Anyone getting the impression that Tokyo Mew Mew New could be hurrying up to its conclusion? For that is what this episode is trying to tell me. The introduction of Ichigo becoming fully feline in episode ten of twelve isn’t a good look, especially since it coincides with what appears to be Kish’s final battle strategy: a massive soot-filled cocoon over Tokyo Tower that would make Lord Grandfather proud. This is something that viewers familiar with the original anime version and/or the source manga all knew had been conspicuously absent from the storey thus far. That’s a major risk, even if a second cour will be revealed at the end of the last two episodes of the season. (I wouldn’t object to such a thing, particularly if it brought in Mew Berry from Tokyo Mew Mew a la Mode.)
Fortunately, Cat Ichigo is just as fantastic in practise as it is in theory. If anything is going to push Ichigo into a full transformation, it’s the fluttery feelings she gets from being around her crush, and Ryo clearly knows it’s coming because he’s seen how her integration with her animal counterpart is progressing much faster than anticipated. It’s likely for this reason—or at least part of it—that he crashes Ichigo and Aoyama’s mini-date. Even while Ichigo, in typical shoujo heroine fashion, is blissfully oblivious of his affection on her, he also has a personal stake in making sure that Aoyama doesn’t get this specific lady. Unfortunately for Ichigo, Ryo is terrible at intervening; instead of slowing down the process, all he manages to do is speed it up, albeit he is present to take Miss Kitty as she transforms.
Ichigo’s feline body language is by far the most endearing aspect of this episode. Some of it is typical cat behaviour, such as the compulsion to groom while performing another task.. Others are more Loony Tunes than anything, but the heightened facial and bodily reactions help to highlight how well-integrated a human and cat Ichigo has become. (She also strikes a perhaps inadvertent seductive kitten posture.) A lifetime of owning cats has unquestionably demonstrated to me that if you’re in the bathroom, the cats are there, regardless of what you’re doing or what you’re wearing. If anything demonstrates her to be more female than cat, it’s her anxiety about being in Aoyama’s bathroom with him. Even a pair who entered the shower with me has happened to me. That was odd. The competition Ichigo has with Aoyama’s dog is very entertaining; the comparison between “date” and “walkies” is undoubtedly a high point.
A couple other aspects of this episode simply don’t quite work, not to mention that hurried vibe, so it’s a good thing there’s so much entertaining cat-related content. Although she is undoubtedly the primary protagonist, Mint and Zakuro really show a lot more leadership, and Lettuce is the one who discovered the first Mew Aqua, so Ichigo’s role as “leader” doesn’t feel as justified as the other characters seem to think it is. They will need her for the battle, but it doesn’t seem as critical that they don’t have her for the hunt. I’m still a little uneasy about the whole “bell = ownership” issue, but I know I’m the outlier on that one, so I’ll just say it and move on..
This is a really uneven episode, regardless of whether we’re going for a brief conclusion or a second cour. The cat-centric content mainly makes up for the worrying parts, but whether or whether the show goes on longer to complete its tale will ultimately determine how enjoyable it is.