Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san – 09

You’d hope Nishikata getting a cell phone would be a chance for him to grow up a little, but he only sees it as the trump card in his futile quest to successfully tease Takagi.

Perhaps he grew up a bit in spite of his intentions, since it doesn’t take long for him to cave and spout his whole plan to Takagi, who saw it coming from miles away. In any case, Takagi wants his contact info anyway, so they exchange it, and she promises to use it.

For calling him out on his attempted tease, Takagi appeals to Nishikata’s general honor by telling him he should make it up to her by helping her with classroom day duty; Nishikata does not resist. He’s tired because he couldn’t sleep after watching a scary video on his phone.

When he sends it to Takagi, she first teases him by showing him a picture of a woman in a bikini, asking if that’s what he sent, then watches the video, only to not be that scared at all because it’s not nighttime (and because let’s face it, it’s a dumb video).

That night, at the same time Nishikata is about to send her another scary video, she calls him to head it off, again correctly predicting his behavior (though that isn’t that hard at this point).

What results is what she wanted all along: to simply talk on the phone with Nishikata, for the first time at night, even saying it makes her heart flutter. Because of that, Nishikata can’t sleep a second straight night, though for a totally different reason!

Nishikata’s efforts to take a phone photo that will beat his friends’ lead him to beg Takagi to do her patented funny face so he can snap it; Takagi’s cost is high: he’ll have to do “whatever she says.” When she finally does the face, Nishikata isn’t ready. Then Takagi pulls out a toy snake and snaps three pictures of his reactions.

While she’s laughing at those pics she’s so happy to have taken, Nishikata tries to take her picture, but she snaps immediately into a normal peace-sign pose. Nishikata proposes they each delete the photos of one another, but Takagi refuses, and tells him not to delete her picture off his phone, though also asks him not to show it to anyone else, as it’s “embarrassing.”

While he may have thought he’d have a new weapon to even the odds in his cell phone, the truth is Takagi is far more adept in its use. It’s a tool, after all; it’s all about the talent of the person wielding it. So he’s merely given her another avenue to “tease” him, though it’s mainly a means for them to get a little closer.

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Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san – 08

This episode is bookended by instances of Takagi making physical contact with Nishikata and Nishikata having to deal with it. He seems to be mostly fine with her holding onto him while they bike, but it was a long, tough road, and his ribs are ticklish.

Now that they’ve mastered the skill, Takagi says they won’t have to practice anymore, and gets Nishikata to say he’s both relieved and bummed out (though in truth its probably mostly the latter).

The second term starts in a typhoon, and Nishikata stands in the wind and spouts giddy shonen lines like a chuuni. Naturally Takagi spots him doing this, and gives him a chance to win her silence. He fails, yet again because he dismissed his first, correct guess as to why she didn’t have her bike.

The marathon segment is an apparent test of wills, as the two have stakes on winning – having to do what the other says, as usual. When Nishikata’s classmates ask if he’s going out with Takagi, his reaction is Pure Girl-from-100%UL.

He’s also been training extensively in order to be good at long distance, and initially employs a “mind emptying” running mentality, but emptying his mind only makes it easier for him to fill that space up with Takagi.

He gets trapped in a mind game in which he tries to run far enough ahead to spook Takagi, only for her to pull the very same trick on him, only successfully. And again, she gave him an honest chance for him to win (he merely had to touch her) which he simply did not take.

On another trip to/from school, the touching theme continues, with Takagi taking the initiative (of course) by starting a habit of poking Nishikata in the ribs, with the very clear implication that he is welcome to poke her back.

When he doesn’t, she beats him in another match (making a funny face to make him laugh), and rather than forbid him from eating rice or reading 100%UL, she has a simple punishment: all he has to do is poke her ribs.

He gives one half-hearted tap against Takagi’s side after much hemming and hawing, and Takagi reveals that while she’s not ticklish in the ribs, she is ticklish in the armpits. Again, Nishikata is welcome to test her claim, but he’s too embarrassed.

Summer may have given Takagi a few new opportunities to tease Nishikata, but it also brought the two much closer together. We’ll see what the new term will bring.

