Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai – 06

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And here I thought the platoon was going to get to work scoring points for Usagi. That enterprise is totally sidelined when Mephisto makes her move. Turns out the scumbag Tenmyoji Reima’s quick rise was made possible by a deal with the witch, who aims to retrieve her body from Taimadou’s custody and exact some revenge.

Mephisto first possesses President Hoshijiro’s ninja aide, then Ootori, who goes after Tenmyoji, incorrectly guessing he’s Mephisto. It’s not the most stunning twist of fate, but it works, and now two platoon members are in danger. Also, it’s cool to see Ootori wearing an evil smirk.

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What decidedly isn’t cool in any way, shape, or form, like, at all, is what Usagi goes through this week, and what she has gone through ever since she met Reima. When her older brother was playing with a rifle, she struggled with him to stop and he accidentally got shot. To Reima, that means she’s a brother-murderer, and he never lets her forget it, claiming her as his property and marking her with a slap even when the two are just peewees.

Yet this is just a memory; the true horror occurs when Usagi wakes up from her latest fainting spell (the fact Reima gives her devastating panic attacks just sickens me) to find herself in a wedding dress, with “betrothed” on top of her, ready to consummate. He uses the same old spiel about how he’s the only one who’ll have her and not abandon her after what she did.

Usagi goes numb for a moment, but thankfully doesn’t give up and let him have his way with her. She remembers he’s wrong; she has a family who will fight for her, so she has to fight too. So she bares those bunny’s fangs and sinks them into Reima.

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That gets Reima mad, and he activates his armor, but Takeru, tipped off by Hoshijiro, intervenes in time to save Usagi. But with Ootori under Mephisto’s control, he can’t have Usagi rest easy now that she’s been rescued: it’s her turn to step up to the plate, using her grandfather’s rifle to fire special magic bullets that will destroy Mephisto without killing Ootori.

Usagi is up for it, but Ootoriphisto uses her craftiness to stay a step ahead, placing a charm spell on her that makes all the guys in the vicinity amorously flock to her. Thankfully, she’s able to run away and no inappropriate contact occurs.

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Back in the church where Reima was going to defile Usagi, Takeru makes certain the little shitbag will never touch Usagi again by scaring him straight (and making him wet himself). If anything, it’s almost too easy, this bad guy. He’s sooooo evil and soooo wrong, and when he loses Mephisto’s protection, he turns into a puddle of cowardice, because of course he does.

Ootoriphisto tries to trick Usagi again by acting like a concerned Ootori (who Mari earlier saw right through, because the real Ootori wouldn’t give a shit about her, at least openly) and telling her Takeru is Mephisto. Takeru retorts that if she doesn’t know who to shoot, just shoot him, than Ootori. Well, he cracked that little standoff quickly enough, didn’t he?

But really, he didn’t have to: somehow, Ootori manages to wrest some control back from Mephisto, at least stop her from moving. This makes it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt who the witch is, and Usagi takes her shots and doesn’t miss. Goodbye, Mephisto. We hardly knew ye, but considering how easily you were defeated by a pack of misfits, we probably didn’t need to know ye.

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With that, Usagi is safe, then Ootori is safe, and all’s well that ends well. Super-well, as it turns out, because in the midst of the festival during which the 35th does a cosplay cafe, Usagi informs him—embarrassingly festooned with gift bows by Suginami, herself donning an outrageous sexy succubus outfit)—that the marriage to the shitberg is officially off, without any further efforts to legitimize her admittance to the school.

Good. The less we see of Reima moving forward, the better. As for Usagi, she likes it when Takeru pats her on the head, but if somebody ever tries to touch her without her permission again, she won’t hesitate to break out those fangs.

Next up to have a personal crisis that the platoon must band together to help despite her desire not to get them involved? Suginami. I predict a solid Shiraishi Ryouko performance is in the near future.

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Charlotte – 05

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This week’s Charlotte begins with a rather unpleasant scene of Nao being dragged out of class and beaten behind the school by a mob of other girls. Yuu follows but doesn’t interfere, but what’s unclear is whether Nao is disappointed or glad about it. He presumes it’s what she gets for messing with people with her invisibility. He knows what it’s like to bear misdeeds; he’s perpetrated plenty of his own with his body-swapping.

And yet, while Yuu doesn’t play the role of the shining knight swooping in to save Nao from her tormentors, with or without his ability, Yusa and Joujirou both agree they’re “not an unpleasant couple to be around” due to their natural chemistry and spouse-like interactions. If they didn’t care about each other one way or another, they wouldn’t fight; that kinda thing.

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Nao believes the Council’s next target is up in the mountains near the city practicing his flying ability (the downside to the power is never mentioned). The best way she believes to do that is to set up camp and stake the place out indefinitely until they either spot him or he comes to them.

In the process of camping the group participates in typical group-bonding activites that take place during camping, like starting a fire, roasting corn, meat, and vegetables, playing video games, and stargazing. The latter is something only Nao and Yuu do, with the latter finding her alone listening to a group called ZHIEND, whose lead vocalist and composer is blind.

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In another indication Yuu and Nao are a somewhat fated couple, he gets the same feeling from the quiet music as she does: that of being in a vast, gorgeous, lonely open space. She even gifts him her music player, excited as she is to find a fellow fan. The music makes Yuu remember the face of girl who looks a lot like a younger Ayumi but who he doesn’t know, but he’s woken from the dream when it’s his turn to keep watch.

