My AniManga Clash-ish Thoughts on Angelic Layer

I haven’t watched Angelic Layer in quite a long time, but it still holds a place in my heart. It’s a rare shouJO gaming anime that had likable characters, a fun game to focus on and a decent story. It had its problems, but none of them were so severe that it badly damaged my perception of the series.

When I started reading the manga of Angelic Layer, I really thought I wouldn’t even wind up writing one of these posts because, frankly, there wasn’t much to talk about. The anime and manga, as far as I can remember anyway, were pretty well matched for several volumes. There wasn’t much in regards to changes to the story or characters, so what was there to say other than ‘Yeah, they’re pretty much the same.’?

But then I got to the ending.

And here I am.

Before I get to the ending, I would like to discuss some things regarding earlier parts of the anime and manga. As far as I remember, the anime had a more gradual buildup to Misaki eventually becoming the ‘Miracle Rookie.’ There was more in regards to her playing Angelic Layer with other people before she was flung into tournament play. In the manga, she has one match before she’s entered into the regional tournament.

Because of this, her ‘Miracle Rookie’ status irks me a bit more than it did in the anime. She is about as rookie as a rookie can be before she’s entering a major tournament – and she winds up winning that tournament. Then it’s immediately followed by the national tournament, which she doesn’t technically win, even though she does in the anime.

I say she doesn’t technically win the tournament in the manga because, even though she lost in the finals to Athena, the very last scene is the crowd cheering on her tournament win? (The announcer says ‘Here is the winner of our tournament!’ when she walks out.) She’s wearing a royal cape thing and crown at the end of the tournament – Hikaru (her Angel) even gets the same outfit. The epilogue has people calling her the Angelic Layer Champion, too. I don’t get it. Was Athena like a set champion to try and defeat once she won the main tournament? Like how there’s a league champion to defeat once you defeat the Elite Four? I dunno.

Either way, she somehow managed to make her way to the finals at least despite being almost completely new to the game when she started out in the tournament bracket as a whole.

She does practice a lot and studies frequently in between matches and tournaments, and it’s not like her record is flawless, she does lose a couple times, but so many of her matches are Hikaru struggling → Misaki struggling → Can’t give up! → Oh I figured out how to win against this highly-experienced veteran. → One-hit defeat. (And by that I mean the only hit that actually does damage. A lot of the time her hits will connect but do nothing.)

Many of her victories are one-hit wins, even though her Angel is built mostly for speed and is very light. There’s no reason why she should have such powerhouse hits that they either cause impressive ring-outs or deplete an Angel’s full health bar in one go. This is especially frustrating considering that Hikaru takes so much damage during these battles yet she always manages to keep hanging on, despite the fact that, again, she’s not built for defense – she’s built for speed.

Even when they make a huge multi-volume long deal out of Hikaru’s mystery weakness to build tension, it’s not that significant or interesting when revealed (Hikaru’s really light……We already knew that, and it’s been mentioned numerous times over the course of the series. She’s a small model built for speed. Of course her weight means she both can’t land moves as powerful as others, and she, by default, has a disadvantage against heavier models.) and it’s resolved rather quickly and easily.

Coincidentally, her weakness is revealed on a field that gives Hikaru the advantage. They were on a beach layer, so she had Hikaru grab her opponent and dive into the ocean. Since Hikaru is light, she could swim, I guess, even though it’s never established that Angels are buoyant, and her opponent, being heavy, just sank.

Being completely fair, I never got angry at this happening. I just kinda started rolling my eyes after a while and found myself not really immersed in the matches because I came to expect that Misaki would win, which, in itself, is a big problem because Misaki’s supposed to be the underdog. Her motivation is all about proving how small, seemingly weak-looking people can face their toughest challenges and come out on top. She does that, but she does it too easily. I greatly admire her passion for the game and her love of Angels, but she’s just too good too quickly to truly be relatable to anyone in the real world who would sympathize with her.

Moving onto the ending changes, we have two significant alterations to discuss – the first being Misaki’s relationship with her mother/ her mother as a whole, and the endgame romantic relationships.

Starting with Misaki and her mom, Shuko, the story still remains about 50% the same. In both the anime and manga, Misaki doesn’t even really remember her mom much. She left Misaki in the care of her grandparents when she was five years old. Turns out, her mother holds a high position in the company that developed Angelic Layer and is the Deus of Athena – the strongest Angel in the league and the Angel that Misaki saw in a commercial that got her interested in the game in the first place.

That’s where the similarities end. In the anime, the reason Shuko abandoned her daughter was because she had a neurological disease that confined her to a wheelchair. She decided to dedicate all of her spare time to researching a cure/treatment with Icchan, which incidentally lead to them developing Angelic Layer. She was so ashamed of her condition that she couldn’t bear to imagine what Misaki might think of her as she grew older, so she left her in the care of her grandparents. She had hoped that, one day, when she was better, she would reunite with her daughter. Until then, she’d cut off all communication with Misaki and keep tabs on her from the shadows.

After a bit of a dark tonal shift upon their reunion during the national tournament, Misaki and Shuko air out their feelings and work things out before their final match, which Misaki manages to win….even if it is pretty much one of the most asspull-ish wins I’ve ever seen in anime.

In the manga, the reason Shuko abandoned her daughter…….

….is almost insultingly dumb.

Something you should know about me before I go on – I have severe social anxiety disorder and general problems with anxiety. So believe me when I discuss the stupidity of Shuko’s manga backstory.

According to any info page on her character, Shuko has severe social anxiety disorder. However, it’s not actually social anxiety disorder. The manga never once uses the term. She can be out and about and live her life with little issue. She’s seen talking to Icchan and Ojirou numerous times, and, from how they talk about her, it seems she’s regularly socialized with them for years. She’s a famous Deus who participates in many tournaments, and numerous people seem to know her personally.

I’m not saying all of these factors means she absolutely doesn’t have some degree of social anxiety – you can live a fairly ‘normal’ life externally but be suffering significantly internally – but I am saying that, considering how she can cope with her anxiety enough to do all of these things, there’s no reason why she can’t cope with it enough to be with her child.

“So, why isn’t she?” you ask?

Shuko’s problem in particular is being around people she loves. The more she loves someone, the more anxious she gets, to the point where she has ‘panic attacks.’ She loved Misaki too much to be around her without freaking out all the time, so she just flatout abandoned her child at the age of five with, I guess, no intentions on ever returning.

That….is not….how anxiety works…..like even a little. Does the feeling of love make you flustered and nervous? Oh yeah, definitely. It makes everyone feel that way. In people with anxiety, it’s worse, of course, but 1) that’s usually just in regards to romantic love and new relationships and 2) if the anxiety really only comes when you’re in the presence of someone you love, the odds of the core issue being social anxiety disorder are very, very slim. That is either a symptom of some other disorder or it’s just not a thing.

One of the few things that helps alleviate anxiety is having loved ones around. They make you more comfortable, they help pick you up when you’re spiraling and they work with you to help you through the tough times. Why would a loved one make you so ridiculously anxious? Unless it’s a situation where you love them but they’re very abusive or something, but this isn’t the case here.

Lest we forget, she has a freakin’ child. She used to have a freakin’ husband. Which means she has dated, fallen in love, gotten married, had sex, gone through pregnancy, birthed a child and raised it for five years all without noping out of there because of her anxiety. They even briefly mention that her condition must’ve made life for her husband really difficult. Yet, for some reason, when Misaki turned five, she suddenly decided she couldn’t take it anymore.

You could argue that her husband dying (I think he died anyway) was the crux of her abandoning Misaki, but you’d think that one fewer loved one around would make it easier for her to deal with her love-based anxiety. Plus, her husband is never mentioned as a correlating issue here. He was only slightly mentioned at the beginning of the manga.

The most angering part of this whole plotline is that it’s all simply brushed away. After their match, Misaki chases after Shuko to reveal that she knew she was her mother since the match started. And, unlike in the anime where there’s a pretty dramatic exchange of words, their reunion in the manga is more or less comedic. Her anxiety is treated comically (Less ‘realistic panic attacks’ and more ‘cartoony turning red and chibi with little dot eyes.’) Misaki has absolutely no axe to grind with her mother, which is just ridiculous and practically makes a joke out of this whole situation – even more than it already was. In the absolute end, they simply suggest that Shuko try living with Misaki and Shoko (Shuko’s sister/Misaki’s aunt whom she’s been staying with after moving to Tokyo) and Shuko agrees.

In the epilogue, Shuko’s still very much flustered around Misaki, but they work through it by having Shoko basically tell Shuko to chill out and they live happily ever after…..Yup, that’s it. No reason whatsoever why Shuko couldn’t have been doing this from the very beginning. She’s literally just giving a single iota of effort to deal with it and it’s fine now.

Actually, let me be completely fair. Before the epilogue, Shoko mentions that playing Angelic Layer with Misaki more might help because Shuko is more comfortable while playing the game, but that’s it. Granted, there is a lot of value in having an activity that helps reduce the feelings of anxiety – art and games help me quite a bit – but that just feels so cheap and corny to act like Angelic Layer will cure her eventually and that its existence basically saved their relationship. And I mean that literally. Shoko tells Shuko that they should thank the person who made Angelic Layer when she brings up them playing more to get accustomed to each other.

Speaking of Shoko, does Shuko not love her sister enough to panic around her? She’s having a conversation with her normally, albeit with a blush on her face.

I never thought Angelic Layer would make me feel like I was too harsh on the mom from Aishiteruze Baby. At least in that situation it was a traumatic event and fear of becoming an abuser that caused her to leave. At least she tried to reach out to her daughter while she was gone. At least she attempted to better herself. At least she came back for Yuzuyu a year later. Shuko? She just bounced the instant things started getting difficult. She didn’t seek therapy, she didn’t ask for help from family, she didn’t send Misaki letters or try to communicate with her for over seven years, and she lived a fairly normal life after the fact, even becoming the top player of a game in the meantime.

She’s never held accountable for what she did. Misaki forgives her without a thought, Shoko welcomes her with open arms, and she gets to live a happy life with her child even after doing something so terrible to her for such a pitiful reason. Seven years of fully abandoning her daughter wiped away with nary a stain left behind.

Her story may not be perfect in the anime, but having a debilitating disease that leaves you in a wheelchair and being so distraught over your condition that you feel too ashamed to face your daughter anymore is much more understandable than ‘I can’t be your mom anymore, Misaki. Being around you makes me 😳.’ It’s still not enough to warrant never communicating with her for seven years, but it’s better.

They even work in the Angelic Layer aspect better in the anime by saying Shuko helped create it when she was trying to develop a treatment method (or means of helping her walk. I forget.) with Icchan. She naturally became a master at it because she was using it as a means of medical research. In the manga, she’s just an employee at the company that makes the game and, I guess, played it so much that she became a master at it. So much time spent pointlessly playing a game that could have been spent with your daughter and/or in therapy.

I know how much of a struggle it is for anyone with mental health problems to seek therapy, and it’s particularly a problem when you have social anxiety disorder (for obvious reasons. There’s a joke that’s like ‘There was a group therapy session for people with social anxiety, but no one showed up.’) but I’m convinced she doesn’t have social anxiety disorder. She has ‘flustered female anime character’ syndrome. There’s no reason whatsoever that Shuko hasn’t reunited with her daughter by now. There was barely a reason to abandon her in the first place, but there is definitely no reason why she’s left her daughter without so much as a note for over seven years.

In the anime, Shuko is held accountable for her actions, even if she is also forgiven by Misaki. In the manga, no one’s ever mad at her for what she did. Misaki never so much as makes a frown at her. Not only is that very frustrating, but it’s such a disappointing payoff for this whole running plot.

Onto more lighthearted fare, it’s time to talk about the romantic relationships.

In the anime, they tease Kotarou and Misaki getting together for a long while. If we’re gender-flipping the typical shounen formula, Kotarou would take the role of the token girl/love interest. He does know quite a bit about the game, but he doesn’t play it and mostly sits on the sidelines cheering on Misaki. Outside of the arena, he helps her by giving her advice and teaching her about fighting via his karate moves.

Tamayo is Kotarou’s childhood friend who is rather loud, physical and teasing. She loves hugging Misaki and play-flirting with her, and she loves tormenting Kotarou with wrestling moves. As the series goes on, it’s clear that Tamayo has a crush on Kotarou. However, he’s too enamored by Misaki to notice. Plus, by his own admission, he never saw Tamayo as a woman before. Once she makes her feelings clear, things between the two get pretty awkward, but he eventually warms up to the idea of dating her, which they, presumably, do at the end.

Not a romance for the ages or anything, but I did like this pairing. It was nice to skew away from the predictable route of having him end up with Misaki, even if their chemistry was good, and I thought this pseudo-love triangle worked very well. It feels a bit one-sided for my liking, I thought they would make a very good couple over time.

As for Misaki, she ended up with Ojirou, who is Icchan’s step-brother and a very highly-ranked Deus. He adores Angelic Layer and has a strong personal connection with the game, just like Misaki. He’s clearly enamored with her over the series, flirts with her numerous times, and, once they meet in the arena, it seems like the feeling is mutual. By the end of the series, it’s also implied that they start dating.

In the manga, neither of these pairings happen.

Instead, the pairing that you’d expect to happen, Misaki and Kotarou, wind up together (canonically, as it’s established in an epilogue that they start dating officially) and….for some reason, despite never sharing a single line of dialogue or having anything even remotely in common, Tamayo ends up dating Ojirou (again, canonically).

I have no qualms with Misaki and Kotarou ending up together. It’s predictable, sure, but their chemistry is fine and they set up the relationship well.

I am kinda bummed that Tamayo and Kotarou didn’t even get touched upon, but what can ya do?

As for Tamayo and Ojirou……just…HUH?! That pairing had no lead up whatsoever. I don’t even think they properly met. Where the hell did this come from? Their personalities could not be any more different, which wouldn’t be a big problem if we saw them interacting and understood how their dynamic worked, but nope. The epilogue just slaps us with ‘Lol ya, they’re dating now.’ I guess they did share in making Misaki flustered by guessing what her underwear looked like, but 1) that’s dumb as a basis for a relationship, and 2) They never did that together. Again, I don’t think they ever even met before. Ojirou clearly had a crush on Misaki in the manga as well. He never once acknowledges Tamayo.

What’s even more confusing is, somehow, they’ve been dating LONGER than Misaki and Kotarou. The epilogue takes place a year after the end of the national tournament, and Misaki explains in narration that Tamayo and Ojirou have been dating for a month while Misaki and Kotarou have been dating for a week.

Keep in mind, Misaki and Kotarou were practically unofficially dating when the tournaments were going on. How did this all happen? Misaki and Ojirou made much more sense, even if they didn’t have quite as much buildup as Misaki and Kotarou. It feels like a complete afterthought to put Tamayo and Ojirou together.

