Comedy


        This episode begins with the girls looking at, and talking about, Ton-Chan as she swims in her tank, but they’re soon distracted by Ritsu tearfully complaining that she’s sick of the drums. Well, when the other girls get to the heart of the matter, they pretty much agree with Ritsu’s conclusion that she’s invisible as the drummer, and now she’s talking about trying another instrument.

 

         Yui casually offers up her guitar for Ritsu to give it a go and then complains about Gitah being unfaithful with her. Azusa and Yui try to help Ritsu with some quick guitar instruction but Ritsu quickly gives up saying it’s not for her. Later, as Ritsu is walking down the hallway, she notices that Sawako is very radiant today, and then after lunch Ritsu tells the girls she’s going to try the keyboard and she says she wants to be radiant like Sawako.  After trying the keyboard for a while it’s suggested that Ritsu try the bass but Mio says no way, she’s the bassist, and she gives her emotional reasons why she loves the bass.

 

        That night, after dinner, at Yui’s house, Ui notices her sister banging around on some glasses and saucers and asks what’s up, and Yui tells her that she’s working on operation Ritsu in the spotlight. The next day its class picture day, and Yui puts operation Ritsu in the spotlight into effect but none of her ideas really work out. On their way home from school, Yui tells Azusa that she’ll play drums if she has to but Azusa tells her that she needs her right where she is.

         Later, in Ritsu’s bedroom, we see her think over her current drum situation, and we see how everything got started with her and the drums. Soon, Ritsu is doing some drumming with her sticks and some CD cases, and she seems to be enjoying herself. The next morning we see Ritsu and Mio running really late for school because Ritsu stayed up late watching a Who DVD. You like their drummer, Mio asks?

        Ritsu and Mio get caught sneaking into class late thanks to Yui, and they notice Sawako with her lower face mostly covered. Later, Sawako shows Yui and Ritsu the damage, she tried something new to look even younger, and the girls tell her she over did it. Up in the clubroom, Ritsu is back to her normal self saying the drums are the only thing for her. Yui tells Ritsu that they’re all one part of a greater whole even though they have different roles. Well, Ritsu tells them why she loves the drums and she’s OK if she’s not really noticed. Mugi tells the other girls that she come up with a new song thanks to Ritsu.

        Well, Mugi plays a few cords of the song with her keyboard for the girls and they like the melody. Mio is put in charge of the lyrics, and Mugi tells her that she’s already named the song, honey sweet tea time. While Azusa, Ritsu, and Yui dig into some tea and honey sweets that Mugi brought, Mio and Mugi try to work on the lyrics for the song. Well, that’s all for this radiant and sweet episode.

        Sorry this review took so long, after watching this episode a few days ago I realized that I really liked the episode but I struggled trying to put it to words. So here it goes, and I hope it makes some sense. While I loved the first season of K-On! for all the reason that I covered in my previous reviews I always thought that the one thing that was the most unrealistic about the series was there no guys, or even interest in guys. Come on now, it’s highly unlikely that five heterosexual cute girls and one hot woman would not have boyfriends or at least some guys sniffing around them, I think most guys find rocker girls very intriguing and attractive. Well, since I guess this anime would never dare to introduce the idea of the girls getting boyfriends or let alone have the girls run into some guys their own age I think I’ll settle for having one of the girls (Ritsu) get a little dose of self awareness. What I mean by this last statement is that most “moe blobs” in these types of shows happily go about their “moe blob” existences without ever achieving any awareness of how the external world views them, so I think that Ritsu desire to be more radiant is a major step in the right direction. Ritsu wants the world to notice her and is thinking about ways to make it happen; after all don’t most of us want the world to take some notice of us. Go ahead Ritsu, shine, baby shine.

       Well, this episode begins with a little skit involving the girls trying to wake a sleeping Yui, and the overflowing storage closet in the music club’s practice room. The closet is so bad that the girls are forced to do some spring cleaning; they have to pull out all the crap out and go through it with everybody taking home what’s their shit. After the girls separate what belongs to them there’s still a lot of stuff from the previous members including an old guitar that Yui finds.

 

       When Sawako enters the room she sees the guitar and tells the girls that it’s her old guitar. Well, the girls tell Sawako that everyone has to take their personal belongings home, but since the guitar is old and musty Sawako suggests that they pawn it and use the money to fund the club. On their way to the music shop the girls decide to stop at a home center to look at a storage unit for the clubroom, and guess what, its Mugi’s first time in a home center. Ritsu and Yui turn the visit into dress up time and have a jolly good time. After Mio and Ritsu pick the unit and setup the delivery we see that Mugi has really loaded up on stuff from the store.

