Akagami no Shirayuki-hime – 22

aka221

Since Shirayuki’s visit to Tanbarun and Zen’s little excursion to rescue her from pirates, quite a lot of work has piled up at Wistal Castle. But this isn’t just a “Back-to-Work”, “Stay Busy to Keep from Getting Blue” episode: it brings up a crucial duty of Second Prince Zen Wisteria: he must, at some point, take a wife.

As Shirayuki’s herbalist work has piled up, so too have requests for marriage interviews from various highborn ladies from around the kingdom and beyond. Lord Haruka doesn’t give Zen the option to reject the process altogether, but he does give him some leeway: meeting with one potential wife will suffice…for now.

aka222

From the list of suitable candidates, Zen chooses…Kiki. Turns out, she’s a count’s daughter. Zen, of course, can’t order her; he must make a heartfelt request to aid him in his stalling tactic. Because Kiki likes Zen and wants to do what she can for him and Shirayuki, she agrees, even though she hates dresses (since they make it hard to carry a sword).

And while Kiki’s name will be kept out of public discourse, it doesn’t take long for rumors to spread across the castle that Zen is meeting with somebody. Even Shirayuki hears this (unbeknownst to Zen), and no matter how hard she works, she can’t shake the uneasiness. Ryuu and Garack can see it practically emanating from her in waves.

aka223

We already knew Kiki cleans up nice (her skin is even more “Snow White” than Shirayuki’s), but we didn’t know that she was in a dress when she and Mitsuhide met for the first time. Mitsu assumed she was a lady Zen was interested in, but the next time they met, she was sparring with Zen, and he mistook her for a “noble boy”.

The misunderstanding wouldn’t be cleared up right then and there, but Mitsu and Kiki would nevertheless spend five years having each other’s backs and protecting their prince. Obi can’t help but notice that seeing Kiki with another man—even if it’s Zen, and not a serious omiai—makes Mistu uneasy. Mitsu won’t go so far as to profess his love of Kiki, but he’s definitely glad they met, and the feeling is mutual.

aka224

The interview doesn’t last long, and soon Zen is back to hittin’ the books, but when Obi lets slip that Shirayuki knows about the interview—but he didn’t inform her that it was with Kiki and just for show—Zen races to Shirayuki’s side to apologize and comfort her in one of their tender scenes.

Later that night, Izana informs Zen he’ll be taking a wife soon, which will make Zen next. The future of the kingdom rests on the choice he’ll make. Left unspoken throughout both this episode and the entire show, and yet always on my mind, is the fact Shirayuki is a commoner, with nary a drop of noble blood to her name, which would make any possible official arrangement with Zen extremely tricky at best and impossible at worst.

To my surprise and delight, Izana rekindles my desire to see the two lovebirds tie the knot in the end, by endorsing Zen’s decision and pledging his support as an ally, not an obstacle. He’s seen what Zen’s love for Shirayuki led him to do in her name, without tarnishing the royal family. He’s probably also weighing the immense cost of refusing him, but Zen has proven to him beyond doubt he’s serious about marrying Shirayuki and no one else.

Note, Izana doesn’t say it will be easy to convince everyone else—including their father the king—but this is a promising start to the fairy tale ending I desire.

8_mag

Advertisements

Ore Monogatari!! – 05 (Tardy)

orem51

Ho boy: no sooner do I agree with Suna’s assessment that soul mates Takeo and Yamato could potentially grow old and wrinkled, we’re treated to a splash of cold water. On the one hand, I was a little disappointed the show turned back to the issue of poor communication and incorrect assumptions within the couple, but then I remembered: Takeo and Yamato are only a couple now thanks to Suna’s direct measures.

orem52

That means Takeo’s inherent denseness hasn’t gone away, and it was only a matter of time before that denseness led to some kind bump in the road. And while I may be proven wrong in the very next episode, I’m willing to bet the “truth” Yamato is so desperately trying to but can’t communicate to Takeo has to do with his opinions about the kind of person she is.

orem53

Takeo is the guy who puts his body on the line to help others, like saving a boy who fell into a river, almost every day, only for Suna, if he’s around, to get thanked. It’s perfectly reasonable then, for him to have a skewed perspective of the first and so far only girl he likes who likes him back.

orem54

He also turns a lot of the societal discomfort with his immense size on himself with regards to physical contact with Yamato. When he bumps her on the train, it’s an accident, but one of his classmates saw it as a perfect opportunity to kiss a girl. When he touches her head, it’s to trap a ladybug.