Fuuka – 05

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Fuuka continues to cement its role as my guilty pleasure of the Winter, thanks to its utterly shameless tendency to put protagonist Haruna Yuu in the most favorable situations imaginable, and still have him complain about it. That might sound unpleasant, but it’s actually pretty fun.

Adorable childhood friend coming by his house to reminisce? Sure, why not? Flipping through photo albums, where most of the pics are of Koyuki yelling at Yuu for various reasons, most of them related to him being a pushover? You got it! Yuu managing to blurt out that he liked her then…b-b-but not now! Seriously! (Now as well.)

Koyuki leaves suddenly, which Yuu takes as meaning he said the wrong thing, but little does he know she’s weeping tears of joy at the news her love wasn’t one-sided. I still don’t see her beating Fuuka. Fuuka’s the title.

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You know what this show didn’t need? Another girl! Especially not one who is impossibly tall and gorgeous, like she just jumped out of a magazine or something. But we get one nonetheless in the person of Iwami Sara, who seems very standoffish and aloof but I’m sure is really sweet deep down.

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She also happens to be the sister of Hisashi, one of the members of Hedgehogs (styled as HEDGEHOGS…because you have to YELL IT) who also graciouslly offers the use of one of his studios for the new light music club to practice…free of charge. Where’s this guy’s sense of entrepreneurialism?

In any case, the band…kinda sucks, particularly Yuu and Fuuka, but Sara is kicked off her third band and Fuuka decides to invite her into theirs, and the girl can not only play, but look very cool doing it.

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After practice they head over to Denny’s, I mean Danny’s, which—wait a second…

Kuzu no Honkai – 03

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Oh, that was Banny’s, not Danny’s. Nevermind…

…Back to Fuuka – 05

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Anyhow, the whole band is at some Denny’s ripoff, when all of a sudden everyone has somewhere to be…except Yuu and Sara. Did I mention Yuu’s face accidentally made contact with Sara’s boobs? Yeah…that happened, and then she smacked him in the face with a guitar, which should have caused a lot more damage to Yuu than it did. The magic of anime!

I’ve been ragging on this episode up to this point, but I have to say, I did not expect Sara to end up being one of Yuu’s best Twitter buddies, @0704-yamato.

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It happens so subtly as you expect Sara to be bored and checking her phone with just Yuu there struggling to find words to say. Turns out Sara’s the same way: finding it far easier to communicate through tweets than with her vocal cords, which so often uses the wrong words, or the right words the wrong way, resulting in misunderstandings (and getting kicked off bands).

When Yuu first started tweeting I was like “Oh great, this gimmick again,” but it paid off big league here, from the sundae, to Sara’s sudden change of character, for which she actually apologizes for by saying “sorry for the sudden change in character!”

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The next practice, held not at the full-up studio, but at Nachi’s ideal place (which he withheld so it didn’t look like he was as into this band thing as he really was), everyone has practiced a lot more, and they play a much smoother version of the show’s theme song, “Climber’s High!”

When Sara’s praise of Yuu’s progress is interrupted by Fuuka’s praise, and Yuu thanks her, Sara punishes him for allowing the interruption by jamming her guitar into his back. So this is how it’s gonna be, huh? Look out Koyuki: you’ve got more competition. (Note: next week’s episode is titled “Hinashi Koyuki”. Should be interesting.

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Fuuka – 04

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In what was for most of its running time the quietest and most emotionally engaging episode of Fuuka yet, Yuu gets caught in his web of omission, then the two have their first fight, as they both stumble over how to properly make up.

First of all, Fuuka has every right to be upset that Yuu was on a dock in the rain embracing her favorite idol. However close he is to her, Fuuka at least felt that at this point in their friendship he could tell her about Koyuki.

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Proving his inexperience in such matters, Yuu only makes things worse with his first attempt at an apology, inadvertently likening Fuuka to a “stranger”, which would be cruel if he weren’t so clueless.

For his inability to explain himself, Yuu gets the cold shoulder from Fuuka, making every moment of the day that follows a living hell where food tastes like ash and the beach at sunset is lonely as hell.

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Neither Yuu nor Fuuka want things to go on like this, so Mikasa takes Yuu aside and asks him to tell him straight up what’s going on. Yuu is able to articulate things, and also how upset he is he and Fuuka are fighting and how badly he wants to make up. Fortunately for him, Mikasa brought Fuuka along to eavesdrop, and she heard everything, and they finally exchange apologies.

