Kimi ni Todoke Finale, Letter Bee just won’t end.

Kimi ni Todoke ends the way everyone expects, without going as far as a first kiss. But can you imagine Sawako or Kazehaya brave enough for that step?

A brief hand-holding will have to do.

The episode itself runs pretty much like the one before it. The two would-be lovebirds talking, doing the New Year things, cutting occasionally to Yano or Yoshida for more lighthearted things. Thank heavens, because nothing much happens between Sawako and Kazehaya at all. All the same, the little things are huge for both of them. The moment he takes her hand to guide her down some slippery steps, even the announcement that they had a good time seems to take on a profound significance. Was this what it was like during adolescence? I’m too far away from it to remember.

Fortunately, along with the side characters’ antics, the episode also provided Sawako and Kazehaya some nice comic moments. Good thing, too; the comic moments with the other characters didn’t always work. Yano’s is pretty much wasted, stuck with a minor character until he’s dragged off, and then squaring off against Pin (who once again appears out of nowhere). This was a final episode. She deserved better. Yoshida and Ryuu (who’s middle name should be “Amazake”) do better, visiting the shrine together and reaffirming … whatever it is they have. Too early to tell.

So after 25 episodes what do we have? Nothing in the romance department, certainly. Odd for a high school romantic comedy. But we do have Sawako’s growing maturity and confidence, and they’ve set the stage for more to come. For surely you don’t think this is really the end of the series, do you? So, until the inevitable part two, here’s goodbye to Sawako and the gang.

My favorite 'cute' picture of Sawako.

I thought I’d be closing two series tonight. I thought Letter Bee 25 was the final episode in the series, but apparently there’s a few more. Probably not enough to actually clear up everything, and this episode annoyed me about as much as the last one did. I don’t know if I have the patience.

Have I told you already how much I hate this plot device?

I made a mistake in my last Letter Bee post. I said we got to see the gaichuu’s memories. Wrong. Turns out they belonged to hunt. Naturally, it blows Sarah’s scheme wide open, as the townspeople see she’s been lying all this time. The fact that she did it to survive, and protect Hunt, doesn’t matter to them, but they are a mob, after all. Rather a small one, but a mob nonetheless, and they have rocks. There are touching scenes of people protecting each other, sorrys and thank you’s, and once again the story arc ends in the middle of the episode.

Niche! Where the hell have you been?

And where was Niche during all this? She had drunk the poisoned water and lost her powers, but Hunt was healing her. Still, we don’t get a glimpse of her until everything’s over. Letter Bee’s most effective character and they don’t use her for almost two episodes? Tsk.

There’s more. Returning home, Lag and Niche encounters Gauche, except he calls himself Noir now. When Lag asks too many questions Noir shoots him with an amber spirit gun for no reason. Meanwhile, his dingo Roda battles and antagonizes Niche up on the rocks. Again for no real reason. Then they leave, and Lag cries again. Meanwhile I was wondering what the hell was that for a series finale. But again, it really wasn’t. All I can say is I hope they wrap it up somehow soon. I’ve come close to dropping Letter Bee many times. I can try to endure a couple more episodes, but my patience is wearing thin.


Kimi ni Todoke 24, Yumeiro 22, Goodbye Vampire Bund

Kimi ni Todoke 24 was pretty much what I expected it to be, Sawako and Kazehaya walking around together and being nervous. But they throw in a couple nice bits.

At first it’s hard to read Kazehaya’s reaction when he learns the others aren’t showing up. At least for Sawako. He says nothing, just walks along, not making eye contact. Is he mad? Does he feel manipulated? But for us it’s pretty clear he’s just plain tongue-tied and nervous. Sawako slipping and Kazehaya catching her (excellent reflexes!) sort of breaks the ice, but that brief moment of forced intimacy freaks them both out. But before I started to growl and check my watch some familiar people show up.

This is both good and bad. Good, because it adds some humor in a tense scene, bad because I was afraid their little spy mission would overwhelm the rest of the episode. I needn’t have worried. Yano and Yoshida (with Ryuu in tow, desperately wanting to drink amazake) do indeed have some comic moments trying not to be discovered, while keeping other classmates from spotting the cute couple. They continue in this way for about half the episode, then vanish before they wear out their welcome. Now there’s only half an episode of nervous talk to endure. Well done, girls!

