Tokyo ESP 8, Glasslip 9, Free! 9, Space Dandy 8

August 30, 2014 2 comments
I get that way when i study, too.

I get that way when i study, too.

Tokyo ESP 8 is a mixed back of little events to set things up for what looks to be a big battle arc. The Professor and Minami go to work recruiting other people who have taken the goldfish, so to speak, one of them completely indifferent, another a sympathetic victim. Since they must murder someone in order to join, one of them goes for Rinka and gets her ass handed to her, I guess to establish how Rinka’s grown or to get us in on the bad guys’ plan, or both, or neither. Too bad there was a long and pointless Rinka in the amusement park scene before it. They also let Azuma go, a move so weird that everyone on both sides is confused by it, including Azuma. Obviously, they’ve done something to him, but the show has given us no hint of that. All they’ve done is bring him food, keep him from leaving, and argue good vs. evil from time to time. The latter scenes do nothing but exhibit the almost random evil platitudes the bad guys live by. My favorite is that doing good is nothing but arrogance, or something like that. Anyway, he’s out and going back to school, and so are the evil girls, but not for the same reason. And on the WTF level this week, they captured Ayumu being an esper on camera, but no one has noticed that he’s a notable anti-esper’s son.

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Glasslip 9 has more small events interrupted by bigger ones. The big one might be Kakeru’s inability to hear the “fragments,” something that certainly has to do with his mom showing up and hanging around the house. It could simply be the desire to be a part of a family, fulfilled when she’s there (Indeed, his father seems pretty lonely when she’s not around). But she’s leaving again for a long time soon; we’ll see what happens then. Apart from that, we get Yanagi sending Yuki weird poetic texts that I thought were invitations to meet up at first, but no, they’re just weird texts. This is outside her normal behavior, but Yuki doesn’t seem to mind. The final big moment leaves me confused. Sachan invites Hiro and Touko to hang out on a museum balcony after closing to look at the moon, and suddenly they’re discussing Natsume Sousuke and how he translates “love.” “Tsuki kirei da yo?” and suddenly both Touko and Hiro are slowly turning to her like she said something important. Was it a confession to Hiro? With Touko there? Was she expressing her love to both of them, as a way of making up for her earlier meddling? I have no idea.

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Free! Endless Summer 9 was blatant in foreshadowing what would happen this episode. All the talk of college scouts, and the principal declaring him the pride of the school finally got to Haruka. They started the pressure early and kept up the entire time. I wonder, however, if Rin was being his most tactful by talking about scouts and the future between a big race. Surely that can wait until after. In fact, that’s the message Haru should have gotten before, but no one had the brains to tell him. But oddly enough Haru didn’t crack from trying to achieve, instead he lost track of the reasons he wants to swim. He should have been smart enough to ignore all that. And the way he cracked was a splendid moment. He just stopped swimming. As for the other crisis, involving Sousuke’s shoulder, they didn’t get to his race this week, meaning he gets to grimace in pain for longer. Cruel show.

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In Space Dandy 8, Dandy finds himself in Limbo, a strange place even by this show’s standards. We pretty much figure out what’s going on at the start, but as the one guy says, some people go hundreds of years before they realize they’re dead. While he gets to the conclusion, or rather, is told it by bizarre characters who could have said it from the start, we see him visit all sorts of bizarre places. The series lives up to its capability this week: each thing we see is weirder than the last, and while we marvel at what the artists and designers have brought in this week we begin to wonder things, and not just “who is that girl?” Why the repetitive talk about living only as a prequel to dying? Was the couple at the dinner table trying to feed him hints? What about the chorus of slug-things chanting like monks about life being an avoidance of death? And what about the girl maybe (because who knows?) sacrificing herself to save him, or what she experiences after that? Was that a hallucination before death? Was the entire planet a hallucination before death? Well, it was a very good episode, and there’s no rule that says it had to explain itself to my satisfaction.

Aldnoah 8, Nozaki-kun 7-8, Akame 8

August 28, 2014 2 comments
The torture never stops.

The torture never stops.

