Friendship is by no means an uncommon theme in anime, but few recent anime have done as good a job at portraying a friendships that feel like, well, actual friendship than Konobi.
This post is the third of my entries into 2016’s rendition of the 12 Days of Anime aniblogger project. For more about the project, read appropriant’s introductory post. For a spreadsheet containing the work of all the bloggers participating, go here. For my previous 12 Days posts, go here.
Wanting to be with someone is not not so grand as saving the world; in fact, such a desire is a rather small and common flower. To know someone, to appreciate their immediate presence in your life, and to simply walk through days and weeks and months with them… such is friendship. It is often marked by routine and the comfort of the expected: Being resigned to a repeated joke with a tolerance born of fondness. It is just as often found in small denials of self: Being willing to reach out after a disagreement. Small movements, yes, but important nonetheless.
Konobi does this all. And although Uchimaki and Usami are the charming focal point, the pleasant kindness that girds all their interactions seeps into their friendships with others. Again, the gestures are small. Imari subverts her chunni character just long enough to offer a genuine invention of friendship while Kaori steals Usami’s umbrella to let Usami walk home shielded by the rain with her crush, and the art club paints the bottom of the school pool (with a moe mermaid) together. Even the goofy Collette will happily make small sacrifices for her friendship, or Imari will leverage her chunni persona in earnest to help two friends make up from a small fight. Kindness is wonderfully small.
And it’s all through small yet intentional executions. Of these, I’m most fond of how Konobi diligently frames characters together in the frame, side by side, reacting together, seeing the world with the other, living in companionship. There are a plethora of such moments, choice samples follow:
“Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest.”
—C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
I may have hedged too much. This is a small choice, but it is intensely important to an authentic depiction of friendship. Plenty of other shows show two characters reacting to something in the frame together, but the way Konobi does this makes the sense of community (between two, between three) palpable. And it benefits for the diversity of how it does this. As always, Usami and Uchimaki are the leaders, but the rest of the cast follows without slacking. They are not simply good friends; they are good friends to each other.
The image I have of Konobi‘s version of friendship is that of so many interlocking blocks, the glue between them kindness and the overall structure being the little community its main characters become. The building is a humble one, as are the materials of its construction. But the final product, put together gently in Konobi‘s small ways, is lovely in its delicate, modest grace. After all, the best of friends are the ones who will hold you back when you’re ready to bite the head off of some random boy.