Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible – 07 – Matching Pens

Shiraishi and Kubo return after about a three month delay, and I couldn’t be happier for another comfort-food series to watch early in the week. Kubo continues to indulge her crush by embracing destiny: it’s raining, and Shiraishi forgot his umbrella…but she didn’t.

While she qualifies their walking together under the same umbrella as an “experiment” to see if anyone notices him, the bottom line is she wants to walk under the same umbrella with him, so any story will do. He even makes their walk more intimate by picking a less busy route home (though he was simply trying not to be seen). But Kubo’s sister sees. Oh, she sees.

While out and about, Shiraishi spots Kubo’s cousin Saki carrying heavy bags. He offers to carry them for her, and to tell Kubo (whom Saki worships) that she carried them the whole way so she’ll be praised. While walking, Saki asks what kind of relationship Shiraishi has with Kubo.

While he says they’re merely “classmates”, not even going so far as to say friends, Saki can smell the bullshit. That’s reinforced when Kubo comes out to meet them, and makes Shiraishi prove he knows her first name, Nagisa, by saying it. She in turn calls him Junta. Saki’s right; they’re not “just classmates” anymore.

The next segment is one of the most relatable ones I’ve ever come across: not only did I use to disassemble my pens when I was bored in class, but the spring was my favorite part too! I love Kubo’s extremely perplexed expression, and how she makes lemonade out of lemons.

When Shiraishi loses the spring for his pen, she offers him one of hers, which he can keep. It has a cute rabbit-and-carrot motif, and also happens to exactly match the pen she’s using. And while she tells Shiraishi he can replace the cartridge, she swears she bought a second before she knew she could do that. A likely story.

The final segment is another relatable event: the ol’ high school sleepover with Kubo, Kudou, and Tama, complete with snacking, asking about one’s love life, and just generally enjoying each others’ company. With their second year arriving soon, there’s a possibility Kubo and her friends will be separated.

That means she and Shiraishi could also. He had considered this earlier in the episode, and seemed a bit blue about the prospect of no longer having her in his class to “find him”. But I doubt they’ll end up separated, and even if they do, they still live nearby and can find any number of other ways to spend time together.

Skip and Loafer – 07 – Usurpers

As Summer Break approaches, the third years have given way to their juniors, which means Mitsumi is now officially a secretary, and on her chosen path to become a public servant. There’s also a new student council president, but it isn’t Takamine Tokiko.

That’s not only a shock to Mitsumi, but to Tokiko herself, who has been dreaming of being president for years. Instead that position was claimed by former Soccer club president Kazakami Hiroto, for what seems to be flippant, opportunistic reasons to boot.

It’s a big blow to Tokiko, even if she tries to put up a brave front. Mitsumi wants to comfort her, but doesn’t want to patronize her. By watching Tokiko vicariously, Mitsumi realizes that even though hard work build builds confidence, we’ll never know if it will actually pay off until it does.

When Mitsumi tells Sousuke that her afterschool council duties consist of a lot of studying, he asks if he can join her. This shocks her, as it means he wants to spend time with her unbidden. Their study session is interrupted by Kanechika, who has decided to show someone the first movie he ever made.

It’s entirely self-made, as he had no friends, and it features a stolen tokusatsu plot and accidental cameos from his parents, and he’s embarrassed the whole time the others are watching. But he’d rather show it to them then keep it hidden forever.

Tokiko is inspired by Kanechika’s bravery and willingness to depart from his comfort zone in the service of personal growth. She stops moping over losing the presidency, which was in part due to how she presented to others, and applies her keen organizational skills to becoming more open, approachable, and laid back, starting with congratulating Kazakami.

The second half of the episode emphasizes that special time just before summer break, when boys and girls decide to put themselves out there and ask their crushes for contact info and/or on dates. Due to Shima’s looks and popularity, he’s constantly turning down girls he knows don’t want to be “just friends”.

This means others are commenting on Sousuke, even though Mitsumi would rather not hear about that. It’s clear that every time he’s speaking to another girl, even if he’s rejecting her, she feels a pang of self-consciousness and perhaps even jealousy. She also believes it was just “dumb luck” that they became friends, which I believe is selling herself well short.

Yuzuki, who may well have rejected a few enterprising lads (but we don’t get to see that), decides that their friend group should dedicate the summer break to girl time, doing high school girl stuff. She even points out that she, Mitsumi, Mika and Makoto make for a strange quartet considering how different they all are, but it works!

That said, Mika still sometimes feels like the odd girl out, in particular when it comes to Mitsumi. Strictly speaking, Mitsumi isn’t just a friend, but a rival for Sousuke. Having been a high schooler, it can be tough when a friend of yours likes the same girl(s) you do, so I related to Mika’s predicament.

