Review/discussion about: Ore Monogatari!!
The afternoon October air is chilly, cold enough to make the use of a jacket mandatory. Despite the temperature, the butterflies refused to cease their fluttering. First, a restaurant dinner. Second, a stroll through the park. Third, a comfy movie. And now fourth, a shopping trip through the city. It is our fourth date, you think to yourself, calm down already! The butterflies do not listen.
You are waiting near the agreed-upon fountain, an easy marker to find among the large crowd of people. You start to scan for her face, jumping while doing so both to get a better view and to heat you up. Finally, you opt to stand on the edge of the fountain, the butterflies making it easier to make that step up. Just as you do so, you see her. A rose among daffodils. She is wearing jeans, a button up coat, and glinting earrings, her long, brown hair resting gracefully on her back.
She is looking around; you hope she is looking for you. When her eyes lock with yours, they gleam brighter than the stones on her ears. She pushes past the crowd as you float down from off the fountain’s edge. When she reaches you, October turns to April, her wonderful smile warming you from within.
“You look…great,” you manage to exhale, her radiance momentarily stealing your breath. Her cheeks grow rosier as she casts her head down. You think you might have said something wrong, but suddenly she lifts her head back up while standing slightly on her toes to kiss you. The kiss does not last long, but the softness and the sweetness calms the butterflies completely. When she pulls away, your smile mirrors her own. You reach for her hand, her and your fingers interlacing instinctively. The feeling within you is something you have never felt before, but you know that, like the girl standing next to you, you never want to let it go.
Love is a beautiful thing, something that everyone deserves to experience. Filled with romance, skip-a-beat situations, and of course love, Ore Monogatari!! delivers this message with all its heart.
Ore Monogatari does not have a plot. That is a half-truth: the plot exists within the first three or so episodes, but after Takeo and Rinko officially start dating, the anime transitions into more or less a slice-of-life show that focuses on love and all that that means.
As Haddaway would ask, “What is love?” Love is a fickle creature that comes and goes, can be found in all shapes and sizes, and has the strange property of being understood by anyone, no matter the culture, location, or upbringing. Love is an emotion, a feeling that resonates with the soul and strains the heart. On its own, love is a purely serene entity. But what surrounds it is hardship, sadness, and turmoil. This is what makes love so sweet: getting past the hard, outer shell and finding that gentle, inner beauty.
Thus Ore Monogatari centers in on this beauty. Looking at every angle of romance is how the anime accomplishes this goal. The show showcases the initial nervousness and anxiety of people who have a crush on one another. Then it demonstrates worry and pain, followed by a period of time where meeting-up becomes infrequent. Afterwards going on dates, caring for the people around them besides just each other, and outside crushes wanting in are more instances of the anime trying – and succeeding – at revealing as many sides to romance as possible. With each passing scenario, the audience learns more about love than previously known, thereby moving the anime that much closer towards its own goal. Ore Monogatari also contains large milestones: overcoming the confession, having that first kiss, and (relative to anime) using the girlfriend’s first name. These bigger moments are interspersed throughout the tale, giving a sort of rising and falling action of the events. That is to say, lesser romance ideas are had, then a greater one, proceeded by lesser romance ideas again, and so on. This kind of progression slowly increases love’s boundaries, but that is how love is. Love is nurtured, a delicate flower that blooms into elegance the more it is cared for.
Caring does not only exist between Takeo and Rinko. Cleverly, the anime involves the rest of the cast in the love-filled festivities, therefore exploring the theme even more. Oda loves Suna’s older sister but is blocked by her feelings for Takeo. Takeo’s afro friend hooks up with one of Rinko’s friends after the two realize that the other person is not always perfect. Ichinose’s confession gives Rinko the opportunity to show the existence of true, everlasting love. The plot takes the time to displace love away from the main couple now and again, and in doing so the anime explores love through a wider lens, thus expounding on its theme of love that much more.
