Ore Monogatari!! – 03 (Late)

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From Braids to Boots, the Cute Won’t Quit

To her credit, Yamato does what I was hoping and attempts to tell Takeo about her feelings directly—doing so while looking even more ridiculously cute then usual. She clearly put a lot of effort into looking as cute as possible. But still convinced she likes Suna, Suna is all Takeo talks about, causing the cutie to tear up and flee. “What the hell just happened?” Takeo asks himself.

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I love it when sometimes a character tells another one exactly what I’m thinking, which is that Takeo’s delusions have to be set straight. Suna is the one to deliver those words, which come as a great relief. Suna is a smart, no-nonsense kinda guy who’s not going to let a misunderstanding persist on if he knows about it and has the power to stop it.

He’s also a hell of a friend, and always has been. It may be true that he “stole” all of the hearts of the girls Takeo liked, but that’s only because Takeo is horrible at reading people. All those girls talked smack behind his back, and Suna didn’t like that, so he turned them down out of a sense of loyalty and justice.

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Unlike those other girls, Yamato is different; she’s worth pining for. The only problem is, Takeo’s skull is too thick to notice, and he doesn’t believe Suna’s claim that Yamato really likes him. He really has to hear it from Yamato’s own mouth, so when Yamato comes by Suna’s place, Suna tries to hide him under his bed, in an impeccably timed sight gag that had me in stitches.

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Yamato sits down on the bed not knowing she’s adding a trivial amount of weight to a load Takeo can easily handle. She then helpfully proceeds to reveal all. Takeo thought the best he could be was a friend and confidant to Yamato, but that’s the exact role Yamato herself has assigned to Suna! She cried because she worried for a moment that Takeo’s constant praise of Suna was a roundabout way of turning her down.

When Suna asks her if this means she’ll give up, she says emphatically that she won’t, and loudly proclaims her like of Takeo. Suna has a little fun with the situation, making Yamato repeat herself several times to make sure it sinks into that thick skull of Takeo’s before bringing him out from under the bed.

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Rather than be outraged or mad that she was “manipulated”, though, she’s so glad to see Takeo there, she gathers the courage to confess once more, to his face, knowing he’s there. That in turn inspires Takeo to confesses right back to her. The two turn beet red and gaze at each other, both obviously relieved and elated beyond belief.

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It’s a gorgeous, momentous transcendent scene, made all the more impressive by how soon in the series it happens. Suna doesn’t seem fazed in the slightest as he studies quietly at his desk amidst the practically floating lovebirds. Heck, he was a regular Cupid this week!

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Just like that, Takeo and Yamato are a couple, and not just a cute or novel one, but a realistic one. Here are two people of very different sizes and appearances who both have tender, beautiful hearts and souls within, which they’re both able to see in one another. Once Takeo knows he’s allowed to like Yamato without worrying about heartbreak, they basically just lock into place.

The touching story of the red and blue ogres hews very close to that of Takeo and Suna, and one could say Suna sacrificed himself for his friend’s happiness, but he doesn’t see what either he or the blue ogre did as all that noble or special. He’s a stoic, logical fellow who also happens to want his friends to be happy. Takeo makes him happy, in part, by making him laugh.

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If we assume Yamato is just under five feet tall, that would make Takeo about seven feet tall

It’s no one-sided friendship; what it is is one of the best anime bromances I’ve seen. It’s amazing how much development these two got in just these first three episodes. The very fact you have two guys and one girl has me fearing a resurgence of triangle drama in the future as circumstances evolve, but for now I’m just going to enjoy this…and look forward to watching the Spring’s best couple in action.

The events of this episode more than validate my decision to pick this show up. I heard it was good, but I didn’t think it would be this hilarious and lovely and moving. I’d have done myself a serious disservice had I passed on it all Spring. Thankfully I only have three episodes before I’m caught up. Bear with me!

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Koufuku Graffiti – 12 (Fin)

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This is it. The Final Battle. Who lives? Who dies? Who ends up in whose bed? Who is able to exact their revenge, and who ends up burning in hellfire for all eternity?

Ehh, this isn’t that kind of show. Nor did it need to be. When I look back on Koufuku Graffiti, I’ll remember a warm, happy, and taste bud-enticing show; the feel-good show of Winter 2015.

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Don’t worry, all of this is in Kirin’s dad’s head.

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Hey, it’s 2016 in this show. We’ve been watching the future.

