Sakura Trick – 12 (Fin)

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With Mitsuki about to graduate and move on to college, her window to tell Haruka how she feels is rapidly closing. She finds the right moment in her kitchen at her graduation party to confess and ask her out. After denying those feelings for so long, it was gratifying to see not only come to grips with them as a reality in her life, but actually try to do something about it.

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To do so requires courage, but also selfishness, but Mitsuki finds her opening when Yuu tells her she and Haruka haven’t exchanged confessions of love yet. It’s pretty clear that any situation where Mitsuki would snatch Haruka away would hurt Yuu, but that’s a bridge she’ll cross when she comes to it, and in any case, she doesn’t know Haruka’s answer; asking to meet after the graduation ceremony to hear it.

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The thing is, Haruka herself doesn’t really know how to respond. She hasn’t really given much thought to what it means to be doing all of the things she’s done with Yuu; the two have just been living in the moment and going for it. It isn’t until Mitsuki comes in talking about being “in love” and “going out” that Haruka starts to consider that that’s what she and Yuu are doing. She “loves” Mitsuki too, but it’s pretty clear it’s not the same as her love for Yuu.

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So yeah, Mitsuki is pretty much rejected, but it’s not the end of the world (nothing on this show is); and she goes off to college with Rina, who holds a flame for Mitsuki but isn’t as forward about it as Mitsuki was with Haruka. Maybe down the road that will change. In any case, we close out the series with Haruka and Yuu still very much together and in love and having confessed to each other numerous times. As the new school term begins, their sakura-colored life goes on.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)
Average Rating: 6.583
MyAnimeList Score: 7.51

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Sakura Trick – 11

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In spite of Trick’s light, feathery, low-stress, non-confrontational tone throughout its run, we had a feeling it was waiting until the end to finally unveil a major conflict regarding Haruka and Yuu. The first half of this episode was almost suspiciously mundane, as we meet Mitsuki’s replacement SumiSumi (who talks like an old man) and everyone brainstorms an event to honor Mitsuki and Vice President Sakai.

It’s all pretty standard fare, complete with Haruka and Yuu making out near the end, until you realize they’re not hidden away somewhere, but in the school hall for any passersby to see. And Mitsuki and Rina do see; the lovers’ increasing boldness has gotten them caught. Mitsuki angrily scolds them, but directs it all at Haruka, forbidding her to kiss Yuu.To Rina or any other casual observer, this would seem like normal conservative big-sister behavior.

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But we know better what’s eating Mitsuki. The moment she chided Haruka to “wake up”, we knew there was the possibly she’d realize it was time she woke up herself about what she’s feeling. Scolding Haruka was less about protecting Yuu or upholding wholesome values, but about deep-rooted and repressed jealousy.

Subconsciously, she’s making it so if she can’t have Haruka, no one can, and certainly not Yuu. Despite her dalliances with Haruka, Yuu is still a “good girl” who respects her elder sister’s authority (not knowing about the jealousy influencing it) and keeps away from Haruka, but doesn’t like it.

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We like how rather than despair and mope like she might in the past, Haruka stays positive and figures out she can still kiss Yuu if they’re sold as stumbles and trips; capitalizing on her reputation for clumsiness. But one can only keep that up for so long; and it doesn’t solve anything.

Still, it is notable that after getting away with everything for nearly a year, Haruka and Yuu’s sakura-colored relationship is in trouble, because they weren’t careful, but also because Mitsuki has ulterior motives. But it isn’t treated like the end of the world for them, only the potential start of a new world for Mitsuki, as she finally considers the fact she’s in love with Haruka too.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Sumisumi is…kinda boring. Seems extraneous. We like her mustache insignia, though.
  • The upperclassmen look far more refined adult-like, but they’re all eating pudding in hopes of getting racks as big as their beloved ex-president Mitsuki’s.
  • While Mitsuki has been obsessing over Haruka, she hasn’t noticed that her Veep might just love her. We just met Sumisumi but we trust her intuition.
  • When Haruka admonishes Yuu for groping her, the theme that plays has shades of “Omen.”

 

Sakura Trick – 10

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The first half of the episode is titled “A Snowy Day, Memories, and an Impact”, and it contains…well, all of those things: an unexpected and rare snowfall entices Haruka and Shizuku to eat lunch outside despite the oppressive cold. Haruka wants to at least give it a go because she realizes they may not get another snowy day in the final two years of school.

