Tsuki ga Kirei – 03

I said last week that Akane and Kotarou aren’t in a hurry, but I guess I have to take that back now. Between all the pairing off going on in the run-up to the class trip, and the fact that at some point everyone will be heading off to various high schools, the two can’t sit on their hands forever. That being said, neither has any experience with courtship, so much of their nascent relationship is sustained through the messenger app LINE, as they remain painfully unable to talk to one another in school.

They also have a lot going on, what with Kotarou’s literature club and local festival activities and Akane’s track meet. This eats up the time they could be spending hanging out. Akane’s track buddy Nishio (who tended Kotarou’s wounds) considers him a friend now, and she’s serious about surpassing Akane, at least in track. Akane, meanwhile gets perilously close to being asked out by Hira; it’s only a random exclamation from a nearby party that makes him think better of it.

Kotarou can’t attend Akane’s meet due to his drumming practice, and the show really excels both at capturing the tension involved in waiting for someone you like to text you, and showing just how torturous it can be to have to carry on with your plans that don’t include that person.

Fortunately, fate smiles upon the couple, or rather, volition does. Kotarou isn’t in a hurry to leave the shrine, while Akane, whose phone died, decides to check out said shrine on the off-chance Kotarou is still there. He is, and they have a lovely, if at times understandably awkward, encounter under the beautiful moon.

And feeling both the pressure of time and the auspiciousness of another meeting with the lovely, warm, kind Akane, Kotarou manages to finally ask her out—not with Line, but with words. Not with chance, but with choice. Naturally, we don’t hear her reply, but their once tentative dynamic has already entered a new phase.

ReLIFE – 12

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It’s the end of the term and time for Summer Break – or in Kaizaki’s case, more lessons and make-up exams. There’s talk of the future. Oga mentions taking a look at universities other than the one Aoba High is affiliated with. Kariu gets restless.

Spring is classically when a young man’s fancy turns to love, but in Oga’s case, it’s Summer, and not without a considerable push from his de facto best mate Kaizaki, who has denied and is apparently content to continue to deny himself romance, since none of his high school friends will remember him at the end of the year.

At an impromptu adult celebration (i.e., with beer), Yoake and An mock his academic troubles, but also want the skinny on the Oga + Kariu impasse. Yoake also lauds his ReLIFE time as a “one year, limited edition of youth” he’s not taking full advantage of.

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Kaizaki simply groans at that, but the next day when he has Oga alone, he really presses him on who he likes. When he says “everyone”, he forces him to narrow it down based on certain criteria. Once those criteria enter Oga’s head, he visualizes who else but Kariu.

One hot Summer evening while Kaizaki and Oga are walking home proves to be the clincher as far as Oga realizing how he feels about Kariu. He spots her talking to a man in a suit who seems to be trying to get her into his car. Then she gets woozy and the man has to catch her.

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This is very confusing and not at all okay for Oga, who springs out to get to the bottom of it. Turns out, the man is Kaizaki’s kohai from last week (small world!) who saw that Kariu had heat stroke and didn’t want to leave her alone.

Oga offers to take her home, and because of Kariu’s state of mind, she lets her sincere, grateful side show, which Oga remarks at flippantly and gets punched for. “We’re always like this,” Oga says with a laugh. “It’s fun!”

He has no idea how much Kariu’s heart skipped upon hearing that, but on their silent walk home and late into the night, all Oga can think about is wanting to hold her hand.

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Officially in love with Kariu, like he always was without knowing it, Oga reports the revelation to Kaizaki, who is appropriately obnoxious, but also privately proud of both Oga and himself for giving him that little nudge (though Kaizaki’s kohai deserves a smidgen of credit too).

Yoake, An, and Hishiro join in the discussion of what the next steps should be, and when Oga mentions how much experience with girls Kaizaki’s had, Hishiro flashes her first forced smile in a while, clearly miffed by the implication (just as she was miffed her pleasant walk to school with Kaizaki was interrupted by An).

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Oga rises above all the chatter and bickering and makes the decision to invite Kariu to the Summer Fireworks Festival, in a text that bowls her over and has her wondering if he sent it in error (though he invites her by name, so that’s impossible).

She reaches out to the other girls, who also got invites, and realizes Oga invited everyone. She laments getting worked up for nothing, but agrees to go anyway. Inviting everyone is “just like Oga”, after all.

