Kare Kano episodes 10 and 11 – Decapitation Strategy

Kare Kano’s version of the Gryps Conflict comes to a conclusion this week as the forces of True Love and Friendship have managed to rally popular support and new allies without expanding the conflict to include Arima. Several major changes in the situation allow Yukino to defeat one enemy while parrying the attacks of another, and in the end forges a lasting peace. After the fighting, there’s a lot of personal development for Yukino internally, dealing with friends, and managing a momentary crisis in her relationship. Arima is heading off to a month of training for the national kendo championship in Kyoto, so back home Yukino has a lot of time on her hands during summer vacation. But it is time well spent as we shall see.

Your kung fu is weak Tsubasa.

Kawashima the Cruel only makes things worse in Yukino’s class by praising her over the others. And his help is assistance that you probably don’t want. “So Yukino, what do you want?” “I’d like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike, as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come at too high a price. I want to look up into your lifeless eyes and wave, like this. Can you and your associates arrange that for me Mr. Kawashima?”

There’s some tension after Arima offers to intervene to stop Supreme Leader Maho and her junta and Yukino declines, but luckily Asaba is there to break the tension with his ‘treasure’, a picture of shota Arima.

[Insert yaoi insinuation here.]

But Yukino is immediate and thorough in claiming her prize. It may be Asaba’s photo, but following the Israeli example she changed the ‘facts on the ground‘, those facts including that she’s had the picture in her mouth and now in her bra.

Yukino quickly counters with an offer of a cute picture from her childhood. Well she claims it’s cute anyway.

The sporadic Tsubasa attacks continue, but Yukino has quickly adapted.

After the latest attack, the first victory in the Hokuei Gryps Conflict as Tsubasa’s backers formally side with Yukino. The Shoujo Tri-Stars led by Captain Tsubaki Sakura have grown tired of Tsubasa’s childish behavior and now join Yukino for mostly pragmatic reason.

As the Tri-Stars join up with Yukino Captain Tsubaki shares her analysis of current intelligence with Yukino: her class could only have turned against her so quickly with a leader coordinating things. Thus informed, Yukino sets out to find this leader and implement a decapitation strategy to destroy her and scatter her followers. When Supreme Leader Maho makes a big deal about Yukino having friends in another class, her jealousy betrays her and Yukino zeros in on her like a laser guided bomb. Boldly and without hesitation Yukino starts confronting Maho in front of the class, offering no excuses for her past behavior while driving home how Maho is manipulating everyone for her own benefit. Maho, infuriated, rises and slaps Yukino in the face before running out and nearly bowling over Arima who was listening from outside the door. The decapitation strategy works more quickly than expected, and it’s not long before the class starts talking about apologizing to Yukino. Maho, deposed and sulking, now recalls why she hates Yukino so much: she was another Yukino, but not as good at getting everyone’s attention. And through the course of her jealousy and feelings of inferiority, she’s also a Graham Aker like love for her opponent.

Yukino is not impressed with your demagoguery.

Yukino must have read The 48 Laws of Power, because in this scene she offers excellent examples of several that completely change the situation in her favor. Law 28 – Enter action with boldness: Yukino decides from the start to go full throttle. Law 39 – Stir up waters to catch fish: Calling Maho selfish and desirous of followers made her blow up, ruining her image in front of everyone. Law 42 – Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter: Once she was informed that a leader exists, she went right for her. The junta and popular class support soon stopped despising Yukino. Law 46 – Never appear too perfect: A lesson learned as Yukino became more of herself, she clearly admitted to the class that she used to be obsessed with attention. Admitting her past mistake gave her a human element that the class could sympathize with.

It’s not long before the class deserts her, and Maho even dismisses her own junta members, whose passing loyalty is all too evident as they joyfully abandon her.

Interestingly enough Maho was very much like Yukino, but a lot more underhanded in how she was willing to try and trash a rival than Yukino was when Arima started superseding her.

“My heart was stolen by your overwhelming abilities. This feeling truly is love! But if you transcend love, it becomes hatred.”

The final part of episode 10 resolves the Yukino-Maho-Tsubasa conflict in rather hilarious fashion. Arima drops his wallet near Tsubasa, who jealously takes the picture of Yukino from it and puts it in the trash burner. Yukino doesn’t want to think that Tsubasa would be so petty, but checks anyway and finds the torn up photo. RAEG TIEM! Howling with righteous and uncontrolled fury she blasts through the halls screaming for the head of Tsubasa. Nowhere is safe for the former head of the Axis faction, not with allies, not even on the outside ledge of the building! It was a sight to behold, unparalleled in the (admittedly small) canon of shoujo that I’ve watched. I’m pretty sure Angry Yukino gets the terror rule in Warhammer, put with an increased penalty to the command check. After hunting down her quarry she corners Tsubasa and asks why, if she’s so desperate, hasn’t she just confessed to Arima already? But apparently she’s tried, several times over the years, only to have Arima just.not.get.it. Either he outright misunderstood her or something came up to ruin the moment. Arima happens upon this scene, and apologizes the Tsubasa, ending the open conflict among them. Later in the day Yukino approaches Maho as well, teasing her about how she would have done a better job in her place with the whole thing, but eliciting a laugh and a sign that what’s past is past between them.

