Shuffle! Memories 2 - Yay for Kaede?

What is eternity doing tonight? has become Mega Megane Moé. For the latest posts, please change your links accordingly. Not quite the same ring as Wai for Mai~ , but Kaede's a strong character with a strong story and a strong runner-up for best Shuffle! character. So, catchphrase'd for the token witty title.

And now, time for some time paradoxing.

So, Shuffle! Memories is a recap series, half the length of the original with the story split up into multiple parts. Each main heroine gets 2 episode for a total ten, there's one intro episode (the previous one), and one new episode (finally!) at the end for a total of 12.

However, the dividing up of the story does strange and awkward things to the flow of the plot. Kaede Fuyou, the first girl featured in Shuf!Memo, was one of the last to get a story arc in the original series. So now, instead of starting out with some of the lighthearted stuff and then going into the more serious plots (I think the arcs built off of and eclipsed each other in the original), we're going straight into the deep end.

Each character is split up into two parts, so Kaede's entire story isn't laid out at once, but we get a significant enough chunk of it that I'm forced to issue a spoiler warning for through Shuffle! 21 or so. Somehow, I've managed to overtake my blogging of the entire Shuffle! series with the 2nd episode recap of its...recap series.

Not to mention...a recap of a recap? Strange, isn't it.

On the plus side, since it spoils that far in the series I can talk about all the tangentially related stuff in the series now, without spoiling the poor newbies.

There is some vaguely new scenes in this episode, although a large amount of it is in the OP sequence. There's another good thing about Shuf!Memo - there' s a different opening and a different song for each character. Pretty neat!

Look! It's smiling Kaede!

OK, it's gone now. Kaede really doesn't have a lot of that 'smiling' thing going on in the later parts of Shuffle! and through a lot of this recap episode. Her plot's a lot heavier than all the others, and sometimes I wonder if even her smiles during the lighter parts are true smiles - I bring up this topic a lot to relate it to a Tsukihime character with a similar fate and a fake smile... I wouldn't be surprised if Kaede's like "I have to be very happy and stuff around Rin because I owe him after all those years" and all.

Anyway, the intro features a wide range of Kaede. We have happy Kaede, killer loli Kaede(a.k.a. why do I look like Ayu gone crazy Kaede) ...

...'I'm being ignored in favor of two princesses, an upperclassman, and a loli. A loli, for crying out loud!' Kaede too.

Oddly enough, we also get shown a picture of the wreck, presumably. I'm not sure what retcon'ing they had to do to get Kaede into the shot while it's still burning - not to mention whatever stupid logistical decisions they made to show her the wreck (just about beats Kanon's similar event). And finally...

Kaede ending. Yes, the OP ends with the two kissing in a sort of 'what if' scenario - what if they went down the Kaede path? Spoilers a bit, but if you've done Shuffle! 21, you should know where it's headed. Unfortunately.

We start, oddly enough, with the car accident itself. It's a new record, with the adults lasting
about 5 seconds. I hope you enjoyed your happy Kaede while it lasted, as she's already gone into shock at her mom's death and goes catatonic, pretty much.

Rin makes a move towards a Kaede ending, but wisely moves away from the misleading screenshot and decides to own up for causing the fatal accident. It's odd that Rin is so mature early on in his life, as he puts himself in quite the perilous position just in order to make Kaede feel better, or at least... to have a reason to live.

But as you should know that reason becomes to wreak revenge on Rin, as our first interaction between Rin and Kaede turns out to be Kaede choking Rin. How loving.

Next up is the montage of scenes proving that Kaede, really, really hates Rin. The most important one, as always, is the one where Kaede drops the box cutter on to Rin at an extremely improbably angle - straight down, yet it falls diagonally down the staircase - injuring Rin's eye. No permanent scar is left, even though that would make a great plot device. This scene also shows up in the intro, which should be noted.

The second important scene is the other one, in the rain, which was flashed back to multiple times over the course of the original series, but is shown in full the first time in Shuf!Memo. The scene I am referring to is of course the one with the iconic line "You deserve to die!", with strange-eyes Kaede. Amusingly enough I am reminded of vaguely similar events...

You think that this is a joke? Because I truly want you to die.
(...I don't understand the concept of death for organic life forms...)

Flash forward to the next plot point, middle school, where Kaede finds the important card from her mother, sent the day she died. She learns that everything is, technically, her fault, for being sick and having her mother come home early to take care of her.

Rin tries to stop her from reading the card for some reason - perhaps he doesn't want her to learn the truth, that he would rather have her blame him for it than herself. It seems a stretch at best, but both character are really the type to take the responisbility all the time, even when they shouldn't really. So Kaede takes all of the blame onto herself for everything as always, and runs off to go get pwned by a truck.