By the way, I really loved the energetic song that was played before, during, and after the credits: “Summer Festival” by Whiteberry, a super catchy, boisterous ode to life and youth featuring vocals that are just the right amount of off-key. Interestingly, it was released as a single in 2000, when Kaizaki (28 in 2016) was only 12. I figure it’s a song from his MD collection…

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Sore ga Seiyuu! – 07

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More jobs have come for Futaba, Ichigo and Rin, to the point that they’re busy enough to end up in the same studio on the same day, not for their Earphones work but for three separate gigs: Futaba is dubbing a zombie movie with veteran Koyama Rikiya (and the rude guy who said she stunk way back when), Ichigo is reading for an audiobook, and Rin is doing voice work for a video game.

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Futaba is scared of the film’s horror theme, especially the fact one of her roles is a zombie, but eventually finds her footing, inspired by the always professional (and veggie juice-drinking) Koyama. Ichigo must adjust her voice to something less urgent than anime yet emphatic enough to get the point across. Rin has the strangest and most abstract job, simply firing off all her lines with no one else around, and even making noises for when her character receives small, medium, and large punches.

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While all three were nervous going into their respective jobs, by the end they’re all happy and confident in their performances. And while it’s raining when it’s time to leave the studio, Futaba and Ichigo remembered to bring umbrellas, proving they’ve grown since the day they had to share Rin’s due to poor preparation. That preparation and growth is also apparent, as both the rude guy and Koyama say Futaba did well, raising her spirits even more as they head to the wrap party.

So ends another funny, informative, and charming episode about the day in the life of new but increasingly successful seiyus.

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Sore ga Seiyuu! – 06

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Earphones are about to go through a very busy gauntlet of dancing lessons, recording, music video filming, events, and promotion for their first single, “Into Your Ears.” But before that, Futaba recalls the her of last year, who recorded a Drama CD with Kugimiya Rie (the show is on a mini Toradora! tear).

When she passes a video store and sees a display for an anime adaptation of the CD, she gets excited about having to budget her time even more, which feels pretty premature; it’s practically assured at this point she’s going to end up disappointed.

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Sure enough, she doesn’t hear from the producers of the CD when she should, and it’s Rin who inadvertently breaks the news to her in the middle of one of their radio shows: she, not Futaba, will be voicing Kugimiya’s little sister in the anime version.

Futaba is able to keep it together long enough to finish the show, but after that, she just needs to get away from Rin, and Ichigo, and everything. The show really lets us feel the sting of rejection, garnished with the extra shock of her friend and unit partner being the one usurping her.

It falls to her senpai Shiodome to talk her out of her funk, and I’m pleased to report Shiodome, while kind, isn’t overly or conspicuously kind, and it seems from her body language she’d prefer not to be so hands-on with her juniors, lest they not learn the lessons they need to learn. But in this case, Futaba had her idea of being a seiyu being a dream burst.

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Shiodome clarifies that it’s the audience that sees and hears the dream, not the seiyu. The seiyu make the dream possible through their commitment and professionalism, performing with everything they’ve got no matter what’s going on with their personal lives. And all seiyu, even TsundeRie and Hocchan, have felt the sting she’s feeling.

Futaba listens to her drama CD again and learns that the her of a year ago actually sucked, but realizes the fact she can tell is proof she’s grown, and demands more of herself. Expressing to Rin her jealousy and frustration with not getting the part, but also her excitment by what Rin will bring to the part, help clear the air.

For now, Futaba must focus on Earphones, singing and dancing her heart out. If she does well, she’ll get noticed, and other jobs will come.

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Sore ga Seiyuu! – 05

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After a few eps centered on Futaba, this week focuses on Ichigo, perhaps the most abrasive of the three members of Headphones due to her need to live her Strawberry Princess persona at all times. Even alone, she refers to her room as her kingdom, even though she was fired from her part-time job and both the electricity and gas have been switched off.

It’s certainly not all strawberries and cream for Ichigo, but she gets a call from her agency notifying her she won a role in the sequel to a popular video game. Sure, it’s the role of an artificial bug who sits on the main character’s shoulder and mostly just says “Poro”, but it’s a part, damnit! People whose utilities have been switched off can’t be picky!

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After collecting her three boxes of script for the game, she shows up at the Shibuya Public Hall for a pre-launch event hosted by the game company and featuring the cast, including the lead, who is none other than Horie Yui.

Full disclosure: I’ve only experienced a tiny fraction of the 350+ productions Hocchan has performed in since 1997, but I’ve been in love ever since her wonderful role as Minori Kushieda in Toradora!.She was also pretty fantastic in Golden TimeI could go on, but suffice it to say she’s a giant in the industry.