Making the most of the time is a slogan Haruka’s gotten from Katone before, and which Shiuzuku recognizes. Kotone eventually comes outside and kisses Shizuku right as she’s thinking about making memories. But as the other five girls carouse and have snowball fights outside, next year’s student council is being put into place, and Kanae takes the opportunity to mention to Ex-President Mitsuki that Yuu and Haruka are dating, bringing the issue to the fore for the first time since Mitsuki herself caught them in Yuu’s room.

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There’s no game here; Kanae seems genuinely preoccupied with Haruka and Yuu’s official status; maybe wondering why they haven’t told their friends despite the fact their status is obvious. Mitsuki may dismiss it, but she’s clouded by her own feelings for Haruka. In any case, the same traits that make Kanae a good trickster also make her a good observer; she knows what she’s seen, but she craves concrete answers. She even tries to test the waters by dropping hints in front of Yuzu, to no avail.

The fact is, Haruka and Yuu aren’t in a hurry to tell everyone they’re a couple (though there seems to be a mutual understanding with fellow couple Kotone and Shizuku) They hesitate kissing while Yuu is on the ladder (which is dangerous!) since Yuzu and Kanae are right below her, but end up making out anyway (the angle is such that no one ever sees anything.) They continue to stay mum and ride their luck. But as Kanae says, even if they all found out, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Well, it might be for Mitsuki…


Rating: 6 (Good)

Sakura Trick – 09

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Ah, the inane phone conversation of inordinate length between lovers. When can’t stand not being around someone but talking in person isn’t possible, it’s a serviceable if imperfect option. Contact is contact, even if it’s just of the audio variety. Yuu gets on Haruka’s case for holding her up for dinner (being late for dinner being a serious matter in many households), but she doesn’t hang up, either, and far more time goes by than either of them thought. They even end up exchanging kisses on the phone.

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Mitsuki’s crush comes into play both when she’s jealous that Yuu is talking to Haruka, and when she sees the two linking arms on the street. When Kaede and Yuzu cross her path, she wrangles them into a plan to get her to link arms, though says she wants to do it with Yuu, not Haruka. They tail the couple, and Kaede discovers them necking under a playground structure. Mitsuki doesn’t see or hear anything, but when she starts to run off and trip, she gets the close contact with Haruka she’d been hoping for all along, so it works out.

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Even the phone call and the arm-linking stories weren’t enough to fill a whole episode, so Trick changes gears in a bonus third part in which we learn about Yuzu getting her scooter license and Kaede playing various tricks on people (cementing her role a\s the trick in Sakura Trick) All this is to say, no one suddenly reverted to a state just after falling from a bridge, no one cut their hair out of frustration from their unrequited love, and no one dumps someone like a ton of bricks. You want that kinda nonsense, you need to watch something else!


Rating: 6 (Good)

 

Sakura Trick – 08

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The two stories this week share a theme of assumptions based insufficient information. The first, in which Yuu gets the idea she and Haruka are getting married right away, turns out to be wrong. While it’s not her fault the phone connection was bad, she let her imagination get ahead of itself, bypassing simple logical hurdles like the fact Haruka didn’t even propose. But while it turns out to be someone else’s wedding, both Yuu and Haruka revel vicariously in the ceremonies.

Like Yuu assuming they were geting married just like that, Haruka assumes that because her dad doesn’t want “some guy off the street” marrying his daughter, it means he’ll be fine with her marrying a girl, when that very well might not be the case. But as is made clear when they can’t resist kissing and are nearly caught by Haruka’s mom, while their assumptions may be unrealistic (or at least premature), their passion for one another is very real indeed, and powerful. So powerful, in fact, that the couple hits the first legitimate bump in their relationship, which is explored in the second half. Here, Mitsuki assumes that Yuu and Haruka are acting far more distant towards each other than usual.

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This assumption turns out to be right; even if Mitsuki isn’t yet aware of the depth of Yuu and Haruka’s love, she knows the two aren’t squared away, so she decides to help them make up at the Christmas illuminations. But even when Mitsuki gets the two alone together (getting herself separated from everyone else in the process), Haruka and Yuu are still reticent and tentative, like we’ve never seen before. Each is afraid of letting their passion take over and go too far too fast with the other, harming what they have.

