HaruChika – 02

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There are elements of HaruChika that I enjoy: the character design (particularly the eyes); the playful sibling-like interactions of Haruta and Chika; and in the case of this week, some legitimate emotional resonance towards the climax, as the tiny band attempts to recruit talented oboist Narushima Miyoko, who flat-out refuses.

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That’s where my reservations about HaruChika start to rear their ugly head. Only a week removed from the revelation that Haru and Chika are in a love triangle with their band instructor Kusakabe, practically nothing more about that plot point is explored, aside from the two perking up like meerkats every time Kusakabe enters the room.

I’m not saying the triangle should be the focus of every week, but it was disorienting to have a brand new character’s story (compelling and cathartic as it turned out to be), totally dominate only the second episode of the show, when we’ve just barely gotten to know the titular characters. Heck, we don’t even know why Chika likes Kusakabe enough to justify her as a legitimate vertex in a love triangle; at least Haruta gave something of an explanation last week.

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Another problematic element of HaruChika? The mysteries, and in particular how they’re solved. Sure, it’s all well and good to eliminate abnormalities in all sensory inputs (the strange smell tipped Haruta off to the idea of painted sides on the Rubik’s Cube).

But two weeks in Haruta has been pigeonholed into two very narrow spaces: his apparent infatuation with Kusakabe, and his vast knowledge of…well, whatever knowledge is needed to solve the mystery of the week.

As in all of the knowledge. And as with last week, he made a point to delay the reveal of his findings until such as time as it would deliver the biggest dramatic punch. It feels a bit like the writers trying to hide behind Haruta’s intellect and vanity.

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There’s also an element of pushiness and intrusion into the life of someone who didn’t ask for such intrusion that left a bad taste in my mouth, despite the ends mostly justifying the means. I’m as happy as Chika that Miyo decides to play the oboe again, but they had to put her through the wringer in order to get her to that point.

Who is Haruta to say it’s time for her to stop grieving and move on? Who are Haru and Chika to use Miyo’s middle school friend to infiltrate Miyo’s house against her express wishes to be left alone? I’ll tell ya who: they’re people who put their brass band’s regional eligibility above the privacy of their classmates.

“Haruta knows best” was a key takeaway. He may, and it all worked out, but it can be a little unseemly at times, whether he’s opening a wound that gets him slapped around by Miyo, or sneaking in a dig against Chika at almost every opportunity.

Next week’s preview hints at another member being recruited—they have a lot to go before they can compete in earnest—but while there may be another intricate mystery involved in bringing that new member into the fold, I fear it will be another instance of neglecting a love triangle that requires further development sooner rather than later for me to stay engaged.

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Kamisama Hajimemashita – 03

Nanami recieves her first youkai visitor, Himemiko of the Isara Swamp. She requests Nanami help her make a match between herself and a human, Kotaro, who just turned 18. She comforted him when he was crying by the swamp ten years ago. Tomoe warns Nanami about the taboo of youkai-human love, but she ignores him, and finds Kotaro in an ice cream shop. Tomoe gives Himemiko human form so she can meet him, and Kotaro comes around. When two thuggish punks approach Himemiko, Nanami gives Kotaro the nudge he needs to rescue her.

Tomoe is trying to control Nanami, but ultimately she has all the power, and once she learns he’ll obey her without complaint if she simply yells passionately at him, she asserts that power with relish, meeting with youkai royalty and agreeing to set up a meeting between youkai and human in spite of the taboo against it. She’s a god; if she can’t give people hope, even against impossible odds, then what good is she? Especially when the odds turn out to be not nearly as impossible as originally feared.

We were expecting the timid, Rubik’s Cube-spinning Kotaro to run away screaming at the sight of what is essentially a swamp monster, but Tomoe does good work, and he’s able to transform her into a cute-as-a-button human girl (though she has to work on lowering those eyelids, plus table those creepy tongue clicks). Kotaro, initially suspicious, warms up to her; their meeting is a most affable one. He even prepares to stand up to two guys twice his size bothering her, thanks to a spiritual and literal nudge by Nanami, which is all she as a god is supposed to offer.


Rating: 8 (Great)