So it’s great to see Hocchan in anime form show up not just as a cameo, but a persistent figure throughout Ichigo’s very first event of this kind. What’s also great is how casual, down to earth, and approachable Ichigo discovers her hero to be, what with her mussed hair, comfortable wardrobe, and smushed melon-pan.

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Ichigo had a nightmare about performing before a totally silent crowd before the event where over 2,000 people will turn out, so she needs all the support she can get from more experienced talent. You don’t get much more experienced and professional than Hocchan. Ichigo’s reaction to Hocchan’s transformation from frumpy-ish housecat to stunning idol is pretty priceless. It’s one thing to see a celebrity in magazines or on TV, but in person it’s as if they become more real.

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The event unfolds as a sequence of stills, which is a bit lazy, but the episode is strapped for time at this point. In fact, the montage pretty effectively illustrates just how fast it all flies by for Ichigo, and how it’s all over before she even gets a good grasp of what she’s doing. But she shouldn’t have expected any more from herself; this was her first time, and she’ll get better at them with time.

Furthermore, watching Horie Yui fire up the crowd with a mini-concert (she is good at the theme song singing), and watching Hocchan’s professionalism and magnetic personality on display in general, inspires Ichigo to keep doing her best.

When her dad shot her a text asking how she was, Ichigo was about to tell him she’s scared and doesn’t know what to do, but decided not to send it. It was a brave gesture, showing that she trusts in her ability to get those lights and hot water back on very soon.

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Ore Monogatari!! – 07

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When two heavies in judo outfits confront Takeo while he’s on a pleasant stroll with his adorable GIRLFRIEND, I’m not concerned, because a.) two guys aren’t nearly enough against Takeo, and b.) they’re clearly there to ask him for help. Takeo says yes before he even finds out what they want: for him to join the team, replacing their injured captain.

Agreeing to commit to judo for a month is all well and good…but it will seriously eat into his Yamato time. Like a good boyfriend, he defers to her wishes. Like a good girlfriend, she tells him it’s fine by her. She’s legitimately glad he’s helping the team…not to mention she really wants to see him fight!

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The training is grueling—for the other judo team members, as Takeo tosses them about like ragdolls!—but that training is punctuated with texts of encouragement from Yamato, which he responds to with similar enthusiasm. It’s all very cute, especially when Yamato not only waits for Takeo outside his place with gourmet onigiri (“I can make other things!”), but confesses that she sneaked a look at his sparring—and loved every minute of it.

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There’s a slight chink in the mood when, after spotting a groper warning on a lamppost, Takeo brusquely tells Yamato she shouldn’t come by like this anymore. A chastened Yamato goes to Suna with a double shipment of scones, worried Takeo “doesn’t like her anymore”, but Suna sets her straight, assuring her it’s just another misunderstanding, and counseling her not to get so hung up on little things.

Yamato can hardly help it though, now that she knows what it’s like to be in love—mentioning the rush she gets from the bottom of her heart at the sight or thought of him. It’s a feeling she never wants to lose. She loves him so much, she creeps herself out, and even sees him in the stars, which would creep Suna out if a.) he wasn’t such an understanding and tolerant guy, and b.) he didn’t start seeing him in the stars too!

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Not that Takeo is any less crazy about Yamato. After a hard day of training, he just wants to hear her voice, so texts her and gets an immediate phone call from her. Suddenly on the spot, she starts by introducing herself and then improvising, but she gives him exactly what he wants: her voice.

On the day of the big match that will put Takeo’s school over their rival by one game in the historic series, Yamato (and Suna, for that matter) is hilariously dwarfed by all the huge bodies, but small as she is, her presence is crucial to Takeo’s success.

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When his old grade school buddy Tsuyoshi (who is about the same size as him, surprisingly) sees Yamato, he believes he’s already won, since Takeo has started “wasting his time” on romance. But he couldn’t be more wrong. Takeo may not know exactly what strength is, but Yamato’s presence increases his focus and his resolve to do his absolute best. He’s there first and foremost for her, not the judo team or glory. He wants to put in as much love and effort into his judo as she’s put into her cooking.

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After a spirited bout that excites everyone, not just Yamato, Takeo manages to throw Tsuyoshi down and win the match, putting his school over the top, 3-2. Afterwards, Takeo thanks a Yamato who is already close to passing out from excitement, taking her hands into his and making it plain that he won because she was there cheering for him.

Then the two of them and Suna drop some acid and look up at the sky and spot more constellations…of themselves! And Suna! And a macaron! (Seriously, Yamato would do well on Food Wars…) Takeo was crazy strong before he met Yamato, but now that she’s in his heart, and he in hers, he’s become even stronger. And I’ll tellya what else is crazy strong: this frikkin’ show.

