Kill la Kill 21 kept up the intensity it built over the last few episodes, but it felt like it was spinning its wheels. It was all about how to snap Ryuuko back to normal, or get that godrobe off her, and you knew that if it did happen this episode it would happen at the end. The episode tried to get everyone involved, but most of the time they were standing by or dealing with the Nui distraction. Plenty of battling, but not much action.
Still, it was mostly fun to watch. You’d figure that Satsuki and Senketsu wouldn’t have the bond to defeat Ryuuko (though I think I said the opposite last week). So it turns out the four devas had another plan. Then Nui shows up, so they had her to contend with. Meanwhile I payed attention for anything that would suggest a change in the situation, like Satsuki’s comment to Nui about how she hasn’t abandoned her scissor half, or Mako’s latest alleluia speech. Mako, inadvertently wearing Senketsu(!), entering Ryuuko’s mind finally worked, but not before we had a false Mako death (I really wasn’t worried about that, since it was a dream sequence of sorts, but the the blood spurting out did give me pause) and a moment of despair before Ryuuko did her surprising turnaround, which, by the way, wasn’t explained well enough for me. She “kills” Mako at that fantasy altar, the wakes up and stabs Nui. Huh? … Never mind. It wasn’t as effective as previous episodes, but still entertaining.
Nagi no Asukara 22 continues to irritate me, with these angry, indecisive or useless characters. This week Hikari discovers that Manaka has seemingly lost some memories since returning from the Ojoshi-sama graveyard. Of course, they’re memories connected to his possible relationship with her, so he’s upset about it. This is about the only interesting thing we get in the first half. The rest of it is spent with people standing around, looking sad over innocent comments someone else has said. In the second half Hikari and Miuna (trying to figure out why he’s in such a huff) stumble upon a shrine, and there’s Uroko-sama, whom Hikari’s been looking for. He instantly gets creepy around Miuna and then lays a long, confusing infodump concerning a tale that seems to be repeating now, showing us that, as usual, gods are selfish, vindictive, narcissistic types who don’t deserve the worship people give them. So basically the sea god decided to take away Manaka’s ability to love someone because she wanted to return to the surface. So there! Neener! Not only that, this climate disaster is only going to get worse for everybody. That’ll show ‘em! Punish all those innocent people because one middle-schooler regrets something! Not that any of that matters to the human characters in this show, apart from Tsumugu; they’re too busy trying to figure themselves out or messing up their love lives. Man, if this show wasn’t so damn close to its end I’d drop it like a stone.
Not sure what’s going on with Chuunibyou Ren 9. Everything happens at a beach where they’re working at the behest of Kumin’s aunt, so it’s a beach/swimsuit episode. But the central story is that of Rikka losing her powers, which seems to mean she’s beginning to lose interest in her tyrant’s eye delusions, to which I say: good. But Satone, who seems to know exactly what Rikka’s thinking, gives her an ultimatum of sorts: sacrifice the delusions for the sake of her boyfriend, or embrace them like she did, though it’s becoming obvious that she now regrets her decision. There’s also a token involved. All this will be developed later on, I guess, but I don’t see that it’ll be very interesting–everyone on this show’s too nice to let anybody get too hurt. Also Touka shows up out of nowhere (EVERYONE’S in this beach episode, even the cat), with both her ladle and a small girl named Cento, who buys into all this 8th grade syndrome nonsense and has a great time. Touka is both relieved and disappointed that the romance involving her sister is hardly moving forward. As for me, I’m getting annoyed. Like I said, I don’t Satone can pose a serious threat, but then what will the show do for the next few episodes?
Nobunaga the Fool 8 again removes any hope of serious intrigue by rushing through the story. We have Caesar, with the loyalty of Takeda behind him and lusting after Ichihime, settling in, all ready for some intrigue (at least he’s plotting things), but Nobunaga decides to go ahead and attack and ruin his fun. There’s a fake castle they “build” using a DaVinci projector to distract the rest of the army, and we have another big robot fight as the centerpiece. Jeanne intervenes and screws up a prphecy, and Caesar gets … well, hard to say, since he sort of fades to white after Nobunaga comes up with another Regalia power (wind). If he’s dead I have no idea where the story goes from here, and it would be a story arc far too short for the stature of both him and Nobunaga, so I’ll assume for now he’s alive. Either way, Nobunaga rises in power and stature again. Who’s going to stop him, unless they’re actually going to resume with the intrigue and have some aides plotting his death, or something? I’d enjoy that.
