The true face of friendship!
This episode was an odd animal indeed. It cried and laughed at from moment to moment without even batting an eyelash. Sure there was a bit of melodrama but for this outing, it was tolerable for the most part. I’m not one to suggest any show to temper their sense of humor with a steady stream of tears. It only acts to dampen the mood of the show. But in this outing I believed it was necessary for the second half of the show to succeed.
Sakura Ichiko has finally shown the source of her insecurities when it comes to making friends. During her childhood she was betrayed by a friend who was jealous of young Ichiko’s popularity. This angle of exploration paints an interesting layer on Ichiko’s absentee parents. Without a family to turn to as young girl, she turned to her friends as a structure of support. When it crumbles, where can she actually turn?
What Ichiko does for fun!
This sort of backstory has been seen before in anime, and its utilization here is surprisingly effective. Until now Ms.Sakura was an interesting and dynamic character but hard to identify with. It was easy to see that she had a troubled past but there were little details explaining what exactly she went through. There were a few vague flashbacks of her looking through a window with yearning eyes crying out to parents who were never there. Those few instances never had any impact because they were so fleeting. Sculpting out the intricacies of her past in a recognizable form makes her a vastly more likable and easier to empathize with.
A heartfelt moment
Another important factor is her relationship with Ranmaru. Initially an antagonistic force she acts as stepping stone for Ichiko to reveal her vulnerabilities. Ranmaru is the perfect foil for the lead with her openness and honesty regarding friendship, while Ichiko hides behind a facade to protect herself. The pink-haired karate champion even tries to pry off Ichiko’s face stating she is that it was just a mask for who she really was. Their encounters with one another climaxes to a tear filled moment in the sunset where Ichiko finally accepts Ranmaru as both a friend and confidant. It’s a cliched scene that didn’t fail to tug at my heartstrings.
I guess Sakura Ichiko is growing on me.
I finally said it. After weeks of stating that I didn’t really care about what happened to the characters, I’ve finally given in. Somehow I feel like Ichiko in a way, putting up resistance before truly accepting someone. It took almost three-fourths of the series to finally let her in. Now I will freely admit it, big bosom and all. I don’t know if this was crafted by the writers on purpose or just a coincidental phenomenon brought on by the poor dramatic scripting until this point. Either way, I find it quite amusing how tsundere my attitude has been towards this show in particular.
Taking fortune and singing at karaoke… All in a days work.
I’m not the only one though. Momiji seems to have grown a soft spot for Ichiko as well. Throughout the episode there seems to be times that she’s forgotten about her original mission to take Ichiko’s fortune. But this is all in her plans. She believes that she can freely take it if she turns Ichiko into a better human being. If Ichiko realizes that her fortune is harming others around her, she would willingly give it to Momiji to return order to the world. Taking up this role throws the goddess of misfortune into the background out of Sakura’s way. The goddess has become more of a manipulator than anything else. It’s a shame considering her occupation is the namesake of this series, but it suits her well. The direct interaction of the two leads sucked up a lot of airtime and gave no room the storyline to breathe properly.
But let’s make one thing clear: this show is still funny as hell. The jokes aren’t as liberally sprinkled as outings in the past but are placed where they are most effective. A great gag is thrown in whenever the mood seems too dire. Even when the tears are flowing, the series doesn’t miss the opportunity to provoke a laugh.
Hopefully this is the last time we see this face!
My main concern is where does the series go from here on out. A great foundation has been set in the trinity of Ichiko, Momiji and Ranmaru, but what now. There are no characters that want to push the action in a certain direction. Before that role belonged solely to the Binbougami, where her antics would drive along the plot. But with her new place in storyline, she’s not pulling that rope any more.
Honestly I don’t really want to see a villain appear as it would ruin the delicate dynamic the show was craving to create. Who knew slapstick comedy could be so delicate high wire act?