Yokan

February 27, 2009

  Todoke! Tsuyoku setsunaku,
  Kokoro ga sakenderu,
  Mou sukoshi ato sukoshi,
  Kono te wo nobashite
 
I remember vividly when I first tried singing the karaoke version (instrumental version rather) of Yokan. Yeah, you could say I was struggling. Struggling in every way just to get the right tone and pitch. Is it that tough? Yes siree, it is. So if anybody had listened to how I sang this song during those early days, you’ll definitely give me the instant rejection and at the same time earning the most sarcastic, the most derisive and horrible verbal abuse-cum-wrath from American Idol’s master-of-mockery (oops!) Simon Cowell, even if anime songs are probably not his thing.
 
  Zutto kakushiteru,
  Tokubetsu na kanjou,
  Ganbatte osaeteta
 
This is the opening theme song of the anime series Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ and is sung by Yuki Makishima, who also did the vocals of one of the main female characters in the series. I feel that this lively pop piece suits the theme of the series well as it gives viewers and idea of what the series will be like.
 
  Kitto kidzukanai,
  Anata wa itsumo touri,
  Hohoende kotaeteta
 
As mentioned that I did quite horribly during my initial singing sessions mainly because of the difference in tone of the singer’s voice and mine. I’m not saying that she has quite a high pitched voice, but probably this song needs to be sung in a little higher octane, which causes some difficulty for me. And since I like this song, I’m not going to give up just like that. Thankfully in time, I noticed that I did improve a little albeit I won’t sound perfect. At least I could control my voice pitch and not go out of tune, especially the bridge lines just before the chorus and those short high pitched lines during the chorus.
 
  Kaze ni yureru kono ha no you ni,
  Zawa zawa zawa mune ga hajikesoude
 
Even though the verses are manageable, as I continue singing, I kinda noticed that as the song reaches the end, I’m like nearly out of breath and tired. Yeah, I sure do need lots of energy to sing the bridge and chorus. All just to sound close and control my voice. But it’s worth it. Even so of my gradual improvement of this song, sometimes I too noticed that I’m somewhat inconsistent nowadays. Sometimes I’m able to sing it fine and sometimes it’s just like those bad ol’ days.
 
  Todoke! Tsuyoku setsunaku,
  Kokoro no sakenderu,
  Mou sukoshi ato sukoshi,
  Kono te wo nobashite
 
Also as mentioned that this is an instrumental version due to the lack of background vocals. But good thing too that the original song itself lacks it. Initially it sounded like it was just Yuki Makishima herself singing the entire song but upon closer listening, I noticed that there are short background vocals just during the 1st and 3rd lines of the chorus. Yeah, that’s just about it. Not obvious anyway.
 
  Itsuka kitto sunao ni,
  Kotoba ni dekiru hazu,
  Daijoubu doko made mo,
  Tokimeki owaranai
 
Before I end, I just want to note that the way the electrical guitars are played, especially during the solo, is one main reason why I liked the song. Maybe it just sounds ordinary (you know, those semi-shrieky sustaining electric guitar sound) but to me, I just can’t get enough of it. Perhaps it’s the tune. And to think that I initially thought those electric guitars were horns. Sheesh. Well speaking of which, there are some horns to compliment the song as well. And I hope my voice would one day compliment this song…
 
  Tokimeki tomaranai…
 
Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~

The title may sound like a historical tribute to something that has happened in the past. But I assure you it’s nothing of that sort. Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ is another one of those pc dating simulation games which has been adapted into a tv series. Having said that, typically this has to be another one of those school life harem animes (which I dig so much).
 
Since I haven’t played the game before (or any other simulations alike), I’m not really sure how closely the tv series follows the game. Probably there has been some changes here and there to suit it all or maybe it’s 1 of the possible different scenarios and outcomes from the game. But after having watched the series, it’s not like I developed the urge to play the game. Not to say that the series is bad, but I kinda feel that it was made to appeal fans of the game. Or maybe harem anime lovers.
 
So will you see lots of catty catfights or scathing b*tchy disparaging comments? Erm… Well, not really. Sorry for those people who really wish to see some of those ‘action’. And I’m not one of those people, mind you. With 25 episodes, I could say that this romance-comedy-drama genre could also be well-fitted to those who like the said genres, and not just for the sake of the harem.
 
Enough of that harem word already. You won’t find that harem really obvious here. Watch the show and you’ll see what I mean. As usual, we have our male protagonist guy, Riku Aoba, a newly transferred student to Tsumugino Private High School. He’s transfer must be a ‘hot’ thing and is already causing some waves at the start of episode 1. Why, he’s seen running away from a bunch of crazy rampaging students. And if you think everybody here as some weird animal part sticking out from their heads, remember that this isn’t a fantasy genre. I know, viewers will be curious to know why Aoba has a pair of pink cat ears on his head. To cut things short, the president of the student council, Haru Sakurai, tells him to put on those pair of ears when they first met. Sakurai then emails to everybody’s handphone saying that whoever gets hold of Aoba’s cat ears, will be given the email address of the school’s most popular girl, Sayuri Amamiya (sounds like mama mia!). Yeah, she’s like the ‘untouchable’ not because she’s obnoxious or what, it’s because she’s graceful and you’ll feel an air of respect for her. I’m sure every guy in school wouldn’t let this opportunity slip by. However, over the series, I sometimes find Sayuri’s character to be a little odd and ‘cold’. But I shouldn’t jump to conclusions yet. Aoba must be really lucky having dodging, barely escaping from the wrath of those sick crazy losers. So Aoba finally rests under a large tree and guess who got his cat ears? Why, it’s Sayuri herself. She seems to be a gentle, understanding and nice girl as she tells him how he’s got it tough. So you may guess that Aoba is no different than the other guys because he too starts to have feelings for her. Love at first sight? Who wouldn’t after looking at such a pretty girl. Sakurai comes by and announces since that Sayuri is the winner, he wants her to let Aoba know her email address. But Sayuri coolly refuses saying that she didn’t agree with him on anything and leaves. So what was that chase all about? Uh huh. Sakurai says it’s part of their ‘tradition’ way of welcoming Aoba to their school. But Sakurai’s trouble is just starting. That’s because or the disgruntled loser boys thinks he has deceived them and proceeds to teach him a lesson. Ah well, it’s Aoba’s first day and it has turned out to be quite a day, isn’t it?
 
