Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de – 08

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Whoa…now that was one roundabout, unexpected, novel way to propel the story forward! This was a very tricky episode that, at first, made me think the show was going to forget all about Hatoko in lieu of introducing an entirely new group of young people with superpowers, led by Hajime…which is exactly, what it did…at first. This was an episode that asked for our patience, and then rewarded it handsomely.

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First…Fallen Black, Hajime’s “gang”, is much like the literary club, only they’ve been on the front lines of a war for some time; a war between humans with superpowers, ostensibly fought for the enjoyment of…fairies. That’s right, fairies are responsible for giving everone powers.

That…well, was definitely unexpected, and more than a little ridiculous, but there it is. I’m willing to accept it, if only because it makes Hajime’s baffling phone call back when he had lunch with Jurai make perfect sense! Nice bit of continuity there, and demonstrate’s the show’s willingness to veer from a linear timeline when it’s called for.

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Ultimately it doesn’t really matter how these people got their powers or why. What matters is that Jurai and the others aren’t alone in possessing superpowers, and this episode greatly expands the show’s world. Those others with powers aren’t simply sitting on their hands worried about why they have them or what to do next; they’re using them in furtherance of this war against “F”.

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We also see Hajime in his element as Fallen Black’s leader, and there’s a lot of similarities between him and Jurai, including the fact his powers aren’t necessarily the most powerful, but he’s definitely the most charismatic and the others feed off of that. Just take Hajime’s second-in-command Hitomi (kind of a green-haired Tomoyo), who rushes into a situation without fully assessing things, and almost gets into big trouble with a feral urchin, when all she needed to be pacified was some candy!

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But what the heck does this have to do with Hajime and his cohorts suddenly accosting Hatoko last week, do you say? What evil plans did they have in store fore her? Well, that’s pretty cleverly weaved into this Fallen Black story, as the attack from the little girl actually does injure Hajime.

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Knowing that one of the members of the heretofore ‘unblooded’ (i.e., non-participants in the war) literature club, which he refers to as “Virgin Child” has a healing power, he asks Hitomi to use her power of hypnosis to let him avail himself of that power.

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Only…they get the wrong girl: Hatoko rather than Sayumi. That’s right, there was never any ill intent; that was all our conjecture. So yeah, these guys may have a few battles behind their belts, but they’re not perfect!

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What is perfect — maybe too perfect, verging on overly tidy, considering the weight of last week’s conflict — is how the Hatoko dilemma is resolved. As promised, Sayumi awakens the next stage of her power, interestingly enough starting by taking roll. With Hatoko missing, the club is not complete, so she uses Route of Origin, Ouroboros Circle to restore the club to wholeness, meaning Hatoko teleports back into the club room safe and sound.

Hatoko is woozy, but it’s not as if she forgot everything that happened. Still, she’s much like the Hatoko we’d known before that rant, which isn’t surprising since she’s the kind of person who suddenly blows up and then is all better again. Her frustration did boil over as a result of her feat that Jurai was being taken away from her.

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Tomoyo senses this and fesses up to having started writing light novels, and had been asking for Jurai’s advice. Not that that was all it was, but for the purposes of appeasing Hatoko and avoiding another incident like last week, she’s going to say that’s all it was!

Jurai also apologizes to Hatoko, who apologizes to Jurai, who apologizes back, etc., and voices his gratitiude for her always listening. As far as he’s concerned, she’s always ‘understood’ him, with ‘understanding’ in this case meaning more than just getting what his word salad means.

In any case, a lovely example is offered when Hatoko takes Jurai’s hand into hers and notes that it’s warm. Jurai has a very chuuni explanation for that warmth, but Hatoko corrects him/translates: it’s warm because he’s Ju-kun. Bawww.

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This episode started out in Bizarro-InoBato Land, in an entirely different time and place and people than the previous seven episodes, but gradually eased back into the show we knew. Of course, last week was also totally different in that it suddenly created what looked like a potentially very serious rift in the group and a new external threat.

