Youjo Senki 6 gave me the information I was curious about: where are all the aircraft and how to they fit into battle with mages. The answer is they can fly higher than mages (except for Tanya) and can carry heavier things, like bombs. When you do have a mage that can match their altitude, with a mage’s speed, it’s no contest, as Tanya proved. Nothing else really mattered for me this episode, which was another one of Tanya destroying everyone that dared cross her. Frankly, this is getting boring no matter whose side you’re on. Generally I’m against the Empire’s side, but on the side of Tanya when she’s battling that God asshole. “God” has been interfering behind the scenes, apparently drawing other nations into the fighting and making it a world war, just to spite Tanya, but it’s too soon for see the consequences of this, so it’s hard to care at the moment. Maybe later, if things become more desperate and Tanya is actually taken aback (in battle, at least), it will get more interesting.
… And 6.5 is, as expected, a recap episode. While I like recaps when I’m behind in my viewing, I don’t like having to watch all those scenes again in the hope that they’ll add some new material somewhere. Which they didn’t.
Demi-chan wa Kataritai 6 features a visit to Hikari and Himari’s home, where we see the two bickering at great length while Takahashi looks on and comments about how close they are, at great length. Well, they are fun to watch, though it makes me wonder if Hikari acts irresponsible because she wants the attention, i.e., she’s insecure and needs affirmation. Could be. Not a vampire thing but the show isn’t really about being demi. It’s all somewhat ruined when Himari is led to believe that she’s just done something terrible by not helping Hikari with her hair, because vampires don’t reflect in mirrors. But they DO, and the idea that Himari didn’t realize this is ridiculous, and the same to Takahashi for suggesting it in the first place. Later there’s a cute but dull bit between Kyouko and a sleeping Takahashi which takes too much time; you get the idea that that they have filler material ready for when the main story doesn’t stretch to a full episode.
Little Witch Academia 6 gives us more evidence of the low esteem that many people have for magic nowadays. We have a bigwig who is secretly unsympathetic to magic and his son who is outwardly so. Naturally the latter runs into Akko as she’s sneaking around trying to get to the polaris fountain to ask it for abilities, and Akko’s crappy magical skills don’t do much to change his mind on the matter. But we’ve seen in every episode the kinds of things that magic can do; to call it obselete and antique is entirely missing the point. Math is pretty old too, you know. But I guess the school needs a threat. Anyway, it’s not a terribly exciting episode until Akko reaches the fountain, instead of powers it gives us a Shiny Chariot highlight reel which was more affecting than I would have believed. But no magical cure for Akko, I suppose the show had to make that point to her, though Andrew gets his ears back and gains a little sympathy for magic, though I’m not clear why or how.
In ACCA-13, I’m not sure why Lilium is suddenly asking Grossular for all his info on Jean, after Grossular tried to give him grief for outing Nino. Is Lilium now suspecting Jean, or is this a ruse of his? Goodness knows what Grossular thinks, even after Jean’s little speech at the beginning. Jean plays a few mind games of his own, but with him it might have simply been out of amusement. Why did he mention Mauve in that speech, anyway? Speaking of Mauve, she’s now giving Jean the cold shoulder for not producing any coup information. So he tries and doesn’t like it much, and now Mauve has her own spies on him. Geez. It could be another episode of rumors chasing their own tails, but the whole thing feels like there’s motion under the surface, though Jean seems oblivious to it as usual. Oh, we get some flashbacks to him ten years ago when his parents died in a famous rail accident, but I can’t fit it in yet. Maybe I never well. Meanwhile, people give Lotta lots of cake. Some things in this show are easy to understand.
