Catching up with NouCome. Let’s see. Episode 8 had Chocolat get hugged by Kanade (Choose!) and transform into a different Chocolat. In this new form she is rational, not a glutton, and pretty damn boring. But she at least is able to give Kanade some important information about his curse (there’s ANOTHER damn god doing it!) before something lands on her head and she returns to “normal.” The stupid Chocolat is useless, but she’s more entertaining to watch. I expect whenever the show needs to give us some important background information she’ll get whacked on the head again, rather a painful plot device, I must say. Meanwhile, Seira is screwing around with Kanade for reasons we don’t know, and the nutty girls are still nutty. Typical episode.
As for episode 9, we get the expected swimsuit episode, one where Kanade somehow has to make the always cheerful and crazy Ouka cry, and it’s not resolved yet, because of the rule of “no cheating.” He’s about to squirt onion extract into her face when it backfires on him. Seira is aware of this, meaning she’s not only in on Kanade’s curse, but, unlike Utage, seems to be an actual insider. Maybe the mysterious god behind all this? Will we get our answer next week? We’d better, it’s the final episode. As for THIS episode, it lurches from one typical pool scene episode cliché to another, while again, inexplicably, making me laugh along the way. Probably my favorite bit was Chocolat’s speech while judging a Sexy Man contest that turns into a yaoi fantasy, and no one minds.
Monogatari SS‘s last two episodes are little more than slow, deliberate construction of Kaiki’s deception of Nadeko. Though what strikes me about them is not so much the Nadeko situation, though that IS interesting, but the odd relationship Kaiki has developed with Senjougahara. Kaiki robbed her family blind and caused its breakup, then messed around with some middle-school girls, all reasons why she should absolutely hate him, and she probably still does. So when she turns to him to help save Araragi’s life (and hers, though Kaiko notes that this isn’t as important to her), Kaiko can’t help but take note of the fact. Is that why he’s behaving almost kindly to her? Out of pity? I can’t see it from him, though his purported reason for helping in the first place still feels like a stretch. It’s an odd place that these people are at, and episode 23 plays with that in the opening credits.
As for the story at hand we get a view of Nadeko now. As Kaiki said, she’s an airhead, probably insane, but apart from this killing Araragi, et al., she might be a fun god to worship. Kaiki’s opinion of her is pretty much what we already knew, that she was spoiled, forced to be cute, and had something going on that no one knew about, though with the opening of the closet at the end of ep23 I suspect we’ll find out more about that. But if you make her a god and do the proper worship things she’s probably your BFF. Gaen seems to think so, so Ononoki gets sent to tell Kaiki to drop the fool-Nadeko project. However, Gaen seems to know less than she thinks (or is saying less than we hear), since her plan of making Shinobu the local god couldn’t possibly work (and she should know why, since she’s aware of the black thing that nearly took Mayoi). And here Kaiki makes a decision that will probably cause a lot of grief: take the money but not drop the operation. The consequences of which (along with the closet) will become apparent in the next episode or two, maybe.
In seconds per gag terms, Teekyuu is in a slump. Both episode 33 and 34 average a gag every 6.4 seconds. But the frantic pace hasn’t slowed down, they’re just taking more time to develop their deep, thought-provoking situations.
Kill la Kill 10 continues as before. Computer guy Inumuta is rather easily defeated, so they have plenty of time to start the battle with Jakuzure, which, so far is also predictable. Bad guy does something outrageous, hurts Ryuuko, who gets her suit to do something even more outrageous, and wins, well, at least the first battle. The only bits of plot to worry about is that her suit is evolving too quickly, says Mikisugi. What will happen then? Will it go berserk? Will Ryuuko? We also learn that Mako is Ryuuko’s source of calm and healing, so now I’m afraid for her life. It would not be inappropriate to kill her off, sad as I would be to see her go.
I am still having problems enjoying Nagi no Asukara, for a couple of reasons.
