Winter 2014 Harem Hill, Week 5: Seize the opportunity!

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Today, we embark on a quest to get a girl to smile. After all, it’s like a crime or something if a girl isn’t always smiling.

* * * * *

Nourin Ep. 4

The first half of the episode is actually (sadly?) not very harem-like, so I’m afraid there isn’t much for me to say about it. This is Harem Hill, after all; people aren’t exactly here to read recaps about stuff that doesn’t involve harems! Make no mistake about it though… the first half of the episode was still dumb and boring. A monkey is causing trouble for our group of future farmhands. It’s been eating the crops and just creating general havoc when it isn’t hungry. After a brief brainstorming session — and this is an insult to the word ‘brainstorming’ — everyone finally settles upon hiring a professional to subdue the wild beast: an anime otaku. Yeah, it’s as unfunny as it sounds in writing.

Other than a few boob-related gags, nothing here was particularly Harem Hill-worthy. Oh, Minori did get her clothes shot off by a fireworks gatling gun (don’t ask), but still… it isn’t until after the monkey’s caught that our terrible show returns to its primary purpose. The initial plan is to send the monkey off to the zoo whereupon it’ll have its own harem, but nevertheless, Ringo is sad about how the whole thing played out. And if Ringo is sad, then Kousaku has to be sad too. He does some research on his own until he discovers something, but we don’t get to find out what that something is just quite yet. In the meantime, he needs to speak to Minori privately, but the girl mistakes this for an invitation to knock some boots. As a result, she quickly redecorates her room:

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What a curious redecoration! It’s almost as if she wants the audience to know for sure that no rape is about to take place! But it’s alright, Minori. We all know Kousaku is the gormless type of loser who would never rape a girl. That’s a peculiar thing about harem leads, isn’t it? Oh, they can be lecherous — they can even be giant perverts — but when it comes to the actual deed itself, the dick that gets all the girls’ attention suddenly can’t perform! And why is that? Why is he now the oblivious shounen and Minori the overly-aggressive, sex-crazed shoujo? Because to actually have sex is to connect with another human being. Physically, mentally, spiritually… ecumenically — whatever. The point is that harem anime are onanistic.

The thing about harem anime is that it isn’t like real life harems at all. I’ve never had my own harem — yes, it’s sad, I know — but I’ve heard the owner of a harem actually get to fuck his (could be a her too) girls. Does this ever happen in harem anime outside of a few rare cases like Yosuga no Sora? In general, these shows are about lust, but at the same time, they’re not about fulfilling it. As such, harem anime is onanistic. This is why the watershed moment in which the harem lead confesses his undying love to one of the girls is often indefinitely deferred. How many times have we gotten the sort of ending where nobody wins and everything is back to where we originally started (e.g. NakaImo)? The entire point of these shows is to blueball the main character, and hence the audience, for as long as possible because if the protagonist ever acted in a proactive manner and chose a mate, the story would die. For this reason, story progression — and indeed, character progression as well — is anathema to a “successful” harem anime. Whoops, show’s over folks! Don’t have to keep tuning in. Don’t have to wait another week to read another crappy chapter in which absolutely nothing happens, but we can all sit here and speculate as to which of the (un)lucky girls will win the hero’s affections (answer: none of them will).

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Back to Nourin, Kousaku reveals he wants to talk about Ringo much to Minori’s chagrin. He’s noticed that Ringo has yet to smile since she’s gotten here. Oh boy, what a pity that is! So here comes the oh-so-hilarious attempts by her friends to make the morose girl smile. Kei steps up to the plate first. His tactic, you wonder? Oh, it’s just to compare his pubic hair to a black man’s afro:

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No? Not funny? Insensitive?! Relax! It’s just a joke! Ha ha… ha. Minori volunteers next, and her trick is to tickle the poor girl. Unfortunately, the tickling session somehow becomes a lesbian session:

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Again, it’s onanistic; the harem lead can watch but he can never touch. In any case, the tickling fails to get Ringo to smile. Instead, she turns it around on Minori and somehow nearly undresses her friend in a reverse-tickling attempt. Afterwards, Ringo demands to know what Kousaku and his friends are up to, in which the harem lead reveals his “pure”-hearted intention: he was just worried that she wasn’t enjoying her new life at the agricultural school! Aw, how sweet… if you bought that steaming pile of shit. Ringo reveals, however, that she can’t smile (dun dun dun!). After being an idol for so long, the girl has lost her ability to look happy. As a result, she had to retire! Who… who out there will be able to penetrate her stony exterior to reveal the smiling shoujo hidden underneath?!

