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Dec 30
2012

Tonari no Kaibutsu-Kun 11-13 END

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Sorry for coming up late with this update. With Comic Fiesta and other shows taking the spotlight, Tonari slipped to the back of mind for a while. Anyways, read on for my thoughts on the finale of this rom-com.

Episode 11

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Here, we focused more on Yamaken’s crush on Shizuku and the clashes between the latter and Haru.

We can see different sides of the prideful Yamaken throughout this episode. He’s vulnerable thanks to his amazing ability to get lost, he’s curious about Shizuku and he’s also lonely when he leaves the cram school. For now, I find him a more interesting character than Haru. Besides his tsundere-ish personality, he also has the adorable aloofness when he gets lost. Compared to explosive, unpredictable and tiring Haru, he’s more likable to me. Still, with such low odds against Haru, will he even make a dent between the two lovebirds? I sure hope so.

Speaking of Haru, he gets into yet another ditch in his relationship with Shizuku. This time, Haru expresses his frustration with the distance between them. He wants her close by but he also wants to respect her wishes to go to cram school. The flashbacks with his brother Yuzan made things worse by reminding him of the pain of not being wanted. Rewatching the segment alone, I found it more moving than the first time I watched. After his brother bluntly put down Haru, he really was alone in the world. Sadly, I felt that this segment was mashed messily with Yamaken’s. If you want to do something good, find a single thing to focus on and stick with it. Unfortunately, I think we can chalk this mess up to the 13-episode limit.

Episode 12

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Basically a Natsume’s POV episode. Other than mulling about her crush with Mitsuyoshi, she also wonders whether things will be the same once Haru and Shizuku become closer.

I like Natsume in this episode because she gets really cute when she’s flustered or enthusiastic. Although a klutz on the outside most of the time, she’s really introspective and serious when the occasion calls for it. Natsume hasn’t got much focus since the festival episode, so I’m glad she’s getting her own POV episode now. I’m rooting for her, however how slim her chances with Mistuyoshi might be (Sasayan x Natsume is obviously the OTP).

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Besides that, there’s the usual love triangle quadrangle clashes between Yamaken x Shizuku x Haru x Oshima. About Oshima, we haven’t seen much of her after the festival episode too, right? Perhaps Yamaken is a more interesting and aggressive rival? I still want to see how she deals with her feelings for Haru though, they don’t seem fully resolved yet.

At another one of the angles of this complex love polygon, there’s the hapless Sasayan trying his best to make everyone happy. He’s been pretty bland and this episode didn’t do much to change that. He showed hints of understanding towards Natsume and her troubles, even though they seemed more like a ploy to help his friend than Natsume. However, at least he gave her a chance to “confess” to Mitsuyoshi at the end.

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As for the batting cage boss himself, I’ve a feeling he gets the message from Natsume even though I couldn’t see his eyes at all. Eyes are important emotional indicators in anime, so Mitsuyoshi’s glasses veiled his true emotions. It’ll be interesting to see how he responds, but for now that rooftop scene is one of the few high points in the show that I liked. The thematic music, the sidestepping and finally the payoff-it all felt more genuine than all the “confessions” Haru has professed.

Episode 13

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A final roundup episode for the first season of Tonari no Kaibutsu-basically Tonari Lite. No really, it’s a literal A to Z of the cast from the main couple down to Oshima’s friend Yuu (who’s quite adorable with her offbeat personality). It was kinda ridiculous since EVERYONE just decided to be involved with a dude chasing a pretty bug. I know Haru’s supposed to be a friend and chick magnet, but this just takes things a bit too far, even for a rom-com.

I gotta admit though, Haru revealing the bug was somewhat surprising. I had pinned his target as Nagoya from the start, but I guess Haru doesn’t really mind if Nagoya gets loose for a day. Poor Nagoya, he doesn’t really do much throughout the series, huh? He’s just an excuse for the cast to get together like in this episode.

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But ultimately, this episode just hammered home the point that Kaibutsu has been thoroughly disappointing for me. It had a great and promising pilot episode (bar the “rape” controversy), but I think that I set my high hopes based on its wacky trailer. I expected a silly rom-com with some serious business occasionally (ala Chuunibyou), but what I got was just a rollercoaster ride in terms of mood and humor. One moment we have Haru and Shizuku confessing their love; the next moment, they argue and start all over again with a new problem. Granted, love is somewhat similar with all its twists and that Tonari seems to be parodying the shojo genre (according to some fans), but what I wanted was steady progression in the background. Conflict and setbacks are fine and even necessary, but I’d like to see them in harmony for once!

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My thoughts EXACTLY.

Maybe it’s because I’ve almost no experience in both romantic relationships and shojo, or maybe it’s because of lofty and misplaced expectations. Either way, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun just didn’t click with me. It had some great jokes, likable characters and an interesting side-theme of loneliness, but those weren’t enough to save the show. A seesaw romance, weak animation and poor timing for the jokes overshadowed them.

The open ending for the final episode all but confirms a second season, but I’m doubtful if I’ll continue watching this amiable yet frustrating show.

Short remarks, counter-arguments and alternative viewpoints-I’d love to hear what you think of this post, no matter how brief. And don’t worry, I’ll work hard to answer within 24 hours. =) Apologies in advance if I don’t. XD

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About

Sekijitsu blogger since '12, anime fan since '06. Feeds on moe, yuri and doujinshi to survive. Will translate for food and knowledge. Contact him on Twitter @nippon_nerd.