You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.

Death from above. Hopefully this face is painted on the nose of some JASDF fighter plane, Flying Tigers-style.

Failed confession #1: attempting to make chocolates for Arima on Valentine’s Day, only to have her trip and the bag get mixed in with the pile of others and handed back to her.

Failed confession #2: A letter left in his shoebox and a moment of joy as he grabs her by the hand at the meeting point…only to have Arima recruit her for cleanup detail.

Failed confession #3: Sitting next to each other on the bus, but (this time not Arima’s fault) another student gets sick and Arima has to help him.

Never let her forget it Yukino!

Having made the world safe for True Love and Friendship once more, we get a big dose of the Friendship part of the shoujo creed in the second episode this week. Summer vacation arrives, but Arima tells Yukino that he has to go train for and participate in the kendo tournament for the entire month of July. Both of them momentarily panic at the thought of not seeing each other, especially when it looked like they would have plenty of time to do so over the break, but an awkward but sweet moment from Arima averts this. It was facepalm-level awkward, but also very cute when Arima told Yukino that he wanted to hold her before he left, and the embrace did wonders to both calm and reassure each of them. With Arima off, Yukino is now rounding up her new friends to spend time together, cement their new friendships, and consolidate the hard-won peace. The Shoujo Tri-Stars, Tsubasa, and Maho all join her for a day out of karaoke, food, and fun, though not everyone warms to each other immediately.

Tsubasa’s spiteful tendencies haven’t disappeared with her defeat and she takes this moment to tease Arima with how close she can get with Yukino.

Some nice yuri in the background for the yuri fantasy moment.

Some kindergarten art from the studio that would eventually go on to make Hanamaru Kindergarten.

Arima’s definitely the waifu in this fantasy.

From awkward origins comes a Kyaaa-rific (Kyaa-rific is copyright Impz’s Traps and Sundries Inc., 2010) moment.

And Asaba teases Arima about going to the pool with Yukino…yeah…teasing Arima. Yep. Definitely not trying to flash him or anything.

Captain Tsubaki acts quickly and on instinct, attacking Maho when she shows up for their outing before Yukino reminds her of the recent armistice.

Yukino wins! Friendship, friendship!

The last part of the girls’ day out is spent teasing Tsubasa and having some dessert at a restaurant where Yukino begins to figure out the nature of Tsubasa, Tsubaki, Aya, and Rika’s relationship. For the most part Maho is still disconcertingly quiet, but perhaps it will take some time for her to warm up to them. Still, I’m keeping an eye on her. Rika and Aya seem to have a saint-sinner sort of friendship going on, while Tsubaki reminds Yukino of a certain someone. Always being straightforward and with an eye for cute girls, Captain Tsubaki has been recruiting girls into her elite Yuri Kagekidan for years and is always looking for new members. She even puts forth a proposition to Maho at the restaurant. I think I just found my favorite supporting character, I always did like the straightforward tomboy girls like Chizuru Yoshida from Kimi ni Todoke and Kanbaru from Bakemonogatari. And her slightly more subtle approach to harem building is a nice contrast to Asaba’s. On their way home Tsubasa starts latching on to Yukino, and a setup for the next episode is dropped. Tsubasa wants to run away from home now that her dad is thinking about remarrying a woman that she regards as a bimbo, and starts begging Yukino and Maho to let her stay with them. Evidently she’s planned this all out as her bag is already stashed in a train station rental locker.

Yukino won’t tolerate such disgusting behavior.

As Tsubasa goes from once persistent rival to plaything of her victor.

Everyone seems eager to feed Tsubasa for some reason…

They all seem to share Chizuru’s ‘interest.’

Some on the fly network analysis.

Smooth.

Pimpin ain’t easy but it’s necessary.

I’d be up for a bishoujo remake of Saiyuki along the lines of the 2000 bishounen version. Make Yukino Cho Hakkai and Maho could be Sha Gojyou!

