Natsume Yuujinchou San 9 begins a two-parter, but it’s clear that the underlying theme will again be friendship, the “Trust them” variation. Most interesting to me was the way Natsume and his friend Tanuma react to the situation. Natsume can interact with youkai and Tanuma can sort of see them, so there’s nothing they have to hide from each other, but they do anyway. Tanuma avoids Natsume until a hammer-wielding youkai becomes a danger, and then confesses all. Now it’s Natsume’s turn to withhold information, until a line from Tanuma about talking things out makes him realize his mistake. Later, when they learn all, the youkai possessing Tanuma threatens harm if Natsume doesn’t help her, not knowing that Natsume would help her anyway. And even Tanuma has to go through the motions of asking Natsume even though we know what his answer will be anyway. And we have the usual variations: Nyanko peevishly tells Natsume to dump Tanuma as a friend but later won’t drive out the youkai for fear of hurting him (and earlier we saw him wave to Tanuma). And poor Saki, who can’t see a thing, tags along because she’s both curious and they’re her friends. You have to feel sorry for her, watching the boys dig up invisible objects, wanting to be of help.
Usagi Drop 10 brings us the first real crisis in Daikichi’s stint as parent. To us watching at home it’s no big deal: Rin has a fever. But to a man unused to this it’s a frightening event, and inexperienced Daikichi comes close to freaking out. Fortunately for him (and Rin) Yukari’s around to give advice, make gruel (I thought that’s what you fed orphans in Dickens novels) and above all, tell him not to panic. The scenes with Yukari and Rin are sweet, Yukari being the gentle, patient caregiver while Rin must be wondering where Daikichi is. Not that he’s AWOL. He watches and takes mental notes, and in a long series of scenes, Rin gets better. Rather an inconsequential moment in a child’s life, one repeated for years until they meet enough germs and build immunity, but this show specializes in the little moments and how they reflect on a life as a whole. On the romance front, this is the second episode in a row where Yukari has spent extensive time at Daikichi’s place. Little steps.
I find this interesting about Hanasaku Iroha: there is really no bad end, yet there’s a great deal of tension toward the outcome. It matters a great deal to many people if Kissuiso closes, but if it does it is not the end of the world for any of them. Great times in life, when you find yourself surrounded by people you love, doing work you love, don’t last forever. Sui tells Ohana that keeping the inn running is forcing Enishi and others to live her dream, not theirs. Meanwhile Enishi and others are conspiring to keep the place open in spite of Sui’s orders. Maybe Enishi works at Kissuiso out of family obligation, but he would deny it, and everyone else there wants to work there. But will it be the same place when Sou steps down? No. It will be a different kind of workplace. Dynamics will change. So even if it stays open, and it’s pretty clear story-wise that it will, something will nonetheless be lost. Other than that, the episode has a couple of missteps, the biggest one being the Minko/Tohru manga business, but it was funny, so I’ll let it slide. Same with Sui’s surprise appearance in the bath, not the whole scene, but the end of it. But again, it was funny.
Sacred Seven 10 was all flashback,using the “horrible attack which wipes out the beloved family on Christmas Eve” schtick. Episode 11 is a rushed mess, which means it’s a lot of fun to watch. Ruri is accused of tax evasion but when she’s arrested it’s Kenmi who’s got her. He’s going to take out her heart and become, I believe, king of the Aztecs. Meanwhile Tandoji, Kagami, and a bunch of armed maids who escaped arrest because they had been laid off (huh?), oh, and Fei, storm Kenmi’s fortress, or whatever it is. Knight is also storming the place, but he’s freelance. Tandoji discovers his mom’s long-lost magic pendant, releasing Ruri from her crystal shield which came up when Kenmi was going after her heart. Oh, Zero’s been let loose and he goes beserk to the benefit of Kenmi until Fei injects him with serum and he goes beserk on her side, until Kenmi takes HIS heart and becomes an invincible armored something-or-other with an evil laugh, and now it’s showdown time. I will say that the action scenes are a lot of fun and the action music with its big horns and disco-y beat sounds almost old school. I had more fun with that then trying to figure out the plot.
I didn’t notice the direction Kamisama no Memochou 10 was taking until the big event that closes the episode. I thought it’d be all about drugs and addicts and rescuing Ayaka’s brother from Angel Fix, but the episode meanders. It spent a lot of time with Naruma and Ayaka as they chat, fight, make up, while the NEET gang are getting nowhere with their investigation, which is not like them. So it came as a complete shock when suddenly, wham, Ayaka attempts suicide. Was it over her brother? Was it because she was raising flowers in the greenhouse for use in Angel Fix (pesticides, hah!)? She chose a cruel place to do it, off the roof where she and Narumi had spent so many good times, and into another flowerbed. Ayaka is a complicated girl.
The iDOLM@ASTER 9 features the annoying twins in an episode that doesn’t really try too hard to make the mystery of the missing puddings interesting, which is just as well. It’s more of a character study of the two girls and how much they depend on each other, which would have been more touching if the two weren’t, as I said, so annoying. Episode 10 isn’t supposed to feature anybody, but show the girls as they cutely participate in a idol girl’s olympics, which they aren’t supposed to win, but do anyway, because they’re so full of spirit. There’s the cliché of the weak athlete bringing everyone down, also a snotty rival team. And while it doesn’t feature any one girl, Makoto rightfully stands out again by not only winning the key race but unknowingly seducing one of the rival girls.