Hanayamata 11, Free2 12

September 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Work is going to delay my posts for a couple days, so I thought I’d put these two up now.

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Hanayamata 11 was sweet and infuriating at the same time. It was sweet because, for once, all the tears Hana and the others shed felt right on target. Not too many, not too few. They also used the OP music effectively to heighten the emotions without overwhelming us with bathos. It was infuriating because Hana was stupid enough to not only tell the others that she was leaving a week before the performance, but she didn’t even mention to her loving, doting mom that she wanted to stay one more fucking week and do something very important to her. Surely, if this was that important, her mom would have done something to make it work. It’s also inexplicable behavior for her. She’s always been upfront about what she wants. Why didn’t she say anything to anybody until it was too late to change plans? Argh, Yaya was right. Baka! The saving grace of the episode was Naru’s growth, giving comfort to a friend who dearly needed it.

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Free! Eternal Summer 11, in spite of its usual quality production values, was an underwhelming episode. Rin takes Haru to Australia, meets Rin’s homestay folks, stares at the beach, hears Rin’s story about his time here, and finally visits the Sydney aquatic center and discovers his dream, which is … what? Okay, to keep swimming, but where? I suppose it’s unfair to ask Haru while the new dream is still staring him in the face, but I couldn’t help wondering if he’d go to Australia, since Rin has pretty much admitted he can’t swim unless Haru is near, or back home? Also, the visit was surprisingly mundane. I was happy that there hadn’t been some huge crisis we’d have to watch via flashback, but as it turned out I yawned through most of it. The saving grace was the views of Sydney and the people there, which put me in ind of K-ON’s London visit.

Categories: Free!, Hanayamata

Elevens: Aldnoah, Akame, SAO2, Nozaki-kun

September 16, 2014 Leave a comment
This would be me in battle.

This would be me in battle.

Aldnoah Zero 12 is one of those episodes where it’s tense all the time, everyone’s battling, but there’s nothing really to say. All the familiar things happened. the bad guys have pushed the good guys to the brink, the good guys have one more attack ready, Inaho comes up with a cunning plan which frankly seems really stupid to me, but it works … Rayet redeems herself by escorting Asseylum through danger (what an amazing coinkidink that mecha crashing into her prison cell yet still being functional). Oh, we finally see something besides Vers royalty and nobility, some infantry grunts invading the stronghold, and I couldn’t tell them apart from the Earth forces. Maybe that’s a statement of sorts.

In this show, that IS a pretty good trick.

In this show, that IS a pretty good trick.

Akame ga Kill 11 has a lot of fighting too, but this show has the edge of happily killing off characters whenever it wants to. You figured that guy with Sheele’s imperial arms was going to go down, so Mine would get a mourning scene with the scissors, but Leone going down early seriously worried me. The rest of it was underwhelming. Every time a bad guy displayed a new power it was quickly negated by good guys intervening. Then the boss brought in two ringers to make it all meaningless, even Stylish’s leveling-up. Favorite bit for me was Tatsumi and Mine’s reaction when Leone rejoins the fight, seriously pissed off.

I hope Azuna isn't watching this.

I hope Azuna isn’t watching this.

I expected more mayhem when I watched Sword Art Online 2 11, but the damn thing was nothing but talk. Basically, Kirito comforts Sinon some more, and pull some improbable deductions out of their asses to conclude that there’s a murderer in Sinon’s room right at that moment. So the whole killing people in a video game thing is more a setup between the online killer and a real-life one. I’m not sure what to make of this. It’s a mundane way of killing people, and removes the mystical-technological bullshit from the equation, but I don’t see a way the two killers could time things so perfectly. Also, since the original SAO game shows that the series is fully capable of mystical-technological answers, I don’t see why they’re trying to make it more “realistic.”

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Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun 11’s first half was maybe the better one, since at one point I actually burst out laughing (Sakura sitting on Nozaki, then the romantic flower, followed by the fake hand). And it’s still kind of sweet to see Sakura acting all giggly over this dense lunk. The second half wasn’t bad but there was no Sakura or Seo or even Kashima. Just the boys. Nothing wrong with the boys, and I always like it when the show flips genders and consider the boys’ behavior as if they were girls. But what on earth was that at the end with the valentine chocolate in the fridge? Why doesn’t Sakura recognize it?

