On first glance, Sawako from Kimi ni Todoke looks like the kind of female character I usually am either indifferent to or actively dislike. She’s shy and nervous, doesn’t speak up for herself, accepts it when others avoid her, and the early set up seems to be about the guy swooping in and saving the gloomy girl. Fortunately there is so much more to her character than meets the eyes and while the meeting with the guy might be a catalyst, it is Sawako’s own strength and endurance that sees her through situation after situation.
Though, I do like Kazehaya as a character and I’ll have to look at him at some point individually. Not to mention Kazehaya and Sawako ended up taking out the top spot for my top 5 list of romantic anime even beating Zen and Shirayuki.
So how does Sawako manage to go from being the template example of a character I would normally dislike to a girl I was actively cheering for as she approached a soccer match, performed in a festival, and ultimately finally got to her confession scene (and did that take forever to get there)?
Well, Sawako won me over the same way she wins the characters in the anime over. Sawako is always true to herself. She’s always earnest and hard-working. She doesn’t blame anyone for the situation she is in but resolves to work hard to overcome it. And while not every situation can be beaten with a positive attitude and effort, Sawako’s determination and her willingness to help others slowly draws people to her once they look past her somewhat scary exterior and the rumours that have been swirling around her about her being able to see ghosts.
One of the earliest challenges we see Sawako take on is dealing with rumours spreading about her new friends. Sawako is used to being avoided and used to rumours spreading about her but it deeply hurt her when her friends seemed to be targeted. While Kazehaya gave Sawako some encouraging words, Sawako was the one who took action and confronted those spreading the rumours. In one scene Sawako maanged to set the record straight about the rumours and solidify her friendship with Chizuru and Ayane.
That isn’t to say it is all smooth sailing. Sawako is an unusually dense protagonist unable to pick up on a lot of social cues and the maddeningly slow pace of her beginning to interact with others and accept their feelings can be quite the put-off for those who just want the story to get moving. But still, Sawako’s journey is one of quiet inspiration. She shows people that just being willing to change things isn’t enough and just trying hard won’t always immediately yield results, but trying again and again without giving up might just get you where you need to be.
While Sawako isn’t going to top any lists for being my favourite character ever any time soon, she’s definitely a character I learned to love while watching her story and I know that whenever I’m feeling a little defeatist, watching a couple of episodes of Sawako will pick me up and get me ready to act again.
Thank you Sawako for being you.
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Kimi ni Todoke : From Me to You, Vol. 1
- Maka Albarn – Soul Eater
- Kuronuma Sawako – Kimi Ni Todoke
- Yato – Noragami
- Takeo Gouda – My Love Story
- Zen Wisteria – Snow White With The Red Hair
- Yamato Kurosawa – Say I Love You
- Sebastian Michaelis – Black Butler
- Madoka – Madoka Magica
- Rimuru Tempest – That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
- Yuki Soleil – The Price of Smiles
- Emma – The Promised Neverland
- Subaru – My Roommate is a Cat
- Xianming Lin – Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens
- Haruhi Fujioka – Ouran High School Host Club
- Hestia – Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon
- Haruitsuki Abeno – The Morose Mononokean
- Reiko – Natsume Yuujinchou
- Angelo Lagusa – 91 Days
- Jean Otus – ACCA
- Saitou Kazuki – Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens
- Liliruca Arde – Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon
- Diamond – Land of the Lustrous
- Naofumi – The Rising of the Shield Hero
- Itsuki – The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
- Ririchiyo Shirakiin – Inu X Boku SS
9 thoughts on “Up Close with Sawako Kuronuma”
Beautiful post! Shy but earnest is my adorable sawako. I really love her quiet yet steady growth and I am also inspired by her..
When I first saw the anime it was her friendship with chizuru and ayane that softened me towards her. How she won them over and how supportive they are of each other.
Now she’s just plain adorable in my eyes. I mean she’s a bit slow and it’s like watching a baby sea turtle cross the sand to the ocean and it makes me want to protect her.
Yes, it is a beautiful friendship she strikes up with these other characters. I like that this anime is sweet but doesn’t quite get fully sappy.
This show really caught me by surprise. I don’t usually go for “girly” shows but the “Sadako” gimmick compelled me too much to check it out and I became pleasantly enamoured by Sawako and its story.
Sawako was sometimes a bit too wishy-washy for me in overthinking whether she had the right to be friends with people which was frustrating, but as a lifelong loner, I could relate a lot to her overall plight.
However I must confess to really enjoying the chemistry between her two “bad girl” mates Chizuru and Ayane a little more. They made me laugh so much yet their embracing and helping Sawako come out of her shell was endearing. I really wish this show got UK DVD release so I could watch it again! 😉
I very luckily ran across a DVD of this in a shop I just happened to be passing through though I’m pretty sure it is not an Australian region DVD. Came in a pretty box with an art book and everything. I’ve never seen it in a shop since and so I’m very thankful I bought it when I had the chance.
I know it has been licensed by one of the US companies it’s whether any of the UK distributors wil take a chance on it. However, now it’s quite a few years old and with shoujo titles not being that big or particularly prominent over here, chances of Uk release are frankly slim… :-/
It’s a shame when that happens. Yet they still try and tell us there’s a piracy problem rather than a distribution one. People cannot buy what isn’t for sale.
Someday I’d like to read Kimi ni Todoke. I know there are a lot of complaints about the slow pace, but Sawako sounds like a good heroine.
She is definitely a great heroine once you give her time to grow a bit. Really a delight to get to know.
Another example of great characterization!