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Dated 20 January 2007: Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~

Yayoi, Sayuri, and Kasuga
Yayoi, Sayuri, and Kasuga.

I find Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ curiously entertaining. Yeah, every season I watch one of those shows. A Da Capo SS or a Gift ~eternal rainbow~ or similar low-brow romantic comedy, typically of the harem variety—often with a ~ or two in the title, it seems. Tokimeki Memorial is one such show, and one I should have watched instead of Gift ~eternal rainbow~.

Like I've said before, Gift ~eternal rainbow~'s most endearing quality was probably that it wasn't Crescent Love. Well, Tokimeki Memorial is better than Gift, perhaps because it has a better pedigree, or maybe because it has better animation and character design, or maybe just because its characters are more likable.

Aoba
Aoba.

I must qualify that statement by adding that I don't like Aoba, Mr. Male Protagonist, but that's mostly because he's such a doucebag to his de facto girlfriend, Kasuga, the athletic volleyball player who deliberately mistakes excitement for passion. She's the good kind of crazy and really kind of a sweetheart. She makes a better love interest at least than Sayuri Amamiya, the apparent "real" love interest.

Sayuri isn't all that interesting, probably because she's supposed to be so beautiful and so beloved by everyone that she's too perfect. However, I do admit that the show's frequent "Sayuri Legends" segments do crack me up. I guess it's okay that Aoba is going to end up with Sayuri, because he clearly isn't good enough for the volleyball player.

Sayuri
Sayuri.

I know Aoba is going to end up with Sayuri because Tokimeki Memorial is extremely predictable in nearly all aspects. This predictability may be the series' biggest fault, but I don't find it particularly damning for some reason. Perhaps I'm just lowering my standards yet again.

Actually, I think the real reason why I enjoy Tokimeki Memorial is because its ED is infectiously catchy. It makes learning that Tokimeki Memorial is a 26-episode show instead of 13 a pleasant surprise instead of reason for dread. This is not a particularly good show, by any means, but it does have some charm, and it doesn't take itself too seriously, so it's not a bad ride.

Dated 25 March 2007: Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~

Mina and Kasuga
Yayoi and Kasuga get ready to go to war.

Out of all the shows I'm currently watching, I sheepishly admit that the one I anticipate the most is Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~. It's not because it's the best, or the most interesting, or the most original, or the most engaging. I think it's because it's the most anime. You see, there are plenty of highly-recommended shows out there to watch, most of which I'm missing. For example, I still haven't seen a single episode of Lost or Arrested Development, and quite a few people have assured me that I would enjoy both (although of the former, I'm not so sure). Nevertheless, I end up watching something like Venus Versus Virus instead, not because it's better or necessarily more entertaining, but simply because it's anime.

Riku and Sayuri
Riku breaks Sayuri's brain.

I would not be interested in a live-action adaptation of Tokimeki Memorial, because the intrinsic unrealistic 2D quality aspect of the show itself is a significant factor in my enjoyment. It's kind of the same reason as why I never finished the first episode of the Nodame Cantabile live-action drama—a Japanese man berating someone with a harisen is so ridiculous an image that it distracts from the show itself. But Chidori producing one from thin air to smack the crap out of Sousuke is perfectly fine.

But I digress.

The Tree
It's THE TREE. It's also about God damned time.

I enjoy Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ for its pleasant and absurd atmosphere and silly gags. As I've said before, the recurring Sayuri Legends gag cracks me up, as do random bits of weirdness like the Incinerator Goddess. The school has an INCINERATOR GODDESS, for crying out loud. (And she sounds like Belldandy....)

Sayuri and Riku
For some reason, Riku likes Sayuri even though she is perfect.

Also the show takes care of the harem comedy spot in the lineup of genres I persistently watch (e.g., mahou shoujo, space opera, girls with guns, et cetera), but does so with more aplomb than something truly dreadful like... Digression: I googled for "terrible harem comedy" at this point just for kicks, and Ai Yori Aoshi was the first result. Somehow that's kinda upsetting, but as far as the anime is concerned, I have to concede that it's true. Sister Princess comes up as the lone result when I use the quotes, though, and that seems more fair.

Kasuga and Mina v. Sayuri and Yukari
Kasuga aces the Hell out of Sayuri and Yukari.

Anyway, Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ succeeds as a harem comedy for me because although the main character is a doofy putz, he's dead set on the Unobtainable Girl (of whom I'm at best ambivalent because she's perfect), instead of the Best Girl (a crazy redhead), a prospect which would likely irk me to no end.

Kasuga
THAT'S RIGHT. IN YOUR FACE.

Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ also succeeds by devoting at least a little bit of time to one of its adult characters, the 27-year-old teacher, Haruka, who whiled away a considerable part of episode 15 pillow sitting and getting drunk off Mexico Beer. (And playing Tokimeki Memorial Online!) It was a nice look into her lonely life, and rather reminded me of the episode of Azumanga Daioh where Nyamo and Yukari got drunk and scared off potential suitors.

Mexico Beer
Mexico Beer. A single gal's best friend.

And then the episode ends on a chipper note with the sprightly "Kiseki no Kakera" ED serenaded by Aoba Riku's trio of primary love interests. Hope springs eternal.