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Fuuka also thanks Yuu for having her back when her track senpai shows up to harass her, then questions her designs on a band. Yuu has heard her sing and knows she’s good, and she proves it again when three of the five members of HEDGEHOGS (who were hiding in plain sight, including the restaurant owner) let her perform vocals while they play an impromptu trial concert that not only calls off the track senpai, but attracts a small audience from the beach.

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Fuuka even recruits the senpai as the drummer of the band, pegging Mikasa for the keys, herself for guitar and vocals, and Yuu for the bass (which he has no idea how to play…yet). All’s well that ends well, as Fuuka and Yuu, free of their row, are able to sit on the beach and admire the stars.

Fuuka even snuggles up beside him in his sweatshirt, but he panics, slips, and ends up with his hand up her shirt, ruining the lovely mood, both for Fuuka and me, the viewer, as I was enjoying the subtlety of their interactions to that point.

Naturally, when Yuu returns home, who is in his house waiting for him but the triangle’s third vertex Koyuki, no doubt unwilling to let some loud blue-haired girl snatch away her Yuu.

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Fuuka – 03

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Why don’t you just do what I dragged you here against your will to do?

So, we’re doing this, are we? Yuu seems to ask, as Fuuka founds a light music clu-excuse me, association, with him as a member, right before his eyes, with minimal resistance? Yes, yes they is doing this, because he let himself get swept away in Fuuka’s energy. So did Mikasa, but he’s a go-with-the-flow kinda guy. Yuu is complaining, but only to himself.

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LIVING THE DREAM

Things seem to get even worse for him as he tags along with Fuuka and Mikasa to the beach. Wait, we’re going to the beach in the third episode? That seems early for a show that doesn’t take place near the sea. Whatever; Yuu finds himself waiting tables. He tells himself he can’t do it, and so he sucks at it. (Is he getting paid, by the way, or is this just child labor? No one says.)

He’s rewarded by getting to push a giant inflatable orca around, with a Fuuka on top – a Fuuka who in past episodes thought this guy was taking pics of her undies somehow doesn’t see how Yuu might be flustered by the angle he’s viewing her from.

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(Non-romantic first kiss)…or is it?

Of course, the flustering takes them too far out to sea (of course) and the extremely athletic Fuuka suddenly develops a cramp and sinks like a stone (of course) and Yuu has a perfect opportunity to save Fuuka’s life. The show redeems itself somewhat when it’s Yuu, not Fuuka, who ended up passing out and requiring mouth-to-mouth. Fuuka also freaks out about how he almost died.

The “kiss” gets Yuu all riled up and confused; he knows it was rescue breathing, and even hears how Fuuka doesn’t mind indirect kisses since she’s “not a kid”…but later Fuuka tells him to keep the kiss a secret, since it was her first.

SO Yuu decides not to tweet what would have been the most interesting thing he’s ever tweeted. It would be as if the Dos Equis guy wasn’t constantly followed around by cameras.

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You’ve grown so pretty—though I should tell you this right here isn’t the most flattering light angle!

Speaking of celebs Koyuki is headed to the same one as Yuu for work, but wants to get together post-haste. Sure, why not. There are only so many beaches in Japan, right? That being said, I enjoyed the relaxed nature of the two meeting – for the first time since grade school – and slipping right back into an easy interaction, only now, as Fuuka said, they’re not kids.

It’s got to be an exhilarating feeling, and it would make another interesting tweet, but for the fact the Twitterverse would not believe him if he simply said he was meeting up with his childhood friend Hinashi freaking Koyuki, and if he provided photo proof, a lot of people would have problems with it, because…it’s Twitter.

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One person, I imagine, already has a problem with it: Fuuka, who goes out in the rain at night to look for Yuu perhaps forgetting about things called cell phones (Koyuki, for the record, had just gotten done saying how if it weren’t for cell phones, she and Yuu might never have seen each other again.).

