Domestic na Kanojo – 11 – There’s Always Someone Better

After lying and keeping secrets for so long, Natsuo finally tells Rui everything, from his long time love of Hina to his determination to be with her in the future. But just because it’s the truth doesn’t make the words sting any less. After sharing one last kiss and an evening of private sobbing, Rui is also determined to move on from Natsuo.

Of course, since it’s impossible for Rui to not handle such things in an odd way, she announces to Natsuo the next morning that she’s decided to “start disliking him.” I can’t say I blame her, as Natsuo has grown more selfish and insufferable with each passing week, but in her case it’s a defense mechanism. She’ll still treat him like family, but otherwise, she’s done.

At least Natsuo gets to talk to Rui; Rui freezes out Hina both on LINE and at school, where Natsuo and Hina misguidedly meet up once again to discuss it. The episode suddenly makes a hard right turn from the love triangle to…the “Natsuo Striving to be an Author” plot, when Rui wins an award instead of him (or Miu, for that matter).

This shakes Natsuo to his core, despite the fact, if he’s honest, he’s spent far more time lately being a horndog with Hina than he has crafting brilliant narratives. Still, he believes the solution is to go to Akari’s house announced and beg him to make him his apprentice. It’s not any more pleasant than Natsuo begging for sex.

His sensei turns him down in this case, because becoming his apprentice is not the way to go about becoming a good author; it takes actual struggle and hard work, not just connections. Natsuo takes this to mean writing one short story per week. Then, in another bit of whiplash, the episode makes another hard turn to School Beach Trip territory.

This means not only Rui and Miu and Momo in swimsuits, but Hina as well, and as she plays volleyball with the students, she looks more like a teacher than a student. Rui takes her aside to remark on the inappropriateness of her swimsuit, but Hina is so happy she’s not ignoring her anymore, that it leads to the two making up.

Rui isn’t interested in Hina breaking up with Natsuo if she still has real feelings for him; instead, she’s prepared to concede him to her and pursue other options. Honestly it’s probably a good move by Rui…if she can stick the landing. But Rui’s assurances don’t dissuade Hina from deciding to break up with Natsuo anyway, since it’s just not a tenable relationship.

It’s disappointing to see Hina’s position so callously overruled by Natsuo thanks to a cheap ring and a promise that he’ll make an honest woman of her for sure, even proposing marriage. Their two positions couldn’t be further apart, but there’s no compromise, Natsuo simply gets what he wants, again. 

While he may talk about caring about the future, it’s Hina who was looking out for both of them by suggesting they end things while they still can. Instead, they make out in front of an open window during a fireworks display, then have sex and apparently spend the night together.

These are not good decisions, as Hina learns on the first day back at school, when she’s summoned by the principal, who presents her a photo of her, and Natsuo, kissing by the open window, during the fireworks display.

She and Natsuo were so caught up in being together that they got sloppy, never stopping to think how others (who weren’t Rui) mind think and feel about them together. In the school’s case, it’s likely a fireable offense, and certainly a black mark on its reputation. Suffice it to say Hina is well and truly fucked.

Aho Girl – 05

Summer Vacation is here. A-kun wants to study. Yoshiko wants to play. For once, I’m on her side (wait…when am I ever not?). Ruri has recovered from last week’s unintentional assault. Yoshiko invites her to go see a new magical girl anime movie. A-kun tells her that stuff’s for kids, and Ruri starts to cry…so A-kun agrees they’ll all go to the movies.

BIG mistake. Neither Yoshiko nor Ruri can keep it down, making such a disturbance A-kun has to smack them both and carry them out with apologies to the rest of the audience. Though I must say, Yoshiko breaking out of her tape binds, magical girl transformation-style, was pretty nifty.

Next, Yoshiko wants to go to the beach. She’s not alone; Sayaka thinks it’ll be fun times as well. Fuuki Iinchou and Ryuuichi happen to be in the neighborhood (stalking A-kun in various ways) so they want in as well. Suddenly A-kun is all alone on an island of people who don’t want to go to the beach.