Then, on a romantic, starlit walk, he makes it clear to her he “won’t lay a hair on her head until she’s grown up,” convinced she’s a good and pure girl. Heck, he’s even bringing Suna along on their dates because he’s worried he makes her nervous when they’re alone, which we know isn’t the case.

orem55

It’s nice to finally get a peek at Yamato’s life when Takeo’s not around. It’s kind of lonely and sad seeing her all alone in that big dark house, trying to find the right words to text before sending another text that’s all bubbly and girly and promising of baked goods. She then sets to work baking, but doesn’t seem to be enjoying it in the slightest. It looks like she’s doing chores.

orem56

When Suna’s big sister Ai returns home, we learn that she’d always carried a flame for the big galoot, and is not so much shocked as dejected that another girl got to him first. She also immediately suspects this girl sight unseen, because she finds it hard to believe anyone other than her would find Takeo boyfriend material…especially at first sight (though Suna doesn’t mention Takeo saved her).

When she arranges to meet Takeo and Yamato, she notices immediately that Yamato is hiding something, assuming all the worst things. And you know what? There are moments when we’re almost convinced something is up with Yamato, and she’s scared of breaking the big guy’s heart.

orem57

Ai further inserts herself into Takeo’s affairs by offering to talk to Yamato on his behalf, believing it will be easier to talk woman-to-woman. Takeo, creepily perusing a teen-girl magazine to “learn how girls think” at the time, clearly needs all the help he can get. I’m not going to subscribe to Ai’s theories about infidelity—she’s demonstrated beyond all doubt that she really likes Takeo—but I am hoping Ai can get to the bottom of her troubles.

orem58

As for my theory, I think Yamato doesn’t like how Takeo is so quick to call her a good and pure girl. I think she was hurt by all those good moments for leaning in for a kiss Takeo failed to capitalize on. I think she’s frustrated that he’s painting a not altogether accurate picture of who she is (remember, they haven’t known each other that long) She’s perpetuating that persona, and it’s wearing on her.

She wants to set him straight and tell him she wants more intimacy, not less, but can’t find the right words, and is worried he’ll reject her “impure” self. So the problem rattles around her head and keeps her up at night, sitting alone in the dark hugging a pillow.

But I for one think she’s worrying needlessly. All Takeo wants is for her to not be in knots, and I believe him when he says whatever she has to say to him, he’ll accept it. If my theory is correct—that Yamato wants to get closer—he’ll most likely be overjoyed.

8_ses

Nisekoi – 06

nisekoi61

We’ll be honest: right now Nisekoi is doing some things that always throw up warning signs for a long slog (not to mention piss us off to no end): relying too much on information omission, poor communication, and sheer coincidence to draw out the romantic tension. Like a wad of gum, it can only be stretched so thin before it separates, and with it our support of the show’s story. In other words: whatever Nisekoi is planning, it needs to get on with it already!

At the same time, Nisekoi is (so far) providing adequate cover for what would otherwise be construed as stalling: specifically, that both Chitoge and Kosaki both end up in positions in which they must suddenly readjust both their thinking and behavior. For Chitoge, it’s realizing Raku saved her from drowning, isn’t such a bad guy, and deserves thanks, not a beating. For Kosaki, it’s the realization that Raku and Chitoge aren’t really dating, which is terrific news for her, but she isn’t quite ready to act yet, and her reasons are understandable.

nisekoi62

Chitoge has been wrestling with the increasing probability Raku isn’t a moron bean sprout for some time now, but Kosaki obviously already knows she loves him and why. When Ruri runs off (in a rapid manner normally employed by Kosaki) and leaves her in an empty classroom with the one she loves, he’s even kind enough to unknowingly demonstrate it to her, which gives her the strength to start her confession.

