May 2008


     This episode begins with English lessons, Pastel Ink is teaching Nao-kun, and Ruriko teaching Sumi, Nao’s lessons are going well, while Sumi’s lessons are going poorly, so poorly in fact that Ruriko tells her that if she doesn’t improve college might be out of the question. At the start of the episode Ink has gotten a cold from the night before and it’s getting worse, the next day at school Ink passes out on top of Sumi and has to be taken to the school’s infirmary.

     The school nurse tells Ink that she has a fever and she must go home early to rest, Sumi happens to overhear this and feels that it’s her chance to go on a date with Nao. When Ink gets home she sees that her mother is out, and Ah-kun asks Ink if it’s all right if he goes out for a while, he tells Ink to rest and take care of her body. Later, Sumi decides to check on Ink and while she’s talking to her, Ink passes out again.

     Sumi has to transform in order to carry Ink inside the house and Sumi struggles to care for Ink. Sumi changes Ink’s clothes and she wonders why she has to care for Ink, while walking around Ink’s room she spots a key chain that reminds her of something from the past.

 

     Then Sumi remembers a time in the distant past when she was ill and Ink came to visit her and keep her company. Ink spent time talking with her and even read a book to her, later Ink gives Sumi her stuffed cat to keep her company, but Sumi was afraid to accept the gift for Ink, but Ink tells her to keep the black cat because she has the small white cat and they are close friends just like them.

     Later that night Sumi has fallen asleep at Ink’s bedside, Ink wakes up and finds Sumi asleep by her, and Ink wakes Sumi up. Sumi tries to deny that she cares for Ink, but Ink thanks her for her help anyways, and Sumi tells Ink that she has to be going home now and leaves.

     As Sumi is trying to sneak away from Ink’s house (she doesn’t want anyone to know that they are friends) she runs right into Remi, so Remi and Rina drag her with them to visit Ink. Ka-kun confronts Ah-kun at a park about Ah-kun searching for Alice-chan, and while they are talking Alice-chan’s partner (Na-kun) the rabbit stumbles up to them injured saying that the magical kingdom has collapsed, time is messed up and that they have to save Alice-chan. When Sumi returns home she falls ill with the same cold that Ink had, she curses Ink for giving her the cold. Well, that’s all for this episode.

     Well, episode nine was a slight change of pace for our magic girls, no magical battles this time. This story focused on the relationship between Ink and Sumi, while Sumi seems hostile to Ink but in reality she still cares for Ink due to their relationship from the past.

     Also, it looks like Moetan  is preparing to start it’s final storyline, at the start of the series Ah-kun is forced to flee the magical kingdom or face imprisonment, so with the magical kingdom in collapse he can be a hero and be forgiven for his past transgressions.

     This episode also has less fan-service than the last couple of episodes, so it looks like they have some plot other than fan-service to work with.

Below are two fan-service eye-catches from this episode.

     At the beginning of this series I felt that Sumi-chan’s ever changing ahoge was pretty silly, but as the series has progressed I have become quite fond by her mood reflecting hair. If only in real life all women had the same ahoge, I can only wonder how many arguments with old girlfriends this would have saved me. “Honey, are you still mad at me from yesterday?”, “No, why do you ask?”, then I could look at her ahoge to see her true mood, oh-well, one can only wish.

Below are some shot’s of Sumi’s ahoge reflecting her moods.

 

     I just updated my Candy Candy  manga page with a few new links, plus a link to a special treat for all the Candy fans out there.

      This episode begins with the ship stopping at a new planet called Abipa the Utopian Planet, the place where it is advertised that you can get the body of your dreams. Once on Abipa, Vanilla and Kaiba who is still in Chroniko’s body take in all the weird sights and the free food (all the food is free on Abipa). Kaiba soon ditches Vanilla and goes wandering around with Hyo-Hyo in tow, it seems that he is searching for the girl from his memories.

     After a while Kaiba decides to transfer into the Hippo’s body but a junk collector snatches the Hippo up as soon as Kaiba turns his/her back. As Kaiba is chasing after the junk collector she gets a lift from someone, and  they follow the junk collector to the factory where all the designer bodies are made.

