaction to it – are just about pitch-perfect. Good luck, you crazy cats! Also, if Yano ever had a thing for Pin, it doesn’t amount to anything, but that’s okay, as Yano seems to like her independence.

Oh yeah, can’t forget: Sawako finally gives Kazehaya his gifts! Continuity, FTW! And while I thought it was silly that she didn’t give him these gifts at the proper times, but better late than never, and heck, from Kazehaya’s perspective, his girlfriend is already showering him with gifts. Nothin’ wrong with that. Nothin’ wrong with this ending, either. It wasn’t cheap, and it tied most everything up in a neat little bow. One last thing: Pin getting annoyed by the couple’s “sparkly aura” and shooing it away? Frikkin’ hilarious. Rating: 4

Series Mean Ranking: 3.346

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 11

Wow, a lot cleared up this week: first of all, Sawako and Kazehaya’s classmates are not only incredibly nosy, but incredibly thick as well. Kazehaya has to repeat himself several times in order to make it clear who Sawako is to him: namely his girlfriend. Sawako can scarcely believe it herself. It’s great to hear both Kazehaya and Sawako speak so clearly about these things at last; without all the cryptology and misunderstandings.

This is an episode packed with catharses; Kent confesses that he misled Sawako; while Chizuri admits she also unwittingly discouraged Kazehaya. A drunk (and rather pathetic) Pin steps back and gazes at the relationship he has helped to forge, while reminding Kazehaya never to rely on the benefit of doubt. The best line of the episode was Pin’s: “Does she really look like someone who would just somehow understand things?” Kazehaya is too punch-drunk in love to realize she really isn’t. Rating: 3.5

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 10

This seemed more like an episode for Kazehaya and Sawako than for us, the audience. We are already very much up to speed about where both parties stand in the feelings department, yet the show decided they needed to embellish this by having the two lovebirds confirm it several times in various exchanges during seemingly the umpteenth school festival (seriously, where do they get the money to hold so many?)

It wasn’t totally redundant, however: for the first time…bascially ever, Sadako actually says what’s on her mind; something heartfelt, not cobbled together and laced with stammering. She almost sounds confident, bless ‘er! This is huge, because so much of what she says that has any significance is heard by no one but us; this is a notable change of form.

Also, Kazehaya finally has the pelotas to call out to Sawako (after strategically letting her walk away to the ideal distance), telling her he likes her in public; in front of dozens of classmates. Granted, many of these classmates are so thick and grotesquely stupid, they probably still don’t understand, but there you are. He also, thank god, tells Joe to fuck off (firmly, yet politely, mind you) so he can keep talking to his girl. Attaboy…Progress~ you makes it. Rating: 3

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 9

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! Well, mostly. Sawako finally summons the balls to confess to Kazehaya relatively properly. Of course, he wouldn’t be Kazehaya if he didn’t say something that frikkin ruins everything before she can get a word in edgewise; he doesn’t disappoint here. “No matter what you say, my feelings won’t change” is just an awful line to say when a girl who isn’t sure about your feelings for her is trying to confess. Boy need to shaddap.

Worse, the awfully-drawn ginger classmate barges in, tearing the embracing couple apart before Kazehaya can respond. So there’s mutual bliss between Sawako and Kazehaya – for a grand total of sixty seconds. For an episode that was pretty much all about this, you’d think they would both be able to confess to one another and fully understand each other’s intentions, if that’s ever possible. This is nothing new; the series has always milked moments like these; but the barging-in-friend is so done to death it felt utterly cheap and tacky here.

It’s kind of a cop-out to put these two together and start making progress and then yank them away for no good reason: that is, not because of anything either one of them said or did, but rather some stupid extra. If anything else had happened in this episode, it would’ve been less jarring, but again, the confession was prety much it. Pin devolved back to his obnoxious self, and no one else had any lines of note. So this seems like a wasted opportunity. I already hated that ginger kid who barged in; now I loathe him. Rating: 3.5

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 8

For some reason, parts of this episode felt like a recap, but despite this, or rather because of the revisiting of encounters Sadako (sorry, Sawako) has had regarding her relationship (or lack thereof), she seems to finally turn a corner. By episode’s end (a cliffhanger, dammit), it seems she may end up the one to reach out to Kazehaya, not the other way round.

The episode is titled “I don’t care anymore”, which is what Sadako proclaims after school – somewhat confusing her friends – but also signaling something may have finally clicked that will end this excruciating situation for her and Kazehaya. She isn’t going to worry about being selfish or embarrassed or making the wrong impression or causing a misunderstanding.

