ACCA-13 11 gives us the promised intrigue in Furawau in two ways. First there’s the promised attempt on Jean’s life, in the midst of doing the same thing he’s been doing all around: accepting cigarettes. … Rather a nice touch, to signify “we’re with you on the coup” by offering Jean a single cigarette. I should have noticed it earlier. Wonder how long it took Jean to figure it out. Naturally, it’s Nino who takes the bullet, glad to find out he’s not dead. The second intrigue from Furawau is Lilium finally spilling the beans to Grossular (for no reason) about how his district will run the entire country, due, i suppose, to their oil. Grossular is mad enough about it that I’m sure he’ll do something in the final episode. As will Jean; that line about needing a final push is oblique enough to be intriguing. We also get a much-needed, sober speech by Warbler, in Badon for centennial party, who thinks everyone in on the coup is making a terrible mistake, and when you hear the higher-ups talk about it, all the the talk about protecting the citizenry sounds like empty promises a dictatorship uses to justify itself. I’m glad someone said it. As for me, and probably everyone else reading this, I’m looking forward to next week’s Anniversary celebration!
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 11 felt like a finale episode for a while. I guess holiday episodes often feel that way. It’s because there’s a lot of reflection here around the New Year. Everyone thanks each other (Kobayashi thanks Tohru a lot). Also, all the side characters show up at the shrine and at K’s place afterward, like it’s a big farewell. Turns out there’s at least one more episode to go. As for the episode, I’ve rarely seen one concerning New Years where so little happens (winning a kotatsu nonwithstanding) but remains interesting up to the end.
From one viewpoint, Youjo Senki 11 was a major disappointment. The enemy, with that crazy guy, has Tanya and her crew in dire straits, and we’ve actually seen a few of them shot down, the first time I’ve seen them take causalities apart from that potato. But they regroup, Tanya survives a ton explosions at point blank range and kills the crazy guy. What’s more, all the soldiers shot down are alive. And the Empire wins the war. Yay, I guess. I was rooting for the other side. And naturally, we get a lot of shots of Imperial people being smug and marching down the arc de triomphe, or whatever they call it in this show. What a letdown.
Well, since the show has moved into WWII territory, we can hope that the Republic’s Dunkirk maneuver means there will be more resistance. Perhaps the United States of Arkansas will join the fray. Meanwhile, we can enjoy Tanya being upset because she couldn’t go and bomb that port and REALLY end the war, and wonder if a bit of genuine patriotism hasn’t infected her. And we can laugh at Being X for his latest failure at the god-job.
Seiren 12 polishes off the third romance in not terribly inspiring fashion. The best moment is before the opening credits, where Shouichi appears with dramatic western music, to display his determination. Later, he and Kyouko meet up on the roof and have a perfectly normal and sane conversation with a few oddities thrown in, such as the fact that he’s carrying around the underwear she made him (later she wears them, making you wonder what went on between). And then they kiss. The rest of the episode is filler, the Miss Santa competition, the Swim Club’s oden, venison, etc. Amusing, but underwhelming.
Seiren had its moments, but it never really came up to the level of Amagami SS. I liked some of the recurring themes and the innuendo, the venison and the rabbit hutch to name two, but Amagami felt much more playful; it had more fun with the characters and the situation and would get inventive when it turns out one of the girls is a bore. Seiren had no such tricks up its sleeve, and none of the girls really stood out in terms of interest, well, maybe Tsuneki. Also, and I’ve said it before, Souichi is no Junichi. The latter was more active, daring to assert his desires, and was more kinky (remember when he complimented the breasts of the entire girls swim team?). Shouichi was just a boy, and an overly passive one to boot. Overall, while it had potential, Seiren rarely took advantage.
Seiren 11 starts with Kyouko nearly getting hit by a truck, only to be rescued by Shouichi. She proceeds to give him some underpants that she knitted herself, and then forces him to go underwear shopping for her. A typically strange series of events that ranks as par for this franchise. Alas, the rest of the episode is pretty normal. It’s mainly about Shouichi being tagged with the “nice girl next door” title, which he’s fine with until it begins to rankle him and he announces that, I guess, he’s going to confess or do something brave and manly this Christmas. Not much else, really. Short amusing bits, cake baking, a reference to the girls’ swim team’s oden, appropriate because the tea club was into that in Amagami, more venison references. Oh, we learned that itwas Araki who asked all those girls out, and he did it to cheer Shouichi up. Not much to this episode, and they only have one more with Kyouko.
