So we’ve got two things worth talking about. The first, is that the student council is dedicated to wiping out the scourge that is…the anime club. They’re looking for anything they can get. Any slight slip up, any unjustifiable use of resources, ANYTHING, all led by the student council chairwoman. Who’s clearly working out some issues.
SO MUCH ANIME arrived at the club room, courtesy of Arisu’s vast wealth, all bought off of Numazon with prime shipping. We’ve got Chaos Mad Nova. We’ve got Wonderland Heart. We’ve got ANOSUBA, starring the useless goddess Aquina, and oh my god it’s perfect. I’d watch every episode of Anosuba, presumably with the shockingly sadistic dark-knight Light(real name Cleanliness). Give it to me.
Oh and Minoa learns lots about how anime production is done and why these shockingly expensive blu-rays matter so much to continued production of beloved shows. We even get a rundown of the production committee system!
And then things go completely wrong. The student council barges in, and it turns out Arisu didn’t use her bottomless wealth, but the built-up resources of the Anime Club to buy…About 3500 dollars in blu-rays.
I suddenly look at my Crunchyroll subscription with new appreciation.
The resulting argument does not go well, despite Arisu’s shameless and ferocious ownership of anything Anime Club related. In fact, it goes so wrong that the student council puts down a hard demand: Assist other clubs, without compensation, for a week to pay back this debt…Oh, and if you can’t find anything useful to do, the club is disbanded.
You ever have that moment where you kinda just want the catharsis of seeing someone taken down? Like, it’s not so much that you want to hurt them, or see them in pain, you just want that moment where they get toppled off their high horse? I’m feeling that real hard right now about the student council. I want to see them wrecked.
But anyways, big drama! Erika resolves herself to solve it, by showing up the next day in totally-not-PreCure cosplay to hand out flyers offering the Anime Club’s help for all club needs. The rest of the crew is fired up, and eagerly helps out…
I mean, until they start actually trying to help, and manage to ruin everything from baseball to home ec. Will this be the end of the Anime Club???
But what’s this? A final opportunity! The drama club is in need of costumes for a play now that the ones they ordered have failed to arrive! If Erika can solve this with her cosplay skills, the club might yet be saved! Can she do it? Only one way to find out!
So that got dramatic.
Erika had a crisis of confidence. Felt like she COULDN’T do it, and straight up ran out of the room! In despair! Bitter, painful despair! But looking at her phone, brought her to…
Her cosplay photos.
My first thought had been, oh shit, student council girl used to be her cosplay pal, right? Nope! We went a totally different direction!
Erika spent some time abroad, going to school in America. She was isolated, alone…And fell in love with PreFae, one of the few anime just airing in Japanese on one of those Japanese-language cable channels. She got imported buttons for her bag, one of her first bits of self expression, and they were noticed by some classmates. Anime loving, cosplay enthusiastic classmates.
The photos…Are from Erika’s time with them. Where she learned to be the bold, confident, carefree girl who’d inevitably fall into flashy gyaru fashion when the Japanese school system attempted to button her back down upon her return.
Anime, cosplay, costuming, fashion, these aren’t just things Erika finds fun. They’re how she found herself.
So she returns…And Mitsuki decides to fire them up with idol shows, with one of his favorite sequences of a small idol group making their own costumes from scratch scratch. Like “harvested our own silkworms” scratch. It’s a little ridiculous, but it also gets everyone fired up, as they work and work, pull overnighters, and with the clock ticking, get the costumes to the drama club…It’s time for the show. Will it work out? Has Erika’s passion and Mitsuki’s fandom saved them? Is this the end for the Anime Club…Or the new beginning?!
There’s the drama beat.
So we open the final quarter with the performance about to start, and the student council put down a bunch of hardline locks; The drama club can NOT reschedule, so if the anime club doesn’t come through, they will have ruined this performance and this will be reason to shut them down.
See above about just wanting them to be overcome definitively.
But the anime club DOES come through! The curtains raise, and the drama club’s costumes are a bit flashy and a-historically colorful, but they stand out STRONG for the audience, and catch the eye of the audience. Their performance goes off without a hitch, and when the curtains finally fall…
The student council trio show up to make sure the anime club still gets shut down. Erika’s got to step up, and, just when I thought they’d zigged instead of zagged, they DOUBLE ZAG back around to when Erika and the chairwoman were little children, they played PreFae with store-bought costumes! They were friends, dear friends, before their lives went in opposite directions…
And now, well, now this girl is trapped by her position. Unable to be who she once was. It would be tragic, if it weren’t so frustrating to be under her gaze.
