Hyouka – 14

On the second day of the Kanya Festival, Irisu agrees to sell anthologies bundled with her pamphlet. Oreki trades an anthology and the water Glock for cookies and a bag of wheat flour from the Confectionary Research Club. Satoshi enters himself with Chitanda and Mayaka into a cooking contest called “Wildfire”, but Mayaka will be late due to a poster-drawing contest at the Manga Society. During his time, Satoshi makes only Tonjiru, but Chitanda manages to make four more dishes including Katsura-muki and Giseyaki.

In her haste to cook as much as possible, she leaves hardly any ingredients left for Mayaka, who arrives with only ten minutes to spare. Overhearing the competition, Oreki tosses the bag of flour to Satoshi, who gets it to Mayaka, and she makes Kakiage on rice in the remaining minutes. The Classics Club wins the competition, but a missing ladle turns out to have been stolen by someone named “Juumoji”.

We love cooking, and we also love cooking shows like Iron Chef and Chopped. So when the majority of this episode became a cooking contest, we were thrilled. Another team has a ringer, but so did Satoshi: namely Chitanda, who cooks up a storm. The key clue that we didn’t miss when the rules were being explained: if there are no more ingredients available, they can be procured from around campus. That’s when a seemingly random bag of flour becomes the key to the Classics Club’s victory.

The show does a masterful job building up this connection, and creating great suspense as the time ticks down on a desperate Mayaka, who is only one ingredient away from being able to make something…anything. Finally, Oreki comes through with the major assist. Can oil heat up to frying temperature in two minutes on a hot plate? No friggin’ way. But that’s okay; Mayaka’s quick thinking and ingenuity meant all four club members contributed to the win. We suspect the next and final day of the festival will center on the mystery of the petty theif called “Juumoji”…and selling the rest of the anthologies.

Rating: 9 (Superior)

P.S. Smoking at school is an expulsionary offense, but apparently waving lifelike Glocks around with pumpkin masks is TOTALLY OKAY.

Tari Tari – 04

When she realizes the old men who acccompanied her audition are a famous band called the Condor Queens, Konatsu gives up her stage slot to them. They park their RV on Sawa’s property and make themselves at home. One of the members chases down Wakana because they knew her mother, who helped write their big hit. When Konatsu suggests the club skip practice to hear the Queens rehearse, Sawa snaps at Konatsu, doubting whether she’s taking the choir club seriously. The Queens tell Konatsu to ‘find her own stage’, and she secures a venue outside a flower shop. The club practices hard and performs for a small but engaged group. That evening, one of the Queens gives Wakana a letter her from her mother.

So, just so we’re clear on this: Wakana’s riding her bike and just happens to encounter a man who was friends with her mother, and a member of the band that just happens to be at the cafe where Konatsu, Sawa and Taichi are auditioning; the band Konatsu and her grandfather just happened to listen and dance to. What a carnival of coincidences! Frankly, we’re not quite sure why there had to be so many. It didn’t ruin the episode, it kinda made us scratch our heads a little: couldn’t Wakana have come upon someone who knew her mother a little more naturally, in a way that didn’t conveniently involve everyone else?

Coincidence aside, the band of old men play the role of three sages/mentors, providing advice both to Konatsu, whose excitement over meeting them causes her to neglect the choir club, which irks Sawa. We’ve mentioned Sawa’s dedication to going along with Konatsu’s ventures and helping in any way she can, but once Konatsu starts to goof off, Sawa rightly lets her have it, getting her eye back on the ball. As for Wakana, she’s told by the band who knew and loved her mom flat out: you can’t just give up on music; it’s a “constant companion”, right down to her heartbeat. The episode doesn’t let on what her mother wrote, but her demeanor on the beach at sunset suggested longing.

Rating: 6 (Good)

Car Cameo:
The foreign Condor Queens are living out of an equally foreign early 2000’s-era Fiat Ducato motorhome.