3’s, 4’s, and 5’s: Kono subarashii, Phantom World, Boku Dake, and Teekyuu 74

February 6, 2016 Leave a comment

Continuing my desperate catch-up …

... which I will laugh at.

… which I will laugh at.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku Wo! Is turning into a nice, silly comedy. Episode two introduced Megumin, a arch mage or something like that, with one very formidable power that takes FOREVER to conjure up (I think the show’s already cutting it shorter by ep3, though I’d like to see them work it more as a gag, like the endless stories in OPM) and only be used once a day. Ep3 introduces Darkness, a crusader who can’t hit anything but isn’t afraid to take punishment, in fact, she loves it. Your usual bunch of weirdos in an anime comedy series. Fortunately, so far this show is an example of simple craft overcoming shortcomings, that is, the gags are mostly funny and well-timed (I especially like Jun Fukushima as Kazuma with his side comments and exclamations of alarm), and it looks just good enough moves just well enough to carry the story. Sure, we got a panty skit in ep3, but they didn’t stretch it out, so to speak.

Guess whose explosions have been annoying the demon general ...

Guess whose explosions have been annoying the demon general …

Oh, episode 4 came as I writing that. Well, more of the same. Good gags and reactions from everyone, especially Kazuma. For a while I didn’t know if this would be a two-parter or not; they were getting close to the end and Kazuma and Megumin were still talking about going to lift the curse placed on Darkness (who seemed happy about it, of course) by Celty’s relation. It could end with a gag, or the big quest and I could hope they could steal that guy’s head, though I didn’t think the show would do it. So when the end came I was a little let down. But again I’m having too much fun watching everyone screw up.

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Back around to Musaigen no Phantom World. Not sure what to think about episode four. On one hand I thought it was worked extremely well. The story (Reina’s unhappy home life makes her a victim of a phantom that provides her with a happier, bunny-eared one) is certainly not new, but when she had to say goodbye to the fake family at the end it was a strong emotional moment, more than for other stories of this type. And the fantasy world looked fantastic, out of a painting. So no complaints there. On the other hand the episode takes the easy way out in some ways. Haruhiko and Mai getting sucked into the world was well-done, but just announcing that bathrooms are often portals and using that as an escape route was sort of cheap. And at the end Reina told her parents about the club and they’re okay with it, in spite of what we heard before, and it was treated as an afterthought. Wasted opportunity there. They could use her parents as an obstacle in a later story.

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#5 feels the same way. It’s a “follow the rude, distant team member into a situation where she has to rely on her teammates so she has to apologize and blush adorably” episode. Again, it seems to make mistakes. We’re told at the end that this monster wasn’t the same as THAT monster (the one who killed the bunny and forced little Minase to manifest her powers), and it’s treated like a major mistake. But even if everyone had known this from the start, why wouldn’t Minase have jumped at the chance to take the phantom down? Even if wasn’t the same one, it was the same species, and it was threatening the same things. Still, it looked as good as before, and it was nice to see the little girl in action finally.

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Things were too good in Boku Dake ga Inai Machi 4. Little by little, things were getting better for Kayo’s prospects. Sachiko, being a cool mom, interfered with Kayo’s abuse, at least for a while. While Satoru, determined to keep Kayo safe, practically never leaves her side for a couple days, in spite of the reaction of his classmates (though his friends are more supportive), and because of this, Kayo was beginning to open up. It led to a happy birthday party with everyone, and Satoru believing he had saved her life. Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the bad news.

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In this case, it’s that Satoru did indeed keep Kayo alive on that day, so she got killed two days later. There’s a sick, twisted hint of the inevitability of Kayo’s death no matter what that pisses me off, but what I find most interesting is that we know who her killer is this time, and it wasn’t the same one we all thought. In all this thinking about stopping serial killers I had become blind to the thought that there could be more than one threat to her life. And so the show becomes more than just a time-traveling “stop the murderer” story and reemphasizes its concern for children and anger at the people who would hurt them. As for the story now, well, it’s getting a little ridiculous. How much reach does that killer have to set fire to Airi’s home? And why would he even want to do it? Well, we have a pretty good guess as to just who did it now. Just have to nail him. Sadly, the adults in the modern world seem to be about as powerless as the kids in the past.

