Hatoko’s Rant

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“I don’t understand. I don’t understand! I don’t understand a single word you say, Ju-kun! I don’t understand what’s good about the things you call good! I don’t understand! I can’t understand! What’s so cool about “Bloody”? I don’t like blood. Bleeding just hurts! What’s so cool about “madness”? I don’t understand what’s good about being crazy! What do you mean by “sinful”? What’s so good about having sin? Is it cool being a criminal? And what’s with “chaos,” anyway? Chaos? What about it? What about “darkness”? You want it to be dark? Between justice and evil, why is evil better? Why do you prefer evil? Isn’t it evil because it’s wrong? What’s so cool about your right arm aching? “I love the feeling of being unable to control my power”? What’s that? That just makes you a fool! It’s much cooler when you have control! THAT’S worthy of respect! What’s so awesome about hiding your power all the time? That’s just slacking off! It’s much cooler to face things head-on, at full strength, without hiding anything! Why do you give everything nicknames and aliases? Having so many different names only makes them hard to keep up with! Don’t use English or Katakana for everything! I can’t remember those! Don’t write “elegy” and read it “requiem”! Don’t write “forbidden” and read it “taboo”! Don’t write “holy war” and read it “jihad”! Greek myth, the Bible, Norse myth, Japanese myth…Don’t start talking about them just because you did a little research! If you don’t properly explain it, I can’t understand what you mean! If you’re going to teach me, teach me right! Listening to explanations about mythological weapons is not fun! Gungnir, Longinus, Excalibur, Durandal, and Ama-no-Murakamo-no-Tsurugi all mean nothing to me! I don’t understand what’s cool about them! All your other terminology is confusing, too! Original Sin, Ten Commandments, Book of Genesis, Book of Revelations, Armageddon…What do you mean by “their names are cool”? It’s impossible for me to “feel it by their atmosphere”! Relativity, Schrodinger’s cat, universal gravitation…Don’t act like you understand them because you read a little on the net! I can’t understand them at all if you give half-baked explanations! Don’t quote Nietzsche or Goethe! When you start quoting people I don’t know, I can’t understand what you’re trying to say at all! Talk to me in your own words! I’m begging you, speak so I can understand you! What is “chuuni”? What does “chuuni” mean? I don’t understand, I don’t understand, I don’t understand, I don’t understand! I don’t understand! I don’t understand a single word you’ve ever said at all, Ju-kun!”

[storms out]

RABUJOI World Heritage List

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Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de – 07

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This week it’s Kushikawa Hatoko’s turn to be the focus, and her story is simple, and very sad: of all the girls in the lit club, she’s known Jurai the longest. As his childhood friend, she’s been by his side almost constantly. And yet, for all that closeness for all that time, she fears she understands “Ju-kun” the least.

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Now in high school and no longer kids, Hatoko is finding it harder to get her share of Ju-kun Time. She thinks she’s gotten just that, at least for a day,  when Jurai invites her to his house to cook for him and his sister. That’s right: despite her agreeing to cook for him, he won’t so much as walk home with her, so concerned is he about Tomoyo’s writer’s block. As he grows closer to Tomoyo, he drifts further from Hatoko…

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But as a couple of flashbacks indicate, as much as she’s been by Jurai’s side, she’s rarely been able to understand all the crazy things he says, or the weird literature he recommended. For years and years she laughed it off, pretending not to care about the lack of connection with him, but each time she did that she bottled up a little more stress.

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Jurai’s increasing attention to Tomoyo, combined with his own refusal to tell her what’s going on because “she wouldn’t understand”, increases that pressure to critical levels, and the sweet, kind, caring Hotoko simply…SNAPS, unleashing a free-wheeling three-minute-long tirade with no breaks about how she’s never understood a single thing he’s ever said to her, before storming out of his house in her slippers and apron, without her cell. I guess she just hit her limit.

Big kudos to her seiyu Hayami Saori for really belting it out; moreso, if she did it in a single take. This was a properly epic rant, and it was even a little meta, for those who may have been a little exhausted by this show’s intricate use of language.

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Jurai is…stunned. He had no idea Hatoko was anything other than nice and happy and stress-free, as bright and cheerful as the sun she cosplayed as a couple episodes back. He doesn’t even realize to the extent he’s ignored and devalued her lately, so immersed has he been with Tomoyo. A chance encounter with Sagami while he’s looking for her doesn’t help matters: he admits it’s always been tough for him and everyone else to watch him and Hatoko, so bad a fit they’ve always been.

Jurai gets depressed and falls down a hill, but Sayumi comes to heal him and help look for Hatoko, and Tomoyo comes too, giving him a slap in the face and telling Guiltia Sin Jurai to get it together, because she doesn’t like seeing him like this. She’s paying him back for helping her out of her light novel funk. I have to say, these two are coming along rather nicely.

