Domestic na Kanojo – 11 – There’s Always Someone Better

After lying and keeping secrets for so long, Natsuo finally tells Rui everything, from his long time love of Hina to his determination to be with her in the future. But just because it’s the truth doesn’t make the words sting any less. After sharing one last kiss and an evening of private sobbing, Rui is also determined to move on from Natsuo.

Of course, since it’s impossible for Rui to not handle such things in an odd way, she announces to Natsuo the next morning that she’s decided to “start disliking him.” I can’t say I blame her, as Natsuo has grown more selfish and insufferable with each passing week, but in her case it’s a defense mechanism. She’ll still treat him like family, but otherwise, she’s done.

At least Natsuo gets to talk to Rui; Rui freezes out Hina both on LINE and at school, where Natsuo and Hina misguidedly meet up once again to discuss it. The episode suddenly makes a hard right turn from the love triangle to…the “Natsuo Striving to be an Author” plot, when Rui wins an award instead of him (or Miu, for that matter).

This shakes Natsuo to his core, despite the fact, if he’s honest, he’s spent far more time lately being a horndog with Hina than he has crafting brilliant narratives. Still, he believes the solution is to go to Akari’s house announced and beg him to make him his apprentice. It’s not any more pleasant than Natsuo begging for sex.

His sensei turns him down in this case, because becoming his apprentice is not the way to go about becoming a good author; it takes actual struggle and hard work, not just connections. Natsuo takes this to mean writing one short story per week. Then, in another bit of whiplash, the episode makes another hard turn to School Beach Trip territory.

This means not only Rui and Miu and Momo in swimsuits, but Hina as well, and as she plays volleyball with the students, she looks more like a teacher than a student. Rui takes her aside to remark on the inappropriateness of her swimsuit, but Hina is so happy she’s not ignoring her anymore, that it leads to the two making up.

Rui isn’t interested in Hina breaking up with Natsuo if she still has real feelings for him; instead, she’s prepared to concede him to her and pursue other options. Honestly it’s probably a good move by Rui…if she can stick the landing. But Rui’s assurances don’t dissuade Hina from deciding to break up with Natsuo anyway, since it’s just not a tenable relationship.

It’s disappointing to see Hina’s position so callously overruled by Natsuo thanks to a cheap ring and a promise that he’ll make an honest woman of her for sure, even proposing marriage. Their two positions couldn’t be further apart, but there’s no compromise, Natsuo simply gets what he wants, again. 

While he may talk about caring about the future, it’s Hina who was looking out for both of them by suggesting they end things while they still can. Instead, they make out in front of an open window during a fireworks display, then have sex and apparently spend the night together.

These are not good decisions, as Hina learns on the first day back at school, when she’s summoned by the principal, who presents her a photo of her, and Natsuo, kissing by the open window, during the fireworks display.

She and Natsuo were so caught up in being together that they got sloppy, never stopping to think how others (who weren’t Rui) mind think and feel about them together. In the school’s case, it’s likely a fireable offense, and certainly a black mark on its reputation. Suffice it to say Hina is well and truly fucked.

Domestic na Kanojo – 10 – Cowardly Lion

This week’s cold open features Hina cooking for Natsuo at her place—or rather trying to cook while he paws her. They look cozy, comfortable; lived-in. It’s clear he’s been coming to her place a lot. Cut to what must mercifully be the shortest cultural festival I can remember (they usually take up 2-3 episodes in shows like this!) followed by the concerned lit club members paying Kiriya-sensei a visit.

Turns out Kiriya is not just a famous author, but one of Natsuo’s idols. He presents Natsuo with the opportunity to submit his work for an award that could get him on the fast track to a professional writing career. Later, Natsuo teases Miu about liking Kiriya, and she accidentally shoves him down some stairs, fracturing his leg.

Natsuo’s physical “crashing down” is a portent for another imminent and unavoidable collapse: that of his half-assed web of lies!

I was very cross with the whole Natsuo x Hina situation last week, but I’ve moved on to the acceptance phase: I like Rui better, but it doesn’t look like it’s in the cards for her, so better to move on and see where this goes. But just because I’ve moved on doesn’t mean Rui isn’t going to use Natsuo’s injury as an excuse to act as his nurse—a role she embraces with gusto, including washing him in the bath while nude (and accidentally mistaking his little Natsuo for a soap pump).