And she finds him: on a dock, with her favorite idol in his arms after a freakish wind blew her umbrella away. She also seemed on the verge of saying something important to Yuu. Will Fuuka be upset Yuu never told him (not necessarily fair, as their relationship has so far been, essentially her making him do stuff and him quietly assenting), or will she just be happy to meet Koyuki, even if she’s a rival for Yuu’s heart?

As for the music clu-er, association angle, well, there’s almost no movement, though the beach restaurant guy tells Mikasa not to touch his drums, and Yuu tells Fuuka he can’t play an instrument, but is ignored. And we’ll probably never know if Mikasa got that hot bodyguard’s number…

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Dagashi Kashi – 03

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On a hot day, as kids we’d usually go for a soda (or pop, depending on what state we were in), snowballs, soft serve, or frozen yogurt. It never occurred to me how great it can be to eat hot things when it’s hot out. Hotaru demonstrates this, I think, by firing up a stove to the shop and cooking up some tonkatsu Butamen; kind of a a mini ramen cup.

Tou, who’s back after a week off, put together what was going down and invited himself, knowing that in return for the intense heat, he and Kokonotsu would get to watch a cute girl eating noodles, not to mention getting so hot her dress gets see through. Naturally, Hotaru is totally oblivious to all of that.

Her only concerns are candy, snacks, and acquiring You for her father’s company. And that’s the other side of it: she doesn’t realize the power she has over Kokonotsu, courtesy of her looks and close casual manner with him. As far as she knows, the battle will be won with her convincing arguments for the primacy of candy.

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So rather than seduce him, which just isn’t in her character, Hotaru continues cockamamie plans, one of which involves You pretending to be a lifeguard to make extra bucks on the side, since the shop doesnt’ do. She’s unaware of her ability to seduce, so instead she tries to guilt trip.

She and You (also back after one week off) are awfully proud of their plan and are regarding one another in a better light all the time, but snagging him all comes down to her ability to convince Koko to take over the shop. Alas, an attempt to show the wonder of candy through strategic placement of kurukurubu jelly sticks in the pool backfires when Koko, Tou, and Saya see the “no food or drink” sign.

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The last segment is somewhat strange, in that Hotaru’s interaction with Kokonotsu is minimal. Like Hotaru with You in the previous segment, this looks like an effort to explore each two-person combination in the lean five-person cast. Hotaru curbs her suspicion that Tou is a pathetic confectionary tourist and shows him the proper way to deliver a Botan Rice Candy (with its edible wrapper) to one’s mouth: the same way one delivers a fastball to the plate.

Finally, after Koko shoos her off while the shop’s A/C is fixed (which seemed kinda mean; though Hotaru was somewhat in the way), Hotaru interacts one-on-one with Saya a little more. Just as Hotaru thought Tou might be testing her (though he wasn’t; he’s just an idiot), Saya sees Hotaru’s desire for “girl talk” that starts with a quesiton about Koko has her thinking Hotaru is testing her.

She is, but it has nothing to do with Saya’s crush, only the fact she’s never seen her with candy, something Hotaru cannot stand by and allow. She gives her some “Neon Seven”, a very cryptic kind of candy that Saya initially picks at wrong (both of their close-up expressions are hilariously rendered) but eventually learns to eat properly.

Saya is amazed and entertained by Hotaru’s wealth of knowledge (as anyone would be), and the two end up talking so long Hotaru never goes back to Koko’s…which kinda serves him right for shooing her off!

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Koufuku Graffiti – 06

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After having a blast compressing a Summer’s worth of activities into one day at Shiina’s estate, this week finds the girls mired in acute Summer Fatigue, a state that would have had more impact if I were watching this in the actual Summer, rather than in the dead of winter with sub-zero winds howling outside my window.

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After snapping a rare picture of Kirin with no appetite, Ryou decides that broiled eel is the answer: a tasty meal that will give them the stamina to stand up to Summer. Personally, I’m a huge fan of eel (I usually acquire it in the form of unagi maki rolls) and this dish looked as delectable as ever.

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But even after the eel, Kirin still feels like her “body is asking for something” she hasn’t yet eaten. Then the A/C goes out, and they retreat to the bath to wash off their sweat. Kirin then gets the idea to eat ice cream in the bath, which is, as she says, a very luxurious thing to do, like doing anything in the bathtub that isn’t bathing (watching TV, for instance, is pretty fun. Just keep the cord away from the water!)

