Servant x Service – 13 (Fin)

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Hasebe learns that because he had a high fever, his father was preoccupied with him and thus registered Lucy’s ridiculous name. Burdened with this secret and worried Lucy will hate him for his indirect role in her naming, Hasebe and Lucy are awkward all day. Chihaya rubs his nose in it while Ichimiya and Saya try to cheer him up; by the end of the day all of them agree he should tell her the truth as soon as possible. He finally confronts her and tells her, and she doesn’t blame him, and wants him to keep calling her Lucy. She again rejects his call to go out with him, but qualifies it by saying simply “not yet,” and finally gives him her email address.

For thirteen weeks we’ve looked in on the lives of three new civil servants experiencing life in the workplace for the first time, their slightly more experienced supervisor, his not-so-secret girlfriend/co-worker, his irritating but devoted little sister, and the stuffed section chief. When we look back on how we entered their lives and now how we’ve left, it definitely makes the term “slice-of-life”, as this was literally just a thirteen-week slice. But ultimately the focus of these weeks was on the unlikely but burgeoning relationship between the girl with the really long weird hippie name and the guy who falls for her despite himself, and finds out he’s ultimately responsible for that name. Their scenes together have been the highlight of a series that was always consistently pretty good, though never outstanding.

One thing we didn’t like about this series was how much time it devoted to Toko. But when she wasn’t in the picture, we were watching adults taking care of business, but also earnestly (sometimes harshly) reaching out to one another – or at least trying their best to do so. Right up to the end, Lucy proves she’s an adult by shrugging off the truth Hasebe finally reveals to her after much stressing (their awkward exchanges prior to the confession are very well done.) She doesn’t even consider blaming Hasebe for having a fever…because she’s reasonable. We’re also content with her “not yet” answer to Hasebe’s repeated propositioning. It’s just like her to be careful and tentative in an arena in which she’s still very green, but it’s also clear she likes Hasebe, wants to spend time with him, and, after all her bluster about hating her name, likes it when he calls her by it.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Love Lab – 12

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Momo and Nana expound on their scheme to turn love lab requests into fictional stories; the student council is excited about the idea. Riko still hasn’t told Maki the truth, and when Maki joins her cram school, Nagi almost tells her, and Yan does, but Maki doesn’t believe him. Riko continues to procrastinate, and is finally (almost) able to come out with the truth before a teacher drags her away for wearing a hair band. In the hall, Riko runs into her friend Mika, who knows she’s a love novice. Maki overhears them, but pretends she didn’t.

Those hoping Riko would finally come clean and face either Maki’s wrath or her forgiveness will have to wait one more week; the lie is going all the way down to the wire. As her cram school teacher can attest, Maki is very academically gifted, but we also thing she’s capable of putting two and two (and two) together: Yan’s blabbing about Riko not being popular; Riko’s half-confession after their run; Mika talking with Riko in the hall; all of it points to Riko lying about her romantic experience.Even if Riko wasn’t able to deliver a full confession, everything’s out there, and Maki has the wit to see it. But does she have the heart to?

What we mean is, Maki and Riko are good friends now, and she’s always going to give Riko the benefit of the doubt, and doesn’t want to consider the possibility that Riko has lied to her, even if that’s what all the evidence suggests. Her fondness for Riko, is preventing her from accepting that conclusion. It’s still up to Riko to once and for all tell her the truth and face the consequences. Unless – God forbid – a second season allows her to keep her lie going as a constant cloud over her friendships, Riko is out of time. To her credit, Riko did start her confession. Now she just needs to finish it.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai – 01 (Revisited)

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Antisocial high school student and self-styled dating sim “God of Conquest” Katsuragi Keima unknowingly signs a contract with a demon from hell, Elucia “Elsie” de Lute Ima, to assist her in the retrieval of loose souls, which embed themselves within the hearts of troubled girls. To release the souls (and for Elsie and Keima to keep their heads) he must take their place in the girls’ hearts, i.e., make the girls fall in love with him. Their first target is his classmate and track team hopeful Takahara Ayumi, who looks down on Keima, calling him a “dweeb.”

