remember, it's spelt with double U's!

Episode 2 ~ Hourou Musuko

Hey guys and gals! During the last few days, our chefs were sick of winter and decided to have a change of pace by making many different flavors of ice-cream for the summer. However, we made a little too much…and we didn’t want to get sick from eating too much cold ice-cream, so today, Café Daifuuku is here to bring you a once in a lifetime opportunity! That’s right! It’s an Ice-Cream Eating Contest!

 

Its full of freezing coldness! Needless to say, those living in the Southern Hemisphere may find it easier to consume than those living up North...

The challenge?
Consume a life-sized Slice-of-Life bowl of Ice-Cream! This must be done without tears of gratification/love/pain from brain-freeze in your eyes!
The first person to successfully attempt this will receive an AMAZING prize! (mainly, more ice cream)

And in order to help you increase your chances of winning, you will be prepped with the following 2 lessons:

Lesson 1: How to avoid tears
Lesson 2: On tears, emotions, and other factors

Lesson 1 will include a summary of the history of crying, while lesson 2 will cover more about how one’s personal thoughts can affect how someone else thinks. For more tips on how to win, hover your mouse over the images!
Alright! Lets get started!

[space]

Lesson 1: “Cry Baby Cry”

This episode focuses mostly on Saori Chiba, so naturally we start with a interview-style segment with her.
Saori gives us a little bit of information of the past. She tells us that she was the first one to notice that Shuichi was most comfortable wearing girls’ clothing, but before she could blink, Yoshino took her spot beside Shuichi and she started to feel like a 3rd wheel.

Saori hates Yoshino

Jumping to the current events of the plot, Shuichi is about to leave home for school, and is told to bring Maho’s (his sister) lunch to her at school since she had forgotten to take it herself.

When he arrives…well…something weird happens…

It's the Chi! The Tai-Chi! Of course, leave it to Slice-of-Life to show us something completely unexplainable

We also make a remarkable discovery; Chizuru might actually be a rather shy and easily embarrassed person!

[cue opening song]

Class 1-3’s day begins with a seating-plan change. With randomly picked-out numbers from a box, students get assigned to numbered desks in the room. Of course, when I say random, I mean random in the anime sense. In other words, it’s not random at all. Wanna try guessing at who sits with whom?

Front of room

Back of room

 

Woah! WOAH! Stop stop stop. What’s this? Hitting on a teacher in grade 6?

'Not a morning person? I can wake you up, sensei~!'

As everyone’s minds move on to the role of “leader”, Yoshino and Shuichi have somewhat differing viewpoints.

“She looks mature enough, but she’s kind of strange.”  – Yoshino

Of course, leave it to Shuichi to notice Yoshino smiling…
I facepalmed. It’s so cliché, yet it’s really quite realistic at the same time.

She Smiled!

“I think Chi would make a perfect leader. It’s funny how she calls herself Chi though…”  – Shuichi

And of course, only Yoshino can notice this sort of thing…
To be fair, I facepalmed here too…the quality of my glasses afterwards made me rethink my actions.

He Smiled!

Ick, a bit too much romance for one day. How about some drama?
Momoko goes berserk over something Saori has said about Chizuru.

“I just think she’s weird”

At least now we know what purpose Momoko was designed for in this story…

Poor Sasa. She should give up trying to avoid fights

Thank goodness Chizuru can control Momo…

This has got to be the best breathing ever recorded on anime

Fast forward to gym class. All the boys are changing into gym uniforms. Shuichi and Makoto are changing (not really) in a corner of the room, away from the others. Of course, Shuichi cannot help but realize something:

This is about as hot as Musuko will ever get. Feast your eyes, girls.

At lunch, Shuichi visits the Junior’s classes to deliver Maho’s bento. Everyone who meets him comments on his cuteness and how he looks feminine.

Who's cuter? Maho or Shu?

Rest in Peace, Bento...

We also learn here that Shuichi enjoys being called a girl. He has a completely logical reason for it too:

 

'That's why I don't stink!'

On the way back to his class, he meets a few senpais who ask about Saori.

