The Day I Became a God – 05 – Letting the Spell Land

Last week, many a viewer not well-versed in the minutiae of mahjong (such as myself) struggled to keep up with the onslaught of game rules and terminology, even as we were eminently entertained by the spectacle. This week mostly dispenses with the comedy and bombast to tell a far more accessible, relatable, and straightforward tale: how we deal with loss.

Izanami Kyouko’s mother is dead. She’s been dead for ten years, and ever since her death, Kyouko and her father have been different people. The loss of their mother and wife left such a gaping void in their lives, they couldn’t possibly fathom how to fill it. Rather than moving forward with their lives, they both remained more or less stagnant.

When Youta and Hina learn that Izanami’s father has barely left their house since his wife’s passing, and with only twelve days left till the end of the world, Hina has Youta lure him out onto the town with them under the pretense of helping find a gift for Kyouko’s approaching birthday.

While Youta and Hina are with Papa Iza, he marvels at a “future” in which curry is white, and they go on a culinary journey composed exclusively of cheese. Ultimately they learn that Kyouko’s mom left video messages for her and her father, but he hasn’t told Izanami about them nor shown them to her, no doubt terrified of how she might react to them.

Youta agrees not to tell Kyouko about the messages, but Pops didn’t say anything about Hina telling by means of a magical smartphone that enables Kyouko’s dead mother to speak with her. It’s actually Hina speaking with Kyouko’s mother’s voice, and just hearing that voice brightens Kyouko’s face and her day.

Hina is confident Kyouko’s knowledge of the videos will “shake things up” for her and her father…and she’s not wrong! Both Kyouko and her dad sit entranced when her mom appears on the screen, providing messages for her birthdays from age seven through eighteen. Her main message is for the two of them to buck up, “forget” about her, and destroy the video.

Back then, when she was near death, she was pleading for her daughter and husband to move forward without her…because they were without her, and there’s nothing any of them could do to change that. She stages it as a magic trick, complete with hat and wand, and Kyouko is indeed enchanted, compelled to abide by her mother’s final wish…for her daughter and husband to be happy.

As the gorgeous, heartbreaking, utterly devastating sequence during end credits deftly illustrate, they certainly were happy with her…they just have to learn to be happy without her. I can’t remember something making me cry this much since the infamous life sequence from Pixar’s Up—or hell, probably some other Maeda Jun work(s)! This was the goddamn tearjerker I’ve been expecting…and it’s probably only the beginning.

Again, thanks to Hina, Youta arrives at the cusp of a romantic breakthrough, this time with his childhood friend and longtime crush. Kyouko arrives at his door short of breath, her heart having rushed ahead of her head, to thank him for the magic phone call. Alas, Youta doesn’t feel right cashing in on what he considers “cheating” by Hina to bring them closer. But with just eleven days left till the end, he’ll soon find himself bereft of such precious opportunities.

Fruits Basket – 50 (Second Season Fin) – Feather Brain

Despite all of the chaos and craziness of These Times, leave it to the trusty Fruits Basket’s second season to end one year to the day after the first season ended in 2019. And it doesn’t end with a whimper, but a one-two punch that will leave your pulverized heart slowly stewing in your stomach, even as the brightest rays of hope yet shine upon Tooru’s mission.

The opening images herald what’s to come. As soon as I saw a young, bewildered Kureno surrounded by floating feathers and a positively terrified Akito cowering behind him, I knew the big secret Shigure has known, and would be dying to reveal were it not up to Kureno himself later: Kureno is not a Zodiac member. He hasn’t been for years. His bond with Akito was severed; the curse lifted…only to be immediately replaced by a new curse of his own making.

To the part about his curse being lifted, it’s the best news yet that Tooru’s dream of lifting it for all isn’t pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking, but a reality waiting to be realized. Of course, Tooru doesn’t know anything about this at first, and nor does Rin: but the fact that Rin will remain in a room and talk with Tooru (but leave the moment Yuki shows up) may well foreshadow future collaboration between the two. I certainly hope so, anyway!