It’s when Rui mentions how much she’s missed Natsuo being “at Fumiya’s house” so often recently that we learn how he’s gotten away with his visits to her under Rui’s watchful gaze: He’s just lying to Rui, because he’s a coward. Just like the Cowardly Lion in the school play. When Rui tells Fumiya about Natsuo’s leg, he says he hasn’t been by in ages. When Natsuo is caught in a lie and confronted by Rui, he lies again, saying he was going to Momo’s.

But the next time Natsuo is at Hina’s, and things start to get hot and heavy despite the cast, there’s a ring at the door and it’s Rui. When she sees Natsuo on the floor, clearly having been up to no good with Hina moments before, her eyes well up with tears and she storms off into the rainy night. The mood ruined, Natsuo goes home. But Rui isn’t there.

After a long time looking for her on his wet, muddy cast, Natsuo finally finds her, and she has a slap in the face ready for him. Turns out she was awakened to the possibility of where Natsuo might be (if not Fumiya’s) when she read his novel (which is presumably an extremely fast read). It’s the semi-biographical story of a student falling for his teacher even though he had a girlfriend.

Only instead of a girlfriend, Natsuo has Rui, the first person he slept with. Only he was never in love with her, but with Hina. Just because Rui has developed strong feelings for him doesn’t change that fact. It’s just a shame she had to find out the way she did, and that Natsuo had to lie to her not once but twice. This was the the wake-up call he needed to stir up some of that “nerve” the Cowardly Lion yearned for…it just came too late to spare Rui.

Domestic na Kanojo – 09 – Cavalcade of Unpleasantness

Time to go on the record: I am not a fan of the Natsuo x Hina route. It made sense for Natsuo to be infatuated with his beautiful and kind teacher, and for those feelings to remain even after their parents married. But as for Hina returning those feelings? I’m just not buying it, and Natsuo isn’t doing himself any favors with his incessant brooding, whining, and stalker-ish behavior that blows past any and all decent boundaries.

He’s also apparently decided to utterly ignore and move past the fact Rui was coming to his room to make out, without considering why she may have been doing that. Rui is thankfully less concerned with Natsuo than with her big sister leaving the house right now, blaming her and Natsuo’s shenanigans for being the primary factor in her move.

A serendipitous encounter with Hina’s ex who we learn is underclassman of Kiriya-sensei (which…who cares?) properly apologizes to Rui (with a $45 parfait), and doubts Hina is moving because of Rui, but because she genuinely wants to strike out on her own. That night, Hina is surprised to find Rui in such distress, but her lap is there for Rui’s head, and she assures her she’ll visit home when she can. It’s a nice sisterly moment, but obviously fails to address the Natsuo-shaped rift between them.

It was disconcerting enough when Hina said her move would make “meeting” with Natsuo more convenient, but when she gives him a key to her new place, she’s truly playing with fire. As she’s been fond of saying, Natsuo is still a kid, which basically means he lacks experience, emotional maturity, and above all, self-control. Give a kid an inch, and they’ll take a mile.

Predictably, as soon as he is able (and after coldly rebuking Rui) he rushes his horny ass to the apartment she’s still moving into, lets himself in, then sits by her bed until she wakes up (she’s exhausted from unpacking). They make out a bit, but thank goodness Hina pumps the brakes, because Natsuo “isn’t sure he’d be able to stop himself” from going all the way. Ugh.

You can tell Hina is being torn apart by the opposing forces in her heart—she knows she should be a good adult, teacher, and older sister (and thinks she’s failing at all of those). For whatever reason, she loves Natsuo more than that, and wants him in a way normally impossible—and certainly problematic—for those other three roles. So she delays, telling Natsuo there’s no need to rush; they have all the time in the world to do…whatever it is they’re doing.

I must also go on record in voicing my extreme displeasure at the sudden and baffling introduction of Alex, perhaps the most annoying and cliched character of any of the shows I’m watching this Winter. Did the show forget about Natsuo’s actual best friend in whom both he and Rui confided and relied upon? Why are they wasting so much time with this…creature? Whatever they have planned for him can’t be good…unless they plan to shoot him out of a cannon!

