Ore Monogatari!! – 11

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I used to dread beach episodes, but that was before I started watching great anime. I knew there was nothing to fear from an OM!! beach episode; on the contrary, I knew it would be a perfect opportunity for both Rinko and Takeo to take another step in their relationship: seeing each other half-naked.

One thing that’s so great about this show is that the straight-laced looking Rinko is the wild one, while the wild-looking Takeo is the straight-laced one. To him, the beach is about swimming and splitting watermelons and crabbing. To Rinko (and the rest of the guys), it’s mostly about the bods.

Rinko’s intense physical attraction to Takeo often overwhelms her, so it’s good she has a safety net of girlfriends who pick out an appropriate bikini for her, with the goal of getting his heart to skip A beat…not stop it!

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For all of Takeo’s words—both spoken and in his head—Rinko is convinced she must be at least as hot as she believes Takeo to be, or else she’s somehow not good enough. That inherent, presumed inferiority makes it tough for Rinko to reveal her swimsuit to Takeo. In fact, she reveals it to him when the sight of his rippling, sun-dappled muscles put her into a trance and she walks right into the line of fire of his watermelon-splitting stick. Thank God Takeo listens when Suna tells him to stop.

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When Takeo removes his blindfold to see what’s amiss, he catches a glimpse of his girlfriend in a bikini for the first time, and while Rinko doesn’t quite realize it, it’s Mission Accomplished. Takeo himself enters a wild hallucinatory episode, and only Suna’s calm words are able to snap him out of it. It takes effort for Takeo not to totally lose his shit over Rinko’s apocalyptic cuteness, and remind himself she’s dressed in clothes suited for the beach, just like him.

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Things continue to go bumpy for Rinko, though. When she daintily approaches him from behind at lunch, intending to snuggle up against him (something she both wants and her friends urge) his turn back at her causes her to execute Shunpo and retreat behind a column. Later, when she tries to casually grab his arm on the beach, she nearly steps on a sand castle.

Ironically, it’s Takeo who ruins the castle, when Rinko runs off, embarrassed. But thanks to Suna, whom the girls building the sand castle are more than willing to let take over, Takeo can go after his girlfriend.

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As the sun starts to set, Takeo finds her, sulking by the water. Rinko thinks she’s been “really bad” today, thinking only of herself and causing trouble for others. She’s obviously being too hard on herself, so it’s nice when Takeo sits beside her, she can stop worrying about that and draw one of those Japanese love umbrella things in the sand (which Takeo valiantly protects from the rising tide).

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Takeo doesn’t know if it’s the sunset, the swimsuit, or something else, but Rinko looks particularly beautiful to him there and then. The animation sells it, making great use of color, light, movement, and intimate close-ups. We see Rinko exactly as Takeo does, just as we saw how she sees him.

So in awe of the beauty before him, Takeo finally says not “I love her” in his head, but “I love you” out loud, to her face. She reciprocates the sentiment, adding the modifier “lots”, and if it wasn’t for Takeo’s asshole friends (not Suna mind you, who knew to stay the hell away), they’d have definitely shared their first kiss (with both of them awake) right then and there. That’s okay though; I didn’t feel cheated. That kiss will come.

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After fireworks, they board the bus home, and Rinko and Takeo make plans to hang out again, this time at a fireworks festival, where Rinko will try to get his heart to skip with a yukata, believing she failed to do so in a swimsuit. But she couldn’t be more wrong.

As Takeo looks on, he remarks to himself how these two are so rarely on the same page. Yet it likely doesn’t matter, because they’re both so happy. We the audience know that nothing in either of their heads would change that.

Part of what makes romance so exciting, especially early on, is not knowing everything going on in your lover’s head…and the later realization that what was in their head was everything you wanted anyway.

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Suisei no Gargantia: Meguru Kouro, Haruka – 01

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So here’s something I wasn’t expecting: a 2-part, hour-long each, OVA extension to the Gargantia series. There it was though and, unlike the ‘unreleased’ and ‘bonus’ episodes that came with the original series’ Blu-Ray release, it’s caca-awful. Still beautiful but man-o-man is this a steamy whale-squid corpse!

Full disclosure: the translation I had access to was laughably terrible. Not even funny ‘Engrish’ bad. Just nigh incoherent and if I didn’t understand a little Japanese, I would have been truly lost by its deep philosophical conversations that were completely missing proper nouns or sentence subjects of any kind.

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For those of you who remember it, Garganita was a lovely, slowly building show about a human from space accidentally re-finding Earth, and finding it not only completely submerged under an endless ocean, but inhabited by space-living-humans’ nemesis: whale-squids.

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It was a pleasantly told story about coming to understand more about people, about machines and momentum that can make conflict keep happening even when it is unnecessary, and it was spiked with great mecha-action sequences and brilliantly detailed backgrounds.

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SnG:MKH keeps the backgrounds and is generally fantastic to look at. However, the first 30 minutes of the story are devoted to a garbled retelling of the series and OAVs to Reema, a new girl in the flying delivery crew.