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Ore Monogatari!! – 06 (Caught Up!)

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Due to watching so many romantic anime in which little problems needlessly snowball into bigger ones, it was refreshing to see one resolved in relatively short order. My theory was also proven correct, thanks to the intervention of a somewhat nosy but increasingly understanding Ai. But I don’t want to underscore the difficulty Yamato had in presenting her case to Takeo, which is why she hesitated so much.

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I imagine he’s been operating under the assumption that she’s good and pure because she sees the goodness in his heart and loves him despite his looks. In truth, Yamato likes Takeo’s body, from his eyebrows and full lips to his broad shoulders, rippling pecs, and huge hands. She well and truly has the hots for him, and wants more physical contact, not less.

At first Ai confronts Yamato with suspicion, but ends up agreeing with all the things Yamato says about Takeo, and totally understanding Yamato’s situation, and tells her to go to him and tell him everything she told her; he’s not so fragile he’d cast her aside. Yamato runs off, a huge weight lifted from her shoulders.

Her sudden and adorable faceplant, from which she shoots back up after a beat before continuing on her way, really underscores how pumped up she is, so eager to get to Takeo that she forgets the rudiments of ambulation.

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It might have been better for Ai if her initial suspicions were right; that Yamato was deceiving Takeo or having an affair, because this is the episode in which Ai realizes she’s lost Takeo—not to a hussy, but to a genuinely good person in Yamato, and she hid her own feelings for him too long—partially because they’re three grades apart.

Still, their age difference didn’t matter when Takeo made a “from the mouth of babes” compliment on a beauty she didn’t know she had. She had a growth spurt long before he did, and her tall, lean frame was mocked by classmates as reminiscent of a school statue with the same build. Takeo didn’t know anything about that; to him, she resembled a calla lily. From that point on, Ai was smitten.

But like Takeo aimed to do with Yamato, she decided to wait for him to “grow up,” but waited too long. Ai can’t hold back how upset she is about this, and heads back to college early. She’s happy for Takeo, but devastated that her long-time love has found someone else; someone just as worthy as she is. Good on you, show, for making Ai more than the cliched rival, but a tragic figure in and of herself.

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Ai and Suna find Takeo rescuing a cat from a tree, and tell him Yamato is headed to his place, in tears. They don’t have to say another word, as Takeo demonstrates his impressive running speed and endurance. He meets Yamato in front of his house, where he tells her whatever has been troubling her, she can tell him; she can tell him everything. And she does: She wants to hold hands; he wants to be cuddled; she wants to be kissed by those lips that won’t quit.

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Those are all big steps for her and Takeo, but Takeo assures her they’re steps they’ll take together. Now that she sees she had nothing to worry about, Yamato opens up more to Takeo about how she’s not the good person he thought she was: she found his address by asking around his school, and even left her cell in his house on purpose.

Learning of these tactics doesn’t disappoint Takeo; in fact they make him happy that she went to such lengths to get closer to him. His reassurances move Yamato to tears, something Takeo promised he’d never make her cry again, but Yamato tells him happy tears don’t count. After spending the last few nights worried the truth would cost her Takeo, tonight she’ll be grinning ear to ear knowing the conflict they overcame ended up deepening their relationship. They’re in a good place again, thank goodness. On to the next crisis!

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In the hilarious omake that closes the episode, Takeo, anticipating a kiss in the near future, decides he needs to practice on real human lips; lips that will remain sealed about his practice. Naturally, those lips belong to Suna. I find it ironic that every girl in their school, along with most other women in public, want nothing more than to lock lips with Suna, but it’s Takeo who actually gets to do it—albeit through a layer of plastic wrap!

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Ore Monogatari!! – 05 (Tardy)

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Ho boy: no sooner do I agree with Suna’s assessment that soul mates Takeo and Yamato could potentially grow old and wrinkled, we’re treated to a splash of cold water. On the one hand, I was a little disappointed the show turned back to the issue of poor communication and incorrect assumptions within the couple, but then I remembered: Takeo and Yamato are only a couple now thanks to Suna’s direct measures.

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That means Takeo’s inherent denseness hasn’t gone away, and it was only a matter of time before that denseness led to some kind bump in the road. And while I may be proven wrong in the very next episode, I’m willing to bet the “truth” Yamato is so desperately trying to but can’t communicate to Takeo has to do with his opinions about the kind of person she is.

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Takeo is the guy who puts his body on the line to help others, like saving a boy who fell into a river, almost every day, only for Suna, if he’s around, to get thanked. It’s perfectly reasonable then, for him to have a skewed perspective of the first and so far only girl he likes who likes him back.

