October 2009

      Well, this will be my first post covering a anime convention for my blog, I try to make a point out of attending at least one anime convention per year, but I’ve never covered one for my blog. Generally when I attend a anime convention it’s out of state, and I go there to drink and party with friends, no work. I had not originally intended to attend this local convention because I was scheduled to work on Saturday, but I ended up with the day off, so at the last minute I made a quick trip and was not disappointed.

Hyatt Youmacon 2009

      Youmacon is held at the Dearborn, Michigan Hyatt hotel (next year it will be held at the Detroit Renaissance Center) a very nice and clean facility with plenty of free parking surrounding the location.  Even though I arrived at the convention fairly late (1PM), my walk from the parking lot to the hotel entrance was less than 5 minutes.

entrance to youmacon 2009

      Once inside the hotel, I hit up the registration line, which moved very quickly taking me less than 10 minutes to fill-out my registration card and pay my $25 dollars admission fee. Once I got my bearings straight I headed off to the artist alley to take a look around at the offerings. While I did see a lot of interesting original artwork, one thing that really struck me was the shear number of vendors selling cat ear hats, but the funniest things I saw was a vendor selling a “how to glomp” t-shirt right next to a “no glomping allowed” t-shirt.

a shot of the artist room

artist room Youmacon 2009

      After finishing up with the artist room my next stop was the dealer/vendor room which featured a decent variety of anime DVDs, manga, J-pop music CDs, cosplay items, anime & manga models, anime & manga t-shirts, and Japanese food & snacks. One thing that I’ve noticed over years is the rise in the spending power of the female anime and manga fans; I’ve never seen such a high percentage of female cosplay items and yaoi stuff for sale. I’m really glad that Youmacon is moving to a larger facility next year because the dealer room was more crowded and cramped than many conventions I’ve attended that boast 2-3x the amount of attendees.

a shot of the dealer/vendor room

dealer-vendor room Youmacon 2009

     After finishing up in the vendors’ room, I stopped by the AMV room to watch a few videos and found the room packed with fans giving the room a very lively feel to it. Then I decided to head towards the cosplay and gaming area but first stopping to listen to a little live music at a lounge area.

a shot of the lounge area

lounge area Youmacon 2009

      After a short break, I made my way to the gaming and cosplay area, but I didn’t manage to get any pics of the gaming area because they had a no packages allowed rule, and I wasn’t leaving my purchases outside the door. The cosplay photo-shoot area was well stocked with a wide variety of characters from Final Fantasy, Trigun, Sailor Moon, FMA, Inu Yasha, Lucky Star, K-On!, Naruto, Bleach, Death Note, Haruchi, plus many many others. By far the most popular cosplay outfits for girls seemed to be some version of Haruhi, followed closely by Sailor Moon, and then some form of a custom Japanese schoolgirl outfit or custom Lolita outfit. For the guys it seemed like the most popular outfit was of the Naruto variety followed closely by an assortment of Bleach outfits. Since I got to the cosplay area late the best spots for pictures were already taken and I wasn’t going to smash my way through a bunch of kids to get the pics, but I think I’ll return on Sunday with the intention of getting some good cosplay pics.

a couple of shots of some interesting cosplay outfits

Al from FMA

grim reapers

     Once I decided it was time to head home, a custom Naruto motorcycle display near the main entrance caught my eye, and I just had to stop and gawk.

Custom Naruto Motorcycle 001

     After admiring this fine demonstration of love for a anime series I chatted with Rob Pasque, the bike’s owner. Rob told me that his custom Honda VTX-1800 Naruto bike features custom paint, wheels, seats, pipes, and many other custom features, and his bike took two years to build from conception to completion with a cost of around $65,000 USD. I think I’ll stop back on Sunday to get a few more pics of the bike, and Rob has promised to send me some additional pics of his bike.

a few additional pics of the bike

Custom Naruto Bike 002Custom Naruto Bike 003

Naruto Bike Information

     Once I got back home it was time for me to check out the spoils acquired at the convention, and in the spirit of Remembering Love I traded in my old VHS fansubs of  the original Macross series for a set of Macross DVDs. So, next week I’ll begin my journey through the entire Macross universe, and I hopefully finish before the end of the year.

Macross DVD1Macross DVD2

      Well, I plan on returning to Youmacon 2009 on Sunday to get some better cosplay pics and do a little more looking around. Then I’ll give some final thoughts on the convention, and share some insights on how I think modern fandom has mostly changed for the better. If anyone has any specific requests for cosplay pics please leave a comment tonight, and I’ll see what I can do. 

