Seiyuu and Biyori:R 8, Teekyuu 56

August 27, 2015 Leave a comment

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After an episode where the girls all do pretty well, it’s back to anxiety and screwing up in Sore ga Seiyuu! 8.  And she gets to screw up in two different venues, too!  In the first half we see the girls prepare and perform their first live show at a not-so-packed free event at some store in Akihabara.  I guess it’s not really screwing up.  Futaba’s just wooden and awkward on stage, though she does the singing and choreography just fine.  Then there’s the no fun of finding out that Ichigo and Rin have a bigger following than she does.  But as usual for this show, they offer the poor seiyuu newbies a little bright moment in the middle of the depression, as Futaba meets a fan who travelled a long way just to see her.

Er, Futaba ...

Er, Futaba …

In part two Futaba gets to screw up some TV narration.  Again a situation where the seiyuu’s never done it and gets nervous, screws up, gets some reassurance from the celebrity cameo (Yuuji Machi), and get a little better.  Nothing we haven’t seen before.  But Gonzo has some fun by showing their headquarters to be enormous and shiny.
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Non Non Biyori: Repeat 8 has three little stories in it, one about woodworking in class.  Hotaru and Komari’s project is cute and practical, Suguru’s shows some hidden talent, and Natsumi and Renge demonstrate, in wood form, both the practicality and weirdness that makes Renge great.  Then there’s a flashback Renge visiting the school as a toddler and causing all kinds of mayhem, which would have been annoying except that it’s Renge we’re talking about.  If you haven’t noticed, I’m quite the Renge fan.  The third part has no Renge but it’s a sweet and somewhat pointless trip down memory lane for Komari via an old plushie, but being in middle school I don’t think she should be doing the memory lane thing yet.
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Teekyuu 56 has a SPG hovering around 3.00, still pretty good, but it could have been better if they hadn’t told us a couple of their lengthier jokes.  Story-wise, they scout a rival school’s tennis team and discover them to be only slightly less weird than they are.  But a crisis at the end when they’re trapped in crowd-scene mode.

Eights: Charlotte, Rokka, Shimoneta, Jitsu wa

August 25, 2015 4 comments
Sala doesn't seem like a bad sort.

In spite of her mysterious background, Sala doesn’t seem like a bad sort.

After an episode where they kill off Yuu’s cute kid sister and one of Yuu descending into the depths of despair, remorse, rage, etc, Charlotte 8 tries to make it up to us by giving us a bit of a healing episode.  Yuu happens to meet Sala, the lead singer of ZHIEND.  Stupid coinkidinks aside, it’s rather a nice episode, though there’s almost nothing plotworthy until near the end (they have enough time spend a couple of minutes on Misa’s new music video.  I actually like the song a little).  They walk, Sala sensing Yuu’s tragedy and insisting that she get to light some incense, Nao surprisingly not caring to meet her, though I understand her feelings about it, and they talk some more.
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It feels good for Yuu, showing off his good side (and happy to be back in school with his friends), and it feels even better for Nao’s brother Kazuki, who’s busy ripping up the bedlinens as usual when Yuu brings Sala to visit.  I had expected something bad to happen in this scene, but instead we get a good end–Kazuki calms down, and later recognizes Nao.  So Yuu’s helped his own recovery by successfully doing something good for someone, or two people.  As for the plot, there’s Sala’s claim that she lost her eyesight in exchange for rock and roll success, or something, and that reinforces the weird connection Yuu and perhaps Nao have with this band.  So a good, relatively peaceful episode that also tantalized us with foreshadowing.  Wonder how that concert’s going to go next week?  They better show it.

Meanwhile, in Rokka no Yuusha, they’re STILL stuck at the temple.

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Well, at least there’s some action.  Adlet manages to let loose another bomb, but it blinds both him and Hans, so they run about stumbling over things for a while.  But then Adlet is cornered again, and it’s talk time.  I don’t think Hans should have lowered his guard so easily, not that it did him any harm.  Adlet might have had good reason not to kill Flamie or any other brave and still be evil, or, as I suspect, the seventh brave doesn’t know he/she’s the seventh and we won’t find out until much later, maybe, at the rate this is going, episode 257.  Well, it’s moot after that “dying man can’t lie” business, which is good enough logic for this show.

