Oremonogatari

“Oremonogatari” centers on Gouda Takeo, an enormous young man with huge eyebrows, thick lips, a massive build, and other traditionally “unattractive” features. Despite his appearance, Takeo is the soul of charity and a paragon of manliness. Though his actions can easily be misinterpreted, and though his presence can be intimidating, he has been raised well and acts as a gentleman (as he understands it) at all times.

Gouda Takeo

His best friend, Sunakawa Makoto, is a typically bishounen high school hero. The girls swoon over him, he’s good at sports, he’s aloof, he’s cool. But he and Takeo are best friends, and their relationship is as important as the love story.

The series starts with Takeo’s rescue of Yamato Rinko on the train, as a molester is making a move on her. Takeo easily manhandles the guy, but he and Rinko fall for each other at first sight in the process. She expresses her gratitude by baking him treats. Though Takeo is convinced that she - like every other girl he’s ever liked - is mostly interested in Sunakawa, his best friend helps him realize that he’s not the target.

The story continues to explore two relationships - Takeo and Rinko carefully and delicately exploring their new romance, and Takeo and Makoto’s deep and years-long friendship.

What works

Gouda Takeo

I watched “Oremonogatari” after finishing shows like “Golden Time” and “Kimi ni Todoke”, and this show was such a departure from them without detracting from them. Sunakawa’s sly arrangement of a mutual love confession short-circuited what could have been a seasion of misunderstanding - and in fact was, in the case of “Kimi”.

Gouda and Yamato make a very cute couple - seemingly mismatched, but happy together. The series isn’t really about them falling in love, but about getting the world around them to acknowledge it and celebrate it. Yamato’s school friends, Sunakawa’s older sister, and the girls at Gouda’s school all have their opinions on the relationship, and all of them do some growing and learning by getting to know the couple. But the series is also equally about a relationship between two young men. Sunakawa will always be there for Gouda, and it’s clear that he gets something in return from the earnest giant that no other friend can ever provide.

What doesn’t work

Gouda Takeo

Early on, Takeo seems like a superhero. He catches falling girders, rescues people from a fire, and even stops a groper on the train. While he would be a fantastic character in a superhero comic, sometimes it felt a little over-the-top. Thankfully later episodes toned this down a bit, making his over-the-top physical prowess work in more conventional arenas like school sports.

Each of these actions was set up to help develop both Takeo and the characters around him, like Rinko or her friends from school. A slightly more mundane way to accomplish that same development would have given the series a less goofy start.

Conclusion

Watch “Oremonogatari” if you want to see an unconventional but sincere romance with no particular villain, good-hearted characters, and an exploration of relationships both romantic and otherwise.