Sasameki Koto Finale

While Sasameki Koto has a handful of regular characters, the main ones are of course Murasame and Kazama. So it’s fitting that the others do not appear at all in the finale. And, this being the finale, will the two finally get together as a couple? After seeing the episode I think it was a stupid question. That is, I was stupid for even thinking such a thing.

Murasame and family go off to the country to visit relatives. She’s promised she’d call Kazama, but things get in the way, such as the house burning down so they have to go further up into the mountains, where the cell connection can’t reach.

Hunting for bars.

The show then divides itself in two. There’s Murasame’s part, where she finds herself watching over relatives’ children, each scene with a bit of small comedy. The kids adore her and wonder why she constantly checks her phone. Meanwhile she thinks of Kazama and feels bad about not being able to call. Her phone taking a dip into a pond doesn’t help matters. Kazama’s part is more straight longing. She wonders why Murasame doesn’t call, and, rather selfishly, refuses to make a call herself. After all, Murasame promised! But that doesn’t stop Kazama from worrying and thinking about her, making herself miserable in the process. It’s the most longing we’ve seen from her in the relationship yet. And if she comes off as a little stupid and flighty, well, that’s Kazama in love.

Answer, damnit, answer!

But does she recognize it as love? We never see any realization from her whatsoever. But when the drowned cellphone miraculously awakens and they manage to connect, it’s the happiest moment of the episode, even if nothing much is said.

As for it all being a stupid question, I have to say that there’s no way either of them can fully reach out to the other. Maybe the stupidity lies in them, but it just wouldn’t work for either character. Or maybe they know, in their own ways, that this isn’t the time or place say such things. Ironically, this is the sort of chaste longing that Aoi loves so much in yuri.

Selfishly, I’m glad they don’t confess for another reason: it would be the end of the story. I had a great time watching Sasameki Koto. I’d love another season.

Advertisements

Sasameki 12, 11Eyes Finale

In terms of the overriding story arc, Sasameki Koto‘s ep12 is all filler. Murasame and Kazama don’t get any closer. None of the characters are effected in any way. They’re stuck at the school during a rainstorm and discover a strange message scribbled in a library book. The message leads to further clues stuck in gym lockers (the boys’), behind portraits, and finally a dunk in the artificial brook on the school grounds.

Preparing to take a dip.

Tomoe leads the investigation out of boredom. The others are just bored or curious enough to tag along. And it doesn’t amount to much. All we get out of it is glimpses into the characters’ personalities and goals. Aoi is going to write another book. Murasame intimidates wimpy Akemiya into going into a boys’ locker room to retrieve a clue, showing that their dynamic hasn’t changed.

Quite right. It was far from boring. This show is strong enough to get by with occasional episodes like this, though I’m a little surprised since there’s only one more episode left.

11Eyes stumbles through its finale. I thought Darker than Black 2 had a confusing ending, but this one is simply incomprehensible. First, the events from the last episode are completely forgotten, an alternate universe switch, maybe, and we’re back to the first confrontation with Liselotte. Kakeru gets the fun started by killing himself, even though he died last episode.

But of course, he’s not dead, but in flashback land, and we get a bunch of scenes showing him and Yuka and Kukuri. After he comes to it’s exposition time, all to do with these alternate universes, so convenient because you can just pluck another version of yourself up and move them where you want. And finally an epic rooftop battle more where sacrifices are made …

Shiori's not dead, either, I don't think ...

And everyone lives happily ever after. All the dead people are alive again, and life is normal, except no one says much about that evil-looking moon in the sky …

I will say I enjoyed seeing the good guys and the formerly evil Black Knights working together to defeat Liselotte. Superbia/Misao teaming with Misuzu was especially nice. But this satisfaction isn’t worth much given the overall show. But after twelve episodes it’s hard not to have an emotional connection to the characters, no matter what show it is. Beyond that 11Eyes had almost nothing but some cool lights and a good soundtrack, but I’m a sucker for big orchestras with pipe organs anyway. But, like The Sacred Blacksmith, I’ll give the show credit for keeping me watching. But I’m happier for getting it out of the way before the new year.

