Arakawa BxB 9, Yumeiro Pro 10

Two typical vignettes in Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge 9.

In the first, Shimazaki has fallen either for Whitey, or his line-making discipline. Much to Ric’s shock. As usual. Oh, they throw in an imagined (by Ric) domestic drama angle to make it more interesting.

In the second, Last Samurai, disgusted by the girls’ overly sugary tea party, invites the boys to a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. I may have enjoyed this more if I understood more (that is to say, anything) about such things. That’s all I can think of to say about this episode. It’s one where nothing happens except people act silly and Ric reacts.

Yumeiro Patissiere Professional 10 is also pretty much like many other episodes. There’s no demon to slay, apart from poor sales. Mostly it’s spent on Tennouji’s resurrection, and it’s pretty obvious from the start where it will go.

The shop is doing better but not well enough. Satsuki suggests a new concept, but how can could Tennouji think of such a thing? Everyone learns that Tennouji hasn’t taken a day off in, like, forever, so they practically order her to take one. Consider it a working holiday. She realizes that New York City is a huge group of cultures living together (while she’s touring the Cloisters, of all places). And she should be a part of it. She quickly gets her chance.

As so often happens in New York, there’s a wedding cake injury. Fortunately for the bride’s family, Tennouji is a professional. She whisks the damaged cake to the shop and it’s … augmented. This gets her invited to the wedding reception. She also goes to see the show Linda’s dancing in, and we get another concept, that of being part of an ensemble that works together to make the stars shine, and those stars are … New Yorkers! So now the shop has a new concept. You may wonder how a bunch of Japanese are going to overnight create a shop catering to NYC, but this show has rarely shown anyone having trouble with cultural barriers. Only Ichigo, and Johnny and Maize, and those moments are played for laughs.

Yumeiro Patissiere's artwork is never fancy, but they can on occasion come up with a nice image.

Everyone helps with the makeover, especially the fairies, who do some flower-growing magic. Now, Linda and a couple of her friends are there, too, but they don’t seem to notice the magic going on around them. Though one customer marvels that they get so many flowers to grow in Winter. I also wonder what will happen when the others leave and it’s just Honey and, er, whatever fairy follows Rick around. Will they create new flower art all the time? Is there a limit to their powers? I still think too hard about this show. The point is that Tennouji has found a new home, and is no longer thinking only about Henri. About time.

Nines: Bakuman, Yumeiro Pro

Bakuman 9 deals with the aftermath of the Akito/Ishizawa fight. This means we have a dull first half and entertaining second.

Akito’s been suspended from school for a week, leaving Saiko drifting about. But word has gotten out about their manga work; it seems their classmates aren’t as shocked as you might think. In fact, they’re delighted. Too bad Saiko isn’t in the mood to bask in this praise. Ishizawa’s comments hit him hard, and he wonders if he is indeed holding Akito back. It’s nothing we can take seriously. Akito saw his work and chose HIM, not the other way around. It takes a few comments from his grandfather to set him straight, and half the episode is over.

The second half is far more fun. Saiko goes to visit Akito (and his newly acquired bad boy image) and stumbles on a bizarre love triangle. It seems that both Kaya and Iwase assume he’s their boyfriend, Kaya for reasons we know already, Iwase because he shook her hand once. Akito must tread gently, but instead he plunges through with clumsy honesty. He tells the truth exactly as he sees it, knowing all the while that if he rejects one it means he’s dating the other, and he’s not sure he wants to date anyone now. However, Iwase makes it easy for him by demanding he drop the manga writing. So we curve back to the “not regretting what we do for love” speeches this show likes to throw at us, and we’re down to one girl.

The next part is even better. The females in this show have all been the passive supportive types. The most they might do is disapprove. Oh, Kaya says she still intends to be a supporting girlfriend, but she states her mind, and she’s studied martial arts. We get a splendid moment where she punches Akito over his non-confession, says she will punch him three more times, and after that, would he go out with her? Her work done, she leaves, saying she doesn’t want to interfere with the manga work. Saiko says she’s “cool,” and he’s right. Hopefully she will continue to interfere with the boys’ determined, but often dull, work story.

