Citrus – 11

Best Girl Harumin always has a way of coming in at the perfect time in this ridiculous show about sisters loving other sisters who love their sisters to splash water on the whole affair. She makes a down-in-the-dumps (and at this point disgustingly self-involved) Yuzu pay dearly for her negative aura in the form of a ruthless tickling.

I love how quickly and casually Harumin moves on to reveal yet another thing to love about her—she’s a history buff! But also, she’s just got other things going on…unlike Yuzu, who has let this Mei situation consume nearly every waking moment.

The next day, the class trip visits a “relationship-forming shrine”, a decision made at Himeko’s urging, still fighting to get closer to Mei. Sara’s sister Nina gets wind of this, and despite knowing Mei and Yuzu are “already invovled”, as a fiercely loyal sister, she’s committed to doing all she can to help Sara.

That also means bringing Sara to the same shrine. It also means keeping Sara in the dark about Yuzu and Mei, something I see coming to bite her later.

Both Yuzu and Himeko are enthusiastic about visiting the shrine and offering their very long prayers that make Harumin wait. Once the three are back together, it’s not five seconds until Sara appears, to Yuzu’s surprise. Since neither is aware they’re in love with the same girl, they each offer one another their blessings and hope to hear of their success later. Oh dear.

On a brighter note, Himeko’s underlying good-girl nature meshes well with Harumin’s innate maternal aura, as the two conspire to offer Yuzu charms to aid her future beauty and luck and success in love. Harumin also hilariously shuts down Himeko’s tsundere act – Himeko cares about Yuzu as a friend.

If only Yuzu pulled her weight, especially in her friendship with Harumin. Any way you look at it, Harumin gives and gives while Yuzu simply takes and takes. But the thing is, if Harumin didn’t want to be friends with someone like Yuzu, she wouldn’t be. So I’ll respect her choice.

When the weather turns, Nina makes sure she’s in the same place as Mei. She informs Mei of her sister Sara’s affection for her, and asks whether she’d consider entering into a relationship with her. Mei declines, but Nina asks her to think it over.

Clearly, Nina did not intend for Mei to have more than a minute or so to think it over, because it isn’t long after she leaves that Sara appears. Determined not to let her chance slip by, Sara confesses her love. When Mei asks if Sara would “need” her, Sara answers of course she would; she loves her, after all.

It’s a directness Mei wanted from Yuzu, but didn’t get, and doesn’t get even later that evening when Yuzu confronts Mei once more and can’t get the words out. Mei interrupts her to say she was already confessed to that very day, and decided to start dating that person.

Having reached a new low, Yuzu get’s “sauced” on orange soda and rants to herself in the hotel lobby, making a big scene. Her shot, it would seem, was at the end of last week. She blew it, and left the opening for someone else (who she still doesn’t know is Sara).

Nina isn’t about to tell her…at least not until she gets an ironclad promise from Yuzu that she’ll support Sara in her love, no matter what. She secures that promise when Yuzu is at her most miserable and vulnerable. I tellya, this Nina is one cool operator.

After another unpleasant run-in with Mei over hitting up the bath too late— breaking both school and hotel rules, *gasp*—Yuzu ends up encountering Sara in the bath. A very happy, if nervous Sara. Yuzu is happy for Sara, but when she reports her own failure, Sara urges her not to give up. Even if she’s dating someone else, Sara believes Yuzu has to tell her how she feels.

Yuzu tries to do just that, waiting until Mei’s roommate Himeko leaves to sneak in and talk. Mei isn’t having it, but when Himeko suddenly returns, she turns out the lights and pulls Yuzu under the covers with her, literally covering for her.

This time, Yuzu doesn’t squander her chance, embracing Mei, blowing on her neck, and preparing to kiss her, perhaps in hope her actions will speak louder than her thus-far lack of words. Mei stops her and orders her to leave, but the experience emboldens Yuzu. The time wasn’t right to say what she wanted to say, but now she’s committed to finding that time.

Yuzu was hoping that would be the next day, but Mei has already gone off on a date. Yuzu rushes to the location of that date and tries to determine where Mei might be, but she’s intercepted by Nina, who finally tells her the truth: Mei is Sara’s girlfriend, and she’s going to keep it that way.

Nina’s statuesque physique was played for laughs last week, but both when she squeezed a promise from “drunk” Yuzu (hugging her just a bit too hard) and when she’s backing her into a railing here, Nina’s size becomes a threatening proposition—one Yuzu simply never saw coming.

