Mashiro-Iro Symphony – 11

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Miu-sensei can tutor me any time she wants.

There’s a number of things I found pleasing about this week’s episode of Mashifoni, which continued the superb run to the finish the series has been on.  Not least of them was the refreshingly direct way it addressed the growing sexual tension between Shingo and Miu (the humans, not the cats).  For most of the series that side of the equation has been extremely low-key, a kind of background hum that was barely perceptible but always present.  Yet with the acknowledgement of mutual affection the two leads shared last week, the chemistry fundamentally changed.  This wasn’t ignored or danced around – it simply edged its way into the atmosphere of the show, as Shingo and Miu became aware of each other in a way that hadn’t seemed so urgent before.

I’ll return to that in a minute, but another thing I especially liked is that the romance remained a part of the picture, but didn’t consume everything around it.  Some have complained that the show is “wrong” because the girl who turned out to be the romantic lead wasn’t the “main” girl for most of the show.  I think that premise is faulty to begin with, but the fact is that whatever your view of who is or isn’t the main girl, the show was always about more than just the male lead and his harem.  All that stuff that was happening at the beginning with the difficulties of the school merger was important too, and hasn’t been forgotten – in fact it looks to be a vital component in the final episode.  That this storyline naturally made Airi the first girl to stand out isn’t a weakness of the writing, it’s a strength, and I think the problem is not in the dramatic structure but in the limitations viewers put on their own expectations.  Shingo and Miu are only one part of the show – a very important part, of course, but still just a part.

I’m fascinated to see the contrast between Sana and Airi in the way they’ve dealt with losing out on Shingo’s affections.  Sana, like Airi, didn’t suddenly become unimportant when Shingo chose Miu.  But she’s made the situation (understandably) about herself and her feelings, and been quite direct in the way she’s confronted them.  She continues to play a very dangerous game, going shopping with Shingo and even testing his interest in her as a backup girlfriend.  That Shingo is too classy to consider such a thing is lucky, because with a lesser guy Sana could have gotten herself in even more trouble.  Her very funny joke about castrating Shingo (the cat – yeah, right) and her plausible deniability about “wanting the one she likes to be happy” aside, it’s clear she’s still in an emotional minefield here.

Airi, by contrast, has lost herself in counseling Sana as a way of not confronting her own feelings.  Where Sana’s instinct is to reach out for someone to comfort her, Airi retreats inside – perhaps as a result of the way her mother has clearly been a distant figure in her life who doesn’t offer much emotional support.  Right up the end Airi denies that she’s fallen in love with anyone, indeed that she ever could fall in love with anyone.  Independence is everything for Airi – her color, if you will.  She needs to be independent from her parents, from a boy, even from her own feelings. So when she’s in pain, she can’t allow herself to seek solace in the arms of another like Sana can.  She’s being a good friend, and that’s undeniably a part of her motivation – but mostly I think it’s that desire not to be exposed in any way.

Getting back to the romantic couple, as always I loved their scenes together and I continue to think they’re an exceptionally good match.  Miu has become quite a different character in these last few episodes as we’ve seen her out of her comfort zone.  We’ve seen her embarrassed and awkward as a result of her Mother’s shocking directness about sex (methinks this cougar would like to do some tutoring of her own) and we’ve seen her become the aggressor in her courtship with Shingo.  It makes sense in that she’s older, and that he’s such a gentleman – but he’s also not such a gentleman that when Miu gave him every hint in the book, he didn’t take them and take their first kiss (and second, and third, and fourth).  The two of them were charmingly awkward, yet clearly not in denial about their feelings.  Kudos to Sakuno for being a good sister and leaving the two of them alone for Christmas Eve, something I can’t imagine was much easier for her than it was for Airi or Sana.  As to what happened after the credits rolled, I think there are strong indications that there was more kissing, and more than kissing (just what are you doing with your hand, Young Man?) but that’s not really the most important thing.

