Koufuku Graffiti – 10

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We were a little confused at first by the new face of Uchiki Yuki (Iguchi Yuka; or Index to Ryou’s Railgun), but this was a beautiful episode about anxiety, loneliness, and the power of pizza to tackle both.

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With Winter in its last throes but Spring yet to bloom (much like the weather where I am), Kirin is worried about a lot of things, from getting into high school to making friends there, to the state of the country’s crops and the effect of environmental damage on the earth.

After a horror movie doesn’t help Kirin’s mood, Ryou remembers she left the futons out on the balcony, and that’s when the two of them hear a depressing phone conversation from Ryou’s shy, sad, lonely neighbor directly below them.

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When one of Ryou’s futons slips off the balcony, it takes Kirin with it, which turns out to be a fateful incident. Ryou was ready to stop eavesdropping and go inside, but Kirin’s spill means they have no choice but to interact with Yuki, and vice-versa.

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Because we’re dealing with three uncommonly nice people, the earnest apologies fly where insults might infect the interactions of lesser humans. Ryou and Kirin both notice Yuki gets so stuck in her thoughts she creates and reacts outwardly to entire narratives she cooks up in there.

Kirin sees the same anxiety in Yuki that she herself is feeling, and that anxiety, while negative on its own, becomes a positive because it brings these two together. It also shows Yuki that if someone as bright and spunky as Kirin can feel the same things she can, she suddenly doesn’t feel so alone.

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A ring at the doorbell comes; it’s a pizza delivery girl. And boy, this might just be the tastiest pizza I have ever seen animated. In fact, it is. But while she obviously doesn’t skimp when it comes to quality, there’s still a pointed sadness to Yuki’s practicality: the pizza’s toppings are split four ways so she won’t get sick of it even if she eats it for all three meals—which she’s been doing for three weeks.

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Yuki offers the pizza to Ryou and Kirin for their trouble, but Ryou has a far better idea—an idea borne out of her experience sharing food with others, something she’s still rather new to herself: she invites Yuki upstairs so they can eat the pizza together.

As if the pizza wasn’t tasty-looking enough, Ryou and Kirin sweeten the deal with their usual poetic, over-the-top reactions to enjoying food, a display that Yuki finds both intriguing and uplifting.

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Ryou insists Yuki have a slice herself, assuring her it will taste better if she eats with them. Yuki gives in, and sure enough, she has the same kind of experience we’ve come to expect from Ryou, Kirin, and Shiina. In fact, eating the pizza with them brings out a whole other side of her personality. She doesn’t hold her tongue when it comes to describing the deliciousness.

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The unexpectedly joyful evening, along with Ryou and Kirin’s invitation for home-cooked meal in the future, infuses Yuki with a fresh courage and outlook on her situation, which she uses to bravely face an orientation the next day.

Meanwhile, Ryou learned that a very nice person lives close by whom she should hang out more with, and Kirin learned that as long as she has as a full stomach, she too can face whatever the future brings.

As for me, in all honesty I would have ordered a fancy pizza from a gourmet pizzeria nearby, but it’s St. Patrick’s Day and I’ve corned beef on the stove. Oh well; there’s always tomorrow!

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Tokyo Trip Journal 7

10 June, Heisei 22 (Thurs)

This morning heralded in a clear, warm, sunny, and absolutely perfect day to visit Tokyo’s waterfront district, a reclaimed “Inner Harbor/Harbor East”-like area known as Odaiba. The ruby Uedo. line took me form Shinjuku to Shiodome, and then I only needed to hop on the Yurikamome monorail to take me across the part of Tokyo Bay to Odaiba. As I write this I am enjoying a Georgia Iced Latter (a Coca-Cola product) with the Rainbow Bridge across the bay from me, Tokyo Tower and Roppongi Hills visible behind it in the distance, the eccentric Fuji TV Building at my back, and, oddly enough, a third-scale but otherwise exact replica of the Statue of Liberty to the right.

Odaiba is also home to Toyota Mega Web, the largest Toyota auto salon in the country, but less stylish than the one in Ikebukuro. It is also home to a gallery of automotive history, containing some real gems I had not had a good look at in the flesh before (E-Type, De Lorean, Isetta, Spider, Mustang, Biarritz, etc., along with some notable specimens from Toyota’s storied racing history. At least at the hour I was there, I was apparently the only one interested. From Aomi I dashed to the next station to get an up-close look at Tokyo Big Sight, described as either an upside-down version of the Pyramid building from Blade Runner, or your average convention center flipped upside down and suspended on stilts. It is an insane piece of architecture, very sci-fi. Btw, each monorail station has a unique color and pattern decoration derived from Japanese art and design history. What significance this holds alludes me at this time, but its still neat, and I appreciate the attention to detail, as always.

After sightseeing in Odaiba, I finished the Yurikamome monorail loop to get my 800 yen’s worth, ending at Toyosu station on the Yurakucho line, which conveniently connected to Sakuradamon, on the side of the Imperial Palace grounds I hadn’t been to yet. First I took a quick look at the National Diet building, a handsome structure combining elements of Japanese and Art Deco architecture.

The gardens and plazas surrounding the palace moat were gorgeous and impeccably tended. I wondered what life was like up there on the raised stone ramparts, and whether the Emporer ever walked along its perimeter, gazing out onto the modern city beyond his moat. I had to wonder, because you cannot see much; the main gate was firmly closed and under heavy guard, and the one of the only good views in, while picturesque, still didn’t allow visual access to the palace residences themselves. No biggie though, it was cool just to get as close as I did.

Hungry, i went east to the modern city to find a place for lunch. I found one in “Banri”, another no-nonsense value-for-money place, where I stuffed myself on a miso-like stew with cured pork, mushrooms, bok choy, bamboo shoots and scallions, with excellent pork fried rice on the side. Portions at these restaurants tend to be huge, and people typically eat quite fast. I take my time cleaning my plate, again so as not to offend. Ometachi station was right next door, so I took the now very familiar red Marunouchi line to Shinjuku, where I decided to satisfy my curiosity regarding the “Toto Super Space” on the 27th floor of the Shinjuku L-Tower. The fixtures on display were quite slick…and expensive.

After a brief rest in my room and a shower, I head somewhere I haven’t been before – Ebisu – on the Hibiya line. Ebisu is apparently a diner’s haven; as soon as I emerged from the station I was assaulted by hundreds of places to eat. Choosing where to eat when there are so many good choices can be excrutiating, but I bit the bullet and chose somewhere. I’d eaten Japanese-style food essentially every night I was here, so I decided to switch it up and try out an Italian place called Palermo. They made a mean Margherita pizza.