Cake holds the mysteries of life

       This episode begins with Ichigo and the three princes paying a visit to the school cafe which is run by the high   school students. After Ichigo pigs out on sweets she tells the princes that she wants to work at the cafe but they tell her it’s impossible for middle school students like themselves to work there. When Ichigo expresses her disappointment, Hanabusa tells Ichigo that she can come with them to Andou’s parents’ Japanese sweet shop this weekend.

Ichigo is very full

       Well, Ichigo works as a shop assistant (waitress) where she finds out that Andou has a huge family (4 other brothers and sisters), and that he and Kashino are childhood friends. Later, Ichigo meets one of Andou’s brothers (Ichita, 1st grade student) who calls her the cake-pig, and she finds out that Kashino’s the one who named her that. Ichita expresses to Ichigo that even though Andou is going to school to become a patissiere he hates cake. Later, Andou tells them that he and Ichita used to be so close, but now Ichita barely speaks to him.

waitresses are busyIchigo mobbed by Andou's familyAndou and his sisters

Kashino and I are childhood friends

I'm Ichigo and not a pig

       When Ichigo expresses her love for the shop’s red rice bean cake Andou takes her back to meet his grandfather who make those cakes. Ichigo asks Andou why does he wants to be a patissiere if his family owns a traditional Japanese confectionery shop? He tells her about his first experience eating cake (guys always love cake after their first taste) at a birthday party for Kashino, it was magical, and since that day he’s wanted to make Japanese and Western sweets using Yumetsuki’s (the name of the shop) traditions.

lately he hasn't talked with mewhy do you want to make cakesnever tasted cake

cake is so good

        Later, as Ichigo is washing dishes, Ichita attack her again saying the cake-pig and all cake-makers should go home. As Ichigo is turning to face Ichita, Kashino bops him upside the head, Ichita says cake-makers should go home and Kashino asks if he’ll tell his brother that? Ichita says he hates cakes, and tosses a insult to them as he runs off. Kashino gets angry and is about to go after him when Ichigo stops him saying she’ll talk with him instead.

You talk like this to a guest

I'm sure he has a reason

        When Ichigo finds Ichita, she sees that he’s busy practicing making the red bean paste, when Ichigo talks with him she can tell that he loves his family business and loves his brother. Ichigo comes up with the idea that if she can connect Ichita with cakes she can reconnect him with his brother, but this doesn’t good very well. Ichita tosses a cake against the wall and Andou slaps him for being a brat, Ichita yells that he hates cakes and his brother, as he runs off.

you're quite goodI learned from brotherIchita and the cake

I hate you and cake

       Well, Ichigo finds Ichita hiding in a corner crying, she tells him she’s sorry for forcing the cakes on him , but she asks him does he really hate cake that much, and he really doesn’t hate his brother does he? Ichita asks Ichigo why did his brother teach him to make the red bean paste then go off to a cake making school? He tells Ichigo that it was his dream to work with his brother in the family shop, but he left them to go to a cake-making school, he loves cake more than me. Ichigo realizes that Ichita is like her before she had dream, watching her mother spend all her time with her sister making her lonely and sad. She tells Ichita to cheer up because he is just like her and she lets him know about his brothers dream of setting up a shop next to the family shop.

why did he leave usI was like youI was left behind by my sister

I'll let you know you brothers true feelings

      When Ichigo tells the others about how Ichita feels, Andou agrees that his brother must have felt lonely with him off at school, and his parents spending all their time at the shop or with the younger siblings. Ichigo tells them that they should make a cake for Ichita, Andou thinks it might be a bad idea but Ichigo says if it’s a cake he wants to make for Ichita he’ll he it. Well, they all help Andou make the cake, and Ichigo grabs Ichita and brings him downstairs where he finds his whole family waiting for him. Ichigo tells Ichita that this cake represents his brothers true feelings, and after some hesitation he agrees to try the cake.

he must have been lonely

the cake looks good

Your brother's true feelings

       When Ichita bites into the cake he thinks it’s great, and the rest of the family agrees. Then Ichigo tells Ichita that the bean paste used in the cake was the paste he was working on, and she calls the cake the “brotherly green tea cake roll”, Andou and Ichita then have a tearful brotherly reconciliation. As the kids are heading back to school, Ichita tells the cake-pig that his dream is now to take over the family shop since his brother’s shop will be nearby. Ichita goes on to tell Ichigo that she’s now his rival but she really doesn’t an elementary school student for a rival. Well, that’s all for this episode.

I'm sorry Ichita

I don't want a kid as a rival

       Well, this episode served to bond Ichigo more closely with the three princes as she begins to spend time outside of class with them, and this episode also showed us Andou’s dream. When Ichigo saw Ichita she saw much of herself in him, he was lonely while watching someone close to him go for their dream while feeling a little left out, this was the same feeling Ichigo got when watching her parents spending all their time with her sister. Ichigo felt lonely/lost until she discovered her own dream of the future, and she did her part by showing Ichita that he needed to find his own dream that didn’t require his brother to be a part of, you have to grab the future for yourself. Overall, this was a pretty cute and low key episode, and Ichigo looked really cute in her uniform.