Later that night, Kousaku has a dream vision:

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The following morning, he and his friends take Ringo to see a dead patch of soil. Plants can’t grow there because its previous owners abused it until it was no longer fertile (I won’t get into the details because who cares?). Still, you can slowly fix the problem over a long period of time. It’ll just take a lot of hard work, dedication, and most importantly, love. With these ingredients, even the dead patch of soil the kids are standing on will one day be reborn… yo, it’s a metaphor! Suddenly, the clouds begin to part! The sun comes out! Ringo bites into a fresh but unripe tomato… and… and…?!

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There it is!

onanistic

* * * * *

Nisekoi Ep. 4

According to Kosaki’s best friend Ruri, “…there’s no law that says you can’t go after someone just because he’s already in love with someone else.” Well, of course there isn’t a law against it, but it’s still a pretty scummy thing to do. But I forget that we’re watching a harem anime, so being scummy just comes naturally to everyone in these stories. In any case, Ruri arranges a study session at Raku’s home. Her hope is that Kosaki will take the opportunity to get closer to the harem lead, but we all know the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry. Chitoge and Shu, Raku’s best friend, comes along for the ride.

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So y’know the drill… Raku and Kosaki like each other, but they can’t really do anything about it. Especially not in front of their friends, anyway. Shu reveals to his best bud that he’s always known Raku’s relationship with Chitoge was a sham. He even reveals that Kosaki has a crush on Raku, much to the harem lead’s surprise and skepticism. But this is a harem, after all, so things starts to pull back towards Chitoge’s direction. Raku’s mischievous yakuza guys — I don’t really know what to call them — traps him and Chitoge in a dark and scary storeroom. Unsurprisingly enough, the ice queen is now clinging to Raku’s back like a scared, little waif.

Here’s the thing about harem candidates like our blonde “Gorilla.” The whole point of tsunderekkos or any sort of “powerful” female character in a harem is to successively tear them down and bring them to a level below the main character. This preferably occurs when the tsundere realizes that those feelings deep within her is actually ~true love~. Case in point, the loud, outspoken girl from overseas now jumps into the arms of the worthless nerd because it is so kowaii. Keep in mind that Kosaki represents the ideal girl because she’s feminine. This is where the story goes, “Whoa, whoa, whoa… don’t worry! Chitoge doesn’t actually go against the status quo at all. She too has a character flaw that will render her as feminine as Kosaki!” And voila!

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‘Cause fuck the validity of her character: “What the hell? She’s totally different from her normal self.” Gorbachev, tear down this tsunderekko: “But looking at her now,” Raku continues, “I can see that she is a girl, after all…” The implicit statement here is that Chitoge wasn’t actually a girl before when she was just being “herself.” Oh, of course, she is technically of the female sex, but in Raku’s eyes — in anime’s eyes — she wasn’t feminine. She was masculine. Her battleaxe personality was actually breaking the established gender roles. Therefore, by rendering our heroine a quivering blob of insecurities, her femininity has been restored! Praise anime Jesus ’cause we have a girl again! He now notices how beautiful she is. Raku catches himself staring at her soft, sparkly lips, the same lips that used to berate him. And because her eyes are totally glistening with tears now, he notices how long her eyelashes are! Wow, what a babe! Totally a complete uggo before, but she’s transformed right before our very eyes and all we had to do was to make her a chicken shit!

