Arakawa 9, K-ON!! 10

Arakawa Under the Bridge 9 again splits into two. The first is more interesting, if only because there’s more weirdness involved, but there’s very little to say about either one. I’m beginning to wonder if the series is going to end with aimless episodes like this.

It seems cute little Stella is in love with Sister. She’s always assumed that Maria, whom he visits and talks about all the time, was the Virgin Mary. But then Hoshi tells her the truth.

Cute little Stella.

Off she goes to confront Maria, while Hoshi and the metalhead kids apparently rough up Recruit. It seems Hoshi and Maria form an unrequited love partnership out for revenge. Hoshi runs to intervene. Hasn’t he learned yet that none of these people are entirely what they seem? That Maria might be able to handle herself? Look at what she does to Sister all the time. Still, Recruit goes off to save people that probably don’t need it.

Naturally, Stella, even in bulked-up deadly mode, is no match for Maria. Perversely, she first gets Recruit to fight for him, claiming she’s scared. Heh. Once again, Recruit has completely underestimated and misread the people around him.

In the second story Recruit learns more about Hoshi, maybe. He used to be a major star, but despaired because the songs were written by his manager. So he’d go under the bridge, at this time in his life, wearing a crescent moon mask and play the weird things he comes up with himself. Where he encounters Nino, who becomes curious about him.

It’s actually a nice little story. Hoshi’s star and moon metaphors and Nino’s odd but effective Venusian reasoning give it a good spin. We can see how Nino’s encouragement could make Hoshi fall in love with her. Just when we think we’re getting a real background story, Hoshi talks about is celebrity life and it devolves into talking about his buddies John Lennon and Elvis, and you have to wonder if ANY of his story is real. Such is the way this show runs.

K-ON!! 10 starts rather poorly, but more than makes up for it as it plays out. For some reason I can’t fanthom, the girls follow Sawako around. Maybe she has a boyfriend or something, maybe they’re just bored. All I remember is that she receives a phone call, gets embarrassed and leaves, and they get curious. I wish they’d spend some of that energy on practicing. So we get the usual sneaking around, trying to get the right table at a restaurant to spy, etc, while Sawako talks with a woman.

Turns out Christina is a former bandmate of Sawako’s when they were light music club members (with a metal band called “Death Devil”), and she wants HTT to convince Sawako to perform at a mutual friend’s wedding reception. Sawako has refused because she doesn’t consider it dignified as a teacher, and some students will be attending. She’s put music behind her, she says, which is a terrible thing to do. Why seal off something that gives you so much joy?

So far the episode has been predictable, and a little dull, and even after that, well, you can pretty much guess what happens (especially after looking at the image above). But it’s the way they play it out that makes it succeed. Inept Yui standing in for Sawako makes Death Devil “more cute than scary,” leading to a marvelous reaction from Sawako. She goes through a transformation that reminds me why I like this character so much.

To add to an already fun scene we get flashbacks of the Death Devil girls when they were in school, hanging out, practicing, having fun together, basically the same as HTT now, only their guitars were pointy. Sawako regains some of the joy she had refused herself, and the students all thought it cool. It was worth plowing through the first half to get to the second.


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