Kare Kano episodes 08 and 09 – Maho’s Shoujo Junta

Two different episodes this time, one introspective regarding Yukino and Arima, one focusing on the external events around them. We start off with a story of a day off together told by each of the characters, going through how they spend their time together, its awkward and sweet moments, and then the way that each of them thinks about how they’ve come to be together. Arima especially is thinking about his life before meeting Yukino and how it has changed afterwards. And the internal changes come with external social ones in the second episode with at least two rival factions whipping up jealousy and trying in their own ways to deny True Love and Friendship. Maho is playing the long game, more indirect and conspiratorial, while Tsubasa opts for the frontal assault.

I demand to see this scene animated!

Poor Kano and Tsukino. Yukino runs that place like a boot camp!

As Yukino went about her morning chores the background music faded a bit as if it was coming from this CD during the closeup, a Gainax technique I’ve seen before in Evangelion and FLCL.

So moe I died.

Free of her chores, Yukino meets Arima at his place…only to find Asaba there again, acting like a housewife. Arima can’t seem to get rid of the guy. I think all this talk of wanting a (female) harem is trying a little hard to hide something…

Here’s where the awkward comes in. They have the house to themselves after getting Asaba to leave, but they end up reading. Yukino’s not quite sure what to do with herself until she teases Arima about not showing his feelings as much as she is.

Though Arima took the teasing very seriously, to DDDAAAAAAAWWWWW, if unintended, effect.

Heat levels critical. Shut down sequence initiated.

The latter half of the episode concentrates on Arima remembering how his life has changed since he fell in love with Miyazawa. He had built up the sort of popularity that Yukino did, though not as intentionally. Being friends with everyone, having several girls ask him out, and excelling in class and sports were all things that should have made him happy, but he instead felt more isolated. Even though he was a central node in a pretty big network, he never felt very connected to anyone around him in a meaningful way. But one day he received a love letter that he thought was from Yukino, as it asked for him to meet the writer at the riverbank that he had told Yukino about. Once he was there, he was surprised and excited to see Yukino, only to have the actual author of the letter approach him from behind. But even though this was not the start of their relationship, he seemed to have found someone that he had genuine feelings for.

Random Star Trek reference that they hid in there. NCC-1701 being the hull number for the original Enterprise (and letters added to it for future Enterprises….don’t look at me like that!)

Oooh, harsh. This in the background of Arima turning down another girl.

Pages of animation drawing turned by hand, I like it. Very cool, and the disconnect between the anime and the static cells was a nice way of showing Arima’s disconnect from the people around him.

Ah, the strangely high occurrence of messy, wire crowded telephone poles in Gainax series of this time period (and others like Lain) finally makes sense to me now. As a symbol of connection, or lack thereof in this case, it works pretty well though.

Speaking of Lain. And being disconnected and metaphors. Gainax, I love you for putting in this much effort to enrich the show.

Arima’s happy, sunflower-y moment of realization. Also, this needs to be redone in higher resolution so it can make a proper desktop.

After a quick recap with Kano and Tsukino (and a cool visual background recap) things move to the external developments around Arima and Yukino. Yukino is tired out from staying up to study as she balances studying with spending time with Arima, and she’s once again the darling of her class even as she acts more normally. Her classmates are overall reacting well to this change, though they still fawn over Arima and wish they had a friendship like the two do with Asaba. But such ground is ripe for a demagogue who has no morals or respect for truth or civility. Such a demagogue comes in the form of Izawa Maho and her junta of followers, who quickly perform a coup on the class and set themselves up to rule on a campaign of lies and jealousy to legitimate their takeover. The girls in the class start buying into the junta’s lies and fickle as they are, now despise Yukino for taking ‘their’ Arima from them. At first Yukino feels that she’s brought this change in attitude upon herself, but soon recovers the indomitable will to persevere. But in this time of upheaval, Maho’s junta is not the only force at work.

Now that’s a recap segment with style. I only hope that the recap episodes I’ve been told are ahead are so well done.

In breathless anticipation of…MATH!

Asaba makes his scheduled appearance to stalk Arima…and hit on the girls, yeah, that’s it.

The group of good friends representing True Love and Friendship in this show. Since the number of factions has reached Zeta Gundam levels this episode, perhaps I should take to calling them the AEUG (Anti-Envious Unified Group.) The junta would have to be the Titans, and the upcoming third faction the ‘we don’t know the word subtlety’ Axis.

