Kaguya-sama: Love is War – 05 – An Alarming Lack of Coordination

We get a triad of segments this week, the first being a girl asking Kaguya for advice about breaking up with someone, specifically the guy Miyuki coached on how to ask her out in the first place! The resulting awkward silence that plagues their relationship is a matter of having gotten together before getting to know each other.

“Love Detective” Chika intervenes, protesting her initial exclusion from the girl talk, and administers a test that proves that both the girl likes the guy and that Kaguya likes Miyuki. Kaguya has to take great strides not to reveal too much about that, and tries to steer towards the couple thriving by having a “common enemy.”

Chika takes that a bit too far and calls their enemy society itself, but the couple’s shared enemy turns out to be hunger and/or poverty, so they manage to hit it off while working together on a charity. As Kaguya surveys her good works, she notices Miyuki is there helping out too…another of the many reasons she likes him besides having a cute resting scowl. She can’t help but admit her feelings to herself and us, so she loses this one.

In segment two we learn that for all his academic prowess and general physical strength and wellness, Miyuki is pathetically, horrifically uncoordinated when it comes to sports. With P.E. volleyball quickly approaching, he tries and fails to train alone, until Chika (who is really just okay at sports, but light years beyond him at this point) takes him under her wing.

Chika doesn’t see why Miyuki is so into this until she realizes he’s doing it to impress (some) girl. Cut to a montage of Miyuki making progress as Chika yells and encourages and sweats right alongside. Just when she think’s she’s made a great volleyball player, he asks her to help him with the actions of the sport other than mere serving. She’s a mess by the time P.E. volleyball comes around, but Miyuki is the toast of the class thanks to her, so she shares his victory.

The final segment is Love is War’s version of the shared umbrella scenario (SUS, not to be confused with the Subaru Sport Utility Sedan). Sharing an umbrella has a twofold purpose: to get a lot closer to the one you like, and to mark that person so everyone else knows they’re yours. Of course, Kaguya and Miyuki have to make it another battle of wills despite both wanting very much to share an umbrella, but they sabotage each other’s plans by both pretending they forgot their umbrella.

Miyuki tries first to poke oles in Miyuki’s lie first, but has insufficient information. Kaguya actually meticulously planned all of this by studying the weather and slashing the tires of her ride. Just when she has Miyuki cornered, all but forcing him to reveal he has an umbrella, Chika pops up behind her with a spare she can borrow. With Kaguya now in possession of an umbrella, she decides to “sublet” it to Miyuki, letting him “do what he wants” with it.

The fact she offered it to him so freely exposes her conern for him, and would make her the loser. But Kaguya also freely exposes her desire to share the umbrella, changing the result to a tie. Kaguya’s smile upon Miyuki offering to share was simply priceless. Both lost by their own twisted, self-defeating logic, but both won because they got what they actually wanted: an excuse to get closer.

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Watashi ga Motete Dousunda – 09

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It’s a beach episode, folks, with a lot of familiar elements from that subgenre, including vertical pan up to unveil the ladies’ swimsuits. Shiny! It’s also a rare Shinomiya-centered episode, in which most of the inner dialogue comes from him as he struggles to impress Kae, and makes mess after mess of trying.

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From accidentally launching himself into her boobs on the beach to having to hide behind his bigger friends as they scare off some creeps, Shino’s feeling particularly inadequate this week. When he knocks her down trying to save her from a snake, causing her to drop all her kebabs on the ground, it’s the last straw, and he runs off in tears.

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Concerned for Shinomiya’s well-being, the gang chases after him, but he manages to get way far ahead of them for some reason, while Shina seems oddly un-knowledgeable about the environs of her family’s beach manse. The gag with the bridge that breaks but the gang (sans Kae) only “plummets” a little is funny enough, until you wonder how that fall (which is at least ten feet) didn’t hurt anyone. They can’t blame mushrooms this week!

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Some odd choices about the journey to save Shino aside, I did enjoy how the two fujoshis embrace him for his “klutz appeal”, which ties into the themes of the show thus far. But it felt like someone jacked up Shino’s Klutziness and Anxiety Quotients to 11 for this and only this episode.

In trying to deepen the character, the show turned him into a outlandish caricature of himself. Of the episodes thus far that have centered on a single guy, Shino’s has been the worst. It wasn’t a bad episode, but I know Kiss Him Not Me can do better.

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Majimoji Rurumo – 03

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In Shibaki Kouta’s quest to reach ever higher stages of manhood, it’s been two rungs up the ladder and one rung down. A girl lives with him, but there’s nothing he can do about it because his mom thinks she’s his sister, and stands ready to gut him at the first sign of perversion.

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This week the trend continues when a girl finally joins the Occult Research Club, but things don’t turn out the way Kouta hoped. The girl in question, Kujirai Tanako, may be the best-looking first-year, but she’s a couple eps short of a cour, in anime reviewer’s parlance.

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In fact, this episode also came up a bit short in the compelling department, owing to the preponderance of side characters like Tanako—a tiresome fraud of a magician—and Kouta’s club pals, none of whom make much of an impression. I was also way ahead of Kouta in realizing Tanako was interested in the glasses guy, not him—though ironically the glasses guy seems more into Rurumo.

