It is almost hard to believe, coming on the heels of the disastrous Ai arc, the things are going so exceptionally well in the Rihoko arc. But they are! Rihoko continues to act as the central character, or at least as a co-protagonist with Junichi mark V to great results. In a way, it’s almost like all the solo time given to Haruka in the first arc as she sought Hibiki’s advice. And now the secondary characters are coming into their own, with Kanae continuing to play a significant role and the Tea Ceremony Club members enacting their plan to Shanghai, errr, ‘recruit’ Junichi and thus save the club from dissolution next year. And better yet, in a twist on the usual structure the Founder’s Festival has already passed. This gives a whole two episodes, half an arc, to produce further development between the characters! In the past the Founder’s Festival and Christmas have been the beginning of the end. We are not there this time, but this is perhaps the end of the beginning.
Recipe: Episode 18 – Assistance
1 emerging DDDAAAAWWWW-tastic couple.
2 Tea Ceremony Club senpai
1 pair hand-knitted gloves.
2-3cm of ice over a large, flat surface.
Dash of snow.
2 proactive wingmen.
2 sidestories, obscured.
Enough kimono for the entire Tea Ceremony Club.
Add couple and wingmen to iced surface to create opportunity for accidental groping and possible beta-couple development. Bring the main couple’s potential to romance to a simmer and then add the club members. At this point the mixture should begin plotting the Tea Ceremony Club’s future; feel free to add an encounter or two between the senpai and half of the couple so as to increase the pressure. (As a perfect accompaniment, make a quick side dish of Ayatsuji Tsukasa overworking herself.) Sprinkle hints of some sort of dance competition and a beauty pageant throughout the episode. Begin the Founder’s Festival by adding kimono to the club members. Prepare the hand-knitted gloves, turning over until blue. Once you’ve completed the Founder’s Festival step, bring the main couple to a park bench and add snow. Leave them there long enough to trigger a flashback, then add the gloves to the scene. Some unintentionally romantic face-holding should ensue. Crucial to Childhood Friend-style cooking, a lovely promise by the male lead should result. The episode is now ready to be served.
Taste Test and Review
Leave the gun, take the cannoli. We’ll have it during afternoon tea.
With only one member eligible to continue on for next year (and apparently no option to run it with just one person like Ciel did), the upperclassmen are left with a problem. They don’t like problems. So Ruriko decides to employ the tactics of the underworld to get Junichi to join. And fall for Rihoko as a bonus. She stages a classic incident where she blackmails Junichi over his meat bun groping, then offers some bait by saying how Rihoko told them about him, and finally guilts him into helping them. And several times throughout the episode she tries to get him to join.
Subtle as cement shoes.
But she doesn’t stop there. She even uses sex to try and recruit Junichi into taking over The Business, up front pointing out that he’d be the only guy in the club if he were to join. Then she gets Rihoko to make it her mission to get him to join, part of a campaign of attrition to get him to give in and continue the club. And to top it all off, she has everyone dress in traditional clothes to entice Junichi. Note that they’re the only club wearing anything other than school uniforms.
Beta Couples GO!
Like proud parents.
I always find secondary couples to be as cute or sometimes cuter than the main couples in anime, and I’m really hoping for one between Masayoshi and Kanae. They seem like a good one, with almost a (non-violent) sort of Shouko X Yuuji dynamic going on as Kanae seems the type to drag Masayoshi along in things. May they have more time to bond as they watch over their friends, and may there be secondary OTP GET by the end of the arc.
It’ll be the most yurilicious tea party since K-ON.
Oh, but they’re just friends you say? But why go to the festival together, with no other friends? When every other pair that goes is going as a couple? There’s been a considerable amount of touchy feely going on between them at school too. They even have that bit of height difference like most couples, and we already know how Miya feels about Sae’s ‘meat buns.’ Think about it.
Ayatsuji is Boss
File requests LIKE A BOSS!
Fall asleep LIKE A BOSS!
Overtime LIKE A BOSS!
Leading up to Ayatsuji ‘Final Boss’ Tsukasa’s own arc, we’re getting to see more and more of how much she’s working to make everything run smoothly. And with this, there are more signs of how she’s seemingly working herself too hard, without anyone else to help out with the myriad tasks. While her work ethic is certainly commendable, it’s making her into a very pitiable individual, working for everyone but seemingly apart from them all save a few moments with Takahashi-sensei.
The Unsung Wars
I hope this involves super robots and hot-blooded yelling…
Mrs. Claus, superhero version?
Going on somewhere behind the scenes are Masayoshi and Kanae’s own struggles. The former mentioned something about a folk dance performance of which we’ve seen nothing, the latter appears in the festival beauty pageant but we get no clue as to the outcome (or even that she was planning on participating.) Masayoshi’s has grabbed the larger share of my interest, especially with the parting shot of him walking along the road in the hills above the downtown area where Junichi and Kaoru had their date back in the second arc. I’m hoping we get to see more of what was going on, and with two episodes left there ought to be time for it. Just reiterating a larger point, but having so much already happen in this arc and leaving two more episodes for the rest is really nice. The time management in this arc is just superb.
Skipping through most of the Founder’s Festival? I’m ok with this.
With the exception of Junichi’s buxom snowman during the flashback, this was a scene I’d associate more with something like Kimi ni Todoke than Amagami. It was cute and had Rihoko earnestly trying her best to get Junichi’s attention and then had him respond in an equally cute way, whether that was the intent or not. I’m thinking that his response and only mild embarrassment means that things are coming along nicely on his side of things, just that he was maybe a bit surprised at how naturally he let himself act towards Rihoko when he held her face. The hand-made gloves are a pretty common winter gift in romance shows (Kimi ni Todoke, for one, did a similar thing, though not everything went according to keikaku), but that doesn’t make them any less cute or heartfelt on the part of Rihoko. She also reminded me of a character during this scene. Maybe it was the coat she was wearing, or the angle of some of the shots, but visually she reminded me a bit of Minori from Toradora. Which is never a bad thing (I bear Taiga no ill will, and I knew it was inevitable, but Ryuuji X Minori was still my OTP.)
I want a rebirth of glory! A renaissance of power! Errr, wait, maybe just a date?