Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – 12 (Fin)

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I’m not shy about my love for shows that are efficient enough to wrap everything up with an entire episode to spare, but this final DnH reminded me that yes, a show can wait until the last episode ever and still finish things in a satisfying manner without feeling rushed or overstuffed.

lot goes on this week, but it’s well-organized and well-paced. Virtually no time is wasted, and what idle time it does have it uses on nice character beats, which are also curtain calls here in the finale.

We start with Minafes(t), which we learn immediately turned out to be a great success with a huge turnout. Meanwhile, as karmic comeuppance for her attempts to poach Minafes patrons for her little symposium, Aoi’s auditorium is effectively deserted. Waah-waah…

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That idle time I mentioned above makes sense, because once Minafes is off and running, our club members are backstage spectators until their own performances. Kana and Senri spend it trying to cozy up to an unwitting, Kyoutarou before shooed off by Tamamo, who does the same exact thing.

It’s cute and true to all three characters, while also underlining that these three were always the more superficial of Kyou’s suitors, below Nagi and Tsugumi. Tsugumi, meanwhile, remains the only one of the club members who knows Kyou has become a Shepherd and will gradually disappear.

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Bitter over losing to Minafes, Aoi succumbs to pure mustache-twirling criminality, loosening the screws on the light assembly fated to fall upon Tsugumi. But she’s caught red-handed by the crack Shepherd team of Kyoutarou and Nagi, the latter of which makes good use of her strong legs and big breasts to subdue the perp.

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But while occupied with Aoi, the lights fall anyway, just as Tsugumi is below them. With just a moment to work with, Kyoutarou does the only thing he thinks he can to save her: use a book to transport himself, Nagi, Aoi, and the lights away. Tsugumi looks up at the now-empty catwalk, confused, but very alive. Success!

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Aoi ends up…somewhere else, and is so upset, she unleashes a vicious, incriminating tirade about how she just wants Kyou to disappear so she can create her perfect academy…and have President Mochizuki all to herself.

The camera stays close to her for the duration of the rant, but due both the lights above her and the reverb in her voice, I already knew she had been teleported onto the stage of her precious symposium!

What’s so deliciously awesome about this is that it not only punishes Aoi for all her misdeeds, but also ensures she won’t take any further action, since she’s now effectively confessed both to Mochizuki and a fair amount of the student body. The jig is up. Crime doesn’t pay, Aoi.

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With Tsugumi’s future saved and Aoi neutralized, it would seem our two young Shepherds are on a roll. But as they confer with their boss atop the school library, it’s clear they erred. Well, it’s clear they erred when they teleported onto a stage with dozens of people watching! They’re supposed to work in the shadows.

Kyou doesn’t care. He did what he felt he had to do to save Tsugumi, he doesn’t regret it, and he’d do it again. For those reasons, the boss laments that he’s not Shepherd material after all, even if Nagi is. The problem is, his book is already gone, so Shepherd or not, he’ll still disappear from everyone’s memories. Bummer.

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Tsugumi, neither as dumb as she looks or as weak as she says, knows what Kyou did for her and why. And even though she’s sad about losing him, she realizes The Show Must Go On. Compartmentalizing her pain, she takes the stage and delivers a hell of a speech about just how far her Happy Project went, thanks to teamwork, camaraderie, and love.

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She then passes the mic to Senri, who sings a beautiful but melancholy song that could serve as a lament for the loss of Kyou…who as it turns out got back in time to hear the speech and praise her for it.

He tells her his situation, but she assures him she won’t forget him, or let him go away, no matter what happened to his stupid book, and he draws her in for a big ‘ol hug. As it happens, his ex-boss re-makes his book for him, owning up to the fact he was wrong about Kyou being Shepherd material.

