Tokyo Revengers – 05 – Babes and Bikes

When Takemichi, whom I maintain looks way too babyfaced for a dead-end adult, is unceremoniously fired, he returns to Naoto, because it’s not like he has anything else going on in this life. He asks if he could just ask tell Past Hina everything, but Naoto says he only believed him because he was into the occult at the time. He worries Hina might think Takemichi is insane and stop liking him. I was internally yelling at Naoto “So?”

Wouldn’t it be worth a shot for Takemichi to break things off with Hina in the past, thus severing her connection to the gangs altogether? Then again, perhaps too much happened in the time between Takemichi and Hina breaking up for that to work. In any case, Naoto has found articles about a scuffle at the Mushashi shrine on August 3rd (two weeks from now) of 12 years ago between the Mikey and Draken crews of the Toman Gang, resulting in Draken’s death.

Takemichi can’t believe how the articles say it was a fight between two people he observed to be closer than brothers, but regardless of if and how things got that way, his new mission is to save Draken from dying. If he does that, he may be able to save Hina and Akkun. He and Naoto shake hands, and he finds himself in a very compromising position with a beautiful blonde in nothing but her underwear in a karaoke booth.

Completely disoriented and freaked out, Takemichi runs…almost directly into Hina, who’d just been walking home from cram school. Hina’s sharp enough to know when Takemichi is being a “kid” and when he’s being an “adult”. Lately he’d been a kid, and cold and distant towards her. Now, however, he’s considerably kinder. Then Draken calls, and Hina insists on tagging along.

Takemichi’s in no position to argue: since time moves at the same rate in past and present, Past Takemichi has been inadvertently complicating his future self’s mission by being a youthful, impulsive little shit. Takemichi and Hina arrive at the Musashi Shrine and are ambushed by bikers, but it turns out to be a big meeting of all the Toman divisions.

Draken greets Hina warmly and the two exchange apologies, then Draken asks his girlfriend Emma to take care of Hina while they talk. Emma, as it turns out, is the lovely young lady ready to go all the way (sans kissing) with Takemichi at Karaoke. Takemichi has no coherent defense (though he’s not lying when he says he doesn’t remember how he ended up that way).

Hina dispenses swift punishment, beating bloody the same kid she was so worried about always getting into scraps. Aside from still being around when the Toman meeting is over, that’s all we get of Hina, which was a bit frustrating, since so much between her and Takemichi is left up in the air.

As for Emma, she tells Takemichi she’s not actually into him, she just wanted to “grow up faster”, sleeping with him in hopes of making Draken, whom she is into, jealous, and lamenting that all he cares about is “Mikey, bikes, and fighting.”

As for the big Toman meeting, Takemichi is impressed by Mikey’s ability to command and inspire his troops. When the third division’s captain and vice-captain—Pah and Peh—come to him with a problem, they have Mikey’s full attention. A friend of Pah’s got into it with Osanai, leader of the Moebius gang, over “something stupid”. The friend got the shit beat out of him, and the friend’s girlfriend was raped and beaten.

Moebius may be two generations older than Toman and may control Shinjuku, but when Pah says he demands satisfaction nonetheless, Mikey asks if anyone objects, and no one does, which means there’s going to be a battle between Toman and Moebius, and it’s going to take place…on August 3.

That’s news to Takemichi, since the news articles Naoto had said the fight was between Mikey and Draken’s crews. Did the reporter just mix up the names and groups involved, or did the particulars of the conflict change because Takemichi went back in time again?

He doesn’t know either, but one thing he does know is that he has to save Draken. But when he approaches him the next day volunteering to be his bodyguard, Draken curtly declines. Takemichi doesn’t give up right there, however, and decides to follow Draken as he goes about his day.

Unsurprisingly, most of that day is filled with Mikey, whom Takemichi gets to see in a wildly different light than when he’s commanding his crew. For one thing, he’s upset his Kids Meal doesn’t come with a flag, but Draken happens to have one, and Mikey’s spirits are immediately raised.

