One Off – 02

Haruno is having trouble getting along with Cynthia, overwhelmed by her “scale” and annoyed that Anri, Sayo and Rie are so easily influenced by her. The mechanic tells her not to worry and simply take her time. Cynthia has other ideas, spontaneously planning a night tour to the sea for the two of them. Haruno is dubious until they make it to the beach as the sun rises. Cynthia tells her that it’s okay to rely on people.

The first episode basically introduced everyone (and everybike) and set up the tripping point in any potential friendship between Haruno and Cynthia: Haruno’s pessimism clashing with Haruno’s optimism; Haruno’s cautiousness versus Cynthia’s gusto. Haruno compares the “scale” of difference between them in motorcycle terms. If Cynthia is a sport bike like her CBR, Haruno is a scooter. Some things are just impossible, and that’s that.

But Haruno wasn’t always this way. Anri is into writing songs. Sayo is into writing stories. Rie dreams of a life of adventure. Haruno was once into singing, with the motto “you never know until you try”, but delivering eggs has jaded her, and she gave up on it. Now her motto is “why try if it can’t be done?” And as beautiful and amazing and grand an experience their nighttime ride to the beach is, Haruno still finds a thorn in the rose: she needed help to get there.

But Cynthia tells her everyone needs help to get anywhere or do anything. Whether it’s the skilled designers, engineers and craftsmen at the Honda Motor Company or the love and support of friends and family, no one accomplishes anything alone. This sticks with Haruno, just like this episode bursting with gorgeous imagery – from the first-person driving views to the sea at dawn to the bike shop with a cafe and a friggin’ tree growing inside – will stick with us.


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

Motorcycle Cameos: At the bike shop Motoya, a PCX scooter and a Goldwing are two of the models on display inside, and a CB750 is serviced in the garage. For their night tour to the sea, Cynthia dusts of Haruno’s dad’s Z50 Monkey minibike, and barely fits on it!

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One Off – 01

Shiozaki Haruno lives at the Niwa inn in an picturesque but small village, enjoys riding her Honda scooter, and dreams of one day living in the big city. She and her high school friends meet Niwa’s new hire, an Australian woman named Cynthia B. Rogers who has traveled the world on her sport bike. Haruno envies Cynthia’s adventurous spirit and laments her lack of motivation or will to do what she did.

At first we thought this OVA series would be one big pretty advertisement for Honda Motorcycles…and it is, but thankfully it’s also more. (Side note: being owners of three four-wheeled Hondas ourselves, and having family with five more, we can attest to the quality and dependability of their wares. Where’s our sack of cash, Honda?) This is by the director of Tamayura ~Hitotose~ and it’s one big pretty slice-of-life, with the lovingly-rendered Honda machines complementing rather than overpowering the proceedings.

This episode oozes quality from start to finish: the backgrounds, character design and voice work and music are all top-notch and pop through the screen. And the message is simple: “amazing is relative”. Haruno is impressed and even jealous of the action-packed life the eccentric gaijin has led, while Cynthia finds awe in simple things Haruno takes for granted: the beauty of her village, the tea, or a bowl of rice with a fresh egg. Both are right, but while Cynthia is experiencing both worlds, Haruno feels like she’s on the outside looking in. We’ll see where her restlessness and Cynthia’s influence takes her.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Motorcycle Cameos: First of all, everyone rides Hondas. Haruno rides a Giorno, a European-styled scooter. Her friend Sayo rides a Little Cub, a version of the most-produced motor vehicle in history, the Super Cub. Her friend Anri rides a Benly. Rie rides a bicycle, but dreams of owning the cute-but-tough Zoomer, also known as the Ruckus (114 mpg!). Cynthia rides a red CBR250R (pictured). A CB1100 is being tended to outside the cafe.

Sukitte Ii na yo – 13 (Fin)

The day after a long walk with Mei, Yamato catches a cold and stays home from school. Nagi also plays hooky to take care of him. Mei’s friends make her leave school early, but when she calls Yamato, Nagi answers, telling her he doesn’t want to see her. Asami calls her and the guys encourage her to see him. Meanwhile Hayakawa calls Yamato, telling him he has a new girlfriend. Yamato gets it in his head it’s Mei, and races to the bakery, just missing Mei. When she calls him his battery is dead. She wanders to a sculpture where they met up for a date, and he appears just as she’s composing another text.

Was this going to be an indulgent, feel-good epilogue showing Mei and Yamato, Yamato and Mei, the perfect little couple skipping around town having adventures and taking things nice and slow? Uhhh…no. Instead, “Say ‘I Love You'” put both Mei and Yamato and us through an emotional spin cycle for twenty-two minutes and fifty-five seconds. There’s drama. There’s despair. There’s suspicion, regret, and doubt. There’s a whole lot of unfortunate coincidences. But then there’s one more coincidence that works out: Yamato and Mei meet by that sculpture, and all the confusion and exasperation melts away with one big ‘ol hug and in this exchange:

– Sorry for what happened earlier. Nagi had my phone…
It’s okay.

