I notice a profound similarity between anime and American movies which points to a profound difference in how we approach romance.
The similarity: chickflicks and romantic anime tend to save the confessions of love and proper, committed coupling up for the the very end of their runtime.
The difference: Americans make their interest known fairly casually, go on a few dates, couple up, go through stuff together, maybe come apart for awhile before coming back together, and so on, and this gets reflected (to a ridiculous degree) in our movies; if Japanese people are at all like their entertainment, than a mere confession of feelings and asking for a date is practically a marriage proposal.
This distinction leaves things romantically tense for the entire run of an anime, but it also sometimes makes even fairly strong and bold Japanese men look a bit like wimpy, weak-hearted pansies by American definitions.
All of which is meant to explain why I wanted to grab the titular Ayumu by the neck and shake him while screaming, “JUST TELL HER HOW YOU FEEL ALREADY INSTEAD OF MAKING IT SO COMPLICATED AND NIGH-IMPOSSIBLE!”
So, obviously, they managed to get me invested in this a little. 😉
When Will Ayumu Make His Move follows the (sloooowly) budding relationship between the two lead characters, with a pair of secondary characters also developing into a couple, and the supportive antics of a few other characters.
Ayumu Tanaka was a skilled member of the kendo club in junior high, but when he entered high school, he fell for a girl, Urushi Yaotome, the first moment he saw her. She was recruiting for her shogi club at the time, hoping to get enough members to make it an official club instead of being stuck on her lonesome, so he immediately signed up and made a vow to himself: he would defeat her in shogi and then confess his feelings for her. Small detail: he was a complete amateur and she was not. Thus, years begin to pass by as he strives to attain his goal.
Years, people. Years. He has only two to work with before she graduates, and he’s well into the second one before he manages to beat her even once, with strenuous training and a handicap. And that’s still not good enough for him, because he wants to beat her when she doesn’t have a handicap. Thus my previously-mentioned urge.
In this sense, Ayumu might be somewhat similar to Urushi’s father. Apparently, the man’s pride was wounded once and he’s basically been sulking for ten years since. Thus, he and Ayumu are clearly both a combination of stupidly stubborn, prideful, and self-controlled to an inhuman degree. They never let their respective poker faces slip, not for the slightest instant, ever.
Which is, frankly, stupid. Hilarious, mind you, but stupid. Grown men need to get over slight bruises to their egos, and young men should be bold enough to not give themselves a nigh-impossible goal to achieve before saying, “I like you, want to date?”
Meanwhile, Urushi herself comes to realize that Ayumu has a crush on her, and, come the last episode of the first season, after much blushing, teasing, tender feeling, and eventually noticing how much she thinks of him always being with her, she also realizes that she likes him, too. Thus, if there ends up being a second season, I imagine it will follow her efforts to try to get Ayumu to confess, and her endless frustration as he never slips up, not unless he ever manages to defeat her in shogi.
And just to add to the insanity, there’s Rin Kagawa. She’s a year younger than Ayumu, and clearly has an unrequited crush on him. She may have even come up with Ayumu’s own plan before Ayumu did, ie, to defeat her crush – in kendo, in her case – before confessing her feelings. Thus, she also stands as a shining example of why that is a freaking bad idea, to base one’s approach to romance on the achievement of defeating one’s crush in a contest at which they are far, far better. It doesn’t prove one’s worth, it prolongs the torture and risks losing it all for no point and purpose.
I do have to give huge props to Rin, though, for how she behaves once she knows about Ayumu’s feelings for Urushi, and his goal to defeat her before confessing. Though her feelings are also in complete turmoil, she elects to help Ayumu, to teach him and help him become stronger more quickly, even urging him to be more proactive and flexible in his goal, so he will confess, and she can move on. The season ends with her witnessing Ayumu’s victory, but only with a handicap, the significance of which she is unaware of. She immediately leaves the room, thinking that she is giving them space to confess and couple up. It is a mature, compassionate decision, but if there is a second season, it will begin with her learning that no such thing occurred, and I can only imagine her frustration then, as her unrequited love keeps dragging out something he supposedly feels so strongly about.
The season also ends with the other couple – Takeru and Sakurako, who I just love because they’re great – having an unexpected moment, one in which these two teens who like each other find themselves suddenly with their faces scant inches apart, looking into each others’ eyes, and the girl leaning in. Honestly, I’m more interested in seeing whether anything came of that than I am in seeing Ayumu’s continuing stupidity and the mounting frustration of both of the girls who like him.
As for Ayumu himself, if I want to see anything from him, I want it to be a realization that he can’t stubbornly cling to his most idiotic goal of defeating the girl he likes before he tells her he likes her, and that to do so is, in fact, to toy with her feelings for him and risk truly losing her, and, thus, a straightforward decision to simply come out and freaking tell her already! Make your bloody move, Ayumu, and let it be done!
So, it definitely leaves something to be desired, but, honestly, if they didn’t make the characters likable and endearing in some way, I wouldn’t care at all, so points for that.
Rating: 8 stars out of 10.