Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible – 06 – Lean On Me

It’s not quite Valentine’s Day without a good rom-com, and this week Kubo delivers, featuring lots of sweet little moments in between Shiraishi continuing not to notice Kubo’s romantic interest in him. If patience is a virtue, Kubo is a saint…and may also be a masochist!

But if learning more about someone endears them to you more, Shiraishi made some progress this week. First, he learned the bookstore lady is indeed Kubo’s big sister. He also meets Kubo’s cousin Saki, who also notices him, and looks exactly like Kubo when she was in middle school.

Were Shiraishi a shrewd fellow, he’d use the adorable photo of middle school Kubo Akina gave him to mess with Kubo the way she often messes with him. It’s not like he isn’t aware she enjoys messing with him; it’s why he initially hesitates to ask her for help studying when they cross paths in the library.

In this case, Kubo-sensei doesn’t make fun of Shiraishi, because he’s genuinely trying his best to get a good grade. Kubo also turns out to be a very good tutor—and the fake glasses she borrows from her friend contribute to her teacherly aura.

Both Kubo and Shiraishi are looking forward to meeting in the library tomorrow to study, but when tomorrow comes, Shiraishi is absent with a fever. Kubo misses him immediately, and the entire day goes by in a haze as she tries to find the right message to send to him.

She settles on a question: Are you coming to school tomorrow? He says he will, and then sends an I miss you that causes her heart to skip. He then immediately texts back that his little brother sent it on accident (the truth). She sends him a Lonely without you sticker in reply, then says her sister sent it (not the truth!)

This was a case where Kubo could have really been more aggressive, asking the teacher if there are any printouts so she has a good excuse to pay him a house visit. The next day Shiraishi is back, but is late for first period and considers waiting in the hall until the second.

That’s when Kubo leaves the classroom looking very out of it; she also came down with a fever. She’s headed to the nurse’s office, but Shiraishi is concerned with how woozy and unsteady she is, so he offers to escort her. He says she can even lean on him, and boy howdy does she take him up on that!

While her face is flush due to her fever, there’s no doubt she loves the fact that Shiraishi took the initiative for once; it makes up a bit for her lack of action on the day he was sick. Once he has her in bed, he starts to look for the nurse, but she stops him by taking his hand, saying it feels cold and nice. He, in turn, says her hand is warm.

The nurse shows up, and with Kubo in good hands (and fast asleep), Shiraishi takes his leave, feeling…different. In fact, for the first time he can recall, he feels like a main character. Not surprising, considering all of the firsts he’s experiencing thanks to Kubo’s friendship.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible – 05 – Keep His Name Out Yo Mouth

Kubo goes on the offensive numerous times, with Shiraishi mostly bemused, confused, or flustered each time. He’s used to and even enjoys eating alone, often in a different spot every day. But Kubo’s been lookin’ for him so she can eat with him. When she offers her tamagoyaki to him with the standard “say ahh” gesture, he doesn’t take the bait, but when he offers her his, she takes his arm and noms it right out of his chopsticks.

Kubo’s gotten to the point where both her sister and her best friends can tell something is clearly up. She simply looks cuter than usual, and is noticably glowing. Ruling out contact with radioactive material, they ask her if she has a crush, or is interested in anyone. She admits to them it’s Shiraishi, and when Tamao starts ragging on he guy, Kubo firmly shuts it down, saying she knows his good qualities…which she then keeps confidential.

That increased possessiveness of the person you like continues when Shiraishi arrives at school extra-early, for no particular reason than he likes the vibes. Kubo beats him there, which is either coincidence or she guessed right. She puts one of her earbuds in his ear, sits right beside him on his chair, and they listen to her music. For a minute the two simply exist in their own little world.

She then asks Shiraishi what kind of music he listens to, and when he says it’s mostly anime music, it doesn’t deter her from wanting to listen with him. He then goes on and on about the anime based on the manga she borrowed. Moved by his passion, she starts watching the anime, which Akina clearly and correctly deduces is not because her girlfriends told her about it.

Akina wasn’t born yesterday, but sometimes it seems Shiraishi was. He manages to actually go and buy a White Day gift, but remains ignorant as to the identity of the one who gave him a cookie. Since Kubo is the only one he talks to, he asks her to come with him somewhere secluded where he explains the situation.

You can see the subtle moment of panic washing over Kubo when he says he wants to give it to “another girl”, but when he says he doesn’t know who that girl is, she’s relieved. She also gives him plenty of additional “hints” to help him realize she is his Valentine. I used quotes because when directly asked who gave him the cookie, she says her damn name.

