Sasameki Koto

February 19, 2011

Initially any anime that is bound to be yuri, I would firmly stay away. So it was the case of Sasameki Koto (Whispered Words) but after reading a few ‘neutral’ reviews about the show that yuri lovers and non-yuri people alike would enjoy the show, I was a little hesitant at first but decided to take up that advice and have a little go. After all, it won’t really change me into a yuri fan, won’t it? And surprisingly, this series isn’t as bad as I thought and though yuri is a main theme, I would consider it mild and nothing that provoking. In fact, it is quite enjoyable because it has many funny and comical moments that made me laugh out loud. So yeah, it was a good thing I got to catch this show.

Sumika “Sumi” Murasame as the main female protagonist is not only best friends with her classmate Ushio Kazama. She’s also secretly has a crush on her. But Kazama too likes girls so why doesn’t she return the favour? You see, Kazama likes only cute girls. How do you define cute? Well, we know Sumi won’t ever fit that description because she’s taller than your average girl and a bit crude due to her karate dojo background at home. And so, this one sided love has been going around for as long as they know each other. Love works in mysterious ways. Love itself is weird sometimes.

Episode 1
Kazama reveals to Sumi and their other lunch buddy, Kiyori Torioi, about her new crush. Yeah, it’s a girl alright. A librarian senpai named Chizuka Nishikigi. Did I mention that Kazama also works with her? I can tell where her fascination came from after doing shift duties together after some time. Of course Sumi wants her to give up since it always ended the same. Being naive Kazama getting heartbroken in the end. Sumi has sure seen too many of it. And sure enough one day, that fateful heartbreaking pain rears its ugly head once more. There is always a guy who comes to borrow books. Chizuka likes him but on that day to her horror she finds out that guy only had his eyes on Kazama. So the reason he talked to Chizuka was to find out if Kazama has got a boyfriend. Kazama wanted to apologize but Chizuka was so sad, so angry that you can tell their friendship is over when she gives that “I-hate-you” piercing stare. Kazama too was so hurt, so sad, so tearful and it’s up to best pal Sumi to come to her comfort and rescue, lending her a shoulder to cry on and walking her home. Either way, Sumi too must feel sad because of her own love and her best friend’s. But you can’t be down forever so Kazama goes back to her usual happy self the next day.

Episode 2
Kazama’s new crush seems to be a cute girl, Akemi Yamasaki, modelling in a magazine. Who says she’s given up on cute girls? Once again Sumi laments her uncuteness but surprisingly her classmate and vice class rep, Masaki Akemiya, walks up to her and tells her that he thinks she’s cute! If only Kazama was the one who said that… So one night while accompanying Kazama to a convenience store, the happen to see that model girl coming out. Clumsy Kazama tried to go after her but she tripped. This leaves Kazama to chase Akemi on her behalf. Then her wig fell off! Woah! Hey, doesn’t ‘she’ look like Akemiya? It is him! That shy guy is a cross-dressing freak?! As Sumi and Akemiya talk, they discover that Akemiya do have a crush on Sumi and since he noticed her fetish on girls, he thought he would cross-dress to catch her attention. Then when his little sister found out, she took and sent photos of his cross-dressing to the magazine as a joke. And the rest is history. Though Sumi rejects him, but I’m sure he isn’t going to give up too as she would for Kazama.

Episode 3
Sumi and Kazama came to class and to their surprise, see a pair of girls kissing! Looks like they’re not the only yuri in town but due to the position and sunset angle, they couldn’t recognize who. Because of that, Kazama becomes obsessed about getting her first kiss and would even consider to practice with somebody! Too bad Sumi is out because she’s tall and that would put a damper on her mood. Bummer. Just how obsessed is Kazama about this? She even thinks of practising it with that science anatomy figure! An ugly thing like that will do as long as it is shorter than her?! WTF?! Because of that, Kazama returns to her home dojo and lets some steam loose with some super hot kicks. Even her dad and brother students are surprised of her return seeing that she quit karate some time ago citing reasons of being uncute (you know why and what for lah). One evening, Kazama calls Sumi to meet her and they find themselves in the same situation as the mysterious yuri kissers. The classroom, the sunset, only 2 of them alone. Sumi is freaking happy that her wish may come true when Kazama mentions she was going to allow Sumi to have a practice kiss on her because she thought Sumi has some other person in mind. Bummer… And how do they practice? Kazama wears an Ultraman mask! Oh sh*t! But heck, even if feels indirect, it’s better than nothing. How does it feel, kissing plastic? Unknown to them as they’re making out, the mystery yuri kissers, Tomoe Hachisuka and Miyako Taema are watching them. Role reversal now. Back home, Sumi’s practice kicks have gotten much more furious so much so her family begins to wonder if there’s something wrong with her. Obviously. Kick harder, girl. You’ll need to lose all that accumulated frustration.

