Home > Episode Reviews, Kimi ni Todoke > Kimi ni Todoke 2 Episode 4 – Growing Distant

Kimi ni Todoke 2 Episode 4 – Growing Distant

For a series which revolves so much around conversations, it’s remarkable what is not said on a regular basis. No one has openly suggested to Sawako to that Kazehaya’s interest in her in is anything more than platonic, despite the fact that multiple people know otherwise. And Kazehaya himself, for all the complements and admiration Sawako has bestowed on him, has never gotten the impression that her awe and respect translate into something more.

So when Miura pulls Kazehaya aside, to try to talk some sense into the guy, the hope would be that he reveals, if only by accident, the truth about which Kazehaya is perpetually oblivious. Instead, their conversation only leaves both of them with the wrong impression. Miura leaves with a confirmation that Kazehaya is just being nice to Sawako out of misplaced sympathy, and his attempt to warn Kazehaya not to give her false hope only leaves Kazehaya more confused about if he’s interpreted Sawako’s feelings properly.

It’s almost a picture perfect encounter of how the two could talk about the girl they both love without actually cluing the other person in to what was really going on. It’s a masterfully done conversation, in that the viewer knows exactly what words could be said to bring both to understanding, but also why neither of them has any desire to say those words.

Kazehaya been more and more annoyed with Miura for employing his charm on Sawako, so it’s not surprising he’s unreceptive when Miura tries to employ it on him

Miura is taking everything from Sawako’s perspective, so of course he doesn’t see Kazehaya of being anything other than friendly and kindhearted. The class narrative is that Kazehaya is helping her out of a sense of charity, and that makes sense to Miura—he was doing the same thing just days prior.

But Miura has specific reasons for broaching the subject in the first place; he’s come to have feelings for Sawako and thus is naturally inclined to not see how Kazahaya’s brusque responses are driven by deeper feelings. He never directly states how or for what Kazehaya is giving Sawako “false hope” and while he declines out of an ostensible respect for her privacy, he’s also a little annoyed at how Kazehaya has been “playing” with Sawako’s emotions, if only by accident.

Kazehaya does admit when asked that there is a girl he likes, but he doesn’t think to connect it to the previous part of the conversation, or think why Miura would want to help him hook up with her (and thus help Sawako to move on)

Kazehaya, for his part, is perhaps insufficiently curious about the implications of Miura’s warnings, but he’s already jealous about Miura’s burgeoning relationship with Sawako, and is merely interested in ending the conversation as soon as possible. His natural inclination to privacy is no doubt part of it; but his reticence is also driven by the fact it’s Miura driving the questions.

So, what should have been a conversation that cleared the air only made the two of them worse off; with Miura given another indication about Kazehaya’s obtuseness, and Kazehaya left wondering if there’s something about Sawako’s feelings he doesn’t understand. Kazehaya’s plight is only worsened by a conversation with Chizuru, who, also clueless about Kazehaya’s feelings but well aware of Sawako’s, tells him with a completely straight face that he doesn’t have a clue what Sawako thinks.

Chizuru isn’t very bright, so she has no idea what her words mean in context. His crestfallen reaction doesn’t tip her off either

Of course, he doesn’t know what Sawako thinks because Sawako is too much of a nervous wreck to tell him. Having finally acknowledged to herself that she has feelings for Kazehaya, she now can’t interact with him at all. She’s far too honest to merely act friendly or grateful, and far too scared to express her true feelings. But this has only led her to separate herself from him, making him wonder in turn if he’s gone too far.

In the middle of this is Ayane, who has the remarkably unenviable task of trying to keep to push her two friends together while not being overt about it. She can’t tell Sawako that Kazehaya loves her because she wouldn’t believe it, and can’t tell Kazehaya that Sawako loves him because he’s made it clear he doesn’t want interference (and has a past history demonstrating that).

One of the show’s great ironies is that it’s precisely the traits that make Sawako so endearing—her honest, selflessness, and the like—which also cripple her ability to express herself when it counts. This was true even when dealing with ordinary classmates; it’s far worse here

And Ayane, to her credit, is thinking long term. She doesn’t want Sawako to feel indebted to Kazehaya for liking her, or feel like she’s being condescended to. She needs to feel like an equal. That’s why Ayane is pushing for Sawako to have the courage to express herself, and not just for Kazehaya to grow a pair and ask her out already. The two of them, together, must come to realize their feelings.

This is far easier said than done, which is one reason Ayane spends most of this episode stressed out and pissed off. After the slow-won progress Sawako and Kazehaya made last season, a lesser show would have made the seeming collapse of all that was achieved over their freshman year seem arbitrary and forced. Here, the events driving them apart seem perfectly natural, which puts her frustration (and that of the audience) on the characters themselves, and not on the people writing them.

Ayane can’t do much more than rebuke Kazehaya for making Sawako feel isolated, running away from her in a misguided attempt to avoid making her nervous. Ayane doesn’t know that Kazehaya, having already faced criticism from Miura and Chizuru for the opposite reason, is not in the mood for further accusations

Kimi ni Todoke excels at many things—most notably in making the fate of one high school romance feel like the most important issue in the world—and among them is its ability to show how relationships don’t always travel in a straight line. The show is always dealing with people, and not automatons acting at the whim of the writers. With good enough writing, one can keep the drama going without a need to fall back on the cheap narrative tricks that plague the industry, and Kimi ni Todoke provides a textbook example of how to do it.

It’s also a textbook example of a way to get the audience ready to throw something at the screen, but in a good way; not out of frustration for stupid stalling tactics, but out of the same frustration Ayane feels, for two good people who would be great together, but who only seem to drift further apart. Buckle up; it’s going to get worse.

You can watch this episode here or here.

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