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The progressing Rurumo-Kouta dynamic this episode from mediocrity. It wasn’t so much Rurumo’s klutz clinic in her cafeteria job, tripping on nothing and breaking everything, but the fact that Kouta continues to grow as a human being now that there’s someone in his life he wants to support.

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Heck, Kouta was focused on a completely different girl most of this episode, but after that bubble inevitably burst, he confronted Rurumo about why she’s trying so hard. Her answer’s simple enough: she has to, as she’s always had to. She’s worried Kouta’s unswerving kindness will make her complacent, and so insists on “restricting herself.”

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Yamagishi Saki from One Week Friends was fully aware of her limitations and of the need for someone to lean and depend on. Presently Rurumo seems to be a person of similar limitations, only she’s fearful of depending on someone else. I’m not saying Kouta is the Ideal Man, but he’s the first person to be this kind to her—and she’s the first person he’s been this kind to.

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Both are dealing with a completely new kind of interaction; it’s natural to be weary or uncertain. But it’s already apparent that, despite his occasional flights of puerility, Kouta’s slowly becoming a better person with Rurumo in his life. No reason that door can’t swing both ways, as long as Rurumo doesn’t bar it.

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Sket Dance – 27

A new character arrives in the person of Remi Misora, a new teacher and former kid’s tv show host who calls herself “Onee-san”. At times she proves to be an extraordinarily careless klutz, leading the Sket-dan to seek out Chuu-san for a cure. However, while all of his potions change her personality, the underlying carelessness remains, after which he tells her to leave it be, as it’s whats makes her her. The second act deals with a found box of Switch’s random inventions, many terrifying, which end up saving the day and proving to Onee-san that the Sket-dan is capable of greatness.

Sket Dance turns in another solid, often hilarious outing, with a new opening by Gackt that’s much better than the last one, a new ending with nudity and chocolate, and in between, a new teacher who’s main strength is her passion. Indeed, she lends a great deal of energy to the show, and serves as an honorary fourth member of the Sket-dan all this week. We aren’t sure who voiced her (yet), but she does an excellent job both bringing the bright, bubbly Onee-san to life, and showing a wide range of personalities as she downs Chuu’s various potions (served in Sake bottles, making for two excellent bumper cards.)

With her character established, she takes a half-step back out of the spotlight, as this is primarily about Switch’s really wacked-out inventions, including a disembodied anime head that blows on hot ramen, a hyperrealistic baboon-head knapsack, hover shoes, a shoulder-dislocating cheer bazooka and neck-snapping homing goggles. Onee-san is quietly evaluating the Sket-dan with regards to their reputation as The Club that Helps, and it looks pretty bad, when all of a sudden all that random crap is put to practical use rescuing a kindergartener falling out the window. Ridiculous? Yes…but in the best way.


Rating: 3.5

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This week Saya continues to juggle her cute, klutzy, kind side at school with her ass-kickin’ superhero shrine chick persona by night. It continues to be a most intriguing juxtaposition of lives. The school scenes are as light and breezy as her battle scenes are dark, exciting, and genuinely scary at moments.

After all, her mother used to do what she does, and she died doing it. You can tell her doting pop hates putting her in harms way, but apparently there’s no way around it; only she can wield the sacred sword. This week she fought two; a humanoid demon and a giant evil plant. She won, but got more and more messed up.

Her extracurricular activities are leaving marks that questions will be asked about, and somehow I’m doubtful Saya’s not looking forward to talking to her friends about such things. So far, she’s fighting the elder bairns deep in the forest, isolated from civilization. But that could change, and with it her secrets may be revealed. Rating: 3.5

Blood-C 1 – First Impressions

I have never watched any of the Blood franchise before this new series by CLAMP and Production I.G., so I know nothing about it. But after watching a recently-released extra episode of Shiki (review pending), I was looking forward to another summer horror series to sink my teeth into. Little did I know that the horror came in the form of twin gingers who say everything at the same time!

No, I’m not talking about the Weasleys, and no, it wasn’t really any big deal. The twins in question are just classmates of the protagonist, a bespectacled girl named Saya Kisaragi. She’s kind, bubbly, easily distracted, a bit of a klutz, and not punctual. She sings to the beat of her footsteps, and is generally very upbeat. But she’s also extremely athletic and a shrine maiden. Her duty requires her to go out in the night and slay things; presumably evil things. It isn’t pretty, but she manages to get the job done. She leads a complicated life. I like ‘er!

I actually enjoyed the contrast between her sugary-sweet day life and the malice that lurks beneath – and that between the no-nonsense Slayer Saya and the full-of-nonsense School Saya. Obviously she can’t let others know about her duties; they might end up in danger, or at the very least think she has a screw loose. But I can’t help but expect her two worlds to come crashing together, and there will probably be some of that titular blood.

Her battle in a shallow lake with an “elder bairn” was really nicely orchestrated and was also built up very nicely, both by all the lightheartedness of the first half, and numerous long pauses of pregnant silence. These moments of unease come at perfect times. The stylized character design, with long legs and small heads, took a bit of getting used to, but its not nearly as strange as Shiki, which also grew on me gradually. Even though I’m a Blood newbie, this wasn’t hard to follow, and I’m looking forward to how it progresses. Rating: 3.5