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Gin no Saji Second Season – 05

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「八軒、大わらわ」 (Hachiken, Oowarawa)
“Hachiken Has His Hands Full”

How can a kid with such great language skills have no much trouble with one two letter word?

Boy, was that episode ever a tale of two halves. The A-part was very much a continuation of the mostly slice-of-life mode that the series has been in for the second season, and while I love that side of Gin no Saji I found myself beginning to feel just the first pangs of impatience creeping in. After the eyecatch, though, everything kicked into another gear and the story really began to move on several fronts – including one where I had some suspicions that it might never move until the very end of the manga, if then.

If there’s been a recurring theme this season, it’s been that of Hachiken’s inability to say no. To the extent that this entire series is effectively a deconstruction of Hachiken’s character we’ve seen some exploration of the reasons for that, but there’s a strong practical impact to be considered too. When a major event like the Ezonoo festival comes around, people like Hachiken always suffer the most. As I said earlier, one of the worst things you can be tagged with in life is the reputation that you’re “that guy who can’t say no”. And we’re finally seeing the brutal reality of that hit Hachi-kun square between the eyes. It’s good practice for what his work life is going to be like if he doesn’t learn to be a little more selfish.

Equestrian Club activities? Of course, Hachiken ends up taking the lead there – and naturally launches an enticing but too-elaborate plan (Ban’ei rides) that’s way too ambitious for the practical realities of the situation. Then his class gets him to take responsibility for their festival activity (selling ramen) because “he’s the only one that can do it”. He’s also got Fukubucho to care for, regular club duties, practicum duties, cleaning duty… This martyr thing is a real problem. Yes, his friends are taking advantage of him, but the hard truth is, if you show yourself as willing to be “that guy”, people will always take advantage. It’s their nature. The responsibility is really on Hachiken to man up and put a stop to all of this, but he doesn’t really have anyone to teach him that lesson (one of his teachers could, but they seem intent on letting him figure it out for himself).

For a while it seems as if all of this is going to play out in semi-comedic normalcy as the festival prep continues, but the B-part really kicks the plot into high gear. It starts when Hachiken is explaining how easy Japanese Literature is, because the writer is always giving hints that tip off what the answer the teacher is looking for is. Mikage moans that this sort of thing is hard for her, and one of their sempai (Toyonishi I think) makes a pointed remark about how unsurprising that is and wishes Hachi-kun good luck. A very funny moment, but also seemingly a transitional one for the series, which proceeds to finally kick the tires on Hachiken-Mikage in a big way. It starts with Hachiken asking Mikage on a “date” after the festival – though he doesn’t call it that – and escalates from there.

It’s not unheard of for the girl to be the clueless one in a high school romcom, but definitely unusual – and it makes for an entertaining dynamic here. There’s a great scene where the girls are back at the dorm discussing Hachiken’s offer, and finally clue Mikage in to what’s been obvious to everyone else for months. Mikage seems genuinely baffled, though how much of that is self-deception is hard to say. She can’t imagine anyone would want her with all her “baggage” – which is a dubious assertion in the first place, but hardly something a first-year high schooler should worry about. The girls then proceed to appraise Hachiken like a prize hog – a good catch, generally, though Yoshino (who I’ve always thought was a great match for Hachiken, as much as I like Mikage) opines that he’s too high-maintenance because he overthinks everything. I can’t say that I disagree with her, to be honest.

The school life stuff was good – I liked the NPK48 “otaku sled”, and Mikage training to drive the Ban’ei was interesting – but I was definitely ready for things to get real when they did. I don’t place too much stock in Hachiken’s passing out as a true cliffhanger – he’s obviously exhausted from overworking himself – though it may cost him his first date with Mikage. Between Hachiken’s now quite serious issues with martyrdom and now quite realistic relationship possibilities with Mikage, Gin no Saji has a couple of excellent bones to gnaw on in upcoming episodes. Hachiken is a great main character and a great kid, but it really is possible for someone to be too nice – and it makes a very interesting topic for exploration.

February 7, 2014 at 11:42 pm
41 comments »
  • February 8, 2014 at 12:08 amhjerry

    I’m glad that someone other than me sees the relationship possibilities with Yoshino. I couldn’t say why, but she’s always been my favorite female character, and I’ve always been secretly hoping that there’d be some kind of romance between her and Hachiken.

    On a somewhat unrelated note, I really hope that someone turns Hachiken’s reaction to Mikage’s agreement to go on a date with him, into a gif. That was hilarious.