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Ryou and Kirin pass their exams, so they’ll be going to the same high school as Shiina next year, along with a couple other classmates who are eager to befriend Kirin, who never had a thing to worry about in the friendsmaking department because she’s kind and sweet and makes a cute pok-pok sound when she walks.

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Then, terror strikes in the form of a depraved house invader. Oh wait, it’s just Akira, trying to surprise Ryou and succeeding, but in the wrong way, getting a bonked nose for her trouble.

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Akira actually has a nice gift for Ryou, who’s thinking a lot about her grandmother, who was there for her opening ceremony, which feels like yesterday. The gift is an apron made from her grandma’s apron, so in a way, whenever she wears it, it will be like cooking with her grandma, or as Kirin maturely puts it, she can look forward to making new memories rather than simply dwelling on past ones.

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Ryou decides to christen the apron by preparing the same meal her grandma made to celebrate her entry into middle school three years back. It’s the same meal she made in the first episode, but it tasted bad to her back then because she was alone and still thinks it’s mising something when she tastes it alone.

That changes when Kirin arrives with all her luggage and samples the meal, and deems it one of Ryou’s best yet. Even Ryou notices an improvement in flavor after Kirin arrives, proving that food really does taste better when it’s shared.

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Everything on the shelf above the sink stayed in the exact same position all those years. That’s some precision right there.

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Ryou is in for one last twist when Kirin explains all her luggage and mentions movers are on the way…because she’s moving in with her, something neither Kirin nor Akira ever told Ryou, though they thought they did.

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Ryou seems to have a problem with this, though it’s more about being left out of the decision while everyone else from Shiina to Akira to Kirin’s parents know about it, yet she doesn’t; for all we know even Yuki downstairs knows! But now that Ryou knows too, she’s happy Kirin is moving in, Kirin cries tears of joy and relief, and everyone helps her move in.

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Looks kind of like Laputa, doesn’t it?

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Ryou started out alone, with her important parents far away, her aunt busy at work, and her grandmother dearly departed. But now her home is full of life and love and energy, and even when everyone leaves, Kirin will still be there. Ryou looks like she couldn’t be happier.

As the credits roll, we get an epic supercut of every foodgasm in the show, putting into perspective just how much delicious food was stuffed into the last twelve episodes, and getting me that much more excited for another cooking show, Shokugeki no Souma this Spring. I’ll also have to track down some yellowtail and daikon!

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Koufuku Graffiti – 11

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As exams draw nearer, quick and easy meals are the order of the day. While Ryou would probably prefer to spend all day cooking and eating, she and Kirin need to study.

It’s fortuitous then, that Ryou’s mysterious parents send her her second care package, which is full of packaged ramen in various flavors. There’s nothing like opening a big box full of food!

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The package has Kirin, whom we know has had a tenuous relationship with adults anyway, thinking about Ryou’s parents. What kind of people are they? What do they do? Kirin’s mom doesn’t have straight answers, but Kirin’s imagination runs wild when she hears they wanted to get Ryou a bodyguard. Satou Rina only gets a couple of lines as these alternate, bitchier Ryous, but she makes the most of them.

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Ryou has been a little lonely lately because her mom isn’t around to make late night study snacks for her, so the timing of the package is perfect. Also, Kirin knows how to make tasty ramen, so Ryou has a snack made for her after all, and it’s predictably that much more delicious because it was made with love.

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At the bottom of the ramen box is a secret letter specifically addressed to Kirin from Ryou’s mom; Kirin’s stealth crawl to a private place to read it is pretty dang cute, and the “top secret” label on the envelope, along with Ryou’s mom’s standing offer to provide both girls with bodyguards, helps fuel Kirin’s intense curiosity.

Ryou doesn’t help by calling her parents “two of the most important people in the world.” Still, the fact their true occupations remain secrets is a fun little running gag. At the end of the day, whatever they do, they made a good daughter.

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In part two the exams are even closer, and Ryou and Kiri visit a shrine to pray for good luck and success. Then Shiina drops a bomb: she already got accepted into the same high school they’re trying to get into. On the one hand, both I and they are relieved they’ll remain together. But Kirin in particular feels miffed that Shiina was so secretive about it.

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More to the point, the fact Shiina has already achieved what Ryou and Kirin have yet to gives her an almost godlike status in their eyes, but when she says an exam is a solitary battle, and one has to rely on oneself and not others or gods, the blinding light of her wisdom is powerful to behold…but Kirin isn’t so sure Shiina’s 100% right about that.