I knew it! Youjo Senki 10 turned out to be the Empire doing their thing successfully, with lots of scenes of Republic troops in shock as they got blown up. It got so boring I skipped forward a couple of times. That board meeting didn’t fool me one bit; you could tell the show was trying to build up a false conflict which would be resolved with perfect timing of the military, after all, infantry battles are always perfectly timed in real life, right? What a tiresome batch of scenes. At least at the end we got that crazy guy take out one of Tanya’s troops, though I suspect next week, after a difficult and bloody battle, Tanya’s guys will win again. Hope I’m wrong.
Little Witch Academia 11 full of overarching prophesies, is uncharacteristically sober in its approach. It starts the usual way, with Akko trying hard but messing up in Ursula’s extra lessons, so she becomes despondent. Will she ever become like Shiny Chariot? Well, it’s a blue moon that night, the last one for a few year, so she sneaks out to go to another obscure foggy place on campus to get her question answered. Meanwhile, the witch profs bemoan the fading of magic (that’s all they ever do when they’re not scolding Akko) and Diana asks for a rare tome that she can only access with a special key on a blue moon. Amazing that more magical people aren’t out and about doing blue moon things.
But Diana and Akko’s quests don’t intersect; the former merely serves as exposition for the latter, stuff about (checking my notes) the seven words of Acturus, of which Akko’s revived number one (Ursula has exposition duties this episode, too). Shiny Rod reveals a hidden underground place where Akko meets all sorts of spooky things, the last being a dead-tree thing that offers to grant her wish if she relinquishes her memories. Up to now the episode had been interesting but predictable, but upon Akko’s refusal, we get a transformation, with quick cuts of blood-red and often violent events, including the Triskelion that represents the words. NOW I’m interested! Are the red events a warning of what might become? Are they part of magic’s history? What was the triskelion doing in it? Oh, I like a mystery! Plus, the show gets a new goal: Akko’s gotta revive the remaining five words. We’ll all be keeping an eye on the lights on Shiny Rod from now on.
In Demi-chan wa Kataritai 11, the evil-looking vice principal made his evil move, that is, he told Takahashi that he should cut back on the attention he was giving the demis and allow them to work it out themselves by interacting with other students. It is resolved by a series of intelligent conversations and by the fact that the vice-principal isn’t really evil, just concerned. It also helped that two side characters were present at the scolding, and they told two others, the mean girls from a few episodes back, I believe. Their own conversation got a bit convoluted, but it was nice to see four kids trying to figure out a difficult topic by discussing. In the end, both sides have a point, and so the relationship between Takahashi and the demis shifts slightly and positively. As for the side characters, doubt we’ll keep seeing too much of them, since it’s the nearly the last episode, but they did their part for the plot.
Not much to say about ACCA-13 10, except to speculate. One thing is made clear, however. Lillium is supporting the coup because he wants Furawau to snatch up whatever it can in the coup. That will be interesting because north of Furawau is Pranetta, and as we discovered this episode, there’s nothing much there, just desert and some perhaps overly-optimistic miners. Don’t remember Famasu and Jumouku, the west and east districts, however. Another thing to make clear is that Mauve seems to have no issues with a coup, so no story potential there. The story instead goes back to the royal family and their possibly dying king, which has set up another threat to Jean and Lotta’s life (what is the princess’s motive for this, anyway?), and on the other side, sped-up plans for the coup. At the center, as usual, is Jean, who once again just takes in information without giving anyone a clue about what HE thinks. Will he continue to passively take in information and let things happen, or will he finally act in the final episodes? Everyone in the episode talks about chasing dreams. Does he have one to chase?
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 10 takes us to the Christmas season, when winter is still seen as cheerful and romantic and not dull and depressing like it is now here in mid-March. The episode, with the usual odd filler bits, is about Tohru and the gang putting together a Christmas play for the local elderly home, a creative interpretation of “The Little Match Girl.” Since we pretty much know what’s going to happen it’s a question of how they go about it that will mark the success or failure of this episode, and it mostly succeeds, like the show in general. Kanna as the girl basically steals every scene until Tohru comes in playing some evil person. The filler material, Kanna waiting for Santa, works pretty well, too. The look on Kobayashi’s face when she sees the chimney …
KonoSuba 10 is the last episode of the season, alas.
