Sing “Yesterday” for Me – 07 – Video Games

Rikuo! Taking Haru Out! For DINNER! To celebrate his new job at a photography studio! Not just dismissing her as a convenience store clerk groupie in the alley, but treating her like…well, a lady! Hell, if I was Haru, I’d order a couple beers too, in hopes the universe wouldn’t card me.

With a third of the show in the books, we’re officially done with the introductions of the characters and their issues. The pieces are all arranged; all past and present love intersts accounted for…it’s officially time to play the game. And, well…as much as I love her, I fear it may be the beginning of Game Over for Haru…despite Rikuo’s newfound manners.

If Rikuo taking Haru out is meant to be both an olive branch after the business with his ex-girlfriend and a sign he’s finally taking her feelings seriously, an impatient Rou has decided to undermine Haru’s progress by essentially pushing Shinako closer to Rikuo.

Shinako has never had anything like boyfriend, but she knows she has no interest in Rou. She loved Yuu, but even that wasn’t necessarily romantic love. She loves Rou too, but as family member. Rou is simply barking up the wrong tree. He can wait and hope and try a “change of attitude” all he wants; Shinako ain’t interested!

It’s Rikuo Shinako goes to for council, wondering what she could or should be doing regarding Rou. Ironically, she states her believe Rou is “falling for an illusion”, while Haru has stated that all romantic love is is illusion (all while being hopelessly vulnerable to it all the same).

Rikuo’s advice doesn’t come from a place of moral superiority or jealousy or even lingering bitterness from being previously rejected by Shinako. He simply reminds Shinako that Rou isn’t a little kid anymore, that he knows life doesn’t always go the way you want, and if he wants to stress himself out, she should let him.

In not so many words, and regardless of whether it’s intentional, Rikuo is telling Shinako not to try to spare Rou the full force of Life Not Going Your Way. For whom does life always go right anyway? Rou has decided he’s rapidly approaching adulthood, and wants nothing else but to “catch up” to Shinako.

So Shinako tells him: she’s watching him; watching who he’ll become. It’s not a forceful rejection, but it still mostly sounds like one to Rou, who as Rikuo said is world-weary enough to read between the lines. Even so, it’s too gentle a gesture on Shinako’s part—as we’ll find out later.

Rikuo’s friend Fukuda visits him, and is happy to hear his progress in pursuing his interest in photography professionally. He even gives Rikuo a major boost by hiring him to photograph his upcoming nuptuals. Rikuo discusses it with a supervisor at lunch, and then after work, Haru is waiting outside the studio.

Haru wants to be someone Rikuo can confide his problems in and seek advice and help. At first Rikuo is dubious, but eventually comes out and remarks how it almost feels like the “universe is nagging” him, asking “what do you want to become?” after a period of not asking, and him not caring or trying. It’s kind of stressful, but Haru tells him to keep stressing out…”it’s how everyone gets to be who they are.” She’s such a gift…

Haru doesn’t realize the universe isn’t just nagging Rikuo about his career or calling. Fukuda knows how terrible Shinako is at dating and romance, and all but assures Rikuo that he can’t assume she’ll make the next move.

Fukuda’s wedding comes, and Rikuo snaps photos…including candids of Shinako, who was also invited after all. He tries to take both Fukuda and Haru’s advice, but chickens out at the last moment, using the need to return his boss’ camera to take his leave.

His hesitation doesn’t really matter, as without trying Rou once again causes memories of Yuu to surface in Shinako. She tries to leave his place, but he can sense the tears welling in her face before he sees it, and follows her as she flees. When he bared his arm in front of her, it looked just like Yuu when he’d receive shots. Shinako never looked away from Yuu’s arm, thinking if he was being so strong, she’d have to be strong too.

Rou takes this opportunity to wrap his arms around Shinako’s, but her impulse isn’t to sink into that embrace, but to ask—clearly and more than once—for him to let her go. Rou being “the only one who knows how important” his bro was to her isn’t the secret weapon he thinks it is. It is, in fact, anathema, as Rou is a constant reminder of that which Shinako knows she has to move past.

Shinako knows she’s being selfish and presumptuous, but waits for Rikuo anyway. After a calming soft drink at a family restaurant, he walks her home, but she’s frustrated that all they’re talking about is her and Rou, when the thing she can’t deal with she really wants to talk about goes unsaid. She proceeds to explain why she initially rejected him, citing an inability to forget Yuu and a fear of being alone.