Still…She backs off, once the drama club publicly thanks the anime club as part of their post-show. And everyone who they tried to help thanks them for their hard work, with some good even coming out of their efforts despite things. It looks like a happy ending, if tinged bittersweet by the knowledge that life sapped a connection from these two girls…
But then things get…Weird. Because later in the student council chambers, she’s on the phone with…Someone. Telling them she failed to shut the club down, and the situation is now out of her control.
Something bigger than just plain old petty club anime politics is going on…But what?
Maybe we’ll find out next time, in The 5th episode of Anime-Gataris! Wait for that!
So Minoa finds out that, with summer on the way, everyone is planning a trip to that thing. What thing? The thing. Which thing? The thing by the sea. Our poor girl’s confused…And moreso when she gets handed the event catalogs to bone up on her learning. But don’t you worry! Your comrades will be there for you, rookie!
Oh, and when her parents hear about her going to an event out by the sea with her anime club friends, her dad goes full on Newtype Flash on us. …Secret otaku dad?
But of course, Minoa has no idea of the scope of this. How could she? How could she know what’s to come, when she gets up bright and early and goes to the train platform, the only one there…And the first train to pull in is packed so tight with otaku, she can barely breathe. This is her first sign, of the true depth of what awaits her.
Her next, is the mighty mighty crowds around the entire area surrounding the Tokyo Big Sight. Crowds she has to fight to get through, just to get to her friends. Who…Politely tell her, she has nowhere near enough goods for this. She needs a lot more water and something food-like. So, convenience store?
…Have you ever been to the closest convenience store to a con center?
I learned from friends to never make that mistake. Minoa, is not so lucky. The store is so packed that it’s a high scoring game of Snake in there, with the crowds twisting around every aisle. You’ve just got to get your shit while you work through, like a cafeteria lineup.
Once she’s finally back and they’re able to relax, they can talk about early morning anime, the kid’s stuff…But you know, the kid’s stuff is still real good. Kai’s our resident tokusatsu fan, even if he barely gets to talk about the delights of karate bug men before they’re moving on to show’s about, depicting girls’ friendship. (More like special best friendship.)
Truly, I feel Kai’s pain here. Honestly, I do. Tokusatsu sits in a very odd place for the grown fan, where it’s just askew enough from anime that most anime fans have no need of it with their desires well met elsewhere, but it’s just off enough from Normal live-action action and drama that the Normal folk don’t watch it once their age hits the triple digits. You’ve just got to suffer through, and find those rare precious toku fans.
Next lesson…You gotta get in line for the bathroom well before you need it.
Oh, and here’s something important. Arisu very clearly is fronting about her experience. She might have gone to regional cons, but she has clearly never been to any of the big boy events. Which leads to them getting lost on their way back from the restroom, and saved by a beautiful lady! Who is this angel, this goddess, this depiction of girls’ friendship?
It’s just a girl who was in line behind them and got to chatting with Erika and the others. But oh, turns out she’s from Beijing! And she tells them about the wonders of next-day sub streams, and how international fandom is no longer lagging behind by months, years, or even decades. No, otaku around the world are talking about the shows right in line with Japan! This is Yang Beibei. I doubt she’ll be in the show for long, but let us enjoy our con friend together on this momentous day.
Episode 05! Beibei, Don’t Go
So there’s two things we need to establish.
First, as the line progresses and the morning rises, things become hell. Japan’s summers are, in terms of strict temperature, more mild than what I deal with…But I’m also not lined up outside for hours in it. I can’t help but feel a great deal of sympathy for our poor crew here, knowing the hell that is being stuck outside in the thick. This weather can destroy you…
And it nearly destroys our precious chuuni cinnamon roll, when Kai gets stuck just outside of the glorious shade, the line stopping with him mere inches from salvation.
In the end, it takes over an hour between the doors opening, and our crew getting inside.
Which brings us to the other thing.
