Compared to last week, or last season’s finale, Knights of Sidonia: Battle for Planet Nine is a little more subdued.
But then, when you open with a killer alien who’s invaded your spacecraft via tentacles and taken on the form of the girl you loved and it killed and absorbed, naked, and about to kiss you, you got a pretty good episode right there. Especially since, as I said last week, the scene had used up all its rescuers; who was going to get Nagate out of this? But I was wrong. Izana gets a tentacle of her own into the power supply and, er, does something, I’m not sure what, something about cutting off a head. Whatever it was, Benisuzume was not pleased, and it gave Nagate a chance to use his knife again. Wonder if we’ll see Benisuzume again?
That was a good moment, though I was certain that Beni had managed to slip something via her tentacles into Nagate’s mouth, leading to a John Hurt in Alien moment, but it didn’t happen. Well, not yet. Instead, as sort of a final topper for the show’s excellent battle scenes, we get about 100 gauna descending on Nagate, standing defiantly with his knife in one hand and the unconscious fair maiden Tsumugi in the other–and then the cavalry comes in the form of more gardes and blast the shit out of everything. At least the show had the decency to somewhat explain its deus ex machina, and to put a cruel spin on it: Nagate and Tsumugi were bait to draw out the enemy.
After that it was just wrapping up, well, the naked girl in Nagate’s cockpit notwithstanding. We don’t see Tsumugi again, but we can assume she’s okay. Nagate gets a medal, Lala the bear confronts Kobayashi about using Nagate, Ichiai/Norio are going to do fun things with the bits of Beni that Nagate brought back with him. And finally, a touching scene where Nagate visits his childhood home to pay respects to his grandfather. But no mention of a season three. Well, I hope they make one. When this show’s not wasting time with harems involving a gender-neutral, a clone or two or six, an alien tentacle, and even a couple regular girs, it’s the best show running. They didn’t fix the cgi problems but frankly I think overall everything looks better now. And it maintained its alien look and feel. Really it felt like what it was, the second season of an excellent series, marred by stuff in the middle, so I have nothing to add that I didn’t say last time, except to ask if or when season three is coming.
I haven’t seen Sidonia or BBB‘s yet, so at this moment DanMachi has delivered the best finale of the season.
It was far better than I expected, and yes, it had draggy moments. Early on when the adventurers (even the bad ones) were regrouping and then flinging everything they had at the goliath, arrows, swords, incantations, the kitchen sink, bits of string, shouts, etc, you knew it wouldn’t work because Bell wasn’t in the battle yet–he had been sent back to fight smaller beasties. Also, it was far too early in the episode for killing blows yet. We had to be satisfied with the occasional attack that stopped the goliath, only for it to regenerate and start his rampage again.
And there was the bit after Bell had had enough of being in the background and stepped up to the Goliath for the second time. His attack was effective (Firebolto!) but insufficient and left him nearly dead (rescued by Ouka). Then dream speeches from his father and from Hermes about what a hero was all about, and the super-duper magical hero strike spell Bell suddenly had.
But from the moment Bell woke up and was given that weird sword, everything came together. Supporting characters, speaking their motives (mostly to atone for bad things or prove something to themselves), gave their biggest best shots, got battered and rescued in turn, until it was Bell’s turn. It was a terrific buildup, and what made it even better was that the Hero’s Strike didn’t finish the job. Bell had to do that in his old way, almost a coda, running, leaping, using that knife. And immediately, with no dramatic pause, the lusty cheers rose up, because hundreds of people were watching.
I can’t think of a better way to finish the series. Kudos to the creators for putting their best work into it. I will quibble and suggest that they could have put more work into some of the earlier episodes, but this was meant to be a silly, fun adventure series without the biggest budget in the world, and they did well with the uneven source material. Not great, but certainly good enough to keep me watching. There’s certainly going to be another season, even if Hestia didn’t have those ribbons, and I’ll be happy to watch it.