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Case in point, when Shiina opens up a huge case of beautiful-looking pork cutlet sandwiches—resembling a suitcase full of money, only tastier—and everyone digs in to the deliciousness, they react in the usual way, but with a cut to Tsuyuko infusing the sandwiches with plenty good luck aura, proving Kirin was correct: Shiina did have help during exams, because every time she took a bite into the sandwiches, she remembered the person who made them, and felt less lonely in her task.

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Shiina decides to pay it forward by learning how to make the good luck sandwiches and providing them to Ryou and Kirin for lunch as they head to their exams, showing that while she can be cold and stoic under certain circumstances, there’s still a sweet, caring person within who asserts herself in the clutch. I’ll admit I missed Uchiki Yuki this week, but in return we got lots of awesome Shiina, so I can’t complain.

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Koufuku Graffiti – 10

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We were a little confused at first by the new face of Uchiki Yuki (Iguchi Yuka; or Index to Ryou’s Railgun), but this was a beautiful episode about anxiety, loneliness, and the power of pizza to tackle both.

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With Winter in its last throes but Spring yet to bloom (much like the weather where I am), Kirin is worried about a lot of things, from getting into high school to making friends there, to the state of the country’s crops and the effect of environmental damage on the earth.

After a horror movie doesn’t help Kirin’s mood, Ryou remembers she left the futons out on the balcony, and that’s when the two of them hear a depressing phone conversation from Ryou’s shy, sad, lonely neighbor directly below them.

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When one of Ryou’s futons slips off the balcony, it takes Kirin with it, which turns out to be a fateful incident. Ryou was ready to stop eavesdropping and go inside, but Kirin’s spill means they have no choice but to interact with Yuki, and vice-versa.

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Because we’re dealing with three uncommonly nice people, the earnest apologies fly where insults might infect the interactions of lesser humans. Ryou and Kirin both notice Yuki gets so stuck in her thoughts she creates and reacts outwardly to entire narratives she cooks up in there.

Kirin sees the same anxiety in Yuki that she herself is feeling, and that anxiety, while negative on its own, becomes a positive because it brings these two together. It also shows Yuki that if someone as bright and spunky as Kirin can feel the same things she can, she suddenly doesn’t feel so alone.

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A ring at the doorbell comes; it’s a pizza delivery girl. And boy, this might just be the tastiest pizza I have ever seen animated. In fact, it is. But while she obviously doesn’t skimp when it comes to quality, there’s still a pointed sadness to Yuki’s practicality: the pizza’s toppings are split four ways so she won’t get sick of it even if she eats it for all three meals—which she’s been doing for three weeks.

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Yuki offers the pizza to Ryou and Kirin for their trouble, but Ryou has a far better idea—an idea borne out of her experience sharing food with others, something she’s still rather new to herself: she invites Yuki upstairs so they can eat the pizza together.

As if the pizza wasn’t tasty-looking enough, Ryou and Kirin sweeten the deal with their usual poetic, over-the-top reactions to enjoying food, a display that Yuki finds both intriguing and uplifting.

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Ryou insists Yuki have a slice herself, assuring her it will taste better if she eats with them. Yuki gives in, and sure enough, she has the same kind of experience we’ve come to expect from Ryou, Kirin, and Shiina. In fact, eating the pizza with them brings out a whole other side of her personality. She doesn’t hold her tongue when it comes to describing the deliciousness.

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The unexpectedly joyful evening, along with Ryou and Kirin’s invitation for home-cooked meal in the future, infuses Yuki with a fresh courage and outlook on her situation, which she uses to bravely face an orientation the next day.

Meanwhile, Ryou learned that a very nice person lives close by whom she should hang out more with, and Kirin learned that as long as she has as a full stomach, she too can face whatever the future brings.

As for me, in all honesty I would have ordered a fancy pizza from a gourmet pizzeria nearby, but it’s St. Patrick’s Day and I’ve corned beef on the stove. Oh well; there’s always tomorrow!

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Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – 12 (Fin)

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I’m not shy about my love for shows that are efficient enough to wrap everything up with an entire episode to spare, but this final DnH reminded me that yes, a show can wait until the last episode ever and still finish things in a satisfying manner without feeling rushed or overstuffed.

lot goes on this week, but it’s well-organized and well-paced. Virtually no time is wasted, and what idle time it does have it uses on nice character beats, which are also curtain calls here in the finale.