I hurt those around me

       Well, this episode begins at Sawako’s house with her parents noticing the change in her, and when her mother suggests she might be in love it draws quite a reaction from her father. As Sawako’s taking her bath she wonders if she using up her supply of happiness, but she agrees to enjoy it anyways.

Maybe i'm using up my happiness

      Back at school, Yoshida and Yano continue to deal with the rumors of their previous indiscretions. In the last episode when Yoshida and Yano confronted the girls they were told that Sadako was just using Kazehaya, Yoshida, and Yano to improve her reputation, so they decide to just ask her about this. When Yoshida and Yano talk with Sadako about their past it’s clear to them that she couldn’t have possibly started the rumors. When Sadako offers Yoshida her notes for the mid-term exam other students soon want to also use them, Yano and Yoshida declare Sadako to be pure and white.

Sadako is just using everyone

Totally Pure and White

        In the teachers’ office, we see Pin talking with Kazehaya, at first Pin just makes small talk about his drinking, but he comes right out and asks Kazehaya if he’s going out with Sawako, no real answer only stumbling from Kazehaya. While Sawako is outside eating lunch she thinks about how happy she is, and that before these experiences she thought that she was always meant to be alone.

What's up with SadakoSadako is a good girlAre you dating her

Pin thinking about Sadako

I always thought I'd be alone

      Later, Hirano and Endo come up to tell Yoshida and Yano that the rumors are getting worse, Yoshida now hits her grandfather, Yano is now prostituting herself, and Sadako is the source of those rumors. Also, Shino (Sawako’s friend from middle school) comes up to her and tells her that someone is spreading rumors about her, Shino refuses to believe that Sadako is slandering her friends. Shino tells Sadako that it’s good that she’s made friends like Yano and Yoshida. Sawako tells Shino that they’re not friends because that would imply that her relationship is on the same level of Yano and Yoshida’s relationship with each other. Just as Sadako was telling Shino that she’s not Yano and Yoshida’s friend they were listening to them talk but they get dragged away by Pin. Sawako tells Shino that she really likes Yano and Yoshida, and would really like to be their friend, but it would be assuming too much to on her part to call them that.

Yoshida is hitting her gradfatherYano is doing enjo kosaiYou've grown softer Sadako

I'm not their friends yet

If I could become their friend I'd be happy

       Back in class, Yoshida is pissed because they got pulled away by Pin, Yano tells her that they didn’t get to hear what she really meant and that their answer would be complicated if they were asked if Sadako was their friend. When Sawako enters the class she can tell that something is wrong because Yano and Yoshida aren’t their cheerful selves. When they see her they have her sit down and tell her not to lie,  pre=”so “>Yano tells Sadako that they like her and they asks her what she thinks, does she like them? Sawako says, well, no, um, and she stumbles with her words so Yano and Yoshida assume that Sadako doesn’t really like them, Yano asks Sadako if they were bothering her? Sawako feels the change in the mood and doesn’t like it.

It's not that easy

come here Sadakodon't lie to usdo you like us

there're not happy

     Later, while Sawako is in the girls bathroom she hears the full rumors about her, Yano, Yoshida, and Kazehaya and   now understands that Yano and Yoshida were hurt, and it’s her fault. Sawako assumes that she causes hurt to the people around her and she even begins to think that she’ll just hurt Kazehaya, and she kind of blows him off after leaving school.

it's all my fault

I will hurt Kazehaya

       On their way to school, Yano and Yoshida talk about Sadako and if she really could have spread those rumors and now they discuss the possibility that it could be true because of Sadako’s answer. When they run into the Sadako in the hall, she tells them she sorry for making them sad and runs off before they can speak with her. Sawako tries to find the people spreading the rumors about her, Yano, and Yoshida to clear up the misunderstanding, but to no avail. We see that these problems are affecting Sawako greatly, she’s in tears while trying to study in class.

I don't want it to be true

the ghost of rumors

       Later, Kazehaya runs Sawako down and says he saw her crying and wonders if he did anything to make her avoid him? No, you could never do anything to make me hate you, and Sawako runs away from him. When Sawako is alone she wonders if she should separate from Kazehaya, it would be better for him, she doesn’t want to, and Sawako is just totally messed up because she doesn’t know what to do. Well, that’s all for this episode.

