Ao-chan Can’t Study! – 04 – A New Challenger Approaches

After waking from a recurring dream where a younger Ao is teased by her peers for the origin of her name (which is messed up enough) things only get worse for Ao, as her father presents her with a gaudy envelope left by a young woman. Inside is a photo of the girl in bed with Takumi.

Ao doesn’t understand why he’s chasing her if he already has a woman…unless he wants a threesome (he doesn’t). But his soccer senpai says Takumi attended to a mixer and claims he “went home” with one of the girls there. The “confirmation” leaves Ao a wreck…though her father didn’t help by painting the girl as resembling one of his “insatiable beauty” characters.

The girl in question turns out to be Takaoka Miyabi, one of Ao’s classmates in grade school who knew her raunchy name origin. Miyabi makes it plain to Ao: shit or get off the pot. Correction: just get off the pot; she wants Miyabi and she detests women who string men along, like she thinks Ao is doing

Of course, Ao isn’t doing that: her delaying is the result of her struggling with feelings she’s never felt, doesn’t understand, and which have been warped by her unorthodox upbringing. When Takumi calls her to assure her nothing happened at the mixer, Ao has already made up a narrative of what happened—and what’s happening—in her head.

So she tells Takumi not to talk to her at school anymore. He doesn’t, and avoids her, which neither of them like, and Miyabi swoops in and snags a date with him.

Everything would seem to be going to plan for Miyabi, who is, ironically using the very “manual” written by Ao’s dad, under a female pseudonym, that he also offered to his daughter. There’s just one problem: Takumi has no romantic interest in her, is concerned with Ao, and she can tell.

Fate itself seems to favor Ao when she and Takumi end up together in a haunted house—though it’s so dark they don’t realize who each other are until simulated lightning strikes reveal it. But their fight continues, as Ao insists Takumi find Miyabi and continue on his date.

Later that night, Miyabi is determined to take Takumi to a hotel and get a real picture with him; the one she sent Ao was simply photoshopped. Her impressive ‘shopping skills aside, she can probably no doubt sense Takumi’s distraction from Ao…and so asks what he’s going to do about her.

Takumi doesn’t know because he’s not sure whether Ao likes him or not, but the way he describes her flaws as things he’s not bothered by makes it clear he’s not over her yet. So Miyabi tells him Ao doesn’t like her, and is merely being “cocky” making him wait for her answer. But she assures him that her emotions and intentions are clear.

Quite the stirring soap opera hot pot we have simmering here! I must say I wasn’t expecting such a cliffhanger, or for a half-length episode to be packed with so much story. What will young Takumi do…take the easier route with a willing Miyabi, or try to make up with Ao and, in doing so, provide a means for them to gain more insight into each other’s feelings?

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Danganronpa: The Animation – 12

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Monobear unlocks all the doors in the school, and Naegi and Kirigiri enter the principal’s office. Naegi uses her name as the password on his computer, revealing a secret passage where Naegi finds his bones, his electronic handbook, and a memory card containing a video of the students agreeing to spend the rest of their live sin the school. Naegi also finds Hagakure’s and Kirigiri’s lockers, the latter containing a notebook where she writes of “two despairs.”

Monobear distributes photos to everyone in which the recipient is the only one not present. The classroom trial begins, and after Ikusaba and Kirigiri are ruled out, it’s determined that everyone has amnesia. After analyzing Monobear’s behavior, Naegi concludes that Enoshima Junko is the mastermind, who faked her death by killing Ikusaba. Monobear transforms into Junko, who admits she and Ikusaba were twins – the “two despairs” Kirigiri wrote about.

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We say this a lot about Danganronpa, but we should have seen this coming. Maizono Sayaka was discovered as the first murder victim, but Junko was the only student who was neither a murder victim or an executed culprit; and while many have challenged Monobear, she was the only one to pay the price with his “Spear of Gungnir.” We also remember her admitting all of her modelling work was photoshopped, but in every class photo everyone accepts as genuine, her face is hidden.

It also makes sense now why we never saw nor heard from Ikusaba Mukuro, as Junko had long ago killed her off posing as her, then proceded with the mutual school killing arc with Monobear as her avatar. Finally, as revealed photos show, she and Mukuro both resemble one another, albeit with different hair and clothes. This show proves it’s full of devious surprises in bringing back a character we thought was an afterthought who quickly met her end by breaking the rules. All the students thought that too, which is why they’re equally shocked that Junko is the mastermind. But that’s the truth.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)