Chihayafuru 10, Working’!! 10, iDOLM@STER 23, Horizon 10

In Chihayafuru 10, I find it improbable that Chihaya’s team would go to their first tournament and actually win the thing. It doesn’t feel right for a series that has done so many other things well, so far. On the other hand, they have a crisis and overcome it, and everyone uses their strengths to overcome the team’s weaknesses, so it’s all right.

Not really a team, yet ...

It starts lightly. They’re wearing traditional clothes and feel a little embarrassed, Chihaya recognizes some old enemies and treats them as friends. Poor Retro-Kun doesn’t seem to know what hit him. The matches start, and Kana actually gets a win! Yay! But the crisis is upon them, actually, two or three of them.

First is Desktomu, he of great brains and some arrogance, but almost no playing experience. He gets wiped out in his matches and lets his immaturity come out. Feeling he’s bringing the team down he announces he’s leaving. They don’t need him there, anyway. Basically a poorly-timed sulk. Taichi may have some issues of his own, but he shows a moment of good leadership here. He tells him that he can sit out the semifinal match but to be ready for the final. In other words he smacks down a subordinate junior and at the same time reassures him that he’s needed. It works. But Desktomu’s sulk has bad effect on Chihaya.

Just breathe ...

Part of Desktomu’s rant was that he believes Chihaya wants to get to the nationals in order to meet Arata again (well, that’s his excuse, anyway), and that he’s just a pawn in her plans, a fifth member because they need five members. This knocks Chihaya sideways and she finds herself losing in her semifinal match against a mutually supportive, upbeat, not to mention loud and distracting team. A real team. Chihaya’s side hasn’t meshed that well yet. Here’s when Taichi shows his second good moment of leadership. He scatters cards all over the place and while picking them up goes to each member and gives them reassurance. Breathe, Chihaya. And you get your come from behind victory with the sound of hands slapping mats amplified and the swelling music, etc. I would like to point out just how effective the show is with the hand slapping. It’s a percussive motif that punctuates every important moment of the match. Well, as I said, I don’t buy how they made it to the final match (and I guess we’ll learn a lot more about the smirking villain on the other side next week), but as usual the show was executed well enough to cover for it.

My biggest problem with season one of Working’!! was that Inami and her androphobia overwhelmed the rest of the show. I know they were playing the romance angle, but there were plenty of other good things in the show that we didn’t see enough of because of it. Season two has largely kept the punches and romance in a better balance, but now the series is in danger again. We recently had an episode featuring the two, and now we have another. Well, it was enjoyable enough. Everyone played to their strengths. My favorite bit came early on with Satou and Inami on break at the same time. Inami frantically tries to make conversation and not hit him, while admiring Satou’s calm exterior, while Satou’s real thoughts deliver the punchline. Poplar throws in some good moments, and Souma even manages to add some well-timed comments while not for once being despicable. Actually, it’s unfair to single him out for that. Everyone working on the show has refined the comic timing that even a Inami-weighted episode is still fun to watch.

iDOLM@ASTER 23 brings us the bad vibes that were temporarily held away from their most recent triumph and the holiday episode. It really is a good thing, you know, that everyone’s so busy. Haruka knows it, and when she reads an article about some of her coworkers in a magazine while the taxi rides past billboards and TV screens showing other idols also making good, we feel the pleasure she’s feeling. But when the bad vibes start happening you’re not sure exactly what she’s feeling bad about. Is it because everyone’s so busy they can’t get everyone to the New Years show rehearsals? Are we going to see them on stage, unrehearsed and failing? Is it because she’s not seeing any one of them? She’s seeing quite a few. Her beloved Producer isn’t exactly ignoring her. Because they won’t be doing that daytime show any more? Is it because they’re going their separate ways? Because that was inevitable. Is it because Miki told her that she definitely wants the role they’re both going for, so that “working together” wouldn’t be accurate (I know exactly what Miki means, and she’s nice about it, but she really could have phrased that more gently)? Or is it because the stage crew didn’t close the FUCKING TRAP IN THE FLOOR??? WHERE WERE THOSE ASSHOLES TRAINED, ANYWAY?? … I vote for all of them.

Your lesbian techno-witch image for the week.

Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon 10 manages to bring us what is meant to be a thrilling battle AND its usual endless backstory and techno-cult-babble. Which is not so amazing considering one side of the battle seems to freeze when the other half gets going. Let’s see … Horizon is still captive, behind a disintegration wall. In this world, disintegration means you will see your greatest sin replayed before your eyes before you’re devoured for it. You can avoid that by denying your sin, but who can deny their sin? While the theologians among you sort that out, we see the enemy’s Tercio formation (which exists, BTW), and that is discussed until Toori decides to just run ahead and start the battle. We see the danger of the Tercio immediately, when it opens up to reveal a HUGE gun in the middle. But Adele rebuffs the shot with her heavy armor retainer (big mecha), which causes her some pain and a little annoyance. Everyone on both sides stops to marvel at her old-fashioned suit for a few minutes, then the good guys line up directly behind her and push her in front of them. So the Tres Espana and other bad guy airships launch missiles, but they are rebuffed by maids wielding bows and that one whose name I forget. Who am I kidding? I’ve forgotten almost all the names in this show. So the now-burning Tres Espana unleashes a God of War (flying mecha) and the lesbian witches go to fend it off after a magical girl-style transformation, using Techno Magic. The sleepy blonde witch is knocked unconscious but is revived by a pep-talk from an old guy. The blond sets up her big attack by saying “White magic creates plus power. Black magic creates minus power. Guess what you get when you combine the two?” I’m thinking that this is the least inspiring description of a weapon I’ve ever heard, but it works. Then the ground forces, who have all paused to admire the battle going on in the sky, get back to work. The good guys are split in two! But they launch a god of war of their own. End of episode. So much for THIS show until next week.

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