Episode 4
A little commotion at the corridor has Sumi discover who the mysterious yuri kissers as because Tomoe whispered in her ear that she saw what she did last evening. Sumi confronts them and it seems their intention is to create an all girls club where yuri girls like them can flourish without prejudice. Of course Sumi isn’t interested till devilish Miyako shows her handphone pic of their kissing tryst. They know of Sumi’s crush. Kazama is interested in joining them till she mentions she won’t join unless Sumi is in. What else to wait for? Jump in lah! However in order to form a club, they need 5 members so they go in search of the elusive 5th girl to make their dreams come true. Kiyori? She told them bluntly she isn’t joining. Sumi comes up with a plan using Akemiya. Unless he wants his cross-dressing antics to be exposed, he had better do what she says. That is, to cross-dress and go up to all the cute girls Kazama thought of as cute and confess to them! Holy sh*t! Just to see their reaction?! Good news is that all of them are straight. Too bad the emotional discomfort Akemiya got for every rejection. Even being labelled as a pervert! Scary. For the poor girls lah. Sumi decides to switch his wig to make him look like Akemi. When Sumi left Akemiya alone, suddenly Kazama chances upon Akemi. It gets worse when Sumi has Akemi join the club and even arrange for ‘her’ transfer! But in the end their plans go up in smoke because the teacher rejects this stupid club. Feeling relieved eh, Akemiya?

Episode 5
Tomoe and Miyako become Sumi’s reluctant study buddies as they visit her house and are being treated nicely to Sumi’s caretaker, Noe Hayasumi. Miyako becomes a mischief herself trying to draw moustache on Sumi’s beloved pic of herself and Kazama while Tomoe hasn’t given up on establishing her dream club. As for Kazama, she’s disheartened about the mysterious disappearance of Akemi! Then the girls head over to Kazama’s apartment to study and find her entire place is strewn with magazines all over! Seems her brother Norio is working as some sort of writer. Kazama prepares to cook dinner for them and her brother and gets dressed in a maid outfit. Moe! Same with Tomoe. Double moe! This has Sumi and Miyako in a heated competition to cook better for their loved ones. The results of the showdown? Disastrous! I don’t know what they put in but the pot actually exploded and stained the books! Yeah, the walls too. Kazama is pretty cool about it but Sumi feels embarrassed and tries to leave. Kazama wouldn’t let her (see her red Terminator eyes?). I guess with a little persuasion from Tomoe, Sumi decides to stay. Unfortunately things didn’t get better because another ‘explosion’ occurred. So when Norio comes back, they had extra takoyakis he bought after taking into account food fanatic Kiyori was with them. Sumi prints out the picture of the girls and puts it on her desk.

Episode 6
Kazama and Chizuka’s relationship are still strained, though Chizuka feels sorry and wants to make up, Kazama still can’t see eye to eye with her. Sumi and the rest probably figure out why Kazama initially likes her. Yup, she’s a dojikko (clumsy girl). Thinking that as an appeal point, Tomoe decides to make Sumi into one and starts her off by slipping on a banana peel as practice! WTF?! Even the crowd is encouraging her to slip! Unfortunately Akemiya was the one who accidentally stepped on it. Sumi tries to be a little dojikko but it didn’t work so she let out her frustrations by defeating a huge dojo challenger. Her brother students are useless, aren’t they? Later Kazama decides to stay at Sumi’s place for the time being, citing her brother won’t be home. However Sumi knows she’s lying. So several close moments that Sumi has always craved to be like bathing and even sleeping together. I guess it’s too much to handle. Yeah, Sumi actually nose bleeds and collapses after being given a chance to wash her back. But the girls get to talk out their problem so much so Kazama got her confidence back and decides to face Chizuka. They make up and are back on good terms. Sumika must be knocking her head and feeling like an idiot. Yeah, her chances of being close to her taking another step back. And poor Akemiya has to bear one of her frustrations because she is like threatening to reveal his other identity to Kazama.