Sasameki 11, Kimi ni Todoke 12, Yumeiro 12

Another nice episode of Sasameki Koto, and a more subdued one than we’ve recently gotten. Ironic because this is your basic water park episode and all that means.

Let’s see, we got one confirmed couple, two would-be couples, and two comic relief characters. There’s some jockeying about for position since the would-be’s cannot be mixed, until Kiyori smartly drags off one would-be and both comic characters, leaving Murasame and Kazama alone with Tomoe. Good enough, except it breaks up the confirmed couple. Never mind. They’re confirmed already.

This is nearly too much for Murasame to handle. She spends much of the episode laughing and sounding … woah, girlish. Even her normal sentences have an edge of thrill to them. You get the idea that the episode will end in disappointment for her. Well, yes and no. For the most part everything that happens is muted by the noises and sights you find in a water park. Sometimes the characters in the scene are in the background. You get the impression that the girls’ little stories are just one of hundreds going on at that place, and that none of them are as important as we think they are.

So Murasame has some ups and downs in an episode full of vignettes. Mostly ups. After Tomoe destroys her in a swimming duel she winds up resting her head on Kazama’s leg, then teaches her how to swim. It’s heaven for Murasame. No, it’s Aoi who again gets the heartbreak part. Here’s where the most affecting moments of the show come in. Aoi is stunned to see the two so happy together (During a song insert. Every time Aoi’s heart is broken she gets at least a bit of a song insert. Doesn’t seem fair), but to her credit, swallows her disappointment and puts on a smile.

And she becomes part of the group. She has begun to realize, for all her fear of being alone, that she isn’t, really. And on the train ride home she has matured enough to discuss Murasame’s relationship with Kazama with Tomoe. And later begins to write a story. Good for her.

One more thing. What the hell was that silly song they were playing in the first scene?

Kimi ni Todoke continues with Kurumi’s manipulation of Sawako. It’s quite clever: Sawako is grateful to Ryou for saving her from an errant baseball, so set them up and then have Kazehaya discover them. Add to that the seed planted last episode, that Sawako needs to branch out and talk to more people, and Sawako is more than willing to be an unknowing pawn in Kurumi’s mechanations.

Exposed!

It works! That is, Kazehaya is dumb enough to fall for Kurumi’s lies about Sawako’s love interests. But I can’t think this will last for long. Ryou and Sawako would quickly deny any romantic interest. Ryou has a note he must know was forged. Too many people are on to Kurumi. Even outsiders like Pin recognize her phoniness. Some, like Yano, will begin to counterattack.

Plotting ... plotting ...

Unfortunately the people most involved in all this, i.e., Sawako and Kazehaya are the most vulnerable people of the lot. I suspect we’ll have to endure a lot of scenes full of stumbling internal monologues and shocked and hurt faces before we see them as a couple again (I might be wrong; the next episode is entitled “Love”). I realize this is the nature of the show and the reason many people love it, but they drag it out so long I lose interest.

On the other hand, Ryou telling Sawako that he likes Yoshida was a nice plot-spinner. And I’m looking forward to what Yano has in store. As for Kurumi, you can’t help but pity her and her desperation.

I’ll finish up the girly shows with a dose of Yumeiro Patissiere. The story isn’t much, but it has some nice moments. But we’ll start with a bit of schoolgirl maliciousness at Ichigo’s expense.

Of course she will. This is Ichigo we're talking about.

And so, her elaborate croque en bouche winds up all over the floor, and the hurried replacement doesn’t sell well at the Christmas charity event. A trumpeter named Yousuke is the only customer, but he’s afraid to give it to a girl, Mariko, he abandoned seven years ago when he went to New York to play with a jazz ensemble.

Advice from a middle-schooler.

