Sakura Trick: Episode 5

I’ll taste your apple…

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Oh, bit of a reverse structure this week. My brain! It is imploded!

By that I mean our first story this week is a fluffier outing, with the more character-driven stuff coming in part 2.

It’s also…sigh…honestly the part I’ve dreaded most. Cultural festival shenanigans. Every slice of life series needs them.  Unfortunately, having gone to school in the United States, this is never something that it’s easy to glean a frame of reference for. We did it in elementary school, not high school. High school was for “real learning”, not silly little community exercises that teach you how to work in a group like para-professionals.  Group projects are designed to be single-person projects that you shamelessly assign parties to each individual function anyone with a normal functioning brain could do on their own, everybody knows that.

Bashing educational systems aside, we begin with Yuu waking up in school.  Shizuku is watching over her, and tells us Haruka has gone to the cafe.  Yuu seems crushed and begins crying (though more along the lines of her manipulative style crying), when Kotone enters.  She does more drunken monkey gags, teasing Shizuku that she made Yuu cry.  However despite complaining she is exhausted, on seeing Yuu depressed, Kotone suggests they all go meet up with Haruka and the gang at the cafe.

One of my favorite little gags is when they’re walking down the street and Shizuku sharing she feels like a family.  Blink and you’ll miss it, but there’s an important little bit of commentary here.  Kotone and Shizuku both think to themselves “and if we were a family, I’d be the wife!”

Let us offer the gay perspective.

Both in the West and Japan, there has been a habit of translating homosexual relationships as hetero-normative.  It has been quite a few years since this was prevalent in America, I only vaguely recall it from my schooling days, myself.  Over the past ten years it has become bad taste to ask, but this question used to pop up all the time when you were introducing a gay couple.

“Which one of you is the woman?” (The appropriate answer being, “Neither…that’s kind of the point”)

It’s a bit harder to appreciate that in Japan this is only just leaving community consciousness.  They are, in a sense, behind the curve in this regard.  Homosexual relationships, and you can even see this in anime and manga, particularly yaoi stuff, is strictly defined on which one’s the aggressive, dominant partner and which one is the submissive little flower.  Yuri couples are expected to have similar dimensions, and these things are in the process of being phased out, which is good, but it is still what informs many people’s perceptions.

My point being, I really like this line.  Yes, it plays off those stereotypes, that’s what makes the joke.  But more important is what it says about the characters involved: Both Shizuku and Kotone see themselves as “the woman”, and they’re cool with that. That’s how it’s supposed to be. And if I may be so bold, plays into that point I keep bringing up about Sakura Trick. It is comedy, it is played for laughs, but there is an effort to present realistic dynamics between characters.  Even if unintentional, it’s still a good thing that no one said “But which one is…?”

Okay, rant over!

It seems the other three have lured Mitsuki into Starbucks. (Okay they call it TUDARBUCKS but…we know what it is guys).

And…is this a cafe or a chicken pen at feeding time? Damn that’s crowded.  There are some cute gags here.  Mitsuki and Haruka end up having to reserve the table because…well…their “dimensions” make it harder for them to squeeze through the crowd.  And more Mitsuki crushing on Haruka.

I’ll clarify a point I made last week. While true it strains credibility if everyone is a lesbian, I don’t feel that applies to Mitsuki, as, statistically, if you have a homosexual sibling of your sex, you are some 5-6 times more likely to be gay yourself. So math is in favor that there’s a good chance Mitsuki also harbors…feelings.

And you just know if Kotone had been the one fitting that hairpiece, she’d have seen Mitsuki’s reaction for what it is. Huehuehue.

One of the things we’re getting from Mitsuki, both by her words here and her very role as “persistent spy” is that she is very lonely.  After all she finds the time to orchestrate herself spying on Haruka and Yuu all the time, unhindered by a social life of her own.  She seems like a very shut in bookworm, probably why she is so casually accepting of being inserted into her little sister’s social circle.  The thing she seems to want most in this conversation is for someone to think of HER in terms like Yuu and Haruka constantly talk about the other.  She is probably not only a virgin, but I would not be surprised to learn she has never had any close relationships, romantic or even otherwise.  This isn’t to badmouth her, not at all. But seeing as she is student body president, she is likely an academic achiever and just never found the time to really bond with people like her little sister has.  And seeing that firsthand seems to have really shaken that view of herself that Mitsuki had before, when she was comfortable being alone.

I think it’s in the confirmation.  Before, even if Haruka was all Yuu talked about for a year, it could be dismissed that she had a weird little sister who idolized one friend, her partner in crime, whatever.  It isn’t until meeting Haruka and seeing the lengths she goes to for Yuu that Mitsuki probably thought “That’s actually something I want”, that it is, for lack of a better word, a mutual obsession, two people who are extremely important to the other.

At least that’s just my interpretation of this footage. You may draw your own conclusions.

