OP: 「Q&A リサイタル！」 (Q&A Recital!) by 戸松 遥 (Haruka Tomatsu)
「となりの吉田くん」 (Tonari no Yoshida-kun)
“Sitting Next to Yoshida-kun”
It’s been some time since I’ve blogged a pure and vanilla romantic comedy, but the excitement I get when they’re well executed still hasn’t dulled. Mizutani Shizuku (Tomatsu Haruka), a study-holic, meets Yoshida Haru (Suzuki Tatsuhisa), a paranoid, naive, honest idiot. Whilst Mizutani and Yoshida seem like polar opposites, the common theme that brings them together is their comparatively small social lives. Whilst Mizutani trades off socialization for studies, Yoshida is completely inept in socializing in a normal manner, though his attempts are filled with honesty. This naturally leaves holes for the other to fill, creating the drive for the plot. Throw in some confessional tendencies, awkwardly hilarious socialization, and you’ve got Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun!
The first episode doesn’t break much ground in terms of the genre, and almost every element in the show can be traced back to another romantic comedy that did it first. However…
…I couldn’t get rid of the ridiculous grin I had on the entire episode.
Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is a great example of executing excellence with the “tried-and-true” of romantic comedy elements. Throughout the episode, I was reminded of my favorite romantic comedy–His and Her Circumstances–that shares many characteristics with the show. The smart and studious girl whose surface persona is broken by an unusual guy who foils her plans for studying–practically the same in Kare Kano except for the personalities. Both shows have a confession in their first episode, except Tonari goes the extra mile…fu fu fu. Both include socially inept characters who will undoubtedly gain friends as the series progresses, both have the female protagonist eventually associate shallowness with beating another person’s grades, and both share that slightly wacky atmosphere that lightens up the mood, but can recede for the serious moments.
But I don’t hold those similarities against Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun at all. In fact, I applaud it for making me feel nostalgic about a show I hold dearly in my heart, and for executing itself in a wonderful manner. It’s not about whether it does something new…but rather that it does something that makes me feel warm inside. Let’s expand on why, shall we?
The colors chosen for the show are cheerful, warm, and rich, both for the foreground characters and the background. While the color palette cheers up the mood, it also is key in making those heartwarming moments feel even more fuzzy on the inside. I’m quite positive that those sunset scenes would not have been emotional without the warm colors to accompany them. These colors happen to accent the art style, which I admire Brains Base for executing so well. Though the art style is simple, it is done with care and quality. It was a pleasure to look through the abundance of screencaps–pick any scene, and a majority of those frames would be picture-worthy. Although some body proportions seem slightly out of place, as seen in some of the image pans, the character designs are nicely proportioned and designed. Yoshida’s hair does remind me though of Houtaro’s own hair from Hyouka. I guess the messy look is popular these days! Mizu’s own hairstyle–fairly neat and simple–reflects well on her character, and makes for a great contrast when things don’t go according to plan.
Moving from the art and more towards the directing, people have got to admit: the story went pretty fast this episode. Those of you who followed my posts for Moyashimon Returns and Nazo no Kanojo X can attest to the varying effects of taking on a fast pace, but hopefully you guys would agree with me in saying that the pace works for this episode. I’ll grant that some parts of the episode did get rushed over, example being Mizu and Yoshida’s “melancholy” montage, but for the most part, it flowed very well. The show doesn’t get bogged down in character introductions; it jumps straight into the romance and right into the character conflicts. The focus on the two characters, another tried and true development for romantic comedies, allows for the fast pace to work, and allows us to focus properly on the characters that’ll matter the most in this story.
And boy oh boy, do we have interesting characters as our leads. Smart female characters with ability have always been my softspot *cough*TomoyoandYukino*cough*, and Mizu is no exception. She gives off this tsundere air that isn’t as overt as a typical tsundere, and knows when to open up and exactly how much, without breaking her character completely. Her control is quite remarkable given the circumstances, though it’s a hilarious sight when said control slips momentarily. Yoshida makes the perfect partner to trigger these slips, as a good version of the honest idiot. Yeah, he’s got that amazing IQ, but as we’ve seen time and time again…that doesn’t really apply in a romantic comedy if your social intelligence is in the negative. He’s got the heart though, and a pretty face and body to boot, so…fanclub anyone?
Other than their wonderful qualities, the one thing that stood out between the two–their ability to be considerate. HOT DAMN. Perhaps the sweetest part of the episode was when Suzu and Yoshida exchanged kindness; quick character development like this is actually hard to find in a romantic comedy. Usually it doesn’t end up being until the very end of a series (if at all) that characters begin changing their attitudes towards a person, much less in a permanent manner. I hope that such “listening and acting” skills reflect throughout the entire series, for that is the icing on top of this excellent romantic comedy that I’ll be looking forward to from now on.
In summary, if you like romantic comedies, you should be checking out the first episode. It borrows some formulas from other shows, but it executes them with quality, and even throws in a small twist of its own. Although I will still give a three episode impression, I definitely feel that the rest of the show will follow in the first episode’s footsteps.
Oh yeah! For those of you wondering if I’ll pick up Tonari officially…how this show will impact my schedule is still up in the air, so I’m not making any guarantees (except up to episode three), and I’d blog this in a heartbeat if I didn’t have that uncertainty. I hope that it does work out though, because I’ve fallen in love with this show! Monja! Monja! Monja! ^_^
P.S – The Christmas-themed ED really flowed well with the last scene, don’t you think?
P.S.S – 13 extra images, all full length, just for you guys!
ED: 「White Wishes」 by 9nine