I couldn’t believe when I drafted my post of top 5 characters who love their darling to death that I hadn’t actually reviewed this series previously. So here we are. This is the story of Shizuku Mizutani who is known for being cold as ice and doing nothing but studying who is one day asked by the teacher to take some handouts to Haru Yoshida’s home because he hadn’t come back to school after being suspended on the first day. Haru latches onto Shizuku after some initial misunderstandings and quickly declares that he is in love with her, something Shizuku finds bewildering.
No matter how you want to slice it, this story gets off to a rough start. First we have Shizuku’s narration which tells us that this is a story about all of these different people who we see briefly in cut scenes and then she tells us it doesn’t make sense to start the story there. While plenty of stories do this, give you a glimpse of what is coming or a flash of who the characters are, they normally do this to generate interest or suspense. In this case, it is just distracting from getting into the story. What makes this particularly opening worse for the show is that a lot of these characters serve a very peripheral role in the overall story. Yes, they are in it, and we do meet them and learn about them, but this is very much Haru and Shizuku’s story with everything else sidelined. Even after you’ve watched the show through once, the opening doesn’t improve the second time round when you know the characters you are seeing.
Then we follow that up with Haru and Shizuku’s meeting which involves him first jumping out a window to get away from her and then grabbing her off the street and threatening to rape her if she makes a sound. A lot of people would stop watching the show right then and there and to be honest I couldn’t blame them.
After the show gets through this rocky start, what follows is an intriguing and fairly serious look at two people who for different reasons don’t really fit in and don’t know how to interact with others learning how to build a relationship. It is sweet at times, hilarious at others, and super dramatic and cute when needed. The only thing that stops it from being the perfect romance is that Haru remains a fairly unstable guy and while he maintains appearances for Shizuku after the first half of the story is done, his actions towards others are outright concerning. So the fact that a lot of his antics are played up for laughs concerns me a little bit, even while the show on the whole is pretty enjoyable.
I’m thinking this would be an easy show to recut to turn it into the story of a serial killer stalking the girl and that probably isn’t the best thing to say about an anime that from its upbeat opening song really wants to just be a bit of fun.
What does work very well for this series is that none of the characters are stagnant. Each has their own issues and baggage and all of these characters are working towards a goal or trying to find a goal or a way to live in the world. They give advice, take advice, try things, fail at things, and continue to evolve both individually and within the group as the story progresses and it all occurs fairly naturally. The other thing I like is that there are no instant fixes for any of their issues. While each character improves and works to overcome certain issues within themselves, they remain true to who they are. Shizuku learns to be more social and slowly accepts other people into her sphere of awareness but she still knows at heart that she’d rather be at home studying and that there are still only a handful of people that she’s comfortable around.
Likewise, Natsume continues to be shunned by most other girls but does find comfort with Shizuku and Haru and starts to get over some of her social anxiety. She still lives a lot of her life online, hampered by her poor spelling, and she still struggles with school and studying, but she takes little steps throughout the series and seems much more accepting of herself at the end. Early on she would fiercely defend her choices but it always seemed like she was trying to convince herself that she was happy.
Haru’s backstory is really the only one that gets explored in depth and even then it is still missing a lot of pieces, though the picture that is painted is pretty bleak, as you would expect given how messed up some of his views are. It would have been nice if this show had been given a longer run so more of the characters could have been explored as it feels like we’re just starting to get to know some of them when the show draws to a close.
However, in terms of romance, this story does work as long as you don’t instantly hate Haru after his antics in episode 1. If you can’t get past that it is unlikely you will enjoy much of what comes after, but it is actually pretty sweet.
I definitely enjoy this one for a light hearted rewatch. I can’t take it too seriously because if I start thinking about everything that is wrong about the central relationship it would just pull the entire show apart, but basically this is good fun with some serious moments mixed in with some very silly moments. Kind of the perfect thing to binge on a rainy weekend.
Thanks for reading.
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