On the second night of the camping stakeout, Yuu and Jou bathe in the river, where Jou tells Yuu it’s best if he set romantic plans aside until two years from now, when they’ll lose their abilities. It makes me wonder if this show will let us see that future and how it changes these classmates and colleagues who are gradually becoming friends.

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It really is a journey-not-destination kind of episode, as the flying kid mission is wrapped up extremely easily. Yuu swaps bodies with him and ends up several thousand feet above the ground (an awesome sight, to be sure), and when he comes down softly but slightly banged up, less than a minute of convincing from Nao persuades the guy to stop using his ability.

Back home, there isn’t much pizza sauce left, and so Yuu gets his first tolerable meal frmo Ayumi in a long time. He also manages to convince her not to put it in everything, finally. But then Ayu starts coughing, and her temperature is 37.8, prompting Yuu to get her under a futon. Hopefully Ayumi doesn’t get sicker as a prelude to the awakening of her own power; but I’ll admit that’s not outside the realm of possibility.

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Charlotte – 04

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I don’t dislike baseball, and while I probably wouldn’t watch an anime exclusively devoted to it, I do enjoy the occasional baseball episode (it was one of my favorite DS9 episodes, simply because it’s so fun and feel-good).

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This week’s Charlotte was one of those, and it turned out a lot like “Take Me Out to the Holosuite”, which featured a ragtag team of Sisko’s crew (many of whom never played baseball) against a superior team—or in the case of Charlotte, a team with an ace who uses telekinesis to pitch perfect games.

They’re not just playing for pride, either: Nao gets the pitcher to agree never to use his power again if they lose; warning him that to do so would invite unwanted attention and ultimately capture by evil scientists. She also points out that he’ll lose the power, and thus any change of getting to the Bigs, once he grows up, but he seems undeterred.

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The game that unfolds is a bit of a circus, what with new Hoshinoumi transfer student Yusarin transforming into Mika, who has above-average athleticism baseball “game sense”, but is limited by Yusa’s weaker, slower body. Joujirou is predictably an asset in getting to first in record speed, but Nao has to record his at-bat with a high-speed camera to prove to the ump via instant replay that he was indeed safe. And, of course, Yuu switches bodies with an opposing batter while manning first base, with his repeated fainting confusing the ump to no end.

Finally, Nao calls upon Yuu in the most important at-bat; one in which a base hit will give them the win. Unlike his usual M.O. of sneaking around and swapping bodies, Yuu must face something head-on. He goes down 0-2 quickly, but realizing the gravity of his position, he valiantly fouls off pitches until the pitcher tries a new angle that results in a passed ball, scoring the two runs they need to win the game and the bet.

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This week’s challenge for the Student Council turns out to be a little more interesting than the one-dimensional producer targeting Yusarin, because the pitcher wasn’t cheating for personal gain; he wanted to take his team as far as he could because he wanted his friend, the catcher, who has excellent natural ability without the use of powers, to be noticed by scouts. Nao respects the guy’s selfless motives, but tells him there are other ways to do that; ways that won’t get him locked up and experimented on.

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Perhaps Yuu also learned the benefits of facing problems head on, which would serve him well in the unending battle to get his sister to stop putting pizza sauce in his meals. This is getting pretty ridiculous: I know he doesn’t want to hurt her feelings, but if he really doesn’t want pizza sauce in everything, he needs to confront her directly and tell her to please stop. I’m sure he could figure out a way to do it tactfully. Or better yet, have Yusa tell her for him! But not Mika. She’d probably spit in the food. ;)

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Charlotte – 03

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After another incident of Joujirou injuring himself while procuring lunch (the show already spent that nickel last week!), the StuCo gets a new lead: someone who can not only channel the dead, but also has the power of pyrokinesis. It turns out to be the idol we saw Ayumi watching, whom Jou is also enamored of: Nishimori Yusa (voiced by Uchida Maaya). With some more Yuu and Takajou teamwork (in which Nao gets cold-cocked and Yuu takes the brunt of Jou’s attack) they manage to find one of Yusa’s protectors, who take them to her.

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When Yusa goes into channeling mode she’s unaware of what’s happening, and the girl she channels is her late older sister, Misa, who was once an delinquent with Yusa’s present bodyguards. It’s Misa, not Yusa, who is able to control flame. But Yusa is in trouble: she accidentally ended up with an incriminating smartphone, and a producer is looking to wipe her off the map to protect its secrets.

Nao devises a plan whereby Misa takes over Yusa and acts tough like she’s killing all of the producer’s henchmen left and right, but all she does is lightly singe her two buddies in flame-resistant suits, while Jou, Yuu, and an invisible Nao make it seem like she also has The Force. The producer is scared off, almost too easily, but at the same time, after that demonstration, I’d be pretty freaked out too!

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After that, Nao insists Yusa transfer to Hoshinoumi; it’s only a matter of time before her powers manifest in public and she’s taken away by scientists and used up like just another human “battery.” Misa agrees it’s what’s best for her little sister, even if it means one day she’ll no longer be able to possess her. One of her buddies also takes the time to confess his feelings for her; feelings he wasn’t able to confess when she was alive. And of course, back home, Ayumi is over the moon that her brother is now classmates with “Yusarin.”

