Chu2koi 6, Pet na Kanojo 5, Joshiraku finale

It’s looking like not much will really happen in Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!, but that’s all right. Episode 6 is the best yet. I can’t think of a moment in it that wasn’t fun to watch.

There IS a story here but it pops up almost at random at the halfway point when Isshiki, harem male sidekick, loses his little black, er, green book, and now all the boys in class are suspected of rating the girls in a poll, which is exactly what actually happened. Well, not every boy participated, Yuuta at least didn’t, but due to cruel bias against his gender he’ll be included among the guilty, too. More distressing for Isshiki is that a girl left him a letter and his reputation is at stake. This all unfolds in a bunch of good scenes where, as I said, something interesting is always going on, whether it’s the dialogue between Yuuta and Isshiki or the 360 degree camera turn around Isshiki during a big moment, or some oddness in the background, like that girl who shrieks and runs away when she sees Isshiki declaiming something. The entire episode is full of little bits like that.

When these story scenes aren’t happening, which is often, because it’s not much of a story, we are treated to completely unimportant, nearly random bits which might or might not establish a character a little more (Rikka holding hands at the train stop), but more likely are included because they’re funny or beautiful (the train stop again). There’s a bit where Sanae runs into a door that’s just been closed on her, but it’s in the distance, hardly visible, yet I laughed out loud. “My servant-o!” In fact, the group scenes have so much going on that there’s hardly space in them to squeeze the story in. When they do, near the end, there’s a sort of redemption and show of support for Isshiki and wild laughter from the others, for obvious reasons. Excellent episode.

I thought Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo had pretty much set up its situation last episode when Mashiro decided to stay. But apparently they decided to make the Sakurasou household a little bigger by adding Aoyama. It makes sense for the story (she’s a fun character and now we’ll get to see more of her) and for Aoyama herself. She’s paying her own tuition and rent, and she’s working too-many part-time jobs already. Naturally she’d want to move into a cheaper dorm where a good friend and possible romantic interest lives. Now we can sit back and watch the jealousy stuff begin … only it doesn’t. We get the expected misunderstandings when she sees how much Sorata does for Mashiro, but once she sees how it really is she does what I should have predicted, she decides to take care of Mashiro herself. Logical choice. She’s the only girl there who’s not an irresponsible adult or an alien. So instead the episode’s conflict lies with Aoyama trying to juggle school, work, AND Mashiro while Sorata tries to talk her out of it. I had expected embarrassing coed hijinks (and there was some of that) and got a different story instead. Glad to see the series remains unpredictable.

No surprise that the Joshiraku girls know it’s their last episode. It doesn’t stop them from putting together a good finale. They start by introducing a new character, Irritatei Anoingu, who lives up to her name and tries to steal the show by imitating the other characters and making her own OP. The field trip this time is Akihabara and feels more sedate than some of the others. Maybe it was that bridge. Then finally they return to riffing on a single concept, adding something to something that shouldn’t be added, I think, including making an anime out of a manga. Also using a bowl to protect Gankyu’s modesty, though I’m not sure how that works in all this. But it feels bittersweet when Marii is called to perform, and we catch the first part of her story about things ending until the mask closes the stage door.

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Sukitte 4, Chu2koi 5, and some Joshiraku and a Wooser screenshot for the hell of it

I’d hate to think that this is going to be the routine for Sukitte Ii na yo: Mei encounters something unpleasant about Yamato or his world, and gets all grumpy until they make up at the end.

So he’s going to make the worst impression he possibly can.

Okay, that’s not really fair. There were differences between Mei’s past blue funks and the righteous anger she experienced this time. And I must say that Yamato does have some interesting, if unpleasant friends. It’s clear early on that Hayakawa is a tool, even before he meets Mei; it also comes as no surprise that he has friends like this. None of the people he hangs out with so far have been people I’d like to meet on a regular basis, no, scratch that comment; it’s as superficial as Hayakawa’s mindset. It’s interesting to watch Yamato here, clearly reluctant to have Hayakawa meet Mei, as I would, but leaving it up to Mei. Maybe it’ll turn out all right, he’s thinking. Then at the lunch he talks about Mei almost like she’s a pet he’s training. And after Mei gets pissed off (Wonderful bit. No shouting, just deleting his phone number, saying a few disdainful words, slapping money down, and leaving, exactly what she should do) and leaves (not mopey, not sad, but rightfully angry) he at least shows some more anger and concern on her behalf, not faked, and he has the injured hand to prove it. I’m more convinced that he’s sincere about Mei now, but I’m worried that he’s treating her like a project rather than a girlfriend. But at least his more superficial friends are getting the message that this relationship is for real.

