Heroines Run the Show – 07 – Always My Heroine

Nagisa knows who LIPxLIP is, and it doesn’t take long to get Hiyori to admit that she’s working as their manager-in-training.  It still doesn’t explain why they accompanied her to the station, however. Of course, Hiyori has her revenge for having her secret job so easily revealed. When Nagisa says she seems “different”, she gets him to admit she’s cute just as easily!

I had my reservations about the sudden arrival of Nagisa, but these two are basically the cutest; they’re just such a good fit together…nice and balanced! It’s crystal clear to Aizou and Yuujirou that Nagisa is in love with Hiyori, and only a couple of minutes of riling him up has him standing up like a shounen hero saying “She’s the only girl for me!” Unfortunately for him, when Hiyori tells Nagisa he can stay at her place, it’s just as clear to LIPxLIP that she has no earthly idea Nagisa has those kinds of feelings for her.

Nagisa, being so in love with Hiyori, warns LIPxLIP that he won’t give up on her, even to an idol, and that they “can’t have her.” This comes as a surprise to them, but Nagisa has a point: as someone who once teased Hiyori because he liked her, our idols can’t pretend that there’s something about Hiyori they value above other girls, even as they endlessly say she doesn’t act like a girl most of the time.

As for Nagisa, his stature, good looks, and instant likability have Uchida-san trying to recruit him as an idol. He respectfully declines, as he already has a dream in place: taking over the family restaurant, the fish for which Hiyori’s family provides, making their coupling that much more inevitable.

The actual FT4 show is a lot less built up and laid-back than I expected, but there are some very good reasons for that. True, Aizou and Yuujirou are stewing in the front row as their rivals play with the crowd like putty in their hands, but Nagisa and Hiyori are an island of serenity by comparison.

You can tell he’s super chuffed that Hiyori’s attending a show with him. His favorite member of FT4 is all too fitting: the glue guy who hangs out in the background and lets the others hog the spotlight, but without whom there’d be no music. He doesn’t come out and say it—he may not even be aware—but that’s what Hiyori is becoming to LIPxLIP—increasingly indispensable.

Nagisa has a plan. He never had any designs on staying at Hiyori’s place overnight, but he did bring all the gear he needed to cook her a gourmet meal as thanks for attending FT4 with him. But the sumptuous feast is only a prelude…a way of preparing the ground for a confession of love.

Earlier at the station, Nagisa played dumb when she mentioned how he said she looked weird in a dress, which we know has informed her personal style ever since. But not only does Nagisa remember, but he’s mature enough now to admit why he teased her at the time: because she was too cute, and he was worried someone else would take her away.

No sooner does he say “I love ya” does he stand up and walk out of the apartment, saying he’s leaving on the shinkansen tomorrow. He doesn’t want to pressure her into an answer; a text or call sometime will suffice.

A good word for Hiyori after hearing Nagisa’s confession: befuddled. It never once occured to her that her best friend forever felt…that way. Hell, she never thought anyone would ever say they loved her. Fortunately, she remembers she has two girlfriends and calls them up for their help over hamburgers.

Juri is happy for Hiyori, and when asked, is extremely genuine and eloquent when she tells Hiyori when she started liking the guy who became her bae. He wasn’t even her type at first, but he gradually became so. As for Chizuru, she won’t brook any hesitation on Hiyori’s part: a confession from a hot childhood friend is both a rare treasure and a cliché…and Chizuru has no problem with clichés.

Juri brings things back down to earth a bit, and assures Hiyori that Nagisa is probably just as worried as she is about their relationship possibly changing for the worst. But as he was brave enough to tell her how he really felt, all Hiyori can do is return the favor.

Hiyori may not know what she wants when it comes to romance, but she does know what she doesn’t want: anything that will negatively affect what she’s got going on now: school, track and managing. She’s going all out with all three, and there just isn’t time for romance right now…not until she’s seen those things through.

Nagisa is surely a bit disappointed, but probably also relieved that it’s not a hard no, just a “not just now”. He even admits he jumped the gun. He tussles her hair, tells her she looked good when she dressed up but also thinks she looks good when she’s running around and covered in sweat, which is just beautifully heartwarming. Hiyori thanks Nagisa for telling her how he feels, as it gives her confidence she can become a heroine.

Nagisa tells her the truth: to him she already is one, and always will be. He promises he’ll be back in Tokyo after graduation to take business courses in college and train in restaurants. He’ll be working hard too, and hopefully, they can work hard along side one another soon. Their parting is such sweet sorrow, but they’ll surely remain in each other’s hearts as they go after their dreams with everything they have.

Heroines Run the Show – 06 – From Crap Creeps to Cute Crêpes

If Aizou is out of shampoo, Hiyori has no problem walking into the boy’s shower to get him more. It’s steamy, and it’s not like she’s in there to sneak a peek; she’s just doing her job. She’s been acting more assertively as a manager should, but to these two old-fashioned chums, she couldn’t be acting less like a “girl” if she tried. 

When Tamura gets the three of them tickets for a FT4 show, Hiyori says she’s already going with her childhood friend Nagisa, who is an FT4 superfan. At such an affair it’s expected to “dress up”. The boys want to give her a makeover, but she demurs.