Keima commences a campaign of intensive cheering for Ayumi, who initially thinks he’s mocking her. When her senpai accuses her of getting cocky after a fluke performance, Ayumi trips on a hurdle intentionally to take her out of the meet, so she won’t cause them trouble. Keima encourages her and confesses his love, and when he starts to fall down the stairs, Ayumi catches him and they embrace in a kiss, releasing the loose soul, which Elsie captures. Afterwards, Ayumi wins a medal at the meet, but has no memory of the “conquest.” Elsie enrolls in Keima’s class posing as his sister.

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With only one week until the completion of its third season, we thought we’d look back on the episode that started it all. We first watched and reviewed this episode way back on 8 October 2010, and gave it a 3 out of 4 on our old rating system, but aside from that date and rating, we decided not to read what we wrote back then until writing about our impressions this time around. From the perspective of those now very familiar with the franchise, you’d think we’d find highly introductory (by necessity, as it’s the first) nature of this episode would make it a bit of a bore to watch. Not so. On the contrary: we enjoyed it more the second time.

We were always impressed by the guile and confidence with which this series got out of the gate, which parallels Keima’s confidence in throwing himself into his very first mission, despite having never even held a real girl’s hand. We forgot that Ayumi was first conquered in just this one episode – a breeze compared to Keima’s present struggles in the Goddesses Arc. We also forgot that Elsie was prepared to give up and die with Keima after learning his experience was limited to dating sims, but Keima said ‘screw that’ and stepped up, not just to save his own head, but Elsie’s too. And the rest is history.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen – 11

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Keima courts Ayumi from outside her bathroom window as Haqua and Chihiro look on. He gets Ayumi to meet him by the river, but he has to relocate the setting of his confession numerous times due to the presence of Vintage agents all over town. Chihiro suggests they hole up at Miyako’s house, where Chihiro calls Keima a liar and plays for Ayumi a recording of him talking about his “conquest”. Ayumi flees, but Keima intercepts her on horseback. Testing his resolve, she proposes marriage, then takes him to her parents’ house. She then tells him to meet her by the waterfront to confess to her sincerely.

Ayumi, Katsuragi’s first and now last conquest, is making all the previous ones look like a cakewalk by comparison, but that’s apparently what Keima gets for persuing the girl he calculated as more likely to be hosting a goddess, Chihiro, first. Now time is seriously running out, but every attempt to close the deal is interrupted by a swarming Vintage. It’s a good thing Ayumi is actually in love with Keima, or she probably wouldn’t tolerate being dragged from one corner of town to the next on a marathon evening tour of potential confession spots. And all of it under the eye of Chihiro, who’s with Haqua for her own safety and still sore over Keima scorning him.

Chihiro now knows that Keima is after a power Ayumi possesses that only he can draw out, but doesn’t know the whole story, and isn’t told how large the stakes are. Even if she knew the world was being threatened, she’d still probably do what she does here in sabotaging Keima’s “speed run” and making him do things honestly and consider Ayumi’s feelings. This may seem like wasting time, but Chihiro rightly recognizes that even if she didn’t interfere, a speed run on conquering Ayumi wouldn’t have worked; as long as Ayumi thought she still liked Keima. Her bold act breaks the love triangle and allows Ayumi to proceed without guilt. Now it’s up to Keima to convince Ayumi he’s serious…and Haqua’s job to keep them alive.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • All things considered, Ayumi’s quite a sport about the whole stolen underwear thing.
  • Some nice assists by Nora and her buddy this week, as the former distracts Lune and keeps watch on Ayumi, while the latter plants decoys all over town.
  • Miyako is a very gracious host, accepting four unexpected guests…but she’s not so spineless as to let them leave before cleaning up!
  • Keima makes quick use of his raiment by creating a white horse and wedding garb with which to woo Ayumi.
  • The whole scene at Ayumi’s house is fantastic, especially when her dad has simply had enough and heads to bed!
  • The preview for the finale was nice and minimalistic, but very enticing: an unseen expectant crowd clapping rhythmically.
  • Still wondering what’s up with Keima’s sexy teacher, Nikaido…we guess we’ll find out next week, if we find out at all,  right?

Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen – 07

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With only one goddess left to release and two girls who may be her host, Keima must conquer both Takahara Ayumi and Kosaka Chihiro, but he’s grown incredibly weak and ill, and Haqua is not around. Nora’s “buddy” Asama Ryo arrives. Keima devises a “sick visit event”, baiting Ayumi into coming over. She carries him to bed and brings him water, but then Chihiro unexpectedly arrives, and Ryo lets her in.