    • February 8, 2014 at 12:24 amGuardian Enzo

      I love Yoshino. I really like Mikage, too, and it’s obvious that’s where this going and I’m fine with that. But Yoshino and Hachi really are a perfect fit.

      • February 8, 2014 at 12:29 amhjerry

        Oh yeah, I fully realize that the author has intended Hachiken to end up with Mikage from the very beginning. That much is obvious, but I still love Yoshino’s character. I have since she was first introduced.

      • February 8, 2014 at 12:39 amtsukioniisan

        Well, the EdxWinry similarities are somewhat apparent. I’m interested with Yoshino too, especially her VA.

    • February 8, 2014 at 6:45 amZhinvu

      My favorite moment in season 1 was when Yoshino had Nakajima-sensei at her mercy, by constantly threatening to reveal his hidden cheese stash. You gotta love it when she can just smile and look at Nakajima-sensei whenever she needed good quality cheese.

  • February 8, 2014 at 12:52 amAnonymosity

    Did anyone else notice that Hachiken’s to-do list included things he apparently didn’t know about yet (pizza oven duty and barn shift), as well as training for his first riding competition

    The last one is kind of funny: animators apparently forgot about rearranging events in the previous episode… (Classroom scene was before the competition in the manga)

    • February 8, 2014 at 2:58 amtsukioniisan

      I don’t see what’s wrong with it sequencially… He was called over in the intercom by a group of raunchy sempai, which was obviously to “discuss the ownership of the pizza oven” (and this was done BEFORE Hachiken was shown with his to-do list later on the episode).

      Regarding the note for his first riding competition… Hachiken probably uses that notebook as a planner, and he wrote the note about his first riding competition BEFORE the event actually happened (as a reminder to himself not to flunk. Duh). We might even see notes regarding Buta-don if we flipped a page back on his notebook.

      Makes sense, no?

      • February 8, 2014 at 6:28 amAnonymosity

        My point is that pizza oven manager and barn shift were on his list before those were mentioned in intercom or by Komaba. Of course, those instances could have just been people reminding Hachi of those things, but going into “festival is evil” mode from stuff he knew about already feels kind of off.

        As for training for the competition, that’s listed under all the festival preparations for equestrian club, implying that it was added to Hachiken’s timetable last.

        My problem isn’t that Hachiken plans his activities (that’s very much in character), but that it’s implied he’s taking time to do something that already happened(getting surprised about stuff he knows about. Seeing notes on Buta-don would be nice, my point is just that “competition training” shouldn’t be in the same entry as festival preparations, since it already happened. Heck, this whole thing can be seen for one frame, it’s not really anything major, just something I found funny ^^’

      • February 8, 2014 at 6:14 pmtsukioniisan

        You mean, this? http://i.imgur.com/eNu4nUm.png

        I guess there is something wrong with the fansub group, then :/

      • February 8, 2014 at 6:18 pmtsukioniisan

        Ah, nvm. Found the right page. Yep, you’re right. I guess it’s weird to have things written on your notebook which you haven’t heard about yet.

  • February 8, 2014 at 1:23 amechykr

    LOL at the Otaku sled.

    Poor Hachiken got ridiculously overworked, so not surprised by his collapse. At first the blackboard showing his name being nominated in every other role was funny, but even if Hachiken gladly accepted taking on all these task, surely the teachers then ought to have done something beforehand rather than allow the class to just pile all the duties onto him?

    http://randomc.net/image/Gin%20no%20Saji/Gin%20no%20Saji%20Second%20Season%20-%2005%20-%20Large%2036.jpg
    Aki once again shows her countrygirl naive cuteness, only after her friends pointed out the obvious does she realize why Hachiken wanted to ask just her alone for a “date” (apparently mistaking a “date” as a mere outing with a friend).

  • February 8, 2014 at 2:07 amFT5.Havok

    So there is no love triangle? ;D Go HachikenXMikage<3

    • February 8, 2014 at 7:18 amBear

      Sure there’s a triangle: Hachiken=>Mikage<=Maron!

      • February 8, 2014 at 8:37 amechykr

        Correction, it’s Hachiken=>Maron<=Mikage. ;)

        Note how peeved he was at how Aki quickly won Maron over. Now you could say his horse getting NTR'ed by someone else. lol

      • February 8, 2014 at 11:52 amBear

        @ echykr

        So Mikage is actually his rebound girl? :P

  • February 8, 2014 at 2:34 amLGrey

    Anyone else noticed that slim Tamako appears some scene before? (at the class)

  • February 8, 2014 at 2:48 amKoroshiyaKi

    Stupid class, shoulda got Tamako to do your budget.

    • February 8, 2014 at 6:31 amAnonymosity

      My thoughts exactly during the first scene.
      Then again, Tamako seems to be the type to overwork people, so maybe they just went for the guy who won’t do that. Not to mention Hachiken won’t have to be paid food to do it.

      • February 9, 2014 at 8:59 amRLeo

        Absolutely! Tamako is the obvious choice for budget task, but the backfire (cost) is hard, so the class is not so stupid in the end.

  • February 8, 2014 at 4:30 amRed HeartGold ZX

    No Hachiken x Tamako ?? Haha. But still rooting for more Hachiken x Mikage. Always have, always will. :D

  • February 8, 2014 at 4:32 amKyon12

    Gin no Saji is the best……….but Mikage is almost as dense as a harem Main character as it comes to romance xD

  • February 8, 2014 at 4:57 amdeVacto

    and know can see againt tamako slim version, and mikage blush version

  • February 8, 2014 at 5:38 amClarste

    I found it interesting that we suddenly jump into Mikage’s head here, after two and a half seasons of her being a mysterious cipher (from Hachiken’s perspective). And it turns out she’s kind of a ditz? It would be hilarious if she suddenly became the protagonist while Hachiken is recovering from exhaustion or whatever.

    • February 8, 2014 at 6:26 amGuardian Enzo

      Two and a half?

      I agree it’s interesting to get a little more inside Mikage’s head, but I don’t feel as if her cluelessness about this sort of thing came out of left field. It seems pretty consistent with the way she’s been portrayed so far, generally.

      • February 8, 2014 at 8:15 amClarste

        …one and a half.

        It’s consistent, certainly, but a large part of the series has been spent on Hachiken trying and failing to read her (while she makes pseudo-crpytic comments about horses, etc). Suddenly showing us that she wasn’t thinking about it at all changes things a bit, in the same sense that any change in perspective should show us a different facet of the same object.

      • February 8, 2014 at 12:00 pmBear

        I don’t see Mikage as clueless, but more of a having mental block given what she said to the girls.

  • February 8, 2014 at 5:56 amhwighting

    some body plz halp Hachiken. i hope he’s okay.

  • February 8, 2014 at 6:37 amZhinvu

    3 things:

    - Really, was this the first time Mikage actually, or maybe finally, caught on that Hachiken likes her? I kinda thought she was slightly aware, especially when Hachiken worked part-time with the Mikages during the vacation and he got the family’s seal of approval. I hardly remember that story arc in season 1, but I vaguely recall the Mikages were pretty supportive of Hachiken being a potential in-law.

    - Gotta say that I admire Tamako so much on how, with the right motivation, she can lose and gain weight at will.

    - Fukubuchou is definitely still my most favorite character in this series. He may have little screentime in this episode, but I just d’awww everytime he’s there.

  • February 8, 2014 at 6:56 amonion warrior

    ahhh..that moment…when Mikage finally realizes Hachiken’s feelings for her (with the helps of Yoshino and etc)is the moment where i’ve been waiting for. Too bad i got this feeling that Hachiken will end up sick and missed the festival, or worst, go back home…and we’ll get learn more about his family…but still, i’m all for the dating side! please be well Hachiken!

  • February 8, 2014 at 7:15 amBear

    Oh, I’ve been waiting for this part of the story to kick in. We’ve been watching how Hachiken has grown and now it’s time for us to see something of Mikage’s story. Her comments to the girls about her baggage is the real key to her denseness. She feels she is in much the same situation as Eru from Hyouka. She’s the only child of a farm family. She obviously has some sort of dream of doing something involving horses but feels she has to sacrifice that because of her duty to her family. Without her, what happens to the farm and her family? She sees that as her lot in life and why would an intelligent “big city” boy like Hachiken want to take that on. She can’t even imagine why he would want to date her at all.

    The other girls discussing why Hachiken is a “catch” was interesting too. Since he’s the “second son” he doesn’t have the responsibility of taking over the family business (farm) which means that marrying him won’t entail the girl from having to deal with someone else’s family. If you marry the heir, that’s where your going to live. Your not just visiting on holidays.

    I love the way the author is taking her time to build the relationship between these two. Somehow the pacing just seems right for this story. Hell, they’re only first years.

  • February 8, 2014 at 2:09 pmThe Truth is in the Axe

    I thought that part of Hachiken’s apparent inability to say ‘no’ is because he wanted to change himself in Ezonoo from being someone preoccupied with studying and student ranking into somebody more social and active. But then I thought that he feels he needs to please people because he doesn’t feel he could please his father, so at least he has people who care about him in return when he tries his hardest.