Rikuo then reiterates that he was willing to wait for her, to which she replies that maybe she was waiting too. Maybe she can’t move on until somebody—somebody not Rou—pulls her. When they’re briefly interrupted by her neighbor, Rikuo suggests they find a place to talk more in private.

Then Shinako invites him into her apartment…“although it’s messy.” You got THAT right, Ako-chan!

P.S. There’s a new ED for Yesterday this week (with a new song by Sayuri) depicting an arcade game featuring an 8-bit Haru and her crow flying around town defeating enemies and launching relentless love attacks at Rikuo. It ends with Game Over, as Rikuo walks off-screen with Shinako while poor Haru is surrounded and pelted by foes. Yikes!

Chihayafuru 3 – 04 – One Tough Mama

The quarterfinal matches are set. Chihaya, Taichi, Dr. Harada and Tsuboguchi, all of the Shiranami Society, made it through. They face off against Inokuma, Sudo, Murao and Arata, respectively. It’s a battle between rival societies, youth and experience, fire and water, et cetera.

There’s an elite reader, and the proceedings carry a familiar and intense electricity and tension not seen yet in the show until now. This is the Chihayafuru I know, love, and keep coming back to. There’s just nothing quite like the exquisite energy that fills those silent moments between stanzas.

Everyone on Team Shiranami, with the possible exception of Dr. Harada, has improved their games greatly. Inokuma may be a mother of two who was recently away from the game on maternity leave, but she’s also a former queen, and has a unique style of play in which she never rearranges her cards.

She also already knows about the different pitches of the reader Chihaya is just starting to figure out (thanks to Rion). The difference is, Inokuma also knows all the other ways to listen to a word before it’s fully uttered. Like Inokuma, Chihaya was away from the game in a sense due to her injury, but if she’s going to realize her dream of queenhood, she has to be able to topple a Queen.

Despite playing right next to Chihaya, and subject to mind games from the merciless Sudo, Taichi keeps his cool—even when Sudo correctly diagnoses that Taichi is in love with Chihya—displaying a mental fortitude that was lacking before. It can’t hurt that he got to beat Chihaya a couple of times to build his confidence…and Porky helped him out by exhausting Sudo in the previous round.

The best games in pretty much any sport are ones that are balanced between great offense and defense, but also deliver a lot of action and excitement. Karuta is no different, and the surging passion on display serves as fuel for all eight players, resulting in four very close matches. The episode ends on a high note, with no one in a deep hole or soaring too high. Anything can happen, but whatever happens, everyone is having a shitload of fun.

P.S. It seems I skipped episode 3, while episode 5 is out now! I’ll watch and review both when I can, thus visiting both the past and future of this tournament.

Kino no Tabi – 12 (Fin)

In Kino’s final adventure of the season, she and Hermes find themselves relentlessly pursued by a huge flock of super-aggressive sheep. Yup, definitely didn’t see that coming! Hermes suggests they’re after her as payback for all the sheep she’s eaten in her lifetime.

When Kino comes to a steep ravine, she has to ditch Hermes and climb down to escape the raging flock. She walks upstream, but the sheep follow her. Even at night, they watch her like hawks, waiting for her to come back up so they can get a piece of her. Eventually, she comes upon a Land Rover, a drum of fuel, and their dearly departed owner, whose skeleton Kino buries before commandeering the truck.

Returning to Hermes, who is surrounded by the killer sheep, Kino rides dozens of them down, creates a ring of fire with the fuel drum, and picks off the ones caught inside with her various guns. She then builds a quick-and-dirty ramp, gets on Hermes, and they jump over the ravine, leaving the sheep behind.

They later learn from the next country they enter that their sheep were bred for fighting each other, much like fighting dogs in other countries (like, say, ours). Animal rights activists shut the system down, and the sheep were released into the wild, where they now terrorize any passersby unfortunate to come afoul of them. Kino wisely omits the fact she killed a good number of them before arriving in town.

With the sheep escapade complete, there’s only a little bit of episode left, and it’s spent mostly on just one shot: the camera slowly pulling back on Kino relaxing in a hammock between two trees.

It’s a very static segment that goes on a bit too long for my taste, and Kino’s assertion that one journey has ended and another is about to begin doesn’t elicit much more than a shrug from me.

Still, she’s not wrong; journeys begin and end when we wish them to. It was nice to see Kino & friends back in action for twelve episodes. Here’s hoping no matter what journeys may come in the future, she never stops being a pragmatic badass.

