Ore Monogatari!! – 02

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Sorry to drop a Doctor Who reference on you, but it’s remarkable how much Takeo reminds of dwarf star alloy…

Which is, for the record, the densest thing in the (Doctor Who) Universe.

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.

Ore Monogatari - 02 -11 Ore Monogatari - 02 -12 Ore Monogatari - 02 -13
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  1. e

    That Takeo guy is as dense as a rock, and watching him is really amusing.
    Texting is one thing, but girl rarely calls and says that she wants to be alone with you.
    The girl seems to be a timid one too, she must have gathered a lot courage to do the thing above.
    I was busy so I have never looked into an anime's background nowadays, but what, it has two cours?
    I thought that it's a short where, after many incidents, Takeo finally realizes his dumbness and finds his happiness.
    Now this is worrisome, because I hate romance story where the characters are being indecisive, changing their romantic interest here and there.

  2. a

    Takeo somehow reminds me of Yamada from Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches (Which aired last week). Mainly because of how they misinterpretate the situation!

  3. S

    Instead of the minute long recap at the beginning of the episode, I would have preferred to have seen a continuation of the red and blue ogre's story, then cut to the opening. I like how the ogre story was incorporated into the story as a school play though. Overall, pretty enjoyable episode. I'm interested in next episode hopefully showing some insight on what Yamato sees in Takeo.

    It's nice to know that this will run for 24 episodes straight without any season breaks. I don't think that happens with romantic comedy anime series very often, usually they would just run for 12 episodes and maybe get a second season after a year or so.

  4. N

    That falling beam thing was really laying it on thick, I hope Takeo saving Yamato from life endangering freak accidents doesn't become a reoccuring theme.

    I think the next episode would be the one that really tells us what kind of show Ore Monogatary is going to be. If Yamato establishes herself as a character with depth equal to that of the two main characters, then we have an interesting series on our hands, with lots of possibilities for the rest 20 something episodes. If she remains two dimentional, then I fear this will be a repetetive romantic misunderstandings show, something like Kimi Ni Todoke without the supporting cast.

  5. R

    I really don't like the recap at the beginning (that's my general position with this kind of stuff anyway). Mercifully, it was a loot shorter than those in other shows.

    On the other hand, I am still okay with Yamato's moeness, which is also mercifully toned down compared with the typical moe. Though I would agree with Nadavu that it would be interesting if she would develop into a more rounded character over the course of the series (and this is two cours, they have plenty of room).

    With Takeo, I wish they would tone down the "dumb gorilla" aspect of his character. It isn't bad, but it does tend to overshadow the other interesting aspects of his personality at times.

  6. I think Yamato will get there. It's early.

    I must confess I don't think Takeo is being portrayed as dumb. His size isn't being ignored, but it shouldn't – it defines the way he's treated by most people. In terms of his intelligence I think he's more or less coming off a a typical goofball 15 year-old boy.

  7. R

    Yeah I know, but there are a few shades of the trait. Though, like I said, it isn't horrid compared with other characters similar to Takeo.

  8. K

    If it wasn't for Kekkai Sensen, this would easily be the best new show of the season. Right now though, it's firmly second place. Interesting theory about Suna there, never thought of that but it makes sense. Considering the beginning scene of the series with the red & blue ogre story, that Suna constantly rejected the girls as to not hurt Takeo's feelings. At least with the girls he crushed on. I feel that's a least part of it though I honestly believed his too much work reason. Either way Suna's my favorite character so far & I'm pretty interested in where this goes from here.

  9. C

    This show is so good it has single-handedly re-evaluated my opinion on the otherwise stale and boring shoujo genre.

    Hard choice between Sayla and Fraw Bow… but Sayla is ultimately my Waito Beisu my girl.

  10. y

    Totally agree with you about the re-evalutation of the shoujo genre. After this show (at last for now) my "shoujo?not interested" triggered behaviour when I see that tag is a little less automatic these days.

    I didn't get the pairing thing. Could you please be more clear (I'm a sucker about name abbreviations ^^)

  11. Z

    Oh just wait until something like 7 Seeds or the really old stuff ever gets animated. Those will be the days.

  12. Z

    ^ Gundam references.

  13. T

    This series is cute!!! I love the friendship between Takeo and Suna they work off each other so well its fun to watch their friendship. I like Yamato too but I dislike the way she was introduced (I know groping is a big issue in Japan for women riding the subway, but still I dislike it being used as tropes for the dude to come save the day, but I digress…)

    I don't know what else to say but its show is CUTE it definitely makes me feel good.

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