Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun – 07
「2人の距離」 (Futari no Kyori)
“The Distance Between Us”
The foundations that held Haru and Mitty’s relationship have crumbled, leaving the two to start their relationship again. Each of them are trying their hardest in their own way to make things work, but their imperfections and horrible timing constantly get in the way. Though both have their unlikable traits, it’s the fact that those traits are displayed often and shake their foundations that makes the show: character growth from imperfection. When I think things have worked out…there’s something that happens to continue their conflict.
Haru, though well-meaning and a good listener, struggles with his social ineptness and past getting in the way…constantly. Let me tell you Haru, being clingy is one thing, but licking is a BIG nono! That stuff doesn’t even fly in IRC, so don’t pull it off her! Each clingy action added to the irritation I had for Haru–A lack of respecting personal space, an inability to read between the lines, and occasional self-centeredness all contribute to why Haru can’t connect with Mitty, at least on his end. (though, in my experience, when a guy says “I just want to be close”, I agree with Haru that they don’t actually mean that)
However, there was that hold-off at the end that, although it freaked Mitty and myself out, showed Haru’s true colors. Haru doesn’t have ulterior motives or a completely lewd perception of Mitty–Haru is just an idiot. I say this affectionately, because Haru’s listening skills, when framed out in a direct manner, are superb, and has the potential to not be such an idiot after all. Thanks to Aunt Kyoko, there are some great life lessons that he acquired and tries his hardest to live by, even if those lessons were long ago. Haru makes mistakes, but they are never malicious: with the help of another person, Haru can push himself to change. At the end of the day, I can’t feel too negatively towards Haru because he just doesn’t know any better. Though he does need a push, Haru can once again make Mitty feel comfortable around him.
This is where Natsume, the shining stalking paragon of advice, comes to save the day! I applaud her for being supportive of Haru, informing him the reality of his actions. Her relatability to Shizuku lends to her credibility–all those guys popping her personal bubble have finally paid off! Without her, I cringe to think of how Haru could possibly fix himself in a timely fashion. The people called for Natsume to have a bigger role, and so she has, in epic fashion too.
In addition to her advice, Natsume’s observations about Mitty are an interesting insight. It is ironic that although she wishes Mitty would open up to her more, it is Haru that she helps for Mitty’s sake. Although Natsume’s perception of Mitty is correct–her uncaring aura allows Natsume to feel comfortable around her–Mitty actually does care. People underestimate Mitty’s receptiveness. Understandable–her closed persona shows no signs of her caring, except in those instances she does reach out to do something out of kindness.
But it is that closed persona that collapses the foundations. The few moments that Mitty does open herself up emotionally are quickly covered up by her stoic and rational efforts. Although it is admirable that Mitty wishes to excel academically, her resistance to compromise with her emotional side is unproductive and unhealthy. Haru was right in pointing out that Mitty did say, “I’ll be waiting for your response!” Mitty may have lost her surface interest in Haru, but her resistance of expression to Haru’s declaration is insensitive towards Haru’s feelings. Instead of discussing the conflict she has with Haru and trying to work things out together, Mitty instead chooses to handle things in solitude. I wouldn’t have a problem with Mitty if she were acting this way out of real disinterest, but her actions suggests that she wants to achieve her goals in isolation, that she can control the situation. Although Haru almost licking Mitty was…a close call…it did help crack Mitty’s outer shell, forcing her to reconsider her stance.
While this suppression isn’t what I wish for Mitty to do, it’s understandable. Faced with her own rival every day in terms of grades, she wants to prove to herself that she can overcome everyone else, especially Haru, with her dedication and hard work. She wants to believe that she doesn’t need natural talent to be the best, and that her success against “lack of effort” will be a success for proving her independence. Why she exactly thinks this way, or her ulterior motives, are currently hazy, but in the end, I believe we will see more justification for her actions. It does look like she’s reconsidering her position though, even slightly, as the anime hints ever so slightly that Mitty has a surprise in mind, if that camera focus on that plastic bag she had were any indication.
It is here that things have gotten worse before they can become better. Haru now is beginning to understand the fault of his social awkwardness, and listens intently to Natsume as he strives to fix it and prove to Mitty that he should be with her. Shizuku now is forced to reflect upon her feelings for Haru that obviously never went away, even going as far as preparing something special that’ll be revealed next episode. Natsume finally takes a major role in shaping the couple’s relationship, and does so in fashion.
At the beginning of the series, although it was really giddy to see Haru and Mitty kiss, it was a relationship based heavily on gut attraction and that “new relationship high”. Now that those are gone, only the problems remain. The foundation has to be rebuilt on a stronger understanding of one another, with an agreement on what relationship they want, and why. If one of them would slow down their pace and wait for the other to catch up, the situation would get a whole lot better, and a much stronger, much more meaningful and touching connection between Haru and Mitty can begin. While a rosy relationship makes us d’awwww, if the road to that relationship is one of growth, mistakes, and picking oneself and each other up, that rosy relationship in the end becomes even more beautiful.