Hitohira

May 3, 2008

Even though Hitohira isn’t considered a mainstream anime when it was released last year in Japan, I made it a point to watch it after I read the sypnosis of the series. In a way, I could say that the main protagonist’s character is somewhat similar to mine. Yeah, I thought it would be a good reflection for me and a way to improve myself.
 
See, the main character, Mugi Asai, is a shy and very soft spoken girl. Coupled in with her low self-esteem and "Impossible, I can’t do it" attitude, it would be quite interesting to see how she pulls through. Another thing about Mugi is that whenever she becomes nervous, she loses her voice! Yeah, she gets her tongue tied. Otherwise, her voice is a really amazing and unique one. So how does this all seem similar to me? I have to admit that I have stage fright and fear of public speaking. Can’t seem to get the right words out. Enough said.
 
In this comedy-cum-drama, the 12 episode anime is adapted from the manga of the same name. Though the anime has already ended, the manga hasn’t yet and has been serialized in a Japanese seinen manga magazine, Comic High! There are quite a number of drama moments here and so for those who can’t stand drama plays like Shakespeare (not to say there is one here), then you may find this series somewhat boring. Plus, I think it’s quite fitting to have some drama parts since the series revolves around the drama club.
 
As seen in episode 1, Mugi and her best friend, Kayo Touyama (a photographer wannabe. Always seen holding her camera), has successfully gained admittance to their preferred high school. Because of that, Mugi lets out a loud burst of exuberant cheer. Yatta!!! I guess her voice was loud enough to attract the attention of 3rd year students, Nono Ichinose, Risaki Nishida and Takashi Katsuragi, whom are watching from above the school rooftop. These trio are members of the Drama Research Club. One thing I need to mention about Nono is her cool personality. On the outside, she may look calm and stoic, but at times she can be real scary when intimidated. So you don’t want to mess with this girl. I also want to mention that the school is located somewhere near a wide river and there’s that picturesque view of a large bridge which kinda reminds me of the one in San Fransisco.
 
Mugi’s first day at school doesn’t seem to go smoothly either. Upon introducing herself, she accidentally bumps her head on her other classmate, Kai Nishida, who is Risaki’s little brother. Yeah, because of that embarrassing nerve wrecking moment, she losses her voice again. All this seems all too familiar. Mugi is indecisive of which club to join and in a way bumps into Nono and her pals on the stairways. I guess that saves them from finding her. It may look like Nono’s trying to brainwash Mugi with her suave words to join her club. But because Mugi’s mind is confused and all, she just left.
 
At the same time, another 1st year student, Chitose Kanna, decides to go watch a play by the Drama Club. She gets emotionally convinced, touched, moved by the Drama Club president, Mirei Sakaki’s performance. Before you know it, Chitose passionately decides to join this club. Also, Risaki is ‘persuading’ her little brother to join Nono’s club. Erm… I don’t think that’s persuasive. More like forcing. Kai of course don’t want to be part of her crazy sister’s schemes and tries to escape. Do you think he’s successful? Not. Why is Risaki doing so? You see, the school has a rule that requires a minimum of 5 members for a club to be formed or else it will be disbanded. So if they’ve got 4 already, guess who’ll be the 5th one?
 
Eventually, Nono comes to Mugi’s class and some might say Nono did put on a little pressure on Mugi’s confused mind. But I find that Nono is rather a smooth and calm talker. Yeah, to cut things short, because of that, Mugi accidentally (I’m not sure if she’s totally aware of what she’s doing at that time) signs up for the Drama Research Club. Oh dear. What has she done. She must be thinking the troubles that she has gotten herself into. Though Mugi is unsure where this will lead her, but Nono did mention that she will turn Mugi into a different person. After all, when actors and actresses go on stage, they become somebody else, right? But isn’t ironic, to have a drama or play member who can’t speak properly on stage, what more in front of hundreds of audiences.
 
In episode 2, the 5 member Drama Research Club has their first meeting together. Well, the room is a bit small but I guess it’s better than nothing. To Mugi’s horror, their club is organizing a play soon and Mugi is their lead actress. Can she handle the pressure? Also, Mugi meets Chitose and you could say the duo form a friendship when Mugi’s clothes got whet and Chitose borrowed her P.E. clothes to her. I’m not sure but I think it’s here that Chitose nicknames Mugi, Mugi-choco and Kayo nicknames Chitose, Orinal. Uh huh. The clothes Mugi was wearing has Chitose’s name and Kayo thinks she’s somebody else for that day. Since Mugi is too shy to speak up, probably that’s where the misunderstanding and nickname arised.
 
