I have to confess that it took me a while to get a "feel" for the opening episode of Kimi ni Todoke - To start with, it didn't really grab me in any sense of the word, and I found it particularly jarring visually, but as I spent more time with that instalment and learned to appreciate what it was trying to do so I ended up warming to it quite nicely.
While the end of that episode took us to the start of the summer holiday from school, episode two skips straight forward to the autumn, meaning rainy days and a stray dog which is as scared of Sawako's looks as any human despite having her umbrella left behind to keep him out of the rain.
While rumours fly around the school suggesting that Sawako was rejected by Kazehaya at the start of the summer, we're eventually allowed to flash back to see what really happened, while the pair of them continue to enjoy one another's company at school to an event greater extent than before. Needless to say it's this dynamic which underpins Kimi ni Todoke, and to be quite frank it's a beautiful thing to watch. Sawako's naivety and honesty proves to be quite disarming for the usually unflappable Kazehaya, who seems to be equally clueless when it comes to his feelings and how to deal with them (Hmm, that sounds familiar...), and this alone makes for some great moments - Add to that Sawako's attempts to make friends and put out a positive side to disarm all of the negative rumours which surround her, and you're left with simply wonderful stuff.
There's really a lot to be said for the way this series takes a lonely, borderline bullied girl, and turns it not into a depressing tale of misery and woe but into one of hope and positivity... Even when things don't go Sawako's way (which is a lot of the time incidentally) she continues to look forward with a bright outlook and a certain sense of calm introspection which I find hugely admirable as both a personality trait for her character and as part of the wider story portrayed by this series; it really sits apart from the numerous anime where bullied girls end up as serial killers or vengeful types filled with hatred, yet this is show's response is somehow far more realistic to my mind.
This, coupled with Kazehaya's influence, leaves you rooting for the main characters right from the off, and as I observed last episode that's quite unique in itself these days - A far cry from the Itazura na Kiss's and White Album's of this world. In fact, I can't think of the last time a series like this left me with a constant smile on my face, and you know what? I really love Kimi ni Todoke for doing just that - Long may it continue.