Draken and Mikey’s day shifts from comedy to drama when Draken takes Mikey to the hospital, where Pah’s friend’s girlfriend has been lying in the ICU with a coma for the last few days. Her parents confront them and her dad levels all manner of curses at them. Mikey is upset because he didn’t do anything, but Draken bows deeply in apology and makes Mikey do the same.

He impresses upon Mikey the need to minimize collateral harm to innocent people, including the friends and family of his crew. Mikey may have nothing to lose, but that doesn’t go for everyone he commands. Draken tells Mikey to always “have a heart that cares for others” while conducting Toman business.

That exchange clinches it for Takemichi: Draken isn’t just Mikey’s muscle,  piggyback ride, or consigliere. He’s all of those things too, but most importantly, he’s Mikey’s heart; his conscience. Which explains why Mikey turns bad when Draken dies. Conspicuous in his absence throughout this episode was Kisaki Tetta, who filled the void left by Draken, a relationship eventually leading to Hina’s death and Akkun’s suicide. It feels like Kisaki is a wild card in the scheduled August 3 battle with Moebius.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san – 04

This week  the happy little world of Nishikata and Takagi is invaded, as the secondary characters begin to notice the two are together an awful lot beyond class. Take the first segment, in which Nishikata has to clean the science room because he’s so loud.

Takagi joins him, not to help clean, or because she feels guilty, or even to tease him more. Rather, she wants to “enjoy their youth”, the way another couple is clearly doing when they spot Nishikata and Takagi on the way to the rooftop. For Takagi, enjoyng her youth means spending as much time as she can with Nishikata.

Clearly Nishikata doesn’t mind hanging out with Takagi that badly, even if she does tease him a lot. Indeed, he seems to savor the challenge of fighting against such a formidable opponent, and never lets the discouragement of virtually never winning against her get to him for very long.

While on the way home, Nishikata challenges Takagi to a high-bar kickover, something he’s only just recently mastered. Takagi agrees to do it, but only if he looks the other way, as she’s wearing a skirt. The first time they both do one, but he doesn’t know whether she cheated, so the next time, he peeks.

When he does, he learns not only that Takagi is doing proper kickovers, but is wearing gym shorts under her skirt. But even if she made him look away despite that, he’s honorable enough to admit defeat because he peeked, even if she calls him a pervert.

Nishikata often shows he’s a good lad, but his desire to best Takagi sometimes leads to unnecessary deceit. When he comes in with an apparent cold, Takagi immediately presumes it’s because he stayed up all night watching 100% Unrequited Love anime.

Nishikata intends to make Takagi blush by telling her she’s “cute”, but ends up too embarrassed to say something meant to embarrass her. He’s so thrown off he claims to not have a cold after all!

While Takagi still believes he has a cold (which he actually does), she seems frustrated she can’t tease him as usual lest she make him cough, so when he later insists he’s fine (after watching how damn cute she is when sitting quietly), she just starts teasing him even harder to make up for lost time!

Finally, Nishikata and Takagi are spotted by the three girls. Yukari assumes they’re a couple and decides to tail them to confirm it. Takagi being a particularly observant person (and the trio not being that stealthy), she and Nishikata take a quick turn around a corner and then hide, throwing the girls off the trail and causing them to give up.

In the process, Nishikata and Takagi have to squeeze together very close—closer than under the umbrella last week—and Nishikata is understandably flustered, but when asked if he would have preferred a different tactic, he drops the matter.

Takagi then immediately sets off on the race to the shrine they proposed. Nishikata cries ‘false start’, but honestly, the only thing he can and should do in such a situation is chase after Takagi…which he does.

 

Sakura Trick – 12 (Fin)

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With Mitsuki about to graduate and move on to college, her window to tell Haruka how she feels is rapidly closing. She finds the right moment in her kitchen at her graduation party to confess and ask her out. After denying those feelings for so long, it was gratifying to see not only come to grips with them as a reality in her life, but actually try to do something about it.

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To do so requires courage, but also selfishness, but Mitsuki finds her opening when Yuu tells her she and Haruka haven’t exchanged confessions of love yet. It’s pretty clear that any situation where Mitsuki would snatch Haruka away would hurt Yuu, but that’s a bridge she’ll cross when she comes to it, and in any case, she doesn’t know Haruka’s answer; asking to meet after the graduation ceremony to hear it.

