miércoles, 24 de mayo de 2017

THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT: YUKARI VS. GIULIO

Kirakira Pretty Cure à la Mode...
Episode 16: My Own Review


THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT: YUKARI VS. GIULIO
or,
QUEEN'S GAMBIT TO BLACK KING; CHECKMATE

One night after hours, the Cures remain in the pâtisserie, discussing their villains' agenda...

AOI: What's that Giulio guy's problem anyway!?


They wonder why he keeps on attacking their loved ones,
such as Aoi's retainer or Akira's little sister...

It's as if he knew their non-magical identities, somehow...

Unsurprisingly, Yukari is thinking the hardest of all of them.
YUKARI: Coincidence? Or has he targeted us on purpose? I am not sure yet. But, if my suspicions are right, the next target will be...
(Here, she stops... knowing that she will be the next target herself.)

(**Cue opening credits**)

The episode itself begins the next morning outside the Kotozume Yashiki,
with Yukari in high school uniform taking her leave of her grandmother Shino at the gates.

YUKARI: Good morning, Lady Grandmother.
SHINO: Good morning. And... as for this weekend's tea ceremony, will you be serving as well?

In response, a worried Yukari heaves a single sigh, her face downcast.
SHINO: Well, you may do as you please.
YUKARI (briskly walking off to Ichigozaka Kókó): Have a nice day.
Yet all her confidence wavers as she muses upon her grandmother's words.
YUKARI: "Do as I please..."


That afternoon, as customers swarm the pâtisserie, Yukari just lounges in a chair, in a pensive mood.
AKIRA (stressed, hands full of pastry trays): Sorry, hang on a sec...

Tension is also mounting in the kitchen...
AOI (stressed): We have our hands full!!

As for the Yukari Kotozume fanclub... they have not missed the chance either!
YUKARI FANGIRLS: LADY YUKARI!!

YUKARI FANGIRLS: Even when she's weary and idle, she still gives off a beautiful aura! SQUEE!!

AKIRA (to the customers): So... as for the chocolate... I... uh...
Puzzled, our bifauxnen leader looks left and right for the right customer, as her moirail suddenly arrives...
YUKARI (taking the chocolate from Akira's left tray and giving to the right customer): Here you are.

Yet, before they can thank her, Yukari walks away, her back turned to them.
AKIRA: Huh?

Suddenly, the other Precures notice that she has taken French leave of them and of the pâtisserie.
The sun sets over the peaceful country-esque townscape of Ichigozaka,
gilding the ocean in the distance.

Here, downstairs Yukari has come to watch the sunset.

YUKARI: As I please...

**Flashback begins**

Memories flood back into her mind's eye,
taking the form of a half dozen daifuku (filled moon cakes).

Daifuku are rice paste moon cakes with a sweet filling. I have eaten them, and love especially green tea and strawberries-and-cream daifuku. It's nice that the treat of the week is no European dessert this time for a change... also, the Kotozumes being such a traditional household, this scenario was and is a given.


CHILD YUKARI: So pretty!! (Kirei!!)
SHINO: Go ahead, and take whichever ones you please.


Little Yukari stands before the box of daifuku, indecisive on which ones to pick.

**End of flashback**


And there she stands in afterthought as a familiar contralto voice brings her back to the present.
AKIRA (walking up to Yukari): Did... something happen?

YUKARI (looking at the ocean and the setting sun): Sometimes I lose track of things. What does it mean to "like" something, to "be pleased with" something?


AKIRA: Huh?

Yet another familiar voice, this one a tenor, interrupts the serene atmosphere.

LEO (sitting on a wall like Humpty Dumpty): Because everyone at the KiraPâti has a special skill of their own they like so much, right?

AKIRA (irate, bracing herself): You're that guy...?!


LEO (smiling): Leo Kuroki, that's the name!
And, after introducing himself, off the wall he hops...


LEO (all savvy, walking towards the Zuka Cures): Akira here is serving customers, ... Himari is the brains, and Aoi is the brawn.
LEO (ironic, Iago-like): And... what about you, Yukari?

