Kekkai Sensen 8 gets some of its energy back this week, even though the episode (and the next, apparently) all have to do with Zapp. Well, actually, that’s not true. We spend some time with Leo and Black early on, the latter so acting like a nice guy that I wonder if he really is, and later we learn that there’s a split personality going on here. Also Black and White say that they’re two pieces of the same thing, which makes me even more confused. I wonder if White is split in two like the person who’s part of the same thing she is, er, is. Never mind, it’s more teaser for the future.
Back to Zapp and his wasted life. He and we indulge a bit in that before we finally get the first decent battle we’ve seen in a while, where some kind of monster is battling another, and one of them is actually a highly-developed master of the blood-discipline, and wants Zapp to train with him, and when he says no, seals him into a blood-bubble with the other monster. It plays out in an amusing way, playing to Zapp’s lusts and not the purifying discipline you’d expect from this blood master. But it works. And next week we get more of Zapp, though by now I’m a lot more interested in the main arc with Black and White. Well, if there’s a good battle I won’t care much either way.
Knights of Sidonia also breaks out of its slump with a good first half, but it falls back into harem antics after that, until we’re teased with what should be the big story arc.
But back to good part first. The tentacles keep growing and then prevent Numi from disconnecting the monster from its Higgs-whatever supply. I’ll add that the brand new glowing red beastie growing a new weapon was one of the scariest moments in the second season, mainly because we didn’t know where it was pointing. The growing alarm onboard the Sidonia with the gravity going wonky, and Yuhata’s frustration because the classified nature of the experiment gone out of control made it hard for her to sortie the Gardes. But it’s settle, abruptly, when something cut it off and it went poof. Even that was scary because I expected it to appear again, somewhere else. And maybe scariest of all is Kobayashi’s decision to keep the experiments going. I thought it was a good thing when she killed off those immortal guys, but now I’m not so sure …
But it’s all covered up and the main characters have nothing better to do than to try to get Nagate’s attention. Izana turns into a girl at an embarrassing moment. That one pilot (Samari?) asks him out, talks about her growing fears about the big fighting coming up and propositions him with about the sexiest line a Sidonia girl can muster before learning that Nagate’s kind of an idiot, but that’s okay because she got to Nagate before En Honoka could–oh, yes, we’re allowed to ogle the Honoka sisters again. You know, I have nothing against harem series in general, and I don’t mind bits of it even in Sidonia, but it’s been three episodes with only a few scenes of importance, and the rest of it clones, gender-free people, and an artificially-produced alien hybrid all trying to make it with Nagate.
Nisekoi 2 7 also pulls the show out of its slump, in fact, they really ought to have begun the new season with this episode, never mind what that would have done to the Paula McCoy continuity. We meet Haru, a first-year on her first day, rescued from thugs by a brave fellow student whose face she didn’t see (guess who), and who is determined to meet him again and to warn another student, a villain named Raku Ichijo, to stay away from her big sister Onodera. Just the sort of thing you’d expect from this series, but it’s the first time all season we’ve had the level of playful confusion the show is capable of. The scene where they officially meet and she freaks out gets fresh energy every time another member of Raku’s harem shows up, and of course they all do (except Tsumugi, but they were saving her for a big belly-laugh at the end). It’s all Haru building on her own fear and hate while each girl wonders what she’s on about and Raku gets understandably more nervous. I expect things will get back to normal next week, but it’s nice to see the show rise above its doldrums once in a while.
Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku 7 introduces Otone, the girl who ruthlessly defeats Asuhi in the rookie finals. A monotone girl who seems cruelly indifferent to everything and everyone, turns out she’s a flake, and a bigger one than Eruna. Eruna has the attention span of a gnat, but the motivations behind these swings are easily grasped, usually lust, concern for friends, food, and lust. But with Otone, we don’t know how her mind works, and she doesn’t either. In her conversation with Eruna she laments her shyness, accuses Eruna of being a demon, and praises herself for growing up into a girl whom demons would go for, then thanks her late mother for it. Even Eruna thinks she’s weird. But does the show need another really weird character with a short attention span?