And since it’s the grand finale, they give us a big, exciting battle with effects you don’t normally see in this series. The gang go to the source of the polluted water to find out it was that pissed-off guy from the past two episodes, and he’s really Hans the Deadly Poison Slime. They run away, they run back, because the mob is still after Aqua, Wiz gets pissed off (Do NOT piss off Wiz), Aqua gets REALLY pissed off, Kazuma gets sneaky, we have some light shows and heroic music … and it’s over. Hopefully not forever.
None of it makes much sense. I thought the hot springs water was already polluted, and that’s what makes it effective. Why did Kazuma get Hans to swallow him? Well, the triumphant bits more than made up for it, as did the comedy, though it took a while for that to kick in. And since it all happens at night, some of the gags were hard to see … If I rate season one slightly higher than season two it’s because the show made less sense, but the really important things, the quick gags, the girls’ weirdness, and Kazuma’s dead-on snark and timing, were equal to the first. I could go for third season of this.
Youjo Senki 9 begins preparation for a major operation that I’m sure will end up as a victory next week, alas. You know, why aren’t the forces allied against the empire thinking up fiendish plots of their own. The only fun to be had this week is the sheer absurdity of the strategy. The empire pulls back from the front lines and spread lies about how their railroads and communications are in disarray, luring the republic forces in. But there’s also talk of a war of attrition, and then they’re also going to take out the enemy headquarters. I guess all three might be effective. What’s fun is that the HQ will be taken out by Tanya’s mages, via V-1 rockets! The mashup of various wars makes me giggle. Amusement aside, I don’t think I’m looking forward to a full episode of the empire destroying everything, even with the occasional setback they’ll stick in in an attempt to make it more exciting. It’s not like the outcome is in doubt.
Late in the episode Seiren 10 introduces a crisis which is impossible to take seriously. It looks like Shouichi, after Kyoko turned down his offer of Christmas pancakes after the founders festival, went a little nuts and went around asking random girls out. It’s ridiculous of course; even Kyoko has her doubts, and we saw the scene where Ikuo announced he was pursuing a girl who goes to his cram school, and remember arc #1, and watched Shouichi confront Ikuo the next day. And so the crisis not only can’t be taken seriously, but can be laughed at, and we can enjoy the latest batch of strange lines and double-entendres this franchise is famous for, as well as venison for the festival, love-hotel ads, a lengthy but mostly-unseen explanation by Tsuneki about why boys get so horny around Christmas Eve, and hand-me-downs for decorating the tree, or something like that.
In Demi-chan 10, we spend a little time with Kyouko being playful and irresponsible, and putting her head in danger, so Takahashi gets upset at her. That bit on nonsense cleared up, we switch to the two of them visiting an oddball physicist named Souma to try and figure out what the deal is with the head. The resulting explanation by Souma is partly interesting, talking about a wormhole connecting her head to her body and the potential this shows for modern science. It gets to being bullshit when he suggests a third party is responsible, and the way he expresses it suggests that the universe is entirely a construct of humanity … I suppose you can make a claim for metaphysics there … ANYway, the best part of it all is that Kyouko might become a researcher herself. But I’m a little surprised that she wasn’t snatched away a long time ago by some government organization or another and had nasty experiments done to her. Also, they set up a future plot with the disapproving vice principal …
Little Witch Academia 10 was fun enough, certainly better than last week, but I felt it missed out on opportunities. It was great that the bee flew around stinging everybody, and I appreciated the fact that Akko, Diana, and others knew it was a bee from the start, but the show didn’t make nearly enough mayhem as it could have. Four guys fall for Lotte, great potential right there, but we don’t see any of it and only return when the spell’s wearing off. Diana is stung twice but both times it’s only good for a quick gag while Akko continues to chase that damn bee, though I rather liked the second one, and how the object of everyone’s desires takes on the look of a shoujo heroine. The show was more interested in developing the possible Andrew/Akko romance and to further establish his independence from his family, which I suppose it did, but I keep thinking, in other episodes as well as this one, that the episodes reach their potential.
In ACCA-13 9, the secret is slowly leaking out, and various factions are beginning to bare their fangs.
It appears that the first princess doesn’t like the idea of this not-royal couple going about eating delicious food, and she sends out some assassins. Interesting that she says Schwann was “in her way” too, so we’re sure what she wants. Anyway, they come after Lotta, and lovestruck Nail, told to keep her safe, does his best and fails, the idiot. The whole “chase,” if that’s what you want to call it, is full of incompetence and so hard to take seriously, especially when they stop by a cafe. Most fun of all is the rescue accomplished by Oulu; because now we have to figure out what HE knows about it all.
