Crazy girls and competitions: Mirai Nikki 2, C3 3, Chihayafuru 3, Ben-To 2

Mirai Nikki 2 … I thought the first episode was twisted …

Minene Uryuu, perhaps jealous of Yuno’s status as chief psycho in this series, goes for the gold herself, first by trying to kill Yukitero in a classroom, then by holding the entire school hostage with all sorts of hidden bombs. She then tries to kill him by setting them off based on what she reads in her diary. But Yukitero has a diary too, and so does Yuno. Together they manage to escape injury. I can’t say the same for many of the students, however. But they’re still trapped inside the school, and Minene is still in the courtyard shouting crazy things into a megaphone and holding a detonator. Time for some introspection. Yukitero, turns out, is thinking the same thing I’m thinking. First, he’s a wuss who’s avoided people out of fear his entire life, and second, he’s got a girl protecting him. It’s a delicious thought that the only person he can confide in is his crazed stalker.

Yuno isn't giving up her title of Craziest Girl in the Show without a fight.

Meanwhile, we see a couple of sides of Yuno. When Yukitero becomes despondent, she shows gentleness in telling him he has a whole school worth of friends out there. And when these so-called friends turn on him and drag him outside to Minene as ransom, we, er, see her other side. On one hand, it’s good that Yukitero has such a defender; on the other, if I ever see her on the street I’m going to run away as fast as I can. I don’t want to give away the moment, but it’s great, violent fun unless you’re an innocent bystander.

Man, you can't trust ANYBODY in this series.

To further spice things up, not only is Minene a diary owner, but so is the cop, Kurusu. He says he’s not out to kill the other owners but we really can’t be sure what his agenda is. Especially when he nearly decides to shoot Yukitero to save the remaining students. As it turns out, he winds up giving him cover fire while Yuno shouts directions through a minefield and the students, first friends, then enemies, now friends again, flings things at Minene to distract her as Yukitero makes a final dash at Minene. Allegiences shift in this show as fast as Minene can escape (the cherry on top of the episode). I have the feeling the show is going to have to settle down eventually. Probably we’ll get a lot of mind games and soul searching, well, we have that already, but the delightful surprises the show’s brought so far will become routine. I’ll enjoy it while I can.

Yet another crazy girl.

I guess I didn’t have enough of crazy girls, so I put on C3 3 to see what kind of show it would be this week. Cute fish out of water, or crazed bloody action? The answer is: both! Well, after Fear fights off whats-her-name she’s still in bezerk mode and goes after Haruaki, but after that we switch to a new mode: melancholhy. We get a lot more talk about her sins as a bloody murderer, maybe with guilt mixed in. Anyway, she goes off moping, nearly kills a classmate but stops herself, then tries to kill herself. Again, I don’t know if she’s trying to atone for sins or wash away her curse. She seems to feel no remorse for her past, but honestly likes the kindness Haruaki has shown her and regrets that she isn’t entitled to it. Anyway, she and Haruaki make up, or come to an agreement, and it’s back to normal:

Finally, a normal anime show moment.

I’ll add that while the story is a little silly and the thoughts aren’t very deep in spite of the trappings, the show is whipping out some lovely visual moments. Interesting enough to see what else they have whipped up for us.

Let’s turn away from crazy girls for a while and look one who’s just a little obsessed. Chihayafuru 3 continues in the past and shows the three kids bond and, naturally, play Karuta together. Most of this happens in the first part on their visit to a local club where they are immediately goaded into playing a three-on-three match (is every opponent in this show going to be a dickhead?).

They're on the same team.

Arata doesn’t really trust Chihaya and Taichi’s abilities yet. The two get a little annoyed, and the result is they provide more competitiion between themselves than anything the other tean can throw at them. Chihaya is hooked. We get a montage of scenes of them practicing and playing and bonding while they train for an upcoming tournament. “Let’s play karuta together forever!”

We’re only halfway into the episode, so naturally bad stuff has to happen. Taichi, who’s always sort of tagged along with the others, gets into a prestigious middle school with a long commute. Arata’s grandfather, a karuta legend, is mortally ill and has to leave. They can’t play together forever! The first part of this is well handled; Chihaya runs off and temporarily abandons the game, but is easily called back in time for the tournament. But after that the scenes get a bit maudlin. Well, it’s not terribly dramatic to just be dragged off to other places against your will, so there’s not much the show can do. But there are too many moments of one of them sobbing and saying “We’ll never play together again!” Though it is interesting that Chihaya is the first one to bawl. In a later scene she’s recovered enough to console the next person. The music doesn’t help. I’ve praised the soundtrack in the past, but this episode it gets a little overbearing. But hopefully we’re done with the pre-adolescent antics and will move on to the present day.

Two episodes in and I wonder how Ben-To is going to keep up its rather narrow premise, but I’m getting some ideas. Throw in some characters and create a subculture around the bento battles–and lots of fighting.

“The Ice Queen” Sen gives us some basic rules, but after that we don’t see much of her this episode. Instead it’s Satou and Oshiroi, and she bows out early because of her owh situation. The ones picking up the slack of foils are other battlers while they all wait for the “God of Discounts” (the guy who puts on the half-price stickers) to finish his work. We see breaches of etiquette, as a woman named “The Boar” breaks all of the rules. There is the concept of “pigs” (dishonorable) and “wolves” honorable. Oh, Wolves will fight each other, but you see, it’s honorable when they do it. Satou learns as he gets beaten up.

The Wizard out-duels The Boar.

There are more personal matters. Oshiroi is protected by Ume, a fearsome student who’s in love with her and deals with all threats with violence. Since Oshiroi’s been spending time with Satou, he’s been getting abuse in school as well as out of it. And there’s “The Wizard,” the most dangerous of contestants and formerly a member of Sen’s club. Why doesn’t he attend the meetings anymore? Sen doesn’t say. So the show has plot things to work with and a fresh world to do it in, but I still don’t know how much mileage they’ll get out of it all. But after two episodes it’s one of the more entertaining shows of the season, so I’m happy to watch and see what they’ll try.

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