Chihayafuru 2 – 20

Mashima Taichi, Ayase Chihaya

The team receives their championship awards and banner, but Chihaya’s finger has swollen and Miyauchi takes her to an emergency clinic, where she’s diagnosed with a chip fracture and told to avoid strenuous activity. At the inn, Chihaya lies down beside a sleeping Taichi and recalls the matches that got them to the championship. The next morning she decides to use her left hand to play rather than simply forfeit. The four classes split off, and Chihaya first faces off against Akashi’s aggressive Yuube Keiko, who takes an early lead when Chihaya’s left hand proves too slow.

Karuta is such an obscure game, even in its native Japan, that the physician who tends to Chihaya’s finger has no idea just how intense it can get. Yet even within that incredibly narrow, specific world of karuta, we’ve learned that there’s a universe of complexity, beauty and strength. We also learn that the Chairman of Japanese karuta has a similar belief as Shinobu: that team tournaments are no big deal and even chaotic and “messy” compared to the peerless artistry of the individual tournament. It’s kind of mean for the show to pile on the team-hate immediately after Mizusawa played their goddamn hearts out to win the highest team honor there is.

And even if she values the team matches much more than Shinobu or the Chairman or even Arata, even Chihaya can’t help but buy into the superiority of the individual matches. But she also made a promise to win in every class, and that can’t happen if she forfeits. Thus her motivation to play is just as much honoring that promise to her team as it was buying into the primacy of the individuals. There’s no rest for the weary, and when her first ginger attempt to strike the mat causes extreme pain, Chihaya rolls the dice and switches to her left hand. The initial results are less than inspiring, but who knows, maybe she’ll be able make that hand match the speed of her ears and sense.

7_very_good
Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Porky’s sister makes her brother’s team congratulatory tees in a new deeper blue color. She’s a class act, plus we were getting bored with the powder blue.
  • These individual matches will either continue into a future third season of Chihayafuru, or be so brief as to be anticlimactic  But its not like the team tournament could’ve been stretched across the rest of this season’s episodes…that would have frankly been torturous.
  • Chihaya lies down beside Taichi, but perpendicularly…a nice visual representation of just how differently they think about each other. 
  • Arata is going to college in Tokyo and Taichi is not happy with that.
  • Sumire learns about the childhood friend love triangle and wigs out. Ironically, if Taichi was into her, everyone would be happy…unless Chihaya isn’t really romantically interested in Arata.
  • Shinobu means to crush everyone. So as it turns out, she learned nothing. Oh well!
Advertisements

Oreimo 2 – 08

Gokou Ruri, Kousaka Kyousuke

Kuroneko, now the sacred “Kamineko” goes on her first date with Kyousuke. They go shopping, gaming, and have lunch in the park, and it’s all very pleasant. The next day Kyousuke visits Ruri’s house. After watching an anime, she goes to the bath, and her little sisters meet Kyousuke. The next day Ruri hangs out with Kyousuke at his place. Kirino suspects something’s up and barges in on them, but they’re just playing a game. They also go to see fireworks. With only a few days left of summer, Ruri unveils the last ceremony to perform: breaking up with Kyousuke.

Oreimo giveth, and Oreimo taketh away. Let’s get it out of the way, as surprised as we were that the show did the right thing by making Kyousuke and Kuroneko a couple, we knew, despite our initial excitement, that it probably wouldn’t last that long, so we knew we had to savor the bliss while it lasted. Turns out, barring the first ceremony in Ruri’s Destiny Record to not occur, we were right; this is the only episode in which Kuroneko and Kyousuke are together throughout. And if you’re not a fan of Kuroneko or this new union, then it was a pretty rough and tedious episode to watch. As for us, we loved every last moment.

oreimo282

The couple takes to dating with gusto, with Ruri even changing her cosplay persona and handle to something less sinister. In her mind, she was once a fallen angel, but Kyousuke raised her up, andthey don’t waste their summer together. They go out a ton, have lots of fun, and Kyousuke ends up learning far more about Ruri and liking her much more than before. We love seeing Kyousuke like this, because lord knows he’s earned the right to have an normal relationship with a smart, beautiful girl who isn’t his sister. Too bad it may be that Kuroneko never meant for their relationship to last past the summer.