       After finishing up at the home center, the girls take the guitar to the music store and the guy has to take the guitar and do an assessment of its value. When the guy returns the girls are shocked to hear he’ll pay 500,000 yen (about 5,000 USD) for the guitar.

       The girls then get an explanation of why the guitar is so valuable, and they head off for burgers and fries after taking the cash. Over the meal the girls debate what to do with the money and we see the effect it has on everyone except Mugi.

 

        The next day the shelving/storage system is delivered and installed in the clubroom but there’s a problem, Yui still hasn’t taken all her stuff home due to her fear of Ui’s reaction. Then Sawako visits the club to check out the shelves and find out how much they got for the guitar. Well, after trying to dodge the question, Ritsu tells Sawako 10,000 yen, so she asks for the receipt since the money will be added to the club’s account. Just as Ritsu is about to hand over the receipt she attempts to eat it to the cheers of the other girls, but, alas, Sawako retrieves it from Ritsu’s mouth before the meal is finished. When Sawako sees the receipt, the girls beg forgiveness with Ritsu saying the amount overwhelmed her judgment. Sawako says OK, I’ll deposit the 10,000 you claimed, and say the rest was spent on the club stuff, but I’ll buy one thing that you girls agree on. Before Sawako leaves with the cash Yui asks to be slapped in the face with the money and she seems happy.

 

          On their way home, the girls try to decide what they want for the club, an amp, an effects unit, or another frog and the girls see the other clubs working with their new members causing Azusa to sigh. The next day, the girls talk about how they feel that Azusa needs a freshman to look after no matter what she said before. So, Yui comes up with an idea…..later, that afternoon when Azusa enters the club room, the girls introduce Azusa to Ton-chan the new club member, the turtle from the home center that Azusa and Yui were looking at. Azusa isn’t really thrilled, Yui says she thought that Azusa liked it, no I just thought it was strange, Yui liked it. Well, the girls tell Azusa that they thought that she was lonely without a junior to look after, and she seems to accept the turtle saying she’ll look after it from now on. Well, that’s all for this episode.

 

        This episode K-On!! continues its slow paced, five cm/s drift towards graduation and the future. What I mean by this is that while the seasons and the school year slowly moves forward, the girls see the coming end of their halcyon days, and no one more than Yui struggles to enjoy the remaining time as long as possible. I think that the metaphor of the spring cleaning of the storeroom serves this purpose with Ritsu and mainly Yui trying to avoid this task. Yes, it’s partly laziness, but the act of taking all their personal stuff home also symbolizes that their blissful time in the light music room will be ending. Also, this fight against coming adulthood is brought to the forefront when Mio tells Yui that she’s acting like a kid and to act more mature, and Yui says that she’s still a kid. I feel that Yui has it quite right by trying not to rush too quickly to adulthood because don’t most of us look back at high school and think how easy we had it no matter how we felt about it at the time.

      I felt this episode had several funny skits, and it was very adorable watching Mugi’s reaction during her first visit to a home center/super center, while she’s a rich girl she’s really a common girl at her core. Also, seeing Yui in action with the cordless drill and tool belt was priceless, it’s my Moe crack. Seeing how the girls reacted to their share of the money was pretty funny, and all I can say is that Yui’s got some pretty strange money fetishes. Hell, I smack her in the face with a thousand bucks anytime she wants to stop by my house. Overall, I found this episode of K-On!! to be a nice, lazy, but enjoyable dose of Moe entertainment.

 

       This episode begins with Yui arriving at the school early and heading up to the practice room to work on her skills, and once the other girls arrive we find out that Yui got her wake up time wrong again. After the new OP we find out that it’s the beginning of a new school year, Azusa is now a junior, and the other girls are seniors. After Yui makes some small talk about being a senior the girls head to the class assignment board to find out where their home rooms are. Well, Yui pushes her way through the crowd to discover that all four of the girls are in class 3-2, and Mio sheds tears of joy.

