Final Review: Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless otherwise noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is based off an ongoing shoujo manga of the same name. Shizuku Mizuntani is a girl who can only focus on studying and and her own future. She continues to strive to be #1 in the class only to always fall short of that #1 position to fellow classmate Haru Yoshida, the boy who sits next to him but never attends class. She only finally meets her “rival” when she is tasked with delivering print outs to him. On the contrary, Haru’s encounter with Shizuku results in him greeting her as a friend and the start of a new relationship rather than an arch-nemesis. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun premiered during the Fall 2012 anime season and was simulcasted on CrunchyRoll.

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is a decent shoujo romantic comedy. Shizuku is really a fun character because of how overly serious she is about her studies. Haru, on the other hand, is basically on the other end of the spectrum. Premise sound familiar yet? Some of you may recall Special A from several years ago (has it really almost been 5 years?) and if you’re an oldy, this show is a trip down memory lane of Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou. The premise is basically the same along with genres. It seems like your typical generic shoujo romantic comedy but it’s really the likable cast that drives this show. The back and forth thing between Haru and Shizuku is rather cliche but at the same time sweet and cute. Ultimately, the “plot” doesn’t really move anywhere but it’s not like the show attempted to establish one in the first place unlike other shoujo titles like Kimi ni Todoke or even this season’s competing shoujo titles: Kamisama Hajimemashita, Suki-tte Ii na yo, and Hiiro no Kakera 2. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun really stood out among the competing titles this season at least to begin with and while it is by no means original, it does things right to at least make it an enjoyable fluff watch despite dropping hits every now and then of “relationship development” between various characters.

Art is very nice and colorful but the designs seem rather rough even though the manga is drawn in a particular but similar style. The character designs are quite good though despite being your typical shoujo adaptation designs. Animation is by Brains Base and overall decent as well with a few bits of choppiness every now and then. Granted that Brains Base as worked on Natsume Yuujinchou for the last few years, outside of that particular title none of their titles have really surpassed the quality of Spice and Wolf II from 2009, including last year’s Mawaru Penguindrum. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun really is just slightly better than Sengoku Collection’s animation quality as well as same season’s Ixion Saga DT.

OP is very nice by Haruka Tomatsu. She has come quite the long way in terms of OP/ED themes since her debut. ED is by 9nine. Outside of Star Driver’s OP2, 9nine has continued to be unimpressive for me. It’s an okay song but not something memorable. Background music is cheesy but very fitting with the “awkward comedy” in this show. Sound effects are also solid. Seiyuu is very stellar for this title with Haruka Tomatsu as Shizuku and Tatsuhisa Suzuki as Haru are absolutely priceless for this title.

Enjoyment? Lots of comedy fun and for the most part the episodes are episodic. The biggest weakness I really found with this show is due to its lack of “plot continuity” it lacks any sort of motivational hook. Some episodes do leave cliffhangers and given the down season, it was one of more weekly anticipated titles in my book. However, in terms of rewatachability, there really is none here.

Overall, the show is ultimately a more modern version of KareKano, which isn’t a bad thing. Some people who grew up more with the classics will likely prefer KareKano over this due to the whole “chicken and egg” concept but as time progresses, it’s not bad to have some variety. You can call Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun as cliche of a series as you want but at the end of day, all series similar to it actually fall in the same boat. It all boils down to “which came first: the chicken or the egg?” question. Speaking of chickens, Haru likes his chickens apparently.

 

Story and Character:

  • Premise (0/1): Generic as it gets
  • Character Personalities (1/1): Love it!
  • Character Development (1/2): Some back story on Haru, lacking for Shizuku.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1.5/2): Small main cast. Secondary cast can be amusing. Chizuru kinda just drops out and Asako needs more love.
  • Pacing: (1/1): Nothing wrong. Not too slow and not too fast.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (2/2): Very much down to earth
  • Conclusion (1/1): A bit more random than I had expected. The end result is “the same” and the end didn’t really feel like an end but it was a funny watch
  • Total: 7.5/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (1.5/2): Rough details, otherwise good
  • Character Designs (1.5/2): Above average. Generic at times
  • Fluidity (1/2): Too choppy
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (2/2): Very colorful
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (1/2): Brains Base has done better. Nothing beats Spice and Wolf so far or Natsume Yuujinchou
  • Total: 7/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (2.5/3): Solid OP theme. ED is okay
  • Background Music (2/2): Great
  • Sound Effects (2/2): Chickens
  • Seiyuu (3/3): Amazing
  • Total: 9.5/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (2/2): Great comedy. Shizuku and Haru moments are cute yet somehow turn into a circus
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (1.5/2): In this season, definitely looked forward to compared to other shoujo titles this season.
  • Presentation: (1/2): Episodic. Some continuity but inconsistent.
  • Re-watchable (0/1): No real hook to really want to watch again
  • Recommendation (1.5/2): The modern verison of KareKano. It’s short but to the point. Light on the overall romance, which Suki-tte Ii na yo does better at along with Kimi ni Todoke.
  • Value (0.5/1): Within this space, it’s equally comparable with that of KareKano. As a gem, neither are really masterpieces of romantic comedies but may be the best you get for now.
  • Total: 6.5/10

Preliminary Score: 8/10

Final Score: 8/10

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