With only one episode left, it looks as if the focus of the finale will turn at least in part to the school merger, which seems to have hit a snag.  This should provide a good opportunity to wrap up everyone’s story, especially as Shingo and Miu’s ending has already more or less been written.  Airi is going to have a meeting with her Mother, I suspect, perhaps to plead for the merger to go through. The series will probably return to the themes it started out with, and that feels like a good decision.  Manglobe has made a startling number of good creative decisions with Mashifoni over the last 11 weeks, so I’m not at all surprised.

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  1. d

    All I gotta say is that whole kissing scene was erotic XD. I don't mean it in a pornographic sense but the literal meaning of erotic. I guess when you can sense the couple's feelings in a scene like that, it has a bigger impact. As for the other girls, I like how they had their own little defeated girls party. I'm still getting used to Sakuno as the little sister because of how considerate she is which is really refreshing.

  2. K

    I wanna see a harem anime like this where the lead dude says "I can't decide which of you I like best so lets just all live together (me and 5 wives) and share one big bed".

    Bokuwa is also in the same boat as this series with at least 3-4 girls hitting on the main character. That pairing is still up in the air tho. I thought it would be Sena and after the newest episode I dunno? I feel bad for the glasses girl as she has no shot.

  3. A

    Im pretty sure this episode in the BD will have uh 'something extra' ;).

    On the other side probably the best thing about this show was that this feels like a first love for all the characters. Miu and Shingo are both realizing the physical aspects of there relationships, Sana is recovering from the heart breaker of not being able to be with the one she loves and Airi is confused whether to accept that she was in love, even though that will mean she will end up like Sana (heart broken).

    The continuation of their lives and development they have gained is shown so well in this show. Also its interesting that now that the end girl is decided, the other girls dont try to just hang on to Shingo stupidly like in say shuffle. Shingo made his choice and the Harem broke with it

  4. A

    Of all the vn adaptations I've watched over the years, I can't pick out a more pleasant and/or heartwarming series than Mashiro-Iro Symphony. (Also the fact that Miu is my favorite!) Watching Shingo, who as a male lead that isn't completely oblivious to what goes on around him, and Miu becoming a couple was one of the most enjoyable development I've watched thus far and the culmination of the process was well presented, also very satisfying, in this week's episode.

  5. A

    I've played the game for this so this scene looks a lot like one of the *cough* scenes in the game so the BD for this may have some not very pure things in it. Looking forward to seeing it though

  6. F

    This show did everything right. Everything you said here is correct. I can't even deny that this is probably the best VN adaption since Clannad Afterstory.

    And I don't care. These developments piss me off more than any adaption I can think of. There are tons of shows where I think the guy got with the "wrong" girl, but most of the time, I don't care. Because the guy is a tosser and the "main" girl is useless. But not here. Here. This time. THIS TIME!

    And I have other reasons, but I'm sure you can guess them, so I'm not going to elaborate. Past saying that I really dislike how they handled Sana.

    Nice kiss though, easily the second best of the season (not that there is a huge amount of competition)

  7. G

    I say this is one of the better harem shows I've seen for quite a while, initially I was hoping for a Shingo-Airi pair as what I thought the series was trying to build up first, so I was actually surprised Shingo goes with Miu. But the last few episodes have been really great and made the pairing looks like a perfect match. Good job for the production studio :)

  8. e

    @fencedude look about the main girl airi i dont think she was have so much romantic feelings at the final scence with the bath sure there was a jealousy but not much romantic feelings you mean and here the reason:Both were drenched by the rain and believed they were at risk of catching a cold unless they each got into a bath. Airi was not willing to let Shingo go without getting into the bath first. Shingo didn't consider it acceptable that he get in first before her, since then she could get sick. Hence they would both get in. Airi turned out the lights to reduce the risk of embarrassment. It was a logical compromise with no romantic intentions from Shingo's part.Of course, he was still embarrassed when Airi got in but the conversation that ensued and their attitude towards each afterwards suggest it had no deep meaning.beside there was devloment with miu even in the first half of the anime and there was a few hints in the first episodes which make it clear miu win.the first hint is We see him take special notice of Miu in episode 1 the second hint is she's the only girl he blushes about in Episode 2 when recalling his introduction to her the third hint he was start worry about her in episode 5 even here plot was still backround until half-way through episode 6

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