Arguably the best scenario from the entire season also does not directly revolve around Takeo and Rinko. Instead, it is the arc starring Suna and Yukika, the Valentine’s letter girl. This scenario is wonderful for one reason: Suna rejects Yukika. It is a poignant moment but it is so powerful because it rounds out love’s complexity. Someone might love another but that does not automatically mean the love has to be reciprocated. The aftermath, though, does not defeat Yukika. Rather, it invigorates her to try harder, to become someone better than herself. As for Suna, he continues being himself while emphasizing that love is not something to rush into. Collectively, the arc, and especially the direction the arc takes, proves how well the anime explores its theme of love.
Ore Monogatari also, in order to fully explore its theme, targets love that exists between other couplings, meaning not just between two people who have fallen for one another. The biggest example is Takeo and Suna. The former is there to support his friend during trying family times. The latter patiently listens, providing wisdom to his friend when he needs it (and he needs it often). For both, the love they share is that of best friends, the kind of connection that only the best of buds are capable of understanding. Takeo’s mother demonstrates the love for a son and vice versa. Suna and Ai demonstrate the love between siblings, and so on. Thus the anime, combined with its other areas, explores love as completely as it can, clearly demonstrating the show’s total strength.
The anime’s extensive use of love can be viewed metaphorically. The anime is a heart, each ventricle a new arc, each pump a new set of events, and each beat a new feeling. Like any heart, though, defects exist. Most prominent is the repetitiveness. For the comedy, it often relies on the same jokes: Takeo saying “I love her” alongside an imaginative concept, Rinko getting embarrassed when dealing with normal activities, and Suna acting unfazed by much of the stuff that happens around him. For the general proceedings, it often relies on the same direction: Takeo going beyond superhuman to help out his girlfriend, Rinko frequently giving a beaming smile for the audience to imprint on their mind, and Suna always tagging along.
To clarify, the repetitiveness does not affect the events themselves; the theme of love is explored nicely precisely because Ore Monogatari varies up the surrounding situations consistently. Repetitiveness is not automatically a negative, but since the show does not use the repetition in a meaningful manner, it comes off as obtrusive rather than constructive. In a way, though, such repetition is natural: a heart beats and beats and beats. A heart repeatedly goes through its motions, involuntarily and forever. In the realistic case, however, the heart’s repetition is mandatory. In Ore Monogatari’s case, not so much.
Still, this heart is healthy enough to keep going, carrying love to every part of itself without fail.
Ore Monogatari sticks with a “lighter” art style throughout the season. Most of the show takes place during the day with bountiful sunlight. When nighttime is shown, streetlamps, the moon, and other lighting fixtures – such as Christmas lights and at-home bulbs – brighten the area. The purpose: to keep the anime cheerful in atmosphere. After all, love is ultimately a happy and fulfilling emotion, so maintaining a cheery mood coincides with the show’s own goals.
The show is also diverse in the backgrounds it uses. A local zoo, the beach, parts of the city, a nearby mountain trail, their apartments, and an amusement park are all visited, giving the anime a dynamic feel and therefore a feeling of liveliness. Again, these types of feelings are important since they match the theme of love that permeates the show. Alongside the realistic backgrounds are the imaginative ones. These usually happen when one of the gang – especially Takeo – starts to think about something intently – in Takeo’s case, Rinko. They can take on any form, from planets to European landscapes, but they are always quite detailed.
