Kuragehime – 8

I have an enormous amount of affection for this series, and it’s been there pretty much since the first episode – it’s just a show that makes me happy. Incredibly smart and light on it’s feet, with real warmth towards its characters, I find it completely irresistible. And after a somewhat more “conventional” turn, this week was a delightful return to form – the characters drove the plot, and not the other way around.

Let’s see Mary Tyler Moore try THAT!

I’ve rarely seen the process of a boy slowly falling in love with a girl portrayed with so much wit and intelligence as it has been here. While Tsukimi is the nominal main character, in a way this series is really more about Shu and especially Kuranosuke – they’re the ones who undergo the most change as the series progresses. While the plot starts and ends with the Amars and their living situation, most of the drama and comedy stems from the impact that has on the brothers. Kura finds so much of himself that he wasn’t aware existed, not least the ability to feel real love for a “plain” girl after an adolescence of casual sex with popular girls. He sees in the Amars a chance to do something meaningful, and even if it starts out as a response to boredom and a chance to annoy his father, he soon begins to feel the pull of saving their home for the sake of the deed itself. And in the process is helpless as his defenses are worn down by Tsukimi.

Let’s nor forget Shu, of course – it’s the drama of the Amars housing crisis that leads him to meet Tsukimi and fall for her. It’s the impetus that propels him into his meeting with Inari and the blackmail crisis that follows. There’s some wonderful development on that front this week, with the chauffeur Hanamori and his willingness to pimp himself shamelessly for anything Benz-related providing the biggest laughs of the episode. Ironically Shu’s father’s decision to investigate Inari will probably turn out to be the best thing for him. Shu is a tragic figure – I suspect now that his love for Tsukimi is likely to be unrequited, but he at least needs to know that his virginity is intact. If nothing else, maybe he can take from this experience that he’s capable of feeling something normal and healthy for a woman, even if his falling for Tsukimi was a little impulsive.

As for the progress of the plot, it appears that Kura has finally made some headway in convincing the Amars to fight and in raising some cash. His accidental discovery – homemade Clara dolls are a big hit at flea markets. With Tsukimi’s character design and Chieko’s mad sewing skills it looks like he’s hit upon a winner. While we await to see what will happen now that, thanks to a timely sneeze by Hanamori, Shu knows that he’s being spied on, Kura spies Tsukimi playing bride in an old piece of white cloth. She’s horrified but for him, it’s the last nail in the coffin – he’s hopelessly in love. After he faints and Mayaya attempts to revive him with Vicks Vap-o-Rub his falsies are discovered. Sure, they should have figured out by this point that he’s a guy (especially with the wig tossing earlier) but it’s still a damn good gag.

The last five minutes, as Tsukimi played out her fantasy while remembering her mother and Kura finally gave in and fell for her, was as charming as anything this season. When Kura shouted up to Tsukimi that they should make jellyfish dresses together it was an almost Romeo & Juliet moment, with these two lovable oddballs in the central roles. Takahiro Omori has proved himself as a remarkably talented and versatile director over and over again – Baccano, Natsume Yuujinchou, Gakuen Alice – and he he’s once again hitting this one out of the park. This is a director who knows how to hit all the right notes to make the emotions ring true.


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