After a day of observing other girls—Hattori, Setoguchi, Narumi—Hiyori encounters perhaps the cutest girl she’s seen of the day, and she’s being harassed by a creep. Hiyori breaks his hold and runs off with the girl, and you know they’ll lose the creep because if anything, Hiyori can run.

I liked the detail of how she’s not the slightest bit out of breath once the coast is clear, while the cutie is huffing and puffing. The girl thanks her by buying her a crepe at a place she’s always wanted to try, but not alone. Before you know it they’re exchanging bites.

When the girl notices she’s staring a bit, Hiyori just mentions how she thinks she’s super cute…a heroine, not an “extra” or “bit player” like her. The girl admits to having also been insecure for a long time due to someone she knew and admired being so pretty. This girl posits that being loved, not cute, is what truly makes a heroine.

She was saved from a creep by Hiyori, and is now having fun eating crepes and talking with her. She likes Hiyori, so maybe she’s a heroine after all! The girl’s name is Narumi Mona and is, unbeknownst to Hiyori, is an up-and-coming idol, and presumably Narumi Sena’s sister.

Their talk inspires Hiyori to try researching some fashion mags, but she’s caught by Yuujirou and Aizou, who demand to know what she’s up to. She tells them how the one time she wore a cute dress and felt like a princess, Nagisa told her she looked “weird”, which led to a complex about looking too “girly”.

The boys say Nagisa sucks, but Hiyori then lists all the ways Nagisa doesn’t such and has always been there for her, especially following her dream of track. The fact remains, in no small part due to Nagisa’s teasing years ago, Hiyori doesn’t think she has what it takes to be a princess.

Yuujirou and Aizou then proceed to show her just how wrong both she and Nagisa are. They take her to their stylist who gives her an adorable new ‘do, then they take her to a classy clothier to try on a number of cozy classic looks.

I love the way the two boys fuss over Hiyori and bicker over the best way to dress her. They come off very much like two doting big brothers trying to make their sister into the princess they know she is…while also showing up the FT4 fan that gave their manager a complex.

After hair and clothes comes makeup and posture, which the boys also take care of back at the studio. It’s very My Fair Lady in the way the two cosmopolitan lads are trying to infuse some Tokyo style into their country bumpkin colleague. Hiyori has to deal with idol super-close-ups when they’re applying the makeup, which is very much a less-is-more affair.

When the time arrives to meet Nagisa at the station, Yuujirou and Aizou accompany Hiyori in her new duds, because they can’t wait to see the look on Nagisa’s face when she sees her. Ah, yes, that’s right…they think her childhood friend Nagisa is a girl. When Hiyori spots Nagisa, whom we’ve known was a boy since the end of last week, she’s so excited she runs as if not wearing a long skirt.

Nagisa catches her before she can touch the ground, and is revealed to the idols as a most strapping young lad…perhaps not as photo shoot worthy as either of them, but certainly handsome and fit nonetheless. He was also unquestionably a typical little boy who teased the girl he liked because he was an idiot.

His first reaction to Yuujirou and Aizou contains multitudes. It’s not (or it’s not just) that he may be irked by the fact Hiyori is hanging around two cute Tokyo boys who must look like nothing but trouble to a hayseed like Nagisa…it might more be the fact that he know’s they’re his beloved FT4’s rivals: LIPxLIP!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Heroines Run the Show – 05 – Their Juliet

Hiyori’s foot injury isn’t something that goes away overnight. Like Embiid being out with a fractured orbital, it ruins any chance of coming close to touching her goal. It only takes one race and a few hurdles before her foot barks at her and she’s suddenly washed out of prelims. She got hurt doing a job she took to help pay to live in Tokyo so she could run, and now she can’t run.

It hurts to see our typically chipper chipmunk suddenly brought so low, and struggling to hide it from the ones she cares about. She puts on a brave face for her family over the phone, but I bet her mom can imagine her daughter’s distraught face as she says everything is fine, unconvincingly. She stares at the ceiling at night and almost gets lost up there.

Aizou and Yuujirou have been around Hiyori long enough to know something’s not right, and even come right out and ask her what’s up; why she’s suddenly so much less dashy. As you’d expect, Hiyori doesn’t want to burden them with her troubles when they have a huge concert coming up, so she does her job with a smile. But they know she’s hiding something.

They learn from Uchida how Hiyori’s dream to make the nationals was deferred by her injury, and Aizou remembers when she seemed to look hurt after delivering their swag to the venue. Add to that the fact that this latest show is the last day Hiyori is contracted to work as LIPxLIP’s manager, and there’s a distinct pall over what should be joyful festivities as the duo takes another step forward in their idol careers.

Aizou and Yuujirou decide to do something for Hiyori to cheer her up. They ask her to make sure she finishes all her backstage duties before their scheduled encore, then switch the final song from “Nonfantasy” to “Dream Fanfare”, the lyrics to which almost seem like they were written specifically for Hiyori, the “Julieta” to whom they dedicate the song.