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 5 is a pleasant series of little bits, the best being Tohru sneaking in to watch Kobayashi at work. I’m not a fan of the outward sentimentality some of the scenes give us but here it’s restrained to an early moment (Kobayashi wondering how she was before Tohru came along) and a final moment (She doesn’t remember, oh well …), followed by a punchline concerning the asshole boss. Not to say the other introspective moments don’t hurt the show. The bit with Fafnir at the traffic light was handled well, as was Kobayashi’s realization why Tohru wanted to learn ESP that much. The short bits worked pretty well, with Saikawa’s ridiculous overjoyed look working as a nice running gag. Turns out, by the way, that Kobayashi uses Python at work. Don’t know what that signifies apart from someone in KyoAni knowing it.
KonoSuba2 5, though all its main characters are in the story, refuses to fully utilize them again. This time it’s Kazuma and Darkness going through the dungeon to get rid of that magic circle Aqua put there that’s now keeping the monsters out. Then it becomes Kazuma, Darkness, and Vanir, who’s taken over Darkness’s body. Vanir’s bizarre motives and the logic of the whole thing made little sense to me, but as I’ve pointed out before, a coherent plot is low on my priorities for this show. What we got is a funny duel of wills between Vanir and darkness over who will be in control, and Vanir’s ongoing surprise that Darkness rather likes the promise of torturous pain for refusing. Kazuma can only stand there and do reactions. Better yet, Vanir is telepathic, and so can reveal embarrassing things about how the two adventurers feel about each other. So, that talisman that didn’t do anything? The monsters that aren’t there anymore? The fact that Vanir also wants the circle removed and should be cooporating? Who cares. And I think Lalatina is a lovely name.
It really isn’t fair to compare Seiren to the Amagami shows. While the format and many of the creators are the same the characters are completely different.. well, maybe it IS fair to compare them, and I can’t help it. But so far, this new series hasn’t lived up to the fun of the original–until episode 6. We get a great scene where they bring Tsuneki back (to help the son of her boss at her secret part-time job get revenge, which adds resonance from the previous arc) for a GunGal duel, complicated by the arrival of the school’s disciplinarians. The show skillfully jumps from one situation to another. It’s followed by Miyamae and Shoichi having their deer “mate,” dancing with the innuendo without overdoing it. Through it all they work further on the serious issues, like Miyamae’s gaming obsession and how her appearance has changed the dynamic between the boys, and shouldn’t Shouichi be studying more? And finally, an Amagami reference, I believe, to Junichi and whatever girl it was doing things in the pump shed. These are all the sort of things I expected this show to do, and they’re finally doing it.
Youjo Senki 5 is full of people who disappoint our little Tanya by exceeding expectations. After failing most of the recruits for her battalion to stall for time, she is ordered to lower her standards. She says she can train them in a month if she puts them through hell, figuring that the men would drop out, only they fight their way through it, not dying in the process, proving their mettle even as they ruin Tanya’s plans to slow everything down. However, she cheers up when she finds a new invading force is so inept that they’re basically cannon fodder, and she even makes it to their capital to blow stuff up. SO it’s not all bad for Tanya. Sadly, the fact that the Dakians were so crap at this war business was a bit of unreality I couldn’t buy. Hadn’t they seen all the war stuff going on around them for years? Also, I think this episode we see our first airplane of the series. I wonder how they fit in with the flying mages?
Demi-chan wa Kataritai 5 finally gets to Yukki’s issues as a snow-woman, and there’s not really much to say. Takahashi figures out that this turning bodily fluids to ice mainly happens on Yukki’s feet, it’s related to stress, and it’s harmless. This is a great relief to Yukki, who was worried that if she touched or even breathed on someone the wrong way they would turn to ice. It’s a bit ridiculous, really. Surely, if people are now free to out themselves as demis in this world, there had to be some research done on them to find out their different conditions and needs if nothing else, yet Yukki seemed totally oblivious to what she was like. We’ve had this before in this series, most notably with Kyouko’s head, and it still bothers me. I realize that the creators are using the differences as metaphors for people who are different in real life, and tying that in with the often stressful changes adolescence brings to everyone–and they’re doing a good job, but you still have to follow rules for a believable story. No support group? No research? What about the parents? This isn’t an old legend like the ones Takahashi keeps reading.