That brings us to Natsuo’s worst moment of the episode, which is saying something: confronting Hina at school about how he felt she was being too distant towards him, at school. She takes his hand and leads him somewhere presumably more private, but it’s still a window-filled hallway, and the vice principal is not far away. She once again appeases him, and kisses him, I say again, AT SCHOOL.

Some words to the wise, Natsuo: Hina isn’t your property, and if you get her fired, she won’t be able to afford your lovenest. Shape the ef up my dude! And Hina: stop enabling the bastard!

Domestic na Kanojo – 08 – Keep It Together

Natsuo is bowled over by the Japanese American transfer student Alex, who is biking indoors, and the two end up apprehending an underwear thief who stole from Rui, among others. At the police station, Al sees Rui and immediately asks Natsuo (who calls her “a friend”) if he’ll set him up with her.

This, when Natsuo is still trying to figure out how he feels about Rui, who is affectionate when they make out but otherwise her usual stoic, hard-to-read self. While making dinner, Natsuo comes right out and asks Rui if she’d want to hang out with him and Alex. she sees right through his feeble ploy, and storms off, positively furious.

He visits her room later with a peace offering of yaki-udon and an apology, but Rui wants him to apologize by kissing her. The two are closing in on second base when Hina enters the unlocked, slightly open door and sees the two embracing.

After a long, agonizing pause, Hina flees to her room, and when Natsuo tries to explain, she tells him she’s not in the state of mind in that moment to believe anything he says. Instead, she declares that she needs to stop living there.

Rui visits Hina and explains that she initiated things, because she’s pretty sure she likes Natsuo. When Hina brings up the fact they’re family, Rui doesn’t see a huge issue, since there’s no blood relation. Nevertheless, Hina thinks their mother would be sad.

Al gives Natsuo the advice that nothing will ever be solved if nobody talks to each other plainly and honestly about how they feel, but the next day Hina announces she’s going to move out and live on her own. Her mom and stepdad buy her explanation, but Rui and Natsuo suspect they’re to blame (obviously).

The entire family goes to a night festival while Hina is still around, and Rui wonders if she and Natsuo should cool it with the kissing for the time being. Meanwhile, Natsuo can’t stop looking at Hina’s nape. When Hina loses her cell phone, Natsuo takes her by the hand and leads her to a private place where they can talk.

But Hina remains evasive, other than to say it’s necessary for her to move out for both their sakes. Natsuo’s attempts to force an honest conversation backfire badly, when he refuses to let go of a Hina who’s clearly had enough, and she bites his hand. The manager listens to Natsuo and holds Hina in place, noting how ugly she looks when she’s angry (his response when she says she’s always ugly is both brutal and hilarious).

The manager, one of the waiters, and her young son all join Natsuo and Hina in another secluded spot so the latter can cool down, but she’s tired of being the adult, and starts acting like a child. The son offers her a lollipop to cheer her up, and it largely works.

The manager, waitress and son depart, and Natsuo listens as Hina explains how it was just as much jealousy as shock when she say him with Rui. Rui has always been a free spirit, so Hina always felt she had to be the “normal” one who “kept it together”, not simply shooting from the hip like her little sister. She sacrificed her grasp on her identity, in part, to protect Rui’s.

Even though Hina rejected him, she did so because she felt she had no choice; as the adult in the room, she couldn’t give in to her feelings, no matter how real or strong they were. Hearing that his love isn’t unrequited after all is a revelation to Natsuo, who embraces her and asks nothing more than to be able to hold her like that and say that they love each other for that brief period of time.

As the family heads home together, while Rui isn’t turned around and looking, Natsuo and Hina hold hands. So it would seem that Natsuo is choosing a sister, based on his longstanding feelings for Hina. But just because he now knows those feelings aren’t one-sided doesn’t change the fact that Rui has fallen for him, and he’s going to have to address that every bit as earnestly as he and Hina addressed where they’re at. Because one thing is certain: Rui ain’t dating Alex!

Bloom Into You – 12 – Changing the Ending

Actors put draw from personal pain to express pain in their performances, but in light of what Ichigaya told her about her sister, the line between performance and real emotion is perilously thin. Sure, Touko blows everyone away with her line-reading, but they don’t know that almost all of those lines could be said about her!

Everyone, except for Yuu and Sayaka. But all throughout camp, just as Yuu’s affection for Touko seems to be growing, the combination of Touko’s promise to hold back and Sayaka assigning herself in charge of “looking after” Touko, you can see Yuu grow increasingly lonely and frustrated. Yuu knows that Touko wasn’t acting when talking about who the “real her” was.

