ZOMG. What a dramatic episode.

The accident eight years ago that claimed the lives of Rin’s parents and Kaede’s mother shocked Kaede and she lost the will to live. To save her, Rin claims responsibility for the accident and Kaede returns from the edge literally with a vengeance – her newfound purpose in life is to make Rin’s life a living hell. Rin’s dream in Ep 5 was part of a memory when Kaede told him that he should just die for killing her mother. After years of abuse, Kaede finally realizes the truth via an old postcard and tries to atone for what she has done by becoming Mahoro.

But with Rin finding happiness with Shigure Asa, and that she has never seen him so happy before, her atonement project – the foundation of the third phase of her life – slowly but inexorably crumbles. And with it, her self-restraint. This culminates with her wishing death on Asa using the exact same phrase that she cursed Rin with. Asa, who is in the midst of a serious attack, collapses spectacularly – almost as if in response to her curse. Coming to her senses, Kaede is horrified – it seems that, in addition to Rin’s parents, she’s now killed the girl he loves.

Kareha is always so funny when doing her "Ma-ma-maa!" set though this is the first time I’ve seen her love junkie aura being dispelled. Couldn’t understand the part when Rin asked Asa about the rumour of Kareha working at the cafe – what was the rumour about?

Again, Asa uses her usual tactic to deflect attention from another attack of her illness – first with a reason that suggests it’s just exhaustion from over-exertion and second by making light of it – in this case, saying that she doesn’t want to get up because she likes being held, like a sleeping beauty princess, in Rin’s arms. I wonder if Kareha suspects the truth behind her illness? Also I liked how the onset of her attacks are cued with sound effects like heart beats and the sharp discordant electric guitar-type sound.

Asa tries not to worry her mother by appearing strong in front of her but Ama-san isn’t fooled and even gently chides her for trying too hard, saying that it will worry Rin. Who is worrying away about her at home. Ama-san’s victory signs to Asa after the latter succeeded in asking Rin once again was quite cute.

Another sequence that just screams "Poor Kaede!" – right down the contrast in colours. Rin and Asa have bright cheerful colours to complement their mood while Kaede’s scenes have a dull, greyish tone to them. Although I’m an AAA member, I did feel very sorry for Kaede. But only up to a point. Ep 5 already hinted at how unbalanced Rin and Kaede’s relationship is (Kaede’s total dependence on Rin for validation of self) and Kaede’s need to serve Rin is now shown to be pathological. Living for the sake of another is a very noble thing but anything taken to the extreme is not healthy – in this case, it really places a demand of unlimited liability and responsibility on the person that one is supposedly living for. I do hope that Kaede gets the character growth needed to be achieve that very difficult thing of being happy for Rin and Asa.

Poor Primula – it must have been terrifying for her to see her Happy Family implode like that, not least compounded by a sense of helplessness. Very Raymond Carver. While Blank Stare Empty Pot Kaede assured Primula that as long as Rin was happy, it was all good that was belied by her actions (defacing Asa in the puricura stickers and trying to get Asa to leave her house) and her words (begging Asa to return Rin to her and wishing death on her).

R: Cue obligatory Sadako/The Ring joke.

I was so tempted to make a yuri joke about Kaede confessing to Asa but it just felt so wrong.

I was very surprised by the ferocity of Kaede’s assault on Asa as it was entirely different from the game. Though I should not have been so surprised given that in the first part of the episode, Kaede has what police profilers would call "a history of violent behaviour". The parts about physical assaults on Rin were also mentioned in the game (cf. the 9/7 entry) but my command of Japanese was not sure or confident enough to finger Kaede as the active perpretrator. And now I have confirmation that she did attack him with a knife – in the game, Rin offered to show Asa the scars. Part of the contributory factors behind her anger perhaps included how she feels Rin has abandoned her, how Asa – supposedly a close friend unlike open rivals like Lisianthus and Nerine – had betrayed her?