We start with Minafes(t), which we learn immediately turned out to be a great success with a huge turnout. Meanwhile, as karmic comeuppance for her attempts to poach Minafes patrons for her little symposium, Aoi’s auditorium is effectively deserted. Waah-waah…

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That idle time I mentioned above makes sense, because once Minafes is off and running, our club members are backstage spectators until their own performances. Kana and Senri spend it trying to cozy up to an unwitting, Kyoutarou before shooed off by Tamamo, who does the same exact thing.

It’s cute and true to all three characters, while also underlining that these three were always the more superficial of Kyou’s suitors, below Nagi and Tsugumi. Tsugumi, meanwhile, remains the only one of the club members who knows Kyou has become a Shepherd and will gradually disappear.

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Bitter over losing to Minafes, Aoi succumbs to pure mustache-twirling criminality, loosening the screws on the light assembly fated to fall upon Tsugumi. But she’s caught red-handed by the crack Shepherd team of Kyoutarou and Nagi, the latter of which makes good use of her strong legs and big breasts to subdue the perp.

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But while occupied with Aoi, the lights fall anyway, just as Tsugumi is below them. With just a moment to work with, Kyoutarou does the only thing he thinks he can to save her: use a book to transport himself, Nagi, Aoi, and the lights away. Tsugumi looks up at the now-empty catwalk, confused, but very alive. Success!

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Aoi ends up…somewhere else, and is so upset, she unleashes a vicious, incriminating tirade about how she just wants Kyou to disappear so she can create her perfect academy…and have President Mochizuki all to herself.

The camera stays close to her for the duration of the rant, but due both the lights above her and the reverb in her voice, I already knew she had been teleported onto the stage of her precious symposium!

What’s so deliciously awesome about this is that it not only punishes Aoi for all her misdeeds, but also ensures she won’t take any further action, since she’s now effectively confessed both to Mochizuki and a fair amount of the student body. The jig is up. Crime doesn’t pay, Aoi.

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With Tsugumi’s future saved and Aoi neutralized, it would seem our two young Shepherds are on a roll. But as they confer with their boss atop the school library, it’s clear they erred. Well, it’s clear they erred when they teleported onto a stage with dozens of people watching! They’re supposed to work in the shadows.

Kyou doesn’t care. He did what he felt he had to do to save Tsugumi, he doesn’t regret it, and he’d do it again. For those reasons, the boss laments that he’s not Shepherd material after all, even if Nagi is. The problem is, his book is already gone, so Shepherd or not, he’ll still disappear from everyone’s memories. Bummer.

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Tsugumi, neither as dumb as she looks or as weak as she says, knows what Kyou did for her and why. And even though she’s sad about losing him, she realizes The Show Must Go On. Compartmentalizing her pain, she takes the stage and delivers a hell of a speech about just how far her Happy Project went, thanks to teamwork, camaraderie, and love.

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She then passes the mic to Senri, who sings a beautiful but melancholy song that could serve as a lament for the loss of Kyou…who as it turns out got back in time to hear the speech and praise her for it.

He tells her his situation, but she assures him she won’t forget him, or let him go away, no matter what happened to his stupid book, and he draws her in for a big ‘ol hug. As it happens, his ex-boss re-makes his book for him, owning up to the fact he was wrong about Kyou being Shepherd material.

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Aoi formally apologizes, having been both chastened and moved by Tsugumi’s speech and under the forgiving Mochizuki’s guidance. The Happy Project gets its club room back (buh-bye, random guys!) and things return to normal. When Kyou comes home one day to find movers at Nagi’s old apartment, he looks a little sad, now that the newly-made Shepherd has moved on…

…But as it happens, Nagi is in his apartment, leaning on his bed watching the ‘tube as always. Turns out she was made Shepherd of Shiomi Academy, so she’s not going anywhere! Then Tsugumi and the rest of the club arrive at the door, and Nagi is eager to ‘make another scene’ to give them the wrong idea, and it’s medetashi medetashi.

But ‘Wait’, you might ask: ‘What about consequences?’ To which I’d respond: ‘lighten up!’ ita pleasant, charming rom-com that was always more about the threat of bad things happening and how to avoid them, not bad things actually happening. Besides, not being a Shepherd is a pretty big blow, and the fact Kyou still has to juggle six girls, and I’d say he still has challenges in store.