Before I’d go on, I just want to introduce a few characters first. In Aoba’s class, he quickly made friends (actually it’s the other way round) with the bespectacled Yuusuke Kayama and Itta Suzuki AKA Icchi. You’ll find that these 2 are another one of those loser boys. You know, want to be around girls but can’t. But at times (okay maybe not so often), they’ll be there for Aoba when he needs help. Oh wait. I think they usually drag him into whatever weird plans they have, which usually backfires. Plus, Yuusuke is an expert on data collection and has every bit of information on every girl in school. He also has made several slide presentations on Sayuri and dubs it The Legend Of Amamiya. Yeah, it’s just some true but exaggerated story which tells the good side of Sayuri. I thought I was gonna see this slideshow once in each episode but after the first few episodes, it fizzles out and then just a handful more near the series’ end. I don’t think it even reached 10.
 
Then there’s this large muscular delinquent, Kyouhei Doujima who also has a crush on Sayuri. But in the 1st episode, he was gonna bash Aoba to take his cat ears only to be beaten by a little yellow chick called Hiyoko. Ever since then, Doujima admits his defeat and recognizes Aoba as Sayuri’s true protector. Huh? Anyway, Doujima along with Yuusuke and Icchi soon formed somewhat a weird friendship and the trio goes about in their whatever weird plans. Speaking of Hiyoko, this is the most amusing character of all. It’s a little chick who lives in a chicken shed at school (since it’s so small, it can go in and out of the caged shed it likes!) and can only say the lines "Piyo piyo piyo…". Weird part is, everybody understands what it says! No matter how long or short the piyo line is! Woah! It’s so darn hilarious to see Hiyoko going piyo piyo piyo so fast when chowing down the food Aoba gives it. Yeah, you could say Hiyoko likes Aoba because he shares his food and in times of trouble, this little chick really does come to his aid. Aoba sometimes even talk to it and share his problems! This chick must be real good. A good laughter for me, though. But be careful of its super kick. I guess that’s why Doujima fears it so much. I also wonder why Hiyoko has that angry mark on his head.
 
There’s also a guy called Kouya Inukai, who seems to be a loner. He doesn’t care about everything else and thinks all that huff about getting Sayuri’s email in the 1st episode is just plain stupid. I notice he enjoys sleeping and is a good painter. However, don’t be fooled by his cold exterior, that ‘s because he has a kind and warm side. Erm… Maybe he just shows them in a different way. Sayuri’s best friend, Ayame Shiina is part of the volleyball team and is always concern and on the look out for her friend.
 
While Haruka Wakatake is Aoba’s homeroom teacher, there is a busty secretary director lady of the school who always seem to interrupt the old red-nosed headmaster whenever he speaks, especially when he introduces himself. I don’t remember if he ever manages to do so. Other teachers of the school include Yagen (an eccentric science teacher who always wear some surgical mask and is always trying to do some weird inventions or experiments. It’ll be more interesting if it involves Aoba), the sick and always coughing-like-want-to-die literature teacher Kinosaki, home economics teacher Harinui, school’s physician and nurse Hoshino, drama and music teacher Kurotokage (I thought it was a guy dressing like a drag queen., but I later realized, she just looks and sound like that), and gym teacher Akaboshi (who’s been nicknamed by many students as Aka-oni, literally meaning red devil because of his temper, not because he’s a Manchester United football supporter).
 
In most episodes, you’ll see a certain trend in the sense that Sakurai will come up with some crazy scheme to catch Aoba in exchange for something from the student council. Then all those loser boys will get all hyped-up and starts chasing poor Aoba throughout school. Don’t they ever get tired? Do they have any other better things to do? Losers. That word says it all. Probably they get their kicks from out of somebody else’s misery. Yeah, I find a majority of those insignificant normal boys to be losers. The only ‘prominent’ thing I’ve ever notice them do is to go gaga over the girl they admire.
 
Then there’s the Big Four Sportsmen of Tsumugino. I guess big means popular as they have legion of fans. So in episode 2, 3 of them decides to get this ‘famous’ Aoba to join their club. First up is the track and field Ryouichi Kamino. Because this guy is so vain, he ends up losing to Aoba in a race because he got distracted by the ‘correct way to run beautifully’. Then it’s the swimming club’s Kaoyu Utsumi. But before anything could start, Utsumi has been ‘paralyzed’ and goes into some trauma mode. Yeah, Utsumi has this fear when guys keep staring at her large breasts. Kyaa!!! Please don’t stare at me! Okay, nothing to see, move along. Then it’s the passionate, very determined and hyped-up baseball captain Ichirou Ishiuchi. After that short training stint by Hiyoko in the mountains (haha), Aoba ‘wins’ because he threw the ball and it hit Ishiuchi’s face! Since Ishiuchi can’t return the hit, he admits defeat. I see. But by the end of this episode, a girl named Tsukasa Kasuga, bumps into Aoba while rushing to school. Tsukasa apologizes at first but soon falls in love with Aoba. Why, she loudly declares that Aoba’s her destined lover! All those jealous Tsukasa fans must be burning with jealousy. This dreamy sounding girl even asks Aoba for a date! So fast! She’s really bold and has no qualms to hug him and such. I think Aoba decides to be a nice guy and oblige. So is it a start of a harem or love triangle?
 
Really. That date thing starts between Aoba and Tsukasa in episode 3. Though Tsukasa is a good volleyball player, she’s horrible in her cooking! Aoba again doesn’t want to hurt Tsukasa’s hard effort and eats that poison. Remember people, even if somebody’s cooking stinks, give an honest feedback. Soon Tsukasa finds out about it and gets some cooking skills from Harinui. With that, her cooking improves and thank goodness Aoba can have a decent meal. It’s too young for him to die from food poisoning. Another important event here is that Aoba meets another would-be admirer/girlfriend Mina Yayoi while waiting at the bike shed on a rainy day. Well, actually they’ve met in the 1st episode at the library when Aoba’s running and hiding. Since he was so into it, he didn’t noticed he bumped into her. Unlike Tsukasa, swimming club member Mina is totally shy and soft-spoken. Yeah, another girl with a crush on Aoba but can’t get enough courage to confess. Mina gives Aoba her handkerchief when he sneezes but in her nervous haste, she leaves quickly. Aoba is surprised because he doesn’t remember telling his name but yet Mina knows. It’s from that handphone message to catch Aoba back in the 1st episode, remember?
 
