Episode 6: Village of Vanguards
Some of the villagers gather at the main building of the Kumade Shrine, which is a large space normally used for conducting Shinto ceremonies.
The purpose of their gathering is slightly different from usual. Today they are holding a meeting to discuss the “revitalization of their town” and asking Natsu to select an idea among those submitted by participating villagers and curated by the town office members.
A part of the goal of the town revitalization is to create a buzz about the village among young people. But, the villagers have no idea as to what the young generation is in to right now. They ask Hibiki who happen to be there: Where do young people go shopping these days? Hibiki gives them the name of a shop, which sounds foreign to the rest of the room.
Machi Finally Gone Downtown! And Gets Tanked!
Oh dear. This round’s story might have triggered some of the most traumatic sensations of those who came from boonies. This slow-paced kawaii anime is excellent in highlighting types of ordeals that a young girl in a small town has to go through, which really stimulates … or sometimes cuts right through … the most vulnerable spot of my childhood memories, and potentially, yours as well. Machi obviously suffers, and I can’t help but sympathizing with her. She is still in junior high, born and raised in an ultimate boon dog, growing up isolated from the modern part of the world. This round is absolutely hard for Machi to go through.
Sure, she went shopping to Uniqlo and Shimomura before, but those big-box retailers can be found on a side of any major highway. It’s not hard to imagine Machi has already been familiar with them.
This time, we are talking about a whole different level. Machi has to use an escalator for the first time, and learns how much space she should assume between herself and the other shoppers. With the array of trendy shops, she’s fascinated but intimidated at the same time. “I’ve seen that…! I know the feeling…!” Kumamiko sprinkles these details really well, making the distance between Machi and real-life country-girls practically zero.
Machi walks an isle lined up with adorable shops, with her eyes wide with excitement and hesitation. In the end, she finally arrives at the shop that Hibiki mentioned. Village Vanguard.
She panics at the storefront, and in a frenzy, she acts out, uncontrollably. I watched this scene in mixed feelings; it’s painful to watch her coping with things she doesn’t understand, and it’s amusing to watch her going berserk. “Why did you come here with Yoshio for god’s sake… Hibiki, come now on rescue! Do something!” I can’t count how many times I mutter to myself.
In an attempt to run from the humiliating scene, Machi runs up the descending escalator. A good-looking young man lifts Machi up and carries her to a safe spot, then gives her an advice with a heartbreakingly sweet smile.
If I were in Machi’s shoes, that could be the most painful damage ever done to me. Later in the show, at home, Machi takes out the frustration on Natsu, and then tries to flip the dinner table upside down so she can vent the lingering frustration, because of that escalator incident. I’m sure that it is the most humiliating thing that has ever happened to her.
The show is not only about sad things. Humors are used well throughout. Natsu is cute, as usual, Natsu and Machi show good slapstick. It feels that the show puts extra spotlight on social hierarchy and human drama. I appreciate that this anime is more than just a mundane everyday life sitcom. I even learned something today. How people react differently under extreme pressure. How important it is to offer sincere apologies when needed. Well, I’m talking too long here, but, the show is simply amusing without going through all this stuff.
Before I go, I want to list three scenes in which Natsu is really cute.
The scene in which Natsu is sitting in front of Machi’s room, while regretting what he has done
The flash back scene that shows baby Natsu
The cooking scene in which Natsu stands in the kitchen
If I pick the best of these three, I must say, the flash back scene. Baby Natsu is sick and sleeping in a futon. All the facial muscles go soft and weak, and his tiny tongue is peeking out at the comer from slightly open mouth. When Machi gives him a gentle stroke, his ears react to the touch and slightly tremble.
The runner-up is the cooking scene. Natsu manages most of the household choirs efficiently, but holding a knife puts up a greater challenge. He tries several ways until he can finally manage it with much difficulty. So adorable. At one point, the knife slides off his huge paws. With great reflex, he slides his back, nearly avoiding a would-be disaster. This scene is hilarious.
To make rice porridge, Natsu choses a silicon steamer and microwave, which reflects his characteristics well. Watching Natsu going out of his way to tackle with cooking (which he is obviously not so good at) just because he wants to make up with Machi, I couldn’t help comparing this couple to a newly-wed human couple, LOL
In the end, Machi finally becomes happy again. I’m going to look for more stories from this cute and unique friendship!
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