———————————-

At the end of the day, the anime beats the manga handily.

Reading the manga highlighted the problems with the series as a whole more than the anime did. There’s not really a lot to be gained from either watching or reading this outside of ‘believe in yourself’ and ‘being small/short doesn’t mean you can’t be strong.’ The Miracle Rookie stuff also gets very repetitive, as does everyone constantly focusing on and praising Misaki.

Gaming anime typically don’t have to have deep storylines or messages, but that’s usually because the fun action of the game makes up for that, and fun action in gaming is so difficult to capture in manga panels, especially when the art isn’t that impressive. There were numerous instances where I honestly couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. I still have no clue how Misaki won her second to last match of the nationals. She was struggling, she couldn’t figure out how to win, everyone was worried she’d lose and then, fwoop, she won somehow.

I still really like the concept of Angelic Layer, but, quite frankly, reading the manga just made me yearn to watch the anime again just so I could see the concept done better. Not only do action/sports/gaming anime already have a leg up because they can show action in a more engaging manner, but the anime simply did a better job telling this story. The anime felt like it had more freedom above all else. There was better pacing in regards to Misaki’s development as a Deus, and everything involving Misaki’s mom made much more sense and was far more emotionally impacting that what the manga came out with. The romantic stuff I can give or take, but in my opinion they even did much better in that regard.

If Angelic Layer’s plot interests you, I fully recommend the anime. I had a lot of fun with it back when I first watched it, and I think anyone with an interest in gaming anime will have fun with it too. I still wish we had gotten a spin-off or sequel or something, and I’m forever sad Angelic Layer as a game doesn’t exist….

I can also recommend the manga, but not as enthusiastically. If nothing else, it’s a relaxing little gaming title that never has the ol’ cliché of ‘The fate of the world rests on my ability to play a children’s game!’. It’s nothing deep or introspective, you won’t tear up or yell at your screen, but if the premise sounds at all interesting it will likely entertain you for a while.


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Ojamajo Doremi/Magical Doremi | Episode 6: A Liar’s First Friendship Sub/Dub Comparison

OJAMAJODOREMIEP6SCREEN1

Plot: The girls’ classmate, Nobuko, is a notorious liar. Doremi and Hazuki know this, but since Aiko is new, she’s unaware and falls for her lies. One lie goes over the line and enrages Aiko. Can Nobuko find it within herself to be honest for a change and make amends?

—————————————

Both the pre-theme song cold open with a kid detective, later known as Nobuo, facing off against who will be revealed as the Bone Bone Army and the pre-title-card open with Doremi flying to get to school on time are removed.

Doremi says if she uses magic she’ll never be late to school anymore. Since they cut out her flying to get to school faster, they changed this to her saying she’s thinking of using magic to cheat on her math test tomorrow.

Hazuki responds by saying “What if someone sees you?” which makes Doremi freak out because she hadn’t thought of that. In the dub, Reanne responds by saying the test is actually today, which makes Dorie freak out because she hasn’t studied. I don’t get the dub because, if she was intending on using magic to cheat anyway, why does it matter when the test is or whether she studied or not?

Name Change: Nobuko Yokokawa is changed to Belinda Higgins.

Dorie: “You’ll believe anything, Ray.” Uhm….her name’s Reanne…..Is Ray a common shortening of Reanne?

Nobuko said the boys thought her hair was pretty. In the dub, she says they said she was totally cute and that one of them was thinking of asking her to the dance.

Text removal (The same text is also removed from Doremi’s book):

Subbed:

Dubbed:

More text removed from the note. They also added “Patina” to the corner, so I don’t know why they didn’t just translate the entire text and write it in.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

The idol Doremi was taking about was Norihiro. In the dub, he’s Randall. Also, she was talking about the look on his face not a backflip he did.

Likewise, the group Norihiro is from is called The Wonderfuls. In the dub, they’re the Three of Hearts. Dub has a better name, honestly.

Aiko likes Yutaka. In the dub, she likes Jefferson.

Hazuki likes Yukio. In the dub, she likes Chazz.

Nobuko says the girls are naive about The Wonderfuls and then goes on to explain bad “facts” about them to prove it.

– Norihiro is a cheapskate

– Yutaka has a mother complex

– Yukio sews in his spare time (and that’s a bad thing….because?)

In the dub, Belinda acts like she know more about the group than they do.

– Randall is a vegetarian

– Jefferson speaks French

– Chazz is a crybaby

Nobuko just says she’s a relative of Yutaka. In the dub, she claims Jefferson is her first cousin.

What is up with this shot of Aiko? She’s missing a pupil….

Hmm, I feel like this episode is meant to be a double moral. Nobuko needs to learn not to lie and Aiko needs to learn it’s not nice to use people and claim they’re your friends when you’re just using them to get stuff you want….

Hazuki tells Mirabelle that Nobuko lied when she said she knew Mizuki, who is a famous manga artist. Doremi also says she lied about knowing the president of the United States. In the dub, Reanne says Belinda lied and said her dog knew how to read the newspaper. The second lie is kinda kept because Dorie claims Belinda said the president of the United States used to be her babysitter.

Doremi says her mom loves Nobuko’s adventure stories. Hazuki says she loves Nobuko’s story of the wounded man. In the dub, Dorie says she loves Belinda’s story about the grizzly bear and Reanne says she loved the story of the carrot soup.

Doremi corrects Hazuki and says it was the story of the drunk man. In the dub, I guess as a really weird way of avoiding this mention of drunkenness, they claim the story of the carrot soup was one she told at lunch and they flash back to it. They remove a shot of a confused Aiko as a result, but it will be replaced after the flashback is over. I’m also pretty certain they loop the shot to make it last longer there.

The “flashback” to the carrot soup story is actually just the next scene playing out only it has that white flashback filter.

They remove a shot of Aiko reacting to the story Nobuko is telling some kid in their class.

In the story, Nobuko is talking about her grandfather. Belinda is talking about her great-grandfather.

I have no idea how this ever happened, but the rest of the story is left entirely alone. The only reason I say that is because, even though it’s obviously a lie, it implies that Nobuko’s/Belinda’s granddad married and had sex with a living carrot.

No.

No, I won’t give you context.

It won’t help, and it’s funnier this way.

The rest of the scene is cut off.

The text on the board was original Japanese writing. In the dub, it was changed to math equations.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

4Kids – ruiner of jokes that are perfectly translatable. Nobuko collapses to the floor claiming she’s dizzy. Her classmate, Reika, irritatingly glares at her saying to not claim that when she’s clenching her stomach. In the dub, Belinda claims she has cramps and her classmate, who doesn’t get a dub name, tells her to not be a drama queen.

Another joke gone, though this time I understand. Nobuko claims stomachaches are caused by the DNA in your stomach, and that DNA stands for “Doushitemo Nontonaku Atarui” which I guess translates to “always causing trouble somehow.” I don’t really see how 4Kids could have worked with this, so I’ll give them a pass here. Instead, they just say Belinda gets stomach cramps if she’s exposed to too much chalk dust.

Aiko tells Nobuko that she doesn’t need to hurry in getting the autograph. In the dub, she asks if Belinda will call or send an email to get it.

Nobuko claims her mom works at a TV station. In the dub, it’s a record label.

Okay, okay, okay……They’ve doing a decent-ish job at making Nobuko out to be a harmless liar. She makes up crazy stories and once you realize she’s a total liar you just accept her antics and enjoy her stories, even if they’re kinda mean sometimes….

BUT

Aiko tells Nobuko that her mom’s gone (her parents are divorced, but she just says “My mom’s gone.”) and Nobuko’s response is to lie and say her dad probably died while adventuring…..That’s….just….a dick move. Even if you’re a kid, you have to understand that feigning empathy for a loved one’s death by lying and claiming your loved one also died is just a terrible thing to do. You’re essentially joking about their situation and/or using it to gain sympathy for yourself.

They turn it around later because Aiko encourages her to not give up hope that her dad’s still alive, so Nobuko tells Aiko to cheer up too…Yeah, Aiko, cheer up. You implied that your mother is dead and this serial liar just compared your situation to a ridiculous lie about her dad being lost in the jungle, possibly dead. Chin up, ol’ chap. This is one time 4Kids actually has a hand over the original because they make it clear that her parents are divorced. They don’t imply that her mom is dead. It’s still shitty to try and bond with someone over having an absent/missing parent when your parents are both fine, but at least it’s a tiny bit better in the dub.

Nobuko claimed her dad was a famous adventurer researching the Angkor ruins. Belinda claimed her dad was a scientist researching something about deadly rabbits.

Her dad went to Cambodia in the original whereas he went to Brazil in the dub. That’s uh….quite the locale change, there, 4Kids. Changed the country, continent AND hemisphere. Being extra today, are we?

There’s no mention of Nobuko’s father’s real occupation in the original. They just say he was at Parent’s Day. In the dub, they claim he’s an insurance salesman that they met at Belinda’s birthday party last month.

Mirabelle: “ARGH I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS! She’d rather climb a tree and lie to you than stay on the ground and tell you the truth!” …..Wha…I mean, yeah, she obviously loves telling lies more than telling the truth but I don’t understand the tree part.

In the original, Aiko just yells that she thought Nobuko knew the difference between a good lie and a bad lie.

Aiko starts getting super angry when she hears the girls start praising Nobuko’s acting skills. In the dub, Reanne says “No offense, but whoever heard of a deadly rabbit?”

I dunno, this rabbit kills me all the time.

Dorie: “We told you that Belinda’s a Be-liar.” *sigh*

Also, in either version, they should be a bit annoyed in defense of their friend because, even if lies are to be expected of someone, lying about a parent being missing and possibly dead as a response to a friend telling you their mother is “gone” or their parents are divorced is still a dick move.

Name Change: Ms. Yuki is changed to Ms. Shannon.

Books:

Subbed:

Dubbed:

Oh my god, they actually replaced the text in Nubuko’s book instead of just erasing it all. AND they bothered to have the writing look like a child’s handwriting. Good work, 4Kids.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

The kid detective in Nobuko’s book is called Nobuo Takekawa. In the dub, he’s Slim Higgins.

In the original, Nobuo says if there are lost kittens in the north, he’ll find them, and if there are gangsters in the south he’ll beat them up. In the dub, Slim says he knows the secrets of the underworld and he has pledged to fight evil.

The Bone Bone Army is changed to the Bone Brothers.

The words on the bombs and the sign are removed.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

The professor was originally named after Hazuki. In the dub, he’s Professor Rayner. They still make the connection that the characters are meant to be the same based sole on the fact that Rayner….I dunno. Starts with an R? The only other connections the two characters have are being smart and having glasses. Like I said, her name is REanee, not Rayanne or some other iteration. It would’ve made a lot more sense to just name the guy Professor Griffith as that’s Reanne’s last name.

Nobuko doesn’t do anything with Aiko’s name when she uses it for her character. In the dub, her name is Mira Bell, which is a lot more clever than what they did with Reanne.

I do have to ask why Aiko’s the only one who looks exactly the same as her character. Nobuko was genderflipped and got a detective-y outfit. Hazuki looks like a balding old scientist man. But outside of getting a hat and jacket Aiko looks no different.

Oh and Doremi is the dog, which I thought was very funny. In the original, her name is kept, but in the dub they change it to ‘Roary’ or ‘Rory.’

I get that this is a story written by a kid, but Aiko’s introduction was seemingly her first meeting with Nobuo. Why would she proclaim that they’re best friends at the end? I get that it’s a throwback to Aiko saying they were best friends in real life, but it’s still kinda weird. In the dub, they actually fix this by having Mira tell Slim to call her by her first name since they’re friends NOW. Stop making me praise 4Kids, please.

I love how they recognized their own characters immediately, even if they were drastically changed, but it took them until they were done reading the story to realize Nobuo was Nobuko/Belinda Higgins was Slim Higgins. It’s even weirder in the dub because most of their names were barely the same.

They omit a the first few clips of the flashbacks, showing Aiko proclaiming she and Nobuko are best friends now.

In the original, the last clip in the flashback is a closeup of the paper Nobuko was writing on with the line “Ain’t we best friends?” highlighted. In the dub, they completely omit this I guess because they didn’t keep the part about throwing back to the best friends line in Nobuko’s story.

Instead of showing them transforming one by one, the dub mashes all of their transformations together, using slightly different clips. Pointless change, but I have no problem with it. Considering all of their transformation sequences are exactly the same, unlike most magical girl shows, the original seems repetitive while the dub is quick and concise.

Dub Spell Change for Aiko:

Hair for hair,

Limb for limb

Turn me into detective Slim!

That’s actually not bad—Urgh….Praising 4Kids too much…..Urgghh….My soul can’t handle it.

Dub Spell Change for Doremi:

I wish that I could change this story

But for now I’ll be….

…The little dog, Rory.

That one’s really good. It’s clever and captures the same reluctance and unhappiness Doremi had – URGH! My soul! I’m going to have do an emergency SDC for an episode of One Piece if this praise doesn’t stop.

Dub Spell Change for Hazuki:

Give me a mustache and a giant brainer.

I can turn into Dr. Rainer!

Okay, phew. That one sucked. I feel a little better.

Give me a….giant brainer? I feel like that’s a euphemism, and I’m very uncomfortable.

No one was suggesting that Aiko lost her mind, like they do in the dub. They just say she’s very angry. Why would the dub change it to her being ‘crazy’?

You know who’s really crazy?…The girl who is strangely accepting of having a conversation with three real-life versions of characters she made up in a notebook that she doesn’t let anyone read.

Originally, Nobuko only bids goodbye to Nobuo. In the dub, she says goodbye to all of them, which is a little better and more respectful than the original.

So the lie wasn’t even for the sake of giving Aiko someone to empathize with so she’d feel better about her situation, even though they kinda make it seem like that was the intention – it was so she’d think they were more alike and they could develop a friendship over that. I’m trying really hard to not pick apart this plot because she’s just a kid and kids do this kind of stuff, they need to learn, but it’s just so messed up. Thank god Doremi and Hazuki cleared up this lie immediately. Imagine if she kept that up and then, suddenly, her dad appeared and Nobuko had to explain herself.

The cover of Nobuko’s book is changed.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

Nobuko rejects Doremi’s suggestion that Doremi the dog is actually a princess under a spell, but she adds that the dog character has powers like the ability to run super fast and understand human speech. In the dub, she accepts Dorie’s interpretation of Rory but adds that she can do all sorts of dog tricks.

—————————————————–

I may have gone a bit overboard with the nitpicking regarding the lie Nobuko told, but I did really enjoy this episode. It was cute and pretty funny. Chronic liar characters are really hard to make likable, and I think they did a pretty good job with Nobuko/Belinda. She’s a little annoying, particularly in the dub, but not that bad. And, from all I’ve read, she’s not a one-off character, so it won’t feel like it was a waste to have her character be one longing for friendship only to vanish into the ether after one episode.