/ 7 Commentsleave a comment /

  • Bear says:

    Have to agree with you pretty much down the line. I'm a lot more negative about Haru maybe. His anger problems and lack of control really lowered my enjoyment of the show. He's a borderline sociopath who has hurt people both accidentally and even on purpose. Remember him grabbing one of the girls (Oshima?) around the throat because his brother showed up? He also seems quite capable of killing (his confrontation with Yakamen at the park).

    Unfortunately, Yakamen doesn't stand a chance with Sizuku, but seems like he could turn into a decent guy if she gave him a chance.

    • Yippy says:

      I know, right? If there was a more significant improvement in Haru's temper/self-control, I could've enjoyed this show and the main couple more.

      Yup, it was poor Oshima he grabbed. I wonder why Shizuku doesn't seemed too miffed that he's endangering everybody and himself in this way. Love is blind? Thankfully, he hasn't actually killed anyone yet but if he sets his mind to it-he can and will murder.

      The way they portray Shizuku as the only thing that keeps him under control has me worried too. It's as if she NEEDS to be around Haru or people will get hurt. It might be a silly view of mine, but that's the subtle message I'm getting from the show.

      Yamaken is definitely the dark horse in Tonari no Kaibutsu. I really want him to win because he's well, not near-insane like Haru, but like you said, there's no chance that'll happen. In any case, I agree-Yamaken's haughtiness is much easier(?) to overcome than Haru's explosive temper.

  • ronbb says:

    Thanks Yippy for covering this show — I actually like it a lot and consider it the best shoujo of the season. Yes, it is a romcom, but underneath the romance and comedy, it portrays the characters really well. Instead of the 2-dimensional characters with forced behaviour and in calculated scenarios in some shoujos, the characters in Tonari all have sweetness, flaws and baggages, making them very real — and they all interacted very nicely and naturally together to add to the amusement of the show.

    The ending is also very fitting to a one-cour — the show doesn't give, and it doesn't have to, a definite ending, as teenagers in high school are facing with tons of uncertainties and possibilities. I have started reading the manga mid-way through the show, but I find that the anime adaptation is smarter — kudos to Brain's Base for elevating those turning moments of the story and making it more engaging for anime viewers.

    All in all, I love Tonari and definite would recommend this show to anyone.

    • Yippy says:

      You're welcome, I'm glad to provide an avenue for discussion anytime! (^_^)

      True, Tonari is unique in that it features realistic relationships. However, I found the fantastical elements like Haru's ferocity to be a bit cliche. And although Shizuku was a fresh and realistic look at shojo heroines, her cynicism can be kind of off-putting sometimes.

      Unfortunately, I didn't feel that story was as smooth as it could've been. The focus kept changing constantly and like Shizuku herself, I kinda forgot that they were supposed to try to be a couple in the first place! However, I do think that the love rivalries with Yamaken and Oshima were quite well done. I expected ridiculous antics and catfights (next season, maybe….), but instead, I found their struggles and thoughts to be quite relatable.

      With things still unresolved, I don't have a problem with the ending as well. It just seemed a bit too calculated. As for the manga, I can't say much since I haven't read it, but I'll definitely keep an eye out just to see how different it is.

      I would recommend Tonari to shojo fans, but I'm not sure if I'd do the same for other fans. Maybe it's because I haven't watched that many shojo shows and can't appreciate the quirks of Tonari yet. Ah well, it was a decent show though. =)

  • ronbb says:

    Thanks Yippy for your reply. I can see that we hold different views and the show leaves us with different impressions. I am not actually a shoujo fan — love shows like PP and SSY more normally — and the only other shoujo/josei that I like is Nana. However, Tonari, to me, is a show that did everything right from start to finish — music, visual, casting, pacing, and most importantly, the telling of the characters…including the side characters like you mentioned. It's rare in these days to see a show that does everything right in every episode…and Tonari is one to me.

    I guess if one expects some lovey-dovey or calculated scene scenes or events — like a must-have evil rival, the main couple must kiss at the end, the evil rival suddenly turns good, an air-headed or weak female protagonist who will always waiting for the male protagonist to save her… (and I can go on with other examples that bore me to death) — in some other shoujo shows, Tonari won't be satisfying. However, but if one is interested in shows that give subtle character studies and journeys of their struggle or growth, Tonari is a very engaging show that can make the audience laugh and cry with the characters.

    Anyway, I am happy to discuss Tonari with you and am happy to agree to disagree. Finally, Happy New Year to you and to everyone at Sekijitsu.

  • Yippy says:

    As always, you're welcome Ronbb. ^_^

    Phew, I thought I looked like a clueless greenhorn earlier. XD Looks like we started from the same spot only to land at different ones, huh?

    As for your eloquent praise of Tonari, I'm impressed; I rarely hear anyone profess their love of a show that strongly. Heck, I haven't found one that affects me so deeply. Tonari may have been flawed for me, but I guess it really means a lot to other people.

    YES, Tonari managed to avoid all those stereotypes while delivering a decent show. Problem was, they didn't have much to replace the gaps they left. I've also read comments that Tonari is "aware" of its unorthodox approach to shojo, but I didn't sense anything like that. For the most part, Tonari didn't have any stereotypes, but it didn't capture me with its unique approach as well.

    Likewise, it's always a pleasure discussing with fellow otaku. And thanks, Happy New Year to you too! =)

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