Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie – 05 – River Dance

Exams are over and summer break is here, so the gang takes the train to the river for a day of sun and fun…but not too much sun, since they don’t want their boy Izumi to die. Shikimori and Izumi are their cute selves throughout, while Neko and Inu continue to put out good vibes with the ever-sardonic Hachimitsu in the center.

The quintet preps food for some barbecue, and everyone is shocked by Izumi’s impressive knife skills. When Shikimori makes some ajillo (Spanish garlic shrimp) just for her him, Izumi learns she’s not perfect at everything … but he still eats as much as he can like a good bae because he knows how much heart she put into it.

After Izumi makes everyone S’mores the gang hits the river…though Shikimori briefly holds Izumi back to say they should have them again just the two of them some time. They test the water, which is nice and cool, then Shikimori lets Izumi out of her sight for just a moment, during which time he rescues a little girl being carried off by the current.

Once the girl is safe, Izumi’s foot cramps up, and then he is carried away. Shikimori spots him, and while everyone else panics she dives straight into the water and fishes him out. She’s furious he didn’t call for him to help, but can’t stay mad at him considering he may have saved a little girl’s life, for which she later thanks him with a kiss on the cheek.

Despite the girl being in grade school, Shikimori is still jealous, so when the gang gets gelato, she makes sure she at least gets an indirect kiss when Izumi tastes her cone. She’s about to taste his when Inu comes out of nowhere and gobbles it up. She in turn houses his gelato, and then gets horrible brain freeze, yet still claims victory in her agony.

On the train ride home, one by one everyone falls asleep…except for Izumi. Even Shikimori nods off and rests her head on his shoulder. Izumi reflects on how much fun he had, specifically because he was with Shikimori his friends. He doesn’t take any of it for granted. And when he nods off and Shikimori comes to, she places his head on her shoulder.

Aside from the near-drowning, it was just about as a perfect day by the river as the gang could ask for. Watching them goofing off, having fun, and being just great kids in general really brings all the warm feels.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Spy x Family – 05 – Loidman Saves the Princess

The Forgers seem to be encountering every omen of bad luck on their way to view the posted lists of those admitted to Eden College. And while Loid doesn’t buy into any f that superstition—even Anya stepping in poop—Anya’s name is nowhere to be found. The mission then, has failed before it could truly get off the ground, hasn’t it?

Not so fast…Henderson takes the Forgers aside and shows them that Anya happens to be at the top of the waiting list, which means once there’s a withdrawal—and there are several every year for myriad reasons—she’ll be officially admitted. Yor has to fight back designs to murder the father of a student who got in, while Henderson isn’t sure he’ll be around to teach after slugging his colleague.

The waiting list turns out to be nothing but a formality for creating extra tension leading up to the phone call that comes in announcing that Anya has indeed been admitted to Eden. Loid is ready to celebrate with a party popper in his pocket. His colleague Franky joins them for a feast, Yor gets her drink on, and Loid is backed into a corner after promising to do “anything that is doable” for Anya as a reward for getting into Eden.

That something turns out to be the family and Franky acting out an episode of her favorite TV show Spy Wars at the castle where it was filmed, which is now a theme park. Loid borrows a floatplane and pilots them there himself, making for a thrilling arrival. However, after running around the castle a little, Anya is suddenly sad, because aside from them the joint is deserted.

That’s soon remedied thanks to a call to Loid’s agency, who puts out an APB calling for every agent in the vicinity to descend upon the castle for a Rank SS mission for Twilight. Most of the agents either idolize (in the case of the younger agents) or respect (in the case of the older ones) him as one of their country’s best spies. And so the stage is set.

Franky continues to enable Anya’s increasingly ambitious plans, as Loid becomes “Loidman” who must save “Princess” Anya from Franky, AKA Baron Scruffy. Loid has to wear the mask and gloves and run through a number of obstacles complete with colorful non-lethal weapons, Hollywood-quality pyro, and last but not least, Yor’s literally drunken combat style.

Loid isn’t sure he can keep up with her, but fortunately she breaks a heel and falls asleep. With one swift knockout punch to the villain, Loidman rescues Princess Anya and receives a rousing applause from his fellow agents and a DisneyWorld-scale fireworks show to cap it all off.

