Sakura Trick – 06

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A lot of sewing has to get done for the play the girls will be performing at the culture fest, so the group decides to spend the night at school working. Yuu only really agrees because Haruka will be there, but Shizuku also decides to stay because Kotone’s there. The rationale is, why go home and be alone when you can spend more quality time with the girl you love? It’s a no-brainer.

The second half jumps to the day of the festival itself (there’s no gratuitous sleepover hanky-panky scene), and like Yuu last week, Haruka is left out of the lurch and finds Mitsuki stealing her Yuu-time away. When she finally meets up with her, she’s hurt, but ultimately lets it go, as she appreciates that it’s Mitsuki’s last festival.

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Yuu rewards Yuu’s forgiveness on a secluded balcony where they kiss for the entire duration of a rock concert, and then…simply keep on kissing. Combined with their rolling around on the floor of the room where they shared their first kiss, the makeout quota is most assuredly met this week. Moreover, their matching hairstyles during this scene is another symbol of their steadily progressing love.

Additionally, Haruka’s hair crumbling Laputa-style was awesome, and the entire concert scene was nicely animated—both the band and the couple behind the curtain. Sakura Trick has proven nimble at balancing breezy, relaxing school slice-of-life with energetic yet convincing romance, and guided us through the dreaded “festival episode” with deft efficiency.


Rating: 6 (Good)

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Sakura Trick – 05

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We’ve already talked about how Sakura Trick isn’t interested in putting up barriers to its main couple’s happiness for the sake of drama, preferring to focus on all the small yet significant romantic ups and downs they experience daily. The greatest threat had been Mitsuki, but her spying is now motivated just as much by her own unwanted feelings for Haruka than out of any disapproval.

Conflicts between Haruka and Yuu are kept petty, but Yuu is still hurt when Haruka leaves her behind to go to a cafe that in real life would get sued by Starbucks. Again, the show keeps a nice balance between Haruka and Yuu; both have experienced fear of abandonment, even if in all those cases there’s no cause for concern. Yuu admits that she’s being selfish today, but with the belief that she deserves to be now and again. Haruka obviously doesn’t mind her clinginess in the least.

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Looking outside the main couple, Ikeno Kaede is being consistently portrayed as the trickster in Sakura Trick; and this week she exploits Mitsuki’s penchant for snooping on Haruka and Yuu by cornering her after the couple notices her (Kotone later says she’s seen Mitsuki snooping a lot, but had never brought it up). But when Mitsuki is around Haruka, she panics, culminating in her lying down to accept the kiss of the Prince in the Snow White skit practice, unaware it’s a speech-only play.

Haruka would have kissed her, too, had Yuu not performed an emergency headbutt. But while the Mitsuki/Yuu rivalry shows promise, it’s also interesting to note that the pair is growing progrssively bolder, with Yuu dropping her hood over her and Haruka so they can make out…in a room full of classmates. They seem to tacitly grasp the fact the universe seems to be rooting for them, and take full advantage of any and all fortuitous opportunities.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Sakura Trick – 04

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As it turns out, Yuu managed to convince Mitsuki that she tripped and fell on Haruka. If that sounds like a cop-out or delay of the inevitable, it helps to remember that this show does its best to avoid protracted conflicts or drama. Instead, it prefers to focus on the little “mini-dramas” that are always prevalent in loving relationships (regardless of gender) in which separation of feet can feel like miles, or hours of being apart can feel like days.

Haruka stresses out whenever Yuu gets near another girl, but Yuu is always there at the end to assure her there’s nothing to fear. We liked how Haruka admitted that she liked how she and Yuu were different heights, and how Yuu was briefly “taller” than her while sitting on her lap. It’s little details like that which prove the show isn’t simply interested in cheap yuri fanservice, but in fully and carefully illustrating why Haruka loves Yuu so much and vice versa.