First, we have what is essentially a fairy-tale world but with “realistic” modern-day characters living in it. Some of it translates well enough. There’s a mutual suspicion between the people above and below the surface that disrupts the personal lives of individuals. This is no different from certain combinations of real-life countries or cultures, and it’s also nothing new. But the fairy-tale world gives us constraints I don’t like. For me it comes hardest when I see all the people below sacrificing their next 50-100 years to a slumber ordained by a head priest I don’t really trust, anyway, and I’m not crazy about that god, either. I must be the growing mistrust in any sort of faith in deities, buts every time I watch Hikari raving against Uroko, or his father, I smile. Even the suggested solution, restoring the festival, is a bow to this belief system. I can accept that this is the world the story is about, so shut up, but then I want to start analyzing every little bit of it. Well, I’ve wanted to do that ever since episode one where they were cooking breakfast underwater. You give me a show with “real” characters. no matter how fanciful, and I’ll start looking for reality everywhere. Would everyone in town agree to this hibernation, apart from the kids? And is it going to get cold all over the world? Could they relocate? No one seems capable of thinking about anything but the place right in front of them.
The other problem is with the characters. In episode 10 Kaname confesses to Isaki, thus complicating the love triangle by making it a square, and I could not care less. I also couldn’t understand or care too much about why Manaka was so shocked when Hikari suddenly hugged her. I don’t care who winds up with whom, only that they’re letting adolescent emotions get in the way when their town is facing the worst crisis it’s ever had. Episode 10 DOES have some nice little scenes of people taking stock of the situation, including the little girls. Kaname’s confession is a consequence of it as well. But there’s a disconnect between the high-schoolers’ crushes and the big picture that makes it hard for me to care about it. The big picture, for all its faults, is more interesting.
Let’s get the stupid things in Coppelion 10 out of the way. First, Ibara and Haturo manage to stalk the Ozu sisters and listen in on their conversation, yet the Ozus are completely oblivious to Aoi’s shouting and whining. Really, that’s the only thing in the episode that stuck out. Some of the rest was silly, but silly in an entertaining way in an episode full of fighting and chasing around. In fact, Aoi’s reluctant confrontation with the Ozus led to some funny moments, particularly the chase in the swan boats. Aoi is useless enough and Shion nutty enough to get away with it. That the radio was picked up by a guard who just happened to be the father was a stretch, I could forgive it in the heat of the plot. As for the giant robot at the end, well, why the hell not? They’ve tossed in everything else.
At the end of Kill la Kill 9 I wondered a few things. Mainly, is this going to be the format for the foreseeable future? Every week Ryuuko takes on another high-ranking student council member, she gets beaten up for most of the episode while we get the odd side scene about the bad guy’s background and whatever, then comes up with a strategy, or counterargument to the bad guys’ philosophy, or both, and wins. That will last three more weeks and I believe this show’s running 25 episodes. Even if you add in an extra episode or two to further develop a villain you still won’t get there. Besides, it’s too predictable, anyway. So what we’re basically waiting for now is the twist in the plot that will send things out of control. As for episode 9–predictable. I’m a little surprised that they’re going straight to battle two without any fuss, since we don’t know much about the new villain. Expect lots of flashbacks, or maybe that plot twist.
Coppelion 9 wasn’t all that ridiculous. Plans are made, forgotten resources (the granny) come back, seeds are sewn for the big finish. Not bad. The only nutty thing was the pregnant lady asking if the team could rescue a 1st Division soldier, the baby’s father, who really isn’t all that bad. Oh, and Aoi just happened to meet him while she was captive. How they’re going to recognize him when they’re all wearing gas masks is not explained, but it’s a problem the show’s had all along. It’s too hard to care about victims when you can’t even see their faces. The rest of the episode is about putting the plan into operation, that is, reviving an elevated train and using that to get to the rendezvous point, okay, that’s pretty ludicrous too. Meanwhile, the wacky Ozu sisters are back, purely evil and insane characters that make the legitimate, moral questions Haruto asks pointless, but whatever battle they’ve got in store now will wait until next week.
Galilei Donna feels like a filler episode, or maybe a “Kyoto in the winter” travelogue. The only story business worth speaking about was Anna’s continued treachery and her growing conscience, but these things were already known about and expected; we’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop. On the other hand, it’s nice that they were able to find one of those sketches without any bloodshed or sacrifice. The scenes with gramps were disgustingly touching. But what got me slamming my head against the table, Kuroko-style, was that the Goldfish was flying around like nothing had happened! I mean, it was trashed last week. It got shot at and fins and rudders flew off, and it crashed in the frozen tundra somewhere, and this week, almost first thing, we see it floating happily in the sky, maybe singing a little song to itself, like nothing had happened to it. Argh.