I think the use of magic in this episode was creative, and I can give the realism regarding Nobuko/Belinda’s reaction a pass because, again, this is a young child. I think she should be old enough to be questioning this more, but eh.

The episode had a really good moral regarding lying and even properly establishing that some lies can be put to good use by simply making them fictional stories, but, sadly, they never brought up the fact that Aiko using Nobuko’s connections for her own benefit and making a ‘friendship’ out of that wasn’t right either. I truly believe they’re friends now, but their first interaction was her becoming best friends with Nobuko just because she promised to get Aiko an autograph.

My pride is swallowed for today – 4Kids did a decent job dubbing this episode. Still had to run myself ragged getting screencaps, but content-wise it wasn’t that bad. The changes they made were the norm for them, Japanese text and whatnot, and I am damn near baffled at how many changes they made that I actually liked or even preferred over the original.

The one change that gave me pause was the weird flashback thing. Why bother making that a flashback? I don’t get it.

Next episode, the girls have an important witch test coming up, but Doremi has to watch her little sister, Pop.


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My AniManga-ish Thoughts on Aishiteruze Baby

A long, long time ago in a place….directly where I am now, maybe a few feet away, Twix watched an anime called Aishiteruze Baby. Twix was not one to be easily swayed by stories of little children. No, she was a jaded old grump whose thoughts would instantly jump to ‘Oh god, here comes an annoyance.’ whenever a child character would be introduced to, well, pretty much anything, which she’s now realizing is insanely ironic because her favorite TV show as a kid was Rugrats.

The point is, it would’ve taken quite the lovable little kid and a nice heartwarming story for her to really be invested in an anime centered on a little kid. And Aishiteruze Baby was that anime.

I dunno why I keep doing the storybook-esque intro. Anyway, it’s been eons since I watched Aishiteruze Baby. In fact, it was one of the first dozen shows I ever reviewed.

Aishiteruze Baby is the story of five year old Yuzuyu who has been temporarily abandoned by her mother. Her teenage cousin, Kippei, is forced to take care of her until his family can figure out where Yuzuyu’s mother is and when or if she intends on coming back for her daughter. The story explores how Kippei adjusts to being a surrogate parent to Yuzuyu while also trying to balance his own life, and how Yuzuyu copes with being abandoned by her mother as more and more time goes on.

I really enjoyed the series when I first watched it. Kippei was a sweetheart, his relationship to Kokoro, his stoic yet lonely girlfriend, was nicely done, the stories were cute and heartwarming with some well-done drama and tension, and Yuzuyu was a PWECIOUS WITTLE CUPCAKE!! She was such a little sweetie, and she was so adorable, and she loved Kippei so much, and she was so cute, and so sweet and she so cute and she was so sweet and she so cute and she was s—

*cough* Sorry.

I really enjoyed watching Kippei mature and take to his new role as a parent more and more to the point where he was excitedly doing stuff for Yuzuyu, even without anyone telling him to. I loved seeing Yuzuyu have fun with Kippei and everyone else, even if it was tough watching her whenever she’d be reminded of her mother or when she was thinking she was a burden on Kippei. While it’s not a perfect show, I really enjoyed every minute of it.

The only two real issues I had with the show were that the very serious conflicts they’d bring up were usually resolved too quickly, and there wasn’t really much of an ending, though I didn’t think the ending was as unsatisfactory as many seemed to think. I knew the manga had properly ended the show and I pretty much knew what the ending was, but it would be well over a decade before I finally sat down and read it to see if it was also void of the other problems I had with the anime.

Well, was it?

….No, not really.

Let me back up.

First of all, to my recollection, the anime did a very good job adapting most of the stories from the manga. About 90% of the story material here I remember being in the anime, loosely or exactly, so in that regard, good job, anime.

Second of all, sadly, yes, the series still has that problem of bringing up a lot of serious issues and resolving them super quickly and sometimes overly easily. I mentioned the storyline with the stalker in my initial review of the series, and that story was resolved exactly the same way in the manga.

She should have at least been slapped for this. Get a life, you goblin.

For a differentiation on this issue, we also have a story of a little boy named Shouta. He became fast friends with Yuzuyu, but it’s revealed that his mother is terribly abusive. How is this resolved in the manga?

Kippei has a conversation with his mother, pointing out that her behavior is going to drive Shouta away someday. She takes a good hard look at herself, stops being an abusive shitstain and convinces her husband to move them away to the country where it’s quiet and less stressful, which is totally easy to do considering the fact that he doesn’t have a job is one of the key points of her stress.

I’m not saying that things couldn’t happen like this in real life, but the odds are insanely low.

You need to understand something – this bitch is a monster. She wouldn’t just hit Shouta. She’d make him feel like garbage. She’d make this five year old boy feel like he was an embarrassment to her, like everything was his fault and everything he was doing was wrong. And she’d sometimes do it with a smirk. She wasn’t just terrible to Shouta, either. She was also an asshole to Kippei AND YUZUYU! But yeah, sure, one conversation with Kippei would certainly turn her around entirely and make everything better.

Believe it or not, the anime did this much better. We get more backstory on why his mother started acting this way, not that it’s much to sympathize with. She had difficulty coping with the challenges of being a parent, and, seemingly, Shouta was a bit behind other kids his age, which made her believe Shouta was an embarrassment. She quickly started taking her frustrations out on Shouta for pretty much everything and began smacking him around.

Kippei does talk to Shouta’s mom, but it doesn’t really sink in fully. Shouta accidentally runs into her when she has groceries in her arms, causing her to drop them everywhere. She slaps him so hard he fell down the stairs, knocking him out, and he had to be sent to the hospital. The doctor treating him finds all of the old bruises on his body and suggests she and her husband seek family counseling. He tells them that, if they ask for it, people will help them.

As a result, his mother realized what a monster she’s been to him, and even her husband realizes that he’s been failing as a parent. After Shouta recovers, they move to the country to be with Shouta’s grandparents so they can help take care of Shouta and her husband can have a better chance at finding steady work. The country lifestyle will also be more relaxing and hopefully relieve some of the stress his mother has. She proclaims that she’s no longer afraid to ask for help if she needs it. All she wants is to start over.

ABSCREEN1

Nearly getting your kid killed, someone suggesting therapy to you and having such a deep moment of self-reflection that leads you down a better path is more preferred than just another instance of Kippei’s Talk no Jutsu. I’m just sad Shouta had to suffer more in the anime than in the manga.

Another plotline involved Yuzuyu’s cousin, Miki, attempting to kidnap Yuzuyu. In the anime, she would carry around a bike chain as a weapon, but in the manga she wielded a KNIFE and would even threaten Yuzuyu with it. I don’t care if she never intended to actually hurt Yuzuyu, you don’t hold up a knife to a little kid.

Miki was a horribly depressed girl, to the point of self-harm and suicidal ideation. She wanted to kill herself, but she didn’t want to leave her parents without a child, so she decided she would kidnap Yuzuyu and give her to them. No, it really doesn’t make any sense, but mental illness isn’t exactly known for creating logical thought. At home, Miki’s life was a nightmare.

She wanted to oust an incident of a teacher viciously beating a student, which made all of her teachers target her. All of her classmates harassed her, even the person she was trying to defend, who just told her she should’ve stayed out of it. Her parents were no help, either. Her father even hit her when he found out about her poor performance in school.

She’s about to commit suicide via cutting her throat and jumping off a bridge, but Kippei talks her down and convinces her to go back to her family by telling her she’s still important to several people and plenty of people still want to talk to her, which is all she needed to hear.

This one I’m more lenient about. These kinds of situations diffuse under a multitude of circumstances, so I’m definitely not going to say that’s an unrealistic way of going about things. Plus, her troubles really didn’t just end there. She still had to talk with her parents. Her father, by the way, upon hearing that his daughter just tried to kill herself, nearly smacked her again while yelling “You’re still causing trouble!?” Father of the fucking year.

Her mother was much more receptive, however, and is able to get her dad to stop being a dumbass and listen to her. In the end we just know Miki is on a healthier path, not that her life is fixed or anything. She reappears later and is, indeed, getting better, which is great.

Sadly, one of those rushed resolved plotlines was the main one. Like I mentioned, there wasn’t really a solid ending to the anime. Yuzuyu was concerned she would someday forget her mother since she outgrew the pajamas she had made for her, but after talking with Kokoro about their mothers and loneliness, she felt better. The pajama plotline, by the way, is part of the manga too, but it’s quite a bit earlier. Reiko (Kippei’s older sister) finds Yuzuyu’s mother, who is apparently so far away that she needed to take a plane to get there.

Yuzuyu’s mother, Miyako, had initially abandoned Yuzuyu because her husband had recently died and she couldn’t handle the stress of being a single parent. After his funeral, she couldn’t stop herself from crying. It reached a boiling point when she struck Yuzuyu for no reason. Thus she left her kid behind in her house and vowed to return when she felt she was mentally strong enough to handle taking care of Yuzuyu properly. She doesn’t call, she doesn’t send letters, except once, and the one time she came to check up on Yuzuyu she wore a disguise and skulked around Yuzuyu’s school.

When we catch up to Miyako in the finale, we learn that she’s been counting the days that she’s been trying really hard to not cry and she got a job to save money for Yuzuyu’s care when she returned for her. When she feels she can make it through without crying, she’ll come for Yuzuyu.

Most people, justifiably, dislike Yuzuyu’s mom. I totally understand if she was struggling mentally and emotionally with her husband’s death and being a single parent, and I get that striking your kid has to be difficult to process when you’re actually remorseful about it, but she went about this in the worst way possible. She really comes off as just being selfish and stupid as a result.

Her family seems like they’re really nice and accommodating people. If family is in dire straits, they welcome them to live in their home without barely batting an eye. In the manga, even when Kippei proclaims that he wants his girlfriend, Kokoro, to live with them because she’s lonely living all alone, they’re just like ‘Eh sure! Welcome!’

Why didn’t she just come to them and ask if she and Yuzuyu could live with them? Why didn’t she ask if they could take care of Yuzuyu during the day, sleepover some time, etc. while she got her shit together and maybe sought some therapy? Abandoning her child and never really making an effort to communicate with her was one of the worst options she could’ve taken.

But we’re not even done with her yet.

In the manga, Reiko still tracks down Yuzuyu’s mother, being tired of hearing or seeing nothing from her for months on end. When she finds her, she appears to be living with a man. Reiko was enraged by this because she perceived this as Miyako ditching her kid and going to live a new life with some man with no intentions of ever coming back for her daughter.

This especially hurt Reiko because it’s revealed after this that Reiko cannot bear children, thus she has no intentions of marrying or leaving the house (Yeah, that doesn’t make much sense either.) She sees Miyako have a child, what Reiko views as a precious gift, and to seemingly just throw her away is already a massive sin in her eyes, but to do that and then move in with some guy is practically unforgivable to her.

She and Kippei have a private discussion later, and Reiko basically tells him to have Yuzuyu forget about her mother. She’s not coming back, and continuing to give Yuzuyu false hope will only hurt her in the long run. Yuzuyu was listening to this, and she was so shocked that she actually did forget her mother.

All of this ongoing trauma and Reiko’s final words about her mother basically caused Yuzuyu to have a mental breakdown to the point where she was having massive fits when her mother was brought up and she was even passing out due to the emotional strain.

Even though Kippei was having a lot of difficulty finding the heart to let go of Yuzuyu, they do decide to start sending Miyako letters and pictures Yuzuyu drew to her mother, now that they knew where she lived.

Even though Kippei was very uneasy about the idea of Miyako writing back or coming back, they still checked every day for a return letter from her, to no avail.

One night, as Reiko gets the mail, she finds a letter from Miyako simply saying “I’ll be coming to pick up Yuzuyu on her birthday.” And, surprise, her birthday is in just a couple of days. Reiko, however, doesn’t say anything because she doesn’t want to upset the birthday festivities in case Miyako doesn’t come.

Yuzuyu’s birthday comes around, and Miyako does indeed arrive to take Yuzuyu back. Kokoro takes Yuzuyu upstairs before she becomes aware of her mother’s arrival.

Miyako’s got some ‘splainin’ to do. So, what does she have to say for herself? While she’s been gone, she’s gotten a new job and has been saving up little by little for when she’d get Yuzuyu back. She realizes that she was selfish and naive, but she needed some time to be alone and figure herself out. She asserts that didn’t throw Yuzuyu away – she got away from her to protect her…..which is still bullshit.

Like I pointed out before, there were so many other options she could have taken that would have been a lot more helpful and beneficial to both her and Yuzuyu. Even if she felt she was a danger to Yuzuyu, she could have explained the situation to her sister and worked some arrangement out with her. She still could have had time to herself while also keeping in touch and ensuring her daughter that she would indeed come back for her. You don’t ditch her without barely a word, go missing and only send two letters in the several months you stay gone. Have 23 hours and 50 minutes to be alone, and at least attribute 10 minutes to a friggin’ phone call, you idiot.

“I had no choice, no matter what you think.” Fuck off, yes you did.

But, again, we’re still not done.

Reiko bitterly asks what she means by wanting to be alone since she saw her living with a man. I’ll give Miyako’s response in her own words.

“We’re….not actually living together. I met him at work. And he provides comfort to me in many ways.” In layman’s terms, he’s boinking her.

Misako (Kippei’s mom/Miyako’s sister): “Do you plan to marry him?”

“Yes, I do….I talked to him about Yuzuyu….and it took him quite a while to accept the idea. But it seems like he’s finally accepted it. So…”

Are you kidding me? This nameless dude you’re obviously boinking boinked the bad parent out of you, and then he didn’t like the idea of taking Yuzuyu in, even though she’s the daughter of the woman he supposedly loves, and now he’s ‘finally accepted it.’ like it’s an inevitability that he has to bear in order to keep his sex ticket.

My thoughts exactly, Misako.

No.

No.

No.

You’ve been gone for, what, a year at this point? And THAT’S the best you’ve been able to do? No seeking therapy? No gaining true independence? Just shacking up with some guy who, I guess, has been so kind as to stomach the idea of his fiancee’s daughter living with them.

I wasn’t expecting to actually be angry at the manga’s resolution. At least in the anime it seemed like Miyako was striving to gain the strength to return to Yuzuyu on her own, even if the method was quite questionable. Here, it’s almost like she’s expecting this guy to take care of everything. He’s got the house, he can provide money, he’ll be able to ensure Miyako doesn’t backhand Yuzuyu again, I guess. She did mention getting a job, but that’s about it – and the problem was never that they didn’t have money. It was shown that Miyako would chew Yuzuyu out for stupid shit even when her father was still alive, so this won’t fix anything.