So in episode 4, Aoba tries to return the handkerchief to Mina. But of course, more of those bizarre chasing events again. This has somewhat become a daily ritual, doesn’t it? Soon Yuusuke and Icchi thinks Aoba has a crush on a certain someone on the swimming team and interrogates him, in which Aoba denies and says he just want to return Mina’s handkerchief. Then Doujima confronts Aoba and thinks the latter has betrayed Sayuri and is gonna teach him a lesson but Doujima gets 1 himself from Hiyoko. Yup, he lost again. I’m not sure what’s that weird love-thingy between Kamino and Kurotokage. It’s like they’re putting up a play to ‘do it’ openly. Also, there’s a girl (whom we I shall refer to Onee-san) who seems to sell weird items to earn some cash. Always putting up a smile, this is 1 sly scheming sister. She sold to Yuusuke and Icchi some invisible suit so that they could go peak at girls swimming (yeah right. They’ve been conned), but she’s a bloody good convincing saleswoman. Of course it didn’t work and the duo got what they deserved, especially Akaboshi’s wrath. Once the commotion is settled, Aoba finally manages to meet Mina and returns her handkerchief. Mina plucks up her courage and manages to request Aoba to mentally coach her for her upcoming swimming tournament.
 
It’s the school sports festival in episode 5. Because Sayuri is usually busy on some organizing committee, the guys think she won’t be participating, but to their surprise and shock, she does. Aoba’s class is doing horrible in every weird sports you see at such festivals(except for Inukai, who’s somewhere dozing off), and there’s an event whereby Aoba is being paired with Sayuri to find a certain item stated in a piece of paper, which is some silver pendant. Aoba notices Inukai has them and requests for it but he refuses to give it and walks away. During the festival, Sayuri injures her ankle and a series of events led to the duo being trapped and locked all alone in the sports storeroom. If you’re thinking anything steamy is gonna happen, dream on. They just had some chat and got to know each other better. Aoba better not let the other guys know, or else his head is gonna roll from all that jealousy. Plus, Sayuri did mention that this little rendezvous should be their little secret. While everybody is wondering where Aoba and Sayuri are, I don’t know how or why, but in the end Inukai manages to unlock the storeroom door and free them. How does he know where they are? Anyway, Aoba’s class did badly too. Those guys are hopeless.
 
Episode 6 is Inukai’s most prominent episode. There has been rumours about Inukai getting into fights since he was missing from class 1 day. Even when the teachers had a talk with him, he doesn’t speak much. Of course Aoba notices this and wonders why. He also finds out that Inukai seems to like animals besides his drawing hobby. We also see a 1st year student, Momo Aikawa, who’s Mina’s classmate and best pal, having a crush on Inukai. Well, love does work in mysterious ways. I’m not sure how, it seems Momo has bumped into a group of delinquents who wants to get revenge on him. I don’t really remember if Inukai did something bad or not. Together with Aoba, Inukai manages to beat up those thugs (so okay, maybe Aoba was just in the way). Then something about there’s a stray cat living there and Inukai comes to tend it from time to time. Anyway Inukai decides to take it in and you’ll see it with him most of the time soon after. Though everything goes back to normal in the end and Inukai is still the same cold person, at least Aoba understands him a little better. As for Momo, I guess she’ll have to keep trying harder. Uh huh. Inukai doesn’t really bother with her attempts, breaking that poor girl’s heart. But that doesn’t stop her from trying.
 
Aoba is looking forward to his summer vacation in episode 7 but he was somehow coerced into joining the organizing committee for the upcoming cultural festival. Yeah, he finds out that Sayuri is on the committee as well and I think this guy would like to take the chance to get close to her. At the same time, Kurotokage sees some acting potential in Aoba and proceeds to tie up and kidnap him! Poor guy. He’s been through a lot. Kurotokage wants Aoba to act in her drama play for the festival but since Aoba refuses, Kurotokage has no choice but to force him by… tickling him! I think Aoba eventually gives in. Similarly, Tsukasa is really looking forward to her date with Aoba on Sunday. However, it’s the same day as his drama audition! I guess Aoba’s more afraid of the consequences from Kurotokage and decides to postpone the date, which upsets Tsukasa very much. On the day of the audition, it seems Kurotokage has harsh criticisms about the other’s performance. Soon it’s Aoba’s turn and Kurotokage mentions something about trying to visualize by saying "I love you" to a girl he likes. Hesitant at first, Aoba finally manages to do so. Unfortunately, Sayuri was just passing by and decides to take a peek on how Aoba’s doing. In such great timing, it seems Aoba was confessing to Sayuri. And it’s darn convincing. Of course Sayuri is confused and embarrassed and rushes off before Aoba could explain himself. Oh oh. Start of trouble.
 
Because of that, in episode 8, Sayuri seems to be avoiding Aoba, even though that guy tries to reconcile. Don’t hate Sayuri just yet. She’s just probably all confused and in shock. Plus, all those Sayuri admirers are jealous by the fact that Aoba did something that they’ve been dreaming to do even if it’s just an act. Also, Tsukasa’s spacing out and feelings for Aoba is taking a toll on her volleyball skills. I guess it’s natural for her when she sees Aoba with Sayuri and Mina too. Even her captain, Hiroma Otama (1 of the Big Four Sportsmen) notices her drop in performance. Mainly this episode sees how Aoba tries to reconcile with the 3 ladies (namely Sayuri, Tsukasa and Mina) like how he goes to a shrine prayer with Mina and prays for her success in the upcoming swimming tournament, doing some painting job with Sayuri to break the ice, and lastly does a little volleyball practice with Tsukasa which lifts her spirits. I’m thinking is this guy trying real hard to be Mr Nice Guy? Many viewers may think he’s like a pimp. But you know, a girl’s heart is delicate and I guess Aoba’s just trying to be careful.
 