Little Witch Academia 5 starts with great promise and then fizzles, at least in terms of the action. The Sorcerer’s Stone is stolen by some dragons, Akko and Amanda enlist some pals to sneak off from their punishment and steal it back, only to discover that there seems to be legal matters involved. Not only is there no big sneaky raid (well, there is, but Fafnir–another one–catches everyone easily), but the matter is solved by Diana being able to read the original contract, galling for Akko and Amanda. On the other hand, the show spends a lot of time establishing Akko and Amanda’s relationship, both outraged by the same thing and fighting on the same side at one point, and at each other’s throats the next. This dynamic is a lot of fun to watch except when they overdo it and just call each other names for too long.
ACCA-13 4 feels like a “district of the week” type of episode, where Jean goes to a place, sees a problem and then … doesn’t do much. Well, he’ll do what he can, like giving Warbler low scores so he’ll get to stay in Suitsu, but other than that he’s basically a sometimes-kidnapped bystander, observing, listening for a coup but doing little else but letting events play out around him. At least this episode because when he arrives at Suitsu they’ve got their own coup going on, unrelated to the big coup everyone KNOWS is brewing but no one has any real information about. Few plot moves there. Lotta is being tailed by the Prince’s goons, Nino is still reporting in … But we learn more about the losers who run Suitsu and hang out in Badon ignoring their responsibilities than we do about anyone else. While I like visiting these new districts I’d like to get more about the big picture, but I think the show is having too much fun dangling that just out of our reach. Or maybe Jean, taken by surprise by the situation in Suitsu, is going to get more proactive.
After watching episode 5 I’m not so worried about a ‘district of the week’ setup. True, he visits two this time, snowy Birra and a place that looks like New Mexico, but now the places have gone back to being background for the intrigue, whatever the hell it is. After Jean discovers (thanks to Lilium), that Nino is the one who’s been tailing him, they have a little talk, and go back to Badon, where Jean gets Nino to take Lotta to dinner every night while he’s on his next inspection, i.e., don’t tail him this time. Nino could easily demur, but instead agrees, suggesting a mutual trust. Jean’s reason is unclear. He didn’t seem to expect to find Grossular in Kokkusu. The conversation next week will be interesting. Meanwhile, the episode starts hilariously with two men, both tailing Lotta for less-than-professional reasons (okay, Magie’s acting on orders), getting distracted by toast. This is the funniest political intrigue story I think I’ve ever seen.
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 4, for a moment, looked like it might have a dark story arc prepared for us, when I saw the bodies on the ground, but I should have known better. Turns out it was just a game of dodgeball at dragon-tempo. A mildly amusing conclusion to a mildly amusing episode which took Kanna to school where she made friends and one enemy who became a friend through some guile on Kanna’s part. That was actually a rather nice way of defusing the situation, actually. There was some serious talk about how people in Japan aren’t allowed to stick out; I think that’s about as dark as the series is going to get, unless they do a story later about Tohru having to leave, or something like that.
Konosuba2 4 lost me at times. We have Darkness having to meet a prospective husband in an arranged marriage, but Kazuma’s strategy for handling this got a little confusing, and so did Darkness’s. It leads to them fighting because Walther, the possible husband, wouldn’t hit her, no matter how much she demands it, and ends with people thinking that she’s carrying Kazuma’s baby, yeah, I couldn’t figure out the story so much, but I was too busy snickering at Darkness’s speeches on how nobles ought to act (badly) and the usual batch of good comic timing (Fu-hee! Fu-hee?) to care much. Unfortunately, since they pulled Megumin away to deal with some monsters, the full ensemble still isn’t back to normal. Hopefully next week.