The rest of the episode, fortunately, is less nervous than I had expected. They exchange email addresses. Kazehaya asks about Sawako’s childhood. They’re talking around what they really feel, waiting for an opening. Sawako’s text to Kazehaya, thanking him for the year, was a lovely moment. If she couldn’t say it out loud, at least she could phone it in. Kazehaya announces he’s wearing the belly-warmer Sawako gave him. Also, Sawako becomes introspective and thinks back on all that happened, blissfully happy that she’s sharing time with Kaezhaya. This is not nervousness, these are fond memories.

Judging from the previews there will be more of the same next week. I believe it’s the final one, too. Want to guess what happens?

Yumeiro Pattisiere 22 moves away from the Grand Prix and back to the kids meddling in adults’ lives. This time it’s the dorm supervisors, a married couple who have a spat about retiring. I have little to say about it.

... so here's a bit of fairy mistreatment for your viewing pleasure.

But the embellishments are entertaining. The featured sweet is baumkuchen, and we get to see two different ways to prepare it. In fact, they spend more time with this sweet than they usually do, which I found refreshing. Also, the wife has retreated to the girl’s dorm, so the boys can’t talk to her. Ichigo must do the meddling herself. They cook baumkuchen and try to show the wife’s feelings thorugh it, just like most episodes. The husband’s tastes have changed to preferring a bitter taste, though what that has to with anything I don’t know. It’s the wife who’s trying to leave the husband. All right, it’s confusing, and yes, I admit to being confused by a kid show. So I’ll leave it to Chocolat, who has the best line.

I started to watch Vampire Bund … and stopped. I have absolutely no desire to watch any more of this series. No strength to go through another story arc. Dropped.

Railgun finale, Kimi ni Todoke 23

The finale of Railgun is full of action, chases, explosions, and evil laughter. I appreciate all of these things; too bad it had to rush.

Never mind. It starts out great, with Kiyama racing to save the children and Telestina throwing all sorts of threat toward her, which are nullified by the girls. Lots of tanks and armored people get blown up as one after another good girl character shows up to get a moment of attention. It’s fun as hell, but there a letdown as the show continues to the place where the children are. Telestina makes her comeback, using the ability blocker, or whatever it’s called, and we get a tense moment, but it doesn’t quite compare to helicopters, armored personnel, trucks, one motorcycle, one blue car, and the girls’ abilities.

Improvised battle gear.

One of the things this episode did extremely well is use all the characters and let them play to their strengths. Sure, Misaka, Kuroko and Kongou, the most powerful, do the heavy lifting, but the other girls get their moment, too. Uiharu breaks through the computer security. And completely powerless Saten, ridiculously carrying around a baseball bat for two episodes, gets to use the damn thing against the main control panel, breaking the ability blocker and rescuing the girls. I saw it coming, but it was still satisfying to watch.

The rest is a bit messy, so much to fit in. We have to learn why Telestina is doing this, and turns out it’s for completely batshit reasons. But she’s so much fun to watch I really didn’t care too much. But the final confrontation is a letdown; Telestina has a weapon specifically designed to take down Misaka, and Misaka has … herself, only with extra-super determination. Guess who wins.

Finally, there are the kids.

They love you, Kiyama!.

The trouble is, there’s no time to do the revival scene must justice, though the show makes a good effort. There’s a lovely moment when they wake up and see Kiyama, partly responsible for what happened to them, and they’re overjoyed she’s there. (They, however don’t notice that they’re several years older) This works because we’ve seen Kiyama suffer for them. And she believed she was just a teacher who had no effect on their lives, apart from the experiment. Here we get to see how beautifully wrong she was. But beyond that, little of anything. Some thank you’s, apologies, and a plot wrap-up before we pan around the city looking at other characters. Good to see you, Touma and Index!

In the end this was a satisfying if rushed conclusion to an uneven but decent series. I hope they return to this world and do another series sometime, with more Touma.