        Once the girls see that even Nodoka is in the same class, Mio wonders if the fix was in. Mio’s question is soon answered when they discover that their homeroom teacher in none other than Sawako. Later, in the hallway, Sawako confirms Mio’s suspicion and girls all express their thanks before being sent to the welcoming ceremony. During the welcoming ceremony we’re treated to the student body singing the school song, and a strong motif of the segment is falling cherry blossoms. Also, Nodoka reminds Yui that the club needs to find new members so Azusa won’t be all alone next year.

         The club concentrates on trying to get new members, passing out fliers, wearing costumes but to no avail. The club redoubles their efforts to get new members by trying all sorts of sneaky tactics and even resort to observing other clubs. Back in the club room, Sawako and Nodoka join the girls and they plan for tomorrow’s performance at the orientation ceremony, and Yui hopes someone will join the club after hearing them play like Azusa did.

         Before their performance, Yui makes a pitch to get new members to join the club, and we only see the last few seconds of the show. Later, the girls feel their show went great and they head off to pass out fliers. After no one shows up to the club Azusa tells her other friends that the club must not be popular but they tell her the club looked awesome, and they heard some freshmen say so. They tell Azusa that the problem is they might appear too hard to mingle with because they seem so close. While Azusa is with her friends, the other four brainstorms about how to get new members and Yui says it’s OK like this for a while longer with just the five of them. Sawako reminds them that they only have this year; Yui says it’s a long time but Sawako says a year is really short; Azusa overhears this conversation and seems happy.

       As the girls are about to dig in to some snacks Azusa walks in and Yui is about to rush out to continue passing out fliers but Azusa stops her. She asks for some tea and the Banana cake Yui felt Azusa wanted, and she tells the other girls that she’s fine with this year just having the five of them. Azusa tells Yui that she’s not going to go easy on her this year, and Yui pleads to the sky for a freshman to save her. Then we get treated to a new ED song and animation, and that’s all for this episode.

       Well, theirrrrrrrrrrrrrrr back, cute girls doing cute things for my male amusement, and I love it. Yes, I can’t deny it, Lucky Star, Sora no Woto, and K-On! what can I say, I love watching cute girls doing cute things. The world could be ending and all I would need is a couple of beers and a good dose of Tsukasa, Kanata, and Yui and I’d feel fine.

        OK, the new series gives us a new OP and ED, I think the new OP featuring Yui’s vocals is all right but not great, and the new ED featuring Mio’s vocals is good, but neither is as good as the first season’s OP or ED.  While the first episode of second season pretty much follows the same formula as the previous season there are some differences, the first season began with Yui’s frantic rush to make it to her first day of high school on time which could be viewed as Yui’s unorganized, disjointed, and chaotic journey towards the future and maturity. But, the way Yui started the second season infused the episode and the start of the second season with a totally different flavor, and I tasted a strong dose of mono no aware along with a hint of melancholy.

        While Yui and the other girls are still moving towards their bright futures, whatever they may be, Yui who’s been the most emotionally receptive of the girls is realizing that an important chapter of their young lives is about to come to a close. I don’t really know if Mugi, Mio, and Ritsu understand how close the five of them are but Yui understands this and Azusa was made aware of how close they all are to each other by her friends telling her how other girls view their group.

         While the second season might have all the silly stuff from the first season I think the series is going to become more focused on the girls’ relationships with one another and we’ll see a pretty heavy dose of introspection before it’s all over. Good animation, good music, a few laughs, and cute girls doing cute things, that’s good enough for me.

        Well, here we are, the girls from K-On! are back with this OVA. The story begins with the girls getting invited to perform their first outside of school concert on New Year’s Eve at Live House. Mio wants to put it to a vote, and she and Azusa vote no, but they get overruled 3-2 by the other girls.

       The girls then pay a visit to Live House where they have to play an audition tape and fill out the application. The group is informed about the meeting and rehearsal schedule, and shown around the club.

        After the tour of the club the girls return to Yui’s house where they discuss what songs they’ll play and what outfits they’ll wear.  Should they where the cute uniforms from their first concert or the uniforms from their second show, or maybe have Sawako make them some new ones, but, in the end, Mio’s suggestion of just wearing their school uniforms wins out (good choice).

       Later, Yui gives her sister Ui two tickets to the concert, and she also gives Nodoka a ticket to the show. When the girls show up on concert day they get to meet Ritsu’s friend from the band Love Crisis, she’s the one who got them the invite to the show. The K-On! girls see that Love Crisis is on a much more professional level, they have their own fliers, Logo, CD, and they’re even doing a future solo show. After attending the preshow meeting the girls find out that they’re the second band up, and they receive their backstage passes. Then the girls are given their setup sheet where they have to let the club know what type of lighting, backing tracks, and so forth, basically they don’t know what they’re doing, so Mio says keep it simple.  But, the girls are overmatched so Yui borrows a filled out sheet from a more experienced group to use as a reference.