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Of course, Yuu’s hasty trip excuse wasn’t all that effective, and ever since, Mitsuki has been suspicious and interrogatory,even conscripting Kaede and Yuzu to spy on them for her. Acknowledging that going behind their friends’ back is wrong, they observe the couple anyway, but they show a sort of unconscious loyalty by delivering a crap report back to Mitsuki. We may see Haruka and Yuu making out all the time, but they’ve typically been careful to do it in seclusion; their only slip-up involving Mitsuki’s walk-in. They also rely on a bit of luck, which is what happens when they’re invited out for fireworks by Kaede.

When Kaede is nowhere to be found and lots are drawn, Haruka thinks a test of courage is afoot, and it’s sweet to see her fantasy comes true when a frightened Yuu turns to her for relief. Of course, the one inadvertently scaring Yuu turns out to be Mitsuki, who was trying to spy on them again but got caught up in the innate creepiness of her dark arboreal surroundings. It’s here when Haruka offers a supportive hand to her, and she realizes Haruka is actually a very kind, caring, person. So much so, in fact, that Mitsuki seems to be involuntarily developing a crush on her.

7_very_goodRating: 7 (Very Good)

Sakura Trick – 03

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In case anyone forgot, this isn’t just a show about the progression of yuri couples, but about a dying school, and the latter provides an opportunity for Haruka to show her love for Yuu. She doesn’t just want to kiss her; she wants to make her happy, even if it means going out of her element. So she joins the school committee and lobbies to have Yuu’s beloved cheerleading reinstated for the Sports Fest. She takes the opportunity when presented; spurred on and inspired by Kotone, who also fought (and won) to live with Shizuku.

Fulfilling Yuu’s wish means going toe to toe with the President, who just happens to be Yuu’s sister Mitsuki. Haruka has never met Mitsuki despite many close calls, who can’t even place a face on her, settling on a penny loafer. But Mitsuki not only meets Haruka this week, but learns that she and Yuu are far closer than she could have imagined. When Yuu learns what Haruka did for her, she rewards her with a make-out session on the floor of her room. Mitsuki walks in on them, but then the A-part simply ends with her surprised reaction.

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As the B-part progresses, Mitsuki is clearly suspicious of the two, but there’s no indication she took a stand on the incident one way or another. Perhaps she meekly slunk away, closing the door she had so briskly opened? In any case, it’s clear she’s not so strict a big sister that she’d put an immediate kibosh on the lovebirds. Haruka gets bolder in the B-part, sewing declarations of her love for Yuu on her and Yuu’s swimsuits. They get some private time in the old pool supply room (another opportunity borne from the dying school) We half-expected Mitsuki to walk in on them in there, but she merely finds the incriminating needlework.

Mitsuki may not be fully aware of the extent of her sister’s relationship with Haruka, and so she may not yet have a concrete position on the matter, but it’s clear enough to us that with each episode the two seem to grow closer. Their friends have long since accepted them as an item (two of which being an item themselves). At the moment, it appears Sakura Trick is more interested in exploring the couple’s love rather than putting obstacles in their path or forcing drama for drama’s sake—something we’re on board with. Introducing Mitsuki was the first, best obstacle so far, but she didn’t get in their way this week, even when she caught them, well, not exactly in flagrante delicto, but certainly not merely combing their hair, either!

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Sakura Trick – 02

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The show’s two-parter format continues this week, as the first half centers not on the established item that is Haruka and Yuu, but on Kotone and Shizuku. The first bump in their relationship is bourne out of a simple misunderstanding; Kotone comments that she likes staying at Shizuku’s house because it’s close to school and her mom is nice.

Shizuku takes this to mean Kotone doesn’t really care about her, but once Shizuku makes Kotone aware of this concern, it doesn’t take Kotone long to clear things up: she likes staying at Shizuku’s place primarily because Shizuku is there. It’s a fairly simplistic little dilemma that’s easily mended, but it’s good to see the show is confident it can handle more than one relationship at the same time.