It doesn’t help that Mitsumi’s relationship with Sousuke is shoved in Mika’s face when she returns to the classroom to grab something she forgot. Mitsumi and Sousuke are chatting as usual, and Mitsumi, quite accidentally, asks Sousuke if he wants to go to the zoo with her. In her mind, she wanted him to go with all of them, but out loud, it’s as if she’s asking him out.

When she realizes her error, Mitsumi is mortified, but both she and Mika are shocked when Sousuke says “sure”. After turning down dozens of girls, he’s quick to agree to hang out with Mitsumi. Mika walks away, clearly a bit dejected.

Then Sousuke gets a call from someone saying they’re at the school gate, and he suddenly runs off. Outside, Mika encounters this someone, a glamorous-looking girl in another school’s uniform. She asks Mika to show her to Sousuke’s classroom, where she encounters Mitsumi. Then Sousuke returns, tells her she can’t be there. Then he takes her by the arm and excuses the two of them.

Mitsumi calls the girl “unique”, but Mika educates her on just how unique: that girl is professional model Saijou Ririka, and the youngest-ever cover girl of a magazine she reads to keep up on beauty and fashion trends.

Is this another usurper—Sousuke’s secret girlfriend? Doubtful! It’s more likely she’s literally related to him (like a cousin) an old childhood friend, or someone he knows from the entertainment industry. Either way, I don’t think Mitsumi should feel threatened. But if she wants to break out her country bumpkin dialect more often, I won’t protest!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible – 06 – Lean On Me

It’s not quite Valentine’s Day without a good rom-com, and this week Kubo delivers, featuring lots of sweet little moments in between Shiraishi continuing not to notice Kubo’s romantic interest in him. If patience is a virtue, Kubo is a saint…and may also be a masochist!

But if learning more about someone endears them to you more, Shiraishi made some progress this week. First, he learned the bookstore lady is indeed Kubo’s big sister. He also meets Kubo’s cousin Saki, who also notices him, and looks exactly like Kubo when she was in middle school.

Were Shiraishi a shrewd fellow, he’d use the adorable photo of middle school Kubo Akina gave him to mess with Kubo the way she often messes with him. It’s not like he isn’t aware she enjoys messing with him; it’s why he initially hesitates to ask her for help studying when they cross paths in the library.

In this case, Kubo-sensei doesn’t make fun of Shiraishi, because he’s genuinely trying his best to get a good grade. Kubo also turns out to be a very good tutor—and the fake glasses she borrows from her friend contribute to her teacherly aura.

Both Kubo and Shiraishi are looking forward to meeting in the library tomorrow to study, but when tomorrow comes, Shiraishi is absent with a fever. Kubo misses him immediately, and the entire day goes by in a haze as she tries to find the right message to send to him.

She settles on a question: Are you coming to school tomorrow? He says he will, and then sends an I miss you that causes her heart to skip. He then immediately texts back that his little brother sent it on accident (the truth). She sends him a Lonely without you sticker in reply, then says her sister sent it (not the truth!)

This was a case where Kubo could have really been more aggressive, asking the teacher if there are any printouts so she has a good excuse to pay him a house visit. The next day Shiraishi is back, but is late for first period and considers waiting in the hall until the second.

That’s when Kubo leaves the classroom looking very out of it; she also came down with a fever. She’s headed to the nurse’s office, but Shiraishi is concerned with how woozy and unsteady she is, so he offers to escort her. He says she can even lean on him, and boy howdy does she take him up on that!

While her face is flush due to her fever, there’s no doubt she loves the fact that Shiraishi took the initiative for once; it makes up a bit for her lack of action on the day he was sick. Once he has her in bed, he starts to look for the nurse, but she stops him by taking his hand, saying it feels cold and nice. He, in turn, says her hand is warm.

The nurse shows up, and with Kubo in good hands (and fast asleep), Shiraishi takes his leave, feeling…different. In fact, for the first time he can recall, he feels like a main character. Not surprising, considering all of the firsts he’s experiencing thanks to Kubo’s friendship.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible – 05 – Keep His Name Out Yo Mouth

Kubo goes on the offensive numerous times, with Shiraishi mostly bemused, confused, or flustered each time. He’s used to and even enjoys eating alone, often in a different spot every day. But Kubo’s been lookin’ for him so she can eat with him. When she offers her tamagoyaki to him with the standard “say ahh” gesture, he doesn’t take the bait, but when he offers her his, she takes his arm and noms it right out of his chopsticks.

Kubo’s gotten to the point where both her sister and her best friends can tell something is clearly up. She simply looks cuter than usual, and is noticably glowing. Ruling out contact with radioactive material, they ask her if she has a crush, or is interested in anyone. She admits to them it’s Shiraishi, and when Tamao starts ragging on he guy, Kubo firmly shuts it down, saying she knows his good qualities…which she then keeps confidential.