        Once the paperwork is finished, the girls watch and listen to some of the other groups’ rehearsals, and admire their specialized equipment like special affects petals, and so forth.  Back in the dressing room, we see that Mugi has brought along a supply of tea and snacks, and soon the other groups join them. Basically, all the girls talk about their love of music and their drive to keep playing.

       Time passes quickly and Afternoon Tea Time is called to the stage for rehearsals. Once the girls take the stage they’re pretty confused and nervous, and their first attempt doesn’t go very well, actually it’s a disaster. The other girl groups give them some words of encouragement and they start over from the beginning.

       Later, Yui meets Ui and her friends outside before the show, and they talk a bit. As the concert is starting Sawako shows up wearing her old clothes and she’s recognized by the club’s manager. 

        Afternoon Tea Time puts on a good show, and outside they’re greeted by Sawako, Nodoka, Ui, and her friend. Well, they tell them good job, and the girls thank Love Crisis for inviting them and they agree to play together in the future.

 

         After the show, the girls all return to Yui’s house where Ui cooks for them. As the New Year approaches, everyone but Ritsu and Mio has crashed, they share a smile and a laugh about the other girls, and they soon join them in sleep.

        At the crack of dawn Yui wakes everyone except Sawako, and Ui for the first sunrise of the New Year. While the other girls are initially grumpy then soon head outside and watch the sun come up together enjoying each other’s company at the start of a glorious new year. That’s all for this OAV.

         Well, it’s been awhile since I watched an episode of K-On!, and this OAV reminded me why I loved the first season, and why I’m looking forward to the second season. To, me shows like K-On!, Lucky Star, Sky Girls, Rocket Girls, Aria, and so forth are not about the action, or the plot, but me enjoying the girls interacting with the other characters, situations, and the environment  surrounding them. You can call these formulations Slice of Life, or call it Healing, or call it Moe; I really don’t give a shit, all I know is that I get enjoyment and relaxation from watching these types of series.

          Overall, this episode of K-On! was a typical episode, nothing spectacular. The girls take a major step forward in their musical careers by getting invited to play outside the school for the first time and they take it about as seriously as everything else, not very. But, that’s not the point of the series; the whole point to this series is that we get to watch as the girls personal horizons are widened because of their friendship and the situations they’re placed in. As Mio says throughout the episode, it’s kind of nice to see how far they’ve come, and see all the new things they’re experienced because of their band. I don’t think that the girls are going to be professional musicians, but they’re filling a wonderful treasure chest of memories that someday when they’re older and life starts to run them down they can draw upon to make them smile; after all, you should treasure your youth.

        This episode picks up with Ichigo walking through the doorway and hoping she’s in the all correct room, and she soon finds the princes waiting for her. As Ichigo begins to celebrate with the princes a group of older boys push their way through pushing Ichigo to the ground then they tell the princes that they’re going down.

        Soon, the Chairman takes the stage and congratulates the sixteen passing teams (ten- 3rd years, five- 2nd years, and one- 1st year). The Chairman then explains the first task, each group will have each member bake a different pound cake with the theme of family, and each group will be judged as a whole on good their cakes are, and how well they fit with the theme of family. The chairman then draws the pairings, and Team Ichigo (the boys’ name choice) gets paired against the team of rude third year boys. When Ichigo sets forward and goes to shake the hand of the other captain he makes rude comments and tries to crush our sweetheart’s hand, pissing off the princes, game on.

        The boys have done some research on the other team by locating samples of their cakes, and all four of them taste pretty good. They decide that Ichigo will make a (shock) strawberry cake, Andou will make a green tea cake, Kashino will make a chocolate cake (no kidding), and Hanabusa will make a rose flavored cake.

The bad guys’ cake.

Team Ichigo’s cake.

        Once they get down to practicing, Ichigo, Andou, and Kashino’s cakes turn out just fine but Hanabusa can’t get his idea of a rose cake to work. The others try to ask Hanabusa why he’s so obsessed with roses, but he doesn’t say anything. The group has another encounter with the rude team of third years where they insult to other boys, and Ichigo shows a little flash of that infamous redheaded temper (it does exist, my sister is a redhead) by almost cracking the leader upside the head with a pan.

