So I haven’t updated this poor blog for the past two months because classes and conventions and other obligations have been keeping me thoroughly occupied. I’ve avoided writing any sort of hiatus announcement because I hate the word hiatus. It implies that you can’t update while you’re on hiatus because posting implies that you’re “back,” which implies you’ll be returning to whatever the update schedule was prior to the hiatus. As it is, I don’t really anticipate being able to post much until mid-December and then, probably only for about three or four weeks before things get crazy again, but screw any kind of official hiatus. Mid-December is what I anticipate, but if I can and feel like posting in the interim, then I will.
And hence this post. Kimi ni Todoke has annoyed me enough to make me post about how I’m dropkicking its ass despite the delighted and downright fawning reception the rest of the blogosphere has given it.
I’ve said before that shoujo isn’t really my cup of tea. Though there have certainly been exceptions (Lovely Complex, Ouran High School Host Club), I think I’m generally disinterested in the genre because I just don’t care for what I perceive to be its stereotypical qualities: idealistic and naive characters, contrived romance, and related drama. And Kimi ni Todoke has all of those in spades.
Let’s start with the first one. Sawako Kuronuma is a sweet, well-meaning, and very naive girl. It does not take long for her to grind on my patience. There is a point where naivete stops being cute and moe and just starts being absurd and thoroughly frustrating. I do not buy that Sawako just cannot understand why her classmates are wary of her. If they call her “Sadako,” then certainly she can derive that they are comparing her to the character from The Ring. As such, why the hell can’t she just cut her hair? Or tie it back? Or do anything practical to avoid being compared to such a character? You can’t even give the argument of pride or not wanting to bend to public pressure because it doesn’t take long to establish that Sawako is very easily pressured into stupid corners. I am just not convinced, and that keeps me from fully sympathizing with this protagonist. It doesn’t matter to me how sweet she is if I think she’s retarded.
There is a difference between being socially awkward and being socially stupid. I know plenty of awkward people and can be rather awkward myself, but they and I still understand what was going on to an extent; we just don’t always know how to react or deal with it. Sawako doesn’t understand what’s going on at all, much less how to deal with it. It doesn’t help that Sawako’s voice, provided by Mamiko Noto, sounds like she’s trying far, far too hard to be cute and naive; her voice is always a strained, high-pitched, and airy whisper, and listening to it for an entire episode at a time is almost enough to make me beat my head against something, especially her “A-Ah…A-Ano…”
The rest of the cast is perfectly idealistic. Kazehaya is popular, pure-hearted, always means well, and of course, has a crush on Sawako. Such traits would be easier to deal with if he had even one flaw about him — if he cared about his reputation and popularity, if he simultaneously had a crush on another girl, if he tried to take advantage of Sawako somehow, if anything. There’s no point in disputing the fact that Kazehaya and Sawako are somehow destined to be together, and some people have praised the progress so far for being slow and natural, but even if I didn’t pick on Kazehaya’s stubborn goodness and patience, I don’t find Sawako’s naivete and amazing ability to misunderstand everything to be a very natural reason this relationship is progressing slowly.
Meanwhile, Yano and Yoshida are more or less interchangable, but slightly more tolerable because they do have some noticeable flaws: they’re insecure and jump to conclusions. The circumstantial nature of episode four makes that flaw especially obvious, but it also makes the resulting drama seem terribly contrived. Certainly high school was a place where people ostracized others, where people were isolated, and where people let jealousy and envy get the best of them. Unfortunately, I don’t find Kimi ni Todoke to be an accurate depiction of that environment. It’s too dramatized and too idealized. Then again, I didn’t pay attention enough or have enough friends in high school to have gone through such drama myself, so maybe that lack of personal experience contributes to my lack of interest, lack of nostalgia, and complete lack of sympathy or empathy for these characters.
Kimi ni Todoke isn’t a terrible series by any stretch and I can understand at least some of the appeal of such an idealistic setting. But at the end of the day, this just isn’t the series for me.