Yumeiro Patissiere Professional 9 is a great one, starting out with despair, adding some lunacy from two sources, and dancing with joy before plunging us in despair again. All in one episode!

Tennouji is the one in despair, too much so. She is set on chasing Henri in order to “walk alongside him,” that it’s closed her off to everything else. Because of this she is unable to see that Ichigo and her pals’ presence is not to groom a new shop manager but because she needs help. What’s more, it’s Ichigo again, always getting in her way. So while the others are busy analyzing the store’s problem (it’s in midtown, full of tourists. The successful shops are north and south, where there are more residences, locals and students) Tennouji continues to pine for Henri and fume at Ichigo. Then the lunacy strikes, twice.

While Ichigo comes up with a plan to sell coupons online, Tennouji finally meets the girl who keeps peering in the shop window. Turns out her name’s Linda, she’s a dancer, and looking at the sweets in the shop inspired her after a failed audition. She’s full of life and exuberance, and even comes with her own sweets-induced hallucinations! Two minutes later she and Tennouji are dancing around the shop. This woman is nuts, but she’s just what Tennouji needs. Tennouji comes to the conclusion that she has to lighten up, making her open to the coupon concept. The other lunacy comes from, who else, Miya. She has her own designs on Tennouji’s shop and arranges for a big sweets todo in Central Park, with celebrities. Paris! Mr. Dlooney! Free coupons! … Oh-oh.

So, out of nowhere, with the show’s funky opening song as the background music, we get a Tennouji vs. Miya sweets showdown! Tennouji’s shop’s coupon concept works, and they get spilloff from the Central Park event. Linda shows up with friends (I think. It’s not clear where these people came from) and even gets to do a solo dance (which the fairies enhance). Meanwhile the music thumps away. The scene is a joy, the best of the new series so far. Alas, a one-day success isn’t enough for mean Henri; they have to sustain their success for a week to change his mind. Back to the despair. Never mind, at the very end, Satsuki appears. That’ll liven things up. Besides, it was worth it just to see this:

It's the end of the world! Tennouji is smiling!

Yumeiro Pro 8

Argh, went home for Thanksgiving and discovered my old laptop is too underpowered to play .mkv’s … Well, happy Thanksgiving!

Now that I’m back it’s too late to cover more than one show, and since I’m not crazy about pumpkin or mince pie, Yumeiro Patissiere Professional and it’s lovely desserts is the perfect choice. Now that they’re back from fairyland we can go back to individual members having crises, not to mention more jetsetting and silliness. This time: New York!

Our heroine in New York City.

It’s natural for this show to have all the characters talk about how much fun it would be to visit the Big Apple and instantly get a message from Henri to go there and visit Tennouji and her high-profile sweets shop. And it’s not long before we get an idea why. Empty shop, grumpy waitstaff, and Tennouji, who doesn’t want them to see how she’s faring. It’s livened up by the reappearance of Rick. Now Kashino has two guys to be jealous of, come to think of it, so do the other two.

Wherever Kashino goes, Miya is there.

We already know the deal, though the gang only learn it later. They have to turn around Tennouji’s shop. But instead of flat-out saying it, Henri only tells them that later. The intent is to let the characters have some fun sightseeing first–and to push up the weirdness level. Miya’s appearance on all the Times Square jumbotrons and sudden whisking away of Kashino might be her best entrance yet. Along with Johnny’s hitting on Ichigo this all kills some time. It becomes clear we’ve got a two-parter on our hands.

