Weekly Digest 2/26/14 – Tonari no Seki-Kun, Witch Craft Works

Tonari so Seki-kun - 08-7 Tonari so Seki-kun - 08-9 Witch Craft Works - 08 -8 Witch Craft Works - 08 -13

That was pretty random even by WCW standards.

Tonari no Seki-kun – 08

Tonari so Seki-kun - 08-1 Tonari so Seki-kun - 08-2 Tonari so Seki-kun - 08-3
Tonari so Seki-kun - 08-4 Tonari so Seki-kun - 08-5 Tonari so Seki-kun - 08-6
Tonari so Seki-kun - 08-8 Tonari so Seki-kun - 08-10 Tonari so Seki-kun - 08-11
Tonari so Seki-kun - 08-12 Tonari so Seki-kun - 08-13 Tonari so Seki-kun - 08-14
Tonari so Seki-kun - 08-15 Tonari so Seki-kun - 08-16 Tonari so Seki-kun - 08-17

Shogi makes a return this week on Tonari no Seki-kun, with the focus this time shifting to family drama.  Not surprisingly a story of forbidden love is even more irresistible to Yokoi than Seki-kun’s usual antics – she hardly has to supply any imagination herself, in fact.  But if you were hoping for some real-life romantic drama based off the way Episode 7 ended, you’ll be disappointed – for now, at least, it’s as if it never happened (though I expect that to change).

It’s sort of interesting to speculate on just how much Seki is putting on these performances for Yokoi’s benefit.  Maybe he wasn’t in the beginning, but he obviously knows he has an audience now – and there are times (like this week) when it almost seems as if he’s tailoring his antics to what he knows will hopelessly ensnare Yokoi.  It seems as if their sensibilities are well-matched to begin with (though she’d never admit it), so perhaps there’s hope for these two crazy kids yet.

What’s indisputable is that Seki-kun is really going all out, here.  False surfaces on top of shogi pieces, hiding their real identities below?  The kid really is a master craftsman, channeling his massive talents towards the noblest of all teenage goals – alleviating boredom.  The fact that’s picked up a groupie along the way is just a bonus.

Witch Craft Works – 08

Witch Craft Works - 08 -1 Witch Craft Works - 08 -2 Witch Craft Works - 08 -3
Witch Craft Works - 08 -4 Witch Craft Works - 08 -5 Witch Craft Works - 08 -6
Witch Craft Works - 08 -7 Witch Craft Works - 08 -9 Witch Craft Works - 08 -10
Witch Craft Works - 08 -11 Witch Craft Works - 08 -12 Witch Craft Works - 08 -14
Witch Craft Works - 08 -15 Witch Craft Works - 08 -16 Witch Craft Works - 08 -17
Witch Craft Works - 08 -18 Witch Craft Works - 08 -19 Witch Craft Works - 08 -20

Well, no one has been pushing harder than me for Witch Craft Works to accent the all-out wackiness which is its strongest suit, so I feel as if I should have been happier with this episode than I was.  It was certainly one of the most bizarre of the series so far and Mizushima-sensei had plenty of opportunities to show of his comedic chops, but somehow I didn’t find it as funny as I would have liked.  Maybe you really can only go so far with a show where you don’t much care about the characters or plot.

That said, there were some moments that worked in this episode, which started out with an unannounced (and unexplained, until after the fact) flashback to Kagari’s middle-school days.  That turned out to have been a dream by Honoka, but I’m assuming he was seeing events that really happened to Kagari (what that says about him and their relationship is a valid question).  There was some funny stuff here (like Kagari scoring ∞ on her exams) but I’m not quite sure why this was necessary, and it really didn’t add much of anything to either the atmosphere of the episode or the series canon as far as I can tell.  The whole sequence was tonally out-of-synch, too.