And Nobunagun gets even sillier than it was before. First, we get no conclusion to that bit with Sio drowning. She just wakes up in a hospital in Japan, with no explanation as to why she was transported halfway across the world when all she had was a head abrasion and a sprained ankle, except so she can meet Asao, I guess. Naturally, more beasties attack and no one’s around to fight them. Sio would, except they took her AU ball away for … safekeeping (seriously, what’s up with this organization?), and she’s got a bum ankle that conveniently gives her a dose of pain whenever she moves to do something helpful. Asao bravely tries to lure one monster away from the others, but it’s basically a suicide mission and everyone knows it. It’s actually a nicely set-up dire moment if you ignore the idea that it shouldn’t be happening in the first place, and I wondered how they’d get out of it. Here’s how: with no gun to conjure, Sio fires a deadly ray WITH HER FINGER! … And so, a silly show becomes even sillier. I should have known.
Seitokai Yakuindomo 9 … Takatoshi’s not eating a good breakfast, and has a bag for one onigiri. The weekly pronouncement. The SC helps Ranko get out the latest issue of the school newspaper, where they discover and reveal Daimon and Michishita’s engagement (remember the field trip? Of course not). Congrats! The strange young woman in the clubroom turns out to be former SC president Furuya-senpai. There’s much catching up and everyone discovers she’s very old-fashioned about some things, but not all. Everyone goes to her college festival and has a good time. Then we learn that Uomi’s uncle and Takatoshi’s aunt are getting married (lot of marriage talk this week), so now he and Kotoba have to call her onee-chan. Shino and Suzu are clearly jealous. And we finish with Aria’s “What’s This?” corner, where Takatoshi and Suzu are driven to scream their lines. And there you go.
Sekai Seifuku: Bouraku no Zvezda 8 dumps a lot of backstory on us, so it’s not the best episode of the lot, but it’s salvaged by the fact that it’s given to us in little bits, as Kate leads Jimon and Roboko to a live robo-butler show which is, of course, part of an elaborate scheme to infiltrate Zvezda headquarters. But the majority of the backstory comes via Goro visiting an event starring master patiessier “Pierre,” which itself part of the same elaborate scheme. Pierre’s initial coldness to Goro didn’t make much sense considering the loyalty-swings he exhibits later, but we get a pretty good idea of what the two men shared in the past through muttered lines about Tsubaki and a few brief flashbacks. Then the two main stories come together, stuff gets blown up, and we get some of new antagonist White Falcon’s own backstory with Zvezda. I suppose you could call this Goro’s episode except he only got half of it. A more confusing episode than usual, but done with the show’s usual charming and bizarre sensibility.
The usual bizarre art and the solid comic direction rescues Nisekoi 8 from the fact that there was almost no story for the most of it. We spent almost all the time watching Tsumugi attack or threaten just about anyone who gets close to Chitoge, especially Raku. Then we watch her heart go thumpity-thump whenever he’s around, but doesn’t know why, so we get a bunch of scenes of her asking people. Then she goes into extreme tsundere mode for a while. But surprisingly, it was only during the asking around business that I felt the show was dragging. It was so much fun watching the little bits they tossed in, like Onodera and Ruri rising in the air when Tsumugi slams a desk, and later, banging her head through the fourth wall. Tsumugi is a lot of fun when doing the tsundere. There’s also her situation: she’s devoted to Chitoge but falling in love with her boyfriend. I’d be confused, too. The plot-stuff at the end was almost as good, though it featured Chitoge and not Tsumugi, for all the same reasons. As for that plot, now we have two girls with keys and one boy with a locket. I wonder how many more keys there are?
Speaking of bizarre art, Space Dandy 9 gives us some of the trippiest visuals I’ve seen in anime since Kaiba.
If we’re to look at this series as a bunch of stand-alone episodes, each one exhibiting different creative talents, this one is really the only successful episode so far. Its view of the world called Planta doesn’t look like any of the others; it’s unique, and while the look isn’t completely original (I’ve mentioned Kaiba, there was also the game Botanicula and that head-trip episode of Occult Academy), they use this imaginative, colorful world to tell us a relaxed, spacy story that doesn’t feel a need to rush.
