One Week Friends – 09

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Following this show’s convention of naming episodes, I thought “Last Day” this episode’s title referred to was the last day of summer vacation, a day I remember always feeling longer than the ones that preceded it, and with good reason: I made a concerted effort to savor every last minute of it.

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For academic underachievers like Yuuki and Saki, it’s a day to cram a summer’s worth of homework into one day, and for Kaori and Kiryu to politely keep them company. Much of the episode is limited to Kaori’s room, and time indeed slows to a placid crawl. But the “Last Day” in the title wasn’t just about the end of summer, but about the end of all the progress Yuuki had made with Kaori.

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The threat of this happening stayed in my mind throughout the last few episodes, but was pushed further and further back, replaced by hope and optimism. The last day of vacation and the start of the next semester couldn’t have gone any better, and things stay good right up until Kujou Hajime arrives and causes Kaori to faint. And just like that, Yuuki is crushed…as am I.

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I was even, like Yuuki probably was, entertaining the possibility Kaori was getting over her psychological issues with friendship (knowing she’d suffered no brain damage in the accident); that, like her monologue about math and the journey being as fulfilling as the solution, the solution to her problems was something that would come just by continuing to be friends with her, and nothing more.

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But the revelation that Kaori had a friend like Yuuki before Yuuki, made a promise, and broke it, earning his ire, throws the neat, tidy order of that arrangement into chaos. I wouldn’t be surprised at this point if Kaori’s diary fails to rekindle the feelings she once held for him; all bets are off, thanks to the wild card Hajime; whom I’m sure we’ll learn more about, but for now, I’m going to go cower in the nearest dark corner and sob!

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Stray Observations:

  • On the brighter side, we delve a little deeper into the relationship between Kiryu and Saki; basically, Kiryu has always protected and helped her because it makes him happy. And now she’s starting to notice and remember him. They’re exceedingly cute together.
  • When Yuuki trips and falls on Kaori in classic anime rom-com fashion, he meets a very non-classic fate: Kaori isn’t upset in the slightest, and when her mom barges in, she’s excited rather than mad.
  • To have Yuuki and Kaori walk to school together and give them adjacent desks in the back of the classroom, suggesting boundless potential…talk about softening us up with elation before bringing the hammer down.
  • The bleak lighting and lack of color in that nurse’s office was pitch-perfect. Really nice contrast to the heady halcyon summer days.
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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 09

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Due to her absence in the OP or ED as a member of the “good guys”, it never occurred to me that Nanami would be around long, let along join them. When I first saw her last week, she looked like another tool under absolute lab control; water to Kikako’s fire. But Nanami’s differences from Kikako went far deeper than their superpowers, and she gradually leaves all prior girls who have hunted Neko in the dust in terms of character complexity.

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From her love of sweet things (and the dubiousness of her claim about needing the extra sugar for her powers to work) to her observation on how wonderful the outside world is, cracks in the lab’s control gradually build up, until Nanami turns on her handler, and quite effectively so. Her instant powers of memory manipulation are frighteningly wide-ranging, to the point it was only a matter of time before she turned on them. What finally does it is, ironically, meeting her target.

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At first, she dumps her handler out of a desire to take care of the job on her own, for which she believed she’d be rewarded. But as we know, the best reward any of the lab girls is a quick death. She’d know this too, but the researchers are careful. But as she takes in her freedom and observes the interactions of friends, whatever rewards she believes the lab will give her starts to pale in comparison.

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That’s because the lab will always keep her in the shadows; always make her cover her tracks from the work she does. As a result, she’s a ghost. All she wants is to exist in the memories of others, with affection, not contempt. In spite of her nightmarish upbringing and her crazy powers, she remains unfailingly human. And one fleeting day of humanity just isn’t enough.

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While Nanami initially dismisses Ryouta’s offer of friendship, and tries to wipe all of Ryouta’s memories since birth, but he’s protected thanks to his “first write” photographic memory. That failure proves key in her redemption. When she later brainwashes Neko to attack him, Neko calls her a friend. She scans Neko’s memories and learns that they were being genuine in their desire to provide something she wanted so badly, she couldn’t believe it was possible until now.

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Right out of the gate, Tokou Nanami is a compelling, complex, cute, scary character with a well thought-out, efficient mini-arc. After thoroughly exploring Kazumi’s character, the show proves it can do the same with a previously unknown character, one who starts out as a foe, at that. . For these reasons, I’m inclined to call this Brynhildr’s best and most complete outing yet.

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Stray Observations:

  • Kurofuku and Nanami travel in style, in a Toyota Supra Mark III (A70), which bridged the gap between the 80s and 90s.
  • Even the fanservice was subdued, with the girls in the bath underscoring their sudden vulnerability, and Nanami’s tendency to use her body to get attention or money.
  • Interestingly, the show takes after Brynhildr in having Kurofuku regain his memory by the same means as Kaori in One Week Friends, which also aired today.

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei – 09

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This show can be forgiven for its talkiness not just because it often backs it up with awesome action (albeit not much this week), but because of its confidence; its steadfast belief there’s no such thing as too much talk. I noticed a bit of a pattern in this episode of Mahouka: one of seemingly innocuous encounters and discussions escalating into more serious situations.

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Those escalations propel the story and boost our comprehension of relationships and positions. At the end of last week’s episode, Miyuki came down to show her brother her cute outfit, but it turned into much more than that, as Tatsuya showed her he’d cracked the flying magic and let her demonstrated. This week’s first scene has the siblings at FLT, where the research teams in the trenches hold Tatsuya in high esteem and regard him with awe, much like Miyuki does.

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Then the siblings just happen to cross paths with their father and the family butler, neither of whom even bother acknowledging Tatsuya’s presence, as if he’s no better than pond scum. Naturally, Miyuki takes exception to their conduct, and we’re off to the races, with Tatsuya essentially having to calm her from freezing the whole zip code. Tatsuya deals with loathing and worship the same way: levelheadedly.

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This week also marks the return of Mizuki, who hasn’t had much to do the past few episodes. She’s just standing around when she senses something strange, which turns out to be Mikihiko practicing with ancient spirits. Her presence throws him off enough to momentarily lose control, but Tatsuya appears and protects Mizuki with his awesomeness. We learn just how valuable some factions find those eyes of hers—and the lengths to which some would go to obtain them.

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After an awkward launch ceremony, a fairly routine bus trip seems to be underway, with all the requisite mundane high school banter (apparently President Saegusa wants Tatsuya to notice her, Shizuka and Honoka tell Miyuki how awesome they think Tatusya is, etc.). But then all hell breaks loose when a truck explodes in the path of the buses, and several students spring into action at once (too many chefs?). This Nine Schools Competition is so intense, even getting there is a treacherous ordeal!

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