Unfortunately, a baseball interrupts the end of her sentence. But while the baseball was an incredibly lazy, stupid way to torpedo her attempt, the fact of the matter is she’s making progress, and her knowledge Raku leaves her re-energized with hope. She’s not even that miffed about failing at that particular time. For one, it isn’t as if she dislikes the friendship she and Raku have now, and once she confesses, it will change, so she wants to enjoy it a little longer.

nisekoi63

And then there’s the fact that she can’t simply jump on top of Raku while he and Chitoge are the key to an uneasy peace between their families. Chitoge swears her to secrecy, warning that the city will be decimated if they fail to deliver (and as this is SHAFT series, it’s possible she’s not overstating matters). So Kosaki remains in a tough spot: she can neither confess too quickly nor afford to hold it off too long. Raku, meanwhile, is still agonizingly unaware of the possibility Kosaki likes him, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary; nor has he confided in Kosaki that he’s not really dating.

Back to that fateful baseball: it’s use in nixing Kosaki’s confession makes a little more sense later in the episode. Chitoge finally finds a way to thank Raku to his face (in pretty good English) finds his locket on the ground; its chain having been busted by her multiple assaults on him that day. She has it fixed and delivers it to him, making them once again even in her eyes. On the car ride home she suddenly remembers she made a promise to someone too, years ago. Since we still haven’t seen Kosaki’s key unlock Raku’s locket, we’re still not 100% sure she was the girl he promised his heart too—now a glimmer of possibility exists it was actually Chitoge.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Chitoge’s failed three stages of apology were some great exercises in mutual cognitive dissonance.
  • Even though Kosaki’s confession wasn’t to be, it was beautifully staged, what with Raku mistaking her embarrassment for a fever and going into full Help Mode.
  • Ruri warns Kosaki if she wusses out again, they won’t be friends. We’re with Ruri. Damn the consequences; more than anything else, Raku needs to learn the truth.
  • In a dilapidated warehouse that wouldn’t be out of place in the world of the Monogatari Series, Claude assigns a mission to his shadowy apprentice: save the poor “Princess” Chitoge from the clutches from the “prick” Raku. He’s confident she can do it. We smell the next love interest.

 

Nisekoi – 05

nisekoi51

Still suspicious of the nature of Raku and Chitoge’s relationship, Ruri presses forward in her crusade to help Kosaki win Raku’s heart. Kosaki herself has reservations about stealing him from Chitoge, but if Ruri can confirm they’re not really together, and that Raku has a crush on Kosaki…well, that’s different, isn’t it? To that end, we get a pool episode replete with graceful swimsuit and changing fanservice.

It doesn’t detract so much as call attention to the fact that this is a SHAFT series and Shinbo doesn’t skimp on close-ups, no matter what it’s a close-up of. In contrast to last week’s ill-fated study session, Raku and Kosaki fare much better during his one-on-one swimming lesson; though Raku does have to run to the nearest seaside cliff to shout his desire to make her his wife. Being in swimsuits also means the locket and key aren’t on their respective persons, only the show teases us yet again by having Raku use the wrong key.

nisekoi52

The picture is very, very slowly being pieced together in the slow-churning minds of the star-crossed lovers: both are entertaining the possibility that the other is the one they made the promise to, but progress remains slow. Meanwhile, while it’s clear Raku has a crush on Kosaki, Ruri is growing more and more perplexed with Raku and Chitoge, probably beause she sees as we do without even knowing it that the fake relationship grows more and more real the more time they spend with each other.