After Sayaka dismisses Yuu’s concerns (and frankly doesn’t see the need to discuss it with a kohei at all), Yuu seizes an opportunity when she and Touko are alone and all but orders her to walk her home. She asks about Touko and her family’s further Summer plans. She stops at the railroad crossing and remembers the kiss Touko gave her.

Then, she takes the initiative once more. When Touko’s about to go her separate way, Yuu invites her to her room, and is honest about why: if they part there, they won’t see each other for a while, and she doesn’t like that. She wants Touko to have more faith in her, for she’s holding up her end of the bargain, neither loving nor hating her. Touko accepts, but warns Yuu that she’s going to “indulge” herself.

What ensues is the steamiest scene between the two yet, and another demonstration of how Yuu is probably not being fully honest with herself when it comes to how she feels about Touko.

The show pulls no bush-league parent barge-ins; the two have each other all to themselves, and spend it on the bed until dusk. Kudos to the sound designer and the voice actors for the very immersive blowing fan, as well as the extremely subtle sound effect of the girls’ lips meeting. Touko’s flowing hair is also impressively handled.

During that time, Touko opens up to her about why she’s upset, just as she hoped she would. She expresses how lost and aimless she feels now that her idea of who her sister was might not be remotely accurate. Yuu asks why she needs to “become” someone other than who she currently is.

Again, Touko’s self-loathing surfaces in response. Assuming (perhaps wrongly) Yuu feels nothing for her, she questions why she’d stay the way she is. Then, after getting on top and kissing Yuu some more, Touko whispers in her ear “Don’t fall in love with me. Because, you know, I hate myself. And I can’t be in love with someone who likes the things I hate, right?”

Well, wrong, Touko! Staking her love entirely on the person she loves never loving her back just…that’s not how this works! That assumes Yuu’s feelings will never change no matter what, even as Touko insists upon changing into someone better than she is.  Like she can evolve, but Yuu can’t. It’s unfair, selfish, and utterly misguided. But it’s also what you’d expect of someone with Touko’s experiences.

Yuu agrees with me, in that just because you can logically explain why Touko feels this way doesn’t mean you have to accept it. And Yuu won’t. She yells “Senpai, you idiot!!” when they part, hoping Touko heard her. After spending some time alone with her thoughts, she calls Kanou: she wants to change the ending.

She runs to Kanou’s house to explain, and ends up drawing out the very reason Kanou was so frustrating with the ending as she wrote it (the girl ends up becoming the person her lover remembers).  It all comes down to why the character would pick that version of her: the motivations are totally couched in the past, rather than in the present duration when she’s lacked memories but gained insights from three different people.

The need to choose one and only one of the three version to “become” was always a false one; both Kanou and Yuu see this strongly implicitly. Realistically, there’s a fourth way to go, an ending where that false choice isn’t made. But Yuu doesn’t simply seek to change the play’s ending. She wants to change Touko herself; to somehow get her to see that there’s no single answer. She doesn’t want Touko to hate herself.

It may be selfish or arrogant (and her gaze into the stars of the mini-planetarium do give her a very imperious bearing), but it’s what she’s setting out to do. Hopefully, she’ll take a second at some point and figure out why she has to…though something tells me she already knows.

ISUCA – 02

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Every once or twice in a decade, the fates conspire to bring us a truly great and unique work of art that is so bowl-you-over astonishing, it captures the imagination of the entire planet. I think I speak to all who have experienced it that Isuca episode two is that…and more.

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High school girls undressing in the locker room? Pretty standard fare. But a carpet of rats suddenly bursting out of a locker, knocking the half-naked girls over, and proceeding to eat them alive as they’re sexually aroused? We’re at the pinnacle, ladies and gentlemen. Savor it…for it will never be this good again.

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Yes, that review above was just an illusion, borne from ISUCA sucking your life force right out of you. In reality, Preston has punted this to me. The thing is, it’s(uca) not as an excruciating ordeal as it sounds. This episode was mostly harmless, and surprisingly fun. Devoid of any semblance of weight or significance, yes; simple and innocuous, sure…yet sometimes rubbing up against something resembling slyness. In other words, it was a pussycat. A pussycat going commando.

