Tokimeki Memorial 17 - Now With Sense Made

What is eternity doing tonight? has become Mega Megane Moé. For the latest posts, please change your links accordingly. The pace has picked up for Tokimeki Memorial, as the subs are released more frequently (props to...whoever, for staying with the project) and it seems the tension is beginning to build up again.

(Yes, we know that's a real plant)
The long-awaited culture festival has finally come (and by the end of the episode, it will have gone as well), and it's crunch time for both Sayuri, who is the star in the Drama Club's play, and for Riku, who is in just about everything.

Meanwhile, will the two have any time for each other? Or, will this be the time for the "side characters," energetic girl Tsukasa, and shy (yet determined) girl Mina, to shine?

Perhaps it's a bit of spoilers to be talking like Sayuri and Riku are meant for each other, but really, the anime is making it so blatantly obvious that it will take a miracle to get anyone else to be The True Ending. Tokimeki Memorial is making itself out to be the answer to the question I posed yesterday, in asking "can anime still be good when you know what's going to happen?"

And the answer, for now, seems to be yes - although that might be just that faint glimmer of hope in praying for a Mina ending speaking. We'll see.

Anyway, full non-spoilery (since I, uh, technically spoilered everything) recap ahead, after the jump.

Of course, as it always seems to be before a public event, everyone is nervous at this being The Big Time - although maybe this mood is a bit out of character for Sayuri, the popular idol-type who's good with people. Or at least she used to be, until she met Riku, and fell for him, and all that junk. Now she's worried.

Still, somehow, I wouldn't doubt that she's about to put on a brilliant performance - the only question is, will Riku be there to see it? If not, the inner conflict of idol Sayuri just might keep growing...

Ah, what the hell. I'm speaking in present tense like I haven't seen the episode. You have. You know he doesn't show up, like the great harem guy he is. But more on that later.

A bit more lighthearted as we get an out-of-context meganekko (with the large glasses, increasingly rare these days), followed by another great science teacher scene:

It seems Riku's class isn't the only one that came up with a "meido cafe" idea. Although I think the guys may be a bit dissapointed:

"Meido" apparently means more than just 'maid' in Japanese, and so the dramatic-music science teacher picked the less-common meaning of it, for maximum hilarity.

His scenes never fail to amuse in recent episodes, it seems. Bonus points for his deadpanning of the famous imouto line in the above screenshot.

Meanwhile, we continue switching around the huge culture festival at school, and now we get to the abandoned outskirts, home to the sports clubs and their events...but certainly not a lot of people.

For the big attraction of the day is the hugantulous real haunted house (plus maids) that Riku's class set up!

They're raking in the money (and we're raking in the meganekko. yay!)...

As is the Happily Evil Bread Lady, who is selling undoubtedly counterfeit "Magic Shortbread". It's strange, that a lot of side characters in TokiMemo are more awesome than they should be for people who only make a 5-second appearance in each episode. Her, the science teacher, the delinquent guy...

Riku's being subtle about Sayuri as always (they're not on first name terms yet? how sad), and yet still everyone blocks his way, as he, as part of the culture committee, is forced to do everything and a half, whether it be managing the haunted house, giving directions, finding lost kid's parents, so on, so forth...

Meanwhile, Sayuri makes Haruhi references (I guess high school is 3 years, so it's a common number after all. But still...) which makes the crowd cry. I still find the 'real life in anime' quotes funny as always. Yes, the rest of the guys side characters are there. Probably the whole school is there (sans Riku), considering Sayuri's popularity.

Although of course the one person that is missing disturbs Sayuri the most. It's horribly, horribly melodramatic and annoyingly typical (almost like a real high school relationship, it could be said), but there are better arcs to come. Hopefully.

Meanwhile Riku continues to get gangraped tortured to death by curious students who exist only to distract him from getting to Sayuri. Well, probably not, but you never know given the ferocity of students at this school (at least in the early episodes).

Sayuri's play - which is probably, as always with school plays, thinly disguised character exposition (for example, the theme of the Tokimeki Tree is present in the play as well). As pictuerd in the second shot, there's plenty of still shots, and panning back and forth between Sayuri on stage, and Riku...everywhere. Sayuri doesn't have a lot of time to look worried about the lack of Riku, although Riku does seem to have his mind of Sayuri a lot.

As Sayuri's play wraps up, Riku finally frees up, and makes a mad dash to the theater to catch the end of the show, just in time...

...to be too late. Can you feel the drama? Instead of the play, the next act is on stage, including a trappish guitarist and some pop idol person - who I thought for a second could be the girl for 14. That would have been a nice development!

Riku as expected is dejected beyond belief, and goes off to mope while the rest of the crowd, y'know, enjoys the show.

He heads to the Piyoko area for consolation from everyone's favorite cute-speak (i.e. not Japanese) chick. Unfortunately, Piyoko's a bit distracted at the moment, to say the lease.

And so, energetic girl Tsukasa to the energetic rescue! She asks Riku what's wrong and he responds in a disturbingly candid manner. Now, Riku, I know you have eyes for Sayuri, but the least you could do is be courteous to your current 'girlfriend'. She's having a good time, at least.

Although she seems to be the next in line for a nervous breakdown, as she is beginning to suspect that maybe Riku's not the faithful lover she made him out to be. Gee, I wonder why.

