Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun – 09
「０と１」 (Zero to Ichi)
“Zero and One”
Today’s episode has a feel reminiscent of earlier episodes: Haru and Mitty have finally dispelled the tense aura between themselves as they return back to a shenanigan and straight man duo. However, the other fronts of the show, which have taken a back seat for the main couple, have now come to fruition.
Firstly, Natsume has had her heart swooped over by Mi-chan! If subtlety last episode wasn’t clear enough, it’s glaringly obvious here: look at how that blush and cheerful energy emanates from her! When Natsume first described how she had the “problem” of having guys constantly attracted to her, or that she considered Mitty to be her first real “friend”, the tone of the show downplayed the importance and seriousness these facts were to her character. Come this episode though, and a serious flashback puts things into perspective. Natsume problem of attracting too many guys is no laughing matter, as it explains Natsume’s androphobia and her lack of friends. Girls can be so cruel at times–not saying that guys can be cruel too, but the emotional warfare that’s often employed by female schoolgirls in the anisphere is a biting trope that’s no exception here. It makes sense why Natsume’s reference to Mitty’s lack of reaction or “care” is a positive in her perspective: Natsume’s ridiculous guy magnet elicits no reaction, good or bad, from Mitty, allowing Natsume to feel a certain clearness, a calming neutrality. Although Natsume could find friendlier people, Natsume’s irrational fear that the friendliness is a facade that’s hiding a judgmental nature prevents her from doing so.
However, come Mi-chan to defend her from her troubled past, and suddenly there’s someone who’s actively standing up for Natsume! Add onto the fact that Mi-chan is a pretty confident guy with a nice build, and well, emotional Natsume has fallen head over heels for a nice guy–someone who’s defending her without any strings attached. While this might be good on its own, poor Sasayan misses yet another opportunity out of hesitation. He’s observant, that’s for sure, but unfortunately that doesn’t translate into action fast enough. Although this episode didn’t emphasize his reaction, previous episodes show that feeling of helplessness is still present behind that smiling face of his. SASAYAN YOU FOOL! Step up your game or else you’ll lose to the mature older guy with a cool demeanor! Don’t play around with your past love life with Haru in front of Natsume, even if it’s joking! (though I’ve got to admit, that was pretty funny)
Meanwhile, Yamaken’s's tsundere meter is at maximum…which is actually pretty funny to watch. Male tsunderes: can they compete with female tsunderes? Yes they can. Although Yamaken’s rich attitude gets in the way of him properly interacting with Mitty, his wisdom and eventual niceness still shine through, and are noticed, though not in the way he probably wants them to be. For Mitty, Yamaken is stuck in a friend zone, though the faces Shizuku makes to establish this friendzone are…d’awwwwwww! Yamaken, I feel for you so much man, but you are so boned against Haru, who is stuck viewing you as a threat. Although Yamaken is noble in subtly declaring his love while establishing distance from Mitty, such a distant approach may not last for long, at least in my experience and observation. At least the field is equalized as the male counterpart of Ooshima…though at this rate, it looks like OoshimaxYamaken will be a potential couple, since no one else is available.
Finally, this leaves us with our main couple, Mitty and Haru, who for the most part feel comfortable around each other again. While Mitty may have forgotten (for a month no less) about thinking over the relationship, Haru has thankfully engaged his patience mode, taking satisfaction with the status quo and doing sweet things for Mitty, in his own crazy way. While breaking into Mitty’s house was sort of iffy, his lack of malicious intention makes it forgivable. Haru still has Shizuku’s best intentions in mind, even though his stupidity may stall the fruits of his actions. For now, Haru has been tamed, though excessive interference by Yamaken may tip him back into a more unstable state.
Mitty, on the flipside, continues to explore herself and the emotional side of life, with some assistance from Yamaken. She continues to analyze herself, both past and present, in order to deal with her new acceptance of instability outside of academics. While it was great that we saw Mitty with her hair down, the important developments this episode involved Mitty’s relationship with her parents. While she may not dislike her father, she definitely views him in an inferior light as compared to her mother. Shizuku’s father may have provided the emotional support that Mitty needed, but such notions were secondary in Mitty’s mind to the dedication and sacrifice of Mitty’s mother. However, now that Shizuku has to deal with areas of life she can’t be completely in control of, her father may have a bigger role to play in the future, such as explaining just exactly why Mitty’s father and mother fell for each other.
But let me ask you guys: what do you think of the metaphors that Mitty uses to explain her life? Can you guys follow with her thought processes, and agree about how she differentiates from a stable academic/work life to the instability of social life? Do you guys think Yamaken is a pretty interesting character or can you still not stand him? Finally, do you all think that Natsume will pull off something with Mi-chan next episode? She seemed pretty giddy for winter break…so who knows what’ll happen next!