Detailed as well are the character designs, Takeo in particular for his given size. Of course, he is massive, the anime using this feature of his for comedic effect at most points. But his size has two other purposes. One, his size forms a dichotomy with Rinko’s short stature – thinking about love, “opposites attract.” And two, his hugeness represents the size of his heart – he is the very definition of a gentle giant. His huge lips, short hair, and squinty eyes continue to paint him as the lovable dude that he is. Also lovable is Rinko, her large eyes, beaming smile, and natural blushing making her undeniably cute. Better yet, the show constantly switches her design, changing her hair-do and outfit for a myriad of occasions, giving her a varied set of appearances to show off her cuteness. As for Suna, he is known for his extreme handsomeness derived from his extreme plainness. His hair is normal, his eyes are normal, and his face is normal, turning him into a “real” person. And that is the point: Suna, given his role, is the “odd man out” in the sense that Takeo’s overt largeness and Rinko’s overt adorableness are accentuated when the completely plain Suna is nearby. The rest of the cast is similarly detailed in their designs: Takeo’s father with his strangely off-kilter looks, Rinko’s friends with their different getups, and Suna’s sister with her aura of maturity, giving the character designs a higher overall amount of execution.
Execution persists in the actual animation. Facial expressions for Takeo and Rinko morph constantly, hair and limbs move when speaking, and objects shift when used throughout the season. Small effects like glinting stars or contorting lips and more involved scenarios like Takeo jumping out of a burning building or Takeo running down the side of a mountain (the majority of the more animation-intensive segments have Takeo performing some unbelievable feat) keep the anime’s actual animation high despite how much it relies on capturing singular, still-frame moments during the season.
The art elevates itself further with even more features. The show includes visible writing, where a character’s current thoughts pop up next to him or her rather than said out loud in order to understand what he or she is thinking without taking away from the current situation. Comedy-oriented designs, such as minimalist portraits or wacky faces, maintain the show’s fun atmosphere. And the anime’s minute details, such as the defined lines of Takeo’s and the other characters faces and the expert use of shadows, cement Ore Monogatari as an anime whose artistic and animation direction was always given special attention from start to finish.
Ore Monogatari has a sizeable cast but more or less focuses on three characters in particular: Takeo, Rinko, and Suna, or colloquially the brawn, the beauty, and the brains.
As a kid, Takeo grew up surrounded by friends and family, his kindhearted behavior naturally attracting people to him. However he was never popular with girls, mostly because of his size and his often crazy actions. But after protecting Rinko, he (and she) found love, providing him with the relationship he had always wanted. Understandably, then, Takeo is not the best when it comes to love and how to handle it: he sometimes does not speak his mind, he often reads Rinko’s thoughts wrong, and he regularly misunderstands what has happened or what he can do. Still, Takeo never lets his shortcomings deter him. Instead he takes his love for Rinko as fuel to treat her and their relationship with as much respect and care as humanly – in this context, Takeo-ly – possible. So he tries his hardest at a judo match to make his time away from Rinko purposeful, he studies his mind out to go to the same university as his girlfriend, and he supports Rinko at her new job to boost her confidence in her own skills. Takeo is a man that always has others – especially Rinko – in his thoughts, with his actions, his monologues, and his disposition always demonstrating his never-ending love.
Rinko is similar in the sense that she deeply loves Takeo. Rinko makes him desserts nearly daily, she declares her feelings as clear as day, and she is always doing her best to push her and Takeo’s relationship forward. This last point is important: knowing that Takeo is the ignorant one when it comes to love, it falls on Rinko to take the initiative, which she does in stunning fashion. Rinko tries to make Takeo’s heart “skip a beat” at the beach, she rests on his chest to snuggle with him, and she leans in first for that first kiss. Rinko, not Takeo, leads the relationship where it needs to go. This stems from her “non-pure” motives, an early spot of conflict for her character. Initially she believed that her wanting to hold hands or hold Takeo was a turn off to him due to his constant praising of her innocent nature. But such desires are perfectly fine for anyone, especially when said person is in love. So for Rinko, her more instinctual feelings are not a detriment but rather a boon that makes her relationship with Takeo slowly but surely evolve beyond what it has already become.