Not sure what was going on at the end of Aldnoah Zero 8. Mainly, why did Saazbaum capture Slaine rather than kill him? Does he believe Slaine knows where the Princess is? How could he assume that? Another thing that confused me: how did Cruhteo fall into the hands of Cruhteo? If they spotted him among the wreckage they ought to know that the humans had their hands on a battleship … well, maybe not. It was the cheap-ass human-made mecha and Slaine’s ship that polished off Femieanne last episode, not the battleship. Still, it all doesn’t hang together. Also, why can’t they tell that the Deucalion has been revived? It all adds up to an enemy that has its head up its ass, something Rayet sums up nicely in the best speech of the episode. And we get to see Slaine tortured–a lot. Could have handled that better, unless there’s a torture-oriented fanservice I haven’t seen before. What else? Inaho states his indifference to the princess and makes another contrast between her altruistic motives and the real world. Oh, Cruhteo does his face turn, but a little too late …

Mikoto tries some new poses.

Mikoto tries some new poses.

Catching up with Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is a pleasure, though the show is beginning to show signs of fatigue. In the first story of episode 7, Nozaki has some rare free time so Sakura takes him to a shopping mall. Basically, it boils down to this: every time Sakura (or onlookers) think Nozaki’s about to do something romantic, it turns out to be work-oriented, and then Sakura reacts. They look at woman’s clothing and he just wants to study them. Same with the movie they watch, and the figurines they look at. It gets a little better when Nozaki innocently takes things too far and tries on the schoolgirl uniform himself, and spotting Mikoto looking at the figurines was good for a laugh. The second half isn’t great. Mikoto agrees to model for the art club and stresses out before, during, and after. Though the art club pose requests were amusing.

Explaining this would take forever.

Explaining this would take forever.

As for episode 8, I think I’m losing track of the various character intentions, or they’re expressing them in such weird ways that I lose track. Kashima decides that Hori wants to be a princess and does her best to make his wish come true, which he considers more harassment. But when she carries him to the nurse’s office something changes, for a second. Now I have no idea what he’s thinking, and I’ve never been able to figure out Kashima. I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s always entertaining to see where their non-relationship will go next. Also, that whole sequence flowed nicely from the first half, when he’s spotted with one of Nozaki’s shoujo manga, and where we learn that Hori is about the only one on the staff who can draw backgrounds. I like the little hints they give us about putting together a manga, though it makes me wonder: does Nozaki actually pay these talented people?

Sorry to see you go, bro.

Sorry to see you go, bro.

Akame ga Kill 8, while sad for me because I liked Bulat, went over in an over-predictable fashion. Bulat and Liver kept pulling out bigger final moves (well, Liver did. Bulat just withstood it all) until they were both half-dead. And then Liver sort of cheated by using poison. Really, this was up to then an honorable battle between two adversaries who had been friends, etc etc, so I was sort of let down. And I was amused by how Tatsumi and his opponent would stop their own battle to gape at what the other two were doing. At one point I thought they were going to place bets. And I wondered what everyone else on the boat were thinking about the craziness going on on deck. Apart from flashbacks we only see these four people this episode. And while I was dubious about Tatsumi handling Bulat’s imperial arms, they made a good case for him doing so. Sadly, we lose this pack of villains only to introduce another crazed killer next time. I’m getting a little tired of that.

Zankyou and Tokyo ESP 7, Glasslip and SAO2 8

August 24, 2014 Leave a comment

It was suggested to me that Zankyou no Terror 7 was going to have a lot of running around in airports. That proved to be the case, but the show did a terrific job of salvaging what could have been a dire bunch of scenes.

The best part is she's surprised.

The best part is she’s surprised.

The “chess match” business was ridiculous last week, and just as much this week (not to mention ultimately pointless), and so was the searching, but to help the scene out, Nine and Twelve weren’t just running around and waiting for the next move. They had a countermove of sorts, to capture some security camera footage and loop it so that no one really knew where they were. Also, they got Lisa involved, though she wound up as more or less a pawn in this chess match, causing a distraction but then getting captured by the asshole forces and stuck on a plane where the bomb was. Also helping throughout was a terrific, understated jazz piece that worked busily underneath and gently raised the tension without calling undue attention to itself. It actually makes me want to watch all that running around again. Every anime is better when Yoko Kanno is involved.