AKIRA (stepping up to defend Yukari): We're thankful for Yukari's presence! We--

YUKARI (interrupting, coldly): Stop saying such uninteresting things.

AKIRA (concerned): Gasp!
LEO: If you're troubled, I'll be glad to listen.

YUKARI (walking up to Leo): Perhaps.

She walks up to the four or five years younger boy, as if she were to steal a kiss from him.
YUKARI: This is a secret, right? (Whispering in Leo's ear) You seem to know a lot about us. How is that, exactly?

So this was not a kiss but some secret whispering... still, the intimacy is pretty well done and it reminds me of so many paintings and screen renditions of the kiss of Judas Iscariot!


LEO (pushing away from Yukari as he raises an eyebrow for an instant): I am... just a great fan of the KiraPâti!

But still, the first moves are already made.

And, when the secondary-school Cures invite them to spend the weekend all together, she quickly hatches a cunning plan that absolutely is bound to never fail.

YUKARI (thinking to herself): That's right. It is probably going to be interesting... (Speaking) Would you all care to come to my place for tea?

So far, the seeds of the scheme are already sown, the first pawns have been moved,
and, when the weekend comes, in the gardens of the Kotozume Yashiki...

Behold, Yukari Kotozume shooting up, tall and slender and purple-featured like an iris,
all dressed up in her finest silks.


YUKARI: You are all welcome.


When she gets complimented for being pretty (kirei), she replies:
YUKARI: Thanks, I get that a lot.

YUKARI: We have prepared one kimono for each of you... so let's get you into them, shall we?

AOI: I'm so surprised that you invite this Leo guy to your place as well...
YUKARI (smirking over her shoulder): I've been meaning to get to talk to him.

In response, Leo speaks no word, but replies with an even more sinister smirk.

In the tea room, everyone dons their kimonos and feels pretty excited...
except Aoi Tategami and Akira Kenjo, the former being a hard rock tomboy,
the latter because of the britches that have been prepared for her.


AKIRA (feeling awkward): Why a hakama?
(Notice Giulio raising an eyebrow!)

YUKARI: We have chosen what would suit each one of you best.
(Ah, so that's why!)

And Akira being the only Cure to wear a hakama (those puffy long trousers or britches)... this detail really cements her bifauxnen status; like the garçon uniform, it compensates quite nicely the fact that she wears the skirt in high-school uniform. The fact that Yukari was the one who decided on Akira to be the only one in breeches (biologically male Giulio aside)... as our Sailor Uranus expy gets all flustered and our proper lady replies: "We have chosen what would suit each one of you best." Indeed, it fits Akira like a glove, proving Yukari's excellent fashion sense, right?

GIULIO: You're a sharp one.
In the meantime, Akira still stares awkwardly at her clothes. Has she, who's more used to t-shirts and jeans (like yours truly), actually put it all on the right way?


Next up, Yukari scoops up the teawater from the large iron kettle, then pours it gently and deftly into cup after cup.
What elegant movements! the others admire.


SHINO: In tea ceremonies, every movement has a meaning. Simple techniques are repeated, practiced until polished, and become good form.
So that's why Yukari is so deft at everything here...
she's practised since childhood and now she gets it all right...

Before the drink has cooled, the Kotozume matriarch serves up a batch of kawaii daifuku.
SHINO: Please have some treats (okashi).
(Note that she has said "okashi" instead of the Anglicism "sweets"; indeed, daifuku are a far cry from European confectioneries, for instance, macarons)


In spite of being such a mannish/boyish and Westernised girl, Akira knows the proper way to eat daifuku, and it appears Giulio has a grasp of it as well, as old Shino looks on in approval.
Basically, before you put that ball of rice paste to your lips, you should raise the dish to heart height with both hands, then pick the okashi up with your right hand while holding the plate in the left.

As Yukari stirs the tea in the cups, her grandmother offers the others this pearl of wisdom:
SHINO: Etiquette is important, but even more important is a spirit of enjoyment ("tanoshimu kokoro," literally "an enjoying heart").


