Joukamachi no Dandelion – 04

jdan41

This week was highly Akane-centric, but the episode really mixed things up by offering her story from multiple perspectives, starting with her cat Borscht, who through Shiori’s ability we know to consider plastic more fun to chew on than the substandard kibble he’s subjected to. He assumed wrongly that a royal family would serve better grub.

We also watch Akane through the eyes of her admiring best friend Karen, who seems to harbor a girl-crush on her royal friend. Because she knows Akane so well, she’s paralyzed when it comes to how to break it to her that she came to school not wearing a skirt.

jdan42

Karen knows no matter how she breaks it to her, Akane is going to die of embarrassment, so that lack of a skirt just hangs there, like a Chekhov’s Lack of a Skirt if you will, waiting for someone else to break it to her. Her classmate, “President” Fukushima, simultaneously points out to his male peers the possibility not only could there be no skirt under Akane’s long sweater, but no underwear as well. He also does nothing to stop the charge of every guy in school once they learn Akane will be climbing some steps.

It’s a little sophomoric, sure, but it’s nicely staged, and the built-up tension works right until Akane assures everyone that no, her skirt ripped so she’s wearing her gym shorts…only to lift up her skirt to reveal nothing but panties. And confirming her true feelings for Akane, Karen’s nose bleeds along with the he lads’.

jdan43

With that trauma behind her, the next day Akane learns (from StuCo Veep and older sister Kanade) that the school will participate in a town beautification mission, requiring she go out and be exposed to the world and all its cameras for far longer than she’d like. And yet, she doesn’t want preferential treatment, and is resolved to simply power through it.

That makes Fukushima change his mind about fixing things so Akane doens’t have to leave school grounds. As Kanade herself convinces him, it’s not just good for her to face such things, but he’ll get to see her get embarrassed, which is the cutest thing in the world and one of the reasons Fukushima gets up in the morning. That’s because he’s President, not of the StuCo (as Akane wondered, and goes on a failed wild goose chase to confirm), but of the Akane Fan Club.

jan44

Pivoting the club to respecting her will to endure the clean-up day rather than simply make things easier for her gives Fukushima extra energy and motivation, which Akane is quick to pick up on, wondering if he was always so intense and commanding. When it comes to supporting her as President of a fan club devoted to her, he doesn’t mess about.

Borscht bookends the episode, first by communicating his dissatisfaction with the food (complete with flamenco guitar and a deep, passionate voice), this time he curls up on Akane, but not because she feeds him. No, her flat chest is the perfect balance of rigidity and warmth, reminding him of his bedding when he was a stray. It’s a surface that even Hikari (on a non-magic-related growth spurt, to Akane’s horror) can match.

Knowing a black and white cat who always sleeps on a slight incline, this is exactly the kind of stuff I imagine goes on in their heads.

8_ses

Akagami no Shirayuki-hime – 04

aka41

What makes Shirayuki such a delight to watch isn’t just her striking hair, but her warm, striking, magnetic personality, and the fact that she’s not perfect, or even fully formed; she’s still searching and exploring, working hard and learning something new every day, picking up stones in sequence as she paves her chosen path.

And yet, it’s not a path she needs or wants to walk entirely alone. Zen may be a prince, but first and foremost he’s a friends, and someone who can calm her of exam nerves simply by resting her hand on his…and certainly not by using his position to get her a job.

aka42

This week Shirayuki plunges into the world of court herbalism, first by meeting the castle’s chief herbalist, Garak, and then being given a small garden to tend and test her skills. She wants to do this right; gain the position with her own strength.

Zen, who as we know is under Shirayuki’s spell (who wouldn’t be?), is worried about her, so when he sees lights on in a greenhouse, he checks it out and they end up together, just before some unseen person locks them in together. His amplified concern is clear when she mentions a toxin in the water and he grabs her as if to save her life (the toxin isn’t harmful to humans).

What could have been a silly conceit, or an attempt to sabotage her exam through the appearance of nepotism, turns out to be something far more enticing, because Shirayuki changes the tone of the situation. Whether they’re locked in or not, she’s detected a toxin in the aqueducts that could kill everything in the garden if she doesn’t act quickly, even if it means having Zen help her. She simply rolls up her sleeves and gets to work.

aka43

The sun rises, and with it comes Garak to unlock the door with her assistant. She’s surprised to find Zen there, but when she questions why Shirayuki let him help, she frames it as a matter of his highness’ safety. She also asks Zen why he doesn’t just snap his fingers and make Shirayuki is a court herbalist with his authority.

