Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama-kun – 05
This week’s episode of Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama-kun doesn’t quite return to the stratospheric heights of the last, but it’s still very solid. And this series continues to display the little extra touches that lift it above the level of standard-issue anime comedies.
The focus this week is Tsukamoto-kun – the glasses boy who’s legendary for his butt keepie-uppie. He’s actually a starter too (at left back) but his main role is basically to be the morale officer – he keeps the team loose (with the help of his fellow stooges). But when the next prelim finds Fujimi up against a school whose captain went to the same middle school as Tsukamoto, things take rather an ugly turn.
While the main focus here is on Tsukamoto’s bullying trauma (at said captain’s hands) and the way his teammates stick with him, the more interesting subtext is on Aoyama-kun himself. Namely, that by playing his football at such a no-name school he’s risking his own future – a loss to a scrub preliminary opponent could mean the end of his hopes for a call-up to the national U-17s. Youth sports really is that cutthroat and Aoyama really is taking a big chance here, but a big part of his character seems to be that despite his disorder, he’s extremely thoughtful towards others. And not only that, he longs to be part of a social group (his MMORPG avatar shows that). His team is more important to him than his individual goals. This is all suggested more subtly than you might expect.
The kicker (pun intended) for this ep was having Tsukamoto’s seiyuu, Sakaguchi Daisuke (excellent as usual) do a solo version of the ED – including imitating his castmates’ sections. Next week it looks like we’re going to meet yet another of the mystery lurkers from the OP/ED – this fellow, who packs a drawing pen and another very familiar voice…
Koi to Uso – 05
Koi to Uso continues to be one of the more vexing series of the year. It’s a mess of trope and cliches (and not the good ones, either) and those eyes… I feel as if they’re sucking me into a vast sea of eternal darkness. Way more distracting now than the giraffe necks in Ballroom e Youkoso.
Still, there’s something about this show that keeps me coming back. The premise continues to intrigue me, even as we learn more about it. Nisaka is a really interesting addition, with his arch personality and rather shocking bluntness. I also quite like the contrast between Yukari and Ririna, who seem transparent as glass, and Nisaka and Takasaki, each of whom seems to be living a lie. Even if the government aspect weren’t involved, I’d be curious to see how these weird tangle was going to resolve itself.
It seems as if the rubber is finally about to hit the road in terms of that premise – we may be about to see how the government love gestapo behaves when their subjects aren’t playing nice. I loved the way Yuusuke confronted Ririna flat-out about the potential problems her meddling could cause for Yukari – this is all a child’s game to here, but the sense is that in reality it’s anything but.
Youkai Apartment no Yuuga na Nichijou – 05
This is a much more approachable and easy to enjoy show than Koi to Uso, obviously. But there’s a lot going on beneath the surface here, too – there’s a veneer of gentle bonhomie that’s overlying something quite melancholy, I think.
This theme of the lost boy is a very common one in youkai-themed manga and anime – we see it in Natsume Yuujinchou most famously, but also in Gingitsune and this series, among others. Each of these series portrays the dynamic between the boy and the foster family (or families) quite differently, but I think in each case it’s clear that the world of the youkai helps to fill the gap in the character’s life that his absent family left behind.
Yuushi-kun certainly felt lost at his uncle’s house, but he feels arguably even more lost in the dorms – where the cold distance between people (or outright hostility, like from his roommate Kaga) is like a punch in the face. The scenes leading up to Yuushi’s meeting with the human-like youkai Satou-san are some of the saddest I’ve seen in anime for a long while – a kind of quiet existential despair hangs over them. Sato’s choice to live as a human – because he loves the explosive way humans cram as much life as they can into their lightning flash of time – seems inexplicable to Yuushi as he is now. But because he was fortunate to have those six months at the Kotobuki-so, he knows where he has to go to find himself.
The feeling I get is that the Kotobuki-so was always going to be there for Yuushi whenever he was in the right frame of mind to be there. It’s nice to see him return home (the Kotobuki-so is certainly more interesting as a setting than the dorms), but the standout scene here is not that, or the reunion with his best friend Hase-kun. It’s the reconciliation between he and Eri, his cousin. The pain each of them caused each other without really meaning to is like a raw, exposed nerve ending -and neither of them has ever been able to express it until now. Yuushi (understandably) shut this family out, and continues to – and Eri now realizes what her attitude said to the lost child who showed up at her house. It’s a sad and lovely scene, not the first this series has delivered up and I suspect not the last.