You could say the plot of this Spy x Family episode pretty much ends once the Forgers get the call that Anya has gotten into Eden. But the ensuing celebration and lengths to which Loid goes make Anya happy is crucial to the Family part of the show, while the role-playing conceit makes full use of both Loid’s abilities and the resources of his agency.

There’s every indication school life at Eden is going to be tough sledding, so I’m glad Anya got to have a little…hell, a lot of fun for fun’s sake before commencing the next stage of Operation Strix.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Love After World Domination – 05 – Real Steel Feels

That Desumi is the happiest she’s ever been now that she’s dating her sweetheart Fudou probably goes a long way to explaining why she’s obliterating the other princesses in the Gekko rankings. But she’s not content to be happy and successful in love.

When she overhears the Steel Princess dishing with the Beast Princess about someone she loves in the cafeteria (which is not an evil cafeteria…just a cafeteria), Beast wants nothing to do with it, but Desumi is all ears.

Steel’s problem is the same as Desumi’s pre-Fudou: why would anyone love someone like her? She lacks confidence and courage to go after what she wants. Desumi determines that what Steel needs is a strict self-improvement regimen and crash course in femininity.

Beast gets pulled into this scheme with Desumi Steel, but the end result of all the pilates and cooking and makeup sessions is that Steel ends up feeling even more inadequate and worthless than before Desumi tried to help. Beast gives Desumi a distinct told ya so.

During the latest Gelato-Gekko clash, Desumi does what someone does in a stable and healthy relationship: discuss problems she’s having and those of her work associates. The thing is, Fudou doesn’t expect anything of Desumi, just to be by his side.

Desumi’s mistake was making Steel think she had to change and improve in all those areas she never delved into. In reality, if the one she loves is truly right for her, like Fudou is for Desumi, all Steel has to do is be herself.

Desumi and Beast brave Steel’s lair, where she’s erected a tangle of steel spikes to ward off intruders, but Desumi breaks through it and Beast has her back. Beneath her emotionless steel mask, Steel is crying her eyes out, because she hasn’t really given up on love; she’s just not sure how to proceed.

Desumi gives Steel the nudge she needs to cast off her armor—revealing a bust larger than Desumi’s and much larger than Beast’s, inciting the latter’s fury—and confess to the one she loves…who is, of course, Culverin Bear. I thought the joke would be he’d summarily reject her, but they turn out to be a great match in both love and evil.

Fresh off her workplace cupid duties, Desumi decides the time is right for her and Fudou to feed each other the adorable bento she made for the  occassion. The team-up of Steel and Bear proves enough of a problem for the other Gelatos that Blue goes looking for Red, but is stopped in his tracks by Haru, who is determined to protect their secret love.

Desumi is about to place her lovingly made tamago in Fudou’s waiting mouth when he suddenly has a bout of terrible stomach pain. He still tries to assume the position for Desumi to feed him, but she doesn’t want to under such unromantic circumstances, and he soon passes out anyway.

Thanks to Haru being nearby, Fudou gets to the hospital without his and Desumi’s relationship being exposed. Turns out he needed to get his appendix out, and three days later he’s on the mend and ready to be discharged. There’s a very thoughtful bouquet from Gekko’s Supreme Leader Bosslar, wishing him a speedy recovery so they can kill him.

Misaki, Haru, and Big are in his hospital room, but when Misaki tries to feed him an apple he peeled, Fudou clamps up, and Haru snatches the apple instead. After they leave, the apples stay, and after a brief fakeout involving his mom visiting, Desumi arrives to do the feeding.

I like how she goes to the trouble of taking off her shoes and joining him on the bed to feed him properly, and how the usual fake-out of coming within a hair’s breath of touching his lips with the apple is subverted. She’s able to feed him, and the two enjoy another milestone in their romance.

The mood is so nice, in fact, the two are ready to kiss when his mom returns. Rather than freak out at who the beautiful girl is, she takes her by the hand and rushes out, as her volleyball team is missing one. Desumi has no choice but to go with her, and she and Fudou will have to wait for another perfect moment to kiss.

That said, after the credits we see Desumi helping Fudou’s mom crush the competition at volleyball. While walking home at sunset, she also gets a special bonus: seeing a photo of her boyfriend as a not-so-little baby. I love how casually Fudou’s mom embraces Desumi and trusts her to take care of her son.

