Ash back with another Afterword. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted one of these, but I feel that this little gem of a series deserves this kind of recognition. Spring Break has ended for me and I return to classes tomorrow. There’s about 8 more weeks to go and then I’m out and done. The feeling is still pretty tense, but I’ve found a bit more joy in my life in the past six months. Between meeting a few new friends and interacting with older ones, I’ve begun to understand more and more about the wonders of life. I’m tryin to be optimistic here, but as a student on the verge of leaving that area of comfort, what can I say?

I’m not too sure about how this blog is going to go about in the next few months. I had originally started this as a “whatever” blog and now it seems most of what we post is anime. That isn’t necessarily a problem, but I want to vary it a bit more.

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun focuses on the relationship between Shizuku Mizutani, who has absolutely no interests except in studying and her plans for the future, and a boy named Haru Yoshida, who sits next to Shizuku in class but rarely attends school. After Shizuku is tasked with delivering class printouts to Haru’s home, she meets Haru, who immediately greets her as a friend, starting their new relationship.

Love is something near impossible to define. It comes in so many forms and ways that seem to vary from person to person. It’s something too complicated to describe to anyone who hasn’t felt love first hand, but once they find that feeling, it instantly becomes the most obvious thing in the world. And then there are couples like the one feature here, where the most unlikely of all combinations are thrown together that takes all common notions about love straight out of the window. Shizuku “Mitty” Mizutani is a pragmatic bookworm. She has always coldly ignored everything that doesn’t contribute to her ambition to amass top grades that would help with her ambition of bright future as successful career woman. Haru Yoshida is a problem child. He’s unpredictably impulsive and completely oblivious to the social norm like a wild beast, which has always got him to a lot of trouble. When two such as these develop mutual romantic feelings, the resulting chaotic relationship is both funny, cute, and often times endearing.

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is a rom-com. And if you ask me, the only important aspect of rom-coms are their abilities to put the viewer into a good mood. And the first thing there’s to say about this anime is that it accomplishes that extremely well. Mitty and Haru are a hilarious mismatch that have tons of chemistry. Haru on his own is already crazy and wild, he has unusual ideas about the world and weird fixations on them, and he acts without bothering to read his surroundings. Yeah, he’s kind of special. But that’s nothing without Mitty’s priceless responses. Whether she freaks out or gets embarrassed about Haru, gets annoyed about it or ignores it coldly, the surprising actions and responses combined with great timing and exaggerated facial expressions are spot on time and time again. The side characters are also fun, particularly so when they are combined with Haru’s frankness and Mitty’s coldness. They can be amusing even only among each other, some of these characters shine even on their own, and overall this bunch keeps the show interesting and varied. I would say the focus is more on the character interactions and that the romance is a bit of a background plot to it all.

This is really a great love story centered on all of the characters. Each of the cast has some form of social disorder, and it’s their grouping together that creates a really interesting and entertaining dynamic to watch. The focus isn’t just the two main characters, they have a pretty interesting entourage as well. The general anime stereotypes are included, but they are not dominant factors in the delivery. There are plenty of refreshing moments and a few little surprises that make this anime series shine.

If there’s one word to describe the visuals of this series, it’s colorful. Brain Base has really gone out of their way to make this show a feast for the eyes. The backgrounds and character designs are bright and lively, and yet they never stray so far from reality that it becomes a barrier against seeing these characters as real people. On a whole the show has a charming, playful aesthetic that’s still earthy enough that it doesn’t detract from the show’s dramatic moments.

The music in the show doesn’t slouch as well. The music often dive into over-the-top territory with rowdy and energized blaring trumpets, only to turn around and perfectly accent a sentimental, contemplative moment with soft strings, hitting just the right level of sensitivity without ever coming across as corny. It’s a tough task to pull off, made no less difficult by the dichotomous nature of the content. Suffice it to say that there’s not a second in this show that doesn’t deliver musically.

One of the most frustrating things a story can do is to reach for greatness and then stop halfway, and that’s exactly what Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun does. After putting so much effort into building up a realistically screwed up character, the show falls into the “adaptation” pitfall and stops. There are more chapters of the manga for the viewer to continue the story, but in general I wished that the series was done as a 26 episode, 2 cour show than a 13 episode, 1 cour. Still, its strong characterization cannot be ignored, and coupled with its strong atmosphere I think the show has enough going for it to merit a watch and hope for a second season.

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is definitely not a show for those looking for quick fulfillment and closure. The problems in this series are not neatly segmented into arcs, but instead come and go throughout the story. The series seeks not to follow the general formula of storytelling. Whereas there is usually some buildup to a pre-destined climax; that is not the case here. Tonari instead is a show that seeks to tell a different side of the story of relationships, the one that isn’t so cozy and compact in its ups and downs, but rather an elongated and error-prone side of the social dynamic. It seeks to bring out the frustrations, the stupid mistakes, and the downright irrationality of relationships of this nature, all the while softening the tension with comedic humor. There is a likely chance that the viewer will disagree with at least one of the characters, believing one to be in the right while the other….not so. Such is what I believe is one of the goals of this show: to make sure every character has a disagreeable aspect.

It’s a risky move. Some may call it a dumb move. Whatever you judge of the output quality though, the writers of this show have to be applauded for their bravery. They have made a show that stands out among the waves, that doesn’t make things easy, no matter how easy it is to do so. We get angry, annoyed at their inability to do SOMETHING, but perhaps that is the point that’s trying to hit home. This little gem of a series really does go to surprising lengths to set itself apart.

With that said and my own biases present,

I proudly give Horizon Season Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun a 100/100.

A perfect series.

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