Ahh, the romance of going to an amusement park. Will it be as fun if you're going at the point of a stun gun? Then, we get an episode that will do much to test your knowledge of a certain very well-known show.
What They Say
Episode 7: Me, Shouko, and Kisaragi Grand Park
The gang puts on disguises to make sure Yuuji and Shouko have fun at the amusement park, but the days takes a surprising turn thanks to an unexpected marriage proposal!
Episode 8: Recklessness, Labyrinths, and the Avatar Instrumentality Project
Something is wrong with the Avatars at Fumizuki Academy; the beings aren't just acting weird, they look a lot different too. Luckily, Yoshii might be able to solve the problem.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Scene: A bedroom. A young man awakens as dawn breaks. He opens his eyes to see a beautiful girl sitting on his bed, there to greet him. She offers breakfast with a blush. Is this the usual anime trope of the childhood friend, the girl next door, coming to wake up the boy next door, upon whom she's had a crush since birth? It may look like it. The boy calmly and politely asks the girl to hand him his cell phone. He's making a call? Of course, wouldn't you? Going to call his male friends to brag that he's about to score?
"Hello, is this the police? I would like to report a trespasser."
Now while it is an anime cliche for males to be desperate to attract the attention of beautiful women, in this case, Yuuji Sakamoto wants nothing to do with the beautiful, and completely mental, Shouko Kirishima, who seems intent on making Yuuji her boyfriend by any means, including physical violence.
That is not how you begin a healthy and stable relationship.
So, it's off to the amusement park, the one with the "Wedding Experience" that Yuuji thought he had escaped from, but it appears that someone had given Shouko another ticket to the place. Of course, Yuuji is cajoled, prodded, blackmailed and physically forced into going to the amusement park with Shouko. Once there, it appears that the entire gang has come to make it a happy experience for Shouko, if not for Yuuji. They are dressed as park employees and try to use disguises, though it is more than clear to Yuuji who they are. Hilarity is supposed to ensue, but does not really for much of the amusement park time.
In fact, it just keeps on getting more unhealthy, until�until we come to near the end, where Shouko, for the first time, finally shows a somewhat softer side, and Yuuji shows that his rebuffing of Shouko's advances has not been because he dislikes her, but because he feels that she is wasting herself by wishing to be with an idiot such as himself. I was actually somewhat taken aback by how weak Shouko really was in the face of her dream being derided. While it was pretty easy to see it coming, Yuuji's response hit just the right note, with it now becoming clear that he has Shouko's best interests at heart. Shouko's softer, and frankly, more believable (it's not that women cannot be strong, or mentally unbalanced, or both, but one would hope that this side of her is not just a one-episode appearance) or perhaps just more bearable side also gets some time, and we see that beneath that repulsively controlling personality there is fear and vulnerability. This show has been pretty stupid most of the time, living up to its name, but they managed to get this moment just about right. Did a writer from a better show suddenly parachute in?
There is also a different ending animation this time (and in the next episode as well), which is a female version of the usual male-dominated ending.
In the second episode of this pair, we get some fanservice and an utterly unsubtle parody of one of the most famous anime out there (as if "Avatar Instrumentality Project" didn't make it obvious from the start). The eye-catch was especially well done, and while it is unlikely, I think this episode might be made even more funny if FUNimation, who will eventually dub it, were to use the same actors from the English dub of Eva for the voices of the characters, even if just for this one episode. Be sure to check out the "adult" forms of the students' avatars as well. I'm sure much time will be taken up by viewers trying to catch all of the visual references to the earlier work.
This pair of episodes was not that bad, as we had a surprisingly heartwarming moment in the first one near the end, and a tribute to a well-known franchise in the second. It was refreshing to have a break away from the parade of overused and too-often repeated jokes that dominate the early episodes of this show. While many of the "standard" jokes still show up, the amount of time in the episodes devoted to them was less, which forces the writers to have to develop some new sources of humor, or at least other things to grab our attention. In those regards they were largely successful in this pair of episodes.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple Mac Mini with 1GB RAM, Mac OS 10.5 Leopard