Episode 13 - My Own Review
STRUGGLING WITH STAGE F(R)IGHT
The newest item on the KiraPâti menu.
The outside is crunchy and the inside is soft, just as churros should be.
Which raises a little doubt for me: were those churros dyed pink using beetroot?
(At least, thus says my headcanon).
And the little star (starfruit slice?) on the chocolate cup is an adorable detail!
The most defining characteristic of churros, according to Himarin, is their ridged cross-section, generally star-shaped.
As our introvert was giving her lecture on churros to the other Cures, the fortyish greengrocer next door surreptitiously popped up right behind her, as if he were a stalker...
GREENGROCER (sniggering): Hi hi hiii...
HIMARI: Aaaah!! (She hides behind a bench)
GREENGROCER: (laughing heartily).
GREENGROCER (elated): Wunderbar!! I've been looking for a reporter for the Ichigozaka High Street online promo videos!
AOI (fiery as usual): Sounds exciting!
HIMARI (shifty-eyed): If it's about sweets, I would gladly like to help...
GREENGROCER (all fired up): Ooooh!! Himari would be just perfect for it!! I'm counting on you...
HIMARI (shyly): R-r-right!
Allons-y! Little do they know that this will be a great trial for Himari.
And that there's a raven-haired boy perched on the eaves nearby, recording everything...
LEO (musing): Himari Arisugawa. Aoi Tategami... And also...
LEO (remembering the Zuka Cures): Yukari Kotozume and Akira Kenjo.
LEO: So those four girls from the Kirakira Pâtisserie are the Precures... (Sinister chortle)
Cue opening credits.
After which, we see the first shooting of the adverts in Ichigozaka Park.
HIMARI (shyly): I... I... I...
GREENGROCER: Wot's it, Himari?
HIMARI: Why m-me? A re-reporter? There's no no no no no no way at all!
GREENGROCER: Then, why were you so fired up when we talked about it first? I'm telling you, it's tailor-made for you!
HIMARI (flushed, eyes shut): But-but then, I... I...
AOI (right eye behind camera lens): Got ya covered; leave it up to me!
A stuttering Himari darts off behind a park bench.
HIMARI: To be a reporter in public... and to be seen by all those people I don't know... I can't take it!!
HIMARI (eyes still shut, cheeks still flushing): Aoi... you could handle this through, right? You are used to singing on stage! Pl-lease swap roles with me!!
AOI: 'Scuse me! Getting my face filmed is kinda... Really, 'scuse me.
(This hints that she doesn't want to be shot on camera should the Tategamis get to see the film, find out about her whereabouts, and take her back to their estate. Which will actually happen in next episode).
Seriously, Aoi should have taken the mic and Himari should have taken the camera.
But the producers of both the series and the advert within the series wanted the episode to provide a challenge for our resident introvert... Also, Aoi kind of has a point given her family history; read above.
Remember Ranko? She could have done this acting thing better...
The snag is that now she's way too busy as a pro popstar!
GREENGROCER: For the sake of the high street... and for all the sweets in Ichigozaka... Please give it a shot!
HIMARI: R-right. I can at least try...
AOI (behind the camera, ecstatic): Jawohl!!
Himarin winds up seeing red with embarrassment.
HIMARI (red as a beetroot, while being filmed): I... I... I... Uh... Uh... Uh... My... My name is Himari Arisugawa! (Turning her head around not to face the camera.) I love sweets and I'm in second grade of secondary school...
HIMARI (finally looking back and looking like the girl in The Exorcist): Thanks to the power of the kirakiraru stored in sweets, we became the legendary pâtissières, the...
AOI (interrupting, covering Himarin's mouth, quite irate): SHUT UP!!!
AOI (index finger on lips, to Himari, in a surprisingly quiet voice): Hush!
HIMARI: I guess I... will have to try harder (ganbaru)...
Every now and then, they check out the video online to see how many views they've got so far.
HIMARI (thinking): If only I... could talk properly in front of the camera...
The first upload didn't churn up three views, but only one. They got two more thanks to a little cunning plan courtesy of Aoi F-ing Tategami... but unfortunately, the reporter hid behind the clock that stands in the middle of the park whenever the lens was within her reach.
HIMARI (blushing, popping up from behind the clock stand): He he he... V for victory...
The ensuing video was the one that churned up three views.
AOI (full of expectations): Right! This is the video that goes totally VIRAL!!!
AOI (disappointed, upon seeing that there are only three views): Not yet!
And thus, Himari was made to mimic the poses of park statues, dance the waltz on the bridge, and try more exercises that, however, had no effect on her stage fright.
While Achilles intrenched himself in his tent, Himarin has chosen a river bank to brood on her own.
