Kimi No Iru Machi

February 22, 2014

It’s a good thing that Kimi No Iru Machi received a TV adaptation in 2013, over a year after the twin OVA episodes were released. Now they can expand the long distance relationship between the main characters as well as add other love triangles into the mix. Yeah. That’s what I really was hoping to see in this romance drama. Although I don’t remember much of the OVA, as I was watching the TV series, I was left wondering if this is a spin-off or some other later or earlier chapters. Because I don’t read the manga, so I wouldn’t know. As far as my memories remember, the OVA was about the boy who came to the big city via school trip. This time round, he transferred here on his own. And at both instances, the boy and girl are really hard to meet up. Like as there is some hidden wheel trying to block their fate in having a good ending in their romance. Just to make it clear to myself, the OVA takes place before the TV series. So this is somewhat a sequel in this sense.

Episode 1
Haruto Kirishima just arrives in Tokyo and is picked up by his sister, Aoi. First thing she dumps to him is to clean up the messy apartment! Thanks sis. After finishing up, he is suddenly attacked by a burglar. The ‘burglar’ is Asuka Mishima who thinks Haruto is the burglar because she believes Aoi lives alone in her apartment just like her. After Aoi clears up the misunderstanding and explains Asuka is her neighbour and often dine together for company, it is obvious that Haruto and Asuka hate each other’s guts especially Asuka mocking Haruto’s Hiroshima accent. Aoi hopes they can get along because they are going to be classmates tomorrow. Just great. Their friend Kyousuke Kazama comes by for a visit. Unlike Asuka, he instantly becomes friends with Haruto. Aoi thinks her brother should make friends with them and sends him out with them to buy stuffs to cook. On the way back from the errand, Haruto and Asuka continue to trade barb wires. Like little kids fighting, no? When Haruto doesn’t believe Asuka was once popular in school, she becomes desperate for him to believe so she squeaks out her Iwaki accent. Now Haruto has something to say about that. Kyousuke explains that Asuka lived in Iwai till she was in middle school and that accent slips out when she gets excited. When she came here, she didn’t talk much during her first year because she didn’t want to say anything till she changed her dialect. With the duo continue to mock each other’s dialect, Kyousuke thinks they get along pretty well. Haruto introduces himself in class and he seems to be getting along fine. Just that he seems to be putting on that pensive look from time to time.

One day, Haruto turns down his classmates’ invitation to have a welcoming party. He returns home to cook dinner for his sister instead. Asuka after bumming around in her room decides to pay him a visit. Aoi is still not back. Hmm… After a while and having dinner with him, she asks him what he is up to seeing his friends went to great lengths to organize a party and yet he turns them down. That isn’t a way to make friends. Somehow there is this guilt in her tone. She is saying that she understands his situation. From her experience, she thinks he might be afraid to speak up, fearing that others would mock him for his accent. Haruto doesn’t mind all that and thinks Asuka should speak in her Iwaki accent because it is interesting and it makes her cute. Sure he’s not making a fool out of her? Asuka hopes he will have more confidence in himself since he came all the way here. Next day, Haruto stumbles into Rin who is quite surprised to see him transferred here. She thinks he is desperate to be with his sister but the truth is he wants to confirm the truth from Yuzuki Eba herself. That’s the reason he came here. Rin finds it creepy and probably the reason why she is avoiding him.

Episode 2
Rin tries to turn him away that her sister has already forgotten about him, have a new boyfriend and he could stalk her instead. Even so, he wants to hear it from her. He is ready to give her up if it’s true. Otherwise he wants to help her with whatever trouble she has. Rin continues her ‘barrage’ on him, wondering if he plans to cling onto Yuzuki or he is just out for revenge. All he wants is to confirm her feelings since she suddenly ‘vanished’ on him. If that’s the case, Rin goes to call her sister. Haruto sees Yuzuki from the window. Now we go into flashback mode of how they met. When Yuzuki first arrived in the countryside to live with his family and attend the same school (there was only one in this rural area by the way), Haruto wasn’t really thrilled. Their fathers were good friends it seems. Haruto is forced to take her around on his bicycle. When he sees Nanami Kanzaki, he instantly stops and pretends to check for a flat tyre. Yuzuki goes to get acquainted with her, much to his dismay. Later, Yuzuki could guess that Haruto likes Nanami. He learns Yuzuki once came to this town before and came to like it. That’s why she came back. Yuzuki accidentally falls into the pond so she has to take a quick shower. Because her clothes haven’t arrived yet, she has to wear the same one. She desperately wants Haruto to take her to the convenience store. Why should he? To buy some underwear. Wow. See him peddle at full speed. Along the way, they meet Haruto’s friend, Takashi Yura but Haruto isn’t really interested in wanting her to meet his buddies in fear that they might get the wrong idea of seeing them together. That’s his concern? On the way back, the wind blows up Yuzuki’s skirt. Haruto takes a loooooooong glance but to his surprise (or disappointment), she wasn’t going commando. There is no way she was going to do that, right? She was wearing the same one which was dripping wet. After smacking him, Yuzuki still thanks him for trying to protect her.

