Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sukitte Ii na yo - 08

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That was a difficult episode to watch – mostly (but not entirely) for the right reasons.


The contrast between the way the two shoujo romances this season approach their material could hardly be more stark, and while it’s not fair to either series to judge them based on the other, it’s impossible to watch both shows and not be struck by the differences.  I saw people taking sides from the moment the two shows were announced virtually simultaneously (on top of everything else Sukitte and Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun are both published in the same magazine, so it’s quite natural) and I guess your favorite between the two largely depends on your biases as an anime fan.

Make no mistake about it – Sukitte Ii na yo is a highly emotional series.  It may err on the side of too much sentimentality sometimes, but I don’t mind most of the time because it manages to capture the heartbreak of teen romance very effectively.  It will surely brook little disagreement if I say “relationships are hard” – and teen relationships have their own unique set of heartbreaks (sorry Kids, it doesn’t get any easier).  And fundamentally that’s what this show is about – a very simple and basic formula, really, but it’s one anyone over the age of 14 or so can certainly identify with, and it’s a lot harder to pull off in an authentic way than this show is making it look.

As for the current agony Mei and Yamato are going through, I think there’s plenty of blame to go around for both parties, with an honorable mention to Megu (who actually prompted me to swear at the screen this week - something that I rarely do - with her “You and Yamato are so cute together, squeeee!” routine).  I think it’s very fitting that this episode was titled “New to Love” because that sums up a lot of the problems they’re facing.  In Yamato’s case it’s a bit of a left-handed reference in what it says about his prior relationships, but for Mei it’s quite literally true (unless you count cats).  Mei has brought a lot of this on herself with her relentless sad-sack routine – her lack of self-confidence may have been well-earned, but she owes Yamato at least an honest communication about how she feels.  Her constant deferring – to Yamato, to Megu, of her own feelings – is a frankly irritating trait, though it’s clearly quite realistic.  I feel for her, but she’s a major cause of her own problems in this relationship.

As for Yamato, I continue to believe that he’s a bit of a lightweight, to be honest – not an especially deep or interesting person.  And I don’t believe for a minute that he didn’t know he was in the wrong to keep sneaking to Megu’s house for dinner, whether anything happened or not, because if he didn’t know that he wouldn’t have done it all behind Mei’s back.  But to his credit he did own up to his crimes when Aiko confronted him, and sought out Mei to apologize.  And when she told him it was “creepy” the way he looked at her, I don’t blame him a bit for being pissed off – saying that to him without any context was downright mean.  It would have been the perfect moment for Mei to simply come clean about what was bothering her, but she let it slide yet again – and things just went from bad to worse.  A lack of communication from both sides is at the heart of the problem, and that’s a pretty realistic element of teen relationships (and others, too).

While Aiko was certainly helpful in bringing Mei and Yamato together, I’m having some issues with her role in the series.  Her transformation from snarky woman-scorned villainess to noble peacemaker was a little too rapid to be believable, but given that this is a one-cour show understandable – but she’s becoming the character who says impossibly mature and wise things whenever the plot calls for it, and I can do without that.  As for Megu it seems clear after her magazine comments – and this reaction – that as far as she’s concerned, it’s on, and I don’t expect anything to be out of bounds.  And then there’s this fellow, Takemura Kai (Tomoaki Maeno) who walks into Mei’s bakery and immediately asks her to give him the 20th Anniversary phone strap from the theme park “Land”, of which he’s apparently a huge fan (pretty rude, I thought – at least offer her some money for it).  Whether he’s here to provide Mei with another suitor or simply to fulfill a male sidekick role remains to be seen.

As to the future of the main couple, potential rivals aside I still think it’s pretty cloudy.  Setting aside the fact that first loves rarely work out – outside of anime – I still don’t find them an especially well-matched pair.  They certainly made strides this time, with Mei finally coming clean about her insecurities and Yamato admitting that he’d been wrong to sneak to Megu’s house – but the issue is that these were the symptoms, not the disease.  For a guy like Yamato there will always be another Megu, another temptation – and I’m still not convinced he’s wired to treat a serious relationship with the respect it deserves.  And Mei has serious issues of self-esteem that she has to deal with before a serious relationship with anybody makes sense, much less the school idol.  If this is a show about how painful first love is, it’s doing a good job of capturing that, especially through Mei’s eyes – she’s wrestling with emotions she’s never felt before, and has no way of dealing with. To me, how the series ends is less important than how well it portrays the process of learning how to deal with those emotions.

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24 comments:

  1. Epic hairdo, Kai.

    I like this show but it is one that's difficult to watch. All of the drama is caused by the main characters essentially behaving like morons which is... not ideal. Tonari I think is the better show, the characters seem more relatable somehow. But, must soldier through it, only a few episodes left. Maybe by the end the characters of this show will behave like empathetic humans instead of one dimensional caricatures.