But y’know, hold your horses ’cause it’s just the fourth episode of the series. We’ve got plenty of time to continue chipping away at Chitoge’s exterior. In the meantime, enjoy Raku’s back and forth dance as he wonders which of the two hot babes in his life he should ultimately pick. Our couple spies a ladder which they can use to escape the storeroom. But of course, Chitoge is too scared to walk on her own two feet, so Raku “bravely” decides to stay by her side! Doki doki. They begin to share a conversation, and the girl decides to ask Raku what he thinks of Kosaki. His words are pretty telling considering what I’ve just been talking about: “…[Kosaki]’s hot, and well-groomed, and adorable, and feminine… She’s absolutely the ideal girl, you know?”

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Eventually, they start screaming over the topic of kissing and who’s actually done it. And eventually, this conversation temporarily cures Chitoge of her phobia. She tries to stand up to use the ladder, but her legs are asleep. As a result, she slips and falls. Can you guess what — or better yet, who — she ends up falling on? That’s right! Raku! Doki doki. But remember what I said about how the story progression in harem anime must always be indefinitely deferred? Claude shows up at just the right time to interrupt our love birds. Not only does he prevent Raku and Chitoge from growing any closer to each other, this also reminds Kosaki that her two friend are supposed to be a couple. Naturally, she runs off, and as a result, the story resets itself. Yay.

* * * * *

Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okashiinda ga. Ep. 5

Is it time for the bathing suit episode already? Wow! Why on earth Mitsuki agreed to go to a pool when she’s forced to wear a chastithong — and yes, that’s what I’m calling it now — is beyond me. But you can already guess how the rest of this episode will play out. The anime will try its damndest to get Mitsuki to lose her bottoms somehow and expose her underaged ass cheeks to the world. Can you believe someone actually called this show a deep anime? That’s what I get for wandering into strange, twisted places like anime forums. Well, to be fair, they thought last week’s episode was deep, but still… the word ‘deep’ should never, ever be associated with ImoCho. But let us continue on with the show.

Somehow, Hiyori’s also dressed for the occasion; she’s actually sporting a two-piece bikini. Where has she been keeping it this entire time time? Does she have a ghost suitcase? A ghost armoire? A ghost closet full of ghostly garments to wear to the different events throughout the show? Or maybe she went down to the ghost bikini store. In any case, what’s important is that we get fanservice. And oh boy do we get fanservice!

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Yes, what a coincidence. Remember how they ran into each other “randomly” at the supermarket? Remember how they also ran into each other “randomly” during lunch at school near the end of the third episode? Now, they’ve “randomly” run into each other again. Except this time, we’re at a pool. Maybe they’re the Altair and Vega of the show. In fact, fuck Yuuya. Maybe Mitsuki and Yuki should the ones to get together. Oh well, this obviously can’t happen in a harem anime. What we do get, instead, is Hiyori’s obsession with Yuki’s breasts once again. They’re so blindingly big, apparently, that even Mitsuki becomes self-aware of her own lack of endowment. Oh those girls! They can’t help but be envious of each other! If we just keep insisting over and over that girls are their own biggest enemies, maybe it’ll come true in real life. But since we’re all about coincidences, Yuuya is here as well. What a coincidence!

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Look at our hero and his tofu-like physique. Man, now I’m getting jealous! But don’t worry because we’ve got a perfectly good explanation for why Yuuya is here. Y’know that midget meganneko that we’ve been seeing throughout the anime? Her father owns this giant-ass water park, so she invited Yuuya and his friend to serve as a focus group for her father’s business. Why are we being told this? Hell if I know! I can understand a lot about these shows, but there’s still plenty that will forever remain a mystery to us all.

It isn’t long before Hiyori begins to whine to Mitsuki that the latter isn’t taking the opportunity to play with Yuuya. Naturally, Mitsuki is concerned about losing her pareo and exposing herself to the world. Again, why she agreed to come to a water park is beyond me. Hell, she could’ve just stuck with those daisy dukes she arrived at the park in, and they would’ve been a whole lot more secure than some silly pareo. But of course, if harem characters were actually smart, they wouldn’t be in a harem.