I'm all for this plan!

I’m all for this plan!

While Adlet and Hans were fighting and talking it out, the other pairs were just talking.  Goldof is accused of jealousy when he asks why Nashetania defends Adlet, when he could merely be wondering at Nash’s strange behavior and whether it’s good for the team.  And Maura and Flamie get some bonding time in.  It looks like Flamie’s totally in with the group now.  But they’re still stuck there and suspecting each other until Chamot gets bored and has a nifty idea about killing everybody, more or less.  All I can think is … if it pushes the story out of its funk, let’s try her plan out.
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And Shimoneta remains funny even if the story is getting a trifle confusing.  This week we not only have Kosuri show some of her nastier side, but we get a new, er, villain, named Oboro, who was sent as a prefect on lewd matters.  Right now Oboro and the prefects Anna enlists are the more immediate threat, as they’re getting trained on what is lewd and what is not, meaning the students will soon be able to enforce the rules themselves.  Crazy logic since SOX’s goal was to educate the kids on all this stuff already.  It won’t matter much.  Oboro can be instructed to find anything lewd, or NOT lewd, depending on how clever the argument, so she won’t be an enemy for along.  Besides, she dances with the others in the ED.
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As for Kosuro, they set up Kosuri’s bad tendencies last week, let it simmer, and bring it out in a rather confusing fashion.  She infiltrates another school and messes with the love lives of their student council as she infiltrates.  While this is not very nice behavior, it’s so shoujo that I can’t really feel appalled by it.  The business at the end, where she tries to make Okuma her slave or she’ll … what?  I don’t understand what hold, what advantage she has over Okuma that he would give in to her.  I’m not sure HE understands, either.  Well, she dances in the ED too, so she’ll get straightened around soon enough.

Home EC

Home EC

Jitsu wa Watashi wa 8 is two parts with a single, tired theme.  In the first one there’s a make-up home EC class where Asahi and the girls have to make curry.  Everyone does their own character-styled take on the klutz cooking theme and there’s not much to it.  The best part came early, when Aizawa confidently leaped into the battle and made perfect curry, except it was chocolate cake, and that leads us to part two, where Akane threatens the world with destruction by asteroid if she doesn’t get another taste of Aizawa’s curry, er, cake.  A shame that what could have been a splendid series of accidents and coincidences wound up being yet another klutz cooking scene, because Akari wanted to punish Akane for reasons the show didn’t bother to tell us.

Eights: Laplace, CC, Gate

August 22, 2015 Leave a comment

Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace 7 set up an elaborate murder setting consisting of two victims, giant mannequins, gears, and the police and suspects standing around being colorful.  So many visuals going on that it was hard to figure out what was going on.  So, naturally I figured the solving of the murders would take a little time …

That was settled quickly ...

That was settled quickly …

Frankly, I was let down.  Weak metal, call in the girl who ordered it, bingo!  Then there was the murder confession bit, and I would have been pissed off by the victims’ behavior too, well and good, but considering all the groundwork they had set up, I was let down.  I wanted more interviews with witnesses, more weird visuals (well maybe not; they had too many as it was), more tantalizing clues and deduction.  Instead, even with a Kobayashi/Hashiba bickering session, there was still half the episode to go.

Sorry, I don't know why I chose backs-of-heads shots for this episode.

Sorry, I don’t know why I chose backs-of-heads shots for this episode.

