Today’s review was brought to you by the kindness of the good folks at Media Blasters, who also inform me that the street date for the second volume of Simoun is February 26, 2008. Something to look forward to in the depths of the winter blues. ^_^
I need to warn you all before you continue reading – today’s review is going to be chock full of GIGANTIC spoilers. I want to be able to talk about the anime without having to be clever or coy or anything else. If you have somehow managed to avoid all the spoilers for this anime and don’t want to know, read the next paragraph and then skip down to the ratings so you get my overall impression, without details. Otherwise, I’m gonna blab like an intoxicated sailor on leave. (No offense to sailors, it’s just a stereotype…for pity’s sake – you *know* what I mean!)
Kashimashi~ Girl Meets Girl, Volume 3 was a challenge. I had to remind myself over and over to not take it seriously in the least, and as that simple mantra sank in, I began to enjoy it more and more. I don’t for a second think it was *good,* but you know, it was very entertaining – and that’s pretty much why I watch anime. Entertainment that is entertaining – what is this world coming to?
Here’s the super fast recap of the plot, with links to my previous reviews:
Volume 1: An alien spaceship slams into a heartbroken and rather effeminate (but not gay…yet) boy who stands alone on a mountain. The aliens are mortified by the subsequent death of the boy, so they bring him back, but they can only do so by changing his gender. Since he was so girly, no one really seems to care much. And since she still likes girls – in fact still likes the girls he liked as a boy, she is now quite gay.
Volume 2: Both the girls, who had feelings for him as a boy now realize that they have even stronger feelings for her as a girl. Yasuna, the feminine stereotype, admits to having started liking Hazumu when he was a boy, but since she suffers from Yuri-itis and cannot see men, now that Hazumu is a girl she is free to love her wholely. Tomari, the tomboy stereotype, acknowledges that she has always loved Hazumu and despite the fact that he is now a girl, she’s prepared to love her anyway since Hazumu is still Hazumu. Maybe moreso now. We also learn that Hazumu suffers from the SPCD decideritis and cannot make a decision, to the point of it being pathological. Yasuna and Tomari agree to keep it like this between the three of them – them loving Hazumu and being friends with one another, so Hazumu can remain uncommitted and they can all relax for a little bit.
Volume 3 begins with that falling to pieces almost immediately. Shocking, I know. Instead of the group date Hazumu had planned, only she and Yasuna manage to go to the new aquarium. Tomari ends up shipping out to track-and-field camp with the team, where the other girls have a little fun teasing her gently about her relationship with Hazumu so she can be all tsundere, for thems as like that sort of thing.
Yasuna and Hazumu decide to bring Tomari’s souvenir to her directly. This takes them to the station near the training camp, where the first big crisis occurs. A conductor, trying to be nice to Yasuna terrifies her instead, so Hazumu runs over to hold her until she calms down. It is of course at that moment that Tomari sees them. And her world, which was pretty comfy ’til right about then, shatters – not because of Hazumu, but because she thinks can’t trust Yasuna anymore. I found this sort of interesting – Hazumu was essentially absolved of any culpability in this. As if she, not being able to make a decision, is also therefore completely susceptible to external manipulation. (Shoganai – it can’t be helped, being Hazumu’s basic response when anyone asks her about anything.) Which is actually quite true. Hazumu comes off here as naive, a little bit feckless and ragingly selfish, as Ayuki will point out later.
In retaliation, Tomari takes Hazumu out for a walk, takes her hair down (which Hazumu had previously said made her look more feminine and mature) and kisses her. Of course Yasuna sees this and now she feels betrayed – again, not by Hazumu, but by Tomari.
Their house of cards having quickly crumpled, things fall apart completely. Yasuna’s SPCD gets worse, so that she can no longer see anyone at all. Not even in pictures. She is alone in a world full of ghosts. Hazumu, Tomari and Yasuna, having been drawn together now are as far apart as they can be. Frustrated by Hazumu’s inability to *do* anything, even the aliens start to pack up and leave.
There is no doubt that this crisis was handled with significantly less subtlety here in the anime than in the manga. But, in keeping with my determination to not take the whole thing seriously, let’s call it a handwave and move on.
It’s at this point that Ayuki steps in. With a cold, hard dose of reality, she is the only one who blames *Hazumu* for all this. And thank goodness for that. She unerringly puts her finger on the problem with Hazumu’s nature – that in her selfishness in wanting to have her cake and eat it too, she remains passive and lets other people be hurt, rather than taking any responsibility at all.
Spurred by Ayuki’s scolding, Hazumu talks to Tomari about her decision, then finds Yasuna, who is about to leave town, and says that she wants to be together with Yasuna. Magically, her faith in humanity and Hazumu restored, Yasuna recovers.