Haruka
Haruka-sensei wakes up alone again.

On a whole, the series is unassuming and lighthearted and earnest enough that it allows for a half hour of escapism without the burdensome melodrama found in an overwrought harem emo-comedy like, say, Kanon.

Dated 28 June 2007: Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~

Kasuga
Kasuga shows us what ownage looks like.

Like I said earlier, I'm currently only watching two shows: Macross 7 and Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~.

Yes, I still get a kick out of Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~. It has silly things like giant-tent jokes. How can you not like big-ass-tent jokes? Maybe it's funnier if you've ever had to set up or tear down a gigantic tent in the pouring rain.

Sayuri
The Legendary Sayuri.

And it keeps people from noticing that they're driving Sayuri crazy. Although I gotta say she's taking it better than Mei from Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight.

Mei
Peer scrutiny 2, Mei 0.

I acknowledge that Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ is not exactly top-fuel hilarity. To be honest, it's not even exactly funny—amusing is more accurate. But when it works, it works, and for whatever reason it gets more endearing all the time.

Incinerator Goddess
And it has an Incinerator Goddess, for crying out loud!

And now that I think about it, you know what's weird? For a harem comedy—although you could argue that Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ is not really a harem comedy with "only" three love interests. Shuffle!, this ain't—there's hardly any fan service at all. (Shuffle! Memories ass-boat episode, this ain't.) Okay! except for the onsen bit, but even then. It's kinda unexpected for an anime based on a series of dating simulators.

Kasuga, Aoba, and Mina
Mina Strikes!

Fan service qualification noted, I offer that Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ has quality seifuku. Contrary to what Moetry asserts, I think thin ribbons work well here. I admit they would be ridiculous in real life, though.

Speaking of ridiculous, even being way off her game (I blame lingering injuries resulting from her collision with Aoba early in the season), Kasuga has got some ridiculous hang time. It's right there in the OP. However, after seeing episode 17, Mina might have her beat in that department.

Mina being Mina, she probably forgets all the time that she's likely the best athlete in the school. But she remembers when it matters.

Mina, Kasuga, and Aoba
Mina tears shit up. Kasuga is vexed.

The competition between Kasuga and Mina in episode 17 is beautiful. It elevates 17 even higher than 15 (the episode focusing on the teacher). For that matter, 17 is about as perfect an episode of that kind of anime as you're ever going to see. It effectively exemplifies everything I love about Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~.

Dated 22 July 2007: Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ episodes increase fan service. Viewers outraged

Sayuri
Sayuri displaying zettai ryouiki and Schwarzschild Radii.

Okay, so maybe I spoke too soon about Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ not having much fan service for a harem comedy. In episode 21 we discover that Sayuri is one of those girls whose thighs don't quite touch.

Dated 27 August 2007: The End of Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~

Aoba and Kasuga
[Spoilers] The best girl escapes Aoba's dirty clutches.

Episode 25 was pretty much the only time Kasuga and Aoba ever actually looked like a couple. I think it's because this is the first time they've ever shared the same mood and facial expressions. Funny how easy it was to give the two of them a little chemistry. They sure waited long enough.

Dated 26 December 2008: Leftover Christmas Cake. In consideration of two-dimensional spinsters

Yuri
Yuri.

Toradora! prominently features an unmarried woman over the age of 25: Yuri, the teacher (who is actually more than just a little bit past 25). Today's entry celebrates this under-appreciated anime staple.

Haruka
Haruka.

Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ features Haruka, a lonely 27-year-old who wiles away her time drinking Mexico Beer and playing Tokimeki Memorial Online, quietly envious of her preternaturally perfect student, Sayuri.

Yukari and Nyamo
Yukari and Nyamo strike out after a night trolling for husbands.

Yukari and Nyamo from Azumanga Daioh are unlucky in love, despite being the best teachers in the history of anime. (Yes, better than GTO.)

Kagome
Kagome.

According the the Mao-chan website, Kagome is 27 years old. She is reassigned to teach at Mao's school. Also, she is desperately in love with Mao's grandfather.

Naturally there are numerous other Christmas Cake characters I am omitting, but let us not dilute attention from these five sweethearts today by crowding the room, eh. You're the BEST GIRLS today, ladies.

Dated 20 December 2012: The DVD version of Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ is practically a completely different show

Aoba and Hiyoko
This chicken's pretty angry for someone getting a handout.

The first time I watched Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ (via broadcast rips) back around 2006 and 2007, I swear the chicken didn't talk. I remember Kadowaki Mai still being credited for the role, but I'm pretty sure she just made indistinct "PIYO PIYO PIYO" noises that only Aoba understood. I'm sort of re-watching the series now (via DVD rips), and the chicken has actual lines of dialog. Aoba is still the only one who understands it, but I wonder why there's a difference at all? Were these lines specifically recorded later as DVD-only extras, or were they intended to be included all along and merely omitted from the broadcast due to "circumstances"? As I keep watching, will I discover further changes in the DVD versions compared to the broadcast versions? Personally, I'm hoping for more Sayuri Legends and more gratuitous shots of Kasuga's ridiculous hang time.