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Still, Mitsuki is able to resist her ghost’s pleas. In fact, Hiyori tried to take over Mitsuki’s body and found that she was unable to do so. Huh, if that’s possible, why hasn’t Mitsuki been doing this all along? Oh, right, smart characters and harems don’t belong together. So moving on, Yuuya and his best friend Shotaro runs into the latter’s imouto. That’s just fantastic. We certainly don’t have enough imoutos, I’ll tell you what. And lo and behold, she’s not an adoring imouto either. What is with these girls? Don’t they know the rules of the game? It’s okay. Like in Nisekoi, we’ll tear these tsunderekkos down soon enough. All it takes is patience.

From the side, Yuuya comments that Mitsuki must be her moody self again. All of a sudden, Yuki trips and her breasts come tumbling down upon his face. This gets Mitsuki off her ass and into the pool out of concern (or jealousy?) for her brother, but in her haste, our imouto manages to hurt herself. Ah, there we go! Something to render the girl weak and helpless so that our harem lead can swoop in and save the day!

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Regardless of her pleas that Yuuya should put her down, and regardless of her assurances that she’s really okay, Mitsuki finds herself being carried away into the distance. Doki doki, those cheeks are blushing with embarrassment… but ah, which cheeks? In a moment of self-awareness, the anime speaks through Shotaro: “She looks like a captured seal.” But then order is quickly restored to the universe when Mitsuki’s best friend coos, “But isn’t it nice, the way Yuuya-senpai’s carrying her?” What manliness! Ignoring a woman’s wishes is a true sign of masculinity! But of course, when Shotaro offers to carry Ayaka — I think that’s her name — she slaps him. There’s your problem right there. No, it’s not because he isn’t the harem lead. Well, that’s part of it, but the real reason she slaps him is because he even dared to ask. Y’see, it’s true that Shotaro isn’t the harem lead, because if he had been the harem lead, he would’ve just picked her up right there and then, no questions asked! That hesitation is why Shotaro is doomed to play the pathetic best friend role.

In case you’ve forgotten, however, that this show is all about Mitsuki’s humiliation, a young boy runs by giggling because he’s just found the bottoms of a bathing suit! Oh my! Whose panties could it be? Again, why Mitsuki opted to wear a string-tie bikini over an elastic one is beyond me, but intelligence… harems… y’know how it goes. Not only did she lose her bottoms, she also lost her pareo and nobody’s noticed until now! Not even the girl herself. But oh no, a pair of girls are rounding the corner and if they see Mitsuki in her chastithong, she will be so embarrassed. What are going to do! Our harem lead seizes the opportunity to make a noble sacrifice! He leans into his own sister and pretends to be making out with her, thereby causing the onlookers to run away in horror!

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But don’t look away just yet. Yuuya has even more to offer. He stands back and slowly slides down his swimming trunks so that Mitsuki can wear them instead. This alone causes the poor girl to squeal out in half-pain and half-pleasure as the gauge on her chastithong fills up ever so slowly. Wait? Did she just… from that…? Welp, it’s harem anime for you. But y’know, the gauge is about 75% full now. Can we just call this already? Can we? Please? Ugh….

Since that day, Yuuya’s been fantasizing about his sister’s crotch. Such a shame… he seemed like such a wholesome lead too. Yuki interrupts his fantasy though, because she wishes to return Mitsuki’s lost bathing suit. Why didn’t she just bring them to Mitsuki? She knows where they live, after all. Hell, with all the damn coincidences floating around, she’s bound to run into the girl at some point in the day. Maybe even twice. But no, let’s give the panties to Yuuya instead so he can pull them out of the bag, unfold them, gawk at them like it’s some sort of fucking ritual. It’s onanistic, basically.

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Even Yuuya is like, “Uh, why did you bring this to me instead of just taking it to her?” Yuki replies, “I thought about doing that, but she’s out sick today… So I figured it’d be best to leave it with you.” Or — and maybe I’m just crazy here — you could just hold onto the panties until the girl is no longer sick. It’s not like panties would be out of place in Yuki’s possession. But of course, had she done this instead, we wouldn’t have an awkward situation where Yuuya’s holding his own sister’s panties in his left hand. For the next minute or so, our hero continues to hold the bathing suit bottoms with a claw-like grip as if it’s a mysterious artifact of great power. Well, those panties must be powerful alright, ’cause with them now in his possession, he’s starting to hallucinate. He’s starting to wonder if his own sister is trying to come on to him.