Because this show is often as weird as the characters, once it introduces Otone it forgets about her while the gang prepare a “cheer up Arushi” party, which thanks to misplaced notes, Eruna believes is a challenge to fight, even though she thought up the party herself. And so we almost get a fight this week (loved Minatogawa’s “uh, okay, whatever” reaction), but the right people intervene by showing up, and we get a totally predictable party scene, the only spice being Otone’s odd comment to Seisa at the end.
Nagato Yuki-chan 8 continues the mostly uneventful, almost lazy expedition to the hot spring. About the only notable thing is Koizumi coming on to Kyon in the bath, giving us the “you’re too close” line. In other references, Koizumi wants to play that game, Mikuru sings one of her character songs in karaoke, and there’s that chauffeur. Like the last episode, the events move slowly and are playful and a little dull: the hot spring, ping pong, the dinner, all the traditional traditional inn scenes. Oh, the bath has a little “matchmaking” so that girls can peek at the boys, which leads to some moments of embarrassment even though no one uses it much. The episode pays as much attention to Kyon as to Yuki (who’s too blissed out by the inn’s offerings to do anything dramatic except try that little door once), which is a good thing.
More weirdness from Houkado no Pleiades 7. First, Suburu takes up gardening, maybe because of the greenhouse that only she can visit and doesn’t seem tobe around anymore. However, there is a new student, instantly recognizable as Minato, also tending the plants, though he doesn’t appear to recognize her. In the meantime, Aoi tries to find out what’s been up with Suburu recently and suddenly runs off, cursing herself for not changing. I don’t really understand, but apparently the two girls have had another falling out. And flashbacks to the girls in elementary school trying to find a Ursa Minor keychain that Suburu lost, and which contradict each other … But never mind, there’s another fragment to catch. This one is in a comet! Heading into the SUN!!
The alien overlord tries to conjecture how the fragment got in a comet, and all we really get is that it became one when it got coated with ice. Not in any astronomy textbook I know, but never mind. Soon the girls are trying to reel the thing in while avoiding solar flares and Horned Cape, and settle their latest, highly confusing dispute. They both agree that they didn’t hold each other back, or leave each other behind, and later we see that there are two keychains, one from each reality, I suppose, though why did Suburu give Aoi the keychain in one reality and not the other? Finally, Minato recognizes Suburu after she tells him that he is him. You see, “Suburu is Suburu and Aoi is Aoi no matter what” was the main thrust of the girls reconciliation, so it makes sense. When something makes sense in this show, you have to take note of it.
Finally, in Takamiya Nasuno Desu! 7, Nasuno, Yota, and whats-her-name go to a pretty crappy amusement park. It had a couple of slow, no-gag moments, but rallied for a SPG of 3.33, better than Teekyuu’s this week!
In Show by Rock 7 the bad guys set up a rumor that a popular place for spontaneous live shows is this one park, and then they pluck members away. Our visual kei idiots Shingan Crimsonz immediately go there to perform, while Plasmagica hears about the disturbances and goes to investigate. It’s a park where youkai live, so we get some sort-of amusing scenes where the girls are greeted by cute youkai, while the boys, all dark and crimson in their souls, afraid of nothing, see everything as a threat.
But the episode does a surprising thing. Naturally a dark monster show up, but it’s not Plasmagica who defeats it, it’s Shingan Crimsonz. Okay, they didn’t know it was a dark monster, they thought it was another youkai messing with them, and if they had known, they might have lost their nerve. However you look at it, however, it’s the boys who stand up to it, get battered a bit, get a rousing speech by Rom, regroup, and finish off the beastie. While I get tired of the pretentious speeches the boys put out there, fair play to them for showing some mettle when it looks bleak.
The world of Hibike! Euphonium looks even bleaker in episode seven, grayer with more rain, with an unhappy decision made by Aoi, who abruptly quits the band in the middle of rehearsal. I’m not sure Taki’s calling people out in that manner is the best way to inspire high schoolers to begin with, and there are those university exams to study for. But it’s a mature decision for her to make. Her heart never seemed to be in this more focused band she’s in this year, and so while some of her bandmates feel bad for her, their reaction is more regret than anger. But there’s the other question: is she just the type to quit when things get too hard? She didn’t quit last year, but she did nothing to help either side, either. We might not find out.