But we’ve got to get to our crisis sooner or later. The main problem seems to be that Tennouji is unwilling to bend to the tastes of the New York crowd. It’s a French pastry shop, so no American coffee, and a rude customer storms out (can’t blame that entirely on her). People outside would like to try the place out, but it’s expensive, and not “cozy.” Kashino had spotted warning signs from the start and had been thoughtful ever since. When they return, on a mission to prevent Miya from entering the shop (and why can’t she) they encounter a fight with the waitress. Now, the waitress has been bitchy from the start, but when Rick is arguing the same things she does you get the idea where the blame lies. So the big question is how to get Tennouji to lighten up? That’s been a question I’ve been asking since the original series …

Yumeiro Pro 7, Soredemo 6

In Yumeiro Patissiere Professional 7 the gang finish their tour of the sweets kingdom and witness the exam the Jerks have worked so hard for. Naturally it will be touching; naturally it will be downright weird.

Their last stop before returning is Egg Home, where all the eggs are made and sent through pipes to places around the kingdom. So, er, why go and get them when you can just pick them up? After that we learn more than I, at least, wanted to know about fairy reproductive system. You see, ALL the eggs are produced there. If you’re two fairies in love and want to have a child, you visit Egg Home, cross the Chamber of Trials (no indication what the trials are), then pray for an egg, which may or may not be given to you. Depends on your love, I guess. I am watching all this and speculating that maybe the eggs intended for eating are actually unfertilized fairy eggs, growing disgusted with myself as I do so, meanwhile the fairies and humans all think of the bonds they have with their own parents.

Ichigo's one-track mind.

Now we get to the touching part. All this time someone has been following them around. Now whoever it is becomes a little more blatent, leaving bits of food around for them. When the Jerks lock themselves in their kitchen to work on their exam recipe we learn it’s Kasshi’s mother. I’m kicking myself for not seeing it sooner. In this type of show just about every conflict gets settled within each story arc, well, apart from the long-term ones like the romantic angles and career goals. Kasshi and his mother differ on what Kasshi should do with his life. He wants to be a court patissier, she wants him to work the farm with her. They had parted ways without resolving that. Time to straighten it out.

It’s typical Yumeiro stuff. The mother had said all that because she didn’t want to add to his exam pressure (while, I’m guessing, doing so anyway, but in a different way). She comes to the competition (well, Chocolat drags her in) and inspires the nervous lad. On his end, Kasshi’s contribution to the dessert includes sweet potato, scandalizing the judges, but it’s his MOM’S sweet potato, after all. The queen intercedes and passes the team. And in the end Kasshi decides to make healthy vegetable-based sweets from her mother’s farm, a compromise. So that’s cleared up, and apart from a hint of a Kasshi/Chocolat romance(!) they’re headed back to what they call the real world, where, judging from the previews, Henri and Tennouji will have something to do. Just as well. It was a nice break visiting the fairy kingdom, but after three episodes I’ve had enough.

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru 6 has three stories of no consequence.

Hotori disagrees with me.

Actually, more like two stories, but the second one has segments, well, the first one does, too. Forget it. I just liked the screenshot. In the first, Hotori shops for Toshiko’s birthday present and winds up getting a weird gift from Shizuka, the antique curiosities owner. Turns out it’s also Futaba’s birthday, very embarrassing. Gifts are exchanged. Jokes are made. Let’s move on. In the second, Hotori has to design a web page. She wants to make one for the cafe but needs a computer. Aha! Sanada has one! He also has a lot of porn, which he manages to hide, but you already know what will happen, right?

Having wreaked havoc on Sanada they move on to Futaba’s apartment. She’s in bed with a fever, so the girls decide to help out.

The best part was the sleepwalking Futaba trying to kill them. As I said, stories of no consequence, no matter how many there are.

