Sakura Trick: Episode 4

With this banner lay waste to those het-girls who would pollute our perfect world!

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Pope Haruka began her second crusade this week! And this time it is against Mitsuki, Yuu’s older sister, who is apparently having lots of romantic thoughts about our redheaded protagonist.

See what great continuity we have been creating in my head canon?

This episode just destroyed the fourth wall.  Shattered, is appropriate. Broke it? Tore it open…I’ll stop.

…It’s a hymen joke.

Mitsuki drafts Kaede and Yuzu to be her spies.  Interesting angle. When I said “Mitsuki can play their foil” I didn’t exactly picture it so…blunt.  But whatever, it provides a great backdrop for the banter between Kaede and Yuzu.

And these two are adorable. We haven’t really had much exposure to them yet, and this counts sort of as their introductory episode of sorts.  Unlike Kotone and Shizuku they don’t pair up, but that’s actually part of the fun.

There is a theory, which I am completely willing to endorse, from people much more fluent in the print version of this series that Kaede and Yuzu represent “traditional Yuri girls”.  That is, they are close, and they might be in a show entitled girl-on-girl romance, but they will never kiss.  But I don’t mind it.  It strains credibility anyway if every girl is a lesbian. At least…if they are before Pope Haruka and Archbishop Kotone get to them.

No, this pair is to play our straightmen. …Women…Not so Straight Women…

Let me try that again.

These two are our Statler and Waldorf and I adore them both. Not as cruel, not as cynical, but there is definitely the edge there in both of them, especially Kaede.  Kaede is also much more zen about this crazy universe. She kind of goes with the flow and reaps what enjoyment she can from it.  Yuzu is, through and through, the straight man, deadpan humor and complete lack of understanding about the craziness around her.

And this whole first act is a series of fourth wall gags at the Yuri genre as a whole, poking fun at not only its tropes, but in a genius move of saying it without saying it, pointing out how awful these stereotypes are.  These are not exactly head-Haruka thoughts. There’s a distinct difference between the two, allow me to explain.

Head Haruka is the fantasy of a hormone charged teenager.  She WANTS everything to lead to sex (or, in TV form, kissing, but as established, on TV that’s practically third base).  Her brain consistently loves to see romance, both for herself and others (so long as it’s not with her precious Yuu), and Head Haruka represents how the show might behave as a porno.  But these are legitimate character desires we see.

Kaede and Yuzu’s head canon represents the Yuri genre. Particularly the habit of “you have to look for it”.  Because Yuri is notorious for never SHOWING anything.  My favorite Yuri series? Well, it’s a series with Yuri elements? Ga Rei Zero. There is exactly one kiss but the rest is implied.  As Kaede and Yuzu are forced to do here.  Because Yuu and Haruka aren’t going to just make out on top of the desk between periods. So they have to look for that thing we call “subtext”, which almost every Yuri series has forced its viewers to do for years.

And is quite frankly one of the reasons I hate the genre.

And by doing this, Sakura Trick is making a statement.  “We don’t have to stoop to those levels. We are honest with our characters and our story. We are grounded and that is the farce.”

So, if you aren’t familiar with the Yuri genre in general (really you just need to understand the point of subtext), these gags may not be as funny, it will seem like the same joke over and over, and it sort of is.  But it doesn’t stop being funny.  They play it just enough, then let it go.  Again, part of the two episode structure, they don’t force themselves to lean on any crutches for a long period of time. There’s plenty of other humor mixed in as well, such as Kaede’s plan to use Haruka to buy her her treats, but Haruka blocking her effortlessly at the register. So it’s not a one trick pony.

And, when Haruka returns from the store, she finds Yuu in Kotone’s lap.  It is then a tug of war! But ultimately Yuu doesn’t give in, probably out of fear of exposing their relationship.

But it hurts Haruka.  She even refuses to go home with Yuu.  This actually kind of hit me in the feels.  We can understand where Yuu is coming from. This isn’t a socially acceptable thing. And we feel for her.  But Haruka, also, as the type who wears her heart on her sleeve, feels that disconnect as a wound.   She may be able to rationalize it away, but it doesn’t diminish the pain of the girl she loves (we’re allowed to say that at this point, right?) rejecting her pleas to just have a little intimate moment, even if it isn’t very aggressive.

And, the final Yuri genre gag, Kaede and Yuzu turn in their “report”.  Mitsuki reads it off, and returns it to the pair, telling them to do it again. Because it is inconclusive.  And as a final jab at the whole genre (and fans), Yuzu says “it tells you a lot.”

Both sides are convinced of their conclusion. Yuzu sees nothing special about their friendship. Mitsuki is convinced there is something more.  Welcome to every Yuri series discussion board ever. It was the perfect cap to this fourth wall reaper of an episode!

The second episode is more of the same.  The girls are invited to a fireworks date by Kaede and Kotone.  They split up into pairs (Haruka going with Yuu after much pleading and yandere-brain-shattering). But Mitsuki is hot on the trail, convinced there are shenanigans afoot.

Some cute gags here. I was a fan of when Yuu broke Haruka’s brain by asking her for a kiss.  It’s a bit of a shift. Yuu has gone from the reluctant one to the guy who doesn’t want his friends to know he’s banging the fat chick.  She’s very aggressive in private these days, but still has a fear of being found out.  It’s unfortunate, in a way, but I kind of have less respect for her this week.

But then again, as I’ve stated before, I am like Haruka, very much so. So I naturally tend to side with her in these matters. And that’s just my personal bias shining through.  But at least it seems to have mended the wounds from part 1. And if they’re happy, I’m happy for them. They’re just too adorable.

Mitsuki eventually stumbles into the pair. Clinging to each other in the spooky woods, of course.  And cue more little hearts and Mitsuki terrified of her own sexuality.

Haruka must taste like candy.  There is really no basis for this crush, she’s like a freakin magician.

…Or the freakin’ Pope.

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3 thoughts on “Sakura Trick: Episode 4

  1. I’m looking forward to your analysis now. Do you think all the things you caught on are intentional or are you digging too deep? Also I must commend you for actual usage of the brain while watching this series. I keep catching myself smiling. Such a healing anime… XD

    • I like to imagine I am making some legitimate claims. xD There have been some jabs at the Yuri industry as a whole before in this show, but this episode it was so consistent, and persistent, that it had to be intentional, I thought.

      Though I think it’s giving me too much credit to say I’m using my brain. I just see things I recognize because previously in life I have had to articulate them. Seeing them again in front of me just lets me share what I recognize. There are other people who will see different things. That’s one of the beauties of art, it is just as much on the observer to derive meaning as it is the creator to imbue it.

      But thank you! And I hope I won’t disappoint in the future.

      • I’m not well versed in the happenings of the Yuri industry so I don’t have a lot of preconceptions of yuri anime. I’m afraid most of my consumption of anime are based on very shallow features (aesthetics, plot points that interests me, humor, etc) that appeal to me. But it’s been very interesting reading your analysis after watching the episodes. It’s like digesting and absorbing all the good stuff.

        I think you’re giving yourself too little credit. 🙂 It’s true that everyone perceives and interprets art in different ways and they are all entitled to their opinions. But, these different opinions are vastly different in quality and insight. Some people simply miss the entire point. A lot grab onto a little thing and go on tangent. These are like junk food that are palatable but really bad for you. (I shall put the lame food metaphor to bed now). Your commentary on the other hand, usually makes me go ‘oh that thing that I couldn’t put into words before actually makes sense now…so that’s how it is’. Keep it up! :))))

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