Another question I’m pondering is if the severity of Asa’s latest attack was related to Kaede’s physical push (unlikely), her curse (more likely) or the psychic reverberations of Rin and Kaede fighting (some indications). Based on game spoilers again, this suggests of a link with Asa’s origins, the magic inside her and the theory of control of magic through emotions as per Primula. Like Matthew, I’m concerned for Asa but the preview shows that she’ll be ok. And it looks like Asa’s backstory (and Ama’s) is being kept for the last burst of fire.

I agreed with Omni that Rin and Asa’s quick (and off-screen) reconciliation was slightly jarring. But after rewatching the conclusion of Ep 18, it bothers me less now as Asa has clearly stated the terms for future dates ("Ask me out when you, and not anyone else, want to.") and Rin’s voiced determination to do just that. On the other hand, I was happy with how Rin and Kaede reconciled in middle school – due to the postcard jogging Kaede’s memories of what really happened. The basis from the reconcilation (beyond a simple "Kaede found out the truth") wasn’t so clear to me in the game – probably because I couldn’t understand the Japanese and perhaps it was in the Kaede thread which I didn’t play.

So where do we go from here? Omni and Kurogane have speculated that Asa is currently still in the lead. I agree. Omni pointed to how Asa appears to be the victim. In addition, the way the whole confrontation was set up and timed simply makes Rin even more concerned about Asa. Omni has also posited that, in the end, Rin might end up with Asa or none of the girls. I suggest another possibility i.e. he could end up with all of them. This is hinted at by Lisianthus tells Rin, right at the end of Ep 17, to remember that the Shinkai practices polygamy. In the Asa thread of the game, Eustoma and Foebeshii also propose this solution to Rin after finding out that he is seeing Asa (i.e. he marry Asa, Lisianthus and Nerine under Shinkai jurisdiction) . While this might have comic potential, I sincerely hope it does not happen as it is is a cop-out solution that would just make the hard choices now seem absolutely farcial.

SHUFFLE! has been my favourite show this season but this episode has solidly entrenched its position. And it has risen in my H-Games Turned Anime ranking. If it delivers a strong ending, it’ll be tops.

16 thoughts on “SHUFFLE! 19

  1. When I say “none of them,” that’s basically the same as your “all of them.” He doesn’t end up with any girl in particular, which is why I call it “none.” For me, if he were to end up with “all of them” that akin to like having them all in bed at once or something ;)

  2. Oooh… That’s kind of…. :D
    (Even though it would sounds weird to me.. but for Rin…. :D)

    One more curiosity I’ve got…
    Was it after Kaede’s phrase that sent Asa into that “Shocked and suffered” look?
    To me, it was like she’s having a heart attack or so… but yeah… it should be something dealing with
    emotion like Primula’s

    Strange enough, the way the producer let Asa know about Rin’s past seems to be different.
    In game : He told her personally (and got kissed :D)
    In manga : He told her after she found a picture of his childhood, the day Kaede was sick.
    In anime : Not right now… which kinda late…

  3. The part where Rin talks to Asa about rumours was actually Rin asking Asa if it was a good idea to visit the cafe where Kareha works – because it’s likely to start rumours about the two of them. Asa promptly asks him whether that would be such a bad thing, and giggles at Rin’s momentary consternation. =)

    Just another Rin-Asa moment. Those two look so good together… who would’ve bet on it after seeing Episode 1?

  4. HeliumHe> Looks like Asa’s attack started after Kaede asked her to return Rin and Rin pulling Kaede away. It just gets worse as Rin and Kaede struggle with each other. I thought the worse was over just before her curse but then after Asa loses consciousness…

    Thanks for comparing game, manga and anime. I think the anime will have to do it via Rin explaining Kaede’s behaviour to Asa. Sort of like a mitigation plea. Damn, that’s the second criminal law analogy that I’m applying to Kaede. -_-;;

    Guppy> Thanks! Much appreciated for your translation.

