「俺の青鬼」 (Ore no Ao Oni)
“My Blue Ogre”
That was a great series but damn, did it fly by – felt like it only lasted three weeks.
For the record, I like all the characters in Ore Monogatari!!. Yamato is a bit of a cipher so far, but certainly likeable and entertaining, and Takeo is a thoroughly winning protagonist. But whether it’s the intent or not, it’s Suna that I find to be the most interesting of the bunch. Both Yamato and Takeo are pretty straightforward, at least so far (and honestly, that’s such a vital element of their characters that I doubt it will change that much) but Suna has some depth and deception to him. And he’s the bro to end all bros.
All that leads to what I think is the most interesting question about this series – just what kind of show is it? What is it about? I opined last week that things had to change up soon – which they certainly did – but also that it was unlikely Takeo and Yamato would officially become a couple this soon, which seems to have been a whiff. In the first place, full kudos for the incredibly refreshing decision to make the main couple a couple with almost no milking of the situation – while not unheard of in shoujo or romance generally, it’s certainly uncommon. And because Takeo and Yamato are both such nice and amusing kids, a show about their relationship certainly sounds like an appealing prospect.
But is this that show? I also said last week that for me, the most interesting relationship in the series is the one between Takeo and Sunakawa-kun. And frankly, it seems as if Kawahara-sensei (the mangaka) may just feel that way too – it’s certainly the one that gets the most loving detail and deep feels. Hell, a gushing Yamato-chan even calls it out as a bromance – and that’s after the theoretical climax of the episode, the commencement of couple activities between she and Takeo. We’ve seen an obvious transitional milestone here with that pairing, but a less obvious one also occurred in the way this ep celebrated Takeo and Suna’s friendship.
So what happens now? Is this a romance about Takeo and Yamato dating, with Suna in the background? Or does Suna’s rather closed-off heart now (or eventually) take center stage, with the story focusing on his own rather unfulfilled romantic existence? I’ll tell you what, it wouldn’t be easy for any character to overshadow a MC as distinct and unusual as Takeo – he himself is a very refreshing change from the norm, and his own struggles with self-worth have been pretty involving. But Suna has definitely done it. I think the moment when he dismissed his actions in setting the table for Takeo and Yamato was especially great – “Isn’t it normal? Wouldn’t anyone want their friend to be happy?”
That’s the thing – to a person truly generous of spirit, that sort of thing does go without saying – but in real-life, people are weak. They hurt each other even without meaning to, and don’t do as much as they could to help each other out – even friends. But Suna is such a bro that it turns out the reason he snubbed all those girls who wanted to date him is because of the way they treated Takeo (though I still think my conjecture of last week may have some bearing). The nice thing, of course, is that Yamato and especially Takeo realize full-well that Suna did a lot more than the average person would do, so at least he’s not unappreciated. And the more detailed recounting of the Blue Ogre/Red Ogre story was a great way to hammer home the point.
Despite the surprising turn of pairing off the main pairing already, Ore Monogatari!! in another sense still seems very much the series I thought it was. These three are all nice, likeable people that are a joy to spend time with, and that’s the essence of the show’s charm. Kawahara (and Madhouse) have fit an awful lot into three episodes, but the ground is certainly now fertile for some real development – not just for the fascinating riddle Suna, but for Takeo and Yamato as well. Being in your first relationship is a complicated and messy thing, for starters, and we already saw a little bit of role-reversal between Takeo and Suna at the end of the episode. That could easily lead to some tension between them (who knows, maybe one of Suna’s weaknesses of character is that he likes feeling like his life is better than Takeo’s), which could lead the story into all kinds of interesting places. I really don’t know what’s coming, but I’ve been given no reason to doubt that it’ll be a great ride.