Sixes: Star Driver, Yumeiro Pro

Star Driver 6 starts happily enough. Takuto has a pocket watch he wants repaired, and Wako offers to take him to a watchmaker. All this time on the island and he’s seen so little of it, so …

There’s a bit of odd tension when Sugata turns down their offer to join them, but after that it’s scene after scene of the two happily walking around town, Takuto making “deserted island” jokes and Wako poking him. This show usually has a formula to its episodes, but not necessarily, so I was wondering if the grumpy girl who’s been tailing them is going to battle or not. Meanwhile the episode begins to turn melancholy. Wako tells him about Sugata’s problems, especially that one about not approvising or he’ll produce a state called “King’s Pillar” and fall into a permanent coma. Oh, today’s his birthday, too. He hates it. He was told a lot of bad things on his birthday.

Things get more mopey, Wako loses her smile. Then we get our fight. The grumpy girl, Undine, is disgusted that an outsider is fraternizing with a Maiden, and can summon a cybody (called a “mermaidoll,” heh) that can exist outside of zero time. She sends it after Wako, who’s singing outside where Sugata is. I’m not sure of the logic here. Shouldn’t she send it after Takuta? Anyway, we get another insane Star Driver fight scene, except this one happens in the real world, so no wild eye candy this time.

Sugata signs his own death warrant, or coma warrent.

Interestingly, Fish Girl’s story this week has a plot twist where the king drinks the squid-guy’s blood in order to sleep and never wake up. For our purposes the king wanted to die. We know that Sugata invoked King’s Pillar in order to save Wako, but I wonder if there wasn’t also a wish to be free of this nonsense on an island he is forbidden to leave. Well, the show will figure out a way to bring him back.

Yumeiro Patissiere Professional 6 continues with the grand tour of fairyland to pick up foodstuffs. I wonder why more fairies don’t do this to pass their exams, but there are a lot of things in this show I don’t understand.

We know there will be a crisis at one point, especially after the previews last week, but it doesn’t come early. The gang breeze through Powder Desert, Milky Lake, and Oily Jungle, aided by desperation and Johnny’s reckless driving skills. I will say he has a knack with a flying carpet. Little jokes along the way liven it up, and they change costumes again, for reasons that escape me, and Kashino.

The drama happens when they enter Baum Forest, named so because the trees are made of baumkuchen, though the forest is actually famous for its fruits and nuts (There are a lot of things in this show …). Someone’s been indiscriminately munching on the food and not cleaning up; naturally the Guardian of the Forest shows up, accuses the jerks of being responsible, and locks them up. What happens after that is standard Yumeiro fare.

It’s a letdown. The Guardian can’t believe the gang are potential real patissiers, so they make a pound cake for him using forest ingredients, a rock oven, and gathered firewood (wait, the trees are baumkuchen, so why can they … Sigh, there are a lot of things in this show …). Sort of a Yumeiro meets Survivor thing. The Guardian changes his mind, Johnny catches the real culprit, etc etc. The only question is who convinced the Guardian to give the cake a second chance? From time to time we see a figure behind a tree spying on everything, but we won’t learn who he/she is until next time. Otherwise it’s a mundane ending to what began as a fun episode.

Yumeiro Patissiere Professional 5

A good episode of Yumeiro Patissiere Professional. It’s hijinks in sweets fairyland, and the humans get to go, too!

The reason they’re going is to help out the jerks in fairyland, about to fail their last-chance exam if they don’t come up with an good idea. The humans show up because Chocolat or Vanilla screwed up their new spell (they have extra powers now!). It will come as no surprise that Kashino is also desperate for a new idea or two. The human world and the fairy world often mirror each other. And it gives us the opportunity to have one of the boys encounter his fairy counterpart for the first time. I wonder why Miya wasn’t included. Imagine her having two Kashino-types to drool over! A waste of comic potential.

I mean, just imagine the possibilities.

They go off to seek inspiration by visiting fairy landmarks, Ganache falls, Mount Gelato (and that’s it this episode. It’s actually a two-parter). The ganache part was fairly routine, but things pick up at Mount Gelato, which rises so high the fairies can’t fly there. They go through a magical clothes-changing portal which transforms everyone to mountain climbing gear, except for Kashino, who becomes a cuddly bear, and Johnny, who doesn’t change at all, probably because jeans and T-shirt are adequate enough. Most of the jokes come at Kashino’s expense, and I wonder if it’s because he’s such a grump, the one person who doesn’t want to be in fairyland, or is there something else going on?