This was an alright introduction of the fifth member of the main cast as displayed on the official promo art, and Uchida Maaya does a good job differentiating between the cutesy Yusa and the tough-as-nails Misa. But to be honest, there wasn’t much in the way of danger this week; everything just kinda worked out perfectly. for all involved Also, after just finishing the lovely Yamada/7 Witches, yet another instance of two people in one body feels a bit passe.

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Charlotte – 02

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Yuu’s first day at Hoshinoumi Academy is fairly eventful, as Joujirou demonstrates the incredibly destructive and unnecessary way he buys lunch. But while his demonstration and its resulting wounds is played for laughs (and it is pretty funny on its face), the show delves into darker territory with regard to the effects special abilities have on the people who possess them.

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But first, Nao and Joujirou show Yuu how they operate, using the location pinpointing and power identification skills of a “comrade” to locate ability users who, like Yuu, are up to no good. In this case, it’s the archery captain, who uses his “thoughtography” ability to produce images of girls in their underwear which he then sells…to help support his struggling family.

Nao and Joujirou put Yuu to work immediately, using his body-swapping ability to get the name of the culprit and foil his attempt to blackmail Nao (who is nonetheless flattered that the culprit thinks she’s attractive). It’s clear Yuu is a good fit, and that he’s now on the straight and narrow stopping people from going too far with their powers or using them for nefarious purposes.

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The StuCo he’s now in less about punishing the ability users and more about protecting them from themselves. Those who get discovered are often taken away by the powers that be to have their brains poked and prodded. Nao knows this because her own brother, the first youth who had a power awaken in them, underwent just that kind of intrusive experimentation, leaving him a husk of the person he once was.

The importance, and indeed nobility of The StuCo’s cause is underlined greatly when Nao brings Yuu to see her brother. At this point, Nao is used to him not reacting to anything, despite his hospital being in the most gorgeous, P.A.Works-y environment possible. She even buys lunch and eats it on the train like they’re on some workaday errand, not visiting her profoundly wounded brother.

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Her casual attitude may be Nao attempting to live as normal and happy a life as she can in her brother’s stead, because she managed to escape the same fate. But however you interpret it, it’s a brother-sister dynamic Yuu doesn’t repeated with him and his beloved Ayumi. While initially resistant to all the crazy crap going on at Hoshinoumi with Nao and Joujirou, perhaps Yuu will continue to be more smart with his powers and get with the program.

After all, as Nao says, any of them could be captured tomorrow and their lives and the lives of those they love irreparably ruined. For all its goofy or laughable moments, Charlotte doesn’t fail to bring the gravity either. That combo makes sense: for those with lives almost always on the brink and an ongoing mission that may not end until they lose their powers at adolescence, one must have fun, goof off, buy beef tongue and destroy a cafeteria now and then to maintain their sanity.

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Charlotte – 01 (First Impressions)

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What is it? Otosaka Yuu abuses his power to possess another person (for just five seconds at a time), which has twisted him into a kind of Yagami Light Lite, with troubling megalomaniacal and sociopathic tendencies and poor moral fiber. He cheats at both tests and in love, until he’s caught by a camcorder-wielding silverhair named Tomori Nao.

Nao, who can become invisible (but only to one person at a time) insists Yuu join her and her colleague Takajou (who can teleport, but never knows where he’ll stop) at Hoshinoumi Academy, a school specially suited to people with special powers like them. Facing expulsion at his present school and getting dumped by its idol Yumi, and faced with the enthusiasm of his little sister Ayumi, Yuu grudingly agrees to the transfer.

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Why should you watch? P.A. Works’ last effort that I watched, Glasslip, was a huge disappointment. Charlotte is much livlier, funnier, and flat-out better right out of the gate. Unlike a kid just dealing with teenage angst or longing, Yuu is a pretty confident dude, but also unprincipled, and selfish, literally causing traffic accidents to get a date with a girl. He’s the kind of swine you love to hate, like Light or Kanie from Amaburi. Yet I can’t help but root for him as I hope his new colleagues will work to reform his character somewhat.

The episode efficiently lays out the possibilities and limitations of his power, and the fact that if he could possess people as long as he wanted without them knowing, then he might be able to act so high and mighty and godlike. But he doesn’t. His power is half-baked, and so are those of his colleagues, so things can never quite get that out of control.

However, when they get a little out of control, such as when Takajou races around the city like a bull in a china shop chasing Yuu, or Yuu makes someone do something that causes a chaotic chain reaction, it’s great fun to watch. It’s also a just episode, in which Yuu gets all the misfortune coming to him…but doesn’t overdo it.

We see all the sides of him, like the side that sees Ayu as his only family and loves her so much he won’t tell her his omelette is too sweet.

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Why shouldn’t you watch? Like all previous P.A. Works, this show is gorgeous, and it got off to a great start, but if you still feel burned by Glasslip, I won’t begrudge you passing on another high school drama…is what I would say, only the drama so far is pretty pretty understated; in its place is just comeuppance and a healthy helping of comedy. If we’re just talking about Charlotte in a vacuum, its flaws are few.

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The Verdict: Charlotte gave us colorful, dynamic, flawed characters with clashing personalities, punchy dialogue, justice, and the usual P.A. Works dreamily beautiful yet everyday setting. It lured us in and held our attention throughout. Its superpowers are in-your-face and impactful without dominating the proceedings.