Meanwhile, atop an observation tower, Mei spaces out. Last night after the bath, Sara found Yuzu’s dropped student ID, saw the same last name as Mei’s, and remembered Yuzu saying she was in love with her stepsister. Even so, she can’t deny her heart, which is telling her she wants to kiss Mei.

With Sara wanting to go all in,  Mei simply wanting someone to need her for who she is, and Yuzu cowering in a tight corner, everything seems to be coming up Nina…except of course if the ultimate truth is that Nina harbors an unrequited love for Sara.

The stigma of incest combined with Sara falling for someone else seem to have helped Nina decide to give up on Sara for herself and instead use every resource at her disposal to ensure her sister’s happiness, even at the cost of her own.

I appreciated the added layers given to both Tachibana twins. Like Yuzu, Sara is the purer of the two sisters, more easily manipulated for good and ill, while Nina, due in part to the world denying her the love she chose, is the more cynical sister who doesn’t believe in fate, only will and effort. She may be hurting Yuzu deeply, but better Yuzu than Sara.

We should be in for quite a finale.

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Citrus – 10

Mei unblinkingly offers Yuzu her body with open arms, ostensibly out of gratitude for how Yuzu helped her with her grandfather and father. But when Yuzu finally has the object of her infatuation in her arms…she just can’t do it.

Emphasis on she; Mei looked ready to go all the way, and from the look of her reaction to Yuzu’s declining, isn’t cool with being turned down. That feeling lasts the length of the month of January, with the two stepsisters rarely talking.

When Matsuri hears the two didn’t do it on Christmas after all, she mocks Yuzu for wanting her romance to be perfect like the shoujo-ai manga she hides in her bookshelf. She also scolds Yuzu for not properly considering Mei’s feelings. Even if that’s a bit rich coming from her, she’s not wrong. Mei opened up, and Yuzu ran.

When Yuzu oversleeps the morning of their class trip to Kyoto, Mei leaves without her, and Yuzu misses her class’s train. As it would happen, another big sister from another school ends up missing her train and separated from her little sister.

That sister is Tachibana Sara, and she and Yuzu end up meeting and getting on the next train headed to Kyoto, and from there, the coincidences keep piling up. Yuzu and Sara set out to find their respective classes and learn they each have virtually the same schedule and are even staying at the same hotel.

In the process, Yuzu and Sara become friends, which I knew would make things interesting when Sara learns that the nice girl she fell for (and mentions to her sister Nina earlier in the ep) is Yuzu’s stepsister, whom Yuzu told her she fell for and is currently unable to reconcile with.

Sara and Nina reunite, and Yuzu learns Sara’s “little” sister is huge, and a gyaru to boot! But Himeko catches Yuzu and gives her the third degree, even interrupting Yuzu’s attempt to get Mei to talk.

They eventually do meet, later that night, but Mei is not in a patient mood, and when she asks Yuzu “What do you think of me?”, Yuzu has nothing but shallow answers, even if they’re the best she can come up with on short notice. Mei isn’t moved, and tells Yuzu to forget Christmas night.

In one final coincidence, Nina happens to overhear this conversation between Sara’s new friend Yuzu and the black-haired girl Nina knows her sister likes.

A coincidence or two can be perfectly fine, but when there are this many it can make the resulting drama a bit manufactured and thus less satisfying. And while I knew the Tachibana twins were coming from the promo art, and they weren’t nearly as grating as Matsuri, they were also just a bit dull.

Tsuki ga Kirei – 04

It’s the School Trip episode, and there’s a sense of adventure to the proceedings, as the whole amassed class boards the Shinkansen and arrives in a bustling Kyoto. It’s just the start of a dense, lush, richly-detailed episode that nevertheless has a light touch due to the elegant plot.

You see, amidst this big trip, all Kotarou really wants is to know Akane’s answer to whether she’ll go out with him; the sooner the better. Because cell phones are officially forbidden, he has to hide his and hope it’s not confiscated; otherwise he’s doomed.

And I’m not kidding when I say Kyoto is bustling; the scenes of throngs of tourists milling around are pretty impressive, even if the CGI models are a little stiff, it’s better than panning stills; not to mention the accurate-to-Kyoto environs look great.