Basically, Dandy and Meow transport, rather roughly, onto Planta in search of Code D, an unregistered alien. Meow winds up in the south, and it’s clear early on what’s going on with him, so we spend more time with Dandy as he’s captured and released by Dr H, an intelligent plant (it’s all plant life there), and they, along with the spore-like daughter, travel to find this mysterious alien. There are small adventures along the way, but more than once the show decides it’s more fun to just watch the amazing variety of plants, seeds, roots, leaves, and spores which float or amble by and happy, silly music plays. And they’re right. Later in the episode I think the show got a little TOO laid-back, but for most of the time the episode is a visual and aural treat. A shame they’ll have to switch to something else next week, but you can’t stay on Planta forever. You’d get nothing done.
After watching Kill la Kill 20, I give up on trying to predict what the show will do next.
It’s too much to say that they turned everything 180 and now we have to root for the villain to defeat the hero. Ryuuko’s simply brainwashed and needs someone to talk or knock some sense into her. But if we had seen the screenshot above a dozen episodes ago we wouldn’t have believed it, or we’d have invented some other story line. But now I’m already breaking my vow. Maybe Ryuuko won’t get her senses back during this fight. Maybe she’ll win, and that ship will sink with everyone on it, and someone else will have to betray Ragyo, maybe Nui. … Nah.
Besides, thinking about it, I don’t know if she CAN win. True, even without Junketsu, Ryuuko was able to slice building up, but she’s not herself. A couple of episodes ago she was able to tear life fibers out of her brain! This episode, she gave up pretty easily. Also, I remember Satsuki having difficulties controlling Junketsu, and though it didn’t matter at the time, I suspect now that they inserted those bits as foreshadowing. On the other hand, if Ryuuko is a life-fiber monster she shouldn’t have such a hard time. On the other other hand, Satsuki is wearing Senketsu with the clothing’s permission. While she had struggled to dominate Junketsu, she asked Senketsu for his help. They’ll do their best to cooperate.
So place your bets, if you dare. What will happen next week? Will Satsuki get through to Ryuuko? Will Senketsu? Maybe Senketsu will get through to Junketsu instead! Will Mako succeed where she failed this week? Will the four Devas be able to assist? Will Nudist beach manage to do anything useful at all? Don’t ask me. I just don’t know anymore.
For Nagi no Asukara, I suppose it’s not fair to complain because the story arc might give a little hiccup and move forward once an episode, because at this point I can’t figure out what the actual story is. As for the characters, they can’t take care of the mysteries of this cooling period, or waking up the people underwater, because they don’t know enough. Besides, they’re all trying to get their personal lives sorted out. On that side, Manaka’s awake and delighted by … well, I was going to say everything, but she seems fixated on the salt-snow at the moment. Everyone’s happy that she’s happy, except Miuna, who thinks she might be happy about it but feels guilty because maybe she doesn’t. At any rate, she’s been shoved aside in the Hikari sweepstakes. The others go on the way they always do, especially Chisaki, who, Manaka implies, hasn’t changed at all. I can’t remember now, but does she WANT to change? And so another episode slides smoothly past, until the surprise fish at the end, suggesting that asshole god is around, hopefully to speed up the plot.
Since the important story of Chuunibyou was taken care of in the first season, a lot of us worried or wondered if Ren would have a backbone strong enough to hold up new stories, and while watching the Yuuta/Rikka romance slowly blossom has been cute, the new season has been less compelling to watch. But episode 8 manages to find something interesting. A fake Mori Summer appears and has bamboozled Sanae away from Shinka. My first reaction was “So what’s the problem?” and indeed, Shinka was, at first, relieved. I liked this reaction. She had tried to put Mori Summer behind her, and this reaction showed that she had succeeded.
But this would ignore the fake Mori and her interest in Sanae. She comes off as creepy in her first scene, and when we (and Shinka, Yuuta, et al.) get in our heads that she’s interested in more than Sanae’s pure spirit, or purity for that matter, the episode becomes less comic. After all, she’s a deluded, love-struck stalker. But it manages to remain light, since in order to battle her Shinka must remember Mori Summer stuff she’d rather forget. The big imaginative battle at the end stretched my incredulity somewhat, I mean, with the others cheering her on, it’s almost as if that big light show was actually happening, but the show hits just the right note when Shinka gives her big speech at the end, with that heavenly music playing. It’s one of the best moments of the season, and it made Sanae come somewhat to her senses. I do feel a little sorry for the fake Mori Summer, however, while at the same time I worry that she won’t let go and Sanae will have a stalker to deal with. Nah, not that kind of show.
