Tonari no Atashi (Next to Me, 隣のあたし)
By: Atsuko Nanba
Warning: This post will contain spoilers, but if you don’t mind that, please read on.
Tonari no Atashi is about two childhood friends that live next door to each other, Nina Uemura and Kyousuke Tachibana. Since they were little, Nina had a crush on Kyousuke. Yet things start to change, when Kyousuke starts attending high school and Nina begins her third year as a junior high school student. A girl named, Yuiko Asou—the manager of Kyousuke’s baseball team—becomes friends with Kyousuke. Nina’s chances to confess her love to Kyousuke diminishes, and Kyousuke eventually agrees to go out with Yuiko.
While reading shoujo manga, I tend to predict who the main girl will end up with. The majority of the time, my predictions are correct. However this time around, my prediction was wrong. Yet despite this, I was satisfied with the ending. Nina picked her classmate, Shun Miyake, over Kyousuke, which breaks the typical shoujo concept that close childhood friends are fated to be together. I think the ending is realistic because sometimes an individual can be blindsided when it comes to love. Who you think maybe perfect for you, may actually be wrong for you, and if you only focus on that one “perfect” person, you may not be aware of the other potential partners that really care about you.
After I finished reading this manga, I thought about what went wrong for the two main leads, and why they didn’t end up together? The first reason could be bad timing. Kyousuke was just starting high school, and Nina was preparing for her high school entrance exams. So the new environment and sudden changes would take some time to adjust to. In addition, the new girl in Kyousuke’s life, Yuiko Asou, has an intimidating persona and discourages Nina from confessing her feelings. Nina also starts to question whether or not Kyousuke feels the same way about her as she does for him.
Furthermore, Kyousuke has a wishy-washy attitude. In the beginning, Kyousuke seems to only see Nina as a sister, but after her confession, he starts to notice her as a woman. He becomes confuse about his feelings for her. There were moments where I wondered why he started going out with the manager in the first place? He didn’t seem to be in love with Yuiko, instead they seem to just go through the motions of typical high school life and experiences. It is understandable for why Kyousuke would want to take things slow and think things through with Nina, but I don’t think it was rational for him to go out with a girl who is using him for another guy.
One of the things that I like about this manga is the use of distance. Kyousuke and Nina are so close to each other; in which they are childhood friends with so much history, and also live near each other. However, they are somewhat distant and do not fully understand each other after they start seeing other people. It clearly depicts how close relationships could easily be destroyed, and how even though one could boast and assume that they are close to someone, a person could still be so far away from truly understanding that individual.
Although the main leads do not end up together, I was satisfied with the ending because the main girl, Nina, found love. Nina deserved happiness because she has been suffering heartbreak since the first chapter.