     Soon the old man who gave Kaiba the lift tells him/her about the designer (Patch) and his stuffed dog (Quilt) who run the factory and design all the custom bodies. Once inside the factory Kaiba meets Patch and he tells him he’s not happy about the way that people abandon their real bodies, disrespecting life, and take up artificial bodies, he swears he’ll get his revenge someday. He melts down and soon Quilt takes his body body away, then someone offers to take Kaiba to the body collection site which is also the food factory to find his missing body (Hippo).

     It turns out that the man who offered Kaiba the ride runs the show, on this planet they give the bodies away for free but make enough money off other ventures elsewhere, also the old bodies are ground up and remade into the free food that everyone eats. Later it’s raining very hard and Kaiba finds her/his way back to Vanilla who has gotten ill waiting for her to return. The next day Kaiba returns to the body factory and runs into Patch and Quilt again and it’s almost like a groundhog day experience.

     Patch tells Kaiba that Quilt is made from body parts of abandoned dogs from this planet, people here toss away perfectly good dogs for new designer dogs, so Patch made Quilt and gave him an unknown brain and he also gave Quilt his eyes, but when Quilt is nearby he can see just fine because they also share minds. This time when Patch melts down Kaiba goes along for the ride with Quilt,  and they go to a house in the countryside where Quilt plugs in Patch to recharge him. Then Kaiba uses the memory gun to search through Quilt’s past memories but he finds nothing of interest, but Kaiba sees a stationary camera pointing at the workbench and wonders if it’s been recording of hundreds of years.

     Kaiba watches the playback from the stationary camera and watches Patch going about his work as a female assistant appears from time to time, aging from a young girl to an old lady, and eventually her memories are used inside Quilt without his knowledge. Later, while Kaiba is looking around, some men come to the workshop to steal things and Quilt gets injured before Kaiba can intervene. Kaiba takes Quilt to be repaired but that body is now useless, but the smoking man says he make a new body for Quilt because Patch has made him rich and it’s partly his fault for leaving Patch’s house unprotected.

      As Quilt is being repaired/ a new body is being made, Patch is lost without her, her wanders outside searching for her and gets assaulted and severely damaged by thugs. Later, we see Patch’s old lab assistant (Quilt) back in girl form offering to make the repairs herself. Kaiba goes to fetch Vanilla who is still sick and sees a statue of his former body, and asks the man who is that? He tells Kaiba that is Prince warp, who lives in a palace on LaLa, he invented the memory chamber and control everything. Well, that all for this episode.

 

      With every new episode of Kaiba  I’m continually amazed by the ability Kaiba’s  creators, directors, and producers to come up with new and totally engrossing story-lines. While the animation styles and color palettes may change every episode or every couple of episodes, but their ability to create a new and unique world each week leaves me totally enthralled with this series. The traveling to new and unique places that Kaiba travels to is almost like the situation in Kino’s Travels, but it’s more than that.

      I find myself stopping and re-watching certain scenes over and over again to extract every last visual detail, some of them only last for a few frames. On of the scenes I’m talking about is when Patch’s office assistant flashes the camera the peace sign, it’s only a quick scene but it enlightened my understanding of her character. Kaiba  with it’s detailed and unique worlds, killer storyline, and changing animation styles, stands alone on top of the quality pyramid so far this year, I’m tired of giant robots being piloted by angst filled teens, Moe is getting over played and a little old, and I’m almost though with wishy washy teens pinning away for love, “Oh, I love him but I can’t tell him, or I’m really attracted to her but I don’t have the balls to say anything”.

      Real story and plot is what separates the wheat from the chafe, in movie terms, while Transformers was fun to watch It leaves you with an empty stomach when compared with more tasty and substantial items like No Country for Old Men, and 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, as far as I’m concerned this is the best new series of the year.

     Oh, I loved the scene where Kaiba shows great revulsion upon learning that all the free food comes from discarded and recycled bodies, I was waiting for him to run through the streets shouting Soylent Green  is people.

