Wakana decides to ask Sawa’s mother if she knew anything about how her mom wrote songs. Konatsu decides the club will put on a musical drama for the White Festival, but it will require a lot of money to produce it. At the Western shopping district association meeting, Shiho proposes they boost business by using “local superheroes” in costumes to bust moves and hand out flyers. She conscipts Sawa and the other club members for this purpose, and Wien gets serious about it. So serious, Tanaka asks why. All of Wien’s letters to his friend in Austria – who shared his love of the “Gambaraijers” – were sent back to him, but he still yearns to be a hero, and this is his shot. The club catches the Vice Principal when she’s distracted and troubled, and she grants them permission to work an after-school job to raise funds.
As soon as Shiho brought up superheroes at the shopowners’ meeting, we knew it was just a matter of time before the Choir and Sometimes Badminton club were being given Power Ranger costumes. We won’t waste time asking silly questions like “Why is Wien so obsessed with the simplistic idealism of the Power Rangers well into his high school years when he should be into girls?” or “Why does Wien have a seven-year-old pen pal?” Suffice it to say, this is his time to shine. He’s going to whip the club into world-saving shape so they can earn that 30,000 yen. Which brings us to another obvious possibility: that the musical drama the club will perform follow the same Power Ranger theme. Why not?
They already have the costumes, so they can spend more money on sets and props. We’ll see. The only snag may be Wakana, who is mired in a songwriter’s block that’s far worse than not having an idea for a song – she’s not even sure what a song is or what it is to write one, as she’s never done so. Her dad isn’t any help, but Shiho tells her to try to ask the mean ol’ Vice Principal, who as it turns out co-wrote that song with her mom. There’s a great moment when her cat lands on the piano, and the tune her paws play isn’t that bad for something totally random. Perhaps a superhero song is a good place to start: full of big, bold ideas and pure, unadulterated emotion.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
When Kaoru learns the gloves are indeed for him, he’s unsure about what it means. He asks Ritsuko why she made them for him and not Sentaro, frustrating him. When he takes ill, Ritsuko visits him, and finally snaps him out of it; as she’s leaving he races out to meet her and confess, but passes out before he can kiss her. Kaoru and Sentaro plan to perform at the school festival again, but when news comes that Sentaro’s father is returning, he takes off, sending Kaoru a note by pigeon.
And then there were two. With Yurika eloping with Jun and now Sentaro taking off for parts unknown, it’s just Kaoru and Ritsuko, which, at one point in the series, was all he ever wanted. And to his credit, he stands up (not an easy feat when you’re riddled with fever) and makes his feelings clear, after much hand-wringing and looking of gift horses in the mouth. It was thanks to him Ritsuko built up the confidence to knit him gloves as a symbol of her love; she makes it clear she may lose that confidence if he doesn’t cut the crap and exhibit some of his own, which he thankfully does in a very romantic scene that even impresses his aloof cousin. There’s no kiss, but he already stole one a while back, so we don’t feel cheated.
On to Sentaro: throughout the episode, he hides the pain of losing Yurika well, even letting two students take down Yurika’s painting he modeled for. But the moment we see the look on his face when he hears his father’s returning, we knew something would come up. The question is, will Kaoru blame himself for Sentaro leaving – for coming between him and Ritsuko, or will both he and Ritsuko be overcome by sadness and possibly even anger towards Sentaro for checking out so suddenly. If his dad is a problem, he should face it, not run away…but he runs away anyway.
Rating: 9 (Superior)
Kaoru attends a Christmas party with classmates but can only think about Sentaro and Ritsuko. When he runs into Ritsuko after, he inadvertently upsets her, and she throws his gloves out. At the music store, Sentaro apologizes to her for not knowing about her feelings, but doesn’t see her that way; she laughs it off. Deciding not to stay silent anymore, she returns to the trash can, and a passing Yurika helps her fish it out. Sentaro challenges Jun to one final rousing jam session before he leaves. Yurika is at the station to see him off, having run from her marraige meeting, and after a brief hesitation, Jun pulls her aboard the train to Tokyo.
As Christmas passes by and the year’s end nears, most everyone is at a crossroads. Kaoru contemplates distancing himself from the friends who he believes will pair off, and find new friends. Ritsuko, who’s developed feelings for Kaoru has to decide if she can accept his after rejecting him before. Yurika has dived into a relationship with Jun, be he’s leaving to join his college buddy at a publisher in Tokyo. Sentaro has to settle things with Jun, who he looked up to as a brother, and acknowledge (if not accept) Ritsuko feels; though he’s kind of late for that, as she’s moved on. That’s what keeps this love polygon interesting…the dynamics are constantly changing up.
This week, some people make some definite choices about which way they’re going to turn, which will dramatically affect the story that follows. Yurika, a model student, is now a runaway. Jun has crawled out of the gutter and is going to face his friend again and have another go at the “movement” (nice nod to the nuclear carrier USS Enterprise not exactly being universally welcome in Japanese ports at this time). A less life-impacting but still important decision is made by Ritsuko regarding being clear about who she likes. We just hope Kaoru doesn’t remain as dense as he was this week. He’s an otherwise sharp kid, and the gloves on his piano should be a dad giveaway. Earth to Kaoru: Ritsuko likes you. This is good. As is this show.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Shu is on a train with Hare when Yahiro leaps aboard, spilling drugs as he goes. Shu tells Hare he needs to talk to him. He learns that Yachiro and his terminally ill brother Jun had to flee the very facility he sold Shu out to get into. Shu vows to harbor them with Undertaker help, but he’s being surveilled by Major Segai, who corners them with snipers and endlaves. Shu promises to save Jun if Yahiro lets him draw out his void, but he fails and he himself is the one who kills him. Hare, meanwhile, had been following Shu all along.
When Shu sees Jun in the void world, in the setting of the day of Lost Christmas, he has a tough choice to make. Jun wants to die, and the void Shu has appropriated from Yahiro – the shears, are the means to do it. It isn’t just that Jun is tired; it’s that he wants to go out on his terms. His illness lets him see everyone’s dark side – including his bro’s. If he has to continue to see that, he’ll grow to hate him, and he doesn’t want to die hating his only brother. Jun forces a decision here: he makes use of his apocalypse cancer to possess an endlave, so it’s basically ‘kill me before I go mad and kill everyone’.
In the heat of the moment, Shu cuts Jun’s lifeline as requested. Shu, the kid who’s growing more and more confident and assertive (and educated in basic tactics), has killed his first human being. It was under highly supernatural circumstances, but he killed someone all the same. This is going to weigh on him, and perhaps eliminate all the progress he’s made with Undertaker. We’re really interested in seeing where this goes, along with how much Hare saw, and what she thinks of it all. What’s her void?