Letter Bee 24, Ookami’s silly finale, and Hidamari Sketch 11

Letter Bee 24 had the potential to be quite an exciting episode, but, well …

It starts off just fine, with Zazie making his surprise appearance and rescuing Lag, but then they flash back as to why he followed, sort of. Zazie likes to kill gaichuu, but says “I had intended to meet you coming back.” Huh? And already the story has stumbled.

But the gaichuu isn’t dead, it’s just patiently waiting for this nonsense to end before making its next move—burrowing back into the ground. The Bees manage to force it back up. It snags Ann, and her memories begin to go. It’s similar to Suou’s “death” in Darker than Black 2, but not nearly as moving. That’s a little unfair. We’ve only known Ann for two episodes, but even taking that into account, viewing the memories as she loses them was more maudlin than in Darker.

Hunt desperately tries to get the show back on track.

Then back to the heroics. Hunt tries to rescue Ann, only to get overwhelmed himself, and now we have to see HIS memories. Naturally there’s a revelation there for Sarah; what point is there in this seeing memories cliché if it doesn’t affect the plot? But that’s TWO sets of memories, twice in this episode we’ve seen it used.

Make it three times. Zazie tries to rescue them both and gets caught, and guess what? Worse, we’ve already seen these memories. They add nothing to what’s going on. So much for what I said about advancing the plot. Finally Lag, running around pointlessly underground, gets the right angle on the gaichuu and destroys it. Guess what? We get to see all the memories the gaichuu ate. All the other gaichuu we’ve seen blown up didn’t do this …

Well, at least we learn what happened to Gauche. I swear, this series can drive me up the wall.

As expected, the last episode of Ookami Kakushi is a throwaway. I guess I can live with that. The show never really lived up to its potential, so why not have some fun with the characters?

It works pretty well. Just about everyone and everything that was weird or threatening in the show is sent up, from the Nemeru’s family’s cultish ways (and why are they trying to form an occult pursuit club when one of its members is as occult as you can get? They don’t have to pursue anything; she’s sitting at their table!), to random townspeople coming on to Hiroshi (who’s learned to carry some hassaku juice in a spray bottle). Nemeru cosplays and plays with Mana, though their mindsets are somewhat different.

The first story is amusing, but the second one is better. A tea-shop is going to be featured on a TV show, so naturally Isuzu and Kaname get jobs waitressing, and for no reason whatsoever they call Hiroshi over and force him to be a waitress, too. Hiroshi is a wuss to the very end … It’s all full of little sight gags that will work on regular viewers, and rather a relief after the heavy-handed seriousness. There’s a nice bit at the end as Hiroshi looks at Nemeru and Isuzu talking while memories of what they’ve experienced together flow by. But strangely, Kaname is left out. She went through some rough stuff, too … Well, there was a lot in this series that didn’t make sense, but overall I liked it.

Hidamari Sketch 11 is one of the better ones, or at least because at least one part played to my interests.

Not Shaftsoft, really, but computers in general.

Though I think it’s odd that these girls, apart from Nori, have so little experience with computers. Miyako is flabbergasted by the concept of computer graphics. They’re in an art school! Surely the receive at least a little training in it. On the other hand, it’s cute watching them explore basic computery things. And they come to a conclusion shared, from time to time, by all us computer nuts:

Part two is interesting when you start asking yourself exactly what art is. The seniors have a voluntary exhibition of work, and they’re allowed to put them anywhere they like in the school, leading to some confusion.

Yuno and Miyako begin to see everything around them as a work of art. This messes with their girlish minds and gives us some amusement. It also gets Yuno thinking about next term, and eventually, her graduation, but that’s a long way off, and there’s still cute fun to be had until then. Besides, as Miyako says to cheer her up, “Maybe we won’t graduate!” Pretty good episode.

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Ookami 11, Baka to Test 11, Hanamaru 10

Ookami Kakushi‘s story ended with episode 11, but there’s still one to go. Probably some silly filler thing. So, after all this time, I never figured out the situation. Gods and fallen gods, wolf princesses wearing white, it all became a dull blur in my mind. But at least this time they were able to concentrate on an immediate crisis, stopping Sakaki from opening the dam.