Garak probably already knows the answer that Zen gives her: that would defeat the purpose. Shirayuki doesn’t mind the occasional helping hand, but she won’t have someone doing all the work paving the road ahead; that’s hers to pave.

aka44a

Garak is impressed with Shirayuki’s skills, diligence, and I daresay wit, and passes her, making her officially an apprentice court herbalist. She’s paired with her superior Ryuu, who despite being a socially awkward little boy, is the herbalist version of Natural Police. 

Ryuu also tends to go with the flow, so when a patient comes in and refuses to be treated by Ryuu (fearing he’ll be made a test subject), Shirayuki wastes no time putting the asshat in his place, showing us her short temper for baseless conjecture, ignorance, and general prejudice. Fire-kissed hair, indeed!

aka44b

It doesn’t just hurt Shirayuki that the guy said those terrible things about Ryuu, but that Ryuu put up no defense. She’s been actively fighting for her freedom and her own kind of life for so long, she herself is ignorant to those like Ryuu who are more water than fire. When Shirayuki calls Ryuu “foolish” for telling her to let it go; it happens all the time, Ryuu is shaken, afraid he’s already ruined another relationship.

Still, the waterworks do come for Shirayuki when Garak, realizing she’s with Zen more than any of the other apprentices, decides to give her Zen’s medical records, so she knows what to do in “emergencies.” This isn’t something often given to a prospective girlfriend, but her position calls for it.

While I’m sure Garak probably saw it as a prudent, practical gesture, when Shirayuki reads through the journals intricately documenting the suffering Zen went through to work up his resistance to poisons, she is thoroughly shaken. And with good reason: she truly does care about Zen, and it’s more than fealty.

It turns out to be Ryuu, who sees her crying, who runs to Zen pleading for him to help her. Ryuu may have thought it was all his fault, but Zen knows that it’s his own. He also knows that Shirayuki isn’t going to turn her back at those records, but they might go down a little easier if their subject is right there beside her, alive and well.

aka44c

That’s exactly what Shirayuki needed, and when she returns to Ryuu both apologetic and grateful, everything turns out to be fine. And with Shirayuki smiling brightly, practically, glowing in the daylight, Ryuu not only betrays a blush, but stealthily confesses his affection for his new apprentice by telling her the plant that was the focus of her exam is his favorite because it’s “red and pretty.”

9_mag

Gatchaman Crowds Insight – 04

gmci41

Well, that was weird.

After deploying in full force last week (save O.D.) and Tsubasa making her big debut on the battlefield, the Gatchamen find themselves at a crossroads. VAPE’s leader has been caught, and relatively easily, but then again, he doesn’t put up much of a fight. Why should he? He accomplished everything he set out to do. The Red Crowds were a menace. He suspects most people will think no differently about Blue Crowds.

gmci42

A great blow has been dealt to Rui’s dream of updating the world. But not all Gatchamen are on board about that being their purpose. “We’re heroes”, Tsubasa says again and again about her and the rest of them; that means when Rui is in trouble, she came to rescue him, even though he didn’t want to be rescued. Joe and Tsubasa remain of similar minds: endorsing Crowds is not their top priority; protecting the people is.

gmci43

While the Crowds have never been more feared by the public, opinion on the actual Gatchamen (and on Gelsadra) remains high, to the point Millio wants her and Tsubasa to be regulars on his TV show, perhaps ditching O.D. in the process. In an even stranger development, the Prime Minister resigns after the VAPE attack and calls for smartphone elections…again. This time, he makes it clear a vote for him is a vote for the continued presence of (Blue) Crowds in society.

gmci44

While Gel is certainly a popular idol, she believes the best way for her to enact real change on Earth is by winning that election. When she’s told she’s just a little girl, she transforms into an adult man—heck, why not? She’s an alien! I’d say she has a decent shot at winning. Does that mean the Crowds will be put on the back burner, replaced by Gel’s different approach of “uniting minds” and sowing mass happiness? Will the rift between Rui and less pro-Crowds faction of the Gatchamen widen? Times suddenly feel very uncertain.

7_mag