Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo – 02

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While last week was an exploration of two very different people finding common ground in each others bodies (that sounds kinda wrong, but bear with me), while a third supports them, while this week explored the ironies and misunderstandings inherent in suddenly throwing a fourth member into the club, Ito Miyabi, complete with her own set of charms, and neuroses. She’s voiced by Uchida Maaya, no stranger to playing weirdos.

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Itou joins and proceeds to thoroughly clean the supernatural club room. The others don’t tell her they’re in the room because it’s a safe place to switch bodies—which is far more supernatural than materia stones and UFO photos. Instead, they simply accept her intermittent existence in the room without explaining anything.

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So when she inevitably walks in on Ryuu and Urara kissing, she gets the very reasonable impression that the others never intended to start the supernatural club back up, but only wanted a place to make out. Slowing her roll and telling her the truth from the start might have been tricky, but now they have a scorned Itou out for revenge, which is worse.

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Itou’s campaign of vengeance consists of distributing posters, fliers, and rumors about how Yamada and Shiraishi are an item. When Yamada sees that the rumors are isolating Shiraishi again, he takes the rash step of cornering a hostile Itou in the clubroom and coming clean the quickest way he can: by kissing her.

This is actually played as a pretty uncomfortable scene, with Itou’s face a flurry of expressions from fear, nervousness, bashfulness, to acceptance, and then the face of Itou (in-Yamada’s body) before Yamada (in-Itou’s body) clocks her.

Chalk the discomfort to Yamada feeling he neither has time or the wherewithal to properly explain, and Itou her hostile state wasn’t going to listen.

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After the obligatory check of Itou’s body, Yamada proceeds to try to undo all the harm Itou’s rumors caused, only to find no one took them seriously, because she’s known around school for making stuff up, like UFOs and such. Shiraishi even admits she was alone because it’s close to exams and she asked not to be disturbed!

So Yamada’s desperate measure turned out to be completely unnecessary, while switching bodies had far greater consequences, as Itou (in Yamada’s body) disappears after being spotted posing in the mirror, striking poses, and performing finishing moves.

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A search of Itou’s phone reveals she was being hustled for supernatural objects by some thugs, and decided to go after them in Yamada’s body. She gets her ass kicked, but Yamada (in Itou’s body) shows up and takes the thug trio out, introducing us to the idea that Yamada’s stronger body wasn’t enough to fight her enemies; Yamada fights with his spirit, so even in Itou’s body, he kicks ass. I really like this concept.

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After switching back to their own bodies, Itou is content to withdraw with dignity, but Yamada shows her her completed club application, re-welcoming her into the supernatural club. At the end of the day, Itou was lonely and looking to become more popular at school, and while the path to get there had a few corkscrews and switchbacks, she’s now in a club with far better caliber people than she first imagined when she saw them kissing.

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Itou also puts the possibilities of the body-swapping into high gear, testing out every possible combination between the four of them. I’ll admit I lost track watching the scene the first way through (which I think was kinda the point), but the order goes like this:

  1. Yamada switches with Shiraishi (when Itou shoves him into her).
  2. Miyamura kisses Yamada (in Shiraishi’s body).
  3. Itou kisses Yamada (in Miyamura’s body).
  4. Miyamura (in Shiraishi’s body) kisses Yamada (in Itou’s body).

That right there is some big-league comedic complexity. It’s a wonderfully absurd sequence and all the voice actors do a great job imitating each other’s voice patterns and modulations.

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In the end, we finally meet more witches, though they’re not identified as such. I’m not sure where this whole power struggle for class president between Miyamura and Odagiri Nene (Kitamura Eri) is going, but nor do I really care…yet. 7-nin will have its work cut out for it integrating stodgy politics into the far more fun body-swapping narrative.

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Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo – 01 (First Impressions)

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Franklin has had a ridiculous schedule these days, so while he had first dibs on Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, he passed it to me. Lucky me! Yamada-kun is a fast-paced, nice-looking, tightly-constructed supernatural comedy backed by some truly inspired voice performances, and a helpful dose of always-welcome heart.

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Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches’ first episode interestingly has no witches in it, at least not any who identify themselves. But I didn’t miss them. Instead we have your typical unmotivated n’er-do-well Yamada Ryou who falls down some steps with perfect honor student Shiraishi Urara…and they switch bodies.

While Yamada does the obligatory pat-down of his new female body, resulting in the classic bloody nose, he also learns that Shiraishi is the unresistant victim of persistent bullying, as well as the victim of hassling by a trio of smitten geeks.

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Yamada may be a delinquent, he still has a sense of honor and justice, but when he offers to help Shiraishi with her problems, she outright refuses, even coming between a punch from Yamada (in her body) which was meant to stop just short of hitting the bully, but hits Shiraishi (in Yamada’s body) instead.

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The two try to return to their own bodies by falling down the stairs again—several times (don’t try this at home…or at school, kids!) to no avail—Shiraishi suggests they kiss, since they inadvertantly kissed on the first fall. Lo and behold, it works. I liked how straightforward Shiraishi was about kissing Yamada…after all, they’ve already shared each other’s bodies; and from her POV she’s essentially kissing herself. Tough-guy Yamada’s a lot more bashful.

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I can’t go on in this review without first giving serious props to Osaka Ryota and Hayami Saori, who have to pull double duty and absolutely nail it. When Shiraishi is in Yamada’s body, and Yamada in Shiraishi’s, Osaka and Hayami do a superb job inhabiting the other’s unique vocal patterns.

Kudos to the animation team as well, which gives Yamada a much more serene look when Shiraishi’s in him, while Shiraishi’s facial expressions and limbs are all over the place when Yamada’s in her.

On the flip side, both the seiyus and animators also understand that two people who suddenly switched bodies still wouldn’t be able to impersonate one another that well, thus the actual person within the body shines through loud and clear, even when they’re trying to hide it.

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This means anyone looking for something fishy about the couple is going to catch on pretty quickly, and that’s just what happens with StuCo VP Miyamura Toranosuke (Masuda Toshiki), who sets up a nifty trap that confirms his suspicions, getting beaten up by the geeks (a hilarious bit of classic comic turnabout) so “Shiraishi” has to defend herself, using an unmistakably Yamada roundhouse kick (Yamada also isn’t used to fighting in a skirt, hence the pantyshot).

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Some interesting comedic touches: Miyamura and Shiraishi checking out Yamada’s junk, and Yamada suddenly sitting down on a chair covered with cobwebs.

Their secret is out, but while Miyamura has intentions, they’re more opportunistic than sinister: he wants Yamada and Shiraishi to join the dormant Supernatural Club so he can start it back up. He also wants to see how far the body-swapping-by-kiss goes, and quickly determines Yamada can swap with anyone by kissing them.

Thus the two-person body-swapping act is expanded to three, and then four when an eavesdropping classmate (Uchida Maaya) enters the club with the intention to join. I really like where this first episode went, even before we’ve even seen any titular witches. I just hope where it’s going is as good, and with a lot more seiyu star power behind it, I doesn’t seem likely to disappoint.

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