Koufuku Graffiti – 08

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This week, Ryou lets herself rely a little more on Kirin, even though a little voice inside her is worried she’ll be too much of a burden…not to mention the fact she hasn’t had anyone do anything for her since her grandmother died. Doing things, particularly cooking, by herself, means she’s developed very particular ways of doing things, and she can’t help but be worried someone else won’t know those particular ways. Relying on people also means letting go and yielding control.

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However, this episode isn’t just about Ryou relying on, or rather letting go and putting her trust in Kirin’s cooking. Ryou, never one for athletic activity, asks Kirin, a thin, compact, lithe, and thus naturally more coordinated girl, to assist her with training, so she can hopefully avoid nosebleeds, ankle sprains, and other mishaps.

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All of Kirin’s assistance with the training, on top of her plans to prepare a special bento box for Ryou, seems like too much, so while Ryou makes a wish list of dishes, she quickly scraps it. After all, each of those dishes require a lot of myriad ingredients and techniques to make. Kirin knocks over the wastebasket in the middle of the night, finds the list, and decides right then and there to make it a reality for Ryou.

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As Ryou’s field day approaches, Kirin asks her parents and gathers as much intel as she can about the impending bento mission. She even jogs/powerwalks into a grocery store to pick up what for Ryou seems like a suspicious amount of groceries. Kirin admits she found the list, and despite Ryou’s protestations, she’s going to give it her best shot.

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The resulting lunch is something I would love to be able to make and eat everyday: fish sausage and cucumber salad; tamagoyaki with kelp, bone-in fried chicken, tako weiners, Salisbury steak with chopped cheese nibs, broccoli, sweet potatoes with lemon, and rice wrapped in nori. All of it looks mouth-wateringly delicious.

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Every morsel is like music in Ryou’s mouth, to the extent she can’t hold in her exuberance for the excellence of the meal, leading some peers to wonder if she’s afflicted with some form of chuunibyou. Her threee classmates see and taste the veyr same bento, and are disappointed with how straightforward it is, which just goes to prove that flavor is in the eye, or rather mouth of the beholder.

It all tastes so good for Ryou because Kirin made it for her, and it’s infused with a love the other girls can’t detect. Also, while it’s all basic bento dishes, the fact Kirin made them all for the first time and they turned out as well as they did is impressive. It’s just like her grandmother, whose food might not have seemed all that special to anyone else, but it meant the world to Ryou. So does Kirin’s cooking.

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Koufuku Graffiti – 07

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Shiina’s family is always given way too much saury (AKA mackerel pike), leading to an infestation of cats. To prevent that, she proposes a cookout at her estate to cook the fish off. Ryou and Kirin agree immediately. But there’ll be a catch this time: Ryou won’t be doing any of the cooking or cleaning. She’s done enough; now it’s time for the other two to cook and clean for her.

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Their sensei in this enterprise is Tsuyuko, who is apparently an iron chef-caliber culinary master who just happens to be content as the maid of a wealthy family. Grilling saury is about as basic as it gets, which means even the slightest mistake in preparation and cooking is exposed.

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Tsuyuko is a firm yet patient teacher, showing Kirin and Shiina the simple yet very exacting way of seasoning and scoring the fish, and the importance of not making eye contact, even if the fresh fish’s eyes are mesmorizingly clear and sparkling.

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Throughout their trials, Ryou is forced to simply hang back and watch. Giving up control isn’t easy, but not because Ryou thinks the others won’t do as good a job. It’s more a matter of her having always either cooked for herself or others since her grandma passed away. It’s become a habit, and any habit is hard to suddenly break, but she does her best not to interfere.

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The finished product Kirin and Shiina present her with—a splendidly grilled fish with crispy salty skin and fluffy, succulent flesh—is a revelation for Ryou. She knew food tasted better when sharing it with others, but thanks to her friends, now she knows that having food cooked for you makes it taste even better…in most cases.

Some people, of course, just flat-out can’t cook, but lucky for her Kirin and Shiina aren’t bad. Now that she’s a recipient of their cooking, she now knows firsthand the joy her cooking has brought them, inspiring them to repay her.

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Naturally, later that night Ryou can’t help using some of the leftover saury in a dish with ginger, bamboo shoot and rice. The show thus far has been good at showing how the leftovers of one meal can lead to another, totally different second meal.

