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« Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun – 12

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun – 13 (END)

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「春遠からじ」 (Haru Toukaraji)
“Spring is Near”

Tonari no Kaibutsu kun   Graph 03

Such is our journey so far, a journey that definitely has not ended.

It took me a rewrite, many interruptions, and lots of thought to get this out, but it has definitely been worth it. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun has been a show that, with its ups and downs, dared to challenge how we view the characters and risked much in the process. A sizable number of people have left due to the incessant desynchronization of the main couple or the violent and irrational behavior of Haru. However, for those of us left, for those of us who stuck through it to the end, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun has provided an uncommon perspective on the growth of relationships, whether we like seeing that perspective or not. Creator Robico and director Hiro Kaburaki, I’m sure, were aware of the consequences of portraying relationships in this manner, portraying characters this erratic.

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Thus, we must ask the question, what is this perspective that Tonari wants us to view, and why the creator decided to make her characters so flawed and potentially unlikable?

The short answer: to provide the perspective of a less-than-rosy relationship that adolescence often goes through, while also providing the character growth required to fuel this perspective.

While I had asserted this claim many episodes ago, this final episode reinforced it. At first glance, the episode feels like any other episode. Haru has a crazy thing going on, everyone is dragged into it, and then the episode ends on a positive, yet strangely chill note, lacking any sort of season climax. In isolation, one can say that this episode was at best a “good” episode to end on, or at worst a terrible way to wrap things up.

But for us to completely understand this strangely cliffhanging and anticlimactic end, we must reflect back on the rest of the series as a whole.

The first two episodes would’ve been an entire season in itself if Tonari was a standard romantic comedy. Guy likes girl, girl responds back, and all is well. The climax hits us very early, and our emotions are already running like hotcakes, whether positive and negative.

“He hit a girl and threatened to rape the same girl in the same episode. I’m not the main lead’s biggest fan.”
“Almost got squeeing on every Dere scenes. Hoping for more belligerent sexual tension moments between the main couple for the rest of the series!”
“2 episodes, 2 confessions. Next week: the wedding. Damn that was quick.”
“My roomate walks in and asks me ‘why are you smiling like an idiot.’”

Our couple looked to be destined for each other, without a worry in the world. However, complications arose, with doubts on feelings and desires seeping into the cracks. Typical so far, right? But let many episodes pass, with so many revelations and insights the characters go through, yet their actions are slow to change.

“Repetitive nonsense is only interesting the 1st time it repeats.”
“Is there’s something wrong when I’m more interested with the other girl character than the main girl herself?”
“i Seriously Can’t Believe that the ending is near T_T *cries*”
“IMHO, I kind of see it now, Haru has not offered to support Mitty in any way with what’s important to her. This is
making Haru, for the amount of strength that he has, an unlikable person for me.”

Finally the climax comes, and almost nothing has been resolved, with more problems than progress pervading almost all the characters. Did the author mess up with the repetition? Did she overdo it and make the buildup to this fantastic end too long? Perhaps, depending on your taste.

Tonari is definitely not an anime for those looking for quick gratification and resolution, where problems are neatly segmented into arcs. It also seeks not to follow the general formula of storytelling, where buildup to some pre-destined climax is the goal of the story. Tonari instead is an anime that seeks to tell a different side of the story of relationships, the one that isn’t so cozy and compact in its ups and downs, but rather an elongated and error-prone side of the social dynamic. It seeks to bring out the frustrations, the stupid mistakes, and the downright irrationality of certain relationships of this nature, all while softening the tension (for the audience) with comedic humor. There is a high chance that a watcher will disagree with at least one of the characters, believing one to be in the right while the other….not so. Such is what I believe is one of the goals of this show: to make sure every major character has a disagreeable quality.

It’s a risky move. Some may call it a dumb move. Whatever you judge of the output quality though, the writers of this show have to be applauded for their bravery. They have made a show that stands out among the waves, that doesn’t make things easy, no matter how easy it is to do so. We get angry, annoyed at their inability to do SOMETHING, but perhaps that is the point that’s trying to hit home.

It makes sense why this last episode ended like it did (apart from setting towards a second season). The conflict to find that stability amidst many problems does not usually end quickly. It may take months, years, years upon years possibly to resolve the issue, but for the people in this show, it doesn’t matter. Their struggle will continue as long as they can see the light at the other side. While it may be easy to attribute this end to production reasons,

Think back to the last scene before the ending song. The light that Haru and Mitty saw was nothing spectacular by itself–at best the light would be a pleasant occurrence. The fact remains though that Mitty realizes that it was so much more beautiful because she wasn’t alone, because someone else was in her life to give that event meaning. The light has dual meaning in this case: the claim that life is much more enjoyable when shared with another and the symbolic hope, the fleeting hope that Shizuku and Haru see in their future together. Haru tries so hard to chase this small hope, making many mistakes, looking in all the wrong places, but when he finds it and shows it to Shizuku, it somehow makes all the effort worth it.

