Penguindrum 14, Boku wa Tomodachi 2, and more

Mawaru Penguindrum is getting a little disturbing. Its world of fate and victims grows more insular. Is there any character in this show that isn’t connected to that wheel of fate of theirs?

In episode 14 we learn a lot about Yuri, we see her dump her lover from her theatre company and speed off in her fabulous red car, talking about haves and have nots until a memory of her One True Love (not Keiju) stops her. Interesting. Who is this person? It should have been obvious. And when the episode is not about Yuri it’s about Ringo. Well, Kanba gets a scene with slingshot girl (how easily he takes her down, too). But HIS mysteries are again left for a later explanation. His scene with Sanetoshi is more disturbing with his talk about the market managing the lives of children and dividing them into salvagable and unsalvagable. What do you have to do go from the latter to the former? What do Kanba and Shouma and Himari have to do? And Himari makes scarves for her idol friends and then throws them away, and they are reclaimed by Sanetoshi, himself fabulous. While my mind races around trying to figure out the significance.

But no, the episode really belongs to Ringo, even though she doesn’t do anything. Things happen to her. All of them bad. First we get Shouma rejecting her for a stupid reason: he feels he can never make up to her the fact that his parents killed her sister. How that justifies him treating her like a girlfriend he caught cheating, I have no idea. It was a callous and wrongheaded thing to do. None of them are responsible for what happened before. I’m hoping this show will make that an issue later on, but for right now it turns former instigator Ringo into a victim, and while instigator Ringo got tiresome, victim Ringo is fresh enough that I don’t yet mind.

It gets worse. Yuri grabs her and speeds her away in her fabulous red car for a fabulous max night at a hot springs inn. If it wasn’t for the darker side we’d seen of Yuri before, we’d think that this is just what Ringo needed. As it is, we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, or rather, the drug to drop into Ringo’s drink. Yep, turns out Yuri’s lost love was Momoka, and in a moment of twisted irony, after Ringo had spent episodes trying to become her dead sister and resigning herself to the fact that she isn’t, now Yuri is treating her like she is, by drugging her and presumably, raping her. No matter how she behaved in the past, Ringo didn’t deserve that, hell, no one does. And you wonder if this is another indication of how the unsalvagable, the people on the unfortunate side of this two-tiered system the show imagines, gets treated by the fortunate. But if there is this wheel of fate going on, it should keep turning, and eventually bite Yuri on the ass. I’m looking forward to that.

The iDOLM@STER 15 goes from nefarious rival idol organizations to nefarious robots and other things in a completely silly and useless episode that I enjoyed quite a bit.

It’s some daytime variety show thing, and all the girls are helping out. It’s a nice idea and it allows every one of them to show their strengths and eccentricities. The only thing remotely serious (apart from the fear that the girls as a whole will screw up) is Chihaya’s inability to loosen up and have fun, something we’ve heard before. It’s well handled, though, as in the end just about everything sets her off into helpless giggles (or something: she hides her face). Elsewhere, Takane’s “Ramen expedition” was a highlight, along with Makoto’s makeover, which only succeeds with the audience when she dresses in drag. On the other hand, I don’t know where Hibiki’s bit was going, and Yayoi, Azusa, and Lori were stuck with kindergarteners.

Maken-Ke! 2 brings us some more info on the mysterious maken power that all the students have. Takeru has an unidentifiable type, so naturally the plot will go that route. Not that I really care. What I want to know is what is with the fanboys’ obsession over panties and boobs? Half the episode is about showing girls flashing their panties, and their boobs are so unnaturally large that I wonder how they can stand up straight. I know we see this in anime all the time, but watching this show drives it home that I just don’t understand the obsession. And because the show is more interested in THAT than in telling the story, it’s dropped.

Yeah, never mind about Miho's problems ...

Bakuman II 2 continues the straightforward story. Really, everything about this show is about the boys’ rise as professional manga artists. Everything else is just a series of bumps along the way. In this episode the bump is Miho getting an offer to do a photobook with the threat that if she doesn’t, her career as a voice actress might be in danger. Serious stuff. But the show wraps it around how it will affect Saikou. Yes, there is the problem that the barriers the two future lovers have set up keep them from communicating, or in this case, make it too easy NOT to communicate when you should, but more central to everyone else is, is this crisis distracting Saikou from his manga work? Yes, he and Miho do finally talk, but more important is that they made their deadline.

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai 2 doesn’t introduce any new characters, even though the OP and ED are full of them. Instead, we get the friends club’s first attempt to build trust and teamwork, through gaming. Like last week, Yozora and Sena’s bad temperments spice things up. For the second week in a row, I found myself giggling helplessly–when they try playing Monster Hunter, and the girls realize that they can kill each other.

After that they try a dating sim where they react to 2D girls being 2D girls the way any overly cynical person would, which bites them later when they discover one they DO like. Here we see a little difference between Sena and Yozora. The former is heartbroken while the latter goes out the door (the real door) to get revenge. Kodaka, sadly, does nothing but follow along again. It looks like he’s destined to be the straight man of the group and little more. Still, the episode has fun playing with the game worlds, and it’s refreshing to have two female characters who are unpleasant to be around but not (as yet) tsundere.

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