There’s Something Refreshing about Kimi ni Todoke

kimi ni todoke 02 kazehaya sawako by the river after school

By the second episode, I noticed something interesting. As dark and bleak Sawako’s appearance seems, it is the only dark and bleak thing in the show. Her emotional reactions and responses are filled with sparkles and flowers. The only thing that keeps her ‘dark’ is the hype that surrounds her.

Everything else in the show so far is dazzlingly bright and colorful. It’s really beautiful to look at, to the point of distraction. The story here is rather small and unambitious — these are not bad things in themselves. What makes the show engaging to watch for me is how this world of high school love seems nostalgically ideal.

kimi ni todoke 02 sunlight through the trees

I wonder if there’s some dreadful twist that happens along the way. I can’t help but feel that I’m being led to a slaughterhouse because everything seems to go so well. Nothing too fast, nothing too dramatic. It’s interesting to consider, but mostly due to how I anticipate this turn will contrast with the visual landscape of the show; or how the visual landscape will change to accommodate such a twist.

But for now, I can’t imagine anything else but the slow days of growing love and self-discovery that plays out in this little show. Episode two gave us sunbeams through the trees, rain, and the colors of dusk on a wet landscape. The after school sun gives the world orange hues. Why worry about grades and the future now? It’s kind of the time for love.

But here are some images from the second episode. I find them breathtaking.

kimi ni todoke 02 kazahaya sawako bathed in sunbeams through foliagekimi ni todoke 02 suburban landscape riverkimi ni todoke 02 kazehaya sawako on the bridge rain puddles

These are the kind of scenes that could have elevated the viewing experience of something like Hatsukoi Limited, considering that show was a series of accounts of first loves. Kimi ni Todoke is shaping up to be something similar.

It makes me want to look back at high school and the long walks home. I’m very fortunate to have lived in the kind of suburbs that had lots of trees and manicured gardens in large houses; as well as parks with a creek that ran through it and the tall trees filtering the sunlight into pretty beams creating bright spots of color on the ground among the fallen leaves blown about by the afternoon breeze leading into dusk.

You never really learn to appreciate those things until you’re much older do you? But I swear there must’ve been at least one or two days when I can pull myself free from concerns of school, and awkward teenage romance and just enjoy the walk for what it is.

I wouldn’t mind having one of those days back.

kimi ni todoke 02 kazehaya sawako after school under the trees

A Personal Note

I used to live in a place called Alabang, where my parents and brothers still stay. It’s a bit more crowded now since high school, but to me it’s always been beautiful and is one of my most favorite places ever. After all, it’s home for me too.

ayala alabang village narra park acacia tree 2007ayala alabang village narra park pond 2007ayala alabang village narra park bridge 2007This particular bridge is home to many memories. I want to go back soon, I don’t think I’ve visited for years.

I’m almost absolutely certain that this show was never meant for me (in a target audience kind of way). Nonetheless I take from it a kind of nostalgia that isn’t for old shows but rather for a time in my life that’s nice to visit every now and then.

Further Reading

Here’s an old post about the village I lived in. [->]

I had a shitty camera for that previous post but Betty did better in this one [->]

I’m not a big fan of Hatsukoi Limited, but I won’t say that it doesn’t have its charms [->]

Kimi ni Todoke episode 02 review (Chris K 2009/10/14)

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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67 Responses to There’s Something Refreshing about Kimi ni Todoke

  1. Rakuen says:

    Okay, now I wanna watch the show. High school love must be what I failed and lacked at. I guess that’s the reason why I never started the series, and why I never checked out Hatsukoi Limited.

    • You don’t have to have a ‘successful’ high school love affair to appreciate something like this. In my case… LOL HS was a long, embarrassing period of fail. But, but I had days when I thought I had my chances, and those days spent walking under trees like these thinking about what could be were quite nice, is all.

  2. Ryan A says:

    Nostalgic, yes.

    You never really learn to appreciate those things until you’re much older do you?
    Of course, this is a truth of the world ^^.