If you notice that this school has actually 2 drama clubs. The original Drama Club led by Sakaki while the newly formed Drama Research Club by Nono. Noticed the different names? But I’m still wondering why the word ‘research’ is used. I don’t see them doing any research at all. Anyway, there seems to be some sort of past feud between those 2 iron ladies and in a way led to Nono to this club’s formation. All this will be explained as the series progresses. But another development in this episode is that Chitose falling for Katsuragi. Hehehehe. She just go gaga over him. Not to say Katsuragi is oblivious, more like he’s got himself under control. I wonder why Chitose didn’t just quit her Drama Club and join Nono’s. Ah, something in the previous episode about devoting her life and such to Sakaki’s club. Something like that. Can’t go back on her words now. By the way, besides Sakaki, I find that the other Drama Club members don’t feature too prominently.
 
Because of Chitose’s infatuation with Katsuragi, you can always see her hanging around the Drama Research Club. I guess Nono just ignores her and let her be. Better not let Sakaki find out. Oops, too late. Also, the Drama Research Club are doing some exercise on the rooftop. I still find it funny that the sentence they use as some warming up exercise. I’m sure there’s something to it but since I’ve never done it before, it sounds kinda weird. A-E-I-O-U… Joining the quartet on the roof is Kayo and Chitose (who else). Mugi is once again tongue tied while rehearsing her lines. Because of that, Chitose decides to ‘help’ Mugi. She tells Kai to restrain Mugi while she herself tickles her abdomens. Soon Mugi can’t stand it and lets out a loud powerful burst "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!". Everybody hears first hand Mugi’s great voice. Something about how Mugi uses her abdominal breathing to project her superb voice. Chitose smiles and walks away, saying that Mugi is now her greatest destined rival and that she too can’t lose. I guess Nono’s pretty happy with the progress too.
 
The Drama Research Club does their first play in episode 3. Mugi is scared stiff so much so she looks herself in the toilet cubicle. Even Kayo’s persuasion doesn’t seem to help. Not until Nono comes by and tell some toilet ghost story which makes Mugi rushing out in fear. Haha. That girl really has a way with words. In order to get people to watch their play, the gang are distributing flyers. Okay, so they need to put on some side show too like Kai’s acrobatic skills and Katsuragi’s tongue twisting talents. Of course, Sakaki’s there and though you won’t see any cat fight, but I guess those fire auras are enough to tell you that they don’t like each other and bring-it-on attitude. If you’re wondering why Katsuragi suddenly felt a needle pain in his heart, it’s because Chitose has complete sewing a chibi doll version of him. That girl…
 
In this episode, Mugi also finds out that Nono is suffering from a vocal cord paralysis. I’m not really sure but if Nono over exerts using her voice, she’ll definitely lose it. That’s dangerous. Especially for one who is aspiring to be an actress. A voice is surely an important asset. No wonder Nono sounds like that. And I thought it was her character. Well, partly so. Nono even confirmed this herself when Mugi went to ask her. Though Mugi’s appearance and lines aren’t that much and are only at the end, Nono’s reassuring words gave Mugi the self confidence she needed to pull it off. And Mugi does it splendidly, surprising everyone including Sakaki, whereas Chitose and Kayo are darn happy. Hey, I kinda noticed something. Though the theatre isn’t filled to the brim (more like just a handful of attendees), those who attended the play are sleeping! Makes you wonder why they’re here for in the first place. Bored? After the play, the gang did some celebration to celebrate their play’s success and I think Mugi’s progress. While everybody’s supportive words boosts Mugi’s morale even further, Mugi acidentally spilled her cup on her skirt, ruining her dress. Because of that, she’s back to her ol’ self again. Lost for words. Chitose then did something cheeky by trying to poke Mugi’s abdomens with a stick. Yeah, Risaki wants in too. But I’m glad Mugi’s here to stay.
 
Though Mugi and Kai failed their exams in episode 4, Nono has her club members undergo some more tough training. I guess the training’s too tough and Mugi decides to escape when she gets her first chance. Not on Nono’s watch. Of course Mugi has that idea and wonders if she’ll turn into a delinquent if she skip club activities. I think with that personality of hers, it’s very unlikely. Later Nono and Sakaki has another confrontation, in which Nono made a bet with her entire club funds that each of her members will get a top 50 placing in the coming exams. Uh oh. Not only they have to go through tough play practices but this as well?
 