That tribute and the lyrics are not lost on Hiyori, who for thew first time isn’t on the sidelines but has a primo seat in the center of the front row of the second deck. From that vantage point she can’t not realize for the first time the true power of idols, and how they’e not just scary or two-faced, bt truly amazing in what they can do and how they can inspire a crowd.

Despite the song being meant as an encouraging sendoff for Hiyori to commit fuly to her track dreams, it actually inspires her to stay on as their manager-in-training, indefinitely. It’s true, she could dedicate more time to track if she wasn’t working, but Hiyori doesn’t want to compromise…she wants it all. She’s not ready to say goodbye to LIPxLIP, and while they react with characteristic haughty apathy at her announcement, I have no doubt they’re glad she’ll sticking around.

But what’s this? Nagisa is coming to Tokyo? Who’s Nagisa? Hiyori’s would-be fiancé? Maybe! In any case, I can’t wait to see what Hiyori’s iconic eyebrows do when this bumpkin surprise her…not to mention how he and the idols will clash! Until then, this was a beautiful capper to a mini-arc in which Hiyori apparently took too much on and stumbled, only to dust herself off and keep going. Hurdles are meant to be cleared!

Heroines Run the Show – 04 – Two Grooms

Clearly more moved than she expected by their princely defense of her against the vile Yumeru, Hiyori has a dream about marrying Aizou and Yuujirou, and the two of them almost kissing her. Naturally, the first time she sees the two she can’t quite look them in the eye. They seem genuinely miffed by this, as who averts their eyes from an idol? But it’s also because they know something’s up with her.

While Yumeru was thoroughly unpleasant, the result of their collab is a lot more fangirls flocking to the boy’s desks at school. Aizou is so overwhelmed he seemingly passes out, and Yuujirou makes mention of some “trauma” that makes Aizou especially lady-averse. While grabbing lunch for herself and Aizou, she meets his big brother Ken, who assumes Hiyori is Aizou’s GF and explains that both he and their mom are super-comfortable with the opposite sex, which might contribute to the straight-laced Aizou.

Hiyori proves her manager mettle by securing the counseling room for Aizou and Yuujirou to hide out whenever things get too hot. Aizou is clearly still a little off after being so surrounded by fans, and clearly loathing leaving the room to buy lunch, so it’s a good thing Hiyori bought him a cutlet sandwich! Yuujirou shares some of the massive lunch his mom made with Hiyori.

The day somehow gets worse for LIPxLIP when an article comes out exposing Yuujirou as the heir to a famous kabuki actor and living national treasure. Hiyori volunteers to shoo away the reporters, but Yuujirou decides to face and fight them head-on with his famous smile and politeness. Hiyori is literally moved to tears when she watches Aizou come in at just the right time to have his partner’s back.

Yuujirou and Aizou come up with a piece of rosette ribbon swag for their fans at their next outdoor concert, and were clearly inspired by their track-running manager-in-training; a way of making every fan “1st Place in their hearts”. But when it’s time for the show, the staffers forgot the ribbons. No matter, Hiyori uses those track legs to race to the nearest taxi, and when the taxi gets stuck in traffic on the way back, runs the rest of the way and gets the swag there in time for the boys to distribute it.

Yuujirou and Aizou can’t help but be impressed by Hiyori going the extra mile for her. They all exchange “good works” and are ready to part ways, but the boys notice that Hiyori is reacting like she’s in pain. Indeed, she sprained her ankle while racing there in time, and now that her adrenaline levels are dropping, she’s feeling the pain even more. So she’s working so she can run track in Tokyo, but now she can’t run. Hiyori doesn’t deserve such misfortune. Maybe the boys can carry her around like the queen she is on a palanquin until she recovers!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Heroines Run the Show – 03 – Princely When it Counts

It was only a matter of time before LIPxLIP warmed up to Hiyori’s wholesome country charm. Yuujirou and Aizou were hostile towards her initially simply because they didn’t know her. That’s rectified by Uchida, who tells Yuujirou (who then tells Aizou) that Hiyori came to Tokyo to run, and took a job to live.

The boys call each other out on being okay with this girl among all the others (in Aizou’s case) and having no qualms about showing his true self (in Yuujirou’s). Knowing how hard she works, they can’t help but show grudging respect; at least from afar.

Closer in, they’re much more comfortable messing with her, though when they learn that she failed her midterms and is desperately crunching for the finals so she can compete in athletics, they eventually close the distance and give her some pointers on what to study for in the little time she has left.

What good boys! And here I was calling them assholes last week. They were, and often still are, but it’s goot to see their sharp edges softening due to Hiyori not only being someone you want to support and protect, but also someone you admire for not giving up no matter how high the hurdles.

Going to school together and working together, these three high school-age people were always going to gradually become friends, I just didn’t expect it to come so fast and yet so organically. But that rapidity is facilitated by a catalyst when the three are on a music video shoot for their song “Nonfantasy”.

Their co-star in the video is the up-and-coming amateur model Yumeru-chan, whom we meet in an elegant red dress. She’s a big fan of LIPxLIP, so when she spots the boys goofing around with Hiyori, she gets right pissed off. She wants to be their clothing tree, dagnabit!