That increased possessiveness of the person you like continues when Shiraishi arrives at school extra-early, for no particular reason than he likes the vibes. Kubo beats him there, which is either coincidence or she guessed right. She puts one of her earbuds in his ear, sits right beside him on his chair, and they listen to her music. For a minute the two simply exist in their own little world.

She then asks Shiraishi what kind of music he listens to, and when he says it’s mostly anime music, it doesn’t deter her from wanting to listen with him. He then goes on and on about the anime based on the manga she borrowed. Moved by his passion, she starts watching the anime, which Akina clearly and correctly deduces is not because her girlfriends told her about it.

Akina wasn’t born yesterday, but sometimes it seems Shiraishi was. He manages to actually go and buy a White Day gift, but remains ignorant as to the identity of the one who gave him a cookie. Since Kubo is the only one he talks to, he asks her to come with him somewhere secluded where he explains the situation.

You can see the subtle moment of panic washing over Kubo when he says he wants to give it to “another girl”, but when he says he doesn’t know who that girl is, she’s relieved. She also gives him plenty of additional “hints” to help him realize she is his Valentine. I used quotes because when directly asked who gave him the cookie, she says her damn name.

I’m not under any illusions that Shiraishi will finally awaken to the fact that Kubo likes him and wants him to ask her out—at best, I’d expect any meaningful step forward for him will come in the last or next-to-last episode. But that’s okay, as there’s still plenty to enjoy: Kubo’s face’s, Hana-Kana’s voice work, the general nice vibes.

Those are key, since we all watch Vinland Saga around here, this is a welcome salve from that excellent but somewhat bleaker story!

Urusei Yatsura – 16 – Ryuunosuke-chan Is a Girl!

Ataru, Lum, Shinobu and Mendou head to the beach, but the waves are too hazardous to swim, and all the beach shacks are closed. What they do find is an extremely spirited and energetic father-son duo telling the waves to screw off, then darting away before they get hit. When the son messes up the timing, the dad punches him, he punches back, and they just start brawling.

Turns out they’re hating on the ocean because it’s killing their business right now. As our guys have lunch at their café, they learn the boy’s name is Fujinami Ryuunosuke. His dad has groomed him to take over the family business when he’s gone, even though Ryuunosuke doesn’t want to. Oh, also? Ryuunosuke is a woman. Ataru and Mendou were ready to peace out until they heard her say this, then they’re all-in to help her out.

The best way to do that is to keep Ryuunosuke and her dad from whaling on one another, so after they knock each other out, Ataru, Lum, Shinobu and Mendou literally chain them to the pillars of the shack so they have to use their words. That doesn’t work out so well, as the two Fujinamis are so strong they snap the wooden pillars and bring the whole café down, then start using their chains as weapons.

Because there’s no such thing as a coincidence too farfetched on ol’ Urusei Yatsura, Ryuunosuke’s dad takes over the school store…at Ataru and Lum’s school. This means Ryuu is transferring there. Her dream since childhood is to wear a beautiful sailor fuku, and her dad agrees to let her…if he can beat her. Ataru is so excited he hugs Ryuu, leaving her open to be easily defeated by her dad.

Despite clearly stating she’s a girl when she introduces herself, Ryuunosuke becomes the new toast of the class, and all the girls fall for her, leaving Ataru, Mendou, and the other boys eager to make her more feminine. They beat up her dad and purchase a sailor fuku, but while she’s genuinely happy to see it, she’d rather beat her dad on her own before she wears it.

She also wants to learn more about what it means to act like and carry oneself like a woman, and in Ran she finds a muse. But while she just wants to befriend Ran and learn from her, Ran mistakes her letter for a love letter, and when Lum says Ryuu is a girl, Ran assumes Lum is trying to sabotage her love live as usual. To stick it to Lum, Ran agrees to go on a date with Ryuu, who is amazed how long it takes Ran to run to the school gate to meet her.

Naturally, Ataru cannot allow anyone to have Ryuu or Ran, so he shadows their date with Lum in tow (who apparently is content to get a quasi-date with the distracted Ataru out of it). Of course, Ran thinks it’s Lum who is following her and Ryuu so she can meddle. When Ran cuddles up to Ryuu on their boat ride, Ataru can’t abide it, and launches himself like a missile and causing both boats to capsize.

By day’s end, Ryuu observes “Dark Ran” laying into Lum and feels she has a long way to go to understand the complex secrets to being a woman. I thoroughly enjoyed the introduction of Ryuunosuke (and Takagaki Ayahi’s voice performance) and can name her among my favorite Urusei Yatsura characters after just one episode. She paved the way for characters like Tomo-chan.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible – 04 – Made With Love

When Seita has had enough TV, Junta takes him outside to play (where it’s oddly not winter despite it being Christmas last week). After watching Seita try and fail the proper sequence of movements to “Transform!”, Junta strikes the pose perfectly, inspiring his brother to do it with him. Ironically, Junta doesn’t notice Kubo is there until she’s already filmed him.