Beach episode in episode 9. I knew this would come sooner or later. To make up for the earlier postponed date, Aoba this time takes Tsukasa to the beach. Do you find Tsukasa moe in her swimsuit? Unfortunately Aoba and Tsukasa are finding it hard to be alone because the whole damn beach is filled with teachers and students of Tsumugino! From Yagen’s passionate experiments of the sea to Ishiuchi’s baseball training (how many thousand laps has he covered?) to Haruka having a drink with her drinking pals Hoshino and Harinui, to Inukai… who’s just sleeping on the rocks. No privacy. This is a funny part. Yuusuke, Icchi and Doujima ‘kidnapped’ Aoba because they’re jealous he’s dating with Tsukasa or ‘betrayed’ Sayuri, so much so they buried him in the sand and build a sand Eiffel Tower as his crotch and some volcanic mountains as his boobs as ‘revenge’! But the trio got what they deserved when Doujima gets another super kick from Hiyoko, sending him flying out into the ocean while Yuusuke and Icchi has been caught and dragged into Ishiuchi’s training when they’re passing by. Just when Aoba and Tsukasa manages to find a secluded spot, Aoba notices that this area is some private area of Sayuri’s family and the building is undergoing some renovation. So while Aoba and Tsukasa played in the ocean, Yuusuke and Icchi appears once again to give the Aoba the shock of his life, which causes him to nearly drown. Though he’s been brought ashore, he’s unconscious and Utsumi (who’s working as a lifeguard along with Mina) has to give him CPR! Gasp! Unfortunately, those guys are staring at her butt, which causes her to go into trauma mode again. Mina has no choice but to continue. She can hear her heart beating so fast. Tsukasa’s worried too. Better hurry. Too late. A stray volleyball suddenly hits Aoba’s stomach, reviving the chap. In the end, Aoba walks back home with Tsukasa and the latter once again feels assured that Aoba’s her destined lover. Hey, Ishiuchi’s team are still doing his laps! How many more thousand laps to go? Dunno. But Aoba got dragged into it.
 
Aoba once again gets dragged into his buddies schemes in episode 10. Yeah, the trio called Aoba to a family restaurant because they’re in trouble… They have no money to pay. Damn bloody guys. This prompts them to get a part time summer job. And guess who introduces them? Why, it’s Onee-san. Yeah, she’s doing it because she gets some commission out from it. But the quartet soon find that even the easiest looking job seems hard. Like being a bouncer at an anime convention. This scene is my favourite one. With Yuusuke and Icchi out of commission, Aoba and Doujima are the only ones left and this part time job has them to separate chicks in a mill by gender. Doujima is having fear of yellow chicks and you know what? As Doujima is slightly trembling in fear, the first chick he picked is… Hiyoko! How in the world does it end up here? Fearful memories come rushing back to Doujima as Hiyoko gives him another whack. Poor guy. Of course that job ended in failure too. Finally Onee-san gives Aoba a job at a local pet shop. Aoba’s having a tough time tending to all the animals. Then Aoba takes a big hairy dog who has trouble socializing with others than its master, for a walk. On his way, he spots Sayuri and soon finds out that this dog belongs to her. As the duo chat, Aoba manages to break the ice as the dog gets friendly with him. Time flies when you’re having fun. By that time it’s nightfall and the duo are to head back. However, Onee-san isn’t too happy because while Aoba’s gone, she has to take the other dogs for a walk, which is supposed to be Aoba’s job. Onee-san decides to get her revenge by unleashing the pack of dogs, chasing Aoba as Sayuri looks on and smiles. I suppose Aoba will still end up getting chased whether or not it’s some ploy of the student council.
 
Because Mina did well in the swimming tournament in episode 11, her popularity has sky-rocketed. Now she has more fans (read: loser guys) than ever. Mina wants to find Aoba to thank him but has trouble doing so since she doesn’t have his handphone number too. Likewise, Aoba is having a tough time getting to Mina to congratulate her. Firstly those rowdy Mina fans stopped him from entering so casually (that’s what they think) into the swimming pool area. Secondly, Aoba has been kidnapped, tied up by Yagen who seems to be on a verge of achieving something grand accomplishment in the history of science. And he wants to do it with Aoba. I don’t know what it was but I think Aoba wants to decline it. As Aoba desparately tries to escape while being tied to a seat, he crashes out through the door and it seems his buddies and Sayuri were looking all over for him. This part I don’t like. They’re upset that Aoba has wondered off without telling them. Even Sayuri, who tells him off that everyone was worried about him bla bla bla. I mean, can’t they see that he’s being bound to a chair? Are they blind? I’m still trying not to hate Sayuri. After they leave, Yagen even quips since it’s like that, he’ll go at it alone. What the? Is this teacher too thinking about himself and not the predicament Aoba’s in? It seems many people just wants to use poor Aoba for their whatever purpose. If not, just wants to get him real good. But things will get a little better for Aoba because that night, he and Mina finally meet at the temple shrine. After a short chat, they finally exchange their numbers, making Mina a little happy.
 
A rumour about a ghost wandering around at Tsumugino’s church in episode 12 makes the students nervous and thus having a hard time to prepare for the cultural festival. So Aoba along with his 3 buddies, Tsukasa and Mina went to check things out. Also, there’s a lady who lives in the school’s incinerator dump, known as Megami (goddess). It seems she has lost her memory and Hoshino took the liberty of taking care of her. Though a klutz, she claims she can cleanse evil spirits and help those in need. It’s revealed that the ghost is actually some black giant sphere with red eyes and those who have been attacked by it are given an afro. Yeah, those 3 guys are fully suit up in some devil body suit and ready for some action but they got defeated, complete with afro. Even that whatever lame Doujima’s special attack move didn’t work. It was just his imagination that he beat the crap out of that sphere. Then Yagen reveals that this sphere is supposed to be 1 of his cleaning inventions, but has gone berserk. Too bad, he too gets an afro. Just when the sphere has got Aoba, Mina and Tsukasa cornered, Megami then kicks into full gear, using her magic to ‘cleanse’ the sphere. It may seem a little far-fetched here but I guess we all won’t get to see how the girls will really look like in an afro. But you get to see Megami in one because during that ‘shocking’ moment with the sphere, Megami also regains her memory but decides to continue living at the garbage grounds.
 