Less amusing are the revelations within the ACCA faction. While I fully agree that Schwan should not be king, I can’t really say I want ACCA to produce a coup of their own. I don’t trust them, even if they claim that their department safeguards the people. And, of course, I trust them even less after that unpleasant scene between Grossular and Lilium at the end. On the other hand, it makes the whole story even more interesting. Meanwhile, Jean travels to two more eccentric places, and while there’s still a whimsical edge to each one, the talks are turning to his possible royal future. As usual, we don’t know what he’s thinking or planning. It will be fun to find out. It will also be fun to see what Mauve thinks about all this next week.
Kobayashi-san chi no Maid Dragon 9, though dedicated to Kanna’s school sports festival, is really divided into two stories, both of which we’ve seen before, but not through the eyes of these characters. Kobayashi can’t come to the festival because of work, so Kanna’s sad. No surprise that she works extra hours beforehand to clear up time for it, reminded again that she is a mother figure now, whether she likes it or not. The second story it the festival itself, where teamwork is espoused and Kanna-chan doesn’t use her powers. The relay scene reminded me of Azumanga’s classic from the past decade. Saikawa messes up, afterwards is despondent, until she she hears her team’s anchor (Kanna) is making up the loss, some of the angles are right out of Azumanga. Luckily for Kanna’s team there’s no Yukari-sensei to ruin their chances.
In KonoSuba2 9 they’re all still in the hot springs town full of religious nuts. I must say, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone in anime who can screw things up so thoroughly as Aqua. At the start she’s hanging out at the Axis Church HQ, hearing confessions and enjoying her status, and by the end the city wants to tar and feather her. And really she was trying to help, though frankly I’m getting a little tired of this accidentally purifying water gag they’ve got going. To stretch out the episode a bit further, we get the expected peeping scene, well-handled by everyone involved. And we got that angry guy who’s just as disgusted by the Axis Church’s proselytizing as Kazuma and poor Megumin are, but who’s identity and motivations are unknown, but I’m sure we’ll learn all by the end of the arc, whenever it ends.
Though the last arc improved the average, Seiren still hasn’t reached the heights of its predecessor, but in episode 9 I realized that this show has an advantage: it can use Amagami itself.
In a flashback, during a strange gender-swapping display by the very young Shouichi, we see Junichi in the background, possibly being stood up. I actually didn’t make the connection, and instead got absorbed meeting the new girl, Kyoko. She’s a childhood friend who’s still interested in things like a certain manga (which, after a hiatus, has become more adult). Shouichi humors her and agrees she might try to be a little more grown up. In the meantime we get name-checks and cameos of the other characters, especially Tsuneki, whom, I suppose cannot be ignore. Things were moving happily along with cute panties discussions and deer references when they suddenly give us this.
No, not Amagami’s tea club girls, alas. Instead, Koharu and Nao are the only remaining members of the present-day home-ec club, and it seems they might be doing rituals at night. Kyoko decides to visit the club, and it’s sadly mundane. No sinister uses for old clothes, never mind what that Trek Club guy was saying when he wanted them to make him a man. Just a nice late-night moon viewing session in kimonos, though the traditional food they prepare seems to be a reference to the tea club. Even without the Amagami reference it would have been a good episode, but now I wonder if we’ll get sarcastic narrators, pool club ramen, or ni-shi-shi-shi’s in the future.
Youjo Senki 8 at last adds some variety to the “Ruthless Tanya destroys all opposition” schtick we’ve been getting. Yes, this week she destroys the opposition, not to mention a whole city with a lot of civilians in it, but in addition some of the people under her command are rather unhappy about this. One, Grantz, sees too much of the enemy’s faces and doesn’t exactly develop a conscience, or a spine, but goes berserk enough to try to shoot Tanya at the end. We didn’t even have to see what happened after to figure out if he succeeded. Also, God is going to interfere again, telling a soldier awakening from a coma to destroy Tanya. The trouble is, I can’t make out who it was … you know, if he’s been in a coma for two months why is he still wearing those bandages? Coma’s don’t stop the healing process, just a thought. Anyway, so it continues. Happy to see the republic or whatever they’re called is giving stiff resistance, though.
