Gokinjo Monogatari Episode 1: Mikako and Tsutomu

Gokinjo Monogatari is an adaptation of a manga by Ai Yazawa (who also created Nana) – it presents the story of high school students Kōda Mikako and Yamaguchi Tsutomu, who happen to live next door to each other in an apartment complex. Mikako is your average high school student, with aspirations of establishing her own brand of clothing; Tsutomu is rather popular, and resembles Nakagawa Ken, the lead singer of the band Manbō. Mikako makes it quite clear that she finds Tsutomu a bit of an annoyance – she even calls him “ape,” an unflattering epithet. Tsutomu being referred to as “ape” is reminiscent of Hideyoshi Kinoshita, one of the “three great unifiers” of Japan – Kinoshita received the nickname of “little monkey” from Nobunaga, because Nobunaga thought Kinoshita’s appearance was similar to that of a monkey. Even though she finds Tsutomu annoying, Mikako does have a fondness for him; she admits as such in the episode, and states that her liking of him is so different from others (noting that she had grown up with him for 16 years). When a student who attends the same school as Mikako and Tsutomu, Nakasu Mariko, kisses Tsutomu’s cheek, Mikako becomes flustered, and slaps Tsutomu when he grabs her hand; she is obviously very upset with Tsutomu over the kiss on the cheek, showing how she can’t stand seeing him receive affection from another girl. When briefly arguing with Mikako at the Blue Parrot bar, Tsutomu says he can do what he wants with his life – he later laments being around Mikako a lot, feeling that he’d become stuck in a “tiny world” if he remains around Mikako forever. By lamenting the amount of time he spends with Mikako, he shows that he feels like his world’s small; he wants to explore the world, without Mikako constantly pestering him. Despite his misgivings about hanging out with Mikako, however, he still has feelings for her, as this episode shows – when Mikako does not return home straightaway, Tsutomu searches for her, finding her underneath an elephant slide that she loved as a kid.

A brief flashback occurs during this episode – it reveals that Mikako’s parents divorced four years ago, and Mikako ran away from home (hiding under an elephant slide) because of her discomfort over the divorce. During the flashback, Tsutomo consoles Mikako while she’s crying – this shows that he really does care for her, even if he occasionally finds her annoying. Mikako, in a narration, explains that she cried during that scene in the flashback because she was happy that Tsutomu came for her – the two get along quite well, and Mikako is comforted by Tsutomu’s presence. Although she considers Tsutomu a nuisance, Mikako does enjoy his company; the two are practically inseparable, even if they can’t bring themselves to admit that. Tsutomu will do whatever he can to ensure Mikako’s safety – he will search for her if she goes missing, and even protect her against a supposed groper (he punches someone he assumes to be a groper, but it is, in actuality, a neighbor known as Sunami Noriji). The two clearly enjoy each other’s company, and look out for each other; they may fight occasionally, but they do like each other. Mikako admits to herself that she likes Tsutomu, and can’t bring herself to hate him; Tsutomu may be annoying, and an “ape,” but Mikako recognizes that she appreciates him for all his faults.

Love can be weird sometimes – you made dislike a person’s silly behavior, but you still appreciate his/her company. Such is the case with Mikako and Tsutomu: the two clearly like each other, and want to be around each other, even though they do fight on occasion. Mikako has an inner monologue during this episode, where she admits to liking Tsutomu – the “like” she has for Tsutomu is not the sort of “like” she’s accustomed to, which she admits. Relationships may be complicated; Mikako doesn’t quite know how to parse the feelings she has for Tsutomu, but she acknowledges that she likes him. She didn’t admit her appreciation of Tsutomu to Tsutomo’s face yet, however; she may one day muster the courage to do so at some point, but for now, she might not have the motivation to do so. Tsutomo’s likely in the same boat; he may be frustrated with hanging out with her frequently, but it’s clear that he appreciates her company. The two clearly like each other, and want to be close to each other; it may take a while for the two to admit their feelings to each other, however.

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