Chihayafuru 7, Bakuman II 7-8, iDOLM@STER 20, Guilty Crown 6, Horizon 8

Chihayafuru 7 brings us a new player, Tsutomu, or “Desktomu” as they say, because he never leaves his.

You know the type.

One of those diligent people, “shaped like a jelly bean,” who harbours resentment toward everyone because they’re stupider than he is, but prettier. Sort of like Kohta, but without the zombies to take out his rage on. We’re supposed to feel sorry for him; even before we learn about him we’ve seen his type, or have been his type in one social group or another. But there are some bad vibes around this guy, in spite of his cat-smile. It looks like without some kind of acceptance he’s going to grow up nasty. Good thing that there are other strange, blindingly bright people around him, and they’re interested.

Skills of persuasion.

Well, Chihaya is, anyway. Tsukomu is the second-smartest person in their grade. Definitely a plus. But Tsutomu has been so burned by so-called friends in the past that he doesn’t react at all to fact that now the best-looking girl in the school is interested in his brain. Trouble is, he thinks he’s a little too smart. Bah! A game! How will this help his studies. It’s stupid. But, points out Chihaya, it requires memorization. If they’re really so smart, play the game with the cards face down, says Tsutomu, whom I’m disliking more and more in spite of myself. And so they do. The result is not what I expected.

It makes me wonder if there is a popular variation of this game. It seems so obvious. Hardcore Karuta! Beyond that, we learn more about Chihaya and Taichi’s abilities. Chihaya, invincible before, too much so, in fact, works from instinct and blinding speed. She hasn’t had to learn to memorize. Taichi, the best student in their grade, pounces upon this chance to turns the tables on her, and wins. It’s a good study of both their characters. And it all nearly backfires on them. Tsutomu is already resentful of Taichi, smarter than him, better-looking, popular. To see him win drives Tsutomu away, and it takes a lame speech to bring him back. You know, the past two episodes have been nothing but side-character recruitment stories, but the show adds so many little touches to it that they feel like more.

Bakuman II 7-8 continues the ludicrious story where Saiko, working himself into a sickness so bad he needs part of his liver removed, insists on drawing anyway. The chief editor, quite rightly, says the manga will be on hiatus until he’s discharged from the hospital. BUT, it will continue that way until the boys graduate. Look at it from his perspective. It was a controversial decision to even let high school kids undertake the pressures of weekly serialization to begin with. Now that one of their three artists that age has gotten sick, it’s quite right to re-think the policy. I certainly think he has a point. But the show decides to make him the bad guy here, with all the other artists we follow boycotting until Saiko and Takagi’s manga is reinstated.

This decision comes out of the blue. I know they’re all loyal to each other, but to risk your own careers on what is, really, a reasonable decision done out of concern for a fellow artist, is doesn’t make sense. It does bring up some interesting questions, however. How will these artists pay the rent? Will this behavior lead to future ill feelings, and a possible blacklist among the manga industry? Is their fanbase big enough that they can survive being kicked out of the biggest magazine in the industry? And what about Jack? Can it survive losing some of its most popular talent? How soon before the readers simply go elsewhere? We’ll never get an answer, as Miura manages to turn the tide by showing that Saiko can draw even while nearly dying … I said it last time. This series drives me crazy sometimes.

Putting Chihaya's younger self on stage with her was a nice touch. *sniff*

I keep missing episodes of iDOLM@STER, and apparently 961’s been at it again, and now Chihaya can’t sing. Little brother tragedy and broken home, all that stuff, comes out in the tabloids. Even Jupiter’s pissed off now. Naturally the episode is mostly Chihaya saying she’ll quit and moping about, while Haruka can’t convince her to come outside her apartment. Until she does, thanks to an old sketchbook and a hastily-written song. It sounds trite, and it is. This is a trite show. But in spite of the dull angst everyone undergoes for most of the episode the final scene, where she gets help in regaining her voice, was done well enough that even I got into it, and I didn’t even see episode 19.

Guilty Crown 6’s maddeningly stupid moments: they were able to get into the satellite controller base with hardly any troubles, just your average gun battle where the good guys are never hit and the bad guys always are. This Daryl guy, a sadistic madman killer type who is unleashed to defeat the good guys once and for all, is, for the second time, defeated rather easily. Really, those mecha don’t have armor in the back and rear of the cockpit, so you can just climb up and shoot them in the head? The whole Gai-is-just-human thing was overplayed. Though it was nice to see him reveal some remorse and self-doubt. On to the good things: the climax of the battle, shooting down the wayward satellite, was well-done and had me going, though I wondered why Gai chose himself to be the sacrificial lamb when he didn’t have to be. … Yeah, that’s about it. More bad than good.

Notes won't help you, Toori. Take it from me.

Finally, on Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon 8, the show with more exposition than plot, Seijun starts to argue with Toori about what to do about Horizon. Save her and they get a country, don’t save her, and well, I guess they don’t. Then it’s on to the casualties of peace and just cause, until a black blob in a water bucket gives her a pep talk. There’s talk of absorbing Mikawa into Musashi to save it, but I’m not sure, because people keep talking over the exposition. Then the pope shows up to intellectually outwit her using arcane arguments from the Catholic Church’s long history until the other side says “enough, already!” (That’s how it was explained in the episode, but again, people were talking around it, so I’m not sure). When that doesn’t work, he tells everyone that Horizon OS includes “Encompassed Yearning,” which is part of the Envy Sin Armament, or maybe it was the other way around, and why should Mushashi/Mikawa have WMDs anyway, especially with Seijun being untrustworthy because of her incomplete sex change operation. Toori springs into action–and pulls down her pants. This fills Seiju with resolve, not to mention embarrassment, and she declares that Horizon has a right to her own emotions, even if they ARE WMDs, and so the country will fight according to school rules. So Galileo attacks them. End of episode. To quote Anna Russell, “I’m not making this up, you know.”

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