From what I can gather, the comedy slice-of-high-school-life anime Kimi to Boku (“You and I”) generates few neutral responses. I can understand that as I have yet to find an anime series that suits everyone. Some find the plot of Kimi to Boku too slow, or too frustrating, or too rife with (shall I say) “undercurrents.” Yet I went into the first season with low expectations, only to find this show both surprising and heartwarming.
And when a second season was announced, I looked forward as only a true fan could to more hilarity and antics involving the overly serious yet somehow kindhearted Asaba twins Yuuta and Yuuki, the longsuffering Matsuoka Shun (who, once I got to know him, I thought unjustly accused of being effeminate, even if he did somehow find himself wearing girls’ clothes on occasion), the enthusiastic if none-too-bright Tachibana Chizuru, and Tsukahara Kaname, whose picture you will likely find in your dictionary under the heading “tsundere boy.” Maybe there was something about the four high school boys who had known each other since kindergarten, and who expanded their group to include Chizuru as a fifth member when he transferred to their school, that reminded me of myself at that age, or of other boys I’d known. Either way, I bought into this charming show immediately.
And then. (Don’t you just hate when that happens?)
Episode 8 of the second season of Kimi to Boku focuses on Matsuoka Fuyuki, Shun’s younger brother by one year. When Shun found out that Fuyuki had already kissed his girlfriend Mamiya, it so unsettled him that he had to call his four friends over. Completely unconcerned about such behavior in an evidently lovesick and clumsy but otherwise utterly normal 16-year-old boy, the other four agree to follow Fuyuki on his outing only out of a larger concern for Shun.
As Shun, Kaname, Chizuru, and the Asaba twins stealthily follow Fuyuki and Mamiya across town and to the karaoke parlor, Shun worries aloud that he has fallen short of his duties as Fuyuki’s big brother by not being able to advise him on relations with the opposite sex. But as the audience, I think we can see enough into Shun’s mind to discern that something else besides concern for his kid brother is at work. He is upset that his younger brother already has more experience with girls than he does. In short, Shun envies Fuyuki.
Now envy is generally described as sadness at another person’s good fortune. And as C. S. Lewis points out, envy is the only one of the “seven deadly sins” that has no payoff whatsoever. Envy is pure misery. (I wish I could say I knew nothing of that misery, but that is a different conversation.) No wonder King Solomon pointed out that envy rots the bones.
Unbeknownst to Fuyuki and Mamiya, Shun’s four friends are trying their best to keep him occupied by singing karaoke in the adjacent booth. It almost works, until they all realize that they can no longer hear any singing next door. It is probably a good thing for Shun’s sake that he never finds out that, as a birthday present and on a whim, Mamiya has let Fuyuki touch her chest. (Well, at least Fuyuki asked first!) The incident ends awkwardly and poorly, as most such incidents with 16-year-olds do, with Mamiya rushing to the bathroom in tears.
Whether it is Shun’s envy of his younger brother that predominates, or what he supposed to be righteous indignation at events the likes of which he could only guess, is hard to say. But his four friends have to drag Shun bodily out of Fuyuki’s and Mamiya’s booth before he causes too much of a scene by yelling at Fuyuki, who is already feeling plenty bad about the situation. And yet, there is forgiveness and grace. After having left the karaoke parlor, Mamiya manages through small talk to get the point across to Fuyuki that perhaps youthful awkwardness and indiscretions are not the worst things in the world. Hand in hand, Fuyuki walks Mamiya home.
Will it turn out as well for Shun? Will he be able to forgive Fuyuki, to say nothing of forgiving himself? Most of all, will Shun be able to be honest with himself about his own fears and insecurities?
As of now, we don’t yet know. But given the supportive friends with which Shun has surrounded himself, I think we have good reason to hope. After all, most of us know what it’s like.
At least, those of us who have been 17 before.