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Yet even that doesn’t hit the spot bothering Kirin. Once out of the bath, she spots a can of sweet beans and Ryou makes her a quick Azuki bean soup with mochi, which turns out to be what her body was asking for. Ryou acts against her better judgement and tries some soup too, and pays for it with a stomachache. There’s no way eel, ice cream, beans and mochi will go well together in any stomach (other than Kirin’s, which seems to be perfectly fine.)

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This episode was more about the tastes and textures of food, but the whole sensory experience of cooling off in the Summer, which consists of a variety of specific sights and sounds. The color of the sky, the smell of a mosquito coil, the sound of a wind chime, the waving of a fan; all these little things contribute to the cooling sensation that made non-A/C Summer days and nights not only tolerable, but pleasing.

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Glasslip – 11

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—She’s kind and indecisive. She gets pushed around. She has trouble with it. And I’m making her even more confused. She made me realize I don’t know anything.
—I see. You like her.

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That’s one hell of a great line by Kakeru, followed by a great response by his mom. The description of one’s love for someone can and has filled great libraries throughout the ages, but at the end of the day, love is just love. As the Oracle said, you just know when you’re in love, through and through. Kakeru’s heart knows, even if his busy brain hasn’t caught up.

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Hina’s such a good sister. Lucky for her, Touka isn’t up to anything THAT bad.

First of all, this was a great episode for people who don’t like everyone being miserable and mad at each other for extended periods of time in these kind of shows, for every couple is where they should be: together, and more to the point enjoying being together, whether it’s Yuki going to see Yana dance, then running together, Sachi and Hiro going on a hike together, or Kakeru and Touka for nearly the whole episode.

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After their kiss, which neither regrets, Kakeru wonders if he’s just trying to make himself think he likes Touka. All due respect, Dr. Kakeru, Ph.D., but you’re still in friggin’ high school. I think you’re overthinking things. But then again, when you’re seeing what may be flashes of possible futures, perhaps you can’t afford not to be serious.

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When the two decide to watch his mom play piano with her family present, like when they spend the night in the art room, Kakeru and Touka are experimenting; attempting to experience conditions that might stimulate Touka’s ability. But when Touka’s parents (and Hina, who really went to bat for Touka the previous night) actually come, and mingle pleasantly with Kakeru’s, he also wonders that maybe that’s enough.

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All these supernatural flashes and visions are really a more direct manifestation of the fear of loneliness Kakeru would have anyway. Life has given him a choice: his mom is willing to take him abroad with her, or he can go to school and get closer to Touka. But that choice is set aside for now, and they hold hands listening to his mom play, and a vision of snow falling on the town takes over. Is winter coming?

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I don’t want to discount the awesomeness of the other two couples; while they got less time, they made the most of it. During a blissful mountaintop picnic, Sachi apologizes to Hiro, while Yuki and Yana are now much better, to the point Yana isn’t even upset when Yuki says he has to talk with Touko one more time. The couples are all together now, but whether they stay that way depends both on circumstances and the choices they’ll have to make once they run out of summer.

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Glasslip – 10

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Last week started out with everyone separated; isolated in their own worlds, but Sachi’s gambit began the work of repairing the bonds that had been strained. She confesses not just to Hiro, but Touka as well. It’s very cute, and the good vibes carry over into this week, as Hina certainly notices a more cheerful Touka as she shows off the dress Yana gave her.

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Like Sachi, Yana-chan also fixed things her way, with the intricate texts of the running route. Yuki returns this week, and this will be the first time they meet since realizing there might be something there between them. Their long-awaited reunion is strategically deferred for dramatic effect, as Yuki traces her steps a bit and even hides when she runs by.

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Instead of interrupt her run, he decides to meet her at home with towel and water bottle in hand, just as she’s met him countless times before. It’s a beautifully understated reconciliation, but true to these two’s personalities, very little is said aside from salutations. He welcomes her back, she welcomes him back…and they mean it. They missed each other.

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Kakeru misses Touka, who’s stayed away ever since her disturbing mind-trip. With all the making up going on (including that Hiro and Sachi), Kakeru and Touka, the central romantic pair, begin the episode far apart. Touka decides to end the Kakeru embargo, but he’s out hiking. His mom invites her to tea in Kakeru’s tent, and his dad joins them too.