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Aoi formally apologizes, having been both chastened and moved by Tsugumi’s speech and under the forgiving Mochizuki’s guidance. The Happy Project gets its club room back (buh-bye, random guys!) and things return to normal. When Kyou comes home one day to find movers at Nagi’s old apartment, he looks a little sad, now that the newly-made Shepherd has moved on…

…But as it happens, Nagi is in his apartment, leaning on his bed watching the ‘tube as always. Turns out she was made Shepherd of Shiomi Academy, so she’s not going anywhere! Then Tsugumi and the rest of the club arrive at the door, and Nagi is eager to ‘make another scene’ to give them the wrong idea, and it’s medetashi medetashi.

But ‘Wait’, you might ask: ‘What about consequences?’ To which I’d respond: ‘lighten up!’ ita pleasant, charming rom-com that was always more about the threat of bad things happening and how to avoid them, not bad things actually happening. Besides, not being a Shepherd is a pretty big blow, and the fact Kyou still has to juggle six girls, and I’d say he still has challenges in store.

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Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – 11

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When first faced with their clubroom predicament, courtesy of the scheming Aoi (who thinks she’s doing the Shepherd’s good work), for a moment I wondered “Gee, why don’t they just use their superpowers to get rid of the excess members? Then I remembered this wasn’t InoBato. ;)

Kyoutarou also tells everyone to look on the bright side: the Happy Project is still alive and kicking and they’re all together, so who cares about a clubroom? This is true, but it’s also refreshing, as so many other club-focused anime make the loss of their venue seem like the end of the world.

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Kyoutarou tells Nagi about losing the room, but she either forgets, or specifically wants to hang off of Kyoutarou and ask him what he wants for dinner to torture Tsugumi, who does not like hearing the words “Nagi” and “last night” in the same sentence.

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When the StuCo (really Aoi) schedules a celebrity alumnai-fueld symposium on the same day as Minafest, and the club brainstorms their next move, Kyoutarou receives a vision of the future in which a stage light falls on Tsugumi’s head, apparently killing her. With that, everything concerning the club room, Minafest, or the harem situation falls by the wayside for Kyoutarou. All that matters is changing that future.

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Over a Nagi-prepared repast of pre-packages shumai, Kyoutarou tells Nagi he wants to become a Shepherd. Yes, even after everything Nagi did to get him to hook up with another girl. If he’s not a Shepherd, he doesn’t have the power to stop what will happen to Tsugumi. From his perspective, it’s better for her to forget him than for her to be dead. I can’t say I disagree with him. Set aside, for now, is the Shepherd Boss’ implication that between Kyou and Nagi only one can become a Shepherd.

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When the boss starts erasing Kyou’s book, Tsugumi, on the phone with Tamamo and talking about him, senses something is amiss when she can’t recall something she had deemed unforgettable. She races to Kyoutarou’s in the rain, where Nagi is conveniently absent that night, and tells him she doesn’t want to forget him, planting a big ol’ smooch on him.

After showering (from running in the rain), Kyoutarou tells her he has to do this, and she begs him to take her with him. He tells her everyone will forget her if he does and asks if she’s okay with that, and she turns the question back around on him. “It’s for the best,” says Kyou, not mentioning this is the only way to save her life. “I hate Shepherds,” Tsugumi says, crestfallen. “Especially Kakeis who have become Shepherds.”

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The next day Kyoutarou receives and urgent call from Kana telling him something’s wrong with Senri. He races to her house to find Senri dressed like a nurse and Kana dressed as a bunny, and they totally ambush him with their feminine wiles. He manages to fight them off and get an explanation, which is that Kana read on the internet that this was how you kept a guy from going away.

While yes, this scene was a bit excessive, it did reinforce what Kyoutarou will be giving up when he becomes a Shepherd. It also shows that while Senri and Kana can put on the charm, the two come on a bit too strong to be serious contenders for his heart. I appreciate the teamwork, though…as I’m sure a part of Kyou does.