Tamayura: More Aggressive – 12 (Fin)

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Potte’s camera shutter breaks, so she has to surrender it to Maestro for repairs. She’s unable to take pictures of the Doll festival or with Kanae, who got into college and is back to taking pictures. The next day while Kaoru, Norie and Maon are off doing their own thing, Potte stays at home sorting her photos until her mom suggests they take a ride on her motorcycle. She takes Potte to Okunoshima and the spot where her dad proposed to her mom. There, her mom gives her a tearful thanks for being her daughter, and Potte thanks her in return. When they return home, the others are waiting for her. At Mitani’s commencement, Potte thanks her for joining the club and calling her president. Potte picks up her fixed camera, ready to take pictures during the Spring Break.

It’s something of a marvel that Potte’s old camera never had any problems before, but it’s an interesting move to shake things up by taking her camera away for most of the final episode. Her mom was never a photog, and when she sees that Potte’s just holed up in the house, she gets her out into the air to experience something without a camera for once; to see things with her naked eyes instead of through a viewfinder. In the last couple years, she’s seen her daughter grow an incredible amount and aggressively walk forward on her own two feet. She feels that both she and her daughter were ready to go to that spot where it all began: where her husband proposed, and led to the creation of the loving family that still endures and thrives even after his untimely passing.

Like last week as Kanae’s story was wrapped up and she gathered the courage to keep walking towards her future, this final episode was full of heartrending moments, and its characters aren’t afraid to tear up from the kindness of each others’ words towards one another. Throughout its run, this was a show that was full of love and its daily role in life. The love came in many forms, from Potte and Kanae’s love of photography, to the friends’ love of one another, to Norie and Komachi’s love of Kou, to Potte’s love of her father. The more she learned about the person he was and the live he lived, the more inspired she got to live up to his example. But as she’s a product of both dad and mom, Potte won’t necessarily live every great moment of her life to come through a viewfinder. Sometimes the camera breaks…and it’s okay.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Tamayura: More Aggressive – 06

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Fuu’s photographer friend Shihomi Riho introduces her to her father’s kohai, Kawai Harumi, who worked with him (and still works) as a travel planner. She takes Fuu and Riho on a Seto Inland “Where The Wind Takes You” tour, where she revisits places she’d been to with Fuu’s dad, plus some places they never made it to, telling her about her father along the way. They end up at a home of Akio and Yuuko, a couple who took Fuu’s father’s advice to open a simple bed & breakfast.

Potte takes a day off from the two-person photo club (and she and Kanae are fine with it being just them) to go on a grand adventure at the behest of her photog friend, who introduces her to someone else whose life her dad touched and enriched when he was alive; lives she was connected to without even knowing it. Thus the tour isn’t just of some truly beautiful and cozy spots around the Seto Inland Sea, it’s also a tour of a side of her dad she didn’t know, and of those new bonds. It’s also an opportunity for Harumi to spend time with Fuu, something planned but never happened, due to her senpai’s passing. Harumi seems pleased to see a lot of her senpai in Fuu.

Like her dad, Fuu has “the mindset to enjoy anything and everything.” Fuu is wide-eyed full of questions the whole time. Not every place Harumi takes her was a place her father had been; she’s not just rehashing old times with an old friend, but creating new memories with a new one. We’ll admit to nearly tearing up when Harumi and the B&B couple talked about Fuu and her dad, making this the first episode since the first to elicit that response in us. It was also a particularly gorgeous episode that really made us want to travel, particularly to the Inland Sea region.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

 

Tamayura: More Aggressive – 04

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Potte and Kanae snap pictures all over school and town, but still haven’t decided on what to perform at the Cherry Blossom Festival. Dougou suggests they perform a dance as he plays the guitar, with the photos as a backdrop. They then visit the stage in the middle of the park, which contains one thousand cherry trees, each one planted in honor of someone. Potte and Kou’s mom tells them they have trees too, but they were planted somewhere secret. On the day of the festival Dougou is injured, but Potte and Kanae improvise, singing and dancing to a folk tune, and the crowd responds favorably. After the performance, Kou and Komachi show Potte and the others their trees, which Momoneko helped him locate.

In Bleach, Senbonzakura is the name for Kuchiki Byakuya’s bankai, a devastating cloud composed of millions of tiny petal-like blades. But here, it’s just the name of a cultivation project in Takehara’s public park. (Go figure.) One thousand trees were planted, each in honor of people the planters loved. In the case of Kaoru, Potte, and Kou, they were planted when they were born, and have grown larger and stronger as they did. Those trees are one more discovery that brings Potte closer to her dad, to the point where she even gets to “see through his eyes” by taking a photo of the tree from the same angle he did. The tree changed from photo to photo, but the sky and mountains remained the same.

