I feel like I’m starting to get a handle on what sort of series this is (though a certain event late in the episode makes me question my read a bit, at least in terms of realism). Make no mistake about it – if Kekkai Sensen is cooler than the other side of the pillow, Ore Monogatari!! is as sweet as caramel-drizzled sugar cubes. It’s certainly the most openly heart-on-sleeve anime I’ve seen since Isshuukan Friends, tough there are as many differences as similarities. I worry about shows like that, because of how easy it is to slip into melodrama or become saccharine – but so far this show has so much genuine heart that I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.
I may be wrong on this (and I’ll ask the manga readers to please refrain from so much as hinting one way or the other) but I don’t get the sense that there’s a deep well of darkness waiting to bubble to the surface of this series. I think the principals here are genuinely nice, and the pain they cause each other is going to be accidental (or at the worst, occasionally petulant in an adolescent way). But there is going to be pain, because people really do have a hard time understanding each other – especially kids. That’s reality. I don’t think we’re going to see nearly as much angst as in One Week Friends but I do think it’ll be there.
Again, I may be wrong on this but based on the first two episodes I’m thinking the English title of this series is a bit of a red herring. The romance (I’m not going to call it a love triangle yet) is certainly going to be important, but my sense is that this is actually a series that’s most focused on the friendship between Takeo and Suna. Admittedly it has a head start – they’ve known each other for 12 years, while they’ve known Yamato for a week – but right now there’s a lot more depth to the feelings between Takeo and Suna. Teenaged friendships can be a very powerful thing and it’s pretty rare to see an anime these days that focuses on a male one, at least beyond the superficial aspects. It’s clear that it’s fairly complicated between these two.
The elephant in the room, of course, is the question of just what’s going on with Suna. There’s a lot of conjecture out there among new viewers that he might be gay (again, I implore manga readers to restrain themselves from spoiling anything either way) and I can see why. His attitude towards girls is strangely remote, even by the shoujo “aloof bishounen” standard. When Takeo comes right out and asks him this week, Suna’s answers are strangely cagey (all Takeo gets is that Suna prefers the “Exercise Lady” to the “Song Lady”. His denials of disinterest seem non-committal. Yet while I think that would be a very interesting direction to take the story, my hunch is that Suna is simply a very good friend to Takeo, not someone with romantic inclinations towards him. Suna’s “tired” reasoning is actually a fairly persuasive anti-dating argument to a lot of young guys, and I have a hunch (strictly gut feeling) that Suna doesn’t like the notion of girls who only like him because of his looks – in a funny way, finds their continued interest in him insulting.
Whatever the truth of that is, their friendship is a great one to watch on-screen. We see that the “Blue Ogre” story has real-life roots, a kindergarten play that would set the tone for the boys’ friendship (I suspect that fairy tale is going to prove to be quite pivotal in the story). Takeo’s attempts to figure out Suna’s interests in girls are hilarious, and it’s quite telling that he finds Suna “a hard one to read” while Suna reads Takeo like a book. Not only does Takeo wear his heart on his sleeve while Suna keeps his a closely guarded secret, Suna is a highly observant kid. He spends most of his time watching others and figuring them out – and there’s probably no one outside of his immediate family (and even there it might be close) he’s spent more time watching than Takeo.
That being said, it would be hard – though not impossible – to believe Suna doesn’t see the truth of what’s happening between Takeo and Yamato. And if he does, why not do what everyone in the audience would like to do – grab Takeo by those massive shoulders and shake him like a maraca? If one were so inclined they might guess it’s because Yamato is the girl Suna has finally developed feelings for – but that’s pure conjecture. What’s not conjecture is that Takeo has completely misread the situation. Yamato is absolutely, 100% crushing on him – clearly, the only reason she didn’t want Suna to leave in the premiere was because she was nervous being alone with Takeo so soon. The colorful genki texts, the phone calls, the baking – in her adorable way Yamato is sending every signal she can, but unlike the night man at the Hotel California, Takeo isn’t programmed to receive.
Irritating as it is, I can totally buy Takeo misreading all those signals, and it’s pretty heartbreaking. Here we have a nice guy with a heart of gold, so beaten down by life that he can’t accept even the possibility that a cute girl (or any girl, probably) could like him (and not Suna). It’s nice for Takeo that Suna has had his back all these years, and I’m sure being friends with a school idol like him has spared Takeo from an even more painful childhood in an even deeper way than what we were shown in Takeo’s flashbacks. But it’s still the grim reality that he’s just the freak blocking the view – that’s all he’s probably ever been, to every girl who every tried to get close to either of the guys.
I could have done without the falling girder scene to be honest – it was so silly (and convenient) that it took me out of the moment. And the point it drives home is none too subtle, either, though it’s certainly an important one – even here, Takeo misreads the moment. Suna isn’t using the situation to take advantage of a chance with Yamato – he has Takeo’s back as always, and so does Yamato besides. Even when Yamato comes right out in her phone call (which is bold enough as is – a phone call?) and asks Takeo to come alone next time, the big lug still can’t see the truth – he’s convinced she just wants relationship advice on how to pursue Suna.
Where do we go from here? Well, given that this is a two-cour series and the manga is ongoing, it’s hard to believe it’s going to be a comedy of misunderstanding forever. Either Takeo and Yamato are going to figure it out and this will be a slice-of-life romance about their relationship (which I doubt can happen this soon), or the dynamic has to change. Suna has to develop feelings for Yamato, or she for him – or sure, Suna for Takeo. Whatever the case may be, one of the best measures of a series’ success is the degree to which I’m sorry when the episode ends – and for two weeks straight I’ve been bummed out with the credits’ arrival. I really want to spend more time with these three – they’re fun to be with and easy to love, and for a series like this one, you can’t build a much stronger foundation than that.