Nisekoi‘s finale had no big story to wrap up. What plot they do have was forgotten awhile back, and they’ve been been spinning their wheels with character studies since. Last week it was Onodera, this week Chitoge. In the first half Chitoge loses her iconic ribbon. All of Shaft must have gasped in dismay when they read that bit in the manga–they play with the image so much–but she gets it back with a minimum of slapstick, after briefly turning into a nice girl and freaking Raku out. In the second half she considers confessing but quickly realizes it ain’t gonna happen. The best bit was her father’s story about how he and her mother met. But overall the episode was sweet, and not overly so, because this is Shaft after all. As for another season, well, as I said, it’s Shaft, and I watch just about everything they do.
… If there is one I hope they remember about the locket and all those keys.
Houkago no Pleiades ends sweetly, and as expected, it’s confusing .
The girls, reunited, make a last jump to catch the last bit of engine only to find it’s in a black hole! Well, they’ve done every other cool astronomical thing out there, I guess this is the way to top it. But they don’t go in. First Suburu has to convince Minato (who’s already charging in, totally fine with whatever happens) to drop his self-destructive tendencies and help them out, by kissing him, then they use the almost-repaired ship to make a singularity of their own, six of them, actually, to suck the black hole’s contents out.
Then we get some revelations: the Alien Overlord is actually that kid who helped Minato, only he’s lost his memories or something. Also, he intends to use the black hole to help find potential for all those little rocks. It’s bye-bye after that and the girls find themselves on Earth at the beginning of potentiality. They can choose their own potentials, and naturally choose to stay the same. Then they’re all back in our time, but they’ve lost all their memories of what happened and have to meet again. Why? The show doesn’t explain. Doesn’t matter, they meet up soon enough …
Seems rather cruel to Minato, something he even mentions. He’s back in IC and Suburu’s forgotten all about him. Maybe they’re angling for a second season. I could also point at a number of ridiculous things about the, er, physics of the whole thing (like that tree of potentiality), but they make the point that when physics can’t explain it, it’s magic, a convenient way to pretend to be scientifically accurate until the plot needs pushing or they want to play Claire de Lune again. Never mind, the goofy tour of the galaxy and beyond was part of the show’s fun and help balance out the more mundane tale of friendship and change they were trying to tell. Though the idea of taking up and using lost rocks of potential worked well as a plot device and a metaphor. All in all, a cute show about friendship and change with cosmic overtones. Let’s see if they do another season and get Minato’s story straightened out …
The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan 13 is not a finale, but it would have been fine if it had been. In it, the interim Yuki continues to see fragments of the real Yuki’s past, and there’s that love thing to deal with. She realizes that, whether she wants to or not, she’s slipping away, and the next time she falls asleep, she’ll be gone and the real Yuki will return. There’s a sad, fatalistic feeling to the entire episode which intensifies when she decides, before she can slip away completely, to tell Kyon how she feels about him. It’s a beautiful death scene except Yuki lives, so it spares us the inconvenience of weeping. Sad to say, nothing against the regular (for this series) Yuki but I rather prefer the interim, laconic, book-reading Yuki. Maybe it’s because of the source material. I’ll also miss the quiet mood the past three episodes have had and rather dread seeing Haruhi barge in shouting again.
Finally, Takamiya Nasuno Desu! finishes up with a revolving sushi episode and a SPG of 3.1, much better than Teekyuu’s. But there’s no indication that the show is returning! Flow my tears …
Hibike Euphonium 12 … It’s going to take a while to get that little tune out of my head.
It starts with Taki asking the Euphs to help play one particularly nasty passage. Kumiko can’t handle it, but spends most of her time practicing, and gets better. Taki is still not impressed, but she promises she will play it well by the competition. And still it’s not good enough. Taki asks Asuka to play it alone. There could be a little life lesson here, saying “No matter how hard you work you still might not be good enough,” which is true, but the situation puts Kumiko in a funk.