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Back at school, Tamamo demands an explanation from Kyou, not for his recent visit to Senri’s, but for a newspaper article about him “selling his body” to the StuCo in exchange for making Minafest an official event. Kyou assures them it’s just another one of Aoi’s tricks. He’s not going anywhere…at least for now.

Senri visits Kyou on the roof (while Nagi stays out of sight), and tells him she’s decided to sing at Minafest, not for the sake of anyone but him and the other Happy Project members. Asking him if this was a future path he saw, he responds that she chose it all on her own. Senri makes him close his eyes again, but this time she kisses him…on the forehead.

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The rest of the club finds out about Senri singing, and the rumor spreads throughout the school, increasing interest in Minafest. Tsugumi and Senri even go on the school radio to promote it, and Senri takes the opportunity to ask Miyu to be her emcee, in an effort to repair their relationship (that Senri is going to perform heartens her pink-haired friend).

Aoi hears of these countermoves but isn’t concerned; she’s confident she’ll be proven right in her belief (fueeld by texts from her “shepherd”) that the library club shouldn’t exist. Meanwhile, it seems President Mochizuki may be on to her subordinate’s treachery.

Aoi may not even be totally wrong, though, as Kyoutarou can’t seem to find a path where Tsugumi won’t get killed at Minafest…even though finding one was precisely the catalyst that led him to become a Shepherd in the first place!

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Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – 10

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While last week was more of a battle between Kyoutarou and Nagi’s Shepherd philosophies regarding Senri’s path, this week focuses more on relationships — specifically, little sisters. Now that Kyoutarou remembers Nagi being his little sister (half-sister; his dad had many wives) who he once saved from pedophile house servants (!!!) Nagi decides she’s in a playful mood and commits to it, moving in with Kyoutarou, who doesn’t resist.

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While Kana is busy making sure Senri has as much fun as she can (read into that what you will), Kyoutarou pays for the privilege of having a busty and voluptuous house guest when Tsugumi makes an unannounced visit, and she comes right out (well, not right out) and asks him to be her boyfriend.

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Well, to pretend to be her boyfriend, at least, for when they visit her little sister Sayori. Even though she’s little and bedridden, Sayori struck me immediately as stronger, more assertive and honest with her feelings than her sister, and sees through the ploy instantly. She’s actually a pretty cool and mature sibling, not at all your typical unreasonable brat who gives her sister’s guy a hard time.

On the contrary, she’s grateful her ‘introverted’ sister has his and her friends’ support. You get the feeling Sayori would rather not be in the hospital so she can look after Tsugumi properly.

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As thanks for his service, Tsugumi wants to make Kyoutarou dinner, but since Nagi has moved in, he has to temporarily relocate her to his balcony while she does so, lest Tsugumi get the wrong idea. I’m not sure at this point what the right idea is, though. Why does Nagi want to play house so bad? Getting her kicks in before becoming a shepherd, I guess…but doesn’t constant proximity to him soften her resolve?

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In any case, the next day Tsugumi arrives with her discharged-for-the-day sister, again unannounced. This time Nagi won’t go quietly onto the balcony, and instead creates a sticky situation for Kyoutarou, who must explain more to Sayori than Tsugumi, what exactly is going on. Nagi doesn’t help matters by letting on that they’re up to more than they really are, and Kyoutarou’s sister excuse does seem flimsy, even if it’s technically the truth.

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Nagi may think this is all a big joke and everyone will forget her soon anyway, but Sayori isn’t laughing; she’s legitimately concerned for Tsugumi and wants straight answers. She gets so worked up she collapses. Rather than risk waiting for help, Kyoutarou begs Nagi to use her book-teleportation power to take Sayori to the hospital. Perhaps aware that this is kinda all her fault, Nagi obliges.

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Of course, this means Tsugumi has seen the power of the shepherds, and Kyoutarou tells her the rest, about how he’s in training. Their trip home is silent and awkward as you’d expect, and Kyoutarou figures Tsugumi would rather have nothing more to do with him, but in that he’s sorely mistaken: Tsugumi uses the opportunity to beg him not to go anywhere or be erased from her memories, and then confesses to him.