But maybe to prove that Yamato doesn’t surround himself with just losers, we get more screentime with Aiko. She spends time chatting with Hayakawa about Mei, and one of them says something about there only being three left. I assume they’re talking about the superficial lovers club, but that wouldn’t be fair to Aoki. Aoki and Hayakawa have a fight. She calls him superficial, so he mocks her weight issues, thus conceding to debate. Mei steps in to defend her, and now we got a scene that steps out of the shoujo romance routine. Mei speaks some simple truths that Hayakawa can’t handle, then does the same to Aoki. I loved Aoki’s response. She switches to her disdainful (defensive) stance. She tried for Yamato and failed, she can’t believe that this little thing standing before her has gotten him instead. She’s jealous and angry, but she’s also resigned to the fact that she’s already lost, and isn’t crazy about seeing Mei and Yamato together, in other words, unpleasant but understandably human. It’s a good scene that cuts through the stereotypes that Aoki could have represented and makes her a strong character in this series. I’m hoping we’ll see more her and less of Hayakawa, who’s just a little too villainous for my taste. Besides, he has poor table manners.

Rikka calls up all her dark powers for the upcoming math battle, er, test.

Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! 5 is a “must pass exam or (insert terrible fate here)” episode. It goes the way you’d expect. Rikka tries every trick in the book to avoid studying until she realizes it’s hopeless and then knuckles down and studies. Normally these sort of episodes bug me. I keep wanting to give Rikka a hard shake and shout “study damn it!” Quite like I did with K-ON (“rehearse, damn it!”). But this episode is saved by things that happen along the way, including the usual antics from the other club members. They only got in the way, but the distractions are amusing enough that it made me relax. I liked the pool business especially. And we got a few looks at the humans behind the affectations, like Rikka as she grew more and more desperate, and the realization Yuuta makes about her: she has so few people she can depend on, a fact subtexted into a phone number exchange. Toori gets a couple of revealing moments talking with Yuuta, a brief moment where she can express concern for her sister and gratitude toward Yuuta without saying so, not to mention playing divorce with Yumeha. And the show works a little more on the concept that all that dark flame master stuff might be embarrassing nonsense, but was fun at the time, and maybe fun now if done sparingly. It’s a routine plot made nearly great by the characters and direction, as usual. I just wish Yuuta had more to do than play straight man.

Two more episodes of Joshiraku appear after a silence. Not much to say. Vacationing in the dressing room, school swimsuits, a trip to Musashi-Sakai, which looks pretty dull, actually. Also a giant Christmas tree and jungle battles amongst the branches. On to episode 12 where Kukuru can’t sleep so hasn’t had her New Years dream yet, leading to what the lucky items in those dreams are after Mr. Fuji, eggplants, etc. Our trip is to Roppongi Hills, which seems to have some interesting modern art, and Marii is rather violently thrown back to the bubble age in a scene more poignant than most. Finally, it’s too hot so they try to keep cool.

Then there was this:

Tonari no Kaibatsu-kun 1, Joshiraku 10

Tonari no Kaibatsu-kun … What we got here is a girl who studies all the time meeting the class thug, realizes he’s not so bad after all, and the romance that happens after. This is such a tired story that the only time you see it in anime now is when they’re making fun of it, but this show adds a couple of twists.

Shizuku, the studious girl, isn’t a terribly pleasant person to be around. Since we’re watching the show mostly through her eyes we get a sense of the loneliness that this causes her, but also her mindset. They use a flashback of elementary school when the class rabbit dies. The rest of the class is crying, but she doesn’t. She doesn’t feel sad and frankly admits it. We don’t learn why she doesn’t, just that this is her mindset. So when the boy, Haru, decides she’s his friend she’s not sure how to handle it, especially when he confesses to her the second or third time they see each other. And that’s before the kiss he sneaks in the episode’s final minute.

