Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai Ep. 4: Standstill

We briefly take a break from Tada and Teresa to focus on another hapless couple: Hajime and Hinako. She loves him, and he loves her… but he doesn’t really love her. He loves HINA, her alter-ego. And I know, I know… HINA is just one facet of Hinako, so you could argue that he loves Hinako as well. You could argue that, but I’m not convinced. When Hinako tells Hajime to write down what he likes about HINA, he goes on and on about her appearance. He loves her breasts, the way she pats her hair, the Girdle of Venus on her palms, the shape of her ear, so on and so forth. And look, it’s fine to adore someone’s looks, because physical attraction is important too. But it can’t be the only thing you care about. Not once does he say anything about HINA’s personality. Not once does he say something like “Oh, I love her confidence” or “I love the way she meets life head-on!”

Teresa isn’t wrong when she says that HINA is a part of the real Hinako, but her advice is also a little too simple and reductionist. Truthfully, Hajime doesn’t know HINA all that well either. In fact, his love for her is shallow. I didn’t mean for the downer analysis, but I can’t really root for this guy. In the end, he thanks Hinako for her advice, but… eh… maybe their relationship will develop more in later episodes, but for now, he doesn’t deserve his childhood friend’s love at all. I’m sorry, but defending her once from a mean dog isn’t going to magically change my perception of him. I agree with Alec in that he’s just a clueless, perverted doofus. Anyways…

Misc. notes & observations:

— I still can’t understand how no one but Alec can see the resemblance between Hinako and HINA. I know I’m supposed to suspend my disbelief when I watch anime, but this is kinda ridiculous. Plus, HINA’s been in commercials. Couldn’t you recognize her from her voice alone?

— Teresa is unperturbed by Hajime’s fondness of HINA’s breasts. On the one hand, this doesn’t dispel the notion that the girl’s a bit of an airhead. On the other hand, however, it’s nice to see a female anime character not screaming pervert at the top of her lungs. Even Alec remains speechless.

— Apparently, Hajime has never been able to successfully photograph a girl. He’s never even tried to take a picture of Hinako? I guess not. At best, he can only photograph a cross-dresser.

— Naturally, he wants to drag everyone down to the event. I only say naturally because this is what we’d expect from anime in general. Why wouldn’t they be there, right? But if you really think about it, why would they be there? They can’t even go inside to see her. All they get to do is stand outside and wait for Hajime to do his thing. What a waste of time for all of them. You could argue that they’re there for moral support, but c’mon… the fact that Hajime needs moral support in order to greet his idol is kinda pathetic.

— Great advice: “Don’t touch her anywhere other than her hands.” And if she offers to pose for a picture with you, be sure to do the hover hands!

— Because Hajime is too nervous to talk to the actual HINA, Teresa suggests that he practice it. Just pretend someone is HINA and try talking to them! Gosh, I wonder who would step up to the plate to help the poor guy out!

No choice, he says. Apparently, he has to settle with his childhood friend.

— It would make sense that Hinako knows all the tricks when it comes to calming down one’s nerves. Unfortunately, Hajime is too dumb to draw the connection. In fact, he proceeds to spend an entire afternoon staring at Hinako as if she’s HINA herself — which she is — and yet, he realizes nothing. This is ridiculously stupid. I mean, I guess I’m just frustrated for the girl’s sake. I can’t believe she’s in love with someone so dense.

— The following day, we find Tada doing his best Kamoshida impression. He only gets to look cool, though. He’s not actually any good at volleyball at all. I guess this shows us that he’s not a perfect protagonist.

— Much to Hinako and Teresa’s surprise, Alec finally reveals that she knows the truth. Hell, she’s known from the very beginning. I don’t know either, Alec, I really don’t know…

— HINA’s backstory is pretty basic: Hinako filled in one day for a girl who couldn’t make it to a shoot, and since then, she had hoped that modeling would give her more confidence and make her less shy. But instead, she simply developed two distinct personas instead. It’s odd how that works, huh? I’d argue that she doesn’t want her primary persona, i.e. Hinako, to become bolder at all. Rather, her introvertedness acts as a security blanket. The fact that her relationship with Hajime remains at a standstill is also a security blanket. Look, who knows what will happen when she finally summons the courage and confesses everything to Hajime? That uncertainty is scary. So instead, she can remain secure in the fact that the guy is so obsessed with HINA that he would never fall for anyone else. As a result, she gets to take her sweet time stepping out of her comfort zone. Maybe she never really has to. Hinako assures the girls that she’ll save the best for last, but this is just procrastination pure and simple. She’s just as frightened as Hajime about confessing her love.

Again, I agree with Alec.

— Yeesh, this guy lacks common sense.

— Again, he really lacks common sense. He actually had to decide between that look and another ghastly outfit.

— Luckily, Tada is such a bro that he’ll trade outfits with Hajime.

— I still don’t know what Gentaro really adds to this story.

For a brief moment, the guys almost recognize HINA, but of course, they remain clueless and blind. I really wish the story had bothered to subvert this trope. It’s just so silly that it takes me out of the story completely.

— Sorry, but Hinako is way cuter than HINA.

— The moment of truth comes, and Hajime is predictably too busy fighting his own nerves to realize that Hinako is standing right in front of him. Eventually, he takes her advice from earlier and manages to calm himself down, but he still remains clueless. Dude, her face… her voice! If he’s such a huge fan of HINA, he must have studied her looks thoroughly, right? So how can he not realize that Superman and Clark Kent have the same goddamn face whether or not he’s wearing glasses?! Again, I wish the show had bothered to subvert yet another tired trope, but alas…

— Later that night, he even calls Hinako up and gives us the false hope that maybe he isn’t a complete idiot. Unfortunately, all he does is thank her for her advice. What an idiot. It’s just frustrating that nothing has changed. We sat through an entire episode for nothing. At best, we learned a thing or two about HINA, but the relationship between Hinako and Hajime remains at a standstill.

— Hearing Hinako say that she’ll eventually tell Hajime the truth one day, Teresa starts to feel guilty. After all, she’s harboring a secret of her own as well. I can’t imagine anyone would really be mad when they find out, though. What is there to be mad about?

— Teresa then wonders if Alec has ever fallen in love with anyone. Y’know, I’d put good money that the redhead is probably in love with her best friend. But that about does it for this week’s Tada-kun.

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