Shuffle! 18 - The Ferris Wheel

What is eternity doing tonight? has become Mega Megane Moé. For the latest posts, please change your links accordingly. (you should know what that means...and also, certainly, it could fit as a horror movie title in this way too)

It's showtime! We're about ready to hit the climax of Shuffle! with 4 straight episode of raw awesome, and here's the first of the four.

The light-hearted title card is back, and it is screaming Very Important Episode at the top of its lungs. It's kokuhaku (confession) time this episode, and so we're getting down to crunch time - and don't expect, even after the main two get together, that things are going to be all better.

Well, what's to say? Let's get this mission started. And what a mission it is - that subtitle says "secret strategic meeting for the date". This is Spartaaaaaaaa business. This recap is spoiler-free, covering only Shuffle 18, so if you've gotten this far, keep going.

The episode starts with some conversation with current leading girl Asa and Rin, who talk about Asa's cooking and her 3 Color Cookies (which doesn't sound all that appetizing, personally), and how they taste simply magical. A strange choice of words, for those who know Asa.

Meanwhile, Nerine and Sia stare from afar and lament the fact that their arcs are over (and, in case of Sia, doubly over). They talk obvious for a while, figuring out that Asa likes Rin, Rin likes Asa, and the sky is blue. They are regretful, but oddly enough, happy for Asa. There seems to be, at least at the current moment, a lot of peace within the harem.

In fact, since Nerine and Sia notice Rin is developing Gutless Harem Lead Syndrome, they resolve to 'do something about' his affections for Asa, and vice versa.

They confront Rin directly, trying to get him to ask Asa out on a date. Neither of the demon/god girls really seem to count themselves out of the picture, considering Sia just wants to know more about her 'rival' for Rin's love, and Nerine's cliched, but so damn true in Shuffle, 'all's fair' quote. Neither of them remembers to bring up polygamy though - that must be a last resort.

Also, the synchronized speech never fails to be somewhere between entertaining and adorable, even when they have a bit of a scary look on their faces. Rin is thankful for the girls' enthusastic support of it, but of course is a bit hesitant on asking the girl of his dreams out on a date on the urging of...the rest of his harem.

And so backup arrives with the awesome (comedy) duo of Mayumi and Itsuki, replete with that shiny glasses look that says "You have no idea what acts I'm about to do to you."

See. That look. GAH IT BURNS, but it burns so good! Uh, what? Anyway, Mayumi and Itsuki know all, and are much more blunt about it than Nerine or Sia, and so we go off to the aforementioned 'secret strategy meeting', located in a mysterious hidden place, probably Itsuki's hidden harem torture chamber in his basement.

The rest of the group, Rin excluded, is predictably enthusiastic about setting up their Rin up on a date with Asa, and are especially offended when Rin happens to demonstrate just how little he knows about her. And so the rest of the group takes over to mastermind a plan, with Badass Shiny Itsuki leading the helm, proposing the Uber-Date: The amusement park trip to Cupid Land, the park designed for lovers! (scary, isn't it)

Everyone is impressed greatly, except for, yup, you guessed it, Rin, who wants something more sane and 'down to earth'. But at this point the group will take nothing less than blowing the issue completely out of proportion, even claiming "A normal confession won't do!"

Meanwhile, Kaede and Rimu sit around in the calm before the storm. Kaede is still dangerously naive, even when Rimu, the one who actually knows things, adds two and two and starts talking about dates and all. Hint: it's not with you, Kaede.

Predictably, the reaction at school is warm and accepting, although it seemed strange that going shiny and daydreaming was only Kareha's second reaction. Asa also tries to play it off as "just going to have fun", although I doubt any of the three believe that. But yeah, Asa's happy. Rin won't have to work too hard to win her over (which happened, what, 11 episodes ago?).

Kaede, even when informed of the fact that her obsession is going out, on a date, with another girl, to bloody Cupid Land, still seems strangely supportive and happy for Rin. The peace within Shuffle! harem is boundless. Either that or Kaede's just dense. Or optimistic. Rimu seems noticeably more concerned though, and not for Rin...

The big day! Let's do this!

Both Rin, waiting at the station, and Asa, looking for a perfect outfit, seem decidedly, and justifiably, nervous about the coming date, and so, it comes to the backup force to help them along...

Yup, just like most anime - Cardcaptor Sakura was the first one I was reminded of here, with at least 2.5 amusement park dates - the entire supporting cast is out in force to track the main couple's progress. They're decked out in typical disguise clothing that wouldn't fool anyone, but still looks neat. Sia's a meganekko now. Win. It's too bad she's wearing those huge "disguise" sunglasses.

At Cupid Land itself, we also get a shot of Itsuki and Mayumi, who are a little more active than their harem friends. Itsuki actually gets to the point of shoving Rin around and yelling advice, not at Rin, but at Asa. Clearly they're all looking for a happy ending here, even if they're not part of it. And Itsuki, what's with changing your glasses? They were just fine...and that hair. Geez. Also, Super Mayumi Sisters? I'd buy it.

First ride, the merry-go-round, and Asa's already starting to get into her role, clinging to Rin and toying with him. Rin, suddenly, has lost all his harem momentum and is scared utterly witless at being so close to his goal. He knows what he has to do over the next 8 hours or so. It's going to be an amusingly long time for him.