What they filled it with was a flashback to Akechi’s old friend Namikoshi, who was trying to use chaos theory, Laplace’s Demon, and other math things I barely follow, to create a social … thing, I guess a meme whose rise and effects can be predicted beforehand.  Basically, the origin of Twenty Faces.  You know from the start that it will not end well for Namikoshi, so we’re just waiting for the how and why.  But all we really get was there were flaws in the math, or in the model, but Namikoshi “launched” it anyway.  I’m curious as to how.  A Twitter message?  Facebook page?  So now Akechi is determined to catch all the twenty faces that show up, not out of the belief that he’s partly responsible, but for his ego.  I’m not sure if this all worked or not.  The show, as we saw in the first half, masks its weakness with style, but it provides a nice idea or two.

A moment of fun in an episode otherwise filled with growing doom.

A moment of fun in an episode otherwise filled with growing doom.

Classroom Crisis 8 has a school festival in it, and A-TEC is going to launch a water rocket with Iris in it!  It sounds like a fun episode, but the show decides to suck the fun out of it through a variety of ways.  Iris gets a fever, though it’s unclear whether it’s a physical reaction to her horrible flashbacks, or that the flashbacks come because of her fever.  So she lies in bed and has a conversation with Nagisa about her lack of a past.  Then there’s the political wrangling going on, one party supporting A-TEC, the other Kirishina Corp., and there’s more ugliness among the Kiryuu clan, with money being siphoned off and some dark secrets going on.  The only positive note, apart from the water rocket, is that Nagisa and Angelina are a little surprised to find each other sympathetic to A-TEC.  The slow face turn is almost complete, just in time for the corporate and governmental politics to get REALLY nasty.
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Gate 8 was the amusing episode I think we expected.  The fetish girls see modern-day Tokyo and make some astute comments about it as they marvel.  Then Pina and Bozes go off to talk politics and prisoners with the Foreign Ministry.  Interesting to watch how each side treats the other, and to realize that even back in fantasyland there is politics at play … Which prisoners should they release?  What kind of favors can Pina or the Ministry get out of it?  Pina gets to show off some smarts here after a few episodes of being a lousy general or a figurehead.

I predict the figurines will be available in about two days.

I predict the figurines will be available in about two days.

But the real fun comes with Youji and the others getting investigated by … whoever’s pissed off at them, notably the prosecutor lady who tosses off a lot of accusations only to get shot down by Youji and the girls.  Meanwhile, those watching on TV or the interwebs fanboy out.  But I can’t just see them just going to a subway afterwards.  Even if it’s to throw off some evil organization we don’t know anything about yet, surely they’d be recognized by somebody.  And surely there’s a better place to take them than the home of Youji’s otaku ex-wife.  Even if the group are celebs and possibly in danger, surely there’s some better place to put them.  Besides, I want the girls to meet some creepy otaku to see how they react.  Still, fun episode that finished before I was ready.

Jitsu wa, Bioyri Repeat, and Seiyuu 7

August 20, 2015 Leave a comment

I guess Jitsu wa Watashi wa figured we didn’t have enough weirdos in the school.
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Not that I mind.  The new one, the demon Akane, thousands of years old but looking like a young girl and acting like a brat, can be fun to watch.  And we learn just why all the weirdos are at the same school in the first place: she admitted them, and Koutomo-sensei, the fierce homeroom teacher, did the paperwork, meaning she’s in on all of it.  Since Koutomo is relatively normal and so is Asahi, it gives them a chance to bond in a “look what we have to deal with” way.  As for the episode, it’s okay.  I like Youko messing with Akane, and them accusing the other of being immature, though it leads to a sexiness contest that had little in the way of laughs and went on far too long.  And they throw in Nagisa for no reason only to have her leave again.  Now I hope they’ll start bouncing the weirdos off each other.  They have enough of them.

Non Non Biyori: Repeat 7 … Is is my imagination or is this season way better than the first?
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The plot points for this episode, if anyone cares, is Hikage’s return to the countryside for summer break, and Hotarou’s fear of jumping into the river from the bridge.  With the former, she seems to have given up on trying to impress people with her worldly Tokyo ways, and while she tends to consider her home boring, she slowly and happily slips back into its routines.  As for the latter, of course Hotarou gets the nerve.  She also has a bit of Tokyo envy this episode, but it passes.  There’s one gag sketch where Renge gets Hikage to play dolls with her, Renge style, but after that the show clearly has had enough of what other shows do and takes the rest of the episode off.