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The thing is, Haruka herself doesn’t really know how to respond. She hasn’t really given much thought to what it means to be doing all of the things she’s done with Yuu; the two have just been living in the moment and going for it. It isn’t until Mitsuki comes in talking about being “in love” and “going out” that Haruka starts to consider that that’s what she and Yuu are doing. She “loves” Mitsuki too, but it’s pretty clear it’s not the same as her love for Yuu.

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So yeah, Mitsuki is pretty much rejected, but it’s not the end of the world (nothing on this show is); and she goes off to college with Rina, who holds a flame for Mitsuki but isn’t as forward about it as Mitsuki was with Haruka. Maybe down the road that will change. In any case, we close out the series with Haruka and Yuu still very much together and in love and having confessed to each other numerous times. As the new school term begins, their sakura-colored life goes on.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)
Average Rating: 6.583
MyAnimeList Score: 7.51

Sakura Trick – 11

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In spite of Trick’s light, feathery, low-stress, non-confrontational tone throughout its run, we had a feeling it was waiting until the end to finally unveil a major conflict regarding Haruka and Yuu. The first half of this episode was almost suspiciously mundane, as we meet Mitsuki’s replacement SumiSumi (who talks like an old man) and everyone brainstorms an event to honor Mitsuki and Vice President Sakai.

It’s all pretty standard fare, complete with Haruka and Yuu making out near the end, until you realize they’re not hidden away somewhere, but in the school hall for any passersby to see. And Mitsuki and Rina do see; the lovers’ increasing boldness has gotten them caught. Mitsuki angrily scolds them, but directs it all at Haruka, forbidding her to kiss Yuu.To Rina or any other casual observer, this would seem like normal conservative big-sister behavior.

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But we know better what’s eating Mitsuki. The moment she chided Haruka to “wake up”, we knew there was the possibly she’d realize it was time she woke up herself about what she’s feeling. Scolding Haruka was less about protecting Yuu or upholding wholesome values, but about deep-rooted and repressed jealousy.

Subconsciously, she’s making it so if she can’t have Haruka, no one can, and certainly not Yuu. Despite her dalliances with Haruka, Yuu is still a “good girl” who respects her elder sister’s authority (not knowing about the jealousy influencing it) and keeps away from Haruka, but doesn’t like it.

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We like how rather than despair and mope like she might in the past, Haruka stays positive and figures out she can still kiss Yuu if they’re sold as stumbles and trips; capitalizing on her reputation for clumsiness. But one can only keep that up for so long; and it doesn’t solve anything.

Still, it is notable that after getting away with everything for nearly a year, Haruka and Yuu’s sakura-colored relationship is in trouble, because they weren’t careful, but also because Mitsuki has ulterior motives. But it isn’t treated like the end of the world for them, only the potential start of a new world for Mitsuki, as she finally considers the fact she’s in love with Haruka too.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Sumisumi is…kinda boring. Seems extraneous. We like her mustache insignia, though.
  • The upperclassmen look far more refined adult-like, but they’re all eating pudding in hopes of getting racks as big as their beloved ex-president Mitsuki’s.
  • While Mitsuki has been obsessing over Haruka, she hasn’t noticed that her Veep might just love her. We just met Sumisumi but we trust her intuition.
  • When Haruka admonishes Yuu for groping her, the theme that plays has shades of “Omen.”

 

Sakura Trick – 10

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The first half of the episode is titled “A Snowy Day, Memories, and an Impact”, and it contains…well, all of those things: an unexpected and rare snowfall entices Haruka and Shizuku to eat lunch outside despite the oppressive cold. Haruka wants to at least give it a go because she realizes they may not get another snowy day in the final two years of school.

Making the most of the time is a slogan Haruka’s gotten from Katone before, and which Shiuzuku recognizes. Kotone eventually comes outside and kisses Shizuku right as she’s thinking about making memories. But as the other five girls carouse and have snowball fights outside, next year’s student council is being put into place, and Kanae takes the opportunity to mention to Ex-President Mitsuki that Yuu and Haruka are dating, bringing the issue to the fore for the first time since Mitsuki herself caught them in Yuu’s room.