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Tama, the two-tailed cat specter Sakuya is about to pierce with an arrow last week, becomes Asano Shinichirou’s familiar when he happens to learn her true name, after recalling a stray cat in a box that he must have cared for. She tries to help him deal with the Rat King baddie, but runs out of go-juice, AKA life force.

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Now that is simply a masterful landing, worthy of song; not to mention Tusk’s approval. To not only land face up from such a great height without breaking one’s back, but to have one woman’s face land on your crotch, and another girl’s crotch landing on your face, all inches from the bones of eaten classmates…I ask you: What else is there to say? #weareallasano.

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We learned from visiting her house that Sakuya is a hopeless slob, and so her and Shinichirou’s teacher (and associate of Sakuya’s family) appoints Shinichirou as her maid. But despite the squalor she’d lived in up to that point, she harbors an unreasonable fear or rats and cockroaches, rendering her fairly useless. This week she’s one of the people standing around while others do something.

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And that something is…making out, complete with tongue and drool. ISUCA would be a pretty workaday fantasy action joint, only it aims to distinguish itself by inserting sex pretty much anywhere it can, like a shoplifter stuffing Slim-Jims into their many trench coat pockets. This is not a new concept. But even with the silly ecchi elements, the danger has a nice sharp edge to it.

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Shinichirou’s life force turns out to be SURGE to Tama, who takes out the Rat King with laughable ease, and a fair amount of badassery. Only, when she’s back to her normal self, she’s holding her pray in her mouth like a cat, proud to be presenting a gift for her master (I know, it’s debatable whether that’s what cats do, but let me dream, man!). 

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So we have Sakuya the Slob hiring Shinichiru as her housemaid, and Shinichirou having Tama, whom he names “Tamako”, as his eternal retainer, who’ll have to periodically make out with him to stay alive, which is a pretty good deal, as they’ve each saved each others’ lifes at least twice at this point. That brings us to the fact that Tama is Special; a vessel for freakishly high-level spiritual power. And he makes a mean stir-fry.

Wait…is that RAT MEAT? WHAT IS THIS, SKYRIM?

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Sakura Trick – 12 (Fin)

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With Mitsuki about to graduate and move on to college, her window to tell Haruka how she feels is rapidly closing. She finds the right moment in her kitchen at her graduation party to confess and ask her out. After denying those feelings for so long, it was gratifying to see not only come to grips with them as a reality in her life, but actually try to do something about it.

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To do so requires courage, but also selfishness, but Mitsuki finds her opening when Yuu tells her she and Haruka haven’t exchanged confessions of love yet. It’s pretty clear that any situation where Mitsuki would snatch Haruka away would hurt Yuu, but that’s a bridge she’ll cross when she comes to it, and in any case, she doesn’t know Haruka’s answer; asking to meet after the graduation ceremony to hear it.

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The thing is, Haruka herself doesn’t really know how to respond. She hasn’t really given much thought to what it means to be doing all of the things she’s done with Yuu; the two have just been living in the moment and going for it. It isn’t until Mitsuki comes in talking about being “in love” and “going out” that Haruka starts to consider that that’s what she and Yuu are doing. She “loves” Mitsuki too, but it’s pretty clear it’s not the same as her love for Yuu.

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So yeah, Mitsuki is pretty much rejected, but it’s not the end of the world (nothing on this show is); and she goes off to college with Rina, who holds a flame for Mitsuki but isn’t as forward about it as Mitsuki was with Haruka. Maybe down the road that will change. In any case, we close out the series with Haruka and Yuu still very much together and in love and having confessed to each other numerous times. As the new school term begins, their sakura-colored life goes on.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)
Average Rating: 6.583
MyAnimeList Score: 7.51

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

Sakura Trick – 11

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In spite of Trick’s light, feathery, low-stress, non-confrontational tone throughout its run, we had a feeling it was waiting until the end to finally unveil a major conflict regarding Haruka and Yuu. The first half of this episode was almost suspiciously mundane, as we meet Mitsuki’s replacement SumiSumi (who talks like an old man) and everyone brainstorms an event to honor Mitsuki and Vice President Sakai.