Seiren 5 … who’s the new girl, I wonder …
In a way it’s like an episode 1 of a series only they don’t have to introduce all the old characters again, just the one. And after the episode we don’t really know too much about her. She’s straightforward about things she loves, like games, and isn’t afraid to barge into a boy’s clique if she’s playing the same one (the boys, on the other hand, are astonished and pleased). Plus, she has an almost erotic fixation on headshots, a bit of weirdness which is appropriate for the show, and she used to play a partner game in grade school. But she doesn’t really give us anything beyond that, though I wonder what made her quit that old game. Maybe she was too rough on the other characters, but that’s speculation. Soichi hasn’t really figured her as a romantic possibility yet, but it’s only episode one of the arc. Wondering what will kick these game-addled lovebirds into romantic mode.
KonoSuba2 3 has Kazuma’s gang getting first dibs on an unexplored bit of dungeon, so off they go. Unfortunately it’s not the best episode because Darkness is still in that lord’s lair, and since Megumin’s explosion magic isn’t practical underground they leave her at the entrance, making dramatic gestures to her cat. That leaves Kazuma and Aqua, and while it’s amusing it’s not what it would be with the whole team. It’s also uncharacteristically soft. Aqua shows a kind, merciful side when she purifies the undead spirits there (and the punchline that comes later isn’t that effective–they likely would have encountered undead down there even if they weren’t attracted to her life-force), and there’s a sweet bit with an “evil” magician who turns out to be quite nice. I was waiting for a punchline for THAT, but it never came. Not a bad episode, but let’s get the team together again, shall we?
On to Youjo Senki 4, another little letdown. Basically Tanya is enjoying a comfortable life at the military academy, hitting the library and keeping her gun clean. We know the pattern, well, we knew it the first time she announced she was happy. To impress a general, she lays out a depressing and possibly true scenario for the war, and to show off her abilities to strategize, offers a solution, the rapid-response battalion of infantry and mages that we heard about in episode one. The general is interested. Meanwhile, we all know who’s going to be put in charge of this thing. And we wonder, for someone as shrewd as Tanya, why didn’t she see it coming? Maybe it was the talk about sending children into a battlefield, though the army has had no compunction about doing it in the past. So it was basically an episode-long version of the sort of event that we’ve already seen. All we can hope is that they’ve established the backstory and we will move on to new things.
Seiren 4 finishes off the Tsuneki arc with the franchise’s usual quirks, but it feels flat overall, like the show was just going through the motions when they had all these character oddities to play with. The moment Yukie turned to face Tsuneki with a carrot in her mouth was pure Amagami and was probably the highlight of the episode, unless you liked the beach scene, which brought back the wet clothing theme. Tsuneki becoming adept at cooking venison was a funny bit. But overall the first arc missed chances to really come to life. Tsuneki was a good love interest–unpredictable and a little wild, but Shouichi is still an underwhelming male lead–that might have something to do with it. I can’t really believe Tsuneki would be interested in him at all. Also surprised that they don’t really get together right away, also a little pleased. They’re both young. Let them mature a little.
I expected at the beginning of Demi-chan wa Kataritai 4 that we’d learn more about the appropriately-named Yuki Kusakabe’s unique features as a demi, but by the episode’s end we haven’t learned a damn thing apart that she can make frozen tears. Instead we get a brief look at the profiling that demis can undergo via high school gossip, and later we get a speech by Takahashi about how people need to look at demis not just as humans but as unique person, i.e, you can’t ignore one, as when Machi’s classmates got uncomfortable talking to her when she talked about her head on a crowded bus. This comes out in a dull speech to Hikari’s suspicious sister and ends in a silly punchline, I suppose, to lighten the mood. There’s also an unrealistic scene where Hikari confronts a couple of gossipers made bearable because of Hikari’s honest nature–and jumping on her sister when she got home was a nice touch. Oh, and Takahashi gets hugged a lot. Maybe next week we’ll learn more about Yuki.