Chihiro gives him medicine and plays a song she wrote on her guitar, all while Ayumi is hidden under Keima’s covers. Before Chihiro leaves, she confesses to Keima. He decides she’ll be the first girl to conquer, but before he can call her, Ayumi calls her, saying she heard about her liking Keima, and will cheer her on. Because she’d just told Keima, Chihiro suspects Ayumi was at his house.

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If we remember correctly, the presence of the goddesses within the girls has restored their memories of falling in love with Keima. But with only one goddess left and both Ayumi and Chihiro obviously in love with him, one of them must have fallen in love with him despite not hosting Mercurius, or having any memory of Keima’s initial conquest of her. Keima has no way of knowing who it is, so he has to court both and hope its the first girl he re-conquers.

It would be easier if it was Chihiro. While his improvisation in this week’s epic Surprise Double Sick Visit Event raise both the girls’ affection for him, everything starts to go downhill with Ayumi once she realizes her classmate, bandmate, and close friend Chihiro loves the same guy she does. And she defers to her, like the good friend she is, even though Chihiro might well do the same for Ayumi if she knew she loved Keima too. In any case, Keima’s job has gotten much tougher.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • The one thing Keima was trying to avoid the entire episode was triggering a love triangle, but that’s exactly what he now has.
  • Ayumi was certainly a trooper, hiding under the hot bed so close to Keima.
  • It was actually a good move to bunch both Ayumi and Chihiro in the same arc; not only does their closeness to one another make things more complicated for Keima, but neither are what we would call the most interesting girls in the show, so combining them has spared us separate arcs.
  • That said, we also liked Chihiro’s song. We love us some musician girls.
  • It seems a bit odd that Keima has fallen so ill with just one goddess left, even though he showed no signs of fatigue before. Is another power behind this?
  • For the record, we think everything would have gone according to Keima’s plan had Haqua been there to help. Where the heck was she?

Oreimo 2 – 14

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Some time after rejecting Ayase, Kyousuke hangs out with Ruri more. But with Christmas approaching, he decides its time to tell her he can’t go out with her either, as he loves someone else. Ruri tears up the Destiny Record, lifts her curse on him, and transforms into the angel of revenge, “Yamineko,” cursing him, all those who love, and the whole world. Kyousuke asks Kirino to go on a Christmas Eve date in Akiba, and she grudingly agrees. Later in the evening, after a failed attempt and a chase (aided by Saori in Kaori’s car), Kyousuke confesses his undying love for Kirino and wants her to stay in Japan and marry him.

Christmas came early this morning, in the form of the extra Oreimo episodes. The last season’s extra eps told an alternate story and changed the ending, but this episode progresses the story past the pleasant status quo by having Kyousuke go against all common sense and decency and destroy all his potential relationships with girls not related to him by blood so he can tell his own little sister he’s in love with her. He knows it’s ridiculous and creepy, but he can’t help it. At the end of the day those are his feelings, and he’d never be able to live lives with the other girls having never acted on those feelings.

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Breaking up with Ruri takes just five minutes, but they’re a damned rough five minutes. Hana-Kana knocks it out of the park as usual with her powerful, multi-faceted, scorched-earth response. Though Kyousuke’s rejection didn’t take her by surprise, when the reality of what was happening started to sink in, she got more and more worked up, abandoning all propriety, and screaming and cursing everything and everyone. In the past we’d be booing at the television (we were always rooting for Ruri), we understood that this was the way the plot was progressing, and Kyousuke’s motives made sense, so we went with the flow here.

Which brings us to Kyousuke’s potentially self-destructive decision to finally confess to Kirino. She tries to run from the truth (and she’s a good runner) but Kyousuke’s pals (including the scorned Yamineko) support him in his enterprise by giving him a lift (in an Itasha Nissan Cube) and broadcasting a recording of his rejection speech to Ruri. He puts it all out there, and while Kirino’s initial response is of revulsion and hatred, he presses the issue, proposes, and her armor finally cracks. But there’s just one slight problem: you can’t legally marry your little sister in Japan…or anywhere else, for that matter. Don’t go Yosuga no Sora on us now, Oreimo!

