Love Lab – 06

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While at the mall with Maki and Sayo, a boy who knew Riko approaches her. When Sayo wonders if Riko broke his heart, he blushes and runs off. She goes nuts trying to remember who he is. When a classmate tells her someone asked about her at cram school, Riko goes there and not only meets a second childhood friend, Jan, but the first guy as well, who doesn’t react well when she tells him she doesn’t remember him.

Back home she remembers him as Satoshi, whom she rejected in the third grade. The next day she goes back with Maki, who fails at trying to converse with Jan while Riko tries to smooth things over with Satoshi. Back at school, the council receives more requests for love advice, suggesting rumors they’re involved are spreading. When Riko and Maki’s guard is down, they let slip their involvement to Momo, a reporter for the school paper.

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This is an episode about complication. First, Riko, desperate to earn the lofty title of love master bestowed upon her by Maki and Suzu, is haunted by a guy whose heart she actually broke in the past, but can’t for the life of her remember. It isn’t until she’s up close and reads the same reaction she saw once years before that she starts to recall. And as it turns out, she couldn’t remember him for the same reason her mom gave, which pissed Riko off at the time: he’d gotten much manlier…as in he doesn’t look like a girl anymore (until he smiles, that is.)

It’s not just Riko’s love life getting more complicated. In the process of confronting Satoshi, Riko had to cut Maki loose with a guy, and while Maki has no earthly idea how to talk to a guy, Jan doesn’t make it easy with his aloof defensiveness (he thought Maki was making fun of him). But while she fails, she gained firsthand knowledge that some guys can be jerks. Romance aside, the complication that threatens Riko and Maki the most is the possibility their secret love advice ring will be brought out of the shadows, potentially ruining their reputations and the trust of the faculty, and thus ending their high school lives. Or…they could use the newspaper to anonymously publish their love advice…

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

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AnoHana 10

This series’ ability to really tug at the heartstrings without coming off as schmaltzy, while simultaneously infusing so much life and emotion into every single one of its characters, never ceases to amaze me. This show has almost rendered RABUJOI’s 4-ranking irrelevant – just about every episode has been excellent and a cut above most of the rest of this spring season, now winding to a close. This was one of the best yet, when all the build-up around Menma’s “firework send-off” comes to a super-dramatic head. Not one minute is wasted.
Poppo, planner-in-chief, plans a farewell party. Yukiatsu isn’t planning on going at first, preferring to wait for the rocket launch itself. But after meeting Anaru, he comes up with a plan, one that is both devious and necessary for catharsis. He convinces Anaru to re-enact that day years ago, when she asked Jintan if he loved Menma. This time, he tells the truth: he does. I thought for a moment Menma was going to disappear right there – but she just cries, and later tells him she loves him too, and probably would have ended up marrying him if she was still alive. This kills Jintan, because this is also what he wanted.

He’s so desperate to keep her around, he even asks if its okay if she just stays. But she wants to go to heaven; his mom taught her about reincarnation, which is her only hope of her being able to talk to everyone else. Jintan wants her to himself; but considers that maybe he alone isn’t enough for Menma. It isn’t fair to her. Saying he loves her out loud sends Anaru into a crying fit, at which point Tsuruko tells her she too has her unrequited love, (Yukiatsu), but her situation is worse: If Menma goes, Jintan may warm to Anaru, but Tsuruko never thinks Yukiatsu will come around to her.

This brings us to the climactic firework launch, which is gorgeously presented; I particularly loved the quick “camerawork” which lent to the tension and gravity of what was about to happen: Menma is really going to go, and Jintan doesn’t open his mouth to stop it until it’s too late. It’s up in the air, and with it, quite a bit of weight. Only one problem: It Didn’t Work. Menma is still there, and all the issues that come with her still being there remain as well. That’s fine with Jintan, but the obvious question is, what now? Only one episode left; will Menma ever go, and how will that happen? Rating: 4