Asterisk 20, Flying Witch 7, Delta 8

May 26, 2016 Leave a comment

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk 20 has to carry both Ayato and Julis’s finals match and Kirin and Saya’s rescue mission.  Didn’t expect both of them to finish up in one episode, but they came close.

The opponents, looking impressive.

The opponents, looking impressive.

Starting with the match, we get some pre-planned maneuvers and, as usual in this series, too much talk, as A/J try a couple of neat maneuvers, regroup, try something else, and, surprisingly, manage to take out the RM-C but not before she flings all her extra weapons and power to AR-D, making him damn near invincible.  The details were a question, but this was to be expected.  The good guys getting their shots in first means this would be a three-round battle, with the good guys winning #1, the bad guys winning #2 and the good guys winning #3, though we haven’t gotten there yet.  So we switch to …

This didn't really happen.

This didn’t really happen.

Saya and Kirin, who have to rescue Flora and not get killed by that shadow guy.  This proves to be tough since, like the other battle, they don’t work terribly well as a team.  If this guy can mechanize shadows, a couple big flares ought to take care of him until they get Flora out, but Saya uses the trick only once.  Yeah, the guy used Kirin’s shadow from the flare, so how about TWO flares, Saya?  And in the end, Kirin does some sneaky virtual swords tricks to almost disable the bad guy while nearly dead while Saya is … reloading, I guess.  Well, they save Flora but Kirin’s nearly dead.  That last bit is not related to A/J by Claudia in her charming interruption of the match, but the Flora rescue is, so Ayato can use his Sers, meaning the battle should be over within one minute of episode 21.

Chinatsu's in the wrong rural show.

Chinatsu’s in the wrong rural show.

Flying Witch is turning into one of those shows where nothing much happens but I don’t care in the slightest.  In episode 7 the gang go up a mountain to pick herbs.  There might be bears around!  But all they do is pick ostrich ferns.  The only other point to make is that Nao is afraid of frogs.  When they get back to the house Kei seasons them (with closeups that again make me think this is partly a cooking show in disguise), and they eat.  Chinatsu doesn’t like them much.  This is the level of drama the show brings us, and I don’t care.
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The first half could happen to anyone, well, apart from the cat, so in the second half they bring in the magic by having Makoto, Kei, and Chinatsu visit a mysterious cafe that only witches know about, though there are few enough of them that I wonder how they stay in business.  I ought to add that the ruined house was one of the most striking backgrounds I’ve seen.  Once inside there’s more magic, but it’s cute and charming with a shy ghost waitress, and then the episode is over before I wanted it to be, apart from an epilogue.  Wouldn’t mind seing the ghost girl again, or meeting the witch.

Pillage BEFORE you burn, damn it!

Pillage BEFORE you burn, damn it!

Macross Delta 8 starts where we left off, with the good guys trapped and the bad guys pointing guns and swords at them.  Worse, one of the bad guys is Bogue, who would rather just kill them all, except he and his blonde pal are stopped by Roid, their boss.  Still since they have the upper hand, they get to make some speeches about how it’s okay that they’re brainwashing people with water and apples because they’re the victims, and besides, it’s war.  Hayate, to his credit, finds a few chances to push Bogue’s buttons (and get further beaten up in the process).  All the while, they’re calling Freyja a traitor, which leads to Mikuno’s question: Why the hell is she singing, anyway?  I hate questions like these because the answer can’t always be put into words, but the show demands one, and by the end, we get it.
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It takes a battle, however.  Naturally Walkure mess up the baddies’ plans (what was Mikuno doing all this time?), and soon we have the good guys trying to get off the planet in their various craft, but it gets complicated when that princess, er, prince starts singing again.  The ruins were resonating with his sound, but then with the Walkure’s counter-song, meanwhile Hayate and Freyja get into a mini-crisis involving the vars-afflicted father from last week.  Freyja was taken aback when Bogue or whoever told her that song was an illusion, but now she reaffirms that it’s the truth, and in pulling the father back, she has her answer, as silly and inane as it is, spoken to Mikuno, who seemed to have been hiding her amusement.  No matter.  Freyja has her answer, Hayate manages to impress Messer a little, it’s all good.