Kimi ni Todoke has a couple episodes to go, and the big question is whether Sawako and Kazehaya are actually going to hook up or not. It gets annoying because Sawako seems to have regressed a little. Such is her lack of confidence that she’s afraid to call him, even with her brand spanking new cell phone. Actually, it’s worse than that. She still doesn’t get the idea that she can call up Yano and Yoshida and hang out with them over the long winter break. Even though they’re friends. At one point she wonders if she can call Ryou and Kazehaya friends. What’s up with this girl?

Leave it to Yano and Yoshida, evil plotters, who introduce the idea to all get together at the shrine on New Year’s Eve, which is coincidentally Sawako’s birthday. Oh, they say, and maybe they should invite Kazehaya too? What do you say, Sawako? Heh. In a devious move, they get Sawako to invite him, which not only gives her some practice on calling a boy but makes her responsible, something that doesn’t pan out until later.

Do NOT get on these girls' bad side.

I must say I’m getting tired of Sawako worrying about something, like her friends liking her, while all that time they’re loving her to death and are planning something nice for her. The more time spent on Sawako’s insecurities the more the show drags. Yano and Yoshida have more than once pulled the show out of this quicksand and livened things up, and they do so again. First, they get Sawako all dolled up before the shrine visit, then abandon her right before they reach the rendezvous point. Have fun with Kazehaya!

Kazehaya’s reaction is … subdued. Sawako fears he might be upset. She might be right. He says nothing but “Let’s go,” and the episode ends there. Next week, expect a long nervous episode with lots of struggling to say things and trying to figure out how the other one feels. It might be a long, long episode, or it might wind up like the well-done, extended talk scene between Yoshida and Tooru a few weeks ago. Either way, something better get accomplished.

Kimi ni Todoke22, Durarara 10, Ookami 10

Kimi ni Todoke 22 shows us Sawako’s biggest weakness: the fear of hurting or disappointing people, even when she’s perfectly justified in doing so. But it’s a Christmas episode, so it’s all happy in the end. Really, a Christmas-themed episode in March is just the wrong time. By now I’m thoroughly sick of anything having to do with winter.

Kazehaya plans a Christmas party for all the class members who won’t be with significant others on this romantic holiday, which apparently means the entire class. Sawako, of course, is just happy to be invited, as the first part of the episode shows us over and over. Moreover, Kazehaya really wants her to come. But her family takes the holiday very seriously, and she can’t bring herself to desert them.

I suspect that even Sawako’s doting yet clueless father wouldn’t object if she hit the party, since they’ve been worried about her lack of social life for years. This doesn’t occur to Sawako, and once again she hurts herself by clamming up. Worse, dear old dad mistakes Kazehaya’s gift for his own, and while she says nothing, at least this time you can’t blame her.

So Kazehaya winds up with her father's gift ...

Another maddening thing about Sawako’s passiveness is that she can’t control the action. It was a problem early on in the series and it comes roaring back here. It takes a phone call from the party and Sawako’s breaking into tears for the parents to see what’s going on and let her go to the party—which is over by the time she gets there. At least Kazehaya has decided to wait for her. But again, it’s him taking action, not Sawako. Well, Christmas episodes are usually lame, anyway.

Compare Sawako’s lack of action to Mikado’s actions in Durarara 10, or rather, his learning when to act. It starts slowly, with Mikado wondering what to do about the strange girl in his apartment, when Masaomi hijacks him to ask a classmate if he’s a member of the mysterious, dreaded Dollars gang.

Obviously a gang member.

Mikado is the passive one here, but when the classmate freely admits to it and offers them chips, he begins to see that asking questions might be the best way to behave, which sets him up for his meeting with Celty and Izaya. In addition, Mikado’s finally doing what he came to the city to do: live a new and exciting life.

When he meets Celty, certain she’s up to no good, he asks questions and she tells him everything, even showing him her lack of a head. When they find the girl gone and after Mikado is attacked (Celty and Izaya chase them away), he becomes energized. Jumping onto the computer and logging into a chat, while texting with his cell, he announces that he “holds all the cards.” Mikado, with his information and new friends and colleagues, and because he dared to ask questions, becomes confident. Just what he knows I wish they would tell me. There was probably some five-second bit several episodes ago that I’ve forgotten …

Speaking of main characters who are active or passive, let’s visit Ookami Kakushi and see if Hiroshi, the current king of dithering, manages to get his ass in gear …

Guess not.