Due to this, the gang forms a study group and heads over to Risaki and Kai’s home to do so. This is the funny part. Katsuragi did mention how Nono’s words are absolute and that they all must follow it. I guess such statement made Nono happy as she tells Katsuragi to sit on air. Haha. Now he has to eat his words. Her words are absolute, right? Because Risaki made some comments too, Nono orders her to sit on air too. Hehe. During this study group, Mugi learns a little about Nono’s past with the Drama Club. Later as Nono, Mugi and Katsuragi walk home, some talk about Nono’s condition and a hint that Katsuragi may have some feelings for Nono.
 
After the exams, it seems Nono has increased the wager to top 30. Then the exam results are out. Risaki fearing the worse that they’ve lost the bet, tears down the result sheet and tells Kai to make a run for it. Now we see Nono’s scary transformation. Her eyes are glowing red like Terminator! And that deadly aura of hers! Better run for your lives you 2. Nono’s unstoppable and on a rampage. While Risaki is hiding underneath a desk, Nono feints her vocal conditions, which causes Risaki to be alarmed. Such tactic to draw out one’s opponent can only be used by such a person. Yup, Risaki’s caught and soon Kai. Katsuragi thinks they’re dead meat and even does some dead prayers for them! Though in the end, we don’t know the placing they got nor what happened to the bet, Nono tells the gang that they’re gonna have more training this summer. But it seems Nono’s condition is worsening as the doctor tells her.
 
Summer is here and the whole Drama Research Club goes off to a summer training camp near the beach in episode 5. Chitose is devastated to learn about this because her beloved Katsuragi will be far away. So this is what she’s trying to do. In her last ditch attempt, Chitose tries to squeeze herself into Mugi’s bag! Desparate case! I think only her head fits though. Too bad, Sakaki spots her and brings that love-stricken girl away. Bye bye. Chitose complains that her Drama Club training is boring because they don’t get to go to the beach like Nono’s. What’s that again Chitose? Oh, nothing. Hehe.
 
But it isn’t all fun at the camp as Nono enforces some harsh training on them. Since time is scarce, training starts upon their arrival. But I think the rest wants to have some fun first and maybe Nono gives in a little. Funny thing to see when the gang except Nono is going to play in the water, Risaki quips that Nono may be afraid of the water. Though Nono doesn’t show it, but I think she’s mad and starts swimming out to who knows where. People, please don’t piss others off like that even if it’s a joke. Later back in the hut, Mugi finds out that Nono has written a play called Hitohira when she handed everyone their scripts and that Mugi is the lead actress. This play for the upcoming school cultural festival is essential because both the drama clubs have made a bet that the loser club will be disbanded. Gasp! It’s like David taking on Goliath. Can the 5 piece band do it? Anyway, the play is about a pessimistic girl (Mugi) who has lost her love (Kai) and is on the verge of commiting suicide. But then 3 fairies appear before her (Nono, Risaki and Katsuragi) to give her some advice and regain her confidence back again. Mugi is once again devastated to play the lead role and pleads that she doesn’t want to play this tough role. Well, like it or not, Mugi has no choice (Nono’s words are absolute, remember?) as they start practising. Katsuragi then wants to have a word with Nono outside. I wouldn’t have guessed that that guy asks Nono out on a date (even if it was a joke), in which she instantly rejects. He tells Nono to try not to pressure Mugi too much. They then resume their practice but Mugi once again says how she can’t do this.
 
This causes Nono to tell Mugi off and go back to being a useless person. An emotional Mugi agrees and runs away in tears. Risaki tells Kai to go after her. Risaki is upset with Nono’s harshness (b*tchiness) on Mugi and before you know it, the 2 girls starts trading fists. Not the best of fighting scenes, but Nono seems to play a little dirty as well and has a few tricks up her sleeve even if Risaki has reach advantage. Katsuragi tries to cool them both down but it’s double K.O. as the duo lose due to exhaustion. Yeah, the whole place is in a mess. Meanwhile Mugi is still crying but tripped while running. It’s really disheartening to see her like this. She’s wondering why all of this is happening to her. Kai has caught up to her and after a few talk, Mugi has calmed down as they walk back hand in hand. Though they both don’t realize it, but I think Katsuragi does. Ah, youth… As for Nono and Risaki, let sleeping dogs/cats lie.
 