This is so much less Miyako bettering herself and trying to become a good mom to Yuzuyu and more her improving a little and finding Yuzuyu a new daddy.

I’m not alone in feeling this way because both Reiko and Misako don’t accept her words. They blatantly tell her that her explanations aren’t good enough and they can’t just hand Yuzuyu over because of that. They tell her to go home, but also tell her that if she’s serious about getting Yuzuyu back that she has to visit every single day to prove her determination. Then, eventually, she’ll earn the right to get Yuzuyu back.

Meanwhile, Kokoro and Yuzuyu wait in her bedroom. Kokoro asks what Yuzuyu thinks of her mom, and she replies that she thinks her mom loves her. She sent her a bunch of letters, so of course she loves her (I don’t really get that either, but maybe it’s just kindergartner logic.)

After Misako sets her terms, Kokoro brings Yuzuyu downstairs, much to everyone’s surprise. Yuzuyu finally reunites with her mom, and Miyako even shows her all of the letters Yuzuyu sent her, telling her what a talented artist she’s become. However, Misako soon silently interjects, and Miyako knows she must go. She tearfully leaves, promising to come back again, much to Yuzuyu’s dismay.

Yuzuyu runs after her, and Kippei goes off to get something. Yuzuyu calls again and again for her mother, but Kippei stops Yuzuyu….to give her her shoes. He tells her to go because she’s wanted to be with her mother all this time and it’s what she’s truly wants. He tells her he loves her, in a scene which nearly made me cry, and Yuzuyu runs back to her mom.

That cracking noise is my heart breaking.

Kippei doesn’t stick around for more than a few seconds, however. He runs back into the house and sadly crumbles in front of the door, looking at the birthday cake he made her and her teddy bear lying on the floor. He’ll always cherish their time together no matter what.

Cut ahead to….I’m gonna guess maybe ten years in the future. Kokoro is rushing Kippei out the door to get him to work. She tells him he got a letter from Yuzuyu, which we see on the table in front of her teddy bear.

As we see a now teenage Yuzuyu back home, she explains in the letter that she’s still doing art, and is apparently so good at it now that she’s won an award for it. She tells Kippei that she was never lonely when her mom left because she always had her Kippei Onii-chan with her to make her lunches, take her to school and play with her. Those are precious memories to her, and she thanks him for everything he did. She closes out the letter telling Kippei that she’s always really loved him.

And as a special treat, apparently Yuzuyu and Shouta reunited and may or may not be an item now. They’re at least friends, and that’s good enough for me.

39

For all of my bitching about Yuzuyu’s mom, this absolute end did hit me more than I expected it to. As I was re-reading the passage again while writing this, I was actually tearing up, which was annoying because I just managed to get through her and Kippei departing from each other without getting misty eyed.

I really just wish we 1) had more insight as to what was going on in the future with Yuzuyu, Kippei and Kokoro at least (but all of the characters would’ve been very much welcome) and 2) that it had been less abrupt of a shift.

Still, it was a very fitting end to the series, and it reminded me all over again why I really love these two.

While we’re still on the subject of storylines that didn’t make it to the anime, however, there was quite the doozy that was omitted….Two doozies, technically. Maybe three.

Doozy 1: Buckle up, buttercup, because this doozy is….a…doozy. We’re introduced to Itagaki, or as I affectionately call him ‘Creepy Asshole.’ Technically, Itagaki was in the anime for a fleeting moment. He was an artist there, and he asked Kokoro out on a date. She refused because she was dating Kippei and…that was pretty much it.

In the manga, there’s an entire arc about this guy.

Here, he’s a baseball player, but that’s not important. He admits to Kokoro that he likes her, but she rejects him because she’s dating Kippei. Itagaki won’t stand down, however. He confesses to her again and reminds her of what a playboy Kippei is (he does have a tendency to flirt, but he’s completely devoted to Kokoro.) Still, she turns him down, but this time he’s not accepting that. He grabs her arm and forces a kiss on her. She manages to struggle away, bruising her leg in the process, and she’s traumatized by the assault. She becomes very nervous and jumpy, even around Kippei, and she becomes distant to all of her friends.

Kokoro decides not to tell Kippei about what happened, and, guess what? Creepy Asshole legitimately thinks that her choosing to not tell her boyfriend about the sexual assault is proof that she likes him more than Kippei.

Bear in mind that literally 30 seconds before he said this, Kokoro was telling Itagaki she didn’t want anything to do with him and never wanted to speak to him again. Whoo yeah, Itagaki. She’s falling for you hard….as in literally….ya know that thing she did when she was trying to fight off your sexual assault.

She, of course, shoots him down again, but the Creepy Asshole persists. This time he goes to Kippei himself. Itagaki tells Kippei that he confessed to Kokoro and that the reason Kokoro has been so distant from him lately is probably because Kokoro feels the same way.

Kippei, not being a creepy asshole, handles this pretty well and realistically. Before Itagaki confronts him, Kippei gives Kokoro her space and doesn’t get angry or frustrated with her. After he learns of the confession, he simply finds Kokoro and asks her about it, plainly wondering if she plans on breaking up with him. Again, he’s not angry or judging her, he’s legitimately concerned about their relationship.

Kokoro breaks down and talks about the assault. Kippei wants to confront Itagaki immediately, but Kokoro stops him. Instead he comforts her and reassures her, staying with her for as long as she needs him.

Uhm, I kinda can’t talk about the resolution to this plotline without moving onto doozy 2.

Doozy 2: Kokoro and Kippei end up making love as a result of this. They’re on a school trip and in a hotel room, and it just kinda naturally happens. It’s not graphic or anything, and even the implications only last a few panels, but it was a really sweet and beautiful moment for the two of them. They never sleep together in the anime.

Doozy 1 cont.: After the deed is thoroughly done, Itagaki deduces that the two of their groins did the fusion dance. And, as if he wasn’t enough of a douchebag, Itagaki acts as if her sleeping with Kippei is a betrayal to HIM and basically implies that she’s a slut for having slept with Kippei behind his back.

Itagaki: “Even though I’m here, you still went and did that as if it was okay, Tokunaga-san. I didn’t think you were that type of person.”

FUCK.

OFF.

Even after Kippei confronts him, with Kippei not even bringing up the sexual assault for the sake of Itagaki and Kokoro (they’re having this fight in the hallway in front of numerous people), Itagaki has the balls to say Kippei should give up on Kokoro and HE brings up that they kissed.

Luckily, Kippei verbally tears him a new one, and Kokoro tells Itagaki she never wants anything to do with him ever again.

Whoo Kippei!

The last we see of him is one of his friends acknowledging that his manner with girls is messed up and asks if he wants him to teach him on how to date. Kokoro briefly mentions later that she hasn’t seen Itagaki ever since that confrontation, and Itagaki was thankfully gone from this manga forever.

Doozy 3: Still building off of that entire plotline, our final doozy is a pregnancy scare. Soon after Kokoro and Kippei have their first time together, she starts developing weird symptoms and believes she’s pregnant.

Now…this doesn’t really go anywhere because she later realizes she wasn’t pregnant. Kippei realizes that he’s been a bit too preoccupied with Yuzuyu, which kinda made him not realize Kokoro was acting weird. Kokoro says she was actually looking forward to being pregnant a little, because she wanted to spend more time with Kippei. And it mostly just culminates in Kippei inviting Kokoro to live in their house so she can be less lonely and spend more time with him and Yuzuyu, which both his family and Kokoro happily accepts.

I was disappointed a little because this would have been the perfect opportunity for them to discuss the possibility of them someday having kids, but it somehow doesn’t really come up. Remember, they’re 17 so it’s not really completely illogical for them to be having discussions about someday having a family.

Something unfortunate I noticed is that Kokoro, in the manga, is actually flatter than she is in the anime. 90% of her character is her relationship to Kippei. 8% is her being lonely and the other 2% is her being stoic and seemingly cold.

Her backstory is that her mom died some time ago and her dad is getting remarried, so he’s basically kicking her out of the house for when his new wife moves in. She doesn’t seem to care, and the apartment her father gets for her is extremely nice (because her family is rich), but it’s the foundation of the running issue with her character being lonely.

It’s perfectly understandable that she is lonely, but it really is the bulk of her character when she’s on screen and not with Kippei. She’s lonely, and she either expresses it to Kippei or not. Over time, it becomes easier for her to express her loneliness and not be afraid of it. After Kokoro moves in with him and his family, she really doesn’t do much but be with Kippei and sometimes play with Yuzuyu.

She’s friends with two other girls, Aki and Mai (the latter of whom is basically just Kokoro lite with more expression in public), who are typically seen sticking up for Kokoro whenever they think Kippei has done something wrong. Aki is particularly vocal about putting Kippei in his place and blaming him for pretty much anything. In a side story, they reveal that she hates men and is terrified of them. When she was 16, a man in a trench coat flashed her, and she’s thought men were nothing but perverts ever since. She even has recurring nightmares about the flasher and panics when a man approaches her from behind.

And this is one of those plots that is resolved abruptly and in a rather unsatisfying manner.

Aki was closest to a boy named Shin, whom she had known since elementary school. She didn’t see Shin as either male or female, so their relationship got on fine. However, when he started expressing interest in girls, Aki started resenting him, believing he was indeed another pervert man.

Despite Aki’s traumas being very valid, she still secretly holds a desire to also be sought after by guys (particularly Shin). She feels like she might not be cute enough or attractive enough.

She’s suddenly spooked accidentally by a male teacher, screams and runs off. Shin finds her, she yells out that she hates men and she hates Shin and then Shin just kisses her and says “Don’t say hate! You love me!” And then she realizes he’s right because he was the one she turned to all the time, even when the flasher incident happened, and the story ends with them seemingly getting together even though I don’t remember Shin showing up in the regular story.

13

You know that joke that a lot of people make about female leads in romance movies and romantic comedies? That they make it seem like all of your problems can be solved by a man? Well, apparently, even lasting trauma brought on by sexual harassment is one of those problems.

Now why did I just go through all of that for the sake of a character who doesn’t really impact the main plot at all? Because I can write all that about a character like Aki but I can barely write a paragraph on Kokoro.

Don’t get me wrong, I still adore her relationship with Kippei, and it’s not like she likes him for shallow reasons. She loves that he never says anything to hurt anybody, he’s so carefree yet caring that she feels more at ease around him, and he’s the one who is able to make her smile the most.

Problem is, it’s kinda hard to describe her without resorting to either calling her Kippei’s girlfriend or just saying she’s lonely. She’s nice, but she also comes off as cold and unfriendly sometimes. She’s also willing to be blunt about some things, especially when it comes to Kippei. She connects with Yuzuyu on a level Kippei can’t quite get because she lost her mother, but she never becomes a mother or even big sister-like figure to her.

The issue with her father, which is the most prominent part of her story that doesn’t have anything to do with Kippei, isn’t even one that’s properly resolved. She never goes back and talks with her dad or explains her feelings. The guy never gets redeemed or anything. He never pops up again after Kokoro moves out, which happens in the first couple of volumes. We don’t know if he knows Kokoro moved in with Kippei and his family, which is something you’d think he’d have words about it if he cared about his daughter.

In the anime, they did explore this aspect a bit further. We saw more of Kokoro as a kid. After her mother’s death, she became more independent and closed herself off. It took a few years for her mother’s death to truly hit her emotionally, but she slowly started becoming more and more lonely. One day, she found that all of the pictures of her mother that were hanging up throughout the house were taken down. Her father explained that she wouldn’t stop crying when she looked at them, so he put them away. Shortly after he did this, he brought home the woman he intended to marry.

ABSCREEN2

The last shot we see of Kokoro’s dad, she’s walking by his house and he’s snipping roses to help keep local kids from getting hurt on the thorns. She and her mother had planted that rose bush together, and, again, it seemed like he was wiping her memory away. Kokoro is terrified that she’ll forget her mother entirely. She’s even forgotten what her voice sounded like.

Kokoro’s dad did offer to have Kokoro come in the house to talk about things, but she refused, and that was the end of that in regards to her dad. It’s weird how one of the aspects of her character development is opening up more to others, but she never expresses her feelings to her father or mends bridges with him.

I still really like Kokoro, and the problems with her character aren’t very severe, but I just think they should have fleshed her out more to help allow her to be a stronger character on her own, considering she’s such an important part of Kippei’s life.

One other storyline that was not included in the anime was Aya and Akari Ooga. Aya is about Yuzuyu’s age and Akari is about Kippei’s age. Their situation is fairly similar to Yuzuyu and Kippei’s in that Akari is usually the one who has to care for Aya since their parents are constantly working. Truth be told, I nearly forgot about this plotline, mostly because they don’t impact the main story much. Akari’s presence makes Kokoro a little jealous, especially when they connect through the kids, and she asks him for help once or twice, but, again, Kippei is entirely devoted to Kokoro and has no interest in Akari that way, Akari also says she has no interest nor does have time for a boyfriend, and Kokoro is never seriously jealous, so it’s kinda pointless.

The biggest point of conflict in that story is Aya overhearing Akari say something like she wishes she could just live a normal life instead of watching Aya all the time, but it’s fixed rather easily by just clearing up the misunderstanding. There was also a point where Aya, Yuzuyu and Marika (Yuzuyu’s friend) got lost in the city because they were trying to find Aya’s parents, but they were all okay.

Their storyline wasn’t bad, and Akari and Aya are nice enough characters, but I didn’t see much of a point in it, especially since their situation is so similar to Yuzuyu and Kippei’s situation that it makes it seem redundant. In fact, there’s a plotline where Yuzuyu tries to walk home by herself in order to not be a burden on Kippei, and Kippei and Yuzuyu get sick after the brief story about Aya getting sick, so it’s pretty much exactly the same.

A couple more characters I want to touch upon are Marika and Satsuki.

Satsuki is Kippei’s younger brother. He’s very blasé about pretty much everything, he’s extremely mature for his age, and that’s really there is to his character. There’s only one episode of the anime that delves into his story even a little, and the same can be said of the manga.

In that story, a girl named Ayumi has a big crush on him, but she becomes convinced that he doesn’t like tall girls with long hair and he doesn’t like models (she’s a model) all because her friends are assholes who told her that for seemingly no reason. However, when she confronts him and confesses, he tells her he doesn’t dislike those things. Then it’s kinda implied that they’re dating afterward, even though she doesn’t appear again.

I just don’t really understand why he’s here. He does have a few cute moments with Yuzuyu and bonds with her a little, but that’s about it. Again, this is another situation where I don’t dislike his character or even his lone storyline, but I just struggle to understand his actual role in the main plot.

