Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun – First Impressions

The perfect feeling for their relationship so far.

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is the new shoujo series from Brains Base, starring Haruka Tomatsu as Shizuku Mizutani, a serious girl who is low on the empathy scale, but high on the hard work scale and is dedicated to her goal of getting a 1 million yen annual income, and Tatsuhika Suzuki as Haru Yoshida, a brilliant boy who for whatever reason lets his emotions have total control, and as such is a borderline delinquent. After she drops off some school papers for Haru, Shizuku becomes firmly entrenched in Haru’s mind as a friend, something he really hasn’t ever had (his other ‘friends’ turn out to just be using his desperation for friendship to wheedle money and favors out of him). But to Shizuku, he’s an annoying distraction, keeping her from studying and even worse, from being at the top of the student list, as she finds out he was the person with a better entrance score than she was, even though he skipped the entrance ceremony. And now, even worse, Haru’s apparently head over heels in love with her. Can she even consider loving someone who’s such an academic rival and personality mismatch?

There was a lot of good in the first episode of this show. I like shows that set up the main couple right away, and even though Shizuku isn’t necessarily in love with Haru right now, they really seem to be close-ish to being a couple. Lots of people are comparing this show to Kimi ni Todoke, and the art style is somewhat similar (especially the character design), but so far, Shizuku seems to be the complete opposite of Sawako, whose utter lack of self-confidence I found completely offputting (and ultimately caused me to put watching that show on hold). Confidence isn’t Shizuku’s problem, knowing how to feel is. She’s repeatedly referred to as cold – nicknamed “Dry Ice” in elementary school, described as a “Blizzard” by her teacher – and she just doesn’t have much in the way of emotional response to anything.

The character who’s lacking in self-confidence this time is Haru. Even though he’s strong and emotional, he also doesn’t really know how to deal with other people, leaving a trail of threatened people in his wake. It’s not explained yet why he’s like this, but he obviously just hasn’t had the socialization opportunities or experience that most people have had by the time they get to high school. He hints that people just get scared of him and end up staying away from him, and one reason might be that he’s just so seemingly wild and almost childish in his emotions. Can he grow up enough to keep Shizuku?

The show has a nice bright color palette, and a really warm feel to it. The animation is good, and the storytelling so far is great. Brains Base has a reputation as one of the best studios in the business, and even though I’ve only seen one show of theirs (Durarara!), I’m willing to believe it. Usually shows monkey around with the music in the first episode, so I unless something strikes me as just awful, I don’t really judge on music this early. Background music never took me out of the show, and the voice work in general was very good.

No bad to report in the first episode.

Nothing ugly either.

This is definitely a show I’m looking forward to, and hopefully it will keep it moving.  Shoujo titles tend to get a bit meandering, and hopefully they’ll keep it to a minimum in this show. But Tomatsu is always worth watching, and the show’s balance of seriousness and light comedy will keep me coming back (and even blogging) to this show.

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