 

        After this incident, Hanabusa needs some alone time so he heads off to think. Later, Café comes back to the group and says that Hanabusa even sent him away. Well, Ichigo tells the boys she’s going to talk with him because they’re friends. Andou and Kashino talk, and say they never bothered to ask Hanabusa even though they’ve know him longer than Ichigo and they’re supposed to be friends, so they start to follow Ichigo.

        Ichigo and Hanabusa have a nice talk about how his father was a rose grower, and his mother was a flowerer arranger who also loved to bake sweets. Hanabusa grew up surrounded by love, roses, and sweets and he vowed to someday become a great maker of sweets and someday create a rose cake. Then a few years ago his father when returning from a job in Paris he booked an earlier flight, and on his way to the airport he got into an accident and was killed. So, all Hanabusa has left of his father is the bottle of natural damask rose water, and he also tells Ichigo that’s when he became nicer to girls and women. So, you’re not just a plain old narcissist. Well, Andou and Kashino were also listening and they come out of hiding, and all three of them vow to help Hanabusa create his rose cake.

        When they head back to the practice kitchen all their attempts at a rose cake end in utter failure, and Hanabusa again walks out to be alone. Then Ichigo and the princes spot Hanabusa standing by the lake. Hanabusa thinks to himself that he’s never had a good memory of the rose water, and that maybe even his father might be alive if not for the water. Hanabusa reaches back and throws the bottle towards the lake, Ichigo screams Noooooooooooooo, and makes a flying leap to reach the bottle before it goes into the lake, and……? Cliffhanger time, that’s all for this episode.

After the episode finishes we get a little live action skit featuring two little girls showing us how to make some simple homemade Valentine’s Day treats.

       Well, after watching several episodes featuring the back stories of Ichigo, Andou, and Kashino it was only a matter of time before we had to get Hanabusa’s back story. By far, Hanabusa’s back story is the most emotional and the saddest, while his youth was wrapped in love, sweets, and roses those memories of roses seems to bring him pain (maybe he needs to remember love more than the sadness), and Ichigo just the girl to help him remember the love.

        Hanabusa needs to understand that a child’s dream in many ways becomes the dream of their parents; a parent wants their child to be happy and smile. So, I’m sure that Hanabusa’s father would want him to achieve his dream and smile. I don’t know how Ichigo is going to help Hanabusa remember the love, maybe his mother will help, or maybe his friends will help, but remember he will because that’s Ichigo’s real magical power.

        After Kurumi stops crying she gets angry because Sawako’s been crying along with her, and she demands to know the answer to all sort of questions. Did you tell him you liked him, did he tell you he liked you, are you going out, and so forth.

         Kurumi and Sawako, much to Kurumi’s annoyance, end up talking about Kazehaya’s good points. Even after Kurumi’s behavior, Sawako is happy because Kurumi has acknowledged her as a person, and she’s finally been able to talk with someone about her feelings for Kazehaya.

 

          Well, Kurumi says it’s all over, Kazehaya thinks she likes Pin, and she knows Kazehaya doesn’t have feelings for her. So, why should she care if she exposed or misunderstood? Sawako tries to tell Kurumi to not leave it like that, and she needs to tell Kazehaya. Kurumi basically tells Sawako she’s a fool if she believes that.

        Later, we see Kurumi having a flashback to middle school where we see how she became like she is. Lots of girls wanted to be around Kurumi because she was so cute and the girls felt that they’d be able to meet more guys that way. But, Kurumi’s incisive nature also hurt people around her because she wouldn’t say whether or not she liked a guy, so she ended up getting in the way of the other girls’ love interests. One day, after Kurumi’s overhears some of the girls talking bad behind her back then being nice to her face, she ends up crying in the classroom after school when Kazehaya walks in on her. After Kurumi initially says nothing is wrong Kazehaya leaves the classroom only to return to find Kurumi really bawling her eyes out and from that point on she felt that Kazehaya is the only person who really sees her for who she really is, and she vowed not to tell him what she feels until she knows he likes her.

           Well, Kurumi and Kazehaya run into each other after school and Kazehaya drops the I didn’t know you liked Pin on her, hell no. Kurumi quickly comes to understand that Sawako must have intervened because Kazehaya doesn’t know about her role in the rumors. She asks him about Sawako, what’s she like. She’s easily misunderstood but always truthful no matter the risk, and that’s why Ayane & Yano trust her, and I always believe her when she tells me something.