The summer camp continues in episode 6. Though the tension between Risaki and Nono is still there, but it’s a little better than last night. Mugi is back with the gang though she still hasn’t decide whether to continue with the club or not. Here, we see a little flashback on Nono and Sakaki. Back when the duo were freshemen, it seems like they were close friends and it was Sakaki who recommended her into the world of acting. So what went wrong down the road? Anyway Mugi thinks very hard about it and the times when Nono helped her with her words. Finally Mugi decides to continue with the play which makes everyone glad. So what else is there to do? Continue with the practice lah. We get a little fanservice when the girls take a dip in the hotspring. Mugi scrubbing Nono’s back as an apology? And Risaki just for the fun of it? Oh well, at least the girls are back on good terms. That night, the gang had some fireworks and it seems Nono became ‘drunk’ after drinking a drink that shouldn’t have. Wild and dangerous. Nono’s gonna light the fireworks at Katsuragi and Risaki! Run for your lives! Too late. Nono soon collapses at Mugi’s lap while she and Kai were playing some sparklers. Soon they return from their camp stint and Chitose is pretty much happy to see the gang back. Kayo also notices Mugi to be much more livelier and thinks something may have happened between Mugi and Kai. Of course the duo blushingly denies it all. I’m not sure why, but when Chitose asks Mugi did Katsuragi say anything about her, Mugi told a white lie that Katsuragi said Chitose was cute, sending that girl into ecstasy. Maybe it’s part of the effects of the camp. Has she turned into a better actress or a liar? Just kidding.
 
Because Mugi is improving, Chitose is now determined to do her best and not lose to her in episode 7. Yeah, Chitose’s even begging on the stairways to Sakaki to coach her strictly. Embarrassing or what? Besides, a poster of Mugi as the main actress is already up. But this episode focuses more on the flashback between Nono and Sakaki. It all began when Risaki took a dark curtain from the Drama Club’s storeroom. Her action enrages Nono because she thinks she doesn’t need anything from her nemesis club. Yeah, Nono nearly whacked Risaki with a chair. Before that it was funny to see Katsuragi trying to advice Nono on things. But when Risaki asks why the club captain is chit chatting, Nono replies and does an innocent act that Katsuragi was sexually harrassing her. Haha. So Nono goes to return it back to the storeroom. Since the storeroom is awfully far away from the main area, many students don’t really go there. At the same time, Sakaki heads over to the storeroom and spends several minutes trying to open the door, only to realize that she was an ass because the door was unlocked in the first place. Duh. However, once Sakaki enters the room, she sense something different. And her instincts tell her that it’s Nono’s presence. Damn right she is. She’s hiding there and Sakaki tells her to show herself. After exchanging some catty remarks the duo started some ‘sword’ duel with some kind of paper rod. Coupled in with a string strange coincidences, the duo find themselves locked together in the storeroom. It’s like putting a cat and a dog together. Since this area students rarely passes by, help isn’t gonna arrive any time soon.
 
Nono tries to shout for help but Sakaki is against it since she knows her condition. Then suddenly to Sakaki’s horror, Nono has lost her voice! Thus Nono communicates by writing in her notebook. What better way than to reminisce the good ol’ days. Flashback time. We all know that Sakaki introduced Nono to the acting world. Before that, Nono was quite down and gloomy (not to mention she had long hair) until Sakaki showed her the ‘light’. Since then the 2 became buddies as they share the ups and downs of acting. Soon an important play is coming up and Sakaki gets to know of Nono’s vocal cord paralysis. Sakaki refuses and forbids to let Nono go on stage as the main actress. At least until her condition is cured. But Nono is defiant and still wants to go ahead even when the risk is there. In the end after all that bickering, Nono quits the club. After her close buddies Katsuragi and Risaki found out, they too decide to follow Nono because they believed in her. Maybe that’s where her cold personality came in. Soon after, she forms her own club with the other 2. It’s quite ironic to see Sakaki getting all emotional and crying because she’s blaming herself for Nono’s condition whereas Nono herself is as cool as a cat. In the end, the 2 girls manage to reconcile as they emotionally (more on Sakaki) hug each other when Nono wrote how she still viewed Sakaki as her friend. On the other hand, Mugi who went in search for Nono has been hearing the whole sob story all the while and understands better but her presence is soon spotted. Mugi then rushes off to get help. I’m sure Sakaki still has her pride and shrugs off that touching moment. Let it be a secret between those 2. The next day, it seems Nono has got her voice back after a good night’s rest. Though everyone is relieved, I think that Nono losing her voice back then was just a ploy and faking it, don’t you think?
 
