Kimi ni Todoke – 9

I think Production I.G slips shots like this into each episode so that the viewers know how Sawako feels when her heart goes aflutter when she is around Kazehaya.

Much of this episode centers around Kurumi moving in and becoming fast friends with Sawako, while the viewer is left to cogitate on whether Kurumi’s intentions are pure. One point that could potentially go in Kurumi’s favor is her stray thought that Sawako actually does look like a doll. She doesn’t really need to think this to herself to convince anyone she is trying to become Sawako’s friend for some nefarious purpose; rather, it is the type of thought a person randomly has about someone for no real reason other than it being a judgment we have of another person. But even this can be twisted to a degree — like Kurumi’s initial compliment (whether honest or calculated, the statement is meant to be taken the way Sawako takes it, I think) is just something Kurumi throws out to flatter Sawako, and it is only after Kurumi is leaving that she realizes Sawako actually does resemble a doll in her own way.

Now, even if Kurumi is legitimately trying to be Sawako’s friend, it is nonetheless difficult to make the case that she is being completely benevolent with her actions. The timing is dubious; Kurumi has had her eye on Sawako for a good while, and now that she sees Kazehaya is infatuated with Sawako, Kurumi suddenly runs into Sawako and strikes up a friendship with her? Yeah. At least part of Kurumi is scouting the competition and judging how Sawako relates to Kazehaya, and what the potential of a relationship between those two would be. But as I’ve written before, I think such behavior is perfectly natural and fine as long as it’s also harmless. There is nothing really wrong with Kurumi sizing Sawako up a bit. Getting to know Sawako a bit to know what Kazehaya sees in her may initially seem like a treacherous way to begin a relationship, and it is treacherous if she’s planning to kick Sawako to the curb with dirty tricks, but if a genuine friendship develops from this, well, there are worse ways it could have begun.

Yano and Yoshida are definitely suspicious, though, and really there’s a lot we do not know about Kurumi. Soon enough I expect an episode delving completely into her past with Kazehaya and everyone else who went to that middle school. At the very least there have to be some genuinely good qualities about Kurumi, because while Kazehaya is kind of a sap and an idealist (to put it lightly), he’s not really stupid and probably would not stay friends with Kurumi for so long if he sensed something was off, no matter how good Kurumi may be at hiding her true motives.

Sawako makes the weirdest faces sometimes.

I always have a bit of trouble relating to the whole, “It’s difficult to call my friend by his/her first name!” cultural trait when it comes up as a storyline in anime. When I see it, I try to frame it in a way that makes sense with my social experience, but it is pretty tough because it is a different standard of sociability and how people become closer with each other. There is just no comparison for me because every other standard of “closeness” is also observed in series: Not delving into personal things/life stories right away, not getting all touchy-feely right away, feeling out the other person for a while and getting used to his or her idiosyncrasies and so on and so forth.

All I can really do about the names, I suppose, is understand it as best I can as another step toward growing closer without completely “getting” it 100 percent. The closest I can come, I think, is viewing it as breaking a long-held habit, like if I were to sleep during the day instead of the night. It’s a major shift in how I act and would not be easy to switch all of a sudden. So I can understand it in that sense but not really “get” the habit itself (calling people by last name only).

Not a bad episode, although it has me a little more convinced that Kurumi is scheming something, even though she acts nice to Sawako throughout the story. I also hope Sawako doesn’t wrap herself up too much in what she thinks Kazehaya was going to do, because that bit her and her friends in the ass during the last arc.

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