On the day she is supposed to start school with him, he sort of turned into some grumpy guy telling her to wait at the convenience store and walking to and fro from school. Don’t want to risk being seen together, eh? What’s the use of the bicycle then? But Yuzuki is a natural in making friends as she gets acquainted with another of Haruto’s pals, Akari Kaga. After school, Haruto rushes to the convenience store. Yuzuki isn’t there but Nanami. For the first time, they had a normal conversation as Nanami points out despite going to the same school for 3 years, whenever they meet, his eyes always avert to another direction like as though he hated her. But she’s glad he doesn’t. They hear Yuzuki scream. She was hiding behind trees and got attacked by some bugs. She was doing so because when she came, she only saw Nanami and with Haruto coming, she thought it would be bad if Nanami saw them together. She’s just taking his advice, right? Since Yuzuki wants to go to the public bath, the next thing Haruto knows, he is also there with them. Gender separate baths of course. Nanami goes to talk to Haruto as Yuzuki continues to soak longer. To Nanami’s horror, she finds Yuzuki fainted in the bath for soaking too long. Luckily she is alright and on the way back as Haruto reprimands her for that, he finds out she was forcing herself to stay longer so he could talk longer with Nanami. That’s when he realizes Yuzuki has always been thoughtful of others to the point she suppresses her own feelings.

Episode 3
The flashback continues. One day Haruto was just grumpy in everything he does. It’s like as though he’s doing a favour. He didn’t even respond to Nanami’s gesture. And then in class, he collapses. Well, anybody could have told that he wasn’t well. He is recuperating back home as Yuzuki and Nanami come to visit. When Nanami goes to answer a call, Yuzuki gets mad at him for saying nothing. He couldn’t understand her anger when she suddenly kisses him. She tells him it’s her way of saying thank you (which is a trend in Tokyo) and going out his way for her. But Haruto is not amused. He thinks she is making fun of him as though he is a country bumpkin (which I think he is). Any guy would be happy to get a kiss from this cutie but him? Nooooo… He had to scold her. Who the heck is she? Who the heck is he? It ends with them in argument that they will leave each other alone. But still, why can’t Haruto stop thinking about her? One evening Yuzuki hasn’t return from school and the call from Takashi said that Yuzuki told him Haruto was supposed to pick her up. He peddles all the way and finally sees her walking from the other direction. He scolds her for making him worry and all. But she breaks down saying she can’t do anything without him. She needs him. Now he’s all sorry for whatever. He gives her a ride home. Back in present time, Haruto might have seen Yuzuki from the window, but isn’t sure if she’s crying like that time. Rin pops out of the door to say her sister is not home yet. Lying? In any case, he hopes she could inform her he will be staying in Tokyo. Rin hopes he could send her a message first if he’s coming next time. She’ll let him know if her sister is around.

In class, a classmate, Mina Nagoshi wants to ask Asuka out to KyouOu cultural festival. Asuka wasn’t interested but Haruto is so he pleads her to take him there. Kyousuke knows that Haruto wants to meet somebody there because he would have spoken to him for it as he has the tickets too. At KyouOu, Nagoshi seems to be reprimanding Haruto as her ‘boyfriend’. He might not consider this a date but she seems to hint that he has potential. He’s earning negative points in her books. Being late, not leading, looking at his Smartphone instead of her, etc. The list could have been longer. The haunted house is his last chance. She’s clinging on to him like a leech. She even notes he should be happy about this. A ghost pops up to give her a real scare but Haruto somehow trips on a wire and I don’t know how on earth he pulled up her skirt right to the top. She slaps him hard and ‘disqualifies’ him. Unknown to them, underneath the ghost facade is Yuzuki. When Haruto learns that Yuzuki is supposed to be in the haunted house, he rushes back but is told she is no longer around. The school must be big because he keeps searching and searching but to no avail. At the end of the day when he is about to give up and resigning to the fact he will never see her again, there she is. She wants to know why he came here because she thought if she stopped any form of contact, he would eventually forget her. She apologizes that she is going out with someone else and hopes he would forget about her.

Episode 4
You thought Haruto would give up on her after that, right? Well, let’s say he isn’t going to accept it. So he looks pretty depressed in class, causing Asuka to wonder if something happened. Since he sincerely apologizes to Nagoshi and she is willing to give him a second chance, Asuka smells something fishy. Kyousuke can tell from his sullen face that he must have met his ex and got rejected. Oops. He’s in no mood for it. Haruto wants Kyousuke to hang out with him and go karaoke but he has a better suggestion and do a threesome with this babe he knows. Turns out they’re going bike riding. What was Haruto thinking? At the river bank, the guys stop and talk as Kyousuke gives him some words of encouragement about life. Is that what Haruto needs? Enough for him to open up and tell him his long distance relationship failed and his ex ditched him for another guy. Despite promising himself he would give up on her and wishing she’d get a better boyfriend, when she rejected him, he felt so disappointed. In the end he realizes he’s just a horrible guy who’d wish for her to be unhappy. So it’s no surprise she wants to ditch him. Kyousuke remains positive that he can move on to find a new girl. If not, try his best to snatch his ex back. Because it’s better than sulking and thinking what to do when he should be doing what he wants to. Either way, Kyousuke will support him. It made Haruto feel better. If all else fails, Kyousuke even mentions of throwing in a mixer for him. Seriously? Yes, he is serious. As they prepare to return, Kyousuke tells Haruto of his dream to become a pro racer. He wants Haruto to become a cook as he needs a sponsor. He’ll paste the name of his eatery on the most obvious places. When Kyousuke reaches his bike, he suddenly falls over and collapses! This is no joke!

