No two ways about it, I really like these kids. They ring true, and so do their interactions and relationships. It would be so easy for Yuzuki-san Chi no Yonkyoudai. to be maudlin, but it manages to avoid that trap while still treating the emotional crises with the gravity they deserve. Factor in that the anime has surprising (though perhaps it shouldn’t be, given director Hongou Mitsuru’s massive resume) flashes of unorthodox style and the result is thoroughly worthwhile.
It was an interesting choice putting the Minato-Uta origin story after their romantic entanglement, but it works this way. Because the series doesn’t dwell on it constantly, it can be easy to forger just what the Yuzukids have been through. Uta arrives in town with her own baggage – namely, that her parents had separated (in fact, divorced) and her mom wouldn’t tell her why. That causes her to rebuff Minato’s friendship overtures, and to aim a great deal of petulant hostility towards her mother.
It’s easy for us to sit back at a distance and say Saki shouldn’t have told her daughter the reason why they moved away from her father (quite a big name in Fukuyama Jun for such a small cameo). Especially given that Uta is her daughter, and needs to see this as an example of a woman standing up for herself. But that’s not an easy thing to tell your kid, especially given that Saki probably felt Uta would be harmed even more if her relationship with her father was destroyed altogether. As is, I can understand Uta feeling the way she does – she has no reason to believe her dad has done anything wrong.
Minato, as we’ve seen, is nothing if nor persistent. He’s determined that he and the new boy (whoops) should be best friends, and no bug will go uncaptured in the drive to make that happen. Then worm turns when Minato overhears Saki and Hayato talking about why she really left. Minato is, as ever, a man of action. He hits Uta right between the eyes with a justifiable guilt trip – she shouldn’t be pouting and upsetting her mother when she’s lucky enough to still have one. I was all set to praise Minato for another display of gender respect when he goes all-out in a playground brawl with a girl, but as it turns out he thought Uta was a boy. To his credit though, he brushes that off as irrelevant.
I don’t know what the future holds for these two, and I’m pretty sure anime will never show it to us even if the manga eventually does. But their friendship is absolutely one of the core relationships of this series As Stephen King noted in Stand by Me, the friends we have at twelve mean more to us than just about at any other time in out lives. This is all getting a lot more complicated for the two of them, but romances have been built on a lot less than the shared experience between these two.