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The bomb searching, plus the mind games, was as well done as possible. Nothing much else was accomplished except now the bad guys know who Lisa is. But I’m curious about the fallout from Shibazaki and his colleagues interfering in Five’s evil plot, since he wasn’t supposed to be there. Everyone knows now that NEST is destructive and out of control, or at least Five is, but they still have authority. The Tokyo police force does not, no matter how many lives they saved this week. So what will happen to them? On the other hand, the irony of Shibazaki and Nine teaming up prevent a disaster wasn’t terribly effective. I figured it would happen when Five showed up. The bigger irony of authority figures acting without restraint comes when you look at the news from Ferguson this week. Still, a very good episode.

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Tokyo ESP had more training, lots of Rinka getting tossed about by this middle-school kid Ayumu, because he has precognition. So she finds a way to turn the tables by not attacking, forcing him to attack and leaving an opening, or something. So in the rematch he could just not attack, I suppose, but he’s bored and wants to get it over with, and we learn that this over-thinking makes him a slow combatant. More amusing is his anti-esper mother being attacked by an Esper and he and Murasaki taking him down. Amusing because even with his precog he can’t figure out a good end, until he THINKS of a way. Nice job of showing both the strengths and weaknesses of his abilities. Also Murasaki has become a hell of a lot of fun since discovering she can read the history of a weapon and perform its best moves, and her dad is a kung-fu nut. Nothing else in the overall plot happens apart from the inevitable Asuma/Minami scene, which goes no further than all the others.

Another scary premonition for Touko.

Another scary premonition for Touko.

I’ve completely lost track of the symbols and metaphors in Glasslip. Episode 8 had the characters all doing the little things they were doing before and I tried to figure out a purpose for any of it. There was maybe the point of false assumptions, suggested earlier when Touko envisioned Sachi in the hospital and this time with Yukinari not running past the middle school, leading the girls (and others) to assume he’s not running, when in fact he was–at a track team training camp. But maybe that has nothing to do with anything. Instead, Yanagi deliberately runs the same route … at which point I gave up. One or two points that stood out, apart from the strange scene where Yanagi walks around her house naked (with more of those frozen images–WTF?): Sachi and Yanagi are beginning to guess at the secret that Touko and Kakeru share, and Touko’s visions are getting darker and more threatening. So I guess something’s coming to a head, but I have no idea what it is.

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Sword Art Online 8 only gets interesting in the second half as we watch the Bullet of Bullets final melee unfold. After watching Sinon in action for a while she is ambushed in a non-threatening manner by Kirito so he can see the battle below unfold and Death Gun show up. It’s interesting because we see how DG works–stunning his victim first than doing some ritual thing before pulling the fatal trigger. And the show wisely leaves it like that, as a cliffhanger, so we don’t get to see if Sinon or Kirito will interfere in time. I’m interested in why this supposedly overly-powerful character hasn’t seen them yet, or maybe he has. Up to the battle it’s more of Kirito begging the annoyed Sinon for information about the final round and combatants and Sinon wondering what’s up with him, leading to more tsundere moments. Meanwhile, we don’t get to see anything going on in the real world. Just as well, but again I wish they had involved Asuna more. The first series was better when the two of them were together.

Aldnoah and Barakamon 7, Free! 7-8, Akame 7

August 22, 2014 Leave a comment
... and then I'll shoot you.

… and then I’ll shoot you.

Aldnoah Zero 7 was great fun, though there were some nutty coincidences and a bewildering exchange between Inaho and Slaine near the end whereupon Inaho shoots down Slaine’s ship, well, Slaine was shooting too … Not sure where they’re going with that. Looking at it through Inaho’s eyes, this guy has just helped him kill off Femieanne and her ridiculous weapons. The enemy of my enemy and all that. But now he wants to meet the princess, so Inaho thinks he has some ulterior motive. I suppose he’s balancing one guess and another. As for Slaine, why did he fire at Inaho? Did he think that Inaho would try to keep him from the princess? No idea.

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Well, it’s a good way to end a good episode. We saw Inaho use his guile to keep Femieanne at bay, well, Slaine certainly helped. Hell, even Yuki back on the ground was of use. Femieanne was a fun homicidal villain, even giving those fist projectiles names and mourning them when Inaho/Slaine et al picked them off one by one. And she met an appropriate fiery mad villain death. So I’ll forgive the show the incredible dual coincidences of discovering a hidden dock, finding an aldnoah fighter inside, and even (“Oh my god what’s that??”) a fully operational battleship, which Asseylum duly boards and commands. Absolutely ridiculous, but, you see, when you make the rest of the episode entertaining you can get away with it. Instead of “I don’t believe it. What a stupid plot device,” it becomes “I don’t believe it. HELL YES!!” Other shows, take note.

