Watashi ga Motete Dousunda – 02

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After just two weeks, Kiss Him Not Me is shaping up to be my top Fall comedy (Euphonium is my top drama), as it manages to pack so much fun in its episodes. This week efficiently covers the sports underdog and study group scenarios with vigorous aplomb and a unique, contagiously feisty energy.

The members of Kae’s ‘he-rem’ are already very well-defined: Igarashi (Iga) is the friendly athlete; Mutsumi (Mu) is the kind, mature senpai; Shinomiya (Shi) is the smitten kohai; and Nanashima (Nana) is, well, so I liken him to the tsundere of the gang.

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I say this because of the four, Nana is least amenable to carrying around otaku tokens she gave them on their group date, and when she tries to translate her newfound ease of motion with a soccer gig, he’s the most skeptical. Mind you, he’s not far off base: As self-described “indoor person”, Kae soon finds out lighter isn’t stronger.

I’d also point out that for someone typically uncomfortable with anime, Nana picks up on Kae’s Captain Tsubasa reference about being friends with the ball, even getting combative about her arrogance (Tsubasa practiced 24/7). But when Nana hears the same girls who recruited Kae shitting on her disappointing showing in practice, he can’t help but rebuke them and help coach Kae up, a dedication that surprises the others.

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Everything is resolved with a big come-from-behind draw, (not win, mind you) when Kae decides to use her nigh-impossibly backwards kick to score the equalizer in extra time (managing not to hit herself in the face, showing improvement.)

While not a true victory, it demonstrated Kae’s dedication to trying hard at something totally new, as well as Nana’s willingness to prove Kae’s haters wrong and instill some soccer knowledge in a girl who suddenly makes his heart skip.

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With sports out of the way, the episode effortlessly moves on to exams. If Kae fails her next round, she’ll have to take summer classes, grenading her summer plans, all involving otaku events such as formally saying goodbye to her beloved Shion, who is as far as she’s concerned as real a person as any of the boys.

Studying is not Nana’s strength, and because first-year Shi studies at second-year level, the two are almost constantly at each other’s throats, getting the whole study group kicked out of all public venues. This leads Mu to suggest they all study at Kae’s house, requiring Kae to do a super-quick cleaning session (referring to her room as the “Sea of Rot”, perhaps referencing Nausicaa). 

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The otaku gags fly freely, from Kae’s Shion pillow and sheets and store cut-out, to the pristine shrine she keeps in her room. Kae’s mom embarrasses her by using a makeup gun, and Kae’s brother (who resembles the other main lead in Kae’s anime) tries to scare off the lads, but to no avail.

Even if they’re not to-a-man comfortable with her passion (like Mu), they are willing to keep open minds, and are rewarded by having a good time. Mu confidently mans the rudder of this stormy sea of otakuness, asking if everyone can pray at Shion shrine with her, pointedly asking Kae’s bro to beat it, and insisting everyone help Kae carefully pick up the BL stash that means so much to her. The result is, the study group works, and Kae avoids extra classes.

Her new challenge: Summer Vacation, already packed with otaku events, just got a lot more full, as her gang will surely want to supplement that stuff with their own preferred Summer activities, from going to the pool to exploring castles. Kiss Him Not Me offers an embarrassment of riches, and Kobayashi Yuu continues to do superb work voicing the multifaceted Kae.

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Watashi ga Motete Dousunda – 01 (First Impressions)

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The Gist: Serinuma Kae, a plus-sized fujoshi second-year high schooler, loves to pair off hot guys in her head. When her favorite anime character dies, she inadvertently loses a bunch of weight, becoming a stunning beauty who garners the persistent attention of four guys at her school. On a group date she tries intently to hide her “flaws”, but in the end they accept her for the otaku she is; as long as she’s happy, they’re happy.

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Why You Should Watch: While the Ugly Duckling trope is as old as time, WgMD (AKA Kiss Him, Not Me) freshens things up by making said duckling a closet otaku, then building a reverse harem around her, so quickly it makes her head spin.

And yet, as her friend Akane points out, Kae has always had a way with hot guys, even before she lose the weight, because while she can be privately creepy, she’s always been kind. She wants only what’s best for the guys, which she thinks is…each other.