Turns out the rift wasn’t that big of a deal and mostly repaired once everyone, you know, actually talked with one another openly and honestly. And while the ‘threat’ wasn’t quite that, Fallen Black’s actions led to Jurai and Hatoko making up.

All’s well that ends well, and this episode ends with the next stage of Jurai’s power awakening after exerting himself trying to open a bag of chips of all things. Sooo random.

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Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de – 07

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This week it’s Kushikawa Hatoko’s turn to be the focus, and her story is simple, and very sad: of all the girls in the lit club, she’s known Jurai the longest. As his childhood friend, she’s been by his side almost constantly. And yet, for all that closeness for all that time, she fears she understands “Ju-kun” the least.

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Now in high school and no longer kids, Hatoko is finding it harder to get her share of Ju-kun Time. She thinks she’s gotten just that, at least for a day,  when Jurai invites her to his house to cook for him and his sister. That’s right: despite her agreeing to cook for him, he won’t so much as walk home with her, so concerned is he about Tomoyo’s writer’s block. As he grows closer to Tomoyo, he drifts further from Hatoko…

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But as a couple of flashbacks indicate, as much as she’s been by Jurai’s side, she’s rarely been able to understand all the crazy things he says, or the weird literature he recommended. For years and years she laughed it off, pretending not to care about the lack of connection with him, but each time she did that she bottled up a little more stress.

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Jurai’s increasing attention to Tomoyo, combined with his own refusal to tell her what’s going on because “she wouldn’t understand”, increases that pressure to critical levels, and the sweet, kind, caring Hotoko simply…SNAPS, unleashing a free-wheeling three-minute-long tirade with no breaks about how she’s never understood a single thing he’s ever said to her, before storming out of his house in her slippers and apron, without her cell. I guess she just hit her limit.

Big kudos to her seiyu Hayami Saori for really belting it out; moreso, if she did it in a single take. This was a properly epic rant, and it was even a little meta, for those who may have been a little exhausted by this show’s intricate use of language.

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Jurai is…stunned. He had no idea Hatoko was anything other than nice and happy and stress-free, as bright and cheerful as the sun she cosplayed as a couple episodes back. He doesn’t even realize to the extent he’s ignored and devalued her lately, so immersed has he been with Tomoyo. A chance encounter with Sagami while he’s looking for her doesn’t help matters: he admits it’s always been tough for him and everyone else to watch him and Hatoko, so bad a fit they’ve always been.

Jurai gets depressed and falls down a hill, but Sayumi comes to heal him and help look for Hatoko, and Tomoyo comes too, giving him a slap in the face and telling Guiltia Sin Jurai to get it together, because she doesn’t like seeing him like this. She’s paying him back for helping her out of her light novel funk. I have to say, these two are coming along rather nicely.

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Speaking of chance encounters, Hatoko runs a very long way in those slippers and that apron, and comes upon Hajime of all people by the riverbank. She airs her troubles to him, and he gives her some very good advice, which calls back to his excellent discussion with Jurai about the inherent paradox of being a Chuunibyou. If you can’t understand it, don’t worry; you’re a necessary force in his life precisely for that reason, even if Jurai himself never thought of her that way.

Chuunibyous seek happiness like everyone else, and happiness is more than just love, but being chosen, which Hatoko wasn’t, which is why she’s so upset. But it’s only natural that she, the person who doesn’t understand him, would have an uphill battle against Tomoyo, the person who does.

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Sagami finishes up his lovely Chuuni explanation/pep talk by…oh yeah, knocking Hatoko out with some kind of superpower than calling all his conveniently close-by compatriots to gather round her.

Whoa. So…they all have powers too, right? You gotta hand it to this episode: it wasn’t satisfied with merely exploring Hatoko, but using the escalation of her drama as a catalyst to forward the overarching story, introducing a new force of people with powers…and unknown intentions.

Hatoko may not just need to be found and given a hug and an apology…she may need to be frigging rescued!