Nobunagun 8 has Sio and her guys joining up with another bunch of guys to fight what they’re calling a battleship, though it looks like a giant octopus to me. No wait, only two tentacles, so would that be a bipus? Whatever it is, the first platoon has to take out one tentacle, our guys the other one. Good thing too, since the two platoons don’t get along at all, as they make clear early in the episode, the middle of the episode, and up to the end. But they’re (almost) united by their mutual, growing hate for Vidocq, who orders sweet little Galileo to take in key information until it nearly kills her from the feedback, then says he’s too busy to visit her in sickbay. The poor thing’s got a crush on him, too. I frankly don’t care too much about that; the show’s at its strongest when Sio channels Oda and gets that evil grin on her face, and while that doesn’t quite happen, she has a moment of battle insight that saves just about everyone, including that old lady who runs things and came out to take direct command for no reason I can see except she needed to be put in danger for the plot. As for Sio, her heroic moment now has her sinking, unconscious, in the water, and nobody seems to have noticed. I’m beginning to have my doubts about this organization.
I would talk about the great intrigue found in our other Nobunaga show this season, Nobunaga the Fool, but it’s pretty straightforward and naive. We have Mitsu doing nefarious things like killing Nobunaga’s brother while still devoutly obeying the fool himself, in fact, the murder was out of loyalty. On the other side we have Caesar supposedly working with the Takeda clan while actually planning his own conquest of the land, or maybe just Ichihime. Both of them are fooling a lot of people, but it’s just a single level of deception. There are no wheels within wheels going on here. As for the actual story this week, we get a lot of mourning for Nobukatsu, though it looks like Ichihime will pull through. I liked her better anyway. I was surprised that the big fight (okay, the second) between Nobunaga and Shingen had such a decisive ending. Still, it was fun. They even had some time during locked-sword time to talk (“Sorry about your dad.” “Shit happens.”). I enjoyed Shingen’s honest bloodlust and sense of honor, so it’s a drag to see him go and die and have that smirking Caesar take over.
Seitokai Yakuindomo Huh 8 starts with all the events of summer you’ll ever find in anime apart from the ghost stories. The SC is off scouting beach locations for the school trip, but it seems like more of an excuse to have a beach episode to me. Shocking. Anyway, Takatoshi takes a group photo, we have our weekly rule announcement, more beach activities, then night falls, so there’s test of courage (scouting) and the inevitable local festival with fireworks. When they get back home they do their summer homework together, except for the bored Suzu, and Kotomi, who ran away. Shino tells the dozing Takatoshi that she’ll be giving him morning calls from now on, and believe it or not, the punchline is not dirty. Then the latest of the riveting drama corner “Takatoshi and Dried Squid: Max Power!” And finally, it’s too hot to sleep so Shino calls her friends. Oh, and Takatoshi has a photoshopped photo of Takatoshi that’s making the rounds. It felt tamer than the usual episode, or I’m not getting the jokes.
Sekai Seifuku – Bouryaku no Zvezda 7, in all its glorious weirdness, actually gets back to an overarching plot line, two, actually.
This show is always cheerfully weird, the fact that the society bent on conquering the world is distracted by a high school treasure hunt should remind us of that from the start. But when the fake legend of the udo stones turns out to be true, or rather, more than a story made up as a part of a trap, well, actually, I kind of expected that. But to then go on a hallucinatory bent where Kate is turned into a fifty-foot tall demon who chases after the terrified and incredulous Jimon in order to “conquer” him, smashing everything in her path, then we know we’re in a special place indeed, at least for this show, even while the rest of the characters are engaged in more mundane things, like shooting each other.
As for the mind-trip sequence, it makes some sort of sense if you take to heart Natasha’s prophecy recital about a “chosen one,” though I didn’t expect kate to grow so tall. Then there are complications, like the words Jimon overhears before hand where Kate says she is not ready and it’s too soon. Or the words she says while chasing Jimon down. “If you won’t let me conquer you then you should conquer me!” which has all sorts of implications to it, some of which, Kate being a small girl, I would rather not contemplate. And then at the climax, she reverts, and that’s it. A taste of things to come, hopefully. It was fun as hell to watch, though the second plotline they’ve rediscovered, the revelation of Jimon’s parents at the end, signals a return to a more mundane story that I’d rather not contemplate for a different reason: it’s dull. Well, the show has managed to inject the weird into the mundane before; let’s hope it does so again.