So of course the A-Team comes to the rescue, encouraging him and trying to track the girl down. Nice touches: Mariko locates HIM when he plays the trumpet, and the cake the A-Team makes for him is another croque en bouche, which can also serve as a wedding cake. Amazing how it turns out, huh? Not a bad episode, but the fairies are away doing fairy-holiday stuff, so they’re not around to liven things up. It looks like next week will be all fairies, all the time!

Finishing Up Episode Tens: Blacksmith, Sasameki

The Sacred Blacksmith 10 sorta kinda explains most of the mysteries left in this show, but I admit I’m still confused. We learn why the old crazy knight keeps referring to Elsa when Elsa’s right there, well, no it actually doesn’t. What we get are a lot of exposition scenes about destinies and the true desire of demon swords, and then everyone behaves differently. Elsa the demon sword doesn’t cook Lisa with electricity, as we had feared, even though swords are supposed to obey their masters’ will. He still talks about avenging Elsa, only to have Elsa kill him, at his request. Perhaps the thing he loathed was himself all along. I dunno.

Aria’s comment above might be a clue. Perhaps, since she and Elsa are swords that can take on human form, they have a perspective above that of a simple demon sword. Or they are incomplete. In other words, they are incapable of acting like a regular demon sword, or they possess the free will to act contrary to their destiny.

And I am getting to hate the word destiny in shows like this, and I suspect Aria is sick of it, too. If someone says your destiny is to perpetuate a circle of hate, which is Valbanill’s goal, wouldn’t your first reaction be to say “Screw that! I am my own person, or sword/person, whatever. I refuse this destiny!” I have a feeling the story might wind up with just that answer.

Then we have a couple of bombshells at the end. By now, thanks to Elsa and the knight’s actions, we know their target wasn’t Luke, but cute little Lisa. Because she’s really a demon who carries Valbanill’s blood. What’s more, Luke created her by killing the original Lisa, or something like that. At any rate, he holds himself responsible and loathes himself. I’m not completely buying this. I suspect Lisa would have died anyway, but we’ll see. It’s a nice contrast to the crazy knight and his daughter/helper/sword Elsa, perhaps created under the same circumstances.

Anyway, thinking about it, I’m pretty sure the climactic moments will come out of people not interested in fulfilling sick, twisted destinies.

The big mystery of Sasameki Koto 10 is what the hell is going on in Kazama’s head, anyway? For the past couple eps she’s been full of wistful looks that suggest that she’s worried about Murasame and Aoi being together, but I can’t read her motivations in this episode at all.

It starts out with Kazama, Tomoe, Miyako and Kiyori off on a fun outing at the beach, where Tomoe’s driving leads to some engine trouble.

That pretty much kills the trip, so they decide to return early. Meanwhile, Murasame’s guilt over last episode has her doing penance by helping Aoi put together her fanzine for the big convention the next day. All the while she’s planning on sneaking out at the first possible opportunity to join the girls on the beach. So I’m figuring she’ll do that, breaking Aoi’s heart again, only to find none of them there. Happily, I’m wrong. The folding and printing takes on worst-case-scenario extremes as they have one glitch after another, followed by a scene of wild disasters, and time grows short.

To the tune of a Strauss waltz.

Murasame can be as scheming and manipulating as anyone else in this show, but she can’t bear to leave poor Aoi now. And so they make it to the con, Murasame’s decency intact, but her hopes for seeing Kazama dashed, or so she thinks.

Here’s where Kazama becomes more of a mystery. By an amazing coinkidink all the girls wind up at the con, and Kazama finds Murasame at their table.

Seeing Murasame and Aoi together, dozing off, there’s no shock in Kazama. She’s pleased. And there’s that cryptic line. Maybe she’s trying to encourage them to have a relationship, but in that case why would she say what she did? Is she trying to lead Murasame on? If so, she’s more cunning than I had thought. Even the other girls have no clue what’s going on inside her head. All we get is Murasame’s look of delirium afterwards. Whatever the motive was for saying it, the line certainly had an effect. Next week: the pool!

