Kimi to Boku: Treasuring the Everyday

Shun, the flâneur…

Basically, this season, in addition to the awesome Chihayafuru and the not-so-awesome-but-pretty-intriguing-so-I’ll-carry-on-watching-it-anyway Un-Go, I’m watching this. ‘This’ being a laid-back, slice-of-life comedy series centering on a group of four male friends (plus a couple of strays they pick up along the way) who have known each other since preschool and the experiences they go through during the middle to final years of their high school lives. And no, they’re not gay. (Yaoi-obsessed fangirls, look elsewhere.) Seriously, there is a lot to love about this show, providing it’s ‘your thing’. In other words, if you prefer fast-paced action sequences, negligible character development, giant robots, time-travelling aliens, flesh-eating zombies, magical girls, flying pantsu and/ or anything else that doesn’t usually occur in a Japanese high school, then it’s probably not your thing and never will be. However, if you like stories that focus on friendship, develop their characters in a warm (and often hilarious) fashion, and have a distinctly nostalgic and thoughtful mood, then I think you’ll enjoy it. Plus, it has cats. :3

Firstly, I mentioned the central male quartet, which leads me to highlight one of the strengths of the show: the fact that it’s a refreshing slice-of-life focussing on the interactions of a group of friends, as opposed to a thinly disguised BL-fangirl-fest. And one of the few non-GAR shows I’ve come across of late with so many male vs. female main characters that doesn’t fall into the latter category.

Well, if you ignore girly-boy Shun.

Secondly, in addition to the friendship theme and the variously endearing and entertaining ways in which the quirky characters are gradually introduced and explored, the show has been very successful at creating and sustaining a strong sense of mood. ‘Laid-back’, ‘low-key’, and ‘chilled’ come to mind, which probably sounds like nothing much actually happens – a frequent accusation regarding slice-of-life shows. However, I’d say that the gentle pacing and low-key humour are collectively both a strength and weakness. Thankfully, though, I think the strengths far outnumber the weaknesses.

So, let’s get the weaknesses out of the way first, shall we?

- The characters as distinct, not very original ‘types’: delicate, girly-boy Shun; trolling twins Yuki and Yuta; high-strung megane Kaname; naïve, energetic blonde foreigner Chizuru; and the bratty little tsundere girl (to name the aforementioned quartet and two strays, respectively). Out of these, I find the last two frequently annoying in large doses, due to the one-dimensional manner in which they’ve been presented so far…
- …In addition, and for the above reason, epi 5 was one big irritation for me. Though, thankfully, they pulled it together in the end by turning the focus back on the other characters (e.g. Kaname and his crush), rather than just zooming in on blondie and the brat. Similarly, epi 6 was in danger of being dismissively labelled as ‘Shun gets a haircut’, but, thankfully (again), the thumb-wrestling and the ‘Kanamegane’ (pfft) back-story reigned things back on track and, via that additional character development, to one of the strengths of the show.

And speaking of strengths, these include:

- Development of characters: the central four seem like genuine friends, as those character back-stories and chibi-filled analepses convey. These analepses, or flashbacks, of the main characters as preschoolers and, later, middle-schoolers, not only provide a high ‘daww-factor’, but are used in a very effective way to establish the character dynamics in the first episodes, (e.g.: the ‘sleeping-in-the-middle=you-will-die’ scenes in epi 1) and to develop or ‘explain’ the less extrovert characters, such as ‘Kanamegane’ in epi 6.
- Catservice: these kitties are not only adawwable (er, minus Dat Cat in epi 2), but are also collectively a charming way to symbolise the respective characters and group dynamics that they seem to represent through the use of those cut-away-and-back scenes, and also great at conveying overall mood, as is heightened through the cats’ relatively more overt behaviour and mood(-swing)s.
- Dat B.G.M.: the cheapo-looking OP sequence aside, Dat insert song [‘Sora’, by Shouta Aoi, according to A.N.N., it’s not out yet, but you can find it at approx. 16:32-17:30 and 20:34-22:39 in epi 1 and 18:42-21:30 in epi 3] and the rest of the guitar-heavy BGM is just a pleasure to listen to. A gentle, feel-good, lingering sound…

Finally, having mentioned ‘mood’ several times now, this is what I now wish to focus on. Namely, the revelling in and celebration of the everyday ‘moment’. This is most apparent though the characterisation of Shun, the sweet thoughtful one who, well, basically, just wants everyone to be one big happy family. Often, he is presented as just an observer of the action around him, and the camera stays on his face while others, such as Kaname and Yuki, squabble around him:

Such shots not only heighten the (off-screen) comedy, but, by positioning us with the quietly perceptive Shun, these moments gain greater significance later when he says things like this:

To give a fuller quote, here (at the end of epi 5), Shun says, ‘These obvious everydays are my treasure. If I keep them tighly held in my fist forever… I know from time to time I’ll softly open my hand and peer inside.’ Well, he’s no Natsume, but it’s a lovely idea, that one can and should celebrate – or ‘treasure’ – obvious everyday moments such as hanging out/ squabbling/ making up/ etc. precisely because these are both fun and fleeting.

And thus very, very precious.

Or…

…Tl;dr? Cute guys doing cute things + Cats = Hana has no problem with this. ;)

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15 Comments

  1. Posted November 12, 2011 at 2:35 am | Permalink

    This has been my refreshing series along with Chihayfuru this Fall. I like all the boys, including Chizuru; his baking stint with Shun in episode six was just so adorable! There were sparkles in my eyes while I was watching it.

    I agree there’s nothing new in the types of the boys showcased in the series but what’s new is the treatment and how it’s apparent their friendship has grown with time rather than just they hanging out together for sometime.