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Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – 11

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When first faced with their clubroom predicament, courtesy of the scheming Aoi (who thinks she’s doing the Shepherd’s good work), for a moment I wondered “Gee, why don’t they just use their superpowers to get rid of the excess members? Then I remembered this wasn’t InoBato. ;)

Kyoutarou also tells everyone to look on the bright side: the Happy Project is still alive and kicking and they’re all together, so who cares about a clubroom? This is true, but it’s also refreshing, as so many other club-focused anime make the loss of their venue seem like the end of the world.

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Kyoutarou tells Nagi about losing the room, but she either forgets, or specifically wants to hang off of Kyoutarou and ask him what he wants for dinner to torture Tsugumi, who does not like hearing the words “Nagi” and “last night” in the same sentence.

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When the StuCo (really Aoi) schedules a celebrity alumnai-fueld symposium on the same day as Minafest, and the club brainstorms their next move, Kyoutarou receives a vision of the future in which a stage light falls on Tsugumi’s head, apparently killing her. With that, everything concerning the club room, Minafest, or the harem situation falls by the wayside for Kyoutarou. All that matters is changing that future.

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Over a Nagi-prepared repast of pre-packages shumai, Kyoutarou tells Nagi he wants to become a Shepherd. Yes, even after everything Nagi did to get him to hook up with another girl. If he’s not a Shepherd, he doesn’t have the power to stop what will happen to Tsugumi. From his perspective, it’s better for her to forget him than for her to be dead. I can’t say I disagree with him. Set aside, for now, is the Shepherd Boss’ implication that between Kyou and Nagi only one can become a Shepherd.

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When the boss starts erasing Kyou’s book, Tsugumi, on the phone with Tamamo and talking about him, senses something is amiss when she can’t recall something she had deemed unforgettable. She races to Kyoutarou’s in the rain, where Nagi is conveniently absent that night, and tells him she doesn’t want to forget him, planting a big ol’ smooch on him.

After showering (from running in the rain), Kyoutarou tells her he has to do this, and she begs him to take her with him. He tells her everyone will forget her if he does and asks if she’s okay with that, and she turns the question back around on him. “It’s for the best,” says Kyou, not mentioning this is the only way to save her life. “I hate Shepherds,” Tsugumi says, crestfallen. “Especially Kakeis who have become Shepherds.”

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The next day Kyoutarou receives and urgent call from Kana telling him something’s wrong with Senri. He races to her house to find Senri dressed like a nurse and Kana dressed as a bunny, and they totally ambush him with their feminine wiles. He manages to fight them off and get an explanation, which is that Kana read on the internet that this was how you kept a guy from going away.

While yes, this scene was a bit excessive, it did reinforce what Kyoutarou will be giving up when he becomes a Shepherd. It also shows that while Senri and Kana can put on the charm, the two come on a bit too strong to be serious contenders for his heart. I appreciate the teamwork, though…as I’m sure a part of Kyou does.

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Back at school, Tamamo demands an explanation from Kyou, not for his recent visit to Senri’s, but for a newspaper article about him “selling his body” to the StuCo in exchange for making Minafest an official event. Kyou assures them it’s just another one of Aoi’s tricks. He’s not going anywhere…at least for now.

Senri visits Kyou on the roof (while Nagi stays out of sight), and tells him she’s decided to sing at Minafest, not for the sake of anyone but him and the other Happy Project members. Asking him if this was a future path he saw, he responds that she chose it all on her own. Senri makes him close his eyes again, but this time she kisses him…on the forehead.

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The rest of the club finds out about Senri singing, and the rumor spreads throughout the school, increasing interest in Minafest. Tsugumi and Senri even go on the school radio to promote it, and Senri takes the opportunity to ask Miyu to be her emcee, in an effort to repair their relationship (that Senri is going to perform heartens her pink-haired friend).

Aoi hears of these countermoves but isn’t concerned; she’s confident she’ll be proven right in her belief (fueeld by texts from her “shepherd”) that the library club shouldn’t exist. Meanwhile, it seems President Mochizuki may be on to her subordinate’s treachery.

Aoi may not even be totally wrong, though, as Kyoutarou can’t seem to find a path where Tsugumi won’t get killed at Minafest…even though finding one was precisely the catalyst that led him to become a Shepherd in the first place!

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Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – 10

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While last week was more of a battle between Kyoutarou and Nagi’s Shepherd philosophies regarding Senri’s path, this week focuses more on relationships — specifically, little sisters. Now that Kyoutarou remembers Nagi being his little sister (half-sister; his dad had many wives) who he once saved from pedophile house servants (!!!) Nagi decides she’s in a playful mood and commits to it, moving in with Kyoutarou, who doesn’t resist.