Fishing for juicy rumors and looking to put a rival in their place, Yumeru takes Hiyori aside and asks her straight-up what her relationship to the others is. Hiyori deflects and is clearly uncomfortable, and why wouldn’t she be? This world of desperately beautiful people dressed like royalty isn’t her world; they’re stars, and she’s just a bit player.

And while yes, Yumeru is meant to be more “classically pretty”, Hiyori is a far more beautiful person, because she’s not looking to put others down to lift herself up. She just wants to run, and make her friends and family happy they gave her their support.

During a dinner break, Yuujirou and Aizou laugh when Hiyori’s stomach grumbles, and happily offer her some of what looks like an epic craft services spread. Yumeru, again both mystified and enraged, trips Hiyori while she’s walking away, and coffee spills on her dress. The boys apologize profusely for their “staff member.”

Hiyori hides under the lectern of a wedding chapel, but the boys soon track her down, clearly concerned with her. Yumeru shows up and asks for their numbers, but they don’t give them out; company policy. Then Yumeru spots Hiyori in the shadows and asks why they’re fine with her?

Yumeru has the nerve to warn them that Hiyori may have just taken the job to get closer to them—right after she took this job tried to get closer to them. Aizou—not Yuujirou—drops the idol mask and points out this hypocrisy. Yuujirou then adds that he saw Yumeru trip Hiyori.

When she claims she didn’t, he says they can check the security cameras to be sure. He then praises her fake crying but suggests she doesn’t take up acting as she “lacks imagination” to realize messing with their staff would piss them off. After Yumeru storms off, Aizou tells Yuu he might’ve gone too far, but Yu isn’t concerned. If Yumeru wants to start a shit fight, he can sling it with the best of them.

The bottom line is, the risk of exposing their mean sides was worth it if it meant telling someone that Hiyori may be a somewhat plain, simple country girl staff member, she’s also not someone they’ll tolerate being abused. Yumeru made Hiyori an enemy for no reason, and when the boys saw that, it likely reminded them of their shitty attitudes when Hiyori was first hired, thus compounding their irritation.

I’m happy to report that while they will likely continue to mess with Hiyori because she’s such an easy target, they’re also doing it good-naturedly, because they’ve come to like her, and anyway wouldn’t mess with someone they didn’t. They’re also genuinely concerned about how her exams turns out, and flash their best idol smiles upon learning she barely passed.

The power of those idol smiles is enough  to make even Hiyori blush. After all, even after they took off their prince costumes for the music video, they still looked pretty damn princely to Hiyori, because they defended her against someone who didn’t know her. Now that they do, they’ll slay any dragon for her.

Heroines Run the Show – 02 – Oh My Crêpe!!

At first it looks like CEO Tamura and LIPxLIP manager Uchida have played a cruel prank on an unwitting Hiyori (whom Uchida misnames as “Hiyako”…maybe on purpose?!). Aizou and Yuujirou unleash a barrage of insults on her, but she absorbs them and fires back with some extremely rude and accurate retorts, and all three kids learn why the adults put them together: Hiyako’s got guts, and doesn’t care that they’re idols.

That she’s literally in their class is icing on the cake. In a rather oddly dimly-lit scene where her teacher Akechi-sensei offers her candy (don’t do it Hiyori!) and Hiyori climbs on top of the desk to whisper in his ear (what a dang goof!) she also gets an easy approval of her new job (thanks to Tamura) and also an assurance he’ll keep quiet about it. Hiyori, lovable hayseed that she is, is in awe of what most Tokyo kids would think was a humdrum teacher. He’s there to support her and everyone else in his class and make sure they enjoy their high school life.

She soon learns her job is to further support Aizou and Yuujirou on the idol side of their lives. This means, yes, being a personal assistant to a pair of pretty but ill-mannered cads-and-a-half. We feel every hour of Hiyori’s day that stretches out like the deserts in “Ozymandias”, waking up, studying, running, and then being a human coatrack and vending machine. Still, the pay is good, so while Hiyori hardly sails through her duties she does tough it out with a stiff upper-lip and some lovely withering inner dialogue about how much these two disagreeable fops grind her freakin’ gears.

While the idols suck, Hiyori at least initially isn’t all that good at her job, rendering some of their criticism valid, if indelicately expressed. For one thing, she simply allows girls to swarm the boys during a break, and even gets up to hang out with her friends when Yuujirou artfully reminds her it’s her job to get them out of these situations. That’s when she learns that Aizou is uncomfortable around girls, making him that much more amazing an actor. She knew Yuujirou can be apocalyptically surly, but Aizou confirms that it’s Yuujirou’s normal state.

Even so, Hiyori’s entire life, not even school life, is busied up playing LIPxLIP Service. We watch her steadfast determination to get to the lunch rush early, unto almost breaking the no-running-in-the-halls rule (a truly dastardly and prejudiced rule for, ya know, a runner!). We see her meeting up with Juri, who gives her good advice that nets her her first non-mooched lunch, which she savors accordingly. Then Chizuru casually asks Hiyori what shes been up to, and Hiyori has to lie (badly) because part of her job is keeping her job secret.

