「魔法をかけられて」 (Mahō wo Kakerarete)
As an aspiring filmmaker (who is currently all talk and no show), the things I watch now are not only just for entertainment, but appeal to me as a constant learning process. While anime takes out some of the skill required for real life camera manipulation, everything else pretty much still applies. Having not noticed many particular director quirks in previous episodes, this one stood out a bit in particular. Scenes such as where Shuu and Kuranosuke are dressing up, actually serve to display the contrast in their lives without a single piece of dialogue. Although these scenes may have been set up this way in the manga, I haven’t read it, so I can only think that Omoro Takahiro is pulling the strings. A history of weaving multiple story-lines all at once (Baccano, DRRR), Takahiro’s directing skills are probably top notch by now, and it shows.
In the beginning, we get a different narrator, Kuranosuke, which elevates his role as the second main character. Yeah, a pretty obvious storytelling skill, but see, there’s so many things that are revealed about him and his surrounding environment through this method that really couldn’t be much better done otherwise. Perhaps more importantly, are his two reasons to cross-dress, as he intends not to be the next politician in line, so therefore he becomes a “pervert”, making himself unsuitable for public votes. This perspective pretty much confirms that his previous intentions are all innocent, so really, he has no ultimatum except to be friends with the Amar (with the hilarious yet touching goal of giving them all makeovers). Kuranosuke’s narration plays out until the end of the first half of the episode, where he reveals his second reason, in that he cross-dresses because indirectly, he’s only interested in the fashion world. So basically, Kuranosuke loves fashion, particularly the female side, and is not actually interested in cross-dressing for controversial reasons, making a huge difference in character from what we might have been led to believe since the first episode. I’ve noticed the author of the original story, Higashimura Akiko, has thrown out many subjects that are looked down upon, such as otaku obsession and cross-dressing, and given them rather harmless reasons for doing them. I thought about it more this episode, and I realized it’s kind of like chickening out from reality, because most of the people who do these, as society deems it, “unhealthy hobbies”, don’t really have conveniently reasonable explanations. There needs to be a driving point later on in order to make any statement about these hobbies, but you could say that the show is taking a Gandhi approach, with happiness and butterflies.
Now, before Tsukimi takes over the narration at midpoint, there’s a bunch of characters that were thrown at us who are obviously more important than is let on. We know their uncle is the minister of etc. (definitely voiced by Chiba Shigeru, because I’d recognize that Buggy shriek anywhere) and apparently a softie for cute girls (possibly a bit more), the Koibuchi’s family relationships, and the father being Gendou-status (except the son doesn’t care). However, what’s particularly interesting is the subtle appearance of the uncle’s escort driver, who seems familiar with Kuranosuke at some level (while also appearing in the preview), and the introduction of the Koibuchi family’s mother. She seems to be some sort of singer or actor, resulting in a closet full of fabulous clothes, but it seems she left the family on a rather bad note. Kuranosuke really wants to see her, as well as just for her closet, so I smell an inevitable sub-plot.
Fashion speaks to many, and because of Kuranosuke’s attraction to the art of attraction, he decides to give Tsukimi a makeover (persuasion of course by seduction, but I wonder if he’s using his bishie charm or bijin charm), resulting in a beauty that just can’t go unnoticed. As suspected, Shuu walks in, she walks out, love is in the air, and Cupid fires two arrows (although at different times). My reaction? “Oh hell no, she’s totally Kuranosuke’s, gtfo Shuu. You’re just a stuck up conservative politician! You don’t deserve her innocence! Come on Tsukimi, polish those glasses. This is just all wrong..” As you can see, I don’t particularly like him (Takashi ain’t helpin’ though I am impressed at his vocal range), but I can just see it now: Shuu rapidly undergoes a “change in heart” at the penultimate moment of deciding whether or not to demolish the Amamizu apartments, and he will choose no and suddenly he’s an awesome guy. And yes, it has been confirmed that there is a plan to destroy and redevelop the lot the complex is located on. But yeah, TsukimixShuu, not cool.
In retrospect, a hard and gritty raw emotion story, Kuragehime will not be. Nonetheless, I like the show for the many things it does right. Besides, surprise in the plot line shall be had, as it is still way too early to tell. So display your prowess to me, oh Kodansha award winner!
Last week’s Panty & Stocking episode had a tangent where it was supposedly a message about Japan’s current stressful workforce. This episode of Kuragehime also had a little discussion stemming from Kuranosuke calling them NEETs. Mayaya describes that the previous generation, the “baby boomers” had profited from the growing market, and are now rather rich. Of course, when an economy gets to that point, it’s bound to pop, and suddenly the market plummeted, leading the succeeding generation became instantly screwed over with the shortage of jobs. Sounds a lot like the roaring twenties and the subsequent market crash of America doesn’t it? This apparently took place in the early nineties, and from 1990 to 2000, people refer it as the “Lost Decade”. This explains why Kuranosuke thought they were in their thirties, because this happened a while ago. A recent example of people getting screwed over was the recent recession in the United States. People who had been graduating during that time pretty much had one of the hardest times in finding jobs. It sucks because this kind of stuff changes people’s entire lives, just because they chose to pick a career based solely on the economy. Anyway, the Japanese economy has been slowly recovering since 2000, so all is well, for now. Wow. An economic lesson. Sorry. ._.