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The second half returned the focus to Haruka and Yuu, who as we know have been into each other from the start. However, they’re very different people: Yuu is more confident and assertive, while Haruka wears her heart on her sleeve and is constantly getting stuck in her head, but also happens to be more academically gifted. As she notes, this isn’t middle school anymore, and if Yuu isn’t careful she could fail her classes and be held back.

While Haruka considers the benefits of an underclassman Yuu addressing her “oneesama”, the fact is, because their school is closing, she’d be expelled and forced to attend another school at the lower grade. The prospect of being torn apart by Yuu’s bad grades compels Haruka to take drastic but ultimately clever measures: using kisses as positive reinforcement while tutoring her. So when Yuu passes her exams, it further validates their relationship as not only something that makes them happy, but also keeps Yuu on track to a bright future, which is more easily attainable when you’re not held back.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Sakura Trick – 01

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First off, what we have here is a silly school romance comedy that’s far better-looking than you’d expect, like Love Lab last Summer. A typical shortcut is employed (not coloring in the extras), but we liked the clever use of symbols to preface actions and lines by characters, be it Yuu’s flower, Haruka’s ribbon, or Yuzu’s…a yuzu for Yuzu. That frees up animation resources for when they counted the most, like when Yuu and Haruka are in close physical contact, which is surprisingly often.

Any hopes of this being a subtle Yuri show along the lines of Aoi Hana or Sasameki Koto surviving past the cold open were were promptly, cruelly defenestrated by the off-putting OP, which was a bit too exhibitionist for our taste. But once that was over, things settled down nicely. There’s no trick to Sakura Trick; it never comes close to anything resembling drama or peril. It’s just a pleasant slice-of-life about two girls starting high school who are Pre-Into each other. Their exploits probably wouldn’t be too scandalous except in more conservative high schools. We’re not sure whether this is one such school, but it can’t hurt to not get caught regardless!

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The episode is split into two stories (a la Kill Me Baby, mais contrairement Kimi ni Todoke). The big event of the A-part—Yuu and Haruka’s first kiss—informs those of the B-part: Haruka is worried Yuu forgot about it, but is ultimately proven otherwise. Yuu (Iguchi Yuka) is the shorter, peppier, more naturally popular one while Haruka (Tomatsu Haruka. Haruka Matata!) is the taller, bustier, clingier, more jealosy-prone one. And even though the A-part is mostly from Haruka’s POV, there’s a good overall balance to their interactions and banter. They work as a couple.

We enjoyed how a big reason Yuu and Haruka got to be alone so early and often was essentially because their school is failing, because there aren’t enough kids to justify keeping it open another year. That means there was a vacant, lightly-guarded classroom to retreat to. They eventually end up in a spot of playful danger when teachers notice the door ajar and lock them in, but Haruka’s initial clumsiness is neutralized by Yuu’s surprising strength and athleticism. Hey, we’re talking about them jumping between verandas—get your minds out of the sewer! On that note, we’re pleased to report that there wasn’t a single panty-shot in the whole installment, which is…kind of amazing.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Coppelion – 01

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90% of Tokyo has been reduced to the “world’s largest ghost town” by the fallout from a nuclear disaster. The Self Defense forces send three girls – Naruse Ibara, Fukasaku Aoi, and Nomura Taeko – into the city to respond to SOS calls. Immune to the radiation, the girls travel without protection suits or masks. They find a severely irradiated person in a riverbed, who is airlifted out by the girl’s superior, Vice Principal Mashima. The girls continue on in search of others, and end up encountering wolves.

“People don’t belong here anymore!” cries Aoi, who had been reticent about their mission from the beginning. And as we watched the three otherwise normal-looking high school girls walking casually through the deserted streets of a Tokyo returned to nature and off limits to those with ordinary DNA, we couldn’t argue with her. The ruined city is gorgeous and tranquil, but it’s also foreboding, and profoundly sad; as one of the greatest cities ever constructed reduced to a husk, and only a privileged (by their genetic makeup) few are able to enter. Many have compared the harnessing of the atom to the power of the gods, as there are few human achievements that can match it in terms of the risk of destruction. We take a risk by using it, and in the case of this series, a heavy price was exacted; Tokyo itself.