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I seem to have skipped Barakamon 6. No matter. I don’t think whatever those visitors had to say it was very important. Big stuff in this show goes by in passing, anyway. More important this episode is the fishing. We learn hot to catch horse mackerel, and they actually catch some. Handa seems to be at peace with the visitors, even the little prodigy, and a good time is had by all, including me, even if they don’t quite catch the big one. The half-hour moved faster than just about any other episode of any show this season.

What the hell are you talking about?

What the hell are you talking about?

It seems that every time I turn around there’s another Free! episode out, so here’s another two-fer for you. Episode 7 took care of the relay competition in efficient fashion, almost too quickly, meaning there will be another direct confrontation between the schools later on. Everyone’s up for it, though they start dropping hints about future problems, small ones, like Makoto’s slow starts (and his search for an answer kicks off the plot of episode 8), but especially, what’s up with Sousuke and Haruka. In episode 7 Rin confronts Sousuke about his attitude, and the accusations become more abstract as the confrontations become more physical. Sousuke was looking for an answer when he did the relay, but didn’t find it, and is angry, and so is Rin because he didn’t find an answer, leading to Sousuke saying he’s angry he doesn’t have an answer either, while their grabbing each other’s collars and slamming each other into trees. I didn’t know athletes could get so philosophically pointless.

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Still, it was more interesting than episode 8, where Makoto volunteers to coach swimming. He loves it (seriously, he’d be an excellent swim coach, if he could learn to get stern with people), and of course there’s the one boy who is afraid of swimming because of a boating incident, and how to reach him. That part would be routine apart from how he manages the miracle cure. He has the boy swim on his back, so he can see the sky, or ceiling, and it was a moment that saved the episode: along with the usual “don’t be afraid” lines, he give the kid a revelation, a moment of joy. Good work! Apart from that both episodes have the question of what Haruka will do next, which would get almost as philosophically pointless as Sousuke’s issues (though it turns out Sousuke’s issues are more physical than he lets on) if he wasn’t so laconic. But it looks like we’ll get a full blast of it next week, if I remember to watch.

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In Akame ga Kill 7, the way they’ve framed the upcoming battle between Bulat and General Liver, it looks like Bulat’s going to get it next episode. The question is whether he can inflict enough damage to Liver first. The fact that he was once Liver’s subordinate isn’t going to help his chances, and I don’t want him stumbling around in confusion during the battle, though that will certainly happen. As for Tatsumi, I don’t expect him to die, so let’s see how strong he can be against Nyau. It was funny to hear that third guy mouthing Tatsumi’s lines about getting stronger; for a moment I thought his imperial arms involved telepathy. But what’s the deal with sneaking aboard that ship? Tatsumi, Bulat’s invisibility doesn’t mean much if you’re chatting away with him on a crowded deck. Elsewhere, the show introduces us to two new characters and immediately slaughters them. Just a reminded not to get too attached to anyone in this series.

Space Dandy 6, SAO and Hanayamata 7

August 20, 2014 2 comments

I’m falling behind. Sorry …

I was hoping someone would mention that ...

I was hoping someone would mention that …

Sometimes when I watch Space Dandy I think I’m missing out on the joke. I felt that way through much of episode 6 as I wondered why they had a laugh track going–was this a commentary on modern media, or a reference to another ironic use of that most hated of sitcom devices from my childhood and adolescence? And, for chrissake, when would it stop?! I didn’t find the story itself any clearer. I appreciated the idea of a cloud computing metaphor going on (If that’s what it was. I have no idea), and it was nice to see Scarlet and Honey doing things apart from working. But it bounced from one plot bit to the next with nothing much holding it together. Well, it wasn’t the worst SD episode; I enjoyed watching and trying to figure out what would happen next, and be wrong. I just didn’t understand the point of it all. Maybe I AM too old for this.

In spite of this confrontation, no battle this week.

In spite of this confrontation, no battle this week.