The cultural festival is drawing closer in episode 13 but Aoba’s class still haven’t decide on what to do. Actually the boys and girls are at loggerheads over what to do. You see, Yuusuke, Icchi and Doujima wants to do a maid cafe (which guy wouldn’t want to see Sayuri in a maid outfit), which the girls protests. At the same time, Aoba notices Sayuri is being piled up with lots of work. To make things worse, Aoba is kidnapped again by Kurotokage’s drama class. But this time, they are telling Aoba that they want Sayuri for their play and wants him to go ask her. I’m thinking, why don’t they go ask Sayuri herself. Aoba has to. Or else that tickling punishment… Looks like Aoba’s got his hands full as Tsukasa as usual randomly hugs him in her happiness. Sayuri meanwhile is like a ticking time bomb. We see several of the committee members conveying their problems to her. Similarly, Aoba is there and Kurotokage and her underlings are watching. So he has no choice but to butt in and ask her. Before Aoba could complete his sentence, Sayuri snaps and tells them all to shut up! Wah. Can’t blame her. Sayuri realizes what she has done and runs away. Everyone is in shocked that a seemingly perfect girl has shown her ugly side. Well, that’s what you get for pushing her, right? Aoba tries to find Sayuri but she’s just sitting and spacing out in an empty classroom. It’s evening and Aoba is at the tree where he 1st met Sayuri. Upon seeing some paper plane passing by (thrown by Sayuri out of the window), he knows where she is and rushes there. A little chat as Sayuri apologizes about what happened. Soon, Sayuri tells him that this classroom is her secret hideaway from the hustle and bustle of her daily school work. Nice view. Aoba then tells her about Kurotokage’s play and surprisingly Sayuri says she might try it out in exchange that this place will yet again be another secret between the 2. Well, I guess Sayuri does like to keep herself busy (better than being a busybody like some other people) and thinks it’s a good change in pace for her. I’m not sure, but I think I’m starting to sense that Sayuri will be gradually falling for Aoba.
 
In episode 14, Aoba’s class gets a new transfer student. She is Yukari Higashino, some teen idol. As usual, all the guys are drooling over her. However, Yukari is Aoba’s childhood friend, and he fears the worst! Imagine this guy has got 3 potential girlfriends, and a 4th one shows up. Yeah, she’s just like Tsukasa and probably bolder in the sense she dares hug him in front of everybody. Jealousy meter going up. But Aoba isn’t amused about Yukari. That’s because even though she told those loser guys about her childhood times with Aoba, like how he was a gentleman and due to that she fell for him, Aoba says that it was Yukari who’s twisting the story because in actual fact, she bullied him! I don’t think everyone is gonna believe him that such a sweet girl could do those. Another funny part is that, Doujima is helping Aoba to escape from Yukari and unleashes his imaginary special attack when Yukari spots him. I don’t know how but Doujima didn’t even get to touch her or return the attack and exaggeratedly lost. As for Tsukasa, not wanting to lose, she proposes a challenge and in a way teams up with Mina over Aoba. Ah well, I guess it’s another opportunity for Sakurai to hold another of his weird events. To be fair, Yukari has to pick a partner herself, and she chooses Sayuri. This is gonna be an epic battle. Yeah, the school’s most popular girls are gonna duke it out. After some swimming event (I don’t know why the drama club members use some large mirror to reflect the blinding lights to let Yukari-Sayuri team win. Is that fair?) and volleyball match, Yukari tells Sayuri that she is fighting for Aoba to be Yukari’s girlfriend, which shocks Sayuri. I think that reaction indicates she does have some feelings for Aoba. Soon Kurotokage appears and it’s revealed that all this was just a set up by her. Kurotokage’s plan was to access Sayuri’s acting abilities and for her to see some real acting. Yeah, Yukari was acting all the time. In the end, Yukari leaves and wishes all the best to Sayuri. But she does hint that she’ll make Aoba her boyfriend if she stops modelling. Shucks. And I thought things will get interesting with a foursome. Oh well, looks like it’s back to the usual 3. Also, Sayuri agrees to do the play for the festival.
 
Aoba’s class is still fighting over what to do for the cultural festival in episode 15. But this episode is more on Haruka. You know that question which pops up for a single woman her age, marriage. Yeah, Haruka’s feeling a little down and her mom’s pestering her if she’s found the right guy. Other than that, Haruka notices how perfect Sayuri is. So to lift her gloomy spirits, she decides to play an online game called Tokimeki Memorial Online. I later found out that this is how the actual simulation game looks like. There, she meets an online character named Sumio, tells of her ‘imperfectness’ and other problems. Soon Haruka thinks this Sumio character is Sayuri herself. I mean, Haruka did spot her going online and the initials A.S. seems to indicate so. When she asked if Sumio is Sayuri, Sumio didn’t reply and went offline straight away. Haruka thinks she may have said something wrong and once again feels depressed. But the next day, she’s back to her cheerful self when her class throws her a surprise birthday party. In the end, it is revealed that the Sumio character is actually another teaching staff of Tsumugino, Matsuoka, a computer science teacher. The initials A.S. stands for Adam Smith, a famous economist and philosopher, in which Matsuoka uses as his inspiration.
 
Finally Aoba’s class comes to a compromise to do a haunted house and a maid cafe in episode 16. Aoba has been put in charge of his class’s haunted house project. Though every one in class is busy preparing (even a reluctant Inukai has to chip in) but it’s not enough as Aoba seeks the help of Yagen. Before they know it, the next day, their haunted house is 1 big bloody huge tent. I think this fluke nearly covered the whole school. Because of that some of the other students aren’t happy, especially Ishiuchi, since his baseball event has no space left. If the haunted house is so big, where in the world would they find enough people to play the ghost? Ah well, Megami took care of that part when Aoba asked her help. Yeah, she unleashes several mischievous but otherwise good natured ghosts. Is that okay? Yeah, he got more than he bargained for. Besides that, Sayuri is practising her lines for the play (and in a lovely dress too) and decides to play and decides to see Aoba. This is another minus point for Sayuri. Upon reaching the haunted house, Sayuri is in a state of shock to see Aoba being flanked by her classmate girls, thanking him for his effort. I think Sayuri got a little jealous and starts storming off into the haunted house. What’s this girl’s problem? But they heard a scream for her and soon the other guys kick into action a rescue plan to save Sayuri. Yeah, it’s those devil body suits again. The ghosts must be having a swell time scaring the daylights out of those poor souls. Yeah, a complete wipeout. Soon Aoba heads in. But Sayuri later comes out by herself. It seems the reason why she screamed was because her dress got stuck and was torn. The girls are relieved that nothing has happened to her. Other than that, Sayuri even compliments how realistic the ghosts are. Oh you don’t know… With that Sayuri rushes off happily (is she in 1 of her mood swings?) and poor Aoba is lost inside that dark huge maze.
 
