Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai Ep. 13 (Final): Sweet but unfocused

Much like its heroine, I suppose. Anyways, I’m sure you’ve heard about it, but Princess Ayako recently made the news by giving up her royal title. She, too, fell in love with a commoner. For the longest time, I didn’t understand why it was such a big deal for Teresa to fall in love with Mitsuyoshi. Why would she have to shirk her duties just because she loves a Japanese man? But hey, now it makes sense — now I see why it is such a struggle for Teresa. My problem was that I kept seeing her as a European princess, but she is ostensibly a Japanese one. I mean, c’mon, there’s no such thing as Larsenburg. The girl only hails from Europe, because 1) Japanese stories (anime or otherwise) loves modern western European culture and 2) they needed a good excuse for why Mitsuyoshi wouldn’t recognize her. Had she actually been a Japanese princess, this would’ve been a bit too difficult to swallow. But hey, turn a European princess into a giant Japanophile and there you go! If Princess Ayako has to renounce her royalty for love, I guess it only makes sense that Teresa would have to do the same.

Anyways, I don’t mind the saccharine sweet ending. I actually always wanted Teresa to find her happiness even if it meant her ending up with Mitsuyoshi. And hey, that’s exactly what happens. They even seal the deal with a kiss. My problem with the show, however, is twofold. First, I’m still not sold on Mitsuyoshi. He and Teresa are similar in a lot of ways, so you might call them kindred spirits. At the same time, however, I just wish the story had focused more on their friendship. At one point, Teresa fell for Mitsuyoshi, and she fell hard (mostly the camping episode). When the guy gets the girl, it’s supposed to be satisfying, but I never felt as though our hero had really earned her love. Did he really put in the hard work? Maybe that’s why the finale has him chasing after an invitation floating down an icy cold stream, ’cause goddamn, he had to do something to prove his love. If anything, Mitsuyoshi was large uncharismatic and far too lowkey for the vast majority of the series. Teresa pretty much had to carry the show with energy and exuberance.

Second — and this ties into the first problem, the anime wastes far too much time on unnecessary characters. The only person who accompanies Mitsuyoshi to Larsenberg is Kaoru. None of the other characters matter at all. So why devote an entire episode to Pin-senpai and Hinako? Why devote an entire episode to Dog-kun and Imouto? Why devote an episode to the fucking cat? They don’t actually help our main couple get together at all (well, the cat kinda helped). Sure, these characters don’t have to do that. After all, they have their own stories and their own lives… but do they? Because none of the characters I just mentioned have any sort of resolution to their stories whatsoever. We see Pin-senpai graduating at the end of the episode, but that’s it. Does he and Hinako ever get together. Who knows! And who cares, apparently, because the story sure doesn’t. It’s a loose end that goes nowhere, and that’s exactly what I’m getting at. The time we took to establish Pin-senpai as a character could’ve been spent on Mitsuyoshi and Teresa.

But don’t get me wrong, because I like the show. I think it has solid art direction, and the backgrounds are always fun to look at. I really like the soundtrack, especially the repeated use of the leitmotif at crucial junctures in the story. Most of all, I’m really a big sap, so I love happy endings where the guy gets the girl (or vice versa). I just think that the show has huge flaws that prevent it from becoming a classic. The best parts of a romance aren’t when they get together at the very end. The kiss simply seals the deal. The best parts are the stepping stones along the way. If I were to rewatch Tada-kun, there is really only one episode that I would want to go back to: the episode where they camped out under the stars. It’s pretty much the only real romantic moment between Mitsuyoshi and Teresa. In general, the show lacks satisfying moments, so the payoff at the very end doesn’t feel as dreamy as it could’ve been.

Final grade: C+

Misc. notes & observations:

— Man, Rachel is such an MVP in this week’s episode. She takes care of everything and thinks of everything. Having said that, I’m still not entirely clear what happened between her and Mitsuyoshi’s grandfather. Maybe we should’ve taken an episode away from Dog-kun and given it to Rachel instead.

— You gotta feel bad for Charles, ’cause he’s done nothing wrong. I get the feeling that he never wanted an arranged marriage in the first place (after all, it was all planned out before Teresa was even born), but he fell in love with our heroine anyways. And even now, he could’ve been difficult. He could’ve thrown a tantrum, and we’d still pity him somewhat. But the guy is a consummate gentleman through and through.

— As tender as this moment was, I can’t really say the same about Alec…

— So Rachel didn’t hand Mitsuyoshi a letter. Instead, she gave him an invitation to a dinner party. I guess she simply had faith in the kid. She just knew he would show up to a party full of rich and powerful people and confess his love. She barely knows Mitsuyoshi, so this is a bit odd.

— Kaoru is really the only friend who has a large role to play. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any character development whatsoever. He’s just there to help push Mitsuyoshi down the path of life. He probably also bought a suit for his best bud. I doubt Mitsuyoshi had packed that ahead of time. I also doubt he would have the money for a tailored suit at such a short notice.

— The finale even takes place at Christmas. It’s only fitting. The holiday is somehow very romantic for Japan. All I think about at Christmas is presents and how I don’t get any because my birthday is too close to it.

— The show loves these moments.

— So Charles loves Teresa so much that he would rather prioritize her happiness above all else. Not above his own, of course. He’s actually wise enough to understand that he wouldn’t be happy either if she was forced to marry him. You gotta applaud the guy.

— As for Alec, she still wanted to fight the inevitable down to the very last second. Charles literally had to drag her away. Sigh.

— The confession is so quintessentially Japanese, isn’t it? Both Mitsuyoshi and Teresa confess their love for each other, but they stand apart. They don’t embrace each other or anything. It wouldn’t be proper. We reveal our delicate feelings and keep it at that.

— So we get a time skip, and Pin-senpai is officially graduating. Unfortunately, these characters have no depth to them, so these scenes are kinda hollow.

Dog-kun and Imouto blush at each other and that’s it. Why did we even bother to include these two in the story at all?

— I guess Nyanko Big has made some progress.

— Apparently, Rachel is an even bigger deal than we originally thought.

— Even at the very end, Charles protects Teresa. He breaks the engagement off so that he looks like a bad guy. The girl won’t get any of the blame. Otherwise, the tabloids probably would’ve wondered why she fell in love with someone when she was already betrothed to another. Now she’s free to pursue another relationship with the public being none the wiser.

— In the end, maybe there’s something brewing between Charles and Alec, but I honestly can’t find myself rooting for Teresa’s devoted bodyguard. It didn’t feel as though her character grew very much. Had it not been for Charles, she would’ve crashed the confession scene and ruined the atmosphere.

— Anyways, here comes another quintessentially Japanese moment. After everything is all said and done, Mitsuyoshi goes back to the very same spot where he had first met Teresa on that fateful day. Why? Well, why not? Fate brought them together that day, so why wouldn’t he be magically drawn back to the same location? All of a sudden, it starts to rain. Gee, whenever he and Teresa get together, it always rains. So what do you know? It’s Teresa! But this time, she has an umbrella. Like okay, I know she wanted to surprise the guy. But how did she know he would be here on this exact day and at this exact moment? Fate? Or did she ask his family first where he would be, stalk him all the way here, waited until it would rain, then made her grand entrance? Sure, it could have been the latter (which is still wild), but I’ve consumed enough Japanese fiction to realize that the culture loves the fuck out of happy coincidences, red strings of fate, blah blah blah.

— But whatever, I still like the happy ending.

— Sidenote: since I don’t have anything originally scheduled for tomorrow, the write-up on MEGALOBOX will be delayed 24 hours.

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