    The series is something special imo. And Production IG’s visuals are really great. I have a post put together, but need to find time to finish :/

  3. Kiri says:

    Hm. I have no such nostalgic memories of high school, partially because there was no walking or pretty suburbs involved and partially because there were no idealistic romance. Kimi ni Todoke is gorgeous and the characters are charming (though Sawako’s voice borders on way, way, way too moe for me), but I’m struck by how stereotypically shoujo it is in its style, mood, form, story, and pacing. It feels tired and predictable, and I’m waiting for something to be specific and interesting — it doesn’t necessarily need to break any shoujo traditions, indeed, those are traditions that have proven effective over the course of many series — I just need something to set this apart.

    • There wasn’t an ideal romance for me, only dashed hopes LOL. But a big part of the nostalgia is looking back upon those hopeful days, which in my case, too were spent walking around pretty suburbs.

      I’ve been a fan of Mamiko Noto since her yamato nadeshio turn as Yakumo in School Rumble, then her gritty performance as Nina Fortner in Monster. I haven’t been a long-time shoujo fan to be as tired and perhaps jaded as you are hence how this still feels fresh to me.

      • Kiri says:

        lol, I don’t consider myself a long-time shoujo fan by any definition; there are relatively few shoujo series I can say I’ve seen/read in their entirety, but the shoujo stereotype and formula seems clearer to me than other genres (and I think this is actually due to my lack of familiarity with it), so I might be quicker to judge it against what I typically expect, and so far, it’s been pretty much what I’d expect.

  4. bluemist says:

    This is such a feel-good show, all warm and fuzzy feelings. Not only because of the backgrounds, but because Sawako herself is a genuinely angelic human being. She’s just made up of 100% goodness.

    Having epic production value can make many anime great. Aside from Hatsukoi Limited, imagine if this quality were given to Aria, considering that one was already awesome.

    • Your comment re ARIA kind of made me think and kind of pissed me off… how I wish ARIA could’ve gotten this kind of production values. I want a remake, changing nothing except the drawings and animation. If that were showing I don’t think I’d even give this show a second look.

  5. Chris K. says:

    Yes, anime like Kimi ni Todoke, Clannad, Aoi Hana, and many other shows featuring high school romances do make me feel nostalgic. But, that feeling of nostalgia has only really started to develop as I have gotten older.

    When I was in high school I thought it sucked and couldn’t wait to move on to adulthood, so now that I’ve gotten older I now realise how good I had it back then. Thinking back, high school was a really great time, no work, hanging with friends, riding the roller coaster of teen hormones where every new crush/love was the most important thing in the world at that moment.

    But, I also realise that the nostalgia generated by high school romance anime is an idealised form of nostalgia that never really existed in my real would high school experience. While anime gets the wild emotional swings of teen romance/love right, it’s not grounded in reality. In anime, couples sometimes wait of years to confess their love for each other, and maybe share a kiss near graduation. As for sex, other than in anime like Kare Kano, High School Girls, and a few select others, sex doesn’t exist other than in a notional basis, IE nosebleeds, pantyshots, and eternal yearning. But, in my IRL high school memories sex always was the 800lb gorilla in any of my BF/GF relationships, and I can’t possibly see that real world Japanese high school dating/romance scene is really reflected in anime.

    • But, I also realise that the nostalgia generated by high school romance anime is an idealised form of nostalgia that never really existed in my real would high school experience.

      It’s this that I’m nostalgic about, not the reality itself. Back before our first heartbreaks we kind of imagine love to happen like this. Then either the daggers come or the 800lb gorilla emerges from the bush, and it’s not so innocent anymore is it?

      But maybe for a summer, it was. It only becomes unrealistic if the shows insist on this over a long period of time (i.e. throughout high school). That said, there are still schools and perhaps certain communities or circles (at least in the Philippines) where people are very conservative.

      In the Catholic Girls Schools here the nuns are very strict with the students, only to see a whole bunch of them get knocked up within months after graduation. Every year I tell you. Every year.

  6. rauc6788 says:

    This show makes me thankful for the places I grew up in. And makes me thankful for where I currently am.