Actually, this time Hiroshi’s worries make sense. If he’s that irresistable to certain townspeople, maybe he shouldn’t go into a crowd of them. But he goes anyway, and the shit hits the fan. Sakaki turned Issei’s would-be girlfriend and she goes beserk at the festival, leading Nemeru in scythe-girl mode to kill her, leading Sakaki to appear and accuse the town of being full of monsters.

I still don’t fully get who’s what type of being, but I do understand that the town has been offering a cheap way of life to bring in innocents to live, so they can get eaten, or something. But apparently what he really wants to do is open the dam and engulf the town and kill … whatever sect he wants kill. Sakaki’s turned into a fine villain, but his head isn’t screwed on too straight.

As for Hiroshi, well, in the previews for next episode he declares he’s gonna DO something, by gum! But in this episode he’s doing the usual, standing on the sidelines, getting attacked, threatened by townspeople, and protected by Nemeru and Isuzu (welcome back). He may hate being powerless, but he still hasn’t figured out what to do.

Kimi ni Todoke 21, Durarara 9, Letter Bee 20

Kimi ni Todoke 21 works a little differently than most episodes. Instead of splitting things up between one character and another, one situation or other, this one devotes all but a minute or two to Yoshida on one single evening. I was surprised that they compressed so much of her closure over Tooru into one episode, and it’s executed well to boot.

Tooru unexpectedly returns and walks around with Yoshida, recalling their times growing up together. For a while, Yoshida says next to nothing, so flabbergasted is she by his memory of things she cherished, half a meat bun, where Ryuu made her cry, looking at stag beetles at three in the morning. Besides, what can she say? What she really wants to say is that she loves him, but it’s pretty pointless to say that now that he’s engaged to someone else.

She also wants to congratulate him. She actually does both. Tooru intentionally misinterprets the confession. It’s clear throughout that he’s aware of her feelings, and his goal on this night is to give her some reassurance and possibly some closure. I must say it’s damn decent of him to do this for her.

Ryuu's turn to comfort Yoshida.

So it’s a bit of a shock to learn that it’s mean old Ryuu who set this whole thing up, and that Tooru was all for it because of the reasons I mentioned above, but also because Tooru would love to see Ryuu and Yoshida get together. And now that Tooru is gone again, it’s Ryuu that she can turn to.

I’m not sure what to say about Durarara 9. I was going to say I was getting a little tired of introspective, backstory episodes, but then stuff started to happen. What we do get by the end is potential pain for everyone involved.

Reflected head #1

We see two forms of twisted love. Namie, who’s in charge of nabbing people to do experiments on, loves her younger brother Seiji far too much, to the point where when he goes without contact for a few hours she orders Izaya to locate him. And Seiji isn’t exactly sane, either, with his obsession with Selty’s head, and killing a stalker (Harima!). Leading to a sick series of events: Selty’s head on Harima’s body.

Reflected head #2

But we had pretty much guessed this, maybe not the details, but who’s head was on who’s body. So while it’s nice to get confirmation, this by itself wouldn’t add up to an interesting episode, except that Seiji, on the run with Selty’s head/Harima’s body (what should I call her?), catches Selty’s eye, or whatever she uses now, and the shit hits the fan. I think the saddest moment is that the girl freaks when she sees Selty. I had expected a friendlier response. And this leads to another dilemma, voiced by Shinra. What is Selty going to do if she ever does get a hold of the girl? Would she cut off the head? It has a life of its own, now. Poor Selty has no answer to this.

Well, it’s a good sequence of scenes, with Shizuo, Selty, Seiji and eventually Mikado all getting involved. Durarara’s at its strongest when it tosses characters in and out, seemingly at random. And besides the plot turns the episode accomplishes, I’m wondering what Selty’s head’s motivation is in all of this. She seems to be on the run from just about everyone, except maybe Seiji, and the last thing I want is to see them reunited.

