Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun – 02

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I know some folks were offended by the premiere, but I can’t deny it – I really like Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun.

[Commie] Tonari no Kaibutsu - 02 [EAD8234A].mkv_snapshot_00.27_[2012.10.10_22.48.36]There’s a lot to praise in this series, but I can cherry pick a couple of things I think most people would agree on.  First, it’s a beautiful-looking show, as Brains Base are doing their usual bang-up job of delivering high-quality if not lavish animation with a lot of style, visual humor and creativity.  And two, it seems to be a sort of “super shoujou” in that it doesn’t want to fall neatly into genre traps but rather, deconstruct them – though whether that’s intentional or not, I can’t say.

[Commie] Tonari no Kaibutsu - 02 [EAD8234A].mkv_snapshot_00.55_[2012.10.10_22.49.04]It goes beyond that, though, to some things I would guess are a lot more personal.  First off, Tomatsu Haruka gets more than her share of praise in these pages, but she’s delivering another one of her transcendent performances, on the Cross Game and AnoHana level.  She’s nailing every aspect of Shizuku’s snarky disdain for the world, cut through with her genuine loneliness and the uncertainty she’s feeling as she experiences something she never has before with Haru.  I also like the fact that the series is just plain wrong sometimes, and doesn’t give a rat’s ass – the characters are very flawed, say incredibly insensitive or frighteningly bizarre things and we just move it along.  Take, for example, Haru’s explanation of his love for Shizuku: “Yeah, I would totally do you.”  Of course it’s wrong, but he’s so off that it doesn’t even occur to him what that sounds like – he’s out there where the buses don’t run.

[Commie] Tonari no Kaibutsu - 02 [EAD8234A].mkv_snapshot_03.44_[2012.10.10_22.52.44]Another good sign is that we were introduced to the two presumably main supporting characters, and both made an extremely positive impression.  Sasahara Souhei (Japan – please keep hiring Ohsaka Ryouta, who was fantastic in Tsuritama – playing Haru’s best friend yet again – and is off to a banner start here) is an old middle-school classmate of Haru who’s fascinated by anyone who could spend time with him.  Sasayan doesn’t actually do all that much so it’s hard to explain why his few moments of screen time made such an impression, but they just did.  Sometimes the magic of a series is simply the vibe the characters give off, and Sasayan is someone who immediately makes you want to learn more about it.

[Commie] Tonari no Kaibutsu - 02 [EAD8234A].mkv_snapshot_04.04_[2012.10.10_22.53.04]More flamboyant in her debut is Natsume Asako (Tanezaki Atsumi, impressive in a debut role).  Asaka blows trough Tonari like a baka typhoon – she’s a complete mess.  Terrible test scores and no social life, which she’s convinced herself is because she’s so cute the girls hate her.  She spends most of her time in an online fantasy world she’s created around herself, and one that proves increasingly bizarre as the episode progresses.  She enlists the help of first Haru and then Shizuku (who she calls “Mitty” for reasons I can’t figure out – a secret life, perhaps?) to help her study for her makeup exams (which Haru passes with perfect scores despite making no effort) and this leads to a series of very funny misadventures surrounding Haru’s rooster “Nagoya” and Asako eating too much.  It’s on the edge of being mean-spirited, but I think dancing on that edge is what makes this series work.

[Commie] Tonari no Kaibutsu - 02 [EAD8234A].mkv_snapshot_04.20_[2012.10.10_22.53.19]Asako is very funny and Sasayan is charming, but there’s still plenty of the main couple to drive things along.  We’re two episodes in, and already they’ve kissed (well, it wasn’t exactly mutual) and told each other “I love you”.  It’s clear that these two are both messed up on their own terms and hopelessly clueless about relationships, so in no way, shape or form do I expect this to go smoothly.  Given the sort of show that Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is, that should prove to be for the best.

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17 comments

  1. D

    AH CHICKEN CHICKEN CHICKEN! AH CHICKEN CHICKEN! AH IDATAKIMASU-OH…

  2. B

    "More flamboyant in her debut is (Tanezaki Atsumi, impressive in a debut role)."

    I think you probably meant to put the characters name there before the seiyuu's name?

    Anyway I really like this show, I don't know what other people are thinking because I don't regularly read other anime sites outside of this one but I like it and will make no apology for that. The clearest sign was when I finished this episode last night, I looked at the rest of my queue and said "screw the rest of this shit, I just want more episodes of this show." I've always had kind of a soft spot for shoujo though so I'm really not at all surprised.

    I'm going to also second your praise of Tomatsu Haruka. This is a seiyuu that I have seen in a million different roles, but I still can't really recognize her when I hear her. And I mean that in a good way. You've got seiyuu like Kaaji Yuuki, who you recognize immediately because he's only got the one voice, but Tomatsu Haruka owns her roles so thoroughly that by the end of a show you've simply forgotten that she was playing the character, convinced that was the character's own voice. She's like a voice acting chameleon. The seiyuu version of Ed Norton. She's wonderful in this role as she has been in so many others.