She walks it back a bit, but it’s out there, and it isn’t as if Kyoutarou isn’t receptive. In fact, could this have been Nagi’s plot all along; to get him and Tsugumi closer? Was she just pretending to be put out by Tsugumi’s visits?

Oh yeah, and the clubroom has been suddenly overrun by a bevy of manga-reading, formerly inactive guys, which is Takigawa’s doing. It appears the Veep won’t allow the club’s pseudo-Shepherd-like activities to continue. How will they fight back?

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Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – 09

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Who makes a better Shepherd: the one who would guide their sheep along a life path that makes the most of their latent talent, or along the path that would net the sheep the most happiness? The question begs asking, because in the case of the “Song Princess” Misono Senri, those two paths are divergent.

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Simply put, as good as she was, or is, or could be at singing, it just doesn’t make Senri happy anymore, which has led her to neglect her practicing. It hasn’t made her happy ever since she learned her best friend Serizawa would quit if Senri beat her. Senri took a dive, yet still won, and lost Serizawa anyway. Her talent hurt someone dear to her, and caused them to drift apart.

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So why keep singing, when it only gives her pain and reminds her of what she’s lost? If she does keep singing, who’s to say she won’t lose more friends to her talent? Nagi, as Shepherd-in-Training, takes the road of maximum talent cultivation at any cost: Senri must get back on track, or she’s doomed to become ‘just an ordinary student’.

Kyoutarou inserts himself in Nagi’s mission and ends up taking it over completely, taking the other road: the road of happiness. He does this not to one-up Nagi, but because he wants to help his friend. His answer is, if singing is painful, Stop. Enjoy life. Have fun with friends. Don’t worry about the labels others give you. Make your own mark. Do what you want, not what’s expected of you. He even suggests the same of Nagi herself.

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Meanwhile, what do we have here? Oh, just Vice Predient Tokigawa obsessively photographing President Mochizuki and photoshopping her face on Kyoutarou’s body for pleasure. She also seems to be in contact with ‘a’ Shepherd, though which one who can say. I can’t say there’s enough here to work with, so I’ll just move on. :)

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Back to Senri, who takes to Kyou’s advice like a fish to water. Who hasn’t reveled in waking up only to realize you can go back to bed? Such Luxury! Or helping her fellow library club members plan their upcoming festival event. Or goofing off with Kana, who assures her no one in the club will hate her for doing what she feels she needs to do to be happy, even if that’s quitting singing forever.

Tamamo initially takes a sterner position, saying she can’t abide people who waste their talents, but later confides to Kyoutarou (in a scene where she’s very physically close to him) that it was her jealousy speaking; she herself wanted to be an artist, but her family forbade it in favor of a path that would lead to more success, if not more happiness. So she doesn’t really begrudge so much as envy Senri’s situation.

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As the episode progresses, one cannot argue that Kyoutarou’s way has resulted in a much bubblier, happier Senri, who literally makes her mark on him by stamping his hand with a smiley face. When Serizawa confronts him about rumors the Song Princess has quit, Kyoutarou refers to the canary who lost its song.

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Then Nagi confronts Kyoutarou, warning him that he could be condemning that canary to a life of mediocrity. Kyoutarou, who is content to give Senri time to ‘find her song anew’, as it were, wonders why Nagi is in such a damn hurry to ‘fix’ Senri…

That’s when the environs darken and the Shepherd recruiter appears, telling Kyoutarou he’s passed the second exam and can become a Shepherd anytime he wants. They transport to the Grand Library, where the recruiter presents Kyou with Nagi’s book.

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Nagi, as we know, is in a hurry to cast away her past in order to become a Shepherd, but as Kyoutarou learns once he opens that book, that is prohibitively difficult as long as her past is right in front of her: Kyou was her “big brother,” which I assume is a term of endearment, rather than an indication they’re actually related.