You've been avoiding medid I hurt youdo you hate me

I could never hate you

I don't know what to do

       Well, this episode really hit me hard, I had been riding along on the emotional roller coaster of Sawako’s life, and until now that ride had been mostly uphill. It was thrilling watching Sawako slowly emerging from her stunted social and emotional cocoon like watching a butterfly entering  our world and gracing it with its beauty. Until now, Sawako had pretty much been dealing with people who were basically good at heart and chose to look at her more closely before passing judgement. A big part of Sawako’s problems in this episode are caused by her stunted social and emotional skills, if she had just been able to tell Yano and Yoshida that she liked them most of the drama would have been avoided. But, since Sawako is so socially and emotionally stunted she tends to over analyze and over think situations that we would find very easy to deal with. Sawako’s never really had friends or companionship so she has great difficulty figuring out what these relationship should look like or feel like, do you like us should have been a simple question to answer, and it is for normal people, but Sawako’s not normal. If Sawako had followed Kazehaya advice of making her feelings clear and saying how she really feels about something it would have been a lot easier. Now, Sawako must not only fight against the viscous rumors attacking her and her new found friends she must also fight against recreating those self imposed emotional barriers that she had used to protect herself in the past.

I'll stay by your side Lag

      Well, Lag and Niche finally make it to Rent, and after a bit of searching he locates “love someone down” which looks like a circus tent. After a worker tells Lag to wait outside, Niche decides to have a look around where they find dozen of caged wounded animals. Lag says he wishes he had one as a dingo, Niche asks what a dingo is, and Lag explains the whole Letter Bee/dingo working relationship to her. Soon, a boss/or someone in charge who isn’t too friendly comes around, and after an initial bit of misunderstanding they accept the letter/Niche, give Lag a tip, and send him on his way.

I came to deliver this letter

Lots of animalsI need a dingo like theseIt doesn't have to be a animal

farewell Lag 001

       Well, as Lag is on his way to the interview he begins to wonder about Niche, then he runs into two travelers looking for a freak show called love Someone Down in Rent, and they show Lag a flier advertising a girl who has recieved the blood of the legendary Maka. Lag suddenly realizes that Niche is the new attraction at the freak show, he thinks about all the wounded animals and “borrows” the travelers’ horse and race back to Rent.

Love someone down freak show 

       Then we see Niche chained and caged with the freak show workers trying to force her to show them her rumored golden swords, they call her Maka-chan, but she says she’s called Niche. Lag races towards town thinking about Niche the whole way. Back at the freak show, Niche tells them her name is Niche and to get it right, the boss notices that she wearing pants and demands she take them off and produces a knife to threaten Niche. He tosses the knife at her but she blocks it with her hair which turns out to be her golden swords.

Niche not looking good

Lag rushing back to town

Niche's hair is swords 

       Niche uses her hair and slice through her chains. The boss is over joyed because Niche is the real deal, and he can charge big bucks for her. Then Niche turns her hair on her cage and destroys it, then she destroys all the other cages, freeing all the animals, and then she finally destroys the tent while making her escape. Lag arrives just in time to see the destruction of the tent, and to see Niche fleeing by air.

Niche destroying the tent

Niche heading into trouble 

       Lag chases after Niche who has headed into a forest filled with gaichuu, and he arrives just as Niche is facing off against a Four Roses gaichuu. Lag tells Niche to run away as he fires his gun at it, the bullet just bounces off the gaichuu, and Lag realises that the gun needs a crystal to stop the monster. Niche attacks the monster, lopping its head off with her hair but that still doesn’t kill the monster. As the monster attacks Niche, Lag dives towards her and drags her to safety.

Niche facing the monster

this gun is worthlessLag saving NicheNiche is wounded

       After Lag and Niche roll to safety, Lag sees that Niche has recieved a head wound and can’t move, so he makes his stand against the monster. Niche regains some awareness and tells Lag that she was glad she saw him again. Just when all hope seems lost, Lag’s amber eye activates and he’s able to fire the normal gun just like a real Letter Bee’s gun, destroying the monster. After Lag fires the gun he drops to the ground from exhustion, and Niche feels the after affects of Lags use of his heart. Niche see all his sad partings; his mother, Gauche, his aunt, the town, and Niche, and all his emotions touch Niche.

Niche glad to see lag again

Lag protecting NicheLag's eye acting upMonster destroyed

Niche seeing Lag's heart

        Lag looks at Niche and tells her he was glad he could see her again, and Niche goes over to Lag and starts licking his wounds. Lag tells her to stop, but Niche tells Lag to be quiet saying that his wounds will heal faster. Niche tells lag that she’s only ever done this for herself, but because he named her, made her wear pants, and because goodbyes are so sad for him, she’ll stay by his side.

Lag glad to see Niche

healing faster

Goodbye hurt you Lag

        After they get out of the forest they see that they’re being followed by a small creature that Niche freed from the freak show, which takes a liking to Niche and she names it Steak. Afterwards, Lag says he’s sorry for taking her to a place like that, and Niche asks, so you failed at your job? Lag says, no, pointing to Niche’s now destroyed address label, and says address unknown, you’re no longer a letter, just Niche.

