Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun – 08

The day of the school festival arrives, and Haru, Shizuku, Asako and Sasayan are running a house of terror. Yamaken bumps into Shizuku while she’s breaking, and when Haru sees them together, Yamaken teases him and Haru accidentally punches Shizuku, who gets angry. Asako tries to offer her advice, but Shizuku blows her off. Yamaken then lends her advice, and when he spots Yuzan in the school, steals her away to a classroom where Haru later goes seeking advice from Oshima. Yuzan enters and there’s a standoff, and Haru retreats outside. Shizuku follows him and make up. After apoligies and the conclusion of the festival, Shizuku asks Haru to give her more time to figure out their relationship.

This series’ first episode impressed us with how much Shizuku and Haru progressed as a couple in such a short time. Since those heady beginnings, Shizuku’s grades have suffered, and she’s been essentially backtracking ever since. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it would be somewhat unrealistic for two people with so little experience connecting with others to fully connect with one another too fast and easily. It’s been a bumpy ride, and both sides have made mistakes. This episode further analyzes their current situation, and also heavily involves the people closest to them. Natsume, Ooshima, and Yamaken all contribute to the analysis.

Yamaken spends a lot of time with Shizuku this week (and his cheekiness gets her punched) but she finds his remarks perceptive, and the two have the very slightest of flirtations this week. It’s clear Shizuku has the hots for Haru (and Haru is more than enough), but Yamaken may have more of an itch for her than he’s letting on. We also liked how both he and Haru reacted similarly to the presence of Yuzan – which leads credence to Haru’s insistence Yuzan has been – and still is – a bastard. As for Shizuku’s designs on Haru – she basically stalls for time. That itself proves she feels she owes him – and herself – more than a final rejection based on cold practicality. Humans need passion too.

Rating: 7 (Very Good)

P.S. Shizuku has narrated in past episodes, including the first – suggesting all of this is in the past and this is her recounting of it – but she doesn’t narrate in this episode.

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun – 03

Shizuku takes back her confession, and Haru says he’s relieved. Sasayan cannot keep Nagoya the Rooster at his house anymore, so a “School Rooster Committee” is formed and plans for a coop are drawn up. Shizuku, Haru, Sasayan and Natsume use the weekend to gather materials. Haru’s former buddies reach out to Shizuku, who recommends they “make peace” with Haru by helping them build the coop, which is finished by evening. Haru reiterates his love for her, and Shizuku caves and re-confesses. Haru gets a text about a guy named Yuzan visiting his house, and begs Shizuku to spend the night at her house.

We can’t tell you how refreshing and satisfying it is to have a female lead who is blunt, direct, and doesn’t keep things bottled up for more than the length of an episode. It took Sawako two bloody seasons to get as far as Shizuku has gotten with Haru – and we’re not talking about bases. Shizuku initially makes an incorrect assumption from Haru’s reaction to her saying she was “lying” about loving him. It eats away at her, so she decides laying everything out is better than continuing on in a frustrating limbo. She is rewarded for her honesty and forthrightness by learning that Haru is happy she loves him, and wants to be with her; he was only scared of losing her if his love was “different” from hers. The touching scene is brought to an rude, abrupt, and amusing close through perfect use of the loud text alert.

The contents of the text rattle him, and he insists on staying at her place, where she cooks him dinner, lets him bathe, and sets up a futon in the guest room. She may be a recovering anti-socialite, but her hosting skills are above reproach…she’s a keeper! But she senses unease in Haru after that text. He’s running away from something and isn’t telling her. He should; as he himself has said, only good things have come from relying on her. A few nice details: the dramatically-scored scene of Nagoya settling into his new coop; we admire how everyone knows immediately what kind of ice cream they want (it takes us forever!); and Shizuku’s conservative “granny-style” going-out clothes are adorable and true to character.

Rating: 8 (Great)

P.S. Natsume Asako’s name is just one letter removed from Brains Base masterpiece Mawaru Penguindrum’s Natsume Masako. To learn more about the rooster’s namesake, Nagoya Cochin chicken, click here.