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While Kana is busy making sure Senri has as much fun as she can (read into that what you will), Kyoutarou pays for the privilege of having a busty and voluptuous house guest when Tsugumi makes an unannounced visit, and she comes right out (well, not right out) and asks him to be her boyfriend.

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Well, to pretend to be her boyfriend, at least, for when they visit her little sister Sayori. Even though she’s little and bedridden, Sayori struck me immediately as stronger, more assertive and honest with her feelings than her sister, and sees through the ploy instantly. She’s actually a pretty cool and mature sibling, not at all your typical unreasonable brat who gives her sister’s guy a hard time.

On the contrary, she’s grateful her ‘introverted’ sister has his and her friends’ support. You get the feeling Sayori would rather not be in the hospital so she can look after Tsugumi properly.

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As thanks for his service, Tsugumi wants to make Kyoutarou dinner, but since Nagi has moved in, he has to temporarily relocate her to his balcony while she does so, lest Tsugumi get the wrong idea. I’m not sure at this point what the right idea is, though. Why does Nagi want to play house so bad? Getting her kicks in before becoming a shepherd, I guess…but doesn’t constant proximity to him soften her resolve?

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In any case, the next day Tsugumi arrives with her discharged-for-the-day sister, again unannounced. This time Nagi won’t go quietly onto the balcony, and instead creates a sticky situation for Kyoutarou, who must explain more to Sayori than Tsugumi, what exactly is going on. Nagi doesn’t help matters by letting on that they’re up to more than they really are, and Kyoutarou’s sister excuse does seem flimsy, even if it’s technically the truth.

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Nagi may think this is all a big joke and everyone will forget her soon anyway, but Sayori isn’t laughing; she’s legitimately concerned for Tsugumi and wants straight answers. She gets so worked up she collapses. Rather than risk waiting for help, Kyoutarou begs Nagi to use her book-teleportation power to take Sayori to the hospital. Perhaps aware that this is kinda all her fault, Nagi obliges.

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Of course, this means Tsugumi has seen the power of the shepherds, and Kyoutarou tells her the rest, about how he’s in training. Their trip home is silent and awkward as you’d expect, and Kyoutarou figures Tsugumi would rather have nothing more to do with him, but in that he’s sorely mistaken: Tsugumi uses the opportunity to beg him not to go anywhere or be erased from her memories, and then confesses to him.

She walks it back a bit, but it’s out there, and it isn’t as if Kyoutarou isn’t receptive. In fact, could this have been Nagi’s plot all along; to get him and Tsugumi closer? Was she just pretending to be put out by Tsugumi’s visits?

Oh yeah, and the clubroom has been suddenly overrun by a bevy of manga-reading, formerly inactive guys, which is Takigawa’s doing. It appears the Veep won’t allow the club’s pseudo-Shepherd-like activities to continue. How will they fight back?

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Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – 09

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Who makes a better Shepherd: the one who would guide their sheep along a life path that makes the most of their latent talent, or along the path that would net the sheep the most happiness? The question begs asking, because in the case of the “Song Princess” Misono Senri, those two paths are divergent.

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Simply put, as good as she was, or is, or could be at singing, it just doesn’t make Senri happy anymore, which has led her to neglect her practicing. It hasn’t made her happy ever since she learned her best friend Serizawa would quit if Senri beat her. Senri took a dive, yet still won, and lost Serizawa anyway. Her talent hurt someone dear to her, and caused them to drift apart.

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So why keep singing, when it only gives her pain and reminds her of what she’s lost? If she does keep singing, who’s to say she won’t lose more friends to her talent? Nagi, as Shepherd-in-Training, takes the road of maximum talent cultivation at any cost: Senri must get back on track, or she’s doomed to become ‘just an ordinary student’.

Kyoutarou inserts himself in Nagi’s mission and ends up taking it over completely, taking the other road: the road of happiness. He does this not to one-up Nagi, but because he wants to help his friend. His answer is, if singing is painful, Stop. Enjoy life. Have fun with friends. Don’t worry about the labels others give you. Make your own mark. Do what you want, not what’s expected of you. He even suggests the same of Nagi herself.