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Speaking of chance encounters, Hatoko runs a very long way in those slippers and that apron, and comes upon Hajime of all people by the riverbank. She airs her troubles to him, and he gives her some very good advice, which calls back to his excellent discussion with Jurai about the inherent paradox of being a Chuunibyou. If you can’t understand it, don’t worry; you’re a necessary force in his life precisely for that reason, even if Jurai himself never thought of her that way.

Chuunibyous seek happiness like everyone else, and happiness is more than just love, but being chosen, which Hatoko wasn’t, which is why she’s so upset. But it’s only natural that she, the person who doesn’t understand him, would have an uphill battle against Tomoyo, the person who does.

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Sagami finishes up his lovely Chuuni explanation/pep talk by…oh yeah, knocking Hatoko out with some kind of superpower than calling all his conveniently close-by compatriots to gather round her.

Whoa. So…they all have powers too, right? You gotta hand it to this episode: it wasn’t satisfied with merely exploring Hatoko, but using the escalation of her drama as a catalyst to forward the overarching story, introducing a new force of people with powers…and unknown intentions.

Hatoko may not just need to be found and given a hug and an apology…she may need to be frigging rescued!

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Orenchi no Furo Jijou – 07

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Orenchi no Furo Jijou episode 7 introduces Kasumi-chan, Tatsumi’s little sister. She looks like she’s in kindergarden, which would make her more than a decade younger than her brother but I’m not going to think about those logistics.

Kasumi is staying over for the day so Tatsumi’s parent’s can get something done or whatever and Tatsumi is worried she’ll learn about Wakasa because I guess that would be a problem?

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She obviously learns about Wakasa but, at first, she’d assumed he was some evil woman who was stealing her brother away. The details aren’t important, really.

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Best Moment: during the credits Wakasa catches Kasumi inhaling her brother’s fumes out of an old stinky shirt. Wakasa says “Wakasa has witnessed this” and slinks away. Then DUCKY breaks the fourth wall and says he’s seen it too!

DUCKY WAS THIS WEEK’S TRUE CHARACTER REVEAL!

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san – 07

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san episode 7 introduces Tama the Cat God, who owns a Japanese Café called Nennekotei. It only has a 1 star online rating and she’s obsessed with dolls, which means Kohina-chan is all she has eyes for and, when it hits the fan, Kokkuri-san has nothing to take away from her.

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Obviously Tama snatches Kohina and hides in the cafe and Kohina’s trio of spiritscan not break through the barrier. Fear not! Kohina escapes on her own and I’m sure we’ll see Tama in future episodes…

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Then Kokkuri-san opens a box that has many warnings written on it and is turned into a woman. Kohina is upset because Kokkuri-san’s only notable feature is that he’s a man that does house work, which is sad.

Regardless, the episode doesn’t change him back.

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This week’s most out of context came during Tama’s cafe scenes, where the Halloween horror movie theme was playing totally out of place with the otherwise, non-horror moment. Not exactly non-horror I guess — Tama’s place is inexplicably a spirit nightmare setting, not unlike Kohina-chan’s place in the opening of the first episode but kinda weird choice all the same?

Over all it was a cute episode of G!Ks. Nothing special, exactly. Just a few good jokes and a new character with a straight forward reason to be connected with Kohina.

Carry on…

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Amagi Brilliant Park – 07

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Amagi Brilliant Park gave us a lovely, wacky, riotous seventh episode set in the water theme part of the park this week. Almost everyone in the cast that has had screen time was there — including the trio of ‘normal’ girls hired last week.

In addition to the joyously absurd and funny story it told, episode seven’s biggest achievement may be in how well it juggled all of it’s characters. That I even knew who they all were and could give you more than a sentence about what they were doing in the park, their social relationships, and what mysteries each presents us with at this point in the series is nothing short of amazing.

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Shirobako is the only other show with such a large cast and, by comparison, I couldn’t even tell you who 75% of those characters are without constant name blocks popping up and even then, and all but two or three of them are one-line-worthy archetypical characters.

That’s not the case here, and I can’t quite explain why. Maybe it’s just the advantage of the mascot theme character design? Maybe it’s that each character is part of the park’s structure AND that the park’s cast have a family / societal relationship?

Whatever the reason, ABP’s cast just works and, as I understand a lot of details about all of them, I care for them in addition more than just a source of silly jokes.

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So what happened?

Macaron, Moffle and Tiramie are entertaining the kids at the water park and Kanie-kun tries to spice it up by sending in Sento and the Fairy Quartet to play fight in sexy pirate gear.

Unfortunately, Sento’s acting range is limited (she is a Royal Guard after all) and only the quartet’s resident airhead Sylphy brings any passion to the table — and even she’s off-target with her creepy shark hand puppets instead of a gun or cutlass and random Chinese(?) sayings.