More Nines: Darker, Bantorra, Sasameki

I combined these three shows last week and was delighted. This time around there’s a drop, but not a big one.

I praise shows with complexity, but sometimes they baffle me. Such as with Darker than Black and its enormous roster of characters, some of them new, and others we met in the previous series, such as …

Hey! Look who's back! Make sense of the plot for me, Gai? Er, never mind ...

I can’t say I ever cared much for Gai Kurasawa. As comic relief he wasn’t much use. His assistant Kiko was a little better. This time around, however, I was relieved to see them, since I had completely lost track of what each covert organization was planning and why, or even who worked for whom. At least here was something I could recognize. Why did Hei separate from Suou and July and kidnap Kuoko? Argh. What is this future-predicting Contractor and why was Kirihara so interested? I forget, or maybe I was never told. Okay, it all centers around Yin, who’s still locked away somewhere. But at times it’s impossible to figure out what that means to everyone. The only clue we get is the prophecy that if Yin and (presumably) Shion meet, it’s big trouble for the world. Maybe.

At least Gai and Kiko could lead Suou and her buddies into something simpler: finding Suou’s mom. They do it in their usual haphazard way, and its Suou and a meeting with a blonde woman (and who the hell was she?) that clues them in. And when the mother arrives, we get the big shock.

Mothers and the secrets they know was a theme running through this ep. Hazuki is confronted with the news that her mother is dying, and she says she doesn’t care, but of course she does. Suou’s mother tells her a terrible fact. And even Gai interprets one of Kiko’s lines as from his mother, and realizes Kiko knows his true identity. As for the rest of the show, I blame myself for not paying attention, and the show for being both convoluted and fascinating at the same time.

I thought we had left the Zatoh/Enlike story behind last ep, but The Book of Bantorra 9 continues with it. Alas, it feels more like an afterthought than a climax. Enlike, having taken Zatoh’s body, is admitted to Bantorra and given free reign there. This doesn’t sit well with some of the other Librarians, and they have a point, because Enlike (actually Zatoh) killed one of them, is still conflicted, and old man Ganbanzel wants him to return to being a monster.

The power of persuasion.

And, Enlike, like any sane person, has doubts about Meseta. Why is such a woman running the library, anyway?

Insert comment about library directors here.

But when Enlike caves in and agrees, the big scene is sort of an anticlimax. Enlike goes through indecision, thanks to things Noloty has said to him (You can almost see a little angel and devil perched on his shoulders, whispering advice), then blasts Ganbazel. Not terribly exciting in terms of Enlike. But this seemed to be the old man’s plan from the beginning. Apparently he had a death wish, and is killed by fire from above, just as Meseta had nearly killed him the same way years ago. In the end, maybe he leaves and maybe Noloty talks him into staying. That’s left up in the air. All we get in the end is that Meseta is, if not a monster, a monstrous human being.

Sasameki Koto 9 devotes much time to Aoi, who’s fallen for Murasame. She proposes that they write a lesbian fanzine together, with Murasame and Kazama arguing about it behind her back with their own sign language. Funny scene.

Aoi takes it as a yes and starts to write her part of it. This takes up much of the episode, as we see her get happier and happier, and we await the blow that follows.

Murasame had never agreed to it, had completely forgotten about it. It’s a sad moment. The show had gone to great lengths to show how excited Aoi was, even having a scene with her parents discussing it. We’ve all had moments when someone we had put our hopes on lets us down, and the episode does nothing to mask her grief and disappointment. Sadder yet, what Aoi truly needs is not a companion, necessarily, but friends. And if she could tone down her contempt at Tomoe and Miyako’s relationship, she could have a whole handful of them. Happily, when Murasame realizes just how much she has hurt Aoi, she tries to make amends.