... to chase dragonflies and other things.

… to chase dragonflies and other important things.

And so we get one of its best sequences yet.  Well, there’s a plot going on when Hotarou forgets her bag on the bus and she, Renge, and Hikage walk to the depot to get it, but the bag is just an excuse to get the girls walking and experiencing things: fresh water from a pipe, pomegranates, a big dragonfly they try to catch.  One little thing after another with the show’s usual beautiful rural scenery.  This is the only show going where being aimless and pointless are its strengths.
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Sore ga Seiyuu! 7 is a happy one.  All three girls are working in the same studios, but for different projects.  Futaba’s dubbing a movie, Ichigo’s doing an audiobook, and Rin a game.  Naturally all three get anxious beforehand.  Futaba has to work with that asshole (named Yamori) from episode one, AND one of her heroes, Koyama Rikiya (who’s done a lot, for me all I remember is Maid-Guy), so she tries not to screw up in front of either one.  Ichigo tends to get into her text as if she’s reading it and not reciting it, and Rin, all alone in her studio, struggles to do lines without knowing the context, and to make getting punched noises.
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But, finally, for all their anxieties, they all do just fine.  Futaba plays her zombie part and some bit roles and is only stopped once, and that was because her pitch was too close to the other bit character’s, not her fault and easily fixed.  Nice scream at the end, too.  Likewise, Ichigo and Rin perform, adjust, and perform again.  So at the end of the day they walk out of the same studio they walked out of in episode 1, but no longer in despair.  And they have their umbrellas.  Good for them.  So nice to have an episode that doesn’t have anyone screw up …

CC, Rokka and Shimoneta 7, Teekyuu 55

August 18, 2015 2 comments

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I’m starting to get things mixed up in Classroom Crisis.  Or I’m not paying enough attention.  First, A-TEC feeds Angelina and Iris the information they need to sneak into the hijacked spacecraft’s cockpit and gives them a flight plan.  The stupid pilot interferes, Iris has a traumatic flashback and faints, no one is operating the ship and it’s about to crash into the Death Star when they’re guided away by a rescue ship sent by … who?  It looks at first like Yuji’s doing, but it’s not.  And while I’m thinking it might be the hijackers again, the next thing we see is Dr. Li, former hostage, being welcomed by Yuji and Nagisa’s brother–the big boss, much to Yuki’s displeasure.
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And what was the deal with Yuji wanting to leave Li for dead?  Well, a lot of questions, but it was nice to see Yuji squirm for once, thanks to an older sibling.  As for the battle on the plane, it was ridiculous, Angelina flipping around and flipping thugs as well.  But we did get more background on Iris’s mysterious past, though no real answers.  But it makes me worry about Iris.  If she’s going to go into immobilizing flashbacks when the ship is in a crisis, it makes you wonder just how good a test pilot she can be.

Well, what would YOU say if Flamie told you her story?

Well, what would YOU say if Flamie told you her story?

Rokka no Yuusha is spending so much time with trying to figure out who the fake brave is that they’ll never get around to fighting the fiends at this rate.  Well, I suppose it was necessary to continue the Flamie/Adlet discussion and learn more about why they’re both in this.  Adlet suggests that they have pretty much the same story, though I’ll add that Flamie’s is a much more twisted version.  They both were betrayed by people they love and trusted and lost their home.  What makes them different is that Adlet says he became strong not to lose anyone again, while Flamie is acting out of revenge, which Adlet says never makes anyone strong.  So that’s settled, then.

I think she's the one.  Unless it's one of the others.

I think she’s the one. Unless it’s one of the others.