SHINO: As I often tell Yukari: "To lead a happy life, let your heart dance by doing the things that please you the most." That is what is important. And Yukari has always had a talent for tea ceremonies.

As Shino speaks, her granddaughter's quick yet strong and graceful whisking of the tea in the cups creates a lovely crisp sound in the summer air.

Finally it's time to serve the tea.
YUKARI (handing Leo his cup): If you please.
LEO (bowing low): Thank you very much indeed.


In response, the Kotozume matriarch raises an eyebrow:
in spite of his good looks and courtesy,
there seems to be something sinister about that stripling...


Leo turns the cup with his right hand, holding it in the left,
before putting it to his lips and quaffing the cold tea heartily.
(As a European tea-sipper, I can only stand by and watch a tad curiously... so they drink deep at tea ceremonies, at one fell swoop...)


LEO (after draining his cup): An exceptional tea service.
YUKARI (bowing slightly): Thank you very much.

But now it's her turn to put the Kuroki boy to the test for the first time...

YUKARI (noblewoman's laugh, wistfully): I would like to see your tea service as well.

LEO (smirking): Fine, then.

This challenge has taken everyone by surprise.
SHINO: Yukari, please teach him.


LEO: No, it's all right. I remember it all by heart.

After he has served from the kettle and whisked the leaves as deftly as his rival has, it's time for Leo to serve Yukari her cup.

LEO (handing Yukari her cup): If you please.
Yukari places the cup in between herself and Akira before thanking her tea-brewer.
YUKARI (bowing low, to Leo): Thank you very much indeed for this tea.

As she gingerly puts the cup to her lips and drinks, her grandmother watches, concerned. (As if... "maybe he is trying to poison my beloved grandchild" or something like that?)
There seems to be something strange about the flavour of her drink.

Something that opens Yukari's suspicious eyes.


LEO (ironic): Heh. So?


YUKARI (shifty-eyed): An exceptional tea service.

So far, both chessmasters have already made their first moves. The plot thickens indeed...

Chortling into her sleeve, Shino proves that the Kotozume noblewoman laugh is an immaterial family heirloom.
SHINO: Ha-ha! I imagined you all would be fun people, knowing you were running a sweetshop (sweets no omiseya) together... But you really are an amusing bunch, aren't you?

(So the "sweets=Western treats / okashi=Japanese treats" distinction is confirmed.
For a culture that has various words for love, for friendship, for beauty, and for excitement [Yukari's signature emotion "tokimeki" is more mature and intense than "wakuwaku"], all of these nuances are quite relevant.)

Reflecting herself like Narcissus on the yashiki's garden pond, as a pond skater (the freshwater bug, known as "araña de agua" in Spanish in spite of not being an arachnid...) disrupts the surface and creates ripples that encompass her reflection, Yukari is accosted by the Kuroki boy...
LEO: Your feelings, Yukari... I understand them. You could do anything you please, but lack a special skill of your own.
(Notice also she is holding a bouquet of irises, her symbolic flowers!)

LEO: After all, if you never feel like doing anything, how can you ever hope to truly enjoy something? And, to distract yourself from the pain, you've unwittingly been testing and pushing the people around you. Why that?

(Various doinks heard from the pond confirm that the Kotozume Yashiki, like any good yashiki, has in its garden pond this deer-scarer or fountain that goes doink)


YUKARI (coldly): I suppose you do understand...

Her arms tremble holding the iris bouquet, her back is still turned towards the boy, and her face towards the pond.
LEO (coming closer to her): Yukari?


YUKARI: You see, I have a much older sister...


LEO (startled): Huh?

YUKARI: She is the true heir to our family name, so I have always done as I pleased. But that only brings me even more pain now...
Pretty sorrowful she seems... but are those facts and those feelings actually true?


LEO: Is that so...


YUKARI (still trembling and sobbing): My elders have always doted on her alone, leaving me behind.
LEO (coming close to Yukari): Lonely, wasn't it?

