Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Kimi ni Todoke - Episode 14

With Kurumi finally unveiled as the "mastermind" behind the rumours which swirled around the school earlier in this series, it's time for Sawako to face up to Kurumi's true nature. But how on earth is this naive girl new to the whole tangled web of human relationships going to react?

Needless to say, her first reaction is one of disbelief, as she falls back on her tried and trusted assumption that such problems are simply misunderstandings that can be simply and quickly rectified. However, Kurumi is in no mood to deny her part in the rumours which she spread, nor is she in any frame of mind to go easy on Sawako, and so it dawns on her that Kurumi really was responsible, even if she still finds herself unable to fathom out the rather obvious reason why.

Despite that betrayal, Sawako still asks Yano and Yoshida not to tell Kazehaya about what Kurumi has done, and from here much of the remainder of the episode leaves Sawako continuing to ponder what the entirety of her "friendship" with Kurumi meant - Was it all just a lie from beginning to end, or was there something beneath that cold, calculating exterior that actually vaguely resembled friendship. If nothing else, Sawako decides that she has to at least tell Kurumi that she's fallen in love with Kazehaya, which leaves us with a rather odd (and decidedly tearful) blend of hatred, rivalry and friendship that you'd be hard-pressed to pick apart in all honesty.

Given Sawako's nature, this episode was already bound to be some kind of demonstration of denial, confusion and sympathy on her part, while equally Kurumi's behaviour fitted her as a character perfectly, making this episode a believable progression of the show's story if nothing else. In a way, I suppose that level of predictability almost works against Kimi ni Todoke on this occasion, leaving us almost wishing to see some anger or hatred from Sawako herself - Nobody is so perfect as to not feel such emotions, even if they're the kindest and calmest human on the planet, and this was a perfect opportunity to see something beyond simple naivety and good nature on her part. Then again, I suppose I'm just projecting my own values onto the series now, so I can't really criticise this episode for the direction it took, and at least we're set up for some proper, no-holds barred love rivalry as the second half of the series progresses. No prizes for guessing who everyone will be rooting for on this occasion though...


JW said...

Argh! No! You missed the point of this episode! This epi was pure genius!

Kurumi loves Kazehaya so much that she surrounded herself with deceptions and lies. She colored her hair, curled it, and probably practiced that affected cute happy smile. She behaved in ways that were completely different from her character to the point that few if anyone knew who she really was. She even purposedly changed her own name to Kurumi and insisted that everyone call her that because Ume wasn't cute enough. In fact, the name Ume was almost unknown in the school!

Starting to sound familiar?

While Ayane and Chizu leaped to the attack of her deceiving actions, Sawako accurately perceived the inner Kurumi. Not as a lying snake in the grass, but someone who, despite her popularity, was a virtual unknown. She realized in her innocent way, how special it was to see the real Kurumizawa Ume.

She didn't forgive Kurumi because she was naive. She forgave her because Kurumi and Sawako, inspite of their apparent differences, are exactly the same!

That is why the animators subtly brought the figures of Ume and Sawako together in one of their scenes, to illustrate that there was only a small step between the shadowy misunderstood Ume and the shadowy misunderstood Sawako.

This episode is a gold standard of personal interaction in not only anime but in all works of fiction. I'm not exaggerating.

Taka said...

I thought this episode was a good direction for the show to be going in. I thought the interaction between Sawako and Kurumi was quite nuanced. I am debating on whether I buy the whole "she loves Kazehaya so much" angle. On the flipside I agree with Hanners and would have liked to see some stronger emotions towards Kurumi. Sawako acted confused and was supposed to be hurt right? Hurt tends to be tinged with anger and she didn't display any of it.

JW said...

Hurt does not have to be tinged with anger, though it does tend to be. Personally, if this had gone down the typical route to "the screaming match", it would have been good, but not as... thoughtful? I guess that's the word I'm looking for.

One thing I would like to see is Kazehaya stepping up and showing some personality. He hasn't yet, and the anime will have a hard time moving forward unless they can demonstrate that he's really worth all this misery.

Kurumi's thrown down the gauntlet of "who loves Kazehaya more". It would suck if they got a cardboard cut-out as a prize.

Hanners said...

I can see what you're saying JW, I guess it just didn't resonate with me in that way - No matter how she started out, Kurumi still is who she is now, and even at the end of the episode she couldn't drop that act (if that's what it is) and do anything other than profess her hatred of Sawako again.

As for Kazehaya, I'm looking forward to seeing more revealed about him, as it's quite clear that his personality isn't as light-hearted and wonderful as his outward behaviour suggests, there are some severe jealousy/control issues bubbling under the surface there.

DoctorG said...

Interesting point, JW, but I think you are making too much of the similarity between Sawako and Kurumi. Yes, they are both in their own way outsiders - and the episode makes clear that Kurumi is not as popular with her fellow students as first impressions suggest - but there is a major difference. Sawako is painfully, desperately honest, and at least part of her social ineptitude can be put down to her inability to negotiate those little social lies that everyone uses to ease interactions. Kurumi, on the other hand, is never honest, and even admits as much to Yano and Yoshida. In the end, when she breaks down and screams at Sawako that she hates her, it is because Sawako has forced her to tell the truth, and to face up to it.

This, of course, may well do Kurumi a lot of good - we shall see.