The effort to try and reconcile their conflicts continues, but it is their journey through it together that sustains them. All the characters in this show are unsatisfied in some shape or form, and for the most part, have failed to completely rid themselves of those troubles. The fun and joy of the beginning of the show is over, the troubles are still troubling, the mistakes are all frustrating, but dammit all, they’re still trying their damn hardest. Long will it be when they had their initial thrills, but when it does happen again and when they do make it work, the adventure will have made their relationship worth it.

That is why I love this show. That is why people dislike or hate this show. But that is what the show is: a struggle that isn’t clean in the slightest.

It is at this point that I will address various points in the show that I feel should be mentioned before closing the cover on this show.

Haru: Mental Institution or Not?

Show Spoiler ▼

Shizuku: Strength Despite Haru

Show Spoiler ▼

A Victory For Natsume’s VA

Show Spoiler ▼

Using Truth to Hide the Truth

Show Spoiler ▼

Yuu-chan is so cute.

Show Spoiler ▼

While DVD sales may not indicate well for a second season, it definitely has been an enjoyable ride to blog this show. It’s been a pleasure to take all of these screencaps of these colorful characters, warm palette and all, and it’s been an honor to examine their characters in detail. While we may not agree all the time dear reader, I’d like to think that we sparked conversation here to make us think hard about a show that challenges our patience in a purposeful way.

Full-length images: 9, 16, 21, 29, 41, 42.

END

Goodbye for now, you little monsters!

December 26, 2012 at 4:44 am
41 comments »
  • December 26, 2012 at 4:56 amCleaningagent

    I have to say, the music in this series was pretty dope especially the recurring main theme. I love how it was used and it really helped make the series more enjoyable.

  • December 26, 2012 at 5:22 amJiCi

    http://randomc.net/image/Tonari%20no%20Kaibutsu-kun/Tonari%20no%20Kaibutsu-kun%20-%2013%20-%20Large%2005.jpg

    To quote the great Maximillian, of Assist Me and The Online Warriors fame:
    Dude…
    WHAT’S
    WRONG
    WITH
    YOUR
    FACE?!

    Sorry, had to XD

  • December 26, 2012 at 5:29 amsakuga

    Tonari has definitely proven itself to be unorthodox in the way it has handled its characters and the manner in which they’re developed over the course of this season. Whether you enjoyed it or you didn’t, one thing for certain is that it was nothing short of a crazy rollercoaster ride.

    I, personally, would love another season where these characters can have more opportunity to develop and shine but until such a time, I’ll say thanks for the coverage this Zanibas. It was definitely a fun ride with your thoughts and screencaps at the helm.

  • December 26, 2012 at 5:40 amDdadain

    So it ends…

    It has been quite the journey already, but I am happy to say that there’s A LOT MORE AHEAD.

    I’m not one to normally like romantic comedies, but this anime actually hit quite close to home for me. With the luv’em ‘n hate’em (at the same time!) characters and the brilliant writing made it one of my favourite shows this season.

    I am eagerly awaiting the next season, especially when things gets interesting…

    I’m gonna miss Nagoya too XD

    Kukkaaa!!

  • December 26, 2012 at 5:44 amUsagi

    Second season, NOW!

  • December 26, 2012 at 5:49 ammac65

    Okay, he is crazy exceptionally smart…

    People who are like this often appear unbalanced or crazy because they’re operating outside of our “normal” field of view.
    They also tend to be self-centered (there’s probably a better phrase for self-centered that doesn’t sound selfish), goal
    centered. Mitty figured this out by giving him a goal (let me study and I promise you this…), and it worked well. At first I
    thought she was just being mean, but it really showed Mitty gaining an understanding and appreciation of how Haru’s mind
    works, and used that to their relationship’s advantage. IMHO, it was a very subtle growth for them, but definitely there.

    I think the series did a good job of showing a somewhat turbulent caring relationship without getting too dark or too silly.

    I don’t have the ability to handle his innocence or sincerity. — Mitty

    Mitty is learning to cherish Haru (she already loves him), and this is the magic of a successful healthy relationship.

    Wonder if there’ll be a second season?

    Zanibas, Thank you for covering this series and have a Happy New year!

  • December 26, 2012 at 5:55 amjunglepenguin

    To Tanezaki Atsumi: SEE YOU AGAIN!!

  • December 26, 2012 at 6:01 amSoulsphere

    I read the manga and I applaud the adaptation. They did a great job. Great animation and storytelling. They also added stuffs that created depth to the story and situation not in the manga.