Zankyou 9, Glasslip 11, Tokyo ESP 10

September 14, 2014 2 comments

Zankyou no Terror 9 is mainly two deceptively quiet scenes that are extremely powerful and just fly by, leaving me wanting more.

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In the first scene Shibazaki and Hamura visit Souta Aoki, one of the one’s responsible for the Athena Project, and he spills the beans. Simple as that. And we the viewer probably didn’t need to learn the information because we’ve already been clued in, apart from the Dr. Mamiya bit. But there are other things going on. Obviously, there are the two cops’ reactions to the information, rage on Hamura’s part and a sort of resigned, mild surprise on Shibazaki’s. Also, Aoki seems to be unburdening himself for the first time in years. His calmness and his age suggest that he has fully accepted that he is a sort of monster, one who is too old to care. Finally, his confession puts all three men in danger, and they’re all aware of it. I expected a gunshot through the window at every moment. When the scene was over, to my surprise, I discovered that half the episode was done.

The rain has stopped.  The moon is out.

The rain has stopped. The moon is out.

The second scene had Twelve racing to rescue Lisa, who’s shackled inside a ferris wheel car with a bomb strapped to her. While Twelve defuses the bombs they talk. Lisa apologizes, Twelve forgives her. What makes this scene beautiful to watch is that there are too many bombs on Lisa for Twelve to defuse before the clock on her chest gets to zero. He knows it, but doesn’t tell her, just keeps working, gently, like a doctor slowly treating an hurt patient. Also there’s another lovely Yoko Kanno song playing, almost a lament, timed perfectly at the point where Lisa realizes why Twelve willingly walked into this trap, at which point the camera pulls back, so we can see most of the wheel, a completely unnecessary and beautiful moment. Certainly the most romantic bomb-defusing scene I’ve ever seen … Five’s rude phone call and Twelve’s “betrayal” of Nine (I’m not buying that just yet–Nine’s got something up his sleeve), and Five’s collapse, you know, plot, felt like an intrusion after what we’d seen. There you are. Two scenes that could have been nothing, made amazing by creators who know what they’re doing.

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With episode 11 of Glasslip, our three sort-of couples are back together, but none of them can be considered a couple yet. Hiro and Sachi are going at their own pace–up a mountain, Yukinari and Yanagi are running together with the latter sitting in on the former’s dance class, and Touko and Kakeru are conducting “experiments.” Apart from that kiss last episode, which is not elaborated upon, the romance with all three is uncertain. But maybe they’re close enough for them to see the snowflakes that Touko keeps seeing. Hell, everyone should be able to see it. It’s actually sticking. I was briefly reminded of Nagi no Asukara and expected someone to jump into the sea … wait, didn’t Touko “see” Kakeru fall once? Maybe he’ll fall in and get rescued by Hikari or Shisaki, complicating both plotlines.

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But Touko is having different hallucinations as well. Now she’s seeing fireworks in the glass beads, and, weirdly, Kakeru can see them too. And we can hear them. Touko seems to think it means that Kakeru will be with her next summer instead of going off around the world with her mom, but I’m thinking it might be a flashBACK instead, to the first moments they were together. If so, they’ve moved past something, but things are too unsettled with Kakeru now. He still has conversations with his double, fragments of himself, I guess, and besides, his mom hasn’t finished her recital yet. Who knows what more they have to do in the two episodes remaining?

No, it's just you.

No, it’s just you.

Tokyo Esp 10 starts with Rinka’s capture, followed by a catchup thanks to the Panda. Still looks bleak. We also have Kyotarou trying to escape, which leads to Minami’s flashback, where we learn how Azuma became a murdering shithead. It’s standard Sweeney Todd stuff, murdered wife and friends and a government cover-up, so everyone must die. We DO learn where the goldfish come from–the arc of the covenant, of course! It even looks like the one in the movie. More interesting, though only by default, is Kyotarou’s “What would Rinka do?” bit, because it nicely pushes away justifications of the insane. Too bad he’s still stuck on that island.