The school cultural festival is here in episode 8. The Drama Research Club members have to do their class festivals first. Like Mugi’s maid cafe. Hmm… She looks kinda cute. While Risaki and Nono’s are in some sort of a weird costume dango for theirs. Risaki as a witch and Nono in a… cat costume? When Katsuragi asks Nono about it, Nono responded with her neko punch. "Neko puuunch!". Haha, so funny. Once done, they get to see the Drama Club in action. With Sakaki and Chitose as the main lead, you could say the play was splendid. Soon it’ll be Nono and co’s turn. Can they do it? Another one of those fiery fire aura when Nono and Sakaki confronted each other. During the play, Mugi is nervous once again and this causes her to fumble her lines. Oh great. At such a crucial time. Just then, the rest notices that Nono may have lose her voice when she didn’t say her lines. Plus, Nono went up to Mugi and gives her a slap! Is that supposed to be a signal? With that, Sakaki once again gets into guilty mode and is getting emotional. To cover up for Nono’s part, the rest backs her up by creating their own lines in order to ensure the play goes on smoothly. Then a series of flashbacks and when Nono finally weakly speaks in a soft voice, Mugi gets inspiration and realized it all. Before the crowd knows it, Mugi gives the audience a surprise of their lifetime. Her booming voice is back. Kayo and Chitose once again are overjoyed. And it isn’t just a short one, but it lasted till the end of the play. Way to go Mugi!
 
The play comes to an end at the start of episode 9. Though there aren’t that many audiences, but it’s better than last time. It’s even better when the crowd gives them a standing ovation. But there was one part during the play which I find it hard to swallow. During the end scenes, when Mugi’s character was reunited with Kai, it’s like Kai just confessed in such a haste and left before Mugi gives her rousing speech. Huh? Outside the theatre, the student council president ‘hosts’ an event to see which of the drama club’s play is better. The audience are given a ball and are to drop into a box of the club which they think performed the best. The votes are in. Everybody starts counting aloud the balls they accumalted. To cut things short, the Drama Research Club… lost. They’ve no more balls left (no pun intended). Victory for the Drama Club which means Nono’s club has to be disbanded.
 
The rest of the episode sees the Drama Research Club members having their last meeting in their cramp club room and reminiscing the times when they first joined. Yeah, more of Nono’s flashbacks. But this time we see how Katsuragi and Risaki cheered her up and gave her the support and idea she needed to form her own club. Probably Katsuragi regretted gaving her that idea. Yeah, he got pulled into it too. As for Mugi and Kai, though the both feel glad that they’ve joined the club, Mugi feels that if she had tried even harder, they probably could’ve won. But Katsuragi tells her that even if they win, they’re gonna disband anyway since they’re graduating this year and it would be unfair to just shove everything for Mugi and Kai. Plus, it would seem cooler if they’ve won and then disband. Yeah, they’ve got all this planned out long ago, but it just didn’t turn out that way in the end. Chitose tries to go to see her beloved Katsuragi but spots the Drama Research Club gang standing outside the room for 1 last time before they take off their club name banner from the room. Must be real heartbreaking. Thus the era of the shortlived club has come to an end.
 
So it’s back to the normal life for the ex-Drama Research Club members in episode 10. No hectic training programmes anymore. Chitose is having trouble confessing to Katsuragi so much so she plans a Christmas party for her Drama Club and ex-Drama Research Club. It was a good thing their last play has no kissing scene especially between Nono and Katsuragi. Haha. I’m imagining that Chitose girl will definitely go for the jugular and make her vocal cord paralysis a permenant thing. So okay, Chitose didn’t manage to confess but I think she’ll postpone it before Katsuragi graduates. But the most shocking thing in this episode is that Kayo announces that she’ll soon go abroad to pursue her studies on photography. This of course caught Mugi by surprise and causes her to be in distraught. See, all this while, Kayo has been a good buddy, a pillar of support for Mugi. She’s always there whenever Mugi is in some sort of trouble (mostly speech wise). And with Kayo going away, how is Mugi gonna face her future. Yeah, she’s too reliant on her. Even during the New Year’s Day prayers at a shrine, deep down in her heart, Mugi still doesn’t want Kayo to leave. Then Nono bumps into Mugi sitting dejectedly on a bench and proceeds to tell her how things change, nothing last forever. Though Nono’s words seem cold (not because of the snowy atmosphere lah), but it’s a way to open up Mugi’s eyes. However, Mugi is still too upset about the sudden turn of events and starts crying because she thinks everybody is going away from her. And she doesn’t want that. Just when Mugi was getting stronger and independent (probably the reason why Kayo decide to leave for her dream), then all this sends her crashing back to square one again. Looks like she has to start picking up the pieces or else she’ll be left behind.
 