Sakaki’s evil plan to destroy the town has to be one of the stupidest ever. Not the opening the dam part, because that would certainly work, but instead causing a ruckus at the funeral, telling people he’s going to open the dam, then stopping even before he’s finished doing it, simply staggering off. First, why didn’t he just go and shoot the dam guy and open it before? Because he wanted to warn the humans? But how was he going to do that without warning everyone? So in the end Nemeru and her cohorts managed to get to the control room and seal the dam up before the damage grew too great. And why hide the bullets in the forest?

On the other hand, we get to see Hiroshi finally take matters into his own hands. Standing in front of wounded Isuzu, giving brave speeches, even leaping at the gun as Sakaki is about to shoot Nemeru (and weren’t these godlike figures awfully weak and defenseless this episode? All they do is offer Sakaki the chance to shoot them), and getting the gun pointed at his head a few times. He feels responsible for the entire situation and tries to act. Very good, Hiroshi! Unfortunately, for all the bravery he shows this episode, he’s still a scrawny boy, and he spends a lot of time getting flung around by Sakaki before Kaori and her gang show up. Well, at least he tried.

Darker than Black 2's ending was more confusing. But that was a better show.

As for Kaori’s appearance and subsequent sacrifice of her life, I’ll just say it adds to the confusion. Was Kaori actually Sakaki’s deceased fiancee, transformed into a wolf princess or whatever she’s now called? Sakaki acts like she both is and isn’t. He’s horrified when she gets in the way of the shot, and he goes over the cliff with her like it’s a romantic double-suicide. And after that, it’s like nothing happened at all. Time passes, everyone behaves like normal (well, like humans) and no one talks about it. We just get some ruminations from Hiroshi on why can’t we all just get along, and that’s about it. Talk about a letdown …

As I said, there’s one more episode, but from the preview it looks a little silly.

Speaking of silly, we next turn to Baka to Test 11, where we have two epic battles in one episode! Unlike other episodes which run this way and that, this one is nothing but strategies and battles, little of it making sense, but that’s the way this show rolls.

Apparently doing battle here requires strategy. You have to find good matchups against the other side, and then find a teacher to open the summoning field. This all means we get a confusing array of diagrams and damage reports along with the actual battling. Many jokes fly by which are understood by people other than me.

So I just sit back and enjoy the battles. Never mind that I don’t know who the hooded guys with scythes are, or why Yoshi could just use his avatar and slam a hole in the wall—is that allowed? Or what the deal was with the 46 year-old virgin math teacher, or countless other things. It’s loud and has a lot of energy. But once again the show wears me out before it’s over.

Hanamaru Kindergarten brings us sports day, and Koude worrying that she’ll come in last place. Kusano trains her. She’s ahead in her race but falls. It takes her older brother at the finish line to make her continue. It’s sweet, but not much more.

No, it’s the second story that matters. I’ve said that the show is better when the kids are involved, but here the best scenes feature only adults. The teachers go out for some drinking, and the pressure is on Tsuchida to confess to Yanamoto. It’s a fun scene. Kusano and Kawashiro conspiring, Tsuchida drinking more to get his courage, and Yanamoto sitting there, utterly clueless. The subsequent little bunny hop sequence the characters do is inspired.

Thanks to the alcohol Tsuchida can’t remember what her answer was, and the kids find out about the confession, thanks to Kusano.

I must say I’m warming to Kusano. She likes to mess with Tsuchida’s head as much as Sakura does, and she has more opportunities to do it. Add this to the straightforward encouragement she gives Koude while they train and you’ve got a fun character. I wish Tsuchida was this much fun. He’s only fun when people are messing with his head.

And ANOTHER outstanding closing sequence. I think they might be the best thing in this show, apart from Hiiragi, Sakura and Kusano. You can tell that Gainax is having a great time with these. I’d put in a screenshot but then I’d have to put in dozens.

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.

Ookami 9, Railgun 22, Baka to Test 9

Ookami Kakushi 9 reveals more of the towns secrets to Hiroshi and us, mainly through exposition, and I’m still not sure how wolves fit into this whole thing.

About time.

