I like Sukitte quite a bit, but I think it’s fair to say it’s very much playing to type. This is a shoujo romance manga through and through, and the series tends to follow the strictures of the genre much more closely than something a little more genre-bending like Tonari. It’s all there, right down to the ominous slow-motion shots of the dark clouds in human form as they cross paths with the doomed (?) lovers at the center of the story. Of course, one of the interesting things about shoujo romance is there’s no hard and fast rule about how they gave to end – sometimes the main couple ends up together, sometimes not; and sometimes we don’t even know who the main couple is till the end (though that’s obviously not the case here). And with an ongoing manga in a one-cour adaptation, the ending is even more of an interesting uncertainty.
One thing I’d call a valid critique of Sukitte is that the supporting cast hasn’t been especially gripping, but “Okii Onii-chan” Takemura Kai made an interesting entrance, and has a lot of potential. There’s no question that his development was rushed through at rocket speed this week, but he has an interesting back-story and connection to the main pair – and more importantly seems an interesting guy in his own right. Kai has a real personality with some quirks and oddities, and it was apparent even before the big reveal of who he was – Yamato’s former best-friend and bullying victim – dropped. His story of the bullied boy coming back buffed-out and gunning for his tormentors could be a simplistic morality play or it could be genuinely unusual and interesting – the next three eps will tell that tale.
In the meantime, there’s the main storyline to worry about, and Kai will certainly have his impact on that. The overall theme this week was bright sunshine and happy smiles, as Mei and Yamato seem to have moved past their struggles over the last two weeks to a state of blissful shoujo nirvana. There’s still the matter of Megu to worry about, and she’s rapidly slipping into the designated villain role as she openly asks the question all treacherous shoujo “other woman” characters have placed in their mouths: “Why isn’t it me?” But it’s hard to take her seriously as a threat at this point, judging by the way Yamato reacted to the realization that he might just lose Mei if he kept sneaking around on her. I still don’t find him especially interesting, but at least he seems genuine in his affection for Mei.
The other interesting element this week was the visit to Mei’s house after Yamato gets his shirt wet in the rain by holding his umbrella so as to make sure Mei stays dry (a bit of an old chestnut, that scenario). It’s impossible not to wonder what would have happened if Mei’s Mom hadn’t arrived home – “I like the way you smell” is pretty unambiguous, and Yamato’s reaction had a bit of frenzy to it; it’s worth remembering that he’s quite experienced sexually so this isn’t nearly as big a deal to him as it is to Mei. But just as interesting was Mom’s reaction to Yamato’s presence, which was really a clue as to just how unhappy Mei’s adolescence has been – she was utterly grateful that someone had come along who showed Mei some affection and saw the qualities that make her special. It was a moment we don’t see that often in romance anime, and one of the most emotionally honest of the series.