Majimoji Rurumo – 11

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This was a lovely, upbeat little episode, and a nice way to close out the “ordinary time” of the show before things are sure to go down in the last episode. The events of this week reinforce everything we know: that Rurumo has brought out the best of Rurumo, that Rurumo is fare more than her skill shortcomings, and they’ll always have each others’ backs.

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Those truths are reinforced through an unexpected vehicle: the occult club, seeking recruits and notoriety, enters a band competition, of all things. Not being musically gifted, the lads lean on Tanako, who recruits a crack musical group consisting of Sawashita (guitar/boobs), Inoue Sumiko (bass), Izumi Kyouko (drums), and herself (keyboard). Rounding out the all-girls band “FHK” is Rurumo.

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That’s another surprise: Rurumo has the voice of an angel. She even throws some work and goodwill Masako’s way by telling everyone she’s good at making clothes; she designs witch outfits to go with Rurumo’s get-up, and senpai writes more lyrics to Rurumo’s haunting tune. It’s a classic case of a plan coming together, and it was very enjoyable to watch.

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As it does come together, Ruru-chan notices Kouta is happy, and wonders why. He answers as you’d expect: he’s happy because she’s happy, and having fun doing something she’s never done. FHK is a little too good right off the bat but as soon as they have to perform on a stage Rurumo can’t do it, and Kouta, knowing it’s because she’s so naturally bashful takes her place, covering for her as best he can.

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Of course, Kouta can’t sing worth a damn and FHK washes out of the competition, but getting to the finals was a pretty big achievement, and in any case mission accomplished: the club got a lot more noteriety. Most of all, Rurumo and Kouta exhibit their great regard for one another. And no magic tickets are used! We’ll see how the last episode treats them.

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Hanayamata – 10

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Hanayamata wastes no time this week installing Machi as the fifth and final member of the yosakoi club, but she’s not here on a whim: she thought their performance at the department store was woeful, and she’s going to whip them into shape, come hell or high water. But first, with just three weeks left until Hanairo, they must now adjust their choreography and music for five.

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Tami, she of ample means, suggests a training camp at a traditional hot spring inn where her family always has a room reserved, and Machi insists they’ll practice the entire time they’re there. That’s wishful thinking, as the other four members end up pulling all-nighters in order to get their work done, which leaves them somewhat lacking in energy, a problem compounded when they must practice outside in the heat.

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Machi’s bossy, tell-it-as-it-is nature also clashes with Yaya, particularly when she finds out they blew registration deadline for Hanairo, which, I must admit, is pretty bad: if you’re going to work so hard towards such a big event, at least make sure you’ll be in it! Festival or no, Machi is determined to catch up with the others, and practices a lot alone.

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When Sari spots her sister doing this, she lets the others know; moved by Machi’s devotion, they join her in practicing, which then attracts and delights all of the other inn guests. It’s a fun, triumphant moment for the club, as the fates allowed them to perform in front of an interested crowd after all, despite blowing the Hanairo deadline. Machi even cracks a smile.

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Even that turns out to be a false alarm, as we suspected from the start, but for a different reason. We though Sari had already registered and remained quiet after Machi’s discovery in order to motivate the others. Turns out she’s not quite that underhanded. Instead, she contacts the yosakoi store-owner Oofuna Masaru (whom she knows likes her) and asks him if there’s anything he can do.

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He can, and thanks to another group dropping out, Team Hanayamata is officially back in, and new badge design comes to Naru, incorporating five flowers that represent the girls. Everything is looking good, but with Hana’s mother suddenly arriving at Japan, it looks like it’ll be Hana’s turn to have a character episode, much like Naru, Yaya, Machi, and Tami have had before.

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Hanayamata – 09

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While Naru has a serious case of “Oh no, not again!” with regards to her little slip-up, it is quickly acknowledged by everyone else that this is, indeed, not the end of the world, and Naru needn’t commit seppuku about it. If anything, the crowd was probably moved by the camaraderie and love inherent in the other three helping her back to her feet and finishing out their routine.

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The fact that Naru passed out moments after they finished and the general fatigue from lack of sleep due to excitement meant the group wasn’t going to put on a flawless show anyway; Naru just happened to be the first to stumble. However they fared (and they didn’t fare that badly), it was valuable experience to build upon for Hanairo.

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Everything is peachy…until the members find out their club isn’t official yet, since Sally-chan-sensei is just a substitute. This news is first relayed by Sari’s sister, Machi…and that’s no coincidence: Machi doesn’t want messing up Tami and the others like she messed her up. The balance of the episode is about how Machi’s idolization of her big sis evaporated after Sari left home to pursue her own interests.

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It was, as Machi oft repeats, “selfish and irresponsible”, but let’s be honest here: Machi herself is just as guilty of those adjectives. She thinks Sachi will betray and abandon them just they put the most faith in her, but isn’t Machi also afraid that the opposite could happen? That her sister could find happiness advising the Yosakoi Club, and “rub it in her face?”

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Machi has been staring at the flame of resentment she’s kept burning so long, she can’t see past her younger wounded self. In hindsight, she sees that she overreacted to her sister leaving. She knows how much pressure their doctor parents put on them, and Sari didn’t want to be a doctor, she wanted to be a teacher. She also learns that Sari wants to repair their rift, which is why she’s at the school at all. You could say if it wasn’t for Machi, there’d be no Yosakoi Club.

