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)