Kami-sama no Memo-cho 12

After following a hunch and Major analyzes Angel Fix, it’s determined that one has to take the drug in order to find a source. Narumi volunteers, and has a bad trip as he lurches through downtown, but he finds the hideout where Hakamizaka and a group of junkies congregate. Sou and his soldiers pacify the area, while Alice messes with Hakamizaka right until he keels over from overdose. Narumi then gives Toshi a beating. He continues to visit Ayaka, but she won’t wake up. Alice concludes she didn’t jump because of the drug, but because she didn’t want the school festival to invade the garden she and Narumi had made.

They say you should never get high on your own supply. I thought Hakamizaka was smart, but it turns out he’s just another junkie, who starts to believe his own drug-induced babbling. It was very satisfying to see Alice give him a very buzz-killing dressing down, and even a little cruel, but the guy had it coming. As for Ayaka, the fact that the AF amplified the negative emotions she felt about letting the festuval invade her garden was a good touch. It doesn’t let Narumi off the hook for never noticing trouble, nor does it make Hakamizaka the lone culprit in her demise. She also doesn’t wake up, which is kind of a downer, but works for dramatic purposes. It’s a wonder she’s alive at all, but the hope of her waking up continues to haunt Narumi.

So I believe this just about wraps it up for Kamisama no Memo-cho. I really enjoyed it, and it started and ended strong, and fielded a strong cast in a believable and richly-rendered setting in the heart of Tokyo. As a J.C.Staff piece, this was far better than either Index II (which got buried in its religious mumbo-jumbo) and Ookami-san (the fairy-tail gimmick was half-baked). Neither of those shows had nearly as likeable and original characters as the onese here, and as lolis go, Alice was not just tolerable, but downright solid. I was always wondering exactly how this eleven(?) year-old girl got into the position of bossing a bunch of people around, but hey, sometimes special people are born who just can’t wait until puberty to accomplish great things.


Rating: 4

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Kami-sama no Memo-cho 11

As Ayaka lies in the hospital in a coma, Narumi asks Alice for help investigating her attempted suicide. Alice officially names him her full-fledged Assistant. They soon learn that Hakamizaka, a brilliant young student specializing in plant genetics, is the one behind the recent Angel Fix distribution. Through Toshi, he made Ayaka unwittingly plant flowers in the gardening club’s greenhouse to be used in the producition of the narcotic. Naurmi still doesn’t believe Ayaka tried to off herself after finding out what she’d been doing, but only Toshi and Hakamizaka have the answers. Meanwhile, Sou and his yakuza are scouring the city for the scientist, irrespective of sentimental considerations: their goal is merely to clean up the city.

I liked this episode, where for once Narumi is fighting for a very personal cause – discovering the truth about someone he cared about far more than he initially realized. I’m unsure whether it was anything other than a formality, but Narumi is now Alice’s full assistant. Now that they share a common trauma – Ayaka’s attempted suicide, perhaps she feel it would be best if they collaborated as closely as possible for the best results. Seeing with her eyes and speaking with her voice, he directs the other NEETs to find the information he needs. I had assumed Ayaka was dead dead, but here she’s just in a coma. Thus, the chances of her waking up, while announced as slim, are not nil.

Poor Ayaka. For someone as kind and pure as her to come to the realization she’s been helping to create drugs that kill people must have been devastating enough – but that her own beloved brother was putting her up to it must’ve been worse. She didn’t feel she could tell Narumi any of this. As for the exact reason she jumped, perhaps she was goaded into it – or even pushed – by the likes of Hikamizaka. The guy is your classic mad scientist evil genius with pretensions of grandeur and a thuggish side. But now that he’s a wanted man, he’s even more dangerous, as is Toshi, who seems to be hopelessly addicted to Angel Fix. As for Ayaka herself being drugged…well, you’d think the doctors would have checked her bloodwork by now.


Rating: 3.5

Kami-sama no Memo-cho 10

When Ayaka’s estranged brother Toshi returns, Narumi has to sit out a case involving a new drug being circulated throughout the city and Toshi’s possible role. His job is to keep Ayaka out of the loop, which strains their friendship. It is repaired when he makes new armbands for the gardening club, and the two work on the roof together the rest of summer. But when fall comes around, the shadows return, and even Narumi cannot stop Ayaka from taking her life.

“Don’t get too close…I just spread pesticide.” When Ayaka says this line, moments before they apologize simultaneously, I immediately thought back (as Narumi had a couple times) to something Toshi said…”God, she’s annoying.” With that in mind, I almost thought she said “I just spread pestilence.” It’s a very sad line, because the ‘don’t get too close’ part is almost a warning not to get too close to her emotionally, even though she said it under the pretence of a physical hazard. But the line is given even more weight once the episode runs it course and delivers the most shocking blow of the series: Ayaka jumps from the roof of the school, which kills her.

Throughout the series, so little has been done with Ayaka, and this episode was almost a recognition of that Ayaka shortfall, and a concerted effort to fix that. I’d say it was successful, as it was one of those episodes that didn’t waste a single minute of airtime telling a rich and ultimately tragic story. Considering last week was a lighthearted baseball episode, and all the other episodes where Ayaka was either marginal or absent, I almost wish we could have had more time with her. But the alacrity of her character’s development this week, as well as her precipitous fall and demise, was expertly done, and provided the best drama since the first episodes.


Rating: 4

Kami-sama no Memo-cho 9

When Nemoto, a yakuza, threatens to raise the rent of an arcade the NEETs frequent, they convince him to take part in a bet. If the NEETs beat him at baseball, the rent stays the same. To their surprise, it’s a real baseball game, not a video game, they have to participate in. Nemoto also fields ringers and is himself a former ace pitcher. To beat him, Alice and Narumi need to know what kind of player he was.

I have a soft spot for baseball episodes – even DS9 did one for crying out loud – especially when they bear some resemblance to the sport of baseball. This episode did, somewhat. You had your signs, your uncaught strike three, your out pitch, et cetera. Baseball is every bit as much about brains as it is about brawn, and considering the NEET team had more than a few capable players, I wasn’t that outraged that they won. Whether Narumi could actually hit a home run off of Nemo just because he knows what’s coming is a stretch, to be sure. But as an in-between episode it wasn’t bad.

The arcade at stake is apparently where the NEETs spend a lot of time; the owner calls them regulars. Yet nine episodes in and I believe this is the first time we’ve seen them there. Usually they’re just in the alley behind Min’s ramen shop. It was hard to care about the stakes considering this episode was the first time we learned of the arcade’s existence, and Narumi & Co.’s fondness for it. Still, I liked how they still needed to do some detective work to “solve the case” (win the game). And Alice actually going outside and participating in athletics? Unprecedented.


Rating: 3

Kami-sama no Memo-cho 8

With Sou in the hospital, Narumi inherits the captain’s chair of the Hirasaka group. With this new power, he does what he’s done all along: con others for a good cause. Narumi has no business running a gang, but he does so anyway, by the seat of his pants. He even tells them that the fact they got Renji’s location right after Sou was injured spelled a trap. This wasn’t any proven theory; it was a hunch, plain and simple. But is was true; there would have been a nasty battle had he let them go. As Alice notes, this Narumi is truly a mysterious cat.

He has the Feketerigo concert proceed as scheduled, keeping in contact with both the NEET crew and his minions. Renji’s crew blends in with the crowd. Meanwhile, Narumi has set a trap of his own for Renji, who takes the bait as expected. This sets up a confrontation between Renji and Alice/Narumi, wherein Alice drops a bomb on him: Hison is still alive. His treasured shirt that Hison made was embroidered in the same way as Narumi’s Feketerigo shirt – and by the same person: Hison, or as she’s now known, Yoshiki. As a condition of being allowed to live (and being paid off), she had to give up her womanhood. Harsh.

Sou shows up to exchange a few punches with Renji, but ultimately Renji’s rage and thirst for revenge dissolves once he learns the truth. The concert is a success, Renji ships off for Osaka, and with the Fourth still alive and kicking, Narumi returns to Alice’s side. Alice, for her part, is overplaying her hand vis-a-vis not liking having him around. For somebody as logical and empirical as she is, it’s a bit silly for her to constantly deny what’s plain to a dimwit. Good tea. Nice arc.


Rating: 3.5

Kami-sama no Memo-cho 7

This week was a very talky episode, but a lot was revealed about Sou and Renji’s past, and the question floated: what’s more important, friendship or truth? Narumi is running every which way, carefully extracting tidbits of information, risking dire bodily harm, and trying to piece together exactly what their beef is, and why Renji wants to destroy Sou so badly. All this while checking in intermittently with Alice and arranging all the PR for Mika’s upcoming concert, which hasn’t been cancelled.

Turns out they used to live together with a third roommate, an illegal immigrant named Hison. They both loved and protected her – you could say she was the glue that held them together – but she was no saint herself, working at the bar of a rival gang, and was its leader’s mistress. When the leader’s wife found out, she ordered her killed – even though she was with child. Sou tried to stop it, but couldn’t. These very crucial blanks were filled in by none other than one of Hiro’s conquests, an eyewitness to the incident.