Niche's friend

You're now just Niche

       Niche tells Lag that she’s not just Niche, but she’s now Lag’s dingo. Niche asks Lag if he really said that anyone could become a dingo as long as they’re strong, Lag starts to argue but Niche says not to worry because while Lag’s weak, she’s strong. The episode ends with Lag following Niche as she heads towards Lag’s destination.

I'm now Lag's dingo

       Well, this episode of Letter Bee was very entertaining and enjoyable, but the really interesting thing is how the episode highlights the differences between Lag and Gauche, and how their differences will affect the rest of the series.

       The first major difference between Gauche and Lag is that Lag wears his heart on his sleeve while Gauche hide his true feelings until the end. When Gauche first met Lag he really cared more about the completion of the job than he really cared about the “Person”, Lag. To Gauche, Lag never really became a person until after he was delivered.

        On the other hand, Lag Seeing, immediately begins to transform/humanize the “letter” into the “human or human-like” Niche.  When Gauche asked the “letter” what his name was, it was more for confirmation and management purposes, OK, you’re Lag Seeing, so I got to deliver you.  Lag’s reaction to his “letter” is quite different from Gauche’s reaction, once Lag discovers that she had no real name he almost at once goes about giving the “letter” a name thereby transforming Niche from a letter/object to a unique individual.

       Also, Lag must have understood by the end of third episode that Niche wasn’t quite human or at least not normal but he chose to treat Niche as a human girl by demanding that she put on some pants. It was clear that Lag’s decision to have Niche wear pants upset the freak show’s owner, since he considered Niche/Maka to be nothing more than another creature to be displayed and tamed.  So, in one episode, Lag has managed to individualize and humanize Niche, and gave her feelings of self-worth for the first time, “My name is Niche!” Later, Niche goes on to do the same thing of the creature that followed her into the woods, once Niche decided to accept the creature as a traveling companion she names it, “Steak”.

      Now, to one of the more notable fan service moments of the episode, the Niche on top of Lag scene, while one can add sexual context to any scene where you see a girl sitting atop a guy licking him, I found this scene to be quite touching/uplifting (the writer beats back his inner lolicon). In the previous episode Niche noticed Lag licking his wound and comments that she also licked her wounds, so when Niche licks Lag’s wounds and tells him that she has only done this for herself, Niche has fully accepted Lag as a member of her family. Now, I tend to look at Lag, Niche, and Steak as a pack, and we really know who runs the show. 

Ichigo is in big trouble 

       This episode begins with Ichigo recounting her first days at St. Marie, she tells us how naive she was about thinking it would be easy, and we see that the students still have to study subjects like math in addition to their cooking. As Ichigo’s day passes, she’s a complete failure at math, French, and chemistry. Later, Ichigo will be attending a flower arranging class taught by Hanabusa’s mother, oh the stress. Well, in the flower arranging class Ichigo does a lot better because she’s able to make full use of her vivid imagination.

Ichigo blowing up

the flower arranging task 

       Later, Ichigo has to study for her French class and when she seems lost in the library Yumi tells Ichigo that she’s also bad at French so lets study together. But, once Ichigo starts to study with Yumi she realises that Yumi’s great at French, so Yumi just helping Ichigo out. After studying French, Ichigo tries to stay up late studying about the sweets they’ll be making tomorrow, she doesn’t last long.

 you lied about being bad at french

       Well, today’s assignment will be making choux cream, and Ichigo thinks this will be easier. While Hanabusa and Andou help and encourage Ichigo, Kashino tells her to not drag them down. Well, at first, things go good for Ichigo, but in her enthusiasm she opens the oven too soon and ruins the choux, Kashino calls her a moron. But, Hanabusa tells her there’s still time to make another batch, Ichigo in a rush to get new ingredients bumps into another girl and crashes into the ground, she humiliates herself in front of the teacher and the other students.

are you a moron Ichigo 

      Later, while Ichigo is sitting outside, Vanilla tries to cheer Ichigo up, but Ichigo says she might not belong here. Ichigo remembers her friends, her mother and father, and her sister, and she says everything seems so far away. Then Ichigo hears someone playing a piano tune that happens to be her mother’s favorite song and Ichigo breaks down in tears because she misses her family. Hanabusa walks up to Ichigo and offers her a handkerchief which after a moments hesitation she takes.