     This episode begins with Nagisa spacing out with her friends and in the classroom, she’s out of sorts about the recent battles and she wonders about boys preferring girls like Honoka over her. Later at school, Nagisa is about to ask Honoka about Fujimura but she gets cold feet at the last moment. Back at home Mipple asks Honoka about love, Honoka says she’s not really interested, and Mipple says that Nagisa is different and the she seems interested in Fuji-pi, this surprises Honoka.

    

     Later Honoka’s grandmother brings her some tea and inquires about her friend, at first Honoka doesn’t know who she’s talking about until her grandmother mentions the energetic girl, meaning Nagisa. Her grandmother tells her that she looked like she was having fun, this leads to Honoka thinking about Nagisa as a friend? At Nagisa’s house her brother makes a untimely remark about Nagisa’s behavior effecting her ability to get a boyfriend. The next day Nagisa runs into Honoka and Fuji-pi on the way to school and Honoka introduces them properly.

     A little while later Honoka mentions that Nagisa has wanted to talk to Fuji-pi for a while, this gets the boys’ attention and embarrasses Nagisa and she runs off. After Honoka catches up with Nagisa, Nagisa yells at her telling Honoka that she doesn’t understand her feelings, and she even goes as far as saying that they are just Pretty Cure,  not really friends.

      It seems that Nagisa’s angry words really hurt Honoka deeply, Nagisa realizes that she went too far but she doesn’t say anything as Honoka walks away. At lunch Nagisa and Honoka see each other but are unable to speak to each other, they both look very sad and depressed. After school Honoka apologies to Nagisa and tells her that she’ll just hurt her again, she says she is unqualified to carry this and hands Nagisa the Mipple pager/cellphone and runs off.

      Later that night Mipple and Mepple both tell Nagisa that she must hurry up an apologize for what happened but Nagisa lacks the ability to express her true feelings. At school Nagisa tries to talk and socialize with Honoka but she makes excuses to avoid Nagisa. Later than night Nagisa even resorts to praying at a Shinto temple for help with the problem. Then Gekidrago show up at the temple and begins to attack Nagisa, Honoka shows up and after some squabbling the girls transform into Pretty Cure,  the girls continue to argue with each other doing more sniping than fighting.

     In their anger at each other Nagisa and Honoka summon a very powerful blast that blows Gekidrago into the sky surprising even them. The girls collect their things after the fight and part ways heading home still very cold with one another. Back at home Honoka gets some advice from her grandmother and Nagisa gets some advise from her mother about emotions and being true. Later both girls discover that they have picked up each others diaries, and when they read them they get a better understanding of how the other feels and they realize that even though they are different they still value each other. The next day before school the two girls makeup and become friends again. Well, that’s all for this episode.

 

      This episode highlighted the issue of what exactly Nagisa and Honoka are to each other, battle partner, acquaintance, or friend? While Honoka and Nagisa have been partnered for a while I think that they haven’t exactly become friends yet, while they may fight together and hangout with each other they really aren’t friends yet.

     I think that in anime and in real life, people in general toss around the term friend too loosely and bestow the term on too many people, as Honoka says in this episode it’s about trust. But trust goes both way in a friendship, Honoka embarrassed Nagisa in front of Fuji-pi but that was partially Nagisa fault, while Honoka hurt Nagisa because she assumed she was doing Nagisa a favor, but she made that mistake because Nagisa didn’t express her true feeling about Fiji-pi to Honoka. If Nagisa had told Honoka that she is interested in Fuji-pi but doesn’t at this moment know how or in what manner she wants to proceed maybe it would have turned out better.

     In many anime series such as ClannadKanon and countless other Harem anime it’s the female characters that first express their feelings to the male lead but the male is either to wishy washy or to shy to return the feelings until the end. So as far as I’m concerned Nagisa is like those male leads, she’s strongly attracted to Fuji-pi but when given the opportunity to get closer to him she’s to shy to take advantage of the situation, she’s the female equivalent of the shy male otaku.

This is a link to an interesting question about anime school girls falling in love.

 

 

      This episode begins with Haruka, Maki, and Atsuko returning from a shopping trip, once they get back to Haruka’s apartment Maki and Atsuko talk with Kana and Chiaki about cats, the news, and the coming of spring when idiots will become more active, Kana asks Chiaki is she’s referring to Maki.