The big problem with the first episode is Haru. He beats people up on the slightest provocation, snarls at everyone else, at one point abducts Chizuru threatening to rape her if she resists. Even if he was joking or didn’t quite understand the effect of these words (and I suspect both), it reveals an ugly mindset. To balance this we’d normally discover that he has a heart of gold or something, and the show actually plays with this cliché when he shows her the “stray dog” he rescued–a fully grown doberman with a studded collar, but it goes farther than that. Haru is a man-child who doesn’t understand how school works, or friends, or anything. When Shizuru (accidentally) talks him into returning to school he follows the rules he learned in manga and makes a complete fool of himself, and continues to beat people up.

Haru tries this ‘be nice to girls’ thing he’s read about.

I guess I can see the connection between them, and the show does a pretty good job, apart from Haru’s antics, of showing the relationship develop realistically. Shizuku reacts to him the way anyone would, by avoiding him as much as possible. There are some cliches–one subverted wonderfully when Haru’s “enemies” abduct Shizuru, though they’re embarrassed by it and treat her nicely. The worst is discovering that Haru is a genius, smarter than the studious Shizuru. While it helps to make her further confused about her feelings it also feels contrived, maybe because the first episode moves very quickly and it’s just tossed in there. I’m not sure where the show is going, but it looks pretty good and I liked watching Shizuku reacting to Haru. She has a temper, too, and isn’t afraid to let it out. Each scene has something memorable in it. If they can keep subverting the obvious things this might be okay, if Haru tones it down. Right now he’s too much.

No raw-watching Joshiraku this week. Episode 10’s best moments for me came in the Halloween section and the worry that American cultural imperialism will force them into observing things like Independence day and MLK day. Also the K-ON references. I’m not sure how the conversation got to a bomb in the room. The episode’s field trip to (Kabukichou) was interesting in that we learn that no Kabuki is performed there. The dental health section was a miss.

Introducing Shin Sekai Yori, also SAO 13 and Joshiraku 9

The first series of the fall season has arrived, all bright and sparkly! And, in the case of Shin Sekai Yori, dripping with style.

Or in this case, ‘melting with style.’

It was hard to tell what exactly was going on in the opening episode, especially at first, because the show decided to throw a bunch of cut scenes and blurry art in our faces. What we can figure out is that in some city people start getting blowed up in disgusting ways, and there’s a gloomy boy who seems to be the cause, since he blew a taxi door off its hinges, not to mention that elevator. Dead giveaway. Then we jump to the country where some kids are arguing about who won a capture the flag game as the sun sets, and the present day is soon forgotten. We’re told that we’re 1000 years in the future. About the only thing that’s the same is the Dvorak music saying it’s time to go home. Or maybe the music wasn’t actually playing in the present-day scene, but, er, inferred. Many shows want to make an impression with their first episode, especially their first scenes, and this one certainly did, but nothing really struck me until a stunning chant with rock band accompaniment started up and the camera glided beneath a rope barrier with talismans. Then the whole thing became portentous and not a little frightening.

Our core group, more or less.

Things settle down after that. They’re still tossing in scenes regardless of chronology, but they’re feeding each other now. Our heroine apparently is Saki, whose telekinetic powers bloom late, but at least they bloomed, and she rejoins her old buddies … high school, I guess. Apotheosis class, to be precise. We watch as Saki settles in, doing okay with one challenge and badly with others, mixed with scenes of her “cursed” powers and her discovery that her parents first child was lost, somehow. And there’s stories of kids who never finish school and vanish. And that thing they called a Faze Cat. Apart from the fact that a rather hapless team member vanishes at the very end of the episode, we get nothing more than this–infodump scenes jumbled together. So it looks like this show might be hiding a mundane narrative with cute tricks. But it’s too soon to tell, and episode one wasn’t boring.

Watching Sword Art Online 13 I wondered why they put the episode together this way. We have a long and silly honeymoon section where Kirito and Asuna help kill a beast in a lake, basically a fish story except the fish has legs. It looks like they’d be telling this fish story and indulging in pillow talk for the entire episode, when they get word from Heathcliff to cut their vacation short and come back. This prompts some despair over losing the fun they were having, continued in a later scene after they learn what the new challenge is. Asuna makes a point that while they spend their time in this game, god only knows what’s happening to their real bodies. It’s the counter to Kirito’s message to live life wherever you are, a message tearfully repeated by Asuna earlier. The show doesn’t take sides on these conflicting but legitimate opinions. Both sides have a point.