  7. usagijen says:

    Refreshing, definitely, SawayaKYAAAA~! as I’d call it xD

    I do find it amazing how Sawako ended up the way she is, despite the environment she grew up in (assuming she lived all her days with people shunning her existence or what). That’s a feel-good show for you, though I also like it that way. FEELS SO GOOD 😛

    I’m really really glad Production I.G. is working on Kimi ni Todoke, so much love, <3333

    Oh, and if anything else, this show reminds me of just how bleak and dull (dark?) my high school life is. So much for not being able to step out of my shell early on. No Kazehaya for the Sawako that I was that time, unfortunately TT__TT

    • It’s quite jarring to compare this show with something as genuinely dark as Onani Master Kurosawa, but it’s too soon to dismiss this comparison so early in the show. After all both works go for cheap references early on: Kurosawa = Light, Sawako = Sadako. Only time will tell if Kimi ni Todoke brings in something heavier.

      I don’t think that it’s important that it actually tries to level with reality. I’m fine with it remaining a fantasy for introverts the way OMK isn’t (though it is one too, perhaps for different reasons).

      High School was a very mixed bag for me. I was outgoing and withdrawn at the same time. I felt like that I was both too big for the world I moved in, and at the same time completely pwned by it.

  8. Yi says:

    I love this series too. It really is kind of refreshing. For me, it’s nostalgic in a different way in that it reminds me of my high school days and friends.

    • I was saying to Chris above that there are still contexts wherein things like we see in this show (the relationships between classmates, friends, and crushes) aren’t as fantastic/divorced from reality as it seems. And I certainly saw it for a time, and I’m glad to see that it’s kind of the same for you.

  9. Ningyo says:

    Wao, that is a stunning display of background. if only some other series could try as hard…

    And Alabang does look lovely.
    At some point, traveling the world and witnessing marvels of landscape and architecture was an off fantasy of mine. one of those ‘I’ll do it when I become rich’ sort of things.
    Perhaps it still is, only pushed somewhere to the back of my mind as life became more real to me over the years.

    • While effort could be an issue, budget and time constraints could be bigger factors than we are willing to acknowledge. When writing blog posts and comments, grammar and spelling may be usually ascribed to as effort and language competence issues. However, there simply may be a lot of things to do and little time and resources to do it.

      Putting in the extra time (which can also consist of material expenses), may provide diminishing returns in some cases in the production of blog posts and comments. I know I wouldn’t be as prolific as I am if I insisted on an anal perfectionism in blogpost construction.

      Perhaps a show like Aria wouldn’t even have been made if its creators demanded the kind of budget that will make the show as gorgeous as this one. It would’ve been our loss too, imo. If there’s a demand for a remake, the money can be there to prettify things. See Neon Genesis Evangelion: You Are (Not) Alone.

  10. aoineko says:

    I’m glad to see someone else likes this anime besides me. It’s one that seems to stand out, which may not be hard to do this Fall. But I think the visuals and even the sweet storyline (which I agree feels like it will fall apart at some point in that twisted way that some do) do pull this up and make it noticeable.

    I also hope that Mamiko Noto will whisper a little less as Sawako as she comes out of her shell. She’s a terrific voice actress.

    Very nice review with that personal touch. Thank you for sharing!

    • Come back the day after tomorrow for my post on Aoi Bungaku. The first episode impressed me a LOT. Also check out Letter Bee [->]

      Thanks for the kind words. I don’t write reviews though; think of these more as speculative or reflective essays. Make yourself at home here, maybe you’ll like it ^_^

  11. Shinmaru says:

    There is so much pretty in Kimi ni Todoke. Makes me wish I lived somewhere nice looking instead where I actually live, which is generic as all hell, haha.

    One aspect of the series that has really stood out to me so far is how serious Sawako is, but in a cheerful way. She takes every compliment and act of kindness to heart, and it is pretty damn charming.

    • You caught on something important I think. I’m trying to imagine a person to be as serious as her — someone who takes everything to heart and makes it mean something… I can’t help but think she’d be annoying as hell.

      However, Sawako may do these things… but she doesn’t mope. Upon a certain realization is an almost immediate resolve to do something positive about things. She lives in the realm of action rather than angst, and this is a big part of her charm, I believe.

  12. schneider says:

    I recognized the pics in a heartbeat. ❤ that bridge ❤ ❤ ❤

    Sawako should tie up her hair Ogi-style more frequently.

    Also, this show is about the high school life we all never had.

    • Yeah that bridge; of course you’d recognize it because what Bene student wouldn’t venture into Alabang every now and then just to walk, look at the pretty houses and gardens and just be.