O you hard hearts, you cruel women of Hokuei,/

Knew you not Yukino? Many a time and oft/ 

Have you climb’d up to walls and desks,/ 

To bleachers and windows, yea, to table-tops,/ 

Your notebooks in your arms, and there have sat /

The livelong day, with patient expectation,/ 

To see greatYukino pass the halls of Hokuei:/ 

And when you saw Maho’s lies but appear,/ 

Have you not made an universal shout,/ 

That Tamagawa trembled underneath her banks,/ 

To hear the replication of your sounds /

Made in her concave shores?/ 

And do you now put on your best attire?/ 

And do you now bring out your jealousy?/ 

And do you now strew flowers in her way/

That comes in triumph over Yukino’s happiness? Be gone!

The lines in the background seem to suggest either the fracturing of the girls’ goodwill towards Yukino or their ensnarement in the web of jealousy that Maho and her junta have risen to power with.

The junta rose to power quickly in their coup, and with their populist scapegoating they now move on to assume the reigns of power and begin their aggression against Yukino. Hugo Chavez would be proud.

Pipes and conduits seem to be the occasional visual motif of this episode. Given how water indicated problems of the past or of self-doubt resurfacing, maybe these are supposed to show that the social problems are inevitable? Maybe that the one way flow of water within them means that these things were bound to happen?

Already the junta members are sucking up to their Supreme Leader.

But Yukino’s not going to let this stand. She even headbutts a metal box to summon up her determination, SHE’S JUST THAT HARDCORE!

Completing the Zeta Gundam analogy, Shibahime Tsubasa, aka Tsubasa Zabi, aka The Dragon,  moves into the conflict. Much like Axis, she has been away for some time while events have transpired without her, but she’s ready to force her Zeonic ideals on everyone else. Short of stature but possessed with an aggressive mentality, she is Taiga’s evil twin. Having just gotten out of the hospital after a laughable skateboarding accident, she feels that her long standing crush on Arima makes her entitled to be with him, while he merely regards her as a little sister. Definitely has a Nadeko-style big brother complex going on. She instantly vows to bury Yukino like it’s 1956 or something, and immediately starts by trying to set herself up as the victim when she, Arima, and Yukino meet. Squeezing Yukino’s hand and then blaming her for the reaction among other feints, she then goes to far and tries to physically go after Yukino until Arima catches her, buying none of her act. It is a swift and total defeat for Tsubasa’s opening offensive, but her crying and and her friends’ advice to the contrary doesn’t stop her from resuming aggression. Unable to fight head on near Arima, she resorts to a campaign of terrorist attacks and ambushes on Yukino alone. However there is not unity in the Axis camp, and her friends approach Yukino offering support and asking for restraint in any future counterattacks.

For one, intellect and personality. For seconds, because she doesn’t have a bloated head like a Kanon character. Oh yes Key fans, I went there.

Why she’s earned her codename ‘The Dragon.’

Spoken like a true yakuza boss. Who’s going to compensate me for this, HHHUUUUHHHHH?! You better pay up before my friends get mad!

You’d get along just perfectly with Ume ‘Vichy-tan’ Kurumizawa.

THIS HAND BURNS WITH A, ah, you know the rest.

Tsubasa tried to be 3 times faster but had her Char kick interrupted by Arima.

Arima sees what you did there.

Yeah, take a good long look at it Tsubasa. Let it sink in and SMASH YOUR HEART INTO ATOMS!

Even your compatriots aren’t surprised by your defeat.

She begins her campaign of petty hit and run attacks, being soundly defeated in honorable combat.

Meanwhile the junta prepares its next move while Supreme Leader Maho fancies herself a poet. Tell me Maho, are you familiar with the works of Shan Yu?

Final Thoughts: - Episode 08’s kiss was nice in that it showed how awkward they can be when they have time to themselves. When they’re not fighting the power or their own personal insecurities, they can be pretty uncomfortable with what to do with themselves, but Arima managed to come through it by being very straightforward with how he responded to Yukino’s teasing.

- I expected a rival or two, but not all at once. Few shows have as many factions going on at the same time, and it’s great fun to see. We might not have seen the last of Tsubasa Zabi, even if her Axis compatriots aren’t onboard for renewing her failed offensive. But the junta is the major threat in my analysis. Maho has seemingly competent and highly motivated lackeys, and she displayed the patience not to act prematurely at the first signs of Yukino and Arima becoming close. We saw here giving the couple the evil eye in the first episode or two, but she’s only unveiled her true intent now. She picked the perfect time to work her insidious ideas into the crowd, and knew how to play them like a musical instrument (admittedly not hard to do since they just needed a pretext to unleash their unspoken jealousy.)

- Both Maho’s appeal to her classmates and Tsubasa’s hatred for Yukino were all very…high school. Petty and jealous over someone they’d ordinarily respect, though I suspect that there’s more to Maho’s anger. I’d even say that it was very Japanese high school in that Yukino and Arima going out is the cause of the girls turning on Yukino, not so much how Yukino used to put up a facade. It shows a high concern for the feelings of the other girls along with a sense that they’re owed something for having such feelings, as well as jealousy over others having more than the group standard. It disrupts the group centered status quo when the two find love. See: “Everyone’s Kazehaya” from Kimi ni Todoke.