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I’m far behind with Teekyuu!, but in order to spread out the joy I’ll just do one episode now. #74 feels like it drags, or I’m tired, but it had an excellent SPG of 2.815. Only Yuri and Kanae this week, picking delicious fruit like durian and what you see in the pic above.

Koyomimonogatari 2-4, Dimension W 2-4

February 2, 2016 Leave a comment

Midway through this post I realized that with my more limited time there’s no way to catch up if I write about every episode, so I will say even less per show than I was before.  At least until I get all the way back …

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Koyomimonogatari‘s short form is in a way a sort of relief after all the other monogataris out there, but I suspect I’m saying that because I’m still in a desperate game of catch-up. On the other hand, I’m not sure I want what seems to be the case after episode 2, that is, a small mystery that is wrapped up in thirteen minutes. I’m used to the bigger mysteries, and whatever oddity they had available. Episode 2, like #1, has no odditty at all, just some oddly-located bouquets of flowers that suggest a tragedy but in fact indicate nothing of the kind, maybe even the opposite. The speculation by Araragi and Senjugahara feels like its wasted, somehow. Well, the talk might not amount to as much as before (and monogatari talk can amount to everything and nothing at the same time), but it’s Senjugahara and Araragi doing the talking, so there’s fun to be had anyway.

It's going to be a good episode.

It’s going to be a good episode.

Episode 3 confirms my suspicious: I don’t think we’re going to seen an actual oddity in this latest series, just a lot of mysteries with different things behind them like reverse logic or natural phenomena. But at least this time we get Mayoi and Hanekawa. We also get a mysterious sandbox (I’m always a little taken aback when a strange presence like Mayoi can be weirded out by another strange presence) which isn’t so mysterious after all. I admired Hanekawa’s usual sensible logic: if the cause isn’t supernatural or outside interference, it should be completely natural. Also, we get trademark lines from both girls. I’m still a little sorry we aren’t getting a bigger story, but I’m happy enough with that.

Modern art, thanks to the W Dimension.

Modern sculpture, brought to you by Dimension W.

At first my heart sank when I watched Dimension W 2. It looked like this Loser fellow was going to be the first of a series of Kyouma captures, a “villain” of the week, but happily he not only escaped but will probably somehow help Kyouma in later adventures even though his motives–revenge against, er, Tesla I uess, might work counter to Kyouma’s. Still not sure who Kyouma is working for, well, for Mary I guess. But we learn something else is bubbling in his brain, what with that special unit he once belonged to and seems to be the only survivor of. He can’t be sympathetic to Tesla even with his odd friendship with Schuman, and he hates coils… Well, the accidental release of Dimension W on that curator is as good a clue as any. Too soon to tell, and the show is having a good time teasing us with things like “Numbers.” Wait for next episode. Oh, I have it right here …

Grand Guignol, courtesy of Dimension W

Absurdist theatre, courtesy of Dimension W

Episode 3 was for settling in and getting the situation stabilized. Mira gets a place to stay and interacts with the local kids, meanwhile Kyoma is off learning about numbers, and we start putting two and two together. Nice touch having one of the kids be related to a Tesla CEO. A decent enough episode for its type. Episode 4 is the best of the lot. While ghost legends mixed with murders aren’t exactly new to say the least, here we have the concept that the ghosts come from dimension W. This newly-discovered dimension is becoming a handy plot tool; you can create all sorts of different phenonemon and blame it all on the dimension. This week it’s ghosts and victims, and it’s by no means sorted out yet. We got one layer of reality resting on another one, and people who straddle both whom we call ghosts. They’re also nasty, so that makes it more fun.

2-3’s: Gate, Bubuki, Komugi-chan

January 29, 2016 Leave a comment
Shino kicks some butt in episode 2.

Shino kicks some butt in episode 2.

I understand the story, or stories, in Gate were going to get more complex, but episode 2 at least is fairly straightforward.  Earthshakes have a way of unifying story elements for a while.  And even after that it stays on one track as we get the satisfaction of Youji and his crew rescuing a Japanese hostage (with the twisted excuse by that obedient slave girl about how her fate would have been a lot worse without Zorzal), and Shino beating the crap out of Zorzal to boot.  But it can’t all be self-righteous beatdowns.  We have to wonder what the emperor is thinking, and there’s an interesting discussion between to the two princes, not to mention Noriko’s sad story, the JP gov’s manipulation of the situation.  Oh, and Tuka, though she’s been out of the story for so long I have trouble caring too much about her now.  Maybe that will change next episode.