The day of the cultural festival arrives in episode 17 and their haunted house is a real hit. Onee-san is happily making her usual money and Yagen’s doing some Science Club Meido Cafe (looks like a dark vampire lair). I don’t think the patrons would really want to become guinea pigs and drink that awful looking potion (supposedly turn them into their true forms and meet the spirits of the dead. No thanks). By the way, be on the lookout for Death Note anime cameo appearance. Aoba really wants to watch Sayuri’s play even though he’s a little busy with other committee stuffs. However, his hopes are dent when Tsukasa and Mina wants to spend some time with him at the festival. I don’t know why he wants to oblige them and even ‘makes’ time for them. Yeah, this time it’s Tsukasa vs Mina as they 2 duke it out with each other in various events like goldfish catching. In the end, he miss the entire play. But his 3 buddies got to watch it from start till finish so much so the other girls in their class are pissed off that they ditched their work to go see Sayuri’s beautiful play. Yeah, don’t think the play lasts till evening. Plus, it’s such a waste to see all those woodwork and materials go to waste as they just burned the whole props. Finally Aoba meets Sayuri at the tree where they 1st met. He apologizes but says he was busy (yeah, busy babysitting some other girls). Sayuri understands and no hard feelings. I suppose Aoba gets to see a little of Sayuri’s acting when she does it a little just for him.
 
Aoba’s grade heads for a school field trip to Hokkaido in episode 18. And when there’s a trip, there has got to be that mandatory hotspring, right? As expected the other loser guys wanted to take a peek at the girl’s area but unfortunately, all they saw was just Hiyoko floating. What is that chick doing there? Other than the gang having their fill of fun, Aoba notices how Sakurai and Sayuri as so ‘friendly’ with each other and thinks that they must be a couple. At the same time, Tsukasa decides to use this chance to spend some quality time with Aoba and it’s like another date. Yeah, she ditched her own class just to follow Aoba’s. So Aoba’s worried that the girl he likes may like another guy but he himself doesn’t think about his own predicament. Haih… However, during Aoba and Tsukasa’s outing, Tsukasa reveals that she is having fever for 3 days when she suddenly collapsed. Why didn’t she tell anybody or Aoba? Well, she really does want to be with him and doesn’t want this minor problem to get in the way. But the minor problem is no longer minor. In Aoba’s panic, he rushes Tsukasa to the hospital. Since Mina isn’t on this field trip, she tries to get in touch with Aoba through SMS but Aoba is too busy attending to Tsukasa to even on his handphone (or was it out of battery?). Looks like another problem looming with Mina on the verge of breaking down.
 
The field strip continues in episode 19 but this episode focuses more on the drama of Mina. Uh huh. She’s really sad, depressed and breaking down. I guess it’s natural for a girl to do so if she doesn’t get any reply from the guy she loves. She really needs him badly. I’m sure Momo and Utsumi tried their best to cheer up Mina, but ultimately, it’s only Mina herself that can only pull herself out from this depression. I finds it a little awkward when Momo asked Mina why is her eye red, because of her crying. Erm… Isn’t Mina’s eye colour red? Aoba as mentioned is busy by Tsukasa’s side and luckily that girl soon recovers. Since Aoba’s got his worries of Tsukasa allayed, I’m sure he now thinks a little about Mina and thinks of buying a dolphin keychain souvenir for her. I’m not sure why Mina later decides to take a train trip to an aquarium to see some dolphins. But it was really heart wrenching to see her breaking down and shedding emotional tears. Finally Mina picks up her handphone and decides to leave a voice message for Aoba. Meanwhile Aoba’s handphone is finally charged and thinks he has missed a call. To his surprise, he finds 250 SMS messages from Mina! Woah! Extreme! And that Aoba has only been gone for 3 days. Would you want a stalker girlfriend like that? Aoba also receives a voice message from message saying how she wants to see him.
 
The gang are back at Tsugimino in episode 20 but it looks like it’s Aoba’s turn to feel depressed. Yeah, he know realizes Tsukasa and Mina’s feelings for him. Took you long enough pal. Besides, didn’t all those times spent with them indicate so? Unless he’s treating them as friends and nothing more. Bummer. I don’t know why he decides to go to Inukai to seek some advice. Not that he gives him a straight answer but it was enough to cheer him up and made him realize what he should do next. I guess it’s better than going to Yuusuke, Icchi or even Doujima. Hiyoko? Nah. Even if Aoba understands what it says, I’m still at a lost with its "Piyo piyo piyo…" lines. Though Mina finally gets to meet Aoba and the latter gives her the dolphin keychain souvenir he bought, I kinda find his answer for Tsukasa and Mina in the end a little weird. He sends them a message which goes something like this. That he can’t say it right now but 1 day, he will tell them his true feelings for them. That’s it? Great. What a nice compromising reply that was. But that ambiguous typical non-decisive answer was enough to make both girls happy because I think they’ll think Aoba will confess to them in the future. Unless he’s planning on a harem, I don’t think it’s possible or wise. What about Sayuri? He didn’t send the message to her. With that, Aoba is back to his cheerful self again. Something is wrong here…
 
