In the prologue episode for Kimi ni Todoke we are introduced to Sawako who bears a striking resemblance to Sadako the girl from The Ring and Kazehaya, the popular boy who is nice to everyone.
Sawako is a quiet and shy high school girl who is unfortunately very socially…awkward. She bears a striking resemblance to the antagonist from the movie The Ring, and her actions don’t help matters much. She repeatedly hears classmates talk about her in the restroom, and the rumors about being cursed if you look into her eyes for 3 seconds. Everyone refers to her as Sadako and probably don’t even know her real name. Despite this, Sawako still tries to treat everyone kindly by saying hello, but her attempts only wind up making people more afraid of her.
The one person who doesn’t treat Sawako like a leper is a fellow boy classmate Kazehaya. Sawako reminisces about how she met Kazehaya the day of the entrance ceremony and how happy she felt that he treated her kindly. To her, Kazehaya is amazing and refreshing. Wanting to be liked by everyone, Sawako usually winds up getting assigned classroom tasks like helping out over summer vacation, which Kazehaya takes exception to. He thinks that it’s unfair to make her do all of these things and someone else should help out instead. Embarrassed by Kazehaya’s kind words, Sawako fumbles through insisting on the assignment since she lives close and is bored.
Later, Sawako is outside watering the flowers when an old grade school friend shows up to ask her how she’s doing. They end up talking about Kazehaya, and Sawako makes a comment about how refreshing he is, unaware that he’s at the window right behind her. Completely flustered she admits that it was meant as a compliment and Kazehaya comes outside to have a one-on-one chat. Instead of calling her Sadako like everyone else, he actually knows her full name which makes Sawako euphoric.
Inspired, she goes back to the classroom to sign up for the pre-summer test of courage that Kazehaya is spearheading. In the room are two other female classmates talking about how spooky it would be if Sawako would be a ghost for the test of courage and all the while Sawako is behind them. She tells them that she would like to do that role, even though she can’t really summon spirits. The girls reluctantly agree to let her do it, realizing that Sawako may not really be that scary of a person.
At the test of courage, Sawako hides in the woods and repeatedly scares her other classmates by standing in the moonlight and giving them a ghostly stare. Internally, Sawako is thrilled that she is giving the other students a good time, and doesn’t notice that Kazehaya is the next to stroll up. They have a nice little chat where both of them wind up embarrassed by th compliments that they give to each other.
At school the next day, Kazehaya is chided for not finishing the test of courage and is told that his punishment is to have to go out with Sawako for a week. To everyone’s surprise he vehemently denies the punishment saying that Sawako doesn’t deserve to be treated like that. Sawako takes this opportunity to try and clear everything up by telling everyone her feelings and then hastily leaves the room.
The next day is summer vacation, and as Sawako walks to school for her summer duties, she thinks about how Kazehaya probably won’t want to see her now after the incident the day before. She starts to cry just as she notices Kazehaya sitting nearby. He tells her that he wanted to see her over the summer break and it’s revealed that he also has thought of Sawako ever since their opening ceremony encounter.
Phew! They sure packed a lot of material into the first episode didn’t they? What we have here people is 100% Grade A Shoujo. I read the first few scanlated manga chapters of KnT a while back and I enjoyed what I read. Like I’ve said before I am a complete sucker for a good romance show, and this one comes right out and screams ‘Love Me!’ *wink*
The anime adaptation seems to have pretty well captured the same character style and art that the manga had. The animation seemed very fluid, the lines were crisp, and the backgrounds were very nicely done. I think the best part about the art so far is the way they used textures on the backgrounds to give it a painted or water-colored feel. Perfect ambiance for a shoujo series like this. I also thought that Mamiko Noto as the seiyuu choice for Sawako was perfect. She embodies the very picture (in an audible-only sense) of an introverted and misunderstood teenage girl with her voice.
It’s not all puppies and rainbows though. As nice and soothing as this episode was, it was still chock full of clichés. The chance meeting on the sakura tree filled street on opening ceremony day, the bubbly reactions to people’s kind words, and even the least-popular-likes-most-popular-maybe-like-each-other pairing. The OP and ED songs are clam and gentle, as one would expect from a series like this, but don’t really stand out either.
That being said, I still loved this episode. It combines two tried and true themes that usually make decent series, romance, and personal character development. If done right, I think that this will turn out to be a good show as Sawako’s character becomes more and more comfortable with people (or is it the other way around), and the (hopefully) budding romance between her and Kazehaya. The creators have to be careful not to make the characters too one dimensional, or the impact will be lost. They also have to be careful how they treat the side characters as well, since they are sure to be an integral part of the Sawako’s development. Plus, I like it when a show starts off the series with a possible relationship instead of ending on one (or not at all). Despite all the gloomy shots of Sawako, she really is an upbeat person which keeps this series on the lighter side. All in all I am looking forward to next week’s episode. Thank you for playing.