I knew something was up with her.

I knew something was up with her.

And in episode 3 it’s still all pretty clear.  We have the empire’s internal manipulations going on, but like last time, big events tend to unify the characters, and Zorzal’s eventual rise to emperor supersedes whatever other empire business was going on.  Diablo is upset and so is Pina, and it’s hinted that they might both have to confront Zorzal for various reasons.  That sex-slave Tyuule is indeed a spy, and she’s got some manipulations of her own, including bewildering plans for Pina to invoke JSDF wrath, though how she plans to get Pina to kill that girl is anyone’s guess.

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On the good guys’ front it’s all about Tuka going insane.  The oddest part is the motive of the dark elf Yua for telling her her father’s dead.  It seems to all boil down to getting attention, and a childish desire for revenge, and it doesn’t work.  Youji sensibly won’t risk his people’s lives to kill that dragon.  Then the old man tells him his heart already knows what to do, we don’t, and when we find out, we’re nonplussed.  TWO of them against that dragon?  Okay, naturally the other girls force their way into the mission, Rory using the most amusing tactics as usual.  Meanwhile, recalling what happened to his parents, we get to see Youji’s paternal side a lot, not only pretending to be Tuka’s father, but as Youji himself, trying to guide Tuka back to mental health and making sacrifices on her behalf.  Rather sweet really.

Something cool is happening.

Something cool is happening.

When I let two weeks slip between viewings, my memory gets hazy, so I had a hard time figuring out the details in Bubuki Buranki 2.  So, another bubuki fell from that floating place?  And what does that signify about his mother?  And if the mother is such an awful person, why won’t someone notice that she’s keeping things from falling?  So I try to figure all this out while being dazzled by the visuals and the direction, amused by Oubu forming, getting clobbered, reforming and then whatever happened to it, and grinning along with Reoko when she’s about to do something nasty.  Love the pigtails flying up.  But if the story doesn’t get coherent soon I might lose interest, pretty as it all is.  Oh, why, look!  Here’s episode 3 right here!

Kogane is a little pissed off.

Kogane is a little pissed off.

Okay, I got some of the answers I wanted.  Not sure I like all of it.  So the Kazuki and Banryuu clans have been duking it out and manipulating historical events for centuries, then Reoko came out in the open and Migiwa beat her up, then went up to Treasure Island where she keeps Bubuki from falling, except, thanks to Azuma, a few did.  Now we got Reoko and her team hunting down bubuki users (How?  Were they infected? Do they like being users?) and, as we know, our team is on the run.  We learn this from Horino in a sequence of infodumps.  When not doing that, the episode gives us the inevitable fight between Hiiragi and Azuma while I wonder who appointed Hiiragi the leader anyway.  Also talk about the heart and limbs of Oubu working together.  So we have a goal–to get back to treasure island, with the obstacle of the Reoko, whenever she wakes up, and the fact that the good guys are a dysfunctional team who must learn to cooperate, well, Hiiragi does anyway.  Oh, and a bath scene, and Kogane going a little berserk at the end.

Now there are two.

Now there are two.

Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R 2 managed to throw enough curveballs that I kept watching.  It’s time to introduce other magical girls and form a team for Komugi.  This week it’s the perfect, sweet, and with supposedly a nice navel, Kokona-chan, who becomes sort of a magic maid with a SM streak with her as the S.  Also, her mascot doesn’t get along with Komugi’s mascot, and she’s rather mean to Komugi, hitting her with a sticky beam like that.  Luckily for her she seems to forget her magical girl side, and Komugi is too dense to figure out Kokona is Nurse-Kokona, even though they look exactly alike.  That’s all part of the fun.  What’s not so fun is the idol song.  I’ll soon find out if they intend to use one every episode.

And three.  But a "magical sister?"

And three. But a “magical sister?”

Silly to think otherwise, really.  Well, this week we get Tsukasa, the boyish girl who all the girls at school love, and who’s in love with Yuto, another actor on that show.  Then, to make the series slightly sadder, but funnier, it has Yuto fall for Tsukasa’s much girlier magical form, and he must never find out who she really is, alas alack.  Tsukasa desperately wants to be a girly-girl rather than a, er, boyly-girl, so she loves the whole magic thing and is wiping out villains so efficiently that you wonder if the other two are needed at all.  All in all this episode didn’t match the silly-level of the first two, but character intro episodes are always hit and miss.