Kuroneko is still in love with Kyousuke, but she’s also a good and selfless person…maybe too selfless. When she sees how Kirino reacts to her being in Kyousuke’s room as his girlfriend, and Kirino declares her her friend, and can’t stick around hang out with them, we kinda had a feeling this would happen before the hammer falls in the last moments. Kuroneko’s ultimate goal is for both Kyousuke and her friend Kirino to be happy. She can’t see how Kirino could ever be happy with her friend dating Kirino’s brother, so she can’t keep dating him.

Frankly, if we were Ruri, we’d tell Kirino what she told a bruised Kyousuke in their opening scene: “Deal with it.” Sometimes our own happiness comes at the cost of others.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

  • Kamineko’s get-up is indeed quite audacious, but if we were Kyousuke we really wouldn’t mind either.
  • Kyousuke worries about getting a nosebleed from holding Kamineko’s soft, dainty paw, but it’s Kamineko who gets the nosebleed. Kya.
  • We lost it just as Kyousuke did when she suddenly went to the bathroom. Surely she doesn’t want to move that fast?!
  • Ruri’s sister Hinata is a smart cookie. We hope she’ll scold her big sis for dumping Kyousuke.
  • When Kirino put her ear to the wall and heard Kuroneko say things that could definitely be misconstrued…
  • Bravo to Hanazawa Kana for a surperb, layered performance. Ruri has many different ways of speaking depending on whom she’s talking to and what role she’s playing.
  • Poor Kyousuke. Can he convince Ruri to reconsider? We doubt it.

 

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 07

railguns7

Mikoto starts her secret night attacks on all of the Sisters labs in the city, causing significant damage to the experiment. Unable to oppose who he suspects is the culprit, the lab administrator considers a third-party “remedy.” With Onee-sama always out and not telling her what she’s up to, Kuroko grows concerned with the distance between them, and her inability to help her.

Kuroko helps out a young girl, Minori, who is moving away and wants to find a parting gift for her friends. Because Judgment can’t allow her to keep a lost cash card, they help her search for four-leaf clovers instead. When Mikoto is on her way out again, Kuroko tells her to take care; Mikoto thanks her. By the end of the night, only two labs remain operational.

railguns72

We’re always a little tentative whenever Shirai Kuroko is the focus of a Railgun episode, because she’s usually used more for comic relief in the form of expressing sexual desire for her “Onee-sama” Mikoto never has any interest in reciprocating. It can get tedious. Kuroko is best when her character is being treated seriously, as it is this week. She’s dealing not only with increased distance from her best friend, but also concern about what she may be up to. Not knowing for sure makes her feel that much more useless; how can she help Onee-sama if she’s kept in the dark?

If we have a complaint with this episode, then, it’s not in Kuroko’s portrayal of an concerned, antsy, loving friend. We weren’t even that miffed that Kuroko didn’t take it upon herself to insert herself into Mikoto’s business (not yet, anyway). She was distracted by Minori, the girl who stands in the middle of a busy street knowing full well that kids in anime who do that always get run over (fortunately for her, this anime has teleportation). Minori, longing to show her love for her fiends, becomes a parallel for Kuroko. For Mikoto, it’s enough that Kuroko is covering for her with the dorm supervisor. For now, at least.

7_very_good
Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Those clear jelly buns look weird (and “novel”) but we’d still try them. We bet they’re tasty…
  • Don’t stare too long at Uiharu’s flower crown. It doesn’t make sense.
  • We can only imagine Kuroko’s reaction if she ever saw her Onee-sama in her delivery girl disguise, complete with ponytail. Some drool would likely flow.
  • The lab guy, not afraid to let somebody else do his dirty work, will likely recruit another Level 5 to deal with Mikoto. This is why we think Kuroko won’t stay on the sidelines for long.
  • We don’t think he’ll sic Accelerator on her, since that would taint the experiment.
  • That driver needs to have his license taken away. He seemed to have the reaction time of a ninety-year old in a coma.
  • FWIW, we personally believe a four-leaf clover plucked from a verdant riverbank is a more tasteful gift for your friends than a cash card you found in a dirty street. Safer, too!