Kirin wants to cook, but so does Ryou, so they compromise and share the work, making it that much more fun and the food that much tastier, because a meal prepared together is the best of both worlds. And now I must keep my eyes peeled for some saury at my local Asian grocery.

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2011 So Far – in chart form

We like charts here on RABUJOI. This one plots the ratings of all the anime series we’ve reviewed so far in 2011. We’ve included Summer 2011 series, even though we’ve got 5-6 more weeks of episodes in those seasons. When the Summer season does conclude, we’ll update this chart.

So what do we see? Well, while we deem a 2.5 rating to be “Average”, our actual average is closer to 3.5, which we deem “Standout”. This is because there’s a lot of anime out there, but we try to only watch the best. There are exceptions, of course: the main outlier here is Morita-san wa Mukuchi, which rates just above 2 or “Mediocre” (UPDATE: As of episode 7, we’ve dropped Morita-san :P). There are a lot more series out there we’d probably rank this low or lower, but we don’t have the time or the stomachs to sit through them.

So why do we watch Morita-san wa Mukuchi? Well, it’s only three minutes long; hardly a major investment. So it isn’t that we rate high. We just watch series that regularly deserve above-average ratings. Thus when a truly brillant series comes around – like AnoHana or Mawaru Penguindrum, you’ll see a lot of 4s. At the end of the day, it’s all subjective. We also just like charts. Did we say that already?

Spring 2011 – Best (and Worst) Openings and Endings

Best Opening: [C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility. A very slick, confident, adn frenetic beginning to a show that also possesses those qualities. A virtual camera zooms into a 1000 yen note, a dollar, a Euro, and a black MIdas bill, and the designs on those currencies explode and fly by with impressive depth and detail. I also like how the financial district’s giant spinning coin is presented.

I didn’t include [C]’s ending, because while it was pretty good, the School Food Punishment song sounded too similar the one used for the Eden of the East ending, which had far better visuals.

Runner-up: Deadman Wonderland. The WWE-grade metal lyrics of this season’s runner-up are kind of silly, but there’s nothing wrong with the music itself; it’s harsh, dark, and unyielding, like the series itself. The mostly red palette and multi-layered, highly-textured visuals also match the show’s mood quite well. While hardly subtle, they also show the dual personalities of both Shiro and Minatsuki. Sweet on the surface, but terrors lurk within.

Best Ending: Ao no Exorcist. I discuss the music and visuals of this ending at length here. Suffice it to say, It’s a great concept, very simple and very nicely executed. A really elegant yet satisfying ending. (Sorry, that video was removed!)

Runner-up: Deadman Wonderland. A peaceful shot of a Ferris Wheel glowing at sunset combined with a soothing, upbeat dance track makes for a nice respite from each episode’s pervading darkness and despair. The slideshow of photos – which didn’t mean much the first time we see them, are given more gravity as the series has progresses: they’re snapshots of the character’s pasts. In each case, they’ve all changed quite a bit, except perhaps Ganta and Shiro.

So, what were the worst openings and endings? The World God Only Knows II was a beginning I don’t think I ever watched in its entirety after the first time. They were clearly trying to replicate the novel and IMO very successful opening of the first season, and failed miserably. See it here. The ending is also something I skipped every time.

Hanasaku Iroha has a pretty (if not altogether original) opening that’s hampered by a subpar vocalist. Watch here, but be forewarned: it’s shrill.

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko though, takes the cake as the most obnoxious vocals by far, and the visuals just seemed a bit lazy and uninspired. If you’re a aural masochist, you may get your kicks watching it on a loop. As for the ending, it’s just a cutesy-cutesy Arakawa-type sequence with Etsuko Yakushimaru’s shy vocals putting me to sleep. Venus to Jesus was infinitely better.

Aside from having one of the dumbest, laziest logos for a series I’ve ever seen, Tiger & Bunny‘s opening and ending are notable only for their crushing genericness. The blatant product placement didn’t bother me so much.

