In the first half, Ao and three classmates take care of Hime when she falls ill. Vice Principal Uzu visits to deliver the elders’ offical request that she resign as mayor as she’s “not suited for it”, though he himself believe she’s doing a great job. In the second half, Hime, Kana and Mina visit Juri, but she’s asleep. She dreams of when she first arrived in Tokyo, eager to grow into an adult so she can silence her ancestor’s detractors. She meets Hime’s grandmother Machi, who takes Juri to the empty lot where her descendant ran a clinic. There Machi tells her she can take her time, and introduces her to Hime.
This week is even lighter-weight than last, starting with a sick-day slice-of-life that confirms what’s already quite well-established: the quartet are tight, devoted friends. Hime is beloved as the mayor. Everyone depends on one another. Ao wears shimapan. Then we were treated to the origin story of Juri, a minor character in the previous YQ anime, but is being given a lot more to do here. The thing is, just as the elders aren’t sure Hime is suited for mayorship, we’re not sure Juri is suited to such prominence in the show. She’s got a great bod and all, but the Frankenstein story is just a tad ridiculous. We’re not sure why that particular name from literary history had to be dropped (suddenly, like a mic) into a story primarily about human-youkai relations.
It doesn’t help that past Juri’s a dull, bull-headed, angsty high school student who wants to kick all the adults’ asses for making all those libelous movies about her many-great-grandfather(?). However, we can forgive half the episode being about her if it meant finally meeting Hime’s granny, who’s just as magnificent as we imagined (we also catch a glimpse of adorable Lil’ Hime). Machi is a quiet but immensely strong old woman who makes everyone around her better—as a mayor must. She has no trouble at all setting young Juri on a more peaceful, life path not dominated by hatred. Be they loud or soft, Juri’s words won’t change anyone’s minds, but her actions will. As she wakes up in the present, her honorary little sister curled up beside her, in the clinic she built to help the townsfolk, we’d say that they have.
Rating: 6 (Good)
The “WestShopRangers” make their debut in the district. Their tempo and timing are off, but the improve with each performance, going up against “baddies” – the shop owners in disguise. When the vice principal takes them to task for having a job, they remind her she approved it, and keep doing it. Wakana goes back to ask the vice principal, Naoko, how her mother wrote songs, just when “Nao” is remembering the only time she visited Mahiru before she died. She repeats what Mahiru told her: song isn’t work; it flows from the heart. During a show, Konatsu’s purse is snatched by a cyclist. Wien chases him down on foot, and the rest of the rangers back him up. They get the purse back and teach the guy a lesson through song. Wien writes Jan of their victory.
We like how Wien propels the others into rushing straight into their ranger show. They’re nervous and uncoordinated, but they get the job done. Even funnier is watching the old owners battle the rangers, and one throws his back out, which pits Sawa against her mother Shiho. It’s all great fun and you can totally see shoppers getting into it – most especially the kids. Also, they get better with each performance. There’s no mention of the nature of the drama they’ll be putting on for the White Festival, but it seems like it would be easy to make that a Rangers-based narrative – almost as if these shop performances were practice.
In between these shows we delve into Naoko’s memories – even in high school she was a serious girl who rarely smiled – but she shared a love for music with the more outgoing, outwardly passionate Mahiru. There’s a scene when Mahiru tells Nao she’s not going to make it that makes us tear up – it’s pretty grim statement, but as it turned out, a true one. Now Mahiru’s daughter is at Nao’s school – like a little Mahiru – and while she won’t show favoritism to a friend’s child, Nao does offer solid advice – don’t overthink, have fun, and the music will come. We also get a taste of Wien’s near-obsessive determination. He simply doesn’t quit, pursuing a thief across half of town and even taking a couple punches. For a second there, we thought he’d be defeated, but then the other rangers showed up. It was a great victory – and this was a great episode, with a little of everything.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Car Cameos: Cars passing by in the shopping district include a JDM Honda Odyssey, Mitsubishi eK, Suzuki Swift, Toyota Vitz, Mercedes-Benz C-Class (W203), Nissan March, and a fourth-generation Toyota HiAce.
With Sawa’s help, Konatsu is able to recruit Wakana as a non-participatory member of her new choir club, and the principal approves the application and volunteers as the advisor. Konatsu begins to conscript other misfit students with singing ability, including her younger brother. When the day of a dual recital with the official choir arrives, the principal isn’t around. Sawa attempts to track down Mrs.Takahashi while Konatsu finds out the principal is laid up in the hospital from a minor bike accident. She and Sawa make it back just in time, but the bus containing the rest of the choir is late, so they go on as a duet, accompanied by Wakana on piano.
We were a little reticent about continuing on with a show that so closely resembles Hanasaku Iroha in both looks and subject matter, and the fact Sawa and Wakana still looked so similar to us. The scene after the credits of the five characters all talking over each other, having numerous conversations, was also a little overwhelming right out of the gate, but we can’t deny it was very well done. It wasn’t long before we could tell the Sawa and Wakana apart and became invested in Konatsu’s goal of starting up a new choir. It’s hard not to root for someone considering she’s fighting the oppression of a vice principal who has a major stick up her ass. If this is a high school drama, she’s definitely the villainess.
We were amazed how fast everything progressed, from getting approval from the eccentric principal to recruiting a quorum of singers and rehearsing. We also liked Wakana’s running tally of cakes she’s due for all the favors she does for Konatsu, as well as Sawa’s dedication to her friend, including what has to be the most sincere, justified spanking we can recall ever seeing in an anime. Sawa’s delivery of the word “NO” in response to her teacher asking if she’s in the maternity ward because she’s pregnant had us LOL’ing profusely. And Konatsu and Sawa’s little duet at the end was sweet and moving. Konatsu got over her stage fright and rose to the occasion, with sticktoitiveness and a little help from her friends. After this episode, we’re confident this is no Hanasaku Iroha carbon copy, but something else altogether.
Rating: 9 (Superior)
Car Cameos: Mrs. Takahashi’s Daihatsu Move makes another appearence; a Toyota Coaster conveys the choir club to the recital hall; background cars include an Audi A4, Toyota Alphard, and Subaru Sambar.