For now, Tooru is happy for a new year with Yuki and Shigure and oh yeah, Kyou, who doesn’t appear in this episode, since the exploration of his and Tooru’s failure to confess to one another is best left to a future season for it to be done justice. Instead, most of the episode is given over to the truth about Kureno, and how he’s always seemed “off” to both Shigure and Hatori.

Kureno manages to steal away from a sleeping Akito’s side deep into the night, and plays the Cinderella-ish DVD given to him by Tooru c/o Momiji Both of them pray he’ll watch it, and he does. The scene with Tooru and Kyou was so powerful I almost forgot Arisa also bore her whole damn heart in the play.

First she castigated Prince Kyou for not acting on his feelings when there are “people out there (like her and Kureno) who can’t see the ones they wish to see.” When Arisa cries out “I want to see him!” Kureno can’t help but reach out. But his image of a smiling Arisa in her work apron is juxtaposed by a hysterical younger Akito begging him “Don’t abandon me!” and the dimensions of Kureno’s own personal prison come into clear focus.

The moment Tooru returns home to Shigure’s, he sends her out on an errand to buy envelopes, knowing full well she’ll do it immediately and with a smile (this is Tooru, after all). He also knows it will take her past a certain park where Kureno is waiting. Before noticing him, Tooru approaches a flock of sparrows, who naturally aren’t afraid of her what with her gentle soul and calming aura.

Then Kureno approaches her, and the birds scatter. This confuses Tooru to no end since she’s seen rabbits, rats and cats naturally gather around Momiji, Yuki, and Kyou, respectively. Then the absolute kicker: Kureno draws Tooru into a hug…and nothing happens. He tells her plainly: he’s different. His curse is broken. He isn’t a member of the Zodiac.

It would have been one thing if his burgeoning love for Arisa had broken the curse, but it happened long before they met, and to this day Kureno couldn’t tell you exactly why. All he knows his how he felt when it happened. At first he was sad upon realizing he’d never fly again. But he also felt a happiness and a freedom and a sense of humanity he’d never felt before.

Even so, he says, upon returning the DVD, Tooru’s present “was for nothing”, as he doesn’t intent to see Arisa again, and will instead remain by Akito’s side as he has done. It seems like a firm declaration, but as he tries desperately to rationalize two simple insignificant meetings with Arisa as easily forgotten with time…he just can’t do it.

There’s no supernatural or spiritual bond keeping him by Akito’s side. It is more pity than love, along with years of trying to make it something it hadn’t been since the curse broke. Upon realizing their bond was broken Akito lost it, taking Kureno aside and threatening to kill anyone else who approached. And then she sobbed and begged and pleaded for him not to leave her. And Kureno, being younger than Tooru is now and not knowing any better, gave in.

Things are even more different now than they were then. Kureno resolved neither to go too far into the outside world nor seek anything there, but he’s fallen in love for the first time since the curse broke, since he “became human”, as he puts it. And as much as he may want to stay by Akito’s side, just as back then, something has happened that cannot be undone.

Kureno might have been able to deceive the other Zodiac members for a while, but I doubt he ever deceived Akito. And yet despite knowing the curse was broken, his staying probably signaled to Akito that their power still held sway, which turned out to be true, only if psychologically and not supernaturally.

As Tooru tries to comfort the long-tormented Kureno, he tells her without self-pity, hatred, or regret, that he made his choice to live only for “the one who cried until sobs racked their body. Weaker than anyone…more fragile than anyone. For the one…so afraid…for a sorrowful girl.”

Akito wakes up before Kureno returns, and notes that it’s the first time he’s left without permission. After ordering their attendants to find him, Akito takes a bath, and when their robe slips off in the mirror, it is finally officially confirmed that Akito is a woman. This had already been heavily implied, both in design, choice of seiyu (Sakamoto Maaya), and in other subtle ways. But that doesn’t lesson the impact of learning the truth explicitly.

