Wave, Listen to Me! – 04 – The Pleasure of Despair

The first day of Minare’s life gets off to a rough start as in the space of what feels like just a second or two, she oversleeps three hours. It’s a very relatable experience, and why I find myself so invested in Minare as a person. Like any other person, she’s often forced to react to things—good or bad—that come at her quite suddenly.

Far faster than the turtles she agrees to feed. One of those things is the breakfast Mizuho prepared for Minare. It’s so considerate and tasty she jokes that she’d marry Mizuho in a heartbeat and make love to her every night…until she finds the way-too-detailed feeding instructions! Suddenly things aren’t as simple as the seemed.

She sets out on a job-hunting excursion in slim hopes of gaining both an employer and sponsor. When Katou informs her of the massive cost of sponsorship, she basically gives up. But by having Nakahara join her, she finds life suddenly tossing her back into her own job, as Takahara and her replacement were injured in a car accident.

While it’s a dream come true for Nakahara—he always dreamed of running a restaurant as husband and wife—Minare is more ambiguous, and with good reason. Leaving Voyager felt like a step forward; returning there erases that step. And she’s still not sure about Nakahara as a partner; she asks him to wait until she’s 30…which is four years. Nakahara might be the kind of guy to wait that long, but does she really want a man who’ll do that?

Then the fourth woman in the pencil-sketched ED is introduced: Tachibana Makie (Noto Mamiko), the sister of the man who caused the accident involving Takarada. She comes offering her services for free, filling a much-needed labor gap.

She starts out washing dishes, then waits tables, works in the kitchen, and develops a new menu item. She even updates the blog, and gets rave online reviews for her gentle, quiet manner. And yet she seems to make Minare uneasy and suspicious—why would someone go this far on behalf of their brother?

There may be no need to be dubious of Makie’s motives, but because Minare feels something’s off, so do I. In the meantime, Minare comes home from the restaurant to share a meal and booze with Mizuho (whom we see refusing Koumoto’s advances right after regaling him of how she met Mr. Kureko. I also love how Mizuho is voiced by Iwami Manaka—Honda Tooru herself!

While Mizuho is glad Minare is working and making money again (far from a guarantee in these trying times!) she doesn’t want Minare to forget about radio. Whether Mizuho is on orders from someone at the station to encourage Minare or not, she seems to genuinely believe in her talents and doesn’t want her to feel overwhelmed or that Matou is overestimating her.

Life keeps coming at Minare fast on the night of Mizuho’s birthday. Minare gives a curt goodbye to Nakahara and Makie after closing, but doubles back to grab the cake from the kitchen fridge. That’s when he finds Nakahara confronting Makie about staying in the staff room…then offering to let her stay at his place, just as he did with Minare.

Clearly something is going on with Makie that makes her hesitant to go back to her home (if she even has a home). And when you put a man who loves hard-luck cases and a woman in an apparently uncertain emotional place, shenanigans are more than possible. Minare has taken Nakahara for granted as a will-they-won’t-they certainty, but Makie threatens that status quo.

Fortunately (or not), life isn’t done coming at her that night, as she gets a call from Matou urging her to report to the studio immediately to rehearse for a 20-minute slot that will air at 3:30 AM. It’s Go Time. No doubt her experiences with Nakahara Makie, and all the stuff that keeps coming at her will inspire her material. And no doubt it will be eminently watchable.

Prince of Stride: Alternative – 03

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With my enthusiasm for this Tuesday night (for me) sports anime waning fast, this was exactly the episode I needed: one that brought us the show’s first real race against an elite opponent in Saisei’s Stride Club, who double as a dance and vocal unit and are known and adored as Galaxy Standard AKA Gal-Stan, which sounds like some kind of American industrial conglomerate that manufactures nuclear reactors for aircraft carriers…but whatever!

What matters is, these guys are tough…but they’re not the haughty assholes I thought they’d be, which made watching their interactions with our boys in blue a lot more pleasant. Only one of them, Takusu, could be classified as a jerk, but Takeru is just as fiercely competitive to the point of rudeness.

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As the two teams line up for the race, it occurs how closely the five Honan runners resemble their Saisei counterparts. You have the guys with the dark hair, the greenish hair, the prettyboys, the tough guys, and the goofy guys.