Back at school. Junta notices he’s wearing socks of two different lengths, and that there’s also something different about Kubo. When they get a chair to post up some printouts, she notices his socks, and he finally notices the difference: she’s wearing tights instead of her usual socks. Of course, that implicates Junta in having looked at Kubo’s legs all day.

Kubo then takes Junta on a little after-school date to the konbini, where she samples the instant drink machine for the first time. When Kubo suggests they buy two different drinks and split them, Kubo sees the indirect kiss trap, and gets a meat bun instead. Kubo ends up taking the first bite of that bun, but after she leaves, he’s unable to eat it as it falls to the ground when someone bumps into him.

Next up, it’s Valentine’s Day. Junta, naturally, has never gotten chocolate from anyone, even the teacher in grade school who forgot he was there while passing it out to everyone. So when he sees a heart-shaped cookie in his desk, he assumes it’s some kind of mistake. He also doesn’t have the courage to ask Kubo about it. Kubo likewise doesn’t come right out and say she made him the cookie, but tells him it was made with love so he should enjoy it.

Then we cut to the previous night, when a determined Kubo tried and utterly failed to bake edible treats. That’s when Akina decides to “bake herself” some treats, and offhandedly suggests they could work together. Because Kubo wants to make the best cookie she can, she swallows her pride and follows along with her sister, resulting in a superior final product to her first attempt, which Akina even deems better tasting than hers, since Kubo put so much love into it.

Thus the welcome trend continues of balancing Junta’s thoughts with scenes of Kubo on her own or with her sister. Junta is wise to Kubo’s desire for an indirect kiss, but dense about the Valentine, despite Kubo giving him plenty to figure out where it came from. Will he put two and two together and get her a gift in return on White Day? Only time will tell!

Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible – 03 – You Can’t Go Wrong with Mittens

Shiraishi returns the tracksuit he borrowed from Kubo, and she asks if it was small on him. It was, but only a little, as he’s 5’4″ to Kubo’s 5’3″. She gets onto a higher step on the stairs to become 5’9″, because she heard six inch difference is ideal for couples. Then she gracefully jumps down to Shiraishi’s level and declares that she prefers it this way. Give this girl an inch…

Kubo wants to hang out after school, but Shiraishi rushes out in an apparent hurry, with plans. This turns out to be taking his baby brother Seita to the park to play in the snow. Shiraishi is no fan of the cold, so it’s fortuitous that Kubo (who lives nearby after all) spots him. She has a warm bottle of cocoa which she offers to Seita, who then offers it back to her. But when she offers it to Shiraishi, he won’t take the obvious indirect kiss bait.

Shiraishi has to go a little ways to get a limited edition manga magizine with a poster he wants, but when he finds it among the stacks, an adult magazine is laying on top of it. Assuming no one can see him due to his presence, he prepares to take a peek, but is caught red-handed. Just his luck Kubo’s sister Akina works there—and that apparently all Kubos can see him!

Akina doesn’t 100% buy his innocent explanation, but when he drops his school ID after leaving, she notices it’s the same school as her sister, and asks her to return it to its owner. When Kubo says it’s Shiraishi’s, Akina stirs the pot a bit by saying he was looking at a porno mag featuring big boobs. This leads Kubo to asking him if he likes big boobs, calls him ecchi, and flees before he can explain.

Kubo isn’t sore about it for long, as she overhears other girls hanging out with their boyfriends for Christmas, and decides to cash in Shiraishi’s promise. Only she asks if they can hang out “Saturday after next” and he agrees, and only later realizes that it’s Christmas day.

Nevertheless, he’s at the agreed-upon spot 30 minutes early, while Kubo comes 10 minutes early. She manages to deduce that he was waiting longer than a couple minutes by the coldness of his hands. She also came with a Christmas present for him, and gives him fifteen minutes to buy her one with a budget of 1000 yen.

Shiraishi draws a blank on what to get her as he mills through the mall, until he realizes that like him her hands must be getting cold as she waits, so he buys her a pair of cozy pink mittens that go well with rose sweater dress and pale pink coat. Kubo is elated to receive a gift into which he clearly put a lot of thought.

As for his gift? A highlighter yellow shirt that says “Main Character,” so he’d be more noticeable to others. Something of a gag gift, but still a thoughtful one. Put it all together, and this was another sweet, cozy, charming episode to warm the heart on a cold winter day.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Urusei Yatsura – 14 – Pinch Hitter

Another week, another new Urusei Yatsura character. This time it’s Mizunokouji Tobimaro, AKA Ton-chan, a childhood friend of Mendou and Ryouko. Once defeated by Mendou in baseball, he went to the mountains for training, only to return just as uncoordinated and accident-prone as ever.

What makes Ton interesting is that unlike the other guys, he has absolutely no interest in girls, only in beating Mendou. One could even take it a step further and call his obsession with Mendou a crush. But it’s Ryouko who has always loved Ton, whose fear and hatred of women may be due to him being the recipient of her elaborate and often violent pranks over the years.