We also get a peek at Hiyori’s track life, as her senpai Hina is warm, supported, and extremely protective of her first-year, especially when her friend Koutarou narrowly keeps Hiyori from getting brained by a soccer ball. Hina quickly and expertly extorts free crêpes out of Koutarou, and by doing so inadvertently sparks one of Hiyori’s most heartfelt desires of coming to the big city. Alas, she cannot enjoy crêpes with her senpais … because she has work.

When the boys’ next gig takes them to a podcast recording by Rio and Yui, two members of an established rival idol group AT4, Aizou and Yuujirou play things safe with their sugary smiles and empty platitudes. They’re so perfect and dull that Yui goes off-script and tells them they’re lying about simply wanting to entertain people and make their fans happy. He might be on to something, but Rio stops recording and disciplines Yui. But while he apologizes to Aizou and Yuujirou, he also offers them candid advice: hollow smiles will only get them so far in this business.

Back at school, Hiyori is minding her own business when she hears hollerin’, and spots Aizou and Yuujirou at each others’ throats again. Since Uchida is paying her handsomely even while she’s at school, Hiyori comes between the two. When she stumbles on her landing, the easy play would have been for Hiyori to end up falling onto the boys, but instead she falls into them like a missle, shoving them back. When she warns them that they risk getting suspended, neither seem to care. In fact, attending school was the condition they had to agree upon in order to become idols.

Hiyori, who has always dreamed of going to a big Tokyo school, laments how it hasn’t turned out anything like she expected. That being said, she could quit anytime she wanted; her parents didn’t insist she work to pay for her living expenses (about that: let’s just assume Shibuya is far more affordable in the world of this show, shall we?). But of course, she’s not giving up, no matter how crêpe-deprived she gets.

Back at the studio, Hiyako is put to work sorting a huge box of fan mail and gifts, and she discovers cute hand-made letters from a particular fan, for both the boys and their manager. She delivers it to Uchida, who immediately identifies it as Chutan-san, one of LIPxLIP’s oldest and biggest fans…so big, she writes multi-page letters in perfect 10-point print on custom coorespondence stock for their manager. Inspiring that level passion and devotion is the power of idols, and shows Hiyori that they must have something.

As Hiyori watches the boys sweat, and fight, as they practice choreography in the next room, Uchida tells her that she’s doing fine if they show her their true selves. As to why they’re idols, Uchida tells her all they said at their audition is that they want to be on stage, with no further detail. But by watching them work their asses off in that studio, Hiyori comes to see that bein’ idols means to them what runnin’ means to her. There’s something all three of them want to do, and they’re never going to give up or back down.

Just when Hiyori is having more charitable feelings about the boys do they let her down once more by spurning her peace offering of food and their favorite drinks. But again, they’re quite correct that a manager should be offering water or sports drinks after their practice. So while Aizou and Yuujirou continue to piss Hiyori off, she at least understands them a little better, and appreciates that they’re being their true selves around her.

As for her true self…Suzumi Hiyori looks like a shoo-in for Best Girl of the Season. While I understand totally if her squeaky voice isn’t everyone’s cup of matcha, anyone who doesn’t want to protect her with their life might just be The Grinch. Just two episodes in and I’m completely in love with both her and her show, which as the title confirms, she runs.

Heroines Run the Show – 01 – (First Impressions) – Clearing Every Hurdle

Who doesn’t love can-do country bumpkins? I for one can’t help but be endlessly charmed by them as I vicariously watch them navigate the Big City for the first time, full of gumption and moxie. Suzumi Hiyori is a bushy-eybrowed ball of energy brought to life by the ubiquitous Minase Inori (though if you’re not a fan of her louder, higher-pitched characters, you probably won’t enjoy this).

Her little hometown high school doesn’t have a track team, but Hiyori wants to one day be a national finalist, so to Tokyo she goes, with the full support of her huge and adorable family. Little did she know that she’d end up seated between the two ruinously popular male idols Shibasaki Aizou and Someya Yuujirou. Most of the other girls in her class swoon over them, but she experiences them with their nice faces off, and is t barely-concealed concept for each other.

While searching for the front gate of her massive (for her) new school, she overhears a heated argument, and finds Aizou taking Yuujirou by the scruff. She tries to play peacemaker, but only ends up soaking the three of them by stepping on a high-pressure hose. She says classmates shouldn’t fight; they tell her to stay away from her…but she sits between them, she she can’t!

Fortunately, Hiyori makes fast friends with two other girls in her class: the slightly gyaru-y Hattori Juri (Sakura Ayane) and the more reserved, bespectacled Nakamura Chizuru (Hayami Saori). Together, these three are among my favorite seiyuu, and combined with Uchiyama Kouki and Shimazaki Nobunaga, we’ve got ourselves an all-star cast.

In one of the more touching scenes of the episode, Hiyori is on the call with her mom, and learns her dad, a fisherman, hurt his back and may be laid up for a bit. With four younger siblings, she worries she’s being a financial burden for her family by going to school in Tokyo. Her mom says it will be fine, but Hiyori takes another bold step into adulthood by deciding to get a part-time job to pay her living expenses.

