Aho Girl – 01 (First Impressions)

Aho Girl or “Clueless Girl” is about all of the ways Hanabatake Yoshiko is an idiot, as seen from the perspective of her neighbor and long-suffering caretaker Akutsu Akuru. In under thirteen minutes of airtime, A-kun and others call her an idiot thirteen times and he assaults her a half-dozen more as punishment for being so idiotic.

If that sounds really one-note, it’s because it is. However this double act in which A-kun is the straight and Yoshiko is the foil sort of succeeds for two reasons: despite her idiocy Yoshiko has a great deal of performative range (thanks to her seiyu, a game Yuuki Aoi) and the bits and jokes are numerous and frequent, leaving scant time to stop and ask yourself why you’re watching.

Sakura Trick – 05

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We’ve already talked about how Sakura Trick isn’t interested in putting up barriers to its main couple’s happiness for the sake of drama, preferring to focus on all the small yet significant romantic ups and downs they experience daily. The greatest threat had been Mitsuki, but her spying is now motivated just as much by her own unwanted feelings for Haruka than out of any disapproval.

Conflicts between Haruka and Yuu are kept petty, but Yuu is still hurt when Haruka leaves her behind to go to a cafe that in real life would get sued by Starbucks. Again, the show keeps a nice balance between Haruka and Yuu; both have experienced fear of abandonment, even if in all those cases there’s no cause for concern. Yuu admits that she’s being selfish today, but with the belief that she deserves to be now and again. Haruka obviously doesn’t mind her clinginess in the least.

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Looking outside the main couple, Ikeno Kaede is being consistently portrayed as the trickster in Sakura Trick; and this week she exploits Mitsuki’s penchant for snooping on Haruka and Yuu by cornering her after the couple notices her (Kotone later says she’s seen Mitsuki snooping a lot, but had never brought it up). But when Mitsuki is around Haruka, she panics, culminating in her lying down to accept the kiss of the Prince in the Snow White skit practice, unaware it’s a speech-only play.

Haruka would have kissed her, too, had Yuu not performed an emergency headbutt. But while the Mitsuki/Yuu rivalry shows promise, it’s also interesting to note that the pair is growing progrssively bolder, with Yuu dropping her hood over her and Haruka so they can make out…in a room full of classmates. They seem to tacitly grasp the fact the universe seems to be rooting for them, and take full advantage of any and all fortuitous opportunities.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Sakura Trick – 04

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As it turns out, Yuu managed to convince Mitsuki that she tripped and fell on Haruka. If that sounds like a cop-out or delay of the inevitable, it helps to remember that this show does its best to avoid protracted conflicts or drama. Instead, it prefers to focus on the little “mini-dramas” that are always prevalent in loving relationships (regardless of gender) in which separation of feet can feel like miles, or hours of being apart can feel like days.

Haruka stresses out whenever Yuu gets near another girl, but Yuu is always there at the end to assure her there’s nothing to fear. We liked how Haruka admitted that she liked how she and Yuu were different heights, and how Yuu was briefly “taller” than her while sitting on her lap. It’s little details like that which prove the show isn’t simply interested in cheap yuri fanservice, but in fully and carefully illustrating why Haruka loves Yuu so much and vice versa.

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Of course, Yuu’s hasty trip excuse wasn’t all that effective, and ever since, Mitsuki has been suspicious and interrogatory,even conscripting Kaede and Yuzu to spy on them for her. Acknowledging that going behind their friends’ back is wrong, they observe the couple anyway, but they show a sort of unconscious loyalty by delivering a crap report back to Mitsuki. We may see Haruka and Yuu making out all the time, but they’ve typically been careful to do it in seclusion; their only slip-up involving Mitsuki’s walk-in. They also rely on a bit of luck, which is what happens when they’re invited out for fireworks by Kaede.

When Kaede is nowhere to be found and lots are drawn, Haruka thinks a test of courage is afoot, and it’s sweet to see her fantasy comes true when a frightened Yuu turns to her for relief. Of course, the one inadvertently scaring Yuu turns out to be Mitsuki, who was trying to spy on them again but got caught up in the innate creepiness of her dark arboreal surroundings. It’s here when Haruka offers a supportive hand to her, and she realizes Haruka is actually a very kind, caring, person. So much so, in fact, that Mitsuki seems to be involuntarily developing a crush on her.