She knows what she wants, and always has, and the only way to get it is to move beyond all that. Here’s hoping she does…it’s about frikkin’ time. Rating: 3.5

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 7

First off, Kurumi is awesome in this episode. Secondly, so is Kent. Yano and Chizu had a lot of great lines last week but this was more of a Kurumi and Kent episode. Kurumi isn’t lying anymore, and Kent doesn’t know how (he too was confused about who liked whom). Kurumi tells off Sadako for being so mousy (as if that was anything new), while Kent is eager to fix things between the hopeless couple, but is stopped at every turn by Yano/Chizu.

Sadako has gotten so ridiculous even Ryu, the quiet one, came out and told her she’s not saying enough. She isn’t, and neither is Kazehaya, but like Yano and Chizu, Ryu will only interfere so far. On the other hand, Kent thinks he’s God’s gift to humanity, while Kurumi is simply pissed off that the girl Kazehaya rejected her for is being such a pansy.

Finally, I can’t forget Kazehaya interpreting his encounter with Sadako as her rejecting him. Honestly these two have squandered so many opportunities to understand each other’s feelings, it doesn’t surprise me that they both think they rejected one another. They both need either medication…or nosier friends. Rating: 3.5

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 6

Kazehaya sees Kent’s hands on a tearful Sadako and does what anyone in that position would do: push Kent aside and ask him what’s going on. The three all get on the same page, some classmates show up in this “warzone”, and it’s not long before the whole school knows what went on (or think they do). That includes Ume.

For once, Kazehaya says something clearly – that he likes Sadako – but as usual, he muddies up the intent of those words by phrasing things so Sadako thinks he turned her down. Facepalm. This guy is seriously the worst at expressing himself. Fortunately for him, Yano and Chizu know the real score, and try to make Sadako understand that she’s mistaken and that she shouldn’t think of herself as a burden to all her friends.

This is tricky, since she’s so conditioned to believe she’s different and an outcast worthy of pity and concern at best, not genuine love. I really need to lay into her parents a bit at this point, who did nothing to stop this conditioning from making her into such a neurotic mess. But I love how all the characters are really coming alive in the last few episodes, including Chizuru’s and Pin’s emergence from caricature status. Rating: 4

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 5

Oh man, things are moving quickly now. Kent has decided to go ahead and try to scoop up Sadako after filling her head with confusion and doubt, then taking hold of her at her most vulnerable moment. The hapless Kazehaya can only arrive too late and gaze upon this scene in horror. This is one triangle I find myself not minding at all, and I have no reason to believe the best isn’t yet to come.

The fact of the matter is, Kazehaya is just as much at a loss as Sadako about how to take the next step with one another. A brief advice session with Ryuu and Pin finally shakes him out of inaction with the realization that he needn’t know absolutely everything about her to approach her; he can only learn about who she is if he actually talks to and spends time with her. Seems like a no-brainer, but these are high schoolers.

So yeah, Kent’s plan seems to have gone off without a hitch. He even goes so far as to mislead her into believing Kazehaya likes another girl. This is his most malevolent move thus far, but he’s looking out for himself, so it’s not unexpected. Finally, all this solid drama was preceded by a very sweet act with Ryuu and Chizu going to his bro Tooru’s wedding, including Yano having to make her over and a really nice scene where we’re to believe – for a moment, at least – that Chizu leaned over and kissed Ryuu. Cheeky bastards! Rating: 4

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 4

Nice mix of interactions this week: Kent meets with Kazehaya, telling him very gently if he’s not interested in Sawako, he should stop stringing her along; Chizuru and Kazehaya actually have a serious discussion for once (I was starting to worry whether Chizuru was still a human being or just a goofy charicature); and Yano scolds both Kazehaya and Sawako to grow a pair and get a frikkin’ move on already.

Particularly in his unpleasant little chat with Kent, Kazehaya is really starting to show a pulse; it’s pretty clear now what his flaw is: he is unable to express his feelings to Sawako in a way she’ll understand. In fact, everything he’s said to her thus far this season has been so cryptic, I doubt any girl would be able to make sense of it. Despite this, he gets irritated when anyone – Kent or Yano for instance – try to butt into his business. It’s something he feels he needs to work out.

But time’s-a-wasting. Kent’s intentions are crystal clear, and he’s starting to make his move. Either Kazehaya or Sawako need to figure out how to look at each other and communicate normally – and soon – if there’s going to be any chance of a relationship there. Spot-on episode where seemingly every character seemed human and made a solid contribution. Rating: 3.5

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 3

This is more like it. Just as Ume was often more interesting than Sadako, Kent is almost immediately more interesting than Kazehaya. While he claims to be a psychic, he may just be very observant and have good ears, because Sadako isn’t all that hard to read. But he’s in a new class, and is obviously bored with normal girls, so Sadako is the perfect project to keep him entertained. And she’s putty in his paws.