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • This episode was well-prepared to stick the knife in and twist it during the Kuroneko break-up. Not only was it preceded by some of the most adorable scenes between the two (him teaching her how to swim, her feeding him in full cosplay regalia), but also showed flashes of their entire relationship as she brutally tore her Destiny Record to shreds.
  • Hell, they even cut to her little sisters wondering if/when Kyousuke would come back to visit…poor kids! T_T
  • Kirino wears the same outfit to her Akiba date with Kyousuke as she did last year, including pink Uggs, which not just anyone can pull off.
  • Kyousuke and Kirinos were no doubt both encouraged and a little scared when they saw Akagi in line with his little sister Sena pretending to be a couple to get deals on BL eroge.
  • We have no idea where that tiny little “Yes” by Kirino is going to lead them…which is why we’ll have to watch the next episode immediately.

Kimi no Iru Machi – 05

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In a flashback, Yuzuki confesses to Haruto, and after he notices a girl who looks like her in a photo taken when he was a little kid, he goes through his diaries and discovers that he actually met Yuzuki years ago at the summer festival. Back in the present, Haruto confronts Yuzuki, demanding the truth about why she suddenly disappeared, which she says involves Kyousuke.

By employing a flashback and then another flashback within the flashback for the majority of the episode, we were worried we’d get lost in time or something, but it was an effective way of getting Haruto to learn just how far back his bond with Yuzuki goes. He forgot meeting her, you see, until Yuzuki finally came back as a teenager to live with him. It also shows that before he became a borderline stalker, he was a good kid who knew just how to cheer up a bored and weary city girl. It’s a very cute flashback, at any rate.

But like the blooms in the gourd-shaped lake (AKA fireworks), his encounter with Yuzuki was fleeting. When he thinks about it in the present, we can imagine him feeling that her presence in Hiroshima was fleeting as well, and he took her presence, her proximity, and her love for granted. Last week Haruto sensed something fishy about Yuzuki and Kyousuke, and while this episode confirms it, it doesn’t lay out what it is; it merely enriches Haruto’s past with her, possibly making whatever she’ll reveal to him next week sting all the more.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Nekomonogatari: Shiro – 05

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Black Hanekawa reads her mistress’s letter, which boils down to a plea for help, so no one is hurt because of her. Black Hanekawa accepts the plea and confronts the tiger Kako just as she is about to burn down Senjougahara’s house. Kako will hear nothing of returning with Black Hanekawa to their “older sister’s” heart, and Black Hanekawa is only able to delay her for a few minutes. However, that delay enables Araragi to arrive in time to subdue Kako with the Kokoro Watari sword. Hanekawa re-absorbs both Black Hanekawa and Kako, giving her striped hair. She confesses to Araragi, is rejected, and asks her parents for a room of her own in their new house.

As we expected, the last four episodes were all carefully building up to a confrontation between Hanekawa and her wayward “younger sisters.” They were monsters created by her eighteen years of attempting to be as pure, white, perfect, and inoffensive to others as possible. They were pieces of her heart that were shorn off and took on lives of their own. Once those pieces threatened her life and those of her friends, she had to take a stand and decide to go back on those eighteen years of purging imperfection and embrace her humanity; the black and the white. Her heartfelt letter is beautifully rendered with a clever graphic narrative of traveling the world aimlessly, and that letter moves Black Hanekawa to act on her mistress’s behalf. Her other “little sister”, Kako, fueled by envy (not stress), is far more powerful and wild and far less sympathetic.

Kako doesn’t consider Hanekawa family and believes she’s reaping what she’s sown. Whatever she wants but cannot have will be burnt. Black Hanekawa is no match for the tiger, but she doesn’t have to be. Part of the imperfection Hanekawa needed to embrace was the willingness to rely on others besides herself (and Black Hanekawa was just herself). Her attempt to stop Kako was enough to delay Kako just long enough for her love, Araragi, to arrive with a helping hand, aiding her transition to true humanity. The new, bi-color Hanekawa may dye her hair all black to avoid strange looks at school, but she’s no longer averting her eyes. From now on, she’ll confess her love and let herself be hurt and cry, and let herself demand a place in her rightful home. She will accept all the parts of herself, and love all of it.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Oreimo 2 – 12

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All of the girls in Kyousuke’s life attend his moving-in party and eventually start bickering over who is going to take care of him for the rest of the month he’s living on his own. Kirino breaks up the fight and makes the decision for him: Ayase. She does his cooking, cleaning and laundry. Ruri’s sister Hinata stops by and they must explain it’s not what it looks like. One night, Ayase apologizes for mistreating him for so long, knowing that he’s really a good, kind guy. Kyousuke passes his mock exams, and he moves out of the apartment. Ayase stops by once more to confess her love for him, but he rejects her, saying there’s someone else he loves. Ayase eventually accepts, and after a surprise parting kiss, departs.