      Then Chiaki does a little skit teaching the other girls how to do idiot (Kana) rebuttal training, and then Kana and Maki start talking about food. Kanamentions how she would like to eat Harami (slices of steak) and Chiaki mentions Hanami (flower viewing) getting every one’s attention and Maki tells her they were talking about Harami. Kana makes fun of Chiaki for confusing the two words, and this bothers Chiaki because she’s the one usually correcting Kana.

      Haruka overhears Chiaki’s mention of Hanami (flower viewing) and asks her if she wants to go flower viewing and Chiaki tells her yes. The other girls think that it’s too cold but Haruka says it will be fine, and soon Kana is going full speed to make it one of her holidays. By the next day Kana has invited most of the usual suspects. On the day of their Hanami party Haruka, Maki, and Atsuko will cook the snacks while the other group picks the viewing site and does the shopping of miscellaneous items.

A cultural note from a previous post of mine (Lucky Star 15).

(Cultural Note: Cherry blossoms [sakura] is basically the Japanese national flower, each year when the Sakura bloom, cherry blossom viewing [hanami] parties are held around the country. Many Japanese people like to sit under the sakura trees and enjoy their natural beauty. In Zen Buddhism falling sakura can come to symbolise the beauty in the changing or fading of things such as youth, love, beauty, and other cherished things.)

     Kana breaks the group into two, the first group Kana, Chiaki, Yoshino, and Uchida will do the shopping, and the other group Fujioka, Fuyuki, Touma, and Mako-chan will pick out and set up the viewing site. Once Fujioka thinks he’s found the right spot he says he needs a girl’s opinion so he asks Mako-chan if this is a good location, and Mako-chan gives a half-hearted yes. Fuyuki turns to Mako-chan and asks her/him if she’s really a girl, and both Fuyuki and Mako-chan painfully laugh off the question. Then Fujioka asks Touma for support when he says that guys aren’t good at picking these kind of things, and Touma gives an equally half-hearted yes.

 Soon after Fujioka gets the viewing site setup, Kana arrives with the rest of the group, and everyone wonders where Haruka is with the food. Kana tells everyone that she’ll go home to check on Haruka, when Kana arrives home she finds that Hayami has shown up with her famous high test “juice”, and that none of the other girls are in any condition for flower viewing. As Kana is leaving, Hayami gives Kana a large sack of juice to take back for everyone else.

      After Kana gets back to the group she gives them the juice and tries to cover for Haruka but Chiaki heads home anyway with Kana soon chasing after her. Soon everyone left at the viewing site feels the effects of the juice except for Fujioka who has left to look for Kana. As Fujioka is searching for Kana he passes Hosaka whom is looking for Haruka, very funny.

     Later after everything is done and everyone has gone home Chiaki is sitting at the table getting ready to eat a delicious cup of noodles when Kana walks in soaking wet, Chiaki tells her to change clothes and she’ll pour her a bath so she won’t get sick. As Chiaki is in the bathroom pouring Kana’s bath, Kana eyes the noodles and can’t resist eating them, then Chiaki walks in telling Kana that her bath is ready, and  she sees that Kana is eating her noodles.

     After Chiaki sees her noodles being eaten she gets such a look of utter despair that you can almost see her soul being crushed, at other times she would have hit Kana or verbally attacked her but Kana’s act of utter selfishness just destroyed poor Chiaki. When Kana sees Chiaki, who’s almost in tears, she pulls some cup of noodles out of her shopping bag and asks Chiaki which one she wants? Chiaki’s face almost lights up like the sun with happiness upon seeing the noodles. Well, that’s all for this episode.

     This episode followed the typical Minami-ke formula of food, friends, and fun, with the exception of the last couple of minutes. Kana throughout the series has been kind of thoughtless and selfish especially when it comes to food, mainly Chiaki’s food.