      Yeah, this the high school life that we sort of wanted when we started high school.

  13. gaguri says:

    It’s really nice to see those pics posted, I can see what you’re trying to say just by looking at those pretty landscapes (and as you know I’m quite a fan of animators actually caring about how they draw backgrounds…^_^b)

    I recently started Toradora (mostly because Taiga won both Saimoe and Korea moe tournys) so I probably won’t be watching yet another high school romance, but who knows, maybe it’ll turn out gold and everyone will rave about it…for me to watch it months after it finishes airing.


    • Thanks. I now wish I took more pictures. Maybe when I visit my mom in a few weeks I’ll go around taking photos. Then I’ll try to locate ‘spots’ wherein I think characters from high school romance shows I like would have specific conversations in and that the setting would have the best dramatic or comedic effect.

      Guh. What am I doing in my old age?

      I think you’ll like Toradora!. I enjoyed it a good deal despite not having a particular inclination to.

  14. hazy says:

    KnT ❤ I found it easy to watch and easy to love. I'm loving everything about it. The characters are being developed quite well and quite realistically. I love the LOL moments coupled with epiphanies, some self-discovery, and the innocence of first love. I do hope nothing seriously goes wrong somewhere in its ongoing storyline, coz that would most probably break my heart.

    Although, I think I read in the manga that Shina-sensei is quite a fan of Nakahara Aya (who wrote Lovely Complex, which ended pretty well. That series was fun too! You might wanna check it out if you ever feel like watching another romantic comedy shoujo ^^). So far, this is something that keeps me thinking that even though trials and tribulations may come to Sawako x Kazehaya, they'd be able to overcome it and emerge with an even stronger bond between them (and their friends as well), and I'm wishing, hoping and rooting for a happy KnT ending somewhere down the road~ ^_^

    • If this show does nothing but show how these characters overcome what seem to be trivial obstacles compared to shows like Toradora! and manga like Kare Kano it will be just fine. I can appreciate a work that aims to do just that and be beautiful while doing so.

  15. 2DT says:

    I think this show might very much be aimed at people like you. Even though this is ostensibly a shoujo program, isn’t it still playing at that godawful “otaku time” between midnight and 3 a.m.? Sad as it is, I don’t think teenage girls actually watch this stuff.

    Of course, you’re not a 40-something shut-in with no love and no future prospects. But you’re old enough to want to go back and appreciate what you had.

    • This is perplexing.

      Why would they adapt a shoujo manga and only broadcast it at that time slot? It just doesn’t make sense to me, unless there’s extensive data showing that the 40-something shut-ins bought the manga volumes in droves.

      That, or the producers lost a scheduling battle with the networks… a concession for forcing another show into a key timeslot.

      But I may just be missing something.

      • maAkusutipen says:

        Wow. Thanks for the info 2dt.

        Well Kimi ni Todoke is an old manga already. So maybe the lag of it being made into an anime is one major point.

        Well, japan is really having a new perspective on viewer demographics. from what I have read and what my culture teachers were saying, Japan’s social landscape has changed so much since the after war baby boom in such a short time. I think networks are just slow to adapt. Well this is rather positive I think. Some trendy doramas that you would have never thought of being actually allowed given the set of values Japan had in the past are being aired now .

        Well to put Kimi no Todoke’s timeslot into perspective, look at the first choices for the noitamina slot for Fuji TV. We had Honey and Clover and Nodame for some choices right. And they were strongly for the shoujo demographic (if we stick with what magazine they were serialized in). Noitamina slot were intended for the adults who would like to watch anime. right? and its around midnight as well I think.

  16. gloval says:

    Got to watching up to this 2nd episode. KnT easily makes me smile because I’m just a sentimental guy. Then there’s that reference to The Ring. I’ve seen all three movies. For a horror movie, there are lots of happy memories I link to it (and no, it’s not because my date clung to me throughout the film–sadly no such date ever happened in my life).

    If you’ve watched Ring 0, you’d know that Sadako is actually nice and pretty girl whose life had a bad start and it just got worse to the point beyond repair. Hopefully it’s not the same with Sawako.

    (Since the ED mentioned paper airplanes, I got major lulz imagining Alto instead of Sawako in it.)