It also smartly set up the introduction of the fourth main character as the next target of the other three: the J-pop idol Nishimuri Yusa must be using her power in some underhanded way in order to achieve fame. I’m looking forward to the reveal of that power and watching Yuu clash with Yusa. This is a definite keeper.

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Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo – 12 (Fin)

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Going into the finale it looked like Yamadas still had quite a bit of work to do in order to gather the seven witches for a ceremony before Yamazaki and get his Shiraishi Urara back. So I was surprised by how relatively easy a time he had of resolving things.

Yet it wasn’t surprising in a bad way, because there were still blanks that needed filling for some important players, and in getting filled, they paved the way for ultimate Yamada’s success, which turned out to be good for everyone.

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Take Rika: we were never privy to the source of her absolute loyalty to Yamazaki, until now, and it turns out to be pretty clear-cut: Yamazaki was the only one who remembered her and knew she was coming to school and studying at all. With this new info in mind, it makes sense that she wouldn’t do anything to threaten the fortunes of the only person who knows who she is.

But here’s the thing: Yamazaki is no longer the only person. Yamada, Nene, and Tamaki also fill that role, and three people knowing of your existence doubtless feels better than just one.

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So Rika agrees to help Yamada, if he can bring Leona back to school so she can wipe her memory. Rika is not only pragmatic, but proud of her position as seventh witch, and takes her duties seriously. Miyamura has no idea what business Yamada has with his shut-in sister, but Leona agrees to come in, and we learn more that drives this story to its resolution: she and Yamazaki were once the entirety of the Supernatural Club.

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When he became Student Council president (likely a wish to the seven witches), his memories of Leona were taken away. But like Urara with Yamada, while the memories are gone, the feelings that go with them are not. Thus, when Leona passes Yamazaki in the hall, he tears up, and because he’s a sharp lad, he realizes why, and why Yamada isn’t his enemy any longer.

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Nene and Tamaki then manage to capture Asuka-in-Urara’s-body, employing all the other witches in an ambush…

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…While Yamada drags Miyamura (a student council member) to Asuka’s to retrieve a very scared and confused Urara who, I’ll restate, still possesses feelings for Yamada, even though she doesn’t remember him.

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The seven witches assemble, and though Asuka manages to escape, Yamazaki tells her to stand down, as he intends to observe, not disrupt, Yamada’s ceremony. Yamada stands in the middle, and time stops, or rather slows way down, just for him and Rika.

Before he closes his eyes and prays for his wish, Yamada asks Rika if she’s happy she ended up with a witch power. Rika states that she mostly is, but doesn’t discount the difficulty of bearing such a power, and isn’t looking forward to foisting them on a successor when she graduates.

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With that, Yamada makes his wish, and while they prank him a little when he returns to the supernatural club room, everyone’s memory is back. But as they celebrate, he elaborates: he didn’t wish to restore their memories; that was just a by-product of wishing for the witch powers to disappear entirely. After all, thanks to him, the witches no longer had the problems that led to them receiving their powers, and with no more powers, Rika and the others don’t have to worry about burdening successors.

As for Urara, she apologizes for losing her memory and rejecting Yamada, even though she didn’t really have any choice. She also assumes his confession was false, but he sets her straight by repeating that he loves her and wants to go out with her. She, in turn, reveals that the “someone else” she said she liked was really Yamada; she just couldn’t remember him at the time. So there you have it: a tidy happy ending that’s both logical and satisfying.

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Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo – 11

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With each week comes fresh reveals of more secrets regarding the school witches, and as Yamada learns the Supernatural Club is slowly drifting apart without him, the latest revelation is most important of all: when all seven witches are assembled, a ceremony can be performed that will grant someone any wish they want.

I would imagine the wish Yamada would choose is for Urara to continue to be happy and surrounded by friends…and with him by her side, if it’s possible. But her happiness is paramount.

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I said Yamada was down last week, but not out, and now we see why: while many people have had their memories wiped, one of them, Nene, bursts in to protest him copying her own charm power onto her, causing her to love him.

In the act of kissing him, she cancels out the memory loss, and Yamada and Tamaki explain the situation. At the same time, the eyes of both Rika and Yamazaki are constantly on Yamada as he struggles to fix things.

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Their threats don’t faze Yamada, however, as he’s on a mission, and his new circle consisting of himself, Tamaki, and Nene makes for an interesting combo. The three agree to gather the seven witches, restore their memories, and convince them to perform the ceremony before their opponents Yamazaki, Rika, and Mikoto can get to them.

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In intricate game of chess ensues, full of moves and countermoves and looking several moves ahead, something that without Tamaki and Nene’s counsel, might put Yamada at a disadvantage.

But even though Mikoto keeps him from kissing Urara (who is now at a point where she wants him to kiss her), and Yamazaki proposes a plan that will grant Nene’s wish (to be with Yamada), Yamada’s love for Urara and determination to keep her happy and not alone, conquers all the strategy on display, or so it seems.

 

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Just take Tamaki, who saw Nene with Yamazaki and suspects she’s working for him now. But Nene is resigned to the fact no matter what she does, Yamada only has eyes for Urara, so she may as well support and smile with him.