There’s more depressing talk to follow. The mission is a dangerous one and for the first time Kirito brings up the dilemma of wanting to see his partner safe at all costs, in spite of how Asuna might feel. It had to come up sooner or later. It’s another question where both sides have a point, and while you could say that Kirito’s voicing his desire demonstrates that he hasn’t yet learned to work as a team member, he also gives no argument when Asuna says no way is she going to stay behind, no way, not a. I also began to wonder if Kirito might be getting soft; but since he said he worried about that too I worried less. If Kirito’s aware of a problem, you know he’s working on fixing it.

After that it’s back to real action for the first time in a while, and I realized how much I missed it. Heathcliff leads a group of warriors to a boss’s room, and it’s a nasty one. It’s the best action sequence so far. Crazy movement and quick angles that still manage to show the important things like Kirito and Asuna’s teamwork (leave one of them behind? Hah!), Heathcliff’s leadership and fighting skills (the man might be a tool, but he’s good at what he does), while the rest of the fighters get in shots where they can … and it ends. I groaned out loud when the credits started. You know, all the talk scenes in the episode had points to make, but I wish they had cut them short and shown the outcome. On the other hand, would we have known how much the two missed their peaceful cabin-on-the-lake if they had spent less time there?

Like last week I watched Joshiraku raw while waiting for the sub. It’s a way to discover how much information is presented visually (though I do know a few words) in a show that seemingly depends on wordplay. I got that Kigurumi wanted to attract more children to their shows, but they lost me when all the butt references, and I couldn’t tell why Tetora was suddenly munching on snacks. The zoo section was pretty clear, though again I didn’t get any specifics. Nice reference to Polar Bear’s Cafe, though. The sleep talking part needed no explanation at all, well, I didn’t get what the people who came in were talking about. I’d like to keep this experiment going a little longer but with the new season nearly upon us I won’t have the time.

SAO 12, Chocolate 11, Joshiraku 8

Sword Art Online 12 … I figured it would end up like this.

There she goes …

Since it was clear from the start that Yui wasn’t from the real world it meant that the game could do all sort of things to her. And since she was, if not an anomaly, but a bit of code gone rogue, you’d expect Cardinal to stamp her out. And there are the implications of that line of code gaining sentience and going against its programmed orders, I’m thinking that’s one thing the makers do NOT want to happen. Imagine if the whole game started acting like that. Imagine if they went against Cardinal itself. The game would either toss itself into dev/null or get shut down altogether. The sentience thing gives us another issue as well. How do the players behave if the things they’re used to killing turn out to have something resembling a soul? Actually, that might be fun. Some of the monsters might team up with the players and we’d have another mess and it’d be dev/null time anyway.

This is draped around a small story about rescuing a guy from a dungeon, and I assume will eventually lead to a battle with Kibaou, the guy who put him there, but not this episode. Too much other stuff to do, like show cute little Yui show off her true powers and wipe out a 90th Level boss, one that almost killed our happy couple, without breaking a sweat. Then there’s an infodump followed by a tearful goodbye scene. The infodump was tolerable because everything she was saying was important to the immediate situation–Yui’s future. Also, it gave us a better idea of how stuff here works. The goodbye scene didn’t have the effect it should, at least on me because, as I said, I expected it, though it would have been cool if Kirito had managed to do a more successful hack and bring her back whole. But then, what would happen if they do clear the thing out and leave the world? Would they still have managed to get a piece of her heart to “resurrect her in real life?” Even so, I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Yui. I expect her to turn up again, probably her heart-pendant will start glowing or something, right when Kirito and Asuna need her the most.

Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate 11 tries to squeeze out as much melodrama as it possibly can before the election. We start with two Very Important conversations, one of which made sense to me.

Is that at the school? Is that one of the classrooms?