But while they were worrying about that, they were harming what they have anyway. Yuu remembers and repurposes her sister’s words of advice (which regarded a platonic relationship), and the two figure it out. They learn they’d been harboring the same concerns, as hearts that are destined to come together are wont to do. Hearts that are new to this kind of love can lead them to ache—as running around and doing physical stuff without stretching taxes the muscles and lungs—but Haruka and Yuu are resolved to soldier through it.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

 

Sakura Trick – 07

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Leave it to an earnest, uncynical show like Sakura Trick to be upfront about the fact that half of this episode would be heavy on the fanservice. That being said, it wasn’t merely a showcase of the casts’ T&A, and the venue of the swimsuit-donning was carefully chosen so as to create some uncharacteristic tension and drama, however slight and fleeting.

Kotone’s little sister Shinobu has always resented Shizuku for stealing Kotone’s attention away from her, something that started when Shizuku first showed up. She decides to put her foot down and insist Kotone return home. When she makes this demand, both Kotone and Shizuku seem to wait for the other to do something, but it’s Haruka and Mitsuki who end up acting; the latter calling for a race to settle matters, which Shizuku ends up winning, returning us to the status quo. Like we said: fleeting.

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The second half involves Yuu wanting a new scarf, and even when Shizuku shows up wearing the scarf she wants, which was the last one at the store, Yuu still wants the scarf she wants. It’s the kind of puerile selfishness Yuu knows she can get away with with Shizuka, because for the most part Shizuka loves doting on her. When we first heard “shopping” we immediately thought: “Well, they’re obviously going to end up making out in the dressing room.” That doesn’t happen per se, but Yuu does end up kissing Shizuka as an accompanying reflex to her happiness over finding an even cuter scarf.

In fact, Haruka and Yuu have gotten so used to making out, they even do so while Kotone and Shizuku are in the room; fortunately they’re very unobservant and/or don’t care. They also steal a long underwater kiss in Kotone’s pool. The show may have blown temporary clouds over Kotone and Shizuku, but it was nothing but clear blue skies for Haruka and Yuu. And as we’ve oft repeated, that’s not such a bad thing.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Sakura Trick – 06

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A lot of sewing has to get done for the play the girls will be performing at the culture fest, so the group decides to spend the night at school working. Yuu only really agrees because Haruka will be there, but Shizuku also decides to stay because Kotone’s there. The rationale is, why go home and be alone when you can spend more quality time with the girl you love? It’s a no-brainer.

The second half jumps to the day of the festival itself (there’s no gratuitous sleepover hanky-panky scene), and like Yuu last week, Haruka is left out of the lurch and finds Mitsuki stealing her Yuu-time away. When she finally meets up with her, she’s hurt, but ultimately lets it go, as she appreciates that it’s Mitsuki’s last festival.

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Yuu rewards Yuu’s forgiveness on a secluded balcony where they kiss for the entire duration of a rock concert, and then…simply keep on kissing. Combined with their rolling around on the floor of the room where they shared their first kiss, the makeout quota is most assuredly met this week. Moreover, their matching hairstyles during this scene is another symbol of their steadily progressing love.

Additionally, Haruka’s hair crumbling Laputa-style was awesome, and the entire concert scene was nicely animated—both the band and the couple behind the curtain. Sakura Trick has proven nimble at balancing breezy, relaxing school slice-of-life with energetic yet convincing romance, and guided us through the dreaded “festival episode” with deft efficiency.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Sakura Trick – 05

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We’ve already talked about how Sakura Trick isn’t interested in putting up barriers to its main couple’s happiness for the sake of drama, preferring to focus on all the small yet significant romantic ups and downs they experience daily. The greatest threat had been Mitsuki, but her spying is now motivated just as much by her own unwanted feelings for Haruka than out of any disapproval.

Conflicts between Haruka and Yuu are kept petty, but Yuu is still hurt when Haruka leaves her behind to go to a cafe that in real life would get sued by Starbucks. Again, the show keeps a nice balance between Haruka and Yuu; both have experienced fear of abandonment, even if in all those cases there’s no cause for concern. Yuu admits that she’s being selfish today, but with the belief that she deserves to be now and again. Haruka obviously doesn’t mind her clinginess in the least.