So Kill is routine, Coppelion and Galilei are more-or-less inane, it’s up to Kyoukai no Kanata to raise the bar for this viewing day, and it does.
We get three fights going on early. Izumi is squaring off against Miroku over Akihito, though we’re not certain why, yet, just that the boy has something special about hm, er, apart from being half demon, that is. Meanwhile, Hiroomi and Mitsuki are battling some big monster thing, but I’m not sure why. Finally, Mirai is rushing to be at Akihito’s bedside before he turns into … whoops, too late! This all happens on rooftops, building lots, and in the sky, and while we switch around we get a little more idea of what’s going on and why they’re fighting.
And then all the scenes are done with, with only the monster being defeated. Akihito’s gone off and others go to find him until they stop because it’s making little sense to them. Izumi delivers the big line, not really a surprise, but it obviously comes as a shock to Mirai, who had once managed to calm Akihito out of his demon-ness, and everything more or less stands still while we get some backstory. That the SWW and the Nase’s don’t like each other much is already obvious, but why they’re fighting over Akihito was still a mystery, at least to our young heroes who have been kept out of the loop. It boils down to him being actually really really powerful and nasty, and if his demon side prevails, he’s going to get nastier yet. Wait, that explains why you might want him dead, but both sides seem to have additional plans for his corpse. I’ve been rooting for the Nase side, not least because Miroku’s such an ass, but I’m no longer trusting their motives as much. At least not Izumi’s. Happily for us, neither do Mitsuki and Hiroomi now.
Meanwhile, Mirai finds her quarry and crazy demon, would-be boyfriend, and sets about killing him. What’s surprising about this scene, well, one thing, (the usual dazzling visual effects are no longer surprising, just great to look at again) is that she looks quite capable of doing it on her own. Hiroomi had mentioned before that only she could do it, though I can’t remember why, but I didn’t expect to see her have little trouble slipping through his attacks and inflicting damage on her own. But more surprising still is that she is resolved. Yeah, we had a crying in the bathtub scene earlier where she got sorrow out of the way, and there are a couple of times during the fight when they cheat and show us the real Akihito face behind the train track one, causing her to waver, but those are just lapses. Mainly she is relentless in what she is trying to do, even removing her glasses before the assumed final strike, maybe to cause the Akihito inside less pain. A very good scene in a very good episode.
Won’t be able to post much for a few days, so I’m pushing this post out and will probably not try to write about the other shows until next week.
Galilei Donna 7 is one of the more depressing ones, but there’s not much to say about it except that all the ships in this show function underwater, too, and Anna is secretly working for Roberto, which would explain why the bad guys always seem to wind up where the good guys are. Oh, and overwhelmed by the forces of money and power, Roberto manages to turn the Goldfish into scrap iron, and take the pendant away from the girls. Never mind Kazuki giving it to him, that little moral dilemma was pointless since he would have taken the pendant anyway, and probably killed them all. But it was a nice idea that the girls decide to continue on the journey to find the sketches, with no one trying to kill them this time, and find another way to this world-saving energy-saving source. It gives the show something to do, and will probably mean the pirates will come back, because how else are they going to get to Japan now that the Goldfish is trashed?
Non Non Biyori 8 is very pretty with its fall colors, but it suffers, not from having too much Komari, but too much about the same old things about Komari. She’s short for her age and is put upon by her younger and taller sister. And the first half of this episode is about how she wants be feel more mature, and how a neighbor named Konomi meets Hotaru and Komari and finds the younger Hotaru more sophisticated. Things get better when some girls go sketching, mainly because Renge’s in it, and while the show again suggests that she’s some sort of savant, not that exciting, I still like the character too much to care. Also, the show gets to show off more of its lovely background art, autumn forest variety. Later we go back to Komari, but this one is livened up by the process of drying persimmons. I didn’t know you did it like that. Hell, I didn’t even know people dried persimmons at home at all.
Teekyuu 32 comes in at 3.75 seconds per gag! That’s the spirit, girls! Though they repeated the nattou gag from earlier.