2-3’s for Dagashi, Divine Gate, Pandora, Marshmallow. Guess which I’m dropping? WRONG!

January 26, 2016 4 comments

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After episode one, I figured the point of Dagashi Kashi was to show us Hotaru’s various schemes to keep Kokonatsu working at the candy store. I expected devious and funny plans and a good deal of tempting via fanservice. Episodes 2-3 showed us that while Hotaru’s goal is the same, the show is less interested in that than honoring and riffing on the idiosyncrasies of various bad snacks. Okay, if they can keep it entertaining, I don’t care much either way. In fact, in a way it reminds me of Moyasimon in how it decides to ignore the story for awhile when if finds something irreverent but fun to explore. In episode 2 we get strategies for eating kinako-bou, Hotaru getting drunk on namaiki beer (because they wanted a cute drunk scene), the uplifting story of fue ramune, and Saya’s utter mastery of menko card throwing.

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Episode three continues with eating Buta-men broth in intense heat, not eating kurukuru bou jelly at the pool (part of an evil plan that fails), while the bontan-ame segment gets poetic with lines about removing the rice paper from Endo’s heart, and we learn, from Seven Neon packaging, how candies are made more difficult to eat to extend the time it takes to eat them, important for kids with little pocket money. Sounds silly, but I recall how Tootie Rolls marketing strategy was to show kids how long it took to eat one. So while the show’s plot isn’t moving forward at all, I’m learning a lot about bad Japanese candy.

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Decided to drop Divine Gate after episode 2. It still looks impressive, but it’s heavy-handed on the themes, has not a single interesting character and a character or two (Loki) whom I wanted to strangle after fifteen seconds, and it gets damn confusing to boot. This week they took the concept of fathers and tore it to bits. Aoto supposedly killed his, claims he did, anyway. Akane lost his dad, maybe. And there’s the dad this episode who wanted to save his son but couldn’t. Akane is furious at him, never mind that the man was on a cane and the kid up at least twenty feet in rubble. Instead, we get a inane explanation from Aoto about conscious and unconscious. The only person in the show I want to open his mouth less is that weird kid that Aoto can see, who spouts ridiculous proverbs and then goes away. No, I’ve heard enough.

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On the other hand, I’m keeping Koukaku no Pandora for now. It’s just as confusing as Divine Gate is, has a few annoying characters, the story is all over the place, and it doesn’t move forward as much as it gasps and jerks from one scene to the next, or even in a conversation. Even the fanservice is ridiculous, given that these are robots we’re talking about. And, compared to Divine Gate, it looks terrible. On the other hand, it’s so all over the place that it makes you wonder where the next bit is coming from. Since it’s a comedy series it can get away with silliness. Also, it’s cute. I might throw up my hands after episode four, but I kind of want to know what happens next. That’s not something I care about with Divine Gate.

The season's most romantic scene so far.

The season’s most romantic scene so far.

Finally, it’s a no-brainer to keep Ojisan to Marshmallow. It’s weirder and funnier than any of the full-length shows, apart from Dagashi Kashi … which also features snack food that’s bad for you … IS THERE A CONNECTION HERE? … Ahem, it also has Wakabayashi, her strange attraction, and Hige’s defenseless confusion concerning her, you can’t blame him. So will he figure it out? Will Wakabayashi have to fling him down and ravish him to get her point across? Who knows?

Shoujo Tachi 2-3, Boku Dake 3

January 24, 2016 2 comments
Don't we all.

Don’t we all.

Shoujo-tachi wa kyouya wo Mezasu 2 gathers the other talents to create Kuroda’s game. Didn’t take the long. Bunta is told to go out and recruit, and after some failures (characters we won’t see again) he enlists his friends Yuuka (Who’s interested in voice acting) and Kai, who has no special talents so will be a gopher. Best moment of the episode. After going all puppy-dog and pathetic about his desire to help, Kai remembers a painful love-loss and goes nearly psycho. Surely Yuuka, who’s always with him, knew about this side of him, right? Apparently not. After that they gang up and frighten off a talented artist, but they get her back. Yuuki, the programmer, seems to have an unpleasant past with Kuroda, but they’re saving that story for later. Busy episode. I figured it’d be one new talent at a time …

I learned a new word.

I learned a new word.