    • Indeed I’ve seen Ring 0.

      There was actually a class play at Mihoshi wherein Michel Blanc played Kazehaya and Alto played Sawako. It was a huge hit and was a precondition for Alto to be accepted to Michel’s aerial acrobatics business.

      I think it worked out for both of them ^_^

  17. maAkusutipen says:

    To be honest I got bored with reading the scanlations of Kimi no Todoke. However, I tried to read a chapter in Japanese, I was enthralled by the sheer honesty of the story. Well I stopped because all the kana is hurting my head. Hehehe (In my personal experience, something gets lost when translated! I really notice this as I am watching shows with subs. When the subs do not really quite capture what the Japanese audio is trying to convey, I go into a fit! But well, I still need the crutches though.)

    But I agree that it is a refreshing story. And compounded by the fact that the production is done by Production I.g, I believe this rendition of the story will really be a gem.

    So you are intent on blogging kimi ni todoke and letter bee for this fall season?

    (I know this next section should be in anohter post but you could delete everything if you feel this is so out of place. )
    If you still have some free anime viewing time and would want something like kimi no todoke, I suggest a classic! Touch by Adachi Mitsuru.

    Here is my more qualified otaku friend discussing the wonders of Touch

    If touch is rather long for your tastes, I would suggest another mini series,

    Eve no Jikan.

    I think you would like that.

    • Touch still intimidates me at present… and I’ve put EnJ on hold but I will start watching it again sooner than later. I won’t be blogging KnT regularly, though I will persist with Letter Bee.

      I am intent on blogging Aoi Bungaku. I have this huge post on it in a few hours… and I can only hope that the subs for it keep coming along regularly. It’s a beast.

  18. Gorilla says:

    The thing bothering me about kimi ni todoke is that everyone in this show is so good and pure. Of course I would be rather annoyed if the characters were over the top and weeping and crying all the time but I wonder how Sawako is so kindhearted, despite being rejected by everybody. The main characters are rather plain and at this point in the show I can’t see what could possibly happen except for Kazehaya trying to get his feeling across to Sawako and her not realising because of her thickheadness. I ‘ld like something more to make this more interesting.

    The art is beautiful and it’s the main reason I will keep following it. This and that in fact it is a decent show.

    • Episode three hints at something underhanded.

      The thing is, ‘good and pure’ just isn’t true. If that were the case then Sawako wouldn’t be treated like some freak. Only up until Kazehaya started paying attention to her that people are starting to give her a break. And now we’re about to see the cost of all that attention coming from the resident heartthrob.

  19. Gorilla says:

    What I meant was that Kazehaya and Sawako are good and pure. I just can’t see how Sawako sees the good side of things, despite beeing constantly treated like this.

    • She can be truly oblivious… this is what seems to be the case. But she could also be either willfully ignorant (i.e. in denial) so as to protect say, her intention to like and be like people (which doesn’t make a lot of sense if people are despicable), or has a crippled perception due to some awful event in her past.

      We’re just getting to know her, but this is shoujo. Manga and anime characters have character behaviors written into absurd extremes and played for both comedic and dramatic value. In shounen we see Son Goku. Goddamnit what a goody two shoes.

      The thing to look out for, is how these rather absurd characters provide an excellent backdrop by which very realistic things can be shown in high contrast. It’s quite clever. Ryan A mentioned in his own post how this show can make something as small as rearranging tables and chairs be so rich with significance and dramatic value. And it’s something that isn’t necessarily far out and made of fantasy.

      • animewriter says:

        I think that Sawako’s not in denial about other peoples’ behavior towards her but I go more for “the self-defense” line of thought, because if Sawako really let how other people treat her become her reality than life would really suck. Sawako would have to give up the hope that when people get to know her better she can have friends and maybe a boyfriend, her future would look bleak and lonely.

        I also have to say that you can’t underestimate the importance of the seating chart/seating arrangement in Japanese schools. A few years ago, I met a girl at college that spent her last five years of middle school and high school in the Japanese school system and she told me how big of a deal it was. She told me that because of the structure of the schools it was quite possible that you would have the same homeroom and homeroom teacher for all three years of high school, so she said that setting the seating chart was one of the most important social events of the year, and that most of the time it was left up to the class reps. She also said that the wheeling and dealing around this event was massive, you wanted to be next to your friends or others you want to become your friends, remember you might be spending the next three years next to those people.