We’ve always found Ayase a bit troublesome, due to the way she always insulted, mistreated, and physically abused Kyousuke, when we knew she was doing it out of frustration for not having the balls to tell him how she really feels. As a result, after her transformation from the generic sweet cute girl the first time we met her to the more complex, often unhinged, potentially dangerous cute girl, she grew a bit one-note, though Hayami Saori’s velvety voice  was always a pleasure to listen to. Handcuffs, drop-kick, unreasonable accusations of sexual harassment. This Ayase could do well to visit Academy Citythat’s where she’ll find some real harassment (seriously, what is with the roving gangs of would-be rapists? Sorry, wrong show.)

But hey, guess what? After this episode, we like her a hell of a lot more, because she finally did find the courage to say the things she needed to say. There was never anything unreasonable about her fearing rejection, but she took it too far and lashed out at Kyousuke mercilessly, repaying his honey with vinegar every time. No more. She tells him the truth: she loves him, a lot, and wants him to be hers. We both love and hate that Kyousuke is so direct with her; “No”, “Sorry”, “I love someone else”, “I’ve made my decision”...after Ayase’s tearful confession, it’s hard to watch these daggers fly at her one by one, but then, just when you think she’s going to give him one last drop kick, she kisses him. This episode is almost enough for us to wish we hadn’t gotten so invested with just Kyoususke and Kuroneko. Almost.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Wow, that party was some kind of harem nightmare! Even Saori entered the fray. Kyousuke, like us, are like “What? you too? Arrgh!”
  • Amazingly, it’s Kirino who breaks everything up, having not participated in trying to tear limbs from Kyousuke. Their exchanges this week are markedly cordial.
  • So every Japanese kid requires his own apartment and servant to pass a mock exam? Those must be some tough exams.
  • Ruri’s little sister Hinata – what is she, ten, max? – and she’s presumably taken a train (or trains) to Kyousuke’s apartment at night, by herself? What kind of society is this?!

 

 

Oreimo 2 – 09

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On the first day back at school, Kyousuke finds out Kuroneko has transferred to another school. She’s also moved out of her house and won’t answer her phone. That night, Kyousuke wakes Kirino and asks for advice. When Kirino sees how sad he is, she has to help, and they head to a hot spring town to look for Kuroneko. They find her by chance; she makes Kirino admit she never wanted him to have girlfriend, but she also says seeing how sad he was when Kuroneko left was even worse. Before Kyousuke can tell Kuroneko what he’s going to do, she passes out. When she comes to, she says her family’s only moving to Matsudo, which isn’t that far, so while Kyousuke won’t see her at school anymore, he’ll still be able to see her, as will Kirino.

Well…that was odd…and not what we were expecting at all. But it wasn’t bad, either. Things get pretty bad early in the episode, when we learn that not only did last week’s written break-up stand (begging the question how the two separated that night, which is never answered), but she seems to have fallen off the face of the earth. In the end, Kuroneko’s breakup and departure turned out to be a combination of family circumstances she couldn’t control (dad gets a new job, family moving to company housing) and part of a rather sinister plan to make Kirino tell her her true feelings, not accepting that she was fine with her dating Kyousuke. Still, the stunt she pulls on Kyousuke is cruel and awful, and we’d have trouble letting her off the hook completely. Of course, love can make one very forgiving.

For her plan to have worked, Kyousuke and Kirino had to run into Kuroneko just when they did, while she was on vacation, which has less to do with their determination to find her and bring her back, and less pure dumb luck. Then again, Kuroneko has always believed in destiny; she has a whole journal of her life drawn out, so we’ll forgive that. And the plan does work. Kirino finally tells her she wanted to be the most important person in Kyousuke’s life…but, but…not at the cost of his happiness. At first she was happy when Kuroneko dumped him, but that didn’t last, because it left Kyousuke a wreck (understandably). So now, with Kuroneko moving away, albeit not far, it’s logical to assume we’ll see less of her and perhaps less of her and Kyousuke. And that doesn’t make us happy at all. But hey, at least they’re still a couple…sorta…