       Well, as Kazehaya is about to ride off, Kurumi takes Sawako’s advice and tells Kazehaya that she doesn’t like Pin and he’s the one she likes, the one she’s always liked, and she only thinks of him. Kazehaya stops his bike and rushes up to Kurumi and says he’s sorry but he already likes someone else and he can only think about her. She asks him if he’s glad she confessed to him; yes, thank you. Kurumi asks Kazehaya to call her by her first name just once. Kazehaya calls her Ume, and as she’s walking off she says that she miscalculated him, he has bad taste in picking girls, and he’ll never get a cuter one then her. Kazehaya asks were you always like this, and Kurumi just walks off smiling.

       Later, Sawako talks with Ayane and Yano about her feelings for Kazehaya, and about how Kurumi was the catalyst for Sawako coming to terms with her feelings for Kazehaya. The girls think that it’s going to get really interesting from now on.

       When Kurumi shows back up at school Pin sees her and tells her she’ll meet a guy her own age to fall in love with, and that a high school guy would be thinking about her all day long if she confessed to him. Later Kurumi talks to Sawako, Ayane, and Yano and tells Sawako that she’ll never give her blessing to her relationship with Kazehaya. Sawako asks if they’re friends, no way, we’re rivals. As Kurumi is walking off, Yano says that if Kurumi was like that from the beginning she would have liked her better.

        When the sports festival resumes, Sawako’s class loses all their remaining events, but they still end up finishing in a very respectable 6th place. Afterwards, Sawako gets invited to her very first after party. While everyone is having a great time at a karaoke club Sawako continues to talk about Kazehaya with Ayane and Chizu where she tells them that she loves him. When Sawako is taking a break, Kazehaya comes looking for Sawako so Ayane points him in the right direction.

Remember it’s the After Party, Sawako

Stay thirsty Sawako

        When Kazehaya finds Sawako it looks like she’s sleeping on the stairs, at first he calls her by her last name, then halleluiah, he calls to her using her first name. Sawako says yes and Kazehaya thinks she may be sleep talking, but Sawako leans over and puts her head on his shoulder, and thinks to herself that by the time he called me by my first name I was already in love. That’s all folks.

 

       This was a pretty sweet episode for several reasons. First of all, I found myself not hating Kurumi very much, and somewhat understanding how she turned out the way she did. It must have been quite a shock for Kurumi to find out that most of her friends in middle school were just using her for her looks to draw guys to them. But, Kurumi’s nature also contributed to the problem, she seemed like she was the type of girl who in an attempt to please everyone around her never wanted to make a decision, she’d never say yes or no about a guy so I can see why some on the other girls would be angry with her. You could also see that while Kurumi was very popular in school she never had any close friends; I noticed that while all the girls were friendly to her in school she never seemed to get invited to do anything with the other girls after school. I do agree with Yano that the more open and aggressive Kurumi is much more likeable. So I feel that Kurumi might still be as cute as a button, at least she a doll with some substance.

        Pin was very funny in this episode, in his attempt to be funny with Kurumi I think that he actually cheered her up in his own silly way; I’m sure that if you confessed to any high school boy they would be thinking about you all day, I guess that’s as good as it gets from Pin.

       I found it very nice that Kazehaya was finally able to call Sawako by her first name; it’s really funny how he can admit to Kurumi that he’s really got the hots for someone, but all he can manage is to say is “Sawako”. I can understand that he’s shy because Sawako is probably his first serious love/crush, but I find it a stretch that he’s such a nice guy that all he can manage is “Sawako”. When the love bug first hit me all I could think about was how I wanted to talk with her, look at her, touch her, be near her, and kiss her, and I did when the first opportunity arose, hormones always wins over shyness.

       For all of Sawako’s social immaturity and shyness I really found myself cheering with joy when she ended up being the one to make the first move, while Kazehaya finally managed to say “Sawako” it was Sawako who initiated the first skin to skin contact. Now, the ball is in Kazehaya’s court, come on and man up, and kiss her.

         The holidays are finally over and all the students have returned to the school. The school’s cake grand prix is about 15 days away, so the princes tell Ichigo that she’ll have to undergo intensive training before the contest starts.