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In addition to showing her how he turned up so weird, Touka’s tea time with his folks also rekindles her desire to learn more about him, especially now that she knows how nomadic a life he’s led due to his mom’s profession. She also learns how his childhood was marked by bouts of “sudden, unexpected loneliness” as well-established circles of friends he entered into late got into “festival mode” and forgot about him.

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The rift that had grown between Touka and Kakeru closes considerably, and like Hiro and Machi or Yuki and Yana, the two independently realize how fond they are of the other, and how much they miss each other. The one to finally reunite them is none other than Touka’s favorite schoolyard chicken, Jonathan, who leads Touka to outside the art room where Kakeru is waiting.

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While she cant be blamed for being very freaked out by her visions of snow, Touka has found her courage, and the desire to learn more about them and Kakeru overrides her fear. She also confides in Kakeru that they kissed in in that snowy vision, which leads to them kissing in real life. While old bonds had frayed among the circle, new, deeper bonds have been forged in these last two episodes. And maybe, hopefully sometime soon, more answers will come.

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Glasslip – 09

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This week starts out with everyone, either by choice or circumstance, isolated from the one they love. Yana from Yuki; Sachi from Hiro (and Hiro from Sachi); Kakeru from Touka. For a good chunk of the episode, everyone is alone, and they don’t seem too happy about it, whatever side of the relationships they happen to be on. Last week we tripped. This week we come down.

It’s the most extreme example yet of how all the events and emotions of the summer so far have conspired to pull the circle of friends apart. The episode had a monastic, cleansing feel to it, as if this was a time for solitude and reflection. During this time, many characters devise ways of reconnecting through various barriers or filters, meeting varying degrees of success.

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Well THIS is a setback…

First up is Kakeru, who is stuck at home listening to his mom play that same damn song we’ve heard a million times. Enough already, play something else! Not that his folks are any more human when they’re trying to talk with him about his future, making sure to get in a dig about how they both knew exactly what they were going to do at his age.

Kakeru can’t hear the fragments anymore. Apparently unable to contact her in any other way, he comes by Touka’s house, and they talk between glass. What a difference a day makes…when the girl you like has a traumatic vision of you being a bit too forward for her taste. Not that it’s Kakeru’s fault that she saw that, but it clearly shook her, and she refuses to return the art room with him. She’s not ready.

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Yuki escaped for track camp not just to get back into some kind of routine, but to get away from Touka, who he liked far too much for someone who didn’t like him back, and away from the awkwardness with Yana, as well. Yana treats his unannounced absence as a challenge, and runs his route everyday, sending him rather poetic texts about the weather and other observations.

At camp, Yuki is not necessarily improving, his knees hurt, and he’s still full of doubt. But as desperate and melancholy as these texts first seemed as Yana sent them, not expecting a reply and not getting one, Yuki breaks radio silence when Yana reports clear skies, while it’s dreary and raining where he is.

Yana isn’t even sure what she’s doing or why, and yet they make Yuki happy and relaxed. The juxtapositions during their beautiful phone conversation are very apropos: Yuki may be under the clouds, but Yana is a ray of sunshine peeking through via cell phone. Yuki says he’ll be home soon; possibly tomorrow. It would seem Yana got what she wanted…but what’s next for them?

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She’s a girl with a plan.

Then, finally, there’s Sachi. I tend to save Sachi for last in my reviews…and that’s because she’s the best. Kakeru tried to connect with Touka through glass; Yana with Yuki through texts, and Sachi tries to connect with Hiro through literature. Specifically, she recommends to him a book on the shelf in his family’s cafe, and his disappointment gives way to a bemused curiosity.

Sachi asks not just Hiro, but also Touka, to join her at a Kirinkan, where they wait until after closing time for a hauntingly beautiful crescent moon under earthshine. Like Hiro, I don’t quite get it at first, but then Touka says “the moon is pretty” in a way that sounds like a confession of love, according to Soseki Natsume, the author Sachi had Hiro read.