Circumstances lead to Ichigo and Kashino losing the others and taking shelter from the rain. It’s one of the few times in the new series the two have been alone together. A perfect opportunity for Ichigo to talk sense about Kashino’s shop frustrations (he’s acting like Andou did last week) and provide him with a little affection and reassurance. It’s a sweet scene that might not have happened in the human world. Though I can’t help but point out that while Ichigo was unconscious Kashino undressed her and put her in his bear suit. But this IS, after all, the fairy world.

The view from Mt. Gelato.

And then we get to the moral of the episode: sometimes you have to get out and experience things if you don’t want to fall into a rut. It helps that Ravel plays as the clouds break and reveal the view. Kashino has some food for thought, and we’ll be back next week for more landmark visiting, apparently having to do with cages and flying into trees.

Yumeiro Pro 4, Soredemo 3

Yumeiro Patissiere Professional 4 is a low-key episode. This is usually the case when there’s a crisis. Also, overall this new series is less silly. Maybe it’s because the characters are older.

Or maybe it’s that the series turns to the most quiet and dullest of the team: Andou. He doesn’t have the personality to make his crises interesting. Well, never mind, he is an important character, so let’s pay attention to him for a while. After he collapses from exhaustion he’s talked into taking a few days off to recuperate. Worried about the shop’s profits, he still can’t relax. The others spend time sympathizing with him or admonishing him. Johnny’s lecture about “chance loss and disposal loss” helps a little in thinking about what’s wrong with the shop, but for the time being they still ignore another big problem: they’re understaffed! But that comes later.

Much is made about helping people out in times of need. Johnny can’t figure it out, and frankly I too was thinking that the characters were worrying about Andou and ignoring their own problems, for their own shops aren’t selling much either. But the chance loss theory comes up again and the characters realize that they should work together in one shop, not do their individual thing (Johnny, the typical individualist American, is the one vote against this). Interestingly, Andou is shown to be an individualist himself, so we suddenly have solutions for both shops.

Fairy precision dancing!

The show gets a little maudlin here. It’s a long scene where Andou is persuaded by everyone (including Satsuki, whom Kashino has brought in) to let everyone contribute. Now the assistant girls can help cook and the place bursts with new ideas. Even Johnny lends a hand in one of those “I’m an ass but I have a heart of gold” bits. Now that Andou and his shop have recovered we can turn to using the same teamwork to rescue Team Ichigo’s, or Lemon’s or whoever’s turn it is to have a line. But I think we’ll have to wait. Next week it looks to be all fairies, which means silliness returns!

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru 3 … hmm, this sometimes annoying series is growing on me. The first story was a lot of fun. Homeroom teacher Moriaki, who, like everyone else, thinks Hotori is a blithering idiot, comes to her for advice because she has “a sense of the extraordinary.” His grandfather’s paintings were split among the descendants, and he wound up with a weird one.

Hotori’s task: figure out what the hell his grandfather was on about, especially since he also painted one with the correct number of eyes. It’s a fun story for a few reasons. First, it’s a legitimate mystery. I was trying to figure it out myself. Second, it lets the other characters come up with their own flawed or absurd theories. Third, for the first time in the series we see Hotori as something BESIDES a blithering idiot.

I mean it. She used every clue that flew right by me and came up with a logical and, as it turns out, correct theory. Good thing, too. I sometimes get tired of her antics. It was also an imaginative solution that made me go “Oh, so THAT’S why they mentioned such-and-such.”

Good job, Hotori!

The second story isn’t as good. Off to buy vegetables (and getting the order wrong again) Hotori meets a boy trying to coax his cat out of a narrow alley. Nothing much to it, but the boy is not what she thinks, and so we have the final member of the band that plays during the closing credits.