First, the review of Episode 13. If you want to skip to the Final Review, click here.
Sasayan, Haru, and Shizuku greeting the New Year’s first sunrise.
Last week I wondered about Tonari’s choice of focusing the penultimate episode on a supporting character, Asako. This week, we got a bit of a different take on the ‘not focusing on the main characters’ romance’ as Haru spends most of the episode popping up into everyone else’s life, raving for a minute about looking for something, and then running off, invariably leaving something behind. Still during the winter break, this is actually a pretty good device for getting everyone to interact without needing another special setting like New Year’s at the Shrine.
Is Yuu-chan seeing the same things that all of the audience sees about these guys?
And it does manage to bring everyone together, although they can’t figure out what Haru is looking for. The audience guesses Nagoya, and eventually so does the cast, especially when Yuu-chan finds him walking along the street and tells Chizuru she found a rooster. Eventually, everyone except Haru ends up at the Batting Center, waiting for Haru to come back there and get all his stuff. This leads to the usual interactions we’ve seen: Asako and Sasayan doggedly evading the idea of them being a couple, Yamaken’s buddies creeping on Asako, Yamaken getting flustered about Shizuku, Shizuku ignoring everyone else to get back to studying, Chizuru feeling slightly on the outside of all this typhoon of weird high school activity, and Yuu-chan watching all of this as a detached observer. The interactions were sharp and fun as always, but like the previous episode, it felt like they spent a little too much time on this for my tastes.
It only takes Yamaken a block or so to get lost.
After Shizuku finally leaves the group to go back to studying (when she’d initially left the house to get rice, found Yuu on the street with Nagoya, and brought her to the Batting Center), she has again, the typical run-ins with Yamaken, whose horrible sense of direction has reached major recurring gag status. After splitting up at the Batting Center, she encounters him a few blocks later, lost again, and takes him out to the main road. If he hadn’t shown such a horrible sense of direction before (at least this time, he didn’t pop out of the bushes), this might have been a transparent attempt to get more time with Shizuku, and maybe he didn’t mind it because of that, but no matter how much time he spends with her, he really can’t get the ‘in’ that he wants. She’s still impervious to what he thinks women want. It has to burn him up that Haru is able to get through to her when he can’t seem to find the opening, but that really is the charm of Haru. It’s probably this one thing that relegates Yamaken to also-ran status.
And finally, Shizuku meets Haru, on the same steps that all of their relationship advancement seems to have happened on. Finally finding out what he was looking for all day, a glowing bug, she’s more affected by Haru’s admission that everything is more fun when he’s with Shizuku. And we get an admission from her that it’s possibly the same for her. Pretty things are prettier when she’s with Haru, fun things are more fun when she’s with Haru. Yet she still feels a distance from him, commenting to herself “Will I ever be able to look at him next to me with honest and sincere affection?” But I think she realizes this is her problem, not his, that his life is all sincere and honest, even if that honesty is opaque or completely off the wall.
I think the decision to spread the attention out these last two episodes worked in hindsight, given how important all the rest of the characters were to the overall impression of the show. And I guess it helped take a little bit of focus off of Haru and Shizuku’s relationship, allowing it to end the series on a fairly high note. If they had been given more time to be on screen with each other these last two epsiodes, it’s likely that their relationship would have moved out of sync one more time. So while it’s bad that we didn’t get more focus on them, I guess it’s justified in the end result.
Final Episode Screenshots! And don’t forget to scroll past them for the Final Review!
Title: Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun (My Little Monster)
TV Series; 13 Episodes
Genre: Shoujo, Comedy, Romance
Produced: Brains Base, 2012
The story is well written and pulled off very well. Based on a shoujo manga, the series does take some liberties from the source material, all done seamlessly. I particularly liked that even though it’s a story about an odd couple, the problems in their getting together aren’t the normal cheap misunderstandings and shyness, but that they truly move in slightly different orbits, sometimes in sync with each other, sometimes almost hopelessly out of sync. Personally, I might have liked a little more focus on the main characters and more progress in their romance, but as it was, the story is great throughout.
By far the strongest part of Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, the characterization is excellent. Besides the main romantic pair of Haru and Shizuku, the show introduces friends and rivals and mentors that mean something. The primary supporting pair of Sasayan and Asako would provide another whole story, and far from being basic supporting characters, they’re only a secondary pair because not quite as much time was spent on them. The love rivals for the main pair also get quite a bit of development, particularly Yamaken, plenty of time to show why he would be both a worthy suitor and rival, and why he’s not going to succeed.
Bright colors, a welcoming and consistent style, humor that almost always works, and sound mastery that always keeps you in the show, the production of the show was excellent. The OP song was catchy enough, but not really something that I’d listen to outside of the show, and the ED was mostly skipped, not really catchy at all. So Production gets a ‘Great’ rating
The overall impression from Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is great, a very easy show to watch and enjoy. Not failing in the same places that so many shoujo shows do for me with too many missteps by the main characters, the hint of romance continues throughout, although it’s not your usual one. The show’s entertainment value stays high throughout, and rarely hits a wrong note. There were a few times that I thought the inevitability of the main couple being together was a problem, usually due to Haru’s unsocialized immaturity, but those are few and far between. It’s definitely a show I’d wholeheartedly recommend to anyone.