Hanayamata and Akame ga Kill 10, Free2 11

September 12, 2014 Leave a comment
The team is finally assembled, nearly at the end of the series.

The team is finally assembled, nearly at the end of the series.

You can tell a lot about Machi’s personality in Hanayamata 10 by how she joins the club. She just announces that she’s joining, and that’s that … with a little hesitation on the “please take care of me” line. And from there she starts working them to death as if she was the president. True, they should be practicing, but maybe they don’t need the newest member telling them that. On the other hand Azunyan kept doing the same thing in K-ON, but no one ever listened to her. And the club does need some leadership–the big plot crisis in the episode comes when they learn they had missed the deadline for registering for the festival. Happily, despite her snarking, no one is terribly offended by Machi’s behavior, except maybe Yaya, who keeps her mouth shut. And it works out in the end since it was clear from the start that she wanted the practicing mostly for herself. For next week’s invented crisis, Hana’s mom shows up.

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Akame ga Kill 10 is one of the funnier ones. First, we have the ridiculous scene between Tatsumi and Esdeath in her boudoir, in other words, two people possibly getting into a romantic situation who are on complete opposite sides of the conflict. Part of me feared for Tatsumi’s life and the other side said “enjoy it.” Instead, Tatsumi decides to try and convert Esdeath to the rebels’ side, a doomed enterprise but you have to admire him for trying, even if his speeches are still on a simplistic good vs. evil plane. And I thought he did a good job of trying without giving away his identity, that is to say, she didn’t kill him. And I suppose we have to give Esdeath a choice of good or evil, so she can reject it and we can move on.

Tatsumi the spy gets some key intel.

Tatsumi the spy gets some key intel.

Though I wonder if Esdeath and the Jaegers have the brains to recognize Tatsumi anyway, well, apart from Stylish. In the second ridiculous scene, Tatsumi manages to get away from Wave, transforming into his armor, only to have Wave, in his own armor, confront him, and neither side knows who the other is or thinks it through. Well, we have to figure Wave doesn’t have a lot on the ball. They’ve set him up as the empires’ equivelent of Tatsumi: young, a bit guileless, and wanting to do the right thing. He’s even had the type of meeting-the-weird-teammates scenes that Tatsumi had. But he IS the enemy, and I’m interested to see what the show is going to do with him.

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Free! Eternal Summer 11 brushes aside most of the old story arc stuff, save for one: Haru’s funk. Since the boy doesn’t show a lot on his face, his teammates and coach notice it when he swims. What’s more, their relay times are rising, they aren’t getting any better, so Haru’s funk is affecting everyone else, though they all seem to be trying. Every now and then throughout the episode, someone comes up and tries to get through to him with no success. Makoto a couple times, the other team members, even Sousuke has a few choice words for him. At least Sousuke gets a reaction other than “Shut up!” The problem here might be that time is passing. People are graduating and making plans, but Haru doesn’t seem to want to accept that they can’t swim together forever, and competitive swimming alone isn’t part of his dream. Well, maybe a surprise visit to Australia (Rin’s weird move at the end of the episode) will shake him up. Something had better; there are only two episodes left and they have to do the national competitions too.

Categories: Free!, Hanayamata Tags:

SAO 10, Dandy and Nozaki-kun 9-10

September 9, 2014 Leave a comment
An endless scene begins.

An endless scene begins.

Sword Art Online 10 starts well but falls into a hole, or cave, halfway through. It’s not that they shouldn’t have put that cave scene in the story; it was necessary to clear the air between them, and to allow Sinon to tell her story and make a decision or two about herself. In fact, it’s a good decision. Rather than revert to that terrified girl who shot a bad guy, she decides to toughen up, even though she doesn’t want to. It’s a hard thing to decide. And though she had to go through several emotional stages to get there, they all felt necessary. But then Kirito had to tell HIS backstory for the umpteenth time, with the flashbacks we’ve all seen before. While Sinon needed to hear it, they could have handled it better. Besides, I thought she already knew … And at the end of the episode they were STILL in that cave, talking. I was looking forward to Death Gun showing up, even it it meant more scenes of a shocked Sinon being unable to pull the trigger, which they overdid anyway.

