Yep, I’ll be following this series weekly from now on (when I catch up, that is). This may come as a shock to those who’ve been following my weekly rankings, as Shining Hearts placed in my bottom two both weeks. Still, of all the anime airing this season, this is the one that screams out to me as perfect blogging material. It feels like a return to my early days following Shukufuku no Campanella – heck, Shiawase no Pan feels like the show’s spiritual successor. Even the names are similar!
I’m hoping this will be a laugh, and if like many people you couldn’t stomach Shining Hearts yourself, rest assured that I don’t leave much out of my episode summaries – I’m basically watching it so that you don’t have to. 😛 As always, all images have captions if you mouse over them!
The start of the episode is quite depressing – a female voice speaks about something breaking, people hating each other etc. The moon in the sky is red too, rarely a good thing in anime. Most likely we won’t find out what’s broken until later in the series, as with the prologue in the first ep of Mirai Nikki. But it gives us hope, at least, that this series may have a plot!
Late at night, we see three suspicious looking figures climb onto a moored ship. They sneak around onboard, make their way to the sleeping quarters… and wake up our generic looking protagonist, Rick.
Rick doesn’t seem too bothered by this, and wishes them all a good morning, addressing each of the girls by name as he does so. The nun-looking one on the right is Airy, the brunette in the middle is Neris… and the one on the left is blatantly Nina from Shukufuku no Campanella.
So why have these three ladies disturbed his slumber? Apparently they all woke up at the same time for some reason, and decided to wake him up too as a result. BEST. FRIENDS. EVER. Then when he tries to go back to sleep, they force him out of bed, make him get dressed and drag him from his ship and into their bakery.
Once inside, Rick gets to work preparing the bakery and its produce for the day ahead, while the women leave him to it and go back to bed. He wakes them up later, after the sun has risen and it’s time to open the shop. And opening the shop isn’t a simple task: it involves a strange dance ritual and the generation of sparkles.
The fairly long queue of people are then allowed inside. They compliment the girls on their bread, and buy the stuff in great quantity. Rick and Amil continue to produce more to match the high demand, Neris works the till, and Airy takes a basket of bread out to deliver to customers door to door. Seems like a successful business!
Skipping forward to their lunch break, Amil and Neris discuss their sales figures – higher than usual, likely due to the holiday the day before. I can’t imagine how the poor islanders coped, going a whole day without their bread. 😦 The girls also believe the improvement in Rick’s baking skills has helped sales, suggesting that he’s still quite new to this, but obviously talented.
Airy returns soon after, having sold the lot, and Rick also finishes his duties. The four decide to head up to a nearby ranch to get supplies, but first Neris must prepare their picnic basket, giving Rick a minute to himself. He heads to an observation platform, from which he can see the coast, and his ship… and suddenly we see flashbacks to a stormy night with rough waves… but Rick quickly snaps out of his thoughts, and we don’t get to learn of their significance yet.
Next, we learn that Le Coeur isn’t the only bakery on the island. They visit their competition, Madera’s Bakery, but it’s immediately clear that they’re close friends. They ask to borrow Madera’s wagon for their journey to the ranch, and the old woman seems to teleport them into it with a single shout.
And so they head off! But before the ranch they stop at the church, to deliver bread to the orphans. The priest shows up and starts telling them out of nowhere about the fact the church has just had a huge donation towards fixing its roof, and he also has a go at Airy for prioritizing bread over church. 😛 As they leave, discussing among themselves who may have made the donation, they pass a random catgirl… this series just got a lot more promising!
The ranch is located outside of the safety of the city walls, and Rick’s party are warned by the guards to return before nightfall, and to beware of monsters – I guess like most RPGs the cities are safe, but danger lurks everywhere the moment you step outside them! Despite these warnings, they take the trip to the ranch at a leisurely pace, stopping for their picnic on the way.
When they reach the ranch, they get their butter (plus some cheese and ham for Madera, as thanks for lending them the wagon). They pay for these goods in bread, which seems to be as valuable as gold to these islanders! However, Madera also wanted some sugar grass, and they were unable to find enough while on their journey. 😦 Deciding they still have time before nightfall, they leave the beaten track and head into the forest.
Sure enough, they find their sugar grass at the foot of a huge oak tree, and set about collecting it. But before long, Amil finds a… thing… lying on the floor, its… wing (?) seemingly injured. Only one thing to do in a situation like this: feed it bread!
The thing is apparently a ‘silf’, and while the four decide what to do with it, an elf shows up and spies on them from behind a tree! The girls don’t seem to want to go any nearer to elf territory than they already are, but Rick proposes that they take the silf to the edge of the forest, and the creature seems happy with this idea.
As they arrive at the edge of the forest, a gust of wind blows feathers and bubbles at them, and an elf (a different one to the one that’s been stalking them) appears. He demands they return the silf, then leave. They stare at each other for what seems like an eternity, then Rick breaks the silence by agreeing. He also leaves some bread… but when the elf approaches to collect the silf, he leaves the bread behind.
When Rick calls after the elf, he insults the bread by calling it ‘feed’, in the ‘food best fit for animals’ sense. Amil is angered by this, and starts making very stereotypical comments, as if this one elf is representative of his whole race/species. He points out that it’s up to him what he does with bread that’s been left for him, then starts making similarly racist comments about humans before walking off into the mist.
Amil remains in a bad mood, even when Rick says he doesn’t mind about the bread, and keeps a fair distance ahead of the others as they head back to their wagon. Neris tells Rick that she’s only angry because it was HIS bread that was being insulted, but Rick already understands her feelings.
Then, the stalker elf from earlier jumps out in front of them! She’s quick to prove that not all elves are rude, thanking them for helping the silf, and apologizing for the other elf (her brother)’s behaviour.
As the bakers turn to leave, this elf stops them again… suggesting they should leave their bread behind if it’s too much to carry. Seconds later, her stomach rumbles, and her true intentions are revealed. 😛 Apparently she’d been able to smell the bread from the moment they entered the forest! They give it to her, and she remarks that it smells a little different from Madera’s bread – clearly they know each other, though she doesn’t explain how.
The party promise to return with more bread another time – though this time they’ll leave it by the tree, to avoid angering her brother! She apologizes on his behalf once again, explaining that he doesn’t mean most of what he says. Then, almost as an afterthought, she FINALLY tells us that her name is Rana, and that her brother is called Alvin.
Back at Madera’s place, Rick and the girls tell the old lady about their encounter with the elves, and their disagreement with Alvin. Rick comments that he felt as though Alvin’s eyes kept drifting towards the sky the whole time, and Madera nods understandingly when she hears this.
At the elves’ home, Rana talks to her brother about the bakers, but he doesn’t listen. He looks out of the window, and claims a great storm is coming to the island! Hearing this, Rana rushes to tell Madera; maybe Alvin told her knowing she’d warn the humans on his behalf. Madera was already aware of this storm though – as she says, and as is always predicable in anime, the red moon never lies!
The episode ends with the same sad female voice, saying she’s tired and doesn’t want to see anymore – no doubt taking the words right out of the mouths of many anime fans who watched this episode. 😛 But personally, I looked forward to seeing what effects this storm would have on the island, and on Le Coeur’s sales figures. 🙂