Episode 7
Sometimes little sisters can be quite the devil. That goes for Manaka, Akemiya’s little sis who is quite obsessed in taking photos of that guy cross-dressing. However one day she issues Sumi a challenge letter for dumping her brother. Not that Sumi was bothered to even read it but she’s so bratty that you’ve got no choice but to listen to her. Manaka wants Sumi to date Akemiya and manages to convince her to do so after using crocodile tears and pitiful tactics. Date, yes? But girl? WTF?! I’m sure Sumi didn’t see that coming as Akemiya turns up dressed as a girl! So the duo head to places Manaka planned for them like the cinema, restaurant and clothes outlet. Oh yeah, Manaka’s spying on them. Must be her plan to see some moe action. How can Akemiya be so cool acting like a girl?! He and Sumi were put into the same changing room and when he’s undressing, he was like acting so embarrassed?! I wonder if Sumi had felt goosebumps since the start. She couldn’t take it anymore and runs away. However she bumps into a group of 3 fat otaku camera guys (part of Manaka’s plan). Unfortunately for them, Sumi takes care of them but they love her torture! Akemiya takes this chance to jump in and save her like a manly hero. He femininely lures the sickos away to a dead end and then reveals his true gender. But the fatties don’t believe a ‘girl’ this cute can be a guy! Believe it! They start harassing and chasing him so it’s up to Sumi to save his skin. At the end of the day, Akemiya heads home with Manaka, advising her never to do such things again. And when Sumi turns on her handphone, she is disheartened to see many miscalls from Kazama! Yeah, she turned it off at the cinema and must be regretting the fact she could’ve hear the angelic voice of crush while having to undergo this tormenting date. Seems Kazama herself too is pretty worried that she couldn’t contact Sumi.

Episode 8
When some classmates ask about Tomoe and Miyako’s yuri relationship and the latter duo unafraid of admitting it out loud, this has Azusa Aoi to snap at them for doing such scandalous things. She even chides class rep (Sumi) for not doing anything. Oh, now she’s involved too? To make things worse, Tomoe notices Aoi’s hobby on yuri and kisses her! She becomes embarrassed, slaps her and runs away. Oh, Sumi has to go after her. She’s the class rep, right? She catches up as the duo talk as Aoi believes that girl’s love should be done discreetly. Sumi learns she is a big fan of an author named Orino Masaka. Sumi starts panicking. Why? That author is actually Norio’s pen name! She must never find out! Because of that, she has to play along that she likes all those hardcore yuri stuff so Aoi quickly gets acquainted with her. Then she tripped and this has Sumi fall in an awkward position on top of her. So happen Kazama was looking for them and saw this. Uh oh. Sumi tries to clear the misunderstanding but to her dismay sees tears rolling down Kazama’s cheeks! Sumi starts wondering if Kazama did actually have a crush on her all this while. Sumi didn’t have time to clear it up as she’s being rushed back to class for an emergency. Yeah, a discussion on what name to call Tomoe. WTF?! Here’s another surprise, Tomoe is actually 2 years older than them seeing she took time off school back then. Later as the girls do a study session at Sumi’s place. Sumi and Kazama aren’t talking and the atmosphere awkward so Tomoe purposely splashes water on them so that they could have their time to talk things over. Kazama reveals she probably cried after seeing Sumi charging on Aoi like a violent man. Is that supposed to be a relief? Then Aoi comes by to show her newsletter of Orino fan club. She joins them and Sumi and Kazama are in an awkward position trying to keep Norio’s identity a secret. Tomoe learns of her writing capabilities and wants her to join her all girls club, in which she refuses and leaves. Kazama goes back and gives a copy of Aoi’s work to Norio for him to see. Inadvertently she commented something about his popularity… Need to work harder, bro.

