Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 2 – 07 – Wandering Stars

Nishikata has big plans for teasing Takagi on the camping trip, no doubt hoping a change of scenery will restore some of his mojo. During the class photo, he plans to make a half-peace sign that will look like a creepy hand behind her back. Alas, no matter where the two are, Takagi is always a step ahead, flashing a face funny enough that not only does Nishikata miss his chance, but he’s in the midst of laugher camera shutter clicks.

The show pulls out of the photo, presumably into the future, to a grown-up, smiling Takagi. Something tells me that isn’t the smile of someone who didn’t end up getting her man when all was said and done and the teasing and games turned to straight-up love.

Takagi and Nishikata end up paired up again when Mano needs a rest and they both make sure Nakai stays with her. It starts to rain suddenly (they’re in the mountains, where weather actually is that fickle) and end up alone in a small shelter together, watching that rain (not, as Nishikata points out, for the first time).

He decides to challenge Takagi to another game, involving blind tasting of the snacks they’ve brought. Clearly he didn’t think this through, because Takagi all-too-easily exploits his opening to make him feed her, his hand to her mouth. Even when the rain stops, Takagi wants one more game…so she can feed him.

After that, it’s time for the old Japanese school camping trip standby of homemade curry. Yukari cuts her finger, so Mina and Sanae have to do all the cooking among them. Nishikata, meanwhile, is too preoccupied with how he can stem what is so far a complete rout of him by Takagi in the teasing department.

When she approaches him, correctly observing he’s thinking of a way to get back at her, she presents him with game that all too easy to win: all he has to do is hold her hand. Nishikata bristles at such a potentially embarrassing gesture, but then remembers that hand-holding between sexes is all too normal during the folk dance ’round the bonfire that night.

To make things a little more difficult for Nishikata, Takagi is arranged in such a way that it takes a good long time for them to come around to each other. As Nishikata sees Takagi holding hands with other boys and smiling, I couldn’t help but notice a tinge of jealousy in his face, along with the thought that Takagi actually wants to hold hands with him.

Both are shocked when the music stops just when they’re about to pair up; their hands remaining an inch apart as the other kids disperse. “That’s too bad, Nishikata” she says to him before joining the other girls for a bath. “Just a bit more and we would have fallen in love,” referring to the school legend.

The thing is, Takagi and Nishikata don’t need any help from bonfires or folk dances to enjoy spending time together. Fate seems to already paired them up; all Nishikata needs to do is grow up a bit more. After lights out, when Nishikata can’t sleep, he encounters her making a wishing on the stars. When the patrolling teacher approaches, they have to hide in a very small cave, huddled closely together.

When the teacher finally leaves, they stay put for a little while, ostensibly in case he comes back, but also because it’s just frikkin’ nice. As they gaze up at the stars together, Nishikata asks what she was wishing for earlier. She tells him she wished for exactly what she ended up getting: to go stargazing with him.

While he may consider that more teasing, one look at Takagi’s face makes it clear she was being completely honest. My wish is that Nishikata will realize that one day.

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BokuBen – 13 (Fin) – The Lights in the Sky are Stars

This is it—The episode we’ve all been waiting for: when Nariyuki finally chooses which of the girls he’s going to go out with! Pfft, sure. If only it were that simple! Every girl has good qualities—though as discussed ad nauseum last week, some people have a particular preference, depending on their own type—but however Nariyuki feels about them, he’s either unaware of their feelings for him (in the case of Fumino and Rizu) or has been misled or messed with so much he doesn’t know what to think (Uruka, Kirisu, Asumi).

While she’s serving as a kind of “substitute Nariyuki” at an all-girls pajama study session at Rizu’s, Sekijo Sawako impresses upon them how lucky they are to have such a dedicated tutor, though she’s not sure if it’s because he’s a pushover or simply gets “caught up in stuff so easily”—the answer is somewhere in the middle. Alas, that’s the last we see of Sawako, one of BokuBen’s more intriguing but underutilized supporting players.

Later, Nariyuki intends to help his mom with his littlest brother and sister at the summer festival, but when his fam sees his two cute friends in yukata, they quickly ditch him, and Fumino soon follows, leaving Nariyuki with Uruka, which came as a bit of a surprise considering they arrived at a pretty good stopping point last week.

Aside from her showing him her tongue (stained pink from shaved ice) and offering some to him (for an indirect kiss), there’s no further romantic awkwardness between them, as they chip in to help an overworked Rizu and her dad at their udon stand.