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Looking outside the main couple, Ikeno Kaede is being consistently portrayed as the trickster in Sakura Trick; and this week she exploits Mitsuki’s penchant for snooping on Haruka and Yuu by cornering her after the couple notices her (Kotone later says she’s seen Mitsuki snooping a lot, but had never brought it up). But when Mitsuki is around Haruka, she panics, culminating in her lying down to accept the kiss of the Prince in the Snow White skit practice, unaware it’s a speech-only play.

Haruka would have kissed her, too, had Yuu not performed an emergency headbutt. But while the Mitsuki/Yuu rivalry shows promise, it’s also interesting to note that the pair is growing progrssively bolder, with Yuu dropping her hood over her and Haruka so they can make out…in a room full of classmates. They seem to tacitly grasp the fact the universe seems to be rooting for them, and take full advantage of any and all fortuitous opportunities.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Sakura Trick – 04

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As it turns out, Yuu managed to convince Mitsuki that she tripped and fell on Haruka. If that sounds like a cop-out or delay of the inevitable, it helps to remember that this show does its best to avoid protracted conflicts or drama. Instead, it prefers to focus on the little “mini-dramas” that are always prevalent in loving relationships (regardless of gender) in which separation of feet can feel like miles, or hours of being apart can feel like days.

Haruka stresses out whenever Yuu gets near another girl, but Yuu is always there at the end to assure her there’s nothing to fear. We liked how Haruka admitted that she liked how she and Yuu were different heights, and how Yuu was briefly “taller” than her while sitting on her lap. It’s little details like that which prove the show isn’t simply interested in cheap yuri fanservice, but in fully and carefully illustrating why Haruka loves Yuu so much and vice versa.

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Of course, Yuu’s hasty trip excuse wasn’t all that effective, and ever since, Mitsuki has been suspicious and interrogatory,even conscripting Kaede and Yuzu to spy on them for her. Acknowledging that going behind their friends’ back is wrong, they observe the couple anyway, but they show a sort of unconscious loyalty by delivering a crap report back to Mitsuki. We may see Haruka and Yuu making out all the time, but they’ve typically been careful to do it in seclusion; their only slip-up involving Mitsuki’s walk-in. They also rely on a bit of luck, which is what happens when they’re invited out for fireworks by Kaede.

When Kaede is nowhere to be found and lots are drawn, Haruka thinks a test of courage is afoot, and it’s sweet to see her fantasy comes true when a frightened Yuu turns to her for relief. Of course, the one inadvertently scaring Yuu turns out to be Mitsuki, who was trying to spy on them again but got caught up in the innate creepiness of her dark arboreal surroundings. It’s here when Haruka offers a supportive hand to her, and she realizes Haruka is actually a very kind, caring, person. So much so, in fact, that Mitsuki seems to be involuntarily developing a crush on her.

7_very_goodRating: 7 (Very Good)

Sakura Trick – 03

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In case anyone forgot, this isn’t just a show about the progression of yuri couples, but about a dying school, and the latter provides an opportunity for Haruka to show her love for Yuu. She doesn’t just want to kiss her; she wants to make her happy, even if it means going out of her element. So she joins the school committee and lobbies to have Yuu’s beloved cheerleading reinstated for the Sports Fest. She takes the opportunity when presented; spurred on and inspired by Kotone, who also fought (and won) to live with Shizuku.

Fulfilling Yuu’s wish means going toe to toe with the President, who just happens to be Yuu’s sister Mitsuki. Haruka has never met Mitsuki despite many close calls, who can’t even place a face on her, settling on a penny loafer. But Mitsuki not only meets Haruka this week, but learns that she and Yuu are far closer than she could have imagined. When Yuu learns what Haruka did for her, she rewards her with a make-out session on the floor of her room. Mitsuki walks in on them, but then the A-part simply ends with her surprised reaction.

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As the B-part progresses, Mitsuki is clearly suspicious of the two, but there’s no indication she took a stand on the incident one way or another. Perhaps she meekly slunk away, closing the door she had so briskly opened? In any case, it’s clear she’s not so strict a big sister that she’d put an immediate kibosh on the lovebirds. Haruka gets bolder in the B-part, sewing declarations of her love for Yuu on her and Yuu’s swimsuits. They get some private time in the old pool supply room (another opportunity borne from the dying school) We half-expected Mitsuki to walk in on them in there, but she merely finds the incriminating needlework.