Bungou 7, Kumamiko 8, Kuromukura and Tanaka-kun 7

May 24, 2016 1 comment

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Bungou Stray Dogs 7, while not appearing to be, is actually about Kunikida and his ideals, though, like the first part of the story last week, you hardly notice it, at least until the end, when after an entertaining enough battle where the bomb guy, a smirking bishie and thus my least favorite anime character type, gets what’s coming to him by some clever teamwork between Dazai and Kunikida (who earlier was wondering how the hell these two became partners). The connection between the two men, after the surprises and tragedies of the final scene, became more compelling. Kunikida clearly believing in his strong-minded ideals and so frustrating and raging “why!” while the usually foolish Dazai talks about justice being a tool, and the danger of ideals destroying people’s souls. It DOES make you wonder why these two are a team, apart from the fighting baddies, I mean.

Damn Yoshiro.

Damn Yoshiro …

Kumamiko 8 continues the emotional abuse on poor Machi. This time Yoshiro cons her into working as one of those poor souls who have to prepare and hand out samples of food at supermarkets, claiming it’s sort of a path to stardom and the city. Naturally he ditches her there and we spend several painful minutes with her being ignored by customers and threatened by the boss. And turns out it’s only because the regular part-timer was off that day. I suppose you could argue that it was good experience of the real world for Machi, but I’d like to punch Yoshiro in the face for continually humiliating her to further his own interests. Though the cold rice dishes Machi and Natsu prepared at the start looked pretty good.

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Kuromukuro 7 has no battles, but after the fireworks in ep6 I didn’t expect one. This one’s all about people working out what they should be doing, what they have to do, and DO they have to do it. The character’s stances on these things come out in a sequence of little scenes. Now that she’s seen the face of the enemy, who was NOT a demon, Yukina is adamant about not getting back in the Black Relic. You can’t blame her. She also has painful memories about her father’s absence reawaken, maybe because he had called them demons, but what he meant by that term isn’t clear. There’s also some resentment about being considered a tool by just about everyone, and maybe a tad of jealousy about that princess who stole the artifact in the first place. And then there’s her mom, come home to work things out and failing. Perhaps not surprisingly, Yukina runs off.

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Meanwhile Kennosuke is working over his side of the issue. The not-really-clueless Yukina asks him some pointed questions about the nature of his revenge and what he intends to do even if he gets it (telling her he would then die wasn’t the best answer, Kennosuke!). He’s also against forcing Yukina to get back in that mecha, and is socially awkward enough that he doesn’t have the words to convince her. Yukina seems to be turning her back on destiny, or at least her duty to mankind, but how to bring her around? That’s the big question right now, as the bad guys (a bunch of riduculous-looking people wearing armor, who call the Black Relic “Glongur”–sounds like one of Stan Lee’s Amazing Stories monsters–who are so cliched and awful that the nearly sink the episode just by appearing) are trying the trick of appealing to Earth for the relic’s return, a political tactic that complicates things further. Good episode, even if nothing got blown up.

Like Rina-chan's bitter heart.

Black, like Rina-chan’s bitter heart.

Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge brings us a valentine chocolate episode with no annoying bits, because the chocolates in question were already delivered and the girl is a mystery. It allows Tanaka and Ohta to wander around (miraculously overhearing each of their suspects deny the chocolates to friends), speculate, and eat the sweets, homemade for Tanaka, bittersweet store-bought for Ohta, the presentation of which furthers the mystery. Of course, when we (finally) meet Rino, Tanaka’s sister, we pretty much guess. These later scenes were a little awkward because I couldn’t figure out what Rina’s all about, and she’s not obvious like Miyano is. But as usual, it’s all funny, if a little odd at times: WHY did Rino put the towels on Tanaka’s head?