I may not belong here

Ichigo and her friends Ichigo and her motherIchigo and her father

Ichigo and her sistereverything seems so far awayIchigo is crying

here take this Ichigo

       Hanabusa takes Ichigo down to the lake where he tells her that this is the best place to come when you feel down. Soon, Ichigo smells a familiar scent and she wonders what it is? Hanabusa tells Ichigo to follow him where he leads her to a field of wild roses. Ichigo and Hanabusa talk, and she finds out that his parents met in May at a rose garden, he tells her that’s why even though he was born in October, his name, Satsuki is derived from May. Well, after “smelling the roses”, literally, Ichigo rushes off to practice making choux with Hanabusa offering to help.

 I'm named after the month of May

       Ichigo goes at making the choux with renewed vigor then she remembers that Hanabusa offered to help, so she goes over to where he working. Hanabusa tells Ichigo her choux is burning, but when she rushes back she sees that he was pulling her leg. Once Ichigo and Vanilla finish the choux, Hanabusa walks over and tells her it’s not quite done yet so he makes a special creation using Ichigo’s choux and some candy wild roses.

cream choux complete

Hanabusa's creation for Ichigo 

       As Hanabusa offers Ichigo the first taste, Kashino, Andou, and Yumi show up with Kashino saying they have to taste first before passing judgement. As the crew digs into the snack, Vanilla says they better leave some of her.

it seems a waste to eat it

lets dig in

        Later, that night, we see Ichigo writing in her computer diary a message to her grandmother that she’ll do her best to remain at  St. Marie no matter what. Then we get a live clip of patissiere Watanabe giving us some tips on making choux. Well, that’s all for this episode.

I'll do my best to stay

Making cream choux of real

       Well, Ichigo’s struggles to become a patissiere continue in full force, while Ichigo’s energetic, lively, and full of heart, she’s just sometimes too eager for her own good. While Ichigo’s faults might be fatal in normal situations, in the shojo anime world her faults are her strengths. While the other kids laugh at Ichigo her personality traits will keep her going through tough times when others will just fold their cards and leave.

      It seems that Ichigo had her dark night of the soul in this episode. For the first time, Ichigo felt the full force of her separation from her family and friends, when she met with failure and humiliation she lacked the comforting surrounding of her old life to help her get by. But thanks to Hanabusa’s timely intervention Ichigo realised that she does have new friends to lean on and draw comfort from. In some respects Ichigo’s journey resembles the journey of a main character from a shonen anime; try something and fail, train harder, and try again and keeping training until you succeed, never give up.

      As far as Ichigo’s relationship with the princes go, it seems that Hanabusa has got it bad for our sweet Ichigo, Andou seems to be nice guy and nothing more, and I swear I think that sooner or later Kashino’s going to become all tsundere over Ichigo. One interesting thing that was hinted at in this episode is that Hanabusa just might be a pretty boy who loves his own looks a little to much, Ichigo noticed this and took note. I have one bit of advice for Ichigo; never fall for a guy who cares more about his looks than a girl.

Sawako with Kazehaya and Maru-chan 

       This episode begins with Yano and Yoshida greeting Sadako at school, and when she tells them how happy she is they tell her to smile when she’s happy So, Sawako tries to force a smile but  it comes off as really scary, and they tell her it might be better off if she just relied on her good personality. 

Good morning Sadakohow you doingwe need to look .....

Sadako's morning smile

you're better off not smiling 

       Later, in class, Kazehaya tells Sawako that he needs to give the dog a name and he asks her to do the honor. As Sawako is thinking about this, Pin (a fill in teacher, and the school’s PE instructor) interrupts Kazehaya and Sawako little chit chat fest and after he thinks about Sadako reputation he gives her the stare down and comes away unaffected, to which, Yano and Yoshida think is a good thing for Sadako. Then after seeing Pin give Sawako the stare down Kazehaya tries the same thing but soon overheats after staring into Sawako’s eyes for just a few seconds. Both, Yani and Yoshida notice this but they think it’s more funny than serious. Well, Pin suggests that they should name the dog after Pedro Martinez the baseball player, but Sawako comes up with Maru-chan after hearing his name.

the Pin vs Sadako staredown

the Kazehaya vs Sawako staredown

      Later, during a break, Yano and Yoshida talk with Sadako about long long they’ve known both Ryuu and Kazehaya, and Sawako finds out that Kazehaya was so popular with the girls in middle school that all the girls considered him group property. Then Pin announces to the class that he needs someone to stay after class and work on the attendance book, and Sawako volunteers to do it and is soon joined by Kazehaya, then others also ask to help. Well, Pin seems upset because Sadako and Kazehaya ruined his bit of fun, so he demands to speak with Kazehaya in the office. A while later Kazehaya sneaks back to help Sawako, and later on, she’s joined by Hirano and Endo after a few seconds of awkward silence. They tell Sadako that they had aways wondered if she was angry and liked being alone until she greeted them and they became curious so they stopped for a look. Well, after a couple of minutes of talking, it seems that Sawako is getting along fine with the girls.

