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"Kodocha Vol. 9": Unbreakable Chain of Cookies

Sana’s recent installment reminds me perhaps too much that I’m a teacher. I LOVE Sana, don’t get me wrong. She’s wacky, crazy and the most positive person on television. But when her class goes World War III on each other, it reminds me of my day job.

Our first view of Sana in this volume is in Episode 33, “Love Tastes Like Curry.” And that it does. Hot and spicy is how Sana’s classmates like it, and when the students argue over the cleaning duties, it becomes personified in her newly-engaged teacher’s spat with her fiancé. An argument over a traditional wedding headdress becomes an all out war of boys against girls as the two teachers attempt to empower their respective sides. To make matters worse, Sana’s television show, Child’s Toy shows up for an on location shoot at her school. The best part of this episode is the “Romeo and Juliet” type romance that occurs between Sana’s classmates, Tsuyoshi and Aya, as the wall of desks separating the boys and girls becomes more menacing and impossible each scene.

The next episode has Rei, Sana’s overachiever manager, signing her up for a teen-sensation group, the Three Teens, an arguably horrific name, especially since the three in question are eleven years old. This episode showcases Sana’s ability to steal the show over her pessimistic, yet extremely professional co-star Mayu. Her show stealing ability is even more apparent when you realize she was cast as the dog. Mayu’s attitude, however bad it may get, is not immune to Sana’s positive outlook. To put it in Mayu’s words, “Someone who smiles that much must be doing something right.”

Episode 35, “There’s a Reason for the Gift” highlights Sana’s classmates Tsuyoshi and Aya. Poor Tuyoshi is taken in by any girl that gives him a present, even when that girl is a secret admirer. He was first taken in by Sana, many episodes ago for the same reason, but he quickly falls for Aya once she gives him some cookies. This makes it too easy for some troublemaker boys to take advantage of the situation. As the situation escalates, this episode becomes too cute for words as Tsuyoshi and Aya work on their present established relationship. I love the juxtaposition of their cutsie kiddy love and the fact, as Akito puts it, that Aya has Tsuyoshi hanging by a thread, hanging on by “An unbreakable chain of cookies.”

The last episode of this installment brings Sana and company to Kutatsu, her grandmother’s resort, complete with hot springs. Grandma has something up her sleeve, however, as Akito and family arrive at the resort. It seems as though Grandma is trying to arrange a marriage between the two lovebirds, and that she needs a successor to take over the Inn. Things aren’t always what they seem, however, in Kodocha, and the story takes a twist at the end. One of the things I like so much about Kodocha is that these plot twists are insignificant in a sense compared to the wacky hijinks that the characters embark on anyway. Somehow I always end up expecting the unexpected, plot twist or not.

Kodocha has become one of my favorites, due to the great characters, which is also due to the great voice actors. Laura Bailey brings Sana to life, especially when it comes to her seemingly adlibed songs, which somehow lack the same luster in the Japanese version. Jerry Jewell, as Akito, is my other favorite voice actor in this series. He makes Akito seem like the boss monkey he is, cool, calm and collected, never showing much emotion, although we all know he is not without it. As usual, this episode just left me wanting more. When does the next volume come out again?

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