The ’14 Days’ arc continues the run up to the Cultural Festival and the characters’ preparations for it. Despite the drama of the previous episodes and a bout of Arima angst this time, things mostly seem to be coming back to Earth as far as the characters having fairly normal lives. The play is coming together now that Aya’s plan to get Yukino to willingly accept her part in it has come to fruition, and Asaba is preparing a plethora of merchandise to capitalize on his ‘dinner show’ performance. And in the background, Tonami’s plan to get back at Tsubaki starts coming off the rails. While these developments are enjoyable, less blatant but still noticeable cost-cutting measures in the production of the show begin rearing their ugly head once more.
So thorough was Aya’s psychological approach to making Yukino convince herself to participate in the play that she’s even deployed the full range of her skills to forcibly recruit Maho into it.
The playboy’s version of “put your guns on”?
Gainax would know plenty about whoring out a franchise for merchandise, now wouldn’t they?
Despite Yukino going to Arima to ask for help getting stage time for the play, he’s still emo-ing out about not working directly with her. But hey, at least we have a nicely framed shot while he pouts.
Even Kawashima the Cruel is offering to help out with the play. While it’s weird to see him trying to become friendly, I salute his efforts to make up for past misdeeds with genuine concern and helpfulness.
An all-girl cast of the most popular girls at school? Their yuri brings all the girls to the yard, and they’re like, we wanna be petite soeur.
Traffic and car horns form some symbolic ‘noise’ in the emotions of Arima at this point. And also of note, it never fails to impress me how anime studios seem to always populate their city streets with real car models (like the ones pointed out here, though I only know the names of the sports cars. The Lancer Evolution might be a Evo I, Evo II or even an Evo III, it’s hard to tell from that angle and level of drawing.)
Geez Arima, let them have their moment of plotting camaraderie. The beauty of revenge!
Everyone else was having a good time, but luckily Asaba noticed how Arima was acting.
When Arima stops by saying he wishes he could do something to help, Asaba notices that something’s up with him and a little later finds him on the roof reading. Asaba is my Man of the Match this time around for spotting this and intervening, sparing us all from a deeper and prolonged bout of Arima angst. While there’s not much conversation between them, Asaba checking up on Arima seems to be what was needed, and the two hang out for an unspecified amount of time and slash-fiction potential. Yukino continues working on organizing the tasks necessary for the play to be put on, and later in the day sneaks over to the gym to watch Arima as he practices kendo. She’s quite dere dere while watching him, though it ends pretty abruptly when she gets a wiff of his sweaty uniform. Arima came to school on his bike, but he’s back to a good and playful mood after Asaba’s intervention and lets her drive them home, which is quite a cute and much more relaxed moment than much of their interaction lately.
Asaba is a true bro!
I know you’re trying to help and to redeem yourself, but you look creepy as hell, Kawashima.
Addressing all the preparations beforehand, Yukino once again employs the teachings of The Art of War: “The general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought.[...]Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat.”
As brief as it was, I liked the fully colored, more active use of the manga word bubble in this shot. I think it might have given all the ‘manga scenes’ a little more impact if it was done like it is here, with the manga elements integrated into the moving animation.
Arima is thankfully back to his likable old self. Please stay that way.
Any closeup of a bicycle wheel will always remind me of Honey and Clover, and while Kare Kano hasn’t used it as a recurring symbol, it may not be a stretch to find a connection here. Even though Kare Kano is a Gainax anime, J.C. Staff and Kenichi Kasai (who directed Honey and Clover years later) did work in a secondary role in the show’s production.
The final major development of this pair of episodes is the first sustained encounter between Tonami and Tsubaki when he finds her getting in some last minute volleyball practice right after Arima and Yukino depart. While he’s talked a lot about his plan to get revenge on her, she shatters all this schemes by not letting anything stick and what’s more, making fun of Tonami by saying that he has a crush on her. And this might be another return to normalcy, as Tonami is realizing that his plan for revenge probably won’t work and that he might have to come to a less dramatic understanding with her. Though of course I still hold onto my hopes that Tsubaki hit the nail on the head when she told Tonami that his hate has turned into love over the years. OTP! OTP!
All of their speaking took place through the volleyball net, overlaying their faces as they spoke. Which might be a nice symbol for how neither of them are quite coming out with their real feelings towards each other, or I might just be overanalyzing it.
Merciless teasing, and super effective. Tsubaki definitely ascribes to the Graham Aker school of psychology.
A little part at the end has the play production staff going out to karaoke when Asaba shows up in…this outfit. Did Miwako buy him that outfit?
They cut costs so much that Gainax even stopped cleaning their offices!
Final Thoughts: – I welcome the return of a tolerable and even likable Arima and once more salute Asaba’s Mystic Eyes of Angst Perception and the initiative he showed in intervening to nip the problem in the bud. And at least this time around Arima was mostly feeling lonely, though his jealous moment when Yukino and Tonami were extolling the virtues of cold, total vengeance upon one’s enemies was momentarily annoying. During the last period of festival preparations both he and Yukino felt lonely without seeing each other, but it seems that Arima has yet to learn how to deal with it, either through internal fortitude or by seeking out the support of friends. Luckily Asaba came to him first.
- The budget conservation techniques were really apparent in these two episodes. Not in the in your face manner that they were in episode 19 where they were artfully turned into a joke upon themselves, but in a way that was kind of grating to watch. Lots of moments where a single image of a character was put up while they were talking or mouths were purposefully not visible to save money on animating lip movements was probably the most numerous example. But there’s also the way that the ending credits were set to sequences animated for the show instead of the usual live action shots, and how the cars/traffic shots were recycled to be backgrounds while Yukino was speaking with her friends, despite them having no thematic relevance to her like they had to Arima.
- So far so good on the disappointment front. The cost cutting measures were annoying, but they didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. And this weeks episodes actually made me less disappointed in Arima than last time. But we’ll have to see how it ends. Only three episodes left.