I’m not under any illusions that Shiraishi will finally awaken to the fact that Kubo likes him and wants him to ask her out—at best, I’d expect any meaningful step forward for him will come in the last or next-to-last episode. But that’s okay, as there’s still plenty to enjoy: Kubo’s face’s, Hana-Kana’s voice work, the general nice vibes.

Those are key, since we all watch Vinland Saga around here, this is a welcome salve from that excellent but somewhat bleaker story!

Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible – 04 – Made With Love

When Seita has had enough TV, Junta takes him outside to play (where it’s oddly not winter despite it being Christmas last week). After watching Seita try and fail the proper sequence of movements to “Transform!”, Junta strikes the pose perfectly, inspiring his brother to do it with him. Ironically, Junta doesn’t notice Kubo is there until she’s already filmed him.

Back at school. Junta notices he’s wearing socks of two different lengths, and that there’s also something different about Kubo. When they get a chair to post up some printouts, she notices his socks, and he finally notices the difference: she’s wearing tights instead of her usual socks. Of course, that implicates Junta in having looked at Kubo’s legs all day.

Kubo then takes Junta on a little after-school date to the konbini, where she samples the instant drink machine for the first time. When Kubo suggests they buy two different drinks and split them, Kubo sees the indirect kiss trap, and gets a meat bun instead. Kubo ends up taking the first bite of that bun, but after she leaves, he’s unable to eat it as it falls to the ground when someone bumps into him.

Next up, it’s Valentine’s Day. Junta, naturally, has never gotten chocolate from anyone, even the teacher in grade school who forgot he was there while passing it out to everyone. So when he sees a heart-shaped cookie in his desk, he assumes it’s some kind of mistake. He also doesn’t have the courage to ask Kubo about it. Kubo likewise doesn’t come right out and say she made him the cookie, but tells him it was made with love so he should enjoy it.

Then we cut to the previous night, when a determined Kubo tried and utterly failed to bake edible treats. That’s when Akina decides to “bake herself” some treats, and offhandedly suggests they could work together. Because Kubo wants to make the best cookie she can, she swallows her pride and follows along with her sister, resulting in a superior final product to her first attempt, which Akina even deems better tasting than hers, since Kubo put so much love into it.

Thus the welcome trend continues of balancing Junta’s thoughts with scenes of Kubo on her own or with her sister. Junta is wise to Kubo’s desire for an indirect kiss, but dense about the Valentine, despite Kubo giving him plenty to figure out where it came from. Will he put two and two together and get her a gift in return on White Day? Only time will tell!

Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible – 03 – You Can’t Go Wrong with Mittens

Shiraishi returns the tracksuit he borrowed from Kubo, and she asks if it was small on him. It was, but only a little, as he’s 5’4″ to Kubo’s 5’3″. She gets onto a higher step on the stairs to become 5’9″, because she heard six inch difference is ideal for couples. Then she gracefully jumps down to Shiraishi’s level and declares that she prefers it this way. Give this girl an inch…

Kubo wants to hang out after school, but Shiraishi rushes out in an apparent hurry, with plans. This turns out to be taking his baby brother Seita to the park to play in the snow. Shiraishi is no fan of the cold, so it’s fortuitous that Kubo (who lives nearby after all) spots him. She has a warm bottle of cocoa which she offers to Seita, who then offers it back to her. But when she offers it to Shiraishi, he won’t take the obvious indirect kiss bait.

Shiraishi has to go a little ways to get a limited edition manga magizine with a poster he wants, but when he finds it among the stacks, an adult magazine is laying on top of it. Assuming no one can see him due to his presence, he prepares to take a peek, but is caught red-handed. Just his luck Kubo’s sister Akina works there—and that apparently all Kubos can see him!

Akina doesn’t 100% buy his innocent explanation, but when he drops his school ID after leaving, she notices it’s the same school as her sister, and asks her to return it to its owner. When Kubo says it’s Shiraishi’s, Akina stirs the pot a bit by saying he was looking at a porno mag featuring big boobs. This leads Kubo to asking him if he likes big boobs, calls him ecchi, and flees before he can explain.

Kubo isn’t sore about it for long, as she overhears other girls hanging out with their boyfriends for Christmas, and decides to cash in Shiraishi’s promise. Only she asks if they can hang out “Saturday after next” and he agrees, and only later realizes that it’s Christmas day.

Nevertheless, he’s at the agreed-upon spot 30 minutes early, while Kubo comes 10 minutes early. She manages to deduce that he was waiting longer than a couple minutes by the coldness of his hands. She also came with a Christmas present for him, and gives him fifteen minutes to buy her one with a budget of 1000 yen.

Shiraishi draws a blank on what to get her as he mills through the mall, until he realizes that like him her hands must be getting cold as she waits, so he buys her a pair of cozy pink mittens that go well with rose sweater dress and pale pink coat. Kubo is elated to receive a gift into which he clearly put a lot of thought.