That one was the president’s interrogation/confession to Yuuki, basically telling Yuuki (and more importantly, us) everything we didn’t know already, well, apart from why Kana was run down in the first place. It only gets nonsensical when he starts to tell Yuuki things he shouldn’t know about Yuuki and Chisato’s relationship. I’m guessing the only reason he brought it up at all was to mirror the other, less intelligible scene where Mifuyu tries to cheer up a despondent Chisato. Basically Chisato rebuffs her friend over and over, so Mifuyu changes into a halter top so her scar will show, and tries to leave, which changes everything. I’m often a lazy viewer so I’m assuming it makes sense to the girls.

Guess what happens.

Back to the intelligible part. Kana’s being kept alive at a hospital run by the Katahira faction, who are rivals, and they’ll cut off the plasma supply if the president doesn’t drop his support for Yuuki. I can understand his dilemma. Yuuki springs into action and manages to get the word to Michiru, who plays that harmonica and guess what happens? I told you this episode was melodramatic. So my question is why does the president (who at least is no longer such an asshole) still not support Yuuki, after what he’s done? Oh, well, the melodrama doesn’t stop, as Oosawa (of the Oosawa incident) decides to get really nasty at the end. Another question. What percentage of the school population is a goon for one faction or another? They’re always doing nefarious things or standing at attention behind their boss, in their school uniforms. Are they enrolled and attend classes? Do they feel any guilt for the crap they do? And what does the rest of the school think? Well, I’ve said it before, this is a messy show.

I understood this bit, too.

Joshiraku 8 was so slow in coming I decided to test my very limited knowledge and watch a raw. I am pleased to report that I got the repetition of “new” in the first bit, and April wasn’t hard. Other than that I had to follow the visual action. So I didn’t know what the envelopes were all about, but I could tell the girls were keen on the money inside. The visit to wherever it is went right past me, apart from spilling water on Gankyou. As for the April part, all I knew was that it was April 40 and everyone was trying to cheer up Kukuru for some reason. Weird to say that the raw was not as dull as I thought it would be. In fact, knowing what they were talking about almost ruined it.

Horizon II 22, Joshiraku7, Penguin, er, Polar Bear 22

Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon II 21 nearly buried me alive with talk. I swear, it’s all action or all talk with this show. No in-betweens.

High-level diplomatic crises are rarely this silly.

First we have Innocentius and Tachibana barging in on the high-level negotiations and asking why they’re fine with killing Double Bloody Mary when they fought to save Horizon. I could answer that: Horizon isn’t a part of the history, but before I can open my mouth another guy bursts in, Maeda Toshiie, allied with the P.A., ODA’s P.A.O.M. (just call them Wallenstein, I guess), apparently mercenaries hired by Elizabeth who now thinks it’s high time to blow Musashi out of the sky, how about it Elizabeth? There’s also stuff about the Thirty Years War he’s fighting, but that’s an aside. He conjures up some nasty ghost armies, the Kaga Million Geists, for support. This is when Toori rolls into the hall, mostly naked of course. ____ shoots him. She brought a weapon! And Horizon’s WMD falls out of the alternate plane she has at her backside. Oh, oh.

Knowing that sort of spoils the atmosphere.

I don’t quite get how they got out of that predicament but Horizon then answers Innocentius’s question from earlier. DBM is prepared to die, and it’s a part of the reenactment. Just what I said, more or less! The next thing you know, Honda is suggesting Elizabeth cut ties with Wallenstein and in return Musashi will break this now-troublesome trade agreement and become their mercenaries in their place. And finally the scene ends and we move to other scenes that are less intense but just as talky. Elizabeth takes Honda to see Avalon (after hitting her on the head a couple of times for kicks), which was made by Henry VIII by the way. I’ll just skip the dimension-folding talk and get to the big black hole there, the representation of the apocalypse the world will get if they don’t do the reenactments. It’s actually nice to finally see a tangible reason for all this ridiculous fighting. Oh, and Tenzo prepares for a date, or an infiltration, or both, with Master Scarred, er, DBM (killer of 300 Anglicans, single-handed), or Elizabeth’ changeling, or vice versa, or whoever else they decide to make her next week.