This episode has a lot of yuri energy. Like, a lot a lot. I know I joke sometimes about things like special best friends and now depicting girls’ friendship, but seriously. We get super tight closeups on Arisu and Minoa’s lips as they talk about this new step they’re taking together, and then they clasp hands, and enter a brilliant light…
And then get told to please continue moving inside in an orderly fashion by the staff.
So I mean the energy could only last so long.
But they’re in oh thank god they’re in. And while it’s not a grand focus, they learn another important lesson of conventions. Be selective in the swag you take, you fools. Both of them end up weighted down in minutes. If they hadn’t come with modest budgets for just a few event exclusives, they’d have been utterly screwed.
Still, actually inside, everyone has a really good time. We also get a shot with Erika, meeting up with one of her cosplay pals…In which she learns about her school’s anime club having a legendary reputation in the club scene. This is…This is the first she’s hearing about it. Legendary clubs don’t just shut down, the way Arisu described the condition of the old room. Those are the kinds of clubs that get kids to pick schools just to be in them. They’re self sustaining. What happened…?
It’s a question we won’t have answers to just yet, though. When the con eventually comes to a close, everyone gathers up, and talks about how worth it this all was. Tragically, our heroines must leave, thus separating from Beibei…But they will meet again, in the cons of the future! (No. Go chase after her and get her contacts, you fool! Aaaargh!)
So what happened to the guys, then?
Well, handsome boy Mitsuki is…Somewhere, I’m sure. And as for Kai?
Tragically, Kai found the one event merch he came to get, was all sold out.
I feel for you, my dude. Truly I do.
But man, what a con episode! I love these stupid things. It was a bit of a fluffy break from the mysteries building in the background, but something still clearly happened in the past, something that’s gonna come to a head sooner or later…Will it be next time? The only way to find out is to be here, when we watch episode SIX of Anime-Gataris! Stay hydrated while waiting in line!
The summer fun continues, my friends! It all begins on the train…Because the club is going to do a visit to some of the big anime meccas! What are anime meccas, you might ask? From the mere title, you might think of it as a dramatic way to refer to the Big Cons like Comiket. Yet obviously we just did those, so it must be something else, right?
Indeed you are right. Sadly, anime meccas are one of those things that only local fans can truly enjoy. You see, many anime series will use a lot of photo reference for their backgrounds, especially for the big important scenes where they want the background to be of particularly high quality. A somewhat slapdash hallway quickly sketched out with a straight-edge is fine for a random conversation in the school, but for your heroine confessing her love to the misunderstood bishonen, you need a BIG DEAL shot!
Specific locales are often chosen, and the most famous of these, with the most famous shots, become known as anime meccas. With the advent of the internet making their research easier and the spread of information about them more rapid, making trips to meccas has become a classic of Japanese anime fans. And these days, many places, especially smaller towns(who really need the tourism) will even lean into it, putting up cutouts and special merch and things for the anime fans.
And so, of course the anime club is off to see a few. In particular, they’re aiming to hit all of the big deal ones in the region for Girls & Tank, that famous anime about girls…in tanks.
There’s just one little problem.
Well, okay, one little problem and one huge oh my god overwhelming problem.
The LITTLE problem is that Minoa’s got some real bad luck today, and throughout the entire front half, it scrambles her confidence. From nearly losing her stamp sheet, to getting a shrine charm only to have a bird pass by and immediately poop on it, to finding out that their inn room doesn’t even have a TV and they can’t watch late-night anime(like Yuri!!! on Nice), it’s one of those days where every problem is a mole hill, but they keep stacking on top of each other until you get a god damned mountain. I feel for you, lass, I truly do.
So what’s the big problem?
…So Kai’s convinced Miko might be into him, and he doesn’t know what the fuck to do with that information. Back on the train, she offers him some pocky, only for a rumble to send her bosom tumbling into his lap. Then, she keeps on glancing at him throughout the day. And finally, when he’s talking in the guys’ inn room with Mitsuki about the whole confusing mess, he gets a text that she wants to talk to him, and it includes a heart emoji?!!!
Kai does not know what to do. As he screams on the train(pro tip don’t scream on trains), “This is not my genre!”
So let’s see how he handles it in the back half.
Episode 06! Kaikai Love Climax
That escalated quickly dot jpeg.
Where do I even begin?