We see Kyousuke up and doing well in hospital. He just had anaemia and nothing serious. Yeah. He’s acting like it was nothing. Even got the cheek to say luckily it didn’t happen while they were riding or it could’ve been double suicide! Haruto was so worried to death. Kyousuke’s mom couldn’t be sorrier for her son’s actions. Asuka even rushed over and all her worries were for nothing. Kyousuke then blabs all about Haruto’s confession, the reason he transferred here and how he got dumped. Thanks for all the juicy info. Asuka somewhat understands why he was desperate then. She thinks his ex is heartless and is taking Haruto for a fool. Kyousuke adds that Haruto has said it himself. He didn’t want her to be happy. He didn’t just transfer here so as to verify she had a boyfriend. What he really wants is to make up with her. And suddenly Yuzuki comes rushing in worried about Kyousuke. Oh gosh! Imagine the moment Haruto and Yuzuki see each other. So Yuzuki is Kyousuke’s girlfriend! What a small world. Yuzuki pretends she doesn’t know Haruto and introduces herself. Kyousuke is about to tell Haruto’s love story but he takes his leave. Haruto realizes Kyousuke is clueless about everything and so as not to say anything unnecessary, he too introduces himself to Yuzuki. Kyousuke hopes the next time they meet, they can talk strategy to snatch back his ex. That doesn’t sound too good… On the way back, Kyousuke thinks of giving up on Yuzuki for good because he’d trouble her at this rate. After the guy friendship they’ve been through, there is no way he can snatch his ex from him. If he really cares about her, she should leave her alone. Haruto looks through his messages sent from Yuzuki about the breakup. He was about to delete it when he remembers something. Yuzuki told him she wanted to try going out with a guy he rejected and given up during middle school, the reason she can’t go out with him anymore. On the other hand, Kyousuke mentioned that he didn’t stand a chance with his current girlfriend at first but after lots of desperate persuading, she gave in. Haruto realizes something amiss and runs out of his apartment.

Episode 5
Another flashback episode back in the countryside of Hiroshima. Yuzuki seems to be in a hurry that she forgot to bring the homemade lunches despite Haruto’s reminder. Nanami thinks she interrupted something between them and starts acting weird. Later Takashi tells Haruto how it is obvious that he and Yuzuki are looking a lot like a couple. The lunches, the bike rides, it’s too obvious. Probably Nanami thinks that way too. Haruto tries to clear up the misunderstanding with Nanami but didn’t get any reaction. Takashi thinks that Nanami isn’t interested in him to begin with. Heartbreaking, isn’t it? Yuzuki seems to be happy planting rice because it’s her first time. Tell me about it if you’re doing it day in day out for the next 10 years. Haruto sees Yuzuki practising riding on his bicycle. She wants him to help her and she can’t slow down or else she will fall. Well, there’s her logic. Did anybody teach her how to use the brakes? So it was a happy feeling when she manages to balance on her own. For 2 seconds. Haruto thinks she is doing all this to clear up the misunderstanding but she disagrees. She is doing this so that he would think better of her. Still don’t get where she is going? It’s because she likes him. Someday she will make him love her and hopes he will be prepared for it. Still don’t believe it? Too bad, it’s his loss then. Back home, Haruto, Yuzuki, Takashi and Akari are looking through their old albums. I’m sure the friends have lots of embarrassing stories on Haruto that would make that guy embarrass. They notice one of the group photos has girl looking like Yuzuki (want to bet it is her?) but Haruto doesn’t think so because he only met Yuzuki in high school.

While cleaning up the barn, Haruto discovers his old picture diary. He wrote on that day of the festival about a girl named Yuzuki he met. So he did meet her then. Another flashback in time. Young Haruto saw little Yuzuki lost and crying. She didn’t like this place and wants to go back. Thinking she is belittling the countryside, he takes her to a secluded spot to show her a rare flower to cheer her up. It made her feel better as they return to the festival and had their group photo taken. Haruto notices she is smiling now and thought she hated this town as she wasn’t before. She says there are many things she didn’t like but somehow thought everything would be alright. Before she leaves, Haruto says if anything happens, she should come back here again. Yuzuki sees Haruto reading the picture book and it dawned to him that she remembers every part of it. She didn’t mention about it because Haruto seemed to have forgotten and it would be embarrassing for her to say it. However Haruto feels something amiss. Did she come back to Hiroshima because something happened? Is there something she can’t tell him yet? Back in present time, Haruto chances upon Yuzuki on the streets. He reminds her about their first meeting and for her to return if anything happened. When she suddenly disappeared from Hiroshima, he followed her to Tokyo. It’s not like her to do this. He wants to hear the truth. Likewise, she too wants to tell him something. It’s about Kyousuke.

