「夏ブレイク」 (Natsu Bureiku)
After an accelerated start, Tonari is finally settling into a fast, yet comfortable pace. The story, though reluctant to stop, has made great strides in developing Haru whilst not ignoring the troubles that Mitty is dealing with. While we are now left with more questions than answers, we do get to see a great deal of setup for events that will reveal those answers to us. Why does Sasayan owe Haru? Is Yuuzan really as bad as he comes off to be? What exactly happened to Haru during his past? Whilst Haru’s story is one filled with questions of the past, the questions we can pose towards Mitty become speculative of the future. What will happen on Mitty’s first date ever? What is Yuuzan’s interest in Mitty supposed to mean? Why am I asking so many questions? All the while these questions float around, the story still doesn’t lose sight of the comedic elements and sweet moments that have defined Tonari from the start.
Although the drawing quality for Natsume’s face was a little off in the first half of the episode, it sure is obvious where the rest of the drawing efforts went. It was enjoyable to see the show balance out fanservice for both guys and girls, all in comedic jest. Somehow, there’s just that funny charm seeing Haru and Natsume hold fish and pans respectively, whilst also admiring their drawn features at the same time. At the same time, the tried and true drawings of close-up faces continue to be excellent and finely drawn. However, what’s come as an improvement aesthetically this episode is the music. Whether it’s cheerfully simple tunes or the more traditional moody instrumentals, Nakayama Misato definitely can enhance each scene with his music. The happier tunes have a refreshing tone to them that reflects the mind of Haru, while the sadder tunes are more in line with Mitty’s uncanny ability to empathize and level her head with almost any situation. Having listened to Kimi to Boku’s OST, Nakayama definitely has a knack for creating music to suit the Romantic Comedy genre.
But of course, what’s aesthetics without great characters and their stories to enhance?
To start things off, I’d like to mention how Haru once again shows his gender-blindness when it comes to defending his ideals. Although my initial gut shivered when he grabbed his classmate in that way, after looking past that, it’s an admirable trait that he has, that lack of a double standard. Now of course Haru could be more gentler in defending others, but like Mitty said–Haru, you have a kind heart, and everyone will realize that soon. Behind that fist lies a great capacity for listening and protecting others…something Haru has demonstrated several times. Even though Haru defaults to his own actions, whenever Mitty or someone else he trusts suggests something is wrong, he will change that attitude in the same episode–I wish that other protagonists would be that dynamic in their development! Although today’s change was mostly comedic, it shows Haru’s struggle to not alienate others, yet also find success in that struggle.
That kindness, however, is hiding behind more than violent tendencies. Even Mitty couldn’t fully get to Haru about his past with Yuuzan, to the point where we see his coldest reaction towards Mitty since the series started. Although Yuuzan seems to be a nice guy initially, and it may be entirely possible that Haru has been interpreting Yuuzan’s actions in the wrong way or is overreacting, it’s a dying curiosity of mine (and I hope yours) to know why Haru has this complete resentment towards his past and his brother. There have been hints that Haru’s intelligence and personality ostracized him as a kid, and that Yuuzan is an even more intelligent and charismatic individual than Haru (a feat in itself), that’s all my own speculation that should be clarified hopefully soon. Although Haru and Mitty are going on a date next episode (Kyaaaaaaa! :D), that date will most likely act as a catalyst for Mitty to crack into Haru’s shell and heal his past scars.
But I want Mitty to enjoy herself too. Feeling jealousy both in the social sphere and academic sphere, Mitty also has her own struggles on how to deal with such feelings, especially socially. As Natsume points out however, the embarrassingly cool trait that allows Mitty to deal with these problems more effectively is her blunt attitude and speech. If Mitty has something on her mind, 95% of the time she’ll blurt it out if she wants it to be known. Whether it’s being mad at Haru, whether it’s being choked by Haru, or whether it’s taking Natsume’s words with an open mind, Mizutani definitely is a direct girl. She does slip up and struggle with getting the most embarrassing of words out, but in the end, she prevails. Her patience with Haru is amazing and actually touches my heart a little–rather than suck it up for the sake of avoiding conflict, Mitty doesn’t explode in Haru’s face because she understands that no matter what he does…it’s out of good will. I called it out before, but it’s worth mentioning again: Mitty and Haru’s understanding and listening to one another is what keeps me watching the episode with a smile, as it exemplifies what makes true relationships (both friendship and above) great.
I truly look forward to these two and their happiness. I hope that both Haru and Mitty continue to expand their world through individual growth, but also to continue creating a world of their own through each other. Of course I’ll start rooting for the other side characters as well, but as for now, the star couple has my endorsed “GO GO GO!”.