Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

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.


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-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.

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