Immediately upon Tooru learning Akito is a girl, the second season ends, having answered so many questions and yet left us with so many more about what’s to come. Will Tooru (and Rin, and other allies) succeed in her quest to lift the curse for all? Will she even continue the quest, knowing how much pain it will cause Akito to take her remaining Zodiac members away? Will Tooru ever allow herself to love someone more than her mother? Will Kureno and Arisa meet again? Will Akito escalate her grudge against Tooru?

Lots to ponder, for sure. And that’s even before we get into how we’re supposed to feel about Akito, who regardless of gender has been a pretty consistently selfish, cruel, dispicable character from the start. It goes without saying she’d have a tragic past of her own to match her myriad psychological issues, and while I can empathize, goddamn is it hard to sympathize, when weighing the suffering she’s caused the others.

For all of that food for thought, and yearning for the next season, and the expert direction and framing and pitch-perfect music throughout, I found this one of the best episodes of Fruits Basket yet, which at this point is saying something, and it will be very very hard to wait for what’s next.

P.S. Additional food for thought: the reason Akito cherishes Kureno so much is because he is there by his own free will, and not due to any binding curse, something I hadn’t considered until we learned he’s no longer a Zodiac member. Ultimately this is the way all her companions should be: there by choice and not force. Of course, she’d have to be much nicer to them…

Want to read more? Read Crow’s thoughts here.

Fruits Basket – 49 – Wishing for Change

When Kakeru brings up ranger colors, Yuki surprises Machi by asking her what her favorite color is. No one has ever asked her that, and she doesn’t know anyway. She gets up to leave when Miki organizes a lunch meetup, but Yuki doesn’t let her slip away wordlessly, giving the cell phone-less Machi a written note of the time and place of the lunch.

Nobody ever paid any attention to Kuragi Machi. She passes through people and places as if she is invisible. She has no favorite color or preferred restaurant. She calls herself dull, a void, and a defective doll. Her apartment is a mess, because why bother keeping it clean if no one ever visits? She’s watched Yuki and how he’s changed, but can’t see if or how she can do the same.

Still, she took the simple maple leaf Yuki gave her and made it into a lovely bookmark, and possibly also a talisman; a reminder that change is not just possible, but necessary. Just as she’s wondering if her existence is necessary, Yuki answers that question by flagging her down; in her half-asleep stupor she happened to end up at the meeting spot for an even she had no intention of attending.

I’d been hoping for more Machi material, and this week we get lots. Despite her claims of dullness I find her a fascinating example of a non-Souma with Souma-like baggage, and thus an intriguing potential partner for Yuki, whom we’ve learned never had particularly romantic feelings for Tooru. Her problems are also an opportunity for Yuki to pay forward the progress he himself has made.

New Year’s is here, and there too are changes from last year. Yuki will be attending in addition to Shigure, so Tooru and Kyou will spend the holiday at Kazuma’s house, where Tooru is perhaps overly excited to learn that Isuzu is staying as well as she continues her recovery. Unfortunately Rin isn’t in the mood for Tooru’s exuberance.

Considering the line they independently drew between themselves, I’m not surprised Tooru and Kyou are fine with not spending New Years alone together—even though that delays the inevitable. That said, it’s still a hoot to watch them interact, with Tooru playfully hitting of Kyou with the pompom of her new scarf easily making the list of Top 10 Most Adorable Things Tooru Has Ever Done.

Meanwhile the banquet appears to be going off without a hitch. After Hatori performs a dance we sadly don’t get to see and Ayame entertains the others with his magnetic personality, Akito and Yuki seem on the cusp of a détente, with Akito deigning to forgive Yuki his past insolence now that he’s here.

But Yuki, as bold in front of Akito as we’ve ever seen him, deigns to forgive him as well, then goes on about how he’s done blaming others for his problems, and has resolved to be more aware of his flaws and areas in his life which he can improve. Yuki is essentially talking about change, which is anathema eternal Zodiac god like Akito.

Akito likes Yuki the way he is—or rather the way he thinks he is, which is in reality no longer the way he was. Yuki isn’t back because he was cowed or came to his senses or is admitting he was wrong; he’s back as a simple courtesy, which must feel patronizing to Akito. So Akito breaks a ceramic pot across Yuki’s face, and just like that, Yuki’s past and future absences from the banquet are handily justified.

