Review by: Kiki Van De Kamp
Publisher: NIS America
MSRP: $69.99 US
Running Time: 273 minutes
Rating: E (Everyone)
Release Date: Available Now
Sometimes it’s the quiet ones that are the sweetest people you will ever meet.
Sure it’s a cliché but you really can’t judge a book by its cover as things and people have the tendency to take you completely by surprise. Take Sawako Kuronuma, for example. She looks like she came right out of that popular horror movie, “The Ring” but take a closer look and you’ll find somebody who is helpful and genuinely sweet who is longing to be liked. Sawako is one of the reasons you will fall in love with Volume 1 of Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You.
As I mentioned above, Sawako is seriously misunderstood in her school what with the rumors swirling around her that one glance from her will give you bad luck for three days or that she can summon ghosts. She so looks like the vengeful spirit of “The Ring” called Sadako that that’s what they call the poor girl. But deep down inside she’s a girl who wishes to be surrounded by friends and to be liked instead of feared. She is so kindhearted that she tries to do at least one good deed a day. Unfortunately, every time she tries to smile or even talk to somebody, they all run away.
That all changes the day the most popular boy in school, a cutie named Shota Kazehaya, talks to her without fear. Kazehaya comes off as encouraging and – for reasons Sawako only understands – kind towards her to the point that others begin to notice their constant interactions. In fact, it catches the attention of the school’s toughest girls who have quite a reputation (but more on that later). Thanks to Kazehaya inviting Sawako to a “bravery competition” over the summer, these girls named Ayane Yano and Chizuru Yoshida become friendly towards her.
Suddenly, Sawako has something that she didn’t think she would ever have … friends. Very slowly, Sawako’s reputation for cursing anyone that looked at her or summoning ghosts is disappearing from the minds of most students. In fact, they come to rely on her wonderful note-taking ability and the fact that she gets good grades. However, many of the girls in school do not like the fact that Sawako is becoming very close to Kazehaya who most have sworn not to chase after … hence his nickname “Everyone’s Kazehaya.”
Soon, the girls spread wild rumors about Sawako’s friendship with Chizuru and Ayane. These are rumors that both rough girls begin to wonder and worry about since they genuinely like Sawako and want to be close to the girl. When they overhear a conversation between Sawako and another classmate, they draw the wrong conclusion and believe that Sawako doesn’t even see them as friends. This, in turns, makes things so awkward and confusing to Sawako that she believes the rumors and stays away from both girls and Kazehaya.
However, Sawako comes to the realization that in order to keep the things you have come to love you must fight for it and she does just that. It is Kazehaya, Chizuru and Ayane that has shown her a world she had always longed for and the girl stands up for their friendship. Suddenly, Chizuru and Ayane come to understand the truth about the way Sawako feels about them as does Kazehaya who roots for her all the way.
It is through these three characters – plus their friend and classmate, Ryu Sanada – that Sawako’s life truly begins to change for the better. She becomes a big part of their lives and begins to hang out with them while Sawako comes to learn of other feels within her that are centered on Kazehaya. They come to talk more and while both are awkward around each another, they both have a mutual respect for one another. They even share a secret involving a scrappy and cute puppy.
Just as everything seems to be going great for Sawako, the Sports Festival brings up two problems. One, she’s bad at sports and can’t even kick a soccer ball and the second being the very attractive idol-like Ume Kurumizawa. Ume comes off as sweet and kind towards Sawako but it becomes clear that the girl has an ulterior motive that becomes clear during the festival. Suddenly, Sawako finds herself with a rival for the most important person in her life.
If you’ve been following our reviews of the manga version, you know that we love Karuho Shiina’s artwork but – most importantly – her great sense of humor. Sawako doesn’t come off as a sugary sweet character but rather a well-rounded one with obvious flaws and a likeable spirit that you can’t help but root for the girl. The same can be said about the rest of the cast of characters who aren’t cardboard cutouts. We love that Chizuru and Ayane have a troubled and hilarious past but they’re also emotional and (in the case of Chizuru) funny as hell. There are even a number of memorable scenes scattered throughout this series that are funny as well as endearing.
Then there’s the animation that is simply stunning and more so on Blu-ray as well as the standout performances by the likes of Mamiko Noto, Yuko Sanpei and Daisuke Namikawa that make this a series with a lot to offer visually and performance-wise.
Volume 1 of Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You is an engaging and overwhelmingly likeable shoujo tale that doesn’t do anything particularly unique but what it lacks in originality it more than makes up for with a lot of heart. In fact, it’s charming characters, genuinely funny moments, gorgeous animation and a story that takes its time in developing relationships makes this series one that will not fail to turn you into a fan from the very beginning. Buy this one right away, you will not regret it one bit.
BLU-RAY/DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Sawako is the sweetest girl you’d ever meet but the students at her high school are afraid of her because she resembles the ghostly apparition straight out of a horror film. That all changes when Kazehaya, a popular boy in the school, starts talking to her and helps her improve the way people see her. Suddenly, Sawako finds herself making friends, gaining a rival and discovers feelings she never knew existed as she comes to know more about Kazehaya.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
The Blu-ray version is the best way to really enjoy this series seeing as the animation in this series is simply stunning with vibrantly gorgeous backgrounds that look water colored and characters that are true to Karuho Shiina’s manga. Even her cute expressions are hilarious in motion.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
Like most NIS America anime offerings, there is no dub to be found but it’s nothing to complain about considering the fact that the Japanese voice cast – Mamiko Noto (voice of Sawako), in particular – is simply outstanding. The opening theme song is good but we love the closing theme song the most and the score is what you would expect from a shoujo anime series.
We are so loving that NIS America is including the Blu-ray and DVD versions in the same Premium Edition package. As far as extras are concerned, all you will find are the clean opening and closing animations on the discs. The big collector’s item, of course, is the hardcover book entitled “My Memories” with art from the series as well as character profiles.
A charming and delightfully engaging shoujo series, Volume 1 of Kimi ni Todoke doesn’t do anything particularly new but at least it handles the story beautifully and contains all the right elements that make us fans of the genre in the first place. You’ll find yourself very easily swept along for the ride and love every second of this series while cheering on a truly endearing main character.
Review copy provided by NIS America