Final Thoughts: - For as decisive and entertaining as the resolution of the what I’ve compared to and termed the Gryps Conflict, I guess I was expecting something that would take longer to resolve. Especially in Maho’s case given how hell-bent she was on going after Yukinio I would have thought that it would have taken her longer to get over it, much less start hanging out with Yukino. I can see Tsubasa’s rivalry ending as quickly as it did, but for Maho I was thinking that it would be longer, something along the lines of the Kurumi arc in Kimi ni Todoke.

- Not so much of the visual symbols this time, though they remain present. Street lights and crossing signs turning green to show positive progression, this time with friendship, and overburdened telephone poles to show the connectedness Yukino has now that she has genuine friends.

- Yukino finding what she admired in the Tri-Stars was a step on a much needed path for her, since both she and Maho pursued attention and excellence in school for its own sake but neglected to look at the long term picture. While I’m still a little on guard about Maho, this fact did give them something to bond over when they walked to the train station with Tsubasa at the end of the second episode.

- Maho as a Fallen Yukino was an interesting concept. While the extent that she took her jealousy didn’t allow me to sympathize too much with her being upstaged, it did show some of the unintended consequences of another person’s actions. Maho should have moved on, it wasn’t healthy for her to be fixated on being number one. But at the same time her character acknowledges something that’s often glossed over in shoujo competition (and shounen and other genres for that matter), that one person excelling means that those s/he’s risen above may be left resentful. Shoujo usually (and in this case at the end) remedies this with befriending the former rival and then things become okay. But sometimes it seems a little too easy, and Maho’s character at least gives voice to that idea while she’s in opposition to Yukino. This question isn’t to say that people shouldn’t excel for fear of upsetting those who can’t get over not being the best in something, the burden is in my mind on the defeated to live for something other than competition, but it acknowledges an interesting reality.

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12 Comments

  1. Posted June 16, 2010 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Some of my favorite moments in the whole thing. Yukino fights, and fights HARD. And in the end, wins friends. God I want to read the manga again…

    • Posted June 17, 2010 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      She was definitely lacking in the intelligence analysis, but once she was tipped off to the presence of a shadowy force directing the class she went in full force. I liked that there was a moment where her internal monologue directly addressed this commitment too. Taking on Tsubasa was more her natural style of combat, a direct attack against a conventional foe using overwhelming power.

  2. Posted June 16, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoyed watching the girls’ friendship dynamic on these episodes. I always believed that there has to be a little bit of evilness to make things interesting.

    • Posted June 17, 2010 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      The Aya-Rika dynamic is a hilarious one, and I’ll bet that Rika is putting on a little bit of that ‘troubled’ face when she’s so nice to Aya, hehe.

  3. Posted June 17, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    The upcoming Tsubasa arc might be my favorite part of the anime because it makes really surprising developments with her character. You expect stories about high school relationships to develop its main characters well, and they should, but Kare Kano goes so much further to really flesh out secondary and even tertiary characters and their families. No rock is left unturned, something I hold Kare Kano in high esteem for.

    • Posted June 18, 2010 at 12:17 am | Permalink

      I agree. Many side characters have full storylines, especially continuing into the manga. I believe that this is also a consequence of (and a delightful one too) when the primary romantic tension is resolved (the OTP gets together early, and is happy together). There aren’t a lot of conflicts you can drum up within a young couple’s love story, so the ‘space’ is well devoted to the other characters and their lives.

    • Posted June 18, 2010 at 6:46 am | Permalink

      All this ‘extra’ development that you don’t usually get in the romance genre is one of the reasons why I’m loving this show. Having the couple get together early lets Yukino and Arima be developed more, and it also makes time for fleshing out the people around then and giving the couple interesting situations to go through other than wondering if one likes the other.

      I think I like the couple getting together early for the same reason that I loved the post-timeskip parts of SDF Macross and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: I love the ‘what now?’ parts of fiction. I think it’s a lot more interesting to see how people manage things after the big change, whether that be a confession of love or a decisive space battle.

  4. Posted June 17, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    I always thought Asaba is gay when I was reading the manga. Until the last volume that is. Argh i hate the last volume. There’s another character with Tsubasa like crush on Arima coming out soon. Can’t wait for that character to appear.

    I agreed with kadian1364. The Tsubasa arc is pretty good, whether it is in the anime or in the manga.

    • Posted June 18, 2010 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      Tsubasa arc and another rival? Interesting times ahead. Asaba seems to love the attention from girls enough, but it seems like he’s gay exclusively for Arima, hehe.

      I have the manga now, I’ll have to start reading it soon.

  5. JELEINEN
    Posted June 18, 2010 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Go back to episode 11 and pause at about 14:30 then advance it frame by frame.

    • Posted June 18, 2010 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Haha, I thought some of the flashing images didn’t look like familiar characters! Lots of Eva and some other series that I can’t identify. Nice.

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