The fact that Kotarou and Akane have to contend not only with their nosy classmates, but also the vast space and volume of humanity Kyoto throws at them, really heightens the tension. Will they be able to meet on this trip?

C’mon, haven’t we all been there at some point: staring at our phone, the only light in the room at night, willing that next text to come in from the person you like? Even if you haven’t, the tension is thick enough to cut through with a knife.

The show does an excellent job thrusting us into the shoes of both Kotarou and Akane, making their various friends, nice that they are, feel like hovering irritants. They want to reach out to each other, but they’re mired in their respective circles.

Kotarou finally gathers the courage to send Akane a place and a time to meet…only for his phone to be confiscated by a (drunk) teacher at the worst possible time.

From there, it’s a textbook “missed/lost connection” scenario, as Akane sent a text asking Kotarou to elaborate on what he meant by the time and place…and she waits and waits, to no avail. So much must fly through her head: did he lose his phone, or is he intentionally ignoring her replies?

The beauty of this particular situation is that it simply unfolds before us without undue explanation, exposition, and precious little inner dialogue, really giving the increasingly awful-feeling situation room to breathe without undue verbal interference.

Kotarou has to muster courage once more, in order to borrow Chinatsu’s phone to call Akane. And Akane is rightly pissed, though neither she nor Kotarou should place so much hope in the reliability of cell phones. That’ll lead them to ruin!

All’s well that ends well, thankfully, and the tension is released when, after voicing her frustration with her ordeal and with their inability to clearly communicate thus far, Akane is the one who musters the courage to say something: that she wants to talk with Kotarou more.

That’s her answer, all but eliminating the ambiguity her fortune said would lead to calamity. Sure enough, the pouring rain ceases and the clouds part to reveal the beautiful blue sky. Now let’s hope these two crazy kids didn’t catch colds!

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 07

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Let’s get down to magical brass tacks: Yuuta kinda screwed up here. Yes, helping Satone when she lost all her money and phone was the right thing to do, and it’s clear he can always be counted on to help his friends in time of need. BUT, when the girl he’s helping is a girl he has a history with, which intimidates his girlfriend, that’s a rather different story. This was a crucial day he and Rikka were supposed to spend together alone, strengthening their bond of love, and Satone’s arrival couldn’t have been timed worse.

We were well and truly annoyed at Chu2Koi for so neatly tossing that pink-haired wrench into its own works. While it isn’t particularly far-fetched that Satone’s school would be visiting Kagoshima on the same day as Yuuta and Rikka’s, the odds of her just happening to bump into the two in her vulnerable state struck us as far too convenient; enough to question early on whether she followed them there intentionally. But with Yuuta’s promise not to get close to other girls ringing loudly in her ears as Yuuta gets close to Satone, Rikka’s patience runs out quickly, to the point she accuses him of breaking their contract and storms off. Trouble in paradise.

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But we never forgot that Satone seemed willing to walk away and not bother the couple when she first found them; and when she’s alone with Yuuta, she apologizes. They part ways, and then she sets into motion what Rikka believes to be a showdown by the waterfront. But rather than engage in a Chuunibyou battle as one might expect, Satone drops the delusions and gives it to Rikka straight. The truth is, she used to be in love with Yuuta; but with emphasis on the “used”. She didn’t like how “powerless” she became while obsessing over him, so she decided to stop doing so. She never told Yuuta her feelings, so things could remain as they were.

The confirmation that Satone has no intention of being her competition is surely relieving to Rikka, but she’s not all that upset over what Yuuta did after all. In fact, the kindness he exhibited is a main reason she fell for him in the first place. To Yuuta’s credit, he offers up a full apology (after being chastened by many other girls) and surprises Rikka with a new umbrella and pendant for her birthday, which she didn’t even know he knew. She thanks him with a decidedly un-Chuunibyou, confident “I love you.” While they may not have spent as much time together as they’d planned; it’s ultimately a case of quality over quantity. And while Satone may have felt weakened by her love for Yuuta, Rikka clearly draws strength from it.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • The B-plot involves a phone conversation between Shinka (who thinks Sanae built the Mori Summer website) and Sanae (who actually didn’t, but is impressed by said site, and finds something shocking on it we’re not privy to). We’ve grown fonder of their love-hate relationship, but frankly would have preferred more Yuuta-Rikka time.
  • Kagoshima seems like a nice place to visit. Dig the volcano.
  • A “Do Not Rush At Feral Monkeys” TV disclaimer was conspicuously missing from this episode. Seriously, some punk kids might try that and get themselves bitten!
  • Good to know that the other girls in Yuuta’s life were just as outraged as us that he’d essentially ditch Rikka to help Satone. It means the show knows he erred as well, despite his good intentions.
  • We don’t use this term lightly, but Rikka’s “I love you” was totes adorbs.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 06

