With the OVA recently released, I figured that now would be a good time to get to reading Kimi no Iru Machi, a series that I’ve heard so very much about. Howls of rage and sadistic laughter echo through the halls of the anibloggotwittersphere, and the sane speak in hushed whispers of something about “a town where you live.” Not knowing whether I’d fall into the ragers’ camp or those who at present stand in triumph over a blasted hellscape, I was nonetheless intrigued. I’m not as big on manga as I am on anime but I couldn’t miss out on something that sounds like it could take its place alongside True Tears, Kimi Kiss, and Macross Frontier in the halls of shipperdom. So for this season, rather than blogging anime episodically, I’ll be covering around 10-ish chapters of Kimi no Iru Machi per week. No spoilers please, as I’m just starting the series and haven’t watched the OVA. Sort of like retroblogging, I’m hoping to both entertain the fans that are already farther along, and to maybe get people interested in starting the manga and following the posts. Time to start the journey, to paradise or despair, I know not.
Summary of this week’s chapters: Haruto is living way out in the countryside with his parents, about to start his first year of high school. Things get complicated though when the daughter of a family friend, Eba Yuzuki, comes from Tokyo to stay with them and attend high school. Supposedly to concentrate on school, perhaps for a change of scenery, we’re not really sure at this point. But she’s firmly lodged herself into Haruto’s life, living with him and dependent upon him to give her a bike ride to and from school each day. Eba seems very playful and flirty, but Haruto has long had a crush on an old middle school classmate, Kanzaki Nanami. Eba gives Haruto some moments alone with Nanami, such as when she suggests they all go to a bathhouse after school and stays in until she gets faint while allowing them to talk. And Haruto is trying his best to get closer to her, though joining the cooking club didn’t work out as keikaku. This doesn’t last long though, as Eba begins making some bold and insidious moves on Haruto, kissing him by surprise when he was sick at home, complaining to him to build up a guilt trip, and near the end of this week’s chapters, declaring that she’ll make him fall for her one day. Haruto is still very much interested in
the better girl Nanami, but Eba seems to be working her mind game on him.
Things are just getting started, but I’m all aboard the Haruto X Nanami ship. Maybe things will change, it is early after all, but I took an immediate liking to her, and a rapidly growing dislike of Eba. Nanami just seems more intelligent, as well as more of a stable personality, and has cute, less serious moments such as when she joined Haruto in talking through the electric fan at the bathhouse common area. I also took to Kaga Akari as well, a classmate of the protagonists who seems like she will be a lot of fun. Kind of reminds me of Chizuru in Kimi ni Todoke a bit, though she hasn’t had any major scenes/chapters yet.
Things really got in motion with that surprise kiss, but damn, that was messed up. Eba knows how much he’s into Nanami, and she’s also fully aware that she’s just outside the room. And then she tries to say that it was nothing and just some trick to cure his cold, something that’s popular in Tokyo. While Haruto in a lot of respects is a fairly standard male lead at this point, I was very pleasantly surprised to see him call her on her bullshit. But she is a master at that bullshit. Chapters 6-7 were like an illustrated guide to teenage dating mistakes, the sort of mistakes caused by youth that Char warned us of, and that I don’t care to admit. But Eba certainly is effective, from a purely objective measurement of objectives achieved. Eba’s strategy is like China’s in Xinjiang and Tibet: gradual, patient, and astonishingly thorough in how it undermines the will and even the very identity of its target. Without passing judgement on the ethics of it, it is amazingly effective. I fear my ship has already been sunk, for Eba follows Sun Tzu’s dictum that “victorious warriors win first, then go to battle.”
Eba continually puts Haruto off balance, seizing the initiative in nearly every situation. The only time Haruto has set the pace of their verbal-emotional fencing match was when he called her out on why she kissed him so suddenly. Let’s look at the whole picture. Though not a result of her own actions, she lives with Haruto and thus gets to spend lots of time with him. She claims to not be able to ride a bike, despite bike riding being very common in Tokyo as well, which makes her seem vulnerable and makes Haruto have to adjust his schedule around her. He feels a sense of responsibility towards her since she (allegedly) can’t get home on her own, and she uses this to maximum effect by refusing the ride home he arranged for her when he was sick and making a bed-bound Haruto bike all the way out to the convenience store to pick her up. And finally, she ‘helps’ Haruto spend time with Nanami, but ends up manipulating Haruto’s thought process. Why yes, Haruto, I’ll help you spend time with this perfect girl you love. I’ll always be there to help you do that. It’s so tough for you to spend time alone with her, isn’t it, Haruto? Well, maybe you could fall for me. Oh, just kidding! …yeah, right. By doing this she sets up Nanami as remote and unattainable while simultaneously promoting herself as the cute girl right next to him, who spends more time with him too.
This girl is some sort of sociopath, or perhaps Machiavelli reincarnate. She’ll clearly stop at nothing to get Haruto. Lies, emotional manipulation, anger, injuring herself, guilt trips, teasing, flirting, feigning weakness and dependence. There’s really nothing Eba won’t do. She clearly has a shaky sense of self, perhaps prone to crack and act erratically. But that only makes her more dangerous. Because if all her manipulations both planned and improvised fail to work, she can unleash a pure, unrestrained drama storm upon the characters’ world. I wouldn’t put anything past her, up to and including endangering herself or others.
This week’s Rage Condition