    • Posted November 12, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      There were sparkles in my eyes while I was watching it.

      I wish I could’ve seen (or should that be ‘heard’? ;) ) that. ^ ^

      but what’s new is the treatment and how it’s apparent their friendship has grown with time

      Mmm, yes. The particular personality quirks are fun, but the juxtapositions between their past and current selves are used wonderfuly. ‘Refreshing’ indeed.

  2. Posted November 12, 2011 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    This is one of the most enjoyable shows for me this season. It is definitely in my top three shows for Fall :D

    • Posted November 12, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      The sleeper hit of the season! I love it when I go into a series not knowing/ expecting much about it and it ends up being so enjoyable. ^ ^

  3. Posted November 12, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Yeah this is one of those animes where I didn’t know much about it. A friend of mine suggested it and I decided to give it a try but so far I’m really in-love with it.

    • Posted November 14, 2011 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Mmm, inorite – glad you’re both enjoying it!

  4. Posted November 13, 2011 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    To be honest, I didn’t include this on my list. I’m thinking of picking it up because I started to lose interest on the ones that I picked, except for Chihayafuru. If this show is about “Cute guys doing cute things + Cats” then I guess I have no problem with this as well.

    • Posted November 13, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      I hope you’ll pick it up, it’s definitely worth it :)

    • Posted November 14, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      I agree with Marow, Snippy – DO IIIT.

  5. ectholion
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    I hereby name Shun “The Pseudo-trap”

  6. Posted December 10, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    ‘Laid-back’, ‘low-key’, and ‘chilled’ come to mind

    Yes, the pace is something I enjoy about the series. The flow is casual and mood easy-going. I think that makes it extremely easy to “escape” to. Well, considering the “easy-going” life is sort of a distant memory now. ^ ^

    Character development is great. The backstories work wonders, and a lot of the “slice” seems much more eventful when focusing on specific occurrences in the past, ones that matter. That’s fairly special, because we have a good balance between events both past and present, which isn’t always the case with this story-style.

    And the music, mhm. Music is crucial, and one thing I’ve noticed with series is that the closer we get to the final episodes, the more powerful and well-utilized the music becomes. I think the dynamics and storytelling (or memories-telling) along with the music gives KtB a fresh feel. It’s a lot of “usual” things, but it’s arranged nicely without being off-putting.

    Well, he’s no Natsume, but it’s a lovely idea, that one can and should celebrate – or ‘treasure’ – obvious everyday moments such as hanging out/ squabbling/ making up/ etc. precisely because these are both fun and fleeting.

    Haha, Natsume does have a different kind of life. For slice stories, I think Shun aligns with Akari Mizunashi (of the Aria franchise) who goes about those “precious moments” in a more active but simple manner, for instance one episode of Aria focuses on Akari and her relationship with a special windchime; I don’t think there’s any way to explain why it’s so powerful. But I love this sense from characters, when they are in the moment and understand how special it is, then move to keep it like a secret (in the heart). I’m not sure every slice-of-life needs that kind of reflection, but it’s quite warming.

    Cheers!

    P.S. I like how you posted that self-referential snapshot at the end. Hana and the cats.

    P.P.S. I forgot to mention in the bit about music, but two series which I’ve been pacing through recently have led me to believe that the stronger musical presence is found moving towards the end; Macross Frontier and Kemono no Souja Erin. Frontier, being Macross (songs are important here), isn’t a surprise, but what is surprising is that the same songs the viewer hears in the first 6 episodes become incredibly powerful near the end; they feel completely different simply because of context. And Erin, mesmerizing soundtrack overall and extremely crucial to the feelings in the last 20 episodes of the story. Keep that in mind if you’re looking for something to dig into when you find some time. ;)

    • Posted December 18, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      casual and… easy-going. I think that makes it extremely easy to “escape” to…

      Interesting that SoL, for all it’s ‘realism’, is also seen as an ‘escape’. ^ ^ Though, I’m not sure it felt all that easy-going at the time, being 16… pretty sure I wouldn’t want to go through that again.

      the dynamics and storytelling (or memories-telling) along with the music gives KtB a fresh feel

      Mmm, ‘memories-telling’ is a lovely way of putting it. In such a series, plot is clearly secondary to the character interaction and mood, and so the idea that we’re (re-)living and actually ‘experiencing’ their memories is very powerful, without being overpowering, which might also help to explain that deceptively simple feeling of ‘freshness’.

      But I love this sense from characters, when they are in the moment and understand how special it is, then move to keep it like a secret

      I love it too, here. Another deceptively simple balancing act, perhaps; showing us how ‘special’ and personal the moment is, before ‘putting it away’…. Before making and holding on to more memories again…

      Finally, yes, I think we all knew there’d be at least one cat pic. Nuff said. And not sure about MF, but will defo consider KmSE next time/ some time soon-ish, I hope.

      Thanks for your thoughts and recommendations! :)

  7. Posted December 11, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Still watching this show, in the beginning the shaky animation sorta hangs there but im glad i carried on watching this :D
    btw I dont think Chizuru is naive at all, especially this week’s episode further shows his inner feelings, which are rather mature. He’s just got a strong shell and cheerful personality.
    this kinda of character saddens me more than the cry-baby kinds…

    • Posted December 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      I’m glad you are too. :) Though, yes, it would help if it had a better budget, grr.

      Ah, Chizuru. I’ll admit, I’m warming to him a lot more since the last few episodes to date. Glad to see him breaking out of the initial ‘genki’ stereotype mould in which he was presented. Can’t say I’m a fan of all of his OTT chibi faces, but they provide a nice contrast to his more serious/ thoughtful moments. Seems like he’s a rather perceptive fellow after all, eh? ;)

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