Currently Reading: Kimi ni Todoke
Kimi ni Todoke is an interesting manga. It doesn’t have a unique premise. The characters don’t stray that far from established tropes. And yet, I love this manga SO MUCH.
Here’s a look at the manga I look forward to the most when looking for updates, Kimi ni Todoke!
Summary: All Kuronuma Sawako ever wanted to do was make friends. Sadly, her classmates have singled her out, calling her “Sadako”, based on her resemblance to the famous “Ring” character. One day, she comes into contact with Kazehaya Shota, the most popular guy in her class, much to the mystification of their classmates. Will their friendship survive, or transform into something completely different?
Thoughts so far:
That summary was a HECK OF A LOT cornier before my saner self stepped in. Thank goodness.
The reason this post took so long was simply because I couldn’t put my finger on exactly WHY I enjoy this manga so much. As I was reading it, I knew that I was being drawn into the story, but it took me a while to figure out a specific area that I was being drawn to. Now that I’ve figured it out, it’s time to get this done!
Kimi ni Todoke is by far one of my favourite manga that’s being serialized now, in the shoujo world, at least. When updates for this come out, I literally DROP EVERYTHING to read this manga. But even though I’ve been reading this manga for ages, I don’t know how Shiina-sensei made this manga so amazing. The setting, plot and characterization have all been handled by numerous other mangaka before, with nowhere near the same amount of success. So what sets Kimi ni Todoke apart from the pack?
After reading this manga for a while in preparation for this post, I realized that the conflict and the character interactions don’t have a lot of the…manufactured feel that a lot of other shoujo manga seem to carry. What I mean by that is that the author isn’t actively trying to elicit sympathy for Sawako’s situation on part of the reader (while she is successful in this area) – she’s SHOWING rather than TELLING.
In a lot of shoujo manga with introverted heroines, there tends to be a lot of exposition in the way that the author explicitly outlines the thought processes of the heroine, among other methods. In Kimi ni Todoke, I find that Shiina-sensei isn’t as in-your-face, preferring to use character interactions, which makes the plot progression seem more natural and realistic. Where other authors would have full pages of introspection, Shiina-sensei only requires a few boxes of text, and the series doesn’t seem to suffer from any lack of information.
Shiina-sensei’s also successful in that she invokes real sympathy for Sawako, where I had previously felt indifference in similar manga. Sawako does have a few unusual personality quirks to start, but she develops into a very believable heroine who doesn’t seem any different from any introvert you might meet in real life. Unlike a lot of shoujo heroines who just feel like manufactured molds used to suit a given situation, Sawako responds uniquely and realistically to the events presented in the manga.
I also really like Kazehaya in the same regard. While he does start out as this “ideal shoujo hero” type of character, after around chapter 50 or so, I began to realize that there was MORE to Kazehaya. I like the fact that he wasn’t being depicted as this perfect person anymore – he doesn’t really know what he’s doing, and he doesn’t necessarily know the best way to handle Sawako. I’m kind of sick of these aloof shoujo heroes that pick up on EVERYTHING that’s wrong with their girlfriend and always come up with a solution within three chapters, so that’s probably why Kazehaya feels like such a breath of fresh air.
I’m also really happy about how Sawako and Kazehaya’s relationship is depicted within the manga. I like that the physical attraction is played down, and most of the focus is placed on how they value the other person on an emotional level. I’m not saying that gushing about the other person’s looks is a bad thing per se, I’m just happy to see that there’s a good example being set here for shoujo readers that the emotional needs of the characters are highlighted more than other factors.
Overall, the characterization in Kimi ni Todoke is comparatively strong to lots of the other manga in serialization right now. I especially like Ayano and Chizuru, especially because they have really distinct personalities and play prominent roles in the story without being shifted to backburner when the author wants to focus on other things. I also like the fact that Sawako’s parents play a realistic and important role in Sawako and Kazehaya’s relationship. Hurray for parents that care about their daughter’s well-being while being humorous at the same time! 😀
I really love the art for Kimi ni Todoke. The art style doesn’t instantly remind me of any other mangaka, and it’s easy to pick out among an assortment of other shoujo manga. I also like the fact that all of the characters look significantly dissimilar from each other, while with other shoujo manga, I feel like the author just used a face template and added different hair. The SD art in Kimi ni Todoke is cute and funny as well, and I particularly enjoyed it.
While there is a live adaptation as well as an anime for this series, I highly recommend that you read the manga, because it is by far my favourite form of the story. If you haven’t read Kimi ni Todoke yet, it is (in my opinion) THE BEST series in Bessatsu Margaret right now, and by far one of the best shoujo titles in serialization right now. Go check it out!