Nagi no Asukara 8 is a sweet and pointless episode, where Miuna believes that no one makes Akari feel welcome, so she goes off to buy a gift for her. The gang all join in. There’s some false tension raised because the kids are on the surface, far from the sea, so their “ena” might dry up. In fact, early on, Chisaki was rubbing her skin like it was dry, so I thought “Aha! There’s our crisis this week,” but false. As it turns out, Miuna had the ena situation taken care of. What a nice girl! Nice enough, in fact, that she succeeds in what she wanted: making Akari happy, and I’m happy for her, too. Some other things happen on the side as characters feel each other out about that boy or that girl, and Hikari almost gets confessed to, but either Chisaki’s too shy or she realizes she won’t be able to get through Hikari’s thick skull, but no real progress is made on the love front. The only big plot thing is the mysterious salt snow–on the surface.
Monogatari SS 18, after the surprise of no recap episode, brings back Kaiki, and does its best to change him from foul scum of the earth to a sort-of loveable rogue.
They do this in a couple of ways. First, he shows some respect to Senjougahara, even flying to Okinawa to meet her, after learning that she went to Okinawa because he was supposedly there. And there was the flinging coffee in her face when she suggested raising money by selling her body, so quick that it had to be a instinctive movement. His bathroom soliloquy, where he brought up reason after reason to do the job Senjougahara wants him to do, shooting each one until hitting on the idea of Kanbara, who’s as uninvolved as you can get, was him simply trying to talk his unscrupulous side into taking a job that will gain him nothing. Finally, there’s the fact that he decides to change into a Hawaiian shirt, just like Oshino (who Senjougahara can’t reach) used to wear. Taking his place, so to speak.
Senjougahara, meanwhile, is asking her arch enemy for help, a fact that shows you how desperate she is. Worse, Kaiki is a master manipulator, and who knows what he might do to her. Maybe that’s why she wears that ridiculous mask throughout their scene, a line of defense. But though she’s practically begging him, she does allow herself some barbs and threats, in her usual calm, quick voice. In fact, her usual delivery works at a contrast to what she’s asking. Asking Kaiki to deceive Nadeko? How and why? It’s ridiculous, but even so, she’s perhaps naive (her sophistication and naiveté run parallel) enough to think it might work. Maybe that’s another reason she chose that mask, because she didn’t realize how silly she looked.
Noucome 7 reminds me just how much this series is a routine slightly ecchi high school romantic comedy, with all the things you’d expect and have seen before. I mean, I KNOW that, but the execution has been so good I didn’t care. This week the show’s superb comic timing is taxed to limit to get laughs out of the battles between the five most popular students (who really aren’t that bad) and our heroes, the losers. Happily, execution beats clichés this week by the same score that the losers beat the populars: 3-2. Kudos to the crowd watching the battle, because their odd reactions put the show over. Yuragi’s yandere little sister act also helped.
Kill la Kill 8 is basically a setup for the Big Fights we’ve been expecting since the beginning, though we didn’t know it at the time. All we knew was that there would be a huge resetting of authority in the school and everyone, including the four devas, have to fight for it. So it would be battle, battle, battle, right? Wrong! We get get a lot of pointless battling between nobodies in the background, but Ryuuko doesn’t fight at all. All she really does is provide us with a flashback to her father’s death and duck for cover as the Automotive Airsoft Club tries to ambush Gamagoori, who is the only main character who does any fighting this episode. And we learn a few things about him. He’s devoted to duty to the point of assisting even Ryuuko when she needs it, he was inspired by Satsuki the way they all seem to be, he’s a masochist, and he doesn’t know what to do about Mako, either. Story-wise, the show decides to get to the big battles starting next week, figuring, I guess that they had done enough prequel, and the story is loose enough that it doesn’t matter. I wonder if this will be the setup in the future, a scene where we flash back to each of the deva’s stories and they they duke it out with Ryuuko?
Coppelion 8 isn’t as ridiculous as some of them, if you ignore Ibara whipping out that cable out of nowhere, or that grenade going off before the Ozu sisters were going to shoot her, or chaining the sisters up when one of them can snap street lamps in half, or the Railgun impersonation. Even the sisters’ motivation for joining the 1st division was perfectly logical considering the circumstances of the Coppelion’s existence. No, the glorious WTF of this episode was that the sisters have serial killer genes! Okay, even if the scientists didn’t know it at the time, they know now, yet they still sent them off on this mission, and even if they sent them off before they knew it, they took no steps to stop them. Haruto treats it almost as an “oh, by the way …” and saunters off to help while the sisters are in the process of nearly killing everybody. Well, he’s bitter too, just not insane, so maybe he doesn’t really give a fuck. As for me, I don’t really give a fuck about the wind that’s now blowing, or about much anything else in this series. Oh, Aoi’s still in that silly storeroom. I wonder if they’ll give her something to do, one of these days?