I didn’t expect Little Witch Academia 4 to live up to ep3’s craziness, and it didn’t try to. Instead we get Lotte wanting to get away for a big release event: Nightfall volume 365, but they’re grounded because Akko stole a tart. You think the sneaking out will be the story, but that’s done easily. The big story is Lotte winning a trivia challenge and becoming Nightfall’s 13th author, against her wishes. We get a big speech from Lotte about how she feels about that. Sounds rather dull, but happily the show has a lot of fun at the expense of popular fantasy literature (like Twilight), though it smartly goes lightly on the fans, who shouldn’t be mocked for liking what they like. Anyway, the episode is sprinkled with trivia and thoughts (“the loan shark who has only one line in volume 37,” or “the scene where Belle catches a nuke with her bare hands”) from this series, and this carries the humor for the episode, apart from Akko and Sucy’s straight-man lines.
Parts of Little Witch Academia 3 are predictable from the start. Akko can’t fly a broom, endless scenes of her trying to learn, getting Lotte and Sucy to help, borrowing a manual from Ursula, and still failing, so by the time of the race she STILL can’t fly. While Sucy had set up some traps to level the playing field (for a race that’s been held for over a thousand years, they don’t seem to have many rules about sabotaging other brooms or modding your own), you knew they wouldn’t matter at the end, that at one point Akko’s magic potential would break through at just the right time … and you’d be wrong. Heh.
Two things save this episode from predictability. First, Akko is so damned determined. After getting knocked off the broom from hell (stolen by a classmate for her own use) and getting rescued by Diana (nice touch), Akko simply sticks herself in a cannon, fires herself back up to it, and wraps chains around her so she won’t fall. No way is she not going to finish this race! Even the broom is surprised. That’s enough to make me smile right there, but when you add Trigger’s direction and reckless, crazy animation style, it was silly-grin time for me. In fact, for three episodes now the show has ridden on those two strengths: Akko’s enthusiasm and Trigger’s animation. I hope the larger story arc, when it kicks in, can make full use of them.
Meanwhile, in ACCA-13 we get rumors, meaningful side glances, and spoiled plans. We meet Prince Schwan, who believes that his coming-of-age ceremony the king will abdicate and appoint him leader. Others aren’t so sure. In any case, Schwan wants to eliminate ACCA; this is not a rumor because he says it outright. Meanwhile Lilium believes Grossular wants ACCA to have absolute control, and that Jean is an intermediary for the coup people, whoever they are. Mauve believes certain powers don’t want Schwan in power, and asks Jean for any information about a coup that he comes across. Nino continues to report to Grossular, Lotta eats sweets, Jean eats fruits and smokes a lot.
The upshot is that everyone thinks Jean is part of whatever plot the other plotters are plotting. It’s not only the rumors planted by Grossular, it’s because he is familiar with every region in the country and has connections with the people there. All of the rumor threads are linked to him, and it’s most likely that he doesn’t know a thing. Unless people tell him things to get him on their side he would be completely oblivious, or that’s what I think, but I know as little as anyone else schmoozing and giving him side-eyes at that formal dinner. No wonder he steps outside to smoke so often. It works because we don’t really know WHAT is going on in Jean’s head. He completely cool and unflappable, unless he sees Mauve in a sexy dress, that is.
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon, while not on the same level as the first two shows I wrote about, continues to at least make me smile, or at the point where Kanna gets a bug to land on her finger and eats it, send me into hysterical giggles. Right now the series continues to introduce us to new characters, i.e, new dragons, and introductions always slow us down, but, like the little snippets of moving house and the usual scenes you get in those, discovering photo albums or old books or clothing, etc, nothing goes on too long. It breezes through one to get to the next, and the next. Fafnir’s transition from fearsome being to game-loving tsundere is so quick you wonder why other shows bother to devote so much time to such things. The only time the episode stops to rest and be introspective is when sleepy Kobayashi assures Tohru that she’s not too loud, and that it’s a good life they’re living now, mentioned again later in a conversation with Lucoa that must have taken fifteen seconds.