It’s clear beyond doubt now that Nene is in love with Yamada, which is why she suspected she was under her own charm spell despite having no memories of him. The love, unrelated to the witch power, remained, just as Ushio’s love and devotion to her remained even after she lifted her spell from him.

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Yamada & Co make progress, restoring Maria, Meiko, and Noa with kisses and explaining to them what’s going on, but Rika remains elusive due to her memory-wiping abilities, which leave no trace of her existence in school records or in the minds of anyone at school. Despite how sad that sounds, Rika has no intention of helping Yamada & Co.

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When Mikoto somehow switches bodies with Urara before Yamada can kiss her, Yamada’s at an impasse with the remaining two witches. With little time left, he storms into Yamazaki’s office, grabs him by the scruff (not sure why Mikoto didn’t follow Yamada there to protect her president) warning he’s not going to give up, no matter how much he screws with him. He vows to go to Mikoto’s house, where Urara is in her body, and kiss her—a task characterized by the prez as easier said than done.

Is Nene actually working for Yamazaki after all? What exactly is Rika’s deal? Can only one wish be fulfilled by the ceremony? What other twists and reveals await us in the final episode? I don’t know, but I look forward to finding out. It’s been a great ride: complex and funny and touching in equal measure.

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Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo – 10

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Thanks to Miyamura’s heretofore unmentioned sister (and scissor enthusiast) Leona, Yamada learns the identity of the seventh witch. Leona tells him because she’s amused he’s doing it for love—specifically to undo the future where Urara is all alone again. But there’s a cost to learning the seventh witch’s identity.

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That cost is that Yamada’s memory of the witches—all of them, including Urara—must be wiped, as only President Yamazaki is allowed to know the names of all seven witches. Yamada doesn’t treat it as that big of a deal, especially since his friends and Urara in particular promise to bring him back after his memory wipe. Urara in particular is looking forward to being the first person he kisses, just as she was when they first fell down the steps together.

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Yamada takes his leave from Urara, and even though things still don’t seem that serious, there’s an air of wistfulness and even foreboding to their farewell. That’s amplified significantly when the seventh witch, Saionji Rika, appears, boasting about going commando (like Urara made Yamada go when she was in his body) before placing her hands on his face, then walking off, apparently having done the job.

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Yamada is confused, then, that even though her instructions indicate it will take 24 hours for his memories to fade…they don’t fade. He enters the supernatural club to announce it didn’t work, but none of them know who he is, or rather, they know he’s Yamada, but have no connection to him.

Turns out Rika couldn’t wipe his memories, due to his immunity to witch powers. Instead, she wiped the memory of all his friends, along with all the witches. In other words, Yamada kept Urara out of that lonely future, only to find himself alone.

Initially, he doesn’t seem all that troubled by this; after all, Yamazaki is honoring his side of the bargain by backing Miyamura, so Urara won’t be alone and sad. But when fellow powers-immune Tamaki keeps asking him to team up with him so they can undo the situation, Yamada kinda snaps and destroys a lectern with his bare hands.

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Just as he does so, the person he both saved and exiled himself from, Urara, comes in, wondering if Yamada wanted to join the supernatural club. Yamada refuses, not wanting to cause her trouble, but as she turns away to leave he springs a confession on her, and she rejects him, because she likes someone else.

But even though Yamada gets angry about the prospect of her liking another guy (and the others seem to think she likes Miyamura rather than him), I knew from the get-go that the “other person” she likes is him, but due to Rika’s powers, can’t presently make the connection between the person she likes and Yamada.

It’s a tricky situation to be sure, especially since now that the witches have forgotten Yamada and everything he did to help them, they’re back to stirring up mischief all over school. He agrees with Tamaki that at least playing along Nene’s revitalized plan to gather supporters, her charm power can be put to good use.

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The only problem is, Yamada and Nene pick a public place to kiss; a place Urara happens to be walking past and spots them. Now, Urara may not be consciously aware she loves Yamada, and that they both promised she’d be the first one he kissed after Rika did her thing, she’s clearly aware of it on another level, because she gets extremely upset when she sees him kiss Nene.

Yamada is in a deep hole with two episodes remaining. He has a lot of explaining to do, misunderstandings to clear up, relationships to rebuild from scratch, and, if  possible, witch powers to somehow undo, and he won’t have the supernatural club or Urara on his side to help him, because she’s/they’re the ones he’s trying to get back.

But he does seem to have the witch killer Tamaki on his side (who doesn’t want to be alone either), and could yet benefit from the powers of Nene and the other witches besides Urara and Rika. He’s down, but he’s not out.

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Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo – 09

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What a tangled web Y7 weaves…and yet it all holds together marvelously. As thanks for helping to change her fiery future, Sarushima lets Yamada borrow her powers for their festival booth. Sarushima then asks Yamada to help her erase her power, stating she wants to fall in love and never will if she knows the future of everyone she kisses. As a practical matter, Sarushima has outgrown her power, so it’s not a bad thing for her to want to free it up for another girl.

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Unfortunately for Yamada, the “Witch Killer” whose services he seeks on Sarushima’s behalf is Tamaki Shinichi, a bit of an aloof trickster, who has already stolen the invisibility power of a witch, a power that will stay with him until he kisses another witch. Tamaki agrees to take Sarushima’s ability, but only if Yamada gives him valuable intel on whom Yamazaki will be choosing to succeed him as StuCo President.

