The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. is a short-form anime following a high school boy with god-like psychic powers who would rather be unremarkable than the center of attention. Unfortunately, his powers make that more than a little difficult. Take, for example, the comical relationship with his romantic foil Teruhashi.
On the outside, Teruhashi (the girl with the blue hair in the picture below) is the living embodiment of the perfectly pure high school beauty. She is kind to everyone and modest to a fault. The boys of the school put her on a pedestal; a kind word or a single smile from her is enough to brighten anyone’s day.
While most anime play this character trope straight (i.e., she is exactly as pure and modest inside as out) or invert it (i.e., she is actually vindictive and power hungry behind a facade of kindness) Saiki K. twists the trope in a different way.
Teruhashi actually believes her own hype; she is so arrogant that she believes she belongs on the pedestal she has been put upon. Neither vindictive nor modest, she truly believes that a smile or a kind word from her should make others feel happy–she is, after all, the perfect woman.
Of course, there is one person that her charm doesn’t work on: our psychic hero Saiki. Because he can read her mind, he knows exactly how narcissistic she is. In the face of this knowledge, he can’t humble himself to act how she wants. At the same time, Saiki doesn’t want conflict–or to stand out in any way–so he responds as usual: He simply doesn’t engage.
But while a mind reader he may be, he clearly doesn’t understand Teruhashi’s nature. By not acting like everyone else–by ignoring her–he throws her entire worldview into confusion. It’s impossible that he doesn’t worship her like every other man she has ever met. If that were true, it would be proof that she isn’t as perfect as she believes herself to be. Thus, it becomes a driving force in her life to get him to notice her–to publicly give a sign that he’s as interested in her as everyone else is.
Saiki, to his own ongoing detriment, continues to ignore her–often employing his powers to escape her traps to place him in a clichéd situation where he’d have to acknowledge her. But the more he ignores her, the more obsessed she becomes–until she starts to conclude that her obsession must be love.
While this kind of character could get old quickly if handled incorrectly, Teruhashi is kept fresh through limited use–She’s only in around a fourth of the series’ 40+ episodes so far–and constant character evolution. In her first episode, she and Saiki are basically the only characters in the episode, but soon she begins to interact with Saiki’s other troublesome companions in unexpected (and often hilarious) ways as the series continues. Her obsession with Saiki also serves to humanize her, forcing her into situations more suited to a normal girl than a perfect one. We also learn about her family situation–shining a bit of a light on why she thinks she is so perfect.
And let’s face it: Teruhashi is perfect in at least one way. Thanks to her narcissistic nature and constant development, she is a perfect comedic and romantic foil for Saiki–and a key factor in what makes this little anime so entertaining to watch.