But it demonstrates a change. Earlier, Katou had mentioned that Kumiko seemed less detached and more passionate now. After she loses the part, she runs around screaming how she wants to get better (and so does Shuichi, but who cares about him?).Obviously, Reina is an inspiration. Reina seems to like this new passion, and offers encouragement, as well she would, because Kumiko HAS gotten better. It comes down to a chance meeting with Taki, where he talks about doing things he wants to do (not to mention encouraging her to keep practicing that part, because she had promised she’d get better).
“I love the euphonium!” she cries out more than once near the end, which, frankly, makes her a little weird in my book, but weirdness is good. She wants to keep working at it. All of this is countered by reality and studying, her sister who dropped music to cram, and Aoi, who’s doing the same thing, making practical decisions they say they don’t regret, and I believe them. I believe there’s only one episode left, which is a shame partly because we won’t get to see Kumiko and the others deal with life after the competition. Meanwhile, I’ve still got that little tune in my head.
Nisekoi 12 seems to have abandoned any pretense of the plot moving forward. I mean, when was the last time anyone brought up the locket? Instead in episode 11 it’s two stories about Onodera. The first one was predictable. She’s afraid she’s gaining weight and starts starving herself, er, dieting. I think we all knew the second time she got on the scale that it was broken. The second story is much nicer. We go back to middle school and see how she decides to get into the same high school that Raku is going to. It sounds like a silly reason to choose a school, because your unrequited crush is going there, but she adds that it’s the first time in her life she feels determined to do anything, a nice though unintended reference to Euphonium …
Show by Rock! was a dumb show from start to finish, so I guess I shouldn’t have expected a great, slam-bang finale, but I was still surprised that it was such a clumsy, ham-fisted affair. It felt like the creators said “Okay, you guys do the rescue Rosia bit, you guys do the Angelica and Maple sneaking in bit, yo guys work on those kids coming to Midi City. Don’t worry about flow–we’ll just splice it all together.” That is to say, one scene would go on, then another, and back to the first scene, full of clumsy starts and finishes, each of them full of potential that they wasted. You had all those bands together, you could have had a big battle, but instead all they did was gape, except for that blonde guy and Darudayu. Dagger turned into an impressive monster and Cyan wiped him out with one shot. Grateful King’s ultimate song was never used. And I never did figure out what the deal was between Rom and the blonde guy.
Okay, one or two good points, like Grateful King sending Cyan back to her own world but she fought to come back and finish the battle. They spared us the tearful goodbye scenes (they had enough tearful scenes already) at the end and just had Cyan getting the nerve to enter that clubroom–end of show … That’s all I can think of. Okay, I shouldn’t have expected more, except that this show had given us moments of loopy fun and a couple of moving scenes before. And they had handled the story pretty well–until the finale. Sigh.
Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku‘s finale was pretty silly, but it was funny-silly and had moments of joy in it.
Though they never really explained what was going on with the reality breakdown. Eruna has a flashback dream to … her ancestors maybe, and Seisa is there too, and, sadly, Shigure, then she’s falling in the air, caught and finds herself in what must be the real world, the ruins of the school. The rest of the student body is there too, but they don’t seem shocked at all. Do they even notice? Meanwhile, the fighting pavilion is still in one piece and there are still midterm matches to attend to. Through the rest of it, sometimes we see the complete school, sometimes the ruins. Later, it all comes back, but isn’t that an illusion? Should they all be happy to be there?
In terms of the story now, there are no villains to defeat. They just want to get Seisa out of her mansion. Eruna asks her to join her club if she wins, and Seisa doesn’t say yes or no, but in the final, which is supposed to be Eruna and Kyouma, he is suddenly “abducted” by the drama club. Up to that point the episode had dragged a bit; the confusion over what was going on mixed with heartfelt speeches about intentions was responsible, but the sheer inanity of the abduction (to clear the way for Seisa) brought back the happy, goofy side of the series, and led to the moment of joy I mentioned before.