Letter Bee 20 isn’t bad in terms of the plot, but the motivations confused the heck out of me. First they set up that Zazie is too gung-ho about killing gaichuu, and treats the letters he has sworn to protect too lightly. He’s even injured by a gaichuu when he takes a shorter but much more perilous delivery route. So I thought it would be a story about that. They even set up two clumsy exposition scenes to establish it, and honestly, what was the point of the scene with Connor explaining away, then running off mid-exposition, only to follow with another exposition scene where we get the rest of the story?

Someone has to go off and retrieve the letters Zazie lost when he was injured. For some reason, Lag gets it in his head that “abandoning” the letters, even though Zazie was injured, is a bad thing. Maybe Zazie couldn’t find them? And wouldn’t a human life be more important, anyway? And would gung-ho Zazie really be such a coward? What the hell is Lag thinking? Well, naturally Lag goes off to retrieve them, and Zazie sneaks out of sickbay to help. We get the “Fire the gun and see the flashbacks to see what he was really up to” cliché, and it simply isn’t needed. We don’t need to know why the letters were left out there. Besides, Zazie’s assistance in killing the Gaichuu (which needs two simultaneous shots to kill it) should demonstrate his bravery.

A shame, because the actual battle is a pretty good one, with the more formidable monster and lots of fluid action. I just wish the rest of the episode had lived up to it.

Kimi ni Todoke 20, Sora no Woto 8

Most of Kimi ni Todoke 20 continues with the afteraffects of Yoshida losing her love, and how the others can help her out. Or fail to.

It’s an old, unsolvable question: how to help someone who’s going through a hard time. The girls can’t figure out a way to do it; Kazehaya is more complacent. The trouble is, Yoshida is showing absolutely no reaction to the situation, making it impossible for them to even try to help her. If they even mention it to her she might take it wrongly. It takes a bystander, Ryuu, to trigger a reaction out of her. Not to mention Sawako.

It doesn’t help that the situation is more complicated than it seems. Yoshida is upset, but because of an incident the night before. She’s partly at fault, too. She waited to return to Ryuu’s house until after Tooru and his fiancee had left, making them wonder where she was. She’s an old friend, after all. But Ryuu sets it off, saying the wrong things at the wrong time. The confrontation resumes at school, this time with the girls listening in. But it only makes her angry. It takes Sawako to finish her off. SHE can’t hold it in, either, her sympathy and her frustration at being useless, and when she starts to cry, we finally got the reaction we’ve been waiting for.

What makes the scene effective is Sawako’s trademark welling of emotions. It’s natural for her to react like this, and also funny to look at. A nice scene, actually, a nice couple of scenes if you count the second Yoshida/Ryuu fight. But is this the nature of the show where everyone has to show their sorrow by crying? Yoshida could have just sulked and grumbled and I would have taken it as a natural reaction for her. Well, she bawls like a baby, and then feels better. Catharsis works like that. Now, of course, we need Yoshida and Ryuu’s reconciliation, which will take longer than usual since the latter is so closed-mouthed …

Not a great episode of Sora no Woto this time. I know the show likes to take its time and smell the roses and take in the scenery, but a whole episode revolving around waiting for a phone to ring is pushing it.

Phone practice.

Kanata volunteers for this all-important mission of manning the phone on system test day, and the others waltz in and out before vanishing. We learn from the opening scene, which actually occurs near the end, that Kanata is desperate to pee. So every time she sips from the apple cider (and the bottles accumulate on the table), we know it’s going to cause her extra grief. And naturally she has visitors who manage to mess things up, even the old priest, who almost break the phone. It’s not so much suspenseful as frustrating. We’re waiting for something to happen here, either the phone ringing or Kanata managing to get to the bathroom. Either one, just get to it!

At least the phone was saved.

There are a couple of interesting moments, however. We learn that the peace talks are going badly, never a good sign, and in the end, when the phone finally rings (Rio has relieved Kanata so she can relieve herself), it’s not headquarters but a strange man who urges Rio to save the country. Does that have something to do with the peace talks? Rio seems more annoyed than surprised; she obviously knows this guy, but why would he urge her, of all people? Does Rio have an interesting backstory? And, most important, is the country about to go to war again?