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    1. I like both shows but give this one a slight edge. The things that happen in this series are more realistic and I have seen first hand someone say they are OK with a loved ones decision (Mei supporting Yamato's modeling) when clearly they aren't and it always leads to what happened this week.

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  2. "Mei has brought a lot of this on herself with her relentless sad-sack routine – her lack of self-confidence may have been well-earned, but she owes Yamato at least an honest communication about how she feels. A lack of communication from both sides is at the heart of the problem"

    Guess I nailed that shit on the head. I feel even better for dropping this. Think I'll devote that time to finishing Kanojo X.

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  3. What's with this trashing of this show, folks? I bet there are a plenty of folks who prefer this over Tonari even though the latter would be more popular as that's comedy. Comedy is always more popular over full-on drama, especially over male viewers.

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    1. Hey that's some gender stereotyping right there. Drama is fine but this is bad drama.

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    2. And yet relentless bashing continues... Even SSY's gay kissing scene didn't cause this much vile vitriol reactions here. Could it be that, all these bashers are Tonari fans? If so, whoever started this Tonari vs Sukitte angle should be partly blamed for this. I don't see much Sukitte fans going to Tonari posts are bashing it there, though.

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    3. If you think the bashing is unwarranted, provide proof to the contrary. Nothing's stopping you.

      You actually mentioned an example of unwarranted bashing as was the case with shin sekai and homosex.

      But this series, is totally deserving of it.

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    4. So says "Anonymous" without any proof other than his opinion that this show deserved bashing. Let the conversation among Anonymous continue~!!

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  4. Sukitte is dramatic for the sake of being dramatic. It may have a realistically portrayal of heartbreak, but there's more to life and much more to love than just heartbreak.

    Mei's pathetic, Yamato's a stuffed doll with a dick and the rest are one trick or rather one story ponies.

    My opinion is sourced from watching two episodes. Correct if I'm wrong?

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    1. see this, Enzo? The relentless trashing continues.

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    2. You're wrong, Ishruns. There's more to the characters than you're giving the show credit for, and there's nothing wrong with drama if it's grounded and earned, IMO.

      Tonari is certainly better, but to label it as simply "drama vs. comedy" is unfair to both series. Sukitte is a good show, Tonari is pretty close to great (I have a post I'll finish after class on the latest episode). Just because it has comedic elements doesn't mean it's not dealing in serious issues. It just so with a more balanced approach than Sukitte does.

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    3. People that drop a show after 1-2 epiosdes have no right to come back 6 or 7 episodes later and trash a show. How can your comments and opinions about a series matter when you stopped watching after the series got set up (1-2 episodes) and introduced the characters?

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  5. After all that analysis last week, and seeing that as expected nothing improved I am officially done with this show.If they wanted to tell a "realistic" high school story they failed. Maybe they should have made Hayakawa the main character cause that would certainly be interesting to watch even if the writing was as bad as this. But these are hypocritical,stupid and stereotypical characters and in 8 episodes I feel absolutely nothing towards them and their problems. They don't talk about anything other than relationships, they have no interests, no personality that goes beyond our first impressions on them.

    But this shit is actually offensive:

    Aika's self mutilation in order to lose weight may be extreme of course but justified(!) in her attempts to be liked by others! And Yamato was totally bad for wanting to have sex with a poor fragile and innocent creature like a 16 year old girl ,with as much if not more experience as him, who he was attracted to or kind enough to console her! Yeah cause if the situation was reversed and a 16 year old boy down on his luck had sex with the most popular girl in school, he would totally be hurt by the experience!

    Also,if you are a boy/girl in a relationship going to another boy's/girl's house for dinner and conversation is totally wrong! Be socially retarded,hide it or admit your mistake at least! Cause meeting new people is bad, who knows they may be plotting something sinister like making you rich and introducing you to a whole new world (fashion/modelling in this case) and that might hurt the one you are with so drop everything in order to make them happy right? Gee...they may even want to have sex with you and we definitely cannot allow that!

    Oh and let's not forget we have another couple if you don't like the main one. "She has big tits and I love her" x I AM CUTE RIGHT GUYS? Please.

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    1. HEY all Sukitte haters, not just thatdude here: I dare you to go to RC and post even half as bad as these posts there. I DARE YOU!!! No one does it since you know you will get negged down so fast and hidden that barely 30 people read your ranting!! C'mon you pansies, I dare you to post these trashing at RC (the blogger loves this show there, BTW, so that should motivate y'all haters even more!!)