A ridiculous ballgame ensues in which Ton is complete rubbish but Ryouko deploys her ninja manservants to manipulate the baseball (i.e. hold it and run with it like they’re invisible). Despite Ton being on his team Ataru intervenes, resulting in a duel. But Ton is determined for a rematch with Mendou.

He hadn’t counted on Ryouko encasing Mendou in cement from the neck down, which means she is the one walking the octopi on the bridge when he tosses his challenge letter to her. Only it doesn’t look or read like a challenge letter, but a love letter.

Mendou, who is as firmly against a Ton-Ryouko union as Ton himself, forbids Ryouko from leaving the family compound. But she’s not only able to escape in her litter, but rope Ataru into assisting her with keeping Mendou away from her plans to see Ton at the athletic center. As usual, Ryouko’s methods for communication show no regard for other people’s peace or property.

As Ataru gloms onto Ryouko, Lum follows and electricutes and chastises him for straying yet again, especially since Ryouko has no real interest in him beyond him keeping Mendou at bay. Mendou, meanwhile, reveals he’d disguised himself as one of her manservants in order to come between her and Ryouko.

Ton’s one-on-one challenge with Mendou ends up being a five-way fracas between him, Ataru, Lum, Mendou, and Ryouko. Ton takes the lion’s share of the punishment, demonstrating that he’d actually make a perfect match for Ryouko and her violent pranks since he is able to take a great deal of physical punishment.

Mendou eventually even concedes the battle and allows him to date Ryouko, even though that’s the last thing he wants. It’s an episode packed with manic chaos and slapstick, with the only one you could call satisfied in the end being Ryouko. Which is all that matters to her!

Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible – 02 – Scent of a Shiraishi

Another con of Shiraishi’s lack of presence is that his P.E. partner will lose track of him when he’s running unless he announces when he’s finishing. On the other hand, Kubo always has eyes on him, even when he doesn’t know it. When she approaches him after his run he’s self-conscious about his sweat and smell, but Kubo doesn’t mind. She even lends him her scented wipes specifically so their smells will match. Marking your man, if you will!

Kubo doesn’t wait for Shiraishi to propose a time and place to hang out. When she spots him trying (and failing) to open the automatic door to the bookstore, she can’t help but assist. He’s there to buy the latest volume of a manga she wants to start reading (probably solely because he’s reading it) but the store doesn’t have Volume 1 in stock. Perfect excuse for her to stop by Shiraishi’s house so she can borrow it from him!

Kubo also learns that Shiraishi lives a five minute walk from her house, and also leaves earlier than her, so the next morning she gets up early so they can walk together. Her sister Akina sees her different hairstyle (and smells her hair mist) and knows exactly what’s going on. Kubo can deny it all she likes, she’s got a crush and wants him to notice her.

Kubo manages to intercept Shiraishi on his way to school, resulting in the very first time he’s walked to school with anyone, boy or girl. Kubo even suggests they sit at a park bench to chat for a bit since they have time. This ends up working against her, as her friends Tamao and Hazuki show up, and Shiraishi continues on alone; definitely not what Kubo wanted!

Shiraishi notes that his day is the same as always despite Kubo walking with him at least part of the way: no one notices or acknowledges him. Except her, of course. When he gets hit by mud from a passing car, she sees it, and when he realizes he forgot his key, she offers the use of her shower and a change of clothes. He briefly spots a hamper with her unmentionables, but otherwise it’s a pleasant house visit.

When she’s sitting outside the bathroom, Kubo has a noticeably forlorn look; an expression she also wears after Shiraishi has gone home. Suffice it to say, she’s down bad, and there is no such thing as spending too much time with her invisible-to-everyone-else crush. These scenes that are just Kubo alone with her thoughts might just be my favorite.

In what is hopefully a sign he may finally be catching on (though I won’t hold my breath), Shiraishi blushes profusely while walking from Kubo’s house where he had a shower, used her shampoo, and is wearing her tracksuit. Ain’t young love grand…

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible – 01 (First Impressions) – Getting a Little Closer

I wasn’t initially going to pick this show up, as it sounded awfully familiar to shows I’d already seen (most prominently Takagi-san). However, I needed some Tuesday evening comfort food, and two words sealed the deal: Hanazawa. Kana. She voices the titular Kubo, the smart, popular, athletic, and beautiful class idol who has eyes only for Shiraishi. This, despite the fact Shiraishi has such a severe lack of presence, most of the class doesn’t notice he’s there, and considers it good luck when they do.

Kubo sees him just fine, and no one else will do when it comes to killing time in class. She decides they should experiment whether he’ll be noticed if he stands on his chair during a lecture (he can), then “punishes” him by sitting on him for failing to say Good Morning back to her (he assumed she was greeting one of her girlfriends). She initiates little bets, but is neither as competitive as Takagi or as aggressive as Hayase.