While everyone is shopping for swimsuits (don’t they own any?) he mentions he won’t be joining them on the trip. Then Sayaka pulls out all the stops to guilt trip A-kun into coming along, by calling him a weirdo who draws other weirdos, like Yoshiko and Ryuuichi and Fuuki Iinchou…and yes, even Sayaka. But she bets—correctly—that even if she is a weirdo, A-kun will still be her friend.

The morning of the trip arrives, and Fuuki ends up facing off against Yoshiko’s mom, who smells an “A-kun-stealing homewrecker” and a “sow”. Neither Fuuki nor Ryuuichi are a match for Yoshiko’s mom’s extensive cat fight experience…but A-kun is, and warns her to knock off the violent behavior and leave them in peace.

She does, but not before slipping A-kun her still-warm bra (for some reason) before scampering off while laughing maniacally. I think I’m realizing where Yoshiko got a lot of her brash theatricality…

Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de – 11

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InoBato surprises us this (or at least me) this week by showing us a flashback of the day Jurai crossed paths with Tomoyo, and we see that there was a precedent to her placing her fist against his heart as she did during the Hatoko crisis. She convinced him in their brief encounter not to give up on Chuuni. To this day he doesn’t know it was Tomoyo.

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We go from that flashback to the present and the family vacation. Hatoko has studied her love manuals thoroughly and is making a concerted play for Jurai, determined not to let this perfect chansu slip away.

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Unfortunately, she ends up hewing a bit too close to said manuals and overdoes things, resulting in her nearly passing out from sunstroke/exhaustion. The beach scenes are a vivid showcase for the tendency of InoBato’s character design to be both sexy and goofy as conditions dictate. Last week, Sayumi was definitely a knockout, but Hatoko’s no slouch either.

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Knowing where Jurai is, who he’s with, and how Hatoko feels, the same day is a bit of an ordeal for Tomoyo. After dreaming about how she first met Jurai, she decides not to waste both tickets and go to Sealand alone; a decision she almost immediately regrets, but goes through with it anyway. Her scenes are steeped with lonelieness and longing; a kind of lost daze.

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When Hatoko recovers she gets another golden opportunity to confess her feelings, but decides instead to come at it from another angle, semantically…something InoBato is certainly no stranger to exploring how wording and phrasing affects understanding.

Jurai remains grateful she ‘saved’ him, and considers her ‘more than friends’ and ‘special’. While I would have liked a straight confession out of her, Hatoko’s wistful looks at the stars indicate that his words constitute a sufficient rejection in terms of romantic love.

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That assessment looks even more accurate considering Jurai calls Tomoyo and asks her out on a date right after talking with Hatoko. From there, Tomoyo begins her clinic of cute/bashful/happy facial expressions, as she’s not only clearly over the moon that Jurai called, but that he seemed just as in a hurry to see him again as she was.

It’s a cute date too, as Tomoyo, feeling bad about him offering to treat her again, suggest they decide who will pay fair and square with a shooting game. She kicks his ass and he has to pay anyway, but it was a nice gesture, along with a way to impress him with her marksmanship.

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When Jurai leads Tomoyo to a secluded spot to talk, Tomoyo gets a little excited, but it turns out Jurai wanted to create a situation in which she was free to talk to him, after he heard how Hatoko said she was ‘mean’ to her. Tomoyo doesn’t get into that, but does tell him about her light novel failure.

Jurai basically says all the right things in response to hearing about that, and leads Tomoyo to bury her face into his chest just as the fireworks launch right above them.

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It really couldn’t get any more romantic, and Tomoyo is again reminded of meeting him, along with a quick montage of all the close moments they’ve had. But Tomoyo still doesn’t say “I love you.” She says “I love this”. It would seem Tomoyo remains the frontrunner after all, and while I really wish she’d said the magic words (as I wished Hatoko had), that’s just not InoBato’s style.

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That brings us to the abridged final act, which is…a bit maddening. Here we’ve had a show that’s been 99% about characters and relationships, with neary a hint of superpowers or the war going on outside the sphere of the lit club. Then it decided to suddenly dump a steaming load of plot and peril at the very end.

The woman Hajime’s associates caught on camera does something to Mirei (who we haven’t seen in ages); Mirei calls the club to school, pretends her arm is burning, and when Hatoko uses her power to summon water, Mirei steals her superpower, summons flame, and launches it at Hatoko.