Demi-chan wa Kataritai 9 has Takahashi pondering and discussion demi abilities with their wielders. First, Sakie is called out of the blue by that cop and told to seduce Takahashi, in other words, make use of that succubus power she’s got. It still bugs me that that asshole cop gets to order her around, even though they’re in a sort of father/daughter relationship, mainly because he’s an outsider he should have little idea what it’s like to handle abilities like hers. But she tries making a move in her own way, not using her powers, and winds up sharing a nice talk with Takahashi. The show is unclear on whether she truly isn’t using her powers, however. Takahashi’s well hidden lusts might be from her natural looks, or maybe it’s some succubus mojo leaking out. It’s fun that they’re keeping it vague. In a less interesting part two, Yuki and Takahashi try ways to use her cold abilities in hot weather. Since it’s negative emotions that cause the cold, it’s no fun for her. Interesting concept, not much of a story apart from the fact it brings the girls into the episode for the first time.
In Little Witch Academia 9 all the students get leave outside of campus, and they can’t use magic. Naturally Akko screws something up and now there’s a resurrected skeleton in a pirate outfit rushing around looking for revenge for something he can’t remember, with the girls chasing him around. None of it adds up to much; when you know what this show is capable of, all the scenes here fall a little flat. The touching ending wasn’t terribly touching because we had no idea of the headmistress’s past, and besides, she isn’t terribly moved by it either. The big mystery was that case full of personal items that the headmistress and Ursula put in a case, and never seen again. I suppose it’s a plot seed for a later episode, but the fact that they don’t refer to it again (apart from the headmistress’s mallet) felt misleading.
ACCA-13 8 brings the background on the odd sitation. I was expecting intrigue and bloody murder (or less bloody murder with some poison or something), but in fact it’s all very sweet, and domestic. Privy Counselor Qualm thinks the young princess Schnee’s interest in revolutionary things will be bad for the country, but rather than kill her off, he (with the blessing of both the king and Schnee herself) fakes her death and sets her loose to live in the more cosmopolitan prefecture of Badon, with a couple of people to keep an eye on her, an assistant and his young son, Nino. Aha!
We see next to nothing of Schnee, her husband (who remains something of a mystery), or their kids Jean and Lotta, only photographs Nino’s devoted father takes. In fact, a large part of the episode is the father and Nino at home, developing photos, talking about reports to the king, eating bread and sweets. The episode, though technically Nino’s story about Jean’s past (begun at the end of the last episode), is more about Nino’s past, sharing his father’s enthusiasm in the former princess’s life, entering high school at age 25 to befriend and watch over Jean–which comes off as rather creepy, actually, and the unspoken point that he gave up his life’s freedom for these chores, and doesn’t mind. As for the big story, Schnee was written out of the family and so has no claim to the throne, so neither does Jean, not that me minds. I have to ask: where does the show go from here? Maybe some people don’t think Jean hasn’t a claim, or they want to put him back on the rolls because they don’t want Schwan in power. I suppose they could do that. But I can wait for an answer. I rather enjoyed this look at domesticity, even though it wasn’t the family I expected.
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 8 finally introduces Elma, a dragon from the harmony faction, so she can’t stand Tohru, who works for the Chaos faction. They have several confrontations that fizzle when Elma is conned into going away, or fed something. More interesting, apart from the blasts of animation quality that spring up, is the relationship angle. Kobayashi admits that she isn’t sure how to respond to, let alone handle, people needing her, so we learn in a sweet, ackward bit. Tohru needs her of course, as does Kanna, and she’s training Elma at work (how she got hired we’ll never know), which gives Tohru something more to be jealous about. I’m also curious about how Elma is getting alone since she has no place to live or money yet. The show took care of Fafnir and Lucoa, finding them places, so is Elma getting any help? I worry about my fictional dragons.
I had started this paragraph about KonoSuba 8 by saying there doesn’t seem to be any big story arc ramifications to our gang’s hot springs visit, but then I erased it. I remembered that Aqua’s the chief deity for the Axis religion that seems to run the place, so I think that if she gets on the outs with the religion it might be bad for her or for Kazuma et. al in the long. Or not. If there is such a thing we’ll find out soon enough. In the meantime, we get a thoroughly entertaining sequence involving those ostriches from last week, followed by some zombies. When they finally reach, er, let’s see …Arcanretia, the Axis assault begins, so to speak. Much of it involves people approaching an increasingly weary and suspicious Kazuma and Darkness. They learn that Darkness belongs to the Eris cult, they spit and stomp off, and Darkness gets turned on by the treatment while Kazuma does his usual, excellent straight-man work. Nothing much else happens. You’d think they would actually go to a hot spring since they’re there.