Meanwhile, it’s hard now to watch any of the characters and not analyze their smallest comments and reactions.  Through the subsequent scenes I suspected about every one of them, apart from maybe Maura and Chamot.  Nachetanya seems to be trying to con Goldov, and I’m not sure what he thinks.  Hans is easy to suspect, but I don’t think it’s him (I’m also curious about what he’ll do now that he’s in a position to kill Adlet), but if it is him maybe we’ll stop hearing that annoying laugh.  Meanwhile, I wonder why they haven’t thought that the fake brave might still be on their side …  Anyway, another episode of mostly talk apart from a nice one-on-one between Adlet and Hans.
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After last week’s satisfying and instructive filler episode, Shimoneta 7 brings us a new story arc, maybe two.  The first is another ero-terrorist group, named Gathered Fabric, who claims to have joined SOX but are doing things on their own, and they’re more extreme.  I don’t know if SOX would ever stoop to stealing underwear, especially when the people are wearing them.  Anyway, Kajou is not pleased.  Then there’s Kosuri, a the daughter of a that compromising terrorist who has the same mindset as Gathered Fabric and manages to worm her way into SOX, though Kajou isn’t pleased with that, either.  When not working on plot there’s an amusing side story of a Okura/Gouiki BL comic, now at volume ten.  This is the only show I can think of besides Genshiken where the characters ship each other.
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Teekyuu! 55 has the girls gaining revenge on a telephone pole, until even Kanae agrees that it’s stupid.  SPG 3.00, excellent work again.

Laplace, Gate, and Charlotte 7

August 16, 2015 3 comments
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Your typical Laplace crime scene.

Rampo Kitan – Game of Laplace has always had vivid, often extreme imagery, but in episode 7 it gets so stylish that the story gets completely swamped.  But at least we start normally enough.  Kobayashi and Hashiba are taking exams, and Kobayashi challenges Hashiba and Akechi to some card game to bet on whether even bother.  The game itself involves both strip poker and Hershey’s kisses and we never do figure out what it’s about.  I also don’t know why Kobayashi is dressed as a girl again.  It’d be nice to think that he’s developing into a transvestite, but the show gives no indication apart from an earlier thought that it’s easier to solve certain things dressed as a girl, or get taken hostage.
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Anyway, another Twenty Faces has appeared, and all semblance of normality goes away.  First a visit to Black Lizard, then a trip to a murder scene, an island where a theme park is being built by a dubious major corporation.  Island residents appear as mannequins, we get a song and dance by the two builders, who turn out to be the victim, another three-minute murder thing, the bizarre murder location (the victims were crushed by giant mannequins), Akechi talking to characters who aren’t there.  More mannequins representing the people who discovered the bodies …   It was all Akechi gathering clues and depositions, you know, detective work, but throughout I worried that the show had forgotten what it was there for.  When it does return to normal Kobayashi (still in a dress) and Hashiba have arrived via helicopter, maybe the most normal thing in the episode.

The cliffhanger of Gate 6 turned out about as expected.
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Episode 7 doesn’t do much else but revel in the JSDF otaku meeting a cat-girl and a bunny-warrior.  After that it’s just clearing the way for Youji to meet the Diet, bringing along the magical characters they’ve already met, all of them female fetish objects.  This is possibly the best strategy for Youji and the local command to win over the diet and make them think twice about taking over the other world, not that I think it would work.  There are too many forces on our earth eager to profit from this new world, and not just in Japan.  But the show apparently doesn’t want to work this in yet.  So it’s mainly deciding which girls should go.  Why Youji is so reluctant to have Pina come along I don’t know.  She is the closest thing to a head of government who’s coming.  As for Rory … I don’t know if bringing her would be such a great idea.

To be fair, I really should have watched Classroom Crisis next, but I decided to watch Charlotte 7 to see if she’s dead.

At least they didn't make us wait.

At least they didn’t make us wait.

