1/10/2008

But wait, there's more! Tokimeki Memorial 17.5

What is eternity doing tonight? has become Mega Megane Moé. For the latest posts, please change your links accordingly.
That's right! Call now and we'll throw in a bonus episode of Tokimeki Memorial absolutely free! We're talking a full-length, 25-minute, OP-to-ED piece of TokiMemo side character goodness at no extra cost! Click in the next five minutes and we'll even throw in some Mina fanart and a blog post!

Infomercials aside, C1 released a DVD-only episode of TokiMemo recently, and having seen ef through to conclusion, I'm taking a post to do some light episode reviewing so I can take some time to gather my thoughts about such a show like ef, which I can't say yet is 'great' or 'ok', but merely 'important'.

A bit of a tangent, to throw another question out there; which approach do you believe is better to reviewing a show? Would you rather get your thoughts out right when the series is done, so that all the material is hot, fresh, and emotionally charged? Or is a cooler approach, waiting for some time to pass so that the show can be reviewed more objectively, better?

Is it even possible to review a show objectively the first time around? It's tough, considering how I tend to envelop and immerse myself in the show's atmosphere, which lets a lot of minor flaws float right on by. Is it even necessary to review objectively, considering very few of us watch objectively?

All right. That's enough thinking, I think I've cleared you for some Koayu fanservice. But don't be fooled - the 17-and-a-half-th episode of TokiMemo is quite enjoyable still, bringing that typical TokiMemo charm to the table.

(Maybe in the future I'll answer these questions, but until then I ask them with the curiosity of some mix of a philosophy professor and a existentially challenged - to mince words - teenager. Not that I plan to be either.)


This bonus episode, like a few of the episodes in the main series, focuses on a specific side character; this time, it is the swimming captain, Koayu Utsumi. She's the one known throughout the show for being the requisite Body by Jello girl (i.e. fanservice central), putting together a voluptuous figure and a swimsuit for maximum fan-attracting power - although it seems a lot of girls in TokiMemo have their own fans, especially inside the show's canon.

Koayu actually showed up outside of her swimsuit in the anime, something that amusingly - and sadly - I didn't realize until this episode. She's actually the blue-haired girl on the left in the above screenshot; you might recgonize her from the over-enthusiastic fish-catching contest Mina and Tsukasa participated in during the cultural festival. I guess the anime was a bit too realistic by shielding the identities of the swim teams with their swim caps - hair really is one of the easiest way to identify someone in a show like this.


Anyway, this episode revolves a lot about how Perverted Guys Have Left Koayu in Despair, replete with a couple "I'm so embarrassed of my breasts. There's so huge. Here, look, audience at home" moments to kick off the episode.


The story, in a sense, kicks into gear when Koayu accidentally knocks a soccer ball into the pond, infuriating the team members and causing her even more guilt and agony. She attempts to resolve this by transforming into Superman, but unfortunately she only has a swimsuit on under her school outfit.

Incidentally, there was actually a reason behind this, as Koayu states later, "having a swimsuit on at all times makes her look smaller". And quite badass when she throws her outfit open. Nothing like a sensible transformation sequence.


Anyway, Koayu is paralyzed by the drooling fanboys that crawl out of the woodworks to gawk at her slightly-more-curved swimsuit figure - it's silly, kind of like adding horsepower to an SLR McLaren, I must note - but never fear! Shiny Bishonen Guy is here!

Actually, he's the soccer team captain, and he dives into the river in dramatic fashion to retrieve the ball. And I mean dramatic fashion. He puts a lot of effort into retrieving it, which makes me wonder how he is working so hard when he's going with the current.


He gets the ball back and swims to shore, whereupon he shortly dies. Koayu runs to his side, proving that he really is unconscious by the sheer fact that he didn't pop open an eye to steal a glance at her.

Yes, that was funny, and entirely untrue.


Actually, him dying was apparently not too far off the truth, as the hospital scene explains, especially since he can't swim. The two of them talk for a bit and Koayu is promptly smitten with the man's try-your-best attitude ("If I'm not good at something, that doesn't mean I shouldn't try and change that"), a stark contrast to her own.

Not to mention the fact that he doesn't try to sneak a glance at her assets at all, and, y'know, he's shiny. Dang, if life was this easy I'd cover myself in sparklers and just go around staring at people's faces.


We cut to the swimming scene where Koayu is looking incredibly distracted, a mood that she will continue to keep up for most of the episode. It seems that love has affected her in a strange way - instead of going straight to happy squealy hanyaa~n mode, she's more pensive, maybe contemplative. One can only wonder what thoughts are going through their head. It's certainly a different take.


Koayu's spacey looks confused and worry the swim team, primarily Mina, who looks absolutely swoon-inducing with her hair down. I have no shame in saying the episode earns it's Certification of Time Well Spent right here.


Koayu spends a few scenes walking past all the sports officers with a confused look, so that they too may act confused, except at her confusion. It's revealed that the four sports club leaders are actually quite good friends, and already have plans to go to a sports college together and become world dominators in their sports. It's a case of like minds binding together.

See, this is what you call "side characters with story". Even if it's just a little bit of depth, what it brings to their otherwise lighthearted antics is really something.