Meanwhile, Mitsuki’s at home, killing herself with embarrassment. Even though Yuuya has seen her piss herself, apparently it is the worst thing in the world that he has now seen her in the chastithong. So in her desperation, Mitsuki attempts to cut the chastithong off with a pair of scissors. Tears are even streaming down her face, but I’m sure nobody in the audience gives a shit about that. Rather, we’re all crying on the inside because of all the fun we’ll lose out on if our heroine does manage to successfully remove the chastithong. When Hiyori tries to convince Mitsuki to refrain from this heinous offense, the latter snaps at the ghost. Mitsuki reveals that she is tired of being caught up in all this bullshit just for the ghost’s sake. And here’s where the anime gets stupid.

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Like who gives a shit that Hiyori didn’t have a choice? She screwed up. She didn’t live a good life and she died. Boo-fucking-hoo. Since she’s already dead, why drag somebody else into it? But look how sad Hiyori is! We’re supposed to pity her. We’re supposed to feel sorry for her and her predicament. She just wanted to be a cute imouto unlike that gloomy, bitchy Mitsuki! In the end, Mitsuki collapses from her illness, and the gauge on the chastithong clouds up. Hiyori takes over the poor girl’s body because in this anime’s logic, there’s probably only one way to save Mitsuki’s life. Is it bed rest and cold medicine? No, it’s sexing up your brother!

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Have at it!

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17 thoughts on “Winter 2014 Harem Hill, Week 5: Seize the opportunity!”

  1. “Give yourself over to absolute pleasure?”
    Was… was that a Rocky Horror reference? I suspect such wit to either be accidental or come from the fansubbers though. To think that “Masturbatory anime #793430

  2. (sorry, comment posted by mistake)
    To think that “Masturbatory anime #793430″ could share a serious slice of public with the Rocky Horror Show seems a bit unlikely.

  3. The Ringo smiling segment was fucking amazing. Great timing and image use, mate. I couldn’t stop laughing for a while.

    “Oh, of course, she is technically of the female sex, but in Raku’s eyes — in anime’s eyes — she wasn’t feminine. She was masculine. Her battleaxe personality was actually breaking the established gender roles. Therefore, by rendering our heroine a quivering blob of insecurities, her femininity has been restored!”

    Actually I can add something here (though you may know it already): A lot of people think this horrible trope was birthed from the damsel in distress concept, but I think (going by what I’ve gleaned) it seems to be a warped version of the “melting shell”.
    Like that? I just came up with it. haha…ha
    Basically it’s the idea where a stubborn, selfish and brutal character learns to let down their guard and be more at ease with themselves and those they care for. Ex: A nomad warrior finds a child, and though at first they want nothing to do with them and think only of themselves, they grow softer towards the child and grow from their self-centered and harsh ways as a result.
    _”Tsundere” girls are a limper form of this. They have very harsh personas MEANT to be softened over time. Over the years the “harsh persona” just became “acts like a bitch” because of (I blame) lazy writers, and the reason for their harshness was just never given because of laziness. That then shat out the “IT’S NOT BECAUSE I LIKE YOU BAKA” bullshit we have today.
    _Most everyone looks for comforting, understanding, and sincerity in their loved ones, and the idea that “love softens us” into that is not only (mostly) factual but openly welcomed in most art forms, especially storytelling. The “melting shell” concept (I promise to stop saying that) is meant to convey that love, in any form, often brings out of our hard shells and softens us for the better.
    But lazy writers be lazy, yo, so why create believable scenarios when we can have forced situations that make the tsundere lower their guard instead of it being an active choice of theirs? Why give reason and emotion? Just have the bitch stop being a bitch. But…how? I KNOW! No human being can possibly be a bitch when she’s scared! So let’s scare her and have her soften up to the protagonist! Yeah!!
    This, ultimately, warps the message of “love softens us for the better” to “bitches are cuter when they shiver from fear”, and the he soft loving traits the character should be growing into is warped into momentary dips of shyness and quivering/blushing waif-dom.