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Yamada first asks Yamazaki upfront for this sensitive information, which Yamazaki predictably declines to surrender, so Yamada decides to try Odagiri’s power—given to him with her blessing, as she wants to help Sarushima too—to charm him. Only his lips can’t get anywhere near Yamazaki’s, because of his secretary and bodyguard Asuka Mikoto stops him with a furious, panstu-revealing kick.

They tie Yamada up, expecting to need torture to get his true intentions out of him, but Yamada is happy to just tell them: Tamaki wants the info. Ironically, Tamaki was atop Yamazaki’s list of successors, but is bumped down when Yamazaki learns of his scheming. We also learn Asuka was the sixth witch, who willingly had her invisibility power taken by Tamaki…though that doesn’t explain her amazing strength!

With the candidates neck-and-neck-and-neck, Yamazaki proposes that the one who discovers the identity of the seventh witch will win the presidency.

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There’s suddenly a lot of moving parts in Yamada’s plan to help Sarushima move on, but he never for a second considers backing out of helping her. In fact, he dutifully explains all these moving parts as the cause for the delay (everyone he needs wants something). Sarushima rewards him for his hard work with a kiss, forgetting that it means he’ll see her future.

It’s fun to wonder in the context of their kiss here, that if and when Sarushima does lose her power, whether she’d discover she was in love with Yamada after all.

Anyway, in that future, he sees that Sarushima has lost her powers (which is good), Tamaki has become president (which is fine), Shiraishi is Tamaki’s secretary.

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That last bit is concerning to Yamada, especially the way she walks away with Tamaki and looks back at him in the vision. It spurs Yamada to decide to change the future he sees, by helping Miyamura find the seventh instead of Tamaki.

At the bonfire where he and Miyamura keep their distance from their reveling friends and classmates, Yamada admits to him what we’ve known for some time, but he hasn’t been able to verbalize until now: he loves Shiraishi, and doesn’t want to lose her.

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Miyamura and Odagiri thus begin separately researching all the troublemakers in the school in their search for the seventh witch. Tamaki seems unmotivated to Odagiri, but by telling Miyamura this, and how it could be a two-horse race between them, Yamada figures out that Miyamura, Tsubaki, Itou and Shiraishi have been kissed by Tamaki, making him invisible to them, which he no doubt used to steal their research.

Rather than simply continue the race to find the seventh, Yamada, who is very much invested in Tamaki not winning, decides to use Shiraishi’s body-swapping ability to get back at him.

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That plan will be set into motion with him switching bodies with Shiraishi, but in the light of his realization of his love for her, Yamada finds it more difficult than ever to actually kiss her, worrying about all the variables they never bothered worrying about before. Shiraishi isn’t having it and kisses him.

This upsets him, and when Shiraishi asks why, he tells her: in that future, she wore a look he never wanted to see again; a look of isolation and loneliness; the antithesis to her warm bright smile at the bonfire, surrounded by friends. But Shiraishi responds to his concerns with her own resolution: to never go back to being that lonely person, before asking Yamada to change the future for her.

Perhaps, once he has, Shiraishi may not have further use for her power, nor Yamada for his, and these two can move forward, along with Asuka and Sarushima, to lives defined not by supernatural abilities, but confidence, devotion and love.

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Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo – 08

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I’ve liked how deftly Y7 has kept things fresh by approaching each new witch intro from a different angle, which is also appropriate considering the unique problems that led to them getting their powers in the first place. Urara was and is Yamada’s primary love interest. Nene was an adversary, while Meiko and Maria needed his help.

With Takigawa Noa, we seem to be dealing with another adversary. Her powers are believed to be the opposite of Maria’s, meaning the Supe Club assumes Noa’s turned three formerly popular students into troublemakers through blackmail or manipulation. But nothing is ever as clear-cut as it seems on this show. In fact, Noa’s turns out to be the most emotionally complex witch cases yet.

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She’s also, at first, the toughest nut to crack. Yamada thinks at first he can put on the charm and get a kiss to make things easier, but to his shock, Noa is grossed out by him, having only teased him about liking him.

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With Yamada’s pride hurt, he tries again, but only gets a push broom to the face. When he reveals he’s in the Supe Club and knows she’s a witch, Noa pulls attitude 180, and is suddenly keen to kiss him. So keen, Yamada thinks something is fishy, and rebuffs her advances. Now she’s the one with the hurt pride.

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Using her knew knowledge of Yamada, she hits him where he lives, having her three troubled friends/minions brutally ransack the clubroom. I’m not sure how they weren’t simply suspended or expelled right then and there, but the adults are all but nonexistent in this school, so whatever.

Pissed off more than ever, Yamada confronts President Yamazaki for the truth about Noa, and he gets it: she wants to make witches out of her three friends, and eradicate all the others. That means Urara, Nene, Meiko and Maria are all in danger.

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Rather than panic, Yamada stages a trap for Noa’s crew, using a game, excited Urara as the bait. I appreciate her adventurous spirit throughout this mission, and the fact she trusts Yamada’s judgement more than anyone else. The female friend of Noa kisses Urara, and celebrates the fact she was able to switch bodies, so she can now pesumably do something to get Urara expelled and thus powers revoked.