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Meanwhile, what do we have here? Oh, just Vice Predient Tokigawa obsessively photographing President Mochizuki and photoshopping her face on Kyoutarou’s body for pleasure. She also seems to be in contact with ‘a’ Shepherd, though which one who can say. I can’t say there’s enough here to work with, so I’ll just move on. :)

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Back to Senri, who takes to Kyou’s advice like a fish to water. Who hasn’t reveled in waking up only to realize you can go back to bed? Such Luxury! Or helping her fellow library club members plan their upcoming festival event. Or goofing off with Kana, who assures her no one in the club will hate her for doing what she feels she needs to do to be happy, even if that’s quitting singing forever.

Tamamo initially takes a sterner position, saying she can’t abide people who waste their talents, but later confides to Kyoutarou (in a scene where she’s very physically close to him) that it was her jealousy speaking; she herself wanted to be an artist, but her family forbade it in favor of a path that would lead to more success, if not more happiness. So she doesn’t really begrudge so much as envy Senri’s situation.

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As the episode progresses, one cannot argue that Kyoutarou’s way has resulted in a much bubblier, happier Senri, who literally makes her mark on him by stamping his hand with a smiley face. When Serizawa confronts him about rumors the Song Princess has quit, Kyoutarou refers to the canary who lost its song.

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Then Nagi confronts Kyoutarou, warning him that he could be condemning that canary to a life of mediocrity. Kyoutarou, who is content to give Senri time to ‘find her song anew’, as it were, wonders why Nagi is in such a damn hurry to ‘fix’ Senri…

That’s when the environs darken and the Shepherd recruiter appears, telling Kyoutarou he’s passed the second exam and can become a Shepherd anytime he wants. They transport to the Grand Library, where the recruiter presents Kyou with Nagi’s book.

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Nagi, as we know, is in a hurry to cast away her past in order to become a Shepherd, but as Kyoutarou learns once he opens that book, that is prohibitively difficult as long as her past is right in front of her: Kyou was her “big brother,” which I assume is a term of endearment, rather than an indication they’re actually related.

This is not so much a huge shock for us considering Nagi’s behavior these past eight episodes, but it definitely puts her in a new light for Kyoutarou, who has the power, if he desires to use it, to ensure she lives a normal life, even if that’s not what she wants.

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Hanayamata – 05

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Hana and Naru stage an ambush on Yaya and get her to sign up for the Yosakoi Club, which along with Tami gives them not only the requisite four members to form the club, but also to enter the Hanairo Festival. Yaya only has designs on being a member in name only, but that stance weakens as the episode progresses.

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Hana takes the two new members to the Yosakoi shop for their narukos, then head to Yaya’s family’s restaurant for food. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s a really big deal for Tami, who’s never not gone straight home after school to hang out with friends. She even learns from her dad (suggesting maybe he’s not so bad after all) about another festival they can go see for inspiration.

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The first official Yosakoi Club trip thus arranged, they board a train and head into the city, along with their faculty adviser, Sari (or Sally, depending on the translation). Sari and Yaya give off distinct “what am I doing here” apathetic vibes on the outset. Tami tells Yaya how Naru convinced her it’s better to be with friends doing what she loves than being alone and maintaining a “good girl” facade.

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Yaya starts to get where Tami and the others are coming from and is impressed by Naru’s ability to inspire others. Naru impresses Hana too when the atmosphere of the place leads to an embarrassing but heartfelt monologue about what Yosakoi is all about: moving hearts by moving bodies; stoking happiness and fun by having it themselves.

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Unfortunately, we see precious little actual yosakoi dancing; a lot less than I expected considering all the build-up. That was enough to make this the first ep not worthy of an 8 in our books. Still once the club gets a look at another group their same age—one also started with just four members—that’s when Naru and the others really start to believe that yes, they, can do this.

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Hanayamata – 04

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Hannah has Zankyou no Terror (all nines thru three) and Preston has Akame ga Kill (all eights thru four), but it looks like Hanayamata is my rock—the show that has consistently performed a a high level in the first third of its run. That’s especially surprising considering the group we see dancing in the OP is still barely three-fifths complete as of this week’s episode.

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This week the focus shifts to Nishimikado Tami, somebody who is both Naru’s “big-sis” figure and the perfect princess from her fantasy tales, made flesh. Not surprisingly, Tami doesn’t have quite that high an opinion of herself, as she has always worked tirelessly to earn her rich, busy father’s praise and esteem, but not always gotten it.