        • This bit on the seating dynamic is priceless. Thanks for sharing it!

        • Ryan A says:

          I figured seating arrangements were important to school students, but fundamentally it is shallow significance, much in the same line as fads, hype, cliques, materialism etc. Reflecting back on such events does make them seem minor. For myself, seating arrangements fall into the same group as choosing class schedules in order to have the same classes with friends, which was important for me as a high schooler.

          Regardless, Sawako really doesn’t seem to hold much emphasis on the notion of seating arrangements, but it’s expected that the other characters who surround her know the drill. Their decisions are rather ‘big’ for them.

          Ryan A mentioned in his own post how this show can make something as small as rearranging tables and chairs be so rich with significance and dramatic value.

          I think I came off wrong in my post GL. Changing seats may be important for these characters, but for Sawako, I don’t think it’s significant. In the overall scope of life, this sort of thing is definitely not significant. Typically, changing seats is “small” or “meaningless” because it’s expected that students are going to emphasize the importance of such a trivial event.

          What’s brilliant is that this mechanism was used to generate something of true value, hopefully for all viewers, those who have grown out of seeing the significance of seating and those who haven’t.

          If I had to align it with an outside example, I’d call into the episode of Makeover (dorama), which features a similarly typed character who has her uniform vandalized. After much riff-raft, she must where these vandalized uniform to school and suffer the embarrassment. The significant occurrence is that these two newly acquainted friends decided to vandalize their own uniforms and write IDIOT and SHOWOFF on them.

          Yes, having stuff on your uniform is a HUGE deal in high school (what we wear later in life usually becomes less important, except on dates and stuff). But using it as a mechanism to build something more meaningful was quite sound. This is where I aligned ‘changing seats’. ^^

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  23. Misu says:

    You’re right, the scenery in this show is absolutely stunning. I’ve been wanting to write up something about how I LOVE EVERY SINGLE FRAME in this anime.

  24. pagan poor says:

    My parents thought about moving to Alabang. But Manila was too hot/humid for them esp. in the summers. But it is a pretty nice area from what I’ve seen.

    Yes, and Kimi ni Todoke does rock.

    • If you’re not used to the tropics, then I can’t recommend the Philippines at all, save for the highlands (Tagaytay, Baguio, etc.)

      • pagan poor says:

        Most of the time we lived in California before they moved back home. They definitely became unused to the tropics. So they ended up in the highlands. I’ll just say Tagaytay is really nice.

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  26. This series has a lot of BREATHTAKING and REFRESHING and BEAUTIFUL sceneries. Oh I love this~

    Ah, that place in Alabang seems nice . . .Alabang . . . wait . . . you noypi? o_o

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  28. This show has been very highly recommended to me by my female anime loving friends. And I find that pretty curious, because the concept didn’t interest me at all & nothing really stood out. That’s the thing about some good shoujo shows, for me. The details don’t matter so much as the execution. I’m starting to see that in Kimi ni Todoke.

    Any shoujo I’ve truly enjoyed has brought out some nostalgic & relatable feelings in me. Kare Kano had the oh so true to life high school courtship & romance. Fruits Basket made me nostalgic for the raw feelings a angry, lonely teenager may feel (Kyo) and for the relationships I rarely keep up with family nowadays. Ouran…. well maybe not EVERY show applies.

    The point is that there seems to be something universal surrounding this show that even unintended audience can appreciate and latch onto. I really hope this show keeps me hooked. I have a feeling that there really is something dark hidden in the background of all this love & ideal courtship. But I have a feeling it may be reflected in Shouta or in Sawako’s past. They’re both unique personalities, and something signifigant has to have shaped them. That’s usually the case in anime.

    • Interestingly, this show hasn’t given me any of the familiar vibes I associate with shojo manga and anime. If anything, it has a very superficial similarity with Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge in that the lead girl is also feared due to her resemblance to Sadako. In that case, it’s merited because she’s in love with horror and death and the whole business is played up for lulz.

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  35. Voleak says:

    I love this anime 😀

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