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Anything worse than sending a text you really want answered, and it’s never responded to? This is why you don’t text for these kinds of things!
  • Kirino is actually pretty selfless and cool this week, doing everything she can to help Kyousuke, because he helped her so much. 
  • She even tells him its no good for Kyousuke not to date anyone until she dates someone, because that would make him unhappy as she’d be if he dated someone. Oroboros!
  • While it probably didn’t make sense to believe this, we’d always thought Ruri lived alone with her sisters. She didn’t mention a parent until last week, and we’ve yet to see either of them. 
  • More nice symmetry: Kyousuke climbing on Kirino in bed in the night to ask for advice, just like she did to him in the very first episode.

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru – 09

Yuigahama Yui, Hikigaya Hachiman

Komachi gets her brother to accompany Yui to the Summer fireworks. The evening has all the trappings of a date and when they bump into Haruno, she gets suspicious. While offering them a ride home, she lets slip that Yukino was in the car when it hit Hachiman when he was saving Yui’s dog, something she never told either of them. While Hachiman is walking Yui home, she tells him how they would have met even if it wasn’t for the dog incident, and is on the verge of confessing to him when her mom calls, ruining the moment. The next day, back at school, Hachiman is cordial with Yukino, but believes he’ll come to hate himself for feeling betrayed by her.

The title of this series is long, but it is accurate: Hikigaya Hachiman has something of a teenage rom-com SNAFU on his hands. Think about it: one car accident brought him, Yui, and Yukino together before they even met at school. And however much he wants to stay out of the romantic games young people play, he can’t deny that Yui likes him, he at least kinda likes Yui, and he also likes Yukino, at least until he found out she was in the car that hit him while saving Yui’s dog, yet said nothing to him about it. That’s where the “AFU” really comes into play: up until this revelation, he had never known her to lie or withhold anything about him.

The ramifications of that will likely be explored next week, but the majority of this episode is all about Hachiman and Yui, who make a cute couple. Hachiman is fully capable of being a nice, considerate, attentive man. Moreso, while Hachiman still believes the only reason Yui talks to him is because he saved her dog Sable (and later dogsits), Yui tells him even if that coincidence didn’t occur, now that she knows him, she likes to think they’d have crossed paths anyway. It’s kind of lame she just isn’t quite able to come right out and say she likes him. Those unsaid words hanging out there will only add to Hachiman’s SNAFU.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Failed confession aside, the fireworks date was a success, with many cute moments. It not only confirmed to Yui how nice Hikky can be, and also allowed Hikky some valuable time interacting with women in a non-school or club setting.
  • Hachiman may also be perturbed by the fact the Yukino her older sister Haruno knows is so different from the Yukino he interacts with. When he calls her scary, she laughs out loud. That being said, we also find her scarier than Yukino. Kind of a haughty bitch, too!
  • There was less Yukino in this episode than any previous episode.
  • It’s easy to vilify Yukino for never saying anything, but Yui has a point: sometimes the time you want to say something passes you by and you just can’t find another time to do it, and it never happens. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen with her confession. Make your feelings plain, Yui-Yui. He needs to hear the words!

Oreimo 2 – 07

Kousaka Kyousuke, Gokou Ruri

Ruri doubles down on her confession to Kyousuke, telling him she’s sure she loves him more than anyone else. He begs her to let him think about it, and she gives him until tomorrow, after the re-party. Back at home he and Kirino finish making up, and Kirino make shim promise to give serious thought if the “other girl” confesses to him. Manami also tells him to “face Kuroneko sincerely.” After the party, Kyousuke agrees to go out with Ruri. They later plan to meet up in the video game club, where everyone already assumed they’d been going out a long time. After expressing ignorance about what a boyfriend should do, Kyousuke suggests they do what she’s written (and illustrated) in her “Destiny Record”, starting with a first date.

This time, I need to do things right…

Damn straight! What do you know, Oreimo actually surprised us this week! We were fully resigned to Kyousuke further stalling or at worst, outright rejecting Ruri so that he can continue his dead-end quasi-romance with his little sister. Instead, after receiving (sorta)best wishes from both Kirino and his long-suffering betrothed Manami, Kyousuke finally makes the right choice: he chooses Kuroneko. And we couldn’t be happier! Interestingly, this doesn’t mean he’s betraying or abandoning Kirino, just that he’s finally realized they’re two different kinds of love. What’s also great is that while there is some building up, his deliberation doesn’t take up the whole episode. She has his answer by the commercial break. And thus, a huge weight is lifted.