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  6. Well, now I'm curious, Enzo. What was your all-time favorite Shojo show again? I forget. Was it Toradora!? No wait, that was Shonen. Hmmm, I don't recall what it was. I know some shows are simply labeled into one as its source material run at a certain place, but for the sake of argument, what is that one show you compare all subsequent shojo shows? Apparently there were many great shojos in the past, such as,
    - The Vision of Escaflowne (TV), which was great and I didn't know it was shojo)
    - Revolutionary Girl Utena
    - Fruits Basket
    - Nana (I thought this was Josei!!)
    - Sailor Moon
    -Fushigi Yuugi
    -Natsume Yuujinchou
    -Rose of Versailles
    -Kare Kano
    -Princess Tutu
    -Card Captor Sakura
    ...to name a few and now Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun. It's very difficult to pick just one, but if I must I'd go with Escaflowne... or Nana. No, that's cheating, so Escaflowne it is for me. What about YOU (not just Enzo, anyone).

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    1. I must add that "cheating" in that I must pick one as the all-time favorite, not a slight on Nana since I liked the show and would also consider as one of my all-time favorites.

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    2. I don`t really think in terms of genre that specifically with the shows I`ve loved, Doodle. I don`t think Natsume belongs in the same conversation as Bokura ga Ita, for example. In this context we`re really talking relationship shows, at least in my mind. In that category I`d have put Kare Kano right at the top if it hadn`t had one of the most abysmal shark-jumping endings in anime history. BgI is phenomenal, but stopped right in the middle.

      I do happen to love Natsume and Fruits Basket, for example, and I suppose they are shoujo - but I don`t have a "favorite shoujo" list per se. If Tonari were going to be two cour it might have a chance to reach the top level - and it`s as much about friendship as it is about romance.

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    3. Nana was great, too bad about that completely unresolved ending and the mangaka having so many problems that she hasn't been able to finish it.

      I'm not sure I'd call Natsume shoujo? Maybe I'm just bad with genres since I tend to ignore them when deciding what shows I like. Not sure what category I would put it in to be honest but I never thought of it as shoujo.

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    4. Sailor Moon is rather overrated. It only serves as one of the best known shojo series that started a magical girl up rise.

      The best show on that list is easily RGU. Followed closely by Escaflowne, CCS, Princess Tutu and RoV. Nana is worthy but feels a little directionless towards the end.

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    5. Beckett, trust me, no one really knows what's what anymore for a long time now. Some of these shows like Natsume, Nana, and Escaflowne, are only Shojo because the manga (i.e. source material) run on weekly shojo collection book first. They easily pass as Josei (for Natsume and Nana) and Shounen (for Escaflowne) if you look at their contents alone.

      I see not much love for Escaflowne, BTW...shame.

      Kare Kano was great before it sucked as everyone knows by now. But perhaps it's a blessing in a disguise that it stopped in a way, similar to Usagi Drop, since the manga went controversial with what many called misguided directions (use the darn condoms, damn it, kids!). Nana, also similar in that way that it's stopped, as it went to a weird place with the manga by killing off a major character for no apparent reason before stopping cold for good... But out of the three, Kare Kano had the most potential to further explore, such as Sakura and Takefumi angle, I'd think. BTW, my favorite character of that show, looking back is Rika Sena.....I bet no one knows who that is!! yep, I'm weird in that way, Enzo. I pick a most random non-factor character as my favorite.

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    6. REVOLUTIONARY GIRL UTENA IS THE SHOUJO MASTERPIECE! nuff said.

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    7. I've always liked Card Captor even though it's a pretty generic show. And speaking of Bokura ga Ita, I wish someone could reboot the anime because god knows it deserves one. Judging by the animation quality, the project was clearly running low on budget. The story can be so frustrating sometimes, but it's one of the only shojo that connected with me emotionally.

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  7. I really am not having any trouble with the portrayals of people in this show. I think they're certainly authentic, and as I said last week, I think people are ascribing motivations to Yamato that he just doesn't have, ones that fail Occam's Razor. I still don't see where the guile and shadiness that is attributed to him is coming from, since he seems far less deep than that. He's a teenager, and while he should be learning stuff, it's entirely believable that he just doesn't think about the more adult consequences of what he's doing (as teenagers are wont to do).

    I personally like this show, and find it a lot easier to watch, because it's about an actual couple. Yeah, they're not quite sure what they're doing, but they're together. I like that it's *not* a 'Will they or won't they' show, where the show engineers obstacles and roadblocks to the couple so when it looks like they'll get together they don't. This is exploring the difficulties of an actual relationship, and I still find it believable and authentic, even if the people involved are making frustrating mistakes. That's what inexperience is about: making mistakes and learning from them.

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