Mid season upgrades: they’re not just for mecha anymore.
A sidestory and a return to the plot with these two episodes, thankfully with no recaps. Summer draws to a close and as the day of Arima’s return approaches, Yukino and her family go to visit her grandfather. The same one who objected to Yukino’s father so much when they married, and who can’t seem to resist making fun of his son in law to this day. Over the course of a walk Yukino’s parents remember how they met and what their lives were like as they fell in love, in quite a complete mini-arc especially for being not even one entire episode. In the next, Yukino agonizes over the last three days before Arima’s return, but when he does she has started having some uncharacteristic difficulty with her feelings for him. And Arima himself seems to be suffering some…strange side effects of the kendo tournament upgrade.
Yukino’s dad, Hiro, starts off by creeping out his entire family by commenting way too much about how Yukino looks like her mom when she was in high school really freaks them out by talking about how he gets the same feeling from her. The awkward train ride transitions to Yukino’s grandfather’s house, where fights immediately break out between him and her father. The old man is a lot like Hiro, talking about losing his precious Miya to “someone like you!” at least once. Later through conversations and Hiro and Miya going out on a stroll we learn that they knew each other since a very young age when Hiro was an energetic kid that was always getting in trouble. But the two first bonded over the fact that Hiro’s parents had died and Miya didn’t have a mother either. Which is quite a similar pattern to how Arima and Tsubasa would become friends many years later. Living with his grandfather, Hiro wanted desperately to provide for the old man, to pay him back for all his kindness before he died. Over middle and high school Hiro and Miya became closer, but it wasn’t until Hiro’s grandfather died that their decisive moment came. Hiro was devastated internally, but tried to let everyone go home when Miya waited outside his house until he came out. While she’s not nearly as forward as her eventual first daughter, she did summon up her resolve and confronted him about his real emotional state. And as things between them deepened, it wasn’t long before they married, right after Miya graduated from high school.
I swear I DDDDAAAAAWWWWW every time she’s on screen.
It worked for Mihoshi.
Hiro’s Little Rascals.
The start of many things to come.
Trying to act cool even back then. In fact he reminded me of a lot of anime characters in a high school setting. Makes you wonder how their lives turn out after (and why only a handful of shows have ever shown this.)
A tender moment in snow that doesn’t end with someone disappearing or dying. Who’d have thought?
Looks like they went for the Toradora ending.
In the next episode we return to the main narrative as Yukino spends more time with her new friends to try and keep her spirits up until Arima returns. While there is much teasing from Tsubaki, later on Yukino has a more serious talk with Maho. Maho, who apparently is dating someone way older, creepily older, illegally (in the US anyway) older than her…Kind of broke the serious, touching mood of their conversation. Also kind of felt weird given her character, but moving on, Yukino heads home that night and almost walks right past Arima!
I thought Tsubasa was the cat and Nadeko was the snake…
Tsubaki just has an eye for beautiful things
Kazuma has no idea what he got himself into…
Waiting out the last few days in a calm, composed manner.
…well she lasted a good 5 seconds.
A man of exquisite taste.
Oh, so Maho has a boyfri- WHHHHAAAAATT?!
He’s come back from winning the tournament, motivated intensely by his captain’s yaoi threat should he let him win on purpose. Yukino is obviously thrilled to have him back, but while he’s seemingly become more mature after his mid-season upgrade, she becomes more childlike. She’s fallen for him all over again, but with her new feelings comes an intense bout of awkwardness. To the point of running away from him after a date. He catches up to her and, again one of those moments that Japan just seems to be okay with but I don’t look highly upon (to put it mildly), he pushes her into a wall and holds her there to tell her that he has no intention of letting her go. Ummm…ummm…WHAT THE EFFING EFF?!!! Not romantic! Crazy obsessed abusive CRAZY! WTF?! It’s not like this conversation was a matter of life and death, like when Mayama had to forcibly stop Rika in season 2 of Honey and Clover. And Mayama didn’t even fling Rika a fair distance into a wall! What the hell was with that push?! The episode ends with the two talking normally again and things are supposed to be fine, but seriously, that is not cool. I don’t care how much he’s afraid of rejection or was hurt, it’s just wrong.
Nearly oblivious. Too bad he seems like a stalker in retrospect after seeing what he does later.
Maybe he caught rabies from PeroPero?
As soon as she lunges in for a hug Yukino is shown as a chibi or little kid, contrasting to Arima’s new, more mature look. She almost doesn’t even know how to act now that he’s home.
Seriously, WTF Arima? Apparently the upgrade was mishandled and the new OS was a copy of Wing Zero’s.
Tsubaki calls in a friend to set things right.
Backup is dispatched.
Suddenly things are happy again…what?
Final Thoughts: – The parents episode was a neat little sidestory, and it was well written. There are some entire series that don’t include as much character motivations and development in them, and I was quite impressed by how the story was told in such a short amount of time while still having an impact. Seeing things from Hiro’s point of view was cool, as well as seeing how similar and different Yukino’s parents are from her. Though I have to wonder a little why the original author used the dead or gone parents thing so frequently.
- Most of the rest of my thoughts are consumed by my RAEG over how Arima acted at the end. Things were going along well, he was finally back, and Yukino’s problems just seemed to be something that could be settled with a heart to heart talk and a hug. But instead Arima flips the hell out about, going from the decent if troubled guy that he was to someone way over the line into psychotic territory. As if his violent shoving of Yukino wasn’t bad enough, his words were even creepier and more worrying. Slaps are one thing, I’ve become used to seeing them in anime at times even if I still feel that they’re not right. But this is on a whole different level of wrong. That was not a gentle push there. I’m sure there will be some attempt to explain it away, and both characters were oddly happy at the end, but this is seriously a huge black mark on my enjoyment of the show thus far, and particularly on the character of Arima. That rough push and the crazy speech? There’s really no excusing that, I don’t care how terrible a childhood he had.
- While I’ve been informed that the double recap episodes are the point where the show started to go downhill in many respects, I thought it might be more dramatic. But aside from Arima’s actions (which I’m guessing were written into the original manga) things in the second episode just felt off somehow. Like there was something not quite up to the usual standards about it. It’s more of a gradual feeling that something is up with the show, not some dramatic instance of fail like I was expecting.