Love Lab – 08

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When Riko hears that everyone calls her “Wild One” she starts emulating Maki, acting as cute and girly as possible. A member of the broadcasting club delivers two new questions to the council, asking if guys like “darker” or “chubbier” girls. The council suspects the questions were created by the newspaper association. They investigate and learn that a newspaper contest that only clubs can enter is coming up, so they want to be upgraded back to a full club.

When Riko and Maki confront Minami, planning to stall, she tells them she could publish love research in an underground newspaper, not asking for anything in return, confusing them. Sayori meets with her boyfriend after school, and Nana snaps a picture with which to blackmail her. A teacher catches them struggling in the hall and brings them to her office, where Sayo admits to having a boyfriend but denies the other council members know anything.

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First of all, we were disappointed by the use of blackface in a (strangely isolated) 45-second sequence of an anime produced and taking place in the present day. Call it Japanese cultural differences if you must (though this definitely wasn’t ganguro – reference was made to a “soul sister”); if that crap ever appears again, we’ll be dropping the series on the spot; no third chances. For fuck’s sake, when we first heard “darker” girls; we thought they meant ganguro or even EMO girls; why didn’t they just riff on them, or another group not defined by race?

Those 45 seconds marred an otherwise good episode, in which the newspaper association (née club)’s apparent vendetta turns out to be more complicated than originally thought, and in which Mana threatens to expose Sayo’s illicit relationship and ends up actually exposing it, getting her into real trouble. Riko’s temporary turn as the comic (rather than the straght man as usual) was a hilarious change of pace, as was the increasing complex newspaper situation. Sayo also shows depth by not only accepting her estranged BF’s invitation, but by covering for her friends when she’s caught.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Riko finally finds a way of getting to Sayori: by acting sickeningly cute around her.
  • One subtle trick Riko uses in her efforts to look cuter: a longer skirt.
  • “Underarm ravines? That’s a new one…
  • We got a kick out of Maki trying to throw off Riko’s mimicry by striking one ridiculous pose after another; Riko keeps up well.
  • Eno is actually useful this week, finding out the newspaper’s motives from a particularly apathetic teacher.

Love Lab – 06

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While at the mall with Maki and Sayo, a boy who knew Riko approaches her. When Sayo wonders if Riko broke his heart, he blushes and runs off. She goes nuts trying to remember who he is. When a classmate tells her someone asked about her at cram school, Riko goes there and not only meets a second childhood friend, Jan, but the first guy as well, who doesn’t react well when she tells him she doesn’t remember him.

Back home she remembers him as Satoshi, whom she rejected in the third grade. The next day she goes back with Maki, who fails at trying to converse with Jan while Riko tries to smooth things over with Satoshi. Back at school, the council receives more requests for love advice, suggesting rumors they’re involved are spreading. When Riko and Maki’s guard is down, they let slip their involvement to Momo, a reporter for the school paper.

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This is an episode about complication. First, Riko, desperate to earn the lofty title of love master bestowed upon her by Maki and Suzu, is haunted by a guy whose heart she actually broke in the past, but can’t for the life of her remember. It isn’t until she’s up close and reads the same reaction she saw once years before that she starts to recall. And as it turns out, she couldn’t remember him for the same reason her mom gave, which pissed Riko off at the time: he’d gotten much manlier…as in he doesn’t look like a girl anymore (until he smiles, that is.)

It’s not just Riko’s love life getting more complicated. In the process of confronting Satoshi, Riko had to cut Maki loose with a guy, and while Maki has no earthly idea how to talk to a guy, Jan doesn’t make it easy with his aloof defensiveness (he thought Maki was making fun of him). But while she fails, she gained firsthand knowledge that some guys can be jerks. Romance aside, the complication that threatens Riko and Maki the most is the possibility their secret love advice ring will be brought out of the shadows, potentially ruining their reputations and the trust of the faculty, and thus ending their high school lives. Or…they could use the newspaper to anonymously publish their love advice…

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Rating:7 (Very Good)