I’m also not sure about gods, and the fallen, as Nemeru says he’s one or the other. The important thing is that gods, or fallen, give off a scent irresistible to people like Nemeru, and Hiroshi freakishly gives off a scent 100,000 times stronger than your average person. Which is why she’s tied up, so she can’t give in to temptation, so to speak. This is when Hiroshi uses his knife to cut her free. I don’t get this at all. I understand why he’s freeing her, because it’s a sign of trust, but why on earth didn’t he free her before he knew the situation? They’d been in there for hours; she’s tied up, he has a knife, yet it never occurred to him to release her? Hiroshi isn’t setting any standards for logical thinking.

Kaname overhears an important conversation.

Meanwhile the intrigues between the old organization and the hospital continue, with poisoned coffee. And again I am unclear as to what the forces are supposed to represent, except it gives the impetus for the old cult to look for the kids. What’s more admirable is that Kaname has put two and two together all on her own and gets Hiroshi’s father into the search party. Kaname is the smart, resourceful character that Hiroshi should have been. She actively investigates the mystery, unlike Hiroshi who just sort of dithers around wondering what’s going on.

Still, there are some nice scenes here and here. The fathers of Hiroshi and Nemeru meet and you can immediately sense the bond of concerned fathers. Nemeru’s struggles not to ravish Hiroshi (always the victim) are well-done, too.

Speaking of exposition, Railgun 22 sets a record. We have Haruue’s talk in the beginning, then more talk with Telestina, then Judgement has some, and finally Kiyama and that doctor and Telestina. Oh, and we have Misaka musing in the tub, and Kuroko barges in on her. The thing is, somehow, it works.

Partly because the scenes vary. Haruue’s opening bit is a touching story about a girl trying to find her missing friend. The Judgement scenes work with discovery and research, and the ones where information is just being spouted work because the information is actually interesting, and so is the overall story. We’ve known about the missing, comatose kids for a long time now. Since they could set off a huge Poltergeist it’s a concern to the characters, and two of the characters have personal reasons for finding them.

A bit of silliness mixed in with the talk.

One thing that didn’t work so well is Telestina’s claiming of the children, well, that was all right, it was Kiyama’s reaction. She wants to wake up the kids more than anyone, and Telestina has access to data she would need to do just that, so why is Kiyama so upset about it? I can’t imagine that she would refuse such help. Perhaps she doesn’t trust Telestina (I still don’t, either). Or is she so possessive of these kids that the thought of outsiders interfering is anathema to her? Or maybe she will now be out of the loop? Possible, but I wonder that Telestina’s group would refuse the aid of someone who was there during the original experiments.

Baka to Test 9 brings us Akira, Yoshi’s weird sister, who disrobed on the train because she was hot (Kiyama’s soulmate). She alternately deducts points for his living conditions and comes on to him.

One of her rules, if he is to continue living alone, is to do well on the test, and no fraternization with girls, though he can come on to boys all he wants. Naturally this leads to a lot of scurrying around, trying to cover up past indiscretions, and studying like hell, so naturally the gang wants to have a study group at his place. The typical embarrassments and misunderstandings ensue.

Because Yoshi couldn't possibly have any female friends.

And, because he put the correct answers in the wrong spots on the test (wouldn’t the grader notice and not deduct anything?) it seems he’s stuck with Akira for a while. That would be all right, I guess. The show can always use another strange person. But I can’t say the episode interested me very much.

Ookami 8, Cross Game 46, Hanamaru 6

Ookami Kakushi 8 continues to answer a questions only to raise a couple more. We learn that the hospital is trying to develop a vaccine for the curse, and they want Sakaki to help, but he’s got his own agenda, basically revenge for the killing of Miera, I believe, but isn’t it really Kaori who did it? And why did she almost cheerfully take on the title of Lady White Wolf? Don’t even get me started on this whole wolf thing.

We do get some interesting internal action. Not only is Sakaki working for his own interests, but Nemuru, the White Wolf Kannon, is beginning to rebel. Cold and laconic to her friends, she continues to spare them when they “fall,” or like Kaname, ask the wrong questions. Nemuru frees Kaname, stops whoever-they-are from abducting Hiroshi, and remember she had also spared Isuzu a couple episodes ago. Though Isuzu hasn’t been seen since. Her family and the cult they’re in do not approve.