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He also turns a lot of the societal discomfort with his immense size on himself with regards to physical contact with Yamato. When he bumps her on the train, it’s an accident, but one of his classmates saw it as a perfect opportunity to kiss a girl. When he touches her head, it’s to trap a ladybug.

Then, on a romantic, starlit walk, he makes it clear to her he “won’t lay a hair on her head until she’s grown up,” convinced she’s a good and pure girl. Heck, he’s even bringing Suna along on their dates because he’s worried he makes her nervous when they’re alone, which we know isn’t the case.

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It’s nice to finally get a peek at Yamato’s life when Takeo’s not around. It’s kind of lonely and sad seeing her all alone in that big dark house, trying to find the right words to text before sending another text that’s all bubbly and girly and promising of baked goods. She then sets to work baking, but doesn’t seem to be enjoying it in the slightest. It looks like she’s doing chores.

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When Suna’s big sister Ai returns home, we learn that she’d always carried a flame for the big galoot, and is not so much shocked as dejected that another girl got to him first. She also immediately suspects this girl sight unseen, because she finds it hard to believe anyone other than her would find Takeo boyfriend material…especially at first sight (though Suna doesn’t mention Takeo saved her).

When she arranges to meet Takeo and Yamato, she notices immediately that Yamato is hiding something, assuming all the worst things. And you know what? There are moments when we’re almost convinced something is up with Yamato, and she’s scared of breaking the big guy’s heart.

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Ai further inserts herself into Takeo’s affairs by offering to talk to Yamato on his behalf, believing it will be easier to talk woman-to-woman. Takeo, creepily perusing a teen-girl magazine to “learn how girls think” at the time, clearly needs all the help he can get. I’m not going to subscribe to Ai’s theories about infidelity—she’s demonstrated beyond all doubt that she really likes Takeo—but I am hoping Ai can get to the bottom of her troubles.

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As for my theory, I think Yamato doesn’t like how Takeo is so quick to call her a good and pure girl. I think she was hurt by all those good moments for leaning in for a kiss Takeo failed to capitalize on. I think she’s frustrated that he’s painting a not altogether accurate picture of who she is (remember, they haven’t known each other that long) She’s perpetuating that persona, and it’s wearing on her.

She wants to set him straight and tell him she wants more intimacy, not less, but can’t find the right words, and is worried he’ll reject her “impure” self. So the problem rattles around her head and keeps her up at night, sitting alone in the dark hugging a pillow.

But I for one think she’s worrying needlessly. All Takeo wants is for her to not be in knots, and I believe him when he says whatever she has to say to him, he’ll accept it. If my theory is correct—that Yamato wants to get closer—he’ll most likely be overjoyed.

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Ore Monogatari!! – 04 (Belated)

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Gosh dang…it is indeed Spring…and that might be the best episode I’ve watched all Spring. There’s certainly no more adorable and rootable couple than Takeo and Yamato. I get on people for taking selfies, but Yamato is allowed, dammit!

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The episode starts off with Takeo still reeling over the happiness in his heart over snagging an honest-to-God girlfriend in Yamato who is herself utterly devoted to him. She derives as much joy from telling her friend on the phone “I’m with my boyfriend!” as Takeo derives from hearing the words.

Yamato asks if Takeo would be okay with doing a Single’s Meet with her; all he has to do is wrangle five of his single friends. He has way more than five, because he’s a great guy. And when Yamato’s five friends lay eyes on Takeo for the first time, their reactions are…understandable, considering they’re products of society, naturally attracted to Suna.

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Whether it’s saving Yamato from falling by plucking her up like a ragdoll, carrying huge loads in their way, or opening a non-twist-off bottle, Takeo’s feats of strength don’t impress them so much as…well, scare them. Like the mom with the baby whose stroller Takeo took to the top, the mom is scared of the big bad-looking guy, while the hot guy next to him gets all the love, even though he doesn’t want it. Suna only smiles and laughs in reaction to something Takeo is doing, which makes the girls swoon.

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Takeo is also a somewhat naive guy who thinks Yamato’s friends will be good people because she’s a good and genuine person. Suna warns him about such assumptions, and then they’re shattered altogether when Takeo and Yamato overhear two of her friends talking shit about him behind her back, calling him “barely human” and a “gorilla.” It’s cutting stuff, and to it’s credit the episode doesn’t hold the elephant in the room back. On the surface, to most people, Takeo is a frightening bear-man.