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  1. Posted June 9, 2010 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Yuki will handle them all very well, but how she takes on Tsubasa is pure epic win. Good job on observing the visual elements that show the care Anno put into making this.

    • Posted June 9, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      Looking forward to the next stage in the conflict. And thanks, I’m glad you liked the visual points. Sometimes I worry that I’m getting too film studies with them, though I make an effort to write my comments in an accessible manner. Taking three and then being a teaching assistant for three film classes (New Wave Chinese Cinema, Hong Kong Cinema, and Japanese Cinema) definitely had a bit of an impact on me, heh.

  2. raile
    Posted June 9, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    I always found it hilarious how Yukino’s classmates made a heel-face-turn so easily (both in manga and anime). XD I mean, yes, Yukino did put on a facade, but she’s always been nothing but a respectable person and role model to the other girls (despite whatever was in her mind).

    Ah well, that’s high school for you.

    • Posted June 9, 2010 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

      High school definitely explains part of it, but I think more broadly the rest of the class are just the fickle mob. They didn’t seem so concerned with the facade itself as they were about using it as a vehicle for their jealousy once Maho offered it to them. They’re jealous of Yukino having Arima as her boyfriend and Asaba as her friend, but they couldn’t think of a grievance to channel that jealousy until Maho showed up. And then it just became a case of follow the leader as the group all decided that they could let out their frustrations that way.

  3. Posted June 9, 2010 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    Ha. Nice Firefly quote.

    The Kurumi/Maho comparison is fairly apropos, although I like Maho a lot better than Kurumi. I’ve been enjoying your blog entries on this, having not seen the series in a while it’s bringing back a lot of great memories.

    • Posted June 9, 2010 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      Glad you like the entries and the reference. On Maho vs Kurumi, Maho is definitely more competent, so on one level I can respect competency, but overall I hate them both for trying to ruin True Love and Friendship, especially with such underhanded means. But it’s fun to have a good villain that’s fun to hate.

  4. Posted June 9, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    lol I like Tsubasa’s brofist (chickfist? galfist?) screencap.

    Kare Kano is a surprisingly sexy series. A lot of that probably comes from the manga (haven’t read it yet, so I wouldn’t know), but it’s not like Gainax didn’t know how to turn up the heat, judging from its prior series.

    • Posted June 9, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

      That’s an interesting thought, and I have to agree from what I’ve seen. The kisses seem to have a lot more passion to them than the often clean, almost chaste kisses in most romance series. There’s the buildup, and then visually I think the character’s expressions are much more like an actual person kissing. Plus Yukino’s mom is hot ;)

    • Posted June 10, 2010 at 2:26 am | Permalink

      READ THE EFFING MANGA GUISE! Sooooo worth it.

  5. ojisan
    Posted June 9, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    What the HELL is that bit of epic poetry you’re quoting to rebuke the class for turning on Yukino? Good job!

    Arima’s reflections on meeting Yukino; possibly my favourite ten minutes of anime evah. And after all its angst and sorrow…bloop!! Sunflowers!

    • Posted June 9, 2010 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

      Haha, it’s from the opening scene of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, a favorite of mine from back in high school when I first read it. Marullus is berating the people of Rome for being fickle and welcoming Caesar in with open arms when they used to cheer Pompey.

      The sunflowers shot was like the clouds opening up and the sun coming through. Right on the tail of all that angst and confusion and self doubt, it really makes you see what Arima sees in her. Not that I needed any convincing about the impressive qualities of Yukino.

  6. Posted June 10, 2010 at 4:57 am | Permalink

    Yeah, it is highschoolish but this really happens in school all the time. :-S

  7. Exar
    Posted June 10, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    That scene where she hits herself with the metal box is always EPIC WIN for me. It always makes me laugh.
    But yeah, Maho’s reason for her hate of Yukino is a bit different as your hunch predicts. It just keeps getting better and bettter..

    Also, you are going to love how Yukino deals with Tsubasa. Its Hilarious!!!!!!!

    • Posted June 10, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      It was great how it came out of nowhere too. I think by not foreshadowing it with her internal dialogue which had shifted from being resigned to being determined, it gave the audience the same surprise as Arima had.

      That’s what I’m thinking about Maho. If she was only after Yukino to eliminate her as Arima’s boyfriend I don’t think she’d be so coolly determined and socially methodical, or patient. A reaction like Tsubasa’s (or like Ume from Kimi ni Todoke) would be more typical if the aggression were just a means to an end inspired by hot blooded emotion. For Maho it almost seems like destroying Yukino is the end and not the means to the end.

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