noitaminA revisited: Shiki 16, Kuragehime 5

Two weeks ago I did both noiaminA shows in the same post. It was so much fun I’m doing it again.

We start with Shiki 16, which this week adds extra sorrow and cruelty to the already depressing story.

Tea time with Sunako.

It looks at first like we’re getting a flashback episode. We start with a bit of Sunako’s story and get back to it later on when she tells Tohru a “story” about a little girl (herself) who was bitten. Her actions in the story are cruel, she cheerfully talks about all the nice people she had to kill in order to survive while searching for her parents. On the other hand, she IS trying to reconnect to her family. We again see that becoming undead do not change your emotions toward your loved ones, or does it? We also get poor Nao’s backstory. After becoming a shiki she killed her family so that she could be with people she loves. But not one of them rose, leaving her alone. In a twisted way we can feel sorry for her as well. Loneliness seems to be the prevailing emotion amongst the shikis.

As if that wasn’t enough, we turn to Akira and Kaori’s father, Tanaka, recently risen. I guess his probationary period is over for Megumi tells him he’ll have to do his own hunting from now on. “Hey, why don’t you start with your own family?” After all, it’s very likely they’ll rise, too, and he won’t be alone (That didn’t work for Nao because she was adopted). And then we get a scene almost as cruel as Toshio’s wife-torture two episodes ago, which inspires some actual positive action from Akira.

Too bad it ends badly for him, well, it’s a cliffhanger, so we won’t know until next week. But, damn, is everyone in the show going to fail and die? At least Akira tried something. “I’m going to stop leaving things to adults.” Quite right. Toshio and Natsuno talk (in daylight, meaning Natsuno must have become a werewolf like Tatsumi, not a vampire) about having to wait. What are they waiting for? Until they’re the only ones left?

Kuragehime 5 starts out depressing as well. Amamizu-Kan, the building where the girls live is going to be sold, meaning that nothing will stand in the way of the planned “Activate City Amamizu” project, i.e., they’re going to tear it down and build a hotel. Tsukimi, still brooding about the aquarium moment, is dragged to a development meeting to protest, and winds up sitting next to Shuu …

… who doesn’t recognize her. What’s more, the girls are thoroughly intimidated by development leader Shoko Inari, a two-faced thing that will finalize deals “between the sheets,” as they call it. They beat a hasty retreat. So not only do they fail at the meeting, but Tsukimi has undergone a humiliating moment at oblivious Shuu’s hands, AND later Tsukimi spots Shoko and Shuu sharing an umbrella. Shoko works fast. From here the episode meanders awhile, but in a beautiful way.

While there are too many “Mama, my chest feels tight” lines, their execution makes them fresh, the best by far being Tsukimi’s sinking into the wet pavement and into a watery world, like a jellyfish, the only place she feels safe. The show is loaded with nice, clever imagery, but this one set a new standard. It almost makes you forget that, for the girls and especially Tsukimi, life really sucks right now.

Kuranosuke prepares the girls for battle.

Leave it to Kuranosuke to shake them up. All episode he’s been on the sidelines, trying to appeal to Shuu over the redevelopment plans or getting Tsukimi to stop moping in her room. There are a few surprises here. First, Mayaya didn’t kick his ass, second, Mayaya doesn’t seem to mind her makeover, and finally, neither do the other girls. They’re too fascinated to complain. Kuranosuke makes the right argument, that they’re not going against their inner nature, they’re going against people who judge by appearances (to emphasize the point we get a quick moment of Shuu meeting up with a dolled-up Shoko), so they must dress up. One more thing: after Kura’s makeover, Mayaya looks fashionable but not pretty. He is not magically recreating the girls like a fairy godmother; he’s working to their strengths.

Kuranosuke does it again! Though I keep wondering, like Tsukimi does, why on earth he’s going to such pains for them?

Once again noitaminA swings from fear and depression to loony glee.

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