「クリスマスの願いごと」 (Kurisumasu no Negaigoto)
I can’t say I’m too surprised that the finale focused almost entirely around Mio, but I feel a bit cheated by the way they slipped in a completely unexpected development and made me sympathetic towards her sadistic character. Mio isn’t as nearly an unbalanced tsundere as Taketatsu Ayana’s other lead role this season either, so I even got a bit teary-eyed when I saw her crying. It was one of those anime moments that warranted another character stepping in to say, “zurui yo” (that’s unfair), before breaking down in tears themselves. Unfortunately for me, there was no character to take the contagious emotional outpouring from Mio’s tears, since they were ones of joy after everyone threw a last minute surprise birthday party for her. What was really sneaky was how this development came at the very late stages of this finale, after the vast majority of it was spent in a very lighthearted manner where the Second Volunteer Club and co. ended up competing against one another to grant a cafe and a cake shop their Christmas wishes. It started off as a counterproductive effort with the stores right across from one another, but quickly became a heated competition when Michiru upped the stakes by making Tarou the prize. Ah, the always “dependable adult” in the group comes through for us again.
All I was really anticipating from that point on was some incidental Tarou x Mio development when the two of them went undercover to scope out the competition care of the couple’s game that Yumi unknowingly had them play, along with the fan-service from all the girls and our two traps. However, Mio’s usual tendency of getting carried away and dragging everyone into her pace quickly went wayward when a birthday party reservation reminded her of her own one. They made it pretty clear that something was up when Mio bowed her head and politely asked everyone to help salvage their oversight, but the scene with Mio quietly singing her own name to “Happy Birthday” was a real eye-opener for me. Namely, I wasn’t expecting them to throw in something relatively profound that late in the episode and completely change direction with the remaining time. Despite the brevity and almost cliché revelation that Mio never celebrated her birthday because she’s always been alone, it worked really well in providing that emotional dimension to the story that goes beyond the teases surrounding Tarou. What’s more, it served as Tarou’s moment to do something really nice for Mio, and earn another soft spot in her heart because of it.
Granted, it went back to a rather silly affair when Tatsukichi sacrificed Tarou to buy them some time to setup the clubroom for the last minute surprise, but I did get a really good out laugh from Tarou having the balls to keep up the scornful act of spending an entire day with a flat-chested girl and really put Mio over the edge. The fact that it was for a good cause and not a stupid idea that Mio had come up to cure Tarou’s masochism made it feel like a worthwhile stint too. Credit goes to Tarou for pulling out the confession fake-out to buy even more time, before really ticking her off by confirming that she’s really as flat as a board. Anyway, that entire last third of the episode really came as a pleasant surprise, even though it ended with Mio’s Christmas present to Tarou being a stomping with a full upskirt shot (see the video). In terms of providing a fairly satisfying conclusion to a series that never intends to address the whole masochism thing, it delivered in that regard and left off with the impression that their “struggles” will continue on. The “Happy Birthday, my holy day” song by Ayana was a nice touch as well.
I never expect too much from the romantic comedies that XEBEC adapts, and I approached their most recent one in much the same manner. I was well aware what I was getting into after doing my research, so there wasn’t much in the way of surprises. Looking back now, this series was more or less the slapstick laughs that I was anticipating, and one that never got too serious in the relationship department. Still, it gave us a few interesting developments over the course of its short twelve episode run, with Arashiko’s earnest side being my favorite. In comparison, I found myself caring less and less for Mio when her superiority complex was so prominent and her ideas to cure Tarou’s masochism got sillier and sillier. I did appreciate how she would throw Tarou a bone at times and show that she cares about him though, as it rounded out her character and made her fit the tsundere stereotype she was intended to. Tarou on the other hand was a fairly useless male lead given his “illness”, yet came off as a fairly respectable one when a certain club president wasn’t setting him off. It did take a while to get used to Fukuyama Jun‘s masochistic portrayal of him, after which it was easier to take notice of his better traits. Part of the reason why I liked rooting for Arashiko is because she sees the good in him as well, even though she’s unlikely to win against Mio in the long run.
While this series isn’t anything to write home about, I do feel that it’s decent offering given the type of series that it is. Much like in the finale, it had its moments where there was an extra dimension to it that puts it slightly above the norm. Combined with the wide range of characters, including one eccentric cross-dresser played by Satou Rina, it also managed to keep things interesting every episode. At times, it got pretty ridiculous with things like Tarou going Super Saiyajin with his hentai powers; however, it was those very over-the-top moments that ultimately defined the series for what it is. Naturally, it won’t appeal to a lot of people, but if you know what you’re getting into and have enjoyed something similar, MM fits the bill better than even I thought it would. Just don’t expect Tarou’s masochism to be cured, as that would eliminate the very plot device that the entire series is founded on. Arashiko curing her androphobia? Now we’re talking.