Tokyo ESP ends in about as ridiculous fashion as you would expect.
Episode 11 brings us right around to episode 1, with the parliament in the air, literally, and people rushing to get there and find a way to stop these unstoppable bad guys, who, as it turns out, could be stopped quite easily when you get the right ESPer for the situation. You could say that it’s a way for the show to save animation costs, but it’s always fun to watch good guys beat up bad guys, and what’s more, Rinka did all that beating up without any ESP powers at all. Meanwhile Kyoutaru gets some unexpected help from, er … I told you it would be ridiculous.
And then we get the expected Rinka/Minami rematch, which was actually some crossing of blades in between speeches about Kyoutarou, good and evil, the show’s usual stuff. The physical fight is pretty much a draw, while Rinka wins the debate by simply not being on the side of a smug, superpowered meglomaniac who plays the piano badly and has the worst lines I’ve heard from a villain in some time. Meanwhile, in the side battle, two kids make short work of Hokusai’s nastiest henchman, including the one holding up the building (which they knew), and there’s some uninteresting effort to stop lots of people from getting crushed. Then another debate, between Koutarou and his new best buddy albatross, and Minami, and then some even weirder people show up, and well, does it matter?
The “Professor’s” mad scheme to make a lot more espers doesn’t sound too bad to me. The only people who might argue are those who insist on “us” and “them.” If it becomes “we,” then no problem. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t take that route, and neither do the new espers, all of them apparently lawless. But realism and logic have never meant much to this show. This absence of normality was also one of its charms. It was, in spite of the violence, a cheerful, goofy show, with flying penguins and talking albatrosses and ninja masters in panda suits. And the good guys goofily believed in good and executed violence for its cause. The bad guys fought for evil, or whatever, and had terrible lines. I can’t make myself dislike this show too much.
Free! Eternal Summer has the expected climax, the big race in the nationals. It’s about as joyous and fun to watch as the season one finale was, each boy finding what they want while they have their final race together, and, just like Ping Pong, it really didn’t matter how they did, and the show finally tells us via a framed picture on the wall, again like Ping Pong. While that bit, and the aftermath where everyone goes their separate ways and keeps working, was immensely satisfying, the stuff that came before wasn’t.
There was no real no urgency to it. Season one’s arch rival, Rin, was now their closest ally. Haru had pretty much solved his problems in episode twelve. That left us a dull scene where he had to explain what his problems were and everyone had to verify their friendship, especially Makoto. Then there was an even worse scene the night before finals where they basically recapped both seasons in a “Hey, remember when so-and-so …” style that had me consider fast-forwarding, something I almost never do. Well, they pulled out the nice ending, and I’ll say that, like K-ON!! and unlike Chuu2koi, they found reasons to make a season 2 necessary. Graduation is a nice built-in plot device, isn’t it? But I’m glad the series is over, time to give it a rest. Looking forward to Kyoani’s new show.
Hanayamata 12, like Free!, sticks the landing. It felt a little odd. The girls were prepared to do the festival show without Hana, and there was a nice bit where Naru gives Machi a pep talk, and everyone else is surprised that it’s Naru giving the pep talk, how much she’s grown, etc, and it occurred to me that it might be appropriate for Hana NOT to be there. As they say, Hana might have started the yosakoi club, but it kept going and acquired new members mainly because of Naru. But I suppose that would be unfair to Hana, and the girls want to perform all together, and this is a show with happy, sappy overtones. So here comes Hana!
I could have done without the “will she make it?” business and the rushing about, but it did give a momentum to things when the music plays and Hana leaps onstage just when the music hits the chorus, well-timed! After that it was dancing, fireworks, and happy-happy, and I was sucked back into the series, for the first time in a while. Never mind all those invented dramas that came before it, or that Hana wasn’t the fairy she seemed to be … I wrote in my introduction to this series that it had cast spell on me that began when the OP hits the chorus and the girls start dancing. It turns out that it was the OP casting the spell. The story that came afterwards could get pretty dismal. But at least they put together a lovely final performance that lives up to that song. But I wonder if the series is casting about for another season. I hope not. It would be about as unnecessary as some other season twos I mentioned in this post. Let’s leave it as it is.
The ending of Zankyou no Terror seems a bit low-key, with no real surprises in it, but it did everything it needed to do.
First off, I was pleased to see Shibazaki realize that the kids didn’t intend to kill anyone with their bomb, then it was just a minute to talk with genius wife about what they DID want to do. Here I got a little disappointed. Nine wanted to create an EMP pulse, or whatever it’s called, which would fry Japan’s electronic infrastructure. Considering this is Japan we’re talking about, this seems like a sacrilige … Anyway, after that they find some drama in getting the planes out of the sky (Had Nine thought of that, or did he trust that they could be grounded in time? Well, they were, so it’s a moot point), except for some American fighters. And they point out that about the only people on the entire country who have EMP-proof devices are the Americans. Why?!?
