This week contained the same events as the previous one, but this time completely from Meme’s perspective. as a newly-initiated member of the 40-year-old club, she decides to aid in “Yamamoto’s” bottle rocket campaign, turning it into a counterattack against aliens. This is to appease her grandmother the candy store owner, who’s certain she’ll meet the same fate as all that cattle that got mutilated by aliens.
Meme is hard to take seriously as an adult due to the childish manner in which she looks, talks, and acts. Truthfully, hearing her saccharine, sometimes downright shrill voice talk so much this week was a bit of an ordeal. But she’s still an interesting character, and the fact that she lives her life how she wants to is admirable: despite having her second love, Erio with her first love, Elliot, she never married, and never plans to.
Whenever the same story is told twice, there are pitfalls; the second telling can get boring. While it lagged at times, the fresh perspective of Meme and the flashbacks of her life in the town when Elliot was still around break up that repetition. That said, this series works best with its core taking center stage: Makoto, Erio, and Ryuushi. But the occasional reminiscing slice-of-life episode isn’t unwelcome. Rating: 3
This week, Mako gets his adolescence on, by sharing awkward silences with Erio and Ryuushi; enjoying girls’ home cooking; having an impromptu sleepover with Ryuushi, Maekawa, and Erio; seeing Ryuushi and Maekawa in bathtowels; talking with Ryuushi alone under the stars; and helping someone else with their adolescence points. What I thought would be a Maekawacentric episode (it was at first, at least) incorporated everyone except Meme, including the businessman with the odd ear tag, who is so into bottle rockets.
Ryuushi is also quite active, believing she needs to compete with Maekawa and Erio for Mako’s affections. While Maekawa seems pretty content and uninterested in being a rival, Erio is more competitive, in her own passive, sheepish way. As for Mako, he’s just going with the flow. It’s worked so far and there’s no reason to believe it won’t keep working out. He’s fine with letting life sweep him along for the ride; after all, it’s how he came to be in a new town in a new home with a new family in the first place. Rating: 3.5
Underneath a glass-top coffee table while Meme sits on it wrapped in a futon; the inside of Ryuushi’s orange drink box; a forty year-old in twin tails offering her daughter, then herself to her nephew; a ‘cycloptic’ granny — Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko is full of unique angles and images. It’s the same ‘easily-distracted’ camera Akiyuki Shinbo has made a part of his visual style. It especially fits a series in which Mako is trying to bring his cousin back down to earth: back to reality. Because reality can be as, if not more, amazing than fantasies in one’s head.
It’s working, as Erio wants a part-time job. Gravity is pulling her back to society even more than Mako initially thinks: while he finds it odd she’d rather work than return to school. Meme later tells him, Erio is worried about the financial burden returning to school would be, hence working and saving up first. Getting shot down in her first interview – due to her infamous reputation around town, no less – crushes her, but its only temporary, as Meme points them to a candy shop where the old lady needs a hand. Meme does this while watching the end Mimi wo Sumaseba! SHIZUKU! I LOVE YOU!!
Of course, this may be a case of one step forward and two steps back, as the granny candy shop owner turns out to be an alien enthusiast who is obsessed with the possibility she could become a victim of cattle mutilation. The look in Erio’s eyes as this is revealed is troubling. After two seasons of a fairly static Nino in Arakawa, is it wrong for me to want Erio to not continue to regress into childlike eccentricity, and to continue striving to become normal? Rating: 3.5
Mako is definitely overthinking things with his obsessive calculations of adolescence. The points system he’s devised (or simply inferred from his experiences) makes sense, but when someone is constantly analyzing rating their experiences, one cannot truly enjoy them. Sure, his cousin is strange, and his aunt is an embarassing tease. But at least two girls in his class are interested in him, and will probably clash for his favor in the future, if how they interact while visiting him in the hospital is any indication.
Ryuushi and Maekawa are both quite strange too, but Mako can enjoy their weirdness because he isn’t related to them. His post-accident convalescence is a good opportunity for the characters to simply chat with one another. But back to that overanlyzing – perhaps it changes experiences, but I shouldn’t say it detracts from them. After all, we here at RABUJOI tend to analyze and rate an episode right after watching it. To our knowledge, our enjoyment of those episodes isn’t compromised by our almost compulsive desire to assign statistics to them and compare them to other works. End digression.
Most importantly, it seems like Erio is going to be okay. Mako certainly ripped the bandage off, but it did more good than harm. It seems like Erio will accept the fact she’s an ordinary earthling, just as Mako wonders whether aliens do exist, and they may have helped speed up the bike so they’d fly rather than fall straight down to more serious injury or worse. Maybe Ryuushi and Maekawa are aliens; they just aren’t going out of their way to announce it like Erio did. Or maybe they’re just eccentric kids. Rating: 3.5