Also Jaw the Shark mascot apparently turns into an actual, horrifyingly-realistic shark when he gets wet.

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Then all hell breaks loose when the gate that connects the Magic Land and earth ruptures. Jaw and Chuujou Shiina, who’s still pronouncing everything wrong and dirty, are swept away.

Then real magical Pirates emerge from the gate, intent on launching a raid into the park.

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The real pirates make quick work of the pretend pirates, subdue Moffle and Macaron (Tiramie immediately betrays them at the prospect of lady slaves), and even captures Princess Latifah, who was just passing by.

All the while, Adachi Eiko is narrating the events and translating the fairy and mascot chatter to the guests, who’ve been tied up and are confused but generally enjoying themselves. She’s delightful and her come-hither/kid-friendly hybrid voice is perfect for the loopy goings-on. (more mystery: Adachi appears to understand all these different languages…she’s no ordinary AV-starring human!)

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After grabbing the mole people, Kanie-kun saves the day using the pirates’ own ship and their fear of Jaw against them. In addition to the pirates being seals, who instinctively fear sharks, Jaw is much scarier than usual because he’s wet, and a red-snow-cone-syrup-covered Bandou Biino happens to end up stuck in his mouth).

All’s well that ends well and the day ends very well for the park: They’ve gained a new attraction, more cast members (the subdued pirates) and above all else the guests were very excited about the day’s visit. Even Jaw wins, as he’s promoted to the new pirate cast’s boss, earning him a place of respect and purpose at last.

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Amagi Brilliant Park is the 4th best show airing this season but what does that mean? What makes it less impressive than Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (#1/2) but more impressive than InoBato (#5)?

Obviously, ABP is very well-crafted. Its art is vibrant and drawn well, and has space to breathe and depth. It’s story holds a steady pace, the characters and humor are quirky but clear. It even knows how to slow down and give us quiet, thoughtful breaks to develop its characters and emphasize the moments of action.

But those points only explain why it’s a great show, not it’s relative place.

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What sets it above is InoBato is a clear sense of purpose. Wacky it is along the way, but we’re reminded at the end of every week, if these people don’t improve the park’s attendance, tragedy will strike. It just has more purpose than InoBato’s harem target-of-the-week format with occasional tangents.

In fact, it can be argued that the wacky antics and happy framework around this conflict create a subtle underlying dread beneath everything. That’s not even getting into Latifah’s mysterious (and hinted at: sad) backstory with Seiya nor Sento’s desperate bid to win his love and respect, park be damned.

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However, this same clear, purposeful but nuanced structure loses out against Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso’s relentlessly emotional, focused story of loss and unfulfilled love. ABP’s characters are rich, interesting, and specific, but they aren’t believably real people.

And ABP may be well drawn and full of lively action, the extremes of that action (within the confines of real space and peoples’ imaginations) lack Uso’s masterfully personal touch.

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Regardless, this week was so funny it made my sides hurt. Moffle and Tiramie remain high marks for the juxtaposition of their happy kid-friendly/adorbs exteriors and deeply deranged adult interiors.

Even without them, the show continues to add mystery without feeling bloated and string us along with the good stuff. Humor and tragedy. Longing and satisfaction. ABP remains great stuff!

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Girl Friend BETA – 06

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This week, a cafeteria out of sweet potatoes, a half-overheard conversation on the stairwell, and a curious passage in a 30-year-old yearbook lead to a cascading confluence of green-skirted first-years. Now that’s random!

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First-year go-getter and light music club member Asahina Momoko is afraid the second-years Kurokawa and Kazemachi think she’s a rude pain for being so casual with them, as it’s poor etiquette in Japanese schools for the underclassmen to be too familiar with their senpais. Momo’s friend Hazuki Yuzuko is swept up in her efforts to mend fences, which leads to the fourth wall-breaking shot above.

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Momoko’s goals cross with occult club member Amari Akari and curiously star-eyed Miyauchi Nozomi, who are trying to figure out the cryptic yearbook message, which seems to relate to re-forging connections and something red-clothed in a golden field. Two more freshmen hear of the investigation and they set to work.

In the end, Momoka’s first mishap of the day, waiting in line for sweet potatoes only for them to be sold out when she got to the counter, turns out to be the answer that both solves the yearbook mystery and help her apologize to her senpais, and that’s with a big basket of sweet potatoes under a tree.

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At least, it’s the answer they go with; the true meaning of the passage remains unclear. But Momoka had no cause to worry to begin with, as she left before hearing the rest of the second-years’ talk, which allowed for casual interactions between firsts and seconds in the light music club, where cohesion is so important.

While not quite as good as the study group or cafeteria episodes, this GF BETA continued the show’s ability to draw from its vast collection of disparate personalities to tell unique, detailed, and ultimately charming stories.

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