July 8, 2011

When I think about girl-meets-boy love relationship that has a difference in heights, I always think of Lovely Complex. However it isn’t a tall girl and a short boy but the other way round in Hiyokoi. This is a single episode OVA based on the shoujo manga of the same name that is currently on-going. So if you like this kind of high school romance genre, then you’d be able to enjoy this one too.

Hiyori Nishiyama is a petite and very shy girl. Perhaps it is that very reason why she doesn’t make many friends. She goes back to school for the first time because as we learn, she was hit by a truck during the opening ceremony and was hospitalized. It’s a miracle she didn’t die. Thankfully she doesn’t have to stay back and repeat a year since she had a home tutor to catch up with school work during her hospitalization. On the first day of her return, Hiyori is so shy in introducing herself in front of her class, that even their homeroom teacher didn’t realize she went into hiding underneath the teacher’s rostrum. The whole class must have been puzzled like as though she’s introducing a ghost. So when Hiyori finally manages to stand in front of the class and summon every ounce of her courage to introduce herself, then comes in the cool slacker, Yuushin Hirose. Introduction, interrupted. The first thing he notes about her is her short stature. And this guy is pretty tall! It’s an obvious difference. The class starts to get amused by this fact while Hiyori continues to tremble.

Thankfully Hiyori’s best friend, Ritsuka Nakano is in the same class and looks like she is the only person she can open up to. As they talk about Hiyori’s unfortunate circumstances, Hiyori’s ‘unfortunate’ streak continues when her seat is placed next to Yuushin. And he’s staring at her. He’s been wondering what Hiyori looks like and then it hit him: A little chick (in Japanese, that word is ‘hiyoko’). That’s because she is small and fluffy. Everyone is amused but Hiyori feels Yuushin is quite a rude person. Probably she got confused and scared so she introduces herself again. Over the next few scenes, Hiyori gets unwanted attention because of the glaring height difference between the duo that makes easy gags. She also notices him sleeping in the middle of class (noisily) and even eating lunch. Yuushin makes Hiyori his ‘accomplice’ when he stuffs a food into her mouth. So when the teacher finds out, he thinks they’re already into this sort of developed relationship. Of course everyone laughs but to Hiyori, she gets very embarrassed. There goes her peaceful and quiet days.

During recess, Hiyori talks to Ritsuka how bothersome it has become for her due to Yuushin’s bad habits and the other girls wanting to talk to her. Ritsuka thinks this is a chance for her to overcome her shyness. She continues that she may find someone she likes everyone and since Yuushin makes friends with everyone, she thinks Hiyori will have more friends if she gets along with him. They go back to class but Hiyori is still hesitant to go talk to him (since he is talking with the other guys). Classmate Natsuki Aizawa snaps her out of her worrying and hands her a sheet that the teacher wanted her to pass to Hiyori. Hiyori feels there is a distant between her and Yuushin seeing that Yuushin is quite cheery and always smiling. In a class whereby Hiyori forgot to bring her textbook, Yuushin shares one with her. Albeit he too forgot his own and borrowed this textbook from the other guy. The atmosphere is getting awkward for Hiyori since they’re this close so Yuushin loosens her up a little by drawing a cute chick. This causes Hiyori to laugh and thus the teacher ‘warns’ them to stop flirting. As usual, the class bursts into laughter and Yuushin even had a comeback by saying that the teacher shouldn’t be jealous. Yuushin’s intention was to find out if Hiyori could laugh in front of others than Ritsuka. He is relieved and believes she should start laughing. She notes he is observant.

After school, Hiyori thinks back about Yuushin and some of the other stuffs. She notices that many people have remembered her name even if it is just the first day. Then she spots Yuushin. He puts both his index finger on the edge of his mouth to indicate a smile so she too does the same. Next morning, Hiyori sees that she and Yuushin are on class duties today. When the homeroom teacher comes in, she sees the blackboard still not cleaned and calls out the one who is supposed to be on duty. Hiyori ruses up front but before she could start cleaning, Yuushin points out that her slip is showing. He starts laughing about her woolly panties with a chick pattern but realizes his mistake too late. By that time Hiyori had become totally embarrassed and ran out from the class. Hiyori locks herself in a room crying while Yuushin comes looking for her. He mentions about someone finally sitting next to him because all the while he has always been sitting there because he didn’t want to block anyone’s view. Just then Hiyori barge out from hiding (she was actually in the closet behind rather than in the room that Yuushin believed she was in). In tears, she mentions about her fear of going to school. He consoles her about being scared because it is unfamiliar or familiar. And if it’s unfamiliar, all she needs to do is get used to it. He wipes her tears away as she realizes it was herself who created a barrier in the first place. The other concerned classmates come looking for them. Then Yuushin shows them it is snowing outside so everyone skips class to go play outside. Hiyori didn’t cry when she gets hit by a snowball, but laughed with everyone else instead. Back in class, Hiyori musters up her courage to ask Yuushin to borrow a textbook she forgot. However he is sleeping. However he isn’t in deep sleep as he hands it over. Hiyori comments that now she has someone she likes. She spots his drawing of a chick and notes it is horrible.

Cheeky Love
Just like any short OVAs, I find this enjoyable in its own pace. Whether or not it will continue with more OVA episodes in the future or be adapted into a full TV series is another matter. It is quite heart-warming to see how Hiyori managed to break out from her shell and fear of mixing around with the rest. Though it may seem a little unrealistic because it happens in a span of a few days when normally it should take a longer length for a person who has phobia to get over it. I mean, look at it this way. If you have stage fright for a very long time in your life, you’re not going to just overcome it overnight by practising non-stop or encouraging and supporting words.

Somehow this series also reminds me closely of Kimi Ni Todoke, especially the main characters. For instance, Yuushin is very much like Kazehaya. He is cool, cheerful, smiling, easily makes friends and is popular with lots of people. It may be premature but just like in Kimi Ni Todoke, Yuushin takes an interest in the new girl, just like how Kazehaya did for Sawako. Hiyori may not be like Sawako in the sense she doesn’t look like some ghost from a famous horror movie (in fact, she is totally cute and moe), it is her inability to make friends at first though it is what she desired very much deep down. I’m sure she has the self-confidence to move forward now. If you’re wishing for any chemistry, then that’ll be another story. Since Hiyori already mentioned her feelings at the end, it’s not hard to see how this is going. But with Yuushin by her side, Hiyori doesn’t mind standing out (no pun intended). Suddenly I have this picture in mind: Due to the height difference, I wonder how they’re going to kiss. He’s got to bend quite a lot or she has to stand on something taller, doesn’t she?

Ayana Taketatsu definitely fits her role as shy Hiyori. But sometimes I can’t feel that she sounded so much like Azusa from K-ON! Which by the way, she was the voice of that character too. Kenichi Suzumura does the voice behind Yuushin (Sougou in Gintama, Chika in Zombie Loan, Yuuya in Super Gals and Junpei in Ichigo 100%). So overcoming one’s shyness maybe all it takes is just the right person and a little nudge. Sometimes much more effective than attending all those motivational courses. Perhaps I should try getting a girlfriend this way too. Tall or short, shy or not, as long as she’s smiling and laughing, I wouldn’t mind.

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