The Americans show up later to help cover their own ass, and to provide us with the unnecessary climax at the end, when Shibazaki was about to arrest the boys. I suppose by the logic of fiction or something they had to be killed, and Twelve didn’t get shot, but collapsed from the same thing that Five died of, presumably, but, really, why Twelve? Let him carry on the mission of revealing the monstrous secrets to the world. Or maybe I’m pissed because those two old monsters lived on, in intense public scrutiny, but alive. In the end all the kids got was a minute or two of goofing off together at their alma mater. Nice to watch, I suppose, and they didn’t kill off Lisa. Small favors.
The most underwhelming thing about the finale was the boys’ ultimate motive: to bring attention to the project and the bomb. Doing a big blowup in order to shock the world isn’t terribly new. On the other hand, they were kids, and maybe a bit naive about how things work. On the other hand, it DID work, so who am I to say? Well, all in all, it was a very good series. It leaned toward SF but was set in a real world where girls run away from home (and where did Lisa go after all this?) and detectives pound the pavement looking for evidence. The bigger metaphors usually fell flat for me; I really don’t see Shibazaki as Oedipus, and that Vor business at the end felt tacked on, considering they used it so rarely. But they told the story extremely well. Scenes that could have been dismal, like the airport bomb chase, weren’t, because they were directed so well. And I’ve already praised Kanno’s music enough. Not the best series of the year, but right up there.
Glasslip decides to keep us bewildered right to the end.
This ending, where Touko has a vision on her way to school after summer break, turning around at the sound of Kakeru(?)’s voice, was deliberately misleading. All through the finale, with everyone more or less in happy couple land except for the main couple, the show refused to answer the big question: is Kakeru staying or going? His tent is gone from the backyard, his mom is apparently gone, but they didn’t say whether or not he went with her. Plus, their marble-tossing scene felt like a moment of closure for both of them. Instead of answering the question directly they have to just have his voice and Touko’s surprised face. It sort of summed up the series for me: why do anything directly when you can just make hints, suggestions, or have Touko have another misleading vision?
Speaking of visions and bewilderment, we had that odd conversation in the forest. Touko’s mother had just told her that she used to have visions too, but that they didn’t show the future. Huge clue! It’s hereditary! But that’s swept aside as Touko weighs the possibilities: the visions are the future, or they’re of things that are sure to happen, but what’s the difference? I don’t know either, but Kakeru helpfully confuses us more by asking her what answer she wants. Meanwhile, the three other Kakerus don’t show up at all, and he’s getting nothing from the music anymore, so perhaps his own problems have settled down. Not that we’ll ever know.
As I said, the other two couples continue to progress, but only through little things, which is fine with them. They’re happy enough. Really, this has been a happy show. All the strangeness happens in the course of ordinary lives and while they they sometimes seem to lose their way, it’s not for long, and there’s someone there who can help them out. What it was all about I can’t tell you. Friendship, adolescence, certainly. Loneliness, finding a place for oneself. Also visions, glass, music and everyday life. Told rather indirectly at times, but pleasant to watch.
Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun finishes up with the usual stories. In the first one, Sakura tries to give Nozaki the Valentines Day chocolates she couldn’t bear to give him before (it’s midsummer). It’s a chance for Sakura to show off both her determination and cuteness, and it works well enough. The story is notable in that we have all three of the main girls having a conversation together, something the series rarely gave us. Odd that Seo winds up being Yuu’s straight man, but I could see that switching if the scene needed it. In the second, it’s off to the festival, one more chance for everyone to interact, and to offer a hint of resolution to poor Sakura’s love woes … which doesn’t happen, but it’s a sweet little scene anyway, and I’m not convinced that Nozaki didn’t understand what Sakura meant.
And that wraps up one of the better light comedy series I’ve watched recently. Not every bit worked, but the ones that did worked very well. We had a pack of fun characters who worked off each other nicely, and its two main characters were almost always fun to watch. While we figured out where the jokes were coming from with Nozaki pretty quickly (even Sakura talked this episode about “figuring him out”), his lunkhead appearance and deep, deadpan voice gave his punchlines a boost. Sakura was a terrific character. She managed to keep her crush on Nozaki fresh throughout, had solid straight-man skills, took everything thrown at her in stride, and could give us a big array of shocked and bemused facial expressions, plus, she was cute. Excellent voice work by Ari Ozawa one of her first roles. Hope to hear more of her. Hope to see more of the series, too.
Aldnoah Zero 12 … whoa, what a mess.