As for his gift? A highlighter yellow shirt that says “Main Character,” so he’d be more noticeable to others. Something of a gag gift, but still a thoughtful one. Put it all together, and this was another sweet, cozy, charming episode to warm the heart on a cold winter day.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible – 02 – Scent of a Shiraishi

Another con of Shiraishi’s lack of presence is that his P.E. partner will lose track of him when he’s running unless he announces when he’s finishing. On the other hand, Kubo always has eyes on him, even when he doesn’t know it. When she approaches him after his run he’s self-conscious about his sweat and smell, but Kubo doesn’t mind. She even lends him her scented wipes specifically so their smells will match. Marking your man, if you will!

Kubo doesn’t wait for Shiraishi to propose a time and place to hang out. When she spots him trying (and failing) to open the automatic door to the bookstore, she can’t help but assist. He’s there to buy the latest volume of a manga she wants to start reading (probably solely because he’s reading it) but the store doesn’t have Volume 1 in stock. Perfect excuse for her to stop by Shiraishi’s house so she can borrow it from him!

Kubo also learns that Shiraishi lives a five minute walk from her house, and also leaves earlier than her, so the next morning she gets up early so they can walk together. Her sister Akina sees her different hairstyle (and smells her hair mist) and knows exactly what’s going on. Kubo can deny it all she likes, she’s got a crush and wants him to notice her.

Kubo manages to intercept Shiraishi on his way to school, resulting in the very first time he’s walked to school with anyone, boy or girl. Kubo even suggests they sit at a park bench to chat for a bit since they have time. This ends up working against her, as her friends Tamao and Hazuki show up, and Shiraishi continues on alone; definitely not what Kubo wanted!

Shiraishi notes that his day is the same as always despite Kubo walking with him at least part of the way: no one notices or acknowledges him. Except her, of course. When he gets hit by mud from a passing car, she sees it, and when he realizes he forgot his key, she offers the use of her shower and a change of clothes. He briefly spots a hamper with her unmentionables, but otherwise it’s a pleasant house visit.

When she’s sitting outside the bathroom, Kubo has a noticeably forlorn look; an expression she also wears after Shiraishi has gone home. Suffice it to say, she’s down bad, and there is no such thing as spending too much time with her invisible-to-everyone-else crush. These scenes that are just Kubo alone with her thoughts might just be my favorite.

In what is hopefully a sign he may finally be catching on (though I won’t hold my breath), Shiraishi blushes profusely while walking from Kubo’s house where he had a shower, used her shampoo, and is wearing her tracksuit. Ain’t young love grand…

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible – 01 (First Impressions) – Getting a Little Closer

I wasn’t initially going to pick this show up, as it sounded awfully familiar to shows I’d already seen (most prominently Takagi-san). However, I needed some Tuesday evening comfort food, and two words sealed the deal: Hanazawa. Kana. She voices the titular Kubo, the smart, popular, athletic, and beautiful class idol who has eyes only for Shiraishi. This, despite the fact Shiraishi has such a severe lack of presence, most of the class doesn’t notice he’s there, and considers it good luck when they do.

Kubo sees him just fine, and no one else will do when it comes to killing time in class. She decides they should experiment whether he’ll be noticed if he stands on his chair during a lecture (he can), then “punishes” him by sitting on him for failing to say Good Morning back to her (he assumed she was greeting one of her girlfriends). She initiates little bets, but is neither as competitive as Takagi or as aggressive as Hayase.

Like those other two rascals, Kubo’s primary purpose is to get closer to the boy she likes, and even if he hasn’t yet gotten the message (and probably won’t for some time), she looks determined to keep trying until she does, and in the meantime enjoy herself immensely. She even arranges for him to be able to give an answer in class by being called upon and giving him the floor.

At the end of a day Kubo tries to casually ask for Shiraishi’s LINE contact (called PINE in the show), but they’re interrupted by her friends, and before she knows it, he’s vanished. But when she spots him at a park on a school holiday, she cannot hide her elation, and uses her phone’s difficulty focusing on Shiraishi’s face to draw closer to his than ever to take a selfie together.

She then gets his PINE info, and proposes both verbally and in a text that they should hang out together sometime. Shiraishi wonders if she’s just messing/toying with him, but responds “all right”. He has no idea just how happy that makes Kubo. Her big sister even remarks at how cute her face looks, and asks her (and also can guess without asking) what happened to give her such an expression. Just love, baby.

Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible is a bright, breezy, fluffly school rom-com with cute character designs, exemplary voice wrok from both Hanazawa and Kawanishi Kengo (Rei from 3-gatsu No Lion, among other things), and generally low-key cozy vibes perfectly suited for a Tuesday Winter anime.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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