Sukitte Ii na yo – 13 (Fin)

The day after a long walk with Mei, Yamato catches a cold and stays home from school. Nagi also plays hooky to take care of him. Mei’s friends make her leave school early, but when she calls Yamato, Nagi answers, telling her he doesn’t want to see her. Asami calls her and the guys encourage her to see him. Meanwhile Hayakawa calls Yamato, telling him he has a new girlfriend. Yamato gets it in his head it’s Mei, and races to the bakery, just missing Mei. When she calls him his battery is dead. She wanders to a sculpture where they met up for a date, and he appears just as she’s composing another text.

Was this going to be an indulgent, feel-good epilogue showing Mei and Yamato, Yamato and Mei, the perfect little couple skipping around town having adventures and taking things nice and slow? Uhhh…no. Instead, “Say ‘I Love You'” put both Mei and Yamato and us through an emotional spin cycle for twenty-two minutes and fifty-five seconds. There’s drama. There’s despair. There’s suspicion, regret, and doubt. There’s a whole lot of unfortunate coincidences. But then there’s one more coincidence that works out: Yamato and Mei meet by that sculpture, and all the confusion and exasperation melts away with one big ‘ol hug and in this exchange:

– Sorry for what happened earlier. Nagi had my phone…
It’s okay.

We’re not so sure it was ‘okay’ back when Mei thought Yamato was mad at him for pushing him away when he tried to get lovey-dovey, or when Yamato, possibly delirious, got worried Mei thought he was gross and got with Hayakawa instead. These two lovebirds still clearly have much to learn about handling their love for one another, but with help and support from their friends (Asami, Kenji, Aiko, Masashi and Kai all provide nice assists), they’ll doubtless muddle through just fine. They’re already in love with one another, after all. All the jealous sisters and dead batteries in the world won’t alter that fact.

Our only teensy gripe with this otherwise great finale? It’s ambiguous whether Mei actually said “I Love You” out loud to Yamato. The reverb suggests it was in her head. C’mon, Mei! Ganbatte!

Rating: 8 (Great)


Btooom! – 07

Sakamoto runs into Miyamoto and Natsume, narrowly escaping with his life (and without his BIMs), only to lead them back to where he, Himiko and Taira are hiding out. Miyamoto chops Taira’s fingers off, tosses Sakamoto off a ledge, and takes Himiko away, but Sakamoto lands in a tree and goes after him, believing Himiko is actually his vitual wife from Btooom. Sakamoto is able to take out Natsume, but Miyamoto grabs Himiko, who later activates a gas bomb hanging from Miyamoto’s shirt. Sakamoto finishes him off with a timer BIM, and he and Himiko are safe for the time being.

Even if Miyamoto Masashi wasn’t the best ex-mercenary, Sakamoto proved his valor, making up for leading Miyamoto to their hideout by rescuing Himiko and taking him and his crazy lawyer ally out. While Sakamoto insisted before he wouldn’t play the game, in this case, it was kill or be killed, in a rousing episode packed with violence, including chopped-off digits (poor Taira!), threats of flaying (poor Himiko!) and gross, melty faces (served him right). It was also packed with mistakes by Miyamoto, who decided it’d be a good idea to hang bombs from his shirt for anyone to trigger.

He also took his sweet ol’ time killing Himiko and Sakamoto, giving them ample opportunities to foil him, which of course they did. We suppose that’s overconfidence and a low opinion of his enemy. And then there’s the prospect we’d thought all along of Himiko being “the” Himiko Sakamoto “married” in Btooom. She denies it, but then why does she look and sound just like her? Like SAO, there’s not enough differentiation between real life characters and their online personas for us to suspend belief they’d recognize each other. Regardless, here’s hoping Himiko is finally coming around to trusting Sakamoto, who by now has saved her life many times (and she his).

Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Btooom! – 06

Sakamoto, Taira, and an unconscious Himiko are surrounded by Komodo dragons, and Sakamoto learns he can’t use the BIMs of a player he hasn’t killed. They get away, but not before Taira is badly bitten in the leg. The lizards keep pursuing them until they reach a compound near the sea. Unable to climb the rusty ladder while carrying Himiko, Sakamoto uses her hand to activate her gas bomb and heaves it into the forest, dispersing the lizards. After disinfecting Taira’s wound, Sakamoto asks Himiko to explain how she ended up with so many supplies and BIMs. But she’s spotted by another player’s sonar. Sakamoto acts as a decoy, but he is jumped by a dagger-wielding Masashi Miyamoto.

The unlikely triad of Sakamoto, Taira and Himiko is off to a rough start. Komodos very rarely launch unprovoked attacks on humans; most retreat at the sight of them, and use several defensive measures to further avoid contact. They just happened to get cornered by bad-tempered Komodos with no fear of man. It’s only a problem if you’re unprepared, and Sakamoto is, reaching for a BIM that isn’t his and learning it won’t work at the worst possible moment. We’re also a little fuzzy on how throwing a BIM right at Taira and Himiko kills the dragons right next to them without harming them at all. Also, we noticed both Sakamoto and Taira have sleeved shirts. Why they didn’t immediately wash Taira’s venom-filled bite and dress it with the cloth, we have no idea.

Those practical hiccups aside, both Sakamoto and Taira have episodes where they suspect the other has betrayed them, and immediately start to lose their shit and curse their names. When Himiko finally (and conveniently) wakes up, she has nothing but contempt and distrust for her saviors because they’re men, and she’s done with men. Sakamoto turns things around on her and wonders if she’s killed players, and how many. All the while, back in Japan at Tyrannos HQ, techies are monitoring them on camera, to collect data. Sending them away to the island wasn’t just to satisfy the family, friends, or associates who voted for them, but perhaps to make a better game. And they may not be the first batch…this just keeps getting more messed up.

Rating: 6 (Good)