MM! 12 and Wrap-up

If I was allowed only one word to describe this final episode, I guess it would have to be “cute”. It showed the generous and kind side of Mio, who wanted to help people on Christmas day even while trying to keep it secret that it’s her birthday. She and Tarou bond more, stalling Tarou and Arashiko and making me rethink exactly who was the main love interest.

At the end of the day, Mio’s bond with him came out stronger, as Arashiko was kind of a Taiga to Taro’s Ryuji (to use Toradora as a basic example; that series was on a whole different level than this one). It was also nice to see the series close relatively simply, without any ridiculous shounen parodies or fantasies; just a nice honest Christmas/birthday episode. It really is funny how Japanese seem to go to school even on Christmas day, and the speed with which they organize parties is nothing short of superhuman.

MM! shares the ratings basement with Hyaka Ryouran, and wasn’t anything exceptional, but it did have a relatively novel idea – throwing S&M into a high school romantic comedy – and usually managed to stay funny and interesting. Looking back, I’m kind of relieved one more series is over and done with, but I’m not sorry I stuck with it. Rating: 3

Series Mean Ranking: 2.875 (Ranked 14th out of 15 Fall 2010 Series)

MM! 11

Mio’s a little too rough on Tarou, and he ends up with amnesia. Everyone immediately starts messing with him even more: his mother and sister convince him he’s impregnated them; while Noa hits him with some kind of mind control device. Arashiko tries to help him recover by going on a date, while Mio is tormented by the fact that Tarou looks at her like a stranger.

This results in a face-off between Arashiko and Mio, in which Arashiko finally confesses to Tarou but Mio whacks him with a baseball bat and his amnesia is gone, along with the memories of when he had it. So curing his masochism has made way for the more pressing issue of the love triangle threatening the friendships of all three. I’m relieved that the show only takes Mio and Arashiko’s feelings seriously; the others girls’ affections are presented as relatively ludicrous and shallow.

After all Tarou has exhibited enough kindness and loyalty to warrant the affections of both of them; but the fact remains we’re moving nowhere fast as long as Mio can’t face her feelings for him and Arashiko can’t touch him without putting him in the hospital. It doesn’t help that he hasn’t exactly spent anytime wringing his hands over who he should choose. There’s only one episode left for them to make their respective moves. Rating: 3

MM! 10

After Tarou spent so much time with Mio, Arashiko take it upon herself to train to become more like her. It’s become readily apparent that not only is Tarou an extreme masochist, but Mio is an extreme sadist for always whaling on him (an ordinary girl would fall somewhere between Mio and Arashiko). So Arashiko tries to out-sadist the sadist by challenging Mio to a duel – with Tarou as the prize.

They then proceed to try to out-excite Tarou making use of cosplay, silence, and found objects. Mio’s naughty nun beats Arashiko’s naughty crossing guard, but Arashiko counters with a superior act of silence, defeating Mio’s boxing miming with a blizzard of abusive texts. The third challenge descends into anarchy and a draw, as all of the abuse overwhelms Tarou into unconsciousness.

When he comes to, Arashiko is there to explain her actions (she’s been confusing the hell out of him the whole time). He points out that he doesn’t necessarily prefer sadists, he’s just most vulnerable to their abuse; he likes Arashiko the way she normally is . And we’re all back to normal! However, judging by how game Mio was to try to beat Arashiko for Tarou, it’s clear she feels something for him…even if it’s just the urge to beat him, that’s a form of affection. Rating: 3

MM! 9

This festival episode essentially turns into another date for Mio and Taro. As they enjoy various activities, Yuuno is tirelessly searching for Taro, but always seems to have bad timing. All the while, some kind of cloaked strangers seem to be tailing Mio and Taro…they turn out to be her fan club. They kidnap Taro in Mio’s name, but Mio arrives to save him and talk them down. When Mio and Taro hold hands one more time that night, things have the potential to get serious when Yuuno finally catches up with them.