2011 So Far

With most of Spring 2011 all wrapped up and the Summer 2011 season starting this weekend, it seemed a good time to line up all the series that have aired this year (excluding Fall 2010 carryovers) and see what’s what so far:

Episode # : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 AVG

AnoHana 4 4 4 3.5 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3.955
[C] 3.5 4 4 4 3.5 4 4 4 4 4 4 3.909
Hanasaku Iroha 4 4 4 3.5 3.5 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 3.769
Puella Magi Madoka Magica 3.5 3.5 3 4 3.5 4 4 4 4 4 4 3.5 3.750
Deadman Wonderland 4 3.5 4 3.5 4 4 4 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.727
Level-E 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 3.5 4 4 3.538
Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3.450
Fractale 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 3.5 3.364
Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 2.5 2 2.5 3.5 3.5 4 4 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 3.5 4 3.308
Sket Dance (First Half) 2.5 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 3 4 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3.308
Ao no Exorcist (First Half) 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3 2.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 3.273
The World God Only Knows II 3.5 3 3 2.5 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 4 3.5 3.5 2.5 3.250
Tiger & Bunny (First Half) 3.5 3 3 3.5 3 3 3 3 3.5 3.5 2.5 3 3.5 3.154

Weekly Average 3.4 3.3 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.7 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.8 3.520

Stray Observations:

•  Overall, Spring 2011 was a particularly good season. Even if I included the huge Fall 2010 season in the table above, the top three Spring series would still dominate the podium. Quality, not quantity. Summer 2011 has its work cut out for it.

• AnoHana, just an episode shy of perfection, became a personal favorite. [C] came two shy. These two series couldn’t be more different, but both rocked.

• Best Music: Taku Iwasaki. He provided the excellent score for [C], and has also scored Katanagatari, Gurren Lagann, Soul Eater, etc.

• Hanasaku Iroha sagged a bit in the middle there, but its first half began and ended extremely strong. And even those middle episodes had their charms. Looking forward to the second half this Summer.

• At first I didn’t quite know what to make of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, but it quickly found its stride and ended up one of my all-time favorites, despite its relatively modest score.

• Deadman Wonderland has just one episode to wrap everything up. This show deserves a second season. More than Tiger & Bunny.

• Level E and Denpa Onna both involve “aliens” of some kind – and both scored extremely consistent ratings. Moreso if Denpa’s final double episode is a good one.

 In hindsight, perhaps some episodes of Fractale were ranked too high. This is possibly due to the great visuals and imaginative setting, which carried that series.

• I was harsh in the beginning of Kimi ni Todoke’s second season, but perhaps that was just because I hadn’t quite settled back into the romantic futility. As a result, this series had the most rating variation.

• Sket Dance’s only flaw was its opening episode, with its red herring protagonist. Since then it’s been consistently funny and entertaining, so I’m sticking with it.

• I’m also optimistic about Ao no Exorcist‘s second half, but not as excited about Tiger & Bunny‘s. Prove me wrong, Tiger & Bunny!

• The World God Only Knows II took a dip of .167 below its first season. Hopefully, the third season will arrest that downward trend.

• Best Female Seiyu: Winter: Eri Kitamura as Sayaka in Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
Spring: Haruka Tomatsu as Anaru in AnoHana. She was also Megumi in Shiki.

• Best Male Seiyu: Winter: Level E’s “Prince”,  Daisuke Namikawa.
Spring: Tomokazu Sugita as Sket Dance’s “Switch.”

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 11 (Fin)

What’s worth saving, today or tomorrow? I think I’d have to go with Yoga and say tomorrow. The case for Mikuni’s way got weaker and weaker, as his numerous uses of Midas’ rotary press essentially bankrupted Japan. It was finally Yoga’s turn to stand up to him and fight to get Japan’s future back. The first half is almost non-stop action, as their duel reaches fever pitch. The combat system of [C] was always a bit dorky, but never boring, and this week was no exception. More than anything, it was basically what the whole series has been: ambitious, creative,  intriguing, and weird.

That said, there was a breakthrough, as Yoga saw Mikuni’s most powerful asset, Q, for who she was; Mikuni’s sister Takako. Q is a crazed demon-like fighter, but while fighting Mashyu, who all but became human thanks to Yoga, snapped her out of it. Yoga defeats Mikuni, and the latter ends up in a 2001-style time warping sequence in Takako’s hospital room. Basically, she wants him to stop fighting. She wants the future to unfold as it should, not be stuck in the present.