Okay, no trolling.  Instead they chose the manipulative way out–fiddle with our emotions for no real reason.  Well, the alternative was pretty manipulative, too.  Unfortunately it meant we got to watch an entire episode of Yuu mourning in his own way, that is, holing up in his apartment, lashing out at everyone who comes near him, getting driven out, living in internet cafes and the streets, and taking delight in hurting thugs.  Until Nao puts a stop to it.  Sort of a shame.  It’d have been fun to see him turn into the show’s villain.
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On the other hand, you have to admire Nao’s perseverance, and wonder a bit at her restraint.  She watched all the scrapes he got into, saw him sinking further and further, and didn’t interfere.  Well, HE didn’t interfere when she was getting beat up …  But why did she wait so long?  It seems to me she could have kicked him much sooner than that.  The only thing I can think of is that not enough time in the episode had passed.  As it was, Yuu’s descent was effective to a point but went on far too long.  As for Ayumi, I think we haven’t seen the last of her.  Misa can channel spirits, remember.

Charlotte, Seiyuu, Jitsu wa and Biyori 6, Teekyuu 54

August 14, 2015 Leave a comment
Hey, guess what?  You have super powers!

Hey, guess what? You have super powers!

Oh, jeez, I hope Charlotte isn’t going to turn into one big tragedy after another.  We don’t know what happened to Ayumi at the end, all we see is some blood on the ruins and the longhair standing over it.  Maybe it’s not Ayumi’s blood, or it is but she’s not dead.  But the ED’s black background suggests otherwise.  If she IS dead it’s a cheap shot.  They spent most of the episode showing her being cute and having Yuu and the others dote on her, all to set her up for a pointless death.  If she’s alive, well, good for her and well trolled, show.  … And don’t get me started on that girl with the box cutter …

Kugimiya Rie, ladies and gentlemen.

Kugimiya Rie, ladies and gentlemen.

So I figured Sore ga Seiyuu! would cheer me up a little, and it does for a while.  Rie Kugimiya is the guest cameo, and like the other stars the show depicts her as kind and helpful to the newbie.  I wonder if the show is ever going to have an unpleasant voice actor on.  It’d be cool if it did, and the seiyuu might enjoy playing a villain.  Futaba meets Rie in a flashback to a drama CD recording the show conveniently never told us about.  But the episode decides to go downer on us when Rin gets Futaba’s CD role for the anime version, putting both girls in a funk for different reasons.  At least in this show Futaba gets some good advice and support and manages to get over it.  Now on with the delayed debut single … or not.  Next week it’s all about dubbing.
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I guess to get a show that doesn’t really have a downside I have to turn to Jitsu wa Watashi wa, where I was a little worried that the threatening werewolf guy would tilt the balance toward a darker atmosphere.  I needn’t have worried.  The fearsome wolf man enters a fantasy romcom and, after a minute of being threatening, chases a stick.  After that it becomes, like most everything else in the series, pointless and silly.  He threatens to drag Youko back if she’s revealed her secret, but he does more blabbing about the secret than anyone else in the conversation.  The shouting match between Shirou and Asahi was enjoyable, even if I didn’t know what they were talking about … and it went on too long.  Maybe to make it up to us, the werewolf returns to human form–a lecherous young woman who comes on to Asahi and pissed off Youko.  Neither side of the character is terribly entertaining, though, at least for me.

Renge has just said something odd again.

Renge has just said something odd again.

I wonder if Non Non Biyori: Repeat is more consistent than the first season or I’m just getting used to it.  In the first part Natsumi tries to make conversation with Hotarou.  Normally these scenes tend to bore me, and Natsumi gets on my nerves anyway.  But this time, tall, mature Hotarou gets to act like the fifth-grader she actually is and fangirl over the “Pretty Cute” anime series.  Then the gecko shows up and for a while Natsumi gets to show that she’s knowledgeable about certain things.  We had a hint of that two episodes ago when she restored Flatty-san.  Good to see them follow up.  The last bit is the episode’s official “gaze in wonder at rural beauty” scene, where playing with fireworks gets canceled so they look at fireflies instead.  It’s lovely, but too dark to see anything.]
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Finally, in Teekyuu! 54, that newspaper girl interviews Tomarin the alien and abuses her a lot.  Then more aliens come.  The regular girls have the week off.  A solid 3.1 SPG performance after a couple of disappointing episodes.

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