This first episode starts during girls’ first foray, but doesn’t try to do too much, letting us gain our bearings and gradually take in its world. Those who watched K will recognize the bold character design and immensely rich background detail. Character-wise we have the tough maverick (Ibara), the exuberant foodie (Aoi) and the animal lover/whisperer (Taeko). Tomatsu Haruka gives Ibara a strong leader’s voice, but we were a little disappointed and irritated by Hanazawa Kana chose for Aoi, it can be a bit shrill and she says a lot of useless stuff. We don’t know Taeko’s seiyu but she had a nice gentle, nurturing voice. Vice Principal Mishima is your typical straight-laced military man, who is the episode’s spokesman regarding how things ended up like this. Accompanying his exposition was his flyover of an eerily beautiful Odaiba, the epicenter of the “accident.”

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • We’re digging the premise, the setting, and the production values, so we’re definitely continue with this. But K had an impressively gorgeous beginning too, but its story couldn’t quite keep up. Here’s hoping that’s not the case here.
  • When that dog first appeared we were apprehensive, as it sure looked a lot like a wolf to us. The girls may be immune to radiation, but not fangs…
  • One of Aoi’s few salient points: why don’t the girls have access to a car, or more precisely, a truck of some kind? Is this their minders’ way of keeping them in shape?
  • No doubt the series will explore how the girls see themselves: heroes with their own will, or tools/puppets by reason of their DNA?

Morita-san wa Mukuchi OVA

This OVA is kind of a preview of an upcoming series of the same name airing this Summer. The formula is quite simple: this is a high school slice-of-life comedy with a quartet of girls at its core, one of which seemingly never says anything at all. Interesting, this very ‘taciturn’ character, the titular Mayu Morita, is voiced by Kana Hanazawa, who also voiced a similarly silent though more bookish character in The World God Only Knows. Obviously, everything she says is in Mayu’s head, not aloud. I don’t think she utters a single word to another character.

There’s nothing tremendously deep here, just nice, charming, lightweight slice-of-life. This OVA, and the forthcoming series, is almost a challenge to see how little a heroine can say and still be a functioning character. So far, so good; Mayu’s friends all seem to see something likable about her that’s beyond words (obvious, since she has none)…though as Mayu’s eyes are drawn very blankly (in Bleach this would mean she’s possessed, or an evil clone), so while in deep thought she can appear a little creepy. What I find refreshing is that Mayu isn’t shy or socially inept; she just takes too long to speak, and thus always misses her opportunity to do so.

One of the reasons I gave this a try is that Kana Hanazawa is one of my favorite seiyus,and even though she’s basically playing to type here (unlike, say, her Kuroneko in Oreimo), that type is tried-and-true earnest/cute/reflective. Saori Hayami (Eden of the East, Oreimo) and Haruka Tomatsu (Shiki, AnoHana) provide the voices of friends Chihiro and Miki. It’ll take a couple more episodes to fully tell their personalities apart, but basically, they talk a lot more than she does, but each have their own quirks too.

The supporting cast, including Yamamoto, who is irritated by Mayu’s silence; Mayu’s pink-haired admirer/stalker; and two male students who are always observing and commenting on the many affectionate embraces Mayu’s friends put her in, all add flavor to a an already colorful cast. The pace is a little leisurely, but that’s okay. Odder is the source of Mayu’s silence – her domineering mother, who warns both Mayu (and Mayu’s father) to never open their mouth unless they know exactly what to say, to avoid misunderstandings. Unfortunatly for Mayu, she never knows what to say – which can also cause misunderstandings.
Rating: 3.5