HIMARI (thinking): I want so much to tell people all I know about sweets, but actually telling them is so hard...
LEO (from behind her): It's all right.
HIMARI (turning around): Huh? The Ku-Kuroki boy?
LEO: I was watching you shoot.
LEO: Sweets promotion? You're all doing your best (ganbatte), eh?
HIMARI: I... I guess s-so...
LEO: But... I wonder if there's a better way to do this. Such as...
LEO (sinister voice): Precures.
HIMARI (startled): What!?
LEO (cheerfully): You know... those four or five girls who defend sweets? If you shot them on camera, I bet that'd make great advertising.
LEO: You don't have to push yourself that hard (ganbaru). You should just let it go...
LEO (friendly): Just something I was saying. For your sake.
And, with those words, she storms up the riverbank stairs, her back turned to Leo,
who keeps on watching her with that smug smile...
Definitely, I have never seen such an Iago figure in magical girl warrior anime!
GREENGROCER: Ah, there you were, Himari! Ready for the next take?
HIMARI (shyly): Yes... I'll do my best (ganbarimasu)...
And thus, the Cures decide for once that the next scene will be shot at the KiraPâti.
Definitely, I needed some Zuka Cures not in this episode's flashback, and now my wish has come true!
AKIRA: The KiraPâti...
YUKARI: ...welcomes you!
GREENGROCER: Ho ho, to introduce these young women (oneesan-tachi)!
While Himari is napping she is woken up by... honestly, who would not like a bifauxnen garçonne with a warm cuppa to greet them in bed?
AKIRA: You all right?
HIMARI (shyly): Yes...
AKIRA: All this shooting isn't easy, is it?
YUKARI: Please help yourself to our churros.
GREENGROCER: Ohh!! (After swallowing his first bite) Um num... these ones are great!
Yukari has to serve the greengrocer, who appears to be at least a little bit sweet on her...
Many customers are enjoying the scene and the churros, including a young straight couple, a little girl and her mum (after all, Mother's Day is right around the corner)...
LITTLE GIRL: Oishii! Hey... Mum?
MUM: What is it?
LITTLE GIRL: Why are churros all spiky, like this?
MUM: Huh... I wonder as well...
LITTLE GIRL: Why? Why?
MUM: You know, mum wants to know the same...
This conversation soon catches our introvert's attention.
MUM: Anyway, let's go home!
LITTLE GIRL: 'Kay!!
LITTLE GIRL (as she and her mum leave the shop): Likey spikey churros! Crunchy munchy churros!
After their departure hand in hand, Himari follows mother and daughter down to the park bench where they are stopping for a rest.
The conversation with mother and daughter leads to a memory/flashback
to Himari's childhood and her flan fetish, when she ate the biggest flan in this series,
a massive custard pudding I'd like to call #FlanTheMan...
She sees her child self in the little girl, clearly; no matter if there are so many strangers around.
CHILD HIMARI: Sigh! I wonder what makes custard puddings so round...
CHILD HIMARI (prodding the flan with her spoon, watching it wobble): Wobble! Wobble! Wobble! It's so round... (After eating a spoonful) Oishii!! But why are custard puddings so round in the first place?
TEEN HIMARI (at the end of flashback): It was all so mysterious... and I wanted to know the answers so badly. So I researched and researched, with all the resources within my reach... to unlock the secrets behind the sweets I love so much (daisukina). What I have learned to do... all I have researched about sweets and then felt for myself... I want to tell that child everything about it!
And this led, at the end of the day, to the fact that she can make scrumptious recipes like today's churros.
HIMARI: The most defining characteristic of churros is their ridged, star-shaped cross section. Of course this is not without a good reason...
HIMARI: 'Scuse me! I wanted to... to answer your question, about why churros are so spiky!
LITTLE GIRL: Really?
HIMARI: All r-right! L-let me exp-plain!
HIMARI: The reason why the cross section is a star shape like that...
(She doesn't realize that the other two secondary-school Cures are watching and listening closely)
HIMARI: Churros are made from a firm batter. When it's deep-fried, it expands and there's a high risk of fracturing.
That's churro science in a nutshell, friends.
HIMARI: But, if it's extruded into a star shape, the heat is applied more uniformly and subsurface ruptures become less likely.
HIMARI: If churros aren't extruded with a star shape, they are most likely to explode in the frying pan! Ka-bang!
LITTLE GIRL: What? Explode?
HIMARI: That's right! But, if they are star-shaped, they will not explode...
LITTLE GIRL: Why?
HIMARI: Because the surface area is... The star shape keeps on absorbing heat, so that it never gets hot enough to explode!
