6/13/2007

Shuffle! 19 - Moment of Impact

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Well, here it is. The big one. The arc that elevates Shuffle! from "Ah, a good light-hearted harem eroge adaptation" to "It's like Key, but with breasts." Which is true mainly because here, the plot gets more serious, more interesting, and thankfully, a bit less fanservicey than is the norm for this series.

Not a lot to say that won't spoil this episode to death, since it has some large exposition, but to say the least it involves several years' worth of buildup, although, from the anime where everybody knew somebody back in the 'promised girl' flashback age, that shouldn't say much.


XWindow: Jump out in.
This should. Someone - or at the going rate, more than one someone - is out to get Rin. Who? Why? Are they successful?

Well, of course, the last answer is kind of a no, as having your harem lead die would be a bit of a downer. But then again, there's always Itsuki, who's too shiny-glasses awesome in this series to be called by that name which graces that of lower-grade espers and drivers of Levins.

Anyway, find out next time on - what, this isn't a TV commercial? There's more? After the jump (spoiler safe through Shuffle! 19). Fine, be that way. Can't I stretch this out over two days of suspense?

Don't give me that 'everybody's already seen the anime' look. It's coming to R1 soon, and then I'll laugh at you fools who said nobody cares about Shuffle anymore! Mwhahahahahah!

Er, sorry, that acts up. I wonder if Shuffle! still does have a decent fanbase - although, from the looks of the AnimeSuki forums (the ones I browse frequently) it's much more chaotic and cutthroat (with those stupid fanclubs) than other harem anime. Possibly because they learn from example, if this episode is any cue.

Additionally, I wonder how the censoring will work on the Shuffle! R1s. I'd like to know if I am able to buy the DVD without putting on a trenchcoat and a fake mustache.


See that title card? That title card screams ominous. We don't even get color and large kanji like we did with the Rimu arc. Just a bit of tiny text, an episode number (oddly), and we're off. Shuffle! wants you to know when it does plot, what with the flashing back and forth between happy intro/serious intro and happy eyecatchcleavage serious eyecatch.


In Key fashion, we begin with a flashback, to the most repeated one of the series: loli Kaede and loli Rin in the rain. As we all know, rain in anime is a Very Bad Thing, and Kaede reinforces this by finally filling in the words we've been waiting to hear for about 15 episodes:

Hmm, somehow that just doesn't have the same ring, I must say. So now that we've established that Rin has done something Really Really Bad to Kaede (like, post bad things on her Myspace or something. I can't believe I just typed that), we...wake up. What did you want? More plot?

Strangely enough, this morning Kaede is not up to wake Rin as she always seems to be. Adding to the awkwardness, Rin refuses a meal (breakfast) for the second time in favor of going out and playing with Asa, a foolish move. He's not doing much to maintain balance in the harem - although he may feel he owes Asa something after the uber-failed date at Cupid Land.


And so Rimu and Kaede are left alone in an extremely quiet house, doing busywork. There just seems to be no life in it without Rin. Why do I mention that, you wonder...

Oh, hey, we get plot after all! Going back to 8 years ago, we learn of the fact that Kaede's mom and both Rin's parents died in a car accident - eat your heart out, Kanon. (it's not spoilers, I swear!) That's one hell of a car accident. I'm sure this has been referenced before but now it's brought to the forefront.


Obligatory 'opposite meaning' statement. Last time you'll see her happy in the next 25 minutes. (ncidentally, if you did not get it, her parents did not end up fine, and as proven, neither will she:

It's a bit of a shock for her. It's interesting, showing some real reaction to the death of a parent. Often times in anime, dead parents come standard, and the children are either 'too young to remember it', or blatantly ignoring it, referring to themselves in the third person and buying giant anteater plushies.


Flash-forward briefly to loli Kaede in the hospital. She hasn't incurred any physical injury, but her mental trauma is shutting her down as she's stopped reacting to any outside influences, being very glassy-eyed and downright creepy. Rin notices this, and goes to the hospital that night to cheer her up.


Why? Nothing important can happen before sunset, and so Rin must wait until after dark to discuss important matters with Kaede. Namely, the fact that he killed their parents.

WHAT!?


Oh yes, that's a twist. It's actually only a vague association, since Rin claims he asks them to come home early because he was lonely, but it's enough for Kaede, who, almost looks shocked even more so than she already did, to react again.


