One Week Friends – 11

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We’ve known for a while now that Kaori’s memory loss dates back to when she suffered an accident, even if the injuries she sustained weren’t necessarily the cause of it, but rather something psychological. Now we find out more about the events that led to her getting in that accident, from the mouth of the guy who blames himself for everything that’s happened to her: Kujou Hajime.

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Yuuki is understandably curious about what happened at the crepe place—a confrontation that might not have happened hat Yuuki skipped cleaning duty and been on time, mind you. Hajime surprises him by gathering two other former friends of Kaori, sitting down, and laying it all out. What happened was as simple as it was heartbreaking.

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It boils down to the fact that, like Yuuki, Hajime always considered himself more than “just friends” with Kaori, even though they weren’t strictly dating. This led to other girls in the class thinking they had a shot at him. When Hajime invited Kaori to meet him alone in a park before he moved away, he inadvertently set her up. Her friends turned on her, and the shock of that led to a moment of poor judgement, leading to the accident.

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Stepping back and looking at things, the accident was just that—an accident—but Hajime couldn’t help playing with cause-and-effect scenarios in his head. But even if he had done what he couldn’t: confess to Kaori and go out with her, those girls were still going to be jealous, and might well have said those terrible things anyway. Also, it was elementary school…not exactly a bastion of rational or mature thought.

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Kaori, for her part, seems willing and able to turn the page on those dark days, because they were the past and she’s a different person in a different place with new friends, and history doesn’t always repeat itself. The one who is weary is Yuuki, who sees too mny similarities in his situation with Kaori to be optimistic, notably the way Kaori refers to him as “her special friend,” exactly what Hajime thought he was.

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Even knowing the mistakes Hajime made, Yuuki is still terrified of repeating them, since he’s letting his heart rather than his head drive his actions. And he may be right: continuing on the path he’s on may result in Kaori losing her memories of him, and losing her completely. For my part, it pains me to see him so caught up on what could be that he’s blind to what he has, here and now. Avoiding her isn’t the answer, that’s for sure.

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Saki, of all people, has been the one person totally upfront about what she has, and made an attempt to take it. But doing so has put her and Shogo in an awkward situation where she thinks she made him angry and is scared to talk to him, and he’s seemingly too scared to set things straight. Like Yuuki, he may benefit from switching his brain off a bit.

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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 11

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Valkyria is all fired up after killing the witches, but one of them, Hatsuna, turns out to have regenerative powers, and survives the attack, gaining her freedom. Hatsuna happens upon the observatory where Neko and the others are hiding out, unaware that her target, 1107, is Neko.

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When she first goes in she’s shocked to find them all dead and covered in blood, but they’re only playing possum, in case she was Valkyria, not an unwise gambit to employ considering how powerful she is. When a phalanx of riot police try to arrest her, she blows up a mountain with antimatter. Yeah, you really don’t want her thinking you’re alive when you meet her!

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We don’t learn a whole lot about what makes Hatsuna tick, but she’s a virtually invincible A-rank witch with no beacon, so she could be a powerful ally. She’s dubious of Ryouta’s commitment and utility as an ally to the girls, but when she tests him, and he risks his life to save hers when the test goes awry, he not only makes her feel silly for doubting her, she also falls for him on the spot.

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Kazumi had previously been the most romantically aggressive with Ryouta, but most of her behavior has been teasing, covering up her own nervousness and inexperience. Not so with Hatsuna, who plainly, clearly confesses to him, asks to be his girlfriend, and kisses him. It’s a quick, but he did save her life, and like the others, she’s never known a human as kind as him.

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The witches’ creator, master, and tormenter, Ichijiku Chisato, isn’t interested in kindness, but in unravelling the mysteries of life. He doesn’t care how many people suffer die if it nets him answers. He doesn’t hesitate when he sends Valkyria, whom he calls Fujisaki Mako, nor does he hesitate to speak his mind to her. Such is her psychological conditioning, one slap to her face causes her to fall into his arms, sobbing and submissive.

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Of his “toys”, Mako certainly seems to be his masterpiece, a witch who can use eight different kinds of magic, some of which we haven’t seen yet…yet she’s just another piece of meat to him, the weapon that will help him inch closer to those truths hes so interested in. Still, Ryouta has amassed a pretty impressive coven, and its not unreasonable to believe all of them working together could give Mako a run for her money.

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The only problem? Pills. There’s only a week left of summer vacation, and only a week left of pills for the girls. If only one girl takes all the remaining pills, she can survive long enough for Ryouta’s uncle to make more. In love with Ryouta or not, Hatsuna is hiding her personal pill supply from the others. Kazumi suggests they draw lots, but one by one, the others bow out, all giving their reasons.