If all this sounds abstract, it is, but it was still cool. And the animation, while a bit choppy and far from perfect, was at least really bright and vivid. When Yoga reverses the rotary press, the financial district becomes all sparkly and pretty, like there are christmas lights everywhere. It is here where Mikuni says goodbye to Takako, and Yoga bids farewell to Mashyu, who now well and truly loves him. Their passionate kiss seems a bit strange after Yoga earlier saw her as a daughter-like figure, but whatevs.

When he returns to the real world, things look pretty good – the Sky Tree is back, and the city is clean and cared-for, people are prosperous. The teacher’s family appears to be back. Hanabi also seems back to normal, but doesn’t seem to know him anymore. In an interesting twist, Japan is now using dollars, the yen having literally vanished into nothingness (a nice tie-in with the opening sequence). But the financial district isn’t gone, and neither is Mazakaki, or his godlike boss, who makes a cryptic appearence here. Still, I don’t see Yoga going back to Midas anytime soon. He could never get back everything he lost. He’s learned the cost of playing around with the future. Rating: 4

P.S.: About a year ago this month, I snapped a picture of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Nihombashi. Coincidence? Well, yes, actually.

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 10

We’ve known for a while now that Kimimaro Yoga would eventually have to dael with Mikuni mano-a-mano, and this episode set up that climactic battle, which will have to wait until the final episode. This week, the question was answered: How can Mikuni be stopped? Mr. Goldteeth (Taketazaki) and Satou counsel Yoga on the need to acquire the “darkness card” from Mikuni; without it, he cannot start the rotary presses that make Midas Money, which saps the future from Japan.

Yoga doesn’t like Mikuni’s scortched earth strategy, nor his vow to die with his asset Q, if necessary. Yoga doesn’t want Mashyu to die; he even keeps her out of half of his deal with Kutsui. He’s acting more and more like her father, because, well, she is his daughter; his future by any other name. He eventually relents, letting Mashyu fight, and Kutsui is wasted. However, Satou underestimates Mikuni’s power and goes bankrupt, leaving Yoga alone, but bequeathing her cuddly asset Georges to him.

I’m not exactly sure, but something, possibly that, led to Yoga’s card turning black, giving him the power to reverse the presses. Of course, Mikuni has to be neutralized in order to prevent the endless cycle of starting and stopping the press. Meanwhile, Taketazaki is causing hyperinflation and crashing the yen, Mikuni’s power base, making me believe the victor of the coming final deal may have to rely on more than Midas Money to prevail. And then there’s Masakaki, pointing upward at where he gets his orders. Will whoever they are come into play before the end? I’m rearin’ to know. Rating: 4



P.S.: 
Shinjuku LOVE Sign Cameo FTW! I’ve been there…

P.P.S.: I’d be ridiculously remiss if I didn’t mention how totally and completely the soundtrack rocked this week. Epic, cinematic stuff befitting what’s on the line.

 

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 9

[C] finally makes its apearance as a menacing force of nature that devolves whatever civilization it comes into contact with. We saw a glimpse of this when the Tokyo skyline shrunk, but this week it happened all over East Asia; Singapore was totally wiped out and Shanghai became a shadow of its former self. Mikuni, backed by his guild, makes a deal with the devil (Masakaki) to secure funds to stage a last-minute buy that saves Japan from utter ruin, but at a humongous price. The GDP, economy, and infrastructure devolve more than a decade (this is obviously a reference to the real-life “lost decade”, birth rates plummet, and Tokyo is steeped in poverty and squalor.

This was another “jumper” like episode three in its first half, going back and forth through the timeline, unfolding how Mikuni managed to do what he did. But it was only a band-aid, and Yoga doesn’t believe it was worth it. Satou agrees, and they both agree to work to restore the future they had lost. Enter Mashyu: Yoga learns from Mr. Goldteeth that his father had an asset called Mua that looked just like Mashyu. He changed his tune about his father, who clearly had far nobler designs than he initially thought. Similarly, Yoga gets the idea that Mashyu was meant to be his own daughter, but joining Midas meant selling her for collateral. Assets are lost dreams personified.