Unfortunately, it was not the reaction anyone was hoping for, as Kaede begins choking Rin, the beginning of a series of nasty events that includes the pictured slashing of the blinds and the infamous boxcutter drop on Rin.

Now, speaking as one who is theoretically watching this live, how the hell did things change in 8 years? You'll note that Kaede in the present talks about how her life is devoting to serving Rin. 8 years ago, her life was devoted to killing Rin. Indeed, she screams at Rin, 8 years ago, how she would "never forgive him." - although, it sure seems like she has. Remember, 5 minutes ago? The 'you deserve to die' line?

We actually manage to get to that full scene in the flashback, in it's correct chronological place. Kaede adds an additional powerful line, asking why her mom is dead, yet Rin is still alive. She sure seems a bit enthusiastic to place the blame on Rin, casting him aside from her life, but, I'd imagine an event like this would make anyone unstable.

Flash forward a few years, to middle school Kaede, cleaning. The flashback continues, as Kaede knocks over a couple of things from Rin's desk, and finds a very important, and conveniently placed, card.

It's addressed to her.
Picture: her and her family, including her dead mother.
Sender: her dead mother.
Date:


Now, if there was ever an in-anime WTF moment, this would so entirely be it. Even the viewers might be a bit shocked at this twist, which, looking back, seems unbelievable, but I didn't mind too much.

It turns out that Kaede's mother actually headed home early to attend to her daughter (hint: that's Kaede) who was ill that day with a fever. Incidentally, the fever may or may not be important (who else's backstory features sickness in youth?), but at least there are no worries about her turning back into a fox.

Anyway, here's the point. Somehow, it's not Rin's "fault", but Kaede's "fault".

You thought Kaede was broken before? Oh, no, you didn't. You don't know broken. This is broken like all of the climaxes of the Kanon arcs put together into one, broken. (which would make for a weird story)


Rin comes out of nowhere to snatch the card back from Kaede. This really reveals a lot about Rin's selfless side, in that he is willing to sacrifice a lot of himself in order to get Kaede to live a normal life, even up to the extent that he's willing to endure abuse forever - note how he doesn't want Kaede to know the truth. Putting it this way, it seems that certainly he had a level of feelings for Kaede - whatever happened to that?


Anyway, Kaede (in the past still) can't handle it, as predicted, and does the typical "I'm at a loss for what to do, so I'll run away." As if her guilt for Rin wasn't enough, she runs in front of a truck (by accident, it must be noted), only to have her life saved by, yup, Rin. That's not them dancing in the screenshot above.


All Kaede can do, in her wrecked state of mind, is cry and apologize. A lot. Like ten times. Maybe
twenty. After this scene ends we move back to the present, where it almost seems like Kaede is the one having this flashback, not Rin.


This is because Rin's at the cafe, having fun with Asa. It's about time we got some smiles in this episode. That's one good thing about Asa, she always seems happy, even one episode after Rin seriously, seriously messed up with her.


She's even happy when she's fainting - kind of a detraction - making amusing remarks like the one two screenshots above. Although, there's something to be said about the whole playing-happy idea, the "Nothing's wrong" approach. There is so something wrong, Asa. But not with you, for now.


Rin comes home to Rimu and Kaede. However, he continues to worry about Asa, which worries Rimu and causes her to worry about Kaede (worrying about Rin). It's a worry triangle-ish-shaped-thing. How sad. Also, note dramatic, sad piano music.


Rin and Rimu try to burn away their trouble by playing video games. And by video games, it appears to be Pong. ON A PS2. Funny how this would kill the mood for a moment for me, in the ridiculousness (and laziness of animation) of it all. Although, it builds back up when Rin starts ignoring Kaede in favor of, in this case, PS2 Pong. Rimu gives him more worried looks. He's not watching.

Kaede asks Rin to go shopping with her tommorow, which he finally agrees too...and instantly cancels in favor of another date with Asa. Bad Rin. Bad!

The signs begin to mount:

Rin and Asa seem to be having a lot of fun, one would say too much fun, in contrast with:

Kaede, who tries to sound happy, but finds out she has no eyes. And what does it mean when they purposely don't show a character's eyes? It means they're lying. To others, to themselves, something.


But, as it always is, it is NOT all right. Something IS wrong. It's NEVER nothing, nothing at all. Don't believe it for a second, Kaede doesn't either.


