Oops, I didn’t mean to stereotype my neighbors of the north. I’m sorry.
Episode summary: Inari almost grants Akemi her wish, but pulls back at the last second. She confesses to her friend that she was once jealous of her, and this seems to have helped the two girls bond. Afterwards, Akemi and Maru become friends. The former then confesses to everyone but Keiko that she has a crush on Keiko. Meanwhile, Uka pays Touka a visit so that they can play video games.
• So the opening is a short recap of what happened at the end of last week’s episode. Seeing the weepy Akemi just reminded me of something that incredibly annoys me about shows supposedly featuring little kids: “I’ve kept my distance… built walls…” No kid in middle school talks like this. They simply don’t. But sadly, most anime characters are indistinguishable from each other. Had they not told us that these girls are in middle school, we would’ve been none the wiser.
• Oh dear, the episode is subtitled, “Touka, Mistress Uka, A Woman in Love,” which means I get to to listen to Touka’s terrible voice acting all episode long.
• Why’s the video quality so bad all of a sudden? Just bad compression or what?
• So in the end, Inari backs off from the idea that she should grant Akemi her wish. I’m a little lukewarm about this development. On the one hand, I’m glad the girl is smart enough to realize that A) it would be highly irresponsible to give your powers away and B) it wouldn’t even solve anything. On the other hand, I think it’s cheap to end last week’s episode on a cliffhanger to only then pull back at the last second.
• It’s a good thing that Inari shared her own insecurities with Akemi. Not only does it show she has a lot of trust for her friend, it reveals a surprising amount of maturity in her character as well. I mean, it’s not easy to open up and reveal your flaws to anyone, much less a friend.
• The anime’s soundtrack kind of reminds me of Joe Hisashi:
Both he and Inari‘s composer probably draw from the same influences.
• Maru: “Y-you can call me Maru… if you want.” Oh lord. Every anime’s the same.
• All of a sudden, the music swells to a crescendo, Akemi goes slack-jawed, then the characters breathlessly nod at each other like… “Yeah…! Breakthrough!” Thank god life isn’t actually like this. If every moment of the day was full of grand gestures, I think I’d die young from all the emotional exhaustion. To be honest, friendship in real life just sorta happens. People just start hanging out with each other, and no one really gives it a second thought… unless they’re neurotic. I guess that’s the thing: our stories are neurotic.
• There’s just something incredibly unnatural about the way inner monologues are constructed in not just Inari but every like-minded anime. I just think they’re not quite as stream of consciousness as they should be, if that makes sense. They’re too well composed, too apt, too coherent, etc.
• Akemi finally manages to call Maru, well, Maru. Then once again, everyone pauses for a second and beams at each other as if we have just undergone yet another breakthrough. This is too corny for me.
• I almost wish we’d get the part where Touka and Uka fall in love with each other. Nah, just kidding. Please don’t do that.
• Wow, this is surely a romance worth rooting for:
Anime and anime fans are obsessed with event flags, but how ’bout a red flag when you see one? And what’s a bigger red flag than a guy palming a girl’s head as soon as he sees her? “What a well-adjusted young man,” said nobody ever.
• Touka: “I’m an indoorsman.” Right, “indoorsman.” Not a shut-in, okay? There’s a subtle difference.
• Red flag number two:
C’mon now, don’t tell me the alarm bells aren’t going off.
• But seriously, this is what I don’t get: why do we make a big deal out of the small things, then proceed to ignore the negative implications of the big things? Case in point, we had just spent a third of the episode pretending as though calling someone by their preferred name is an emotional breakthough. Alright, alright, you can say that my heart is black if you want. You can say that I just can’t appreciate how this is a story of the power of friendship between girls or something. Sure, whatever. So then why do you turn around and have Touka physically abuse Uka as if it’s okay? What sort of fucking example is that?
• It’s not funny. It’s not cute. It’s just fucked up, man. The fact that he suddenly turns around and looks all concerned for Uka’s health doesn’t make his previous abusive actions okay or insignificant. Yes, you could say he’s actually a good person beneath his rough exterior, but there are plenty of people out there who are never, ever abusive. Not even once. You don’t need to solve some sort of enigmatic puzzle just to discover their good side. It’s just always there.
Besides, it’s not your damn responsibility to fix a person. That isn’t to say that a relationship can’t help both parties grow and mature, but if someone willingly enters a relationship expecting the other party to just endure their serious flaws and problems, then they’re just being selfish. And no, your love is not true just because you’re patient enough to endure another person’s abuse. Now, I’m not saying that relationships are reserved for perfect people and perfect people only, but we should at least set some sort of standard. Have some respect for yourself. You deserve better than being someone else’s doormat because I’m sure you’ve got problems of your own to worry about too. I’m reminded of a line from one of my favorite movies: “Too many guys think I’m a concept, or I complete them, or I’m gonna make them alive. But I’m just a fucked-up girl who’s lookin’ for my own peace of mind; don’t assign me yours.”
Even if Uka is a lonely goddess whose idea of romance comes from visual novels and visual novels only, she deserves someone who doesn’t immediately resort to violence whenever he’s annoyed. It’s just irresponsible and dangerous to think that love is this magical panacea that can and will cure all of life’s ills. I-If I just stick around long enough, he’ll see how much I love him and change for the better! But then you run into the flip side of the problem: he’s a person, not a project. And yes, I’m aware that there are exceptions in life, but people set their expectations as if the exceptions are the rule and not the other way around.
• So the girl who has been incredibly shy and submissive in the last episode and a half suddenly confesses her feelings for Keiko to both Inari and Maru. I hope for her sake that Keiko is also homosexual (or at the very least bisexual). Otherwise, this is going to be awkward for both parties.
• It’s kinda funny that Akemi confesses this while watching Keiko beat a shuttlecock around.
• Yeah, Maru’s reaction is what I mean when I say anime treats homosexuality in a fetishistic manner. Would she be just as excited for Akemi and Keiko if it didn’t resemble her stories? And shouldn’t she consider Keiko’s feelings on the matter? What if she isn’t homosexual? Plus, she’s only in middle school. Hell, there are adults who still struggle with understanding their own sexuality because this shit isn’t black-and-white. It isn’t a light switch. Some people’s sexuality are fluid. How would Keiko feel if she thought she was letting one of her best friends down just because she doesn’t know who she is yet? I just think you need a defter hand to deal with these issues properly.
• Red flag number three: Touka throws his controller in anger when he starts losing at video games.
• Red flag number four:
He’s got a tiny head. Okay, so maybe that wasn’t a serious red flag… or is it?
• Oh god the voice acting. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, young Touka shows up.
• Let’s flip the genders. Let’s say it was a male god saying to a female Touka (Touko?), “Only ten years, and look how much you’ve grown.” Yeesh, I’m already getting the heebie-jeebies. I guess it’s supposed to be endearing that Uka once helped a young Touka find his way home, but the whole thing just reminds me of how the manga version of Usagi Drop ended.
• How the hell did Inari buy a bottle of sake?
• Inari: “I don’t need to tell her about that divine power showing up, right?” Why not? What’s the use of hiding it? If Inari had done the right thing — and it would appear as though she did — why would telling Uka about it make her worry? If anything, it would reassure the goddess that Inari’s got her head on straight.