As much as Mashyu has grown, she is still only an asset. Yoga wants her to be a real girl, and he wants everyone still in his life to have their futures repaired. This includes a Hanabi and a store manager who have totally given up. Indeed, the whole country has, which is why no one is being born. He can’t accept this Japan, and he won’t let it stay that way. They tried it Mikuni’s way, now it’s time for him to spring into action. No more sitting on the sidelines, no more soul-searching. Only…what are they going to do? Rating: 4

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 8

The shit really starts to hit the fan this week, as the real world is beset by a pandemic of apathy and melancholy as Tokyo empties and decays at an alarming rate; far faster than I expected. After narrowly saving him from suicide, Yoga is distressed to hear that Ebara’s future has run out. The present is dying too. The guild’s previous measures proved ineffective. It’s a very unnerving course of events.

Yoga wants to pay to have Ebara’s future restored. He pleads with Masakaki to no avail; the bank just doesn’t work that way, and it’s above his pay grade. If the district runs out of money, it means all possibility in the future has been consumed, hence making the present or now not only irrelevant, but impossible. Mikuni and the guild attempt desperate measures, and a mention is repeatedly made to [C], whatever it is.

While in a Midas taxi, Yoga has a most unusual (and distinctively animated) dream about the birth of Mashyu, which could mean any number of things. Are assets like Mashyu and Q remnants of a Entre’s future that never was? The episode ends on a cliffhanger, as the counter runs down to zero and creepy, awful things start happening. Yoga seems powerless at this point, and all he can do is wait and see if the guild can salvage things. Rating: 4

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 7

This episode of [C] is reflective. First, we get the story of Mikuni’s past, which to a large degree explains his present methods and motives. His father taught him that when enough money is bound together, it ceases to be money, and becomes power. The lust for this power led his father to abandon a chance to save his own daughter’s life, and he forcably prevented Mikuni from taking action. Before breathing her last, Mikuni’s sister Takako told him to treasure things like “tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year”, because they’re all things she’ll never see.

After her death, he closed himself off, and got a visit from the Midas dude just a bit too late to save his sister. This got him off on the wrong foot with the financial district, and after fighting deals and learning the system, he began to believe Midas was directionless, merely mocking and playing with people’s destinies at will. It was chaos, and with the guild, he sought to bring order. He may have learned a lot from his father, but his father’s success, in effect, cost him his daughter’s life. Mikuni will be damned if he’s going to allow such a thing to happen again. And is it just me, or does Takako vaguely resemble his asset Q?

The second half is all about Mashyu’s adjustment to having Yoga as an entre, their relationship becoming close and oddly human (despite the fact she isn’t human), and realizing why people like Mikuni and Satou want him to lend them his strength. He’s seemingly the only one she sees in the financial district who is so completely unsure about everything, and yet, when he does act, it’s always significant in one way or another. He hesitates because he won’t act unless his heart is sure of it. A nice parallel to this is waving off Mashyu kissing him, because she needs to “like him 30 times more” to be able to kiss him.

While only four episodes now remain in [C], I’m glad the series took the time to paint two rich character narratives this week. Both Mikuni and Mashyu will be far more interesting to watch, judging from the new things we know about them, and we also learned about how Yoga fits into their respective pictures. It’s also a bit chilling when Yoga notices that the Shinjuku skyline is missing skyscrapers: when people lose their future in the district, more than people and power disappears. That just punctuated just how unnervingly, insidious and dangerous Midas can be. Rating: 4

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 6

Fight and win, or pass and protect the possibility of your future? That’s the choice the oft-reluctant to commit Yoga Kimimaro must make once confronted by Sennoza, a very wealthy and successful fellow entre. He’s 56-1 and worth more than 9 billion. In the real world he’s a celebrity philanthropist. He offers Yoga the same thing he offers all his opponents: pass on a deal with him. Doing so costs an amount equal to half the passer’s fortune, but Sennoza offers to front that money, so Yoga essentially loses nothing.

In the real world, mulling over his decision, Yoga is ‘kidnapped’ by Satou, who is armed with french fries, three flavors of hamburger, and information. Satou sees that Yoga isn’t just interested in money, and wants him to join her cause of bringing down the financial world, one system at a time. This includes the Starling Guild he just joined, but doing so would secure the future of the country and balance its economy.

As I said, no one’s ever passed on Sennoza, and only one person has ever beaten him: Mikuni, natch. Mikuni finds his theories interesting, but unproven and unrealistic. Yoga continues to mull right up to the opening of his deal with Kennoza, and kind of half-heartedly decides not to pass. Sennoza attacks with ruthless abandon, crippling and eviserating poor Mashyu within seconds. It seems like its over for Yoga and his cute asset. This was another episode with some nice, if relatively inconsequential, exchanges between them.