Eruna has always been fun to watch because, as I’ve said countless times before, she’s a blithering idiot, but also because she manages to have fun no matter what the situation, and when she hits a setback she bounces right up to try again. Finally, this rubs off on Seisa, and they have a great battle, crashing out of the pavilion, over rooftops, into the forest, then flying in the air (while Bimi exclaims that they’re breaking the laws of physics). Eruna is smiling throughout … and so is Seisa. And while there’s a little wrap-up time after that, it isn’t really necessary. You knew Seisa would join Eruna’s club, nothing else really mattered. I don’t need to say more about it, or about the show. Eruna’s positive idiocy redeemed Seisa, and most of the time, it redeemed the show as well. Well, the Drama Club helped.
Finally, Teekyuu! THE WORLD’S GREATEST ANIME SERIES EVER, UNLESS IT’S NASUNO DESU, finishes with a dismal SPG of 4.5. It felt almost leisurely. And only two of the girls were in it (doesn’t Nasuno have enough screentime with her own series? Is two minutes a week not enough for her?) But don’t worry! Season 5 is coming up!
Knights of Sidonia 11 … Damn, I wish the entire series was as good as this episode.
When KoS does a big battle scene it is always fantastic: fast, fluid action with terrifying moments, aided by the amazing art and soundtrack. And at this episode’s conclusion, you wonder how the hell Nagate is going to get out of this one, with Benisuzume, or what’s left of her, squirting tentacles into his gardes and forming into what has to be Shizuka, sitting on his lap. Before, what was going on with Izana and Tsumugi, you had the feeling that it would be all right because Nagate was still around, but who’s going to help him now?
Well, someone had better, because he spent most of his screentime this episode being resourceful and heroic. First there was Izana and that guy (after a strange and pointless talk by him about discovering alien worlds–how do you like it now?) being chased around by that giant who looked like Attack on Titan thing crossed with a gauna, until the ledge is cut off and they’re falling–and Nagate catches up to then. It’s a bit of a shame that Izana didn’t have more to do in her side-story except survive, not that survival doesn’t require any less skill and bravery than skewering gauna does. I was hoping that they’d have let her make more of a difference. One more thought: I knew that little ceremonial sword those pilots got would come in handy …
For making a difference you have to look at the two main battles, Tsumugi and Benisuzume and Nagate and lot of gauna. The first one was great to look at for a while but got a little stale because it was basically a red dot and a pink one flying around and crashing into each other. We also had Norio/Ochiai smirking about how Tsumugi was the more advanced model, and he’s not wrong a lot. So it came as little surprise when Tsumugi got the upper hand. Unfortunately, Benisuzume has more guile than Tsumugi, and soon I was wondering if this was the last we’d see of her. As for Nagate, he pulls Izana and the guy out of danger, fights off a couple dozen gauna, and then rushes over to stop Benisuzume just in time. But again, NOW what’s going to happen? Great episode.
Kekki Sensen 11 is a quieter episode, but still an amusing one, at least until the end. Much of it was White, or Mary MacBeth, telling the story of her and Black, er, Will as children. White is born without psychic powers in spite of her parents being casters. The parents love her anyway, and so does Black, who has powers to spare but has decided not to use them. This infuriates White (and me too, since he gets bullied a lot). Still the siblings are close and always work out their difficulties. And there’s some business with a camera.
Naturally it gets darker, so at the end she captures and “blinds” Leo, and Black takes him away and starts a new armageddon, or something. More unpleasant stuff follows … but I sort of wonder if White is actually dead or not. I also don’t get the idea that she has no heart but instead a shield inside to protect her (the shield acting up is what I assume to be the reason she lives in the hospital), and besides, characters who are supposedly powerless quite often have a lot of power. As for her looking at pictures in Leo’s camera, maybe that triggered the change of heart in her. Like Will once photographed Mary, Leo photographed White. Well, next week, look for a lot of things blowing up. Two more questions: what about Leo’s eyes? They didn’t just pluck them out like I thought they would. And why did the kids get the nicknames “White” and “Black?”