This is not so much a huge shock for us considering Nagi’s behavior these past eight episodes, but it definitely puts her in a new light for Kyoutarou, who has the power, if he desires to use it, to ensure she lives a normal life, even if that’s not what she wants.

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Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – 08

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Did the writers of this episode recently watch Whisper of the Heart? Both center on a yearning young lady who worries about being good enough, both begin with that girl checking out all the same books as a guy, and both end on a hilltop at daybreak. But before I lay into those writers for shamelessly lifting from a classic, I must note that the similarities pretty much end there.

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For one thing, Amasawa Seiji didn’t get nearly as much girl time as Kyoutarou this week. Seriously, Kyou’s all over the shop with the ladies, or rather they’re all over him. From getting squeezed between and fought over by Tamamo and Senri in bikinis on stage, to ending up with Tamamo’s bra, to rescuing Kana from the sea, the show wants to make it clear that yes, he will be giving up quite a lot if he becomes a shepherd.

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It’s not what it looks like! Though I wouldn’t be surprised if Senri swung both ways…

Interestingly, the aftermath of Nagi’s kiss-and-run is set aside so that the show can focus on the stakes, one girl at a time, starting with Kana. As we know, Kana is the clown of the group, not counting Ikkei (because Ikkei barely exists). What we didn’t know is that Kana was the clown in her last group of friends…who are no longer friends.

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Then, as now, she didn’t choose to be the clown; it was a role she was given and never challenged it. She put doing what she deemed it took to remain ‘wanted’ in a highly-structured group where everyone had a role to play. After her beach play was a failure, the brittle clown facade is crumbling. She compensates by “trying too hard”, which makes her inner struggle more evident to her new friends, who say “this isn’t like you at all!”, inadvertently goading her into trying even too-harder.

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The club also works to get their client stage time, and, StuCo Veep Takigawa gives no ground in negotiations. They hold out hope they can change her mind (not knowing that she’s trying to destroy their cub!), but for that, they need Kana to write a new script. Only Kana isn’t coming to club.

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One surprising sight was seeing Kyoutarou shadowing Nagi with her trainee shepherd work, with things back to normal; ‘normal’ meaning ‘intermittently awkward and lovey-dovey’. Yet again, Nagi dodges the question of why she wants to be a shepherd so badly, and uses the situation as another opportunity to dissuade Kyoutarou from becoming one. She does that by telling him where to find Kana so he can talk to her, thereby sharing yet another beautiful memory he won’t want to lose.

As payment for her intel, she chokes him with her legs and bites his nose.

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Up on that hill, just before sunrise, he finds Kana, and the discussion turns to books. How Kyoutarou started reading books because he was looking for ways to get along with others, something he’s clearly succeeded out. And if you’ll remember, Kana checked out a lot of those same books, perhaps for the same reason.

I really enjoyed the creativity of the closing scene, whether it’s Kana telling her backstory using Madoka witch-style shadow-puppet visuals, or Kyoutarou turning their talk into a theatrical performance. The sun rising behind the embracing friends as catharsis is reached was also a simple but well-executed visual. Sendai Eri also does her best work of the season here and throughout the episode, demonstrating heretofore untapped range.

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Kana returns to the club feeling much better about herself and her place in it, which she learns need not be in the role of the clown. She’s excited to write the hell out of a new script, and if it flops like the least one, who cares? It’s not the end of the world, and she had fun writing them.

Then Senri embraces Kana once more, imploring her to stop worrying so much about what others think and start worrying about what she wants…lest Senri take him first! Then, things immediately shift to Senri going AWOL on her music instructor. But that’s a story for next week!

Kyoutarou is sure play a role in her redemption as well, but lest we forget: without Nagi’s help, he wouldn’t have reached Kana at that crucial time and place. If he relies on Nagi again, it will further expose the limits to his ability to help others as long as he’s not a shepherd himself.

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