In episode 3 they all go on a training camp of sorts, to do some of the typical bishoujo game (and anime) stuff, and we tag along until the show gets tired of that premise and creates a more interesting falling-out with Andou, who says what needs to be said: why the hell can’t this be fun to do? Kuroda’s answer, that too many cooks, etc, is a sensible one, but she’s been so pathetically single-minded about this project that I would have a hard time following her. She’s also the dullest character of the lot. Interesting that Buntarou seemed to be taking on more of the leadership role this week, maybe for that reason. But do you expect us to believe that Buntarou would leave the camp, take the train back to Akihabara, and fetch Andou back? How much time did they spend at the camp, anyway?

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What stand out for me in Boku Dake ga Inai Machi 3, apart from the thought that Yashiro might be in on this, is the thought that in a way, he already is. That mysterious chat he’s having with Kenya at the end could mean a lot of things (if this is a weaker show than I suspect, they both might be part of the conspiracy). If he’s just a concerned homeroom teacher, than the fact that he hasn’t been more proactive in helping Kayo makes him as bad as the rest. The show is unclear about Satoru’s thoughts about Yashiro during their conversation, the grown-up him takes it as routine; we’ll never know what Satoru the boy thinks. Then there’s the scene where he sees the battered Kayo in the shed, and her mother shows up. Satoru can only watch Kayo being led away (after lying, another touch-point in that theme). In both situations Satoru is powerless, still a boy, unable to find an adult that can actually help. He shows some rage there, but not with Yashiro … However, Kayo’s rescue in the lunch money scandal and the scene with the foxes were both nice. He says he was alone when the foxes appeared the first time, suggesting that while he’s powerless to change things abruptly, he can maybe do little things to alter this horrible timeline.

Phantom World and Haruchika 2-3, Boku Dake 2

January 21, 2016 Leave a comment

Guess I’d better get to some of these shows.

I love this magic paintbrush effect.

I love this magic paintbrush effect.

Musaigen no Phantom World 2 sets up the routine. A phantom of the week, Mai stretching, Ruru stretching … We do get a new character: Koito, the outsider who has no respect for the team and will eventually be brought around. Actually, she already has a little respect, as she should, since she got in a jam and Haruhiko’s thinking and the girls’ acting bailed her out of it. Then the show forgets about her for a while. This is odd. Most shows devote whole episodes or even arcs to get a character settled in, but in the second half she only appears at the end, says she doesn’t respect them after all, and walks out again, itself a refreshing way to do things.

From the depths of hell ...

From the depths of hell …

Elsewhere the first battle was decent and the second one silly–you’d think they’d know enough to take the battle outside and reduce the damage, and both were great to look at once the light shows began. I wonder if they’re going to work the redundant power angle. Reina is much better at sealing than Haruhiko, and while he’s aware of it and making himself useful elsewhere, such as leadership, it might be worthwhile to keep an eye on it. Oh yeah, he’s got that evil, dangerous and fluffy servant now, so maybe he’s indispensable because, like all the girls, he can offer cuteness.

The memory cloud, or an excuse for Kyoani to show off its bubble effects.

The memory cloud, or an excuse for Kyoani to show off its bubble effects.

Episode 2 didn’t offer us much that was fun to watch apart from production values. Episode 3 gets no better. And I’m getting irritated by the show’s throwing around science, pseudoscience, and magic cliches whenever the show demands it. This week it was the concept of memories backed up to a cloud system and then downloaded into another person’s head, and it worked when Haruhiko and Mai banged theirs together. As for why they were banging heads, it barely is worth mentioning. You’d think Mai would get a little more introspective when the two phantoms called her name. All I wanted was for the little girl with the bear to finally get her introduction episode. Probably next week.

That's a terrible thing to ask a guy who's just time-traveled fifteen years into the past and barely knows what's going on.

That’s a terrible thing to ask a guy who’s just time-traveled fifteen years into the past and barely knows what’s going on.

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi worried me; I didn’t want to see Satoru stumbling through his childhood days, but the episode, dedicated to settling in and setting up the situation, went better than I had feared. They kept his confusion over things he should know, like where his desk was, to a minimum. His friends are annoying at times but good sorts and write off his strange behavior as that of a slightly weird but okay guy. You begin to wonder about them, especially Kenya, the blond kid who seems to know more than he’s letting on. So now that we see Satoru is not going be sent to a child shrink, we can pay attention to the actual story, Kayo.