This is a fact Takeo knows all too well, to the point that the insults roll right off him; he’s heard it all, both to his face, behind his back, and in people’s eyes. He’s more upset about Yamato being hurt, causing her to exclaim to them “He’s really super-cool!” before running off.

Fortunately, Takeo is able to head her off in no time, as his gait is significantly longer, and assures her everything is fine. He brings out one of his simple yet powerful sayings, about their being “all kinds of people”, without whom they wouldn’t have met. Yamato, bless her, finally wonders if maybe she just didn’t properly explain to her friends how cool Takeo is, blaming herself for their ignorance.

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Then…the frikin’ cafe EXPLODES.

I must say, I really wasn’t expecting that, but there was foreshadowing earlier, what with the bucket and boxes blocking the hall and the locked emergency exit. This establishment has lots of fire code violations, which lessened the randomness of the incident. In any case, with the two girls who talked shit about him still inside the burning building, Takeo doesn’t hesitate to rush in to save them.

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He’s able to carry one of the girls out to safety, then uses his big body as a shield to protect the second from getting smashed by debris, allowing her to run out on her own. After calling fire and ambulance, Suna calls Takeo, and tells him he’d better come out of the cafe soon, because Yamato has to be held back from going in after him by her two friends.

There’s true love in action here, people. Not only between Yamato and Takeo, but Suna and Takeo, who tells him with a voice that almost breaks that his life will be too boring without him. Like the Hulk, Takeo summons an extra reserve of strength to slip out from under the debris and blast out of the cafe window in dramatic fashion.

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Yamato rushes over to him and is almost lost in his arms as they embrace, with Takeo completely oblivious that his back is still on fire. The girls he saved thank him, and all the girls’ hearts skip a beat when he shoots them a look of affirmation, in spite of themselves. Takeo may not be their type, but now they know he’s a great guy and the right match for their Yamato. And they know they were wrong to insult him.

I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to have a non-harem romantic comedy in my stable; one where the guy and girl don’t get lost in tangled webs of misunderstandings and omission and hesitations and love triangles. This couple is alright; heck, Suna sees them old and wrinkly talking about how much they love all four of the seasons.

But more than taking the roads less traveled, no other show this Spring captures how gosh-darn good it feels to be in love and be loved back. Food tastes better, the air smells fresher, and the sun shines brighter. Things that are indisputably awesome: Takeo; Yamato; Suna; and this show.

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Ore Monogatari!! – 03 (Late)

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From Braids to Boots, the Cute Won’t Quit

To her credit, Yamato does what I was hoping and attempts to tell Takeo about her feelings directly—doing so while looking even more ridiculously cute then usual. She clearly put a lot of effort into looking as cute as possible. But still convinced she likes Suna, Suna is all Takeo talks about, causing the cutie to tear up and flee. “What the hell just happened?” Takeo asks himself.

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I love it when sometimes a character tells another one exactly what I’m thinking, which is that Takeo’s delusions have to be set straight. Suna is the one to deliver those words, which come as a great relief. Suna is a smart, no-nonsense kinda guy who’s not going to let a misunderstanding persist on if he knows about it and has the power to stop it.

He’s also a hell of a friend, and always has been. It may be true that he “stole” all of the hearts of the girls Takeo liked, but that’s only because Takeo is horrible at reading people. All those girls talked smack behind his back, and Suna didn’t like that, so he turned them down out of a sense of loyalty and justice.

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Unlike those other girls, Yamato is different; she’s worth pining for. The only problem is, Takeo’s skull is too thick to notice, and he doesn’t believe Suna’s claim that Yamato really likes him. He really has to hear it from Yamato’s own mouth, so when Yamato comes by Suna’s place, Suna tries to hide him under his bed, in an impeccably timed sight gag that had me in stitches.

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Yamato sits down on the bed not knowing she’s adding a trivial amount of weight to a load Takeo can easily handle. She then helpfully proceeds to reveal all. Takeo thought the best he could be was a friend and confidant to Yamato, but that’s the exact role Yamato herself has assigned to Suna! She cried because she worried for a moment that Takeo’s constant praise of Suna was a roundabout way of turning her down.

When Suna asks her if this means she’ll give up, she says emphatically that she won’t, and loudly proclaims her like of Takeo. Suna has a little fun with the situation, making Yamato repeat herself several times to make sure it sinks into that thick skull of Takeo’s before bringing him out from under the bed.

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Rather than be outraged or mad that she was “manipulated”, though, she’s so glad to see Takeo there, she gathers the courage to confess once more, to his face, knowing he’s there. That in turn inspires Takeo to confesses right back to her. The two turn beet red and gaze at each other, both obviously relieved and elated beyond belief.