By now, he is a hair's breadth away from her shoulders.

GIULIO (sinister smirk, whispering in her right ear): You can talk to me about anything.

YUKARI (with a serene face, making the paper around her irises crackle): Thank you.

At the end of the tea ceremony, all the guests leave their silks and don their Western clothing once more, thanking the Kotozumes.
The tea room has also changed, with irises instead of those other flowers in the vase and a different writing on the scroll.
And what is Yukari doing?

YUKARI: It has been changed to receive the next guests.


What's more... she is wearing a different kimono and making another batch of daifuku!
YUKARI: It's not just the okashi. The hanging scroll, the flowers, even the kimono's design. So that our guests may enjoy their time here, the smallest details become the essence of hospitality.

YUKARI (noblewoman's laugh into her sleeve): Or so my lady grandmother tells me, anyhow.

She is so pretty (kirei) and kindly when she serves them,
and besides, tea and okashi are best friends, right?
Yukari, thus, begins to see a purpose for herself in life.

And here we get that there are koi in the Kotozumes' pond! Koi whose patterns, coupled with beluga whales, will inspire the treat of the week (daifuku, if you hadn't guessed by now) to bring some of that sacred hospitality to the KiraPâti...

What... the pâtisserie takes on an ocean theme?


It's become an underwater teahouse of all things. A fricking underwater teahouse.


Daifuku are rice paste moon cakes with a sweet filling. I have eaten them, and love especially green tea and strawberries-and-cream daifuku. It's nice that they have done an okashi instead of a European dessert this time for a change... also, the Kotozumes being such a traditional household, this scenario was and is a given.




An elated Akira looks down on her plate...

...Her daifuku contains two bright red cherries. Now that they're in season, if I got some rice paste, I would really do for some of these.

AOI (putting her daifuku to her lips): I can't wait! Itadakimasu! Omm nomm nomm...


AOI (her mouth full of daifuku with the blue filling): Let me guess... winegums?

YUKARI (chortles): Pardon us, we couldn't come up with any blue fruits!
(Yukari is right. Blue rarely or never occurs in edible natural products. Even European blueberries, which were chosen for her own daifuku, are actually dark purple. And violets are not as blue as valentine cards say; the name of the flower gives you its colour already. Lavender isn't blue either.)
AOI: Still... Oishii!

Not only is the Akira Kenjó Fanclub present at the ceremony, but also the rest of Wild Azüre.


YUKARI (showing her fanclub their kneeling seats): Please.
FANGIRLS (elated, teary-eyed): Lady Yukari's care and attention... How wonderful!! (They dry up their tears into their respective hankies).
They have a good reason to dry up their tears:

...this blueberry daifuku with the accompanying cup of green tea!


All the while Aoi puts her strong arm into whisking rice paste,

...Akira hands out batch after batch ready for filling,

...and Yukari gracefully whisks the leaves in each teacup.

Such a huge splash in people's hearts that is pretty,
that's sacred hospitality that only she can have pulled off.
YUKARI: A splash, was it? That something I have been learning since childhood could be so helpful... I guess I do really like tea ceremonies, right?

However, upon realising that Leo Kuroki, in spite of being invited to the party, has not attended, a cloud of worries sets in upon her...

In the meantime, Yukari's fangirls are returning home at sunset downstairs.
YUKARI FANGIRLS: Sigh!! That was the best service ever!!
 When reaching for their hankies to dry up their tears, their leader has a realisation.
YUKARI FANCLUB LEADER: Oh! Where's my handkerchief?

GIULIO (from before them, offscreen): Hey...

As he draws his dagger, all five fangirls squeal like pigs to the slaughter. Not in elation as usual, but in intense fear... we might as well say dread...


Fade to black. The draining of that kirakiraru is never shown. There's something about Psycho-style attacks I adore, and that is the fact that we are left to put the pieces together.


In the meantime, the fanclub leader's forgotten lace handkerchief...