Let’s see … (Spoilers) Slaine manages, after being shot at a few times, to board a Vers craft he shouldn’t be able to operate, but it comes to life and off he goes to find the Princess. Meanwhile, Inaho dukes it out with Saazbaum, who, in a ridiculously long procedure, powers up his craft so it has most of all the nasty tricks the previous bad guy mecha had, though the arms aren’t as ridiculous as that woman’s craft. Of course, Inaho had defeated most of those machines already, so with some speed and guile he manages to pretty much wreck Saazbaum’s craft. Slaine then slams into him, for reasons I can’t understand, but it gives Asseylum just enough time to get to the glowing thing and shut down the Aldnoah Drive. Whereupon Saazbaum, not dead yet, shoots her. So Slaine shoots him. The mortally wounded Inaho crawls toward the probably dead Asseylum, but Slaine shoots him too. Fade to black and a voice-over saying that the good guys won, but Asseylum’s whereabouts aren’t known, and then there’s an announcement for season two.
Let’s start with Slaine, like, where is his mind? I can understand him shooting Saazbaum, since the asshole had killed his love and he was possibly responsible for that, but killing Inaho made no sense at all unless he didn’t want to see him sully the princess, though I wonder if, since he had seen Asseylum treat Inaho like she had once treated him, he was simply jealous. But why did he attack Inaho in the first place? Did he consider him a threat to Asseylum? Maybe he thought Inaho’s cynical views of the war to be a threat to her more high-minded goals? Or he had no beliefs or cares apart from the princess.
The first half of the episode was all fighting, though half the protagonists were too wounded to do so. For those remaining, we had to squint through the snowstorm to figure out what was going on, and then the battle switched to different parts and we weren’t sure how they fit together as a whole, especially with Slaine acting as a wild card. As I said, a mess, with a nasty, violent ending that suggested that the main theme of the series was “War is bad and everyone dies,” except there’s another season coming up. What story are they going to tell next time? Who’s left to tell it? Slaine, Asseylum, Inaho’s sister, the drunk guy, maybe that’s it. It will be interesting to see, if I choose to see it. Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll watch it.
Zankyou no Terror 10 is a little messy too, but at least we know what everyone’s up to.
I thought we were going to have another long, intense scene between Shibazaki and a bureaucratic monster, but the one with Mamiya is brief and used only to clarify the situation and give Shibazaki a moment to confront the man who destroyed his career. Mamiya’s argument that Japan has a loser mentality and he was going to change that isn’t the first I’ve heard this argument, and it’s just the excuse another sociopath has for harming people. I wonder if he’s aware of the atomic bomb that the government is building in secret. Would he be proud of that? Never mind, we, and Shibazaki, move on.
The Americans certainly ARE interested in this atomic bomb, and it’s the reason why Five and her assistant were sent there, well, so they think. As we have already figured out, Five has her own motives and is using the apparatus to reach it, no matter how many people she killed. The assistant, not a very nice man himself, is so appalled that he tries to take her off the case. And once again I’m reminded that so far the terrorists haven’t actually killed anyone. It’s been the Americans butting in and doing that, well, technically, it’s Five. In the oddest scene of the episode, she reaches him, says she can’t beat him, and kills herself. I frankly have no idea why she did that.
But there’s a good buildup to that bewildering moment, though I thought Five’s group disrupted the motorcade rather easily. Twelve, convinced by Lisa to help Nine, works as the wild card here and gets Nine a reprieve from meeting Five. But it’s all moot because that bomb’s floating in the air now. Did he mean to launch it, or was it automatically triggered when the conference was canceled? That is to say, did he intend to launch that bomb and kill a lot of innocent people when he and Twelve haven’t killed anyone else before? If so, I’m disappointed. Twelve has always had a humane side to him, but Nine’s only point of sympathy was his non-fatal, if not non-violent means of getting what he wants.
Meanwhile, Glasslip 12 decided we weren’t confused enough. Well, I for one was confused because I had forgotten how the last episode ended, at Miwako’s private recital, where Touko notices that it’s snowing in summer again. Even so, anyone would be taken by surprise by a winter scene where Touko moves into town for the first time, meets Kakeru (a happily-settled resident) and his friends, Yanagi, Yukinari, Hiro, and Sachi. Adding to the weirdness is the show’s same, overall cheerful tone, jumping from one character or couple to another, just like every other episode, the only difference being that it’s winter.
There is the occasional moment where we see through the illusion, such as when Kakeru invites Touko up to the museum balcony and whoosh, they’re there already. But the real cracks in the glass come later, when Touko sees Yukinari and Yanagi and greets them, but they don’t know who she is. Also, the group have assembled to watch the winter fireworks exhibition, but they’re also watching in other places. Finally, there’s Kakeru, who not only recognizes her but knows that they’re in an illusion cast in her mind. And it all came back to me. The glass vase, the piano music, the fragments came together to make … something that they’re not explaining to us. Unless, maybe, all this was Touko’s experiencing what Kakeru feels whenever he moves to another town. She has her explanation, that they don’t recognize her during the fireworks because she had shared unforgettable time with them. Not sure I buy that, but the show is leaning in that direction. Maybe the creators will deign to tell us next week.
Work is going to delay my posts for a couple days, so I thought I’d put these two up now.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.”
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 no Terror 9 is mainly two deceptively quiet scenes that are extremely powerful and just fly by, leaving me wanting more.
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 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.