I guess, with the beginning. So, it’s not just Miko that comes over to talk to Kai, but her, Arisu and Erika. Because they’re worried about Minoa’s depressed state on the trip. And in talking about it, they peg that she’s feeling uncertain about her role in the group, her place in the club…
Surely the answer to that is obvious. She’s the heart. It was her passion, her love of the passion of others, that ensured the group even exists, and she did it before she even became a true anime fan.
So…Uh…Where’s Minoa? Well, see, funny thing. She went off to take a bath. This is a vintage hot springs, so the baths are separated from the actual inn. And she was so lost in her head that she got lost in the woods, too.
This is where the escalation begins. Everyone gathers up to go find Minoa…And then Arisu snaps her fingers, and Sebas, with a mighty blast of sakuga, casts a beam of light into the sky! A fleet of helicopters arrive, firing flare missiles that robotech across the night before lighting up the entire forest! THE HUNT IS ON.
How much budget did they spend on those shots.
So everyone splits off…And Kai is still lost in his own thoughts about Miko. Which leads to him reading wayyyy too much into that message, seeing a secret code that doesn’t exist…finally deciding he has to just face it head on, and charging off to go find her. Charging so hard his clothes end up ripping off. God dammit, Kai.
Most of this is gags, but the short version is, Mitsuki finds Minoa(snared in vines against a felled tree what the fuck happened), gets her back to the others, Arisu was so distraught with worry that she has a moment that is very much a depiction of girls’ friendship, and then Kai finds them all reduced to being bare ass naked. There’s more sakuga, and jokes about god rays as the other men try to silhouette his dongus so the girls can’t see it, but the lights run out and the girls sure see it.
After a long and well-earned bath, and Minoa feeling much better, Kai runs into Miko, and finally decides he has to confess his own emotions…!
He looks away when he does it.
And accidentally looks to handsome boy Mitsuki.
And Miko’s fujoshi side washes over her with a thirst as great as the seven seas.
Kai’s confession completely collapses, as Miko is lost in fantasies of them kissing and touching and doing things to each other and she kind of wants to watch it happen. All of his hopes and dreams and ideas of what this emotional encounter could mean, just kinda…Go up in smoke.
I feel for you, Kai. Truly.
And thus does the episode end, with a closeup shot of Miko getting all gooey with thoughts of these handsome boys in the baths together. So steamy. Heart emoji.
That was a thing that happened, alright. More character beats than plot beats, but through the melodramatics, we saw a more human side of Kai, and some pretty real concerns of Minoa’s. It’s one thing to be the bright-eyed eager rookie, but where do you go from there once you’re too experienced to be The Rookie but not focused enough to be The anything else? It’s a tricky spot to be in, to be sure.
We shall see how Minoa settles more thoroughly into being more in the core of the club next time, though. And perhaps we shall see more of the plot threads they’ve been feeding us bit by bit. We’ll find out together, in episode SEVEN of Anime-Gataris! Wait for it!
POST WRITING ADDENDUM: Fuck. Everything. I made this file at 5 PM, and then immediately got taken off to go handle a bunch of shopping, which bled into having to race home to get the stuff for the laundromat before they closed, because my mother couldn’t prioritize shit right. I got home at 930. As I sit here writing this addendum it is 11:55 PM and I am 13 minutes into this fucking episode because everyone keeps coming to me to fix their problems.
I hate. I hate I hate I hate I hate.
Alright, new week. Let’s get things moving. Since people don’t seem interested in Six/Six/Six/Six, looks like we’re locking in to Front Half/Back Half. Sound good? It’s Anime-Gataris, episode 07! Here we GO!
-The Idolmeister. Schwein of Eckstadt. ARISUBORG ALPHA.
-Yasuda and Iwakura. Immun-kun. Malcolm Gakuen. What’s up Girl ZOO.
Oh, lord, the student council is at it again.
So we open the episode with the student council wanting to find a way to shut down the anime club, AGAIN. Did I say the student council? I meant the two underlings, who are now working entirely independently of their chairwoman due to finding her too SOFT ON ANIME CRIMES.
It would be funny if I didn’t find them so profoundly frustrating as (fictional depictions of) human beings.
Minoa walks in to find them in the middle of saying that the anime club A, cannot do an anime screening for the school festival, but B, has to do something, or they’ll be shut down! (Also sidenote the initial assumption is that they’re here because Arisu spent a true excess of money again.)