Now, up until this watching, I have always said that this choice was the right choice for the wrong reason. I hereby completely contradict that and say it was the wrong choice for the wrong reason. Hazumu’s reason boils down to a form of extortion by Yasuna. “If I don’t go to Yasuna, she’ll be sick forever. She needs me.” And boy oh boy, plenty of women really DO use that line of reasoning to stay in dead-end relationships. “Who else will take care of him/her? S/he needs me.” (This is where I reminded myself, yet again – aliens, Erica. Talking spaceship. Church in the sky. Let it go.) Incidentally, if we are paying attention, we realize by now that it wasn’t Hazumu at all that Ayuki likes, but Tomari. I still think that originally, the mangaka was planning on it being a harem thing and decided to not go there by the time the series ended.
Which brings us to the end of Episode 12 in which Yasuna pops over to Hazumu one day with an enigmatic, “You know what?” which is then passed onto Tomari.
As I mentioned the first time I reviewed this series, I know I’m not the only person who hoped that it was a request for a threesome. I still think that they could have made it work. IF I was taking this seriously, which as you know, I am not. ^_^
Episode 13, the DVD extra episode, takes place several months after episode 12. They say 6 months, but that can’t be right. Training camps are usually during summer vacation, in August and Ep. 13 takes place at Christmas, which makes it four months later. Not that I’m taking this seriously, or anything.
We learn through flashback that what Yasuna had to say to Hazumu at the end of Ep. 12 was that she was breaking up with her. For all the right reasons. Yasuna has decided to walk on her own, as she puts it. The right decision – for the right reason. Hazumu, however, fails. Instead of walking away and learning to deal with this, she hares off and asks Tomari to be her girl. Tomari does the only sensible thing possible, she ignores Hazumu and walks away, because otherwise she’d have to slap her upside the head and say, “What the hell kind of idiot thing are you thinking?” Which also would have been in character, but also would have made Episode 13 impossible.
Unwilling to confront Hazumu about this insulting and untrustworthy request, Tomari simply freezes Hazumu out. It seems inexplicable behavior until Tomari coherently explains that how on earth was she supposed to trust Hazumu, when she was still waffling back and forth like this? Unsaid, but no less obvious – that Hazumu was willing to use Tomari as a rebound to dull the pain of a breakup. I don’t think Hazumu ever quite grasped that that was what she did. I know *I* wanted to smack her upside the head and say, “What the hell kind of idiot thing are you thinking?” but since I wasn’t taking this seriously, I didn’t. Well, maybe I muttered it a bit.
Then the stupidest thing in the world happened – the aliens came back and on Christmas Eve (which you know in Japan is for lovers, right?) they make a giant Cathedral appear in the sky where Hazumu and Tomari “get married.” This was well beyond idiotic, just like a boy being killed by a spaceship and being turned into a girl is. In other words, if we’re watching this and taking it seriously, we’re the idiot here, right? I realized at some point I was grinning like a dope. Why? I think because it was *entertaining* and I felt *entertained.* That and because I’m a big dope. :-)
People HATED Episode 13. Yasuna fans, for the obvious reasons – even though she came off as the best character in the series because of it. Tomari fans because…well, beats me, Tomari fans all seem sort of pointless angry all the time. And anyone with a lick of sense because it was *stupid.* Giant floating cathedral, sleigh ride across the sky, etc, etc. ^_^
But seriously – aliens, remember? This was NEVER supposed to be taken seriously. It was a silly plot, with a silly set-up and a silly love triangle with a silly ending.
The extras with the volume are some interviews with the seiyuu, in which they have nothing really to say, but I enjoy listening to them say it anyway. In the final interview with the three lead voice actresses, I found it very amusing that they all decided that it would have been better if Hazumu turned back into a boy, because as it ended, things might become difficult when they got older. They were all pretty concerned by this. Both Tomari’s seiyuu and I originally though that Hazumu would be returned to boy form and the story would just keep going as the love triangle. Surprise on us, huh? I can’t say I’m sad to be have been totally wrong about that.
Last thing of note – in this volume the translator has everyone in the series refers to Hazumu as “she” – except Tomari, who still is tranlated as using “he.” Since in Japanese they tended to use the genderless “aitsu,” I have to assume that was done on purpose.
Art – 7
Story – 6
Characters – 7
Yuri – 9
Service – 6 It had calmed down from the beginning, but suddenly towards the end, someone developed an obsession with Tomari’s ass.
Overall – 7
It was stupid. I liked it. That’s entertainment.