The other big to-do stems from this, as Haruka is dismayed by Aoi’s quitting, and memories of last year, when many students quit because no one seemed to give a shit. Now Aoi has quit, and she questions her own ability to lead the band, when the lively Asuka was the popular choice. However, in the best scene of the episode, the two work it out a little. We are reminded that Asuka chose not to be president, perhaps seeing her own limitations in the fraught situation last year. Also, Haruka agreed to take on the position. Two choices made by people who, like Aoi maybe, know their limitations, though at this time Haruka doesn’t seem to know her strengths either. So an episode where people make tough decisions about their immediate and long-term futures, so why it’s called “Crybaby Saxophone” is beyond me.
There are two big shows right now, Sidonia and BBB, but for the second week in a row they don’t add up to much. Maybe they’re developing their big stories or they’re just dithering. Right now it seems like the latter.
Knights of Sidonia 2 6, after a peaceful episode where nothing much happens, has an episode which even less happens until the end, where we can see where the story is going to go. Stupid Oiachi/Kunato and stupid Gauna! Before that, the show again stooped to bad high school comedy levels when Nagato falls on top of Izana with a hand you-know-where, though since Izana is neither male of female I don’t know why it matters so much. Also, he moves into fancy new digs and has Izana move in with him, innocently of course, and Tsumugi’s cute tentacle sort of moves in as well and asks to sleep with Nagate. Yep, quite a harem situation we got going here. Might as well invite some of the Honoka sisters as well, though being female humans they might not fit in. Anyway, when they test the graviton beam emitter and we see those tentacles snaking down the cables, I sighed in relief in spite of the threat, or maybe because of it.
With Kekkai Sensen 7 we’re still waiting for the main story arc to really start. Maybe it has, with Black, White’s brother, befriending Leo, and Leo thinking that this kid isn’t so bad after all, only to learn at the end that Black is indeed one of the Thirteen. But nothing really happens beyond that. I wonder if Black actually likes Leo. He seems to like Leo as White’s friend, and I’m sure they’ll play up that angle eventually. He’s probably just going to go for Leo’s eye and try hard not to kill him, out of friendship and respect. As for the rest of the episode, Zapp gets in trouble and Klaus has enter a bare-knuckle boxing ring and beat a bunch of guys, while we hear bullshit speeches about man’s lust for pure fighting. Not terribly interesting. Let’s get to the main arc, people, before the show loses its momentum.
Even Takamiya Nasuno Desu! is a bit off this week, with a weak SPG of 4.1. I guess they spent too many seconds introducing Ayano, the sewer spirit who’s Nasuno’s mom. It’s development time all around for ALL the season’s masterpieces.
Houkago no Pleiades 6 felt at times like a season finale. For a while I thought maybe this was actually a six-episode mini-series, but no, there’s still more engine fragments to collect, but elsewhere much has changed. Basically, Horned Cape or whatever he’s called (we learn this week it’s not Minato) sends off one of his fragments for the girls to collect, thus finding out where they operate so he can steal the ones they have. Meanwhile, the spaceship is reforming, or something. Basically it’s a big gold arc in the sky, while the part of the engine the boss has rebuilt looks like a cube made of glowing tinker toys. And before you know it …
It’s hard to explain because I don’t understand it. The school is sealed off by HC with Suburu inside, and then it’s floating in space and HC is trying to bust in, and the spaceship is reforming … Well, the big surprise this week is that, as I said, Minato is NOT Horned Cape. HC stumbles into the observatory and he’s just as surprised as Suburu was. And later, after this week’s cosmic light show, Minato and HC have a little talk about it being time to leave, we don’t see them on the screen together, so they probably are fragments of the ship, or maybe just split in two, or something. Getting them together will probably be a focus for the rest of the series, as well as obtaining those remaining engine parts. Oh, and the observatory is no longer a greenhouse, well it is, but it’s night there now and the trees are dead. Before, everything bloomed, even though Minato said they couldn’t, which harkens back to the alien’s speech about stopping time. My head hurts.