Her first round of interviews don’t go well, as her already busy high school and track schedule simply does not mesh with your typical restaurant or café work schedule. But she ends up hitting paydirt with a 1500 yen/hr (or $12/hr, not chump change for a high schooler) opportunity, and after some early nerves, manages to make a strong case for herself as someone who will overcome any obstacle and get the job done.

While Hiyori is one of dozens of applicants, the clincher for her recruiter Uchida (not Maaya) is that she’s in the same class as the idol duo LIPxLIP, AKA Aizou and Yuujirou, which makes her the perfect fitr for their new rookie manager-in-training. Both she and the boys are taken completely by surprise with this development, and I doubt any of them are happy with it.

But hey, Hiyori did say she’d leap over any hurdle to service of her dream, didn’t she? She’ll never make the nationals if the hurdles are only a foot tall! Uchida did her a big favor, giving her a foot in the door of a hugely popular enterprise and giving her a personal and professional challenge. If she’s to be their manager, they’ll all have to get to know and learn to trust each other. I can’t wait to see how it goes.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Jahy-sama wa Kujikenai! – 20 (Fin) – Festival Fever

Ryou-chan leads a confused Jahy to the pub to find that the Demon Lord twins assisted in its repairs, and everyone decided to throw a surprise farewell party for Jahy. In all of last week’s excitement, she completely forgot she told everyone she was quitting the manager’s pub forthwith and opening her own.

When Druj comes by and shows Jahy a quote for a twenty million yen spot for the restaurant, Jahy decides to leave everything to Druj, who of course is all too happy to take it all on and impress her Jahy-sama. No longer burdened with the details of her new restaurant, Jahy announces she’ll be continuing to work at the manager’s pub for a bit longer. The manager gathers her in a loving hug, and the farewell party becomes a welcome-back party.

The rest of the episode is given over to another kind of big bash: a shrine festival that takes over the shopping district. Jahy is once again in the dark about it, and declines when Kokoro asks if she’d like to join the kids shrine carry, since it sounds like a hassle. But when she learns there’s shop freebies and a prize to be had, and two boys are mean to her and Kokoro, she gets really into it, and ends up winning the childrens’ prize despite being a “grown-ass adult”, as Ryou-chan puts it.

Saurva makes a spectacular series curtain call by crashing the festival hoping to depose Jahy as the Number Two once and for all, only to get just as swept up in the festivities as Jahy was, only moreso. Unable to say no to the lovely manager, Saurva joins the adult shrine carry and keeps time at the front, then joins Ryou-chan in beating the shrine drum, and learning that Ryou-chan is as nice as her sister.

By the time Saurva encounters Jahy again and remembers what she originally came for, she’s decked out in full Brazilian Carnival get-up, marching down the streets, having the absolute time of her life. Their showdown is once again delayed…but it doesn’t really matter.

Later that night, Kokoro takes Jahy’s hand and leads her through the golden-lit festival stalls. Druj, Kyouko, Saurva, the manager, Ryou-chan, and the twins all spot Jahy and Kokoro as they pass, and follow them.

This results in the entire gang gathering atop a hill, the perfect vantage spot for the festival fireworks and a perfect way to end the series: with Jahy surrounded by friends and people she cares about, having fun by night and working hard by day. It’s all enough to make Jahy forget her original goal to restore the Dark Realm…even though it’s still written on her oversized shirt.

Jahy-sama wa Kujikenai! – 19 – Sister Act

Druj is all ready to fight beside Jahy, but first reminices about how she was ostracized for her power to control the minds of others. She was ready to basically commit suicide until Jahy pulled her from the brink. It’s a heartwarming story, but Druj takes so long telling it that their opponent flees, so the two just spend the rest of the night drinking, something I very much would have liked to see.

Back at work, Jahy proves she’s not only great at serving tables, but also preparing the food. Kyouko suggests she could even open her own place with her skills, something Jahy hadn’t considered before but soon gets extremely into. Druj offers her services in finding the ideal location—and likely funding for said pub. Jahy tries to use the landlady as a taste tester, but she isn’t into it when Jahy gets all high and mighty about wanting to branch out on her own.

The manager, on the other hand, is nothing but supportive of Hy-chan going after her dream to open her own place, and even offers to help in any way she can. That’s when the weird sparkly horned ghost (which Jahy calls the “Grey Eminence”) appears behind the manager, asks if she wants power, and the manager says yes, she wants the power to support Jahy. Just like that, the manager becomes a Magical Girl.

When the Eminence tells Magical Girl Manager to steal Jahy’s crystals, the manager refuses, saying that’s not right, and if the Eminence wants them, she should sit down and talk about it with Hy-chan. Then the Eminence takes physical form as a white-and-pink Demon Lord clone. She’s about to attack Jahy when the Demon Lord steps in. Before you know it, both girls have grown to kaiju size and start battling each other.

Jahy does her best to stop the warring girls, but ends up damaging the façade of the pub. The manager is only able to use her magic to make flowers, so Jahy asks Kyouko to transform and buy them some time. Jahy then sprouts bat wings, flies between the fighting kaiju girls, and gets severely injured when she gets zapped by their rays.