I love how this show can go from silly to touching. And the touching moments feel sincere, not forced into the story because the creators felt they had to have one. Sasameki Koto actually works for it.

Three Very Good Episode 8’s: Darker, Bantorra, Sasameki

Darker than Black has its overriding storyline, as convoluted as it is, with more attempts to capture or recruit (usually both) Suou, or Hei, while governments and secret organizations move chess pieces around and Kirihara dithers with no information, and there’s the whole mystery of Yin. Then there’s the more personal level of story arc, with Suou trying to be human and Hei sort of helping her while he sorts himself out.

Good to see Hei has his appetite back.

But each episode has its own set of themes and images. Often they’re based on Suou’s actions and memories, but they bleed over into other characters as well. In ep8 there are a lot of swimming pools, and the memories they bring back. Suou remembers playing with Tanya and friends splashing each other at a pool and enjoying the summer sun. Though it’s interesting that the pools they remember are indoors, where it doesn’t matter what season it is. One of the head bad guys is glad that psychopath Ilya has been killed because Ilya killed his niece. We see her floating in a swimming pool while he talks about never enjoying he summer sun again.

Meanwhile Suou talks to her captor Tanya, who can no longer understand her own memories. The climax comes at another swimming pool, an outdoor one, where Suou almost gets through to Tanya by splashing water on her. Then plot kicks in again, Suou back where she started, wondering when or why she should shoot, i.e., become a Contractor and lose her humanity.

It works well, too. The series is more sophisticated in its storytelling than most, little bits of plot leading this way and that, and usually a fight scene (plus a surprise at the end of this one), and it all flows naturally. An episode is usually over before I realize it. Plus, you can enjoy each episode for the images they decide to use.

NOW I get it! I had been thoroughly confused by the last episode of Bantorra, and thought myself a damn fool for not following what was going on. Episode 8 put it all together and did it splendidly. The current action all takes place on a cliff where an overmatched Noloty is about to take on Zatoh …

More guts than brains.

… But most of the scenes take place in the past, where we learn the true backstory. Looking back on it it all seems rather silly. Enlike and Zatoh aren’t the same person in different times. Zatoh killed Enlike and “ate” his book, condemning him to a life in some body organ of Zatoh’s …

Kidney? Liver? Spleen?

But with the aid of the people he killed, also trapped in there, Enlike finds ways to fight back until he takes over Zatoh’s body again, the way it was when we first met him. Never mind the whole weirdness of the idea, I mean, why is Enlike in human form when the others were all mud creatures, faces in the wall, or in the case of innocent Qumulo, simply her book? And why does the defeated Zatoh appear in human form down there? Why was he so easily subdued by the mud creatures? Well, it doesn’t matter. The whole thing had me going. The mystery’s unraveling moments were timed perfectly with the turns of the battle, constantly leaving me surprised and energized. Well done! And it demonstrates why patience in a good series will be rewarded.

That’s two very good eps tonight already. Sasameki Koto 8 has a lot to live up to. Let’s see how it does …

Aw, Murasame, the episode wasn't THAT bad!

In fact, it wasn’t bad at all. Rather, it was another solid episode of this series, meaning it’s better than most everything else running now. The two shows I talked about above might be better … might be.

Some class members confront (in a friendly, just-curious way) Tomoe and Miyako about their relationship.

Out.

Causing Aoi to freak out over the pervy stuff (Tomoe doesn’t help by suddenly kissing her—Cue the Chaste Women’s Chorus!), but it turns out she likes yuri and views lesbianism as a pure, clandestine thing. But the core of the episode is a terrible event, the worst thing that could happen: Murasame …

It was a fall down the stairs, that old chestnut of high school anime intrigue, with Murasame landing on top of Aoi and Kazama discovering them. Totally innocent, and Kazama isn’t stupid enough to take it the wrong way, yet she still cried, and Murasame isn’t sure why. Kazama later says it’s because it made Murasame look like a boy, but I’m not buying that for a second, especially when there’s yet another heartfelt, silent moment later, as they say goodbye. My guess is Kazama doesn’t know what’s going on in her head, but she’s an adolescent, nothing unusual about that. To spice things up even more, Aoi loves the yuri books that are secretly written by Kazama’s brother, and now has a crush on Murasame and might even be stalking her. Appearances, covers, secrets, genders, all tossed in the air and mixed about, it’s a wonder Akemiya didn’t appear, though we had plenty of him last ep. As usual the humor mixes in slapstick and gentle irony, which enhances all the earnest longing without making them any less poignant.