...is found by Akira Kenjo herself.
AKIRA (picking the hanky up): Oh? This must be one of theirs...
AOI: They left it?
AKIRA (nods.) Maybe I can catch them if I run fast enough.
YUKARI (stepping into the scene): I will go.
AKIRA: You will?!
YUKARI: Guess I feel like being different today.
AKIRA (handing Yukari the handkerchief): Oh... okay then. Thanks.
And off she runs, with a smile on her face and that lace handkerchief.

What shocks her is the sight at the foot of a flight of stairs of her fangirls lying pell-mell on the ground, and Giulio in the midst of them all.

GIULIO: Hey, about time you came.


YUKARI (controlling her anger, clasping the handkerchief): Gasp!

GIULIO: That's it. I like that face.
Yukari is obviously not amused.
GIULIO: Caught off-guard? Guess you have a cute side, after all...

In response, she grabs her transformation trinkets.

Beauty and... intense excitement... let's la mix it up!
Utsukushisa mo... tokimeki mo... let's la mazemaze!


Cure Macaron! Ready to serve! (Dekiagari!)

CURE MACARON: Return all of that kirakiraru at once!!

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 formidable pair of daifuku yo-yos with a single handle that look a bit like boleadoras or castanets...



GIULIO: Beat me and I'll give it back!


CURE MACARON (sternly): What a low bar to set.


And thus, they lunge at one another...


Prepare for an epic battle that is tied with Chocolat's for best place in this springtime cour!

Deftly dodging Giulio's boleadoras with her lightning reflexes, Macaron heads for the rooftop of the little church at the top of the stairs.

However, after many successfully dodged attacks...

...he finally ties her by the wrists!

The chapel bells knell ominously in the evening air as Giulio, standing before the little tower, has Macaron literally hanging at the end of a thin thread.

But will having her hand-tied and suspended like that actually make her waver?

GIULIO (ironic): What's this, what's this? And I thought you could do anything...


GIULIO: How disappointing.

GIULIO (confidently): Surrender, won't you? Come join me and be stained in darkness.

GIULIO: Still hoping your friends (nakama) will come to save you? Always so fickle, so wistful, and doing whatever you please... do you really think they'll come for you? Stop pretending that you don't care at all!


GIULIO: So weak inside, and, all the while, everyone cares only about your older sister. How lonely that have must been for you.


As she hangs overlooking the sunset landscape and the ocean from her perilous perch...

...those words from the enemy are all Yukari needs for the epiphany she's expected.


GIULIO: What's wrong with you? Are you going to cry?


YUKARI: Not at all...


YUKARI (suddenly cheerful): This is way too much fun!

GIULIO (in shock): What the...??!!

Using her opponent's boleadora ropes as lifelines, Macaron throws herself into the air in a perfect backflip, landing on her feet right before Giulio.
CURE MACARON: Now... where did you hear about that big sister of mine?

GIULIO: From you, of cour...!!

CURE MACARON: (resolute, confident): I lied to you. (Casting off her hand-ties with a pair of flicks of the wrists) I have no sisters!


So, it's canon that Yukari is an only child. Still, she's had no qualms about lying to put Giulio to the test and confirm that he and Leo Kuroki are one and the same person!


CURE MACARON: My elders certainly do tell me to lead my life as I like. And there are times when that's difficult. However...

CURE MACARON (determined): However, no matter how painful, I will never flee into darkness!

CURE MACARON (still resolute): My character is no one else's fault; it is a path I have chosen myself!


Giulio, in response, can only gnash his teeth and clench his fists.
CURE MACARON: I will not blame any loneliness or resentment I might feel on others.


CURE MACARON (changing back to usual sarcastic mode): Well, I suppose that little psychoanalysis of yours was right on quite a few points.

Once more, Giulio's and Macaron's yo-yos take to the sky, and flash, and clash... hers overpowering his completely. It's like an epic beating at conkers.

CURE MACARON: No matter how well you can copy others' techniques, the most important part is your spirit (kokoro).

And, right with those words, Cure Macaron's unlocked her new move!