Sevens: Asterisk, Delta, Kumamiko, Bakuon

May 21, 2016 Leave a comment

No matter what I do something comes up in RL and I fall behind with my posts.  Sorry about that

All hail the story-simplifying   goddess!

All hail the story-simplifying goddess!

Coming into Gakusen Toshi Asterisk 7 things looked interesting, Flora still gone and Ayato, searching for her, on the run from goons. But instead, all of a sudden,we get this new girl Sylvia, who takes an interest in Ayato’s business because, maybe since she knows who he is, trusts him far beyond the bounds of common sense. Also turns out she’s an expert at Phoenix Festa historical rankings in general, a supremely gifted fighter in her own right, and has another super power or two so that she can tell him exactly what building Flora’s stashed in, flirts with him a little and then hops off the top of the building as super-people often do. Deus ex Genestella or something. So the story cops out and now Saya and Kirin just have to blunder in and rescue her and leave our heroes to the match, which actually starts next week. It will probably take two episodes, swinging between itself and the rescue.

A question I've asked more than once about these shows.

A question I’ve asked more than once about these shows.

Macross Delta 7 has them infiltrating a planet taken over by the bad guys, meaning they have to dress as cats. We get the nyan comments for a while, until they find out the secret of the vars infection. Windemere apples and, whatever planet they’re on’s water. Mix them together and you don’t just get apple juice, apparently. Wonder what a Windemere hard cider would do for you … Anyway, while they’re being sneaky we get a lot of scenes of Makina and Reina working cutely together, learn that that big “scar” on Windemere was actually Windemere’s doing when they tried to wipe out the NUNS, which is different from NUGS … But this week’s medal goes to Mikumo, who stops Freyja from revealing their presence and singing to prove to a kid that songs don’t suck, the typical stupid but sincere behavior that we see too much in these situations.

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KumaMiko 7 … I’m still confused as to why the place didn’t go up in flames when the rice cooker short-circuited. Also not sure why Machi and then Natsu were so unconcerned about it, well, Natsu was at first. I was also impressed by Machi’s chopping wood. Didn’t know she was capable of stuff like that. Still, I enjoyed the second part more. It’s like an anxiety dream where you have to get up in front of people but have no idea what to say. Fortuately, Natsu isn’t stupid and uses the situation to his advantage. At least the old folks seemed to enjoy it. Some times it’s good to have a ritual just to get everyone together.

Raimu catches the pack.

Raimu catches the pack!

And in Bakuon!! 7 there’s a pretty fun motorcycle race. It’s not the most gloriously-animated one, but they do just enough visually, with multiple heads and quick shots to make it exciting. Also, the show’s done a nice job establishing the pride the girls each have in their bikes, so I wound up rooting for all of them, though I had Raimu picked as the winner (her surpreme skills vs the handicap). Thus I was shocked when she crashed in the first moment, but, you know, it was just to set up the dramatic finish. As for who won, I won’t tell you here, but kudos to the show for the unexpected victor, defeating the typical rules these silly competitions have. Never saw it coming.

Sixes: Kuromukuro, Tanaka-kun, Flying Witch

May 17, 2016 Leave a comment

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Kurumukuro 6 is an extensive mecha battle where they manage to smash up the airport, which is no fun for me because I’ve never actually been there. Good battle anyway. It starts with a buildup using clips from last week and then we have the three-on-one with Kennosuke/Yukina vs the Yellow Crab and the two dullahan minions. Naturally at first it goes badly for our heroes; it would have been worse had the dullahan not been idiots, deciding to fight one moment and then letting their boss do it. Maybe the answer to that lies in the enemy mecha pilot, a human, full of honor and all that, making them fall back (so they’re taken out by Tom and Sophie). In spite of it being dusk and then night, the battle is clear and understandable, though they don’t explain how Ken’s machine withstands the nanobot attack, or what those little glowing things Yukina was looking at meant. As for the two classmates, dead or not, I’m glad they didn’t interfere with the battle by being there demanding rescue.