Next up are the spinning tea cups in GLORIOUS 3D CG ANIMATION - why? because - and Rin continues to be gutless, while Itsuki and Mayumi seem to be having too much fun forcing Rin along. Nerine and Sia, with their magical powers, realize they can mess with the situation, sending the teacups spinning in just the right way to hurl Asa into Rin's arms. How convienent.

It eventually devolves into a humorous montage, featuring

The return of Rin's look of UTTER HORROR - and of course Asa's enjoying the ride. The anime rule of only one character at a time may like thrill rides...

Go-karts, which are awesome because I'm a fan of motorsports (although that stuff is expensive in amusement parks). Asa's an agressive driver, amusingly.

The picture booth, with typically happy Asa and typically (for this episode) frozen stiff Rin...

And, finally, not-pictured, tunnel of love boats in open water, which is sort of strange.

They finally take a lunch break, and Rin takes the opportunity to collapse in exhaustion. He's beat from going on all the rides, but despite it all seems to be enjoying the time with Asa. We also get the first shot of the Battle Plan the supporting group has laid out for him, with a note to keep your eye on the Ferris wheel.

Asa may or may not have noticed this, as she makes mention of "to heck with the plans". She, at least, has noticed that Rin's a bit stiffer than usual, mentally, and jokes with him that the "rides won't run away", since Rin seems so scared of them. Maybe because Sia and Nerine have been sending him into too many intimate situations with Asa?

By the way, I'm afraid to ask what Asa was picking off Rin's face - cotton candy? - and why she knows what Rin tastes like. (the crowd in the background, still watching, is amused, disturbed, and tormented) When were the H-scenes in the original eroge? Or, of course, it could be a figure of speech.

The ride montage continues, with Rin taking note of just how much the plans he was given are being dashed to pieces, and mentally apologizes to the group. Really, just relax and enjoy Asa dragging you around for once! Although, Asa seems to be getting a bit sad as well, as even though she plays the guilt card, asking "Aren't you enjoying yourself?" playfully, she seems genuinely sad. She knows too much for her own good.

And so we get to sunset, and you know what that means. Ferris wheel time! And if you've seen anime - or at least Cardcaptor Sakura - you know how huge Ferris wheels are, and not just in size. Here's a hint: Rin's plan/map says "Confess to her on the wheel", just in case you couldn't figure it out.

We begin to get some unrest in the crowd. Nerine and Sia, who by the looks on their faces are just dying wishing they could be the ones on the wheel with Rin, prevent Itsuki and Mayumi from tailing the couple onto the wheel, leaving Rin and Asa some along time for once.

Although the mood is rightfully tense in the wheel as well. It's pretty certain that Asa knows just what is going on, and with Rin being too scared to make a move, the silence is truly deafening. Rin tries to make a move but false-starts, starting to say something but catching himself and going back on his statement, saying "The sun's setting!" That's great, Rin, it really is. He continues to score and generally score aggressive negative points, until Asa finally decides to reluctantly make the first move.

She talks about how happy she was Rin went out with her today, and finally brings out her famed 3 color cookies...which, unfortunately, turn out to be normal cookies. Still, cookies are cookies, and Asa takes it one step farther...

Yeah, the 'both ends of food' kiss thing, which should have revived Rin's morale at any rate - after all, if a win is guaranteed, you'd be more confident too - although with a cookie? That's a bit smaller.

It's strange that at this point, I didn't see it coming, but once again, a near-kiss is interrupted. You didn't think they were going to get that far, did you? Not before the end of the ride, nope, not with all that stalling! Asa appears worried again, but brings out her final weapon...

Run ahead, turn around, and with a smile...

The crowd (in-anime as well) holds their breath, waiting for a score. And then, the crowd gets discovered.

Yup. That's right. Asa knows what's been going on here, since she's breathing and has a brain. She knows that everyone's waiting on the sidelines, for that one iconic line, and she confronts them directly. She makes a lunge for Rin and gets the plans too! You hear that sound? It's the sound of audiences around the world going "OSHI~"

Rin finally begins to spill all about the plan, blaming himself, Itsuki, everybody, trying to cover up but really digging himself a hole. A deep hole.

Asa isn't amused.

Slap. Yes, slap.

I think both parties here are very close to losing it at this point. Rin just ends up looking dejected, finally taking the blame for not standing up for himself, while Asa goes on a rampage. Sia and Nerine try to take the fall for the team, telling Asa that they made Rin do it, but they are quickly silenced.

Asa asks Rin why he bothered going on a date with her today, and he jumps at the opportunity, an opening to strike back, but Asa's still got the advantage. She's gone from pleasant to angry and now to, the worst of all, dissapointed, and on that note, she walks out. No one stops her.

Everyone runs to Rin afterward and tries to comfort him, but he finally realizes that this is his job to do and refuses support. He finally owns up and says he'll tell her himself next time. And so ends the wildly (un)successful date.

And so we dash to the Fuyou household for one final scene, where Rin finds out that Kaede made dinner for him even though he was out. He, in not quite the mood for accepting it, turns down her hospitality.

Kaede ends up scraping the dish into the trash, with the look and the lighting making her seem sad and broken the whole way.

Dear Haruhi God why are we doing this gag again? God Rin, what have you done!? Not just to Asa, but to Kaede!?

Speaking as one who's actually finished the series - and yet, somehow, did not see the Bad End of this episode coming - neither of them - this sets up the next few episodes to be a ride. A wild, wild, emotional ride. Hang on.



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