I’m glad there’s one more person Desumi doesn’t have to keep a secret from. I doubt Fudou’s mom would even care if she knew Desumi was Gekko’s Reaper Princess. If she cares for Fudou and makes him happy, that’s more than enough.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War – Ultra Romantic – 05 – The Truth Is Revealed

Smells Like Teen Spirit of Expression

Oh, my sweet summer child…you didn’t perchance think Miyuki’s rapping was never going to addressed, did you? It all starts when Kei calls Chika asking her big sis to murder her brother. Turns out he’s been practicing at home. When Miyuki tells her there’s no other way to convey his feelings to a certain someone, she’s eager to help him out, just as she did with his anthem singing.

Alas, not only is Chika not remotely inoculated against the scourge of Miyuki’s sea sluggish rhymes, she’s not that strong a rapper herself in the first place, having never really done it before. Still, she stands by the axiom that it’s not how you express something that’s important, it’s what and to whom. Miyuki sets her straight: rap is both a sport and an art, but most of all, it’s a conversation.

Chika’s first attempt at rapping is like watching a baby deer take its first wobbly tentative steps. But once she locks in on the fact that rapping and piano are not that different, she starts to put out something that does more than just bear a passing resemblance to rap. No sooner does Miyuki tell her he has nothing left to teach her, he proceeds to ask her to teach him how to rap. The teacher hath become the student…

Straight Outta Chiba

It isn’t until their training is nearly complete that Chika bothers to ask whether the person Miyuki needs to rap to is someone she knows. He says she does, and we flash back to that karaoke box, where we learn Ai actually opened up to him (presumably before the rapping) about who she is, what she does, and who she works for.

As a fellow commoner who can empathize with what Ai must be going through, Miyuki embraces her as a friend and gives her his number. He uses it to invite Ai to Chiba Park where he has something he wants to tell her. As Kaguya eavesdrops on her employee-sister’s call, she tags along, while Chika is eager for some BL action, believing Herthaka to be a male butler.

With Chika backing him up, Miyuki spits out his feelings, which challenge Ai’s belief that one needs to put on an act in order to be loved. This rapping Miyuki is being his own best self, and sees no reason why she can’t be hers too.

When Kaguya feels confused, lost, and left out, she eventually cut loose with the illest rhymes of the group, on her first try no less! Then she gets cocky and puts Ai on blast, provoking Ai into delivering her own freestyle rap. As with Miyuki and Chika’s raps, Ai’s is accompanied by music-video style dramatizations.

Ai finally comes out as being jealous of Kaguya enjoying her life as a teenager, with all its highs and lows. She wants a friend in Miyuki…with the option to possibly steal him from Kaguya in the future.

They’re in Nirvana…Never Mind

The final segment somewhat surprisingly does not involve rapping, but is the second of Shijou Maki’s visits that put the council in “student” council. She’s joined the volunteer club at Nagisa’s behest…a club that includes just her, Nagisa, and Nagisa’s boyfriend, whom we finally learn after three seasons is named Tsubasa.

Unaware of Maki’s feelings for Tsubasa, Nagisa is transparently lovey-dovey with him around her. As such, she’s come to think of Nagisa as the devil. Yuu and Miyuki warn her that as the couple is in “nirvana”, breaking them up will be nigh impossible. Maki, as innocent as her cousin, is unaware that the Nirvana they speak of pertains to Nagisa and Tsubasa having knocked boots.

In the end, Maki doesn’t get any useful advice other than the kind that is no longer useful: love is all about speed. Once you know you love someone, it’s imperative to confess to them ASAP, lest they get stolen away, as Tsubasa was. Miyuki, exhibiting the same self-awareness as Kaguya did last week, warns her waiting for the other person to confess is just a passive way to save face.

But Maki’s visit isn’t a waste. She can take some solace in commiserating with and warning these boys not to follow her down the path of inaction. Miyuki envisions Yuu with Kaguya and Yuu envisions Miyuki with Tsubame, and they can feel a glimmer of what Maki feels in reality. So the StuCo office will always be open to her, whenever it gets too hard watching Nirvana from the outside.

P.S. There’s a new ED involving the gang rapping and breakdancing on stage. It’s awesome and features some pretty slick animation (as well as more “serious” character design of the characters) and better rapping than any of the raps in the actual episode. Like the Starship Troopers ED, it also ends with a sweet moment of togetherness with Miyuki and Kaguya.

 

%d bloggers like this: