OreShura – 13 (Fin)

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At the OreDere contest, Chiwa goes first, and delivers a heartfelt confession to Eita. Next is Himeko, who has stage fright and clings to Eita in the back of the crowd; the cameras eventually fall on her as she confesses. Ai is disqualified, leaving Masuzu, who arrives on stage disinterested and depressed. Eita works to snap her out of it, joining her on the stage, confessing to and kissing her in front of everyone. None of the girls win. The next morning Masuzu jumps into bed with Eita and tells him she loveshim. Eita tries his aunt’s advice to get the other three girls to hate him, but he fails with all three, and remains on the battlefield route.

A horrible girl like you could only have a horrible guy like me by your side.

You know what? Credit where credit’s due, OreShura didn’t screw the pooch on the ending. Eita chose a route, going for his ugly, beautiful, fake girlfriend and making his commitment to her real. This despite extremely moving cases made by Chiwa and Hime, but particularly Chiwa. She, and to a lesser extent Ai, have been sitting back and waiting so long for Eita to notice them, and…then Masuzu showed up. Theirs wasn’t a real courtship at first, but it became one. Years of being treated as a “jewel” have scarred her, but Eita is committed to making her happy, and positive they’re the only ones for one another.

You might say, “wasn’t this the most predictable ending the show could have come up with?” Well, yeah – we said that in our review of episode one:

Our suspicion is that one or the other or both will lose perspective as the fake relationship becomes more real.

But it was also the most logical, sensible, and satisfying way to end things. A harem was unsustainable and unfair to all participants. And while Eita isn’t able to make Hime, Ai, or Chiwa hate him, none of them can claim ignorance about Eita’s sincerity any longer, and that’s proven when all three girls tell him they had a rough night after the contest. That’s because the lying stopped, Eita made a definite choice and stood by it. The choice isn’t easy for either him or us, as part of us remained sympathetic to Chiwa’s case, but ultimately, we think he made the right one – anything was preferable to perpetuating the harem.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Stray Observations:

  • There’s a great ambiguity to Masuzu’s bed scene with Eita: proof that she’s not entirely sure what’s going on yet, but she’s willing to trust in Eita. As she says, acting lovey-dovey makes her feel like she’s “rotting”, but as long as she’s rotting with him, it’s not so bad. Don’t know whether to say “Baww” or “Yikes” to that, but we wish them the best of luck.
  • Hime remained true to character by being too afraid to take the stage. We appreciated that decision.
  • Ditto Ai, who takes Eita’s random papercut blood to mean he signed the marriage contract. Faced with sad or humiliating reality, Ai retreats into lies, e.g. and commits to them (e.g. “texting Michel”)
  • Chiwa’s stolen kiss on tiptoe…to borrow a quote from this week’s Chihayafuru: SWOOOON. Don’t give up the fight, Chihuahua!

OreShura – 12

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The Maiden club arrives at the beach. Masuzu and Eita set to work trying to convince the other girls they’re a real couple, but they aren’t buying it. Ai tells Suzu she won’t forgive her if she’s just been stringing Eita along. Suzu devises a scheme in which Eita gives her casual kiss goodnight, but before he can, the other girls present them with matching straps as a sign of their membership. The gesture depresses Masuzu, and she doesn’t leave her room in the morning. While on a stroll, Eita bumps into Mana, who tells her she’s glad he’s come to like her, and sees him as a worthy “accomplice” for her big sister.

Masuzu and Eita believed this entire beach trip would be one tense battlefield from start to finish, and considering how they ham it up on the bus, they may not have the resources to succeed in fooling Chiwa, Ai, and Hime, despite how compromised they may be by “love on the brain”. The fact is, Suzu’s three rivals not only get along with each other famously, but aren’t making over-concerted efforts to steal Eita away. They make a gesture here and there, but enjoying themselves at the beach takes precedence. This pragmatism comes to a head when Eita and Suzu’s plan is foiled by chance, when the girls decide to give their club founder a token of their esteem. All of their earnestness wears Masuzu down until she becomes more depressed with herself.

But as Mana points out to Eita in an exchange that becomes surprisingly civil (considering it started with a bike accident and his hand on her bum), Suzu’s sister Mana tells him the whole story of why her sister is so all over the place. As her father’s status symbol, Masuzu has been acting and pretending so long, Mana believes she’s “gone crazy”. Suzu doesn’t know who the real her is anymore, so she jumps from warm to cold, and strings Eita along for the rid. The thing is, Eita hasn’t minded this. He’s enjoyed his time with Masuzu, even the blackmail and abuse. And when she says she’ll release him after the trip, he seems apprehensive. So who’s he ending up with? We’ll see if the impending contest in the finale carries any answers.


Rating: 8 (Great)

OreShura – 11

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Masuzu bristles at Saeko’s assessment that her and Eita are fake-dating, but the standoff ends when Saeko collapses from hunger. After a meal and a nap, Saeko suggests a way the Maiden Club can go to the beach: by participating in a contest at the promotional event for her new game, “OreDere,” which is near the beach. Saeko say’s she’ll stamp the marriage contract of whichever girl wins. Meanwhile, Eita notices that Ai has become good friends with both Chiwa and Hime, but Mazusu is alone.

Oh yeah, about those four girls…do you want to turn your life into a harem? Or do you want to turn it into a battlefield?

One thing’s for sure, this series doesn’t want to be just another harem series. If it did, it wouldn’t make skillful use of Eita’s young but sage aunt to pour cold water over Eita’s little love-in. She’s a designer of dating games and deals with artificial relationships all the time. When combined with her intuition, there’s no way she wouldn’t notice Eita and Masuzu are acting one out. Chihuahua, “Straight-Bangs” and “Tsundere” (both of her!) are all pretty clear about their love for Eita.

Despite Eita and Masuzu’s businesslike meeting at the playground, we still think Saeko isn’t being fair to Masuzu. Masuzu may be in love with Eita, but just doesn’t know it or want to acknowledge it in anyway, because she’d be betraying her anti-love stance. But the time has come for her to decide, like Eita, to choose between a fake relationship and a real one. We agree with Saeko’s insinuation that Eita is too nice a guy to be stuck in a weird fake one…and both he and Masuzu are too young to be giving up on love.


Rating: 8 (Great)

P.S. OreDere? Sounds awful…

 

 

OreShura – 10

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Now with five members, the Maiden Club becomes official. To commemorate it, Masuzu recommends a training trip, and they decide to go to the beach. Chiwa is upset when she learns Ai met Eita first, but Eita notices and cheers her up. The two arrange a trip to shop for a swimsuit, but Masuzu, Hime and Ai also show up. After much chaos, Eita splits his time between them equally. On the way home they encounter his Aunt Saeko, who dismisses Masuzu as his girlfriend and asks him which of the four girls he really likes.

This episode did not start auspiciously; with characters playing off the constructions of their names and each tugging at Eita, which becomes a shopping trip in which they’re all competing against each other for his attention as they try on various swimsuits (and in Ai’s case, a wedding dress that brought back memories of Crazy Gasai Yuno). The first half dragged a bit (with the exception of Eita’s really sweet cheering-up of Chiwa after she stalked off). But this episode improves when things get grounded back into the reality of how they’re going to afford a trip to the beach. And then Saeko appears and bursts Eita’s harem bubble.

Eita’s aunt and guardian has been mostly a no-show so far, but in her first meaningful scene of the series she makes a huge impact. She sees right through and LOLs, almost cruelly, at Masuzu’s false courtesy, calling their relationship fake in front of everyone. She makes Eita confront the truth head-on: he can’t keep stringing all these girls along. He needs to decide who he likes and choose one – even if he likes them all. No one said the choice would be easy, but it is necessary. Did we mention we love Saeko for finally splashing cold water on her nephew? We welcome this latest – and perfectly-timed – disruption of the status quo, and hope the last three episodes follow through.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

OreShura – 09

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After cram class, Eita finds a love diary left behind by Ai. She chases him around the building, finally ending up in a dark room where he demonstrates his own delusions. He returns her book, and to apologize, meets her outside of school to see the fireworks. She leads him to a hilltop where he took her ten years ago to watch them, and his memories of her return. She also produces a marriage contract he promised to sign. He flees, ending up in the clutches of a passing Chiwa and Hime. The next day, Masuzu knows about his meeting with Ai and orders him to kiss her. Ai shows up and announces the club will not be shut down, and she will join as its “love coach.”

In the third episode of the Fuyuumi Ai arc, he finally learns the truth from her own mouth and notebook: she’s in love with him, has always been in love with him, wants to marry him, and Michel the Boyfriend was a lie all along. More importantly, Eita learns this is not just another random girl crushing on him, but someone who was his childhood friend before he even met Chihuahua. We’re glad so much of the air was cleared this week and Eita finally managed remember what Ai wanted him to. While our memories of being six are fuzzy at best, you’d think he’d remember a girl with pink hair who was attached to his hip for an extended period.

Of course, there are still quite a few complications. Masuzu learns instantly of Eita’s “treachery”, and when she makes him kiss her as long as she can take it, it’s pretty clear her affection for him isn’t artificial anymore. Chiwa and Hime seemed to fall to the second tier of Eita’s suitors. As Ai is going to do everything possible to make him stamp a marriage document she drew with crayon ten years ago, well, let’s just say Eita has a very tough choice ahead of him. But he still needs to make one. He may want everyone to be happy, but he can only make one girl happy, while hurting four. He shouldn’t keep stringing the others along, though if we’re realistic, he probably will.


Rating: 8 (Great)

P.S. This marks the third time in the series’ run (of nine so far) where two “7” episodes were followed by an “8”, which is a testament both to its consistent, surefooted pacing, and its knowing when to bring an issue to its head, as it did this week.

OreShura – 08

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Masuzu still isn’t convinced Ai has a boyfriend, so when the opportunity presents itself, she orders Eita to go on a double movie date, in which Chiwa will be Kaoru’s date. Chiwa gets upset with Eita and Ai getting so close and tries to sabotage the mission. They then end up projecting their quarrel upon the two main characters in the film. When it’s over and Eita asks Ai what was going on, she tells him it was nothing.

I wasn’t sure I needed another episode of Fuyuumi Ai’s utterly ineffectual attempts to court Eita. She basically needs Kaoru there at all times to stay on point, and even then, she’s so committed to maintaining her lie about ‘Michel’, she totally undermines any gains she hopes to make with Eita, who’s decided to be a bit thick and not pick up on her body language and behavior as signs she’s into him. The thing is, with sufficient patience and time, both will eventually come around. The only problem this week at least, is Chiwa’s presence.

Aside from it being impossible to snap incriminating pictures in a dark theater, Masuzu badly miscalculated by involving Chiwa. Not that she or Hime would be any better in that role (they wouldn’t). Of course, none of this investigation would be necessary if Ai simply owned up to not having any boyfriend. Now, though, it should be clear to both Chiwa and Masuzu: they have a new rival. She’s currently inept and Eita is still oblivious, but it won’t stay that way forever. At least, we hope it won’t; things need to keep moving.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

P.S. Poor Kaoru…he’s somehow a fifth wheel amongst only four people. Chiwa totally ignores him. We really wish he had the backbone to set Ai straight.

OreShura – 07

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Hall monitor Fuyuumi Ai shuts down Masuzu’s maidens club, but Eita is happy because it means he can spend his summer studying. Ai turns out to be in the same supplemental class as him, and is a childhood friend of his best friend Kaoru. Kaoru tries to help set Ai up with Eita, but it proves difficult. Masuzu orders Eita to discover if she really has a boyfriend as she claims, but it’s news to Kaoru. Rather than come clean, while at dinner with Eita and Kaoru – with Hime and Chiwa stalking them – Ai keeps lying about her fake boyfriend.

On the one hand, there are already three girls going after Eita, and adding a fourth to the harem would only make things worse, if for no other reason than there’s one more character the series will have to spend time on for its seven remaining episodes. The thing is, after the first episode in which she appears for any amount of time, we found ourselves liking Ai just as much as the others. It helps that all four girls are very distinctive in their personalities, and that, as we’ve stated previously, they each have distinctive, legitimate reasons for why they like Eita…not just…’cause. Ai seems like the best match for the Eita of here and now.

He’d never considered Chiwa; Hime is more in love with the past him, and Masuzu, while intelligent, is also a bitch (she admits this). Ai, on the other hand, while a bit of a heel at school, is a bright, hard-working, honest young woman with her eyes on her future, as Eita’s are. She also has a kind and very patient friend in Kaoru, who tries to set her up with his pal Eita. Her problem is, she made up a white lie while on the spot with the other girls, and has only ended up digging a deeper hole for herself. We were hoping Kaoru would interrupt her cascade of lies, but alas…he’s too nice. As long as Eita’s convinced she already has a boyfriend, she has no chance.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

OreShura – 06

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Akishino Himeka wishes to join the club, and after reading from Eita’s notebook about his previous “angels”, Masuzu gives Hime an assignment: writing a poem about what she wants to accomplish in the club. While Masuzu, Himeka and Chiwa are cleaning the pool, Masuzu’s sister Mana shows up, telling Suzu their father wants her home in Sweden pronto. Masuzu initially surrenders, but while she and Chiwa are gone Hime arrives with her poem. Mana swipes it and reads it mockingly while her driver keeps Eita back. They eventually shame Mana into returning the book and Masuzu makes her apologize and refuses to go with her. Hime joins the club, but the hall monitor Fuyuumi Ai threatens to shut it down.

She may express it in an overly stylized and florid, fantastical way, but we don’t doubt that Akishino Himeka’s feelings for Eita are real, nor do we question how she arrived at them. There’s nothing unrealistic about admiring someone who fights to protect those he loves even when the odds are against him. His convictions also inspired Hime, a shy and introverted girl, to believe that she too can break out of her shell and make more friends. The only minor contrivance is that she was in the right place at the right time to witness the spectacle that made her aware of Eita’s existence and led to her falling for him (or as she puts it, unlocking memories of her past life.)

We respect Hime because while we fully understand why Chiwa and Masuzu like Eita, it’s Hime, shy as she is, who is the first one to clearly express her feelings for him. No fake boyfriend pretense; no hanging back and admiring him from afar. She grabs ahold of what she wants and knows why she wants it. Rather unexpectedly, it’s Hime’s newfound courage and resolve – putting herself between a battered Eita and that bitch Mana’s bodyguard – that inspires the haughty Masuzu to take a stand and not go running home to daddy just because there will be hell to pay if she doesn’t. Now she has friends she can lean on if and when the consequences arrive.


Rating: 8 (Great)

OreShura – 05

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Eita receives a number of anonymous love letters. Masuzu is trying to wring info from him when her little sister Mana arrives with a warning of sorts that makes Masuzu shake in fear. Mana also kisses Eita. Masuzu won’t tell Eita anything, and the next day she’s out of sorts, tries to swim in the pool, and nearly drowns. Eita resuscitates her with mouth-to-mouth in front of the whole class, and later says Mana’s kiss didn’t mean anything, and has been “overwritten”. The next day he helps nurse Chiwa, who has a fever. He then confronts his seret admirer, Akishino Himeka, a chuunibyou who was enthralled by his performance at the station. Her embrace of him is interrupted by Masuzu and Chiwa.

Up till now, Masuzu has had leverage over Eita in the form of his incriminating ridiculous Chuunibyou ravings, but she ends up with a lot less power at the end of this episode. Just as she’s aware he’s the author of the note, Eita is now aware that she’s got secrets she doesn’t want anyone to know about, and unless she wants him to pry before she’s ready or willing to tell him, it’s in her best interest to lay off with the notebook. It’s a fair deal. But on top of that, they’ve clearly gone past fake dating – Masuzu isn’t upset about Eita paying attention to other girls because it goes against their “arrangement”, but because she’s legitimately jealous. Much to her dismay, Eita’s never had more girls hanging off him.

Enter the surprisingly aggressive Akishino Himeka. Such is the power of her imagination, she created entire past lives for her and Eita, believing the awakening of her love is only a case of her regaining her memories. Then there’s the whole can of worms with Masuzu’s family. Her sister Mana looks down on her despite being younger, and has no problem kissing Eita right in front of her just for kicks. Neither of these new additions is as compelling as either Chiwa or Mazusu, but it’s admirable that the two main girls didn’t get the short end of the stick this week, despite the new intros. They both had compelling little vignettes that served to reinforce the fact that they’re both in love with him.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

OreShura – 04

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Eita goes to the station to perform recon on Chiwa’s date, and finds Masuzu there doing the same. Sakagami makes her wait an hour, then comes by with his friends to tease her; it was all a prank. Eita runs in and scares them off with Chuunibyou-speak, but when tackles Sakagami when his back is turned, he recieves a beating. Masuzu tosses a pole at Chiwa, who uses kendo to defeat the punks, then apologizes for pretending to like him. The next day Eita has a reputation, and after skipping school Masuzu gives him his first kiss. The next morning, Eita finds Chiwa and Masuzu in his house, and fails to keep them apart.

Due to her mixed signals, we continue to doubt Masuzu’s insistence she’s “anti-love”. Its seems more like she’s “anti-lonely.” She clearly isn’t happy when Eita decides to save the day for Chiwa (the only way he knows how – with a barrage of chuunibyou patter), yet she still throws Chiwa a pole so she can defend herself. While it was the decent thing to do, it was also evidence of Masuzu’s pragmatism. We believe even she herself isn’t sure which feelings for Eita are real and which are fake. We also believe she resents not only Chiwa’s bond with Eita, but her honesty. We’re not huge fans of liars. They only make things more complicated.

Chiwa, for her part, doesn’t even seem all that surprised that Sakagami is a dick. She didn’t really like him anyway. Her mature defusing of the situation with Sakagami (after putting on a kendo clinic) is also no surprise: Chiwa wants Eita, period, and she’s not going to let Masuzu have him. The final act of the episode was perhaps a bit too literal/obvious presentation of Eita’s current problem (if you want to call it that): he has two girls fighting for him and a third – who watched his chuunibyou fight from the shadows – also gunning for him. With his harem quickly expanding, a fake monogamous relationship is about the best he can hope for.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

OreShura – 03

Masuzu borrows from Eita’s notebook to write a script for a dramatic presentation between Eita and Chiwa that will make them more popular. They pull it off, and when Chiwa asks Sakagami out, he accepts, and arranges a Sunday movie date. Eita prepares a celebratory feast for Chiwa, but she doesn’t know why they’re celebrating, and doesn’t know why Eita is okay with her dating another guy. Flashback to when she is first released from the hospital before high school. Eita promises he’ll become the top student, become a doctor, and heal her injuries.

After this episode, we found ourselves disliking Masuzu more than Chiwa, and we honestly didn’t think that would happen. Chiwa loves Eita, and not just as a little brother (she’s actually three months older than him). That was clear in the flashback, when Eita’s parents have abandoned him and her kendo career has been cruelly  prematurely cut short. She wants to make sure he isn’t going anywhere, and he assures her he isn’t. (We also learn that he applies himself in high school for Chiwa’s sake.) So they remain neighbors and very close friends, but never anything beyond friends. Enter Masuzu with her fake relationship with Eita, bourne from her possession of his Chuunibyou notebook.

She comes up with a scheme to get Chiwa a boyfriend, but the only boy Chiwa is really interested in is Eita. The two have had a long, wonderful, caring, real relationship, something far more substantial than Masuzu’s selfish, flimsy desire to deflect attention from herself. But the blame doesn’t rest with Masuzu alone: Eita earns some for being so imperceptive to Chiwa’s feelings – despite improving himself for her sake; while Chiwa earns some for not making those feelings clear enough for someone so dense. Masuzu has only exasperated their romantic impasse. And that’s why we don’t much care her right now.


Rating: 8 (Great)

OreShura – 02

Masuzu informs Chiwa that she’s dating Eita. Masuzu wants to help Chiwa become more popular with the boy by inviting her to the hastily-formed “Club for Young Maidens to Recreate Themselves”, or “Nice Self-Creation” for short. She also conscripts Eita. After Chiwa picks her target of seduction, Masuzu suggests she carry a guitar case around, pretending to be an artist. Chiwa fails in her first attempt, but makes an impression with her target’s younger brother. Masuzu reminds Eita that fake boyfriend or not, he belongs to her.

There’s a possibility we’ll look on these first episodes of OreShura with fondness, as they chronicled a time before it devolved into Masuzu and Chiwa going at each other in mutual contempt, or before those other two girls show up to give complete Eita’s harem. But maybe that’s being too pessimistic. Chiwa may not like the fact that Masuzu is dating Eita, but she doesn’t outright hate her guts, and has even agreed to be taken under her wing. We also learn about Chiwa’s back injury that pulled her goal out from under her, and how Eita respects and admires his childhood friend and neighbor for how she’s handled things. It was a nice little backstory that fleshes her out a bit more.

This leads Masuzu to the obvious conclusion that Eita, on some level, loves Chiwa, and not just on the level of a childhood friend. Thus Masuzu uses her body to remind Eita of his duty to her, and the pain he’s in for if he betrays her. Eita continus to be cowed by Masuzu’s looks and forceful personality, and he doesn’t show off his quick intellect as much in this episode as the first. He even lets himself be forced into a completely random club (What is it with these “nothing” clubs?) composed of just him, Masuzu and Eita – despite the fact it’s a club for girls. This is silly, but at least Masuzu and Chiwa’s interactions were downright civil and endurable.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

OreShura – 01

Kidou Eita is a studybug gunning for a med school scholarship and uninterested in love, but his high school life is complicated when he’s assigned the coveted seat next to the coveted Natsukawa Masuzu. One day she confesses to him in front of everyone. While walking home together, she admits it was a ruse to get the other guys off her back. She uses his diary she found in a used bookstore to blackmail him into agreeing to be her fake boyfriend.

As this was directed by the guy who helmed Usagi Drop, and featuring a lovely pastel-y palette, we hoped this series would transcend is long and somewhat silly title. And man, that Candy Land OP was hard to get through. But what was waiting on the other side was a very attractive, nicely-paced school rom-com featuring flawed characters with potential. It is also a thoroughly safe, by-the-numbers affair inundated with well-traveled themes, but we are not averse to watching different executions of those themes, and the execution in this first episode is praiseworthy.

Among some of the finer qualities is how both Eita andd Masuzu are first presented to us. We aren’t just told that they hate love; we’re shown why. Eita’s parents divorced, found new lovers, and vanished, ditching him when he was in the eighth grade. It’s a contrived past, but it certainly explains his aversion to romance. Masuzu’s beauty makes her an object of constant (unwanted) attention and has been asked out 58 times in two months, so it’s no surprise she’s tired of it and gone all anti-love.

In addition to their mutual cyncism, the two are also very bright and perceptive, cutting through the BS with ease. Their thoughtful banter is the highlight of this episode. Our suspicion is that one or the other or both will lose perspective as the fake relationship becomes more real. There is no question that Eita’s lack of gawking at her is attractive to Musuzu, and Eita acknowledges she’s a hottie (Koko’s lil’ sis!) but for now, things are strictly business. We’ll see how long it stays that way, and how Eita’s somewhat annoying childhood friend Chiwa comes into play.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Car Cameos: The supermarket parking lot contains a Toyota Yaris hatchback, a Jeep Liberty, an Audi A4, a rare Audi A2, and a Prius. A Nissan Murano also drives past the frame.