I guess that’s what happens if one is too dependent on the other. As expected, Mugi sinks into further depression in episode 11 and blames herself for putting lots of pressure on Kayo and not realizing it. I think Nono did it on purpose by saying "Kai is impotent?" when what Risaki meant was "incompetant" when she along with Katsuragi and Sakaki are relating how Kai told her about Mugi’s depression case. So everyone including Sakaki (except Nono) tries to help Mugi sort out her feelings. I like Sakaki’s advice: "Those leaving can’t even cry. They can only show their backs". I guess it was enough to make crybaby Mugi realized. So another episode filled with drama and flashbacks about the time Mugi and Kayo met 4 years ago and how they became friends. Mugi’s still the same shy lost-for-words person back then. Yeah, even Chitose did mention how Kayo’s got it really tough and has renewed respect for her. Thus Chitose and Kai devises a plan whereby they made Mugi say her final farewell to Kayo on stage. No time to have any stage fright. Besides, there’re no other audiences. It’s just between Mugi and Kayo. Unless you count the fact that Chitose and Kai are watching from the backstage. A lot of heartfelt emotions as we see Mugi finally summoning up her courage to apologize and wish Kayo the best of luck. But I suppose Mugi’s smile is all what Kayo wished for. As the duo hug, Chitose is moved and even cries. Then some words from Kai made Chitose misunderstood that he’s hitting on her but of course she still says her heart is with Katsuragi. After all this is over, Kayo soon leaves overseas assured in her heart that Mugi will be alright. Later Mugi and Sakaki had a little chat whereby Mugi finds out that the dress that Nono was supposed to wear before she resigned from the Drama Club was indeed made with all of Sakaki’s blood, sweat, tears and labour of love. This fact was never known by Nono.
 
All that’s left in the final episode 12 is for Mugi to say something to her senpais (seniors) before they leave. Yup, graduation is near and Mugi still has a hard time to find the right way to thank them for helping her throughout the year. So the Drama Club holds a party and invites the ex-Drama Research Club members as well. Sakaki passes her leadership baton to some minor character club member girl who’s name I can’t remember. Nono apologizes for splitting the club but everybody forgives her. Let bygones be bygones. Anyway, at the party, everyone is there except for Risaki, because she flopped her entrance exams. Well, like it or not, once she finds out about the party she heads straight there. Can’t miss this last chance of a lifetime. Finally, Chitose gets to confess her feelings to Katsuragi. However, Katsuragi has to politely decline her because he mentions that he likes Nono. Hah. Confirmed that guy really has feelings for Nono. But Chitose seems to handle it pretty well and doesn’t go crazy like a rejected love sticken girl. Probably she already knows it before hand and just wants to let him know about her feelings. Poor girl. But at least the air is cleared now. No regrets. As a parting gift, Chitose wants Katsuragi to do his tongue twisting talent, which he obliged. Huh? Funny girl.
 
While Nono and Sakaki have 1 last look at that beautiful dress in the storeroom and have a little touching moment (nothing yuri, please). Nono did admit that she really wanted to be with Sakaki on stage then. Meanwhile Mugi slips a letter (not a love letter lah) in Nono’s shoe locker to meet at the school rooftop. Nono does and Mugi starts telling her how much she has changed during the year and now has a dream and also about that dress. I wonder what that piece of paper Mugi showed Nono was saying. Anyway in short, it’s like an extravagant thank you speech. I didn’t really understand what it meant when Mugi and Nono started dancing and waltzing together on the snow-covered rooftop to a fantasy-like background and the past flashbacks of what they did throughout the series. Maybe it’s just to enhance the dramaticness. Soon it’s the start of the new school term. After the senpais took their graduation scrolls and head out of their school, this time it’s Mugi on the rooftop shouting with her booming voice towards them below, thanking them all for everything. Though they have left, but it’s just physically and will always be in Mugi’s heart. Later Mugi, Chitose and some unknown freshmen guy went to watch the sakura blooming in their schoolyard as Kai watches them from his art room.
 