We’re not so sure it was ‘okay’ back when Mei thought Yamato was mad at him for pushing him away when he tried to get lovey-dovey, or when Yamato, possibly delirious, got worried Mei thought he was gross and got with Hayakawa instead. These two lovebirds still clearly have much to learn about handling their love for one another, but with help and support from their friends (Asami, Kenji, Aiko, Masashi and Kai all provide nice assists), they’ll doubtless muddle through just fine. They’re already in love with one another, after all. All the jealous sisters and dead batteries in the world won’t alter that fact.

Our only teensy gripe with this otherwise great finale? It’s ambiguous whether Mei actually said “I Love You” out loud to Yamato. The reverb suggests it was in her head. C’mon, Mei! Ganbatte!


Rating: 8 (Great)

 

Top 10 Car Cameos of 2012

In no particular order, here are some of the more interesting car cameos we’ve spotted in all the anime we’ve watched this year. We’re unsure as to the real car content of Winter 2012 series, and to be perfectly honest, we haven’t been Johnny-on-the-spot as we’d like with every cameo in every episode, but we’re only human-youkai hybrids. But this post isn’t about regrets, it’s about the celebration of horseless automotivation!

The Principal’s Ferrari F40Girls und Panzer – 02
Later in the series, we learn that Ooarai is in financial trouble and will be shut down due to a lack of accomplishments. Apparently that pain isn’t being felt by the principal, who is wealthy enough to afford one of only 1,315 F40 supercars ever built. In an act of prescient karmic retribution, it is flipped then crushed by Chouno Ami’s surprise tank-drop.

Shrade’s Ferrari CaliforniaAquarion Evol – 07
Shrade is by all accounts a very privileged, cultured young man who comes from money. As such, he drives a red Ferrari despite still being in high school, and tailgates fellow travelers of the road, to boot. “Out of my way, PEASANTS!”

Evangeline Yamamoto’s VW New Beetle Zetsuen no Tempest – 03
Evangeline is friendly, cute, and curvy on the surface, but all business underneath. So too is her tomato-red Volkswagen New Beetle (let’s make it a Turbo, because why not?), which is really just a Golf in retro clothes.

Malloy’s Lancia Delta HF Integrale 16v Evoluzione II  – Aquarion Evol – 15
Like we said when we saw it, it’s probably no coincidence that this same, very specific model of car has shown up both here and in another one of Shoji Kawamori’s works, Macross Frontier. No matter where it shows up, it’s one of our all-time favorite cars.

Ao’s Flying Piaggio ApeEureka Seven AO – 01
Okay, it’s not exactly an Ape (Italian for Bee), but it’s pretty clearly inspired by it. Not quite a car, not quite a motorbike, but damned practical all the same. Making one that can fly is the next logical step.

Sakura Ichiko’s Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow – Binbougami-ga! – 01
It’s only seen in for a moment as Ichiko is dropped off at school, but it’s the perfect car for her: something not to drive, but to be driven in, and ruinously expensive.

Mayor Bacchus’ Toyota CenturyMirai Nikki – 19
Bacchus travels in style in perhaps the quirkiest executive car money can buy: a brand-new car that looks thirty years old. It’s still hella cool.

Mr. Tatsuji’s Volvo 240 WagonAnother – 12
Aside from the fact that old boxy Volvo wagons are the mainstay of educators (and cool moms), there’s a certain morbid irony in a Tatsuji driving a car that’s the paragon of safety in a series where no almost no one is safe from a grisly death.

Koko’s Armored Volvo S80Jormungand
We can’t remember if she called it by name (she gave up on “V” trying to name a new car she bought for Ugo, which was incidentally a VW), but one thing’s for sure: while other arms dealers roll in Mercs and BMWs, Koko prefers Swedish Volvo S80s, and while she had to grudgingly abandon one in South Africa, it wasn’t long before she procured another.

Unyuu Rintarou’s Car Collection – Sket Dance – 74
Student Council Treasurer Unyuu Mimori’s family has more money than many developed nations. Among her father’s many possessions is a formidable collection of model cars, along with a collection of the real things. It’s an eclectic, even eccentric mix…but that’s par for the course when you own an underground city. Also, it’s apparent the cars in this episode were hand-drawn, with no shortcut CGI; a nice touch.

BONUS: All of the Background Traffic in K – 01 
It may take teams of video editors years to discover every car cameo in the shiny first episode of K, but it’s not just the volume of vehicles, it’s the quality of the models. They’re shiny, detailed, not all the same color, and add a lot of richness to the background. Sure, they’re mostly CGI models that may have been modeled by a third party and inserted in the animation, but when they’re this pretty, who cares?