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There’s no game here; Kanae seems genuinely preoccupied with Haruka and Yuu’s official status; maybe wondering why they haven’t told their friends despite the fact their status is obvious. Mitsuki may dismiss it, but she’s clouded by her own feelings for Haruka. In any case, the same traits that make Kanae a good trickster also make her a good observer; she knows what she’s seen, but she craves concrete answers. She even tries to test the waters by dropping hints in front of Yuzu, to no avail.

The fact is, Haruka and Yuu aren’t in a hurry to tell everyone they’re a couple (though there seems to be a mutual understanding with fellow couple Kotone and Shizuku) They hesitate kissing while Yuu is on the ladder (which is dangerous!) since Yuzu and Kanae are right below her, but end up making out anyway (the angle is such that no one ever sees anything.) They continue to stay mum and ride their luck. But as Kanae says, even if they all found out, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Well, it might be for Mitsuki…


Rating: 6 (Good)

Sakura Trick – 09

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Ah, the inane phone conversation of inordinate length between lovers. When can’t stand not being around someone but talking in person isn’t possible, it’s a serviceable if imperfect option. Contact is contact, even if it’s just of the audio variety. Yuu gets on Haruka’s case for holding her up for dinner (being late for dinner being a serious matter in many households), but she doesn’t hang up, either, and far more time goes by than either of them thought. They even end up exchanging kisses on the phone.

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Mitsuki’s crush comes into play both when she’s jealous that Yuu is talking to Haruka, and when she sees the two linking arms on the street. When Kaede and Yuzu cross her path, she wrangles them into a plan to get her to link arms, though says she wants to do it with Yuu, not Haruka. They tail the couple, and Kaede discovers them necking under a playground structure. Mitsuki doesn’t see or hear anything, but when she starts to run off and trip, she gets the close contact with Haruka she’d been hoping for all along, so it works out.

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Even the phone call and the arm-linking stories weren’t enough to fill a whole episode, so Trick changes gears in a bonus third part in which we learn about Yuzu getting her scooter license and Kaede playing various tricks on people (cementing her role a\s the trick in Sakura Trick) All this is to say, no one suddenly reverted to a state just after falling from a bridge, no one cut their hair out of frustration from their unrequited love, and no one dumps someone like a ton of bricks. You want that kinda nonsense, you need to watch something else!


Rating: 6 (Good)

 

Mawaru Penguindrum 2

“Which holes do her legs go through?”
“Fool, those holes lead to the Cosmos.”

-Shouma/Kanba @ a lingerie store

Good lord, that was…brilliant. Awesome in every way. If anything, better than the first episode, since some things were already established. This just added more. More places, more people, more layers of story, more comedy, more mysteries; more lingerie and more stalking!

It’s all in the details: For instance, there’s a little animated PSA on the Sky Metro in which warns against groping in no uncertain terms…then Shouma is accused of just that, groping a girl on the train because his preguin friends (whom no one else can see) did so. The girl just happens to be friends with the person Shouma and Kanba are tailing – Ringo Oginome – the proverbial apple in the opening and ending sequences – which one really looks forward to, like the cherry atop the proverbial sundae. Ringo loves fate.

Hardly anything we’d seen from Ringo seemed all that suspicious, but it turns out she’s far from normal, compulsively stalking a teacher she’s fallen for (lying on a blanket under his house listening to him) as the brothers stalk her (with their penguins acting as their eyes and ears). While Himari is wearing her penguin hat, she has another “Incoming Message From The Big Giant Head” moment, ordering the bros to fetch the Penguindrum from Ringo. Problem is, she doesn’t tell them what it is.

So now, having followed Ringo, and learned the stalked is also a stalker, they have to gain possession of something they know not what from someone who is clearly unstable. Hell, she herself could be the drum thing. Who knows? All I know is, this episode was fantastic, and I can’t wait for the next one. Rating: 4