Kirisu ends up attending the festival in disguise to keep an eye on students, but when Nariyuki makes her, she runs away, trips, and injures her knee. He has to give her a second piggyback ride (only this time she’s not sauced) to the first aid tent, which of course is being tended by Asumi and her dad.

Asumi leaves Kirisu’s skinned knee to Nariyuki, but he ends up helping out the rest of the night, showing that Sawako is indeed correct about him being a bit of a pushover and easily caught up in things. But hey, if he enjoys helping everyone out, so what if he’s not the one instigating these scenarios?

Fumino, who split off to let Nariyuki and Uruka be alone, ends up losing track of time gazing at the stars, and on her way to the last train, she has to corral a little lost girl and get her back to her mom. Nariyuki also loses track of time at the first aid tent, and ends up finding the little lost girl’s twin sister.

With the twins back with their mom, Fumino and Nariyuki end up missing that last train, and encounter one other at the station. With no taxis (or indeed any cars) around and only an inn to turn to, the do-gooders have to consider an action that, if taken out of context of their situation, could be seen as very bad.

That action, of course, is spending the night together at a ryokan, which only has one room left, and that room has only one futon, and because it’s a chilly night they have to share it. These two have clearly never heard of sleeping head-to-foot to avoid awkwardness, but that’s rarely a comfortable way to sleep anyway.

For the first time, Nariyuki and Fumino find themselves sleeping in a bed with a member of the opposite sex, and it’s tough. Thankfully, it’s a gorgeous, clear, starry night, so they manage to find a topic that sets them both at ease; the very subject Fumino intends to pursue: astronomy.

Fumino tells Nariyuki about a book she first read when her mother was on her death bed, about an old astronaut continuing to chase his dream and conquering his weakness—something she, Rizu, Uruka, and Asumi are all doing. Nariyuki points out how cool he thinks they are for doing so, and expresses envy for not having any particular personal goal of his own.

Fumino tells him she doesn’t consider herself particularly special for having a dream, and it’s clear she doesn’t think he should discount his desire to help make his family more comfortable and prosperous. But if he ever comes up with another dream, she promises to help him, as his “big sis” (they checked in to the room as siblings).

Fumino ends up falling asleep while grasping Nariyuki’s hand, and he doesn’t have the heart to wake her up. Turns out she’s dreaming of that day she read that book with her mom, and when she wakes up, her hand and his are still intertwined. While initially surprised and bashful, she doesn’t see any need to break their embrace, and so curls up a little closer to him.

The night after on the train, the two are mortified by the choice they made last night, but as they part ways, Fumino, back to calling him by his family name Yuiga, smiles and tells him simply that she’ll see him later. And indeed we shall, as a second season of BokuBen is coming this Fall, where I’m sure we’ll be presented with more adventures both wackily comedic and poignantly warm between Nariyuki and the girls he tutors.

I can’t see why I wouldn’t be around to keep watching them. After all, it seems when it comes to this kind of show…I never learn.

Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu – 09

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Even though it starts with an innocuous late night game of cards, it feels like a lot more happens in this episode than last week’s, thanks both to Ryouko’s vivid imagination and Tsuruya’s stargazing suggestion. It’s also a better episode...IF we forgive its deeply disconcerting final moments.

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At first Yuki loses, and as a penalty she has to get food and drinks for eveyrone. Naturally, Kyon comes along, for chivalrous purposes (it’s dark out and Yuki’s a klutz). Indeed. she trips and ends up in Kyon’s arms, and from Ryouko (and everyone else’s) POV they seem to even lean in to kiss.

But then, quite unexpectedly, it all turns out to have been a fantasy Ryouko made up in her head. In fact, the lovebirds never went out; she’s the one who ends up with the Old Maid.

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Thankfully, Yuki and Kyon do go out together when Ryouko and Haruhi conk out and Tsuruya suggests they go to a perfect spot for stargazing, which is quite a hike away. Kyon offers to hold Yuki’s hand, but she can’t quite do it, settling for his sleeve. They end up in a whimsical park full of huge dinosaur models.

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Turns out they’re being tailed by Ryouko and Haruhi here as well, and it’s here where Ryouko confesses to Haruhi she’s not worried about Yuki and Kyon alone together, she’s jealous, and lonely. But the ever-chipper Haruhi assures Ryouko her relationship with Yuki won’t change for fall by the wayside, whatever happens between Yuki and Kyon. They’re words Ryouko needed to hear and wants to believe.

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Everyone ends up reuniting at the stargazing spot, which is as awesome as advertised. When Yuki ends up off on her own, reaching out to starts that look close enough for her to touch, but can’t be, it’s Kyon who touches her hand, and takes it into his.