Yet again Raku and Kosaki’s progress is mitigated by a similar development with Chitoge, as he is the one to drop everything and dive in after her when she cramps in the pool. Kosaki is spared having to see them lock lips (she doesn’t need mouth-to-mouth, though Shuu tries to make it happen for Raku), but Chitoge learns yet again that Raku isn’t the gutless bean sprout she’d created in her mind…except, apparently, when it comes to going after who he truly wants.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • The Girl’s locker room is apparently “very retro”, which is why the key is so easily mistakable for an ornate locket.
  • We don’t know if the voices of the characters are sped up in production, but if they’re not Touyama Nao and Uchiyama Kouki deserve props for some seriously articulate high-speed, spirited arguing this week.
  • There’s no official episode count for Nisekoi as of yet, but it’s starting to look likely there’ll be two cours, since there’s two main characters hiding in the shadows of the OP that haven’t even been introduced yet.
  • We like how the omakes typically add texture to the main story, rather than act as random standalones. To whit: we catch insightful glimpses of Chitoge, Raku and Kosaki dealing with Valentines Day in junior high.
  • After that, Chitoge visits Raku’s house for New Years and learns he’s a kickass Enka singer. Nothing much manlier than that!

Nisekoi – 04

nisekoi41

If left to their own devices, Raku and Kosaki would remain stationary for eternity, so it’s up to their respective friends-of-the-same-sex to nudge them towards some kind of action. Enter Maiko Shuu (Kaji Yuki) and Miyamoto Ruri (Uchiyama Yumi), who immediately establish themselves as the most perceptive people in the cast by far, which is to say they’re not dense as insulation foam. Both of them see right through Raku and Chitoge’s sorry excuse for a fake relationship, and at the same time, know full well that Kosaki has the hots for Raku and vice versa. If anything, they’re a pretty annoyed the two haven’t become an item yet, and now things are complicated by Chitoge.

Realizing nothing will happen if Raku and Kosaki aren’t at least in regular contact, Ruri arranges a study group at Raku’s manor. Kosaki’s presence in Raku’s house, his room, and right beside him is more than he can take, rendering him totally unhelpful in the homework department, while Onodera is equally nervous (she really digs the fact Raku’s room smells like him). Their odd behavior is not lost on Ruri or Shuu, but the yakuzas are just upset Raku isn’t putting any moves on Chitoge, so they set a very silly and obvious trap, and the two fake lovers end up locked in the dark together. This situation essentially nullifies Ruri’s original intent to bring Raku and Onodera back together, and further muddies Raku’s romantic waters.

nisekoi42

That’s because Chitoge turns out to be severely nyctophobic and claustrophobic (due to a traumatic five-hour experience in a washing machine). Her harsh facade melts away, revealing her weak side. In the dark stillness, with her clutching him tightly from behind, Raku notices for the first time just how beautiful she is. When he refuses to leave her alone while he climbs a ladder out to get help, Chitoge notices that once again, Raku is being a cool, considerate gentleman, and has no choice but to add that to the growing list of positive qualities he possesses. They come very very close to kissing, thanks to her perfectly-timed trip-fall.

Then Claude bursts in, gun drawn, followed by Kosaki who both get the wrong idea about the couple being locked in the shed together, and undo whatever progress Raku had made with Kosaki, which was minimal anyway. But we don’t think Claude and Kosaki’s idea was completely wrong. After all, we hear Raku thinking to himself he can’t fall for Chitoge; he’s already promised his heart to Kosaki (despite not knowing she’s the keeper of the key). Chitoge too feels the need to ammend her own diary to admit Raku did good today, and she’s determined not to fall for him. But it’s clearly already happening. One fact that may be in Shuu and Ruri’s blind spot: it’s not necessarily the love Raku and Chitoge are faking; it’s the hate.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Another reason Chitoge has not to hate Raku: he’s helped her find her social bearings at school, and she’s smiling a lot more as a result.
  • Hiyama Nobuyuki is his exuberant best playing fiery warrior-types, and his Ryuu here is no exception, adding zest and vitality to a bit role.
  • While Shuu and Ruri know full well Raku’s feelings for Kosaki, Chitoge has no idea. But interestingly, she worships Kosaki as the Perfect Girl just as Raku does, and isn’t taken aback at all by his ebullient praise.
  • Shuu points out twice that he and Ruri should be pals because “after all, they both wear glasses.” Ruri isn’t convinced.
  • As much as we hate her doing them, Kosaki’s “crazed panic flights” are fun to watch.