Only Yamada kissed Urara before, so the girl only ends up switching with him, in Urara’s body. She and the other two are tied up and held captive in the club room while Yamada, still in the girl’s body, opens negotiations with Noa.

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Two others (not sure who) accompany Yamada in the bodies of Noa’s friends, but Noa knows who they are immediately. She offers the notebook, then both notebooks in exchange for her people, but Yamada wants more: for the witch-hunting activities to stop, a condition Noa flatly refuses.

The talks break down, and Tsubaki and Itou beat Yamada for failing again, but Yamada insists this is about more than getting the notebooks back: three students’ reputations are at stake, and Noa must be stopped. That’s when Noa’s friends agree to stop their activities of their own volition. They’d rather be together with Noa than for her to be alone.

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This awakens Yamada to a key point: Noa hasn’t been manipulating her friends. When he gives them back to her, he asks her if taking over the school with her power was really her goal, and castigates them for causing all those problems that caused them to lose the popularity they already had.

That’s when a frustrated Noa kisses Yamada, and he experiences her power firsthand: in a dream, he relives the most traumatic memory of her past, when her classmates locked her in a storage room for hours until she wet herself. Similarly, her three friends never did anything bad; they were framed.

Noa has wanted to save them for so long, and thought she could do so by getting them witch powers. But when Yamada stopped them, she remembered they were popular from the start, and only their association with her hurt them.

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Then the three friends come to Noa’s aid, fighting Yamada and insisting they won’t leave her side. But Yamada shoots back that it’s their wishy-washiness that’s causing Noa’s suffering. Yamada doesn’t have all the answers, but he thinks they should at least do whatever they can to make Noa smile.

At that, another switch seems to go of in Noa’s head, and when we next see her, she’s in the club clinging to Yamada, whom she claims to have fallen for completely. Urara, whom you’d think would be jealous about such a development, is actually happy, because Noa’s power is more about simply seeing someone’s darkest hour, it’s about both kisser and kissee opening their hearts to one another, eliminating artifice and pretense.

They haven’t known each other long, but Yamada and Noa experienced that, and now he knows she’s not just an annoying schemer, and he’s not just a nosy, gross upperclassman. Urara also remarks that the two aren’t all that dissimilar: Yamada’s power also ultimately brings him closer to each of the witches, since to know their powers is to know the problems that gave rise to them. He knew exactly what to do for Noa, and she appreciates it.

It was great watching the battle of wills between Noa and Yamada, as well as the breathless evolution of their relationship. Yuuki Aoi is a great addition to the already stacked cast. Two witches to go!

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Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo – 07

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This week the Supernatural Club changes the future, not to save lives (as in Steins;Gate) but to save reputations. No one wants to be pegged as the one who set fire to the old school building, after all.

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Yamada and Miyamura end up at the house of “shut-in” Sarushima Maria, a returnee who also happens to be a witch. Her power is precognition, and saw sees a future in which she was blamed for burning the building, which is why she doesn’t go to school.

Then Yamada appeared beside her in the vision, which why she expects his arrival. He tells her the first step to figuring this whole thing out is by kissing her, which she agrees to. What Yamada wasn’t expecting was a french kiss!

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Yamada experiments on his new copied power by kissing Miyamura, then gets a vision of being slapped, which comes to pass when Nene stops by and her skirt caught on her sweater, revealing her panties. But because his vision is from Miyamura’s POV, Urara determines that Maria’s vision is being seen by another person, who could be the arsonist.

Maria admits she did kiss one other guy (and likely french kissed him, at that): one Tsubaki Kentarou, an old friend and fellow returnee. Yamada confronts this Tsubaki, who promptly tells him he’s in love with Urara and wants Yamada to arrange a meet-up for them.

Tsubaki then leads Yamada to the old school building, site of the fire, to do something he does whenever he gets depressed: make tempura. While insanely random, it does explain how the school gets set on fire; it’s an accident; one that they must now prevent.

The next day, when Tsubaki is expecting Urara, he gets Yamada and Miyamura instead, with Yamada insisting they kiss. But not only is Tsubaki not into guys, he’s extremely strong, and the other guys are unable to get him to kiss Yamada.

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That gambit failed, and they return to the clubroom to find Maria there, who knew it would fail. She came to kiss (i.e. french) Itou, who witnessed the fire from the club room where a clock read 8:03 PM. (BTW, I love how tall Maria turns out to be—she reminds me of Kino Makoto—and the fact Itou seems to be instantly smitten with her, perhaps due to that french kiss)

That means if they can keep Tsubaki from cooking tempura past that time, the future will change and the fire in her vision will be prevented. But how to do that? The episode doesn’t make it so easy. Tsubaki certainly wouldn’t cook tempura if Urara accepted his confession, but she can’t do that, because as we know, she likes Yamada.

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Yamada believes he’s cracked it: switch bodies with Urara and agree to a date with Tsubaki while delaying a situation where he could confess to her as long as possible, thus staving off the fire. This is another episode in which Yamada’s brute strength is useless and he depends on his friends to help him sort through the tangle of temporal probabilities.So I like his little dance as Urara when Tsubaki agrees to the plan.

Only problem is, Maria still sees the school fire in the future, only this time Itou (very hot and bothered by another Maria frenching) is with them at the fire now rather than by the clock. Worse still, Yamada-as-Urara stumbles into an extremely romantic place while parting ways with Tsubaki, and Tsubaki follows her and exploits that location to confess.