The episode ends with Sakaki, having managed to capture both Nemuru and Hiroshi, chuckling to himself about “the truth.” Maybe the two captives can swap a little more information in that shack. Not that I’m convinced at this stage that Hiroshi is capable of acting on his own. He spends most of the episode moping and thinking. On the other hand you can’t blame him too much. He reached out to Sakaki, who then betrayed him because he’s, I dunno, “tempting” to the wolves or whatever they are in this town. He talked to Kaname and she vanishes (though we’ll see her next episode). He has no way to get through this alone, and no one he can trust. But I’m still rooting for him. He’s a powerless wimp, but all of us are powerless wimps in certain circumstances. Hiroshi, don’t let us powerless wimps down!

I should have seen it coming, even in a series as leisurely as Cross Game, that they would line up two momentous events to occur at the same time: the finals game to get to the Koushien, and Akane’s surgery. I’m a little disappointed. I suppose we are getting close to the end and we need a big finish, but Cross Game has never been too interested in big melodrama, just small, inconsequential ones—that is, after we got past ep1.

Although we don’t know when the surgery will happen until the preview for next week, word gets around that she’s going to have it, and it affects everyone in different ways. Akane suspected it would, and she’s insightful enough to deliver the line above to Akaishi, therefore making it impossible for him to continue his slump. Aoba is visibly the next most worried, as she thinks about Wakaba. Kou, annoyingly, shows no concern unless he’s asked, and then says the right things to Azuma. Meanwhile, everyone interacts with each other and little things are spoken. The question of Aoba’s worth comes up, Akaishi considers making a play for Akane, telling Kou, who seems just fine with it, even delivering the game ball to her on Akaishi’s behalf and calling him the hero of the game (in an 8-1 blowout, well Akaishi did hit two homers).

I lost count of how many times he says this. Finally Deebu has to hit him.

For there was also the game. Their opponents have a knack for scoring late and edging the other team by one run, and it’s indeed tense for some time. And the show teases us by pretending it’s still close only to reveal that Seishou had actually built up a big lead. Even the opposing manager seems unaware of this. But it’s the way they merge the play on the field with what’s going around around it that makes this one so exceptional. Akaishi remembers Akane’s warning and hits a dinger. From the hospital, Akane watches on TV and falls asleep immediately after they win. Aoba thinks back to Wakaba’s death, young Kou at the grave, a framed photograph, and then a blazing fastball slices through the image, and she’s watching the game again, as if the past is giving way to the present. Lovely moment.

And Kou and Azuma find four leaf clovers by the river. Someone should tell the Honey and Clover gang about that spot.

Hanamaru Kindergarten
6 begins with a fun day at the pool. Anzu wears a sexy swimsuit to dazzle Tsuchida, but her plans are foiled when Yamamoto shows up.

I know she didn't plan to wear that swimsuit, but still, for a kindergarten class?

… So much for Anzu’s initial plan. But she doesn’t give up. With Koune and Hiiragi’s help she tries alluring him with syncrhonized swimming, and then a life-or-death situation.

Which only makes him angry. On the other hand, he was paying way too much attention to Yamamoto in her bikini, so Anzu’s distress later on is justified. This half of the show works better than the second half, because much of the show’s humor lies in the kids’ imaginative plans. Although the second half has its moments. Mayumi, Tsuchida’s tsundere sister, has come to visit.

Apparently she and Haruhi Suzumiya go to the same school.

And because it relies less on the kids and more on the adults, a fun edge has been taken off. On the other hand, Mayumi’s reaction to her brother’s work was amusing at times, though we could see the end a mile away: Mayumi’s harsh opinion of Tsuchida will soften when she sees he does mostly good things with the kids. And so it happens. And there’s a fun closing credits sequence.

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.

Ookami 6, Kimi ni Todoke 18, Yumeiro 17

With Ookami Kakushi 6, it’s become clear that the hassaku the town grows has some sort of control over people who are afflicted with some sort of supernatural disease, but it’s a bad crop this year. There’s a drug that might help, but there’s intrigue there that hasn’t been revealed yet. In terms of the story, people start falling to pieces in front of Hiroshi. Kaori, the violin teacher, has some sort of spell during Mana’s lesson. And then there’s Isuzu.