Space Dandy 8 pulled a nice surprise on us. It wasn’t a heartwarming story about a stray dog (well, a little), or even a parody of a heartwarming story about a stray dog (ditto). The poor pooch dies (gently and probably happily) with half the episode to go and me scratching my head. Until I realized that what those two brothers really were. After that it turns into a silly chase for a while, and after that a decent, good-looking black hole sequence, neither really living up to the potential of hi-tech humanoid fleas on an adventure of their own. But I’ll give them credit for the concept and for the misdirection that the dog gave us.
Nisekoi 7 is more routine stuff made nearly surreal by Shaft. For the routine stuff we meet Tsumugi hit man who obviously has a thing for Chitoge and therefore a grudge against Raku. Part of the fun here is that normally Raku would say “Help yourself,” but he’s got a role to play, and there’s the matter of Tsumugi wanting to kill him no matter what. Then we get the reveal at the end, which I’m ashamed to say I didn’t see coming. Also fun was Chitoge’s reaction when Tsumugi challenges Raku to a duel. There’s no way Raku can win this thing, at least physically, but she offers him no help whatsoever. The whole thing goes down smoothly thanks to Shaft’s expert handling of the comic bits … on the other hand, the hallucinatory touches sometimes get a tad distracting.
I don’t really know what to think about Kill la Kill 19.
I didn’t expect a huge episode full of fights and revelations after that craziness last week, and I didn’t get one. Not to say it was sedate. Instead, the episode concentrated on getting us caught up with what happened to everyone AFTER last week, since they jumped ahead five months, with moments of characteristic action bubbling to the surface. But it felt off, like there was now a distance between me and the characters and events. Maybe it was that the circumstances had changed so much. Revocs has pretty much won. Nudist Beach, with the Four Devas helping, can do little more than rescue some people and fiddle with new weapons. Satsuki is hanging from her arms in a cage. Ryuuko won’t wake up. Or maybe it was the “all is lost” feeling about the whole thing.
About the only things that I managed to get excited over was the Mako / Gamagoori Ship Watch, which took another couple steps forward after Mako gets sucked into a Cover and is later rescued by him, and some of the signs of life the others show near the end, such as Satsuki’s toenail, and Ryuuko waking up. Of course, the Ryuuko we have now is bitter and nihilistic about her own existence now, a “life fiber monster,” as she describes herself. But, hell, she’s awake, and more capable of doing damage than anyone else on the good guys’ side. But what were those harp things supposed to be? That’s where the show took a further step away from me. And why is Ragyo going on now about rage, and is Ryuuko’s rage what she’s talking about? Okay, plenty of stuff to enjoy and think about this week, but it didn’t have the impact it should.
Meanwhile, Nagi no Asukara is still making it hard to care about anything at all. Plot-wise, Manaka is still unconscious, and they take the whole episode trying to figure out ways to wake her up, and when she does at the end, saying the most profound thing I can remember her saying (“Ue?”), it’s not clear whether any of the things they tried worked or not. Let’s see, she woke up when Miuna and Hikari were arguing about whether to wake her up with a kiss … maybe there’s a connection there, maybe not. Well, it’s better than kissing her and having her wake up. The show’s not stupid like that, just slow and pointless at times. Elsewhere we spend time with Miuna, who’s afraid that she actually doesn’t want Manaka to wake up because of something she blurted out earlier in the episode. This is silly, but she’s in middle school and can be forgiven beliefs like that. And there’s the question of why Miuna now has ena and Manaka doesn’t–is it a passing of the torch between the two? Are they suggesting that Miuna is the one Hikari should wind up with? But considering that I don’t really like both Manaka and Hikari, I can’t find the energy to care. Sad to say that this has become the dull, downer show I watch after Kill la Kill …
I guess Chuunibyou Ren is somewhere in between. Here, the little romance takes a step forward after nearly falling apart, thanks to Satone crashing Yuuta and Rikka’s school-trip date. What’s surprising here is how Rikka behaves. She is rightly upset that Yuuta tries to help out Satone, watching the two of them perform some nearly flawless magic on a monkey, and running off afterwards, but once she settles down she also shows more sense than I expected. It wasn’t their fault the monkey chased them and made them fall off that ledge, hell, just helping Satone out was the decent thing to do. And later, when Satone calls her out, they have a sensible chat. In spite of their degrees of delusions, they know enough now to drop the childishness when it’s important. But the biggest shock comes at the end, with the “I love you.” There was no beating about the bush, no lapse into Tyant’s Eye speech, no steam coming out of Rikka’s collar, no hesitation at all. If anything, she sounded playful, maybe enjoying the surprise on her boy’s face. A lovely moment. If this second season is simply going to be about the two of them getting closer, this episode was a good way to do it.