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Now that Machi’s older and wiser, she’s aware of the fact Sari did what she did out of her own personal drive, which everyone has to follow, even if it doesn’t hew to the expectations of those we hold most dear. But Machi wouldn’t have put out that flame if it wasn’t for Tami’s diplomacy. And in exchange for her help, Machi doesn’t refuse an invitation to the Yosakoi Club. We were wondering how she was going to join!

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Hanayamata – 08

“The variety of personality types is perfect!” —Sari-sensei

As this week’s episode crept closer to the girls’ first official public performance, they cross every T and dot every I, and a great deal of anticipation is built up. Finally, it’s happening, after so much hard work and such humble beginnings.

“Practice wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, whenever you can.” —Me

Haru and Tami take Sari-sensei too seriously and get self-consicous about their thighs, leading to last minute exercise. Yaya and Hana remark that they aren’t actually fat, but Yaya also remarks that they could use a little extra stamina.

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They’re inspired to exercise more after Yaya proves how valuable a member not in name only she can be, by adding her drums to Tami’s piano music and making a hip little arrangement: the OP with a synth tone replacing the vocals.

Nice assortment of reactions to the department store shindig

Yaya also proves vital in both the planing and scheduling stages, as she insists they all arrive at the station by 8:00, even though the performance isn’t until 1:00. Sure enough, the other girls are late, but she planned for that, so it’s all good.

“I’ve got your back…literally and figuratively!”

Disaster strikes when they forget the music CD, but Sari’s sister (and Tami’s friend) Machi arrives with it in hand. As soon as this fact is made official, we get a glimpse of their strained relationship, stemming from their different personalities.

Lookin’ good…

Finally, it’s showtime, and everyone is nervous (even Yaya’s legs shake), but once they get up there to before a small but lively crowd, and the music starts, for a pretty decent amount of time the four are kicking ass. And then Naru makes a wrong move, bumps Hana, and falls, dropping her Naruko.

“No…not again….”

It mirrors her bad dream last night, which was actually a memory of falling while cheerleading in elementary school. In the present, we can only watch in horror as everything all of a sudden goes horribly wrong in excruciating slow-motion. Rats…so close!

“Maybe I should join? According to the OP, I DO join, after all…”

But hey, it’s not the end of the world. This is their first show, and it wasn’t meant to be some big unrealistic breakthrough. It was valuable practice for future public performances. We fall down so we can get back up again. I hope Naru remembers that and doesn’t dwell on her failure. Their dancing also seemed to momentarily impress Machi, though it looked like watching her sister watch and cheer them on made her jealous as well.

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Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru – 11

Yukinoshita Yukino, Hikigaya Hachiman, Yukinoshita Haruno

Hikigaya and Yui pay Yukino a visit at her apartment, telling her they need to talk, but Yukino needs more time to think, though promises one day she’ll be able to rely on Yui. The next day in committee, while the slogan for the festival is being brainstormed, Hikigaya uses the opportunity to protest how hard he’s working while others slack off, getting a rise out of Yukino, who is more friendly with him afterwards. The next day, as the festival begins, Sagami gets stage fright. After watching Totsuka and Hayama perform “The Little Prince”, Hikigaya mans the reception table and is joined by Yui. As thanks for the bread she shares with him, he suddenly agrees to take her out on a date.

When the slacking chairwoman suggests a festival slogan about “helping each other out”, Hikigaya can’t let it pass. In his distinctive pasive-aggressive manner, he suggests a slogan of his own: one that is actually pretty deep. Not only is it a statement challenging the commonly-held idea that the symbol for “man” of two people holding each other up represents equal sacrifice. In reality, one line is leaning on the other; one drew the short stick. It’s something you’ll only notice if you look closely, which also applies to Sagami. On the surface she’s involved in the planning of the festival, but in reality she’s foisted most of the work on to Yukino, and is in over her head: she freezes on stage and ends up cowering in the girls bathroom. Hikigaya rejects Sagami’s slogan not just because its hyprocritical, but because he feels it doesn’t apply to him, as he’s doing all the work while she laughs it up with her clique.

But that doesn’t mean he’s totally opposed to the idea of relying on others and in return letting them know they can rely on him. He tells Yukino he may not know the proper way to go about what she’s going through, but he knows enough to know she’s not doing it right. Yui is willing to wait and let Yukino come to them when she’s ready. But she’s not willing to wait for Yukino or Hikigaya; she’s the one who takes the initiative and finally suggests Hikigaya take her out. It was a sudden development, but felt very natural and unforced. But this is terra incognita for Hikky, who had been rejected in the past but never asked out. To his credit, once he realizes what’s going on, he doesn’t totally fall apart or retreat into cynicism, nor does he jump right in. He asks for time to think. Hopefully not too much.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Some awesome Yukino moments: laughing into her papers after Hikigaya presents his slogan, than cutely waving goodbye to him as they part for the day. What is with this girl?
  • Hikigaya and Yukino are bantering again, and we see how much they both enjoy it.
  • As the episode progresses Sagami’s face becomes less and less capable of containing the dread fear of failure that lurks beneath.
  • We’re not sure Haruno’s presence at the festival committee really added much to the scenes she appeared in. 
  • That Honey Bread (whatever it was) looked tasty.