This is where it gets interesting. We’ve seen other people taken down by scythe girl and her minions who declare that all they’ve done is fall in love. Isuzu’s had a thing for Hiroshi from the beginning, so you would think she’d be treated the same, but scythe girl offers to spare her if she lets Hiroshi go, and when she doesn’t scythe girl still doesn’t kill her, but just tells Hiroshi not to follow. Why was she spared? Isuzu’s what? Fourteen? Still very young, so perhaps what she thinks of love is simply her first crush and she hasn’t the emotional experience to recognize that feeling.

We still don’t know what’s really going on, or who the various entities in this town are. And neither does Hiroshi. But at least he’s trying. We get a scene after the fight where he demands answers from the formidable scythe-girl, oh, right, she was outed as Nemeru this episode. As if anyone hadn’t already guessed. Anyway, seeing him stand up to her and demand answers made me happy for him. He’s mainly been a victim and witness so far, and he’s not the fighting type, but he’s a decent person stuck in a sick community, and he wants to know what’s going on, dammit! Too bad Nemeru’s answer is to knock him unconscious. I wonder what his reaction will be next episode …

Last time I looked at Kimi ni Todoke I wondered when they would get to the Ryuu/Yoshida story. Someone must have heard me.

Sawako's overwrought imagination at work.

There are a couple of reasons why this episode works well. First, we pull away from Sawako for a while and concentrate on Yoshida, though we don’t get into her head like we do Sawako (Frankly, I don’t know if I could handle seeing what’s in Yoshida’s head). But just viewing from outside is just fine. She’s fun enough to watch that it’s no trouble if the show follows her, especially this episode, spazzing out over dresses, of all things! Add to this the fact that Yano isn’t around (more on that later), meaning Sawako has Yoshida to herself. Sawako’s basking in Yoshida’s obvious happiness is almost as fun.

Of course the story is more complicated than first appears. Yoshida isn’t in love with Ryuu, but with his older brother, Tooru, who only comes to town a couple times a year. It’s always been like this. Meanwhile, we know that Ryuu is in love with Yoshida, which must make those family get-togethers excruciating for him. Ryuu isn’t the type to let his feelings show (a refreshing contrast in this series). He tries to tell her, but it frankly looks hopeless for him. Yoshida sees him like a younger brother and that’s probably the way it will stay. They’re so comfortable in those roles that she can walk in while he is changing and no one reacts. Love sucks sometimes.

Love sucking is perhaps the theme of this episode, because the other story involves worldly Yano, who is in a relationship with an over-obsessed college student, or WAS. I wouldn’t date anyone who hit me, that’s for sure, especially if they did it because I wanted to break up. We don’t see much of this, so we only get Yano’s report, and that’s probably the last we’ll hear of it. And finally we get an unknown character who confesses to a girl and gets shot down, just for the hell of it. Yeah, love sucks sometimes.

Yumeiro Patissiere 17 apparently isn’t quite ready to dive into round two of the contest yet, so instead concentrates on a classmate named Hayame, who wants to drop out. A tragic story enfolds, where this promising talent got a fever on the day of finals and got dropped to the lowest level—F.

Hayame works, her teammates goof off.

I’m reminded of Baka to Test here … Anyway, her teammates are first class slackers and she’s grown frustrated, not to mention jealous of Ichigo, who, with no experience, was placed into Group-A, home of the Princes of Sweets. When Ichigo reaches out (as you knew she would) the response is always the same.

A bit rude, but I’m sympathetic. Anyone can be who is working hard but surrounded by people who won’t. But Ichigo and the princes set her straight, forcing her to participate in a chiffon cake showdown with Ichigo. The outcome comes as no surprise, but that’s not the point. Hayame learns she’s not alone and shouldn’t give up, blah blah, and the point is made that it wasn’t her teammates alone that made Ichigo improve; she worked very hard. A rejuvenated Hayame returns to Group-F and starts bossing them around. A nice enough episode, livened up as usual by Kashino’s stabs at Ichigo:

Note how the others aren't disagreeing.