More twos: Chihayafuru, Mashi-Symphony, Kimi to Boku

Chihayafuru 2. Wow. I didn’t know karuta was a blood sport.

Violence and autumn leaves.

We remain in the past, to the threat Taichi delivered to Chihaya the class ignoring her for being nice to Arata. In true elementary school fashion it escalates into a challenge: if Taichi takes even one card from Arata in the upcoming tournament, it’s Permanent Ignore time. So important, yet so childish! At this point I’m expecting a few thrilling tournament scenes, like any anime series, which we get, but it’s spiced up beautifully. Before the match Taichi goes from jealous rival to asshole, getting Arata wet with soda, then, worse, stealing his glasses. By squinting at the cards Arata manages to memorize them, but apparently mussed-cards can be replaced in any order, so after a few turns he’s at a loss again.

It gets a little silly here, as Chihaya, seeing Arata’s pain and frustration, and pissed off by the whooping classmates, pushes Arata aside and takes his place. Is that allowed? I guess so. She wins some hands and uses some profound insight concerning the card Arata named after her and wins the final. Typical stuff.

But this show is proving to be better than just a competition-based anime. The repercussions for winning and losing are broader than bragging rights. Chihaya excitedly phones home to tell her family the good news, but they’re wrapped up with their older daughter, and even that daughter dismisses her. Meanwhile Taichi’s mother is disappointed in him. No winning video to show to dad! He should stick to games he can win at. So Taichi has gone from jealous rival to asshole to sympathetic victim of misplaced parental values. Worse, he still has a thing for Chihaya, and this match didn’t help his cause. Well, at least he makes up with Arata.

And all these events are understated. There’s some excitement in the matches, but the orchestral music flows around it as if it’s a small event happening in a much larger world. The score also overemphasizes some of the quieter scenes, but that’s a small quibble. This show is about more than kurata, that’s obvious. Chihaya’s new-found love for the game may actually come from her attraction to Arata. It’s not clear yet. It’s too soon to tell for Arata and Taichi. The only thing I’m worried about is that the gamme will give away to the love triangle they’re developing. This show has potential for more than that.

WIth those uniforms, they have a head start.

Mashiro-Iro Symphony 2 plods along the same way episode one did. A week into the school merger and the new students, especially the boys, are not being accepted, probably because Sena doesn’t like them. Shingo proceeds to help out the male cause by walking into the girls’ bathroom, the girls’ changing room, and finally, accidently looks up Sena’s skirt. The first two you can write off as ignorance, but you’d think that someone would tell the boys where their facilities are, though it doesn’t help that Shingo has that male harem lead tendency to forget to knock. As for the skirt thing, he had that one coming, even if his chalk drop was accidental. So many scenes of the boys sitting around lookig dejected, spaced with a few encounters with the one or two friendly females. Then the show just as unsubtly brings the boys into the fold by forcing them into cooking lessons, and they happily coexist with the girls and everything’s better. End of episode, apart from the predictable class rep elections at the end. This show has no subtlety or nuance at all. The music is bland. It’s sometimes pretty to look at, though. I’m giving it one more episode.

It happened again. I was watching Kimi no Boku 2, wondering what would happen next, where the tulip metaphor would lead, and wondering if they’d keep the cat theme fromm last week (yes), when all of a sudden I’m pitched forward laughing at something–and wondering why.

The moment I'm talking about.

Half the fun of this episode is watching the mysterious girl, Sato, wreak her terrible revenge on Shun for daring to be nice to her. Sato is loads of fun for the entire episode because she’s so cute and obvious in her plotting, but sinister enough that she actually bothers the boys. Also, we wonder why the hell she’s doing it. The other half of the fun comes from the boys trying to figure out, in their bored, distracted fashion, the same thing. To them Sato is like some odd woodland creature they’ve spotted while hiking, one that keeps throwing acorns at Shun. Or in the show’s case, rocks. The conclusion gets a little too sentimental, but it’s saved again by the boys’ drollery, and Sato’s mixed emotions: hating to be given help, but actually liking that someone made the effort.

This moment was good, too.

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