As their love theme—Debussy’s Clair de Lune—plays, Kyon leads Yuki back to the others, hand-in-hand. Yuki, who had been momentarily preoccupied by her insignificance in the vast universe above, is brought back down to earth, a place where she’s valued and loved not just by Kyon, but Ryouko as well.

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They get to sit next to each other on the train ride home, and just like that, the long, sprawling, eventful “training camp” is over, and Yuki is a little closer to reaching her goal. Cut to the rains that precede Summer, a time when Ryouko remarks Yuki will have to come up with excuses to see Kyon, and after they part ways, Yuki walks out into the street with the Walk sign, and it sure looks like she gets hit by a fucking car.

This…was upsetting. Not because I think it will be the death of Yuki—she appears alive and well in the preview—but because it’s so damned random. So far all of her nice romantic moments with Kyon have just kind of worked out, and now it’s as if the show wants Yuki to pay the piper or something for all of the good luck she’s had. It’s cruel.

Then again, the universe only needs one fraction of a second to everything away from you, and Yuki isn’t immune to that possibility. Also, disappearance is part of the title; I just sorely hope it isn’t her memory and love of Kyon that disappears. That would suck, frankly. I just want Yuki to be happy in her spin-off. Is that so much to ask?

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Sora no Method – 09

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At this point, if Nonoka was extremely frustrated with Shione’s sudden about-face, I totally wouldn’t blame her, because I’m frustrated too. Not just because I didn’t feel like it was adequately explained why Shione did that about face, but because we come no closer to learning anything.

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We have the festival this week, which is nice and all, especially the way other classmates (who exist!) help out when crunch time comes around, but there’s zero progress and even some regression as Shinoe drifts further and further away, which makes this episode smack of stalling.

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All I can work on is my own theory on what Shione’s new problem is, and that is this: one new fact we learn is that calling a UFO was originally Shione’s idea, with Nonoka and the others going along with it.

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Then, it worked; the saucer came, and with it, Noel. Noel says she is the saucer, I imagine Shione is worried Noel will disappear if the group’s wish is fulfilled. Therefore, taking responsibility for Noel, Shione isolates herself from the others so the wish won’t be fulfilled and so Noel won’t vanish.

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That’s all we get, and despite some moments where Shione seems happy Nonoka is working so hard to figure out what her issue is, Shione doesn’t give her anything to work with other than “I hate you”, and “I don’t want anything else to do with you.” It’s almost as if Shione is trying to burn her bridges, making Nonoka and the others not want to be friends with her, as if that would make leaving them any easier.

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By the end, Shione never goes to the planetarium (which is awesome) with the others. But even if she’s working to stop their wish from coming true, Noel goes after Nonoka on her own and ends up passing out, either from being too far from the saucer or some other reason.

So despite Shinoe’s efforts, Noel may not be long for this world anyway. She was there to help deliver a wish to the group of friends; if they’re not a group of friends anymore, she has no more reason to keep existing in the world. If something else entirely is going on with Shione, we don’t learn about it this week…and frankly, I’m a little weary of being strung along.

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Sora no Method – 08

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With the rest of the group back in one anothers’ good graces, the one remaining nut to crack is Shione, and she proves far tougher than the others, requiring the cooperation of all to get her (force her, really) to participate in their Hokubi Festival activity: building a planetarium. Yes, Waremete beat Sora no Method to a planetarium, but I’ll allow two because planetariums are cool.

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After Yuzuki acquires the school funding suspiciously quickly, the five go shopping that evening, then start building a prototype, which blows up in their faces. Through it all, Shione is present, if not the most involved, and I think it’s because she truly does want to be there with everyone else. It’s an effort, at least.

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Eventually, however, Nonoka involuntarily reminds her of why they’re no longer friends: her Big Lie about seeing the meteor shower. After Nonoka and Shione made that promise to see it, Shione returned to the same bridge to find only Noel, who relayed the message that Nonoka went far away but “will be back soon” to see the shower with her.

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Shione trusted the word of Nonoka-via-Noel, and waited for Nonoka to return, at the same bench, for six years. Every year, her trust in Nonoka eroded a bit, until by the seventh, it was all but gone, just when Nonoka finally returned.

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Visiting Noel in the abandoned observatory, Noel makes up for her poor phrasing seven years ago and through hugs, manages to engender the courage Shione needs to open back up and trust Nonoka again. After all, Nonoka did come back.