    I rewatched Ep 1 and it looks like the foundations were already laid then yet I wouldn’t have put any money on Asa! Just how comfortably they banter and tease each other, and the latent attraction encapsulated by “Hontou ni sou omou?” (You really think so?) and Rin’s blushing reaction to that. But at the time I was also thinking something along the lines of “Such a shame, Asa is a great character but her chances are terrible. Probably will be the Obligatory Pining for the Harem Lead But Doesn’t Confess Girl.”

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  6. Wow I just saw this eppy and it’s the best one by far! Psyco Kaede is scary! It seems Asa’s actions haven’t affected her relationship with Rin, but Kaede’s has. I can’t believe he would still live in the same house as her, when she threw a cutter at him, and locked him out of his house. If it was me, I would’ve ran away because living with homeless people is a lot safer than living with Kaede! No wonder, Sia, Nerine, Asa and Kaede fell in love with Rin! Overall he is an amazing guy…how many would still keep a secret like that when the girl obviously wants you to die. Whats even more amazing is the fact that he kept this up for years, and not days. I would’ve spilled the beans right after she gained consciousness and started strangling the poor guy. This reminds me of Yamato protecting Suzuka by telling her about why he broke up with Honoka. Geez poor dudes…they receive nothing, but a lashing!

    “I was very surprised by the ferocity of Kaede

  7. omg omg omg! WAT AN EP! Was otally blown away by the drama in this ep. Believe it or not, I like Kaede even more now. Kaede’s seiyuu should win an anime oscar or something for her performance in this ep alone.

  8. Oops forgot to add… interesting that you mentioned Mahoro cos Kaede has always reminded me of Minawa :P

  9. Problematic> Thanks for sharing ur thoughts as always! Added dimension to Rin is that he did what he did for Kaede at that tender age even though he must have suffered even more from the death of both his own parents (which he revealed in the game that he did grieve deeply for his own parents) AND that he did not resent Kaede even one little bit even though her illness was a contributory factor to the accident.

    Stripey> Bro, this episode definitely made Kaede more interesting as a character and showed her seiyuu’s range. Now after watching Ep 19, you should go back and rewatch Ep 1 up till Asa’s Knight comment and see how everything in the first ep fits in even now and how the seeds of the present were already present then.

    I think the crucial factor for change/germination was the arrival of Lisianthus and Nerine which broke Kaede’s monopoly on Rin, allowing Asa to sneak in. Ep 7 then broke Asa’s self-image and Rin’s image of her as “just one of the guys.” Ep 13 established that, of all the girls, Asa understood Rin best and that in Ep 14-15 that he trusted her the most and wanted her to be his side as much as possible.

    About the Mahoro analogy though Kaede’s looks fit, the progenitor of your blog’s title, Minawa better, the whole “I killed your father and let you suffer in your youth” guilt and then maid atonement project fits Kaede better. I actually think that it would be very liberating for Kaede if she could let go of Rin and learn to live for her sake because that would allow her to let go of the enormous burden of her guilt and pain.

  10. Hey i’m new here, but i just wanted to say i’m glad i found this website, useful summation of that episode. I have’nt played the game or read the manga, but i’ve been enjoying the anime. It seemed light and fun. I was also hoping Asa would win, but i didn’t think she would (the ones i like never do), but its looking good now. However i just watched this episode and was OMG. It was actually really freaky. we’ve had some mild human experimentation, a couple of cases of mild skitsphreniea, but this was just scary, i so did not see it coming, maybe i should have? Any way i hope it all works out….Kaede seemed like such a nice person…

  11. this was in the game too… the asa x kaede arc(though it was less developed) i got a feeling that the production crew may have been given extra budget due to the wonderful ratings shuffle got during ep 12-15(ie primura/nerine arc)…so far they have been putting it to good use and lets hope we have an ending worth remembering… hehehe

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