the Kazehaya common property agreement

we wondered if you wanted to be alone

Sadako getting along with others

      After class, Sawako and Kazehaya meet in a stairway and Sawako tells him how good of a time she had, and Kazehaya tells her that she’s changed but she’s also changed Yano, Yoshida, and him.We see mysterious stalker girl listening to the two of them talking from around a corner.

look out for stalker girl 

      Later, we get to see Kazehaya passing Sawako a note in class and he almost gets busted because Sawako doesn’t think the note is for her. When Sawako finally read the note we see that he’s telling  Sawako that he’ll be walking Maru-chan (the dog) down along the river where they found him and does she want to join him. Well, she sends him a note saying yes. When they meet by the river they talk about school, and what Sawako does in her free time. Then Kazehaya asks Sawako if she’s told anyone about the dog, and when she says no he tells her that he wants her to keep it their special secret. OK.

lets keep this a secret 

     When Sawako and Kazehaya are back in class he asks Sawako to help him with a problem, so she begins to teach him. After a while Hirano and Endo join them and soon the rest of the class joins in the study group. After Sadako finishes helping everyone she gets thanked and Sawako gives off a true unforced smile that catches every one’s attention but it soon fades once she notices she’s being watched, Kazehaya really notices.

the Sadako real smile

Yano and Yoshida watching 

     After school, Sawako catches up with Kazehaya and tells him that it really made her happy when he said teach me, he admits to Sawako that he’s being a little selfish because he wishes that her smile was just for him. Later, as Yano and Yoshida are getting ready to leave they talk about how when Sadako smiles she almost seems like a normal girl. Yano and Yoshida’s talk is interrupted when they overhear other girls talking about them, how Yoshida used to be in a reform school, how Yano had over 100 guys by middle school. When Yoshida confronts the girls, she demands to know who started the rumors, and the girl tells her it was Sadako. Well, that’s all for this episode.

Sadako almost like a normal girl

who said itSadako said those rumors

      Well, I think this was another fine episode, Sawako/Sadako continues her journey/process of becoming more integrated in the social order of the class. While Sawako continues to give a lot of credit for her small gains to Kazehaya, Yano, and Yoshida she also needs to take some credit for her successes, clearly her efforts to be more friendly and talkative are also paying off.

      What I really like about this series is how all the small touches make this a very enjoyable series, I love how the show uses small examples of Sawako normal girly reactions to common things to make her more human and sympathetic. See the below examples of Sawako playing with her hair while thinking about Kazehaya’s gaze, and her reaction to getting a note from him.

Sawako girly 1Sawako girly 2

I also like how the animators continue to give us really nice backgrounds, and the use of lighting is wonderful.

For a really good post examining the use background, lighting, and the feeling of nostalgia in Kimi ni Todoke click on this link to a post by Ghostlightning.

Background and lighting 1background and lighting 2background and lighting 3

      Another interesting thing was watching Yano’s, Yoshida’s, Kazehaya’s, and the rest of the classes’s reaction to Sadako’s real smile. When Sawako tried to smile on command for Yano and Yoshida at the beginning of the episode it came off as creepy and scary, but when her smile came as a natural expression of true happiness it was stunning, it caused the class to pause, Kazehaya’s heart missed a beat, and I think a few of the other guys must have noticed too.

Come on Kazeyaha, just tell her how you feel, you came close in the stairway. Give Sawako her Jerry Maguire moment, you complete me.

you complete me Sawako

      I think that trouble is just beginning for Sawako because she violated the community property rule surrounding Kazehaya, beware of French Dolls that look too sweet to be true. Oh, Kazehaya better snatch Sadako up quickly because I think that other guys have started to notice her. If I was in her class, I’d try to date her, rumors of supernatural powers don’t frighten me, you wouldn’t have to bother looking for scary things in your closet or under your bed if she was snuggling next to you, after all, scary girls need loving too.

I'm sorry Yuki 

       This episode begins with Touya waking up in a hotel room from a dream of his childhood, Yayoi has left him a note saying she’s in the lobby’s cafe. Touya joins Yayoi who’s already eaten, and Touya thanks her for not destroying Yuki’s letter to him (I thought it was destroyed). Soon, Yayoi tells Touya about the upcoming Venus music festival hosted by Touou TV, only young female singers can enter, and the festival decides the future singing stars. Touya asks Yayoi about Rina and the festival, she says that Rina had two chances to enter but she was always scheduled for other jobs. Eiji’s doing? Yayoi says that’s probably right. And this year? Yayoi says who knows.