I didn't know a smooth, sausage-shaped churro explodes in the frying pan.
At least now I know why they are always star-shaped.
Like Goethe once said (although it's surely a far older folk proverb),
never go to bed without anything new in your head.
Thanks, Himarin (although your personality makes you a little bit of not my cup of tea), for the wonderful explanation of the science of churros.
When November comes along, I will think of you as I have my first half dozen of the churro season...
LITTLE GIRL: That's so strange!
HIMARI: You're right! There are many mysteries and secrets when it comes to sweets making, to unlock their deliciousness! And stars are the secret shape that makes churros so delicious!
Anyway, the last time I had churros was during the local fête in March this year; I had to go on this pilgrimage to the shrine up the hill -a certain distance from Castellón town, inland, on foot- and I broke my fast on a half dozen churros from a street stand before joining the other pilgrims.
It was the kind of March that comes in like a lion: I had to wake up early in the morning, which is not easy for me, so a warm and hefty treat like chocolate con churros made the perfect breakfast!
I don't feel like up for churros in this time of year; rather for something cool and light like ice cream or fresh watermelon. We're one step away from Acheron and Phlegethon; short sleeves are in, but the tennis players at the university court have not bared their suntanned chests yet...
LITTLE GIRL (after swallowing her bite): Oishii!! Now that I get why they're spiky, it's even yummier! Here, try some, mum!
MUM: Thank you...
MUM (after swallowing): It's true! Tastes even better than before!!
LITTLE GIRL: Right?
draining the hearts of mother and daughter at one fell swoop and leaving them unconscious.
Himarin is frightened and looks over her shoulder to find Giulio standing on the treetop.
GIULIO (smiling confidently): What an impressive harvest of kirakiraru.
Right then, the cavalry arrives in the form of the other Cures.
GIULIO: To think that the quantity of kirakiraru would grow more when a little dash of sweets theory is added...
And thus, the Precures brace themselves and grab their transformation trinkets...
CURE À LA MODE! DECORATION!
GIULIO (producing his dagger): Kirakiraru! Stained in darkness! (Raising his dagger skywards): Noire Décoration!
Lightning shoots up his right arm, turning the dagger into a burgundy-coloured churro bow with matching dark purple crystal arrows.
Now let's see how Brave the little shy one is... (anyway, courage is one of her attributes, and Merida uses a bow... also... is that a burgundy churro bow!? Is that because those two ate pink churros? I guess different people produce different kirakiraru within their hearts, depending on what they've eaten and on their personalities, and thus, I wonder what my own might look like...
GIULIO: Here, have a try...
As he pulls the bow string backwards, the arrow appears out of thin air as a blue fire rose with black thorns... looks like Shut's rose, doesn't it?
He aims for the Precures and fires, creating an immense expansive wave... but, luckily, they manage to leap up to the sky and out of harm's way!
GIULIO (elated, as if he were having an orgasm): WHAT AMAZING POWER!!
The second time, he fires not a single blue rose arrow, but a volley of them! Furthermore, these are like guided missiles that follow the Cures!!
CURE MACARON: Persistent little...!
Thankfully, both Macaron and Chocolat manage to make the arrows guided at them disappear upon clashing with intense whiplashes of kirakiraru!
GIULIO: I see... This is the power of kirakiraru grown in a bath of knowledge... Hahahahahaha!! (Hearty evil laugh)
GIULIO: That was a fine experiment!! A thoroughly enjoyable experiment!!
However, Giulio happens to have pushed one of Cure Custard's buttons...
CURE CUSTARD (irate): How dare you!? The kirakiraru you have stolen came from their feelings of amazement at the mysteries of sweets! From their feelings of wanting to know even more about sweets!!
GIULIO (firing another arrow at Cure Custard): Worthless!
GIULIO (gasping, when the smoke has cleared): Oh!
The little introverted secondary-schooler has managed to make a rose arrow explode; something that only the Zuka Cures have been able to do so far.
CURE CUSTARD (irate, lunging at Giulio): From the precious feelings that lead to a greater love (daisuki)!! To stain those feelings in darkness...
Even though Giulio always evades her reach by leaping backwards, she keeps on ranting at what he's done.
And of course the other Cures join in the rant:
CURE GELATO (irate): To steal those feelings away like that...
CURE CHOCOLAT (determined): To use them for yourself...
CURE MACARON: Could you be forgiven for such a thing!?
GIULIO: Lecturing me, eh? All right then. Try this on for size.
CURE CUSTARD: Please leave this to me. I will not lose!!
And of course our introvert gets her day-in-the-limelight upgrade of the cour.
