Kimi ni Todoke aired its last two episodes back to back, and while the circumstances that led to this move are less than fortunate, it helps so far as the narrative is concerned. Neither of these two episodes are strong enough to stand on their own, but together they form a proper, if somewhat unusual coda to the show.
Given that last episode saw Kazehaya and Sawako finally come together, the audience might wonder what left the show has to do. The answer lies in the unique way in which the two lovebirds’ relationship has played out. The pair are not just any high school couple; both are campus celebrities whose names are known to everyone on campus. Their struggles to discern each other’s feelings have always occurred against the backdrop of student expectations—and no one save their closest friends expected this.
This episode picks up right where the earlier one drops off, the night before the culture festival’s costume parade with all the students doing cram work for it. The episode ends, chronologically, less than a day later, as the costume parade wraps up and the sun starts setting. It’s about 24 hours after the emotional climax of last episode.
As much as the last few episodes have felt rather drawn out, it’s actually shocking how much character growth has happened in a 24 hour span. There was a long road to get to this point, but now the feelings pour out in a rush.
One sentence episode review: The writers are still stalling.
With that out of the way, I want to come back and praise Kimi ni Todoke to best extent possible. Yes, the plot is progressing with the haste of a tortoise trudging through molasses, and a good deal of that—the delays caused by long pauses, recaps, and drawn out moments—is obvious padding to spread the episode out to a full run time, and the series to a full episode count. Things could be moving faster.
But in another way, they can’t. The story isn’t, and has never been, just about Sawako and Kazehaya realizing their love is reciprocated. It’s about how Sawako in particular matures as an individual, coming to learn how to process and express her emotions openly. The series title confirms her ultimate goal: not Kazehaya, but the ability to reach out to others.
Well, ok, maybe Kimi ni Todoke is slightly more concerned about dragging the audience along and preserving the status quo than I indicated in last episode’s review. Sure, some very important character development happens in this episode, and the finale is a cliffhanger that looks like it will lead to Sawako finally expressing her feelings, but a decent chunk of this episode is filler.
And not just random stupid plot filler, but obvious time-waster filler. Stuff like having a minute long recap at the beginning of the episode, and dropping a three minute montage (accompanied by a longer version of the opening song) about the ten days period leading up to the culture festival. There was clearly not enough actual material to pad this episode out to 20 minutes and change, so the writers just inserted scenes until they got to the length they needed.
Last review I was perhaps a little hard on Sawako, putting the blame for her disastrous conversation with Kazehaya squarely on her shoulders. However much she might have an excuse for it, given her natural inability to accept other people might like her, her mixed signals have led Kazehaya to the inescapable conclusion that she just doesn’t like him that way.
But Kazehaya also hasn’t been as straightforward as he needs to be. He too is in uncharted territory, trying to confess to a girl he likes, and after years of being the popular one who all the girls fawned over, he has to face the fear of rejection himself, for the first time. So his confession was far more abbreviated, and far more vague, than it should have been—ultimately leading to the entire school being confused about who was rejected by whom.
I’m sort of at a loss to characterize the last two episodes of Kimi ni Todoke. By one reckoning, everything has changed between Kazehaya and Sawako, but on another level the problems that have always plagued their relationship have only grown stronger. For two people so obviously meant to be together, seemingly everything conspires to keep them apart.
By far the greatest problem they have is that they can’t visualize being in a relationship with each other—and it’s hard to blame them, because almost no one else can either. A few scattered individuals have figured out that Sawako likes Kazehaya or that Kazehaya likes Sawako, but only Sawako’s good friend Ayane and her romantic rival Kurumi (and probably Kazehaya’s closemouthed friend Ryuu Sanada) have figured out the attraction is mutual, and they aren’t talking.
For everyone else, the prospect of the two lovebirds coming together is basically inconceivable. And that consensus of opinion is what frames all of Sawako and Kazehaya’s interactions.
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.