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I enjoyed how peripheral the guys were; this is Kae’s show, and they’re in the dark for most of her inner conflicts and conversations with herself. Akane is a solid friend who suddenly finds herself no longer “the hot one” among them (though she already has a boyfriend, so it’s no biggie).

It’s also interesting to see how all four react to Kae compared to how they treated her when she was bigger. In particular, her senpai Mutsumi is the first to immediately recognize her post-transformation. He’d always been more attuned to Kae’s inner beauty and kindness.

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Why You Shouldn’t Watch: Stepping back a bit, Kae’s transformation strains credulity, and there don’t seem to be any consequences to, ya know, starving herself. While pre-weight loss Kae is treated relatively well by her peers there’s still the feeling she’s regarded by most as a lovable mascot-like figure. And while society is more or less works this way, it doesn’t exactly look great that these four guys only pursue Kae when she becomes slim and hot.

Those problems aside, this show could definitely just get repetitive, with Kae going through the romantic motions with guy after guy. We’ll see if she can have her otaku otome cake and eat it too. We’ll also see what will happen if (when?) she gains her weight back; after all, Shion can only die once (unless the show brings him back and kills him off again).

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Zane’s Verdict: WgMD takes what could have been a mess of trite gimmicks and executes a solid rom-com that’s more than the sum of its parts. Kobayashi Yuu excels at giving Kae a wide range of voices to suit her emotional state, and the guys differ enough in personality to provide some interesting dynamics down the road. It’s far from perfect, but it’s more than watchable, and for now I’m interested to see how things play out for Kae & Co.

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Space Dandy – 03

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This episode exhibited that sometimes there’s a definite method to the madness; that the chaos is very carefully constructed. Therefore, while a multitude of stuff flies past the screen in the course of an episode, a small, innocuous detail from the beginning could pay dividends in the end. There’s a great cat’s cradle of cause-and-effect that propels Dandy, QT and Meow on their adventures, who all end up partial contributors.

Let’s unravel that cradle:

  1. Dandy is having no luck with the alien hunting, getting desperate enough to try to pass Meow off in disguise.
  2. With no money, QT has to stretch pennies to feed the other two, purchasing 365 packages of space food that’s 10,000 years past its sell-by date.
  3. With no money or edible food, Dandy must whip out his Boobies card (also an effective distraction for Meow) It has enough stamps for a free meal, But it too expires in less than three hours.
  4. With no money, edible food, or time to waste, Dandy hits the “Warp” button. Then he gets impatient, and hits it way too many times (waiting for computers to do something can be a torturous ordeal; good to see this won’t change in th distant future.)
  5. Let’s not forget Meow’s role: last week, they spent all their money chasing the Phantom Ramen, with no alien to show for it.

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All of that leads to their adventure: crash-landing on an inhospitable planet littered with skeletons. There are two life-forms there: a swarm of vicious, disgusting-looking monsters, and a blonde hottie named Mamitas, who has also crash-landed. In a classic don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover scenario, the hottie turns out to be the more dangerous, all-devouring Deathgerian; so dangerous, in fact, that the second his men identify her, Dr. Gel turns turns his fleet around. (Her photo in his monster catalog, kneeling in a meadow, is priceless.)

Both the “ugly aliens are evil” and “the pretty lady is evil” are well-established conventions, but both so well executed here that we remained in the dark right up until Dr. Gel entered orbit, even though Mamitas just got finished saying “I’ll eat anything.” Her metamorphosis into a mammoth monster covered in boobs evoked shades of Cronenberg’s “body horror” oeuvre, both aesthetically and in the subtext of Dandy’s somewhat jejune view of women. It’s also just an awesome design in its own right, as is Dandy’s FLCL-inspired mecha “Hawaii Yankee.”

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Back to cause and effect: the fact Deathgerian wants to eat everything becomes it’s downfall, as she swallows a few boxes of the spoiled space food QT bought and gets sick. The monster turns out to be unique enough for Scarlett’s “OK” stamp and a reward of 99,000 Woolongs. All’s well that ends well…except for poor Meow.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)