This review of the 2023 live-action Netflix series From Me to You: Kimi ni Todoke Season 1 does not contain spoilers.
If you’ve been even remotely connected to Japanese storytelling over the last decade, you’ll probably be at least passingly familiar with From Me to You: Kimi ni Todoke. The manga series written and illustrated by Karuho Shiina has been adapted into light novels, an anime series in 2009 and 2011, and a live-action film in 2010.
This means that the live-action Netflix adaptation is arriving in a market that isn’t just swimming with high-quality slice-of-life dramas already, but multiple prior adaptations of the exact same story.
From Me to You: Kimi ni Todoke Season 1 review and plot summary
And yet that’s the thing about popular stories, isn’t it – they’re usually popular for a reason. They’re good. People care about the characters and their plights. Sawako, a surprisingly peppy and good-natured high-school student cruelly nicknamed “Sadako” by her peers because of her resemblance to the long-haired ghoul from The Ring, is compelling because she is, fundamentally, a decent person.
When you think about it, it’s rare for film and TV to indulge one’s innate goodness. People like Sawako, who’re timid and naïve, are generally fodder for bullies. Their trauma shapes them into someone else. That might reflect life, but a show like From Me to You isn’t interested in that played-out arc.
Instead, Sawako is given the story she more or less deserves. Happy endings are contrived around her. The popular guy in school, Shota Kazehaya, takes a shine to her, and through his social power, other classmates become more open to Sawako’s kooky personality.
Sawako helps out. She likes others. She begins to be liked in return, and when she isn’t she stands up for herself and those she cares about. It’s a welcomely uncomplicated moral dynamic, really.
Minami Sara plays Sawako very well, although she’s probably too pretty, objectively speaking, to be playing a character who is commonly mistaken for a ghost. No matter, though. What powers the show fundamentally is kindness. After a while, the whole ghost thing ceases to be the point.
Is From Me to You: Kimi ni Todoke good?
There’s a market for From Me to You: Kimi ni Todoke, undoubtedly. There must be, or it wouldn’t have been constantly remade. But what I mean is there’s a market for a simplistic and fundamentally good-natured slice-of-life story in which obstacles are easily surmounted and people tend to get exactly what they deserve.
It’s a light, fluffy show, granted, but it’d be incredibly hard to get angry or upset about. If you prefer another version, that’s fine. They’re out there. But you can justify this one on the strength of its chemistry and good nature alone.
What did you think of the live-action series From Me to You: Kimi ni Todoke Season 1? Comment below.
You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.