My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex – 11 – A Mess Under the Hood

Ahhh, is there anything nicer than a scene of two lovebirds talking on the phone just to hear each other’s voices? That’s how the episode starts, and it’s like being wrapped in a warm, fluffy blanket. So serene…but also so bittersweet. After the credits the Iridous have arrived at their relatives’ country house, and Yume meets Mizuto’s second cousin, who happens to be an absolute babe—a megane babe, at that!

When the fam hits the river for a barbecue, Madoka again compliments Yume’s figure and swimsuit, while also noting she’s “watched over” Mizuto since kindergarten. Mizuto is off in the shade reading and being antisocial, as always, but Yume learns that when his mom died, he and his dad must have endured a good bit of hardship, making her that much more determined to protect their new family by rejecting her feelings.

Later that night Yume enters the study of Mizuto’s late great-grandad’s study to tell him the bath’s ready, and finds him reading an old book entitled The Siberian Dancing Girl. Mizuto notes that it is his great-grandad’s autobiography of when he was interned in Siberia. It was the first book he ever read start to finish, and reads it every year he comes to his relatives.

He invites her to read it, and she takes him up on the offer, reading it through in one sitting. By the end, she’s in tears, and notices an old dried tear right next to her fresh one. She can’t help but feel closer to Mizuto, having now read the book that shaped him, which no one else but the two of them have ever read.

The next day, Madoka has laid out yukatas for the fireworks festival, and notices Yume sighing profusely. She quickly diagnoses it as Yume being in love with Mizuto and…Yume can’t necessarily refute that! Instead, she opens up a little to Madoka, who proves surprisingly deft at analyzing Yume’s whole deal, invalidating her feelings and trying to find excuses not to be with Mizuto

Madoka also figures the only thing for it is some direct action. To that end, she finagles things so Yume ends up alone in a relatively small, dark room with Mizuto for at least a half-hour. She figures that should be enough time for Yume to build up the courage to say what she wants to say and then say it.

At first, all Yume can do is look forlorn and say “Mizuto”, but in her head the words are streaming like the river she sat beside. She recalls the weight off her shoulders when they broke up, but she’s full of regret over things she never did that she should have, like call him over the summer, or sharing Christmas and Valentines with him.

It turns out, Mizuto doesn’t have to hear Yume say any of these things. It’s all in her face, and in the tears that start to fall. So he calls her as Ayai—which was just her old last name but sounds so much more intimate when he says it—and says that just this once, they can go back in time. So they embrace, and just hold one another until it’s dark out. They’re not pretending, they’re just being two people, not collections of ideals.

When Yume tells him how she figured Madoka was his first love, he immediately shoots that down; he never had feelings for her. He then tosses a jab at her—something about having so much good for her “on paper” but being a “mess under the hood.” He then says her nose is running, and she reacts, only for him to be kidding. That makes her laugh, which allows him to tell her who his actual first love was without saying it. He just says she loved to laugh. She still does!

I’m officially convinced that this show suffers from a terrible title, especially the English translation. All it does is tell you the surface scenario: step mom, daughter, ex. This is about that, but it’s also about so much more, about everything that came before that, and has managed to make something so wacky on paper incredibly moving and compelling under the hood.

GODDAMN TEARJERKER™ CERTIFIED

Call of the Night – 11 – Here Comes the Morning

Nazuna has put her sudden influx of maid café income to good use, procuring a new bed, floor lamp, a shelf for things, and houseplants (hopefully of the kind that like shade). She hopes the bed in particular will help her cuddle buddy/massage gig. But in what is one of her more questionable requests of Kou, she sends him, a middle schooler, out into the night to find “tired-looking” new customers.

He finds a particularly tired-looking lady on a bridge. The de-saturated palette, trench coat, and smoking habit all point to her being a private eye. Her name is Uguiso Anko, and she’s willing to hear Kou’s sales pitch. They go to a café to chat, and Anko immediately creates an uneasy atmosphere by reciting verbatim the labor laws his boss is breaking, then asks about Akiyama Akihito, quite out of the blue (or in this case, taupe).

When Kou lies that he’s never heard of him, Anko slams on the table and draws in close, the line of smoke from her cigarette twisting in a threatening spiral. Clearly she can smell a lie (and see the bite marks on his neck). Needless to say, Kou is way out of his element here! Fortunately, she backs down and leaves, but also leaves him her card.

When Kou returns without a customer but having hung out with another woman in a cafe, Nazuna is cross, so he’s unable to tell her any details about who he met or who she was looking for. Another night, Mahiru leads Kou and Akira on a fun night out together as good friends, feeling like that hasn’t happened enough since they were all small.

The three sneak into the school and explore the “seven mysteries”, then decide to investigate an eighth, regarding a teacher who went missing ten years ago. Upon opening a classroom door on a lark, they actually find this missing teacher, who loooks haggard as hell and extremely volatile. Combined with the tension of Kou’s sit-down with Anko, this is already easily the least chill episode of Call of the Night.

Shit officially shifts into the horror genre when the teacher repeatedly curses the fact these kids showed up, states how he’s unable to “hold back” any longer, and then pounces on Akira. Mahiru tries to pull him off, and after freezing for way too long, Kou finally clobbers Akira’s attacker with a chair (and those school chairs hurt, lemme tell ya).

The ghoulish teacher is only stunned, however, and as the three ponder what to do in the hall, the vivid blues, pinks, and purples suddenly give way to the near-monochromatic palette that seems to emanate from Uguiso Anko, Private Detective. After lighting a cigarette, she beckons for the man, who is a vampire, to come at her.

But when he drinks her blood he finds it disgusting. Anko says her working theory is correct: this guy hasn’t drunk human blood for all his ten years as a vampire. The man says he was tricked into falling in love with one and then turned into one. Anko simply embraces him with empathy and understanding.

Then she places what looks like a silver ring in his hand, tells him not to let it go, and then dawn arrives, the setting sun causing him to crumble into dust. It’s the first death of a person—undead or not—that the three kids have ever seen, and as you’d expect, they’re in something of a state of shock. Not so for Anko who explains that some of her cases involve vampires.

When Kou asks her why he had to die, her answer is simple: why let a monster live? She then moves in close and grabs Kou by the scruff, warning him that she won’t let him achieve his “dream”, because he doesn’t have the slightest clue about vampires…not really. As the sun rose and the long-suffering, starving vampire fell, so too have the chill vibes.

Kou walks home not necessarily considering Anko an automatic enemy, but suddenly feeling crushed by the weight of what he doesn’t know. Of course, he’d been operating under the ludicrous assumption that everyone who is a vampire wanted to be one, because vampires are cool. It’s a splash of ice water to the face, for sure, and Anko is a formidable and fascinating antagonist, thanks in no small part to Sawashiro Miyuki’s powerful performance.

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