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Weekly Digest 1/29/24 – Yubisaki to Renren, Meiji Gekken 1874

Yubisaki to Renren – 04

For some reason I can’t necessarily put my finger on, I found this episode of Yubisaki to Renren a bit more engaging than the first three.  Nothing fundamentally changed as far as I can tell, it just didn’t annoy me as much.  Maybe it was the presence of “Costaco”, which certainly got a guffaw out of me.  I can’t remember ever seeing Costco in anime, and it’s always struck me as a quintessentially American concept – endless excess – and fundamentally antithetical to the Japanese shopping mindset.  But they’re very popular here, and by Japanese standards especially the pizza is good.  Not to mention those comically huge tiramisu (living alone renders Costco a lot less useful).

I still want to know, though – what’s with all her male friends literally manhandling Yuki?  That hair thing Oushi did on the train – I mean, what the hell?  Obviously we know Itsuomi can’t keep his paws off – patting her on the head, dragging her around by the hand.  It would be easiest to just write Oushi off as a complete jerkwad and dwell on it no more, but it seems pretty clear to me that the author doesn’t see him that way.  And Itsuomi is clearly supposed to be much-desirable and a great guy (certainly he is by Yuki) which makes him impossible to dismiss.

What I did like here was the exchange with Kyouya, where he told Yuki that Itsuomi had an unfamiliar tone of voice when he called out to her.  This brought home to Yuki that she doesn’t have access to a very important cue in relationships.  She reads emotions into people’s hands as a sort of instinctive bypass for this, but is she really reading people or just projecting?  I do wonder if someone in her position would be more at risk from an unsavory guy just out to exploit her (which for the record I don’t think Itsuomi is).  The way her mother shields her from the world certainly doesn’t help Yuki’s readiness for such complexities.

That whole side plot with Emma is a dead end for me, and the less we see of it the better.  Rin and Kyouya are somewhat better (and more amusing), and the overall vibe of the Cotsco trip was among the best in the series so far.  For reasons I’ve already elucidated I’m giving Yubisaki to Renren more play on the leash than I usually would, and while I was pretty close to cutting the cord before this episode, I’m inclined to go at least one more week based on there having been at least some progress.


Meiji Gekken 1874 – 03

Worlds are colliding.

I must say, that episode was a bit of a mess in narrative terms.  But interesting nonetheless.  There was a little too much going on here to be honest – too many threads getting tangled up, too many names being bandied about, too many new characters moving in and out of frame.  It kind of worked anyway but not as well as it would have with somewhat less clumsy exposition and smoother narrative flow.

One of the names tossed into the salad here was Ikegami Shouichirou, but it was appended to a character we already know.  A pickpocket asserts it to be Shuragami’s true identity, but if such a name exists in the history books I’ve not heard it.  Meanwhile Shizuma and Sumie have a close encounter on the streets without realizing it, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out they’re probably going to end up on opposite sides of a conflict before the series is done.  The main thrust of the episode chronicles the “Hunting Club”, a group of fat cats who hunt and kill women for sport, led by a wealthy merchant named Kuraya (again, not a real historical figure than I’m aware of) with friends in the high places of the Meij government.

One name you will find in the history books is Archibald King, though you’d probably have to be searching for it.  He was a British merchant tried and convicted for raping a 13 year-old chaya girl in 1875 and sentenced to six months imprisonment – a sentence so light it caused a minor scandal in Tokyo at the time.  Whether the guy Ikegami-Shuragami is sent to collect yakuza money from is supposed to be him, I have no idea, but it’s asking a lot of coincidence that they chose the name randomly.  Shizuma and Osanai end up going rogue to face Kuraya in defiance of the superintendent (ordered to stand down by the corrupt councillor Kido, ordered to order it by a blackmailing Kuraya).  Ohkubo Toshimichi returns to Tokyo in time to re-open the case and send the cavalry, and apparently to Watergate the list of prominent officials part of the club.  This whole subplot is completely fictional as far as I know.

And then there’s the name any anime fan or student of Japanese history certainly should know – Fujita Gorou.  That’s the alias Saitou Hajime used when he went to work for the police and government after the revolution – both in Rurouni Kenshin and real life.  He’s sent by Ohkubo to silence the lone escapee from the Hunting Club, and as big a name as he is (and his seiyuu, Okitsu Kazuyuki is) I can’t imagine Saitou/Fujita isn’t going to play some role in the story going forward.  All this is certainly fodder for some interesting drama, but I hope in future episodes it’s presented with a bit more restraint and dexterity.


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