Sorry, but hWAAAAH? What the heck am I suppsed to do with that? Is Hatoko going to be incinerated? The preview clearly indicated next week is the final episode. I’m wondering how the heck the show is going to resolve this crisis and give us a satisfying conclusion to the harem plot.

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Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru – 07

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Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru has established a weird pattern: it runs 2 calm, entirely pedestrian episodes before charging head long into each battle. This up/down relationship isn’t the weird part, exactly. More that the calm episodes are so calm.

I mean, this week was the happiest, most care free beech style episode I’ve ever seen shoved into a show. It was so playful and, since there are no male characters in this middle-school-girl-cast show, that playfulness came off as authentic.

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The girls play on the beech, have a delicious and classy meal, take a grande bath, and even have fun telling ghost stories to each other — all payed for by the organization that probably knows they’re all doomed already.

Fu is still blind, Itsuki is still mute, Yuna is still a tomboy, Karen is a robot and Togo still can’t walk, after all.

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My favorite moments were how Togo had to be shoved into the setting, every setting, even at the cost of physics sometimes. Take this scene where she’s in a normal wheel chair… being pushed through the water in a way I’m pretty sure would take a body builder’s worth of muscle to accomplish.

At least her floaty wheel chair was cute and made sense. Even nice of the secret organization to provide an unnamed adult supervisor to make sure nothing went wrong in the process.

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As you can probably tell, I don’t have too much to say about this week’s episode. It was very charming, (warm/fuzzy feeling) even by YYwYdA standards, and we learned little bits about the world too. Vertexes are based on the zodiac, which implies there may be more of them than the initial 12 the Heros were told about.

And It was the best looking, non-special effects episode so far too…

But am I excited by all this? Not really. Not, at least, until something more dire befalls our little pretties…

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Barakamon – 05

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This episode illustrates how Seishuu, formerly the outsider, is steadily becoming “one of the gang,” someone both the adults and children of the village can trust and rely on. Rather than shun a city slicker, they welcomed him warmly, and Seishuu has settled nicely into their flow.

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While he’s periodically pacing around paper and slowly having all thought replaced by konomon, the girls (Naru, Tama, and Miwa) decide to enlist his help with their calligraphy assignment, and he takes to teaching like a fish to water, giving instruction and not suffering (or trying not to suffer) any dalliance.

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I particularly like how Miwa describes Seishuu’s present style as “fuzzy” and “showy,” and that Seishuu won’t teach it to them until it’s acknowledged; i.e. won grand prize. Naturally, he goes a bit far in vocalizing his passion for the art, and the girls’ focus pivots from their calligraphy to the fact that calligraphy seems to be all Sensei thinks or cares about.

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One would guess that Seishuu doesn’t have a girlfriend because he feels any time or energy spent on one would be time and energy taken from the calligraphy, which would be disastrous. But the fact is, he’s already spending a lot of time and energy with the girls and other villagers, and that energy is helping his work evolve and improve.

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When Seishuu is asked to chaperone the kids on a trip to the beach. It’s a beach black rocks rather than soft sand. While he has trouble with his footing on the slippery rocks, one can say he’s definitely found his footing in the village. Having to watch the kids and keep them from killing themselves makes him realize how much he’s come to care for them.

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Golden Time – 15

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Beach and pool episodes are as constant as the Northern Star. But even though stinkers come around now and then, we’re past the point of dismissing them out of hand. We’ve seen too many of them that have transcended what we imagine was their original purpose: to show more skin and kill time. Golden Time’s long-awaited beach episode is far more than that. Even though beach episodes where nothing goes right aren’t a new thing, here the mishaps aren’t simply an anomoly; they truly are being cursed by a bitter Ghost Banri.

Things start off innocently and hopefully enough, with Banri and Koko being all lovey-dovey on their way to meet up with 2D-kun. Then they fall victim to miscommunication, traffic, distance, and finally rain, all of which eats away are the precious day. Seeing how down everyone is, Banri cuts loose, stripping down to his non-jockstrapped Speedo and running out into the rain, then grabbing Koko and coaxing the others out. It’s a beautiful display of raw, frantic joy; five people not letting the clouds deny them their fun.