     But for the most part, Kana’s selfishness hasn’t caused any real damage, with the exception of Chiaki verbally or sometimes physically attacking her about it. But, this time Kana selfishness almost caused irreversible damage between her and Chiaki. After Kana arrives home soaking wet, Chiaki expresses a real worry about Kana becoming ill if she stays wet, and she even goes as far as pouring a bath for Kana. So, when Chiaki sees Kana eating her food something almost changed permanently between them, you can almost see their relationship in ruins, no verbal attack, no physical attack, it’s almost like at that very moment Chiaki tagged her sister as an irredeemable selfish bitch, she’s finally done with her.

      But in the end Kana manages to salvage the moment, knowing Kana I really don’t know if she planned it that way all along, or she just got lucky after she realized what she had done and just happened to have the extra food with her. I would like to think that Kana had intended to share her food all along and just thought that this was a good time to pull a good one on Chiaki.

 

 

      This episode begins with the Minami sister sharing dinner, afterwards Kana tells Chiaki that she frightens herself. Kana tells her that for the past two nights that she dreamed in advance what they were going to eat for dinner the next day. Chiaki is very skeptical about this and tells her that she has to predict the next nights dinner in advance not just claim that she knew it in advance. So, that night Kana has a weird dream that includes Mako-chan claiming that he going to be a girl from now on, and the dream also includes Chiaki enjoying carrot sticks.

     The next day Kana and Chiaki have a conversation about whether or not a person can be forced to change or if they can change by doing something over and over, Chiaki tells her that she thinks that they have to be willing to change. Later at school Haruka gets called into the counseling office by one of her teachers, because of her good grades she gets offered the chance to be in the school’s student exchange program, he tells her that this would be a great opportunity to experience the world.

     Later at Chiaki’s school everyone decides to study at Chiaki’s house after school, Including Makoto as himself for a change. Then Uchida has a conversation with Makoto about his cross dressing at the Minami household, he tells her that it’s just because Kana makes him do it. But Uchida tells him that he seems more lively and out going as girl, so doesn’t he like doing it. Also Makoto asks Uchida if she thinks that Yoshino suspects his real identity, she tells him no, but it most likely won’t be long. Also Yoshino tells Chiaki that she thinks that Chiaki has changed, Chiaki asks her how she’s changed, and she tells her that she’s now better around people.

     Once everyone gets to the Minami household, Makoto announces he’s here with all his masculinity, and Kana basically threatens to toss him out, so he leaves and returns shortly wearing girl clothes that Kana has given him. After Mako-chan talks with Kana, Yoshino starts asking Mako-chan all sorts of personal question and he/she gets very nervous about being found out. A little while later Mako-chan leaves the apartment in a hurry, and outside Mako-chan and Kana have a talk, Kana tells him that he does have a choice.

     After everyone has left the apartment Kana tells Chiaki about her dream and that tonight Chiaki will be eating tasty carrot sticks, Chiaki thinks that this prediction is stupid. Later Kana’s prediction actually comes true, in her dream she thought the meal was carrot sticks but they actually had crab legs which look the same as her dream’s carrot sticks. Later Chiaki asks Haruka if she thinks that she’s changed in some way, Haruka asks her why she thinks she changed, did a friend tell her she’s changed? if so, then it’s probably true.

     The next morning at breakfast Kana notices that Chiaki’s hairstyle has changed, and she asks Haruka if she sees anything different but Haruka seems to busy cooking to notice. Then at school Hayami teases Hosaka with a bento lunch that Haruka has made for her. She basically tells him that for all these months he’s made bento for Haruka but he has not had the courage to give one of them to Haruka. So she tells him to make a choice, would he rather eat a bento that Haruka has made or would he rather have Haruka eat one of his homemade bento, and in the end he waffles by saying that either way the result would delicious. Well, that’s all for this episode.

      This was a very interesting episode of Minami-ke , this episode is also a little more serious than some of the earlier episodes, two main themes came to the forefront in this instalment. First, Kana’s dream and the discussion of that dream with Chiaki leads to a interesting debate on the nature of change. Secondly, the other theme in this episode is about choices and the effects of choices made or unmade.