Episode 9
Aoi approaches Sumika to request for her help for her doujin work. It’s pretty funny to see Sumi and Kazama communicating in weird exaggerated hand signals that don’t make sense! Is that what is says for not letting Norio’s identity to leak?! Aoi didn’t notice because she’s too busy fantasizing. At the same time, Tomoe invites the gang to the beach for the summer holidays and you bet Sumi is going to tag along to see Kazama in a swimsuit. Aoi works hard day and night on her manuscript (fantasies of Sumi included) to reach her dream of publishing her works at the largest all girls only doujin convention. So one day after school when Aoi eagerly seeks Sumi’s help, the latter apologizes that she forgot citing studying for exams as an excuse. Heartbroken Aoi goes home and cried so loud that the entire neighbourhood could even hear. Moreover shocking her worried parents downstairs. I guess she spent the whole afternoon crying that she fell asleep. When she wakes up, she is surprised to see Sumi sitting next to her. Earlier Tomoe noticed Aoi’s depression and has Sumi come along to apologize and settle things. Sumi agrees to help her out for the yuri convention but to her dismay the date of the convention is just the next day after the beach trip. Can she be at both places and keep both sides happy? Let’s find out if Sumi is Super Sumika! Haha.

Episode 10
Apparently Sumi decides to stick around to help finish Aoi’s work before rushing to join the rest at the beach (that deluded ‘accidental’ fanservice fantasy must be her motivation to keep going). Tomoe and the rest have arrived at the beach and they’re glad to be alive because the car they drove is a total wreck! Holy sh*t! I don’t want to know where Tomoe got her licence. Tomoe decides to start things off with a blast (cue for the car to just explode) but I guess their trip didn’t materialize so they have to take a train home. Meanwhile Sumi and Aoi fold tons of papers of the latter’s manuscript. The night is still young so I guess Sumi isn’t worried yet. Then as they’re putting it together, Aoi notices a little spelling mistake. Although Aoi is okay with it, Sumi can’t let it slip so she reprints that entire page again! Then their photocopy machine breaks down! All the nearest stores have some sort of trouble with the machine! Finally when they manage to get one and return home, Sumi trips but manages to save herself by landing on the bed. Unfortunately causes the manuscript on Aoi’s bed to scatter. Finally Aoi’s mom comes in to hand them some drinks but she slipped on a paper and spills on them! Aoi becomes distraught, upset and it’s round 2 of crying and heartbreaking frustration. Mommy tries to comfort her but Sumi realizes what needs to be done and puts her feet down. They’re going to complete it and salvage what they have for the convention. On that day, they did a miracle and managed to finish it so much so they fell asleep at their booth. Kazama pays them a visit and Sumi is surprised to see her as she buys a copy of Aoi’s work before leaving. I wonder if that’s the only sales they made.

Episode 11
To make up for the failed beach trip, the gang visits the pool park courtesy from Aoi’s parents. Sumi and Kazama plan to keep Norio’s secret but it seems only Sumi knows Aoi well. Kiyori then split the gang into groups based on their bust size. Which means reluctant Miyako and Aoi has to follow Kiyori. Away from their precious ones. This does Sumi and Kazama a big favour as they manage to spend their precious moments together. After chasing off a bunch of loser guys from hitting on Kazama, Sumi becomes so happy of spending time with Kazama (note the vast different treatment Sumi gives for Kazama and Tomoe) that she challenges Tomoe to diving and swimming races but flops in them all, either embarrassing herself pathetically or completely lose out. Sumi then teaches Kazama how to swim. When Aoi sees how Sumi is having a nice time with Kazama, she becomes dismayed. But all isn’t lost as when the girls regroup for lunch, Sumi promises to teach Aoi how to swim. On the train ride home, Tomoe advises Aoi poetically about the love relationship. Aoi realized that Sumi and Kazama liked each other but neither knew of each other’s love. Back home, Aoi gets inspiration to write a new yuri novel based on the duo.

