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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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