The advancement of their relationship is necessary considering that their relationship is technically the main focus of the anime. Watching as Takeo and Rinko fall for one another, care for one another, and of course love one another is what allows their individual characters to blossom. And like their character designs, “opposites attract,” meaning the kind of give and take they share is opposite to how they are perceived as being. For example, Takeo is huge but treats Rinko like a delicate flower when he refrains from ogling her body in a swimsuit. Rinko, likewise, is tiny but is not afraid to make moves that are bigger than herself when she kisses Takeo on the cheek when he is sleeping soundly. While they, at times, act differently towards each other than they do to the people around them, there is one area where they agree wholeheartedly: trust. Takeo trusts Rinko and Rinko trusts Takeo. Saijou might confess her feelings towards her “Master” and Ichinose might confess his feelings towards his “muse,” but both Takeo and Rinko know that they will never lose sight of the love they mutually have for one another.
However, Takeo and Rinko’s relationship cannot survive on its own; indeed, their relationship would never have come to fruition without the aid of a particular male. Perhaps obviously, this person is none other than Suna. Arguably the strongest character of Ore Monogatari, Suna is their rock. Suna is not so much a third wheel as he is the spokes that support the lovebirds. When Takeo needs help planning a date or needs to express himself using emoticons, Suna is the first person he goes to. When Rinko needs advice on how to get closer to Takeo or needs ideas on what cake to make for Takeo’s birthday, Suna is the first person she goes to. Suna is always there for them, ready with wisdom to set them (and anyone, really) down the path of success. That is to say, as a person he is not just respectful but immeasurably kind.
Kindness alone, though, does not make a character strong. Unlike Takeo, Rinko, and many other members of the cast, he does not have those feelings of love. In fact, it is the opposite: despite how many women have approached him, he has never returned their feelings. Like Rinko’s base desires, this is normal. Suna’s decision to not have a lover is the anime yet again exploring its theme of love, but more profound than this is what this means for his character. Suna does not have a partner to share his time with, so the relationships he has with both Takeo and Rinko mean the world to him. Suna does not help them out because he is obligated; he helps them out because he values them and the bond they share. He is thankful that Takeo makes him laugh when Takeo simply acts like himself. He is thankful to Rinko for showing him sides of his best friend that he has never seen before. Thus he repays their own kindness with kindness of his own, to prove that they are the people in his life he loves deeply.
This is not to say that Suna does not have personal troubles of his own. Early in the season, Suna’s father has health issues that force him into the hospital, thereby affecting Suna immensely. Later in the season, Suna has a potential love interest that could be the correct match for him. Therefore Takeo and Rinko, respective to these situations, support Suna, helping him to overcome the struggles he faces both within and without. Thus Suna is not the only one supporting; Takeo and Rinko in turn support him. Collectively, the three of them love each other in a way that is appropriate for the bonds they share, their overall relationship highlighting the beauty of love. To put it differently: uniquely and cleverly, Takeo, Rinko, and Suna are not a typical love triangle.
The opening theme for Ore Monogatari is a treat for the ears. The range of the vocalist, the strange sound effects in the background, and the dropping beat make the arrangement playful, energetic, and fun. Alongside the beginning piano, the intermittent choir, and the concluding guitar, the entire piece is filled with love both in the sound it oozes and in the feeling it exudes, making it a perfect fit for the anime itself.
The ending theme, opposing its OP counterpart, slows everything down, both in beat and in tone. The piece embraces simplicity, guitar, drums, and a singer making up the majority of the track. However, this piece is arguably filled with more heart; the build-up, the lyrics, and the instruments initially generate a distinct feeling of longing that, at just the right moment, gives way to elation. Metaphorically, the piece feels as if someone has gone a long time searching for love, finding out that it was closer to him than he had ever thought possible, making the ED another perfect outing.