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Space Dandy 9 is one of the better ones. Our heroes visit satellite Grease to win dance contest only to learn that the thing hasn’t been held in 500 years, so they help to revive it. And as luck would have it, a certain native plant or something is ready to reproduce, and there’s a sort of cosmic danceathon ending where everything is reborn, or dies and is reborn, or something. I didn’t quite follow. The show tries to peak on a big funky beat and when it does the episode stops making sense, so to speak. Well, it was great to look at, they had some funky music playing, so who really cares?

Dandy and Scarlet run from Scarlet's ex.

Dandy and Scarlet run from Scarlet’s ex.

And episode 10 is more straightforward, where two characters who dislike each other pretend to date only to kind of fall for each other. At least there’s no locket involved this time. We pretty much know where the episode is headed, we just wait to see if they’ll throw us any curveball. Not really, though I didn’t expect the bittersweet ending. I always liked the idea of a Dandy/Scarlet matchup, and since the show can bend time and space and toss other dimensions at us I thought the least they could do was let the pair hook up and explain it away with physics jargon so they won’t have to be a couple next week. Next week it looks like we’re getting a lover from another dimension, so it’s not that the creators didn’t have that idea at their disposal. Kind of cruel.

Tilting the umbrella toward the girl is supposed to be romantic.

Tilting the umbrella toward the girl is supposed to be romantic.

Also catching up with Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. Odd that I let it lapse because it’s about the only light comedy series I’m following now, unless you count Free!, and I do look forward to it. Anyway, episode 9 had plenty of Sakura in both halves, so it’s a good episode all around. In the first half they explore the umbrella-sharing romantic bits and poke a few holes into the concept, but it’s pretty straightforward. Better is a visit to Miyako to see how she’s holding up with that terrible editor she has, the type who, when Miyako calls to complain about something, makes her apologize for something completely different. And then there’s all the tanukis. Again, predictable but the actor deliveries and reactions make up for it.

Yuu sings--this episode only!

Yuu sings–this episode only!

Better than episode 10, where, first, Yuzuki and Hirotaka go to a movie and enjoy completely different things. Well, it’s more that Hirotaka enjoys the normal things and Yuzuki enjoys the bad guys and the violence. It’s pretty much what we expected until the end, where Hirotaka agrees to go to an amusement park with Yuzuki in order to spare other potential victims, which make me think that this might be a real, though twisted, relationship budding. Naturally the date was partly Nozaki’s doing, to aid in his research, though the characters he’s based on the non-lovebirds have their genders swapped. At least there are no tanukis. The next part is better. Yuu’s attempts at singing bring out a new art style in the show, one suggesting depression and pain. The finding a warm body to play a role in the school play wasn’t bad because we could see Hori interact with various characters via stage combat. The series is always better when it lets the characters bounce off each other, and when there’s plenty of Sakura.

Glasslip 10, Tokyo ESP 9, Aldnoah 10

September 7, 2014 Leave a comment

Glasslip 10’s quiet little moments felt especially enjoyable this week, so I was a little sad when they had to do some plot at the end.

Surprised to see these two talking together.

Surprised to see these two talking together.

We start with a continuation of the confession in the tower, where Sachi says she’s confessing her love to both of them. That’s perfectly all right with them, and does nothing more than reaffirm their friendship and solidify the notion that Sachi is a little weird. At least she doesn’t seem to be up to anything now. Later, to prove it, Kakeru comes to visit her and they talk almost like friends about Touko’s ability with shiny objects. I don’t know how she knew, but maybe I missed something. What’s especially nice is Sachi’s acceptance of Kakeru needing Touko, because she does as well, still, an odd little scene. Speaking of weirdness, Yukinari returns home from training camp looks at the cryptic messages Yanagi’s been sending her, and they match up perfectly with what he’s seeing now. Perhaps they’re making a point that if nothing ever changes, the present can look like the future. Still, it’s uncanny. Three cats, two white, one black …

It's snowing, in Touko's head, so Kakeru can kiss her now, right?

It’s snowing, in Touko’s head, so Kakeru can kiss her now, right?

