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Geek It! Anime Review: KOIKIMO (Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui) (2021)

KOIKIMO (Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui) is one of 2021’s romantic comedies that has swept viewers off their feet. Not only did it consistently rate well in 2021’s Spring season, but it also triggered real conversation amongst viewers with its controversial story. Did Koikimo deserve the compliments and negativity? Let’s find out!

Adapted by Studio Nomad (Rozen Maiden, We Without Wings), KOIKIMO revolves around 17-year-old high school student Ichika who saves a 27-year-old salaryman Ryo from falling down the stairs. After making a good first impression on him, Ryo decides to pursue Ichika romantically.

Ryo isn’t just anyone in particular. Not only is Ryo Ichika’s best friend’s older brother, but he is best known for being a womanizer who goes from one woman to another without hesitation. So when he receives the cold shoulder from Ichika after offering his body as gratitude, Ryo ‘falls in love’ with her even more. From sending flowers on a daily basis and making homework guides, Ryo acts like an enthusiastic puppy towards Ichika.

Despite Koikimo being a romantic comedy targeted at young people, there have been some discussions in regards to big elephant in the room — the age difference between a student and an adult.

From one perspective, it revolves around an adult who single-handedly targets a high school girl. Despite Ichika’s multiple rejections, Ryo visits her uninvited; sends many gifts; and flirts with her whenever he gets the chance. With all these advances, Ryo childishly expects Ichika to return his ‘love’.

What kind of adult does this? However, psychologically speaking, people’s personality stop aging by the time they hit a certain age in their 20s. Perhaps Ryo is young at heart and he does indeed love Ichika — it just happens he’s a 27 year old.

Many viewers have issues with the age gap because she’s still in high school. Ichika might be mature but she’s still young; naive; has no direction in life; and doesn’t possess knowledge or experience beyond school. As a result, she is easily pleased with Ryo’s knowledge of the world, and slowly comes to the realisation that she might have feelings for him after all.

However, one could argue that Ichika’s feelings don’t feel ‘enough’. It also doesn’t help when Ichika’s best friend Rio is a meddler who forcibly sways her brother and his intentions upon Ichika, hoping that things will work out in his favour. Could a possible relationship between Ryo and Ichika work out? How will society view them? Will people accept the age gap?

[Spoiler] Despite the controversy, the anime does its best to address the issue in the hopes of convincing viewers that a relationship with a big age gap isn’t ‘creepy’. In its attempt to do so, the story often offers an insight into Ryo and Ichika’s internal strife and how they both deal with the issue individually.

With so much emphasis on the matter and the possible fallout that could unravel, the anime ultimately rushed with the conclusion. It was always endgame for both Ryo and Ichika. Even though Tamaru was initially in the picture as a love interest for Ichika, there was no real challenge for Ryo at all. Both Ryo and Ichika had it easy – they haven’t really suffered and/or jumped through any major obstacles with their age difference.

To hastily end with “because ‘creepy’ somehow turned into ‘love‘”, the overall love story still doesn’t feel valid. The underrated nature of the story may have caught the audience’s interest, but the lack of drama and depth made the overall story fall short in the end.

RATING: 7/10

Overall: KOIKIMO is an average anime with its average animation and character designs. If it weren’t for the beautifully catchy theme songs and the side characters (to be honest, the real MVPs of the story), Koikimo would have been a real disappointment.

People fall in love in the most mysterious ways. The story began in the most predictable way, and it ended in the most predictable way as well. If you can get past the age gap and predatory nature of this story, then you will enjoy this highly overrated yet underrated story. We encourage you to join the conversation!

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