Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun: Tonari no Gokudou-kun (OAD)

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I can never watch one of these without big-time mixed-emotions.

Ah, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun – another great anime that tanked commercially.  My endorsement (I ranked it #6 in a quite strong 2012) is surely the kiss of death for any series, but no matter how many times it happens it never ceases to piss me off.  Because this show will almost surely get no further anime adaptation, this OAD amounts to very likely its swan song – so I can’t help but have a heavy heart, no matter how much fun it is.  And damn, this one was a lot of fun.

There are lots of different routes a studio can go with an OVA/OAD, but I very much like the path Brains Base chose with this one.  They adapted a side story from the manga, a re-imagining of the main cast set in the Edo Period, and it allows them to have a blast with the characters without worrying too much about canon.  Too often OADs play like episodes that weren’t good enough for TV or teasers for the manga, but this is solidly entertaining in its own right and as these fantasy stories sometimes do, subtly shed some light on the characters.

The plot is pure gleeful silliness: the gang is living in an Edo Period village torn by fighting between the Mizutani and Yoshida factions.  Shizuka is a schoolteacher, Haru (as Harunosuke) the Gokudou (gangster) of the title.  Natsume is a gossip-sheet peddler, Sasayan is a ninja/government spy, Yuu a sort of snarky Greek chorus…  Haru and Shizuka (“O-Shizu”) meet randomly after he saves her from drowning and begin a forbidden flirtation neither knows is forbidden.  There’s a district-wide ban on sweets, Yuuzan continues to be a big troublemaker, and a hilarious random plot twist involving Nagoya leads to the improbable (no less so than DNA testing in the Edo Period) yet somehow quite touching ending.

More than anything it’s just great to see this cast again.  I love this group as much as any in anime for a long time – the main four are wonderful individually and have great chemistry both as friends and potential paramours, and the supporting cast is equal to their standard.  If I have any complaint it’s that Natsume ends up pursuing her crush on Mi-chan rather than wising up and realizing she and Sasayan are great together, but the ending involving Mitty and Haru (again, the format gives the writer the freedom to go places he might not otherwise go) makes up for it.  Gokudou-kun isn’t strictly essential as it relates to the main timeline, but how could anything be more essential if you love Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun?  This is for my money the best – and the least genre-constrained – shoujo romance of the last few years, and even with their great track record some of Brains Base best work ever.

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  1. i

    NOOOOOO, why no Sasayan x Natsume. It was the most interesting shipping. They should end up together in their last animated scene. At least hint it. NOOOO – despair and isolation.

    That at least was how I felt after watching the episode about a week ago. Now though after having it sink in I guess it was quite fun. It took the wacky comedy side of the story and made it wackier. Somehow things always end up wacky in Edo or Kyoto. Love the Nagoya twist and the Mitti x Yamaken parts. Lack of Yanagi was sad though because he was quite amusing for some reason as a side character. A great addition but indeed not the one I wanted having read the manga (Ch 36 for anyone interested).

  2. K

    Do you read the manga, senpai?

    This OAD was so much ridiculous fun. I always read the manga since it first started being translated, but I actually thought the adaptation was better in some respects. I laughed a lot this episode. It makes me so sad we're probably never going to get more. ;_;

  3. I decided not to read the manga until the translations are finished.

  4. K

    I think they should be done soon, I know the manga itself has ended as of a few months ago.

  5. Yes, I'm guessing 3-4 more chapters.

  6. R

    What a fun spin of the story. I love how wacky it is while keeping the essence of the characters — although I'd prefer seeing the Natsume x Sasayan route. Oh well, at least we have a happy ending for Mitty and Haru. There are many poorly-written stories of high-school romance out there that make me feel tired of them — Tonari is one of the best exceptions and examples of how to get things right. Too bad that we won't see more of Tonari on-screen.

    By the way, thank-you Harunosuke — I think I may try some herbal green lip colour for this coming Halloween.

  7. K

    Mitty!!! Didn't realize I miss Tonari so much until this OAD. It's always great to see a story being driven by characters we love and enjoy watching. Seeing all the habits and quirks of each character really made this quite a nostalgic trip. It is quite rare that both the main and supporting cast are so likeable. In fact, it's quite similar to the Steins Gate OVA, getting one last chance to see these characters be themselves and do their thing. It's a real shame Tonari wasn't financially successful.

    And the obligatory Natsume x Sasayan ship. Natsume is so hnnnnnnng. And so is Mitty.

  8. m

    Really?!!! I didn't know that Tonari wasn't successful. It's a shame, all characters are so likeable…

  9. Well, it is what it is. I thought there might be elements here that would give this enough mass appeal to be a modest success on disc, but I guess it just didn't pander enough.

  10. m

    well… some shows get lots of money and some others don't… these are the things I'll never understand…but at least I really enjoyed it

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