She’s spent her whole day looking for him, while Mio was with him all along? She can’t let that stand…so she grabs Taro’s hand with both of hers, and predictably, can’t handle it, and sends him flying. This triggers his masochism, but also defuses the love triangle crisis for the time being. Not a bad episode, as it featured a little more dere-dere in Mio, which is periodically necessary to balance her more common tsun-tsun side. Rating: 3

MM! 8

This week was about change, transformations, and the great cycle…of masochism. Mio’s latest scheme to cure Tarou involves hypnosis, but it all goes terribly wrong when he wakes up and they find that he’s no longer a masochist, he’s become a lolicon, and falls for Nao on sight (Nao thankfully has limited screen time here). She hypnotizes him again, but he just becomes a more deranged pervert who terrorizes girls at random.

After still more hypnosis, Tarou is seemingly cured, as neither Mio’s physical and verbal abuse turn him on; quite the contrary, he’s simply in pain. Tarou and Yuuno celebrate finally curing him, and he indeed seems to have lost the only thing that defined his character to begin with…until the next morning, when it’s revealed he now likes dudes; Tatsuchiki specifically.

He goes far to woo his chum, including dressing in drag for the first time (it had to happen eventually). No matter how much Mio and Yuuno attempt to hurt or seduce him, he won’t start liking girls again. Yuuno all but confesses her love to him and it’s like talking to a wall…until a surprise attack from Mio sends him into the stratosphere.

When in this cerebral limbo, Tarou re-opens the door locked by the hypnosis and re-merges with his masochist id. When he wakes up, he’s back to normal. He’s still a masochist, but everyone is relieved, because that is the new normal. This is the closest they’ve gotten to curing him…one wonders what’s left in Mio’s curing arsenal, after nearly destroying Tarou’s brain… Rating: 3.5

MM! 7

Sheesh, two series with beach episodes in as many weeks. It’s all pretty pro forma, until Nao crashes the party with a giant robo-shark, abducts Tarou and Yuuno, and makes them play house with her (with a real house, that pops out of the sand with the touch of a button. Is all this incredibility really necessary?

This is the love triangle the title speaks of: Tarou, Yuuno, and Nao, not Mio. In the house, Nao plays the mistress instead of the daughter, claiming all of the physical abuse Yuuno visits upon Tarou has worn him down, and he’s sought a gentler person to be with. This would make sense if Tarou wasn’t a masochist: it simply isn’t fair that he keeps getting clobbered, not only when he accidently touches her, but when she touches him as well.

But he is a masochist: Yuuno’s involuntary violence turns him on, so it’s a boon, not a liability. Because of this, Yuuno is the most suitible match for Tarou. Nao isn’t satisfied, and drinks a potion that gives her a slammin’ body, but her assistant immediately appears, destroys the roof of the house, and manages to fire bolts of lightning at stationary targets and miss. MM! has its strong points, but action and peril aren’t among them. At least, not since the boxer episode. Rating: 3

MM! 6

Leave it to Tarou’s mom and sister to make him and Yuuno appear downright levelheaded and normal. In fact, if it weren’t for their realistic interactions throughout, this episode would’ve been a total loss. MM! would do well to give them the lion’s share of screen time in its second half.

I don’t like his mom and sister; they simply don’t work as characters. They both harbor unnatural feelings for their brother/son. That’s the only thing that defines them both. They’re not interesting; they’re just drab caricatures. And their elaborate, multi-stage plan to scare off Yuuno fails, because it doesn’t have any rhyme or reason to it. Yuuno just shrugs it all off.

But even their hi-jinx weren’t as bad as the beginning of the episode, when Mio continues to attempt to cure Tarou of his masochism by…dressing up in sexy outfits and hurting him. Hasn’t this strategy already proven futile? Isn’t it really turning Mio into more of a sadist? He likes getting hurt, so try something else already! Rating: 2.5

MM! 5

Mio expressed it best: “What is this?” I’ll admit, there were a couple funny lines, but the rest of this episode was shark-jumping, pathetic excuse for shounen parody. I realize it wasn’t being serious, but in a series with only twelve episodes, why totally waste one on a totally bland, unrealistic new character and a story that makes no sense whatsoever?

Where before he had only two girls after him – Mio and Yuuno, we can thank this episode for adding another to the mix. What will it be, a girl a week now? Each one more boring than the next? This show needs to recover from this nonsensical disaster by quickly returning to what it does relatively well: romantic comedy between people with issues – Not half-assed genre-bending that goes nowhere. Rating: 2

MM! 4

MM! four takes a break from the potential romance emerging between Tarou and Yuuno, and Mio devises a different strategy for breaking his masochism: the power of love. This involves a date between Mio and Tarou that is very carefully choreographed by the school nurse to result in Tarou falling in love with Mio through a number of intimacy-building situations.