Christmas is just around the corner in episode 21 and Sakurai plans an event to choose the best cosplay couple as well as having to pick random Christmas presents. Ayame knows that Sayuri does have feelings for Aoba but the latter denies it. Probably Ayame decides to make things interesting and ‘open’ Sayuri’s eyes when she surprisingly picks Aoba as her partner for the event. Shocking not only Sayuri but Tsukasa and Mina as well. Too late. Should’ve asked faster. Like I’ve always said, I don’t know why this Aoba guy is always trying to oblige a girl’s request. If you think it’s gonna be another girl adding to the equation, then you’re wrong because this is just a one-off thing. Due of that, Sayuri feels more indecisive and spacing out. Since they need to get presents our 3 Aoba’s potential lovers shop around for it. Oh yeah. Meanwhile Momo tries her best again to capture Inukai’s heart. Prepare for another heartbreaking moment girl. On the night of the event, everybody is in some weird cosplay outfit (Tsukasa a snowman?). Since Sayuri is on the student council, she’s on the organizing team along with Sakurai and is dressed as a Santarina. Thing is, nobody seems to recognize her. Not even Aoba! So it’s Aoba and Ayame’s turn (what the? Reindeer outfit?). At the changing room, it seems Ayame is sending some mixed signals to Aoba but I assure you her intentions are good. In the end, Aoba and Ayame won and Aoba has the honours to pick 1 of the many random presents. Sayuri, Tsukasa and Mina pray and hope that Aoba will pick hers. At the same time, Onee-san is preparing a surprise for everyone noting to herself that 1 of the gift is a detonator for a grand fireworks show but can’t seem to find it. She then realized it’s in that pile of random presents and relay this to Sakurai and Sayuri. What are the chances Aoba will pick that 1? 100%. Too late guys, Aoba already picked it. Sayuri dashes and pushes Aoba away but she fell on top of him. Soon a grand display of beautiful fireworks lit up the night sky. Later as Aoba and Sayuri walks home together, Sayuri clears the air about Aoba seeing her with Sakurai earlier on, in which Sakurai requests her help to be his partner in seeing the event out. Of course, Aoba is still in the dark about who that Santarina was and I think Sayuri feels it’s best to keep that a secret for now. And I’m sure Ayame is glad how things turn out between the duo in the end.
 
New Year’s Day in episode 22 and the girls find out Aoba will be spending it home alone. You know what they’re thinking? Yeah, it’s a great opportunity to spend some time and keep Aoba company at his place. Erm… Thing is, all 3 have the same idea too. So it’s pretty darn funny and odd to see the 3 of them sitting uneasily together in the living room. Such deafening silence. Hehe. Even Aoba’s worried something worse than a world war will erupt. Can you just feel the tension. But after all this while, I’m sure such awkward situation is nothing to him. Meanwhile Yuusuke, Icchi and Doujima are spending the day together. Sad that they’ve got no company but themselves. Anyway the girls manage to ease the tension and break the ice by doing some cooking and cleaning together. You’re a lucky son of a gun, Aoba. Soon they head to the temple shrine for their usual New Year’s Day prayers. We see Haruka, Hoshino and Harinui there too and having their fortunes being read. Looks like they’ll be having a good year ahead. But as for that busty school secretary director, she’s horrified after seeing her fortune. Then the rest of Aoba’s classmates turn up and Doujima gives him that neck suffocating submission move with his arm because he’s wondering where Aoba’s been to the whole day as they’re looking forward to hanging out with him. I think even if Aoba doesn’t admit it, it’s a better choice to hang out with 3 gorgeous ladies than 3 loser pals. Ah well, everybody is happy in the end.
 
Valentine’s Day in episode 23 and many of the boys are expecting chocolates from the girls. Sayuri has never given any chocolates to any guys before so what difference will it make this year different? Aoba of course. So the popular ‘untouchable’ girl has finally decide to make some chocolates for Aoba. Remember, there’s still Tsukasa and Mina. Tsukasa took some extra lessons from Harinui to make chocolates. Don’t want her love to dies from love-filled poison, doesn’t she? But this episode is the start of the turning point. We see Aoba’s parents discussing about telling their son something. Other than that, the Big Four Sportsmen got lots of chocolate from their fans, Momo tries to give some to Inukai (another heartbreak because he ignored her and walked away. Poor girl), and what’s this? Hiyoko gives a tiny egg chocolate to Aoba?! Even those 3 loser guys got chocolates and are so happy, even if it was just obligation chocolates. Well, Aoba was hoping to get some chocolates from Sayuri but he jumped to conclusions when he spot Sayuri giving her chocolates to Sakurai. While Aoba thinks Sayuri has feelings for Sakurai, in actual fact, Sakurai was just being a tester for Sayuri’s chocolates. Once Sayuri has completed her perfect chocolate (can’t say the same about her character now), she tries to find Aoba but even so, her mind is confused and her heart beating fast. Can she do it? Finally she finds Aoba standing at the tree where they first met. Before Sayuri could say anything, Aoba drops a bombshell. He tells her that he is going to be transferred to another school soon and wishes her and Sakurai all the best before rushing off. Oh no! Could it be true? Tell me it’s just an early April Fool’s joke. Sayuri is just as surprised as I am and stood there in shock.
 
It’s confirmed in episode 24 that Aoba will indeed transfer to another school due to his parent’s work. It’s been like that since he was young. Everybody is obviously affected and shocked (so am I). I thought that such guys in a harem anime would at least stay even if he doesn’t choose which girl he wants to end up with. Aoba’s pals are definitely sad. Though I’m thinking it’s more like, who will they share (or rather implicate) their pranks and schemes with. Even Inukai is upset but he doesn’t show it upfront. Who’s gonna feed Hiyoko? Definitely it has got a reason to shed a tear. This episode has lots of drama and spacing out as Sakurai approaches Aoba to clear the air between him and Sayuri. A deeply affected Tsukasa and Mina too approaches Aoba to confess their true feelings for him (after they get some advice from their respective club captains). As for Sayuri, she’s still holding on to that chocolate box and sinks into further depression. She can’t bring it to herself to confess her feelings for Aoba. But she has to pluck up her courage and do so before Aoba leaves. Or else she may not get to see him again. Ever.
 
The final episode 25 starts off with the graduation ceremony for the seniors and the director of Tsumugino, Bakurestudan (literally means bomb. Say, doesn’t he look so much like Doujima?) gives a rousing speech. This is also Aoba’s last day at school. Sakurai and Aoba’s other classmates decides to go ahead with some plan but Aoba is no where to be found. Has he gone already? Well, Tsukasa is delighted when she spots him at the school’s fountain. But I don’t know what happen after that because the scene changes to Mina praying at the temple. I kinda notice that this episode Mina doesn’t meet face to face with Aoba. Sakurai then launches another student council event by sending an SMS to everyone whereby whoever catches Aoba will get Sayuri’s handmade chocolates. Yeah, all those Sayuri loser fans turned into rampaging zombies out to get Aoba’s head. Plus, Sayuri emotionally announces through the P.A. system to tell Aoba not to leave yet. The secretary director wants Sakurai and Sayuri to stop because she had earlier told them no other events should be held today. But Bakuretsudan steps in and allows it. Meanwhile Aoba is being chased once more and even Ishiuchi and Kamino joins in as their final battle. However Aoba isn’t alone. For the 1st time, we see Yuusuke, Icchi and Doujima being useful as they try to fend off those zombies to create a path for Aoba. Where did they get all those military weapons? Yeah, Onee-san happily sold them to it since she was paid in advance. I wonder how they got the money too. Then Hiyoko comes by and gives them a taste of its ultimate super kick and sends them flying! The odds are a million to one. Friendship will overcome it all!
 