Overall, I find this whole series to be sweet. While the ending was okay, meaning that there isn’t any tragedy (nobody dies, that is), suspense (like left hanging like as though there’s gonna be a sequel) or a fairytale happy ending (like viewers and me were hoping to see Mugi and Kai as an item in the end, but that didn’t really happen and probably that brief earlier episode was just a spur of the moment). In other words, this series is a simple one though there isn’t anything that special that will classify it as one of anime’s all time classics and greats.
 
The drawing, art and animation seems pretty normal and I somehow the colouring to be a little bland. Probably I’ve seen the characters in their orange and brown school uniform too much. I’m not sure, but sometimes I feel that the drawing uses a light cellshading technique. I could be wrong, but whenever I watch the series, it made me feel that way. Though the background sceneries aren’t much, but some of them are quite beautiful and picturesque like the sakura petals blowing through.
 
The character development in this series is mainly focused on Mugi and throughout the series you can see how she changes from a tongue tied shy girl to a more bolder one. Though there are some improvements to be made, but Mugi did improve quite a lot. Nono is still my favourite character because of her personality. Even if she seems cold on the exterior but eventually deep down she’s still a high school girl. Same thing with Sakaki. She may look like an obnoxious b*tch upfront but she’s just the same like Nono. And look just 1 little quarrel did. Best friends became best enemies but in the end, I’m glad that Nono and Sakaki made up. As for Katsuragi, I felt that his role was more like a ‘babysitter’ or mediator among the gang. I guess he’s character is quite mature as he is concern about his friends.
 
As for the voice acting, I can say it’s nicely done. It’s expected for an anime as a theater as its theme. Orie Kimoto who voices Mugi did an excellent job making her character sound inarticulated, fumbling and mumbling in her speeches. Not to say that her booming voice sounds very very great, but it’s better than mine ;P. And the impact of her voice is definitely there. Since she’s quite a new voice actress, her other anime role which I recognize her is as Shinobu of Nagasarete Airantou. Nono is voiced by multi-talented Ayako Kawasumi and her voice really fits the Nono character. You may recognize this voice under animes she did like Hime of Kaibutsu Oujo. Otherwise, she really sound different in other roles like Nodame of Nodame Cantabile, Yoshida of Shakugan No Shana, Asami of Oku-sama Wa Joshi Kousei, Matsuri of Ichigo Mashimaro and Osaka of Azumanga Daioh. Ken Narita who voices Katsuragi is well known for his role as Sesshoumaru of Inu Yasha. Likewise Kyoko Hikami who does Risaki also did Rabi En Rose in Di Gi Charat. Kai is voiced by Daisuke Kishio who also did voices as Suginami in Da Capo series, Chitose in Happy Lesson series, Samatarou in Kamisama Kazoku and Yagen in Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~. Satsuki Yukino is Sakaki who also did Kagome of Inu Yasha, Chidori of Full Metal Panic and Tina of Ai Yori Aoshi. Another newbie is Emi Yabusaki who voiced Chitose.
 
Though I don’t find any of the background musics memorable, but I kinda notice that most of them sound like those meant for a theater. There’s one background music whereby the piano play is quite fast and helter-skelter which may remind you of those speechless movies (usually hilarious chase scenes) back in the good old days when movies were only moving pictures accompanied by those frenzy piano play in the background. You get the idea. The opening theme Yume, Hitohira by Yuuko Asami sounds lively and catchy and is quite fitting for the series. The ending theme Smile by Mai Mizuhashi is equally lively but I find it less appealing. Each of the episode titles are named as ‘Act’, which is quite fitting and though the episode titles don’t sound spectacular, it’s as though as if they sound like speeches. Maybe it’s the way it’s being worded. Hmm… Episode 5’s title "Uwaaaaan…" sounds weird. The next episode preview is narrated by a stammering Mugi, though it doesn’t feel much of what’s gonna happen in the next episode.
 
Haih… As for me, I’m still having the same problems. Is not joining a drama club during my school days an excuse? Don’t think so. Watching others do and doing it yourself are entirely 2 different things. Maybe I need a person like Nono to come into my life and shake things up. Or maybe it’s better for me to just remain as an anime otaku. Just watching… But just because I don’t talk much doesn’t mean I have nothing to say, right?
 
Hitohira