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And the clouds, as if out of deference to the audacity of Banri’s, do eventually relent, letting the group have their fun in the sun. At this point, it’s as if Ghost Banri’s bad mojo had been buried in the sand. A beach-side supper, beach-ballin’, swimming, fireworks; while it may have gotten off to a rough start, the rest of the day is a triumphant return to that innocent, hopeful beginning; what Banri and Koko were looking forward to on that train. But then…2D-kun intimates that he’s too sleepy to drive, so Koko takes the wheel.

And OMG Koko is such a terrible driver LOL! Wait, no, she’s not; she’s a very good, careful driver. Nice cliche-dodging there, Golden Time! But there’s still something very foreboding about them setting off; the car is a little too perfectly framed, as it was earlier in the day when they were waiting for Koko to find Chinami, or as the clouds gathered, or while stuck in traffic; events that happened while Ghost Banri’s curse was winning. It comes back with a vengeance.

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Banri and then Koko herself nod off, and the car starts to swerve around the road. It’s a visceral, harrowing scene that had us on pins and needles. Sure, the show wasn’t going to kill five characters, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t going to take one or two; we had no idea what would happen, which is the key to genuine suspense. Even more shocking, Ghost Banri doesn’t either, and panics and shouts when he sees how far things have gotten, and it would seem he’s responsible for waking Banri up.

So yeah, this wasn’t just an episode where we got to see more skin (both male and female, by the way). It showed the growing awkwardness between Mitsuo and the others, particularly Chinami, in the wake of the knowledge he’s dating Linda; it showed the extent Ghost Banri’s power; and we got more valuable Banri/Koko couple time. Ghost Banri may not be a damnable villain who’s fine with people dying, but he’s still trapped in a body being controlled by someone else, dating someone he deems to be the wrong girl. He’s probably not done.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Golden Time – 14

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Last week was foreboding, portentous, and left us more than a little concerned that the second half would be a long drag careening toward disaster, but as it turns out, we were getting ahead of ourselves. Ghost Banri’s curse may yet have teeth, but it has yet to assert itself. Meantime, we get a very pleasant slice-of-life episode that garners two unexpected surprises.

The first is that Chinami and Koko become friends, in spite of Koko’s insistence that such a thing not be allowed to happen under any circumstances. It all starts with Koko eavesdropping on Banri’s phone call with 2D-kun (Hey, 2D-kun!) in which she learns Mitsuo hasn’t been able to hang with Banri all Summer, suggesting he may have a girlfriend. Because they’re like us, we assumed that would be Chinami, but the show played us and played us well: Chinami hasn’t seen Mitsuo all Summer either. And since they’re there, Banri, Koko and 2D hang with Chinami, ultimately deciding to go on a beach trip.

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Early in the second half of the series, episodes like this where collected friends simply hang out is a good thing; in Chinami’s case it allows us to learn more about her. One reason for the beach trip is to get her mind off her immediate troubles: her parents are moving back to her hometown, so she needs to find a new apartment. Chinami was already nicely fleshed out in the amusement park episode, but it’s satisfying to see her grow from simply an adorable foil to Koko and potential love interest to Mitsuo into a genuine friend, someone Koko can talk to candidly about Banri. Without even knowing it, Koko has gained something she’s never had before: a confidant—although it could be argued she that with Banri, back when Mitsuo was her object of affection/obsession.

One reason Chinami and Koko end up hitting it off so well is the knowledge that Chinami isn’t going out with Mitsuo, which eliminates her as a threat. But another reason is the second surprise of the night: Mitsuo is going out with Linda. That’s a really brilliant move, if you ask us, and damn do they look good together. The moment we saw them, we felt the same dull pain in the chest we’re sure Koko must have felt when she saw Banri’s subtle but unmistakable reaction. Banri may be totally cool with Mitsuo and Linda as an item. But even with Chinami’s assurances, it will take more than that to convince Koko that she doesn’t have anything to fear, which is why she initially plans to wear as little as possible on the beach trip. Banri—the present Banri, that is—has set his course. Now we’ll see if he can keep to it as the seas get rougher.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)