Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei – 03

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After being swiftly, decisively taken down a couple of pegs by the first-year Course 2 student, all Hattori can do is apologize to Miyuki and walk out quietly, but not before remarking that the tests that determine who’s a bloom and who’s a weed don’t relfect Tatsuya’s skills. In fact, those tests have a tremendous blind spot, where Tatsuya lives and thrives.

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The analysis of the fight between the witnesses assembled got into fairly technical territory, but everyone was impressed enough—and the terms were intuitive enough—to conclude that Tatsuya uses magic like no one else they’ve seen, combining it with Kokonoe’s intensive ninjutsu training. As everyone marvels at the ingenuity and resourcefulness, Miyuki merely smiles with pride; she already knows what he’s capable of. (Later, she can’t help but show herself off to Tatsuya, and his auto-heal gambit is a neat twist on the Jealous-Sis Attack.)

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After this week, the rest of the school will know too, very soon. Watanabe admits she’s grown weary of the rift between blooms and weeds (and the terms themselves), and sees Tatsuya not possessing the ideal skillset and disposition valuable disciplinary officer, but as a living, breathing, ass-kicking symbol of the fallacy of the current status quo. She puts him to work immediately, patrolling the maelstrom that is club recruitment week.

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Tatsuya takes to his new duties like a duck to water, wasting no time swooping in to save Erika from a grabby mob. She inadvertantly rewards him with a peek at her cleavage, but forgives him when he accompanies her to the kendo club. She decries the sport as dull and staged; he posits that they can’t be anything else since true martial arts battles consist of two people killing each other.

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And that right there is Tatsuya in a nutshell. The blooms perform flashy “exhibitions geared for publicity” that dazzle bystanders and earn them top marks, fancy badges, and the superiority kick that comes with them. Meanwhile, Tatsuya quietly, calmly works in the shadows, assessing; not showing anyone his hand until it’s too late for them, as it is for the kendo members who try to impede Tatsuya’s duties.

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Nisekoi – 15

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Last week I lauded the addition of Tachibana Marika to the cast, and my positive impressions were only reinforced this week. Among the hesitant, dilatory Kosaki and the tsunderes Seishirou and Chitoge, Marika is a breath of fresh air. She’s aggressive about her feelings for (and legal claim to) Raku in a way the others simply haven’t been, and it feels like her approach is already influencing Raku while simultaneously making his choice a lot more difficult.

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The memory of meeting and falling for Raku is still fresh in Marika’s mind, as she tells the story of how he visited and played with her while she was bedridden. Even back then, Raku was a kind, decent fellow. When she brought up the subject of what kind of girls he likes, Raku told her, and ever since then, she’s made herself into that ideal. She put the work in and kept the flame burning, something you can’t say of any of his other suitors.

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Raku also finally gets Kosaki, Chitoge and Marika together to brief them on the situation: there are three keys, but only one locket. Marika doesn’t remember anything about the other two any more than the other girls do, only the memories involving her and Raku, and the locket is still being repaired, so the moment of truth is postponed. But regardless of whose key opens the locket, Marika is working to make Raku hers, even as Raku clings to his certainty that Kosaki is the one he presently loves.

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As I said, she’s succeeding due to her uncompromising devotion and aggression. It doesn’t matter if he hasn’t accepted the engagement; as far as she’s concerned, they’re all but married already. As such, she invites Raku to her penthouse home to meet her father, who is frikkin’ HILARIOUS. In addition to being voiced with gusto by Tachiki Fumihiko, he’s scary as all get-out; far scarier than any yakuza Raku’s met. There’s abundant comedy just in watching Raku squirm, and it’s just as funny how Marika acts naturally through all of her father’s intense outbursts.

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When it comes down to it, though, Marika’s father gets the full truth out of Raku, and turns out to be a fair, perceptive man who obviously cares for his daughter. Whatever Raku has going on, be it another girlfriend or a girl he’s really in love with, he reiterates that at the end of the day he must keep his promise and make Marika happy. There’s no threat in this statement; it’s simply plain words from one man to another, both of whom have staked their honor on this arrangement.

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Perhaps the best part of this episode of all is when Marika asks Raku in the hallway how she could further transform herself to make herself more desirable to him. Taking a page out of her book, Raku is truthful and aggressive, heaping all the praise she deserves upon her, and telling her she’s cute, awesome, and sweet, regardless of her hairstyle or accent. I’m inclined to agree.

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