A VERY good night of anime viewing!

Kimi ni Todoke 8, Sasameki Koto 7, and (sigh) 11Eyes 8 …

Kini ni Todoke sure takes its sweet time doing anything. I thought we’d get to the rumor-mongering today, but the only new rumor we get are that Sawako can bring good fortune simply by smiling at you. But of course when they try they get this:

Good fortune.

Certainly an improvement upon the old rumors of death and dismay. Most of the time is spent trying to get her to use nicknames (Yano and Yoshida having more innocent fun at Sawako’s expense. They love her to death, but they’ve got mean streaks that just come out at times), then everything switches to sports festival preparation mode. Sawako admires Kazehaya’s athletic form, wonders why she gets all flushed when she sees him, still doesn’t realize that asking for help from friends is perfectly acceptable, until these friends (in this case, Kazehaya and a soccer ball she couldn’t procure herself) see her needs and help her out anyway. Some of these moments, like that last one, are lovely, while others are simply replays of things we’ve seen before. As for the rumor-mongering, we all know Kurumi is the instigator, though nothing’s been said yet. We also know that she has a thing for Kazehaya, but that hasn’t been voiced, either. In fact, Sawako and Kurumi are a bit alike: they both like the boy, but can’t bring themselves to say it out loud. There’s a layer of sadness in both of them.

She doesn't look like a schemer, does she?

Sasameki Koto 7 introduces Akemiya’s pervy little sister, Manaka, the one who blackmailed him into becoming a female model.

Yep, pervy's the word.

Now she manipulates Akemiya and Murasame into going out on a date, even following them to interfere. As expected, it turns out incredibly bizarre …

… and it all turns on Akemiya’s cross-dressing. Expectations and needs are twisted around. Akemiya, in “hero” mode, tries to rescue Muresame (who doesn’t really need it) by tempting them away as a girl, then revealing “she’s” a boy, only to have the pervs not care either way. And Murasame laments that she is not as cute as the boy she’s on a date with, as if she needs to be …

Flight from the dressing room the shopgirls LOCKED them into!

Akemiya is the star character here. He shows ambivalence toward dressing as a girl, after all, his sister forced him into it, and only does it for the date because he feels Murasame will approve. She thinks he secretly likes to cross-dress, and he claims he doesn’t, but he doesn’t seem too sure about that. He’s in love with Murasame, but knows she’s not interested. Again, he was forced into the date. Okay, he’s kind of a wimp, not for his feminine mannerisms, but because he can’t say no to anybody. Happily, in the end, he firmly makes it clear to his contrite sister that she mustn’t pull that shit anymore, but he does it quietly, gently, in his own way.

11Eyes drives me up the wall. Just when I get sick of Yuka accidently spotting Kakeru and Misuzu in yet another compromising position (always some training exercise or ritual, they swear!) and fainting for the thousandth time, when I am finally so tired of the red-haired character (surely the most annoying side character of the year) acting like an ass, and past caring about the battles, the cliches, the panty shots … they throw a curveball or two at us.

I bet she's making it up because it sounds cool.

It’s about time Shiori took some action! It’s sad that the quietest, most unknown side character in the show is more interesting than the main characters. Then there’s the whammy at the end, which I won’t spoil here. All I’ll say is why couldn’t it have been the red-headed kid? So now I suppose I’ll have to watch the next episode. Pisses me off …