All these years, Sou has been content to keep the truth buried, and loathed anyone digging into it. Renji believed Sou used Hison as a human shield, knowing nothing about the mistress or pregnancy angle. Renji has a gang of misfits working for him and many years of rage for Sou stewing. But whether he think Renji killed her or simply didn’t stop her from being killed, it will be hard to dissuade him from his vengence. In fact, in the episode’s cliffhanger (long arc, this), Narumi gets the message that “Sou is down”, signalling that it may be too late for peace negotiations – the war may have already begun.


Rating: 3.5

Kami-sama no Memo-cho 6

So Narumi’s wild-haired new friend Renji is not only a former Hirasaka group member (his name’s even Hirasaka), but it turns out he’s the one behind the Hirasaka T-shirt theft, along with the concert venue sabotage. It seems he may have a score to settle with his former associate Souchiro, but so far the details of that score remain anyone’s guess.

When Souchiro learns Narumi has had contact with Renji, and after he half-chokes him to death, he gives the ominous reason of “he broke a promise” to explain what happened between him and Renji. For his part, Renji seems to be a bit devious; I for one am not buying his chummy demeanor with Narumi, even if Narumi is. Whatever he’s up to, it ain’t good.

“Once a fool, always a fool” is Alice’s take on the matter, as she doesn’t want Narumi rushing headlong into matters that could get him hurt or killed (Tetsu saves him and Ayaka from just that). Despite her constantly protesting his ineptitude, she’s become quite attached to him. Which is why she lets him go try to prove to himself that he can be useful, equipped with a plush protection owl.


Rating: 3.5

Kami-sama no Memo-cho 5

There are two pairs of series this season we could classify as “Cutesy” or “Heartwarmy”: those are Ikoku Meiro no Croisée and Usagi Drop. There are also a pair of series we could classify as “Lolitective”: Dantalian no Shoka, and this. Despite these similarities, the two pairs are very different, and each have their own appeal. While GAINAX’s lolitective keeps its cast and world quite small and simple, Memo-cho is pretty much the opposite: huge cast with a solid core; huge city full of even more people, organizations, and goings-on.

We’ve touched on the similarities between Dalian and Alice. Both look down on their “squires” (Huey and Narumi, respectively), both speak and think above their weight level, both have their “cutesy” childish sides (both love sugar, Alice loves teddies), and both harbor an admiration and affection for their squires, despite their outward attitudes. This week, Narumi is away from her on business for Soiuchiro, Alice grows wary, and she betrays a little more of that affection, as well as her practical dependence on Narumi. Early in the episode she insists he isn’t her assistant; but she later contradicts that when her armor is down.

But Alice doesn’t just need her stuffed animals laundered and Dr. Peppers opened. Narumi’s presence, and the chores he does for her, help to keep Alice focused, and at the top of her game. Narumi’s duties to the fourth interrupt that somewhat, and she must adapt to his extendend absences. Regarding Narumi, he and Ayaka dive head-first into the world of girl J-rock band PR, darting around the city setting things up. Narumi is a hardworking, friendly and personable dude, so I can see why Soichirou recruited him to do it.

Naturally, there’s a seedy underbelly to this venture, as the band was once promoted by a rival gang, who may make things difficult for Narumi and Soichirou. We’ll find out if and how next week. Narumi also meets a new friend, a crazy-haired chap named Renji, whom he saves from beating up some thugs in a bar, then buys him some clothes. He’s back in Tokyo after three years, and apparently has ties to Hirasaka group. He’s also so good at fighting he’s sworn off using his fists. I’m sure he’ll be put to good use soon.


Rating: 3.5

Kami-sama no Memo-cho 4

Inside, beneath her hard exterior, Min knows she doesn’t make the best ramen in the world. Her father never intented to pass either his business or his recipes down to her, since their relationship was apparently strained. But he disappeared, so she took over Hanamaru anyway.

While she knows she’s not the best, she’s fiercely proud and strives to be better, and doesn’t appreciate ramen snobs taking just one sip then paying. Of course, that snob turns out to be her father, essentially checking in to see how she’s progressing. After all, artists like constructive critique. They don’t like people just walking out without explaining themselves.

The NEET Detectives’ case was very close to home this week, and without any Yakuza or clients-of-the-week, the core cast could shine. An apparent stalker is revealed – quite incredibly – as a bigwig designer at a lingerie company who simply cannot allow Min to walk around confine her “Taj Mahal” bust in something as vulgar and a sarashi. It’s silly, and allows for some fanservice, but the guy says he’s an artist – like Min, only with underwear, not ramen.

