The best thing about the shoujo offerings as a group this season is that each of them is quite distinct from the others.
I don’t really have much to say about this week’s episode of Tonari, even though I enjoyed it quite a bit. It was pretty much a build-up ep – some subtle character development, but mostly a chance to watch the four main characters (and they do seem to have officially formed a foursome now) in their natural habitat.
It’s the nature of Tonari that it makes me want to see more of the family lives of the characters, which so far are only being teased. We’ve met Shizuku’s father briefly and her brother even more so (he was indeed the “Zashiki-warashi” of last week) but enough so that her family seems intriguingly odd. Even more has the curiosity level been raised for Haru’s family, considering his violent dislike for his brother. We meet Yuzan properly this week, and while he’s a strange fellow there’s no hard evidence to suggest why Haru is so terrified at the notion of seeing him (Yuzan suggests Haru is a brocon). Yuzan is nice enough to everyone but there’s still something off about him that makes me suspect that Haru’s feelings aren’t entirely groundless. In any event, Haru’s not talking.
The bottom line for me is that I like Haru and Mitty as a couple, and they don’t fit the cookie-cutter mold of anime pairings in any way. Oddball romances certainly aren’t anything revolutionary, but these two might be the only pegs square enough to fit with each other. They’re each socially inept in profound but totally different ways and that makes them interesting, and while Haru’s dysfunction is so thorough as to stretch credulity, watching him awkwardly try to change is poignant in its way. And of course, Tomatsu Haruka is delivering a monster of a performance as Mitty – wounded but resourceful, unsure but surprisingly resolute.