In Joshiraku 7 … Pentathalons, Triathalons, Biatholons, but that was just a warmup before they spot the hina dolls left out, meaning they’re all going to be spinsters, then they get covered in green tea powder they mistake for mold (the cultural references are whizzing over my head in bunches this episode), and so decide to become delinquents because they get married early. From there the digressions become pointless. After that they visit Tsukiji Fish Market where shouting, movements, cars, elecrocars, looking cool, buildings, moving the market, and new kanji for the girls and fish are discussed. Finally, the girls try to cut down on their energy usage by tracking down all sources of electricity. They discover far worse, but since none of it is “noteworthy,” i.e., energy-consuming, they ignore it. Oh, Kigu is a robot.

Penguin-san’s greatest nightmare.

Polar Bear’s Cafe 22 is all Penguin, so it’s all good. I didn’t know there were so many types of penguin. Besides the Emperor and King, we have the Adelie, Gentoo, Chinstrap (who’ve we already met), the Royal, White, Humbolt, Magellanic, Snares, Fiordland, Cape, Galapagos, Rockhopper, Erect-Crested, Yellow-Eyed, and the Little Penguin! In the second half Penguin (Emperor) is forced into a date with the seven lady penguins and tries to come up with a way to tell them apart. Both stories are good, but a little sad. Penguin types don’t get enough respect, and Penguin-san should treat his ladies with more respect.

Four shows, written on the fly, not worth reading …

My posts might be like this for the next couple of days, if I post at all.

Inaba knows she’s said too much, but she couldn’t help it.

If someone says too much they can usually apologize for it and say they let their anger get the better of them, or that was the beer talking, something like that. But that only excuses their saying the words out loud and doesn’t change the fact that at that point of time they actually felt those thoughts, ugly though they are. In Kokoro Connect 7 both Inaba and Taichi find out that the apologies can’t always erase the hurt. Inaba lays into an already emotionally wounded and confused Yui, and later when this causes her not to intervene when Lori snaps, Taichi lays into HER for her lack of compassion. I’m going to take Inaba’s side here. Apart from the personal insults, what she said to Yui was essentially correct. And the shock she felt after coming out of the attack made her actions with Lori understandable. Taichi’s outburst, by contrast, did nothing more than show that the two have different ways of thinking, and they both already knew that, not that the words didn’t hurt, didn’t add to Inaba’s own self-loathing. As for the others, they tried to make some of the possessions cute and funny, or get them quickly defused. Either way, I can’t see any of the characters having much fun next week. And I’m beginning to watch this arc like I would a cruel nature video.

LIz is taken by the moment.

Sword Art Online 7 is another standalone, and a pretty simple one compared to the intrigues and double-crossing the last story arc gave us. It’s about Asuna’s friend, a blacksmith named Liz, who meets Kirito and has an adventure with him while hunting for a rare crystal form for a new sword. You can see how it’ll pan out right away. They argue a lot, they fight a dragon and nearly die, they bond, and she falls in love with him, only to find out about Kirito and Asuna’s, er, relationship. Still, Liz is a fun character, not really tsundere but with a easily-riled side to her, nicely voiced. I don’t think this is the last we’ll see of her, and I’m glad about that.

This gets a little ridiculous.

Disappointed by Tari Tari 8. It was … predictable, but this isn’t SOA; it’s a show that’s supposed to be more sophisticated then that. Sawa’s in a funk because it’s become clear to her she’ll never be a jockey, too tall, too heavy, etc. The episode is mostly about wrapping her head around the truth while friends and family support her however they can, exactly the way the show handled Wakana’s crisis in the last story arc, except, losing a parent is a little more traumatic (there’s a scene between Sawa and Wakana where this comes out), and the father is less sympathetic this time. Anyway, it means Sawa mopes around most of the episode. Not only that, but they repeat the “rush to the theatre to get onstage on time” from the first arc. Come on, guys, think of something fresher than that! I don’t care if she did get there on a horse (a scene more ridiculous each time we see her riding–on the street, on the beach for crissakes!). I saw that coming a mile away. The only effective stab at humor this week was Miyamoto’s belief that Sawa’s moping was due to unrequited love; well, I suppose it is, in a way.

Is there even a reason to recap Joshiraku? Um, I was surprised that they carried over last week’s little aside about Gan graduating and do much of the episode with the four remaining girls talking about how great the number four is. Countless (get it?) examples are brought up, and a few count-examples. But Gan gets some revenge later on she returns as a junior, and after that I’m not exactly sure what happened, but we turn to winning elections, and many manga and anime references are mentioned, out of which I might have recognized three.