Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 14

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That’a one ridiculous but also awesome-looking school.

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The school festival arrives. Ayeka and Sasami run a cafe, and when Hana and Rui can’t pay their bill, a yakuza-looking Ryouko is brought in to “hear their complaints.” Washuu shoves Momo into Tenchi, earning Tenchi a rough warning from Kurihara. Ryouko is enraged when she spots Tenchi conversing with Momo.

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…Aaand we’re back to the “present”, when Tenchi is a teacher, on the school’s big festival day. It’s a good venue to check in on just about everyone in this timeline, as well as show us that Tenchi’s not only gained the trust of his students, but for some of them, their affections as well.

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So why exactly does Washuu shove Momo into Tenchi’s chest? What exactly does her plan consist of? What’s she after? For the time being, we can only be content with bits and pieces, not whole answers. We can also expect to not necessarily return right back to all this in the next episode. But whatever Washuu’s up to, love’s got something to do with it.

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Note: If counting the recaps as episodes 5, 10, and 15, then this is episode 17, but I’m skipping recaps in the numbering of my reviews.

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Girl Friend BETA – 03

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Oddly enough, we begin with Murakami Fumio examining a book of nudes by “Gilbert Royal Thorpe,” who Fumio knows is her friend Mochizuki Erena’s favorite photographer. Those who know Fumio are a bit surprised Fumio is friends with someone like Erena, and Erena’s friends are surprised she’s friends with Fumio. After all, the energetic, gregarious, impulsive Erena and the solitary, quiet, bookish Fumio look on the surface like complete opposites.

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In this case, opposites attract, as we go back and learn precisely why Fumio and Erena aren’t just friends, but good friends at that. It all started when an initial encounter on the subway got Erena to notice Fumio, who tends to keep to herself and read. Erena, a photog-in-training, is enchanted by Fumio’s quiet good looks, and appoints her as her muse.

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Erena asks Fumio to be her model for an upcoming contest, but Fumio never really gets a clear response out, and gets caught up in Erena’s rhythm. This could be construed as a form of stalking and voyeurism if it wasn’t being done by the innocent, well-meaning Erena, who’s oblivious to the possibility Fumio has something to say but just can’t say it. The communication logjam gets so back, Fumio ends up smacking Erena’s camera away and the wrong words come out.

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Things are a little awkward for a while, and Erena considers giving up on the contest  now that her muse has rejected her. But when she invites Fumio on a cake date, the truth comes out: it isn’t that Fumio didn’t want to be her model; it’s that she thought she wouldn’t be good enough, since she’s always seen herself as plain, inexpressive, cool. All Erena has to do is show her a photo she took just a moment ago to see how wrong she is. Erena isn’t interested in fake smiles or poses, but genuine, candid emotion.

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Wait…there are GUYS in this school?!

Fumio has more of that than she ever imagined, and Erena was the one who helped her clear up a misconception about herself. Fumio changes her mind about being her model, and Erena ends up wining the contest. And because the rest of the school sees a warm and joyful side of Fumio they’d never seen before, she ends up meeting more friends as a result. This isn’t exceedingly complex stuff, but it hit some solid emotional notes about art, inspiration, and friendship that resonated with me.

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Akatsuki no Yona – 04

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Akatsuki no Yona episode 4 sees Yona and Hak make it to the Wind Tribe’s village. It’s been a long journey for Yona, and she collapses at the castle’s gate soon after meeting two quirky young guards that act just like young-Huk in the flashbacks.

We also get to see the political machinations back at Yona’s home castle. Soo-Won is a not only quick and devious: he’s actually an effective politician. It makes you wonder, given how much power King Il lost for his kingdom, is Soo-Won really that bad an alternate choice?

I mean, aside from the killing-his-way-into-power thing.

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Back at Yona’s castle, Elder Mon-Deok and the other 4 tribal lords have been summoned to crown Soo-Won king. The Fire Tribe is clearly in on this, but its not like any of the tribes really oppose Soo-Won. He is the legit next in line for the thrown and, baring evidence that he actually killed the king, why not?

But Mon-Deok knows Hak and trusts he would never leave the castle in such a situation without a good reason. So he defers his support… and pretty much screws his tribe to harassment by their adversaries the Fire Tribe.

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Back at the Fire Tribe, Yona meets Hak’s adopted younger brother and sees how happy go luck life is with them. It’s all so wonderful until the fire tribe dams the river and starts killing merchants to starve them out…

This ultimately forces Hak to resign as head of the tribe and place Mon-Deok in charge. No longer happy, he and Yona head out into the…wherever they are going that isn’t in the kingdom… I’m not sure. I don’t really understand the map on the wall.

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Given how terrible politically themed shows have been recently (VANADIS!) Yona deserves more credit than usual. Her story is still puppet theatre, but the underhanded moves by Soo-Won work in a straight forward sort of way.

Still, one can’t escape the fact that no action happened this episode, nor the teeth-grindingly dreadful “Little Timmy who needs medicine” character who we met either…

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Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 13

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Ryouko and Mihoshi duel, but a rift opens in the sky and sucks them up. Tenchi and Momo continue their search for her friend, and Touri, Hana, and Hachiko tag along. They come upon burnt sections of the forest and a massive crater. A girl, probably Beni, lies unconscious within a crashed spacecraft.

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Well, that battle was a whole lotta random! We haven’t paid a visit to this storyline since the seventh episode, which is a long time, but ATM seems intent on juggling multiple stores in multiple times, so here we are, back in the distant past, only with elements of the present and future (spaceships, smartphones) accounted for.

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And of course, with just three minutes to play with, the story only inches forward ever so slightly, but the next time we check in, they should find the crashed ship and extract its occupant, providing a little more in the way of answers…or maybe just more questions! Hey; I’m a sucker for temporal whimsy.

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