Like those other two rascals, Kubo’s primary purpose is to get closer to the boy she likes, and even if he hasn’t yet gotten the message (and probably won’t for some time), she looks determined to keep trying until she does, and in the meantime enjoy herself immensely. She even arranges for him to be able to give an answer in class by being called upon and giving him the floor.

At the end of a day Kubo tries to casually ask for Shiraishi’s LINE contact (called PINE in the show), but they’re interrupted by her friends, and before she knows it, he’s vanished. But when she spots him at a park on a school holiday, she cannot hide her elation, and uses her phone’s difficulty focusing on Shiraishi’s face to draw closer to his than ever to take a selfie together.

She then gets his PINE info, and proposes both verbally and in a text that they should hang out together sometime. Shiraishi wonders if she’s just messing/toying with him, but responds “all right”. He has no idea just how happy that makes Kubo. Her big sister even remarks at how cute her face looks, and asks her (and also can guess without asking) what happened to give her such an expression. Just love, baby.

Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible is a bright, breezy, fluffly school rom-com with cute character designs, exemplary voice wrok from both Hanazawa and Kawanishi Kengo (Rei from 3-gatsu No Lion, among other things), and generally low-key cozy vibes perfectly suited for a Tuesday Winter anime.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

To Your Eternity – S2 04 – The Prince of Ghosts

The morning after their little talk, Parona!Fushi is still not sure what to do, so she decides to stick around for the time being—but only for a day. She conjures a bed to lie on out in the wastes, but a concerned Prince Bon brings builders to help her build walls around the bed (she conjures the bricks, they provide the grout and grunt work).

While construction proceeds, Prince Bon asks “Mister Black” (i.e. the Beholder) what he’ll do once Fushi accomplishes his mission. The Beholder appears to say he’ll give Fushi his “freedom.” Bon isn’t sure what to make of such a vague promise. “Freedom” could mean anything, after all … and not all of it good!

The next morning, Parona!Fushi wakes up in her makeshift house and Bon’s sister Pocoa accompanies her to the stables to find a horse to ride for their  ensuing travels. They hear screams of anguish from Bon and come running to find that his handkerchief was caught by the wind and came to rest on a pile of shit in the cesspool. One intrepid attendant fishes the hankie out of the shit, and Fushi learns his name is Todo.

Having been told to find friends and a lover by Bon, and seeing something fly out of Todo’s “essence”, she asks if Todo is in love with Bon; him running away and denying it says it all. Fushi then asks Kahaku if a boy can love another boy; Kahaku says whatever needs to be said to stay in the lover running. Though he previously said he wouldn’t try to seduce Fushi, that was before he met Parona!Fushi.

One thing that’s certain about Prince Bon is that he commands the unswerving love and devotion of the vast majority of his father’s subjects. He’s even able to spin the Church’s tack about Fushi being a menace, using the kingdom’s press to build him up as a holy warrior and savior against the Nokkers. As they ride out in a grand parade, Bon reminisces on how he got to this point.

Bon’s ensuing backstory, while somewhat shoehorned into this episode, is nevertheless fascinating—and also quite sad. Bon has always been able to see people no one else could. Whether these people were ghosts, spooks, specters or shadows was immaterial; they taught him a lot and made him who he is.

As for his precious hanky, we learn it was sewn by a girl who doesn’t appear to be one of the ghosts he sees, judging by the fact she doesn’t glow white like them, and the hanky is a physical object others can see (even if she slipped away before anyone else could see her).

Pocoa assumes the girl was just another instance of Bon’s “usual thing”, which is seeing dead people. His mother, who doesn’t like this one bit, hires some kind of “healer” to cure him of the malady through bloodletting. Bon’s usual ghost companions are joined by Tonari, who tells Bon bedside stories about Fushi, the immortal one, and tells him how he’ll find him.

One day Bon finds his father the king’s will stating his little brother will usurp him for the throne. When he demands an explanation, his father’s is relatively reasonable: Bon spends all his allowance on trifling things like clothes and accessories, while Torta selflessly gives to the people.

Not being the kinslayer sort, Prince Bon instead resolves to change his father’s mind and name him the future king. He eventually decides he’ll be able to do that by finding and capturing the wanted Fushi. Tonari told him to look for someone with an “enormous shadow”, and sure enough Bon finds Fushi walking through a city with the ghost of Oniguma-sama lumbering behind him, as well as ghost March, Gugu, Tonari, and others.