CURE MACARON: Kirakirakiraru! Macaron Julienne! (She lashes a single oversized macaron yo-yo at Giulio)



In spite of having an over-over-oversized macaron careening towards him at full speed with rotating jagged steel blades, our villain is at first little to no impressed at all:
GIULIO: I've seen that one before!

However, it's not over till the cat lady sings, or in this case meows!

CURE MACARON (doing her best cat impression and lowering her left hand): Meow!


Somehow, her fingernails' motion is transmitted to the yo-yo's blades, powering them up and making them far faster and sharper!


GIULIO (shocked): What the... ???!!!

As Giulio falls to the ground, disarmed and exhausted, he gets to hear an ironic echo of his own taunt:
CURE MACARON: Caught off-guard? Guess you have a cute side, after all...

In response, all he can do is more gnashing of teeth.

Right then, the Precure Cavalry arrives just in time for the Finishing Move!
And Macaron even lampshades their eleventh-hour arrival...
CURE MACARON: Hehe! Nice timing.

However, Giulio is still reluctant to surrender.
CURE MACARON: That stolen kirakiraru... I will have you return it!

And right then, we get that this is the part where they do Sweets Wonderful à la Mode.

And of course they purifiy Giulio's weapon, turning it back into the usual dagger.

GIULIO (recovering his dagger, seething with anger): Cure Macaron...!!

Exit Giulio stage left, as usual.

Cure Macaron's face here is priceless. Since we didn't see the victims of the week come to, the best thing to do is assume that they did.

Back in the Kotozume Yashiki, the wise old grandmother gets a taste of these lovely daifuku:

SHINO: How adorable (kawaii).


YUKARI: Please, have some tea. (After Shino has drunk) How is it?
SHINO (after drinking, disappointed): Hmm... Still needs work.

In response, Yukari laughs... not her usual noblewoman's laugh, but heartily and warmly.
SHINO: Why are you laughing?
YUKARI: After all... if it still needs work, that means I can keep enjoying working on it.

SHINO: Speaking of which, Yukari... That boy, Leo... his tea was... how do I say?


As both of them think of it, the raven-haired stripling appears in their minds' eyes.


YUKARI: I know.
She knows the form was good, but the heart, the essence, was missing.

And all the while, an angry male voice haunts the KiraPâti in the evening air...
GIULIO: Those PRECURES!!!

MY OWN HUMBLE OPINION: Seriously, Yukari Kotozume, you have fooled us all! Like that talk about being the spare to the Kotozume surname... you have the perfectionism/expectations issues that are so typical for only children (as I know from my own experience), and you say the heiress is your older sister!? And you had no qualms as you told that lie!? Giulio was not the only one deceived... That was a formidable ruse/shibboleth to confirm your suspicions about that Giu-Leo secret identity issue that not even your moirail Akira can understand!! I mean, as for this Giulio vs. Yukari/Macaron plot, the latter is revealed to be a true Emilia to his Iago, the perfect meeting-his-match scenario indeed... 
To recap: 
  • he tries to troll her, and, in response... 
  • she gets seductive on him (even trying to steal a kiss from the younger villain!), then invites him to her place for tea; (Fifteen love for Kotozume);
  • she then tells him she's the spare, in the shade of an older sister: he falls for it hook, line, and sinker and gives her the wrong kind of misleading advice (Thirty love for Kotozume);
  • he sets a trap for her by trapping her fanbase (Thirty fifteen: Kuroki's catching up, but Kotozume still has the upper hand);
  • both of them transform and get their weapons ready, they're pretty much equal, until...
  • he finally traps her;
  • he tries to break her, hand-tied and hanging from a thin line, by tempting her to the dark side and dissing her "little sister complex," allowing her to confirm her suspicions about his muggle/secret identity (Forty fifteen to Kotozume, it all boils down to the match point!);
  • she reveals she was and is an only child all along, then proceeds to wear her heart upon her sleeve, revealing a new disarming/weakening move (Game, set, match, and tournament to Yukari Kotozume!!)

