Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai Ep. 6: I’ll never understand marriage without love

In this week’s episode, Tada finally gets a pulse. He finally realizes he might actually feel something for Teresa after all. This anime is cute enough, but for the past five episodes, our hero has barely shown much of a personality. More importantly, this is supposed to be a love story, but he doesn’t treat Teresa any differently from the rest of his friends. Sure, she seemed to be infatuated with him, but Tada remained as oblivious as ever. It was hard to see any sort of chemistry between those two. Well, the other shoe finally dropped.  We never appreciate what we have until we realize that we never really had it in the first place. Charles’ sudden entrance into the story is a stark reminder that Teresa belongs to a whole ‘nother world. Tada and his friends still don’t have a clue that the girl is royalty, but it’s painfully clear that they are worlds apart. The best that he and Teresa can do is gaze upon the same star, but they are just children. They are oh so young, so they have no clue what how to live their lives. Our hero is still trying to get over his parents’ deaths, and our heroine convinces herself that being a caged bird is ultimately for the best not just for herself but her loved ones as well. No one can be honest with themselves or each other. Not even Alec, Teresa’s best friend.

During a fancy party, Teresa gets distracted by a building, so she leaves on her own to take a closer look. When it begins to rain, she is forced to take shelter with Tada who just happened to be in the same location. Separated from the rest of high society, the girl can finally speak freely with someone for once and not have to mind her position in life. Back at the party, however, Alec is freaking out. After all, her princess has gone missing. When she finally discovers Teresa, she glances at Tada with an almost accusatory look. She then looks away out of guilt ’cause she knows she’s going against her lady’s true feelings. She’s relieved that Teresa is safe, but she’s also afraid that her lack of care and attention may have allowed Teresa to stray. It’s in these moments that social status and rankings can feel so absolutely stupid. Teresa is willing to marry Charles, but she doesn’t love him. Alec likes Charles, and Teresa knows it, but both girls feel powerless about the situation. Last but not least, Alec knows Teresa is not fully happy with the decision to marry Charles once she returns from Japan, but she is duty bound to keep her princess safe. Not just safe from danger, mind you, but also safe from ruin. The princess should not fall in love with some commoner in Japan. No, the princess should marry Charles, a Frenchman born from noble stock. It is only fitting… or something.

And if you’re hoping for any sort of resolution in next week’s episode, you can keep on dreaming. Judging by the next episode preview, we’ll be returning right back to fleshing out the side characters and their backstories. I think it’s Dog-kun’s turn next. In any case, Tada-kun seems like such a happy-go-lucky show that it’s hard to imagine the story ending on a sour note. More specifically, it’s hard to imagine Teresa returning to Larsenburg and marrying Charles while Tada looks on helplessly. Of course, I don’t think our canon couple will profess their undying love to each other either. Realistically, the one-cour adaptation will just call it quits on some open-ended note in case we ever want a sequel. That, of course, is just my prediction. At the same time, this is an original story, so maybe we will get a concrete ending. Either way, judging by the story’s tone, I just don’t see things ending poorly. Nevertheless, it’s thoroughly frustrating whenever I encounter such passive characters. Maybe this is just a cultural sort of thing, but it’s maddening when people can’t communicate. They worry so much about being selfless to their loved ones that they screw themselves over. Can you truly be happy marrying someone not out of love but out of duty? Can you truly be happy watching another man lead your woman away? Say something.

I think what gets me the most is Alec’s difficult position as both Teresa’s bodyguard and her best friend. Again, maybe it’s a cultural thing, but I think the best friend part should win out. I honestly don’t think her position is as difficult as the anime would like us to believe. As Teresa’s best friend, she should realize what would truly make Teresa happy. Maybe she will come to realize this at some later point in the series, but for now, I can’t stand the fact that she’s yet another person who puts pressure on the princess to mind her propriety. Teresa only reassures Alec that she will marry Charles after seeing her best friend cry. Of course, we must ultimately accept responsibility for our lives, so Teresa can only blame herself if she truly does end up with Charles. It’s 2018, man. Maybe not exactly 2018, but it’s at least the 21st century. You can do whatever you want, marry whoever you want, go wherever you want. Discover who you are and who you want to be! No one has to get married right out of high school in this day and age. Certainly not royalty! Prince William didn’t get hitched until well into his adulthood! So the only person keeping Teresa from flying the coop is, well, herself.