Episode 6
Another flashback when Yuzuki returned to Tokyo. She was a loner and rarely smiled till Kyousuke came over to be friends with her. Although it made her happy, she still pushed him away. I guess he was too annoying each time he pestered her to join him. So one day when she told him off to leave him alone, he coolly said he just wanted to be friends and go out with her because he likes her. He said that right in the middle of everyone? She instantly rejected him. But that guy kept being positive saying that was only practice or whatever. One day Yuzuki was having lunch alone and once more there is a cruel message from Rin wanting her to just die. Yuzuki couldn’t take the torture anymore and breaks down. Kyousuke was there to give her a shoulder to cry on. She instantly hugged him and felt his warmth. It was what kept Yuzuki sane and able to move forward. She wanted to do the same for him when she subsequently found out he is dying of a terminal illness. Of course he didn’t say anything to anyone as he doesn’t want them to worry. That’s why Yuzuki wants to support him the best she can and hopes Haruto won’t say a thing. Haruto understands. He remembers when he first met Yuzuki at the festival. She was crying because her mom just died and her second visit was because her dad found a new wife. She had 2 kids, a big brother and a little sister. The little sister hated Yuzuki. When Haruto returns to his apartment, Asuka is seen waiting outside. He asks her a hypothetical question about his situation but she quickly catches on. She can guess Yuzuki is his ex. He doesn’t know what to do because he doesn’t want to betray his best friend. Her reply is that they can’t be true friends anymore since he’s thinking like that as his heart is not open. It makes them only like good friends on the surface. She can’t do that and can’t stand to see others like that because they’re precious to her.

And so Haruto waltzes into hospital just to tell Kyousuke in the face that he is declaring war on him to take back Yuzuki. She is surprised at the turn of events and although Kyousuke is shocked to learn Yuzuki is his ex, he accepts his challenge since it was his idea to have Haruto snatch his ex. Yuzuki has no intention of going back to him but Haruto is just here to tell Kyousuke this. He won’t hold back whatever disease he has. Kyousuke too hopes he would act fast because it is Haruto who doesn’t have much time left. Does Yuzuki have a say in this silly contest? Apparently not. And then Asuka learns about Kyousuke’s terminal illness. She’s sad. She’s about to beat up Haruto. I mean, wasn’t he just taking action based on what she said? That’s how he felt, right? Since they couldn’t be friends, it’s better to go all out. If he talks to him, things might work out. Because if he doesn’t do anything, he might lose both. Haruto and Asuka return to visit Kyousuke. Haruto made fried eggs for Yuzuki (he considers it his weapon) but Kyousuke hogs it and takes a bite and shares it with Asuka. Mmm… Delicious. Haruto doesn’t want to leave yet because he fears Kyousuke would do something funny to Yuzuki but he assures him he won’t do anything to the girl he loves. After they leave, Kyousuke lets Yuzuki try the last fried egg piece. What he wanted to see was her smile. It makes him happy. When she leaves, she sees Haruto outside. He has something to say to her. She shouldn’t look so depressed in front of him and put on some better than a bitter smile. Is Kyousuke that boring? As he is happy to see her smile, she should do so for Kyousuke so he can be happy too. With that, she puts on her usual smile and thanks him for the fried eggs.

Episode 7
Haruto thinks Kyousuke had him make some beef dish just to keep him away from visiting. It took him 2 days for that. But why did he oblige then? Suddenly some girl, Kiyomi Asakura barges in. She is mad that Kyousuke isn’t undergoing surgery that could save his life. Sure it could but the possibility is very low. The chances of surviving diminish at each passing time. Yuzuki thinks the decision is for him to make but Kiyomi slaps her! She calls Yuzuki that it is people like her that messes with Kyousuke and calls her a murderer. Haruto ticks Kiyomi off that even so, this doesn’t make her decision right. Kiyomi cries at the thought of Kyousuke’s death and runs away. Haruto goes after her to talk. She mentions Kyousuke never listens to her as his childhood friend but Yuzuki seems to be the only one he ever listens to. He guesses she likes him because it’s the same for him. I don’t think it’s in a gay context. They talk about each other’s crushes and they feel like idiots for still liking people who are already in love with others. When Haruto returns, he hears Yuzuki talking and laughing with Kyousuke. Yeah. Telling embarrassing stories of Haruto, eh? That happy look on her face. He didn’t have the heart to interrupt and leaves. When Kyousuke is discharged and returns to school, the best friends have another round of talk. Haruto mentions how happy she was with him and it’s been a while he has seen her smile. He blames himself that she never smiles. On the contrary, Kyousuke says she smiles a lot when she talks about him. He always wondered if Yuzuki went out with him out of pity. It makes him feel bad and wants to clear this up. That’s why he is going for the surgery. It will be clear that he is the one that Yuzuki chooses. Haruto also agrees to this as he has a chance of stealing her back once everything is over. He supports him to undergo the surgery and promises won’t lay a hand on her till then.

On a rainy day. Gloomy. Haruto and Asuka are seen making their way as they ‘don’t want to keep Kyousuke waiting’. Asuka seems to be spacing out on her journey. Then it hit us. They are heading to Kyousuke’s funeral!!! OMG! He didn’t make it :’(. Haruto talks to Kiyomi and the latter says Kyousuke was happy as he got to eat food from someone who would grow up to be a good chef. She says Kyousuke left something behind for him at the altar. Turns out to be his helmet and in the front spot, a reserved space for the name of his eatery. Doesn’t that just make you shed a tear or two? Haruto wonders why Asuka can be so calm because she was the one who cried the most at the hospital. She feels Kyousuke would get mad if she looked sad and thought he would be happier if she laughed. Okay, that’s the cue for her to break down and cry. Soon, Yuzuki calls Haruto to meet. She gives him Kyousuke’s helmet. She feels guilty for not being assertive enough to oppose the surgery. Haruto doesn’t want her to feel depressed because it is not her fault. Kyousuke managed to date her and he didn’t want it to be over just after a year and took the path that had the best hope. He wants her to smile for him. Then she wonders if they’ll ever see each other again. Haruto’s heart just stopped for a moment there.