When they realize they’ve hurt Jahy the girls return to normal size. The white and pink one admits she did all of this because she wanted her older sister, the Demon Lord, to pay attention to her. Indeed, she first turned Kyouko into a Magical Girl for that purpose, but Kyouko was more powerful than she expected and destroyed her sisters realm. Jahy is understandably quite pissed off that everything that’s happened to her was due to a spat between extremely powerful sisters.

Jahy isn’t satisfied with a half-hearted apology from the Demon Lord’s sister, whose name is Su, but the manager forgives Su, asks for everyone’s help in fixing her pub, and thanks Jahy for putting herself in danger to protect her, but kindly asks that she not be so reckless next time. All’s well that ends well, right where we left off before the manager’s transformation: will Jahy open her own pub?

Jahy-sama wa Kujikenai! – 18 – Show-Off Always Shown Up in Showdown

With her newly-attained Magical Girl-esque powers and new light-blue threads, Saurva believes she’s perfectly prepared to finally defeat Jahy and become the new Number Two. However, she is thrown completely off her game by the fact that Jahy can’t for the life of her remember who Saurva is, beyond the girl she cheered up in the park in her child form.

Saurva, tired of being ignored and mocked, unleashes a flurry of direct strikes with her glowing golden sword, but all she manages to do is improve Jahy’s circulation, along with tickling her and giving her an itch. Shocked and pained by the fact that the bargain she made with that glowing golden being didn’t actually, Saurva runs away in embarrassment, unable to accept Jahy’s pity. She vows to defeat Jahy with her own power…later.

Little does Saurva know that the worst thing you can do to Jahy is ignore her without explanation. That’s exactly what Kokoro does when she runs from Jahy. In wallowing in frustration, Jahy reveals to the landlady that yes, she has made a friend whom she doesn’t call an underling. The manager tells Jahy to open her heart to Kokoro and they’ll be able to make up. Sure enough, Kokoro isn’t even mad at Jahy; she just has a toothache and doesn’t want Jahy to catch it.

The golden being that briefly gave Saurva the illusion of power becomes a rumor among ordinary humans like the landlady and manager, describing a ghost that asks its victims if they want power and sucking out their souls if they say or even think that they do. Jahy thinks it’s all a bunch of codswallop…though considering the things she’s done and been through, she’s not exactly the best judge of codswallop.

That said, the golden ghost—or whatever it is—confronts Jahy on her way home. She insists she doesn’t want even a smidgen of power, but the being charges towards her before she has time to transform into adult mode. Fortunately Druj swoops in and saves her, reporting to Jahy that she’s been hunting the being ever since she became aware of its existence. Jahy determines the best course is for her and Druj to join forces to defeat this thing…whose horns and voice definitely suggest it could be a form of the Demon Lord.

Jahy-sama wa Kujikenai! – 17 – A Better Bed to Lie In

While she was just a lowly underling in the Dark Realm, Druj has risen in the human world to lead a Fortune 500-equivalent company, and even launched a highly-successful line called For J, inspired exclusively by her desire to see Jahy in outfits other than her usual strappy black number.

But Druj is still miserable as long as she’s not by Jahy’s side, and furious when she finds out Kyouko works for her at her pub (even though Jahy neither employs Kyouko nor owns the pub). Druj still manages to divine a convoluted reasoning for Jahy is still the Same Old Jahy…without any input from Jahy needed.

Jahy has been doing well of late in all aspects of her life in the human world, but she can’t get a decent night’s sleep, and blames it on the grungy futon the landlady gave her when she first moved into her apartment. Feeling like she deserves a reward for everything she’s accomplished, he hits up a home goods store and buys the best futon they’ve got.

Ryou-chan comes by and tells Jahy she’s been scammed, but that claim is undone when moments after testing out the futon, both the landlady and Jahy fall right to sleep next to each other. This is the scene that greets the manager, who is happy to see what good friends Ryou-chan and Jahy have become.

Unfortunately, the sisters came to Jahy’s to deliver a spot of bad news: the water of the apartment building has to be shut off for three days. Instead of going without a sink and toilet for that time, they invite Jahy to their apartment above the pub instead.

Jahy accepts the offer, and suddenly her living situation has been upgraded considerably. Little does she know the manager had been hoping Jahy came around her place so she could dress her up in all of Ryou-chan’s old clothes and then snap photos of her. Like Druj, the landlady wants variety in Jahy’s wardrobe.

The reason the clothes fit now is that even in her child form, Jahy has physically grown since first arriving in the human world. Jahy warns the landlady that this also means she possesses the power to destroy her at any time, but the landlady trusts that Jahy would never do that. And judging from what we’ve seen of Jahy, she’s absolutely right.

Besides, the true destruction comes shortly after the manager suggests she, Ryou-chan and Jahy put their futons together for the night. That’s when Jahy learns that despite her sweet nature while awake, the landlady is an absolute menace while asleep, flopping around like a fish and throwing vicious kicks and jabs. Ryou-chan, obviously used to this, retreats to the edge of the room, while Jahy plans to return to her apartment ASAP.

The post-credits sequence is actually the most significant part of the episode, overarching plot-wise. At first it seems to be a series of running gags where the Magnificent Saurva thinks of various ways to torture and torment Jahy, all while doing good deeds around town: picking up litter, returning a lost girl to her mom, and helping an old lady across the street.

