Girl Friend BETA – 04

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GF Beta is a pleasant, ultra-lightweight show, but it’s also oddly ambitious; never more so than this week. Cutting us loose in a universe of roughly fourteen million characters, it appears to clearly favor quantity over quality. And yet, there’s still a quality about that quantity; with such a big, diverse cast, the possibilities for storytelling are almost endless. So far, despite pretty much switching up the order and hierarchy of the focus cast each week, its fresh stories have consistently held my interest.

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Our “anchor” this week is the school radio emcee Sakurai Akane (Satou Rina, who also voices Misaka in Railgun), who finds Shiranui Isuzu (Yuuki Aoi, also Madoka in Madoka) looking over five abandoned kittens. She decides to help Isuzu find them homes, but the students who volunteer need to get good midterm grades to earn their new pets. This is a collection of students whose lives are already packed with extracurricular activities, jobs, and housework; so their grades suffer accordingly. Only the night before do they manage to arrange an all-night study session; Isuzu offers her sprawling home to host it.

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That night, the girls do, well…pretty much everything but study. They’e in awe of their classy traditional surroundings, spend lots of time on introductions, cook dinner, go out to buy snacks, get stuck in the rain, go to a bath house, and return to Isuzu’s home to tell ghost stories.

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When Isuzu comes in to see what the screaming is about, they see the cat on her obi and are reminded of why they’re really there: For the Kittens. The studying then commences in earnest. The night is a fine depiction of the myriad forms of procrastination that can transpire in such scenarios. There’s an epic quality to it that often accompanies all-night scenes where a deadline is nigh.

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The study session proves to be more than just a means of raising the girls’ scores to win kittens (which they do); the group also gained friendships (including the shy Isuzu), and making friends (or exploring why people are friends) is what this show is all about. And everyone was united by Akane, who, wishing to help both the kittens and Isuzu, made the radio announcement.

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Majimoji Rurumo – 06

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Whoa there, MMR, why’d you have to go all serious on us? I have to say, I was not expecting a relatively straight-laced, happy ending-less pet drama, but I’m not going to say it wasn’t nicely done, while serving to further progress Kouta’s personal growth, as he learns firsthand how magic can’t solve everything.

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Every other street corner in Japan is populated by a box of abandoned kittens, and Kouta happens to find one. His desire for adult gravure magazines is trumped by his decency, as he places responsibility for the trio of fuzzballs on his own shoulders, and is committed to following through until they all get homes.

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In the process both Rurumo and Chiro marvel at the fact the cats neither speak English nor serve as familiars. When a reluctant Chiro is forced to look after them while Kouta’s at school, we learn how she was a stray with no pedigree that every other witch passed by until Rurumo, who wanted an “unpretentious” familiar.

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It’s a neat little indication that Rurumo and Kouta both have caring hearts, which is probably why Rurumo is drawn to Kouta. When the runt of the litter passes away, there’s nothing to be done but bury him, and the episode closes wordlessly with Rurumo standing beside a grieving Kouta. Yeah…I teared up a bit.

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Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 12 (Fin)

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Chu2Koi’s very enjoyable second season ends in understated fashion, with Rikka getting all bent out of shape at the prospect of “forming a higher contract” with the now-unleashed Dark Flame Dragon. Put your perverted thoughts away, it’s not that; she just wants to kiss Yuuta, on the lips this time.

We’ll get this out of the way (SPOILER ALERT to those who haven’t watched the episode): she is not successful in kissing Yuuta on the lips (the shot below is as close as they get). Ironically, she’s denied that action due to the product of her cat getting some: a phone call from Kuzuha announcing Chimera had kittens.

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In hindsight, those who orchestrated the under-bridge meetup where the fated kiss was to take place (the same bridge where they linked pinkies last season) probably should have made sure both Rikka and Yuuta’s frikkin’ phones were turned off, as they should know by now that roughly 78% of first kisses in anime are interrupted in this fashion. We will note that its sweet for Shinka, Satone, Kumin, and Sanae to work together to help Rikka with her problem once they learn what it is at the public bathhouse.

We’re sure many will boo the lack of a definite, lasting lip-on-lip smooch in this, the last episode of the second season, and possibly the last episode of any season (though we wouldn’t rule out other OVAs or films…or a third season.) We got kinda angry when Rikka recoiled not once but twice. In fact, we’d wager the show was counting on us getting our hopes up before telling us to back up for a second: this is Rikka and Yuuta we’re talking about. Overt physicality is not what they’re about, and never was.

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That’s just a natural part of any loving relationship that comes at different times for different people. We actually appreciate the show making it so very hard for Rikka to go through with the kiss. After all, once she passes that threshold, she’s going to inevitably think about what comes after, which will terrify her even more. Part of her uneasiness in this episode was returning to the feeling that even if Yuuta didn’t expect anything from, her, it was her duty to progress their contract. Add to that the fact she won Yuuta while Satone lost, so she’d better do something with him!

And lest we forget, were it not for the kitten call, they would have definitely kissed on the lips, as the sun set by the river. Before that, they exchanged very loving kisses on the cheek. They may be taking things slow by contemporary social standards, but they’ve actually made a ton of progress since last season’s pinky links. It’s a credit to the show that it makes their seemingly modest progress feel like a hard-won, significant achievement—not to mention driving home the point that they’re an exceedingly cute couple.

(Great)
Average Rating: 8.250
MyAnimeList Score: 7.71