Unlike Satsuki or the Ooga sisters, however, there is one character whom I do dislike, and her name is Marika. Yuzuyu has two main friends at school – Marika and Ken. While Ken is a nice enough boy, there’s nothing much to say about him. Marika, on the other hand, is a stuck up bitch.

The end.

Oh fine, let’s be “FAIR” to the five year old. Pft.

All joking aside, Marika really is just a brat. She brags a lot around Yuzuyu, she makes nasty comments, and most of her moments are either making Yuzuyu feel bad or gushing over Kippei, whom she has a crush on.

She can be alright when she’s just hanging out, but usually she’s insufferable.

There’s one point in the anime where she’s pretty okay, though. Their kindergarten class is assigned to write a letter to whomever they deem as their special someone. Yuzuyu writes one to Kippei and Marika writes one to Yuzuyu. We never learn what it says, but the gesture is more than kind enough.

A girl in their class, Namiko, does her letter project with Yuzuyu and tells her that she doesn’t like Marika because she boasts and brags, she interrupts people and she ‘doesn’t look good in ribbons and socks.’

Marika gets angry upon hearing this and calls her a stupid jerk, Namiko cries, though she was clearly putting on an act, and sticks her tongue out at Marika as she leaves the classroom. Yuzuyu asks Namiko if she’s jealous of Marika. She doesn’t get an answer and decides to go outside to do her letter project with Marika, who is crying over what Namiko said. The end of this story is Marika asking Yuzuyu a question. She boasts and brags and loses her temper easily – is that okay with her? Yuzuyu says it is and then she says then that makes them friends.

This storyline is pretty cute and it does redeem Marika to some degree, but this also is not very healthy. Marika’s basically saying “Look, I’m a total jerk, even to you, are you cool with that?” And Yuzuyu’s just like ‘Yup!’ It’s not like Namiko didn’t have reason to say what she said. Marika IS a braggart. She IS a glutton for attention. And she’s a brat. It’s great that Yuzuyu sees the good in Marika, but she’s not really making an effort to be better. It’s like that ‘If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best’ thing.

Yes, I’m still aware we’re talking about five year olds. If this can be a series where a stalker of Kippei’s thinks his five year old cousin is a romantic threat, I can believe a five year old can realize she’s a bit of a harpy and try to be a better person.

Granted, Namiko’s still in the wrong anyway for making fun of her socks and ribbons. And earlier she purposely got her new socks dirty because Marika was showing them off to Yuzuyu. Didn’t say Namiko wasn’t a brat too, she just seemingly has a slight reason to be a brat.

And remember this one bit of genuine niceness is only in the anime. In the manga, she’s not quite as insufferable because she doesn’t have as many scenes, but she never gets a chance to redeem herself or having a really nice moment with Yuzuyu.

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And….I think that’s all there is to say. While the anime is a bit dated in the art department, I’d definitely give both the anime and the manga a big recommend. The anime omits some parts of the manga, though how much that truly impacts your experience depends greatly on how interesting and important the Itagaki plotline seems to you (since the parts with them sleeping together and the pregnancy scare can be omitted without bothering anything) and which ending seems better to you.

While I was writing this, I found that way more people hated the manga ended than I originally thought, so make of that what you will. The general complaint was that they thought Kippei and Kokoro should have adopted Yuzuyu, and they were angry that we didn’t get much of an update on any other characters after the time skip, the latter of which is very understandable. Plus, people seemed to not realize the woman at the end with Kippei was Kokoro. *shrug*

I think both versions still provide a really great experience, though. It’s a very cute and heartwarming (and heartbreaking) story that never fails to hit the right chords with me. While you can make the argument that it’s a little melodramatic sometimes and some of the plotlines get resolved a bit too easily, I never really felt like anything was that unrealistic. Things in real life can be very dramatic and dark, and sometimes they can be put on a better path with a few simple words.

……But mostly THERAPY. Go get therapy, Miyako. Jesus. I’m glad that the future glimpse of you seems like you’re in a better place, but still therapy. Grief counseling. Family counseling. Anything. The actually abusive monster mother sought therapy – you can too.

P.S. Yuzuyu is still the cutest little kid in anime and manga. I shall love her forever. ♥


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SSBS – Tokyo Mew Mew Episode 51: The Final Battle! I Believe in Your Smile

Plot: The girls clash with Deep Blue again, but their attacks still have no effect. Done with the fighting, Deep Blue decides to end everything by summoning a massive floating base and retreating into it to implement the final phase of his plan. Pai is left behind to take care of the Mews.

According to Akasaka, the last bit of Mew Aqua is contained within that base. Deep Blue plans on concentrating that power into a blast that will annihilate the earth. The Mews try to rush in to stop him, but Pai stands in their way, vehemently defending the base and Deep Blue from their interference in their plans.

He creates a Chimera Animal that looks strikingly like the one that murdered Shirogane’s parents when he was a child and sics it on the girls. While Lettuce, Pudding and Mint fight the Chimera Animal and Zakuro fights Pai, Ichigo tries to infiltrate the base.

Pai won’t let himself be distracted, however, and moves to strike her. In a surprising twist, Taruto comes in to defend her. He’s tired of the fighting and doesn’t wish to see everything and everyone on the planet perish – even if that means fighting his friend.

While Pai is slightly sympathetic with his old comrade, he still doesn’t hesitate to strike him down in one fell swoop. Taruto is made the first casualty of this final battle, devastating Pudding.

As the Mews fight off both Pai and his Chimera Animal, Ichigo makes her way through the desolate base to Deep Blue. As soon as she gets through the doorway, and without a word spoken, Deep Blue starts his assault on Ichigo.

Meanwhile, Lettuce uses herself as a shield to block Shirogane from an attack from the Chimera Animal. Mint and Pudding pick up the slack, and Zakuro sets out to end her battle with Pai.

Deep Blue reveals that he plans on destroying everything in this planet, revitalizing it and keeping it for himself – not giving the planet over the Kisshu, Pai and Taruto’s species as he promised. Ichigo is about to endure another strike by Deep Blue when Kisshu arrives, seemingly pleading for Deep Blue’s forgiveness and offering to kill Ichigo in his stead since killing humans is below one such as him. Once Deep Blue stands down, however, Kisshu teleports back and puts a sai to his neck. He doesn’t care if he lied about giving the planet to the aliens or if he destroys the earth, but he won’t let him kill Ichigo.

As Kisshu attempts to finish off Deep Blue, he is met with a swift sword strike to the stomach. A tearful Ichigo rushes to his aid, but Kisshu can’t even gather the energy to kiss her one last time before he collapses in her arms.

Ichigo makes a desperate plea to Deep Blue as she readies her bell for battle, but this time it seems as though her words have effect. Deep Blue yells out in agony, causing the Mew Aqua within him to glow. The base reacts and shoots off numerous beams of energy that are atomizing anything they touch – including the Chimera Animal they were fighting. As a massive beam heads for the Mews and Shirogane, Pai, shockingly, has a change of heart. Remembering Lettuce’s words to him previously, Pai whips out his strongest attack to deflect the energy beam and save their lives, seemingly sacrificing himself in the process.

As the dust settles from the destruction, the other Mews lay alive but down for the count. Ichigo awakens in the rubble of the wrecked base to see…..Aoyama?

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– Ah, cool. The girls kinda get new animations for their attacks. It’s just their weapons glowing as they say their attack names, but it still looks cool.

– I’d give it more points if their attacks didn’t collect in Ichigo’s bell so she could use it as her own attack…..

– Am I imagining things or does Deep Blue look quite a bit different than he did the past couple episodes? Maybe it’s just the slight hike in animation quality.

– How exactly did all of the Mew Aqua get so scattered? The aliens had access to at least some that they could lock away, but the rest was spread out over Japan. Did it get created naturally over time or was it scattered before the aliens left?

– So….Pai, right now, created the Chimera Animal that killed Shirogane’s parents? He reacts as if it is, and even the subtitles say this is the same one. Or is this just a Chimera Animal that looks exactly like it? I have to assume it’s the latter somehow because the former doesn’t make any sense. However, even if the latter is more correct, that still leaves the mystery as to where the Chimera Animal that killed Ryou’s parents is.

– Annndddd….the girls are relegated to the ‘I’ll take care of these guys while the hero does the actual important stuff’ role. Yup. That’s about right.

– Yay Taruto joining the Mew side!

– Damn, Pudding breaking down over Taruto is heartwrenching. 😦

– They really nailed the ‘final boss’ vibes with Ichigo walking through the empty palace-like base on her way to the main room while organ music plays.

– What exactly is the deal with this Chimera Animal? Before, the girls were taking on 100 Chimera Animals apiece with little issue. Now, three of them are teamed up against one (Zakuro’s fighting Pai) and they’re getting their asses kicked. Shouldn’t they also be super rejuvenated since they were all just exposed to some Mew Aqua? I know they were tired before, but the Mew Aqua should have been enough to bring them back to full strength so the final battle wouldn’t be so one-sided.

I’m not saying have the final battle against the Chimera Animal that killed Shirogane’s parents be quick and boring, with the skew more towards the Mews, but at least give us some buildup to it; a reason this thing is more powerful than the others. All it’s done this whole time is fly around and hit things yet they still can’t even really damage it.

– But, still, aw for Lettuce protecting Shirogane.

– Even when Kisshu goes full good guy, he still has to prove to be a little messed up by saying Deep Blue can have the earth, but he’ll never let him touch Ichigo.

– Kisshu was skewered with a sword through the stomach, but, like last time, there’s no wound. It’s just weird, because last time he was wounded, even though they didn’t show the wound initially, later on they did show blood all over. Here, there’s nothing.

– Maybe the flashback clipshow that Ichigo’s having of Kisshu shouldn’t include all those times he’s tried to kill her?

– I feel bad for laughing, but Ichigo’s hand was right behind Kisshu’s head when he was trying to kiss her, but when he died she just let him fall down.

– Each girl individually has yet to get their own battle/time to shine, but I’m at least appreciating Zakuro vs. Pai and Mint vs. the Chimera Animal. It’s not the most epic battle, but it’s still relatively exciting.

– Interestingly, Deep Blue’s face looks a lot softer and sympathetic after Kisshu dies and Ichigo makes her speech, perhaps hinting at the return of Aoyama. Could just be a coincidence, but interesting either way.

– I don’t know why I completely forgot that the body in front of Ichigo in Aoyama’s dream was Kisshu. You’d think I’d retain such an important detail. Man, my memory blows.

– Oh BULLSHIT! The Chimera Animal that killed Shirogane’s parents isn’t even beaten by the other Mews – it’s defeated by a random beam of energy shot from the base when Deep Blue went nuts? Come on! That was their one and only thing that was theirs to fight (considering Pai turns heel) Not only that, but what a lackluster resolution to such an important part of Shirogane’s backstory….

– I’ll be honest, I never got the PaixLettuce shipping thing. They had even less teasing than ShiroganexLettuce, and it just seems weird. It’s nice that Lettuce’s words and actions helped change his mind, but on a romantic level, I have never been able to see it.

– Even though I totally get Taruto’s change of heart and Kisshu’s, it’s always been harder for me to accept Pai’s. He knew all along that the entire world and everything and everyone in it would get destroyed by Deep Blue. He struck down Taruto without flinching to help him achieve this end. He listened to Lettuce’s speeches without giving a damn. But now, out of the blue (pun totally intended) he’s just suddenly decided to fight for the good guys just because he suddenly remembered Lettuce’s words to him?

Keep in mind, he doesn’t yet know that Deep Blue intends on keeping this planet for himself and not making some utopia for the aliens, which would have been a perfect reason for Pai to have a little redemption arc – realize the horrible things he’s done in Deep Blue’s name when Deep Blue was lying all along.

– Zakuro: “We’ve done all that we can until now.”

Mint: “Please, Ichigo.”

Lettuce: “The rest is up to you….You must protect the earth.”

Alright, last time I’m going to talk about this. I promise.

Actually….*sigh* Is it even worth it? Because that pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? We’ve done all we can. Which isn’t all that much.

Not on their end – but more from a writing standpoint, ya know? I applaud them for their efforts, really I do. Keep in mind, they’ve been fighting their asses off for hours now. But…at the end of the day….They didn’t…DO much, ya know? The ones who actually got big memorable moments….were the aliens. The guys who have been the enemies this whole series.

Let’s go down the list of what the girls got to do in the final battle.

Altogether: Fought hundreds of Chimera Animals, but they weren’t even actual enemies, they were distractions.

Got their asses kicked about….uhm…I’ll say four times between Deep Blue and the Chimera Animal. Damage to Deep Blue – Zilch.

Damage to Chimera Animal – they landed hits, but it didn’t seem affected by anything so, also zilch.

Acted as distractions for the lesser threats so Ichigo could save the day.

Mint: She got to fight one-on-one with the Chimera Animal. Neat fight, but didn’t beat it.

Pudding: Jack squat. She had an emotional moment with Taruto that was sweet, but that’s about it.

Lettuce: Saved Shirogane, which was pretty cool, but it wasn’t like a big sacrifice moment like with Kisshu or Taruto, nor did she get to kill the Chimera Animal. That would’ve been a nice and fitting moment for her (and Shirogane), but nope.

Zakuro: Fought Pai one-on-one, which is almost certainly the coolest thing any of the strawberry-free Mews did, but not really all that great of a battle and she didn’t even defeat Pai in the end.

If I recall correctly, I’m pretty sure all they do in the final episode is just give their energy to Ichigo so she can power up her bell for an attack, so this is really all they do for the finale.

Compare that to;

Taruto: Nobly fought his old comrade, letting Ichigo escape into the base and sacrificing himself to save Pudding, the other Mews, the earth and humanity.

Kisshu: Tried to take on Deep Blue directly to save Ichigo’s life with a slick bait and switch and paid for it with his.

Pai: Summoned a massive lightning blast with huge fans to combat an even massiver energy blast of Mew Aqua that leveled about a half mile radius so he could save the lives of the other Mews and Shirogane.

And now it’s all up to Ichigo. Though, to be fair, outside of playing defense, she hasn’t been doing much either. She’s been very reactionary through most of this arc. It’s understandable, given the circumstances, but most of what she’s done so far is just clash with Deep Blue, plead with him and cry. Everyone else has been doing most of the fighting to this point.

I’m not angry, Tokyo Mew Mew. Not anymore. It’s time to move on. I’m just…disappointed.

– Ichigo has no pupils when she awakens after all that.

– Aw the next (er, I guess final) episode preview is so sweet.

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I know I had more notes this time around, but I still think this episode’s on the same level as the previous couple of episodes. The action is intense, the emotional moments hit you pretty hard, especially Pudding’s moment with Taruto, and the ending was a great mixture of both emotion and tense action. It was also a great spot to end on before the big finale.