Episode 8
We go time skipping a year and a half later. Haruto is now a university student and Asuka his girlfriend! I guess they’re close enough for her to kiss him and he doesn’t freak out. As Haruto promised to bring Asuka somewhere for a vacation, he works part time at a convenience store. He didn’t end up as some chef or in that line of work because he doesn’t see himself doing that kind of job no doubt cooking is his passion. While working, Rin stumbles upon him. Though it’s been some time they’ve seen each other, she gets really close to him. Of course they have to talk about Yuzuki and how she’s doing. She seems not too happy when Haruto isn’t really that concerned over her sister anymore. It’s like when his rival died, he pulled out of the game too. Rin wonders if he still loves Yuzuki but he doesn’t have that sort of feelings anymore as he has his own girlfriend. Haruto remembers Rin telling him how she hated his sister and wanted to drive her out of the house. When Haruto finishes his shift, Rin happily thought he was going to see her but instead it was Asuka who was waiting for him. Rin bitterly sees them walk away hand in hand like a true blue couple. I don’t think Haruto even saw Rin. Back home, Haruto and Asuka could have had an intimate moment. He accidentally saw her naked. She tries to beat him up with a bat. She slips. He slips. Floor all messed up with his spilled pot. Asuka on top of him. Could have gotten further if not for that damn phone ringing. Seems it is Haruto’s senior and he needs his help to come to a group date as they lack numbers. Haruto is about to decline but surprisingly Asuka gives her permission as long as he comes back early. Can he? Can she?

How funny fate can be because one of the group date girls turns out to be Yuzuki! She looks mature right now. But both exes didn’t freak out. They play it cool and even had no trouble the rest about their past relationship without breaking into any sweat. Haruto and Yuzuki leave the group date early. They catch up on things and it seems Yuzuki is getting along fine with Rin. At least they’re on talking terms. Thanks to Rin, Yuzuki also knows Asuka is his girlfriend. She gets nostalgic about Hiroshima and the likes and it makes Haruto wonder if she is hiding something bitter again. They exchange email addresses before they part. Just in time, Haruto gets a warning message from Asuka to come back o else. See, what did I tell you? Haruto is working at the store when Asuka pays him a visit. Shortly, Rin comes in. Asuka meets Rin for the first time but the latter knows about her thanks to Haruto. It’s like Rin wants to pour fire on oil so she mentions about Yuzuki at the group date. Suddenly the atmosphere changes. You can see Asuka uneasy though she is trying to hold it in. She leaves. Haruto goes after her to clear the misunderstanding. Why didn’t he tell her? What do you mean you forgot? Okay, so he didn’t want make her feel uneasy. She forgives him because she was the one who told him to go on the group date and her jealousy proves that she loves him a lot. When Haruto finishes his shifts, Rin is seen waiting for him (she pins it as an excuse that she’s passing by). He has to play the good guy to escort her home so she uses the chance to get clingy with him since it’ll be ‘safer’ if they look like a couple. Yeah. Haruto is in danger. Asuka seems to badmouth Asuka and wonders if Haruto really loves her since he once loved Yuzuki so much. Haruto says he was rejected and didn’t want to push it further but Rin believes Asuka is not the right one for him and he might just be a girl nearby and just compromising. Haruto stands firm that Asuka is his girlfriend and they’re happy together but Rin believes he is scared. Because there is a chance she could make him happier than Asuka and his feelings would sway, thus scared of trying. I don’t what this guy is trying to prove because he dares her. He agrees to take her out somewhere tomorrow since it’s a holiday.

Episode 9
This time Haruto tells Asuka about his ‘date’ with Rin at Fantasy Land before he leaves. Sure she is shocked but I guess since he promised, she allows him. In exchange he must buy a rare handphone strap for her. Haruto waits and Rin is running late. Oh look. There is Yuzuki waiting there too! Smell something fishy? They are surprised to see each other and say they are waiting for somebody. Then they simultaneously receive a mail from Rin that something has come up and that she can’t come. So as not to waste the tickets, she hopes they can go together instead. Yup. A setup. They both were about the leave and go home when Haruto remembers he has to buy that strap and with that lame excuse, the both of them head into Fantasy Land, not knowing Rin is watching them from afar. At the end of it, Rin calls Haruto to ask if he had so much fun that he forgot about Asuka. He is somewhat ‘disappointed’ because he thought it would be more fun if it was Rin. That’s sarcasm back at Rin. But she isn’t going to give up yet so she goes bug him at his workplace. Thanks to Yuzuki, she also knows the flimsy excuse of getting Asuka the strap just so he could date her sister. Rin continues to annoy him so he says that he could have gone with anyone. This prompts her to call him unfaithful. She then teases him by showing a little of her breasts (because she isn’t wearing any bra) and then accuse him of being a pervert. After he kicks her out, she asks if it’s a wise idea to give the strap to Asuka after he bought it with his ex like as though nothing happened.

