Kimi ni Todoke (From Me to You) Season 1 Part 1
Sawako Kuronuma is a social outcast among her classmates, until she catches the eye of Shota Kazehaya, one of the most popular boys in the school. He helps her win social acceptance despite obstacles put in her path by a jealous rival, but what are his true feelings about Sawako? And what about Sawako's toward him?
Because she looks a little strange (especially around the eyes), Sawako is called "Sadako" by her classmates, after the evil little-girl ghost in The Ring. And they are actually afraid of her. Kazehaya, by being a popular guy and by very publicly accepting her, does a lot to turn this around; and with a little extra coaxing from him (and some classwork assistance from her), her classmates begin to warm to her.
The present author was himself not terribly popular in high school (it happens to guys too), but Sawako seems to me to be a bit over the top. She gushes with gratitude for the slightest consideration, giving people presents for simply being civil to her; and it made me want to sla-; uh, I'm sorry, it made me want to patiently explain to her that desperation is not an effective strategy for winning friends. She's also incredibly naive, missing nuances of human behavior that would even be obvious to Belldandy; at least Bell could tell when people were being cruel or abusive to her, while Sawako seems to have trouble recognizing it. She's voiced by Mamiko Noto, who's made a career of doing these sweet-but-wimpy kinds of characters (Shimako in Maria Watches Over Us, Rimone in Simoun), but in some of those series at least the character does finally grow a little bit of a spine; but Sadako (now I'm doing it) has a long way to go. (As you might expect, my favorite Mamiko Noto performance was one where she does a character 180 degrees away from this stereotype- Reiri, in Princess Resurrection.)
The rest of the cast is kind of a mixed bag. Kazehaya is consistently a nice guy. Sawako picks up two friends who become her best girl-pals (and her protectors), Chizuru Yoshida and Ayane Yano. Chizuru is your standard-issue aggressive female. Ayane, on the other hand, I found much more intriguing; in this first half of the season there's just one hint- in a phone call she answers- that her personal life might be rather complex. She's also pretty perceptive, and catches on to something about a character that no one else has realized just yet. Another character I really did like is Ryu, Kazehaya's buddy, a taciturn fellow who's terrible at remembering names. He and Chizuru have something going on, but she, at least, is not ready to admit they have any kind of relationship (though she apparently feels comfortable enough with him to casually invite herself and her friends up to his room, which is above the restaurant he works in.)
As for the bad characters, there's a coach who's the requisite Annoying Male, and then there's the chief villainess, the two-faced Ume Kurumizawa, who pretends to be friendly and cheerful while quietly manipulating things behind the scenes to suit her own purposes.
Besides Sawako's personality, the art is the other major problem the series has. The backgrounds are gorgeous, but the characters often aren't. Sawako herself seems to be rendered in simplified SD form over half the time. Chizuru and Ayane are realistically done a very few times in the show, but are mostly rendered much closer to SD as well, when they aren't actually SD. But Kazehaya, Ryu, and Kurumizawa (DON'T CALL HER UME!) receive much more consistently realistic renderings, for some reason.
Overall, I can't be very hostile to this series, since I've been in a similar place to Sawako, and some of this is exactly right; for example, Sawako's take on cell phones. I can also readily believe that being "adopted" by a popular person would be effective against this sort of ostracism. A few tweaks might have made this an exceptionally good show.
A rather slight series, but one with some potential. If Sawako's personality had been turned down a notch or two, I would have gone 4 stars. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Aside from one or two off-color remarks, there's absolutely nothing objectionable here. Mid-teen and up.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital source
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Kimi ni Todoke (From Me to You) Season 1 Part 1 © 2009 Karuho Shiina / Shueisha, DNDP, VAP, Production I.G.
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