I’m just eternally disappointed that this is all the other Mews end up doing in the finale and that was the big crescendo to the Chimera Animal that killed Shirogane’s parents (Still not sure that even was the same Chimera Animal. The logic isn’t adding up.)

Again, it really just seems like the aliens got the best moments, even amongst themselves like Pai and Taruto, and Kisshu and Deep Blue. And as much as I prattle on about Ichigo favoritism, the aliens even eclipsed her here. She spent most of the episode going to Deep Blue. She had a brief battle with Deep Blue, which was moreso her blocking his blasts, and then her plea triggered Deep Blue’s identity crisis.

The aliens did need their times to shine too if they were ever going to be redeemed, but I feel like it was at the expense of the other Mews and that just bothers me a little. Maybe just squeeze in one more episode or omit a filler episode to make room for another finale arc episode to really give everyone elbow room.

Pai’s turnaround was also a bit too sudden and out of left field for me to really believe it. I know they wanted to redeem all of the aliens, but the way they went about it with Pai was sloppy. Either establish more of a link between him and Lettuce, romantic or not, so her pleas more obviously get to him as the episodes went on or have him learn that Deep Blue doesn’t intend on holding up his part of the bargain with the aliens.

Taruto’s turn was believable because we know he’s a bit more sensitive, being younger, and we watched him bond with Pudding a few times now. One whole episode was basically dedicated to their budding friendship, and he ended up saving her life out of sympathy.

Kisshu’s been puppy dogging after Ichigo since day one – it’s fully understandable for this already heel-turned character to turn heel fully to the side of good and make the ultimate sacrifice.

Pai’s been stubbornly on Deep Blue’s side this entire time, knowing his intentions with the planet and everything. He’s never shown a shred of sympathy for anyone else besides his comrades, and he even turned on them when he ‘killed’ Taruto, who is also a child, mind you, all in the name of Deep Blue.

It was just jarring is all. It’s like Pai’s turnaround was a complete afterthought.

Finally, the art and animation, outside of one or two weird spots, was top-notch in this episode. I really liked that we at least got a little more variation with the Mews’ attacks in the end, even if it is just a bit of glowing. Some shots are really pretty and beautifully drawn.

The finale is up next! Ichigo has gotten through to Aoyama and brought his soul up to the surface of Deep Blue, but can he maintain this control? Can Deep Blue be stopped once and for all? Can the Mews truly save the world from utter destruction? Find out in the final episode!


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SSBS – Tokyo Mew Mew Episode 49: The Awakening of Blue – Another Appearance!

Plot: As the girls get ready to open the cafe, Shirogane makes a startling announcement – there is no need to open the cafe anymore. The staff of Cafe Mew Mew is going on vacation for a while. The reason? Shirogane and Akasaka are detecting wild energy signals in Tokyo similar to those detected during the previous massive disasters in other regions in Japan. The energy is growing more and more, but the odd thing is that no physical or visible disturbances have been reported in the area.

Shirogane and Akasaka are fearing the worst. The biggest battle of their lives might be just around the corner. In order to recharge everyone’s batteries and prepare, they thought it best to let the girls have a long vacation. While they’re all clearly concerned about what the future holds, they take Shirogane up on his offer and decide to take a break.

While all of the girls enjoy some down time, Ichigo discovers that Aoyama is mysteriously missing. He’s wandering the streets in a stupor towards some unknown destination – if he has any destination at all.

Back with the aliens, Kisshu explains to Taruto and Pai that he plans on taking the Blue Knight’s power and using that to restore their planet instead of relying on Deep Blue and waiting for him to awaken. He proposes that Taruto and Pai leave Deep Blue’s side and join his mission instead. While Taruto is more than willing to help out Kisshu, optimistic that his plan can work over Deep Blue’s promises, Pai can’t find it within himself to betray Deep Blue and refuses. Knowing that they’ll likely be enemies from here on out, Pai, Taruto and Kisshu part ways.

Kisshu and Taruto unleash Kisshu’s grand master plan. Over the time he’s been separated from Deep Blue, he’s been working on creating a massive legion of over 500 chimera animals to unleash on the city. Spread out over Tokyo, the girls will be distracted away from Kisshu’s real target – Aoyama, or more to the point, the Blue Knight. He doesn’t even really want all of Aoyama. He wants to extract his spirit. That way he has the Blue Knight’s power without the fuss of having Aoyama.

His plan seemingly works. While Shirogane eventually figures out that Aoyama’s the target, the girls are way too busy fighting chimera animals all over the city to help search for him. Ichigo’s focus is on Aoyama, but even she’s getting pulled aside to fight.

Kisshu and Taruto start extracting Aoyama’s spirit….but there’s a problem. The spirit won’t emerge – and when Aoyama breaks free of their assault, Kisshu and Taruto freeze in fear at the mere feeling of the power lying beneath Aoyama’s exterior.

Despite this, Aoyama falls unconscious. The aliens are confused, but they resolve to take Aoyama entirely – opting to figure out a way to extract his spirit later.

Thanks to the energy signal Aoyama emitted before he fell, Shirogane is able to get a lock on his location and sends the girls there. Ichigo arrives first, and her determination to protect Aoyama sends a much meeker Kisshu reeling back. At her call to him, Aoyama starts transforming while still unconscious.

Yet again, things take a turn for the peculiar.

The Blue Knight suddenly glows radiantly and all of the Mew Aqua in the area starts honing in on his location. In a massive surge of energy and a flash of colorful light – a figure emerges. He looks like the Blue Knight, but as the smoke clears, the truth is revealed.

Aoyama is actually Deep Blue. He has finally fully awakened, and he’s prepared to lay claim over the earth.

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– I find it rather touching that Akasaka and Shirogane do clearly feel guilty that they put all of this danger and responsibility on the shoulders of the girls.

– All of these quiet moments with the girls (along with this sweet, gentle song) are very nice. It’s good to see them get some quiet time and reflection before the end comes.

– Yet another instance of Lettuce/Shirogane ship tease. This one’s really sweet, too. I still don’t get the purpose of this. You don’t have to make them endgame, but don’t waste my and everyone else’s time by doing this stuff and not even bringing it up in dialogue. Even with Shirogane and Ichigo they bring it up numerous times, despite obviously not being endgame.

I’m probably just a salty shipper, but you’re sinking a ship you built in port, writers. Hell, you’re not even done building the ship. It shouldn’t be in the water. Considering Ichigo has three viable love interests who are fully infatuated with her, you could let one of the other girls have one. Just…just…one.

I’m not counting that guy that Lettuce had a crush on who was both way older than her and about to get engaged to another woman. I also don’t count Pudding’s fiance, because that makes me really uncomfortable because of the age gap and I still don’t think Pudding likes him like that. I mean an actual two way street. Sometimes, it’s nice to let the other girls have–*Rambling rant alarm* Oh fine, I’ll stop beating the dead horse.

– Sooo…the girls typically have to team up to take down one chimera animal, but Shirogane has no real doubt that the girls can take on around 100 chimera animals individually? Eh, I won’t really harp on this since, if true, this is pretty much a confirmed power boost to the girls.

– Is uh…someone gonna come by and help Pudding actually destroy her enemies? Because her attack only seals them in jello.

– Also, why are the chimera animals fully disappearing when defeated? Aren’t they just infected animals? Once they get defeated, they typically revert back to normal.

– Let me guess….Ichigo’s the only Mew who gets a full transformation today.

(One set of transformation sequences later)

Yup……The other transformations were only barely edited, but still. Jimmies are a little rustled.

– Pretty badass reveal of Aoyama’s true identity being Deep Blue. I always thought that was cool.

A little ironic that his eyes glow red as he becomes Deep Blue, though. I know red=evil but still.

– Kudos to the art and animation in the episode, by the way. It’s really nice. Top notch for the series.

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Overall, really awesome episode. My complaints are really just surface level stuff, even the little mini-rant about Lettuce and Shirogane isn’t technically important, even if it does make me sad.

From start to finish, practically everything in this episode was at its best. Nice, quiet moments with the girls, even if the weight of the future is hanging closely overhead. Intriguing mystery concerning what’s wrong with Aoyama and why he’s wandering around in a stupor. The aliens going their separate ways. A massive 500+ chimera animal attack with all of the girls getting individual battles. And, of course, the reveal of our main baddie, Deep Blue, and the revelation that Aoyama was Deep Blue this whole time.

Plus, the music was awesome – I especially appreciate them knowing when to use silence effectively (COUGHCOUGH4KIDSCOUGHCOUGH) and even the next episode preview was well done.

Yes, everyone. I am finally at an episode of Tokyo Mew Mew where I am almost entirely positive.

Told ya I’d get there.

Let’s let the goodness continue.

Next episode, Ichigo has to confront the truth about Aoyama and they all have to prepare for the wrath that Deep Blue is sure to bring upon earth.


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SSBS – Tokyo Mew Mew Episode 50: Ichigo’s Trial – I Am A Mew Mew

Plot: The truth has been revealed – Aoyama was secretly Deep Blue the whole time.

Pai explains that Deep Blue is actually an amalgamation of all three beings. His spirit resided in the DNA of humans, and eventually his being split off into two mediums, Aoyama and the Blue Knight. However, his true form could not emerge unless he had met the proper conditions. Ironically, all of the conflict with the Mews triggered his Aoyama and Blue Knight forms to meet with his spirit and eventually awaken his true form. In the process, both Aoyama and the Blue Knight were erased from existence. There is only Deep Blue now.

Ichigo, paralyzed in shock, refuses to believe what she’s being told. She begs and pleads for Aoyama to remember her, but she’s only met with an icy stare that is soon replaced with an onslaught of attacks.

After Pudding and Ichigo have both been downed by Deep Blue, the girls resort to their only option – they may all be friends with Aoyama, and Ichigo may love him, but they have no choice – they must attack.

Ichigo, however, is still processing all of this. And now, she can’t believe that her friends have to resort to fighting Aoyama. While they give a good effort, the girls are quickly felled easily by Deep Blue.

Still lost in a delusion brought on by grief, Ichigo walks towards Deep Blue, showing him the bell Aoyama gave her and asking him to remember her. He swats the bell out of her hands and prepares to attack her. The other Mews stand in the way of the massive blast and get slammed into the nearby wall, causing them to de-transform.

Ichigo goes to them, still in a haze – confused as to what’s happening. Mint slaps her in the face and tells her that, while it’s understandable to need to grieve at this time, it’s also their responsibility to do what needs to be done to save humanity. She and the other Mews remind her of how much she’s brightened up their lives and all the good she’s done as a Mew, and now they need her to get up and continue being Mew Ichigo for the sake of the entire world. They return her bell to her, and Ichigo becomes reinvigorated by their words.

Just as she’s about to get back into the game, Deep Blue swings his powered-up sword and slams it into the ground, causing massive destruction within a mile radius. The Mews are able to weather the attack, but the other damage has been done.

Taruto, surprisingly, joins their side. He damns Deep Blue for his plan and supports a weakened Pudding. The other girls all get up behind Ichigo as she swallows her pain and sets out to attack as Deep Blue rears up for another assault.

As her Ribbon Strawberry Surprise and his powerful sword clash, she tries to remember Aoyama and everything they went through together. While she seemingly accepts that Pai was right and there is no Aoyama anymore, only Deep Blue, she resolves that she will wait to see his smile again no matter what.

Despite her power and resolve, Ichigo is starting to lose the battle against Deep Blue. As she staggers, Ryou (in Alto form) comes in to save her, cutting Deep Blue’s cheek in the process. Ichigo apologizes to Ryou, explaining that her voice no longer reaches Aoyama, but Ryou argues that that’s not true. There was a reason she was chosen to be a Mew, and her voice can certainly get through to him and save the world.

Ryou gives the other Mews the last bit of Mew Aqua that they have in order for them to transform yet again. Back in Mew form and ready for their final battle, the girls group up and attack Deep Blue.

For the sake of the planet Aoyama loved so much, they will defeat him no matter what.

———————————-

– I think it’s a bit overboard for Ichigo to nearly faint at the Deep Blue revelation. But this is anime, where girls are constantly fainting.

– Maybe he just figured this out right now, but Pai is talking as if he knew all along that Aoyama, the Blue Knight and Deep Blue were one and the same. If so, he’s either got a really good poker face or a lot of his past actions have become quite confusing. And if he did know the whole time, did Pai figure it out himself or did Deep Blue tell him? If so, why not tell Kisshu or Taruto?

– The solidarity that the girls have when they react to the Deep Blue revelation is quite sweet. Mint in particular surprised me by explaining that she always admired the relationship the two of them had.

– Wow. Mint’s second Mint Echo was really cool with the way she flipped and shot.

– Okay, I understand that Ichigo is really just…not here right now. She’s still in shock and everything, but when it reaches a point where she’s so delusional that she’s putting the other girls in harm’s way, that’s when I start getting agitated. Ichigo would have died if the others didn’t jump in front of her.

However, I won’t really rant about this because they do handle this situation quite well. Mint slapping her and ramming her back into reality was exactly what I wanted to see happen.

I can fully understand her being in shock and not wanting to believe what she’s witnessing, and it’s nice that the girls gave her time to weep while they took on the battle for a while, but they have a job to do and they know they can’t afford to allow her to stay like that forever. The longer she does, the more they and the world are put at risk.

It’s not that Mint and the other Mews are jerks about it either. After Mint literally slaps some sense into Ichigo, which was necessary, she and the other girls all give her sweet words of encouragement to help get her back up and into battle to save humanity. It may hurt, and it may suck, but that’s the situation presented before them.

It’s also for Aoyama’s sake. The Aoyama she knew would never want innocent lives to be snuffed out or for the earth to be destroyed by his hand. It’s not just about saving the world, it’s about stopping him from suffering the guilt of doing such a thing if Aoyama is still alive somewhere in Deep Blue.

– Okay, so the whole thing about them hypocritically destroying the environment while also trying to reclaim the earth for themselves wasn’t nonsensical, it was just the aliens wanting to ‘reset’ the world before calling their kind back to it……No wait, that’s still nonsensical. Do they have the ability to quickly regrow plants and respawn untold numbers of animal species? Do they have a whole ecosystem of their own animal species they want to transport here? I find it doubtful many animal species can live on their current planet if it’s such a challenge for their own species to survive.

They could have just left it at them wanting to destroy all of humanity and anything manmade. I really can’t wrap my head around why they’d want to destroy all living beings. Just seems like it would damage their cause or otherwise be a massive hassle for them for little reason.

– Wow, thousands of people had to have died in that first strike considering all the buildings that were destroyed.

– Pudding only mentioned needing to protect her brothers as she got up. She has a sister too.

– N’aw! Taruto holding Pudding up and asking if she’s okay. N’aw!

– Even n’awer him apologizing and Pudding saying she’s 100x stronger now that he’s here! I love these two so much.