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We get to the business aspect of this outing, and the girls invite Mitsuki to join their production, Snow White.  Mitsuki seems reluctant, but Yuzu isn’t above hitting below the belt, winking at Mitsuki that “but we helped YOU that one time…remember? Wink wink, nudge nudge.”  Obviously referring to the spying.

…Head canon, new entry. Mitsuki and Yuzu practiced kissing.

But she’s still not really budging. The three freshmen retreat to the bathroom where they lament she isn’t as easily led around as Yuu is.  It seems that this was to be a surprise for Yuu.  Wait, aren’t Yuu and the others coming to the cafe? Oh you cooky writers.  Actually if they had told us that at the beginning I’d have mostly dreaded this whole ordeal.  But by waiting and shoving us into this little adventure in media res, we say “Oh, that’s what’s up.”

Even better is that when Yuu and company arrive, they don’t linger.  They speed all the way to part two with no awkward dialogue about Mitsuki ruining the surprise or anything.  Thank god.  Sakura Trick has proven itself smarter than the average bear once again.  No Haruka miming shit, no pulling each one to the bathroom over and over again so they can keep the secret, they just call it quits while ahead.  Oh savior of the slice of life episode, keep delivering!

It’s Yuu’s turn to play angry, though.  She lures Haruka away as they’re walking home and tells her never to leave without telling her again.  We see a mirror from last week when Yuu refused to cuddle up with Haruka instead of Kotone, at least in her reaction to the event.

Part 2 begins the prep for the play.  Yuu wants to be the witch in Snow White.  But Shizuku will not allow her coveted role to go so easily!

And really, did we expect anything else of Shizuku at this point?

Well actually she just thinks the queen is silly because she talks to a mirror.

But her emo-gothy traits perform well for her in audition.  Yuu makes Haruka squee, but Shizuku terrifies everyone with her realistic performance of a bringer of agony and curses. You can see how much acting she had to do.

Well, terrifies everyone except Kotone, who just calls it “cute”.  One more trait in the “things I share with Kotone” column for me…

Yuzu notices Mitsuki spying on them.  Cue Zatoichi Kotone saying “Oh yeah, she does that all the time. I’ve seen her every period.”  Again playing to my notion that Kotone sees way more going around her than her carefree personality would let on.  Sometimes she fails to -understand- why people do things, but she definitely can see what’s up.

But Kaede isn’t about to let such an opportunity pass by, and she follows Mitsuki to compel her to join the play.

Earlier Shizuku deflected Yuzu’s expectation that she wanted to be the witch because she saw herself in it.  But that’s a fairy tale character, an icon, larger than life.  But here Shizuku seems to recognize that Mitsuki might just be shy.

Not entirely wrong, but not exactly right. We know Mitsuki is shy, but she’s only shy for one specific Pope person.  But it seems Shizuku is still a little embarrassed about starting things with Kotone.

While trying to goad Mitsuki into joining their production, Yuu tries to hug Mitsuki reassuringly…that doesn’t work, so Haruka joins in to, causing Mitsuki to literally flee from her gay thoughts.  But Kaede is persistent, following Mitsuki like some sort of shade, whispering into her ear.  It’s rather cute, and totally plays into what we saw of Kaede last week.

With Mitsuki finally joining in, it’s time to continue assigning roles.  This leads exactly where you’d expect, even the crash course in Snow White literally only focusing on the final kiss scene. I liked the joke…

Haruka and Mitsuki try to out-compliment each other to be Snow White, Mitsuki finally saying if you saw her playing Snow White you’d know it was a bad idea.  Well Kaede is ready to put that plan into action, so to audition, they’ll play the kiss scene. And you know who’s going to be the prince. Mitsuki literally collapses.

So, in a bout of mental gymnastics that would make Sean Hannity blush, Mitsuki convinces herself that in order to NOT act gay, she needs to go through with kissing Haruka, otherwise she would look suspicious and people might suspect she has lewd feelings towards other girls because she was so eager to NOT kiss Haruka. You got that? Good. Long as we’re all clear.

Okay it’s obvious that she’s just rationalizing her desire away. Still it’s rather amusing.

And Pope Haruka, in fine form today, in order to save Mitsuki from losing face of course, plays along with it…right up until Yuu bonks her in the head.  No one’s going to be kissing Haruka except your little sister, Mitsuki, sorry.

And we end on a great gag. Shizuku bathing, lovingly showing us her washing herself, when a chibi version stares at the camera. “Turns out it’s fanservice”.  Just blunt, to the point, and hilarious.

This was a much more…feel good episode to me than a laugh out loud one. Therapeutic, even. Huehue.

Also, this seems to be the best place…I’m trying to get a special little event for Valentine’s Day…but it is dependent on me getting a certain DataportDoll’s waifu to willingly put her thoughts into blog form.  So we’ll see how that goes. May be a day or two late.  But whatever!

And now, for your viewing amusement.

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One thought on “Sakura Trick: Episode 5

  1. Pingback: Completely Predictable Post: Legend of Korra: Balance | Dataport Doll's Anime Reviews

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