Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun – 03
“Nuisance” (or “Support”)
First off, I’d like to thank s_w for pointing out the double meaning for this week’s episode in the comments last week. Although the more common usage is “nuisance”, a more creative translation of the title can produce a more positive meaning.
The magic of those meanings are a good reflection for the themes of this episode. While the day phase consisted more of nuisance and the “night” one more towards support, the two themes were both present in both halves of this episode. The show still retains much of the shenanigans, energy, cheesiness, and sweetness of the first two episodes, but we are entering a phase of the plot that sets up for some more serious topics at hand. Welcome to the transition and setup episode!
The first half of the episode did a great job in integrating the new characters, especially newcomers Yamaguchi and Sasayan. Sasahara has turned out to be quite the receptive character, noticing many of the subtleties this episode. Despite his playful nature, he seems to be panning out as a more dependable character, who probably will be one of the first to deduct what’s going on with Yuuzan. He also seems to be shaping up as a compliment character to Natsume, since he was the first to take notice (an awkward one at that) at Natsume’s apprehension with guys. Although he might not be as physically a Hercules as Haru (dat throw), Sasahara knows when to get out of a bad situation, which will probably play into saving one of the girls *cough*Natsume*cough* from a bad situation.
Meanwhile, we also get a taste of Yamaguchi, the suave player whose face manages to stay classy…despite many punches to the face. Although his real intentions for making up with Haru aren’t completely clear, at least one of the partial reasons is due to his interest in Mitty, however strong an interest that may be. The physical contact, the dramatic slow-motion glance in episode one, and his disinterest in Natsume (unlike the other guys) point to this conclusion. I don’t know how he’ll end up and how much he’ll end up meddling with Haru and Shizuku, but I have a feeling that it won’t happen without taking a few punches. A few of you in episode one expressed your apprehension with Yamaguchi, and I can start to see why, but I’ll reserve my judgments for later. At least his friends seem to be making amends with good taste, even though their taste in design might not…
Now enter the second half, with spotlight on our star couple, whose strides have only slowed ever so slightly. While escalation hasn’t reached “we’re married” level yet or even “we’re hooked up”, it came darn close. SO DARN CLOSE that I moaned during that first minute when Mitty backed out. This new dynamic that they share–getting close but backing away–does add much depth to what was admittedly a cheesy (yet awesome) relationship. Although at surface it’s easy to view Haru’s character as a thick protagonist who loves chickens and being a clueless pervert, the show just doesn’t allow us to do that. Haru, like Mitty observes, actually shows a high level of reception to subtleties, especially from Mitty herself. In fact, this reception may be so strong that it may be the reason why Haru is afraid of actually entering a relationship with Shizuku. He actually is a quite caring person, but his caring may get in the way of what both Shizuku and himself mutually want–an interesting spin on the supposedly good traits he has. The fact that most of these developments occurred in the nighttime is an interesting placement time-wise…the metaphors of darkness and rebirth are all there.
Why he acts this way though is itself a large mystery, though one that probably-brother-of-Haru Yuuzan will shed light on. It is implied that Haru’s past hasn’t been the greatest, but what that past is…purely speculation so far. Yuuzan seems to be attempting make-up for whatever part he had in Haru’s past, though to terrible results. This is a strange contrast to how Haru handles most other situations–with bluntness and force. Though this temporarily put a halt to my grins, trading it off for some major character development isn’t such a bad deal. It’ll be a treat to see how Tonari handles the more serious aspects of relationships and romance–it’s all fun and games until decisions have to be made. How Tonari will handle this will most likely reveal itself next episode.
But before that, where does this leave Shizuku? One obvious place she’s not left in is the stable position she tried to establish with Haru…which I found most admirable. The inside of me yelled “You go girl!” as she finally gained control of that situation. However, that control was doomed to be temporary, as Yuuzan throws a wrench into the mix. Given how shaken her world has become thanks to her growing group of friends, she’s actually handling the situation quite well and asking the right questions. Although Haru may tumble her life around, and although it may take her a long time to act on a situation, Mitty knows how to take the reins when she needs to. Along with Haru and Yamaguchi, Shizuku’s attentiveness to Haru’s reactions is impressive, which allow her to take on said reins. This give-and-take of controlling the relationship is a refreshing one compared to most romantic comedies, where control is often biased towards one character and stays that way. Although Mitty wasn’t able to hold the reins on Haru for long, it is unlikely that it’ll be the last time she tries. She does benefit from the attempt though–Haru reveals a rare look into the inner workings of himself, unclouded by any misleading advice he may have received from a book, movie, or god forbid…Misawa. The hidden side of Haru is slowly revealing himself, with the assistance of what he calls “all the good things in life”.
In closing, Tonari has held itself well as a strong romantic comedy and is shaping up to by one of the most enjoyable romantic comedies that I have had the pleasure of enjoying. The characters are developing in intricate ways and the comedy is still full of laughs. Though I didn’t end up with a grin this entire episode, those moments were replaced with wonder and curiosity, which torments me as I wait for the next episode to come out. Thus, having finally made it through the three-episode count, I thoroughly recommend this show to anyone looking for a show to grin and d’awwww at, and perhaps even more. This season is a great victory for romantic comedies, and Tonari proudly is part of that charge. Thus, for those of you who haven’t guessed already, I am officially picking up Tonari now as my second show! YAY! Although scheduling may be tough since midterms are approaching, Monja Mondays are totally worth my time and effort to discuss with you guys. I am in your care, dear reader: let’s see this anime to the end, and I hope you guys are just as excited about this show as I am!
Thanks to everyone who participated in the Monja experiment last week! I truly appreciate all of you who came out to express your love or concern for this show, and I hope that you guys continue to do so even without a Monja prompt!
Common Questions from Last Week’s Comments: