Shoujo Roundup Week 7: All the same plot points…

…in all the old, familiar places.

Sukitte Ii na yo.

Plot summary: Yamato continues to model, and ends up neglecting Mei. We get half an hour of Mei looking mopey until her friends tell her to act on her feelings. As a result, she ends up rewarding Yamato for his shitty behavior.

Notes:

• Mei: “They really seemed like a real couple. They were so pretty. So radiant.” Oh Mei, that’s not what defines a real couple. A real couple wakes up and goes to bed thinking about the other person. A real couple can have a real conversation — and I do mean a real conversation — long into the night. A real couple considers the other person’s feelings. Not that the list stops here or anything, but suffice it to say, Yamato and Megumi hardly make a real couple. Actually, neither does Yamato and Mei.

• How can people be so blind? Mei is giving the thousand-yard stare in every single scene, but none of her friends, including Yamato, pick up on it. Instead, the one thing her supposed boyfriend seems to care about is that she finds him handsome: “Really? You really thought so?” Unless he’s the densest dude ever, c’mon, he knows he’s handsome. Everyone else says so, but all of a sudden, he needs Mei’s confirmation?

• Megumi delivers the news that the modeling agency wants Yamato to keep modeling. Wouldn’t, uh, the agency tell him themselves? It seems highly unprofessional to send a high school girl to relay the message.

• Well, Yamato finally asks Mei what she thinks, but he does so in front of everyone else. He’s kind of putting her on the spot. On the other hand, she’s always had a chance to voice her displeasure, so y’know, screw them both. They’re both so unlikeable.

• Mei is so spineless.

• No, I’m not advocating that Yamato should instantly stop modeling just because Mei’s insecure about it, but a real couple should make clear their feelings. If Mei’s unhappy, then say so. Have an honest, open discussion about it. I would actually find such a thing interesting to watch. Instead, we’ll just have the characters look sad for the majority of the episode, ’cause watching mopey people powerless to do anything doesn’t make me want to beat my right temple in with a hammer at all!

• Mei brought cookies, which she clearly made for Yamato, but then doesn’t allow him to eat it. Yep. Also, here’s a guide to how to be a good cook:

• Haha, Yamato is such a bad boyfriend. He even goes to another girl’s home and eats her cooking! How dumb can you be? Wait, no, he’s also a bad friend. You don’t need to be lovers to notice that someone in your group of friends is unhappy. So I guess they’re all bad friends.

• The juxtaposition here is hilarious if you haven’t noticed. Mei struggles to even make cookies. Meanwhile, Megumi whips up curry, curried potato salad, and more!

• Megumi: “Uh, um… Maybe from now on, after work… We could eat dinner together?” Of course Yamato would say yes. ‘Cause he’s dumb as hell. He sees a sad-looking girl, and he instantly agrees to eat dinner with her multiple times a week. He sees his sad-looking girlfriend and does fucking nothing.

• Everyone’s dumb. Her friends are dumb: “What’s wrong [with Mei]?” Gee, I dunno. And the sad thing is, Mei doesn’t even have the right to complain either because she’s too much a chicken to voice her displeasure. If you can’t stand up for yourself, no one should have to do it for you!

• Oh my God! Asami noticed. She actually noticed. She simply decided to say nothing either. You all suck. I hope none of you ever reproduce so you never treat your kids the same way.

• Asami: “That’s an emotion unique to girls.” Yeah, uh huh, ’cause guys are never jealous. This show is stupid.

• So in the end, Mei shows her true feelings by kissing the dirtbag who’s been ignoring her and going to another girl’s home. I guess they deserve each other.

Kamisama Kiss

Plot summary: Nanami tries to play matchmaker and helps Nekota find the courage to talk to Kurama. When a classmate confesses her love for Tomoe, however, Nanami realizes that she’s in love with Tomoe too. She tries to go on a date with him by dragging the familiar to the aquarium, but Tomoe clearly isn’t having any fun. Nanami eventually admits her feelings to Tomoe, but he rejects them. Despite this, Nanami resolves not to give up.

Notes:

• I love Nanami’s expression here:

She seems so proud of herself… in a good way.

KamiKiss almost seems to exist in that liminal zone: there’s nothing to hate on, but there’s also nothing to write home about either. It’s more comedy and drama, but it’s not that funny either. Actually, I have my own theory on comedy in anime, but I’m saving that for a rainy day. My point is simply that this show doesn’t make me laugh until it hurts. Oh well, that’s okay. The wacky facial expressions every now and then keeps the anime mildly entertaining. Here’s another one!

• Luckily for Nanami, Tomoe’s too dutiful to make her feel jealous by doing something like walking home with another girl. Unluckily for her, he’s also probably too dutiful to date his master.

• What the hell am I looking at?

Speaking of which, anime shows sure love aquariums.

• Holy shit, how long did that fall take? Anyway, at least Nanami has guts, but it was pretty stupid that she almost allowed herself to die just because he rejected her.

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

Plot summary: Haru confesses his feelings to Shizuku again, but she rejects him. He starts to get too clingy and weird, so Shizuku tells him off. Meanwhile, Shizuku does well on a mock exam, so she thinks she’s doing the right thing by rejecting Haru. Despite this, Haru refuses to give up on her. Just as an aside, Oshima says to herself that she won’t give up either! Nobody ever gives up in shoujos. Nobody.

Notes:

• Was Haru’s aunt some sort of scientist? I wonder if that’s who he got his smarts from.

• I can’t imagine Haru trying to hit on a girl, so Natsume’s being kind of silly here. I mean, she should know him well enough by now to realize the guy doesn’t have pick-up lines or moves to speak of.

• Actually, that was a pretty astute line from Haru: “You think so? She looked like she was completely done with this problem set.” We’re privy to Shizuku’s thoughts, but I wish we could actually hear Haru’s thought process at times. I wonder how aware he really is.

• Should Haru confess his true feelings to Shizuku? I don’t agree with Natsume because I don’t think he knows his own true feelings. With Mei in Sukitte Ii na yo., it is obvious that Mei’s unhappy, so it was frustrating to see her sit there and do nothing. Haru’s emotions aren’t so straightforward though. More importantly, he’s not reliable. Until he really knows what he wants, I don’t think he should muck things up by prematurely confessing to Shizuku, which he’s already done before.

• Those creepy vibes are returning:

In a later scene, Natsume has to teach Haru that being touched by someone you don’t like is a terrible feeling. Judging by his reaction, Haru honestly seems to not have realized this. To be fair, this isn’t exactly knowledge you’re born with, but what sort of childhood did Haru even have? He’s shown he can learn from his mistakes, so his behavior isn’t the result of some bizarre mental defect. Haru simply hasn’t been taught anything about social interactions, but why not?

• Oy, his friends are no help:

Oshima: Mizutani-san was mad because she was worried about you doing dangerous things for her sake.
Haru: “R-really?! I could have sworn she was mad because I ruined her plans!”

Yeah, uh, I’d stick to your original conclusion, pal.

• Yo Oshima, why bother saying you won’t give up if you haven’t even started?

No, seriously. What’s there to give up on if you haven’t even tried? If you like the guy, say so. Then you can choose to either give or not. Otherwise, what you’re saying makes no sense.

• The way Shizuku acts around her friends sometimes cheapens the development she supposedly underwent all the way back in the second episode. If you don’t remember what I’m referring to, at the end of the second episode, Shizuku pretty much said that being around Haru allows her to enjoy life more. Despite this, however, you’ll often find Shizuku grumbling over simple things: “Why do they like moving around in groups?” The girl seems as uptight now as she did when the show first started.

• Oh God, maybe we aren’t privy to Haru’s thoughts because this is one of the ways in which he sees the world:

• Anyway, this episode is kind of boring, and Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun now seems like it’s stuck in a rut. Nothing new is happening whatsoever. First, Haru liked Shizuku, but she didn’t like him back. Then she liked him, but he didn’t like her back. Now, he likes him, but she doesn’t want to like him back. C’mon, man.

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17 thoughts on “Shoujo Roundup Week 7: All the same plot points…

  1. Andmeuths

    The scary thing I’ve realized is that some Shoujos, if told from the Male rather than female perspective may start appearing suspiciously like a Harem Anime.

    For example, in this episode of Sukitte Ii na yo, try looking at the scene where Yamato goes to the other girl’s house for dinner, with a Harem Lens. If Yamato had been the main PoV character rathern than Mei, Sukitte Ii na yo starts looking like a Harem Anime, even if it’s better written than most.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      It’d depend on how you define a harem anime. If it’s simply a story where multiple girls are in love with the same guy, then a lot of stories end up having harem elements. I think you’d need to add a certain pandering element to the equation.