Prince Bon’s “affliction” isn’t mere schizophrenia, but something real; the ability to see all of the departed companions Fushi has absorbed into his being. He may be an insufferable fop, but there’s no discounting the fact that this ability is truly wondrous, and the very reason they were drawn together. If anyone is going to help Prince Bon regain his throne, it’s Fushi, and if anyone is going to help Fushi take the next crucial steps towards humanity, it’s Bon.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

To Your Eternity – S2 03 – Everything’s Peachy

Tonari told Fushi to find friends, and Kahaku claims to be one. As the first male of Hayase’s successors, his sole interest in women means Fushi doesn’t have to worry about being seduced. He also brings warning to Fushi that there’s a bounty on his head from a Church that considers both him and the Guardians as heretics.

Kahaku encourages Fushi to join the Guardians on their travels through towns and cities, showing himself to the people. It’s basically a PR junket, and the first of the villages is full of those who regard Fushi as a savior. He acts the part, producing both coin and food out of thin air for his followers.

When some not-so-friendly villagers attack Fushi, the Guardians protect him, though he does get hit by an egg. Kahaku suggests Fushi travel to the next city in a different form. When Fushi settles on Parona, Kahaku develops a crush, but for the journey Fushi shifts to Joan for better mobility.

While in this larger city, as in all previous settlements, the Guardians raise their banner, bearing the symbol of Jananda: three crossed swords representing the three major churches coming together as one. It’s a nice idea, but it’s not currently a reality, and Fushi starts to question if he’s truly “doing what he wants” (as Pyoran urged), and whether Kahaku is really one of the friends Tonari told him to make.

One day while walking in the woods between cities, Parona and Kahaku are suddenly caught in a rope trap, and the other Guardians are captured by strange purple knights. An extremely eccentric and flamboyant man in elaborate finery introduces himself: Prince Bonchien Nikolai La Tastypeach Uralys, their captor.

Bon talks a big game and even has an attendant he uses as a chair, but when Parona!Fushi frees herself and brandishes a sword, Bon goes to pieces. The chair-attendant explains that Bon sometimes talks to someone who’s not there.  Fushi is intrigued by this strange fellow, and allows herself to be captured, as long as Kahaku and the others come to and are not harmed. Bon agrees.

Bon is voiced by Koyasu Takehito, who is always an absolute hoot and often plays these kinds of out-there, over-the-top characters. Bon is no different, and Koyasu’s performance is a big reason why I found myself taking an instant liking to Bon. Another is that he’s quite unlike any other character in To Your Eternity thus far.

The capital of the Kingdom of Uralys is as whimsical as its prince: towers of pink, purples, and other pastels rising out of fissures in the earth. Despite the somewhat barren landscape the city is bustling and prosperous, and the smallfolk love their flashy prissy prince. The use of mimicking birds as microphones is a nice touch, as is the fact Bon’s father the king is tiny and adorable.

Bon orders ninja-like fashionistas to pounce on Fushi and give her a glow-up for dinner, as well as wash the stink of the road off Kahaku. Bon introduces his brother Prince Torta and his sister Princess Pocoa, who are excited and curious about Fushi. While technically captives, Fushi and Kahaku are treated well, and even share the table with the royal family, who pepper Fushi with questions about his orb-y origins and “the black one”.

Fushi’s mood sours when she learns Tonari’s diary was published, meaning one of Kahaku’s ancestors dug up her grave to procure it. She leaves the table, goes outside, and attempts to scurry off in mole form, but Bon follows and catches her. Kahaku joins them, and asks Bon to provide an army to Fushi and the Guardians so they can properly fight the Nokkers.

Bon considers it, but their talk is interrupted when representatives from the Church of Bennett (the ones who issued the bounty) come for Fushi. Bon shoos them away, saying Fushi isn’t going anywhere for the time being. The Bennettans leave, but they’ll surely be back, and possibly in force.

It’s after that encounter that we learn from Bon’s father the king that he’s not actually the crown prince; that’s the far less flashy Torta. Apparently his father believes him unfit to rule, but he’s determined to convince him otherwise, and capturing Fushi is a big part of that. But Fushi has apparently had his fill of all of this, and is considering letting the Nokkers absorb him entirely.

The Beholder appears to tell him even if he does that, he’ll simply return to being an orb and have to start over from nothing. Fushi claims not to care, as long as he’s not sacrificing any more of the living. To the Beholder’s count, over 13,000 people have been killed by the Nokkers, which isn’t much compared to natural disasters but still too many for Fushi’s taste.

The Beholder sees there’s no reasoning with Fushi, so he descends into the ground, but Prince Bon tells Fushi he’ll create “a new world” for him, so he should at least wait until after that to decide whether he wants to surrender to the enemy. While Fushi has value to Bon as a tool (like the Guardians), there’s also a chance, given time, that Bon could become a real friend. I want to see that friendship, and that new world. Then there’s the fact Fushi’s eye briefly changes from yellow to purple.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

More than a married couple, but not lovers. – 01 (First Impressions) – Mismatch

Fuukoi, as it is also known, begins with the two female leads meeting at a shrine. The “plain” but cute Sakurazaka Shiori stumbles on the stairs and into the stylush gyaru Watanabe Akari, asking if she’s also there to pray for good luck with their forthcoming “marriage practical”.