It’s not a severe laceration—just a small cut on the scalp—but if anyone from Prince Yuki had seen their beloved Yuki’s beautiful face thus marred I’m not certain Akito would have made it out of the room in one piece! To Yuki, it was probably worth it to say something to Akito that in a perfect world all Zodiacs would be able to say to Akito: It is YOU who is a useless piece of shit who should just disappear. Mind you Yuki doesn’t actually say this; but it’s implied!

When Hatori cleans up the cut, Yuki also makes sure to apologize to him for blaming him for erasing the memories of his childhood friends. He now knows better, and that Hatori too was young and had to obey Akito. Hatori tells him, quite rightly, that there’s nothing to apologize for.

Tooru and Kyou actually end up alone together anyway, as Kazuma steps out and Rin has an early night. Hatsu stops by, but to be with Rin. Explaining Shisho’s mention of Kyou and Rin’s propensity to stare each other down as kids, Kyou tells Tooru that he felt like he stole Shisho from him, and so came to not like her.

As for Tooru’s New Year’s wish (which Kyou asks her for before he tells her his), while last year she wished for Kyou and Yuki to get along (and by their standards, they pretty much do now) this year her wish is arguably more ambitious: for the curse to be broken and happiness to come.

Against a Zodiac system that has endured for centuries without change, Tooru is wishing for change…for revolution. And by golly, if anyone can move the gods in the heavens to grant that wish, it’s Tooru. If they don’t, they can expect no quarter in the scarf pompom-thrashing to come!

Want to read more about episode 49? Check out Crow’s review here!

Cardcaptor Sakura – 42 – A Light in Dark Places

It’s the big day of the performance, and Tomoyo pulls a double all-nighter to make the perfect Prince and Princess costumes for Sakura and Syaoran. I have to admit Tomoyo really outdid herself—Sakura looks outstanding—but for gosh sakes, get some SLEEP, girl! The play commences without a hitch, with the sleep-deprived but resolute Tomoyo providing narration.

Meiling steals the show as the villainous witch, despite the fact she didn’t want to play the villain! The crowd has a great reaction to Syaoran as the princess, but his performance suffers once he spots Yukito in the audience. Sakura, less so, since she mostly relies on her athletic ability in the fight scenes.

After defeating the witch and being told by the three faeries (played by Sakura’s three girlfriends) she can wake the princess with a kiss, Sakura gets right down to it. Her lips draw so close to Syaoran’s, neither he nor Touya in the audience can bear it. Syaoran pushes Sakura away, and just then a great inky blackness swallows everything whole…leaving the two of them in a void.

Syaoran soon vanishes too, leaving Sakura all alone. Not knowing what’s going on, she starts to cry, then realizes this could be the DARK Clow Card, in which case she can do something. When her magic doesn’t work she again despairs, but soon realizes that despite being surrounded by darkness, she continues to glow. Sure enough, the LIGHT Clow Card has resided in her heart since the first time she opened Clow’s book.

Because LIGHT and DARK are two sides of the same coin, they are portrayed as either sisters or lovers—I lean toward the latter. LIGHT mentions the name Yue to Sakura before she seals them both for a twofer, leaving Sakura to wonder who Yue is. The show seems to be indicating that Yue is Mizuki Kaho—or that Mizuki is Yue’s vessel. With four episodes remaining in this 11-episode second season, Sakura is sure to find out soon!

Chuubyou Gekihatsu Boy – 10 – Creating a Vacuum

As expected, the StuCo takes one final infraction as an excuse to shut the Hero Club down. Locking up their clubroom and banning them from helping people inside or outside school, on pain of expulsion. That infraction? Allowing a non-student in “Setsuna Kirito” on school grounds during the festival.

Mizuki might’ve had a chance to clear things up, but to do so would’ve meant breaking her promise to keep Futaba’s alter-ego a secret. Besides, they would have found another excuse anyway. With the club shuttered, Sekiya is attacked by an unknown entity, while a rash of thefts are perpetrated at school.