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Inviting them to this special place of hers, at this special time, when the moon was just so, having prepared Hiro literarily…Sachi’s was certainly the most impressively complex method of re-connecting with the ones she loved—lots of moving parts—but as Hiro puts it, “as long as there’s love”, her feelings were going to come through…and they did. They end up saying the very things she wanted to say to them. This is what happens when Sachi uses her extraordinary planning skills for good instead of evil.

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Summer 2014 Season Preview

While we’ll be sampling the usual host of brand-new series, Summer 20134 will be a season of returns. Mahouka will return immediately for its second cour (Chaika is taking the Summer off). After a Spring hiatus, Space Dandy will return for a second season.

A season after perhaps their most sweeping, moving series to date, P.A. Works is returning with their tenth series, Glasslip. After two years off, Sword Art Online returns. And most notably, for the first time in seventeen years, a new Sailor Moon series will be airing on TV.

Needless to say, we’re quite excited about the promise of all these returns. Many of these shows have big shoes to fill, and while we can’t predict they’ll all succeed, we can at least hope for a better Summer season than 2013, which was, barring a few exceptions, pretty meh.

Oh, one more thing: We’re aiming to bring back Car Cameos, so all authors have been instructed to keep their eyes peeled for real-world vehicles that appear in this Summer’s shows.

Note: All picks are subject to change before, during, and after the Season starts.

Braverade’s Picks

DRAMAtical Murder Rail Wars! Space☆Dandy 2nd Season Zankyou no Terror

1. DRAMAtical Murder (DMMd) – Nitroplus/NAZ (Action, Sci-Fi, Psychological) – Jul – Yeah, that’s kind of a silly (if memorable) title, but with its futuristic setting featuring AI and VR gaming, this looks like a grittier rival to SAO II.

2. Rail Wars! – Passione (Action) – Jul – I don’t know a lot about it or who will be doing the voices, but the idea of “an alternate world where Japan didn’t privatize its railways” sounds like it could be a lark. Also, I love trains, so hopefully they’ll be well-animated.

3. Space Dandy 2nd Season – Bones/Bandai/FUN (Comedy, Sci-Fi, Space) – Jul – Not sure exactly what’s in store for season two, but if it’s anything like the first, there will be flashes of inspired brilliance mixed with more pedestrian efforts.

4. Zankyou no Terror – Aniplex/FUN/MAPPA (Psychological, Thriller) – The promo art kinda reminds me of Tokyo Mag 8.0 and Coppelion, but this latest effort to blow up Tokyo looks like it will focus on those doing the blowing up.

sesameacylic’s Picks

Ao Haru Ride Glasslip Hanayamata Jinsei

5. Ao Haru Ride (Blue Spring Ride) – Prod. I.G./TOHO (Comedy, Drama, Romance, School, Shoujo, Slice of Life) – Well, I certainly can’t fault this show for knowing what it is. The two leads will be Kaji Yuki and Uchida Maaya, two solid choices. If it can approach Sukitte Ii na yo levels of quality, I’ll be happy.

6. Glasslip – P.A. Works/Lantis (Slice of Life) – From a threatened world split between land and sea, P.A. Works shifts to…glass-blowing class? But while Nagi was overflowing with drama, this looks to tell a smaller, story focusing on the very specific dream of a certain girl (with a rookie seiyu).

7. Hanayamata – Madhouse/DIVE II (Slice of Life, Seinen) – The House of Mad counters P.A. Works’ extracurricular Slice of Life with one of its own. Instead of the girl pursuing her dream, she has the dream thrust upon her by a “foreign girl”, and instead of glass, it’s yosakoi dance.

8. Jinsei (Life)– Feel. (Slice of Life) – I don’t know who’s voicing anyone, but I do know this is being helmed by the director of SKET Dance, which is enough for me to give it a look. Like SKET, it will follow a club dedicated to “life consultation”, in the fields of science, literature, and sports.

MagicalChurlSukui’s Picks

Majimoji Rurumo Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei Sailor Moon Crystal Sword Art Online II

9. Majimoji Rurumo – J.C. Staff (Comedy, Fantasy, Shounen) – Consider, if you will, a scenario somewhat similar to TWGOK, only the guy is into real girls, not just dating sims, and the demon he’s contracted with is a witch, or rather a fallen witch trying ot get back in the game. We’ll see if it’s smart or just irritating.

10. Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei – Madhouse/Aniplex (Magic, Romance, School, Sci-Fi, Shounen, Supernatural) With a huge cast expanding ever outward and a relatively leisurely pace, Mahouka needed a second season to say what it wants to say. I’ve seen enough good things so far to afford it that chance.

11. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Crystal (Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: Crystal) – Toei/Starchild/Viz (Demons, Magic, Romance, Shoujo) – I have to confess: I’ve never read a single page nor watched a single episode of the Sailor Moon of yore, nor do I plan to. Crystal’s bi-weekly offerings will be my introduction into this iconic mahou shoujo universe, much as it will be for many younger anime fans. I don’t know the director (who helming his first full series), but I do know the all-star quartet of voice talent that will be backing up Sailor Moon (Mitsuishi Kotoro): Kanemoto Hisako (Mercury), Koshimizu Ami (Jupiter), Satou Rina (Mars), and Itou Shizuka (Venus).

12. Sword Art Online II – A-1/Aniplex (Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Game, Romance, Shounen) – SAO had marvellous world and system-building, exciting battles, a decent, if simple, core romance, and strong female characters. It also had a very dull, overly-evil villain at the end and totally sidelined its female lead and focused too much on unrequited brother-love. But with a new online game to explore and the excellent Sawashiro Miyuki voicing the all-new female lead, I’m still looking forward to the sequel.

Natsuiro Kiseki – 02

On an ordinary hot morning during summer vacation, Yuka and Rinko inadvertently make a wish at the big rock results in Natsumi and Saki being physically fused together, unable to escape each others’ proximity, despite having never made up after their latest row. Suspecting their friends are to blame for this development, they head to the temple grounds to confront them, having to work in unison to move properly. Yuka and Rinko flee, and a long cross-town chase ensues. The duo turn out to be unstoppable after all, wearing down their quarry. When they see an exhausted Yuka running towards the water’s edge, they lunge at her to save her, but in that moment, the spell is broken, sending them both flying into the water. Having survived their ordeal and sustained proximity, Natsumi and Saki finally make up.

If there was any doubt remaining that there were supernatural forces at work, there’s definitely none now; if only two of the four friends wish the same thing at the same time near the rock, it comes true, one way or another. What works so well about this episode is how the magic is very subtle, and the predicament of being stuck to someone you’re in a fight with, while hardly a new concept, is the perfect way for them to overcome said fight when executed well, which it was. The episode was a good blend of lovely hot summer day slice-of-life and cat-and-mouse marathon.

The chase was very long, not particularly fast-paced, and at the end of the day, totally unnecessary, but who cares? It’s length, and the lengths Yuka and Rinko go to evade their pursuers, force Natsumi and Saki to talk to one another, cooperate, and remember why they’re friends in the first place. They’ve always bickered, but they’ve also always made up. We’ve grown to like these characters fast, and were happy to see them make up from what were hardly irreconcilable differences. The post-credits shot of Natsumi’s brother’s friend reading up on witches was nice foreshadowing; he saw them fly, and will probably keep his eye on them.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Persona 4: The Animation – 13

Yu is always leaving home early and coming home late, but won’t tell anyone what he’s up to, so Nanako takes on the ‘persona’ of Magical Detective Loveline in order to tail him and find out the truth. It proves difficult, as she’s distracted numerous times, but eventually it’s made clear Yu is meeting and spending time with several women of various ages.

With the serial murderer case closed and school out, there’s not much to do, so this episode is pretty laid back, and many days pass relatively uneventfully. But this new, more lightweight mystery arises, and it’s up to Nanako – not the Persona gang – to solve it. Things continue to revove around Yu, only this time, from afar. As the audience we’re just as puzzled as his sister.

Still, we were able to construct a reasonable scenario from observing his behavior through Nanako. It seems he’s helping various women and mothers in some fashion. That’s about all we’ve got. But Nanako connects the dots after helping a fireworks maker dislodge food from his esophagus: this guy loves to see people smile because of his works, and Nanako suspects so does Yu, which is why he’s helping people. Meanwhile, all his friends are merely loafing around.


Rating: 3