Meanwhile, in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan … very little happens at all. The gang go on a trip to an inn, well, they’re not there yet. They’re too busy hanging sightseeing in Nagano for the time being. And that’s pretty much the episode. They catch the train. They go here, they go there, they buy soba, buns, ice cream, and shaved ice, they buy wooden swords with massage rollers attached (well, Mikaru does). Stuff about power spots in shrines. Oh, there’s the business of trying to get Yuki and Kyon together, but the show doesn’t try too hard to play that up, and only Asakura is really concerned about it. The episode is, overall, pleasant apart from the slow pacing. Once again the show takes too much time with reaction bits, or simply ending a scene. That meeting scene at the train station was far longer than it needed to be, though I admit I enjoyed the idea that Kyon’s imouto was in that bag.
DanMachi 7 is little more than filler and some prep work for the next arc, which apparently has to with an adventurer who goes and finds a monster–and trains it to be even nastier. We cut to several of these scenes, which are all pretty much the same, until the final bit when the monster starts going after other, more hapless adventurers. In the meantime, Liliruca is introduced to the Hestia Familia, which is to say, Hestia, who is necessarily dubious about this new threat. Meanwhile, Bell gets repeatedly beaten, er, trained in fighting, by Aiz. I wonder if this is actually part of his fantasy, to have the girl of his dreams kick his ass every night. Well, at least he’s getting over his fear of her.
Nisekoi 2 6 is the inevitable Valentines Day episode (Didn’t they do one already? I can’t remember), and while it had some good moments I kept thinking the gods of comedy must have been taking a week off. There was so much potential for misunderstandings and running around, especially when Shu lied to Tsugumi about what the chocolates implied, but they didn’t follow through and make things as crazy as they could have. Well, it had some sweet moments. Raku actually gets chocolates from all the girls in the end. Chitoge and Onodera work together to make theirs (wait, didn’t Chitoge already make some?) and pledge to support each other in their quest for the people they like, not knowing it’s the same person. Marika’s gift was good for a laugh, and Tsumugi got to whip out her guns. I’ve seen worse Valentines Day episodes.
Teekyuu! 42 continues the exciting beach adventure, where the girls get lost at sea and the gags come at an average of 3.21SPG. And that’s counting a slow couple of seconds where they’re attacked by natives. Very impressive, girls!
While it’s been clear for a long time that Nisekoi is going to play its ridiculous story out as long as humanly possible, and possibly not resolve at all, it doesn’t mean that it can get away with too many meaningless side stories like we get in episode 6. Or maybe I’m annoyed because both feature Marika, my least favorite of the harem. In part one we learn that she has terrible grades, not because she’s not bright, but because she’s unmotivated. So she invites Raku home to help her pull a math test all-nighter. Fortunately for Raku, Chitoge’s there too. And the expected stuff happens. In part two Raku takes care of Marika’s parrot, whom she has named Raku, and knows all sort of embarrassing (for Raku) phrases. Naturally it gets loose and flies around the town. Naturally all the other girls are around to hear it. C’mon people, I know the plot is never-ending, but the show loses its edge when you don’t actually pursue it.
At least Show by Rock! has an active story arc going on, with an actual crisis to resolve first thing! Let’s see how … er …
It looks like this show has chucked everything away in order to get the girls in swimsuits, but we quickly flash back to where we were before, with Cyan’s secret revealed to everyone. I’m still wondering why it was a secret in the first place, but anyway. Before we can get anymore misunderstandings the guitar gives the girls the full story, including stuff we didn’t know about the bad guy, Dagger Morse, and his evil plan. Mr. Berry (which is a good name for a guitar) goes on to clear Cyan of all blame, in other words, refusing any misunderstandings that still may exist, and I’d like to thank him for that. The show was getting a little dark around the edges.
But they still have to deal with Retoree’s sense of betrayal. Fortunately that’s done with one heartfelt speech and a song Cyan sings alone that everyone overhears and start adding to, etc. You know the kind of scene I’m talking about. But it gets better after that, because don’t forget the show’s ridiculously clumsy arrangement of Moa, another girl from another world who must return, making two of four in the group. Even the other band members think its too much and refuse to believe her until she calls down her spaceship. At least the show knows how to enjoy it’s ridiculous, contrived situation.
