Title: Kimi ni Todoke – From Me to You Vol 1
Author: Karuho Shiina
May Contain Spoilers
Sawako has a little problem. With her grim demeanor, everyone is terrified of her! Nicknamed “Sadako,” the poor girl has no friends in her class, and she can only look on longingly while her classmates talk and joke with each other. With rumors circulating around school that she can summon ghosts and that gazing into her eyes will curse them, it’s not likely that she’ll find any friends soon. But when Kazahaya starts talking to her, Sawako’s world begins to brighten. Can a new outlook on life really change Sawako?
I thought that Kimi ni Todoke was a very uplifting read. I’m not sure that I understand what makes Sawako so horribly frightening, but I’ll just accept the premise and go with the flow. She is so shy that it inhibits her ability to interact with her classmates, which only serves to increase her isolation. Some very hurtful rumors are flying around the school about her, but Sawako doesn’t hold that against anybody. Her motto is to perform at least one good deed a day, and she accepts everyone at face value. Even though she has such a difficult time communicating with others and even though they avoid her because she is so creepy, she hasn’t let that make her bitter and resentful. Instead, she constantly strives to make friends with everyone, but because she is so unique, her efforts aren’t panning out.
When a chance conversation with Kazahaya forces Sawako to tell him how much she likes and admires him, her entire world changes. It’s like her opening up to him and opened her up to everyone else. Slowly, bit by bit, Sawako starts to make some headway in the finding a few friends department. And just as slowly, her admiration for Kazahaya begins to evolve into something more. Can the gloomiest girl in school ever have a chance with the most outgoing and liked boy?
Being someone who was painfully shy as a teenager, I really felt for Sawako. It sucks when you feel like an alien and no matter how hard you try to fit in, you just end up looking more out of place. All it takes is for one person to accept you, and suddenly you have a little more confidence to be yourself and accept yourself. All kinds of good things will stem from liking yourself, which Sawako is learning firsthand. As she and Kazahaya spend more time together, other classmates are more willing to reach out to Sawako too.
Though Sawako’s shunning is a bit over the top and her fear-factor doesn’t come across as well as say, Sunako’s does from The Wallflower, I was able to buy into the fact that she is basically friendless and alone. I enjoyed the theme of this first volume – who doesn’t want to embrace positive change and become a better, more well-liked person because of it? Sawako tries so hard to be accepted that it is painful to see her repeatedly rejected. She and Kazahaya are just so darned nice, too, that you can’t help but like them. One thing that bothered me is that Sawako, though a very bright girl, comes across as a little simple minded. She is also so passive that it drove me nuts at times. Looking beyond these annoyances, though, Kimi ni Todoke provided a very satisfying and feel good read. Darn it! Another series to add to the growing list of must read titles.
Bonus points for the included sticker sheet. Yay!