Ookami 7, Fairy Tail 17, Kimi ni Todoke 19

Ookami Kakushi 7 doesn’t have much in the way of action; they decide to throw us more riddles and a lot of exposition instead. Hiroshi is the riddle-ee, finding out bits and pieces of the mystery but still having no clue what it all means.

But he has two allies, Kaname and the man whom we learn is called Sakaki. Kaname’s motivations in all this are unclear, unless it’s simply that she’s an occult buff and curious. She hasn’t witnessed any of the weirdness that Hiroshi has. She’s simply an innocent bystander. Yet she’s the one who is abducted by a heavy-breathing vigilante and stuck in a cell. Why? Did she ask the wrong questions? The girl in the cell next to hers, the one with a crush on Issei, actually kissed him and became … tainted, I guess, but no one that I know of has kissed Kaname. She’s as confused as we are, but welcome, Kaname, to the action!

With Sakaki, we learn what his motivations are. Four years ago his fiancee was killed like the other wolves and he wants revenge. Hiroshi tells him that Nemeru is the Scythe Girl. The thing is, it wouldn’t have been Nemeru back then, would it? She would have been, what? Ten? Twelve? So why in the next week’s previews do we see him going after her? For that matter, why the hell was Nemeru standing outside Hiroshi’s window in the rain?

We do learn a few things. Kaori cannot leave the town. Isuzu’s in the hospital. And Hiroshi appears on a list of people, implying that he’s special in some way, or targeted. Of course, we don’t know why. As for Hiroshi himself, I’m torn between sympathy for his situation and frustration about how complacent he is about it. Not that I know what he could do, but sooner or later he’s got to get up and do something about it.

Fairy Tail 18. Finally.

First, on my left, in the green corner ...

Deliora is freed! Get ready for a lot of explosions and grunting and fire trucks! … After we get a little more Gray/Leon backstory we don’t need. Oh, and Natsu and that little guy have a fight involving time travel or something. Think of it as a preliminary. Oh, and Natsu stops Gray going from using the living ice trick. And now … Let’s get ready to rumble!!

And in the blue corner, representing Fairy Tail ...

And then …

Wha da hah?

… One punch and Deliora falls to pieces? That’s it? Ul had killed Deliora when he was trapped in her ice? I want my money back! Okay, okay, it wasn’t all that bad a scene, Ul is vindictated, Gray and Leon make their peace, etc, but what an anticlimax! I wanted a fight like they had with the death-flute!

Okay, I’ll stop whining. For the rest of the episode they try to get to the bottom of the villagers’ plight, which we learn had nothing much to do with Deliora. Erza puts two and two together, falls into the pit (an excellent moment—nothing like a bit of well-timed slapstick to break up a quiet scene) and announces they’re going to break the moon—next episode. Sigh. Will they ever get off that island?

I had pretty much guessed what would happen in Kimi ni Todoke 19, especially after Ryou told Yoshida not to visit him the next day or the day after. But, of course, the other characters don’t know, and so when Yoshida’s love, Tooru, shows up a day early with his fiancee, we get a difficult situation.

The tension is killing me.

The scene is well-done. Half of it is nervous introductions, the other half is wondering how Yoshida, who tends to blubber at the slightest things, is going to take the shock. Much to everyone’s surprise, she covers by being friendly and outgoing. Though it’s obvious that’s not how she really feels.

This extends into the later, damage control-oriented sections, where we wait and wait for her to break down and get comforted by the girls, yet she doesn’t. In the end, it’s Sawako (perhaps inevitably) who has to do the crying for her.

It’s altogether one of the nicer introspective scenes in the series. The arrival of the fiancee effects everyone in one way or another. Sawako and Yano regret that they couldn’t reassure Yoshida, not that she ever gave them a chance to. Kazehaya, in a rare scene where we go into his head, is convinced that Ryou loves Yoshida. And finally we enter Yoshida’s head, and find her, yes, depressed, but not blubbery, reevaluating her relationship not only with Tooru, but with that entire family, and feeling like an outsider.

So that clears the way for Ryou and Yoshida. This might be tricky, since Ryou doesn’t reveal his emotions and isn’t prone to internal monologues like most of the other characters. Then again, this might add to the comedy. We’ll see.