Demi-chan wa Kataritai – 09

demichan9bI’m not sure the dog cookies are a joke… but they sure got an oddly specific bit of screen time without explanation!

The Gist: This week is all about Demi-chans taking control over their demi-abilitites. Detective-kun convinces Sexy-sensei that its finally time to make a move on Sensei-sensei, which will require her to actually understand how her effect works. Later, Snow-chan experiments with drama as a vehicle to make the air cooler and summer more bearable. Finally, Headless-chan experiments with… her ability to tell ghost stories where her head can be used as a prop.

In two out of three cases, Sensei-sensei helps the demi in question with the experiment and in all three cases, the experiments are not entirely successful, although they do lift each demi’s spirits. (and, in Sexy-sensei’s case, give Sensei-sensei a boner)

demichan9atalking about sex appeal with graphs is god damn sexy!

The Verdict: what separates this weeks uneventfulness from previously less exciting uneventfulness was probably a matter of subjective taste. Each sub-section had a little bit more variety than usual (both visually, and in that they were not all about a demi trying to join Sensei-sensei’s harem) and the over all theme of taking control was more consistently delivered across the episode. In short, I respond positively to consistent, nuanced and varied structure in narratives and so I responded positively to this particular episode.

Overall, your milage with Demi-chan remains tied to how much you enjoy its quippy humor, which is tightly written, against how much you care that it’s not really about anything, narratively. There are no stakes, after all, and the structure is more didactic/expositional of the world, than it is a true slice of life.

This week’s humor was just a little quippier, such as when Snow-chan’s quips of Headless-chan x Vampi go ignored by the group, or how warmly Sensei-sensei is internally aware of how he should respond to Snow-chan’s terrible acting. Tight, charming, and better than ‘good enough.’ Go watch!

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3-gatsu no Lion – 20

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After losing the first three matches, and on the eve of the fourth which will determine whether he’ll get to play in his hometown, Shimada has a dream about a seemingly ideal life.

His girlfriend never left him, he gave up on being a pro, and he lived happily in his hometown with a big extended family. Yet even in the dream, there is shogi. As lovely as it looks, it might be a nightmare to him, because he gave up.

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At one point in the final match, Shimada actually seems to be glad to have a “black bog” churning in the pit of his stomach, because he feels alive. The pain keeps him focused from all the people talking no-so-behind his back about how he won’t win a single game.

Rei has to hear the same negativity while on stage with another A-ranker who leaves before the match is even over once he’s satisfied Souya has him where he wants him. The grizzled veteran makes Rei amazed stomach pains are all Shimada has suffered, and how frightening and impossible the prospect of surviving in rank A seems, at least at this point in his career.

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Shimada’s ideal dream/nightmare, it would seem, was a consoltion for the fact he wouldn’t make it to his hometown, because there would be no fifth match. Souta simply silently covers him in layer after layer of snow until he’s well and truly buried.

By the time Rei rushes to the monitors, hoping to will him into the move that could save the match, Shimada has already conceded. Like Rei in his match with Shimada, there was a gap that was simply too wide to be crossed.

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Watching his mentor’s defeat, and everything that surrounded it, is a vital learning experience for Rei. Already convinced he will not attain the heights of previous middle school pros, and always dubious of his own worth in general, Rei sought a reversal of all the pessimism around him, perhaps to also convince himself to have faith things could turn around.

But instead he learns that beyond the storm is just another, more severe storm, and Shimada has weathered those storms, and feels better for doing so. Rei will also have to learn not to wither before seemingly insurmountable odds, nor fear defeat, because win or lose, something is learned, and life is enriched.

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Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu 2 – 09

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When his former big boss goes away for six years’ hard labor, Yotaro has a notion to do a prison show, which is incidentally how he first heard his master. Yakumo performed “Shinigami” at that show, because he liked the chilly, somewhat hostile atmosphere.

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This time, Yakumo performs “Tachikiri”, and he moves many inmates and guards alike with the sad tale of a geisha who died because the letters from her lover stopped due to incarceration.

Of course, after last week’s outburst, part of me was weary of Yakumo being interrupted once again, perhaps this time by an unruly convict. That doesn’t happen, but the sound of Konatsu’s shamisen and voice remind Yakumo of Miyokichi, and she haunts his own visuals of the story.

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After Yakumo tries to see Yotaro’s big “Inokori” show, but leaves because it just…isn’t very good to him (no matter how entertained the crowd is), the old master clears out the old theater and performs “Shinigami” alone by candlelight, in the creepiest scene in the show since he saw those rows of candles after his collapse.

When he completes his tale, one person claps, or rather, one ghost: Sukeroku himself. It isn’t long before his youthful, vital form gives way to the skeleton, revealing a real shinigami has come for Yakumo, and he may get his wish: to die doing rakugo. “Sukeroku” compels Yakumo to toss a candle into the seats, and the whole theater goes up like a tinderbox.

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This would certainly be the end of Yakumo if it weren’t for Yotaro and good timing, who just happens to come by the theater after his performance. Upon the burning stage, with a death god pressing him down, Yakumo admits he doesn’t want to die, and Yotaro stretches to reach his master’s hand and pull him out of the inferno.

Yakumo may not succeed in “taking rakugo with him” when he dies, but he did manage to claim a theater rich in rakugo history in an attempt. What else will he destroy, whether he wants to or not, prior to exiting the stage for good?

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