They call a meeting at the local maid cafe - or at least, a cafe where maids work - and discuss what to do about Koayu, over "exciting glasses of low-fat milk", which they promptly pour entire cans of energy/vitamin supplements into. What we don't see here is the "exciting syringes of clear liquid".

Incidentally, if Koayu would look to her friends, she would find two more likable - or at least amusing - guys who don't care about her size...or at the very least, misinterpret it in their athletics-orientated ways. "Muscle is more important than fat!" I can only imagine the equivalent is a anime fan walking up to someone concerned about small chest size, patting her on the shoulder, and going "it's a status symbol."


Eyecatch, and then it's to the exciting bit of the show where the main characters get some screentime! Tsukasa and Mina, both sports players, are consulting Riku about what to do to cheer up Koayu, when Sayuri walks by. Riku immediately begins making a big deal out of nothing in that typical harem lead fashion, but Sayuri just wishes him 'good luck' and walks off. Such a contrast from the Sayuri that will show up later...

Riku, Tsukasa, and Mina eventually resolve to cook a grand feast for Koayu and co.. After all, the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach, which is great, except for the fact that Koayu's a girl. Still, I've seen proof that both genders are equally partial to food.


If you've been here at Eternity long enough (that probably deserves a pun all its own), you know why I screencapped this.

Anyway, the food for Koayu deal is your typical well-intentioned thing that goes wrong, as the home ec teacher pictured about cooks some fish for the final dish, which sends Koayu, naturally a fish lover as an extent of her swimming fanaticism, into a panic.


The next step is the three sports friends taking Koayu on a trip to visit their dream college, Japan Athletics University. I have no idea if this sort of thing actually exists, but it's certainly an amusing thought for an academics-orientated student like me. I just can't picture it.

Koayu still isn't convinced of much, and continues around in her funk until she stops by the soccer field at the university, where she meets...


Yup, it's him again, and his name is revealed to be Ken Syuto. They share a talk typical of a one-sided crush, where one person does all the blushing and the other person does all the useful talking. Ken talks a lot about his love for soccer, and reinforces his "never-give-up" viewpoint from earlier. Finally, this message seeps down to Koayu, who realizes what a strange reaction she's had to meeting him, and how much she's pushed away what she really loves.


She contemplates on this in a Not Gratuitous At All, No Sir shower scene (here's a hint: not what's pictured above). I can sympathize with the shower being a nice private place to think in comfort, but somehow I'm disappointed with how the episode threw its fanservice balance out of whack. Many male viewers will find a lot to do that involves whacking here, but I stick to my strangely impersonal note that apparently full moon shots are less of a no-no than topless shots, given this scene. The more you know.


Fast-forward to the next day or so, where the three males in this story are relaxing on the hillside talking about the upcoming school trip to Hokkaido, which, uh, actually is upcoming in the next episode or two. I take note of this because lying on a hillside, watching the sunset with no worries seems like endless amounts of carefree fun, something that I would like to enjoy sometime, kind of like riding a gondola on Mars.


Koayu walks by, and Riku notes the fact that she doesn't look much better in terms of mood than before, while completely missing the choice angle that he has. That's why we like you Riku - you're naive. And stupid, but mostly naive. After this episode, I almost want to elect Ken as Riku-for-a-day and see what magic he can work with Mina, Tsukasa, and Sayuri.

As Koayu passes by the soccer place again, the kids are in another uproar, this time over a cat that is floating down the river; to its untold demise, if you listen to them talk.


Koayu, who seems like a natural defender of cute things everywhere, steps up to the proverbial phonebooth for SuperSwimmer transformation part two. The perverts show up again, but with the face and advice of Ken running through her mind, Koayu ignores them all and makes a dramatic rescue of the cat, all while that awesome violin music is playing. It's so awesome that even the perverts can't help but be moved by Koayu's action.

We flash forward to Japan Sports U again, to show that Koayu has become a confident person again, just in time for the swim tests. Roll credits.

Overall, it's probably a pretty cookie-cutter episode as far as character exposition goes. Introducer character, introduce recurring scene, develop character and fix their problem, conclude recurring scene, cut, edit, ship.

It's not something that I dislike, though, because it kind of gives off that warm, slice-of-life feel, which fits nicely in the gap between harder-hitting, more emotional shows. It's simple viewing, and that's fun for me.

Plus, like Nagato fanboys the world around, I'm all over any little piece of development for the things I like, for example this series, and seeing that C1 is going to translate some of the TokiMemo bonuses was a pleasant surprise that I'll continue to look forward too.

The TokiMemo cast continues to expand and be developed into a larger and larger group, and that's something I enjoy.

-CCY

(So many Series Review posts stacking up at the end of the sea-

uh, I mean, Mina is awesome. Shy yet confident, win win win.)

3 comments:

As for reviewing immediately, or with perspective, ideally I'd want to do both. Strike while the iron is hot, then hone the blade at leisure when it's cool.

I'm still worrying whether or not anyone watches 'objectively'.

Best of both worlds, it never fails, plus it gives me another excuse for a post. XD I might experiment, with big shows that I screen for friends, a series review immediately after and one after the rewatch, but the window for that is quickly closing for ef...

(Looking back, I think I did something similar with sola, but the revisited post was pretty short.)

You're a Nagato fanboy too? Yay!