      Reply
  2. Ian Caronia

    “Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun now seems like it’s stuck in a rut.”
    Yeah, I felt like this since the ending of the last episode. As before, I think the rut is the fault of this focus on romance (as mentioned before) and an unnecessarily retarded Shizuku character.
    Shizuku, as unique for a romance protagonist as she is, is still where she was at the very first damn episode. Whatever growth she underwent has been retarded (I’ll explain that in a bit). Nothing has ultimately changed in her mindset or understanding of the world/people around her, and since she’s our protagonist, and since the plot revolves around her romance, of course the show will get stuck in a rut.
    -““Why do they like moving around in groups?” The girl seems as uptight now as she did when the show first started.”
    Yeah, and I think that’s the result of the big problem: the story focuses on the romance of these two instead of the relationship and growth of the group as a whole. Because her romance with Haru is the -central- focus, her character development has been retarded so that she and Haru don’t grow up too fast, otherwise they’d realize their feelings, get into the romance they’re destined for and the show would end. It’s all because of the focus of the plot being on that romance that we’re stuck here, with the rest of the cast being downgraded to nothing more than repetitive cheerleaders regurgitating the same talk about what they think the other one should do or pontificating about romance -again-.
    Side Note: Am I the only one who’s sick of these potentially very interesting and unique characters doing nothing but perpetually bitching about how one of these two aren’t “getting it” or aren’t seeing things the right way? And damn, for every ounce of good advice you get a bucket of shit advice.
    -“If she shoots you down, keep trying!”
    Or, you know, just move on. If you two hook up down the road then so be it, but don’t keep trying when the other person has made their intentions clear, which Shizuku has. It’s just frustrating for you and even more so for her. Show some respect, grow up, and move on. But no, like many of these anime dramas we “gotta keep it up, no matter what!”. Being a try-hard never guarantees you a successful relationship. In fact, it often does the opposite.

    I’m convinced if the show didn’t focus so much on the romance of these two and pulled back for a group experience then things would develop naturally. Stop having other characters be nothing more than cheerleaders. Stop having this stupid “fighting the red string of fate” theme that’s reared it’s horrendous head. Let the cast shine and grow on their journey to discover and understand themselves, each other, and what society pushes as important moments. Watch how naturally they will come together then! I mean, it’s not hard! Don’t keep retarding everything and everyone in the story just to continue forcing a romance that will never work if it’s forced! Just shift the focus an inch, damn it!
    …I need to take a breather. haha~

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I wouldn’t go so far as to call Shizuku retarded, but I just don’t think it’s that difficult to maintain good grades and friendships at the same time. I think this current drama she’s undergoing is nothing more than a false dichotomy. She’s taking the easiest way out, and that’s by returning to her previous state of equilibrium.

      Or, you know, just move on.

      The problem with this level of storytelling is that it’s all about mass gratification instead of doing what seems organic and natural. It’s supposed to be a romantic comedy, right? Then of course two people have to end up together! What I liked about Sakimichi no Apollon was that no one ended up romantically involved by the end of the series. Guess what! High school romances don’t usually last! People move on, people establish their own lives and careers, etc.

      Reply
      1. Ian Caronia

        Hm, I think I need to give Sakimichi no Apollon a real look, then.

        “I wouldn’t go so far as to call Shizuku retarded…”
        Hahaha~! Oh, no, mate, I didn’t mean it like that. I meant that her character has been retarded, as in held back, restrained from progressing. I was basically explaining why I think what you said here:
        “I think this current drama she’s undergoing is nothing more than a false dichotomy.”
        That’s pretty much the case here, and I think it’s all because of this culprit:
        “The problem with this level of storytelling is that it’s all about mass gratification instead of doing what seems organic and natural. It’s supposed to be a romantic comedy, right? Then of course two people have to end up together!”

        I hope this show doesn’t devolve into a generic rom-com pattern, as it has far too much potential to be wasted like that. The way Shizuku is acting really doesn’t bode well, though the fact that Haru pulled back from his BTOOOM!-like kissy-mouth moment (an act of character progression) does give hope this is merely a slump the series can get out of. Only time will tell.

        Reply
  3. appropriant

    I think about the flashback in episode 6 when it comes to Shizuku’s current “regression”. As a child, she desires some goldfish for the pot out back not only because she wants some but also because it gives her a chance to spend time with her often-scarce and hardworking mother. She even reads up how to raise goldfish before the festival and prepares herself for the responsibility. However, when it’s clear that one of her reasons for wanting goldfish wasn’t going to happen (the mother spending time with her at the festival), she immediately gives up and goes back to doing homework that she would otherwise not have time to do if she were to go to the festival. For her, the responsibility and novelty of having a pot full of goldfish is not worth skipping on homework when her mother isn’t even going to be around to support her decision.

    Likewise, Shizuku decides to aim for Haru’s affections not only because she saw it as possible amidst her current grades but also as an attempt to get Haru to return her feelings. She also starts socializing with people and acquires more connections with people because she is inspired by Haru to do so. However, seeing that her test scores slipped her down to 29th place, added with the fact that she did not see any sign of Haru reciprocating her feelings, she gives up vying for Haru and goes back to her usual study-ridden self. For her, pursuing love is not worth sacrificing her test scores when Haru is not willing to do the same.