Episode 12
It suddenly rains on a hot summer afternoon at school. The girls stumble upon a hidden note in a book at the library and to kill time, they decide to follow its clue to find that mysterious thing. First it takes them to the science lab as they find a key to the boy’s locker room inside the anatomy figure’s liver. Sumi uses Akemiya to open the locker since that guy thinks he’ll be acknowledge as a real man this time. Unfortunately lots of stinky rubbish fell over him when he opens the locker. The next clue has them stumped about a German person. After looking through past students, they realize it may be from the music room because it has portraits of German classical composers. Behind one of the portraits (Bach), it hints the ‘river’ which is the school’s little creek. The girls get into their PE outfits and start searching for the thing in the creek, slipping and getting drenched. Their odd activity attracted lots of onlookers. Finally Sumi finds the thing which turns out to be a message in a bottle. Inside it, a paper that has them to write their names on it for successfully finding the goal. Seems it was a game prepared and left by former students. Even if it is nothing much, they had the fun of their lives and wonder what kind of treasure they should leave for those in the future who are interested.

Sumi follows her family back to her hometown in the remote mountains in episode 13 to visit the graves and the summer festival. Because there is no signal for her handphone, Sumi can’t call Kazama, vice versa. Kazama feels lonely unable to reach Sumi as the bespectacled one spends time with her countryside family. The way one of her little cousin, Sayaka, said things, it indicates that she likes Sumi. I don’t know, that’s what I felt. Not only her, her cheeky young cousin too, Teru. He tries to show off but slipped off the tree branch and into the river. Sumi dives in to save him. But as a result, her handphone got wet and malfunctions. She goes crazy unable being able to call Kazama (who on the other hand is worried that Sumi might get involved in some accident). She uses the good old fixed line telephone from the house to call but Kazama doesn’t pick up due to the unknown number. Sumi tries calling Kazama’s house but couldn’t remember the number because she has always relied on her handphone. Haha! A subtle warning about relying too much on them! Evening comes as Kazama decides to give another try calling Sumi. As Sumi is off to the festival then, Teru who was being punished and grounded, heard Sumi’s handphone rings (it’s suddenly working now?). He rushes off to find Sumi while taking her handphone along. Good thing he’s a fast runner (or perhaps the festival is a stone’s throw away) and that Kazama tried many times. Sumi finally receives her handphone and both sides are relieved to hear each other’s voice. When she returns, both girls study together at Kazama’s place. I think this episode serves to deepen the relationship between Kazama and Sumi because the other characters don’t actually appear. And it’s the last episode!

Pssst… Whisper Words Of Love
Am I supposed to happy at how this series ends? Well, they didn’t confess to each other face to face about their feelings which means I don’t have to be in agony seeing both of them kiss (that Ultraman mask practice doesn’t count) which would ultimately lead to inevitable sex. That would be pretty much the yuri I can’t handle. So yeah, it’s pretty much an okay ending. I guess it is sometimes good to maintain status quo so as not to ruin the wonderful friendship they have now. Whether or not they will be able to take their relationship to new heights and possibly become a dating couple is another matter. I won’t be there to find out. Don’t want to know. But I somehow get to know that there are many types of same gender loves. Those that are bold and unashamed of letting the whole world know, those who prefer to treat it as a private matter, those willing to ‘turn into’ the other gender to be loved and those who don’t realize they have for each other.

Surprisingly this series is quite enjoyable mainly because of the many antics that we see from Sumi. She’s quite an amusing girl. At first she is mainly calm and looking like the intelligent type but gradually we see her comical side and even her yuri desires for Kazama. At one point especially at the pool, she was going gaga and her yuri-ness was going to step over the boundary and hence a shadow reminding me of that totally annoying yuri Kanako of Maria+Holic! It’s funny to see her loud rebukes, panicky mode, silly frustrations, incredulous and unbelievable reactions and crude actions, among the many faces and moods that she displays. She’s got an active mind and thinks too much about those stuff but it seems she can’t keep it silent in her head because her actions would outright display it. It makes me really laugh. There are times when she’s sad and shed tears too and to say that she’s not quite feminine isn’t totally accurate because Sumi herself is a nice person if you look at her other side. Okay, she might be a tomboy at times but she’s always there for Kazama when she needed her most and she won’t leave a friend behind as in Aoi’s case, tries to help her out. The pacing of the episodes don’t feel bored and some are quite heart warming if I should say since they show the slight love tribulations of the girls. Even if the last few episodes threw in a filler and non-related item-searching event or a little tension of separation between the main casts, each of them serves as development between the growing feelings of Sumi and Kazama.