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Tanaka-kun wa itsumo Kedaruge 6 breaks the reality rule for me. Most everything else that’s happened, no matter how farfetched, could still be considered plausable in Tanaka’s world, but for him to believe he can develop a rain barrier skill (or for that matter, dodge raindrops) breaks the character a little, maing him seem more stupid than he really is. Apart from that it was another fun episode. I expected a “sick Tanaka” episode to have lots of bedside scenes, but instead he actually comes to school. Leading to an adorable umbrella-sharing scene with Shiraishi. However, I didn’t really laugh at his and Ohta’s efforts to find new ways to communicate to be very effective. Overall, Echizen’s bits were better, with mistaken belief that she must choose between marrying Tanaka or Ohta. Thus her tough front and inner girly-mode stand at odds with each other. Meanwhile Miyano runs around in both scenes, doing her best (and succeeding) in livening up both.

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Flying Witch 6 … not much to say about it. Like the others, very little happens, yet an episode breezes by in no time at all and I’m never bored. In this one, Chinatsu decides to become a witch. This bit takes up half the episode, well, other things happen. Makoto practices her flying, Kei hangs around, that sort of thing. The spell that Akane teaches Chinatsu makes the episode feel like a cooking show, or at least reminded me of the tempura they made awhile back. The result of the spell wasn’t all that funny, though the mom had fun with it. It was the getting to the spell that made it enjoyable.

Sixes: Delta, Kumamiko, Bakuon, Sousei, Stray Dogs

May 14, 2016 Leave a comment

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Macross Delta 6 begins with Messer belittling Hayate and Mirage’s flying skills, while Mikuno has started to go all catty on poor Freyja. It’s not much fun to watch these sort of scenes, and I wish the show would get over it and settle our couple in. On the other hand, I was surprised to see Mirage on the receiving end of criticism, too, considering how they puffed her up to be so great. It also helped them bond a little, for the triangle that will become important when the couple has time for it.

Projecting the idols onto asteroids they're fighting around is a nice idea.

Projecting the idols onto asteroids they’re fighting around is a nice idea, but a tad distracting.

The main point of the episode comes after another spectacular if confusing battle (everything happens so fast and the ships are in the darkness anyway) was hinted at from the start. Hayate and Mirage only go for the enemy’s wings, i.e., they try not to kill. At the end of the battle, Hayate kills his first man (saving Mirage’s life in the process) and goes into a blue funk because of it. It sort of falls flat, at least for me, partly because I wasn’t sure what was going on at the end of the battle. Just that Hayate was moping on the dock afterwards. “Oh, he must have killed that guy.” Still, nice speech by Mirage, and it was better than what Freyja’s going through, basically more “What are you singing for?” accusations.

Machi, LIVE at the Vangard!

Machi, LIVE at the Vanguard!

Hearing that Kumamiko 6 would feature Village Vanguard, I began to think that this series was going to be about retail chains as much as about girls and talking bears. Instead the show veered from my expectations when Machi panicked in the mall, her self-esteem issues and shame over it giving her some significant trauma, and the second half of the episode was Natsu trying to get her to feel better and dealing with his guilt over sending her on this absurd mission (would Village Vanguard have a DVD on pythagorean devices?). I’m now worried about Machi being able to function in any urban setting, and if she has to do so maybe they ought to send Hibiki with her next time.

Onsa discovers the allure of the Sanma.

Onsa discovers the allure of the Sanma.

Bakuon!! 6 is a scatter-shot series of small bits revolving around the bike race the girls will have at the school festival. There’s the normal, obsessive and opinionated biker behavior (the Yamaha TZR2503MA get attention this week), including different ways to mod your bike (tuning, customizing … and occult). Then there’s the weirdness of the characters, such as Raimu’s betting to buy ALL the colors the Kawasaki GPZ250R came in. The best moment for me came with Hane’s dimwitted modding concept, the “double happy meter,” but most of it was amusing, partly because, apart from the festival, which we won’t see until next week, there was no real structure to any of it.

