Cross Game 32, Winter Sonata 3, Trapeze 5

Akane continues to turn everyone upside-down in Cross Game 32. The hussy! In this single episode she leaves Kou with her art supplies box, and when he returns it to her all-girls’ school he defeats a pervert with his throwing arm! Aoba does serious research on her, and later scares off a jerk who tries to weasel his way into her heart, with HER throwing arm! (Interesting that Kou’s heroics makes the paper, while Aoba’s doesn’t. Aoba never gets the respect she deserves) Little Momiji is won over by Akane’s evil drawing and kindness! As for father Seiji …

Ah, poor Akane! She still has no clue about the chaos she’s caused just by showing up!

Just when I thought that they could not top the reactions, not only the initial shock, but subsequent meetings, the show adds more ingredients into the stew. Kou comes out to the balcony and accidently sees Akane undressing at the window. There’s the Akane/Momiji drawing scene. Akane is everywhere!

Kou tells Akane that there are three Tsukishima sisters, which bugs Aoba at first.

But it is forgiven. Kou and Aoba, in spite of their bickering, know each other too well, and care for each other so much. When Aoba is late for practice (because she was rescuing Akane) Kou is seriously worried. Aoba delights in finding information about Akane so she can report it to Kou, in case he’s interested. While the main characters are trying to wrap their heads around it all, other characters watch. Akaishi still seems stunned. Momiji, now roughly Wakaba’s age when she died, approves of Akane. Azuma is amused. And so the cast of Cross Game, a show already blessed with great characters, now officially welcomes a new one. God knows what will happen when someone tells Akane what the fuss is all about!

It’s been awhile since I last checked in with Winter Sonata. Episode 3 (actually the fourth) keeps the love triangle turning. Sanghyuk is worried about Yujin going around with Joonsang. Worse for him, Joonsang starts hanging around with Sanghyuk’s professor dad, whose class Joonsang crashed a couple episodes ago. He doesn’t know what to think anymore …

From this moment on it’s a study of how to manage things badly, apart from perhaps Yujin. Sanghyuk confronts Joonsang, possibly a mistake, I mean, what’s wrong with your father studying with your classmate if he’s especially gifted? So what if it’s the same guy who’s stealing your girl? Well, maybe I’d be kind of pissed, too. Joonsang, in all his antisocial glory, admits to wanting to take everything away from Sanghyuk, even though it’s a lie. And guess who’s listening behind the door?

So Joonsang and Yujin break up even though they haven’t had a proper date yet. The episode drops in quality after that. There’s a predictable “relay story” scene where the characters’ contributions reflect the real situation, which falls flat, and then Yujin drives the show into melodrama state by running off and getting lost in the woods. The series is really too subtle and realistic to use such trite devices as these. On the other hand, the characters are still interesting, especially Joonsang, a character I just can’t figure out. The art is still great to look at. And it’s completely different from the other shows this season.

Speaking of completely different, Trapeze tops itself with episode 5. The routine of the patient getting better by figuring out what his trouble is doesn’t change, but this ep’s patient, Ikeyama, is a psychologist himself. What’s more, he’s on the same staff as our Dr. Irabu. And though he’s surprised at Irabu’s methods, he accepts it as part of his therapy and tries to cooperate.

Which means first, of course, getting your shot and turning into an iguana.

… Even if it means acting on his impulses, even when it endangers his reputation, since his father in-law, Nomora, runs the hospital he works at. So he switches the channel from opera to baseball (Bando makes another bad throw! Nice reference there. BANDOOOOO!!!), farts in an elevator, ALMOST hits the emergency button at a train station … but what cures him is a bit of fun at Nomora’s expense.

For the full effect you gotta hear the music playing.

I don’t know why I think this episode tops the others so far. The plot is still routine in spite of its wild colors and imagery. Maybe it’s because the therapy seems to work for him, and the last image is of he and his wife and son laughing about Nomora’s wig, and thinking they might want to go to a ball game some time. Ikeyama seems to actually get it: have some fun for a change and maybe others will have fun with you. It’s certainly the happiest episode I’ve seen so far.

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