It’s all pretty standard fare, complete with Haruka and Yuu making out near the end, until you realize they’re not hidden away somewhere, but in the school hall for any passersby to see. And Mitsuki and Rina do see; the lovers’ increasing boldness has gotten them caught. Mitsuki angrily scolds them, but directs it all at Haruka, forbidding her to kiss Yuu.To Rina or any other casual observer, this would seem like normal conservative big-sister behavior.

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But we know better what’s eating Mitsuki. The moment she chided Haruka to “wake up”, we knew there was the possibly she’d realize it was time she woke up herself about what she’s feeling. Scolding Haruka was less about protecting Yuu or upholding wholesome values, but about deep-rooted and repressed jealousy.

Subconsciously, she’s making it so if she can’t have Haruka, no one can, and certainly not Yuu. Despite her dalliances with Haruka, Yuu is still a “good girl” who respects her elder sister’s authority (not knowing about the jealousy influencing it) and keeps away from Haruka, but doesn’t like it.

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We like how rather than despair and mope like she might in the past, Haruka stays positive and figures out she can still kiss Yuu if they’re sold as stumbles and trips; capitalizing on her reputation for clumsiness. But one can only keep that up for so long; and it doesn’t solve anything.

Still, it is notable that after getting away with everything for nearly a year, Haruka and Yuu’s sakura-colored relationship is in trouble, because they weren’t careful, but also because Mitsuki has ulterior motives. But it isn’t treated like the end of the world for them, only the potential start of a new world for Mitsuki, as she finally considers the fact she’s in love with Haruka too.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Sumisumi is…kinda boring. Seems extraneous. We like her mustache insignia, though.
  • The upperclassmen look far more refined adult-like, but they’re all eating pudding in hopes of getting racks as big as their beloved ex-president Mitsuki’s.
  • While Mitsuki has been obsessing over Haruka, she hasn’t noticed that her Veep might just love her. We just met Sumisumi but we trust her intuition.
  • When Haruka admonishes Yuu for groping her, the theme that plays has shades of “Omen.”

 

Sakura Trick – 10

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The first half of the episode is titled “A Snowy Day, Memories, and an Impact”, and it contains…well, all of those things: an unexpected and rare snowfall entices Haruka and Shizuku to eat lunch outside despite the oppressive cold. Haruka wants to at least give it a go because she realizes they may not get another snowy day in the final two years of school.

Making the most of the time is a slogan Haruka’s gotten from Katone before, and which Shiuzuku recognizes. Kotone eventually comes outside and kisses Shizuku right as she’s thinking about making memories. But as the other five girls carouse and have snowball fights outside, next year’s student council is being put into place, and Kanae takes the opportunity to mention to Ex-President Mitsuki that Yuu and Haruka are dating, bringing the issue to the fore for the first time since Mitsuki herself caught them in Yuu’s room.

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There’s no game here; Kanae seems genuinely preoccupied with Haruka and Yuu’s official status; maybe wondering why they haven’t told their friends despite the fact their status is obvious. Mitsuki may dismiss it, but she’s clouded by her own feelings for Haruka. In any case, the same traits that make Kanae a good trickster also make her a good observer; she knows what she’s seen, but she craves concrete answers. She even tries to test the waters by dropping hints in front of Yuzu, to no avail.

The fact is, Haruka and Yuu aren’t in a hurry to tell everyone they’re a couple (though there seems to be a mutual understanding with fellow couple Kotone and Shizuku) They hesitate kissing while Yuu is on the ladder (which is dangerous!) since Yuzu and Kanae are right below her, but end up making out anyway (the angle is such that no one ever sees anything.) They continue to stay mum and ride their luck. But as Kanae says, even if they all found out, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Well, it might be for Mitsuki…


Rating: 6 (Good)

Sakura Trick – 09

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Ah, the inane phone conversation of inordinate length between lovers. When can’t stand not being around someone but talking in person isn’t possible, it’s a serviceable if imperfect option. Contact is contact, even if it’s just of the audio variety. Yuu gets on Haruka’s case for holding her up for dinner (being late for dinner being a serious matter in many households), but she doesn’t hang up, either, and far more time goes by than either of them thought. They even end up exchanging kisses on the phone.

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Mitsuki’s crush comes into play both when she’s jealous that Yuu is talking to Haruka, and when she sees the two linking arms on the street. When Kaede and Yuzu cross her path, she wrangles them into a plan to get her to link arms, though says she wants to do it with Yuu, not Haruka. They tail the couple, and Kaede discovers them necking under a playground structure. Mitsuki doesn’t see or hear anything, but when she starts to run off and trip, she gets the close contact with Haruka she’d been hoping for all along, so it works out.