They’ll be the same long after both Potte and the tree pass away, as well. But until then, Potte wants to return the love her father had for her and the town by making her mark on it as he did, through photography. When her performance hits a snag, President Potte refuses to give up, and she and Kanae put on a show not just to stir up interest in the club, but as thanks for everyone who pitched in with ideas, assistance, and emotional support. They didn’t bring the house down, nor did they perform beyond their abilities, suddenly turning into talented idols. They just hunkered down and did their honest best. We wouldn’t be surprised if they’re rewarded with more prospective members.\

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Tamayura: More Aggressive – 03

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Potte still has no other members of her photography club, and she freezes up at the club presentation in front of the school. Kaoru, Norie and Maon attempt to make contact with Mitane, but she runs away. Dougou and Shimokamiyama not only recommend she snap photos for the school yearbook, but also use the stage at the upcoming Cherry Blossom festival to promote the club; she agrees. She finally tracks down Mitane, and she asks her to join the club; an enthused Mitane gladly accepts.

Well, we were wrong at the very end of last week’s synopsis: Mitane didn’t come to the club and join, the turned tail and retreated. Turns out she’s even shyer and less sure of herself than Potte, and on top of that she feels guilty for using Potte as a subject without her permission. But before they’d met or spoken any words, both of them formed a picture (if you will) of who the other was: in both cases, good people they want to share their love of photography with. Both are also overthinkers, as Potte kept her distance out of worry that it was presumptuous of her to start a photography club at all.

Turns out idea of a photography club had been bouncing around Mitane’s head since she was a Freshman…and that’s where the idea stayed. Pottem on the other hand was “aggressive” enough to finally start one, and once Mitane has spoken to Potte, a new door has now been opened that will serve both of them well. Both are in awe of the others’ work and are excited to learn how and why they take pictures. We think they’ll both support and inspire one another. But will two incredibly nervous girls be able to recruit others to the club?

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Tamayura: More Aggressive – 02

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Potte hands in an application to start a photography club, but is weary of becoming its president, but Kaoru, Norie and Maon encourage her. Komachi shows them a magazine in which a photo of Potte was selected, taken by one Mitane Kanae. At school, Mr. Dougou informs her that her club was approved, and a new teacher, Ms. Shimokamiyama is her adviser.  She confirms that Mitane is a third-year at the school and shows Potte to her club room, where Kaoru, Norie, and Maon present her with club-warming gifts. The photo studio owner tells her about the photographer who inspired her dad. Mitane shows up to join Potte’s club.

The new “aggressive” theme of Tamayura continues this week in its characteristically soft and fluffy way, as Potte is nudged by friends (and nudges herself) towards presidency of a photography club, which she is hopeful will help her grow as a photographer and as a person. When she’s confronted with the possibility of a superior photographer at school; someone who was “aggressive” enough to not only enter and win a contest, but do it snapping Potte of all people. How could soft, fluffy Potte possibly compete with that? Well, the answer is, it’s not a competition, and Mitane isn’t necessarily a better photographer, she’s just different.

Like her dad, Potte takes very candid and naturalistic photos that just happen to come out very lovely. But with the steps she takes in this episode, photography is becoming more than just a hobby to connect with and better understand her dad, but a means to discover the person she wants to become. She’s found her passion and she’s going to give it her all, even if the monthly club president meetings are a little scary. They’ll get less scary. When she gets her club and a fresh, empty room, it’s like a blank canvas, full of possibilities. It’s a canvas she never would have seen had she not been “aggressive.”

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Maon was on top of her game this week; first with her stories of captaining an adventure club, helming a fairy, plus her camera-camel thing. She’s an endless font of very random but sweet comedy.
  • While it’s clear Komachi wanted Potte to see Mitane’s picture, she also seemed pretty proud of her photo of Potte’s brother Kou, complete with a blurry smear of Norie in the background!
  • Shimokamiyama seems to be one of those stereotypical ditzy young teachers. We weren’t that impressed. At least the advisor in Free! has those obscure sayings…
  • Proud of their Potte, Kaoru, Norie and Maon’s heartfelt gifts were products of their own passions: scents, sweets, and drawing, respectively.
  • All we know about Mitane Kanae at this point is that she’s a third-year and she’s not a bad photographer. It will be interesting to see whether she fits in or clashes with Potte and/or the others. On this show, after so long, a new main character is a pretty big deal.