Home > Episode Reviews, Kimi ni Todoke > Kimi ni Todoke 2 Episode 3 – Put on Your Happy Face

Kimi ni Todoke 2 Episode 3 – Put on Your Happy Face

It’s a somewhat common trick to start of a new season or a spinoff series in a similar way to its predecessor. This can vary from the obvious (the second episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation is an openly acknowledged rip-off of the second episode of the Original Series), to something more subtle, and from just repeating the same tropes and plotlines to re-envisioning them based on new circumstances. It’s a credit to Kimi ni Todoke that the show pulls off this trick in the best way possible.

It’s natural, for example, for Sawako to have problems with the strangers in her new homeroom class just as she had problems with her old one. The same rumors are percolating in the school, and Sawako hasn’t escaped the problems that cause them, most notably her shyness and her tendency to accidentally look creepy when smiling, being friendly, or otherwise trying to interact with people.

But things are different now, as she has real friends in Ayane and Chizuru, and a stronger support system in the students who got to know and appreciate her last year. The most notable difference, however, is the guy who is taking the lead in drawing Sawako out to interact with the rest of the class. Because this time it’s not Kazehaya.

I used the super deformed version of Sawako trying to look friendly for the opening pic because it was funny. This shot shows how she actually comes across to other people when she forces herself to smile, which might explain why she’s had trouble making friends

Kazehaya, it seems, was really thrown off his game by Sawako’s fumbling, panicking non-response to his non-confession of love. So he backs off, putting greater distance between the two of them. He justifies it to himself by saying he’s protecting her feelings, which is true as far as it goes, but he is obviously protecting his own as well.

It’s into that void that Miura leaps. He turns his seating location next to Sawako as an excuse to turn her into his new pet project, to mold her into being more approachable. At first he starts by trying to train her to interact normally with people, by greeting others enthusiastically and smiling such in a way that she doesn’t come off like an axe murderer.

Miura starts off simple, and promptly realizes that he has his work cut out for him. That doesn’t make his attempts less funny

But Miura really hits his stride when he organizes a math study group for the class, with Sawako as the leader. By giving her a chance to show her intelligence and her care for her classmates, in a way which is naturally comfortable for her, he’s hit upon a perfect way to dispel the fears and prejudice separating her from her classmates.

Of course, one of the reasons he knows it will work is because he learns that it worked for her homeroom class last year; he got the very idea based on that example. This episode, structurally, is basically a repeat of an episode from the first season, where the exact same event happens.

Sawako is a natural teacher, making complicated ideas simple enough that even the class’s self-acknowledged idiots can understand them

But now the context is radically different, and the writers wisely allow that to alter everything else about the episode. It’s Miura and not Kazehaya who takes the lead in organizing the study session this time around. Granted, Miura accomplishes this by volunteering her on a whim, but he is still the one helping Sawako become someone liked and respected by her peers (which would have already been the case if there were any justice in the world).

At first, he seems to be doing this just because he can; he likes women in general, and Sawako’s natural awkwardness presents an interesting challenge for him. But the more time he spends around Sawako, and the more he explores the depth of her love for others and her goodness, the more he seems enchanted. Miura might have started off helping Sawako as some form of charity work. But that’s not the case anymore.

When Sawako, filled with happiness over having helped so many people, really smiles, the result takes Miura’s breath away. In another parallel to last season, this same smile is the one which enchanted Kazehaya over a year ago

Unfortunately, Miura also seems to have interpreted Kazehaya’s prior interest in Sawako as stemming from the same general benevolence that once motivated him. He doesn’t realize that Kazehaya cares for Sawako as much as Sawako cares for Kazehaya. And with his own interest in Sawako becoming more and more explicit, Miura’s quite interested in removing other possible objects of her affection.

The episode ends with Miura calling out Kazehaya for a private chat, with an implication that Sawako will be the first and last item of discussion. But frankly Kazehaya’s been doing enough damage to his relationship with Sawako already by being half-hearted about it. He should know that with a girl like Sawako, he has to take the lead (as Miura has), but he backs down at the first sign of resistance. This only continues the frustration for both of them.

Kazehaya attempts to normalize his relationship with Sawako by telling her to just forget their previous conversation. It’s the sort of action that would make sense if she had rejected him, but in this case it just makes her think he’s rejected her

It’s a cycle that can’t go on forever, and Miura, for his part, seems quite intent to break it. Having accepted his own attraction to Sawako, Miura has every reason to “rescue” her from her supposedly one-sided love from Kazehaya. But even if he only cared about Sawako as a friend, his actions might not be much different. For he knows that for Sawako to stop fretting and start smiling, she needs to find someone to love who actually loves her back.

That someone is Kazehaya, although neither he nor Miura realize that at this point. But for Kazehaya to get that point across, he’s going to have to take off his happy face. He’s going to have to man up and stop equivocating in his behavior. His exterior of perpetual amicability has caused everyone but the most observant members of the class to think his interest in Sawako is the same sort of friendly booster project that Miura started off with. And turning that false front off and talking to Sawako honestly might be far harder for him than it’s been for Sawako to put a smile on herself.

You can watch this episode here or here.

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