    I think this is probably one of my favorite episodes in the manga/anime, because you get to see everyone working hard and stressing and showing their talents through the culture festival (like the guy who proudly painted the NPK48 sled). As occupied as Hachiken is, like an octopus, he’s in good company with people who do a lot of busywork themselves.

    • February 8, 2014 at 3:39 pmBear

      I think it’s more of he’s decided he won’t run away anymore. The Principal has told him that sometimes it’s ok to run away if your running to something, but Hachiken hasn’t quite understood that this means that it’s also ok to say no sometimes. He also hasn’t recognized that he’s something of a natural born leader which means he has to be able to delegate (which worked when he was doing the pizza). He keeps trying to do all the work as well as lead.

      • February 10, 2014 at 1:14 amThe Truth is in the Axe

        Oh, I agree. I might also add in that he might want to overcompensate his abilities because he wants to catch up to the other people who are used to the kind of hard work that goes into the more outdoors/manual labor type things. As much as he himself puts a lot of effort into his own strengths, like studying and being an all-around sociable kind of guy who works hard, he does on occasion feel insecure if he feels he’s behind other people in their efforts (ie. like more recently in the horse competition and when he felt like he was behind in getting his horse to jump).

        What’s worrying for Hachiken was that he hasn’t realized that he was being overworked and shouldn’t have to do this much for other people at the expense of his limitations. Mikage got him to realize that overworking his horse would be detrimental, but he hasn’t realized that what he was doing in this episode was exactly what he was told not to do for himself. I think it ties in to when he was burned out from studying and competing with his students before going to Ezonoo, and even when he’s improving there he still inadvertently goes back into doing something unhealthy for himself.

      • February 10, 2014 at 5:06 amBear

        @The Truth is in the Axe

        Oh, good point about the horse. Almost seems that the author was foreshadowing Hachiken’s collapse.

        His father’s distain for anything less than perfection from his sons also enters into that overcompensation. He still is trying to please his father even if it’s subconsciously. Of course his dad is just a “salary man” so where does he get off looking down on his sons?

      • February 11, 2014 at 1:34 amThe Truth is in the Axe

        The road to a salaryman’s life is a surprisingly bloodthirsty one, and I wish I were kidding. There’s a lot of emphasis nowadays to do well immediately in Japan; i mean, it’s everywhere, but competition in Japan especially in education is pretty notorious.

  • February 9, 2014 at 2:12 amJD

    This seems like the first time Gin no Saji has dropped a cliffhanger for this season (or ever?).

    On another note, I’ve always found the eye art of the animals amusing but expertly handled. Not all the time will you see cows trying to do a “seductive” look.

    • February 9, 2014 at 2:26 amguardian enzo

      But if you also watched Hoozuki no Reitetsu this week you saw it twice on the same day…

  • February 9, 2014 at 3:50 amTANTEI-SL

    Loved this episode a LOT! I personally thought it was a good cliff hanger when Hachicken collapsed because it made me crave for the next episode even more! Like, how would everyone would react, will he still have his date with Mikage?! So, because I couldn’t wait I ended up catching up with the manga LOL. Not to spoil too much but like anyone could guess Hackikens character definitely does grow throughout the series in a very good direction and I’m excited to see at which point they’ll end season 2 from the manga. Seriously, loving this series so far! Definitely becoming my Top anime/manga (: I also love how everyone’s so open to whom Hachicken would be paired with haha just my thoughts on everyone’s comments (:

  • February 9, 2014 at 2:38 pmcelebrinen

    I sense the opportunity for a cross-over fanfic:
    Yugo dies and Aki realizing the depth of her feelings for him asks the teachers to allow her to try some “experiments” involving 35 litres of water, 20kg of carbon, 4 litres of ammonia, 1.5kg of lime, 800g of phosphorus, 250g of salt, 100g of niter, 80g of sulphur, 7.5g of fluorine, 5g of iron, 3g of silicon, and about fifteen other elements.

  • February 9, 2014 at 7:32 pmrochichan

    I was waiting for the moment for Hachiken to finally faint due to exhaustion! I really thought they were going to continue the episode without one! It’s rare to see a cliffhanger in slice-of-life… I know it’s not something to get excited over, but I’m still filled with anticipation for the next episode!

  • February 10, 2014 at 1:09 pmStilts

    While I like a good romance that gets to the point quicker, the slow build up to even this starting point made all those Aki blushing scenes all the sweeter.

    And to think, I wasn’t sure I was going to watch this show when the first season was about to air, and now it’s one of my favorite shows airing atm. I blame (thank) Enzocchi! <3