The rest of the soundtrack consists of both serene and poignant pieces that touch the heart and move the soul. “Fond Memories” is a slow and heavy piano that really does instill a sense of nostalgia for those reflecting moments in the show. “Ore no Tatakai,” with its violins and trumpets, pumps one’s adrenaline for those intense scenes. “Story of Mind ~ Little Love” is a beautiful, and indeed tiny, piece that is filled to the brim with happiness and joy to match those likewise joyous occasions. “You made my day” has flutes and a choir that make it feel as if heaven itself has descended, making the heartfelt times that much heartier. And “Scenery” has a particular gentleness that soothes the mind upon every listen.
Besides these dramatic pieces, the anime can get less serious and more comical with others, such as “Bajitoufuu” with its drawling beat or “Haru no Kaze” with its dual guitars upping the mood considerably. Or the show can give that slice-of-life feel that the anime has with tracks like “Hot Hitoiki” that combine a piano with guitars to create quite the relaxing melody. But no matter the track, the OST consistently brings about amazing tunes that improve the anime and are more than worthy of a listen outside of it.
As for the voice acting, the performances given are above average, demonstrating once again the high amount of execution Ore Monogatari holds. Takuya Eguchi as Takeo provides stunning voice work, achieving a voice for the overly burly man that is simultaneously gruff, strong, and caring. Megumi Han as Rinko gives cuteness in droves when she speaks, but it is her girly screams that solidify her place as the adorable Rinko. And Nobunaga Shimazaki as Suna brings calmness but also genuine laughter when appropriate.
The romance connoisseur that I am, this anime was right up my alley from the get-go. Watching as Takeo and Rinko fell in love, all of the smiles and laughs that they shared, and the wonderful milestones they reached as a couple made me so happy to see. The blushing, the hand holding, the genuine emotions; the more their relationship grew, the more ecstatic I became, and since their relationship progressed at a nominal pace, so did the romance and therefore my happiness.
Despite the repetition being a negative, I was still happy to hear Taeko say “I love you” every single time because I knew that it was either proceeded or followed by Rinko giving the most sincere smile any person ever could, which in turn made me smile even more. This leads into Rinko’s overall adorableness. No matter what she said or what she did, she always managed to make me giggle like a little school girl. Whether she moved behind a nearby pillar at light speed when Takeo turned to look at her or she was stifling her ghosts to stop them from waking her boyfriend, Rinko made the show into the cute powerhouse that it ended up being.
The show also nailed its comedy. Situations like Ai getting angry towards Oda, the doctor getting spun around so much he puked (twice), and Saijou crying her eyes out on a bench were hilarious to see unfold. Furthermore, Rinko once again does wonders, such as when she is accurate yet misleading in her description of her nighttime escapade with Takeo or when she could barely contain her excitement while holding Takeo’s new baby sister. Takeo as well, with his overreactions when seeing Rinko in her bathing suit or practicing his kissing technique with Suna. Suna, too, which is surprising given his lax behavior, but it is precisely because he more or less goes with the flow that made many of his moments so hilarious. Suna nonchalantly reacting to the stuff around him or him remembering that kissing session made him funny in his own way. From the romance to the cuteness to the comedy, the anime was a fully entertaining experience from start to finish.
Ore Monogatari!! has one idea in mind: love. Its narrative focuses on this theme, its characters share this feeling between each other, and its art and its music are steeped in love, too. From top to bottom, left to right, and forward to back, love permeates throughout the anime, coming in all shapes and sizes. Love is definitely something everyone needs to experience, but until the real thing appears on a chilly October afternoon, this one will more than make do.
Story: Good, exploration of love is thorough, repetition at times lessening the experience
Animation: Great, wonderful art, from the backgrounds to the character designs to the minute details, sits alongside above average actual animation
Characters: Good, Takeo’s gentleness, Rinko’s boldness, and Suna’s kindness exemplify love, both on its own and between each other
Sound: Great, great OP, great ED, very nice OST, above average VA performances
Enjoyment: Great, romance galore, combined with so much adorableness and laughs, created a ride that never stopped being fun
Final Score: 9/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3