What follows is a second-half that just about makes up for all of the will-they-wont-they torture the last one-and-a-half seasons of the series. Both Kyousuke’s sudden excitement and Ruri’s dilating joy is contagious to behold. She looked as surprised as we were when Kyousuke actually said yes, and the scene when her little sisters see her “break” with giddiness is a lovely, adorable moment. We’re as glad as she is that after creating such a compelling love interest and steadily yet naturally building up her attraction to Kyousuke, the series finally pulled the trigger on a Kyou+Ruri path, and as far as we’re concerned, now that it’s a reality, every minute the happy new couple isn’t on the screen together being awesome is a minute wasted. Sorry Kirino.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Kirino’s fake boyfriend shows up. He’s useless with advice on boob-touching.
  • Kyousuke, Kirino, and Ruri apologize to Saori for ruining the previous party. As well they should!
  • It sounded an awful lot like Kirino gave Kyousuke her blessing, so we don’t want to hear her complaining next week!
  • Here’s hoping Kyousuke and Ruri start calling each other by name. We know, we’re pushing our luck.
  • This week’s Aku no Hana was so powerful and Ise Mariya’s performance as Nakamura Sawa was so compelling, that we had a visceral reaction when Akagi Sena (also Ise) started talking.

OreShura – 13 (Fin)

oreshura13

At the OreDere contest, Chiwa goes first, and delivers a heartfelt confession to Eita. Next is Himeko, who has stage fright and clings to Eita in the back of the crowd; the cameras eventually fall on her as she confesses. Ai is disqualified, leaving Masuzu, who arrives on stage disinterested and depressed. Eita works to snap her out of it, joining her on the stage, confessing to and kissing her in front of everyone. None of the girls win. The next morning Masuzu jumps into bed with Eita and tells him she loveshim. Eita tries his aunt’s advice to get the other three girls to hate him, but he fails with all three, and remains on the battlefield route.

A horrible girl like you could only have a horrible guy like me by your side.

You know what? Credit where credit’s due, OreShura didn’t screw the pooch on the ending. Eita chose a route, going for his ugly, beautiful, fake girlfriend and making his commitment to her real. This despite extremely moving cases made by Chiwa and Hime, but particularly Chiwa. She, and to a lesser extent Ai, have been sitting back and waiting so long for Eita to notice them, and…then Masuzu showed up. Theirs wasn’t a real courtship at first, but it became one. Years of being treated as a “jewel” have scarred her, but Eita is committed to making her happy, and positive they’re the only ones for one another.

You might say, “wasn’t this the most predictable ending the show could have come up with?” Well, yeah – we said that in our review of episode one:

Our suspicion is that one or the other or both will lose perspective as the fake relationship becomes more real.

But it was also the most logical, sensible, and satisfying way to end things. A harem was unsustainable and unfair to all participants. And while Eita isn’t able to make Hime, Ai, or Chiwa hate him, none of them can claim ignorance about Eita’s sincerity any longer, and that’s proven when all three girls tell him they had a rough night after the contest. That’s because the lying stopped, Eita made a definite choice and stood by it. The choice isn’t easy for either him or us, as part of us remained sympathetic to Chiwa’s case, but ultimately, we think he made the right one – anything was preferable to perpetuating the harem.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Stray Observations:

  • There’s a great ambiguity to Masuzu’s bed scene with Eita: proof that she’s not entirely sure what’s going on yet, but she’s willing to trust in Eita. As she says, acting lovey-dovey makes her feel like she’s “rotting”, but as long as she’s rotting with him, it’s not so bad. Don’t know whether to say “Baww” or “Yikes” to that, but we wish them the best of luck.
  • Hime remained true to character by being too afraid to take the stage. We appreciated that decision.
  • Ditto Ai, who takes Eita’s random papercut blood to mean he signed the marriage contract. Faced with sad or humiliating reality, Ai retreats into lies, e.g. and commits to them (e.g. “texting Michel”)
  • Chiwa’s stolen kiss on tiptoe…to borrow a quote from this week’s Chihayafuru: SWOOOON. Don’t give up the fight, Chihuahua!