Haruto returns home to give the strap to Asuka. She is very happy. But he lies that he was out and about with Rin and it made him tired. They’re supposed to discuss details of their next trip but he falls asleep on her. That tired, huh? The phone rings and Asuka picks it up. Next morning when he is fresh and ready to discuss for real, it’s Asuka’s turn to look grim. She asks if he really wants to go on a trip with her. Of course. That’s why he is working, right? Later he thinks what made Asuka say that and he thinks Rin must have told her what happened despite promising she won’t. This time Yuzuki enters the store. She mentions that with the upcoming summer vacation, they plan to visit Haruto’s parents back at Hiroshima. Is this one of Rin’s crazy ideas? Not quite. It’s been a long time Yuzuki has returned and at least wants to show the sisters are on good terms. She wonders if he can come too but no can do because he will be on a trip with Asuka to Okinawa. Even if Yuzuki accepts it with a cheery face, something tells me that she really didn’t. Back home, Asuka makes a big apology to Haruto. Because her grandma is hospitalized, she can’t go for the trip. That is why she was worried this morning. Haruto understands since family is important. But the trip will be wasted, right? Summer vacation may be over then but they don’t necessarily have to go to Okinawa. As long as he gets to be with her, he is happy. They have enough time to frolic around. With a little case of déjà vu. This time Haruto lands over Asuka after they trip. Hope no damn phone interrupts. His horny side is awakening because he is about to take off her bra. And she allows him. Then Aoi had to come back. Sorry for the intrusion. See her smirk when she leaves? Later Haruto thinks of using his earned money to buy something for Asuka. This makes him remember he bought a present for Yuzuki but never gave it to her since she suddenly left for Tokyo. He wants to throw it away but couldn’t. Seriously, he’s been keeping it all this time but can’t have the heart to throw it away. So why now if he does?

Episode 10
Asuka leaves for her family. Aoi is cheeky enough to suggest Haruto to go with her and get to know her family since he ‘planted his seeds inside her’. Asuka feels lonely for parting with him but whispers when she comes back, they’ll continue with ‘that’. So what does Haruto do on his own? He calls Yuzuki to meet just to give her the pendant. He explains it’s supposed to be her birthday present which he never got to give her. Thanks. Two years late. Haruto believes he has finally settled his feelings for her by passing it to her. Or so he thinks. Haruto makes his way to Hiroshima since his old friends ‘forced’ him to. It’s been a long time he has seen Akari, Takashi and Nanami and it feels like a little class reunion. So we’ve got Haruto reminiscing of the good times with Yuzuki as he cycles around town. Especially a river which he showed Yuzuki some ice flower before she left for Tokyo. He told her not to leave and wanted to date her. He was willing to even go to Tokyo with her. But we know it didn’t turn out that way. Haruto sees Yuzuki at that spot and notices her wearing the pendant. It feels nostalgic being at this place. Yuzuki wants to move forward with him. As friends. But of course. They pass their old school, another place filled with old memories. Especially after the festival, desperate Haruto ‘cornered’ Yuzuki and wanted to go out with her even if it’s only half a year. But she couldn’t because if they do, she can’t return to Tokyo. Then Rin had to break up those nice memories, teasing him that he is thinking of his first kiss, etc. She gets very clingy to him. Trying to make big sister jealous? She’s glad they’re getting along well. Seems like it. Rin meets the rest of Haruto’s friend and from first look, she can tell Nanami is Haruto’s type. What is she? Some kind of evil fortune teller? Takashi obviously wants to hit on Rin but she makes it known to him that she doesn’t like the kind that immediately tries hitting on her. There goes his chance. Yuzuki helps Haruto cook but a slight moment where their hands meet cause a little spill. It’s like fate is giving them an excuse to go out together and buy stuffs. More reminiscing of that past. As her ex-boyfriend, Haruto is worried that she hasn’t got a boyfriend yet. It’s not that he’s looking down on her but I guess Yuzuki would love to have a guy. As long as he is better than Kyousuke. Ah. Who could ever top that guy? When they return, Rin continues to tease the suspicious duo. They are distracted with Takashi’s fireworks blooper. Yuzuki tugs Haruto’s shirt and mentions there is something she’s been meaning to tell him all this time. That look in her eyes…

Episode 11
On second thought, she changed her mind. WTF. Tell or don’t tell? That night Haruto and Yuzuki visit the festival stalls. Haruto spends a lot on the balloon fishing but I guess he sucks. So much so the stall owner pities him and gives him an apple candy as consolation. He gives it to Yuzuki and this makes her happy. If you’re wondering where Takashi and co are, they’re heading to the festival too but are stuck in a massive jam. There’s a jam in this small town? As the duo watch the fireworks, this makes Haruto ponder about Yuzuki’s erratic behaviour. She was such in high spirits when he first met her and then when he fell in love with her, she pushed him away. When Kyousuke died, they agreed to part and never meet again. Now that she’s back again, what is she up to? Suddenly Yuzuki cries. She dismisses anything but trips. He catches her. Cue for hug scene. He wants her to stop blaming herself about the time he and Kyousuke fought over her. Yuzuki blurts she wanted to be with Haruto all this time. He thinks this is what she wanted to say then and shouldn’t let it bother her anymore. They should move on and be friends. But what she wanted to say then was that she loves him. Oh dear. Those 3 magic words were enough to reignite the flames? Yuzuki can’t stop thinking about him so she thought of coming her one last time and etch those memories in her heart. Once she returns to Tokyo, she won’t see him again and won’t intrude on his happiness. She throws away the pendant into the river but he dives in to retrieve it. He doesn’t want her to say such things and wants her to hold on to this pendant no matter what. While we have flashback clips of their younger days together, they could have gotten closer and even more had not for the damn phone ringing. I’ve been meaning to ask this, is there reception out here in the wilderness? Hey, it’s from Asuka! She’s calling to say hi. What? Can’t say hi so late? When she asks where he is, he lies that he is at home and a bit busy. Oh no. Something tells me it’s a bad move. Look at Asuka’s surroundings. Seem familiar? No wonder she doesn’t sound too good after that. Haruto and Yuzuki walk back. Remembering more of the old times? Haruto is in a dilemma. He never knew he still had feelings for Yuzuki and because he feels guilty of what he is doing to Asuka, he tells Yuzuki that he wants to give a proper answer and to wait. Okay. When they return home, they are surprised to see Asuka sitting at his doorstep! I knew it! See that disappointed look in her eyes? She’s right to call him a liar. Sh*t is going to hit the fan.