In Kyoukai no Kanata 8 they begin to aggressively push the story. It looks like a good one, too, if I could figure out exactly what happened.
Not sure what that first bit with Izumi and whoever she was meant, nor that bit where she reported to whoever HE was. But it apparently all has to do with the calm, we are told many times by many people, which is a bad time for yoomu because they’re weakened and become easy prey for people like his best friends. Worse, Akihito’s only half demon and no one really knows about them, so be doubly careful, Akihito, okay? Akihito is too busy falling asleep and having nightmares to pay much attention, so everyone else looks out for him, though I haven’t the foggiest idea what that train scene meant, if he’s actually down with a fever at Ayaka’s place.
Actually, a lot of scenes take place in trains or other forms of transportation this episode, and they usually end unhappily. There’s that odd scene with Izumi, another one with Mitsuki and Hiroomi, which comes after one between Hiroomi and Miroku, where the truck blows up. And Miroku and Mitsuki ride in a car. There were a lot of trains in the Hollow Shadow episode, too, but why trains? I watched all this and the only things that sort of made sense was the fact that the Spirit World Warriors want to snatch Akihito, while the Nase team, who has interfered on his behalf before, stand in their way. And Akihito’s about to, er, demonize again, and while I figure it’s only healthy to let your demon loose every now and then, I worry for Ayaka’s nice shop.
About 4.5 seconds per gag in Teekyuu 31. The episode felt longer, more introspective, maybe because it was a heartwarming flashback on how this character met that character and joined the tennis club.
I guess that they had all those wild, funny moments in last week’s Monogatari SS because they knew episode 17 would be incredibly sad.
I had the essential point of the episode spoiled for me, so maybe I didn’t get the full effect of it, but I still found the episode moving, even though it’s all talk, no action whatsoever. I mean, this show always has a lot of talk in it, it’s one of the reasons why it’s unique, but there were very few word games twists of meanings anywhere. The closest we came to that was Gaen’s issuing of terms for her help, and that was straightforward by this show’s standards. But the important part of the episode was the second half, where Araragi has to come to terms with Mayoi’s final passing, and it was simple.
She’s been cheating about being an oddity and she knows it. She knows she has to go away, actually die for good, or go to heaven, or whatever. It’s Araragi who has the problem with it, as well he should. Mayoi’s been fun to have around. It’s unfair of the universe that she has to go. So we get lots of denial from him, followed by assertions by Mayoi, until Yotsugi points out that she can’t figure out which one is the child here. But you have to do these things when someone you love leaves. Meanwhile, I was sitting here more or less doing the same thing in my head, and when the final moment arrived, mixed with a good laugh when we see Mayoi on Yotsugi’s shoulders, I still wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Mayoi. I’m still not. This is the first significant loss in the franchise, and it happened to such a fun character. On the other hand, Araragi never said goodbye to her. With this kind of show, that will become significant later, but probably for no good.
Well, goodbye, Mayoi, it was fun as hell.
Coming down to earth I finally watched NouCome 6, a rather more routine affair than usual, though, as usual, the gags worked. Just one quibble. I think Kanade should have chosen that other option and asked Furano to help him out of his suit. It might have been a shock, but he could smooth it over eventually, and she might take a step forward about her shyness. Otherwise it’s success after success for Kanade this episode, apart from the beatings. It’s rather inspiring to watch him do the decent thing over and over in spite of his reputation, not to mention his basic adolescent heterosexual male desires, and even if he does do something underhanded, like con Konagi, he feels bad about it.
Non Non Biyori 7 is one of the better ones, a relaxed, slow-moving episode in a series which is at its best it doesn’t try to force gags. Also, it has plenty or Renge. And while I don’t think rabbits are that evil in real life, I did enjoy the smirk it gave before it locked Renge and Hotaru in the cage. There were plenty of nice moments, but overall I liked the interaction between Renge and Candy Store (a hell of a lot better name than her real name) the most. The two are familiar enough that Renge can watch her TV show in CS’s living room while the store is ignored, and no one cares. Such is life in the country, I suppose. Renge making a cat’s cradle “outer space” was a close second. There’s something cosmic going on in that girl’s mind.