    Unfortunately for Shizuku, the romantic feelings for Haru remain intact, no matter how hard she tries to push him away. I suppose, in that sense, she has developed. Just not as drastically as one might have imagined. Haru’s original problem is that he was unwilling to go to school and was heavily suspicious of strangers. Shizuku’s determination to get Haru back to school ended up turning into affection towards him. In working with his character, she found things to like and dislike, and found enough to feel justified in loving him. Haru’s affections are backwards in this sense. His love for her is physical rather than social, a superficial attraction that is powered by lust and limerence rather than friendship and understanding. He loves her, and is driven to choose her as an object of affection, but doesn’t understand why he should do this or what he should do to make it work because he knows next to nothing about Shizuku as a person. Thus, his efforts at winning Shizuku come off as insensitive because he’s not as interested in her background and behavior as Shizuku is about Haru.

    tl;dr It’s definitely frustrating to see Haru and Shizuku do that good old back and forth that romcoms tend to do, but it’s not a forced development.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I don’t care if it’s forced or not when the bottom line is that it’s boring to watch this same song and dance over and over.

      Reply
      1. appropriant

        Fair enough. I think the story is interesting enough because of the points I’ve already made of the main pair, but I won’t deny that the relationship itself hasn’t gone anywhere since the first episode. Just teenagers declaring things left and right without much commitment to back it up.

        Reply
  4. K

    This post was hilarious, thank you for that! And you just made Sukitte Ii na yo. seem like the dumbest show ever. I’ve read the manga, and I actually kind of liked it; it didn’t seem so terrible. Well, at least Yamato is a lot more self-aware. I think the anime changed that because they wanted to make portray him as a nice guy ala that dude from Kimi ni Todoke but mistook amiability for asinine obliviousness.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Yeah, Yamato’s a jerk, but I maintain that this fact has been well-documented over the past few episodes. What I can’t believe is how Asami noticed her friend was sad and continued to say nothing until Mei nearly broke down. Isn’t that what friends are for?! She even admitted to it, and nobody batted an eyelash. It takes no more than simple empathy to ask someone how they’re doing: “Would I want someone to talk to me during tough times? Yes. Alright, lemme go ask her what’s up…” Man, you don’t need a degree in therapy to accomplish that!

      Reply
  5. Pingback: Entering onto the Grand Stage | Chromatic Aberration Everywhere

  6. foon

    I’m glad someone finally told Haru that unwanted advances are, well, unwanted. I can’t really blame him because he obviously doesn’t understand a lot of the rules of social interaction, but it was disturbing to see him coming on to Shizuku this episode after she made it clear to him that she wasn’t interested (we know she really is, but Haru doesn’t). The fact that he remembers the lesson makes me hopeful that the series will actually progress from here.

    Natsume’s lesson is also important because (to me, anyway) it erased any doubts that the show wasn’t sending the right message, doubts that were voiced by a seemingly large part of the audience after the infamous first episode. Then again, she also tells him to keep trying, so I’m not sure what to think about this…

    I really hope the show gets out of this rut soon, like in the next episode. I originally thought it could be the best shoujo since Kare Kano, but the current back-and-forth reminds me of the mind-numbingly frustrating Kimi no Todoke S2.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Then again, she also tells him to keep trying, so I’m not sure what to think about this…

      If you look around the romantic comedy landscape, most of the male leads are creepy. This isn’t even just about anime; it’s a problem in Western media too. Winning your girl’s heart essentially means you can’t say no for an answer, and as long as the story tiptoes around literally raping someone, the stalkerish behavior is glossed over because the guy is hot and successful in life.

      Reply
      1. foon

        I suppose it all comes down to wish fulfillment in media. If a hot, successful guy doesn’t take no for an answer, then it’s deemed endearing; if the guy isn’t superficially attractive then it’s unequivocally creepy.

        Reply
  7. CSRae (@CSrae)

    Sukitte Ii na yo: I’m pretty disappointed in this series after the past few episodes it started out alright and now it feels like I’m watching a dysfunctional relationship progress along. Yeah, Yamato should have declined Megumi’s dinner invitation and Mei should have said anything to him about his modeling. I thought the main purpose was for Mei to become more self-confident by being friends with more people now it’s some kind of soap opera orz.

    KK: Somehow I think dying for love doesn’t sound as cool as it does in movies. I wonder if it’ll make their relationship awkward as master/spirit after. Also. all those faces on the fish and manta rays were … fun.

    TnK: I’m happy Mitty is still assertive around Haru, he needs to some clear-cut rules on what kinds of social interactions are allowed and what’s not. Anyone else see the parallels Oshima and Mei from Sukitte? Both quiet girls, who seem to like outspoken guys. I’m now curious about Yamaken, but please no love triangles after their convo at the cram school.

    Reply

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