The attack is not much of an illusion; more of summoning the biggest pair of cherries I've ever seen (right now that they're in season), cherries that make Cure Custard look cherry-sized in comparison, and having them explode into a burst of light that disintegrates every single rose arrow in that final volley.
The expansive wave also drives Giulio backwards.
And you get Cure Custard standing all defiantly like this... waiting for Gelato and the high school Cures to get their day in the limelight episodes, struggles, and upgrade moves definitely!!
Now it's hissatsu time...
Sweets / 3 2 Wonderful à la Mode to purify that bow and get the dagger back to its original state!
GIULIO (seizing his dagger): I see. So knowledge will amplify kirakiraru... The experiment was a success. (He leaps off and disappears into thin air).
With all that kirakiraru surging back into their hearts, our mum and daughter finally wake up.
Back at the fruit shop, its owner has some delightful news...
GREENGROCER: Hey, have a look everyone! It's gone up again! 318!!
318 people have seen it... and how many likes are there in proportion?
Don't tell me it's become a viral video...
Maybe because of the awkward reporter? Shy people talking to the Net are adorkable...
GREENGROCER, CHÚGAKU CURES: We did it!!
GREENGROCER: Ben fatto, ben fatto, ragazze!!
HIMARI: Thank you very much indeed!
AOI: Let's shoot a new video right away!
And thus, our little introvert, having conquered her stage fright, gets to present her own webseries!
HIMARI: Hello everyone! Are you all enjoying the world of sweets? If so, we hope to see you soon at Ichigozaka High Street!
But is her stage fright over for good or is it only temporary?
MY OWN HUMBLE OPINION:
I have never understood introverts. I'm socially awkward, yes indeed, but not shy or thoughtful or easily embarrassed, or lacking self-confidence. And very frequently I've screwed things up when trying to make an introvert open up by gauchely trying to force them open... it appears to me that introverts are from Mars.
Anyway, this is a standard stock plot for an introverted character: overcoming stage fright in the school play, or ballet recital, or in this case as an advert presenter. Neither Aoi, Akira, nor Yours Truly would have found this a Herculean task. It's a plot tailored to the introvert, and that's what counts.
Anyway, we got to see some impressive characterisation of Giulio as an Iago figure (the greatest Iago figure of the century since Hans of the Southern Isles!), trolling Himari with gaslighting talk just so she could get her second wind with the encouragement from that mum and daughter (a lovely, heartwarming Mum's Day detail when it comes to the victims of the week!); for Giulio, it means two hearts drained for the price of one at one fell swoop... and that BOW. Seriously, I had to refrain from making some Brave references... what I enjoyed was that Giulio's schemes, like those of Iago and Blackadder, have cracks in them... anyway, humans make plans and humans are flawed; thus, plans are meant to be flawed. So Himari, like Fluttershy or Sailor Mercury or Taranee or (insert name of your favourite ensemble introvert here), finally has had enough and, unable to take all the pressure, literally blows up in Giulio's face (deflecting all of his arrows back at him). Right what he least expected. I've seen this done with Fluttershy and Taranee (and my own mum), that an introvert who can't take it any longer being a doormat is bound to explode. At least that's something about introverts I can understand!
Which also makes me wonder how Giulio will troll Aoi and the Zuka Cures in the next three episodes, and how they will react.
After all, now he knows the real identities of all the Precures... (evil laugh)
So next week we're up for Aoi F-ing Tategami's characterisation episode, "Rock Hard, Your Ladyship!" I mean, we know her upper class background already... she stands for freedom and passion, but there will be a clash with her conservative elders in one way or another! We knew she played the violin before deciding to become an 80s-style rockstar... so she will have to choose between family expectations and following her own heart. That's a kind of struggle I know all too well... So how will Giulio break Aoi, and how will she react? She is whisked away to the neoclassical Tategami estate (nice to see both cat Cures are from upper-class backgrounds; but the Tategamis are more westernized while the Kotozumes are more traditional; that's something I like, seeing both kinds of high society in the same continuity) to make a "proper lady" out of her by forcing her to take up the violin and wear more pink and frills than she wears as a pâtissière... Good luck with that endeavour of yours, dear Tategamis; your daughter makes Arya Stark look like Princess Peach in comparison!
PS. Churros. Here in Spain, in May, we're a far cry from churro season; these are commonly served as a winter treat. With hot chocolate, furthermore. Hot chocolate... as in um num num Cure Chocolat... (lip-smacking)
IN NEXT EPISODE (14):
Well, Aoi Tategami was born a mademoiselle,
yet she has followed her own heart, whatever they may tell...
Her elders whisk her back to the estate without permission;
thus, our hot-blooded lyricist faces her life's decision...
PS. And after Aoi, the Zuka Cures will have their turn to get the spotlight...