Recently, I’ve been watching (and loving) Kimi ni Todoke. A character-driven series, KimiTodo presents the growing relationships of Kuronuma Sawako. I instantly liked her honest, sincere, and awkward personality. As her character develops, we are introduced to Kurumizawa Ume, the antagonist. I loved the interactions between these two very interesting girls. Sawako and Kurumi’s contrast is an exemplar use of the opposite natures of protagonists and antagonists. Seemingly identical on first glance, the two actually differ in significant ways, not unlike two sides of a mirror.
Consider the scene in which both Sawako and Kurumi thought each other look like dolls. Sawako compares Kurumi to a beautiful European bisque doll, while Kurumi probably associates Sawako with the traditional Japanese Ichimatsu doll.
European bisque dolls are made of fragile, easily-broken unglazed porcelain. Popularized in 1800s in France and Germany, these fashion dolls quickly became collectibles and playthings of wealthy children. They command a high price and are rather exclusive to the affluent.
On the other hand, Ichimatsu dolls are commonly made with wood (paulownia or buttonwood). Despite the recent creepy images brought by the Okiku-chan doll, Ichimatsu dolls are actually very benevolent entities. Originally made to take on any misfortune for the owner, they soon found themselves in families of all classes and in the hands of many Japanese children.
The difference in the doll associations for the two girls is clear. Like bisque dolls, Kurumi is beautiful, elite, and fashionable, but perhaps lacks the inner sturdy compassion Sawako shows. Sawako, on the contrary, is the loyal, humble, and sincere girl, as represented by the fortunate Ichimatsu doll. Moreover, stretching our imaginations further, this might even be a portrayal of the dichotomy between traditional idealism and western cultural imperialism (Thanks! Ningyo). Such a simple but subtle comparison adds a much deeper layer to these two personalities.
By the way, I am completely in love with Kurumi. Team Kurumi!