Artists can get hung up on things very easily, and are driven by some invisible force to achieve their goals, no matter how ludicrous. This episode really fleshed out Min a little more, giving her some background and depth; she previously hadn’t been much more than Narumi’s stern, cantankerous boss. Here’s hoping we can look forward to more character stories peppered in between cases – or mixed in with them.


Rating: 3.5

Kami-sama no Memo-cho 3

Narumi steps up to the plate, becomes all but initiated within the Shibuya underworld, and even spearheads the plan that will get Meo’s dad out in the open, a very clever gamble involving a huge amount of tiny deposits to his bank account.

A big assist gos to Souchiro the Hirasaka group: after Narumi shares sake with him, they provide a lot of needed muscle. Alice is almost an observer this week, as she gives the show to her new underling, confident that his heart will lead him to the proper solution.

Sure, he gets punched a couple times, but when the dust clears, Meo is safe, her father is safe, and the two are reunited. Narumi not only achieved what he set out to do, but proves his worth to Alice and the others in the process. He even remembers to grab a DoKuPe from the back of the fridge. On to the next case!


Rating: 3.5

Kami-sama no Memo-cho 2

This week Narumi settles into his role as Alice’s manservant. As I mentioned last week, he’s surprisingly gung-ho about it, considering how it disrupts the ordinary life he was having. But unlike Huey and Dalian, this isn’t even close to a relationship of equals. Alice’s powers of observation and deduction are vastly superior to Narumi’s.

Narumi’s strength is his heart, his kindness, his courage, and his inoffensive and harmless presence. All of these skills serve him well as Alice’s assistant. He even surprises himself when he ignores Souchiro’s warning to stay out of what could end up a very bloody Yakuza case. He can’t, because he promised the client – Meo – he’d help her find her father.

Everyone has something to do this week, and despite the serious case involving the rogue money launderer and his unwitting Yakuza-bait daughter, there are still moments of levity. Ayaka and Meo invade Alice’s “cave” to wash her hair, while the reason Narumi ends up at Souchiro’s is to fix the PC his underlings filled with pr0n and malware. Hiro, Major, and Tetsu all do their jobs.

They aren’t bothered that their lives are on the line – and, Narumi has learned, that’s the case with him too. The client comes first. Rating: 4

Kami-sama no Memo-cho 1, Parts A & B – First Impressions

Forgive the pun, but “Memo Pad of the Gods” makes a very good case for itself. It some ways, it picks up in Sibuya where Durarara left off in Ikebukuro by instantly painting a picture of a well-lived in world full of oddballs and secret lives. Narumi Fujishima is our avatar in this rich painting, and for once in his life he feels like a part of something bigger, rather than simply the kid who floats around pretending he belongs.

The new life he fell into fits him like a glove. This first, hourlong episode chronicles his addition to a team of “NEET Detectives” led by the enigmatic Alice, a 12-or-so year-old who possesses detective skills and wisdom far beyond her years, but also gets all weepy. if one of her many teddy bear’s ears gets torn. I also like her calm, logical, curt demeanor. She isn’t a squeaky menace.

But she’s just one of many interesting and promising characters. This agency has a crack team of specialists in diverse fields: Hiro is a suave ‘gigalo’, brother of a yakuza boss, and expert in women. ‘Major’ is a military spy freak who likes to stick rifles in people’s faces. Tetsu is the polic snoop. Min runs and Ayaka works at the ramen/ice cream shop above which Alice resides, in her Lain-like cocoon.

The core cast is plenty interesting, but this series doesn’t fall into the same traps of the latest J.C. Staff series like Yumekui Merry, Ookami-san, and Index II, all of which kinda fizzled. This series feels more honest, and its characters and themes are suitably adult and mature. High school girls losing it and entering the world of vice is not the kind of thing those series would touch upon, but such things can and do happen in the real world, which is what this series feels like.

The first case we’re presented with is nicely opened, investigated, solved, and shut within the hourlong period. Whether future episodes are two-parters like this remains to be seen, but it’s definitely not a bad thing if they are; the story never felt dragged out here, and on half-hour simply wouldn’t be enough to tell it properly.

The people involved in the specific case – Miku, Teraoka, and Shoko, served their roles well, and didn’t feel like throwaway characters. The case itself even had a macabre twist, in which Shoko “froze time” like she had wanted to, by committing suicide in a tub of ice. Yikes, you may say, but horrible things can happen, and it’s Alice and her agency’s jobs as detectives to either ‘tarnish the living to maintain the honor of the dead’, or ‘tarnish the dead to comfort the living.’ I look forward to their next case. Rating: 4