This week's episode felt like a pleasant filler to me, but is drawing raves in the Japanese forum over on 2channel. It's almost slice-of-life, not advancing the plot so much as giving us a chance to spend a day with the girls. We end up with a moving encounter between the girls, especially Saaya, and an old grandma. As one Japanese poster said, he had no idea after the first couple of episodes that these characters would become so interesting.
This week also saw the cast's first Tokyo live event. Reports on 2channel are extremely enthusiastic. More later.
The girls are exhausted, but fortunately training comes to an end. They have a free day before going back to Tokyo to make their first recording. Saaya, the workaholic, wants to keep working. And their producer and manager oblige with a job for her alone.
When she lived in the country, Saaya sometimes did little performances there, and the same man who arranged them then has arranged a new one, at the local railway station here, which is having a celebration in honor of its closing down. Performing back in the boondocks is not the sort of thing Saaya had in mind. There's some good comic business here from the girls' manager, played by Kojima Sachiko, who was Alice in Mahou Shoujotai Arisu and is Yumi in Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi. Later, Kadowaki Mai (Miru) gets off a couple of funny lines.
As Saaya is waiting to go on, an old lady comes hobbling up to ask for "Saaya." Saaya says that's her, but the old woman says she can't be, because Saaya is so cute. She has a picture of another Saaya, a girl of about 12. The old lady hobbles off to sit on a bench on the platform, waiting for a train.
The girls wait with the small audience for Saaya to appear on stage. When she does, she is in a chicken suit and all she does is crow. Tomo tries to stop Erika's laughter, but ends up in fits herself. It turns out that Saaya's old performances were usually something like this. After the performance, all the girls are dressed as "station-master for a day," and go around greeting the passengers.
Saaya goes over to sit with the old lady, who is still waiting for her train. She lets one train after another go by. The other girls come over to sit with them. Finally the last train of the day -- and the last train to stop at that station ever -- pulls in, but the old lady doesn't get on that one either. She gets up and hobbles back across the track and home. She had no intention of getting on a train at all.
Back home in Tokyo, they are in the recording studio. Each one goes in separately to record. Afterwards, they receive a letter from the old lady thanking them for sitting with her and apologizing for not letting them know she was just there to see the last train. She writes that her Saaya died in Tokyo three years before. Seeing the last train would be like knowing Saaya would never come home again. But she felt such a warm feeling grow in her as she sat there talking to them, it was almost like really talking to Saaya. Our Saaya is in tears.
Finally, we see a foreshadowing of big developments in the plot next week. The bad guys are firing up the computer program for reviving the original, virtual, Lemon Angel Project. And it seems to work....
The OP this week was sung by Saaya (Koshimizu Ami) who sings okay, but is not the equal of Fuyumi (Hirama Juri), Erika (Chihara Minori), or Tomo (Shihono Ryou). Next week will be Miki (Shimizu Kaori). I think Fuyumi's version is the best so far, but a lot of 2channel posters think that Tomo's is. There's a good flash file around that gives all the versions broadcast so far, for comparison.
I've had a chance to listen to the character single for Tomo and Miru, which was released late last month. We know that Kadowaki Mai (Miru) can sing a bit, but Shihono Ryou (Tomo) was a surprise: she's really pretty good. She's no Chihiro Onitsuka, but better than the average seiyuu songstress. She has some expressiveness in her voice, and actually hit the notes. Her song is called "Watashi o Sagashite" ("Looking for Myself").