I also liked the little pre-start conversations between the five pairs, though the simultaneous drawing out of their route legs made for a somewhat busy presentation; I had to rewind a couple of times to catch what they were saying because the graphics distracted me. But they’re cool graphics, so no biggie.

But then just like that chatting time is over and it’s time for a muthafuckin’ race, ya’ll. And I’ll tellya, it was a fun one to watch, from the whooshing sound of a runner blasting off the line to the uncertainty of who will have the upper hand in each leg.

And then there’s Nana, clearly nervous in her first true race, but never failing to connect her runners, once the Saisei relationer puts her at ease by making her listen on her headset to how much goddamn fun her boys are having.

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And it does look like fun, unless you’re Heath, or Ayumu, who are totally outclassed by their Saisei opponents. Heath takes it in…ahem…stride, but Ayumu gets so pissed off with the ability gap that he slows way down. And the Saiei guys aren’t just faster, they’re flashier crowd pleasers as well.

Takeru, who’s last in the order, has over fours seconds to make up against the Saisei captain and anchor, Suwa Reiji. Reiji, for his part, looks like he feels kinda bad his team’s going to beat Takeru’s so handily…right up until the moment his relationer tells him Takeru is right on his ass.

Saisei wins—it would have been ridiculous for them not to—but it’s only by .42 seconds, thanks to Fujiwara’s scary closing speed, which winds him considerably. And Reiji is happy it’s close. He likes a strong challenge and he got one.

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As for Honan, they did end up losing, which they thought meant losing Heath’s sis as a sponsor, but she was watching with Saisei’s sponsor, and was so pissed off she had a new line of sportswear custom-made for the guys and Hana: sharp-looking crisp white unis to replace their dour ld blue gym suits.  But she makes it clear she won’t accept further failure.

The next big even coming up is ominously called the End of Summer, AKA EoS, and the ridiculously unbalanced Honan has a lot of work to do. But after this week, I’m looking more forward to watching their progress than I was at this point last week, so Prinstride can log that as a victory on its little iPad.

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Prince of Stride: Alternative – 02

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So I’m apparently not that into sports anime. I never took a look at Haikyuu!!, Kuroko’s Basketball, Ookiku Furikabutte or even Free!’s sequel; they just weren’t calling to me. Now weird sports, like Shokugeki no Souma, Chihayafuru, or even Genesis from SKET Dance? Now we’re talking!

So I’ll admit, I’m craning my neck a bit into this genre I rarely enter, and struggling a bit with the premise of the central sport, which—not to at all belittle those who actually participate in this kind of thing—seems a little on the thin side. Despite all that, I am legitimately enjoying Prince of Stride….promise!

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It doesn’t really matter that I’d rather cook or play Genesis than run a lot; what matters is that these guys do want to run, and their passion and energy is infectious. They’re also all a diverse collection of personalities, united by their love of Stride (even those who prefer Shogi).

But to become a proper Stride Club (again), Honan needs to make…ahem…strides in the “relationing” department (still don’t like the use of that word). Fujiwara and Riku are out of sync due to the latter’s slowing down before the crucial high-five.

The team also needs a sponsor, but Heath has them covered thanks to his sister Diane, who owns a department chain and asks for just two things in exchange for her patronage: that they win, and that all these lovely young men model her wares, in an extended scene that does not over-indulge.

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The modelling turns out to be mostly harmless (though the girliest of them would disagree after being forced to dress in drag for Diane’s delight); as for the winning, Both Sakurai and Yuki decide to trust in Fujiwara’s speed. Yuki does as Fujiwara urges him to do and stops slowing down, instead going full-out, and from the reactions of everyone, it goes very well.

There’s still room for improvement all ’round, but there’s not going to be much time for it; their first match is coming against the famous elite Saisei Academy’s Stride Team. I’d call Honan underdogs due to their accomplishment and publicity deficit, but then again, some of their shots will end up in D’s catalogs…and Fujiwara is pretty confident they’ll be able to beat the favorites.

As for their faculty advisor…he really needs to knock it off with those invented sayings every five seconds. It’s also a little disappointing to see the only female main character boxed into a non-running support role, vital though it might be. Hana-Kana simply doesn’t have much to do here.

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