Hanasaku Iroha 9

The longest day at Kissuiso continues with Ohana in a labyrinthene exhibition hall, looking for Tohru. Her search initially proves both fruitless and disruptive, and she retreats to a lonely staircase. Just then, Ko calls her, and tells her exactly what she needs to hear. She and Ko are never quite on the same wavelength, which is a factor of Ko not making it clear what he’s doing and why. If he likes her, and wants to see her, he should just tell her and meet up with her. Instead, he’s intent on keeping crucial information from Ohana, and as a result, he is never able to see her.

I prefer this, his decision to withhold his intentions, to dumb luck and coincidence keeping them apart. Ohana is extremely busy and extremely ditzy; Ko should know this, and spell everything out as clearly as possible. It’s disappointing that he isn’t able to get the words out in the precious few moments on the phone with her, but the fact he’s able to cheer her up at just the right time doesn’t quite seem like enough for either of them. These two are stuck in a long-distance holding pattern, which is a shame, but there’s plenty of episodes to resolve (or not resolve) this.

Meanwhile, the highly-charged energy and kinesis of Kissuiso continues. Ohana’s instincts prove correct, as when she brings Tohru back, the situation matures from barely-contained fiasco it was to a more controlled scenario where everything that needs to be done will get done. She also proves correct in insisting every guest be treated with equal care, as the mystery guests turn out to be different from the ones the consultant lady assumed. The manager returns to a reinvigorated Kissuiso, that can run smoothly in her absense and gained new pride in their teamwork and the service they provide. That should prove a great comfort and great worry to the aging manager. Rating: 4

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Ao no Exorcist 7

Exorcist gets right back on point with a episode containing a good mix of instruction, character progression, peril, and action. Shiemi wants to make friends, and chooses the most unpleasant of classmates in Izumo. She’s descended from a shrine maiden and can summon demon foxes without batting an eyelid, but she’s kind of a bitch too, who looks down on everyone and turns Shiemi into her servant under the false pretense of friendship. Having “never had” a friend before, Shiemi doesn’t think anything of this treatment, but it angers Rin and Izumo’s longtime friend Pazu.

It’s worth mentioning that while Shiemi hadn’t formed any significant bonds up until this week, if, like her, you don’t count Rin and Yukio, Rin meanwhile has pretty much been accepted by Bon and his mates, despite Bon’s external reluctance. Also, Bon’s group all want to be Arias, and they’ll need a knight; enter Rin. When a demon invades the girl’s bath, the previously calm, confident Izumo is an emotional wreck after Pazu admonishes her for the way she’s treated Shiemi.

Thus, her summoned foxes turn on her and the demon wounds Pazu. This scene wisely eschews overt fanservice; on the contrary, the fact only Izumo managed to get undressed before the peril actually underscores her vulnerability. In reality, she’s just like Shiemi: she believes there are few who’d find her worth the trouble, so she depends on Pazu’s presence. If eyebrows would only lower the bitch-armor, Izumo might realize that Shiemi and Rin can be worthwhile, powerful friends. They certainly made a good team here.

Both Shiemi’s tamer/doctor skills and Rin’s diversionary tactics save Izumo and Pazu, while Yukio chases the demon off with his gun. The demon, it would seem, was sent by the demon-summoning teacher to attack Rin, which begs a couple questions: one, why was it in the girl’s bathroom, and two, wouldn’t the teacher have known such a relatively weak demon would have been easily dispatched, as it was? Whatever the case, as the core of “Exwires” gels, people are still gunning for Rin’s head. Rating: 3.5