Oh yeah, and to make the situation better, after Rin comes back from his date with Asa, he refuses another meal from Kaede, like he has been doing. Now, what happened the last time he refused meals? That's right! We got sad Kaede, which makes sad Rimu, which makes goddamn annoyingly oblivious Rin. Come on.


Things get worse, as Kaede cancels a shopping trip tomorrow with Rimu in favor of sitting around the house and losing herself in her own handiwork. Rimu, as usual, looks worried, as she's probably the only one who knows what's going to happen. And yet, she can do so little...


The next day, Rimu and Kaede spend the day at home while Rin, yup, is out with Asa again. He has some more dangerously happy montages, while Kaede continues to crack, mentioning just how happy Rin must be with her. Kaede doesn't want to be in Asa's place on a date with Rin, no, definitely not at all.


She continues, with a breaking voice and no eyes, about how Rin is the happiest he's ever been - with Asa, a.k.a. Not Her.


Rimu, still worrying (if there is any other face), tries to help the conversation along but asks a very, very volatile question in posing the Tomoyo Trap: is Kaede truly happy? Is she happy if Rin is happy, even if that happiness is with another person?

Of course she is, says Kaede.

Of course not, says her face.

The famous shot. Something says Rimu isn't going to be very reaffirmed by this response. And, all of a sudden viewers out there should have premonition of just what's in that pot that Kaede's stirring.

Or, what isn't in the pot. Namely, food. Something says Rimu might have coincidentally lost her appetite. Cracked, Kaede? No, we passed that point a long time ago, Kaede.

The phone rings. It's Rin. For the love of Haruhi God Asa life, save yourself, Rin!! It turns out that he's called to tell Kaede that he doesn't need dinner.

BRILLIANT MOVE!

Also heard in the background are nice, happy sounds of Asa and Ama. (incidentally, there's also a scene of Asa and Rin playing Time Shot, a.k.a. Namco's thrilling Time Crisis series?) Good job, Rin. You're now a dead man.


Kaede, with any hope of redemption lost, finally cries blood again. It doesn't need saying, but, Rimu worries again as always. She goes looking for Kaede in Rin's room.


Oshi~ She finds the vacuum cleaner, mysteriously unattended, in Rin's room. What would break Kaede's attention so abruptly.


OSHI~ Kaede found the pictures of Asa and Rin, happy, at the amusement park. As the screenshot will attest, she's not pleased.

OSHI ANYTHING BUT THAT~ As Rimu begins to add two plus two, the doorbell rings.

It's Asa.
In Kaede's house.
In happy mode.

The perfect storm.

The calm is eerie, as an unusually (to Asa and Rin) serious, emotionless, and faceless Kaede repeatedly asks Asa to leave. Now. Asa attempts to defuse the situation, but cuts the wrong wire in trying to act happy, instead of serious.

Snap.

The line, take two.






Rin, 25 minutes late, springs into action, confronting Kaede and trying to knock her into sense.


Meanwhile, things get better, as Asa has a very conveniently timed attack. Rin and Kaede ignore her for a moment, as Rin almost solemnly tries to interrogate Kaede, who is beginning to realize she's lost her mind, while Rimu clings to a wall in fear (doesn't she have any power?), until...


There is a thump from the direction of the door, interrupting the heated emotional battle of Kaede and Rin for a moment. They realize that...


This could be a bit of a problem. Asa passes out completely, and at the end of the episode we return to the same oddly unwelcome calm that was here 3 minutes ago.


Rin's shocked, Rimu's scared, Asa's passed out, and Kaede's beyond speech. Now, if you will recall, the order of events goes:
1) Asa is happy.
2) Kaede attacks.
3) Asa is unconscious.

Whose fault does it look like, especially to Kaede, who knows nothing of Asa's previous fainting spells? That's right. Hers. That's not quite the right thing to compound onto her situation, which certainly is not moving in the right direction.

Rin may be going the right way with Asa right now, but now there's a problem too big, and too close to him, for him to ignore. Is it time for his hidden feelings for Kaede to be unlocked? Or is Kaede's insanity merely a roadblock on the way to an Asa ending?

Or, will Itsuki turn Rin to the lolipedofin side with Primula? There's only 5 episodes left, and in the Kaede arc, it is going to be one hell of a ride.

-CCY

comments:

Haha. Crazy!Kaede was actually one of the best things that happened when I watched Shuffle!... Esspecially when she dropped that knife on Rin. o.O I'm so evil. lol