Kimi ni Todoke – 4
I am of two minds about this episode.
If someone said the misunderstanding-laden storyline was a bit frustrating to watch, I would have to agree. It seemed to be coasting along well in the beginning, when Yano and Yoshida did not immediately peg Sawako as the source of the rumors, as I feared they would. But as the misunderstandings crash into each other like the cast of Clue, Yano and Yoshida all of a sudden start making assumptions and leaping to conclusions, even though Yano had been calm and thoughtful in the beginning, reasoning that she and Yano should hear Sawako out before believing anything.
I get that they feel betrayed, and that they are not likely to think straight after something that stings so much (particularly the emotional and relatively easily influenced Yoshida). But they know Sawako is kind of a goofball who lives in her own world, and more importantly that she is not really someone capable of outright hating someone. Why not at least let her stammer out the rest of her explanation? Yano even says earlier that she wants to hear how the rest of Sawako’s conversation with that one girl goes! Why not ask Sawako about that? I doubt Sawako would give a shit that someone eavesdropped on her. (Her reaction would probably be something like, “Someone thought one of my conversations was that interesting?!”)
Then again, I don’t want to be too harsh on them. They are teenagers, after all. Lord knows I was dumb as a sack of bricks at their age. It is just that they showed themselves to be critical thinkers in the early part of the episode, and then they completely abandoned that side of themselves at the whim of the plot. Seems kind of forced to me.
I thought Sawako was holding the Idiot Ball for much of the episode, too, but because of who she is, I’m cutting her just a bit of slack. I know from experience just how tough it is to open up and let yourself be known to people when you spend a good portion of your life without many friends. Sawako has been a lonely person most of her life. She has a good heart but absolutely zero social skills. Her goodness can make up only some of that ground. Sawako has yet to learn the finesse of interacting with people and picking up on their cues. She can sense that Yano and Yoshida are sad, for instance, but she completely misunderstands why they are sad. They exist on different social wavelengths right now.
The very fact that Sawako has to consider how other people relate to her — and not just on a superficial level, either — is something that is probably overwhelming for such a social n00b. She really cares about these people, and she is so used to people avoiding her that she naturally assumes that her friends are suffering because they are around her. Before, Sawako could just wander around school, hoping someone would like her; now, it seems that every little thing she does is akin to some little social pebble thrown into a lake that unleashes a shitload of ripples. Balancing the delicacies of a social life is complexity far beyond Sawako’s ability to comprehend right now.
The general feeling I get from manga readers about this portion of the series is that it is their least favorite part of the story and something they were dreading going in to the series. And I can see where they are coming from because, at least so far, it is not completely enjoyable to me, either. But in a way, I can also see this as a necessary trial for Sawako — learning how to deal with people when they are sad and angry as well as when they are happy. People’s feelings are strange things; they get hurt for irrational reasons, even if simple rational dictates a simple path should be taken.