Though the climax of this episode's battle, with Giulio trolling and tempting his opponent hand-tied and hanging from the edge, reminded me just a little of The Empire Strikes Back (you know, that climax when Darth Vader cuts off the perilously hanging Luke's right hand) and far more of those scenes when the Snow Queen tempts Kai, Facilier tempts Tiana, and Satan tempts Jesus (the trope codifier) here... "Come join me and be stained in darkness..."  But of course Yukari Kotozume, being such a strategist and a schemer to rival Giulio himself, doesn't even put that bait to her lips! The fact that he literally had her hanging on a thin line added even more suspense to the scene; showing us that this is a damsel scenario, but the one in distress is not your conventional whiny and brainless damsel at all!
Her own character development in this episode... it was defrosting on all fronts. Defrosting with Akira, defrosting with her (Yukari's) lady grandmother Shino, defrosting when it comes to getting stuck in a rut and being wistful (kimagure) to find her own skill as a strategist and play a redoubtable game of speed chess against, and defeat, the Iago figure of the show. Once more I have to say she's the Emilia to his Iago. The only one aware of his agenda and able to outwit him indeed. That creed she says after freeing herself from Giulio's death trap, is an impressive outright heart-upon-sleeve declaration of what she truly believes in that has taken our hearts and minds by surprise... as well as her new attack, Macaron Julienne, which involves putting buzzsaw blades as the fillings of her macaron yo-yos. Badass...
Today Giulio produced a pair of daifuku yo-yos to match Macaron's macaron yo-yos in battle. Yo-yos vs. yo-yos. That's inevitable. Though Cure Macaron is ambidextrous and uses separate yo-yos, while Giulio uses his pair of castanet-like daifuku yo-yos right-handed. Thus, especially after getting her upgrade of the cour, she is the one who has the upper hand (not to mention her wit as her primary weapon!)! As for Macaron Julienne, which involves putting buzzsaw blades as the fillings of her macaron yo-yos, that's badass... As badass as Chocolat Aromase, I must confess. Tied for the first place.
As for Yukari's grandmother, the Kotozume matriarch... Up until now, I thought Olenna Tyrell (née Redwyne) was the epitome of cool old lady/wise matriarch with a youthful streak. Now I've found one who not surpasses, but rather equals the Queen of Thorns. And that's Shino Kotozume. The wise advice she gives her granddaughter is worth gold; one can see that she genuinely cares for Yukari.
And Akira being the only Cure to wear a hakama (those puffy long trousers or britches)... this detail really cements her bifauxnen status; like the garçon uniform, it compensates quite nicely the fact that she wears the skirt in high-school uniform. The fact that Yukari was the one who decided on Akira to be the only one in breeches (biologically male Giulio aside)... as our Sailor Uranus expy gets all flustered and our proper lady replies: "We have chosen what would suit each one of you best." Indeed, it fits Akira like a glove, proving Yukari's excellent fashion sense, right?
Which brings us to the progress of the HMS Yukakira; so far, it's cruising as smoothly as can be across the serene waters of trust. Yukari can clearly confide in Akira when it comes to those expectation issues, and those are really strong shoulders to dry up her tears on. Also, when Yukari gave Akira that daifuku... and when our bifauxnen gave our oneesama the handkerchief... it seems that they're already pretty close to one another, aren't they?

PS. The Kotozume Yashiki is as different from the neoclassical Tategami Mansion as I expected (a far cry!), and the same goes for the residents and the food of both estates; maybe this reflects a more traditional vs. a more Westernised elite...
PS II. On In the Shades of Dawning: Aside from the ice puzzle, Yukari will also have to solve Fermat's last theorem, which has more than one possible solution. It's a trick meant for her to think a lot to decide which one of the solutions is right; when all of them are actually right. Only after being heartwarmed by Akira does she solve the problem.


IN NEXT EPISODE (17):


At last it's time for Giulio to turn it up a notch;
he makes a move that keeps the Cures concerned and on the watch...

This springtime cour will end with a high-stakes two-part finale,
during which friends and enemies will all their powers rally...






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