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It’s a gorgeous, momentous transcendent scene, made all the more impressive by how soon in the series it happens. Suna doesn’t seem fazed in the slightest as he studies quietly at his desk amidst the practically floating lovebirds. Heck, he was a regular Cupid this week!

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Just like that, Takeo and Yamato are a couple, and not just a cute or novel one, but a realistic one. Here are two people of very different sizes and appearances who both have tender, beautiful hearts and souls within, which they’re both able to see in one another. Once Takeo knows he’s allowed to like Yamato without worrying about heartbreak, they basically just lock into place.

The touching story of the red and blue ogres hews very close to that of Takeo and Suna, and one could say Suna sacrificed himself for his friend’s happiness, but he doesn’t see what either he or the blue ogre did as all that noble or special. He’s a stoic, logical fellow who also happens to want his friends to be happy. Takeo makes him happy, in part, by making him laugh.

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If we assume Yamato is just under five feet tall, that would make Takeo about seven feet tall

It’s no one-sided friendship; what it is is one of the best anime bromances I’ve seen. It’s amazing how much development these two got in just these first three episodes. The very fact you have two guys and one girl has me fearing a resurgence of triangle drama in the future as circumstances evolve, but for now I’m just going to enjoy this…and look forward to watching the Spring’s best couple in action.

The events of this episode more than validate my decision to pick this show up. I heard it was good, but I didn’t think it would be this hilarious and lovely and moving. I’d have done myself a serious disservice had I passed on it all Spring. Thankfully I only have three episodes before I’m caught up. Bear with me!

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Ore Monogatari!! – 02 (Finally)

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Yup…Definitely a butt

This may seem as sudden as Takeo asking Suna about girls, but I’ve decided to drop Mikagura and pick up Ore Monogatari!!. After hearing so many good things, I finally taking a look at the first episode and then the second, and fell in love about as quickly as Takeo fell for Yamada…even if he just as quickly judged he had no chance with her against the mightily dreamy Suna.

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HOLY CRAP THE CRAP MOVES

What’s so admirable and refreshing about OM!! is that as frustrated as I’ve been with Takeo for thinking that in the face of so much overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Takeo is by no means a fool for thinking he has no shot. Not only has ten years of hanging with Suna warped him, but all of society has, as well. Suna’s the one the cuties gravitate towards. He thinks they may accept a gentle giant’s help, but they’ll never kiss him.

Not to mention both Suna and Takeo aren’t all that experienced with girls (Takeo is just experienced in turning them down). This isn’t like the butt tree; girls can be hard to read if, like Takeo has every reason to, you’re not familiar with the language they’re written in.

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Both Suna and Takeo seem a bit unsure of what to do with this tiny, kind. delicate beauty who could probably hold her own as a pastry chef in Shokugeki no Souma, but Takeo goes with the most obvious explanation: she’s hanging with them because she’s interested in Suna, and operates under the incorrect assumption the best he can be is a cheerleader for Yamato.

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YES, She’s super-strong TOO! :D

Watching Takeo do that, and constantly undermine his position, is hard to watch, but I’m enduring because I’m hoping the show won’t stay on this “will he won’t he notice the truth” tack forever. But even when Takeo saves Yamato from an errant steel beam (this is an anime) he instinctively goes to the beam, while Suna goes to her.

The awesome twist is that they don’t just watch from a safe distance: not only does Suna help Takeo with the beam, but Yamato helps as well. Heck, it might’ve been her who broke off from Suna to rush to Takeo’s aid. We’ve heard how Suna has looked out for him in the past, and there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t help his friend out here, but Yamato was just a step quicker.

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If there’s to be any movement with this Yamato x Takeo pairing, Yamato is going to have to take the initiative, as she did when she came by with a cheesecake thanking him for rescuing her on the train. And thankfully, she does, asking if this time, she can meet with him alone.

Takeo only sees this as an opportunity to hear about the particulars of Yamato’s feelings towards Suna, but I’m hoping Yamato will be able to clear up his assumptions. I’m also heartened by the fact that even if she doesn’t succeed so soon, her feelings for him aren’t going anywhere soon.

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Love Stage!! – 05

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Texting, Texting, Texting, Messages, Messages and Messages, Everybody has something to say to each other, especially when they aren’t in the same room. Also bad manga…

This week starts off with another Izumi daydream of achieving success as a manga artist and this time it’s actually pretty funny: Izumi’s imagined ‘break out comic’ is presented as it is in the real world—hilariously crude and nigh incoherent.