Rin stops her with the interests of harem++ in mind, and Kaede finally breaks down (as opposed to just going stoic) for the first time in, I imagine, a while, apologizing at least 10 times.

Back to the present, finally, about a third of the way through the episode. Kaede's back to 'normal', and we get some more of the lighthearted scenes, featuring Kaede's grade-A cooking. There are some important clues left lying around for the plot to pick up later, such as the innocuous sounding "Taking care of Rin is my purpose in life" and the shot of a black cat crossing Rin and Kaede's path as they walk to school.

Some h-game hijinks ensue as Rin talks very nonchalantly about Kaede's fathers approval for Rin to take his daughter and 'plant his seed in her'. Subtle. I wonder at what point was that point though, that Kaede began really falling for Rin (like every girl in the series, for crying out loud) instead of just, uh, pity loving him or something.

Gah. The annoying, ugly, yet amusingly titled fanclubs show up again. Kaede makes a bit of a Freudian slip, saying that she's already given her body to Rin, when she really meant something different. Somehow I wouldn't doubt that they've already gotten to that point in the h-game, if you told me that was true. Sure Kaede, you said your goal is to serve Rin, but in what way exactly now?

Some more scenes are rescreened from episode one, such as the entertainingly dramatic door opening, with a glomp-happy Itsuki on the other side. Clearly this was not one of Itsuki The Harem Master's more shining moments, as his first appearance makes him look more like a common fan club member.

Also, we finally get some non-Rin and non-Kaede characters to show up, with all the usual school suspects like Sia and Nerine. They exist in this episode primarily to undermine Kaede and her Rin-serving interests. We get a lot more of the 'I'm not important anymore' looking Kaede now.

Amusing translation of very true Sia line. Don't worry, your story and your alter-ego still rocks.

Check it out, new eyecatch, with the usual ol' happy eyecatch music! I never understood what was with the cats in the original one. They had some connection to Rimu - one was the cat Lico gave her, and the other might've been from Rin?

Lunch scene comes up after the break, with the return of Nerine's "quantity over quality" omelettes. You know how the gag goes. Nerine has a strange expression on her face here, to be honest, and to say the least about it. It's strange how fragile the girls are in the beginning, both Nerine and Kaede (maybe others), how much offense they take to...uh...not having their omelettes eaten.

Some more scenes that are vaguely important but I didn't find interesting enough to screencap follow, such as Kaede being annoyingly nice and spoiling Rin, Kaede learning to cook with the Shocking Shigure, and Kaede being sad that it rained and she didn't bring an umbrella to walk with Rin (he ended up sharing with Sia if I recall correctly).

The next big scene is the one from circa episode 5 or so when Kaede falls ill. She continues to fighto dayo~ and tries to keep cooking and keep the household running, but of course Rin and the rest of the harem (who of course have nothing better to do than gain points with Rin) know better and try to let her rest. This, funnily enough, is the last thing Kaede wants to do, and we get a lot more sad Kaede in snow bed scenes, listening to the 'happy' conversations outside. The road to Kaede hell is paved with good intentions.

Asa's the only one really who is smart enough to tell Rin to pay attention to Kaede as well, or else there will be severe consequences. Despite her morality, Asa still won't escape these, as will probably be shown in Kaede's second episode.

I still don't understand the random earthquakes that plague some of the early few episodes but it gives Kaede a moment to be clingy to Rin. It's rare for her, despite all the troubles she has, to appear so self-doubting, as she almost always seems to put on a good face when Rin is looking.

Still, it's obvious that she herself is beginning to see her own paradoxes, beginning to question her use. Is she, by pampering Rin, by clinging to Rin, by being there for Rin, perhaps, helping or hurting him?

This is about all the storytelling we get in the first of two presumed Kaede episodes, and although it may not be the groundbreaking spoilers that I claimed it to be - oh no, Kaede's got plenty of aces up her sleeves - a lot of her backstory is revealed early.

The episode ends with some narration by a (temporarily) happier Kaede - which doesn't seem familiar from the original, although perhaps I simply forgot it - who speaks of the typical Tomoyo Theory, that as long as she can always be with Rin, that as long as he is thankful for what she does, that it's OK for her to not have Rin to herself, or at all.

As you likely know by now, that theory won't stand up for very long. Next episode appears to be an Asa episode, and I've got no clue how the ordering is going to work, but given the heavy plot twists and interlinked qualities of the two friends' arcs I'd guess we're not going to get closure on Asa or Kaede until the very end. Until then, it's time for the split-personality characters to shine - Sia/Kikyou, Nerine/Lico + Rimu tag team arcs, go!

(here's a closing screenshot which was going to go somewhere useful but instead is being construed for yuri possibilities)