The 2 senpais who are bound to come back later

Back in the classroom, the important matter of extracurricular activities are being considered. Yoshino plans to join the Basketball team along with Chizuru because of her height, while Sasa will be tagging along with Saori at the Volleyball team. Rather trivial information, but any information given in Slice-of-Life is always important.
We also hear from Sasa of her wish that everyone will simply get along again.

The senpais Shuichi met earlier makes a reappearance. They speak to Saori, and the news that she apparently did not “greet them” when walked by them earlier in the morning is spilled. Saori explains that she did indeed say hello to the senpais, but was ignored by them.

Poor Saori, getting accused by such scary-looking senpais

Leave it to Sasa to try to keep the peace…

Sasa, you need a vacation...to somewhere far away...

After school, the girls decide to check out the clubs they were interested in. It just so happens that Basketball and Volleyball teams were practicing in the same court. That meant, as Makoto put it: “poor Sasa-chan”

 

Yes, poor Sasa indeed...

On to this week’s Mini-arcs!

Saori+Sasa+Yoshino Mini-arc

After practice, the 3 are about to leave the school. The atmosphere is more than a little awkward for all of them. Sasa tries to keep Saori and Yoshino together, but this is obviously not a conflict she could resolve.

Once upon a time, there was a poor, lonely girl

Eventually, she couldn’t take it anymore and snapped.

Sasa-power~!

Yoshino asks Saori to stop hating her so much so that Sasa won’t feel bad. Saori rejects that idea. When Yoshino asks Saori why she hates her so much, Saori replies:

'I could ask you the same'

…and leaves Yoshino to her own emotions…

'That B#$%@! URG!'

Maho+Unnamed Boy Mini-arc

Here we get to see more of the boy that we’ve met earlier in Maho’s class.
It seems as if this boy is Maho’s love interest…hmms…

The boy talks about Maho holding a grudge against him for thinking that her brother Shuichi was cute (and was a girl).

Haha, I don't blame him. Shuichi is really cute!

Love the dialogue here. So subtle sounding, yet so to-the-point. This is what real life is about!

D'aww! If anyone tried this on me, I'll fall in love right then and there! (for future reference: I have a cute/girly younger brother too) *nudgewinknudge*

Shuinchi+Makoto Mini-arc

We get teleported to Shuichi’s room, where we see him give Makoto a matching four-leaf-clover pin to thank him for always being a good friend.

Ok, now I really want one of these hairpins

During their conversation, it is dropped that Makoto may be attracted towards guys…

Anyone want an Mako-Chi romance arc?

..which contrasted Shuichi’s gender orientation, as he is confirmed to still like Yoshino.

D'aww...I'm guessing Mako-Chi is a no-go then?

Makoto mentions that Saori may be living a “rough life” as she seems destined to remain a 3rd wheel in the Shuichi-Yoshino relationship.
This gets Shuichi thinking…

Yoshino Mini-arc

Yoshino, having arrived home from the rather recent fallout between her and Sasa (since our heroine never liked Saori in the beginning), is at home thinking about her life, her dinner and her friends.

I thought she was the Riku guy from this angle...

Here we are given a huge chunk of background information:
Nine months ago, in Yoshino’s room, there was a confrontation between our heroine and Saori.
It seems that Saori had confessed her love to Shuichi only to learn that he had just confessed HIS love to Yoshino. Upon knowing this, Saori brings her confused feelings and her increasing hate of Yoshino right to her room. Awkward conversation ensues in 360 degrees:

We've all been through these seemingly calm fights. Its like the sea before a storm

And of course, the pressure buildup causes Yoshino to finally break.

Aww, look at them fight. In an hour or so, both girls will calm down enough to realize it was useless, but their pride would not let them apologize. Don't you love life?

Don’t you wish we’ve already invented the time machine, Yoshi?

*sigh*

[/END Mini-Arcs]

The next day, Yoshino arrives at Sasa’s house before school, only to learn that she had already left by herself.

At school, Yoshino asks Shuichi and Makoto for advice, only to be told (hesitantly) to try to make up with Saori in order to bring Sasa back as a friend.
The 2 boys then go to visit Sasa, who, as it turns out, has decided to hide in the Nurse’s office in order to avoid going to class.