    I hope you continue blogging this one Enzo because this is a show that I'm gonna need to talk about after every episode and I'd rather not do so on RC if it can be avoided!

  3. D

    ITADAKIMASU*

  4. s

    HEEEEEE!~~!!

    I LOOOVEEE this show! I read all the released manga pages to date in the days following the first episode, so now I'm just savoring each chapter being animated. They're doing such an amazing job! I adore all the voice actors/actresses; they're exactly as I imagined, especially Sasayan's and Shizuku's.

    Oh, and I think Natsume calls Shizuku "Mitty" because Shizuku's family name is Mizutani ~~> "Mitty." (I could be wrong, but I always just assumed that was why.)

  5. A

    I'm surprised that people were even offended! 0.0
    Friggin' love this show! Definitely my fave for this season!

  6. D
  7. H

    I didn't care for Natsume as a character at all, although I think her awfulness was very good at helping to pull Haru and Shizuku together. She was just too whiny and vain for my tastes. I thought Sasayan was fine, in the little bit of time he was on the screen, especially as self-assured as he was, just tossing out a "I like you" and immediately (and expectedly) getting shot down.

    My favorite part of this episode was Shizuku's repeated reference to the overwhelming 'background noise' that's distracting her, when she's in nearly silent places like the library or studying by herself. That was such a great metaphor for the turmoil inside your head with new love.

  8. I loved Natsume (Sasayan too) even though she was vain, because it was so obviously transparent. She's just a mess and in denial about it, and I didn't find her mean-spirited – just messed-up.

  9. L

    I actually thought the manga was okay in the beginning, but it got dreary as the chapters passed. The comedy took a bad seat and we got the entire bit about the characters constantly asking themselves really stupid questions about "love". That's basically what's stopping me from watching the anime, but I really do want to see that rooster animated. Maybe I'll just give it a quick skim.

  10. L

    typo* …….took a back seat

    Sorry …. stupid smartphone autocorrection.

  11. I

    I LOVE IT.

    In fact I love it so much that I rewatched each episode TWENTY TIMES. It's just so funny and zanny and likeable.

    I even read the whole manga (I never read shoujo manga, prefer shounen and comedy) but this was so funny that I had to.

    GE your right about Sasayan, he is probably the most interesting and mysterious character in the whole thing.

    Unlike Sukitte which will follow traditional Shoujo roots, Tonari will be more of a comedy and I prefer that as angst is mostly avoided. It's likeable characters having fun with each other and that is what made How I met your mother great and I see the same formula here.

    Stekkii

  12. A

    How I met your mother. Where every second joke has something to do with sex.

  13. p

    ty Enzo…. had an issue for the Rape comment but now they've firmly established that our lead doesn't get it and will go off the reservation on a moments notice… easier to accept now and our heroine getting her emotional walls breached is very reminiscent of Kare Kano and its fun watching her swim in uncharted waters.

  14. B

    I did a double take on the rape comment myself but I felt they established well enough in the first episode that this kid had no social skills whatsoever that I wrote it off as him being socially retarded. After the second episode I can honestly say that comments like that from him will not surprise me in the least anymore.

  15. r

    I have never read the manga, but I find this anime very interesting. Most, if not all, of the characters have unique personalities… in a very weird way though -_-'… I especially like Haru, he's a refreshing male lead, considering this came from a shoujo manga ^_^'

  16. A

    Well I have seen one youtuber who I'm subscribed to drop the show because of pacing and shizuku saying she loves haru in only episode two and at the end as a summary of his video said "so yeah…fuck my little monster, fuck sword art online…" I didn't give a rats ass about SAO but I nearly wrote "well fuck you for fucking tonari!"

    So in a nutshel I also enjoy this show and I think it may get me into cheking out some other shoujos (so long as their eyes aren't so damn huge and glittery, eesh) Sofar my favorites this season are this, Magi and shin yori with bakuman comming close. I haven't seen it yet but I'll check out robotics notes since I'm kind of interested, but have heard its slight related to stiens gate so I wasn't sure if I should watch given I haven't finished the show yet. (two episodes in and my mind is full of fuck)

  17. e

    @Anon: if you are looking for a romantic, quirky but not too sappy shoujo and some very funny antics the safest bet is LoveCom aka Lovely Complex. The anime series is quite good but skips a lot of stuff in its second half (pacing gets way too rushed), as such I'd suggest you to check the manga in any case ;). You could also try some shoujo by Kyosuke Motomi (Seishun Survival, Beast Master and Dengeki Daysy), she has a similar penchant to LoveCom for parody and comedy gags to balance out the sweet moments.

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