Is this the week I finally get on the same page as Ore Monogatari!!?? After a couple of weeks of being kind of on-again-off-again with the show, everything clicked this week—and did so in a way that actually felt like my expectations and what the show’s goals were actually lined up for the first time in a long time. And, you know what? I kind of liked that. Oh, and the cute stuff. I liked that, too. Like THIS.
The revelation I had this week, at its core, basically was the simple understanding that Ore Monogatari!! is just playing around. More than anything, Ore Monogatari!! understands the silly giddiness that hovers around a first relationship (especially for a couple of high schoolers) and has kind of taken that euphoric dorkiness and adopted it as its own defining tone. The watershed moment in this week’s episode, the one that finally connected me with the show, was watching Takeo run down a vertical cliff for a few moments before crashing into the forest along with Yamato. Now, discussions of how (once again) the world of Ore Monogatari!! has proven to be some kind of horrifying disaster-ridden post-apocalyptic hawk-infested wasteland hidden beneath a charming veneer of shoujo sparkles, the very cartoony image of Takeo’s great physical aptitude being used for such an absurd moment seemed to finally cut away the illusion of actual danger from the situation and just let the moment be about Takeo being awesome and cool.
Which he totally is! I mean, Takeo even cares about nature—what a great guy! And while, yes, I’m poking a bit of fun here, that image is actually kind of a nice summation of what makes Takeo such a charming character. He’s a simple guy, with a huge capacity to love and appreciate and generally be good to the people and things around him. You could perhaps sum it up as saying that Takeo has a great ability to desire the good of others.
And that’s a pretty fantastic quality to have as a person, even if (left unmoderated) it leads to the self-destructive mentalities or tendencies we’ve occasionally seen manifested or hinted at in Takeo’s character. But this episode is just full of the good side of those traits, and you can’t blame Yamato at all for being absolutely smitten with a guy who will do everything he can to keep her safe and make an unfortunate situation the best he can.
I mean, being totally absolutely completely in deep deep puppy love is one kind of relevant factor potentially affecting Yamato’s response to this all. Maybe. But it was nice to see her assert her independence and identity a couple times in this episode: “I’m stronger than I look!” and “You always ask me if I’m alright, but I am.” These are pretty important moments, I think, because the keep Yamato’s character from swerving entirely into faceless, adorable infatuated moeblob territory. Which, at least for my interest in the show, is pretty important. I do still wish these hints were something the show would actually follow up on, but I can deal with them as they are, even if they feel a bit like cheap teases to me on occasion.
Because genuine Yamato is so good! I can’t really figure out if it’s that she’s still wearing a pretty serious mask or if the show’s just not allowing her to become a deeper character, but Yamato without all the cutesy trappings suddenly becomes a raw and interesting character in her own right. In this sense, she’s kind of like Asuka from Sound! Euphonium, except that Asuka’s persona is so obviously a constructed identity in the context of her show that you can’t mistake it for the real thing. Because Ore Monogatari!! is so light-hearted and silly, it’s tough to parse out if the moeblob Yamato is the real Yamato of the show, or if there’s actually more to her. I hope there is! I think she has a lot of potential, should Ore Monogatari!! choose to go that way.
But, when it doesn’t, it instead does the cute couple bit better than most other shows do cute, period. One thing that’s always been impressive with Ore Monogatari!! is the wealth of creative expressions of emotion via visuals. It actually reminds me of a mot I made way back in the day for Crunchyroll’s AMP thread (and for a $5 pledge on Patreon, one of these concentrated burst of comedic genius could be yours, too!), but I really appreciate that Ore Monogatari!! doesn’t get bogged down in the same formula for showing how Takeo reacts to Yamato—it instead continues to take risks and go for sillier, more unique images to express the heart-bursting giddiness of young love’s explosive effect on your heart.
Yes, I realize one of those is Yamato’s fantasy. Girls are allowed to imagine silly things, too, you know!
Anyways, to close, I wanted to once again touch upon the theme of miscommunication (or just communication struggles in general) that crops up again in a pretty benevolent way at the end of the episode. Innocuous sex jokes with Yamato’s friends aside (I’ll admit I giggled quite a lot), Takeo’s final interaction with Suna was characteristic of the way Takeo finds it difficult to express his feelings for Yamato (remember what I said last week about how he only thinks his constant refrain of “I love you”?). Flailing about trying to respond to Yamato in a way that really communicates what he feels, Takeo begs a now-awake Suna (poor guy) to teach him about emojis so he can effectively transmit his emotions via text. But Suna, with his now trademark wisdom, tells Takeo, “I don’t think emoticons will help you there.” In the end, I think Ore Monogatari!! is saying, it’s the authenticity that matters the most. The words will come when they come.
(Also, cheers for this wonderfully understated moment, which was my favorite of the episode.)