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A bruise on a child’s thigh is, in most fiction, an alarm for domestic abuse. While this show might have a twist for us, it’s clear enough. If nothing else, her essay (pointed out to Satoru by Kenya) is, as Satoru thinks, “clearly an SOS.” Wonder why none of the teachers noticed … So we know why Kayo is so reserved except for talking about the false front people put on before others, something we all do, yet she considers it dishonest. Satoru reaches out to her, admitting the false front, announcing that he’s trying not to lie, and it obviously gets through to Kayo. She’s still young enough that someone who she thinks is legitimately kind can make her drop her own facade. That Satoru is both shocked by his own, bold utterances, and pleased that they seemed to work, was a good touch. Well, next week we’ll probably get some darkness back in the story, but this was a good episode to set the story.

Chika actually gets a clue this way.

Chika actually gets a clue this way.

Haruchika 2’s mystery feels to me more like an existential statement. Miyoko, a skilled oboe player, has given up the instrument because it distracted her from her sick brother’s condition. The boy was a puzzle freak, and his last challenge to her was a rubik’s cube with nothing but white. What was this young boy trying to say to Miyoko? Haruta figures out the answer and overloads it with talk about moving on in life. To me a blank rubik’s cube suggests a pointlessness to all endeavors, perhaps a cry of anger for being taken from this world at such a young age while his big sis gets to play oboe. Also, I’d like to hear a professional oboe player comment on Haruta’s defining them as a single personality type. Haruta needs to shut up. However, I did like how Chika got the important clue about the puzzle from sniffing it.

Oh god, Haruta, just shut up already.

Oh god, Haruta, just shut up.

As for episode 3, I don’t see what learning about his original parents, and brother, would keep Maren from playing the saxophone. The improv thing had some okay bits because it allowed the people to get creative with the fictional setting, and I liked how the drama club prez was also in on the plan. But it put them at odds with what the club was supposed to be doing, having Miyoko leave the stage and not Maren. All this misdirection led to an episode that made little sense to watch. Finally, is the band club going to recruit ALL of their members by solving their personal dilemmas? They had better find a new type of story to work with.

New Shows Winter 2016 #6, and the last.

January 18, 2016 2 comments
A nice moon is a good way to start a fantasy show.

A nice moon is a good way to start a fantasy show.

Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle has young Lux, prince of the overthrown nasty empire, chasing a cat, falling through a rooftop, wouldn’t you know it, right into a girls’ bath on top of Lisha, the princess of the empire that overthrew his.  Whee!  Naturally she challenges him to a duel, making this show the season’s Asterisk or Cavalry.  Of course she can’t defeat him even with her souped up mecha and his stock-parts one, but then a monster shows up and they team up to defeat it.  All is forgiven for now, Lux gets to join the all-girls academy, and Lisha’s dere side comes out a bit quickly.
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Variations in the format are …, er, I can’t think of any.  The surprise monster maybe, or that both Lux and Lisha have secrets.  Cute little sister who talks in a monotone–been done.  Mecha duels, ladies academies, sorry, I can’t think of a single thing that could make this different from any other mecha/harem anime.  Not that that’s a deal breaker, but it means the show will have to work hard to stand out.

Typical house to start this one.  We'll probably hear an alarm clock next.

Typical house to start this one. We’ll probably hear an alarm clock next.

In Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desu Kara, Yuzuka, another normal middle school girl, gets an offer to become a magical girl from a strange mascot.  Actually, Miton the mascot is kind of scary looking, but the thought of becoming a magical girl overrides Yuzuka’s fear.  She’s downright annoyed to find herself in a swimsuit.  Miton explains it’s the best outfit for her, but, well, an underdeveloped girl in a two-piece is probably just what some fans want.

That's not the cutest power-up accessary I've seen.

That’s not the cutest power-up accessory I’ve seen.

It’s a short show so it’s done after she turns back and slaps Miton back into the trash pile.  Normally I’d say this is your average cute mahou shoujo show, but the camera ogles Yuzuka in her swimsuit too much for me to be comfortable watching, so I’m dropping it now.

Is that the surface of the water, or under it?

Is that the surface of the water, or under it?

In Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm, after a prelude of a girl singing and not being terribly happy, we meet the girl, Asuka, returning to that sunny island chain, now in high school, genki and air-headed as all hell.  A boy named Masaya helps find her keys after she falls down, and they’re joined by sleepy classmate Misaki, and the three fly to school.  Why this comes as a surprise to Asuka I don’t know, because all the kids do it.  Well, I do know one reason, so they can give background info that’s really for us.  Anyway, she sees a rival school’s flying ace humiliate some guy, gets mad, challenges her to a duel, though she can’t even fly without flopping around.  You can imagine what happens.  Oh, there’s some accidental fanservice too that has nothing to do with the show except it happened in it.
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I hope Asuka gets used to this flying quickly because watching her lurch and tumble about like a beginner on ice skates got old fast.  At least they took care of the “looking up the skirt while the girl flies” schtick out of the way quickly (why the school doesn’t give them less revealing uniforms is another great mystery of the show).  Asuna starts annoying and gets little better, maybe gaining a few points for challenging Reika in the first place, even if the guy had just lost a fair match.  Masaya has a dark secret about flying that the show’s already started to work with.  The other characters are okay.  Not much to this series.  Let’s see how the characters pan out.

Countryside at night.

Countryside at night.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku Wo! is our second “regular guy thrown into a stereotypical fantasy world” show of the season, though it looks to be a lot friendlier.  Kazuma, a countryside NEET, dies in embarrassing circumstances and meets Aqua, an afterlife greeter of sorts, and takes the choice to go adventuring in a fantasy world to defeat the evil guys there.  He can choose one amazing thing to take with him so he chooses Aqua, out of revenge because she’s been so mean to him.  Once there they start at level zero and have a hard time, but it’s only episode one.
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Not sure why Aqua would stick by Azuma after they arrive, especially after she gets placed at a much higher level than him.  And is she wearing anything under that dress?  Never mind …  Some of it works.  Azuma gets off some good lines, and it’s rather fun to see him sort of take charge of their situation when they get there, even if the smallest roadblock stops him cold.  It also gets a little confusing to see them both work as laborers to start with.  And what was that “Pause” bit right in the middle?  Commercial break?  Well, the Azuma/Aqua combo can be fun to watch, and eventually they’ll level up and we’ll get some side characters soon, I figure.

Ajin starts in a war zone.

Ajin starts in a war zone.

Then there’s Ajin, the new horror/thriller by the people who gave us Knights of Sidonia, or so it looks.  We get a look of what Ajin are capable of in the first scene, where African soldiers are trying to take down just one of them, until (we’re told later) Americans manage to subdue him.  Already the questions appear.  Are the soldiers really that bad shots?  How did the other soldiers know what to do, even if (we’re told later) he’s the first that we know about?  Anyway, we move to the present day and a studious, unlikable kid named Kei goes about looking at his notes, ignoring his childhood friend Kai, and meeting a girl in the hospital, not because he cares, but because of an incident years ago.
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And more questions.  Why does Eri cop such an attitude toward Kei?  Because she sees his underlying selfishness?  Because he blew off Kai as a bad influence at his mom’s request?  And what WAS that thing he saw?  Well, we figure it has to do with the next bit, where he gets killed by a truck and wakes up again, much to the shock and fascination of the onlookers who only know Ajin as monsters.  After that it’s a typical chase scene, and Kai reenters Kei’s world.  I expect Eri will next week, since we see her in the previews, tied up in a van.
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Pretty well done.  We have the same cgi issues we had with Sidonia–people walk funny, but the action scenes are terrific.  And Kai’s “anime” face sticks out from the others a bit.  Maybe it’s the hair.  On the other hand, the show sets an excellent mood.  Things are dark and scary from the very beginning.  It’s all dark, blurry, and threatening.  Maybe a little too much.  I hope they decide to give us some bright sunshine here and there.  The music, like in Sidonia, enhances it all.  As for the story, it might wind up being kind of routine, but we have Kei’s issues (not only being ajin, but being an unpleasant human being) to work with, not to mention what will happen if Kei gets caught.  A lifetime in labs getting killed over and over for science?
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Finally, THE GREATEST ANIME EVER is FINALLY BACK!  … Okay, Teekyuu‘s only been gone for a couple weeks.  In episode 73 a shocking change, the girls decide to form the Well-Digging Club.  It’s surprisingly fun!  They’re aiming for nationals!  Alas, the show got rusty after two weeks and the opening SPG ration is 4.28, over a point over their best marks.  Come on girls, shake off that holiday rust!

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