Meanwhile, Ryouma has transitioned into full-on-fem style over-bearing girlfriend and texts Izumi constantly. (He sent 27 while Izumi slept in class) Why doesn’t Izumi block the number, you ask? Well…he tried, and Ryouma convinced everyone he needed to be on suicide watch.

Nice.

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Moving along, Ryouma drops by Izumi’s college for a visit and invades the manga club. What follows is a mostly innocuous string of nerds talking about nerdy things that Ryouma ignores, marked by moments of Ryouma flattering Izumi’s (lack of) talent like a doting girlfriend.

It’s an interesting role reversal, in a way, since Ryouma filled the raging masculine bull/rapist role only 2 weeks previous. Now it’s Izumi’s turn to keep Ryouma in line and make sure the day runs smoothly.

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Izumi’s manga is awesome and I don’t understand the kind of person who wouldn’t enjoy reading it! No Seriously! Someone has to print this!

Partly due to Ryouma’s flattery and partly due to a looming deadline, Izumi makes a crazy decision to invite Ryouma over to help ink. Thankfully, the scene is tame and Ryouma turns out to be a good helper. He’s arguably a better artist than Izumi and helps draw a solid background.

They finish the work in record time and Izumi falls asleep. Then Ryouma kisses him in his sleep, which is a mellow return to rape-town, but, now that Ryouma’s in the fem role, it’s not quite as horrible. Still creepy though.

Then Ryouma gets a call from his manager before he can land a second kiss. He’s in trouble for the voyeur’s photos we assumed were taken last week. Before he goes, he lands some more Sleeping Beauty kisses…maybe more than a few.

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Love Stage!! got its pacing right, at least during the opening this week. It was charming and a lot of it unfolds in bursts as Izumi reads on his phone. Rather good comedic timing, really.

However, by the time we get to the manga club…meh? Ryouma and Izumi’s love story just feels mushy, if not unterrible as romance slice-of-lifes go. The manga-drawing-marathon session offered a little reprieve and the opportunity for Ryouma to find a non-physical attribute to like about Izumi was needed but…still meh?

Truth be told, I’m running out of steam for Love Stage!!—and it’s worth noting that I’d be just as low on juice if this were a hetero-romance show. In some ways, I see why the rape mayhem was needed two weeks ago. Without that, sincere or not, I’m not sure LS has much to get all that excited about. Not for 13 episodes, at least…

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Samurai Flamenco – 19

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Ah, the quiet life in a world with no evil, where there is only love, peace…and Maya Mari. Kudos to the show for putting all the world-saving on hold for a least an episode and putting the focus back on the lives of Masayoshi, Goto, and MMM (the Flamengers get abridged status reports, but they’re far less central characters).

While we knew the next global crisis was just over the horizon (being announced rather abruptly in the final minute of the episode), we’ll take all the Samurai Flamenco slice-of-life we can. Masayoshi learns Goto is going to visit his long-distance girlfriend back in his hometown. This is huge, as Goto’s girlfriend has been nothing but very animated texts since the beginning, and we thought we’d never see her face as following through with the joke.

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Turns out it’s no joke at all, more of a tragedy, as Masayoshi learns when he tells Mari about Goto’s plans and gets sucked into a four-hour bullet train ride followed by some standard stalking. During the trip Mari suggests something we had been pondering for a long while, which the show hadn’t so much at hinted at: the possibility of Masayoshi going out with Sumi. It’s a new world, after all: there isn’t much to do besides settle down and find love.

It’s when they meet Goto’s mom, and then find Goto himself waiting at a bus stop with a bouquet of roses and, as always, his cell phone in hand, they learn the heartbreaking truth: Goto’s girlfriend in question was his high school sweetheart who got on a bus and disappeared years ago; he started texting messages to himself as her as a way of coping with the crushing grief…and never stopped. All the time the show had laughed off the fact Goto never had any real contact with his girlfriend is brought into heartbreaking focus…and now we know why he’s a cop.

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Mari, who’s been pining for him all this time, is similarly devastated at being passed up for an imaginary girl, but at this point he’s been “talking” to her for so long, she may be just as real as Mari, if not more so. So while there seems to be no more evil in the world, there’s still pain, loss, anguish, and frustration. There’s still times when you just need your two friends to meet you at a hot spring to feast on lobster and de-compress.

Oh, and obviously, there still IS evil in the world, after all! What Samurai Flamenco did threatens all who—profit directly or indirectly—from that evil (the press and the police among them) The boy who shakes Masayoshi’s hand just before blowing up his apartment essentially tells him what Masayoshi (and Mari) were likely so uneasy about all along: that a world without strife is a world without movement or change, of stagnation and ruin.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)