Interestingly, the climax of the battle where Yoga turns the tables isn’t shown; only the aftermath, with Sennoza and Yoga on an empty baseball diamond, Sennoza the loser. It’s clear that he’s likely lost much or all of his fortune, but isn’t bitter, angry, or remorseful. IN fact, he seems to be glad to be rid of so much evil Midas cash. It would seem, at least this week, that Yoga agreed with Mikuni: fighting and winning (barely) is the tried-and-true method. But there’s still Satou’s route to consider. She and Yoga were followed by an ominous Crown Majesta – perhaps that was Mikuni keeping an eye on them? Rating: 4

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 5

This episode elaborated on Mikuni’s and the Starling Guild’s mission: to balance the two worlds, the ordinary and the financial. Both are realities that aren’t going away, and so Mikuni would rather dirty his hands keeping the balance and the peace than the alternative. There are other, less charitable “men of means” who let greed rule their desicion-making. They enter into extremely violent and expensive deals that make a huge impact on the real world. Negating those effects is also an expensive job.

It’s hard to argue with Mikuni’s strategy, he and the guild are wealthy enough to shoulder Japan’s national debt singlehandedly, and he does this for no other reason than to minimize the suffering of the innocent. Bad deals can ruin not just the lives and futures of the entres involved, but the countless people their real world ventures support. Case in point, when an fat-cat entre loses big, he is indicted for embezzlement in the real world and his pharma corp goes bust. Mikuni has to buy off their debt to prevent 10,000 people from being kicked to the curb.

The first time Yoga tries to minimize the damage in a deal, he barely loses rather than barely wins. He is unnerved when afterwards his driver tells him sometimes even a minor loss in the financial world can have a disproportionally large negative effect on the real one. Fortunately, for Yoga this consists only of appendicitis for his aunt and a failed test for him. Hanabi is unaffected. But he’ll have to be careful in the future if he wants it to be livable. His poor professor is now alone, his wife having left him, and his place is a mess: a walking, talking admonition. However little future is lost is lost for good.

For now, Yoga still seems to harbor a vague dislike for Midas money, and he isn’t altogether unjustified in doing so. But nor can he find an alternative to what Mikuni and the Guild are doing, so he joins. He also seems to be perhaps the only entre who treats his asset as less of a tool and more of a sidekick, even feeding her ramen. But I hope Yoga takes a clearer stand one way or another and stops waffling about his role moving forward. Rating: 3.5

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 4

Yoga’s opponent turns out not to be his father, but one of his professors, Ebara-sensei. Thanks to quick thinking from Mishu, Yoga is able to defeat him, and he learns exactly what defeat means. The fight was continually dotted with a scene in the real world where Ebara’s wife is in the class, pregnant with their third child. But when Yoga meets with Ebara after class, his wife isn’t pregnant anymore, and they have no other children. For Ebara, those children were the future he put on collateral when he became an Entre.

Yoga feels terrible, but Ebara doesn’t blame him; he lost fair and square, but he will have to live with the consequences. Interestingly, the only other person with memories he ever had children is Yoga, his opponent. So he doesn’t want Yoga to lose. Moreover, Mikuni has created an organization – the Starling Guild – that seeks to maximize profit by minimizing the effect of deal outcomes on the real world. Now it’s more clear why Yoga’s dad committed suicide – he had gained so much, that when he went bankrupt, so much of his world changed, he couldn’t deal. Mikuni seeks to avoid that, and puts on quite a show doing just that.

For him, deals is more about winning and losing. It’s about preventing Midas Bank from overly influencing real world events. When Starling Guild has 50% share – and the promise of never going bankrupt is a good recruiting tool – they believe they can start influencing events in the financial world, turning the tables so to speak. What is interesting is that Masakaki allows this behavior; you’d think he’d want to amass as much “future” as possible.

Yoga is weary of his potential, much to the chagrin of his asset – but a lot of that is due to the guilt of defeating people and what it means. He isn’t heartless. So his goal in future deals will not be to “win” outright, but strive to simply “not lose” and thus not totally ruin his opponents. Rating: 4