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The old, selfish Kazumi would have said “Fine, thank you very much!” and taken all the pills. But As Ryouta noticed earlier when Kazumi included Hatsuna with the pill distribution: Kazumi has changed. She’s come to see the group as her family; they’re going to live togeher or die together. And what is her reward for this newfound selflessness? Ryouta discovers that Neko is definitely his childhood friend, drawing the two closer together than ever before. Poor Kazumi.

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And oh yeah…Valkyria has found them. Poor everyone.

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2014 World Cup: 100 Seconds Short

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At the end of a football-packed day in which Greece fell to Colombia in the first Group C match, Japan got an early goal by Honda to take a 1-0 lead that they couldn’t quite hold, as Ivory Coast equalized and took over the lead in a second half offensive burst in which both goals were scored within 100 seconds, the fastest interval of the tournament so far.

Japanese players and fans alike wore their hearts on their sleeves, as one should at such an event: alternating between the rapt elation of the goal and the deflated dejection of ultimately falling short of a victory.

Now Japan looks to even their record and gain some points against Greece on 19 June. Greece looked physically and mentally up to the task but seemed to lack the creativity to overcome Colombia’s set pieces. We’ll see if Blue Samurai can keep their hopes of advancing alive in what is still an open Group.

Photos, clockwise from top left, by Jamie Squire, Mark Kolbe, Jamie Squire, and Keith Tsuji, Getty Images.

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei – 11

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Mahouka rebounds from a dull episode by being—Shocking Truth—not dull, as the Nine Schools Competition (NSC) finally kicks off and we actually get to see some of the competitive events. Mahouka hums along with its trademark show-and-tell method, in which we’re shown the action of an event in progress while being given play-by-play and analysis from the spectators.

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When executed with a proper balance, as I thought it was this week, the method works well in providing simultaneous education (about the show’s rich magical universe) and entertainment. There’s also a creative, diverse mix of magical sports: Battle Board, Speed Shooting, Crowd Ball, and Ice Pillars Break; all of which First High girls Watanabe, Saegusa, and Chiyoda, respectively, straight-up dominate.

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Interspersed between the official events are an equally diverse array of nice character beats between Tatsuya and several characters, starting with a kind of pep talk to Mikihiko, small talk with Honoka, an informal powwow with his military superiors, Miyuki visiting his hotel room late at night (for an innocent purpose), the whole gang hanging out in his room (which felt very high-school-y), and the most intimate encounter he’s had yet with Saegusa, who seems to be pressing her attack.

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These were all good beats, but I think I liked that last one best. There’s nothing silly or awkward about Tatsuya and Saegusa’s rapport, and like many anime characters of her status, Saegusa seems to be attracted to the fact Tatsuya isn’t intimidated by her and doesn’t put her on a pedestal. She says it feels like having a little brother, but that’s also perhaps what she’s looking for in a boyfriend; something like an equal.

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This episode didn’t solve the problem of how only a handful of the vast ocean of characters seem talented enough to be at the NSC, though it did reinforce the power of the ones who were, nor did it start the impending rivalry between Tatsuya and the Third High kid. In fact, the other school kids were only ever on the losing side of things here. All the success this week suggests First High will face some actual adversity soon, whether from the actions of the No-Head Dragons, or the fact the fellas haven’t been pulling their weight.

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First High can still win the tournament despite the lads’ slacking, but they’ll have to win the majority of the remaining events, and depend on an exemplary performance from their rookies. This may also herald Tatsuya’s entry in the tournament as a competitor and not just a tech. Finally, his fellow Tech Izumin certainly had an ominous vibe about her, didn’t she? I wonder if she’ll also be a source of future trouble at the NSC.

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Mekakucity Actors – 10

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It’s been abundantly clear for some time now that Mekakucity isn’t particularly interested in presenting a linear narrative, preferring to blend episodes of the present with glimpses of the pasts of the characters involved in that present, for us to better understand, or more to the point, care about said characters.

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This week, the present is mostly placed on the back burner in favor of Kozakura Marry’s backstory. Wouldn’t you know it, she’s the granddaughter of the “monster” in the fairy tale. One day, fearful townsfolk come to kill the monster, but she fiercely protects her husband and daughter Shion—Marry’s mom—before leaving them, and the world.

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Marry was raised to believe her eyes would turn others to stone, just like her grandmother Medusa, but her life of lonliness grows intolerable, and she can’t help but cry out for help. Help arrives in the form of Seto Kousuke, who has eyes just like hers, even if they’re embued with a different power. In any case, a connection between two kindred spirits is formed, and the rest is history.

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The entire flashback is neatly framed by a dream the present-day Marry is having while nodding off, when she’s supposed to be keeping an eye on Amamiya Hibiya. This leads to her finding Konoha and bringing him back to HQ, and after seeing Marry’s mom and dad, we couldn’t help but wonder if Honoka’s resemblance to them was intentional. In any case, Akiyuki Shinbou certainly has a thing for manipulative asshole snakes…and now that we know where Marry is coming from, we care about her more than we did before.

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