DanMachi 12 almost feels like a side story. They’re still down in that lovely, peaceful 18th level where the trees are lush and the goods hopelessly overpriced. And for it while it remains placid, just a peeping at bathing girls scene and some backstory from Ryou, and then some adventurers who are jealous of Bell’s rapid rise decide to ruin the fun by kidnapping Hestia and challenging Bell to a duel, and turns invisible and beats the crap out of him, until Bell makes the inevitable comeback. Hermes set this up in order to teach Bell that there are some unpleasant people out there (he also set up the peeping–probably trying to teach Bell something else). I suspect the show was also trying to teach us the viewer about the unpleasant people, useless because we’ve seen them since episode one. It gets ridiculous when Hestia uses her powers, as if she couldn’t use them before, and then that big skull shows up, the episode ends, and I’m scratching my head.
Houkago no Pleiades 11 is a pleasantly confusing as the episodes leading up to it.
The main confusion this time around is the concept of change. Suburu, now powerless and unable to see the alien overlord thanks to her adventure with Minato, is told by her parents that she’s changed, though she denies it. I’ll take this to mean she’s grown up a little. But she’s not very happy about it, since her friends are off chasing the final machine fragment (using “dark energy!”) and she can’t help them. Meanwhile, getting that last fragment might be impossible because the universe, tilted in their favor because of their magic, keeps pushing the fragment farther away, which is to say they actually don’t want to stop being magical girls and chase fragments. That is, until the girls realize this but decide (for Earth’s sake) to keep chasing it, no matter what. At which point the fragment becomes visible.
That all makes sense. But then earthbound Suburu starts noticing little things that suggest the missing Minato is still around. A flower in the weeds, the vending machine offering strawberry milk again. A classmate vaguely remembers him. This leads to her eventually opening the right door and poof! (well, actually a whoosh), she’s in Minato’s IC room. There’s some business with two stars, and then both of them are in space, with the hospital bed, though Minato is doing much better, with new, “different” magic powers and a black outfit. Then the other girls comically show up, vanish, then come back. So if she’s changed and has abandoned some potential, unused, what’s she doing now? Or Minato, for that matter? By the way, his goals haven’t changed; he’s still after the fragment. Next week’s finale is going to be interesting.
Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku 11 gives us a lot of backstory and the rising threat. The midterm battles we see are mere asides.
The first part, the love triangle, is pretty straightforward. Seisa feels, not betrayed, but jealous of Eruna and Otone. The betrayal came two years earlier, when her BFF, a girl from the photography club, turned on her, and so we get to see those unpleasant scenes that opened the series over again. I thought before that this show would involve Seisa learning to love and trust again, and while that still might be true, we now know it’s more complicated than that. She’s in the photography girl’s position now, with a younger girl who loves and admires her. But she doesn’t have the malice that her upperclassman did, or the desire to fight. She does, however, have the painful memories, and there’s the fact that she used her magic to seal off the photography clubroom, suggesting that she can’t face the past but is unwilling to let it go either. … But the magic is waning now.
So is everything at the school that Eruna lives in an alternate universe? Are the people here just not from the same world that Seisa came from? That doesn’t sound right. Either way, we now learn what those strange gaps Usamaru saw last week are–gaps into Seisa’s original world. Eruna wanders into one, leaving Otone behind, and is stuck in the old photography room with Bimi, who tells her the whole story. Why he didn’t tell her before I don’t know. Meanwhile, Shigure and Kyouma have a midterm battle though they both know something’s wrong. It’s an odd distraction and it didn’t make sense given the characters, especially Shigure. Looking forward to seeing what will happen now that reality’s crashing into this world.
The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan 11: the Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan part 3, casts such a lovely, quiet spell that I wish this current Yuki-chan didn’t have to go away eventually.