So…okay, we need a plan, right? What’s the plan? What can the club do that won’t get shut down? Minoa, in her gentle naivety, suggests they just make and show their own anime.
It is, as you know, not that simple.
…On the other hand…
(Sidenote, while they have a plan, my gut instinct would’ve been to go for writing their own drama CD script and doing a live reading of it, maybe with a few cool splash images. After all, one of the reasons drama CDs became a thing is their incredible return on effort invested.)
There might be ways to do it. Arisu offers to just pay for the whole operation, complete with a briefcase right out of a noted American filmmaker’s work, but Erika shuts that down as well. They’ve got access to a lot of other clubs. There’s got to be a way to pull this together using typical high schooler resources instead of just leaning on their comedically rich friend.
So…What sort of thing to make? They need a premise before they can talk medium and tools.
Mitsuki thinks THE IDOLMEISTER. I’m like 80% sure that already exists in your world. Kai thinks Schwein of Eckstadt, which is basically just all his chuuni fantasies written down. Nope. Erika’s wanting magical girls. And Arisu has forced poor Seas to do the entire hype trailer for ARISUBORG ALPHA.
Oh my god you poor man.
How about Miko? Miko’s got a plan! She wants isekai! And, to make it doable… They’ll make it a three minute short. …Shit, that might just work. If they use flash animation and go more script driven, they could actually make something pretty decent in three months! Now they just need a script! Piece of cake.
Have you ever tried to design by committee?
Have you ever had to receive creative notes?
Miko does not take it well. Bit by bit over the coming weeks, her sanity dwindles. And it all comes to a head when Erika wants to rework the entire damn thing to put in a gag where they break for commercial right in the middle of
Episode 07! Miko Quits Writing
Yes I also did the joke. I’m terrible. And ultimately the idea of just going back to the very first idea and starting over comes up and Miko flips, the, fuck, out. For completely understandable reasons, she declares she is quitting and going home to sleep.
Minoa, for reasons that I’m sure made sense at the time, ends up possibly accidentally possibly on purpose SUPLEXING MIKO…Which knocks the Scary Door open.
And inside…Is a hand-drawn and colored storyboard…
…For Minoa’s childhood anime.
What. The. Fuck.
So, looking at this storyboard…The crew starts getting a plan. It’s just a few shots left over from whatever the old anime club did, but maybe, just maybe, they can expand it, put their own spin on it?
Miko tries to bail out entirely…So Erika has to get full on silver tongued slightly greasy producer and put the charm on, charming so hard that it’s nearly a depiction of girls’ friendship, to get Miko back on board. And soon everyone else is getting roles. Miko’s going script, Arisu is doing character designs, Mitsuki on audio, Kai on digital work…And Minoa herself on director role.
Which means, first, Miko and Minoa have to write one last script together. Which nearly kills Miko. And then, Minoa, after learning what a storyboard is and cribbing ideas from classic mecha anime Genkigenki G, makes the complete storyboard…Which, besides nearly making an enemy of Miko for the script changes required, also nearly kills Minoa.
But okay! Storyboard! You can animate a storyboard! You can draw things to a storyboard! You can DUB to a storyboard, which the team does. They even bring in Minoa’s friend Yui to play Yuirin the chuuni magician, and her sister to play Cute Girl A. (Her dad oh so wants to play Grown Man A. Secret otaku dad.)
While the sound recording has plenty of comedy moments, from Arisu trying to steal the spotlight to Miko’s fujoshi showing when the guys do their scene together, it does actually come together in one proud showing. They, they might just do this!
Guess what happens.
Go on, guess.
Student council goes maximum evil and even the chairwoman will crush all, as she forbids all other clubs from helping the Anime Club, and decides they have to fill the stadium for their screening or be disbanded!
I…God I don’t even care anymore I just want the student council gone. I kind of rarely enjoy student council plots, because of how intensely I bristle under a sense of helplessness, and this one is just cranking it to eleven.
But okay. Maximum shit hitting the fan. Oh I didn’t even mention that their faculty advisor has up and vanished due to cracking under the workload. This is a Bad. We’ll see if and/or how they get out of it next time, in episode EIGHT of Anime-Gataris! Wait for it!
I didn't find it as dickish as some, but then I realised that's the point. In an anime about school clubs there's got to be a powerful student council to create drama, and this so very much likes to integrate anime cliches.