Not what Mayura thinks.

Not what Mayura thinks.

Sousei no Onmyoji, like Macross, is working on a triangle. Since there’s nothing much new on the Kegare front, apart from a discovery at the end which we don’t need because it just means more nastiness is coming, which we already knew, the show decided to get Benio and soon to be third wheel Mayura to bond a little, meaning Mayura won’t leave poor Benio alone (she thinks Benio’s a delinquent on the side). I thought for sure Mayura would be sucked into evil-land, but the show decided to leave the outsiders out of it. But turns out Mayura knows all about exorcists, which will save some explaining down the road, but didn’t know that Benio and Rokuro were living sort of together, leading to some adorable pummeling at the end. Now that she’s aware of the whole situation, we can get to the triangle story, if the show wants to and I hope it doesn’t.

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Bungou Stray Dogs 6 looks at first like a character study of Kunikida, but it really doesn’t feel like it because Atsushi and Dazai are around him almost the entire time. The way character episodes are supposed to work we’re supposed to long internal monologues and flashbacks, and, well, we do get those, but for the most part they’re so brief and matter-of-fact that we don’t have time to get bored by them. You see, I find most character episodes to be boring. The flashbacks we do get actually have meaning for their current case, tracking down the Azure Messenger who’s most likely another azure bad guy earlier. The internal monologues, usually about his book of ideals, are too brief; we spend more time watching Dazai making fun of it. Oh, and Akutagawa shows up again, but he’s driven away before he can mess up the balance of things.

Flying Witch 4-5, Asterisk 6

May 12, 2016 2 comments

Falling behind again.

Well, THAT didn't work ...

Well, THAT didn’t work …

Didn’t realize I was still two episodes behind with a show: Flying Witch.  Still, this show continues to breeze by so quickly that two episodes felt like only twenty minutes … okay, thirty.  In episode 4 we meet another witch, Inukai, who had an unfortunate encounter with Akane’s experimental chocolates and now looks like a dog-girl in the daytime.  I believe that, in spite of the revelation of what really happened, Akane share some of the blame.  She had the chocolates and even showed them to Inukai.

An adventure!

An adventure!

In episode five, we go on two walks with Chito the cat, with Chinatsu and Makoto in tow each in for one.  Chinatsu’s is treated something like an adventure, and it ends with a mystery that keeps us watching the second, where Chito shows Makoto all the cool places he found the first time.  It works partly because we don’t know anything about Chito and can’t read his behavior.  He obviously understands the human activity around him, but at the same time, he’s still a cat.  Another reason it works is because this is a leisurely, patient show that can bear the repetition of two nearly identical walks, in fact, seeing everything twice just makes things seem more secure.  How the show does this I can’t figure out.

Our heroes scurry off to look for Flora.

Enemy dispatched quickly, our heroes run off to look for Flora.

Surprised that Gakusen Toshi Asterisk 6(18) brought us the semi-final battle so quickly, and ended it in the first half, even with a few flashback interruptions.  Also surprised that such a weak team (a prodigy with little experience and an experienced but rather stupid teammate) made it this far into the tournement.  But there’s plenty of other story-fodder to get through so I guess it’s okay.  Maybe they’ll get the final over relatively quickly and spend the next few episodes taking care of Ayato’s sister issues.  Anyway, the second half featured the hunt for Flora, going mostly nowhere even with help from those two girls from last season (that WAS Priscilla at the end, wasn’t it?).  But my favorite moments came with a little talk between Ernesta, who both have goals I actually find altruistic, Ernesta to make sentient beings that will be accepted, and Camilla to bring the world a weapon that can be used by anyone, not just gifted people.  Makes me sad I have to root against them …