    So, in conclusion: it’s not really sexism (though it does convey that), and unlike others might, I don’t believe it’s anything deeply to do with Asian culture specifically (not much, anyway). Rather I believe this is simply the tumerous flippered abortion of a proper literary concept that was ruined by lazy writers and propagated by even lazier writers.

    1. So, in conclusion: it’s not really sexism

      It is sexist when it almost always happens to only girls. And this presumes that Chitoge is selfish, stubborn or brutal. She’s just not a submissive to Raku like Kosaki is. Chitoge has no reason to treat him nicely because he’s never treated her nicely. Her only crime is not being feminine right off the bat. This is sexism 101.

      1. Well now I did say “(though it does convey that)”, E Minor, though I suppose I SHOULD have said “I don’t think the intent is to be sexist”.

        Also, I was talking about the possible origin of tsunderes and this “gotta scare her to make her less bitchy” trope in general. I know as little about this character and her crap show as humanly possible; only thanks to your entertaining reviews on it do I know of it. If she wasn’t acting like Evangelion’s Asuka or Fate/Stay Night’s Tousaka (tsunderes without a cause) then fine, I can see what you mean, but as someone who hasn’t seen the show I just went by your review and description of her as a “tsunderekko”.

        Yes it’s sexist, but we should be berating it less as an example of sexism and more as an example of horrendously lazy writing, you know?

        Actually, thinking about it now, I can’t think of one well-written character that could classify as a “tsundere/kko”.
        The closest I can think of is Revy from Black Lagoon, but I haven’t seen much of the show and from what I’ve seen she really isn’t a “tsundere” but rather a throw back to good hard-shelled characters.

        1. Yes it’s sexist, but we should be berating it less as an example of sexism and more as an example of horrendously lazy writing, you know?

          Nah. Intent doesn’t matter dick to me. What matters is what actually happens. I don’t give a shit what these lazy writers “intended.” What I care about is what they end up giving us. Action is what matters. Your feelings are irrelevant if your actions do not match up with your feelings. And I disagree about Revy. She is just another tsundere character and her depiction is horrible.

        2. “Yes it’s sexist, but we should be berating it less as an example of sexism and more as an example of horrendously lazy writing, you know?”
          Know what? Nevermind. I just got out of an arguement over contemporary feminists and the likes of Feminist Frequency so it colored how I read that part of your review.

        3. E Minor: “And I disagree about Revy. She is just another tsundere character and her depiction is horrible.”

          That’s a shame you think that, though again I could be wrong seeing as I’ve yet to really get into the series, only looking at it from the sidelines. I would hope not

        4. I’m of the opinion that Black Lagoon is horribly overrated, but I won’t get into it here. Maybe one day I’ll do a post on it.

        5. Actually it’s both sexism and lazy writing. Nowadays, we see the “tsundere” stereotype apply only to female characters because of how the patron viewers (otaku) see a complex female character without the complexity (aka, why are 3d girls always so angry… are they on their period?! Eww gotta get away from that). It stopped being an aspect of a character’s personality and becomes something more of a huge excuse to soften a so-called ‘complex” character to become something more acceptable to the audience while at the same time excuse a character’s lack of personality on how “natural” or “complex” or “realistic” that character is because of her sticking to the archetype.

          Developing a character by means of softening hearts works when there is context and the character still retains a sense of personality and viewpoint in them. Girls cannot just shift from “I’m a woman rawr” to “I am forever yours uguu” over the course of a cour as men cannot just shift from “like I give a fuck” to “You are the world to me” without much of a reason or context.

          Also scaring a “bitch” to make her less bitchy is in reality a stupid idea. Even in context of an anime it feels really stupid. Fear is not a great or useful method of getting pussy.

  4. Gotta love staring out over the desolate landscape from atop Harem Hill…

    Good to see ImoCho come close to having a good moment for Mitsuki’s character as it finally shows the reality of what she’s been feeling, just to give some selfish reasoning from the dead slut and toss it all out the window.
    I’ll admit, though, that I actually got worried for a minute though when you mentioned the chastithong (good name) clouding up. Not for the ghost’s plight, but because I thought it would set the gauge back and make this show twice as long.

    Also: “Look at our hero and his tofu-like physique.” haha!

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