I’m wondering if Kazama is still interested with other cute girls seeing that she and Sumi have gotten close together. Though it is never revealed outright that Kazama may have feelings for Sumi, but there are many instances in the series which points that she does. Like holding her hands or looking worried when Sumi is with someone else. So perhaps her fetish for cute girls serves as a distraction because she thought Sumi isn’t into same sex love? Though Aoi came into the picture quite late and threatened to become a third wheel between Sumi and Kazama, I never felt that Sumi was going to switch and fall for Aoi. There may seem strong tendencies but my guess is that she’s just helping out as a friend maybe because she felt sympathy for Aoi who has no one to share her yuri passion with. Tomoe is the oldest one of the group and the most mature though her only silly antic is to form an all girls group (okay, maybe that car bust up incident too). Tomoe is sharp and knows what is going on her surroundings. She offers advice when needed to. Miyako is annoying brat and total opposite to Miyako. They’re like yin and yang. If not for her funny mischief like giving other people nicknames, she would’ve been an irritating one hiding behind her loli popularity just to make use of the boys. Only Tomoe can ‘control’ her. What can I say about Kiyori? Apart from joining the gang because it looks fun, this honest-to-goodness girl is never seen without some sort of food in hand, especially bread. She’s got a bottomless stomach. And for Akemiya, he still continues to hold his cross-dressing a secret. Sometimes I wonder he should have been born a girl since he has got the cute looks. I guess it’s okay since only Sumi knows about it. Some of the other minor characters are amusing itself like cheeky but bratty Manaka. Could’ve had more screen time on her to see her antics. Then those student brothers of Sumika. Why do I get a feeling that they are rip-offs from Ryu of Street Fighter fame? Why do they look like clones of each other?

The next episode preview is one of my favourite sections because it is also funny and amusing. A mix of animation and yonkoma style, the characters are drawn in chibi form as we see Sumi talking or interacting with the items or people that serves as a hint to appear in the next episode. For instance the skeleton model, the banana peel, the fat otaku trio, the car (it was flying in the preview!) and the confrontation between Beethoven and Bach. Both the opening and songs are sung by Natsumi Kiyoura. The opening theme, Kanashii Hodo Aoku is surprisingly calming and slow so much so it’s those kind of songs you want to make you lie down on the grassy hill slope and close your eyes and feel the wind blowing through. The ending theme, Niji-iro Pocket feels like pop beat but the chorus part felt like she’s singing to that Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So tune. Ayahi Takagaki must be credited for displaying the various voice and moods for Sumi. Normal tone at first, then loud one minute, screaming the next. I wouldn’t have known she was the one who played Noe in True Tears, Hiiragi in Hanamaru Kindergarten, Otome in Da Capo II and Megumi in Special A. Chiwa Saito was surprisingly recognizable when she voiced Miyako because she reminded of Rebecca from Pani Poni Dash when she’s doing her loli squeal. Aside from Emiri Katou as Kiyori (Kagami in Lucky Star), the rest of the other casts don’t seem to have a long list of anime roles to their name (sorry, not meant to belittle). They include Megumi Takamoto as Kazama (Misaki in White Album), Hitomi Harada as Tomoe (Nori in Hidamari Sketch x Hoshimittsu), Mayuki Makiguchi as Aoi (Eriko in Kimi Ni Todoke) and Ayaka Shimizu as Akemiya.

So it goes to show that sometimes you can’t judge a book by its cover. No, I’m not talking about cute looking girls may turn out to be lesbians but rather to myself. Even if the series is labelled yuri, I shouldn’t write it off without giving it a try or at least put some thought into it. And no, I haven’t turn into a yuri fanatic but in the future if there are yuri themes, I won’t be so stereotyped. Mild ones like this with lots of funny moments overshadowing the yuri part is okay while hardcore ones still disgust me definitely and I will want to leave that out. As long as you’re in love, it doesn’t matter who you are in love with you as long as they both truly love each other. So for those who are strictly anti-gay or anti-lesbian, don’t take it to heart. After all, it’s just a little crazy thing called love. Having said that, would loving 2D girls count then?