ACCA-13 2 has the political intrigue moving along, gently, unnoticed to Jean, or so it seems. Grossular, the leader of the Five Chief Officers, either thinks Jean is plotting a coup or wants to set Jean up as a fall guy. Whatever the reason, it means Jean is being tailed. Jean notices this but seems indifferent, simply asking his old high school buddy Nino to look into it. But Nino is not what he seems. It’s hard to figure Nino out. He seems talented at doing his spy job but you would think he would know Jean well enough to know he’s not plotting anything. Unless Jean really is and he’s trolling everybody. I wouldn’t put that past the show, either. Meanwhile, the show keeps its wry touch, both with Rail developing a crush on Jean’s sister and stalking her while Nino stalks Jean, and the absurd giant food omiyagi Jean brings for his staff (this show loves its food–after watching I either want to eat or smoke), and the giant bread he gives to Mauve, who requests a meeting, meaning there is plenty more intrigue to come.
Kobayashi-san chi no Maid Dragon 2 introduces Kanna, a cute little girl dragon who claims she came to find Tohru, well, that’s partly true, but in reality was shut away from home for being naughty. We spend the episode watching her interact with Tohru and Kobayashi. More fish out of water scenes, but it helped that she was kept in line by the two adults. And we get a nice scene when the two dragons start roughhousing with lots of explosions and noise, quite a contrast from the gentle comedy scenes the show mainly has. Also a nice scene where Tohru and Kobayashi go shopping–the former is already good friends with the local merchants. It looks like the show is mainly going to be little scenes like this, with brief comic gag bits mixed in, while hinting at a larger story, and that’s find. If I get bored I’ll try to decipher the odd scene switch bits, those triangles and circles and ampersands and the like.
KonoSuba2 2 has Darkness in the lair of that lord, so the show mostly works around her, first by introducing a cat that Megumin adopts called Chomusuke (that name must be a joke I don’t get). I figure the show will be about the cat, but all it does this episode is hang out. Then there’s some messy toad-killing, which introduces Yunyun, who keeps challenging Megumin to duels, leading to some embarrassment for both. The best scene for me was Kazuma and Megumin, covered in toad slime, fighting over who gets into the bath first. Accusations of uncivil behavior and pronouncements of gender equality ensue. We never really do get back to Darkness, but I’m sure she’s having a good time.
Seiren 3 is mostly Souichi and Tsuneki hanging out and flirting until some misunderstandings and a possible heartbreak gives us something of a cliffhanger. The flirting and all should be deadly dull, but they make it passable here with Souichi’s turned-on reactions to things, let’s see … foot soles, Tsuneki eating the last of his ramen while wearing his sweats, sweat pant marks by the navel, and finally wearing something while in the bath, because you had to figure they would visit the men’s bath together, right? Apart from that it was study-study-study, and now summer break is over, time for a crisis or two. Next week is probably the last for this arc so they better wrap it up quick.
It’s probably a good thing hapless Souichi doesn’t go to the school in Demi-chan wa Kataritai, with Sakie the Succubus as his teacher. God knows what other weird imagery we might get from his brain and libido. In episode 3 we follow Sakie around for awhile, understanding why she wants to keep herself so far away from men but wondering if she really needs to live way out in the boonies and take the nearly-empty first and last trains to and from work. Especially when being tired means her guard drops and she accidentally turns on a few men around her. The episode gets more fun when we see her thinking about Takahashi, wondering if his seeming unflappability means he has a low sex drive (ouch), and wondering if there’s any real difference between her crushes and the, er, crushes she inflicts on men. There’s a nice scene with Kyouko in the library where they discuss maturity (a lie, says Sakie), crushes, Takahashi, and shelve books with meaningful titles. Meanwhile Takahashi, the cause of much of this talk (ironic since it’s Sakie who’s supposed to be the succubus) ambles around, asks Hikari more embarrassing questions, and acts weird in front of the students. The usual. Another good episode.