        Meanwhile, we see the school’s staff discussing how this year the number of middle school teams that have applied has skyrocketed. They discuss how the number is unmanageable given the allotted time, so one of the teachers suggests that they give a pliminary test to separate the teams that actually have a chance of winning from those who don’t.  As this is going on, the three princes begin Ichigo’s intensive training program, Kashino starts Ichigo off with physical fitness training; pushups, sit ups, and running. Then Andou continues Ichigo’s training on the science of cooking & baking, and Hanabusa teaches Ichigo French.

       Day after day Ichigo continues her basic training with all three of the boys pounding as much of their baking knowledge and skill into Ichigo as possible, and she’s showing signs of improvement.

 

        One night Ichigo decides to go to the kitchen by herself for some addition self-practice and she begins to melt down because she can’t seem to remember what she was just taught. All the sweet spirits show up to lend Ichigo their knowledge and help, but Ichigo is overwhelmed and tells them she’s not a genius like  President Tennouji and the others and they’re just wasting their time on her.

        Vanilla calls Ichigo over to her and tells her to have a look. When Ichigo looks where Vanilla is pointing she sees President Tennouji is also working late into the night. President Tennouji notices Ichigo and calls her over, and she asks Ichigo about her physical fitness training and tells her that developing good stamina is part of the job. Then she notices Ichigo’s worn out and bruised hands and tells her that she’s beginning to develop the hands of a first class patisserie. Tennouji goes on to tell Ichigo that it’s possible that they might meet in the finals, and she looks forward to the match. Later, Tennouji tells Honey that this year’s cake grand prix is going to be very interesting.

         Well, President Tennouji’s words and Ichigo seeing that even that best have to work hard rejuvenates Ichigo and she dedicates herself to training  even harder than before.  When the big day finally arrives, all the students are told about the pre-selection test, and no one is worried until they hear the terms of the test. All students will take an individual skill test, and if one student fails their entire team fails and will be eliminated from the competition. Ichigo’s is really nervous but the princes tell her that they’ve taught her enough skills that that she should easily pass any basic skills test, as long as she doesn’t do anything stupid.

 

        When Ichigo’s number is called she heads off into the unknown, and enters a room (the tasting room) that has a piece of cake sitting on a little plate. Ichigo wolfs the cake down and heads to the next room where she realizes how bad she screwed up. The next room has three sticks of butter on the table and a card asking which butter (A, B, or C) was used in the cake. Then Ichigo sees three doors each with having a letter on them that corresponds to a stick of butter, and she then understands that she made a stupid mistake when she just wolfed down the cake; she hadn’t bothered to use her tremendous natural sense of taste, and now she’s screwed. But, all of Ichigo’s training with the princes finally pays off; she’s able to remember all the baking basics they pounded into her and answers the question correctly. After Ichigo navigates the two next rooms involving milk and sugar she makes it to the final room of the test involving flour.

        Just as Ichigo is working out the final challenge, the school’s PA system tells her she only has one minute left to finish the test. As time is running out, Ichigo mixes water with the flour to test the firmness of the dough. Inside the “all correct” room, the princes nervously wonder if Ichigo will make it out in time. As the final countdown has commenced, Ichigo makes her choice and heads to that door hoping she is correct, and Ichigo has……Well, cliff hanger time, that’s all for this episode.

       Well, with this episode, I think Ichigo finally realizes how hard she’ll have to work to become a truly skilled Patisserie. In the beginning of the series we discovered that Ichigo was born with a tremendous sense of taste, and this ability has served Ichigo well throughout the series, until now. Ichigo being her normal rush forward without really thinking self rendered her natural talent useless. If Ichigo had saved her sample of cake she probably could have just sampled a little bit of the cake at each test station and quickly made it through the test but now she had to rely on knowledge earned through hard work rather than talent earned through grace.

       In Philip Pullman’s, His Dark Materials book trilogy one of the main characters, Lyra Belacqua has obtained the ability to read a device through grace and by the end of the series Lyra loses that ability.  Later, Lyra is told that she can regain that ability through hard work and sweat, but once she regains the ability her readings will be even better than before because she’ll have a full understanding of the task, and she’ll now have certainty and the skill will never leave her.

       So, when Ichigo’s god given talent fails her she was able to rely the knowledge that she earned through hard work and practice; Ichigo was able (I assume) to pass the test  using her brain rather than her intuition.

For further reading about the differences between innocence & experience, and skills obtained through natural grace and skill earned through hard work see, On the Marionette Theatre by Heinrich von Kleist, 1810.

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