Sword Art Online 2 7 is an in-between episode where both Kirito and Sinon gear up for the big battle that evening. Kirito has the most to get through, and it’s not the idea that Death Gun is maybe the guy who’s been killing people. His failure to notify the people who put him up to this is surprising; has he forgotten his mission? He’s more worried now about the guilt he feels for remembering or not remembering the names of the people (I forget which) that he killed. Maybe it hasn’t occurred to him that taking care of Death Gun might be a good way to atone, at least in part. Meanwhile Sinon gears up for the match by acting tsundere over Kirito, only to have Spiegel confess to her when she’s getting her game face on, showing a clueless lack of timing on his part, proof that he understands less about her than he thinks, or maybe he realizes that there’s more to life than therapy through games.

The girls being sorry and bawling their eyes out moment.

The girls being sorry and bawling their eyes out moment.

Hanayamata 7 clears the way for Yaya to join the yosakoi club full-time. To do this smoothly they had to invent some drama that mostly fell flat. I can understand Yaya’s intense disappointment over her band breaking up and ruining her ambitions, and how she might jealously lash out at the yosakoi club and thus hurt her friends. But it was too routine and led to too many tears–I expected some, but I thought Hana, giving the tearful speeches she gave, felt like an interloper. Naru was the one who should have given all of them. Well, Naru does get her main point across: Yaya’s been there for her for most of her life, it’s time to give some of that love back. And I liked how they lured Yaya to the roof in the first place–by shouting insults at her. Elsewhere, as I said, it was predictable, though I enjoyed the teacher trying to turn them into cosplayers.

Glasslip 7, Tankyou and Tokyo ESP 6

August 16, 2014 2 comments

Glasslip 7 has the same nonchalant tone as the others have had, but they throw in some extra weirdness right at the start.

One of him was too many, and now ...

One of him was too many, and now …

Something like this makes the viewer stand up and take notice, but we’re not told the reason why there’s extra Kakerus around. The other two of him are unwelcome, but not threatening. He tells them he doesn’t hate them, and he’s perfectly relaxed while the others are there. All I can figure here is that this is a manifestation to his being “broken,” though I think it’s rather late to throw this sort of visual metaphor in the series. Anyway, they show up twice and vanish just as quickly. Elsewhere on the weird front, Kouto has another couple of visions, one of them of Kakeru falling (with that Escher print of birds turning to fish in the background), and she becomes freaked out for his sake. “Don’t go anywhere high!” But, seriously, he could be falling into the ocean from a pier. They WERE planning a beach gathering later … The second one involves Yanagi and a big flock of crows, and it’s the most surreal of the lot, suggesting these visions aren’t actually reality. Hmm, bird prints, crows, chickens, that nest, the odd hawk in the sky. Maybe we ought to keep an eye on the birds in this series.

The scariest vision yet.

The scariest vision yet.

The other big running whatever-it-is this week is Yukinari’s attractiveness. A bunch of middle-school girls thinks he hot, Hina certainly thinks so, and urges him to “stay attractive” in might be the weirdest scene of the episode. And Yanagi, just before crows show up, tells Kakeru that he’s the reason Yukinari’s no longer attractive. Kind of like the three Kakerus, this metaphor is new to the series and isn’t developed further than the repeated use of the word. On to the happy couple. Sachi disappoints Hiro (and us) by scheming to crash Touko and Kakeru’s beach date. This is so surprisingly underhanded of her that we can only gape like Hiro does. On the other hand, it leads to an affirmation of Touko’s earlier vision, as Sachi sits there sadly, in her pajamas, on a hospital bed. On the other hand, at least she’s not getting sicker. Touko ought to learn that these visions are easily misconstrued, or maybe that’s another theme the show’s working on.

Oh, not another game ...

Oh, not another game …

Zankyou no Terror 6 is supposed to make me go wow at the irony of the two boy terrorists racing to Haneda Airport in order to stop a bomb, but the whole thing just irritates me. The reasoning for Twelve and Nine to stop a bomb going off in their name doesn’t hold up. They don’t think anyone would believe them, and I say they ought to make another video refusing responsibility and let the two factions above them duke it out. Unless it’s Nine deciding he has to interfere because it’s Five, and there it fails again because they haven’t told us enough. I’m more curious about the white-hair blowing up, or whatever the hell she did, the event itself, than I am about Nine’s conflicted guilt. Maybe if we knew more we could care.

