Ushio to Tora – 11

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Ushio to Tora takes yet another detour in Ushio’s journey to Hokkaido to find out more about her mother, but this was a very worthwhile one, checking in on Asako and Mayuko, who miss him. Asako misses him more, and is sighing all the time. All her girlfriends and Mayuko no why, though she won’t come out and admit it.

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Meanwhile, Ushio is back with the kamaitachi siblings, and happens to see an alarmed Asako crying out Mayuko’s name in a mirror formed by a still pond. When he tells Kagari and Raishin what he’s seen, they take him to a youkai who specializes in mirror portals so he can go rescue them. Before they’re in trouble, Mayuko gets Asako to kinda-sorta admit she misses Ushio, recalling the story of how Ushio rescued a handicraft project the two girls worked on from a wild dog and carried Asako home.

Asako, of course already remembers this memory well, having recently dreamed of it. Mayuko’s assertion is that Ushio will come back, just as he always does. I’ll just remark at how adorable Asako and Mayuko are, both in younger-kid flashback mode and wistful reminiscing mode.

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It’s not all peaches and cream though, as an deranged, woman-loving youkai emerges from Mayuko’s antique mirror and lunges at Asako. Mayuko puts her body in the way, and she gets glomped up. But it isn’t long before Ushio and Tora show up (thanks to another mirror, which is awfully darned convenient, but who cares!). Asako tags along on their journey into the mirror demon’s mirror world, and wrest a naked, passed-out Mayuko from his clutches, all in less time than it takes for water to come to a boil.

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Again, Asako finds herself being carried by a scratched up Ushio, realizing it’s him with the spear and long hair, as it was the last time in the belly of that giant youkai a few weeks back. Yet again, the girls are so woozy and disoriented, they seem to dismiss the events merely as strange dreams they had. That doesn’t mean those dreams were reflective of their real affection for Ushio and Tora; it just means that when the time comes for sleepover girl talk, they’re too embarrassed to mention their “dreams” to each other!

Overall, a very warm and cute episode that underscores how close these three characters are and makes it very clear why they care for each other so much. Even in an episode where the girls get saved by the guys once again, Mayuko showed her own heroic side by stepping between Asako and the youkai, while Asako showed guts by following Ushio into the mirror to save Mayuko. I was also just missing Asako and Mayuko, so this episode was just what I needed!

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Shokugeki no Souma – 23

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After Group B’s solid showing, it’s Group A’s turn to shine, and shine they do, and every candidate shines through their own unique methods and specific culinary specialty. And while I get how compressing everyone’s evaluation into such a small space increases the tension and excitement, this second straight episode of such an approach still felt rushed and a times, formulaic—like the show was scrambling to get to everyone before the final showdown between Souma and Akira next week.

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This episode also suffered from a slightly weaker field, starting with Ryo, Alice’s aide. Now, I haven’t quite gotten what I believe to be my fair share of Alice this season, so to focus so much on her aide felt like a poorer use of time, despite his need to compete as a candidate. Still, Ryo makes a pretty intense impresson once he slips on his bandanna and his personality becomes a lot more pushy and assertive, essentially daring the judges to “slurp” and “stuff” to best enjoy his cognac lobster curry.

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The candidate I care most about this week, Nikumi, went next, and didn’t embarrass herself, though like her, I thought she’d score in the 90’s like Ryo. Her pork belly curry looked amazing, and her grateful reaction to Souma’s praise was classic Cute Nikumi. While a much lower profile character than Nikumi or Megumi, Ryoko also distinguished herself by tying Nikumi, thanks to a curry that showcases her mastery of fermentation, as well as time and patience. Still, like Nikumi, she’s visibly pissed she didn’t score higher.

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Rounding out the quartet this week were two more Polar Star residents, who end up tying for second place with 88 points each, 2 higher than Nikumi and Ryoko. Marui, whose room has always been commandeered by the rest of his dorm-mates, shows off his knowledge of culinary history by blending curry udon and vichyssoise. The quiet, messy-haired Shun impresses with a curry in which everything, from the eggs and bacon to the salt that seasons everything, is smoked.

This week ends with two pairs of candidates tied for second and third, with perhaps the two toughest candidates yet to present their dishes. So it’s pretty likely, barring any disasters, that Ryoko and Nikumi will be bumped in what the preview declares will be the final episode of Food Wars.

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