7_very_goodRating: 7 (Very Good)

Sakura Trick – 03

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In case anyone forgot, this isn’t just a show about the progression of yuri couples, but about a dying school, and the latter provides an opportunity for Haruka to show her love for Yuu. She doesn’t just want to kiss her; she wants to make her happy, even if it means going out of her element. So she joins the school committee and lobbies to have Yuu’s beloved cheerleading reinstated for the Sports Fest. She takes the opportunity when presented; spurred on and inspired by Kotone, who also fought (and won) to live with Shizuku.

Fulfilling Yuu’s wish means going toe to toe with the President, who just happens to be Yuu’s sister Mitsuki. Haruka has never met Mitsuki despite many close calls, who can’t even place a face on her, settling on a penny loafer. But Mitsuki not only meets Haruka this week, but learns that she and Yuu are far closer than she could have imagined. When Yuu learns what Haruka did for her, she rewards her with a make-out session on the floor of her room. Mitsuki walks in on them, but then the A-part simply ends with her surprised reaction.

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As the B-part progresses, Mitsuki is clearly suspicious of the two, but there’s no indication she took a stand on the incident one way or another. Perhaps she meekly slunk away, closing the door she had so briskly opened? In any case, it’s clear she’s not so strict a big sister that she’d put an immediate kibosh on the lovebirds. Haruka gets bolder in the B-part, sewing declarations of her love for Yuu on her and Yuu’s swimsuits. They get some private time in the old pool supply room (another opportunity borne from the dying school) We half-expected Mitsuki to walk in on them in there, but she merely finds the incriminating needlework.

Mitsuki may not be fully aware of the extent of her sister’s relationship with Haruka, and so she may not yet have a concrete position on the matter, but it’s clear enough to us that with each episode the two seem to grow closer. Their friends have long since accepted them as an item (two of which being an item themselves). At the moment, it appears Sakura Trick is more interested in exploring the couple’s love rather than putting obstacles in their path or forcing drama for drama’s sake—something we’re on board with. Introducing Mitsuki was the first, best obstacle so far, but she didn’t get in their way this week, even when she caught them, well, not exactly in flagrante delicto, but certainly not merely combing their hair, either!

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Guilty Crown – 14

With the school cut off from the rest of Tokyo and emotions running high, President Kuhouin struggles to keep order, leading to a vote of no confidence in her leadership from a rabblerouser named Nanba who is prepared to use force to grab power. Things get worse when the quarantine walls move inward, crushing and killing anything and anyone in their way. Chief Segai sends a message to the school that they’ll all be freed if they hand over members of the Undertakers. Nanba apprehends Ayase and Tsugumi, and Kuhouin loses control, but Shu, encouraged by Hare, stands up and calls for order. With the help of Tsugumi’s void, which can create holographic dopplegangers, Shu proves to Nanba and his followers that the government wouldn’t make good on the deal. Yahiro then calls for a vote, and Shu is elected the new school president.

Faced with the prospect of being locked behind walls that are closing in on them, and mass murder that even Daryl Yan finds distasteful, Shu & Co. find themselves in a desperate situation where calming the mob is key to their survival. Nanba and his ilk strike us as overproud bullies taking advantage of the situation to ingratiate themselves, but they aren’t pure evil or anything; they just want to survive like everyone else. This week was all about the school finding someone who can lead them. A big group like this needs direction, and ultimately, they choose someone who never asked for it but nevertheless possesses all the requisites for leadership. They crown Shu.

Since rescuing Inori, Shu has gotten far more tolerable as a character, and considering how many friends he’s made, he has no excuse to not rise to the potential his ability presents. This week he finally uses that power on Tsugumi, who has an extremely useful power. And Yahiro exhibits a change of heart about the guy who couldn’t save his brother, and eggs the student body to choose him. But it ain’t gonna be no picnic: Yahiro also proposes they start ranking people by how valuable their void is (on a scale of A to F; like school!), creating what is essentially a caste system to ensure King Shu has the most powerful voids at his disposal to deal with the threats that are coming. And they are coming. Chief Segai is a sick bastard.


Rating: 3