Oreimo 10

This week is what I like to call a “gift” episode. By that, I mean a character wants to acquire a very hard-to-obtain gift for a friend, and so must join forces with other characters to meet the conditions of obtaining said gift. In this case, it’s Ayase, trying hard to be a good friend to Kirino despite objecting to her hobby. The gift is a one-of-a-kind Meruru figure; but it’s the prize for winning a cosplay contest in Akiba – so faithfully rendered, I quickly recognized many of its landmarks from my visit there, including the Gundam Cafe.

I’ll just say it’s awfully gutsy – and cheeky – for Kyousuke to suggest this particular gift idea to Ayase, knowing full well it would mean asking her to dress up like a character in an indecent anime. (An aside: Ayase and Kirino are voiced by the same seiyus as Arashiko and Mio in MM!; both pairs are friends, and both pairs have issues). Anyway, Ayase declines to dress up, and instead conscripts a model friend of hers who is clearly a ringer.

This is the first time we meet Kanako, who when dolled up, looks exactly like Meruru and wins the contest easily. She’s a bit uppity at times, but seems to genuinely enjoy her role in this crusade. I wonder if we’ve seen the last of her. Meanwhile, I’d like to think Kyousuke has gained some points from Ayase for being so decent and cooperative (though I wouldn’t have so carelessly left her alone amidst all those “male adult” Meruru fans), and yet again, he’s had a role in Kirino’s happiness that she knows nothing about. He’s a good brother…probably why Saori supports him and Kuroneko likes him. Rating: 3.5

MM! 10

After Tarou spent so much time with Mio, Arashiko take it upon herself to train to become more like her. It’s become readily apparent that not only is Tarou an extreme masochist, but Mio is an extreme sadist for always whaling on him (an ordinary girl would fall somewhere between Mio and Arashiko). So Arashiko tries to out-sadist the sadist by challenging Mio to a duel – with Tarou as the prize.

They then proceed to try to out-excite Tarou making use of cosplay, silence, and found objects. Mio’s naughty nun beats Arashiko’s naughty crossing guard, but Arashiko counters with a superior act of silence, defeating Mio’s boxing miming with a blizzard of abusive texts. The third challenge descends into anarchy and a draw, as all of the abuse overwhelms Tarou into unconsciousness.

When he comes to, Arashiko is there to explain her actions (she’s been confusing the hell out of him the whole time). He points out that he doesn’t necessarily prefer sadists, he’s just most vulnerable to their abuse; he likes Arashiko the way she normally is . And we’re all back to normal! However, judging by how game Mio was to try to beat Arashiko for Tarou, it’s clear she feels something for him…even if it’s just the urge to beat him, that’s a form of affection. Rating: 3

Bakuman 10

Every week is a learning experience for Moritaka and Akito. Their work is good, but it’s not the right kind of good, not yet. When they meet up in the editorial department with Hattori, the Editor-in-Chief interrupts and corrects Hattori, saying good manga will be published. This guy knew Moritaka’s uncle, and was the one who let him go from Jack due to lack of new work.

To take an interest in Moritaka’s future shows that he sees promise in the duo. This meeting also acknowledges Eiji Nizuma’s incredible talent for marketable manga, but they doubt his stuff will ever be deep or mature enough for older readers. After sending the guys off to make more Jump-like names, Hattori realizes the error of his strategy: he shouldn’t be pressing them to make universally appealing manga, but rather a niche manga, something that just over half of readers like, but 20% love. This will make it publishable without sacrificing their individuality.

This week is devoid of Miho but features plenty of Aiko hanging around. She wants to go on dates with Akito despite agreeing to a relationship in which dates would be few and far between, due to his workload. It’s interesting to see the contrast between Akito and Aiko, who are a far more conventional couple, than Moritaka and Miho’s far more conservative gameplan, which Aiko calls “super-weird.”

She may have a point; where’s the harm in them hanging out from time to time? But Moritaka won’t budge: if she’s truly his soul mate, the course they’ve decided on will prove to be the right one for them. Rating: 3.5

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