Meanwhile Tsukasa is sitting alone and crying. She’s sad that she’s gonna be separated from Aoba and doesn’t want it. Otama comes by to give her a shoulder to cry on. At the same time, Mina prays for Aoba’s happiness. Finally Aoba reaches to that tree and Sayuri is seen waiting there. Sayuri blurts out her weaknesses like how she’s short-fused and a coward. But she notice how Aoba always smiled at her and that whenever she’s around him, she doesn’t need to pretend to be someone else. So with all her shortcomings, she asks is it right for her to love him. I think Aoba was gonna give another ambiguous answer when Inukai interrupts and say "Don’t run away from yourself". The duo sees everybody has gathered watching them. But I think it’s an indirect confession because Aoba just asks for her email address and Sayuri gladly agrees. With that, everybody cheered on for them. While the guys are saying "Congratulations, you lucky bastard" :), the girls are happy that Aoba was the guy who got Sayuri’s heart. Sayuri finally gives her chocolates to Aoba. Because Onee-san is happy that Yuusuke, Icchi and Doujima bought so much weapons from her, she decides to give them some free of charge complimentary fireworks. Another round of beautiful fireworks. It seems Sakurai will get away with it since Bakuretsudan acknowledges how everyone was enjoying it. The end scene shows Aoba attending his new school and Sayuri narrates something on some parting lines and a legendary tree at Tsumugino called The Tree Of Our Wish, which will connect feelings of those even if they’re separated. As we see everyone else doing well and going about in their usual lives, Sayuri picks up her handphone and calls Aoba. She finally says "I love you".
 
Overall, though I feel that there isn’t anything extraordinary in this typical love-romance series, but I at least enjoyed the fun of it. Though in the end, I felt that it was a Aoba-Sayuri pair even though they didn’t say it, like many viewers hope it should be. I don’t know whether he ditched Tsukasa and Mina or not, but from their body language, it may indicate so. So will Aoba and Sayuri be doing a long distance relationship. Well, maybe if they make a sequel out of it.
 
The drawing, art and animation seems pretty standard and would surely appeal to bishie fans alike. What makes this series interesting is the wacky and crazy characters. My favourite one is still Hiyoko. That chick can really kick ass. I wish there should be more screen time for Hiyoko to strut his stuff rather than randomly seen bumming around here and there. Of course there’s that sly money-minded Onee-san. Though Inukai doesn’t do much, but his cool presence was enough to have an impact. If I had to choose which of the teaching staff I like best, then it would be Yagen. That guy is experiment crazy!
 
But the most prominent character development is Sayuri’s. At the start of the show, we see her as a perfect girl. Of course nobody is that perfect and as the series progresses, she eventually reveals her weaknesses and just like any other normal girls her age, faces tough decisions in the form of love. It was a good thing she finally finds the courage to pull through. Even though Tsukasa and Mina’s role may seem a little ‘stagnant’ but their love for Aoba eventually grows. Though Aoba is a normal guy whom everybody expects to see in a harem anime, it’s amazing he survives all those weird student council chases. He can be a good escape artist. His good nature is so good that it makes me wonder why he doesn’t hate nor have ill-feelings towards those guys. We should all learn from his patience. And I don’t think such unwanted attention is a way to gain popularity.
 
I kinda feel that the earlier parts of the series were more comical and fun as the series turned more serious with lots of drama when the girls are realizing their love for Aoba towards the end. There are a bunch of star-studded seiyuus (voice actors and actresses) like Kikuko Inoue as Megami (Belldandy of Aa! Megami-sama), Rie Kugimiya as Momo (Shana of Shakugan No Shana), Yukari Tamura as Yukari (Nanoha of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha), and Mamoru Miyano as Aoba (Tamaki of Ouran High School Host Club, Light of Death Note – I guess that’s what that parody in episode 17 is for). There are also new talents and not so prominent (yet) seiyuus like Yuki Makishima as Sayuri, Yukako Yoshikawa as Tsukasa and Saki Fujita as Mina.
 
I like the opening theme, Yokan, sung by Yuki Makishima as it’s quite lively and catchy. However I couldn’t say the same for the 2 slower sounding ending themes, Kiseki No Kakera (1st ending theme) and Himitsu (2nd ending theme), in which they’re both sung by Yuki Makishima, Yukako Yoshikawa and Saki Fujita. Yes, those 3 girls who have a crush on Aoba. Most of the mid-intermission shows a still pose of a group girls as they take turns introducing themselves in each episode. Because so, I still can’t figure out which girl is which when they say their name and grade after saying "Tokimeki Memorial, Only Love". Sometimes, the guys will have their turn and do the same, but we won’t get to see still picture pose of them. It’s that same group of girls. There are exceptions like the time Yukari made her appearance and the mid-intermission for that episode changed to Mina and Tsukasa with their fists in the air.
 
Each episode title has the word ‘Tokimeki No ~" which literally means "An exciting ~". Erm… How is it that some of the more drama-like episodes are exciting? Probably if you look forward to things, maybe it does sound exciting. Prior to the release of this tv series, there was a 2 episode OVA also based on the pc simulation game of the same name, released back in 1999. I’m not sure of the storyline, but I’m guessing it’s kinda more or less of the same thing.
 
I’m sure what happens in this anime does in a way happen and reflect in real life itself. Things don’t normally go the way we want to and definitely in most cases, it isn’t a bed of roses. Confessing one’s feeling may seem like an easy task but in reality it’s still scary and daunting to some. Probably I would face the same thing too. I’m just wondering if I could get a harem of my own. Yeah right. Nobody loves an anime otaku that much.
 
Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~