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Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de – 03

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InoBato isn’t just an above-average chuunibyou-infused random school club harem comedy, it’s an above-average chuunibyou-infused random school club harem that has found a way to weaponize its dialogue into a fearsome weapon of mass engrossment, education, and entertainment. It made me laugh, but it also made me think, and let me tell you, that’s a hard thing to get me to do on a Monday night!

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This was an episode split into several diverse scenarios, but the theme running through them all was the exploration and analysis of the language being used. Words that can mean one thing can mean something else entirely depending on who said or read them and who’s reading or listening. I know full well the interpretation of words isn’t infinite, but sometimes it can seem that way.

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Jurai starts by having to defend to his teacher the translating of English sentences on his test to Japanese using florid kanji just because “it’s cooler that way.” And the teacher can’t mark them incorrect, because they aren’t! Or take what happens when he and his anime-loving rival Sagami have a heated debate, and the teacher gets the total opposite idea of what they’re talking about!

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Wordplay aside, I really liked the brief exchange Jurai and Sagami had after the teacher kicked them out of the lounge. Here are, truth be told, two ladies’ men, but of very different kinds. Sagami gets love letters, meets girls after school, and receives confessions; he’s a bit of a romantic nomad. Jurai, meanwhile, is a nester, with a clubroom full of girls he shares a very close bond with, now that they all have powers.

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“Sounding cool” also applies to conversation as much as writing, as demonstrated as Jurai, in a serious tennis stance and a cool smirk, declares to Kohata “I’ll show you a terrifying nightmare! Just no overhand serves, okay? They’re too fast for me to return.” Back to writing: Sayumi tricked him into writing “Bloody Vivre” instead of “Bible” on his dark journal, which just happens to have been purchased at a Vivre store.

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When Jurai forgets his “Vivre” and tells the girls to go ahead without him, they have a little conversation of their own that wouldn’t have been possible if he’d been there: they each earnestly describe what Jurai has done for each of them to help them now that they have powers. Whether it’s telling Sayumi never to even consider bringing back the dead, or warning Chifuyu not to try to create life, Jurai has helped set boundaries that will protect their lives and sanity – serious business when they themselves don’t know those boundaries.

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On a smaller scale, years ago he changed Hatoko’s nickname from “Yakitori-chan” (since Kushikawa can translate to “skewer skin”) to something dorkier so other kids would be too embarrassed to tease her. The bottom line is, he’s done a lot for them, even if most of the time it looks like he’s just messing around.

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When Jurai, AKA Guiltia Sin Jurai, returns to school for his vivre, he bumps into someone I initially thought was him from the future, or from another dimension. Turns out it’s an alumnus by he name of Kiryuu Hajime, AKA Kiryuu Heldkaiser Luci First, and its immediately clear after a few minutes with this more verbose version of Date from SKET Dance that Jurai is in the presence of a Chuuni Pro, were such a profession possible. Even Jurai himself starts to look at himself as a dabbler by comparison, while Kiryuu seems to be Living the Dream! and on a quest to attain some kind of nirvana where your speech becomes nigh indecipherable.

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Oh, and he’s also Tomoyo’s runaway older half-brother, surprise! That aspect of who he is is revealed so masterfully; as he goes off on a very good rant about the essence of Chuunibyou as he sees it: the “unresolved paradox of self-denial and self-affirmation”, or Endless Paradox which as it turns out is a nickname he gave his sister Tomoyo. Before he splits, Kiryuu tells Tomoyo in as cool and forceful a manner as he can muster: “When you go home, tell our father this…’send living expenses for this month too.” Denial and affirmation indeed!

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That Tomoyo’s brother is a Chuuni, and an even more advanced one than Jurai, speaks volumes about Tomoyo herself and her relationship to Jurai. Before he’s “more than a friend”, he’s her friend, period, and something of a surrogate brother. She’s comfortable talking about her family life and what happened with Kiryuu, even though he gives her an out. And as close a bond of kinship as Jurai felt, and as many words as he said to him, not one was about his sister and the others having real powers.

But still, as Jurai says, Kiryuu really is incredible…

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…for casually leaving him with the entire bill.

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