    I had a great time reading your review every week. It provided me details I wasn’t able to notice. I also did enjoy reading the comments of people. Hoping for a second season. Advance Happy New Year everyone!

  • December 26, 2012 at 6:31 amFaint Smile

    A really one of a kind of type of romcom series.. Two thumbs up!.. Cheers!.. ^_^

  • December 26, 2012 at 6:34 am*v*

    It’s been a hell of a ride! I love Tonari & will be crossing my fingers for another season ^^

  • December 26, 2012 at 7:04 amKinny Riddle

    And here I was thinking the show would last for another cour, so felt a bit let down it was ending so soon already, because it’s just so good. Still, credit to Brains Base for tying up any loose ends for the first series.

  • December 26, 2012 at 7:21 amTez

    Seems to be a running theme this season of series finales that lack finality.

  • December 26, 2012 at 8:30 amSokisoy

    I was hoping you’d touch upon the final image of Mitty and Haru, looking like school children, with Mitty wearing the yellow hat and Haru wearing a blue jumper.

  • December 26, 2012 at 8:30 amTorami

    Aww..I hope for a second season, this was a truly great series. As you said, all the characters are unlikeable in some way, but that’s what makes this series special. I will miss it T_T

  • December 26, 2012 at 8:35 amMuttsurini

    is there any news for a second season?? now i can’t help but read the manga T_T

  • December 26, 2012 at 8:41 amAndrew

    This anime is not for me. I prefer y = log a x, a>1.
    http://randomc.net/image/Tonari%20no%20Kaibutsu-kun/Tonari%20no%20Kaibutsu-kun%20-%20Graph%2003.jpg
    This is a terrible plot.

    • December 26, 2012 at 9:55 amJimhawk

      Being a physics student, I appreciate the importance of mathematical simplicity as much as the next guy, but logarithmic functions are exactly the kind of graph I want to avoid when it comes to romance. Physical nature is smooth, predictable, and beautiful, whereas human nature is jagged, chaotic…

      Yet still beautiful.

      This show was grounded, and real, and moving. I adore Tonari’s plot (in both the graphical and narrative sense of the word).

      • December 26, 2012 at 10:16 amAndrew

        This is just my opinion. I like style romcom “Guy likes girl, girl responds back … step-by-step … wedding”
        Ideal love as ideal gas.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideal_gas
        Drama … ok … but no more 3 sigma.

  • December 26, 2012 at 10:21 amHenDarou

    Sure hope that we get a season more. I loved the show, but the ending felt too abrupt. Felt more like the end of a story arc. Heck, I didn’t even know it was only 13 episodes, so I expected it to continue. I was kind of shocked when I saw this post having (END) in the title…

  • December 26, 2012 at 10:28 amHakumeiJin

    I knew something huge was coming when you waited days before posting and damn I didn’t expect this much. Extra long post, images with comments, links everywhere and the continuation of the graph. Thanks for all your work here Zanibas, this series definitely deserved it and considering how there still seems to be quite a lot unexplored I really hope there’ll be another season. This was one of the best romcoms I’ve seen for quite some time.

  • December 26, 2012 at 11:41 amewok40k

    Definitely needs another season.
    The series was unorthodox, as far as romcoms go, with cast of characters baoth flawed and adorable each in their own way, but it ends like bridge half complete, hanging mid-air over a river. Everybody seems to have some sort of idea where they are headed (save Yamaken, both figuratively and literally!), but when, how and if at all they arrive there is left to be continued…
    One of most striking moments was when Haru said “Everything is fun when it is with you” – that was exactly the same feeling I had with my (limited) time spent in love with someone. I’ve done some things very unusaual for me with that person and I was happy.

  • December 26, 2012 at 11:45 amHighway

    I’m actually happy the show ended here, and ended the way it did, somewhat pulling the focus off of Haru and Shizuku. I think a second season would probably just do the things I don’t particularly like with shoujo series, namely keep piling on the missteps and misunderstandings to keep the main couple in a state of perpetual questioning. I don’t see this kind of show ever making a definitive statement about the futures of the couples involved, so finishing before it gets tedious is a good play.

    There’s more room, certainly, for the other characters that were used so well in the show, but I don’t think they left anyone in a bad place.

  • December 26, 2012 at 11:51 amMike

    Well, without a 2nd season announced, all I can say is…

    QUICKLY!! To the Mangamobile!

    Show Spoiler ▼

  • December 26, 2012 at 11:55 amKinji

    now Im officially Yuu-chan’s fan. Gyah! I love all characters in Tonari! This anime deserves a 2nd season! Not once the episode fails to ‘skip beat’ my heart

  • December 26, 2012 at 12:26 pmJolly

    Monja!
    Here’s hoping for a second season!