Mysterious thefts and assaults aside, killing the Hero Club was extremely short-sighted (which I guess becomes the StuCo, all of whom wear glasses): all of the school clubs they helped out relied on them being around, and now they’re all in big pinches.

As their normie emissary, Mizuki is the one who has to hear from these parties about how unfortunate it is, but while there’s talk of them giving the StuCo a piece of their minds, that doesn’t take place here, and the other Hero Club members mostly go off and do their own thing, albiet badly because they’re depressed about losing their meeting place and mandate.

It’s just as bad outside of school, as Mizuki has to turn down a girl who loved Tomoki’s Sora-chan performance and wants him for another one. The elderly folks who the Hero Club helped blame themselves for relying too much and getting them in trouble, which Mizuki has to reassure them isn’t the case.

Whether in or outside of school, the Hero Club was a vital resource whose importance belied the eccentricity of its members. Disbanding them left a huge void in the fabric of both school and community. After partnering with Mizuki and a member drama club to help out the Sora-chan girl, Nanako assures Mizuki that together they’ll find a way to rescue the Hero Club from the StuCo unjust and reckless judgment.

They certainly have public opinion in their favor. As for the mysterious culprit of the assault and thefts, that’s something the StuCo seems incpable of solving. They may have no choice but to rely on the rule-breaking weirdos they loathe.

Mekakucity Actors – 08

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While this episode didn’t quite make all the connections we thought it would (between Takane, Haruka, and Shintaro, for instance), it still confirmed and shed light on a great many things. Granted, it did a lot of this while people were statically lounging around in a room, but that room had a striking design with mod furnishings we see from multiple, schematic-like angles, all Shaft mainstays.

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Prior to discussing with Shintaro what the Mekakushi-dan he’s now a member of know about their “situation” Tsubomi and the others visit the hospital, but don’t see Haruka. They do meet Hibiya, and when his eyes turn red they promptly take him with them to HQ, realizing he’s one of them, in a earlier state of development they all went through in one form or another.

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Also, the giant snake void portal thing we’ve witnessed is something they all have in common: they all experienced life-threatening events with loved ones; both were sucked in, but only one came out, and with superpowers. We catch a glimpse Tsubomi’s pivotal event in the cold open. Striking stained glass windows also depict it, as well as those of Kano, Seto, and Momo.

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These windows had us equating the past, present, and future Mekakushi-dan members as something very similar to “saints”, once-ordinary people who were touched by something very similar to a “god”, and can now perform something very similar to “miracles.” But they—and those lost in the “void”—could also be described as martyrs; their past wishes having ended their lives as normal humans.

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One more connection made this week, and quite by accident: while checking in on Marry (who was supposed to be watching Hibiya but dozed off), he spots a photo of Kido, Kano, and Seto with none other than Ayano. As of yet, Shintaro hasn’t displayed a power, nor do we know of a time when his life was in danger that would cause them one to be bestowed upon him.

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But in the non-standard ED (with more anecdotal lyrics), we see what seems to be his last encounter with Ayano, who loved him, and he definitely seems to make a wish: for her not to die. Is she, and the others’ loved ones in the void, really dead, or can they be retrieved, perhaps in exchange for returning their powers? We’ll see…at least I hope we will.

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Guilty Crown – 18

After taking Shu’s power, a newly-crowned Gai uses Nanba and other students to form a combination void that blocks the UN bombing and destroys the bomber. After destroying a carrier strike group, he warns the world to cease all miilitary operations and essentially await further orders. Inori sneaks off and tends to Shu, and they squat in a half-destroyed planetarium. After multiple violent outbursts, Inori realizes the monster within her cannot be controlled. Remembering Shu’s words, she decides to “be herself” and take on Gai’s forces in her berzerk mode. However, Gai uses a void to capture her.

