“From Me to You: Kimi Ni Todoke” has been described as a love story set in high school between Kuronuma Sawako and Kazehaya Shota. While the series does start with their love story, it also delves into the complexities of the high school experience through a rich array of characters. Before we say more, we would like to ponder over how it feels to watch a show set in school, as an adult. “From Me to You” shows us actual high school characters, with all their awkwardness and the journey of discovering what their place is in the world. The romances are just as wrought with the tension, hesitation, and shyness that we would expect from a first love or a crush. Lately, it has felt like teenagers have either been solving mysteries above their pay grade (“School Spirits“), uncovering conspiracies, going on adventures (“Outer Banks“), or our favorite, fighting zombies (“All Of Us Are Dead“).
Teenagers on screen seem to be carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. Amidst all this, we had quite literally forgotten that figuring out how to take responsibility for your own life can also be an adventure unto itself. “From Me to You” reminded us of that. Now, as adults, when we see a young girl struggling to choose between her boyfriend and the college of her dreams, we cannot help but roll our eyes at her, but it still takes us back to a time when that was the biggest dilemma we faced in our lives. It might feel immature to our grown-up sensibilities, but that is the point—that it is literal children we are seeing on screen. We had forgotten what that innocence felt like. But despite this realization, we would recommend watching the series at 1.5x speed because the pauses that the characters take between their dialogues are way too long.
The initial premise of the series is that Kuronuma Sawako bears an eerie resemblance to Sadako, the feared ghost from “The Ring,” and that has prevented her from making friends for most of her school life. This was the one part of the series that felt like a bit much to us. We get her being made fun of for her resemblance, which was nothing more than long hair and pale skin, but people literally running away upon seeing her was taking things too far. Additionally, if the makers really wanted to convince us that she looked like Sadako, they should have given her a more sinister look. Her hair could have been longer and straggly, at the very least, with the makeover happening as she made more friends. Because otherwise, we just couldn’t spot the source of her troubles and the rumors surrounding her. On the other hand, Kazehaya Shota looks exactly like he does in the manga, down to the haircut and the round, pleasant face.
When it comes to the relationship between Kuronuma and Kazehaya, it was probably the only one that saw little to no development. What we mean is that they were the same with each other throughout. One would think that as their relationship progressed, they would get less formal or maybe let their partner see their other moods as well, but that did not really happen. There was no playfulness, no gentle ribbing, or even any real opening up about themselves other than what was at the surface level. Contrary to them, the other couples, like Yoshida-Ryu and Yano-Kento, showed more shades of their relationship, making us connect to them a lot more.
Additionally, throughout the series, Kuronuma comes across as someone who needs to be treated with kid gloves by everyone around her. Despite her occasional show of strength and her consistent good intentions, we failed to see anything else about her personality, like what made people like her other than the fact that she meant no harm. She and Kazehaya should have been more complex, and while the latter still gets a chance to be that, she remains painfully one-dimensional. We believe this was different from the manga, where Kuronuma learns to assert herself and own up to all of her emotions without constantly shedding tears.
We must point this out because we could not accept that she became friends with Yano and Yoshida simply because they were moved by her. That can get you temporary company and gratitude, but lasting friendship is a different deal altogether, and the series did a disservice to its audience by editing out that aspect of Kuronuma’s personality from the series. But this was not the only thing rushed or removed from the story. We never quite understood why Kazehaya’s father was against his son wanting to take over the family business. It just felt like disagreement for the sake of it instead of having any real ground to stand on. We are also not fond of the casual depiction of parents hitting their children. It shouldn’t be excused in the name of culture.
Overall, “From Me to You” is a sweet show that doesn’t make you think or feel too much and is a bit mushy in parts. We were not joking when we said that you have to watch it at 1.5x the speed because otherwise, you might lose all compulsion to finish the series. Additionally, if you don’t watch the series in one sitting, you might not feel the urge to come back to it. The thing to remember is that it is not something out of the box; it is just something nice and sweet, and it is only appropriate to approach the show with such expectations.