Natsuiro Kiseki – 08

Saki packs up the things in her room as the moving day nears. The group decides to visit the place where she’s moving, which is technically Tokyo but in reality it’s Hachijo-jima, 178 miles from the city proper. Saki’s dad tries to reassure her, but she has distressing dreams in which her friends can’t see or hear her. They soak in a couple of Tokyo sights before boarding the overnight ship, which they run around until lights out, when they huddle under a blanket. Yuka gets seasick, and if the waves get too rough, the ship will turn around. In the morning, though, the clouds are gone and Hachijo is in sight. Natsumi finds Saki on the deck and confronts her about whether moving is what she wants.

Every episode of Natsuiro Kiseki has had some form of supernatural phenomenon brought on by the wishing rock…until now. Even so, this may be the best episode yet, capturing the excitement and adventure of a voyage, exentuating how that journey can be the destination. To Rinko and Yuka, it’s enough that it’s an adventure with their good friends. But to Saki, it’s almost a dry run for her actual move, since they decided to visit her home in “Tokyo”, which is actually the most southern and isolated of the Izu Islands, which are indeed administrated by Tokyo. Moving from one’s friends is always tough, and it’s definitely starting to sink in for Saki, now that she’s packed everything in her bedroom away (making her sudden awakening from an unsettling dream in the empty, lonely room all the more unnerving). The episode perfectly captures the bubbly sense of awe one gets from visiting a great city for the first time, as the Tokyo Tower and Rainbow Bridge make brief cameos.

Despite it’s distance, Hachijo-jima is still Tokyo. Despite not wanting to move at all – signifying a difference of intent with her father, for whom working on an island is his dream – Saki is willing to submit to her father’s wishes, not wanting to hurt or disappoint him by voicing her discontent with the decision to move. Natsumi picks up on this; it’s Saki’s M.O. to just “live” with things she believes she can “do nothing about”. Natsumi insists Saki fight for what she wants, and if she doesn’t, then Natsumi will do it for her. The island is a gorgeous paradise at first glance (and in the preview), but the first local they encounter (who has to rescue an un-stretched Yuka from the sea) takes an instant dislike to the “mainlanders”, unaware Saki may be a future neighbor. This was an all-round brilliant and beautiful episode, and we can’t wait for the conclusion.

Rating: 9 (Superior)

Sankarea – 08

In exchange for letting Furuya document her every move, Rea insists he take her out like a normal girl, fulfilling the promise he made. They spend the day shopping, unaware they’re being tailed by three of Dan’ichiro’s henchmen. When Furuya leaves Sanka alone to grab some food, their first attempt to kidnap her fails when Yasutaka confronts her, and leads her out of the mall. When they try again, she knocks them all out with her zombie strength. Improvising, they kidnap Furuya instead, throwing him in a van bound for Dan’ichiro’s mansion.

We had trouble enjoying this episode because it made so many poor decisions, and Furuya made so many stupid ones, that it’s somewhat hard to overlook them all at this point, though at least he finally paid for his cavalier attitude by being kidnapped. Now Dan’ichiro can do whatever he wants to him, including making good on his previous threat to castrate him. But back to those decisions: after a Ranko-heavy episode that admittedly made her slightly more likable, she already shows up again this week in an extended scene that only exists so we can see what Andy W. Hole would refer to as her “big bangs”. This scene is totally extraneous, as she simply reiterates her desire to win Furuya and her frustration with his sudden intimacy with Rea. Yeah thanks, we already know that. This felt like padding.

Another bad move the episode made was using Yasutaka. We didn’t need the silly red herring of him sneaking up on her, and we certainly didn’t need him to appear in the episode for more than five seconds and have lines. He may be the worst character of the Spring season if not the year, including the series we’ve dropped, and frankly we would have liked to see the kidnappers beat him a little more severely. Perhaps most egregious is Furuya continuing to parade Rea around as if her father were no threat. Dan’ichiro is extremely rich, powerful, and insane…he is a HUGE threat. It’s admirable to give Rea a normal day of shopping, but more descretion was required. If one good thing came out of this episode, it’s that Furuya is finally aware of just how frikkin’ dangerous a situation he’s gotten himself into.

Rating: 4 (Fair)