Gleipnir – 13 (Fin) – The Truth is Out There…Not Here

As Honoka/Aiko’s “Ghost” “erases” another classmate (perhaps involved in the bullying that caused Aiko’s suicide) in front of Elena, Shuuichi and Claire ask Sayaka’s gang to give them all the coins they collected so they can go back to living normal lives while the two of them “end the game” for good. It’s a neat strategy, but unfortunately we never get to see it realized in this frustratingly incomplete finale.

Claire finally gives Shuuichi an ultimatum: either they hang out at one of their houses or they’re through, having had only this one summer together before going their separate ways. It’s a bit out of left field, but the result is Shuuichi invites her to his house, which is filthy and no place for a makeout session. When Claire tries to get answers, a repressed memory of Elena in the same position surfaces, and in a panic, Shuuichi nearly assaults Claire before returning to his senses.

Ultimately, Sayaka’s gang decides they’ll give their coins to Elena and not Shuuichi. Chihiro makes the exchange, but is interrupted by the arrival of Shuuichi, whose memories continue to surface. He now knows that Elena used her ability to erase his memories so Honoka/Ghost Aiko wouldn’t go after him. In effect, she did the same thing to him that he and Claire want to do for Sayaka’s crew: shoulder all the burden.

Shuuichi wants more answers, but Elena is elusive, and a fight ensues, that while technically impressive and exciting, doesn’t really amount to much. With his memories returning Honoka/Ghost Aiko appears and prepares to erase Shuuichi altogether. While he’s busy with “ghost clones” Elena slips behind him and uses her ability, locking the memories of her back away and saving his and Claire’s lives.

And that’s pretty much where we leave things: a stalemate with no time left; an ellipsis. Kaito and Ghost Aiko guard the landing site that Shuuichi and Claire are still determined to reach, reuniting with Sanbe for that purpose (Hey Sanbe). Sayaka and the others go back to their lives.

Mifune, perhaps the most ineffectual character of the entire series, is resigned to moving on from Shuuichi, who was never aware of her feelings. But the power couple is still in the game, and still determined to end it. It’s just unsatisfying that we probably won’t see that end in anime form. Thirteen episodes should’ve been enough to tell this story.

Gleipnir – 12 – Cram School Curse

For those like myself who were eager for answers, the penultimate Gleipnir delivered in a big way, taking us back to the halcyon days of the Yamada Cram School gang, which consisted of Kaito (the lion haired lad), Naoto, Aiko, Honoka, Elena…and Shuuichi. Things would not go well at all for these five friends as the years progressed, and the Alien and his coins only made things worse.

Fast-forward to a few months before the present day, and the friends meet up for a reunion. Only Honoka isn’t there. Only Kaito doesn’t know why: Honoka’s dad murdered someone, she ended up living with relatives, they didn’t get along, and she just…disappeared. Aiko things they should just let things be, since Honoka didn’t tell any of them and so probably doesn’t want to be searched for. Pretty cold stuff.

The thing is, Naoto has noticed Aiko (who is his girlfriend) acting a bit off lately, and when Kaito sees her twirling her hair the way Honoka used to, he follows her and meets the alien. Then Kaito gathers everyone else to explain what happened: Honoka used a coin to transform into Aiko. Kaito believes Honoka did it out of a desire to have “everything” Aiko had…including Naoto, whom she loved.

To Kaito’s frustration, no one wants to do anything about this, and insists that things “stay the way they are.” But that doesn’t sit well with him. He confronts Honoka!Aiko at the cram school, sitting before of the real Aiko’s grave. Believing Honoka killed the real Aiko and took her place, he takes a rope and strangles her to death. It’s a shockingly rash action from someone who had to that point been a normal high school teen, and timing for such rash action couldn’t have been worse.

Shortly after killing her, Kaito learns from Naoto that Aiko’s will was found and addressed to Honoka. Aiko, who had a strong sense of justice and defended other kids being bullied at school, became the bully’s new target, and eventually she succumbed to the despair and hung herself.

Honoka, filled with regret for being unable to save her best friend and was the only one to get a note from her, went to the alien with a coin and asked to become Aiko, believing no one would care if she disappeared, but would be sad if they learned the truth about Aiko.

What’s so heartbreaking is she was pretty much right—everyone was willing to go along with the “new” Aiko despite eventually learning what Honoka did. Only Kaito didn’t want Honoka to disappear, and wasn’t okay with everything the way it was. From this point forward, Kaito disowns Naoto, Elena and Shuuichi, and vows to make them disappear to see how they like it.

He goes to the alien with a coin to make that happen, and in the present we learn he’s the one who has collected 100 coins, no doubt enlisting the aid of the “glowing lady” with Honoka’s form. Elena and Naoto are part of the team attempting to defeat him, but they’re clearly at a disadvantage.

That brings us back to the day Shuuichi encounters and murders the last survivor of Madoka’s gang in the junkyard. We knew Claire called him and he assured her everything was taken care of, but now we learn Claire had gone to the abandoned cram school to investigate Shuuichi’s past on her own.

