After a slapstick beginning and a fairly scary diversion, this week represents what my gut is telling me is the closest thing to a “true” face of this series – a kind of slice-of-death story about the daily ups and downs of being a ghost. Mind you, Okonogi seems incapable of being involved in a serious moment and thee are obvious signs that some actual horror stuff is going to be involved. But basically I think this might the closest to the heart of the story – Yuuko-san, her loneliness, and how being dead and Earthbound means boredom and isolation would be the scariest things of all.
Kirie is the one character that seems to have the potential to unite these disparate elements, and I quite like her. She’s funny when she’s fretting over her flat chest, she’s highly sensitive to what’s going on in the spirit world, and she’s the biggest fraidy-cat of the group, seemingly. Of course she’d developing feelings for Teiichi but you know that would happen, and a triangle featuring a live girl and her dead ancestor at least has the benefit of relative novelty. There really wasn’t any one element of this episode that was a standout – it was a mix of some pretty standard cliché about ghost-hunting in school at night, sneaking in the pool and the club training camp, but you could tell the sequence where Yuuko took Teiichi around showing him the long-forgotten sides of the school was where the writing really had its heart in it. I’ve seen it done better, but it was nice, doing a good job of communicating how lonely (and, frankly, sexually frustrated) Yuuko is. Imagine not just being a ghost, but one stuck forever in the heights of adolescent hormonal (or at least psychological) frenzy. And the school itself, with it’s mazes of corridors and dead-end stairwells and closed courtyards, is a sort of character in itself.
The story is certainly going to confront the evil spirit – if indeed that’s what it is – that Kirie keeps seeing, and since it appears to have joined the sleeping girls in the old night duty room that thread might come to a head as soon as next week, clearing the way for the next arc. Or that could be a feint, and that will provide a spine for the season. In any case I’ll be surprised if we don’t see many more eps similar to this one in tone. Will I continue to blog Dusk Maiden? At this point I’m leaning towards yes, at least in digest form – but it’s still a tough call.
Haiyore! Nyaruko-san – 04
Is she a trap? Or is he a reverse trap? Or does it even matter when you’re talking about an omnipotent Cthulhu God?
The “King in Yellow” is actually an interesting figure, having been mentioned in literature long before Lovecraft, and has even been depicted as benevolent in fact – though apart from names there’s nothing much in common between the God of Shepherds and Lovecraft’s Hastur – but then again, there isn’t with Kugimiya Rie as Hastur, either. He’s (we’ll go with that until proven otherwise) another friend of Coco and Nyaruko from space kindergarten and space elementary school (one thing I appreciate about this show is that whenever I start thinking about how stupid something is – like putting “space” in front of everything – a character points it out) and he’s as moe as a Great Old One can be, boy or girl. And he’s come to Earth looking for Mahiro’s Mom.
Speaking of her, said mother is played by the legendary Hisakwa Aya and it’s clear from the start that she’s no stereotypical anime parent. It’s clear where Mahiro got his interest in the occult – Yoriko-san is a “Deity Hunter” herself, and an aficionado of old game systems to boot, and she’s packing fistfuls of forks to keep naughty Old Ones in line. She’s not saying no to her little boy marrying one, but she wants the kids to take some time and think it over – and she’s the only one I’ve seen who could shut Nyaruko up. She also hugs Mahiro for a recharge of “Sononium” whenever she gets down. I like her – between the many quirks and the legendary voice, Yoriko is a blast.
As I suspected would happen, someone has decided to put together a list of all the culture references in Haiyore! – in fact, there are no at least two websites doing so. Happily, I can leave all that legwork to them and just point out what made me LOL especially hard, and this week that was the “sandwich/Dunwich” gag – one of the worst puns I’ve ever heard, which makes it genius. Mahiro did everything but say “Wait for it” there. I also got a kick out of Hastur sending out New Year’s cards – for some reason, that struck me as hilarious. It’s watching shows like this that confirm for me that the Japanese are quite unlike anyone else on the planet…
Kimi to Boku 2 – 05
Sometimes I really marvel at the nerve it takes to look at what eventually makes up 22 minutes of Kimi to Boku and say “OK, that’s an episode.” Or to have Yuki call Shun a National Treasure. As shows about nothing go, this is right up there – there’s always a theme, but I’ve seen very few slice-of-life so perversely determined to actually show the characters doing nothing this much. Especially ones about guys.
This week’s “plot” involves a random senpai studying for his University entrance exams who loses his bicycle key. Shun has found it, but unfortunately Chizuru tossed it into the prayer box at the temple for his New Year’s Wish (some face time with Mary) instead of his 100-yen coin. So he and the others are drafted to help carry the guy’s bike to cram school, and proceed (mostly Chizuru, truth be told) to drive him crazy and make sure he never gets there. Once again the main gang act like 12 year-old instead of high schoolers, but the senpai’s dismissive attitude towards his juniors is pretty authentic to what graduating seniors are actually like. As always, YMMV with this show – I found it oddly entertaining, but it’s certainly not gripping stuff.