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Even the phone call and the arm-linking stories weren’t enough to fill a whole episode, so Trick changes gears in a bonus third part in which we learn about Yuzu getting her scooter license and Kaede playing various tricks on people (cementing her role a\s the trick in Sakura Trick) All this is to say, no one suddenly reverted to a state just after falling from a bridge, no one cut their hair out of frustration from their unrequited love, and no one dumps someone like a ton of bricks. You want that kinda nonsense, you need to watch something else!


Rating: 6 (Good)

 

Sakura Trick – 08

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The two stories this week share a theme of assumptions based insufficient information. The first, in which Yuu gets the idea she and Haruka are getting married right away, turns out to be wrong. While it’s not her fault the phone connection was bad, she let her imagination get ahead of itself, bypassing simple logical hurdles like the fact Haruka didn’t even propose. But while it turns out to be someone else’s wedding, both Yuu and Haruka revel vicariously in the ceremonies.

Like Yuu assuming they were geting married just like that, Haruka assumes that because her dad doesn’t want “some guy off the street” marrying his daughter, it means he’ll be fine with her marrying a girl, when that very well might not be the case. But as is made clear when they can’t resist kissing and are nearly caught by Haruka’s mom, while their assumptions may be unrealistic (or at least premature), their passion for one another is very real indeed, and powerful. So powerful, in fact, that the couple hits the first legitimate bump in their relationship, which is explored in the second half. Here, Mitsuki assumes that Yuu and Haruka are acting far more distant towards each other than usual.

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This assumption turns out to be right; even if Mitsuki isn’t yet aware of the depth of Yuu and Haruka’s love, she knows the two aren’t squared away, so she decides to help them make up at the Christmas illuminations. But even when Mitsuki gets the two alone together (getting herself separated from everyone else in the process), Haruka and Yuu are still reticent and tentative, like we’ve never seen before. Each is afraid of letting their passion take over and go too far too fast with the other, harming what they have.

But while they were worrying about that, they were harming what they have anyway. Yuu remembers and repurposes her sister’s words of advice (which regarded a platonic relationship), and the two figure it out. They learn they’d been harboring the same concerns, as hearts that are destined to come together are wont to do. Hearts that are new to this kind of love can lead them to ache—as running around and doing physical stuff without stretching taxes the muscles and lungs—but Haruka and Yuu are resolved to soldier through it.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

 

Sakura Trick – 07

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Leave it to an earnest, uncynical show like Sakura Trick to be upfront about the fact that half of this episode would be heavy on the fanservice. That being said, it wasn’t merely a showcase of the casts’ T&A, and the venue of the swimsuit-donning was carefully chosen so as to create some uncharacteristic tension and drama, however slight and fleeting.

Kotone’s little sister Shinobu has always resented Shizuku for stealing Kotone’s attention away from her, something that started when Shizuku first showed up. She decides to put her foot down and insist Kotone return home. When she makes this demand, both Kotone and Shizuku seem to wait for the other to do something, but it’s Haruka and Mitsuki who end up acting; the latter calling for a race to settle matters, which Shizuku ends up winning, returning us to the status quo. Like we said: fleeting.

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The second half involves Yuu wanting a new scarf, and even when Shizuku shows up wearing the scarf she wants, which was the last one at the store, Yuu still wants the scarf she wants. It’s the kind of puerile selfishness Yuu knows she can get away with with Shizuka, because for the most part Shizuka loves doting on her. When we first heard “shopping” we immediately thought: “Well, they’re obviously going to end up making out in the dressing room.” That doesn’t happen per se, but Yuu does end up kissing Shizuka as an accompanying reflex to her happiness over finding an even cuter scarf.

In fact, Haruka and Yuu have gotten so used to making out, they even do so while Kotone and Shizuku are in the room; fortunately they’re very unobservant and/or don’t care. They also steal a long underwater kiss in Kotone’s pool. The show may have blown temporary clouds over Kotone and Shizuku, but it was nothing but clear blue skies for Haruka and Yuu. And as we’ve oft repeated, that’s not such a bad thing.


Rating: 6 (Good)