There, she finds the little stuffed dog that was the inspiration for Shuuichi’s form. It’s concrete proof not only that he was there, but that his memories have been messed with. Months before, Shuuichi assured Elena and Naoto that if Kaito was plotting something, he’d use a coin to respond.

It’s starting to look like Elena didn’t force him into anything, but it will be up to the finale to present the actual moment he got transformed by the alien, and show why he broke from Elena and Naoto and lost his memories.

Sukitte Ii na yo – 03

Mei mentions she needs to go to the hair salon, and Yamato decides to make it into their first date, which Mei isn’t immediately comfortable with. Before going to the salon, he suggests they take their time, and bump into his friends Aiko and Masashi and go bowling with them. Aiko pulls Mei aside and tells her to stay away from Yamato if she doesn’t like him, telling her they’d “done erotic things together.” Mei runs off, and Yamato goes after her. He finds her with the stray cat, then shows her his middle school where he punched through a wall out of disgust with himself for not defending a friend, and tells her why he likes her. He asks her if he can kiss her and she lets him.

When you trust someone and get to know them, you’ll eventually learn about their wounds, too.

This is one of the lessons Mei gets out of her somewhat complicated first date with Yamato. She’s just looking to get a haircut, but he inserts himself into that innocuous errand. Yet she still worries about what to wear, and isn’t upset about him being with her. If anything, she’s worried about him being embarrassed to be around her, which is absurd on its face, as Yamato asked to spend the day with her. But with Yamato getting scouted and hit on by women left and right, Mei can’t help but continue going back to that thought prison of “Why is he with me? What does he see in me?”

Those thoughts are only reinforced and then turned to pure fear and panic when Aiko corners her, pretty much tells her she doesn’t deserve Yamato, and mentions she had intimate contact with him. Yamato loses points for letting Aiko do so; Mei is not used to social situations and especially vulnerable to head games, and in any case, suddenly turning a first date into a double date is just not something you do. Though watching Mei throw a Turkey was simultaneously awesome and not altogether unexpected, as she already exhibited hidden athleticism in the kick Yamato fell for. Yamato does get points for A): connecting the dots and realizing Aiko made Mei run away, B): knowing where Mei would run to, and C): asking nicely before kissing her.

But while there’s a symbolic image of Aiko stepping on glass vowing to destroy Mei and win Yamato back, she’s not altogether evil, just imperfect, and like everyone else, wounded. Some of those wounds are her own: losing weight and ruining her skin with cosmetics, all out of a self-imposed obligation to “work hard” for a boyfriend and appear as beautiful as possible when around him. She sees Mei as ugly, dreary, indecisive, and lazy – everything she fights not to be – and fumes over Yamato’s apparent attraction to her in spite of those traits. But we heard from Yamato’s mouth a very good explanation for liking her. Unlike Yamato and Aiko, Mei doesn’t hide. Like the stray cat, little by little Mei is getting used to the fact that Yamato is someone she can trust.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

P.S.:  One the one hand, Masashi seems like just a placeholder for Yamato, and knows it, which is kind of awful; on the other hand, he (and she too) may well just be in it for the sex. Aiko certainly doesn’t seem that into him.

Bakuman 2 – 13

Ashirogi decides to do a new gag one-shot in NEXT, something suitible for all ages unlike Ten. A discussion of animal characters leads Takagi to the zoo, where he bumps into Aoki. She agrees to help him understand girls if he helps her understant boys. They proceed to have two long phone conversations two straight nights, leading Miyoshi to become suspicious. When Aoki asks Takagi to meet her at the zoo again, he’s surprised to find Aiko there as well, who wants to confront him. They argue about the merits of manga verses novels, and in the end, Aiko decides she’ll do a manga that will surpass his own. While cleaning the studio, Miyoshi finds a note from Aiko hidden in the novel she gave him, and she runs out in tears.

Ohoho, Takagi, you dawwg. He’s never been that respectful of his tomboyish girlfriend, but this week he digs a hole he may not be able to climb out of. Nightlong flirty phone conversations with cute girls who aren’t your girlfriend must unfortunately be discouraged, as are secret meetings with said girl. Though not everything that unfolds is his fault. It’s Aoki’s newfound aggressiveness that leads to them exchanging advice in the first place, and there’s nothing wrong with doing so, but Aoki is operating under the impression he’s single. Similarly, the Aiko meet was a total ambush (what’s wrong with you, Aoki?)  and probably isn’t aware of the note Aiko left him in the book, but the damage has been done. Miyoshi can and will weave any number of narratives of his perceived unfaithfulness.

Meanwhile, we must flick our foreheads in apology for forgetting that Aiko Iwase was a classmate of Takagi’s, whom he rejected. She remains extremely bitter and confrontational, though that could just be her outward persona. Her true feelings may indeed be in that note. As Aoki and Takagi discussed, love can come in many forms, one of them being outward disdain and rivalry. Ideals and reality are rarely in synch. None of Aiko’s enmity would exist if only he’d agreed to date her back then. But even if she was – and is – the ideal gorgeous intelligent girl for him, he chose Miyoshi. Just like he abandoned higher pursuits and chose to be a mangaka. Were these choices mistakes?


Rating: 4