Tarou is confused about the line between reality and fantasy regarding Mio’s emotions, but later finds out she had a fever the entire day and takes her to the hospital. He once again proves to her that when someone he cares about is in a spot, he’ll put everything on the line to help that person out. Mio’s respect/admiration of Tarou increases, but at the end of the day he remains a hopeless masochist, so I suppose a new scheme is in order. Rating: 3

MM! 3

Eme Eme numero tres gets a bit more dramatic, as Yuuno’s ex-boyfriend starts sending her threatening calls. Class act, this guy. Anyway, when Tarou comes to her house where she’s holed up hikikomori-style and finds out what the matter is, rather than just clench his teeth and stare into space, Tarou vows to do something about this.

This guy has been beaten severely this entire series, so the fact the ex-boyfriend is a boxer is of no consequence. Tarou can take punishment like a champ; and since a girl isn’t doling it out, he can stay focused. Unfortunately he has no experience actually hitting anyone, only being hit, so it takes a baseball bat from a just-in-time Mio to the back of his knee to get him to land a blow on the ex-boyfriend.

In three episodes, for Yuuno, Tarou has transitioned from just another man to fear to someone who cares about her to shoulder to cry on and knight in shining armor. Yet her androphobia isn’t any more cured than his masochism, and she still has to visualize him as her pet dog. Hopefully, the strides made in their relationship won’t continually revert to this status quo, and they actually start to make progress. Rating: 3

MM! 2

The purple-haired Yuuno, essentially a bystander throughout the premiere, gets a lot more fleshed out in this episode, which was better than the first. It turns out the reason she’s so standoffish is androphobia, something that seemingly afflicts at least one anime character per season this year. Like Inami from Working!!, if a man gets too close, she responds with her fists. While yes, this is a cliche, her explanation of how she got it is actually quite reasonable, and it’s not done ad nauseum.

Yuuno and Tarou’s interactions grow more and more natural as the episode progresses. Mio tricks them into a date in attempt to get them to face their neroses, hopeful they’ll be able to cure one another. After all, Tarou’s masochism and Yuuno’s fear of men have left them in similarly isolated positions. There’s still the potential for their relationship to devolve into more of Yuuno hitting Tarou and Tarou enjoying it, but by episode’s end, they’ve come a long way; both are far more realistic than they were in the first episode.

After hearing that Yuuno’s first boyfriend – the class heartthrob – tried to force himself on her and when she fought back, slugged her, he’s not a happy camper. It will be interesting to see how he handles his next encounter with said classmate, and whether he’ll defend Yuuno’s honor by dueling him. It’s certainly the chivalrous thing to do. Meanwhile, despite the obvious tropes, this show has already exhibited that it can develop characters and relationships quickly. I hope it stays the course. Rating: 3

MM! – First Impressions

MM! sticks to well-established conventions. It’s main character Tarou is a masochist, while the counselors he goes to for help consist of a firey tsundere (his S, perhaps?) who likes beating him and a moe girl who is disgusted by him. Oh yes, and Tarou’s best friend is a cross-dresser. I have to admit, I’ve seen better-portrayed versions of all of these archetypes elsewhere, with the possible exception of Tarou himself; I can’t recall a series I’ve seen that centers around an M in this way.

As with the film Snakes on a Plane, it’s hard to know if such a ‘high concept’ series can sustain itself for more than one episode. I really have no need to watch Snakes on a Plane more than the two times I’ve seen it; its concept is so clear-cut and so obviously cobbled together for the sole purpose of Sam Jackson yelling the “muthaf***in snakes” line, it is somewhat pointless to watch it again. Even the second viewing was a bit of a chore.

MM! came very close to exhausting the comedic value of schoolgirls hitting him and him getting pleasure out of it…after one episode. So I’m a little dubious of this show having any staying power, particularly in an extremely full and (overall) impressive fall season. Still, I wasn’t completely unentertained, so I’ll watch at least one more episode. Even though I have a feeling I already know exactly what it’ll be about (hint: it rhymes with “cataclysm”)Rating: 2.5

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