– So…were Taruto and Kisshu also unaware of Deep Blue’s intentions on destroying the world (before reinvigorating it, I guess) while Pai knew?

– That monologue and clip show of Ichigo’s memories of Aoyama was very touching.

– Am I not understanding something? Why did Ryou need to be in Alto form when he came in? I mean, he managed to scratch Deep Blue’s face, but he could have easily saved Ichigo without transforming.

– *Ryou jumps over massive crater* ?!?!

……Well…I guess I can just chalk this up to Ryou’s Mew powers, right? Ichigo has similar abilities when she’s not transformed, so I suppose it only makes sense that Ryou has some, even if he doesn’t have an actual Mew form (outside of Alto.)

– Ryou: “You are the chosen super lady.” This isn’t the subtitles because I can specifically hear Ryou say “super lady.” I dunno, it’s just such a weird way to phrase that.

– Ryou: “So the one who can save the earth….Mew Ichigo. Only you can do it.”

Ryou: “Also, Lettuce, Mint, Pudding and Zakuro, your role…”

Zakuro: “I know. In order for Mew Ichigo to get the Mew Aqua in the end…”

Trying so hard to shove down the blatant Ichigo favoritism on display here as the girls are literally relegated to ‘helpers’ while Ichigo is ‘the only one who can save the earth.’ I am holding out that hope that maybe the other Mews have some big finale moment that I’m just forgetting about, but that line kinda dimmed that hope. It’s even more troublesome because I definitely remember the aliens’ big moment but nothing is coming to mind in regards to the other Mews.

I mean, at least they’re allowed to re-transform after all that, but still.

– And even in their last transformation of the series (I presume) they can’t give the other girls their full transformation sequences….

—————————————————

I really do like this episode a lot, just not quite as much as the previous one, and, as petty as this is, yes, the only thing marring it enough for me to say it’s not at the same exact level as the previous episode is that frickin’ line about how Ichigo’s the only one who can save the earth and the other girls are basically just helping still.

Being absolutely fair, they kinda did get their time to shine…ish in this episode since they fought valiantly against Deep Blue. But even their combined efforts couldn’t make him flinch. Ichigo alone could clash energies with him head on for well over a minute before starting to falter.

And even though I did like Mint slapping some sense into Ichigo and the other girls building her back up to get back into battle, that is also technically more them getting focus because they’re supporting Ichigo.

I know, I’m sorry, it really seems like I’m harping too much on this, but I can’t help it. When I first made my review on Tokyo Mew Mew way back in the day, this aspect of the series was definitely annoying enough to note a few times. I thought rewatching this after so many years might give me a new view on this. Maybe there were moments I didn’t really give enough credit to. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as my inexperienced reviewer brain thought.

Now, even though I have gained more respect for certain aspects of this series on this rewatch, the favoritism thing….has only gotten worse the more I analyze the episodes. Before, I was really only complaining about how the girls don’t get more weapons and attacks or animal traits when not transformed like Ichigo does, or how Ichigo gets like every guy falling in love with her but the girls get practically nothing in the romance department, but now I realize how much the other Mews regularly take a back seat to Ichigo. Sometimes, they’re in the trunk!

Like I said, that bit of hope that my horrible goo pile of a memory is working against me is the girls each have their own bright moments to shine in the last two episode is still alive, but each episode episode that goes by makes me increasingly worried.

But enough of that malarkey, we’re heading into the final stretch and the entire world’s on the line! Can’t Ichigo’s voice truly make it through to Aoyama, if he is still inside Deep Blue somewhere? Can the Mews save the world from Deep Blue’s destruction? And what of the other aliens? Will they stand in their way?


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SSBS – Tokyo Mew Mew Episode 48:The Labyrinth of the Alternate Dimension! Kisshu’s Gamble!!

SSBS - TMM EP48 SCREEN1

Plot: Aoyama continues to have the same nightmare about Mew Ichigo crying, only now the dreams are becoming slightly more detailed. There is a person lying on the ground in front of her in silhouette and she is yelling something inaudible before he wakes up.

Later, the Mew team enjoys some rare relaxation time in the woods. They have a nice barbecue and down some tasty shish kabobs for a while before Shirogane and Akasaka reveal the true reason why they brought them to this location – there was a signal from the last bit of Mew Aqua in the region. They’re now tasked with searching a perilous nearby mountain to find and retrieve the Mew Aqua before the aliens do.

The strange mountain feels more like a maze as the girls and Aoyama search. The sky turns an ominous green color, and Macha pops up detecting a nearby alien. Everyone transforms to prep themselves for the oncoming battle, but right as they finish, the ground splits beneath them and separates them all. The Blue Knight saves Ichigo from falling off the rock on which she was standing, but he falls into the abyss below as a result.

Now de-transformed, Aoyama finds himself face to face with Kisshu – alone – and Kisshu wants nothing more than to exact revenge against the one who ruined everything for him; his plans, his trust with Deep Blue and, most importantly, his chances with Ichigo. This whole excursion to the mountain was a trap of his design – he sent a fake Mew Aqua signal out to trap Aoyama and have a true one-on-one fight.

However, it’s not so much a fight as it is a brutal beating. Aoyama is unable to transform without Ichigo around to protect, so Kisshu just gleefully shocks the daylights out of Aoyama and blasts him around like a ragdoll.

Meanwhile, the girls, now separated, barring Lettuce and Pudding, are trapped within the rocky confines of the mountain. Their power has been nullified by the strange force-field that has encompassed the mountain – a force-field that is linking them to an alternate dimension. When Kisshu has a sudden mad burst of power, sending electricity surging around the entire mountain, he inadvertently shocks Ichigo, prompting her to call out for Aoyama.

Somehow hearing her plea, Aoyama gets up, realizing that he’s always been able to hear Ichigo’s voice calling out to him. When he hears her, he gets incredible powers. His becoming The Blue Knight is all because of Ichigo.

Kisshu readies his final strike against Aoyama, which prompts him to quietly call out for Ichigo. She is able to hear his call and she’s suddenly teleported to Aoyama’s side, her power deflecting Kisshu’s attack.

He continues his assault, this time on both of them. He knocks Aoyama out and pins Ichigo to the ground, believing he’s finally claimed his prize as Aoyama is certainly beyond saving by now. Ichigo vehemently refuses his advances, however, because she insists that she’ll always love Aoyama, even if he dies – she’ll never love Kisshu or go with him.

Angered by her words, he opts to kill her instead. His threat against Ichigo’s life triggers Aoyama to transform back into the Blue Knight. He and Kisshu clash, and Kisshu mockingly talks about how he’ll make Ichigo suffer and break before the Blue Knight’s eyes.

Enraged at Kisshu’s taunts and threats at Ichigo’s life, the Blue Knight goes insane. He loses himself in a massive glow of his own power and he’s liable to explode at any moment.

The other Mews also teleport into the scene and create a shield around Ichigo, fearing the incoming explosion of power.

The Blue Knight unleashes the full brunt of his energy, much to Kisshu’s utter delight as this had also been part of his plan all along. Kisshu vanishes, and the surrounding area, including the mountain, is completely decimated by the sheer force of the Blue Knight’s power. At the center of the event is a tremendously deep crater.

Aoyama comes to, though he is clearly feeling guilty and concerned about what happened.

Meanwhile, Pai and Taruto reunite with Kisshu, having detected the massive surge of energy. He had risked his life on a gamble to test out a theory involving the Blue Knight’s power and he was proven right. Now he believes the Blue Knight is their one true savior.

——————————

– Okay, I don’t understand a lick of what Shirogane and Akasaka were doing with this barbecue. There’s no need to trick the girls to come out to the location, if that was the reason. They’re responsible girls who are more than set in their mission at this point.

If that wasn’t the purpose, then putting on a barbecue for a while when the last of the Mew Aqua, quite possibly the most important macguffin in the world at the moment, is sitting nearby and you know it’s a race against time to get it before the aliens do, is just reckless. It would have been better to tell them ‘Hey girls, the last of the Mew Aqua was detected here. Find it, and, as a reward, we’ll have a celebratory barbecue!’

It just seems mean to put on a relaxing barbecue to give the girls a well-deserved break and then stop about an hour in and go ‘Lol JK! Go to this scary-ass mountain and find Mew Aqua!’

SSBS - TMM EP48 SCREEN2

– So Aoyama’s back to his silly Windows 98 background transformation again.

– Why are the girls just slamming themselves against the rockfaces as if they have the power to Kool-Aid Man their way through them? Is that a power they’re meant to have? I don’t remember them being that physically strong.

– If this alternate dimension nullifies the girls powers, 1) Why didn’t Kisshu use this alternate dimension trap sooner? Seems like it’d be easier to lure them there, get rid of their powers and then kill them.

2) How are the girls still in Mew form if their powers are null here?

– I just realized how ironic it is that these aliens have such amazing abilities, particularly those that control plants and the weather, and yet they somehow couldn’t stop their planet from incurring such apocalyptic natural disasters.

– So…how did Ichigo teleport? I’m not going to get angry at this one, I’m just confused. I know Aoyama’s voice calling to her triggered it, but was it his powers, his Mew Aqua or Ichigo’s power that allowed her to do that?

– See, another reason why it wasn’t smart to never really question or investigate how and why Aoyama had these powers and what he actually was is because, for all they knew, he was dangerous to himself or others – intentionally or otherwise.

– Now all of the girls can teleport? What?…That makes even less sense. At least with Ichigo, she had her link with Aoyama to somewhat explain it. There’s nothing to explain this.

– Wait, Ichigo has shield-making abilities too, right? Why are the other girls gathering around her and making a shield to protect her from BK’s power instead of her participating too? Maybe I wouldn’t be as irked by this if they weren’t kneeling down as if she was royalty (They don’t need to kneel to make the shield. They’ve done it while standing numerous times. In fact, this is probably the first time they’ve done it while kneeling), but even if they were standing I’d be asking why she’s not helping or why she’s the most important to protect.

SSBS - TMM EP48 SCREEN3

Also, wouldn’t it make more sense to try and make a containment shield or something instead of just protecting Ichigo under a small bubble? I know they don’t know how much power is being expelled (It’s basically a nuke) but that makes it all the more vital that they at least try to contain the blast instead of just letting it happen and killing the local flora, fauna and….Oh yeah, Shirogane and Akasaka standing nearby the mountain….

———————————————-

This episode has a lot of good about it and some bad.

First of all, this concept is very solid. Kisshu and BK finally having a face off without Ichigo and the other Mews around is a great idea. Granted, we didn’t get to see much of this fight because most of it was Kisshu blasting a defenseless Aoyama until he was nearly dead. However, the idea was very good and we did get to see some action between them.

I really liked the barbecue part, even if it’s seemingly a pointless ploy to get the girls to do Mew work that I still don’t understand. Still, I like when they’re just having fun hanging out together and all the girls are bouncing off of each other. I would have much more preferred the barbecue be some fun downtime for a full episode, though – yes this means I’m asking for filler – before we got to the heavy stuff. I don’t dislike what we got, but I was disappointed that it was cut short.

Kisshu is just a delight in this episode. I still don’t care for him treating Ichigo as a prize and property, but when he’s being just the right level of frightening and crazy, he makes for a great villain. It’s especially impressive considering every part of this was planned by him. He got his cake and ate it too because he got to beat the snot out of Aoyama for being such a pain in his ass and being with Ichigo while also proving that Aoyama has the power to help the aliens achieve their goals.

BK’s literal explosion at the end was awesome. The coloring, the direction, the expression on his face, the voice acting, the aftermath – all of it was incredible and really drove the point home that Aoyama is a source of unfathomable power, even if he’s not aware of it and doesn’t understand it.

The two main downsides I had with this episode were the following:

1) I feel it’s redundant to even bring this up anymore, but the girls were sidelined again – and even Ichigo suffered from being totally useless this time around. The only thing she did besides get rescued three times (Once from falling, another from being attacked by Kisshu and finally from the BK blast) was act as a shield against Kisshu’s attack on Aoyama, which was either her consciously protecting Aoyama or it was convenience via BK’s power and hers.

The other girls were fully sidelined the entire episode, only miraculously popping up in the end to protect Ichigo from the BK blast, even if I still don’t understand why Ichigo wasn’t also creating a shield nor were they trying to contain the blast instead of shield themselves from it. I’m not going to harp too much on the latter because maybe they thought their shield could do nothing to contain it, but it’s not exactly the heroic option. For all they knew, there were people in the area (even besides Akasaka and Shirogane) who could’ve been injured or killed in that blast and their priority was to bubble up Ichigo.

2) I’m sorry, I’m still getting irritated at the boys fighting over Ichigo and all the prattling on about protecting Ichigo. I feel like it’s been forever since any of the girls have really done anything impressive on their own two feet, but the more they lean into this idea that Ichigo needs to be protected by her boyfriend and her boyfriend lives to protect her, the more my nerves get plucked.

I do give them props for having Ichigo stay firm in her resolve to not be treated as a prize – she’s certainly not resigning herself to going with Kisshu anytime just because things look dire – but it’s a continuing trend that has annoyed me for a while and keeps getting worse. I know this will end soon, but I still feel the need to bring it up when I see it.

I did enjoy this episode a lot, but those two problems were enough to distract me during my watch. The plot is coming down to the wire, however, so I expect my irritation will wane even further episode by episode as we approach the end.

Next episode, the city is being overrun by Chimera Animals, but Aoyama is nowhere to be found. He’s been confronted by the aliens, but something’s wrong with him. A new figure emerges….


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SSBS – Tokyo Mew Mew Episode 47: The Power of Love – I Will Protect Aoyama-Kun!

SSBS - TMM EP 47

Plot: Deep Blue has changed Pai and Taruto’s directive to destroying The Blue Knight.

Meanwhile, Aoyama proves to be a huge hit as a waiter in the cafe since all of the local girls crowd in to gush over him in his uniform. Shirogane, however, continues to be wary of their new team member.

The next day, the aliens attack with a floating blobby squid-like Chimera Animal. Aoyama and Ichigo rush into action together, soon met with the other Mews. After transforming, they try to take down the Chimera Animal, but to no avail. With a smokescreen, the Chimera Animal is able to blindside the girls and ensnare them all in its tentacles.

The Blue Knight tries to save Ichigo, but Pai stops him. The Chimera Animal lines up razor sharp tendrils to Ichigo’s head and threatens her life if he resists. The Blue Knight has no choice but to relent. Pai and Taruto then mercilessly beat The Blue Knight with intents to kill him. Ichigo is forced to watch her beloved get beaten within an inch of his life and it’s all for her sake – all because he wants to protect her and nothing else.

Ichigo cries out for Aoyama as several of her tears fall on The Blue Knight’s cheek. As his consciousness starts to wane, he remembers his dreams of Mew Ichigo crying on the ground.