Episode 12
Haruto didn’t stop Asuka as she leaves. That night when he is thinking by himself, Rin pays him a visit and makes him tell what happened. Seems that Haruto has realized he loves Yuzuki and doesn’t want to part with her again. That’s good, right? Nothing to worry about. All he needs to do now is break up with Asuka. So why still worried about Asuka? He continues to tell all the good points about her so Rin had to lift her skirt to show him ‘other options’. He scolds her for fooling around but she tells him off that from the looks of it, he is the one fooling around. He doesn’t want to hurt both but it’s too late. She loves his expression of feeling like a trash. This is what happens when you keep trying to play the good guy. Back at Tokyo, Asuka and Haruto talk. Well, not really much of a conversation because Asuka is talking while he says nothing. She wants him to give an excuse so she could hit and forgive him. And when he finally opens his mouth, he wants to break up. Unacceptable. But there is no other choice. He has already decided. Asuka is left crying. Later he meets Yuzuki. She tells him Akari told her how Haruto’s breakup with Asuka went. It was horrible. She was told if she would be happy this way of stealing somebody’s love. Of course she couldn’t. She could never be happy for the rest of her life. But she doesn’t care what others say as long as she has him. This is what she longed for. He corrects her that this is what they longed for. They will take on everything together. Sometime later, Haruto bumps into Rin again. She can tell he argued a lot and deserved it but couldn’t understand why he isn’t happy since he already made up his mind. She asks who is most important to him because if he doesn’t treasure the love he shares with someone, it’s as good as not being in love at all. He thanks her for the advice because she always makes things seem clear. Haruto thinks of moving out to live on his own as he is tired of living with his sister. Do you know how expensive the rental in Tokyo is? Another chance meeting with Asuka, she too ponders if she should move away to forget everything. However she couldn’t and cannot bring herself to hate him. She feels in a quandary that since the duo are moving ahead, she feels left behind. If she had knew all this would happen, she would not have fallen in love with him in the first place. Of course Haruto denies all that, mentioning she did a lot of great things for him. So they still love each other but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Asuka kisses him one last time and says if things don’t work out with Yuzuki, he can always come back to her. Because she’ll turn him down then.

Always A Place In Your Heart…
As I read from the comments online, many fans of the manga didn’t like how the anime was adapted. Firstly, it started in the middle (assuming at the current time of the anime’s airing, the anime is the ‘middle part’ of the overall released chapters) with the Tokyo arc. Many didn’t like how the previous arcs were told in flashbacks. Well, somehow I agree too. Although they didn’t spam us with lots of flashbacks but I thought it was somewhat confusing. It’s like those who only read the manga would understand what had happened and for others who don’t (like yours truly) who only watched the OVA and jumped straight into the TV series, there are parts that don’t seem connected and you’d be wondering why this and why that. Secondly, how the anime ended wasn’t that satisfying. Of course the manga is still on-going but as far as the anime itself is concerned, it still leaves a bittersweet taste in your mouth. Because it’s like the ultimate goal of this TV series was to reunite Haruto and Yuzuki together. Whatever happened to the others don’t really matter. And after spending a dozen episodes away from each other, they finally be true to their feelings and be a couple. End of game. Doesn’t it feel like that? In short, it just feels mediocre.

So incomplete that it makes you feel what actually happened between Haruto and Nanami. Didn’t that guy had feelings for her before Yuzuki? Feels like something missing when you think back, what happened to his feelings for her? Where did it go? It feels like there is some sort of link missing here. And what about Nagoshi? That girl seemed to have potential in liking Haruto. But after the cultural festival, you’ll never hear of her again. Kiyomi? I have a feeling that she isn’t just going to be a character that dies along with Kyousuke. During my ‘research’, I stumbled that she too like other characters like Takashi and Asuka do play a part in the romance between the characters (in future manga chapters, that is). But as far as this anime is concerned, after Kyousuke’s death, Kiyomi is never heard off again. It’s like we are allowed to forget all about her. Because these characters don’t really have any major impact in this TV series. Because as said, a big part of the show is about Haruto and Yuzuki. A little bit of Rin here and there and the second half pulling in Asuka.

