Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun – 05

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I’m finding this series strangely difficult to talk about considering how much I’m enjoying it.

[HorribleSubs]_Tonari_no_Kaibutsu-kun_-_05_[720p].mkv_snapshot_00.22_[2012.10.30_23.42.52]I really, really like Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun.  But somehow, as a blogger it’s almost too spot-on – the show has rarely put a foot wrong so far, and Brains Base is doing their usual bang-up job with the visuals – not just pretty, but creative and clever, too.  So all I’m left with at the end of the last couple of episodes is mostly “Damn – that was really good.”  It’s believable while still fanciful, the characters are likable and identifiable but flawed, and the situations are easy to understand without the need of clumsy exposition.  A 95 MPH fastball strike, right down the middle.

[HorribleSubs]_Tonari_no_Kaibutsu-kun_-_05_[720p].mkv_snapshot_02.49_[2012.10.30_23.45.23]One thing I’m noticing is that the series’ male characters (with the exception of Sasayan) have made a bad first impression and rallied from it.  It was true of Yuzan, who more than anything else came across as creepy at first, irrespective of his brother’s feelings towards him.  I won’t say I like him after this ep, but it seems clear that there’s more there than meets the eye, and maybe Yuzan has taken on something of the role of protecting Haru from their father, rather than acting as his father’s agent in dealing with Haru.  And one can hardly deny that Haru must have been a real handful to deal with.

[HorribleSubs]_Tonari_no_Kaibutsu-kun_-_05_[720p].mkv_snapshot_03.22_[2012.10.30_23.45.56]If it was true of Yuzan it was certainly true that Haru didn’t make a great initial impression – I frankly didn’t much care for him at first.  I’m still not crazy about the performance of Suzuki Tatsuhisa but Haru’s complete lack of social grace is starting to grow on me.  He’s obviously a difficult person, but there’s no malice behind it – he’s just a kid with no personality filters whatsoever, bouncing from impulse to impulse like he’s inside a pinball machine.  His love for Shizuku seems to be quite sincere, and underneath his (very) rough exterior there seems to be a genuine kindness that mostly manifests in his inclination to defend the helpless.  How much of Haru’s dysfunction is inherent and how much the result of his family life we can’t really say, but it seems as if being away from his father is certainly the best thing for him.

[HorribleSubs]_Tonari_no_Kaibutsu-kun_-_05_[720p].mkv_snapshot_04.11_[2012.10.30_23.46.45]Alas, Haru’s kindness seems to have gotten him into a bit of trouble as the megane girl Ooshima Chizuru (Hanazawa Kana, very much in her default mode) has fallen hard for her knight in shining armor.  It seems to go almost without saying that she stands no chance against Shizuku, but really good shoujo can surprise with romance triangles, and I’m not writing her off as a major force.  Chizuru seems genuinely awkward and shy, not the conniving other woman type that graces some shoujo, but that could make her an even more interesting rival.  Jealousy is a side of Shizuku we haven’t seen before – indeed, it’s very possible she’s never really felt it – so this turn of events could provide some very interesting fodder for her development as well as Haru’s.

[HorribleSubs]_Tonari_no_Kaibutsu-kun_-_05_[720p].mkv_snapshot_05.35_[2012.10.30_23.48.09]The other thing I like a lot about Tonari is that it manages to be serious about the characters without taking itself too seriously.  Stuff like Shizuku’s helpless rage at Haru’s ability to rank 1st without studying is rock-solid character humor, but we also have Sasayan and Natsume (I really wish we were seeing more of them) who manage to be funny without really trying.  There’s a general sense of whimsy here that pervades both the writing and the animation, and it keeps the show free of the overly heavy tone that can be a problem for shoujo romances.  And if you want proof that everyone involved has a sense of humor, the hilarious “My Little Gangbanger” preview should admirably suffice.

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  1. N

    Don't worry about seeing more of side characters: Tonari handles them well and they are not just caricatures that exist for MC's developments… which I think is one of Tonari's main strengths.

  2. L

    Tonari is awesome, for me it's one of the best series of this season, it really makes me laugh!! The main characters are so charismatic and the animation is incredible, so yep, I'm lovin' it.

  3. H

    I'm not sold at all on Yuzan being not a bad guy. He seems to have that oily calculation that is completely absent in Haru, and seems to have a sophistication that he is using against Haru (and Shizuku). I really wonder what has happened in their past to make Haru hate him so, because he doesn't seem like the type that would hold a hate against anyone. And it's not just "oh, I hate that guy" in passing like a little kid would, almost like we'd expect from Haru. It's stop everything, "The sight of that guy makes my blood boil!" loathing, it seems. As well as an outsized fear of him. As soon as he sees Yuzan, he runs away, and the only reason he gets anywhere near Yuzan is because he's got Shizuku. So I'm sure we will find out what's going on, but it's intriguing at the moment.

  4. l

    Sounds familiar. I find myself drawn to this series even though it's just a fairly straightforward comedy/romance with a pair of interesting leads. Not sure why. It's probably the sum of the parts which come together very well.

    From my reading of Yuzan, there's a bit more behind him wanting to keep Haru and their father separate. He's definitely not altruistic in wanting Haru to be happy. It's probably to do with inheritance and becoming the sole heir. The clues can be seen from the earlier introduction of Yuzan when he collected his money from Mitsuyoshi, an arcade operator. That's probably a good sum of money. Their family may be extremely well off. Then there's his cryptic words after both Haru and Shizuku walked off which sounded to me like he wants his brother out of the way from becoming his rival in inheriting the family wealth.

  5. "Altruistic" is not a word I'd choose either – but he seems to have some concern for Haru's welfare.

    I'm wondering if their father doesn't actually love Haru more, and that's why he's so hard on him – and perhaps if he comes back, Haru would be in line to steal Yuzan's inheritance of the business/fortune.

  6. A

    I like this series a lot, and every week I yelled out loud wanting more. For me it's the characters that got me hooked right from the beginning — they are believable, hilarious and unpretentious (unlike some in another series…). It's not just the lead couples that I am talking about — the side characters are pretty interesting, too. I also love the interactions amongst the characters — they are simply so fun to watch.


  7. B

    Pretty much agreed on all counts. Only thing in this post that stood out for me to disagree with was the line "Hanazawa Kana, very much in her default mode". The roles I've seen her in have been quite varied and run the full gamut from shy girl (like in this show) all the way to SUPER GENKI BANZAI! characters, and everything in between. I don't really see her as having a default mode.

  8. P

    enjoying this one simply because it looks like it will find a way to be familiar yet with some ingenious twists; whereas Sukitte feels like I can predict exactly where its going.

    so far this and Robotics notes have my votes this season

  9. G

    Tonari is like the desert of each week, after the full course meals delivered from the likes of Psycho-Pass and Zetsuen. It's a change of pace that I relish in. And I totally agree that the show takes its characters seriously without being too serious, it's fun but witty. The animation is also very pleasant to the eye.

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