With a flash, Ichigo is suddenly imbued with massive power, allowing her to break free and protect The Blue Knight from a surely fatal blast. Ichigo has taken it upon herself to be Aoyama’s protector just as much as he is hers. With the most powerful Ribbon Strawberry Surprise she’s ever conjured, she blows the Chimera Animal away and the aliens retreat.

The group and city are safe once more, but Kisshu looks on with suspicious eyes. That power may have been impressive, but it wasn’t Ichigo’s.

——————————

– Eugh, this episode has the same weird eye problem the previous episode had. In fact, it might even be worse.

– I understand that Aoyama’s the reason why all of these girls are there, but why are the other Mews standing there watching him instead of….ya know…waitressing?

– OH MY GOD, AOYAMA WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU IN THIS SHOT?!

SSBS - TMM EP 47 1

Oddly, this shot reminds me a LOT of how Aoyama tends to look in the manga. It’s creepy, knock it off.

– Ichigo draws fanart of her boyfriend…..Okie dokie.

– I’ll bite my tongue on all of the Aoyama protecting Ichigo stuff because I know this episode has her protecting him, but watch it, show. I’m still salty about the trident attack from last episode.

– The animation on that Chimera Animal is so weird and not in a good way.

– Why haven’t Ichigo and Aoyama transformed already? Don’t they travel a lot faster that way?

– Wait, Aoyama got an entirely new and somehow shorter transformation animation for this episode. He flies up, glowing blue, then as they focus on his eye, we fade into BK and then we see him in front of a much better background than he had last time. Why was his transformation changed literally one episode after he first got his transformation? And why cut out the part with his sword? That’s really the only thing he was really doing in the original version.

– Wow, one of the only times I’ve ever seen legit streams of blood in this show. Why is it that blood only appears when the guys are on screen? The last time, it was Kisshu getting wounded, now BK’s sword strikes to the Chimera Animal cause it to bleed profusely even though Zakuro just hacked one of those same tentacles into several pieces and there was no blood to be found.

– I can’t keep quiet anymore – the animation budget and this episode apparently never met. It’s a tossup between this episode and the last as to which is worse, and I’m inclined to put more chips on this one. There are numerous odd faces and so many instances of paper-cutout animation that it’s hard to ignore.

– Pai’s acting really weird in this episode. Usually he maintains his composure and attacks with his powers, but here he’s losing his temper for some reason and is just wailing on BK with his fists.

– Guys, you have lightning powers than can take out whole towns, incredibly powerful poisons, so many ways to just kill the guy you were instructed to just kill, but you’re taking your sweet time pummeling him instead.

– Hrmmmmmm……I wanted this episode to be a real true example of Ichigo taking the reigns and being the protector this time around after last week angered me so much. Sad to say, it didn’t really work out that way.

The only reason Aoyama was in trouble in the first place was because Ichigo became a damsel in distress again, and the only way she protected him in the end……*sigh* was through her tears. Granted, she did come to the realization that it’s important to not always rely on Aoyama to be protected and that she needs to protect him right back (Which is something that she shouldn’t really need to learn. She’s protected Aoyama several times at this point) but she still only gained massive main character powers because she cried over Aoyama.

Also, again, the others Mews were entirely useless in this battle. You might as well save on animation and replace them all with sock puppets at this point. No one would notice.

– By the by, she’s glowing bluish with this attack and the power was triggered by intense emotions, so was Mew Aqua involved or somethi–

Kisshu: “Wrong.”

….Que?

Kisshu: “That power was not Ichigo’s.”

………….*rubs temples* Wait, let me back up.

Ichigo….cried….which gave her lots of power….lots of….blue power…..Her tears…..landed on BK’s face before it happened, and we saw an overlay of her face meeting BK’s right before she exploded with power.

…..Are

you

kidding

me?

Are you saying BK transferred his power to Ichigo or something, which allowed her to have this massive increase in power to take out the Chimera Animal in one fell swoop?

Are you saying, by proxy, BK saved HIMSELF…and proved, again, that he is the most powerful person in the group?

Okay, okay, hang on. Maybe I’m just jumping to conclusions. Maybe I’m reading too far into this. I’m going to do the rational thing and peek through the next episode to see–

*one peek later*

Fuck off. No, really. Do that. Fuck off. And fuck what I said about BK not being as bad as Tuxedo Mask in regards to making off like a guy is constantly saving the heroines – he is officially much worse. I know the twist of his true identity, I do, and logically it would make sense for him to be this powerful, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is basically the enraging previous episode only worse. Wanna know why?

Because either consciously or subconsciously, Aoyama knew he couldn’t fight the aliens because, if he did, Ichigo would die. So he transferred power to her to let her take the reigns so he could save himself and HER by proxy. In short, Aoyama was both the hero and heroine in this episode, and that’s just bullshit.

I may complain about Ichigo getting all the best powers and stuff, but this is one step short of when parents do something and secretly let their kids think they did it to make them believe they’re grown up or magic or something.

——————————————

This episode was 75% utter bullshit. The 25% is the first part of the episode where I really got jazzed because Pai was so intent on getting BK to the point where he was kinda frightening, he had a solid plan to do so, and I really wanted to see Ichigo just kick a door down or something and badass her way to protecting Aoyama.

But that’s not what we got is it? What we got was a lie. Even without the whole concept of BK transferring his powers to Ichigo, whether he meant to or not, he was only in danger because Ichigo was damsel’d, and she only triggered these powers through her goddamn tears. Far from the badassery I had anticipated.

Do I even need to bring up the other Mews? Mew Blank, Mew Open Space, Mew Placeholder and Mew Error 404 Not Found? They literally come out of nowhere, try to attack, but prove fruitless, then they’re also damsel’d but the focus is given to Ichigo because she’s most important. At least there’s finally one instance of BK trying to save a Mew other than Ichigo for a damn change, but that’s obviously just exacerbating the problem isn’t it?

I honestly don’t remember having this severe of a problem with BK the last couple of times I watched through this series. Granted, both of those times I wasn’t really so deep into reviewing or analysis, but seriously, how did I overlook this?

Plus, despite the gravity of this episode, the animation is distractingly terrible. There aren’t so many laughable frames as your typical mess fest Mew Mew episode, but they are there and there are so many instances of paper-cutout movement it’s ridiculous. They even do it when the movement is entirely unnecessary. Like, hey, Ichigo’s prepping to attack – let’s make her character layer bigger and create the illusion that we’re zooming in on her for no reason.

Next episode, a nice barbecue for the team, but they’re quickly targeted by Kisshu who wants to make his true final stand against BK.


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SSBS – Wedding Peach Episode 1: Celebration! Birth of the Love Angel

SSBS - WP EP 1 S2

Plot: Momoko wishes more than anything to find the love of her life and have a beautiful wedding like her late mother once had. One day, as she’s out with her friends Yuri and Higagiku, a strange man named Pluie kidnaps her and tries to steal her beloved ruby ring, which once belonged to her mother. Another man, an angelic being named Limone, rushes in to save her. Pluie possesses her friends into attacking her for her ring. Limone hands her a brooch, which gives her the power to transform into the magical girl Wedding Peach and save her friends.

Breakdown: Another magical girl anime, and like most magical girl anime, this one has to deal with being called a Sailor Moon clone. A lot of people fling that accusation around, though. Magical girl anime existed before Sailor Moon, and people tend to get blinders on when it comes to some anime genres like mecha or slice of life.

This one, however, I’ve seen on more than one occasion be accused of being one of, if not the worst clone offender in existence. That’s a hefty charge. But let’s weigh Wedding Peach on both its own merits and its clone status before we send it to anime jail.

….And hoo boy, they don’t waste any time do they? This theme song is so similar to Sailor Moon’s, I’m almost tempted to go ‘she is the one named Sailor Moon’ during the chorus. Just add some organ music, bells and tweak the verses a tad and you have Wedding Peach’s OP.

Alright, I’m jumping the gun. It’s probably just a coincidence. Give the rest of the episode a chance.

*22 minutes later*

Wow……Okay. Let’s just get everything out of the way.

Our main character, Momoko, is a klutzy, ditsy, gluttonous airhead who is obsessed with love and boys. She has a particular obsession with getting married because, well, of course she does. She’s a female protagonist in a magical girl anime.

Her friends have a nickname for her when she’s being airheaded or dumb – turtle, which is also a name stemmed from her hair style. Her hair makes it seem like she has a shell on her back. Usagi was nicknamed bun-head/dumpling-head/meatball-head due to the round buns in her hair.

Their names are themed, which can be taken as ripping off Sailor Moon, but is a thing in most magical girl shows. Momoko’s name means ‘peach tree child’, with her last name, Hanasaki, meaning ‘to bloom’ Her friend, Yuri’s name means ‘lily’ and her other friend, Hinagiku’s, name translates to ‘daisy’.

Momoko’s hair is styled in reference to her name (peach shaped), like Usagi has her trademark rabbit ear style. And, like Usagi’s, her hair is also insanely large.

Momoko is a princess. It hasn’t been explored yet, but she is. She’s princess of the Angel World and a descendant of Aphrodite.

Her love interest, Yousuke Fuuma, hates her at first, and the feeling is mutual, is secretly another sexy bishounen character named Viento (Wind), and their eventual blooming love is one that was met with disapproval due to their being from different worlds (he’s half demon, she’s half angel. In Sailor Moon, Serenity was princess of the moon and Endymion was prince of the earth kingdom.) Being fair, his character seems to be a legit enemy.

SSBS - WP EP 1 S1

Since he’s an enemy, we obviously need someone else filling the Tuxedo Mask role (unless they pulled a Tokyo Mew Mew on us) and that person is Limone, whose name means Lemon in Italian. He’s, shockingly, not Momoko’s love interest in disguise, but he is Yuri’s. Being fair, his human form, Yanagiba, is lusted after by nearly every girl in school, especially our three main leads.

Their main powers are love based and the devils whom they fight hate love.

Her transformation brooch could not be more late-Sailor Moon-esque if you tried – most particularly the Crisis Moon Compact, though Eternal Moon Article and Prism Heart Compact work just as well.

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And you’ll never guess what’s inside of it…..a silver crystal!

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They’re not even trying to hide how blatant this is.

I’m going to give the transformation sequences a pass because it’s not a trope that started with Sailor Moon nor is the transformation scene close enough for me to care (though her transformed outfit does wrap around her in ribbons…)

I will, however, vent slightly about something that makes no sense here. Angels and demons – that’s the premise we’re working with. So why, pray tell, do the transformation sequences result in wedding dresses? Why is she called Wedding Peach? What do weddings have to do with any of this besides love being a central theme? Closest I can gather from what Pluie (Rain) said is that the dresses make them look like angels sorta kinda a little I guess. The devils must be based on divorce lawyers.

And you might be saying to yourself ‘Wow, I thought sailor uniforms were hard to fight in. A wedding dress? Are you nuts?!’ Yes, this is incredibly impractical, even moreso that usual. That’s why you don’t really see her move in it. Don’t worry, though, this outfit isn’t her main love angel uniform. There’s a fighting version of the outfit…..Why transform into this clunky disaster if they have a fighting uniform? Because the fighting uniforms don’t look wedding-y enough.

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Of course, she gets a post-transformation speech and her own pose, but, again, this is common in magical girl shows.

Enough clone-age, though. How does this episode fare on its own merits?

Our lead character, Momoko, has a dream of finding her one true love and getting married with a lavish wedding because her deceased mom did…..Okay.

Her two friends, Yuri and Hinagiku whose personalities seem so interchangeable at this point that I still have difficulty remembering who was who, gush over a star soccer player named Yanagiba, fight over who will get to be with him, have an angry encounter with another soccer player named Yousuke Fuuma as they try to interview Yanagiba for the school paper, eat crepes, then Momoko gets kidnapped by Pluie, who demands her mother’s wedding ring. What significance the ring holds is not revealed in this episode.

She’s suddenly saved by an angel named Limone who starts swordfighting Pluie. As Momoko goes to tend to her friends, having been knocked out by Pluie, he possesses them both with tiny demons called Jama-P.

Limone gives her the brooch and the god of love herself, Aphrodite, tells Momoko what to do in order to save her friends. She transforms into her wedding dress, making her Wedding Peach, and she expels the Jama-P through her power, Lovely Operation Tempete. If you think that’s a stupid name, the items that give the girls their powers are called the Saint Something Four. That sounds stupid, but, believe it or not, it has a reason to sound so sloppy.

The items are based on the ‘Something…’ superstition in weddings. In order to bring the bride and groom good luck on their wedding day, a bride needs something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. Each trinket is meant to represent one of those items.

Even with the explanation, which isn’t given in this episode, by the way, I still think the name sounds silly.

We get an overly long ‘remember you’re my friends’ clip show for having only known these characters for 18 minutes, especially since a few of those minutes were dedicated to the three of them fighting over a guy. One of them even said the line ‘When it comes to love, women’s friendship is a fragile thing.’

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Pluie leaves and Limone bids farewell. Momoko passes out, and Yuri and Hinagiku don’t remember anything. In typical anime fashion, they brush it off as a dream when Momoko tries to explain what happened. But the brooch in her pocket gives her proof that it was true.

——————————————–

As a first episode, this works very well, though I really wish they had focused more on highlighting at least some differences between Yuri and Hinagiku. Yuri’s supposedly the quiet, polite and kind one while Hinagiku is the rougher tomboy, but they only slightly hint at this. I had to go to the Wiki to really iron that out.

It’s really just your average magical girl fare down to its core. Like many magical girl shows, the changes mostly lie in the aesthetics. I have yet to read a damn thing about this show that makes me go ‘Wow, that’s unique.’ Even taking the magical girl tropes away, it’s just blah.

There are a staggering amount of similarities to Sailor Moon, and I definitely expect more to come. For instance, the enemy bishounen also seem to be themed in their names much in the same vein as The Four Heavenly Kings. Viento, who is Yousuke, means ‘wind’ while Pluie means ‘rain’. I’m stretching a bit for that because, again, Tokyo Mew Mew and some other shows also theme names fairly commonly. All they’re missing is a cute animal sidekick and a Beryl ripoff….and that’s coming.

It’s just….distracting. But is it too distracting? Mm…that’s yet to be seen.

The art and animation are par for the course for the mid nineties. I’ll at least say that didn’t remind me much of Sailor Moon, mostly just because it’s basic anime style. But what is up with Higagiku’s hair? Bright green with a weird toothpaste blob in the back? What? The animation isn’t bad. In fact….I’d actually say it’s better than the early day Sailor Moon episodes.

The music is forgettable, though fitting. It’s somewhat dated, but outside of the complete ripoff that is the OP, it’s not very reminiscent of Sailor Moon’s.

Next episode, the intro to Fighter Angel mode.


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