Thank You Yayoi 

       Touya and Yayoi continue to talk about the festival and he finds out that only one singer can enter from each production company, so it’s Yuki or Rina. She tells Touya that Yuki doesn’t know about this, and she goes on to tell Touya that he should realise that his should be the end of his & Yuki’s love.

it's about time you accept

your love is over 

       Next, we see that Misaki and Akira had to take Touya’s dad back to the hospital and they left him a message on his answering machine. Then we see Touya walking home after he refuses to let Yayoi drive him home, and we see him buying another copy of Yuki’s single from a music store. When Touya finally gets home he listens to Akira message telling him to hurry to the hospital because his father has gotten worse.

Yuki's CD 

       Later, we see Yayoi picking up Yuki at her apartment, and Yuki notices that something is bothering Yayoi. Then we see Touya finally arriving at the hospital, and then we see him telling Misaki that his father just had a blood pressure spike and that he’s going to be alright. Misaki then tells Touya that she knows that Yayoi has been picking him up at Echoes, and does Yuki know? He, says it was just once, and Misaki says, so Yayoi takes care of Yuki and him? Touya just leaves it at that.

She often comes to pick you up 

       Later, as Misaki is leaving the hospital she overhears Touya talking with his uncle, she finds out that his father is much worse off than Touya’s been telling everyone, and she also hears that if his tests don’t come out OK they might not be able to operate. Misaki goes back to visit Touya’s father, he thanks her for the nice time he had, and he also tells her to get along with Akira. He goes on to tell her to forget about his son, and she says she’s sorry.

forget about my son 

       Later, we see Mana and Haruka still hanging out, Haruka asks Mana about Touya, and she dodges the question. Then we see Yuki trying to get in contact with Touya asks about his father and so forth. But, as time passe, we see that Touya’s is spending all his time at the hospital, and he’s even doing all his college studying there.

Touya with his father 

       Then we see a meeting at the production office that includes Eiji, Rina, Yuki, and their managers. Well, the topic of the meeting is the Venus festival, and Rina says she knew this would come up. Eiji says, so you don’t want to enter, and Rina says you know that I’ve always wanted to enter. Well, as Eiji is trying to say that Yuki will be chosen Rina says she’ll save him the trouble by saying that she’s quiting her brother’s  production  company and going solo.

you've avoided the subject 

       After Rina says this and leaves the meeting Yuki goes into shock, Yuki tries to stop Rina from leaving the room but Rina walks out the door. Yuki goes to chase Rina down, she catches Rina, but Rina separates herself from Yuki, and says she’s sorry. Yuki tries to get Eiji and Yayoi to stop Rina from quitting, and Yayoi tells Yuki to wait in the car, and she’ll drive her to Rina’s house.

goodbye Yuki 

       When Eiji and Yayoi are finally alone, she tells him that it’s Hiraki who’s been following her and taking picture. Eiji says he’ll handle it by telling him he’ll not notice his activities or he’ll take legal action. He asks Yayoi is she’s OK? Yes. And the youngster? There’s nothing between us. Eiji tells Yayoi that if Yuki’s hurt he won’t forgive her.

I won't forgive you 

       Then the scene switches to Echoes where we see that Misaki is now working there, and we see Mana and Haruka stopping by for a visit. Then we see Eiji thinking about all the things that have happen with Yuki and Rina when he gets a call from Kanzaki asking for a meeting. Then we see Yayoi and Yuki stopping Rina’s car because Yuki wants to talk with her, but we also see that Rina is avoiding the meeting with Yuki. The episode finishes with Touya hearing Yuki’s voice on the answering machine saying she wants to hear from him, and he seems like he’s almost in tears after hearing her call.

Yuki chasing Rina

       Well, this was one hell of an episode, and the shits really hitting the fan now. So, we find out the stalker wasn’t Eiji but Hiraki, and now Eiji will look the other way, but if Hiraki doesn’t quit his activities he’ll sue him. But, what was really interesting is trying to figure out what the hells up with Eiji’s and Rina’s relationship; why did Eiji stop Rina from entering Venus in the past, why is Eiji using Rina as a stepping stone of Yuki, and why the hell doesn’t Eiji have any loyalty towards his sister after all the years they’re been together?

       I really liked how Rina finally decided to break with Eiji after she comes to the conclusion that he really doesn’t care about her career, she’s got more balls than all the men in this series put together. It was also quite interesting to see that Touya knew all along that his father was in much worse shape than anyone knew, and as his father’s condition worsens he’s right by his side. Also, it’s quite funny seeing how all the girls still want Touya including Yuki, Misaki, Mana, Haruka, and even Yayoi seems to like his magic stick more than would have been necessary to expose the stalker. I continue to find Eiji to be really strange, while he doesn’t want Yuki hurt, he knows about Yayoi and Touya. Well, it’ll be really interesting to see Yuki’s reactions when she finally realises that she’s just a plaything in Eiji’s game, maybe she’ll quit and join Rina’s new production company.

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