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All that work includes delving into fields like tea, flower arranging, and piano, all of which are skills a proper Japanese lady supposedly needs to excel in, but in which she has less personal interest than say, ballet, which she had to quit to make time for the other things. Her friend (and the student council president) Machi is worried Tami is still stuck in “little girl” mode, placing far too much emphasis on pleasing Daddy, while neglecting her own passions and goals.

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Machi doesn’t dabble in any of the extracurriculars Tami does, as she’s putting much of her focus into attaining academic rather than cultural excellence. Then again, Machi doesn’t come from an old, rich, powerful family. Tami was raised to believe the Nishimikado name is something that must be lived up to. But at the end of the day, a life-sized doll in a kimono could accomplish the same task; that of being ignored when her father comes home.

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On the other hand, Naru declares “It has to be you,” meaning a doll won’t cut it. It may, but the complex is strong with Tami, and only the slightest hint of discouragement from her father is enough for her to reject Hana’s invitation to join the yosakoi club. It’s a reflex at this point in her life, but one that is almost immediately challenged by a lasting gloom and stinging in the chest that isn’t relieved until she crosses paths with Naru again.

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Having been given the little push she needed to move forward and try something new by Hana, it falls on Naru to do the pushing here, after recognizing the pain she’s in. Tami, in turn, comes around to the idea that she can’t go on deferring her happiness for daddy’s benefit. When she declares her intention to take up yosakoi, I’m certain her dad won’t be pleased, but that’s not her damn problem.

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Stray Observations:

  • Hana believes it’s the duty of every self-respecting Japanese student to eat their lunch on the school roof. I agree.
  • Tami shows off her ninja skillz as she sneaks up on Naru and Hana not once but twice.
  • She’s also still quite good at ballet, despite being out of practice.
  • Eating out and staying out late: mortal sins to Tamihime.
  • I kinda like the fact that I still have no frikkin’ clue how Machi is going to be brought into the fold.
  • MAL’s score of Hanayamata (7.19 as of this writing) feels really low to me. Not sure what they don’t like about it. (Too moe? What does moe even mean?)

Suisei no Gargantia – 11

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Commander Kugel orders Ensign Ledo to report to him immediately, and he obeys. At the same time, the fleet Kugel came with demands Pinion meet with them for negotiations. Kugel, confined to his cockpit, was able to take command of the fleet and has reordered society to maximize efficiency. Rukkage picks Pinion up, and after solving a aptitude puzzle, Kugel’s Machine Caliber, Striker, convinces him to combine his fleet with Kugel’s. Kugel’s acolytes immediately begin splitting up the Flange fleet boat by boat. Kugel unveils his next “awareness strategy” to Ledo: the target will be Gargantia.

“Maybe I never should have left my cockpit,” Ledo says, once Chamber and Striker calmly, cooly tell him how things will be going down now that Commander Kugel is in the picture. While Ledo left the cockpit, made friends, and developed a sympathy for the natives, Kugel has remained in his cockpit the whole time, whether because of his “endemic disease”, his desire to inspire awe in his followers with a shroud of mystery, or to maintain emotional distance from this world and its inhabitants. He believes mankind’s survival depends on him and Ledo teaching these humans how to defend themselves. That’s meant adopting a pseudo-religious cult of personality (since, with his technology, it’s not exactly hard), and fundamentally re-ordering the society of the fleet he’s taken command of to function like a military entity rather than a city or family.

There is no money, but intricate social gradation based upon individual skills. “Happiness” is rather laughably defined as “the realization of a circumstance in which the individual renders service to the entire group and the cost-benefit performance of that is at the greatest efficiency.” As a result, there are some in Kugel’s fleet who live well, and some who don’t get enough food, but it’s all deemed “fair.” The weak serve the strong and everyone’s eyes are on the same prize. Faced with Kugel, Pinion and Flange have no choice but to surrender, and things are starting to look very bad very quickly. When Ridget mentioned to Amy that Gargantia’s fleet will soon be passing close to Pinion’s, who could have guessed that’ll mean sailing straight into hell?

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Rukkage has taken a pragmatic approach, joining Kugel and escorting Pinion around. But she definitely has some kind of plan up her sleeves.
  • Just to twist the knife, the footage of Gargantia Kugel shows Ledo just happens to include an extended close-up of a happy Amy.
  • We know that Ledo already has second thoughts about returning to Kugel’s command…but we just don’t know how in the hell he’s going to stop Kugel from destroying Gargantia, especially with just two episodes left!
  • That awesome map up top lets count every ship in the Gargantia (>150), Pinion (~50), and Kugel (>150) fleets.