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The world of Chu2Koi is so rich and lovely and full of compelling personalities that episodes that center on the secondary characters are a pleasure rather than a drag. But when Yuuta and Rikka are the focus, the show really comes into its own, and reaches a higher level. This week they are the focus, both of the episode and of all of their classmates, with whom they’re on what looks like a fantastic school trip. It’s a trip during which—preferably on the third day—Yuuta hopes something will happen; we know not what, specifically.

But while it’s not his intention to put Rikka on the spot, the other students do just that, remarking on their status every chance they get and offering to snap photos of the happy couple’s time together. It puts both of them off, but Rikka in particular, who eventually snaps under the pressure, delivering an awesome slide-kick to Shinka before running off, trying to escape all the prying eyes. It should be stated that Shinka herself is also questioned by her peers about whether she has a boyfriend, and if not, why not; a subject she too prefers not to discuss.

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All the proximity to people with their own sense of what’s normal in a relationship based on their own upbringing and experiences (or lack of same). In fact, while no one comes out and says it, it’s not apparent any of the kids on the trip are dating anyone, except Yuuta and Rikka. If they are indeed the exception, it only heightens the pressure to perform as a shining example of what romance can be. Again, neither of them are interested in being an example, or in being observed at all.

No, that “something” Yuuta had hoped would happen happened not because of anything he planned, but because Rikka took the initiative, though she was possibly prodded on by Shinka. We were struck by how fast it happened: the girls are sleeping in their room; the guys are telling ghost stories in theirs, but before you know it, BAM, Rikka is under Yuuta’s covers (to prevent being caught by a teacher). The romantic tension really radiates through the screen as they realize they’re finally alone; they’re closer than they’ve ever been, but not at all uncomfortable.

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The kiss they attempt there is maddeningly (and expectedly) interrupted (at which point we were ready to throw something solid at the TV), but in the end, when it mattered, Chu2Koi didn’t let us down. As Yuuta guides Rikka back to her room, they end up discussing the mutual embarrassment they’ve been feeling, which had nothing to do with there being something wrong with the other person. They start to return to bed, but Rikka rushes up from behind and plants a passionate kiss right on his cheek before meekly shuffling off.

Yuuta was worried (and confided in Shinka as much) that Rikka’s Chuunibyou and romance were simply incomparable, but he was mistaken. Rikka wants what he wants, but it’s just a matter of defeating the “magic barriers” that keep them apart; making the Chuunibyou work for her. With their first kiss trepidation overcome, they both start to feel their love blooming. We felt it too.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Sket Dance – 62

Class 2’s ski trip to Niigata nears, but the various classes must compete in a group jump rope competition in order to go. Saaya, who is bad at sports, is weary of letting her class down, and her classmate Horii lets her know about it. Saaya practices with the Sket-dan, and the next day her class comes within a skip of the record. Saaya says she was the one who missed a skip, covering for the real culprit Horii.

In the second part, the trip is underway, with the Sket-dan’s class sharing a bus with Tsubaki’s. Saaya, in another bus considers telling Bossun how she feels on the trip, after getting advice from Switch at a rest stop. When the journey continues Himeko gets motion sickness, and Chuu-san is ready with a galaxy of pills, many of which Bossun had already tried previously. Himeko, Bossun and Tsubaki end up taking the wrong pills, the result of which Bossun and Himeko switch personalities and Tsubaki is hypnotized into thinking he’s Bossun.

This week we’re presented with one fairly unexcceptional and one fairly enjoyable outings, both of which set up the two-part class trip episode that may mark the end of the series (though we’re 0-for-everything on predicting the end of the series.) The first part is fairly Saaya-heavy, and as your ironically-typical tsundere, she’s not all that compelling and can’t carry a half-episode all on her own. The second half was better, with the Sket-dan and Tsubaki falling victim to Chuu’s ridiculous drugs. You would have thought they’d learned their lesson by now, but no. Now the dynamic of the class trip will have a whole new meaning, with their personalities being screwed up for three whole days.


Rating: 3