kimi ni todoke – From Me To You Volume 3 Premium Edition
Studio: Production I.G.
Publisher: Nippon Ichi
Release Date: 07/03/2012
Well here we are at the end of kimi ni todoke – the longest anime series Nippon Ichi has put out so far. I reviewed the first volume back in January of this year and then Volume Two in April. I didn’t think I was going to like kimi ni todoke, as I tend to find the “slice of life” and serious anime series boring. I tend to find the comedy or Dungeons & Dragons fantasy series more to my liking. However, kimi ni todoke won me over with its realistic characters and the accidental comedy of Sawako in spite of the core plot (the romance of Sawako and Shota) moving slower than the entire SERIES of Dragon Ball Z. In fact, it doesn’t even progress in the first season of the anime (Volumes I and II) and it’s not until episode eleven (out of twelve) of Season Two that the relationship is actually official. So, if you’ve been sitting there enjoying the first two volumes but becoming restless waiting for the series to actually pull the trigger… you still have a long wait ahead of you here.
I was hoping that Nippon Ichi would include Episode Sixteen into this third and final volume, but alas, it’s still not here. For the unaware, Nippon Ichi cut it from the US release, as it was a weird recap episode. Oddly enough, they kept Episode Zero of Season Two on this set, which is also a recap episode. So why was one included and the other not? I’m not sure, and I can’t begin to fathom the reasoning behind it. The bonus features are two mini episodes and clean openings and endings, so they could have fit Episode Sixteen on there. Oh well, it’s just not to be.
So what happens in Season 2/Volume Three of kimi ni todoke? Well, not much actually. It’s pretty much just padding until the series finally gives you the “Moonlighting” moment it’s been dragging out. That’s not to say that the series is bad. Far from it. The padding here isn’t talking heads standing around for hours, but solid characterization letting you get to know each participant in this little drama better, as well as how they all interact with each other. I’d be fine with that if that didn’t also describe Volume II of the anime as well. So it’s more of the same, which will either delight you if you’re a huge fan of the series, or annoy you if you’re anything but. Honestly, if at any time you felt restless during the previous two volumes, waiting for the principal plot point to advance, you’ll feel it doubly so here.
Episode Zero is a recap episode from the point of view of Kurumi, Sawako’s “rival” for Shota’s affection. It’s an interesting way of doing a recap, but it might be a bit confusing for newcomers. Of course, who would start with Volume III of an anime collection anyway? Both Zero and One revolve around the Japanese version of Valentine’s Day, which is somewhat different from the Western version you probably know. Here, girls give guys chocolates on Valentine’s Day and males reciprocate on “White Day.” The usual miscommunication between the two love birds occurs, and both go away unhappy on this most special of days. Epsiode ZTwo introduces a quasi-rival for Sawako’s affection and only serves to cause even more miscommunication between her and Shota. Yes, it’s a running theme. It has been since most of the way through Volume One. The next few issues are teen angst, as both pine for each other, but neither is able to state how they really feel, leaving both rejected while their friends look on, unable or unwilling to properly help. It’s by this point you just want to scream at the anime, as I can’t think of anyone in real life that would lets things progress this far down Insanity Drive. It’s also at this point where the suspension of disbelief snaps, as nothing is this drawn out – especially with a “slice of life” series. I went from finding the series quaint and charming with Volume I to actively disliking everyone in Volume III for being so passive and outright stupid.
It’s not until Episode Five where we see things start to slowly move. Shota’s friends begin to tease him for being too chicken to honestly and accurately tell Sawako how he feels, especially since Sawako was socially inept until a year and a half ago and doesn’t quite… process things correctly. Because of this, in Episode Six, Shota finally confesses to an emotionally distraught Sawako… who takes it the wrong way and doesn’t believe him. Then in return, when Sawako finally admits she likes Shota, he takes it as a “just as friends” statement, making them both believe they have been rejected by the other. Sigh. Episodes Seven and Eight are just padding, as Sawako works herself up to confess her feelings to Shota again with a little bit of girl drama interspersed. Episodes Nine and Ten are where both main characters finally grow a spine and are direct about how they feel towards each other. By the end of Episode Ten, you have coupledom. Episode Eleven is everyone’s reaction to the new couple. Episode Twelve ends the series with a focus on both Kurumi’s reaction to the new couple and the first official date between Sawako and Shota. All in all, twelve episodes and a recap to basically do what could have happened in one or two. This final season of kimi ni todoke just dragged things out to an incredulous level, even for a series that is already known to do just that. I have to admit, I was relieved and happy when the series was ended, because my patience had expired somewhere towards the end of Volume II. I still liked the characters in the series, at least, the supporting cast that is. Sawako and Shota drove me nuts and by the end, and I couldn’t stand either of them. That’s not a good thing for a series to have happen. In truth, the story kimi ni todoke was trying to tell could have been done in twelve or thirteen episodes rather than thirty-eight. I can’t even imagine how slow the manga (which is still ongoing) is compared to this.
Because this is a Nippon Ichi anime release, we really need to look at the Premium Edition pieces. Like all Nippon Ichi Preimum Editions, this set consists of a hardcover slipcase with character art on both sides, two slim-pak DVD cases (each holding a DVD and a Blu-Ray disc) and a hardcover artbook. The materials in the collection are top-notch and incredibly well made. The oversized slipcover will have trouble fitting on your DVD rack or shelf, but it does stand out. I also love that this is a hybrid set, meaning that even if you somehow don’t have a Blu-Ray player yet, you can still watch and enjoy the series. The Blu-Ray discs are far superior in quality as the colours and sharpness of the series are noticeably improved.
The slipcover has Sawako and Shota in a couple-like pose on one side and the entire cast goofing around on the other. Generally with Nippon Ichi releases, the art of the box is totally different from the art on the DVD cases, but the case for disc two sports the same artwork of Sawako and Shota as a couple. I’m a little disappointed that art was reused here, especially since there is a LOT of art for this series floating around. Disc one has another cast group pose, but this one is a bit more formal.
I haven’t been happy with any of the art books Nippon Ichi has done for kimi ni todoke yet, and the one that comes with Volume III is no different. Now, that’s not to say that the materials are bad. Material-wise, the art book is top notch, with a wonderful hardcover and twenty-eight full color glossy pages. However the content itself is TERRIBLE. Other Nippon Ichi art books have creator interviews, character bios, episode synopses, art from the manga or other original sources and so much more. The art book for kimi ni todoke is nothing but screen shots from the anime arranged to look like a photo album with some very vague and uninformative text about episodes. Nippon Ichi generally does an amazing job with their art books, but the ones for kimi ni todoke have just been so lackluster and uninspired that it feels like they were as glad to be done with this series as I was.
All in all, I just can’t recommend Volume III of kimi ni todoke. The series moves at a snail’s pace, dragging out what could have ended in Volume I out to a total of thirty-eight episodes. The Premium Edition is a fraction of the quality seen in other Nippon Ichi releases, and the entire affair is just a disappointment from beginning to end. It’s a shame, as I was quite pleased with Volume I’s episodes, but after three volumes of episodes where nothing happens, every character is stupid and Premium Editions that just aren’t up to Nippon Ichi’s usual level of quality, I strongly suggest avoided the series as a whole. You’ll be glad you did. It starts off wonderfully but by the time you get to end, it’s just been a colossal train wreck where you want your fifteen hours of life back.