One thing about Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku that I like is that it deals with things you often find in high school shows in a haphazard way, and things don’t wind up the way you expect. Also, it deals with side character issues in a quick and perfunctory way. In episode 6 the focus starts on grumpy, arty third-year Kyouma, who’s feeling the burden of great potential, but after a depressing intro scene and some backstory from Shigure, we shift back to Eruna and her first-years battle. I thought for sure she’d battle Azumi, the evil band girl, but that threat is dispatched by Tonkyun. Later, Tonkyun is dispatched by Eruna, and before you can breathe, we learn offhandedly that Eruna was dispatched by the broadcast club girl, a match we didn’t even get to see. Hell of a way to build up tension, not that the show (or Eruna, who has the attention span of a gnat) cares too much. Meanwhile, Kyouma watches all this, cheers up and gets his art groove back. So that’s sorted.
After the evil (not really) Taki announces that they’ll be holding auditions instead of letting everyone play, Hibike! Euphonium decides to ignore the internal strife that naturally ensue and focuses instead on Katou, a beginner musician, playing a tuba that’s almost as big as she is. She’s almost already written herself out of the band’s final ensemble, but Kumiko and the others convince her that she should at least try. There follows some amusing scenes where she learns to take a tuba apart, takes it home to practice without dying, while others try to keep her motivation up in silly ways. The “answer” is a little pat, but true enough. I’ve heard tuba players practice, hooting out those notes, and wonder what the point was (I’ve thought the same about euphs, but don’t tell Kumiko). Playing in an ensemble IS more fun than playing alone. As usual, Kyoani makes the episode fun to watch, and I enjoyed the joyless, self-abusive reasons the other tuba players give for playing.
I didn’t think Knights of Sidonia 2 5 would have much crazy action, since last week’s episode’s had enough for two (four if you think of most other shows), and besides, there are bodies to heal and intrigue to be done … Okay, not much intrigue either. Mostly it’s Nagate and Izana worrying about Tsumugi, who’s only ten percent of her original self. Happily, she heals fast, and it’s not long before she and her cute tentacle are back to ooing over kitties (a real one this time, well thanks to the CG it looks stuffed, but they added cat noises to reassure us), and Nagate is having dirty dreams about Hoshijiro. The closest thing to a crisis is Sidonia undergoing a deceleration gravity shift while Nagate and Izana are creeping up and down (or sideways) shafts. And then there’s the ending bit. I forgot that when Sidonia isn’t being absolutely thrilling, or creepy and sinister, it can lapse into bad high school romcom.
Kekkai Sensen 6 doesn’t try to hit a home run either, but instead tells a cute tale about Leo’s friendship with Nej, a mushroom sort of guy who loves burgers but for reasons I can’t understand, won’t go to buy them himself. Oh, there’s a secret about Nej’s past to be revealed, and bad guys who try to use this secret for their own ends, but the baddies are small-time and incompetent, and Nej’s secret isn’t really dangerous, just inconvenient for everyone, including himself. No crazy chases or light shows this week. Leo doesn’t get to do much except bond with the little fellow (wonder if we’ll ever see him again) and be around when the big stuff happens, which I think is his real super-ability. Oh, and a bit of over arcing plot at the end concerning White (Ghost girl) and her brother, Black, who’s that blonde vampire guy. And so, both the big shows of the season take a little rest.
As for DanMachi 6, this whole Liliruca business confuses me a little, no, a lot. She wants money to leave the Familia, she says. I assume that’s the Soma Familia, one that worships not a god but a powerful drink, so basically they’re alcoholics. She’s being targeted by adventurers who are on to her con game, who are not the people she owes money to. Or maybe they are. Anyway, she steals that magic sword again, even though she already knows that without Bell it has no magic. And I don’t understand why Bell is so quick to forgive her. Well, I actually do: he’s stupid that way. That’s why we get all the “I saved you because you’re you,” lines at the end. These made me cringe, but they made up for it with Lili’s impassioned cries of disbelief that he’s that trusting. And what’s with that business by the fountain at the end, when he asks her to be his supporter? I thought the whole point of the episode was that she already was.
Takamiya Nasuno Desu! 5 (last week’s) had a 3.33 SPG average. Not bad, but they lost a precious couple of seconds with Nasuno’s begging bit. Every moment counts, guys!