What is a marriage practical, you say? An extremely weird and far-fetched means of the country trying to up its birth rate (?), I guess, and by far the weakest part of this debut episode. Male and female students are paired up and must live like a married couple in a Big Brother-style apartment, but are pointedly not allowed to sleep in the same bedroom. This system also apparently makes no accommodations for same-sex couples.

Our drab protagonist Yakuin Jirou, another weak point (never a good thing) wants to be paired with his childhood friend Shiori, while Akari wants to be paired with the equally stylish, blonde (and genuine Nice Guy) Tenjin Minami. So naturally, Jirou and Akari end up paired together, while his and Akari’s preferred matches end up paired up.

Neither Jirou nor Akari are happy about this, but it is what it is, but the good news is there’s a way to exchange partners: score enough points as a couple to make the A-Rank by the end of the month. Akari suggests they take the relationship lemons they’ve been given and make lemonade, but this is all A Lot for Jirou, considering the “love experience gap” between them.

Of course, Jirou’s wrong about this: Akari is just as chaste as he is, and all this as new to her as it is him. It’s too bad then, that she never tells him this to reduce the tension; call it pride and an unwillingness to admit they’re on the same level in that arena.

When Jirou goes to get them drinks and spots Shiroi with Minami, he gets even more depressed, but Akari tells him, and is right, that being mopey and indecisive won’t get him anywhere. They’ve got work to do scoring enough points to get the partners they want. So when Jirou’s annoying nerdy friend Sadaharu comes by to hang out, she asks for a goodbye kiss.

Caught between Akari and his insistent friend, Jirou kisses her without thinking … on the lips. It’s his kiss, but little does he know it’s also hers. The next day, Jirou wakes up on the couch, having apparently spent the night there (a little odd, considering I doubt he and Sadaharu got blackout drunk), and Akari urging him to get up and pull his weight.

A week passes, and Jirou and Akari make no progress. Shiroi and Minami, on the other hand, look like two peas in a pod, further frustrating and depressing Jirou. Their teacher asks him and Akari to come to the faculty office after school for a check-up. When Jirou tells Akari, she’s already off to karaoke with Minami, and tells him to do it solo.

He calls this his “worst day ever”, but Sadaharu says he’s got “a flower in each hand”—Shiroi the lily, Akari the rose. With no umbrella, he waits for the rain to subside, and then chance smile upon him when Shiori appears, having also forgotten hers.

As they talk, Shiori suddenly clutches him, because she thought she saw a bug (it was just a comical doodle of one). Turns out that’s why she clung to Minami earlier in the day—completely innocent, as expected. Shiori also objects to Jirou, her childhood friend, calling her “Sakurazaka” instead of her first name, which makes her feel lonely.

Jirou is taken aback by this, wondering if Shiori has the same feelings for him after all, but before he can say “Shiori” properly, Minami appears with her umbrella, and the two take off.

On the other side of the wall, Akari stands and waits a few beats, then approaches Jirou with an umbrella that they share on the walk home. She tells him how he struck out on trying to make something happen vis-a-vis Shiori. Indeed, by saying goodbye by calling her Sakurazaka, he actually left things worse off than they were before.

Yet again, it’s up to Akari to grab the mopey Jirou by the cheek and tell him to cheer up and focus his energy on the goal they agreed upon. It’s unfortunate Akari has to carry the mental load of her own issues while also trying to prop Jirou up. Dude needs to get his shit together because he’s quite unlikeable at the moment, whereas I like Akari a lot.

There’s another reason to like her when they come home, as she prepares perfect omurice for dinner, and even writes “love” on top in ketchup (while spouting quite a few double entendres). Jirou can’t deny it tastes amazing, and for once takes the initiative and offers to feed Akari with his spoon. After briefly hesitating, she takes the bite, leaving their faces oh-so-close together.

The moment is interrupted by a call form Sadaharu (silence your phone at dinner, dude!), for which Jirou is extremely relieved. But both their hearts are left pounding, which of course sets up the most likely endgame of shows like this with mismatched opposites gradually becoming closer and possibly eventually choosing one other over their original crushes.

The forced big brother scenario is dumb and troublesome to be sure, and Jirou needs a lot of work (obviously he’s supposed to be pathetic at this point) while, Akari has some great Kitagawa Marin vibes (albeit not nearly as honest with herself) and her and Shiori’s character designs are solid.

Aside from Akari, the main draw is the general look of the show: the scenery and colors are gorgeous and bold, making the darker rainy scenes feel that much more morose. It’s just so nice to look at, lacking the modeling or animation flaws of lesser productions.

ANN’s writers all hate this show, and I won’t argue with their reasons why. But for me, for now, the show’s pros are outweighing the cons. Sometimes you just need a bright, shiny, slightly horny show with a super-dumb premise. I had fun watching it.

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