Netoge, Takana-kun, HaiFuri 4-5

May 10, 2016 Leave a comment

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Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta?, like Anne Happy, was an show I thought I might drop, but episode 4 wasn’t bad. It started with more of Ako’s confusion between the game and RL world, which would be fine if they were going to force in a deeper, show-altering plot, which I don’t think it would do well, but in the second half the episode got aimless and quite enjoyable. Schwein and Master aren’t around, so Rusian and Ako do some game touring and sightseeing, rather like a RL date, something they both realize. Nothing much happens, but it had enjoyable encounters like meeting their advisor and her old guild. There’s a start of a new story when they meet a utter newbie and Rusian shows her some basics, rather like he did when he first met Ako. Sure enough, now this girl’s stalking him, and it’s certain that this is actually Nanako, a RL classmate. So it looks like some jealousy and possible triangles in the works. … Mind you, if either this show or Anne Happy have bad episodes this week I’ll probably drop either or both.

Ako tries another game and seems to like it.

Ako tries another game and seems to like it.

And after episode 5 I’m still on the fence about this one. The episode wasn’t bad. Ako pulls herself deeper into her shell after seeing Rusian with Sette, who is, of course, that pink-haired girl. Hideki decides to follow her into NEET obsession if that’s what she wants, thus prompting her to realize that it’s indeed NOT what she wants. It alone wouldn’t keep me from dropping it, but I couldn’t get over the moment when Ako repeats “Team … Deathmatch!” completely out of the blue and had me giggling for a good minute.

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Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge 4 formally introduces Shiraishi to the group. The perfect student, beautiful, smart, kind, hard-working, but it’s mostly a front. Normally she’s frumpier and wears glasses and a longer skirt. This is “discovered” by Tanaka and Ohta about halfway through the episode, after some aimless scenes that are just as entertaining as what comes after. Tanaka and Ohta now have an excellent, low-energy timing between them, and Ohta can even hold his own with his deadpan replies. Naturally, when they discover Shiraishi’s shameful secret, they say nothing, because Ohta didn’t even recognize her and why should Tanaka expend the energy to say anything? We sort of guessed this, so Shiraishi’s silly stalking was pointless, but again this show managed to make it all funny. A nice comment by Tanaka put this one over the top, when he suggested that her perfect persona might drive some people away.

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Episode 5, like the rest, is a delight. In the first half Tanaka and Ohta prove they can hold up the show by themselves as they go shopping, though Tanaka has forgotten what to get. An unexpected sidelight is Ohta’s shopping brains impressing all the housewives. But after that it’s time for Shiraishi to shine again as she realizes she might be falling in love with Tanaka. There are endless amusing bits invented out of nothing, like the “oh” that Shiraishi’s friend says when she admits it, and the sweetness of the whole situation. Getting Tanaka’s love might be impossible, but thanks to “master,” she’s gained a couple of new friends, something the most popular girl in school thought would be impossible a short while ago.

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HaiFuri 4 reveals (to us) the reasons for the mutiny on Wilhelmina’s ship, probably what is up with the Musashi, and even why the Harekaze got attacked in the first place. Too bad no one in the show has figured it out, and why would they? A red-eyed rodent-thing isn’t the type of animal that you would expect to cause so much trouble. Well, it led to the best scene: quiet Tama going utterly bezerk and attacking ships that were just bringing them supplies. However, I hope the show’s main villain is something more nautical and warlike. And I hope they can base their stories on things other than running out of toilet paper. Honestly, the girls can’t go 26 hours without it?

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… and it’s turning into another show that I should drop but I can’t, not yet. It’s frustrating because the stuff that keeps me watching, time-wise, is a small fraction of the episode’s length. We have the mystery of the rodent, who can apparently send electromagnetic pulses or something, enough to screw up both electrical machinery and human behavior, but they’re no closer to figuring that out, much less fingering the rodent. And we have, at the end, Akeno, swimming in a battlefield, a good cliffhange. Yet to get to this point we had to put up with an aimless swimsuit scene or two, a welcome party for the German girl, seems superfluous, and little character quirks by as many of the cast as they can throw in. I am officially sick of the navigator’s whining, by the way. I’m just waiting for an episode to have a flat ending so I’ll have my excuse to drop it.

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