Mitsuki may not be fully aware of the extent of her sister’s relationship with Haruka, and so she may not yet have a concrete position on the matter, but it’s clear enough to us that with each episode the two seem to grow closer. Their friends have long since accepted them as an item (two of which being an item themselves). At the moment, it appears Sakura Trick is more interested in exploring the couple’s love rather than putting obstacles in their path or forcing drama for drama’s sake—something we’re on board with. Introducing Mitsuki was the first, best obstacle so far, but she didn’t get in their way this week, even when she caught them, well, not exactly in flagrante delicto, but certainly not merely combing their hair, either!

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Sakura Trick – 02

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The show’s two-parter format continues this week, as the first half centers not on the established item that is Haruka and Yuu, but on Kotone and Shizuku. The first bump in their relationship is bourne out of a simple misunderstanding; Kotone comments that she likes staying at Shizuku’s house because it’s close to school and her mom is nice.

Shizuku takes this to mean Kotone doesn’t really care about her, but once Shizuku makes Kotone aware of this concern, it doesn’t take Kotone long to clear things up: she likes staying at Shizuku’s place primarily because Shizuku is there. It’s a fairly simplistic little dilemma that’s easily mended, but it’s good to see the show is confident it can handle more than one relationship at the same time.

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The second half returned the focus to Haruka and Yuu, who as we know have been into each other from the start. However, they’re very different people: Yuu is more confident and assertive, while Haruka wears her heart on her sleeve and is constantly getting stuck in her head, but also happens to be more academically gifted. As she notes, this isn’t middle school anymore, and if Yuu isn’t careful she could fail her classes and be held back.

While Haruka considers the benefits of an underclassman Yuu addressing her “oneesama”, the fact is, because their school is closing, she’d be expelled and forced to attend another school at the lower grade. The prospect of being torn apart by Yuu’s bad grades compels Haruka to take drastic but ultimately clever measures: using kisses as positive reinforcement while tutoring her. So when Yuu passes her exams, it further validates their relationship as not only something that makes them happy, but also keeps Yuu on track to a bright future, which is more easily attainable when you’re not held back.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Sakura Trick – 01

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First off, what we have here is a silly school romance comedy that’s far better-looking than you’d expect, like Love Lab last Summer. A typical shortcut is employed (not coloring in the extras), but we liked the clever use of symbols to preface actions and lines by characters, be it Yuu’s flower, Haruka’s ribbon, or Yuzu’s…a yuzu for Yuzu. That frees up animation resources for when they counted the most, like when Yuu and Haruka are in close physical contact, which is surprisingly often.

Any hopes of this being a subtle Yuri show along the lines of Aoi Hana or Sasameki Koto surviving past the cold open were were promptly, cruelly defenestrated by the off-putting OP, which was a bit too exhibitionist for our taste. But once that was over, things settled down nicely. There’s no trick to Sakura Trick; it never comes close to anything resembling drama or peril. It’s just a pleasant slice-of-life about two girls starting high school who are Pre-Into each other. Their exploits probably wouldn’t be too scandalous except in more conservative high schools. We’re not sure whether this is one such school, but it can’t hurt to not get caught regardless!

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The episode is split into two stories (a la Kill Me Baby, mais contrairement Kimi ni Todoke). The big event of the A-part—Yuu and Haruka’s first kiss—informs those of the B-part: Haruka is worried Yuu forgot about it, but is ultimately proven otherwise. Yuu (Iguchi Yuka) is the shorter, peppier, more naturally popular one while Haruka (Tomatsu Haruka. Haruka Matata!) is the taller, bustier, clingier, more jealosy-prone one. And even though the A-part is mostly from Haruka’s POV, there’s a good overall balance to their interactions and banter. They work as a couple.

We enjoyed how a big reason Yuu and Haruka got to be alone so early and often was essentially because their school is failing, because there aren’t enough kids to justify keeping it open another year. That means there was a vacant, lightly-guarded classroom to retreat to. They eventually end up in a spot of playful danger when teachers notice the door ajar and lock them in, but Haruka’s initial clumsiness is neutralized by Yuu’s surprising strength and athleticism. Hey, we’re talking about them jumping between verandas—get your minds out of the sewer! On that note, we’re pleased to report that there wasn’t a single panty-shot in the whole installment, which is…kind of amazing.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)