Apollon 8, Fujiko 9, Tsuritama 8

After last weeks emotional high on Sakamichi no Apollon, we get an episode where many people are looking for their bad end.

No, Yurika, he doesn’t want you in his apartment. Um … Yurika?

You knew they would pay attention go Jun this week; there wasn’t anyone else left. Kaoru and Sentarou are reconciled, it’s too soon for Ritsuko, and Yurika’s been in a holding pattern ever since she saw Jun that one time. She sees him this episode and forces her way, more or less, into his rented flat, where Jun shows off his self-disgust but can’t make her leave. We get flashbacks showing Jun making an improvising a speech at a student rally and inspiring a buddy to the point where the buddy gets his digits busted up so he can’t play the saxophone again. Now Yurika gets to nurse Jun back to emotional health. This is a very good show, but sometimes the story is on the “television drama” level. Well, it IS a television drama.

So while Yurika hangs out with Jun, cuts her hair (abruptly), and starts getting in trouble at school and at home, we also follow our dynamic duo, and our other possibly doomed character, Sentarou. Now that Kaoru has loosened up and continues to be popular with the girls, his unrequited love Ritsuko is starting to get pitty-pats about him, not her long-time crush Sentarou. Yurika invites herself into men’s apartments. Ritsuko knits sweaters for hers. This is going to blast the current dynamic to pieces, especially with Sentarou finally waking up to a situation that may have passed him by. I’m interested in how Sentarou will handle it. There’s no way he will interfere if things go the way they are now, but what will he actually do? And will Kaoru feel like he’s betraying a friend? Tune in next week for another Days of our … I mean, Kids on the Slope.

A striking episode of Lupin III – Mine Fujiko this week. Also an odd one.

The object to steal this week is a high-class painted lady. A young woman who has spent her entire life being tattooed and displayed as a piece of living art. Lupin and Jigen have teamed up to “steal” her during an exhibition. So has Fujiko, and so we get trademark wild chases and gunfire and it lives up to the best such sequences of this series, but something’s off. Lupin and Jigen are behaving more or less as usual, but there’s something off with Fujiko. We notice it before Lupin does. She’s as formidable an opponent as ever, but she’s … serious. We see it in a flashback where she sees the PW on TV for the first time, where she nearly breaks down. There’s no guile in her this time, no subtlety. Just relentlessness.

We pretty much learn why as the chasing continues, Fujiko close but never quite able to outdo Lupin/Jigen’s combined skills. And since last week we pretty much know the answer. There’s a connection between this PW (who is basically a small illiterate child in a woman’s body–we spend much the episode hoping she doesn’t get hurt) and Fujiko, both powerless, abused, and in someone else’s control their entire lives (another flashback, more damn owls). The next step in the logic, suggested by Lupin, is more problematic. I see no reason why Fujiko would want to kill the PW, even if she did have her own death-wish, but perhaps that’s a reflection of the violent life she has lived. Even Lupin and Jigen, once they have her secured, feel sorry enough for her that they more or less release her. Even so, this rather straightforward episode is the strongest yet, mostly because we are learning what the series is all about, and what Fujiko has to go through to get there.

Well, that’s good and I’m happy about it, but it’s a bit of an anticlimax.

Tsuritama 8 feels odd because it is so straightforward. We start with Sakura’s disappearance. Hints are made that the dragon is about to take his first victim, or sacrifice. Meanwhile, past fights are forgiven; there’s something bigger to worry about. Interestingly it’s Akira who gives Natsuki the tip, and there she is, moping at a table where her mom used to take her. No danger to her, just relief. The episode had barely begun. After that deflation we get a scene where Akira up and asks Haru and Coco what they’re up to–and they up and tell him everything. Just like that. So there’s the immediate crisis resolved and a huge bit of backstory.

Despite my choice of screenshots not everyone spends this episode with their back to the camera.

It goes on like this for too long. A scene with Natsuki and his dad. One with his sister. Yuki talks with his grandmother. Haru does, too. The only portentious thing is Haru; he’s happy again, but he’s getting ready to say goodbye. Other than that, everybody is happy–and fishing. We’re waiting for the big whammy but really don’t get one. Yuki tells us it’s coming, along with a typhoon, by the way (and Haru’s explanation told us why this will be a bad thing), but we’ll have to wait until next week for it to happen. Along with what Duck is going to do … Well, it’s nice to see everyone happy for a change.

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