The meat of the episode is taken up with the rebellion against Honoka as Student Council president (and he is pretty revolting).  This stems basically from Touko making up a bunch of lies about him and using them to enlist banchou Otometachibana Rinon (Shitaya Noriko) to publicly humiliate him the way Touko says he did her.  Rinon is quite the live wire.  She’s called “Bear Killer” because she subdued an escaped tiger – who was named “Bare Eyes” (that’s vintage WCW right there).  She throws down a challenge to Honoka to meet her in the gym after school, and even though he asks to be allowed to handle it by himself, you just know Kagari can’t possibly let the incident end any other way than by handling the ass-kicking herself (with a little “help” from Team Rocket).

Just because, the episode ends with Touko and Hoodzuki swapping stories about the fun they had with Kagari’s underwear.  We also got a scene of Tanpopo eating cat food for lunch straight from the can – she continues to get a lot of the funniest material.  On the whole, though, the appeal might just be starting to wear thin for me.  I don’t think it’s realistic to expect a miraculous turnaround from Honoka to save the day, but I would like to see something from him – a hint of personality of self-awareness.  The issue isn’t that he’s a damsel-in-distress – yeah, we all get the joke by now – the issue is that he’s a screaming bore, and once you get past Kagari’s deadpan delivery she’s not the most dynamic main character anime’s ever seen either.

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5 comments

  1. A

    Well, the show kind of needed someone to be the Only Sane Man, he's just… not very good at it. Honoka's heart is in the right place, but he's too passive. He's basically what you'd get if Emiya Shirou did the smart thing and stayed behind Saber all the time. Sure, it makes sense, but it wouldn't be all that fun to watch.

    Granted, here it isn't really him taking the rear guard so much as the show tying him up in the back with a rope.

  2. R

    I believe the flashback had a more significant purpose than is immediately apparent. Someone elsewhere posted the following clues:

    "1. Honoka has almost no sense of self and not much bothers him unless it comes to Ayaka (e.g. her hair being burnt). In addition his mere presence often agitates non-witches around him. Honoka is able to emote and behave altruistically, but usually doesn't seem to care about what's happening to himself, just others.

    2. Ayaka on the other hand magnetically attracts everyone around her, despite her stoicism and her almost autistic personality. She can't emote and doesn't really care about people with the exception of Honoka. She is capable of learning almost instantaneously, but in middle school was almost like a baby when it came to new experiences. She had to be told what to do in many cases. She only cares about Honoka, literally nothing else.

    3. Honoka and Ayaka had a conversation about memories as they were waiting for the limo to take them to her house. It's quite important, hints abound.

    4. Ayaka obsessively staked out a multitude of schools, she recognized Honoka the second she saw him.

    Think about these four things, when talking about their personalities. The mangaka is very good… almost everything has a reason. "

    Now, I personally have no knowledge of the manga, so I'm going to have to take other folks' words for it. Me, I find Honoka fairly boring. But hey, if there's more going on, maybe we'll get to see some of it eventually.

  3. M

    "But if you were hoping for some real-life romantic drama based off the way Episode 7 ended, you'll be disappointed".

    I wasn't, and I wasn't. Honestly, people will try squeeze romance out of a dish cloth…

  4. d

    As for WCW, I have an odd feeling that all the hidden plot will come and hit us like a truck in the end. For some reason I felt that there was a lot more plot in this episode than any other. I don't know, maybe the show has been plot heavy from the start and I was distracted from all the craziness. I still giggle here and there but I'm actually interested in what the heck is Kagari and Honoka. I get the feeling Honoka's passiveness is not by design but is a symptom from a traumatic past. The more I watch now, the more I question whether all these crazy stuff are a smoke screen to something bigger but I may be over-thinking things.

  5. No, I think you're right. There's obviously a system governing all this seeming randomness but I think the writing is a bit too clever for its own good here. For me at least there's been so much winking at the audience on that score that whatever I find out won't be a surprise, and I've never come to care enough about the mythology for it to really matter.

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