They took his normality, they took his girl, they took his arm, they took his powers and his kingdom…and now they take his other girl. But it looks like it’s going to stop there, because for one, Shu doesn’t have anything else, and for another, his last look was full of resolve. He’s going to go get her back. Right? Otherwise, this was an episode in which Arisa kills her grandfather (who came to kill her for her betrayal, but stayed his sword), Nanba and his minions are thankfully wiped out, Inori wastes a gang of would-be rapists, Daryl Yan disobeys orders, and a stealth bomber gets blowed up real good.

What have we got, four episodes left? That sounds about right. Shu, outta stuff to lose; Inori, losing what humanity she had, Gai, back and on the wrong side and threatening the entire world, the remnants of the Undertakers/Funeral Parlor lost and and seemingly aimless, and a totally wrecked Tokyo (remember how they knocked over the tower last week?). So we’re definitely getting near the end here. What end that will be we have no idea, but we’re enjoying the ride.


Rating: 3

Plane Cameo: It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…yes, it’s a plane. a B-2 Spirit! 

Guilty Crown – 09

Shu is on a train with Hare when Yahiro leaps aboard, spilling drugs as he goes. Shu tells Hare he needs to talk to him. He learns that Yachiro and his terminally ill brother Jun had to flee the very facility he sold Shu out to get into. Shu vows to harbor them with Undertaker help, but he’s being surveilled by Major Segai, who corners them with snipers and endlaves. Shu promises to save Jun if Yahiro lets him draw out his void, but he fails and he himself is the one who kills him. Hare, meanwhile, had been following Shu all along.

When Shu sees Jun in the void world, in the setting of the day of Lost Christmas, he has a tough choice to make. Jun wants to die, and the void Shu has appropriated from Yahiro – the shears, are the means to do it. It isn’t just that Jun is tired; it’s that he wants to go out on his terms. His illness lets him see everyone’s dark side – including his bro’s. If he has to continue to see that, he’ll grow to hate him, and he doesn’t want to die hating his only brother. Jun forces a decision here: he makes use of his apocalypse cancer to possess an endlave, so it’s basically ‘kill me before I go mad and kill everyone’.

In the heat of the moment, Shu cuts Jun’s lifeline as requested. Shu, the kid who’s growing more and more confident and assertive (and educated in basic tactics), has killed his first human being. It was under highly supernatural circumstances, but he killed someone all the same. This is going to weigh on him, and perhaps eliminate all the progress he’s made with Undertaker. We’re really interested in seeing where this goes, along with how much Hare saw, and what she thinks of it all. What’s her void?


Rating: 3

Guilty Crown – 08

Gai’s next mission requires that Shu go to Oshima with his school friends Souta, Hare, and Kanon under the guise of a school vacation trip. In reality, Oshima’s shrine is a secret GHQ facility that can be unlocked with Souta’s void, and the core of the Undertakers are hiding out until Shu can draw it out. Doing this requires him to get Souta alone, which means arranging for him to meet Inori alone. When Souta’s about to confess to her, Shu interrupts by drawing his void out, and they proceed with the mission. They infiltrate the facilty easily, but Shu’s dad, Korosu – who he believes is dead and buried in Oshima, has already been there and taken the strange crystal that Gai was after.

Beach episode! It wasn’t that bad though. GC tried its best to justify Shu’s presence on Oshima. The actual fanservice bits are quite abbreviated and don’t detract from the mission, which turns out to be a bust prefaced by lots of bluster (the design of the various locks in the facilty were cool though). Combining Ouma’s regular school friends with his “job” was inevitable, but only Souta was directly involved. One thing we can say for sure is that Haruka is a really annoying mom. Seriously, put some clothes on when there’s company. We get it, you’re very attractive for your age, but that’s your damn son. Gross!

While Shu’s mom is a creepy cocktease, Shu’s dad is apparently the type to make others believe he’s dead, while he’s actually alive and well – and chief of the GHQ, no less. We were waiting for Haruka to drop her act and confront Shu, but here we get an entirely different shoe: Shu’s got a living dad, and where things stand now, he’s one of the bad guys. Like many of the things in this series, the hero with the parents he has to stand against is nothing new. But we get the feeling Korosu Ouma has plans for his clueless son with the magic right arm.


Rating: 3