Also among the quiet nothing scenes (my favorite being an odd non-conversation between Hiro and Kakeru, where both seem prepared to talk about things but don’t know what to say), Touko has a chat with Kakeru’s parents (odd conversational pair-ups this week: Kakeru and Hiro, Kakeru and Sachi, Touko and Kakeru’s parents …) and realize how his circumstances might make him feel isolated. Also, Yanagi’s running, now witnessed by Yukinari. But finally the show gets some serious plot done and get Touko and Kakeru together again, while she’s hallucinating snow and looking for a chicken. Even now that they’ve kissed it seems unclear to me whether they’re together romantically or not. It could have been an experiment in fulfilling one of Touko’s visions, though it was snowing then … well, it’s snowing in the scene, too, but only in her head … Argh, I think on one level or another I’m never going to fully understand this series, but it can be fun to watch.

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I figured Tokyo ESP 9 would be pretty depressing, but the show was clever at making it more so. The girls (and one guy we never see again) waltz into the school, terrorize the students, and proceed to beat the crap out of Rinka when she tries to intervene. Sure enough, Azuma joins in, holding poor Rinka up so they can pound her some more, though I don’t think it’s from anything sneaky they did while he was captive, he’s just another innocent party, mesmerized by one of the espers. Here, maybe the show takes a couple of missteps. In true anime fashion, he snaps out of it, but it’s pointless, because he’s whisked away by Minami, who doesn’t kill him, because maybe she likes him, though the episode takes great pains through flashbacks at showing how devoted she is to her dad. Anyway, Rinka’s “dead” and loses her powers, Peggy is captured, Azuma’s a long way away, and it’s all depressing. I guess I can live with Minami’s actions. After all, she did take Azuma out of the action.

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The show does a clever turn to make it even more cheerful by having the government rush through their anti-esper bill, meaning the police storm in on the recovering Rinka (her heart stopped for several minutes. No big deal), her dad, panda-sensei, etc., so now Rinka’s on the run from just about everyone. So is Kuroi, though Murasaki manages to reach her dad. The others, for now, are out of the picture. I’m trying to guess how they’ll get out of this. Rinka’s got to get her powers back, we’ve got Azuma, Murasaki and Ayuma still uncaught, as far as we know. And three episodes to do it all in.

Asseylum adds to Rayet's insanity without meaning to.

Asseylum adds to Rayet’s insanity without meaning to.

Aldnoah.Zero 10 begins with what we all expected. Inaho manages to revive Asseylum, though the ship I guess needs a full reboot, and then it’s time for Rayet to explain herself. We have a standoff (Rayet manages to get a gun) while she gives a speech that makes little sense, but we cut her slack because the balance of right and wrong have gone screwy in her head. She was a martian trying to take over earth, which led her father to try and kill a martian, messed-up enough, but then the martian princess doesn’t change her attitude but instead blames herself. No wonder Rayet winds up pointing the gun at her own head. Inaho, who is annoyingly everywhere he needs to be again, puts a stop to that. I’m also trying to figure out if there was any meaning to the fact that both assailant and victim wore nothing but white towels during this entire section.

A flashback to the partial orgins of Saazbaum's own insanity.

A flashback to the partial orgins of Saazbaum’s own insanity.

Later, we have a scene or two between Slaine and the more traditionally crazy Saazbaum. He gives his motives for invading the Earth–his fiancee was killed during the disaster caused by their side while they were invading the Earth the first time, and Mars is impoverished. I thought he had sworn revenge on the emperor? Or is he going after Asseylum only? He also leaves Slaine to his own devices, probably a bad idea, but Saazbaum is thinking about as logically as Rayet is, though he doesn’t have the excuses she has. Anyway, Saazbaum’s going to attack the Earth’s last stronghold. The good guys, including Asseylum, are obviously going to fight back. We know where the finale is headed.