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I’m also irritated by the ridiculous chess game Five is having them play. First, the last remaining piece will tell them where the bomb is? That’s not how the game works unless one side is playing not to win and the other knows it. On the other hand, I am very interested in how Shibazaki and his rogue buddies are going to interfere, if they can, and what the ramifications will be if they do. Right now the police have been shoved aside by FBI (and isn’t their restriction limited? What about saying Homeland Security, or NSA?), forces that don’t give a shit about civilian lives, and their struggle to save those lives and their own dignity have a greater impact on me than anything those kids can come up with.

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I thought Tokyo ESP 6 was going to take its turn and have the good guys beat up the bad guys, but instead the good guys, well, Rinka and Murasaki anyway, have to get some special training and a lot of speeches about motivation. So after a dark beginning where Rinka has to choose between rescuing Azuma and saving lives, she goes around saying she has no motivation, when she already has plenty, and getting training from a perverted martial arts master in a panda costume, once again mixing the serious and the silly, though not very well. I guess it’s a laugh after all bad stuff. She also gets a speech from Kuroi and is introduced to a new sparring partner who looks so much like Murasaki that I thought they were the same person. So I figure next week the first scene will be the new guy kicking Rinka’s butt for a while.

Sixes: Free!, Nozaki-kun, Hanayamata

August 14, 2014 2 comments
The episode wasn't as dramatic as this shot suggests.

The episode wasn’t as dramatic as this shot suggests.

In Free! Eternal Summer 6 we have the prelims, and while they do have a few races in it, it doesn’t feel all that compelling. The main drama is Makoto deciding to swim against Haruka in the 200m free in order to have a serious race with him. Makoto loses, and he doesn’t mind. That’s really it. Well, it’s nice to see everyone else qualifying for the finals, even Rei, who’s so choked up at barely passing that you’d think he had actually won something. There’s supposed to be some drama with Haruka and Rin going against each other in the 100m free, but they’re buds now, and besides, this rivalry is a work in progress. The more interesting drama is Sousuke disapproving of Rin’s coming second, but we don’t really know what climbed up Sousuke’s butt to begin with, so it’s hard to care. Maybe the relay next week will be more interesting.

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Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun 6 is a solid episode. Hard to say which part is better. In the first story we meet a boy named Wakamatsu who is traumatized daily by Seo in basketball practice, adding to his insomnia, but is instantly put to blissful sleep by Seo’s singing, but he doesn’t know it’s her. He tries to settle the former issue by confronting her on the roof, but miscommunication (Seo is pretty dense after all) leads to one of the show’s better scenes so far. Why do so many characters in the show take inspiration and advice from Nozaki’s shoujo manga? Oh well, what’s hinted at and quickly dropped is that Seo might have a crush on Wakamitsu. I hope they follow up on that.

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I didn’t think the second story could top that, especially since this show can be uneven, but it’s still very good. Nozaki is sick and his three assistants (well, the redhead isn’t there) try to finish his work by the deadline for him. Competence jokes aside (hence the scene’s slow and predictable start), the subsequent fumbling around for background patterns or whatever they’re called, based on their own opinions of the manga’s characters (and people they know) lead to some good moments. It’s especially amusing because it shows Chiyo is as good at playing the fool as she is the straight man. So it’s two good scenes this week. One has Seo but no Chiyo. The other has Chiyo but no Seo. Take your pick.

This scene isn't really that dramatic, either.

This scene isn’t really that dramatic, either.

Hanayamata 6 packs in more of the usual scenes you’d expect in a struggling performing club scene: conditions from the advisor, do well in exams (Hana doesn’t), meaning we get studying scenes, etc etc, until the bit when the advisor relents because Hana is at least trying. Japanese is her worst subject, strange to say, but it seems it’s the literature that’s dragging her down. It’s cute and dull, but livened up by two scenes, one where the girls show off the dancing they’ve learned so far to their fellow students, and Tami’s music turns out to be the show’s OP theme. Since the opening is lovely, its use here carries additional weight. But why are the other girls suddenly so interested? It’s like the first three episodes never happened. And the first bit, where Naru’s father tries to figure out what has brought this change in her daughter, was kind of sweet. But why hasn’t Naru told him yet?

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