  • December 26, 2012 at 12:34 pmqwert

    If this show gets a second season there better be some Yuu-chan in every single damn episode.

  • December 26, 2012 at 12:37 pmMegas

    This episode was ‘interesting’. Haru really did spend the whole episode looking for a bug. The only winter harbor-er bugs here are fireflies & those damn orange ladybugs.

    This ending is just screaming for a 2nd cour. There’s nearly enough material for it even if they don’t use the vol that focus on a SINGLE sub-side character. He showed up in this cour about 5 five times yet he gets his own vol later on. That’s just pure milk.

    Yuu’s character is just TOO MUCH. I’ll call it ‘my pace with style’. TnK is definitely one of those shows where you don’t mind having the attention taken off the main weir- uh, couple.

  • December 26, 2012 at 12:39 pmYuan

    In a lot of ways, Tonari watched more like a josei than a shoujo – it was a lot more realistic and not so fairytale like. I really appreciated it! Even though the relationship between Haru and Mitty progressed in such a rollercoaster way, it didn’t really bug me. I found the characters themselves endearing and well written enough along the way (except for Haru yan moments which were really frightening…). I enjoyed the last episode a lot – it sort of felt like “an ordinary day in the life of,” without any romance related drama.

    Thanks for your hard work on this show!!

  • December 26, 2012 at 4:18 pmgrey

    sasayan ;-;

  • December 26, 2012 at 4:32 pmrufe

    I think Haru really suffered by the voice acting. It is much easier to sympathize with him in the manga.

    I don’t like the shameless plug for a sequel or how they literally left everything up in the air, but it was a good ride. Lots of the characters were really lovable (Ooshima, Sasayan, Three Idiots, Yamaken). Our main couple was also enjoyable to watch, though I have to admit that the central trio members (Haru, Shizuku, Natsume) were all annoying to various degrees to me.

    I’m disappointed that we didn’t get to see Ooshima, Sasayan, and Yamaken’s boss moments. Angry Sasayan would have been fun to see acted.

    Show Spoiler ▼

  • December 26, 2012 at 7:04 pmanifan

    First of all… Great job on the recaps…wonderfully written and a pleasure to read.
    Next; 13 episodes was not enough for me. This was the first anime in a long time that had me racing home from work to watch… Choke…I feel an emptiness.

  • December 26, 2012 at 9:25 pmEntrav

    Sad to see it go. Thanks for the reviews this season.

  • December 26, 2012 at 10:43 pmKaka

    Second season! Second season! Pleassseeee >_<

  • December 27, 2012 at 3:01 amOrange Jews

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    • December 27, 2012 at 3:22 amkorinchan~

      did anyone read this whole thing? :\

      • December 27, 2012 at 4:18 amUJelly

        Nope, stopped reading after the “Orange Jews” part.

    • December 27, 2012 at 4:18 amUJelly

      And yet you watched it? Please…

  • December 27, 2012 at 3:26 amqyu

    well give bit of a fine sure of sorts give mention ova on the way?

    as for series it still more he said vs she said story on it so worth some hmm to watch.

  • December 27, 2012 at 4:25 amUJelly

    I nearly shunned this show at first, thinking it would be one of those shoujo romcom’s. Boy, was I wrong. It feels very josei/seinen. More realistic and less of that fantasy and lovey dovey stuff you see in shoujo’s and shounen’s. I liked the up’s and down’s of this series and the characters are especially memorable. There’s a reason this show is currently a 8.24 on MAL. Let’s be honest, it’s up there with the good romcom’s.

    Glad I picked this up, hoping for another season. Thanks for blogging.

  • January 2, 2013 at 2:53 amTopboy

    Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is Shoujo of the year 2012.It was nice ride.Soft Story,Cute Characters.Nothing too serious matter just soft and relax.I like this anime.

  • January 6, 2013 at 7:28 pmAshen

    I can definitely agree with you on almost everything concerning this series, Zanibas. While I enjoy a sappy romance that’s neatly wrapped up as much as anyone, I admire what My Little Monster had the guts to do. Funny, poignant, frustrating, thought-provoking, controversial, heart-wrenching, and above all achingly human. This remains one of my favorite shoujo series of the year. It dared to be something different, and I think it succeeded.

    I’ll absolutely hope for a second season. There needs to be more courageous writers/directors/animators/manga creators in this industry that take a risk for the sake of something special.

    The only small disagreement I must pose is that of Yuu-chan. While I didn’t hate her I felt her character lacked much impact, so she never left much of an impression on me aside from “Ooshima’s slightly mean, weird little friend.”