Last but not least, although Tada might have finally gotten a pulse in this week’s episode, he’s still barely alive. He’s supposed to be the hero of this story, but he’s so flat and undynamic for a lead character. All he’s done so far is play the straight man to every quirky person around him. He’s only the most respectable male character by default. It’s easy to look like a winner next to the narcissistic Kaoru, the perverted Pin-senpai, and the idiotic Dog-kun. It’s hard to imagine why Teresa even likes him at all other than the fact that he’s the lead character. Otherwise, the guy might as well be invisible. Fate has handed him a princess, and he’s barely noticed! Well, it’s time for Tada to put on his big hero pants and finally develop a personality, because he’s quickly running out of time. We’re nearly halfway through this one-cour series, and the girl can’t stick around forever! Don’t get me wrong, though. Tada’s not unlikable. The problem is that he’s not likable either. His presence is so minuscule that it’s easy to forget that we’re supposed to be rooting for him in the first place. Let’s face it: in terms of male characters that are best suited for Teresa, the person who truly sits at the very top is the Rainbow Shogun. Sadly, Tada is a distant second.

Misc. notes & observations:

— Charles: “You can introduce me as just your childhood friend.” Welp, he’s out of the running.

— After Charles leaves, Teresa pauses and stares at the coffee shop next door. It’s obvious where her feelings lie. Still, it’s a bit surprising how quickly they’ve developed.

— Alec is “reassured” now that Charles has shown up? How odd. Is she afraid that Teresa will shirk her duties? Does she have a vested interest in seeing Teresa marry this man?

— The redhead clearly like Charles, but she won’t admit it. She probably doesn’t think it is proper to do so. I hate this sort of passivity, though. Maybe that makes me uncouth and unfit for the ranks of the nobility, but I never keep my thoughts to myself. Hell, you guys know that. Just look at this shitty blog full of thoughts nobody ever asked for.

— Alec: “…he is a fine fiance worthy of you, Teresa….” There’s no mention of love anywhere. And yet, Teresa just passively agrees.

— So the three stooges dislike Charles at first, but the Frenchman easily win them over. For Kaoru, he just has to act as if the kid is cool. For Dog-kun, praise the kid’s weird ass animal pictures… like seriously, what the hell are these? And for Pin-senpai, it’s obvious: praise HINA.

— At least Charles is not dumb enough to think that HINA and Hinako are two different people.

— And just like that, the Frenchmen have the three stooges eating out of his hand. What a bunch of jobbers.

Teresa’s photo is supposed to be a rock that’s shaped like a penguin, but it reminds me of a potato. Why? ‘Cause I feel like the girl’s about as bright as a potato.

— Alec’s soft side apparently comes out in her photos. And now, our tsuntsun girl has gone all deredere on us. Pathetic.

— When Dog-kun comments on Teresa and Charles’ closeness, Tada agrees. The girl seems to have overheard this comment, and she does not look pleased. But of course, she won’t say anything. She doesn’t have anyone to confide in. Even her best friend cannot lend a shoulder to cry on, because Alec would only convince her that marrying Charles is the right thing to do. Teresa must feel lonely, no? She still tries to be her usual cheerful self, though. How does she do it? How does she store so much unhappiness inside herself and never let it be known? It just feels terrible.

Yui likes Charles. Even Nyanko Big likes Charles. I get it: everyone likes Charles.

— Hm, Charles nervously touches his bracelet when he hears about Tada’s parents. I wonder…

— Looks like Nyanko Big still has his own love story to deal with.

These subtitles are on point.

— So Kaoru invites his buddies all to a fancy party, and the episode never really explains how he has such connections. I thought his parents just own some old-fashioned Japanese restaurant.

— Pin-senpai does not deserve his childhood friend at all.

— I find it interesting that this is the first time that Tada is taken by Teresa’s beauty. I think she looks much better in her day-to-day outfit. Alec, on the other hand, has quite a plunging neckline. Hoo boy, talk about daring for a teenager.

She knows! She knows, man! She knows that Teresa likes Tada. You can’t be a best friend and not notice! But at the same time, you can be a best friend and also pressure your girl into a loveless marriage! Maybe she just thinks anyone would grow to love Charles, but don’t be naive! Love doesn’t work like that (usually).

— Pin-senpai really doesn’t deserve his childhood best friend.

— Plus, Teresa isn’t even subtle about it. She’s busy looking for Tada even though she’s trailing along behind Charles like some sort of attendant. She hardly feels like his equal.

— Again, this show is normally so happy-go-lucky that we’ll probably see Charles and Alec end up together anyway. Maybe. This week’s episode is the first time we’ve gotten any sort of conflict and character drama.

— Kaoru normally annoys me, but you gotta hand it to him: he has the guts to just munch on that drumstick like he’s in his own home. Always be confident. Always act as if you own the place… or rather, you don’t care who actually owns the place.

— Teresa may as well live in Tada’s camera.

— Charles: “But being apart from each other is one thing. Mutual neglect is another.” Huh. Interesting.

Not really, but I get what he’s saying here.

— So many wordless stares in this moonlit garden. Tada stares. Even Kaoru stares. It’s important that he’s here as Tada’s best friend. He has to play the role of Alec’s counterpart.

— This is probably the most interesting episode yet. At the same time, however, it is also the most frustrating, because the characters are so typical in their actions and mannerisms.

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