     First, changes, Kana’s and Chiaki’s discussion about changes brought up a pretty common theme in anime, can someone be forced to change by making them do something against their will, or does the act of change require the consent of the person. On this point I tend to agree with Chiaki, you can force someone to do something they don’t like, but that just means there are doing something they dislike, still it does require some consent from the person.

     An interesting point was when Uchida confronted Makoto with the question of does he enjoy dressing up like a girl, although he denies any enjoyment from it she points out that when he’s a girl he’s more energetic and outgoing a person. I feel that this change in his personality is more due to his lack of self esteem in his guy-hood, he feels like a moron and a idiot in his own skin so he’s more comfortable in someone else’s skin.

     Now to the issues of choices, first Haruka is going to have to make a huge choice, is she going to take the opportunity to represent her school in the overseas exchange program, while under normal circumstances this would be a great thing for her, she’ll never leave her sisters.

     Back to Makoto, he makes a choice every time he dresses as a girl, he may feel he has no choice but as Kana tells him outside the apartment he can always choose not to.

     And now to the funniest example of choice or a lack of a choice is Hosaka, I think that Hayami is trying to tell Hosaka to man up, when she asks him whether he would rather eat Haruka’s bento or have Haruka eat his bento, what she is really saying to him is that as long as he just sits on the sideline he’ll never eat any of Haruka’s bento, and she’ll never eat his.

     And now the interesting issue of did Chiaki change like Yoshino has suggested, yes it’s like Haruka suggested, if your friend says you’ve changed then most likely you have changed. I feel that Chiaki has changed somewhat, from the beginning of the first series she really was kind of unfriendly and at times a bitch. Now, she still can be abrasive and straight forward, but she’s nowhere near as bad as before, in this episode she even takes out the trash, earlier in the series she would have made someone else do it.

  

 

 

    

     This episode begins with Judy and Sallie playing basketball, and when they take a break Julia comes over and starts talking with them about the future. Julia says that after they graduate next year that she’ll be going to college because a good education will help her in social circles, she asks Sallie and Judy what will they do when they graduate? Sallie says that she doesn’t really know, her brother is in Princeton on scholarship, Julia tells her that a scholarship doesn’t really matter because Sallie’s parents can afford to send her. Then Julia says to Judy that I guess college doesn’t really matter to you because she can go back home and stay with her rich guardian and then maybe marry some man of good social status?

     After their talk Judy really starts to think of the future, mainly what to do after graduation. She is very grateful towards John Smith for paying for her high school and feels that she needs to become independent, so she looks into earning a scholarship for college.

     A few days later the girls decide to go into town to do some shopping, and Judy comes to the realization that even if she earns a scholarship she’ll still need money for living expenses. While in town Judy sees a flier for a private tutor job, the job pays thirty dollars a month to teach two little girls. Judy applies for the tutoring job and decides to write her guardian John Smith telling him about her goal of earning a scholarship and the tutoring job.

     Judy gets a interview for the tutoring job, the two girls Karen and Cindy give Judy hell  even before the interview starts. The girls’ mother asks Judy some standard questions like why do you want to teach, and why is a girl from a prestigious school wanting a job and so forth. After a rough first meeting it looks like Judy got the tutoring job, and she having a rough time tutoring them.

     A few days later Judy gets a letter from Walter Griggs tells her that her guardian John Smith disapproves of her taking a tutoring job, and that she should spend all of her time studying and that if she needs more money here is a bigger check. Needless to say that Judy is angry about the letter, she’s doesn’t need more money she wants to prove to her guardian that she can become independent in the future. Well, that’s all for this episode.

     Well, this was a very interesting episode the girls are really starting to think about the future, up until this point the girls’ lives were filled with concerns about dances, classes, plays, and other minor things. But now they are starting to talk about things like, graduation, college, and even the mention of marriage.

     Julia thinks that Judy situation is very good, graduate then go back to live with her rich guardian, and then marry a man of high social status. But, Judy worries about the future, being a orphan an having her tuition paid by John Smith is great but sooner rather than later she’ll have to become independent and be able to support herself. Her situation is much worse than Julia’s or Sallie’s situation, Julia comes from a rich family, and Sallie’s family is upper middle class and they own a family business. Judy has never told Sallie or Julia about her true situation.

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