That isn’t to say he has ill intent; he may well be genuinely concerned for her well-being and social progression. Unlike Kazehaya, he’s able to speak to her plainly and comfortably. Kazehaya seems more human in this episode, and his chat with Shuu is one of his more heartfelt. He actually gets riled up, realizing he hasn’t made his position clear (one must bang it over Sadako’s head, after all), and with Kent on the prowl, his window is closing.

That Kazehaya just comes out and says he’s a “self-centered, inconsiderate, possessive jerk”, the stoic Shuu doesn’t disagree, only adds that Kazehaya also has a temper. These are the flaws beneath his otherwise perfect exterior that few, other than Shuu, know about. Sadako certainly doesn’t know, as she idolizes anyone who takes the slightest interest in her. This makes her vulnerable to being toyed with; first by Ume, and now, perhaps, by Kent.

Kazehaya hardly makes things better by telling her even more imprecise, cryptic things than he said before, leaving her to try to figure it out in her head…never a good thing. Regardless of the continued misunderstanding due to poor communication skills, this was the best episode of the series so far. Rating: 3.5

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 2

Kimi ni Todoke was a lot more tolerable this week, probably because it didn’t involve Valentine’s chocolates and (as much) futility. Still, Sadako and Kazehaya still have their issues. They’re barely able to face each other and talk. Yano is as frustrated as I am, while Chizuru is kind of a non-factor.

As a guy, I think I have to blame Kazehaya for this extended impasse. Sadako is so introverted and shy, and he’s done nothing to try to earnestly reach out to her. He’s kind of stood at the periphery, exchanged the odd smile or words of kindness, and just not properly made his feelings clear.

As a result, Sadako has to try to work things out on her own…in her head. This is a bad idea, in the same way it is bad to “cross the streams” in Ghostbusters. She’s like that bookish girl in the last arc of God Only Knows, only without the books – she quickly becomes lost and confused, asking and re-asking herself questions she can’t possibly answer. I just wish this show would do a better job making it more entertaining than excruciating. Rating: 2.5

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 1

After a semi-recap as told by Ume, this first episode was precisely what I feared: syrupy slow pacing, way too much time spent inside Sawako’s head, and overall simply too much like last season. Sawako was going to give Kazehaya chocolates, but chickens out. This was an episode in which absolutely nothing happened. After this, perhaps I may have been harboring unrealistic expectations for this second season. It certainly isn’t a start that inspires confidence in the future.

Sawako just bugged me the whole way through. Her obsessive-compulsive preparation of food and her constant self-introspection, over-thinking, lack of confidence and self-worth came off stale and excruciating. I saw nothing of her I didn’t already see last season. There’s nothing new here, and so nothing interesting. Her constant descent into chibi-mode has also long since lost its novelty. Kazehaya remains a wooden husk of a character. He’s a decent guy, sure, but Sawako still barely knows who he is, and neither do we.

His generic-ness  makes her overwrought obsession over him all the more absurd. Only Ume’s teasing breathes any life into this episode, along with Pin, who’s just creepy this week, asking Kazehaya for an after-school private backrub. You know you’re in trouble when your core couple, unable or unwilling to grow or change, becomes overshadowed by side characters. In short, this was a snoozefest that I felt I had already watched before. Rating: 2

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season – First Impressions

The first season definitely had its faults. To say the relationship between Sawako and Kazehaya developed at a casual pace would be ludicrously understating matters. Also, Kurumi – the wedge between them – was a bit of a distraction at a crucial point in the story.

Still, this first episode of the second season (labeled “Episode 0”) reminded me why I watched all of the first: I really enjoy the character design. Along with the watercolor backgrounds, this series has always been a feast for the eyes. This episode still way overuses chibi-cuts, but it’s a small price to pay IMO.

This first episode was like easing into a warm bath: it was half-recap of the Kurumi triangle arc, but with new narration from Kurumi’s perspective. I’m a fan of both Aya Hirano’s and Mamiko Noto’s performances as Kurumi and Sawako, respectively. Their vocal versatility combined with the excellent facial animation really brings the characters to life.

I’m hoping this season will not be more of the same wheel-spinning and actually depict Sawako and Kazehaya actually making progress with their mutual courtship..though that may just be blind optimism. I’m not just looking for more of the same…I want to see improvement this season. Rating: 2.5

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