The dissonance between Saurva’s thoughts and actions and idea of herself as the ultimate Evil Bad Guy finally comes to a head when some kind of sparkly benevolent being—who vaguely resembles the Demon Lord and may be her good counterpart—bestows power upon Saurva, and turns her black uniform white.

It’s possible Saurva accidentally became a magical girl, as she’s given the same mission: destroy the mana crystals. In addition to being an interesting twist in Saurva’s fate and potentially setting up the series’ endgame, it’s also immensely funny development to behold.


Rating: 4/5 Stars

Jahy-sama wa Kujikenai! – 13 – Punching the Shark

The first half is a Jahy beach episode. Jahy is vibeing on her newly-found mana crystal and eager to find some more, but the manager and landlady insists she work at their uncle’s seaside restaurant. Every time Jahy tries to rush out into the sea to look for crystals, she’s lured back by yakisoba, ice cream, and the threat of being docked pay.

But the fact that the normally packed restaurant is almost empty, and it starts pouring when there was no rain in the forecast, and couples get in fights and lots of people end up in danger in the ocean, means that there must be mana crystals nearby, casuing all that misfortune. In the process of narrowing down exactly where they are, Jahy ends up rescuing dozens of people.

When it starts getting dark, the manager and landlady insist she give it up and come inside, but Jahy doesn’t give up, and she is rewarded in the eleventh hour with a bonanza of mana crystals. They’re small, but she harvests two big buckets worth of them, meaning she’s never been in a better position to take on the magical girl.

If she’d simply accept what must by not be several warehouses full of crystals from her underling Druj, Jahy might’ve already defeated the magical girl and restored the Dark Realm. But she’s never even considered taking Druj’s haul. Druj, who is having a bad stretch, is immediately cheered up when she spots Jahy (who is waiting for Kokoro), but is worried that living with humans has changed Jahy.

Praising her hard work, letting her sit next to her, telling her not to work too hard…this is not the Jahy Druj knows and loves, and because she’s an incurable masochist, she simply isn’t satisfied until Jahy berates or abuses her. Jahy goes just far enough to placate Druj, who goes on her merry way very much convinced Jahy-sama is the same second-in-commander who made her fill the holes she dug and threw wine in her face.

But we know better: Jahy’s insistence she’s the same is just another piece of the throne of lies she’s built around herself to save face with Druj. And I highly doubt she’ll go back to being an evil villainess after thirteen episodes of hanging with humans.

Jahy-sama wa Kujikenai! – 12 – All Dogs Go to the Dark Realm

This fun grab-bag of Jahy-sama situations begins with the most Wile E. Coyote-ish: Jahy finding a big mana crystal but assuming it’s a Magical Girl trap. While she analyzes all the ways she could be done in, the manager shows up and prepares to pick it up.

That’s when we see how much living among humans has made Jahy a better person: she dives at the rock to save the manager at the potential cost of her own life. She was scared to grab it before, but when her friend is in danger, she didn’t hesitate.

That acquired Jahy-sama goodness shows up again when she’s surveying the upgraded playground. While she’s trying to focus on looking for crystals, she can’t help but think of how to make Kokoro happy by going on the slide, the wobbly bridge (a favorite of wee me) or picking a flower for her. Then she spots Kokoro being accosted by two men, and again springs into action.

Turns out one of the men was just helping her up after she tripped, and Jahy committed unnecessary assault. When she spots the police, she runs for it, as she abhors any authority other than her own, and the police, with nothing better to do, give chase. Jahy ends up back at the station for questioning. Perhaps she shouldn’t have kicked that guy, but in the heat of the moment she put her beloved Kokoro’s safety first, so I can’t fault her.

Our next segment is another welcome Saurva-centric one. This time she’s completed “Woof Woof DX”, a potion that will transform Jahy into a subservient pup and give Saurva the second-in-command mantle she desires above all else.

Making the potion took many sleepless nights, and in her fatigue, Saurva accidentally drinks the potion instead of her matcha, and transforms into the very dog she intended Jahy to become. Not just physically, mind you…but mentally, Saurva starts acting more like a dog, despite herself.

This results in her running around outside instead of staying home and waiting for the potion to wear off. She encounters the white dog who chased her as a human, then encounters Jahy, and learns the unparalleled joys of having your tummy rubbed and playing fetch.

Later, when Dog!Saurva encounters the landlady she fears so much, she recoils, but soon learns the lady’s kinder side, as she leaves her umbrella behind to keep Saurva out of the rain. She concludes that people are nicer to dogs than her, and just when she gets used to the idea of being a dog a little longer, she turns back into a human…a naked human. This begs the question: she were arrested, who would she call?

The final segment post-credits is about the dangers of gambling. Jahy just wants to take Kokoro out for a shopping trip to the mall for snacks, but gets overly competitive over a crane game, and soon spends all of her money trying to get a big bag of snacks that costs far less than she put into the game.

It matters not in the end, as Jahy gets a lucky roll and wins the snacks with her last 100-yen coin. The taste of the steak and strawberry snacks is enhanced by the taste of victory, and having again proven her greatness to her dear Kokoro. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-Gambler!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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