Suddenly I'm reminded of the conflicts of Kaede and Sia as Tsukasa fights herself to keep putting on that happy face and keep fighting for Riku. The two end off going on a date-ish thing around the culture festival, which I'm sure had good intentions, but really just makes Riku more miserable. Leave the emo guy alone, peoples.

Meanwhile, Sayuri looks just about the same at the drama club celebration (with really creative subtitles, I must say), as everybody's happy about a job well done. Except for her, of course, since nobody (and by nobody, we mean Riku) saw her well done job. She runs off rather quickly, not even stopping to apologize. Certainly she's in a bit of a depression today.

She runs by the haunted house, asking for Riku - just like Riku asked for her, in a horribly subtle manner - and the girls tell her that they don't know what he's up to either. She runs off, again, and they all make comments about how Sayuri's changed. Surely they should be able to draw the lines by now...?

Spot the difference in this picture. Yup, it's drama at it's finest - one scene, two groups, missed by an inch. How sad. In "obscure reference" time, this reminds me of a Chinese romance movie called Turn Left Turn Right, where two lovers missed each other every day, because, even though they're neighbors, yup, one turned left every morning, and one turned right. Well done, guys.

You can't see it in this picture, but Riku is being more blatantly obvious about "where's Sayuri, tear tear" than usual, having a huge frown, which rubs off on Tsukasa as well - pretty hard to do at any rate. But, she keeps fighting.

Speaking of fighting, we come to the third and final contender for Riku, Mina (wai for...Mina? hmm, that'll need work). She's been sad all along and she hasn't even seen Riku yet; although I suppose that situation is the same for Sayuri.

She tries, like the shy girl she is, to talk herself out of chasing after Riku - which her pink-haired friend (the one obsessed with the cool guy Inukai in previous episodes) encourages her to do strongly.

Ah, Mina, such a dreamer. Only in anime and fiction can you so convienently find your lover in a school of thousands of -

Oh, wait. See, works every time! Problem, however: Riku's with Tsukasa, and they're both playing happy, at least for a bit.

The good thing about TokiMemo is that it does have some interesting characters that act in vaguely realistic ways (if you get past the "everyone's in love with the same person" theory of harem shows), and as such Mina is scared absolutely stiff.

Absolutely stiff.

And as such it's up to energetic helper Pink Hair to charge Mina into battle, a bit too enthusiastically - note how the some of the background characters are staring at them in a strange manner.

Now right about now would be where we expect Mina to chicken out, to deny herself a chance, but as always TokiMemo delights in breaking the stereotypes, as Mina gathers up her resolve in an amusing (and very powerfully-posed) manner, dashing up to Riku and Tsukasa and practically screaming "Can I join you?"

To add to the relative non-sequitur, she also adds "I'm not going to lose!" (to Tsukasa). Well, if Riku's being subtle about Sayuri, then Tsukasa and Mina have be subtle about Riku, as it is.

Hilarous (if not a bit predictable) overenergetic fighting ensues, as Tsukasa and Mina try their hardest to win the competitions (note that the sports booth finally gets some use) and impress Riku, or something. I've begun to take note of blue hair as a cute trait also, in addition to glasses, explaining the picture on the right; it seems that blue hair girls have a good rep with me: Mina, Ciel, Mai, Nayuki, Nerine...

Quite a length of time passes, as Sayuri is found at sunset at the same fish booth (left in the picture) that the three were at earlier. Clearly she still has had no success. I wonder why she seems to be lacking attention nowadays; Sayuri in a cute dress would have drawn giant crowds in any other episode.

But right now it's all about the Sayuri/Riku drama as time is up (shown by the announcing of the end of the festival) for the search. It's strange that she seems so sad that the festival is over, like Riku is going to go home right away. She seeks solace in waiting beneath the tree, just like in the first episode, and just like in the play.

Meanwhile, the three rank-two boys finally show back up at the haunted house after gawking at Sayuri and probably half the festival at the same time and peek up their skirts beg for forgiveness. The girls refuse to forgive them, but, amusingly enough, when Riku shows up and does the same, they forgive him. Subtle, ladies.

Token cool guy Inukai shot, as he burns the haunted house sign in a fit of symbolism, or something. Yay, rended 3D fire! ...I wonder if tsundere can apply to guys as well...

The girls also talk about the rest of the harem, such as Tsukasa and Mina, who brought lots of fish as a gift, and Sayuri, who's been looking for Riku all day. Riku doesn't seem comforted by that news at all, although he should be, given the obvious signs she's falling for him.

Like Sayuri, he's smart enough to turn to the tree - even without seeing the play for reference - and his efforts will finally pay off as the two "lead" characters meet for the first time today.

The two share some fun together, as they apologize simultaneous, which causes them to break out in laughter. It seems after it all, they can still smile. And so the episode ends with Riku asking Sayuri to show him her acting, right now, under the tree. She laughs but appears to consent, as we fade out to a shot of "their special place" (odd that they can find a place so secret) , as they call it.

When did the episode credits change? It's a new sequence, for me at least, as we get different shots of the girls - although, as always, the one worth keeping is the one of Mina.

And this time, the episode preview makes some sense! Usually the voice-over stuff is like that of Lucky Star, where the scenes and the voices make no correlation (case in point: LS9's talk about the 1up trick in SMB). This time, it seems to be Tsukasa talking, as she begins to go on a monologue about how Riku just might not be pining for her, and what she should do about it. Next time: a Tsukasa arc? It might not be so bad after all...