It’s not just the quiet library scenes with the piano music (Debussy?), though it certainly helps. I never cared for the fact that this Yuki normally enjoys games and not books. The original Yuki’s, dare I say, passion for reading was one of her most charming traits, and it felt wrong for her to go around with a portable Playstation in her hand. And it gave us another reference to the original series, when she entered the library and floated down the aisles … and finds “Hyperion.” Not to mention the library card, which Kyon got for her before. All that was missing was that adorable moment when he led her out of the library.
Those are good reasons for liking the episode, but what put it over the top was the searching Yuki was doing inside herself. The current her is afraid of going away when the other Yuki awakens. If it happens like that (and her “I don’t have enough data” was something the original Yuki would have said). Since she is Yuki’s consciousness at the moment it’s a genuinely frightening thought. It leads to a couple of dreams where she’s watching scenes of her and Kyon together from earlier, but standing apart from them, and there’s also an older-looking Yuki from the future, or maybe I’m mistaken. The tone throughout all this is still quiet, but the dreams, especially when the memories come of reaching up (to the stars, and for a book), seem to trigger a fundamental shift in her consciousness. It’s no doubt her subconsciousness doing basic repair work, like the doctor suggested, but it’s beautifully shown in this episode. … By the way, what was that “Alyosha … that feeling” text refer to? Is it a reference I missed?
Nisekoi 10 is a more sober affair than most episodes. Shuu has a crush on Kyoko, the homeroom teacher, but she announces she’s quitting to get married next month. So the question for Shuu, and Raku, is should he confess before she leaves, knowing it might complicate things, or carry the secret to his grave. As if he can’t fall in love again. Strangely, Raku asks Tsugumi her opinion and no one else. I kept waiting for complications to appear, conversations overheard or meanings misconstrued, but the show was determined to play this out straight. Shuu is such an annoying character that I didn’t really care too much, and seeing him sad and contemplative didn’t change my opinion. I much rather liked the Raku/Tsugumi conversations because of her reaction to these personal though theoretical questions.
Show by Rock 11 gets us to the big showdown, part one. Most of the episode was spent getting everyone fired up, wondering where Mr. Berry was, Grateful King’s new but as yet unheard song, and meeting all the acts we’ve met before. Necessary, but I sort of hoped that they would polish off the series this week and spent less time with it. As for the big attack, there was still mystery about how it would be done. Sending one monster out so that Darudayu could fight it was a tad predictable, but having that girl from Critacrista inside the monster, scared as hell, was an unexpected thing. Of course it meant that next week we’ll have a lot of scenes where the good guys can’t figure out how to fight it and get their butts kicked for a while …
All I get out of Hibike! Euphonium 11 is “what a rotten way to run an audition.” Okay, not true. It’s just that we have both Kaori and Reina performing in front of each other, in front of the entire band. In this situation, the question is no longer “who plays the part better?” but “which girl do you prefer?” What’s more, the judges are just as exposed as the contestants are. A couple of them, Yuko and Kumiko, aren’t afraid to be in that position, applauding for their friend, but the rest of them are too afraid to clap for anybody. What a miserable situation to be in, for everyone except Taki, who doesn’t seem to care.
But it led to a nice outcome, unexpected until a moment later. Kaori gets a few golf claps more than Reina and is asked to do the solos, but she refuses, saying Reina should do it. It was the closure Kaori needed. She had the solos but could choose whether to accept it or not. Because Kaori is a decent, reasonable person who wants the best for the band, she hands the parts to Reina. No one has any right to complain now.
Elsewhere, we get an odd comparison between Kaori/Yuko and Reina/Kumiko, girls and the girls who worship them. I don’t know if Yuko’s really figured her feelings out for Kaori, and I’m not sure about Kumiko, but it appears she might actually have feelings for Reina, who has feelings for Taki, in spite of that charged scene between them, the best scene of the episode in spite of all the audition drama. In fact, I wonder just how much Reina has feelings for Taki or for Kumiko or if she just doesn’t know or care.