Hanayamata 8-9, Akame ga Kill 9, Zankyou 8, Free 2 10

September 5, 2014 Leave a comment

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Hanayamata 8 sort of ruined all the fun for itself by foreshadowing a disastrous accident onstage. It looked to be a real memory or an anxiety dream, and I can’t tell which because Naru and Yaya have never mentioned it before. Either way, you knew the dream meant a bad thing happening, namely Naru falling down, so I had a hard time enjoying the other parts of the episode. Now, in the dream, little Naru fell down and just cried, and here she still has her wits about her, more or less, so there’s a chance she can recover and the girls can chalk it up to a learning experience. I suppose the next episode (which I haven’t watched yet) will let us know, if they’re not too busy with their new subplot–Sally and Machi’s not-so-great relationship, which I can frankly do without.

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… And episode 9 handled the disaster just right. Before Naru can get too overcome, Yaya, then Hana and Tami are crouched around her, offering their hands. Alas, they extend it too long by doing a scene at school soon after, where it turns out everyone already knows about her fear of audiences, but I guess the show needs a bit of closure like that. Then it’s on to the Sally/Sachi nastiness and way too many scenes of Machi saying spiteful things about Sally, laden with hints of an earlier betrayal she can’t get over, followed by walking off in a huff. Meanwhile, Sally might be quitting anyway, though they don’t really follow up on that. And finally a typically heartfelt scene where we learn the whole background and Tami reveals the truth they could have told us sooner, and right then Sachi is almost turned 180 degrees. Well, I expected nothing more from this show. Well, the good bits were very good.

Introducing the new bad guys, apart from Wave, who's getting his ass kicked.

Introducing the new bad guys, apart from Wave, who’s getting his ass kicked.

Apart from an early training scene where Tatsumi once again swears he will get stronger in honor of another dead comrade (to his credit, he already has), Akame ga Kill 9 switches us back to the silly side, where Esdeath has a new crack team put together. Let’s hope it does better than the last crack team, all killed by two people. They’re introduced as a bunch of doofuses, and we see it through the eyes of Wave, one of the new members and a person who seems a lot like Tatsumi at first; young, naive, optimistic, and dull, so I wonder if he’ll turn out psychotic like Seryu (who’s also a member). Elsewhere, we get an amusing new setup where Tatsumi wins a fighting contest and thus finds himself a reward for Esdeath, who has taken a liking to him. She drags him off while I wonder how much they’ll let us watch of the following scenes. Afterwards, will Tatsumi give another “I must grow stronger!” speech? Really, I can’t remember a show that can get both so bleak and so silly as this one.

A fugitive shouldn't accept parcels with her name on them.

A fugitive shouldn’t accept parcels with her name on them.

Zankyou no Terror is a good series, make no mistake, but then they keep doing stupid things that bring it down. In episode 8 it’s the whole Lisa thing. Mind you, if I was a noble terrorist who’s had to drag an innocent girl along, I’m not sure what I’d do with her either. One thing I would have done, however, is make sure that absolutely no one sees her. Surely they must have known that the authorities have her ID and hence all the information they need. Maybe they could have told her not to even open the door and accept packages in her name, for chrissakes. Admittedly, Lisa shares some of the blame for that; at times she seems to have no common sense at all. If you need further proof of this, look at her fleeing the boys–right into Five’s arms. And meanwhile Shibazaki is suspended but continues hitting the pavement looking for clues, the necessary dull but necessary work of sleuthing and backstory-building that will become important in the next three episodes.

Hey, that's the other team's line!

Hey, that’s the other team’s line!

Free! Eternal Summer 10 pretty much forgets about Haru’s angst and switches to Sousuke’s shoulder, and his reasons for swimming without the dream of it being on an international stage. He went to see Rin screw up last year and redeem himself by swimming with the good guys, and realizes, after years, that he wanted to swim with people, not alone, against everyone. Well, it wasn’t a flash of insight but something he probably came to realize bit by bit, just as his shoulder problems didn’t come instantly. We learn all this during an emotional argument with Rin, two bros nearly beating the crap out of each other because that’s how they do things, another of those too-long weepy-shouty scenes where the other teammates arrive just at the right time to give emotional support, and, naturally, Haru overhears. Well, it’s settled. Both schools have unified teams, and when the relay comes, it’s genuinely exciting not only because the animation is terrific as usual, but because we have no idea who will win or who to root for.

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