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This puts Yamada in the unenviable position of having to answer a confession aimed at Urara, but Urara, in his body, prevents him from saying anything by kissing. Now back in her own body, Urara tells Tsubaki “this is the way it is”, pressing herself into Yamada to make her rejection clear.

By doing this, Urara has all but assured Tsubaki will make tempura tonight, and indeed he races to the school to do just that. Yamada follows him, but isn’t strong enough to get into the kitchen. That’s when Urara arrives, which draws Tsubaki out. Yamada pounces on him, and in the confusion, the time when the school catches fire passes. Mission Complete! Maria embraces Itou in joy and relief.

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She also takes Yamada aside after the club celebrates to give him a big ‘ol hug, but also tells him one of her visions was of Urara standing alone before the fire; just like the cold open. She switched bodies with Yamada during Tsubaki’s confession so she could take his place in the vision, protecting him from being blamed for an arson.

While Yamada meekly thanks her at first, he continues to say “as if I’d thank you!”, and tells her never to do something so stupid again. Thus this whole exercise in changing the future Maria saw was also an exercise in romantic development, as Urara moved to sacrifice herself for Yamada’s sake, something Yamada appreciates but doesn’t want.

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The way things turned out, they worked together to resolve the issue, and neither of them had to take the hea, and hopefully that’s how they’re operate as they discover more witches.

The cast is ballooning, and Tsubaki is a somewhat simplistic character whose role in the club is still not very clear, but I did like Maria. I expected the pink-haired popular-looking girl would be a pain, but she turned out to be a big-hearted statuesque, french-kissing delight. On to the next witch!

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Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo – 06

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It’s Summertime on Y7, and Miyamura, Urara and Itou waste no time hitting the beach, but Yamada can’t go because he has supplemental lessons. Urara in her generosity lets Yamada switch bodies for her so he can soak in the rays. Itou seems miffed by Miyamura’s assertion Urara thinks it’s boring without Yamada with them, but Urara has kinda always liked Yamada above them.

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While in Yamada’s body, Urara is suddenly confronted by the green-haired Otsuka Meika, one of Yamada’s fellow summer school buddies, who ends up kissing him as a “gesture of their new friendship.” This makes Urara suspect Otsuka is a witch, but she doesn’t know her power, as nothing happens during the kiss.

The next day, after Otsuka accuses Yamada (who is really Yamada now) of being a different person (causing her a nosebleed and such), and Yamada returns to the dorms to find Nene and Ushio have joined them on their…er, witchhunt. The only problem is, the “volume two” notebook they seek is in a locked classroom, and the one with the keys is running Yamada’s class. To get access, the class will have to pass the exam and end the supplementary lessons.

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To that end, Urara switches with Yamada manages to convince Otsuka to kiss Yamada one more time, while she tasks Yamada with giving her a bath. This results in Nene getting all close and personal with Urara, unaware it’s Yamada until it’s too late. I love how these powers encroach on all of the characters’ boundaries of privacy and modesty, a free and uninhibited dynamic rare in a genre where even calling someone you like by their first name is a big step.

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Urara succeeds, and Otsuka wearily kisses Yamada again, and then Yamada kisses everyone else…and nothing happens. The boys all meekly decide to wait it out in the girls’ room, but Nene and Itou break their resolve and they all go to sleep. Yamada is then woken up by a loud, brash female voice, which turns out to be Otsuka’s; her power is telepathy. Neato!

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The next morning Yamada undergoes telepathy training with Otsuka, whose inner voice is far more forceful and domineering than her regular voice. In fact, there’s a flame-wreathed drill sergeant who won’t suffer any sass. She’s already passed her telepathy on to the others in their class, and now Yamada is a member of their little outfit. Together they’ll collaborate on passing the test, which is what everyone wants.

The problem is, witnessing Urara in Yamada’s body gave them the mistaken impression Yamada is smart and has all the answers. He doesn’t, but they’re depending on him anyway, so he must send the questions to Miyamura for Urara to solve. Then Urara will send the answers via Miyamoto to Yamada, who’ll distribute them to the others.

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It’s a lot of complicated telepathy to ask of a novice, but he works hard and everyone passes the test. And to the episode’s credit, it doesn’t get bogged down in showing a lot of the process, which probably would’ve just made my head hurt! Yet even though the classroom is unlocked it has been cleared out, allegedly by the president. Still, they’ve discovered a new witch, and the whole big group celebrates by enjoying the rest of their Summer vacation at the beach.

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On the last night, as the others light fireworks, Yamada and Urara have a bit of alone time, during which he reports that he may have figured out why the three witches he knows have their powers: they wished for them: Urara, who didn’t like her situation, gained the power to switch bodies; Nene, who wanted to be president, gained the power to charm; and Otsuka, who couldn’t talk to people, gained the power to communicate.

That means there must be a reason Yamada, while not technically a witch himself, gained the power to copy powers. It’s a mystery he believes will be solved when they discover the remaining four witches, something they’ll have to do without the benefit of the second volume notebook.

One could say he shares the same insecurities as the three witches he’s ID’ed so far, being a recovering delinquent, and his life has grown richer and happier with each ID. So maybe it would behoove him to look within himself to find the other four, since they’ll inevitably have the same problems he wrestles with.

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