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On a lark, Shione goes to school that night, where she finds not only Nonoka, but a room dramatically, magically lit by the stars of the properly-functioning planetarium device. There, Nonoka speaks first, telling her how awful she was for forgetting everyone, as well as her promise. Shione suddenly gathers her in a big hug and tells her she’s to blame for not trusting her. They agree to be friends again and part ways.

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So ‘Yay’, right, Shione and Nonoka are friends again! The group is back together, just in time for that meteor shower. But wait…uh-oh? We should have known it would get more complicated with Shione involved. After considering what Noel said (about her “being the saucer”), the next morning a stern Shione tells Nonoka they can no longer be together. What’s all this about? Is Shione worried Noel will disappear?

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Sora no Method – 07

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As Nonoka, Yuzuki and Koharu near the gravesite of Nonoka’s mother, the day turns cold, cloudy, and grey. I just so happened to myself watching it on a cold, cloudy grey day. While it was just a coincidence for me, for Nonoka the weather reflects her mood; she hasn’t visited her mother’s grave in some time, because she’s been afraid.

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And not because her mother was a mean-spirited, fearful woman — precisely the opposite: she was as kind and loving a soul as one could ever hope to meet, and a wonderful mother to boot. But then she got sick, and didn’t get better, and they moved to Tokyo where she could get care, but she died anyway, leaving a massive hole in Nonoka’s heart.

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Nonoka patched that hole, which was causing so much grief and pain, by essentially letting go of her life before her mother died, and moving forward as if none of it ever happened. In the process, she forgot about a great many other things, like her promise to her friends; something Shione still hasn’t forgiven her for, though Koharu and Yuzuki surely have, and now probably feel a bit silly for ever being angry at Nonoka for moving, something she had to do suddenly for her mother’s sake.

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In the B-plot, Noel, who can’t accompany Nonoka because the cemetery is out of saucer range, sticks with Souta, who is again stuck minding Koharu’s family’s store. Noel breaks the monster photo board thingy, and breaks it again while trying to fix it. After some little-kid negotiations, Souta convinces Noel to assist him in fixing the monster. As with Nonoka’s psyche, the repairs are quick and imperfect, but unlike Nonoka, it doesn’t matter; just as the monster was originally built by Souta, Koharu and Yuzuki as a labor of love, repairing it was a similarly rewarding experience between Souta and Noel, and when Yuzuki and Koharu see their handiwork, they approve.

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As for Shione, she’s in an unenviable situation where she’s held Nonoka to task for so long over lying and breaking her promises that now, even if Nonoka or the others were to explain the very understandable circumstances surrounding what Nonoka did, Shione still seems too proud — or too scared, or both — to lose face by softening her stance or letting Nonoka back into her life. After all, intentional or not Nonoka hurt her deeply.

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It was Nonoka’s mother who allowed Nonoka to become friends with Shione in the first place, by reminding her to smile when meeting new people, especially shy ones like Shione. And yes, it was Nonoka’s mother who indirectly drove the two apart by being the reason Nonoka had to move away and abandon Shione. But when a snowflake melts in Shione’s hand at the cemetery, and when she arrives at places just before or just after Nonoka was there — they’re signs that Shione is ever-so-gradually warming to the idea of reconciliation. She just won’t be rushed.

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One Off – 03

A large group of stargazers arrive at the Niwa inn, and Anri, Sayo and Rie volunteer to help out. Haruno is open to singing Anri’s song when she finishes it, but balks at an all-out concert. After being browbeaten by Cynthia, she changes her mind, only to drop the issue again. The night of the stargazing, her friends ask her about it again, and after chatting with one of the stargazers, she agrees to do a concert after all.

The overall theme of this episode is “little by little” – taking small steps, taking your time, being patient in order to achieve achievable goals. Take the picture of the Rosette Nebula Haruno’s dad hangs on the wall. It’s a long-exposure photo, taken under ideal conditions. The village is ideal for stargazing, but the brilliant red color is not visible to the human eye, ina telescope or not. It’s just a dense cluster of stars. But even that can’t be seen in the city.

But to Kageyama, one of the stargazers, it’s enough that she can see a hint of it and get lost in thought under the stars. Even after her ride to the sea, Haruno is a little more receptive to trying things like singing, but is still afraid of exerting energy if it will only result in failure. Her daydreams are overambitious, but none of them are as impossible as she mopes about. Ultimately, she decides to give a concert a try, and the group she and her friends form has the appropriate name “poco a poco” – little by little.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Motorcycle and Car Cameos: Rie’s brother has a PCX Scooter. Kageyama rides a Shadow 750 (pictured). There’s a third-gen CR-V in the Niwa garage (that D-pillar is unmistakable), and one of their customers drive a Stepwgn.