RikeKoi – 02 – Love is the Secret Ingredient

This episode is told mostly from the point of view of Himuro and Yukimura’s kohai Kanade, who takes us through a typical day for a fourth-year undergrad at Saitama National University’s department of Information and Computer Science. The two lovebirds continue their dubious research into love, with Himuro calculating their hear rates while she sits on his lap and when he pets her head, activating her prehensile hair.

Then their senpai Ibarada Ena wakes up from her long slumber (she’s up all night playing up to three games at once) and tears down their experiment by pointing out it lacks a control. Who is to say anyone would raise Yukimura’s heart rate when they sit on his lap? When Ibarada sits on his lap and Yukimura pats Kanade’s head, very similar data is returned. Himuro is not happy, but I fear she’s too focused on one particular biological reaction.

Changing course, Himuro and Yukimura use the lab’s communal kitchen to test the theory that food made with love will taste better to the person eating it. Himuro cheats by writing a love message on one omelette but not the other, and Yukimura takes the hint and picks the “correct” dish, thus re-entering Himuro’s good graces. For putting up with their nonsense, Kanade is rewarded with a home-cooked hot meal to accompany the piles of papers she must read.

RikeKoi No. 2 lacks the novelty and energy of the first episode, and the show’s insistence on teaching us scientific jargon while rarely hewing to scientific accuracy is counterproductive (and occasionally patronizing). If you’re going to do a silly love story about two clueless science nerds, don’t bother trying to educate the audience—just go all out and have fun with it!

Dagashi Kashi – 01 (First Impressions)

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Simply put, Dagashi Kashi is a taut, crafty, stylish laugh-riot. It is life from lifelessness. I had an absolute gas watching it, and it never failed to surprise me with a goofy facial expression here or a momentary trip to a different genre there. And the premise should prove to be a veritable goldmine of comedic and romantic material.

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The cast is lean, but makes every shot count: Shikada Kokonotsu (“Coconuts” to his friends-I’ll call him Koko) is the son of an animated small-town candy shop owner, Shikada You (a hilarious Fujiwara Kenji), who really wants him to succeed him as “ninth generation head”, but he’s currently in his mangaka stage.

Enter Shidare Hotaru of the famous Shidare candy company, who is looking for You but encounters Koko instead and immediately sets to work testing his confectionery instincts with umaibo.

The classic gothic lolita garb-donning young woman proves extremely eccentric, and well, very animated. Not just a pretty face with concentric irises, she’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys, and country boy Koko is super ultra intrigued. Taketatsu Ayana really sinks her teeth into the role with relish.

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In fact, once You returns, Koko gets swept up in the combined madness of his dad and Hotaru, who formally relays her father’s desire for You to come work for his company. You flatly refuses, but when Hotaru hears of You’s desire for Koko to inherit shop, she makes a counter-proposal on the spot: if she can convince Koko to take over the shop, his dad will take the job.

She may be mad as a hatter, but she knows what she’s doing when it comes to business and snacks. I myself know the joy of extravagantly shoving too many hot fries down my gullet. One of life’s little thrills!

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You wastes no time mistaking Hotaru for Koko’s girlfriend, which Koko vehemently denies (while blushing, natch) but Hotaru doesn’t dismiss the idea. She doesn’t say anything about it, actually. That segues nicely to Koko’s present love interest in the town, Endou Saya, whose brother Tou is Koko’s best mate (Saya is ably voiced by Numakura Manami)

Koko is oblivious to Saya’s feelings, but never fails to compliment her coffee as the only coffee he ever drinks. When a possible rival in love is brought up, she shows off her fiery temper, but even dropping dozens of sugar cubes in Koko’s coffee doesn’t faze him.

When Saya comes face-to-face with her competition, it’s quite by accident—as in Hotaru had an accident on her bike while too closely inspecting the message on her popsicle stick, and fell into a muddy rice paddock.

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Saya gets Hotaru in the shower, but when Tou walks in on Hotaru and sees her nakked, Hotaru doesn’t even flinch, introducing herself and apologizing for putting Tou out. Later while enjoying some free coffee (which Hotaru agrees is wonderful), she breaks out some “Young Donuts” out of seemingly nowhere. No matter what, Hotaru seems to be equipped with the right snacks for the right job.

There, Hotaru regails Saya about her mission and the “contract”she’s ended up in, which should keep her in town for the foreseeable future. Of course, she’s so flowery and dramatic and vague, it’s as if she’s telling some kind of fantasy epic. Which is kinda is, to her. Her victory is dependent on convincing “the one who would succeed the legend.” This should be a sweet ride.

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Show By Rock!! – 01 (First Impressions)

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Cyan Hijirikawa, a first year from class 3, wants to join her school’s rock music club but she’s too shy and ends up living in her imagination instead. Then she gets a high score playing pinball on her cell phone and is sucked into a magic scifi world here everyone is anthro and 3D rendered musicians fight dark monsters or have their music-skill-crystals sucked out and become dark monsters themselves.

Then she defeats a giant dark monster with a single guitar riff (using a heart-shaped guitar she unlocked in her pinball game) and signs a contract with a shoddy music studio run by an egg man.

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SbR asks us: what would happen if TRON, Sonic COLORS and an Idol show had a baby with a ho-hum shy-girl high school rock music club show? The answer is, of course, is a schizophrenic but stylish mashup that just barely holds together as it lurches between rendering styles, characters, and worlds alike.

And I almost turned it off because the first 5 minutes are presented straight faced as a dull shy-girl-becomes-bold trope. Mind you, SbR would have done a decent enough job, even by that genre’s standards. I’m just not into that genre and 5 minutes is asking a lot of an audience that doesn’t know what it’s getting into.

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You may enjoy it: if you like absurd and over the top style-first shows, with simple but up beat themes about love music and togetherness. Bros, blushing cuties, and ‘I’m gonna take you down’ (with my music) faces flash all over this thing.

The humor is also knowing, and almost clever at times. (egg man’s tour bus gets plowed by a limo so long it takes 2 scenes for the back window to reach our heroine)

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You may want to avoid it: if over the top cute, blushing cuties, and bro-power gets on your nerves. This is ditzy girls and idol boys save the day through and through and, while there is obviously a tongue and cheek plot about the evil industry exec who brought Cyna into the world because she’s a master guitarist he needs to play the perfect song to take over the galaxy… well that’s the plot so if you don’t think that will be funny, run?

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Over all, the visual styles are great on their own but don’t mesh together. It comes close but the 3D is so glossy and that the 2D can’t integrate, no matter how saturated the colors get. Oddly, its worth nothing that the styles don’t overlap either — 3D scenes are fully 3D and 2D scenes have no 3D objects, which only further emphasizes their separation.

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I went in blind and was both entertained and surprised by where Show by Rock!! went. I’m not sure I actually like it, and I don’t plan on reviewing it during the season, but its a fun romp and most likely worth your time.

If for no other reason than it’s totally bonkers.

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