The big mystery and probably annoying thing in the overall series has got to be the complicated love relationship between Haruto and Yuzuki. Okay, saying their love being complicated isn’t quite accurate because it is the pair who made it complicated. For almost the entire series, it’s like when the guy likes the girl, the girl pushes him away. Vice versa. They come up with some sort of vague excuse why they can’t be with the other. See, at first Yuzuki really liked Haruto and wanted him but he was such a jerk to notice her love and ignored her. Then when he realizes he loves her, she has got to go back to Tokyo and his love is unwanted. At that point he seems like desperate. Then he goes to Tokyo just to confirm if it’s true. And so it seems true, which really isn’t, that Yuzuki has somebody else important but he doesn’t give up. And after some dude died, they remain distant while the feelings of their heart never really disappeared. It took just a spark of the moment to reignite it. Somebody got hurt in the end and they end up together. Happily ever after. For now. Complicated, no?

It’s hard to feel anything for Haruto and Yuzuki when they are both apart and finally together in the end. Most probably the way they played out the drama and the romance part, it was somewhat a little draggy. No exciting twist in the plot whatsoever because it is already embedded deep in the back of your mind it is going to be Haruto x Yuzuki eventually. And you know, Haruto isn’t exactly your gentleman or perfect guy. He has his own faults and thinks he can do it by taking in some responsibility but he ended up hurting everyone including himself. Because in reality you can’t make everyone happy. Harem series avoid this problem but fell into the same pitfall when they don’t choose anybody. That is assuming the girls consider themselves as friendly rivals. Friendly rivals? At least not the case in here. At least they try to put some realism into the romance but still it wasn’t enough to do justice. Yuzuki too tried to play heroine. She thinks others can be happy if she suppresses her own feelings but in the end it took a toll on her and suffered silently. So when these two eventually get together, there have been a few battle scars made. Did their love come to realization at the expense of others? Was it worth it? That depends on where you stand. If they can remain faithful to each other for the rest of their lives, then I would consider it worthy. Otherwise, it would just suck big time. A big waste of time.

There is something about Rin that makes her a mystery. She comes to us as some sort of a little devil. It is unclear what her actions of stoking up fire especially with Haruto. It’s like as though she likes to see others suffer and my guess is that since she had her fill with Yuzuki (driving her out of the house was probably the clincher and thus ‘ended’ the hate game for her step-sister), now she turns her attention to Haruto. Sometimes it is hard to pin her as the villain although what she says may be provocative but there are some truths in what she says. Because Haruto himself is indecisive and an a$$hole. That’s why he’s so much fun to ‘hang out’ and flirt with. She gets to tell him off and see his guilty sh*t expression. Still, I feel Rin isn’t the kind of girl I would want to end up with. Never!

Kyousuke is the coolest character and the best friend that every guy would love to have for his best buddy. He is always there to cheer you up and while his words may not be sugar coated, at least he makes you realize something. He’s sporting and cheery and definitely a good mood maker in any sort of group. So when he died halfway through the series, I thought it was really a big blow and big tragedy for such a cool character to go. His demise didn’t bring so much shock to me because I somewhat already knew beforehand. Yeah. When I was searching for information on to whether the TV series or OVA came first, I accidentally stumbled upon this little piece of information and I was in ultimate shock then. Of course there was this little hope in me that the producers might just change the character’s fate but I guess they wanted to be true to the manga. Thus when Kyousuke really did die, the impact of the shock didn’t get to me while I was watching. Otherwise, if I know myself well, I would be ‘paralyzed’ for the next few episodes. Therefore in order to ‘forever’ remember him, the second half of the series’ ending theme features his voice singing. Really.

Something about the art and drawing of the background of the series. I don’t know if this is a trend these days because I seem to notice more and more anime adopting this. Sceneries in the background tend to have this water colour feel or some oil painting. Like as though the artist didn’t really put so much effort in it and thought he could pass it as the background as the focus will be on the characters in the foreground instead. It’s really odd if you try to reconcile the combination of such art with bishonen and bishoujo characters. Also, when I learnt that the author of this series is the same as Suzuka, suddenly it dawned to me why some of the characters in here look like those in Suzuka. Especially why Nanami looks like that titular character. See the striking resemblance? As for the fanservice, there are a few obvious and deliberate fanservice scenes too like Rin lifting her skirt or Haruto accidentally pulling up all the way Nagoshi’s dress and even some on Yuzuki and Asuka. Mmm… Don’t you just love those scenes?

The opening and ending themes are ballads, which are somewhat fitting for this romance drama genre. The opening is Sentimental love by MimimemeMIMI though it is more of anime pop. Somehow I feel that the guys singing the ending themes didn’t quite fit in. Yoshimasaya Hosoya (voice of Haruto) sings the first opening theme which is the same title as this anime. The song is okay but personally I feel that his voice isn’t really suited to singing so it sounds like there is a mismatch between his voice and the song. This goes the same for the second ending theme sung by Daisuke Ono (voice of Kyousuke), Dear Friend. Sure, this guy has got a nice gentleman voice but I would rather prefer him in voice acting rather than singing. In this case it also sounds like his voice isn’t suited for singing. There are a variety of insert songs in the series ranging from slow ballads to anime pop but I don’t really find them that attractive.

Old feelings of the heart seem hard to die. Especially if it is your first love. We see how stubborn the characters here are in denying those feelings and also how stubborn those feelings are remaining deep inside their hearts for a long time and never went away. Yeah well, easier said than done. Sometimes it is hard to tell whether you are really in love or just in love with the idea of being in love. So what is love? Is feeling happy being in love? Is feeling sad and pain being in love? Is feeling jealous and distrustful part of being in love? Well one thing I know, it’s hard for me to love this anime no matter how much I try and want to… I just couldn’t…

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