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I may have been okay with this — I may have been okay with the difficult to follow flashbacks of Chamber set during different times in the previous series that we haven’t seen before OR could have managed the bloated cast that includes all the OAV characters from crazy fleet as well as new ones — but then we got to the bath house/fan service scenes less than 20 mins in…

Really? REALLY??

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I can’t call this OVA bad or even lazy, per se. It does provide original animation for much of it’s flash backs and it’s still lovely to look at. There’s also a new plot, smeared indecisively all over the place too.

Unfortunately, it mostly comes off as talking heads and Reema seems only to exist to flesh out the world for people who didn’t actually watch the original series. Why those people would want to watch this show, and why this shouldn’t be annoying to anyone who did watch it, is entirely beyond me?

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If you can wade through the emptiness of the story telling and don’t mind what feels like an endless number of cameos from characters that don’t matter now (and honestly barely mattered to begin with) then it’s a pretty, unusual looking show with lots of water with no story to tell.

If any of those things annoy you, as they annoy me, or that you haven’t seen the original show already…just skip this thing!

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Free! – 06

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Makoto swims out to save Rei, but his thalassophobia freezes him, and he must himself be saved by Haru, while Nagisa saves Rei. Makoto comes to just as Haru is about to give him the kiss of life. The four find themselves on Sukishima island, find shelter in the rest house, and find some food. Nagisa comes up with a game for them to play, which leads to Makoto telling everyone the story of how he came to fear of the sea, which only Haru knew about. Makoto, buoyed by his friends, leads the way on the swim back to shore the next morning.

Free! returns from a weeklong break with, among other things, the rather obvious fact that Rei was not going to end up drowning. His three swimmates went out for him – not necessarily a smart move either, considering once Haru gets Makoto out of the sea, he seems initially clueless about how to revive him (though he eventually almost gives Makoto mouth-to-mouth). The episode briefly transitions into a haunted house scenario and then the equivalent of truth-or-dare by the campfire, in which Makoto admits his secret to all (except Haru, who already knew and tries to protect him by telling Rei to drop it).

Set off in any direction in Japan and it won’t take long until you hit ocean, making it significant that Makoto fears the ocean. He was traumatized by the deaths at sea of a fisherman friend of his and the crew of a boat that sank in a storm, the same distance away from land the swim team has been swimming in their regimen. The thought of Rei meeting the same fate momentarily suspends Makoto’s phobia, but not long enough to save Rei. Had Haru and Nagisa not woken up, Rei and Makoto could well have drowned, but it wasn’t their time to go. They’ve got a tournament to win!

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Baby, Please Kill Me! – 05

In which Yasuna tries to get Sonya to help her catch bugs…and gets smacked by Sonya; Yasuna and Sonya enjoy various festival activities…and Yasuna gets smacked by Sonya; and Yasuna makes puppet counterparts of her and Sonya…and gets smacked by Sonya. There’s also a cool beetle that  says “‘Sup.”

We have to hand it to Yasuna Oribe; the girl can take a punch. But all that physical punishment can’t be helping her IQ. Perhaps there’s a little masochist in her, and she longs for the back of Sonya’s hand across her face or her foot in her ribs. Or perhaps there’s something darker to it: Yasuna has started to expect abuse because she recieves it so often.

Bottom line: this isn’t a friendship. Sonya is a horrid bully who beats Yasuna every chance she gets. She is a brutal menace who must be stopped. Maybe with a ninja technique…like calling the police and filing assault charges. Ah, who are we kidding. Yasuna would be lost without Sonya. Without someone to annoy and bounce themes off of, she would surely turn to a life of delinquency and n’er-do-wellness…


Rating: 3

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Nako’s the quiet, shy, nervous one, right? Well, yes and no. Turns out Nako would have preferred to be born a fish, because she prefers swimming in a sea to the ordinary human world. But she considers her home a sea, and a haven, in which to be herself. She has a big, loving family that can be a hassle sometimes.

But this “Real Nako” is loud, cheerful, and assertive. Somebody we’ve only seen in the shortest of bursts – when she rescues the author from drowning, for instance. She is also grown quite comfortable with Ohana and Minko, to the point they’re almost like sisters…almost. She’s still nowhere near as loose and free around them as she is at home.

When she recieves a considerable raise from the madam manager, she assumes it comes with the expectation she’ll improve. This comes from her father’s philosophy towards child-rearing: praise your child, and she’ll strive to improve herself to be worthy of that praise (contrast this with her mother’s more tough-love stance). Nako is aware of the disconnect between her “real” self and how she acts at the inn, at school, and anywhere else in public.

After trying in vain to “change” herself by spending lots of money on a new outfit and coming to work trying to act like she does at home, she makes a mistake that lands her in trouble. It is then that the manager tells her her raise wasn’t a challenge, but a reward, after guests wrote her a glowing report. Despite not having to change, I do hope to see a little more of that real Nako; she was way more fun to watch.


Rating: 3.5