Yet another life-sized Slice-of-Life

Yoshino, who was waiting outside the infirmary, was piecing 2 and 2 together.
Meanwhile, in class, Saori shows signs of sadness at seeing Sasa’s empty desk.

D'aaw. Missing Sasa already?

Skipping to after-school, we witness a rather interesting change of events. Due to the recent fallout with Sasa, both Yoshino and Saori have realized how horrible their fights are. The pride will always be there, but they choose to take the first step in getting their friendship back together, for Sasa’s sake.
Seriously, if the same thing that happened to Sasa happens to you, and your friends actually try this hard to get you back again, consider yourself lucky and go love them to pieces (glue them together again after loving them to pieces!)!

Everyone walks home together for ice-cream!

 

Did anyone else think of AKB48 when they saw the ice-cream containers? Please tell me I'm not the only one...

Of course, we can never stay fluffy and happy for long. After all, this is a Slice-of-Life, and it must stay truthful to real life. Nothing is perfect.
Saori mentions that she didn’t have a right to be having fun with all the others in the group. Her reason?:

'I never said Hello to the Senpais'

*cricket cricket*

While the girls try to stop Chizuru from laughing so she could consume oxygen again, Makoto and Shuichi goes through another one of those deep conversations.

“You’re falling even harder for her, arn’t you?”
“Yeah.”

A perfect ending.

[space]

Lesson 2: Emotions of Tears

I apologize for the lack of screenshots here. These comments refer to everything throughout the episode, and it’ll probably make more sense if I link you to the actual episode than make screenshots every 5 seconds in (and because I’m lazy that way).
It seems that both the interview-style as well as the mini-arcs will continue to be shown in each episode. They’re really helpful since they show how the individual character feels.
I didn’t realize this in the first episode, but I’m really happy that the arcs come together in the end; they can barely be called “individual arcs” because they’re interconnected and link together so well. It’s a really good portrayal of real-life situations as it shows the “grey area” of life and that nothing is individual or separated.

Another thing I’m fond of is the realistic aura of Musuko. My reasons?:
1. There are no pink-haired girls.
2. There are no blue-haired girls.
3. There are no green-haired girls!

I kid. In all seriousness though, I highly respect AIC for attempting to go this far into real life in Musuko. They’re animating like a Man (umms…and a Woman!)! They’ve gone far beyond the normal comfort-zone of normal Slice-of-Life animes. In most other animes of this genre, we usually get a somewhat comical play on the little things that can happen in life. Forgetting where you left your keys, losing motivation for exercise, sleeping in, etc etc. Every once in a while, you may see a weak attempt at a friendship fallout, a misunderstanding, or something similar, but even then, its thickly sugar-coated and ends up feeling fake or add to the audience.
Of course, I don’t expect any animation company to actually make a Slice-of-Life anime without that “happy-go-lucky” band-aid (since animes are created for entertainment purposes), but its nice to see AIC pushing the limits and extending the emotional development more before adding on the sugar for a happy solution. The result is a generally pleasing and emotionally connective anime plot that feels more realistic.

The one problem I may voice for this anime is the fact that the episodes are rather inconsistent in relation to their pacing. If you’ve seen the trailer, you probably will get a sense of their somewhat awkward pacing. Although I find the unpredictability an asset for animes in this genre (since life isn’t consistent anyways – you’re obviously enjoying today more than yesterday because you’re reading this post :D), I have to be honest and say that seeing such irregular pacing on animes is somewhat unusual and may make some audience members uncomfortable.

I’m looking forward to next episode. Hopefully we’ll hear some more explaining about why Chizuru acted so weird in the beginning. Also, I’m betting my Oxygen Jar that either Sasa or Maho will take part in the opening interview. I’ve never been right before about animes, so lets see how this goes, shall we?

However, I digress.
Thus, I’ll leave you off here.

Yoroshiku-bye-bye~

PS: does anyone else notice the inconsistent amount and use of white fuzzy frames on Musuko? I originally thought they were for flashbacks, but it seems that the effect might not hold any significance at all in relation to the plot…

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