Since Chihayafuru 12 became available to me the moment I had finished with #11, I might as well take care of it now. The prelims are done, the nationals are head, Mizusawa is going to represent all of Tokyo … and nobody else cares. That’s the nice irony that this show gives us, the fact that you can become so devoted to something which really is not that important, at least in the practical modern world. It’s shown here by the Empress (grumpy old advisor lady) not understanding what the fuss is about, and Chihaya’s family not seemingly knowing or caring that she even went to a tournament that weekend at all, because her model-sister is on TV. Chihaya’s reaction to this is rather sad. She’s so used to it that she just shrugs it off and joins the family to watch the tape, which makes the payoff later in the episode more emotional. The rest of the time is spent practicing under tougher competition at various clubs, with Chihaya feeling the pressure, reassuring bonks on the head by Taichi, and checking up on the morale of Desktomu, who’s grades are slipping, and who, strangely, does not care too much. But the best moment comes at the end. Kana reminds us that these cards they’re batting around have poems on them. They represent a culture and history that must be remembered, even if they seemingly have no practical use (she doesn’t actually say that, but it’s clear that the creators want that point made), which leads to Chihaya later saying she sees “her” card as bright red. Especially notable in this series where all the colors are washed out. And what does Omi Jingu, the Nationals venue look like? Yup. Lovely moment. Sometimes I think this show’s at its best when it’s not filled with frantic tournament action, when it moves more slowly and allows the metaphors and imagery to drift in.
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai 11 doesn’t do much of anything until the very end. That’s okay. For me, half of the show’s fun is watching the characters screw around with each other. This week it’s the local summer festival. We get the scene where someone wants to go but doesn’t want to admit it, and soon everyone winds up going (the excuse is to eat takoyaki), we get rather too much of Yozora and Sena competing in games normally beneath them, Kobato and Maria going at each other, etc, the only difference being just about everyone is wearing a yukata, except Yozora, who’s character is always in danger of veering away from healthy misanthropy to stick-in-the-mudness. Apart from the end, the highlight was Kodaka trying to define Rika’s stock anime character and the Comiket flashback including the Ore no Imouto characters. As for the end, well, I’m glad they got to the revelation, and I’m glad Kodaka realized it himself, but there was nothing leading up to it at all. Yozora cut her hair, Kodaka made the connection–that’s it. Kind of a letdown. But it should give the final episode some extra spice.
Working’!! 12 is mostly about Inami and her androphobia, but that’s okay. The season has done well in not overemphasizing it, rather, using it as part of their now-extensive comic arsenal. What’s more, Inami’s gotten better and has in fact set a record for days in a row not punching a guy. Not only am I happy that the show’s not weighed down with her, but enough time has passed that I’m happy for her character; she’s about the only one there capable of growing, well, apart from Takanashi’s little sister. And it’s a good episode all around. Also, so many little bits are worked around the Inami story that it feels balanced. We get bits with Yamada and her bear (the other crisis of the story), with Kozue, and Yamada’s brother and Inami-stalker, and almost all of them are funny. The dialogue and visuals mesh together in inventive ways to tell the jokes, my favorite bit this week being Satou’s slow and unnoticable backing up when Yamada and Poplar take Inami on the “Wagnaria man tour.”
Farewell to Tamayura – Hitotose. It’s an eventful little episode, as these things go. The “Ourselves Festival” goes by without a hitch. When Maon sat down to do her reading I inwardly cringed, but it was a better story this time, and it had special effects (and later, we learn that she killed off the main character!). Little Komachi’s photographic additions to the exhibit (all of Norie being angry) was a nice touch. Best of all, it was all over halfway through the episode. After that it’s New Year’s Eve stuff (I rather like watching depictions of New Years in anime), a call from Chihiro, and Sayomi drags the girls off to see the New Year sunrise … only to have the car balancing on the edge of a steep incline, another thing I didn’t expect from this show. But they get to see the sunrise from a new angle, people stop and brings them warm food and heaters until the tow truck can arrive, and it turns into a party on the roadside, a good way to end this sweet and innocuous series. It sometimes got too sentimental, especially at first when Fuu was still getting over the loss of her father, but at its best it drifted along with few words, and invited us to enjoy the everyday moments of life along with the characters, with some gags tossed in at just the right moment. Not bad.
I hoped that Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon 12 was its final episode, but apparently they want to squeeze as much confusion out of this premise as they can. As you recall, Muneshige is about to fire Lype Katarripsi at Mushashi, but Futayo decides she’s not done yet, gets off the ground, and beats him. Something to do with her father’s legacy, since he had beaten Muneshige before. Muneshige is fine with this and falls unconscious. Then we get to the real action. Toori’s at the wall of sins, or whatever, talking to Horizon, or rather, the automation that carries her soul. It’s love declaration time! She says the world is more important than his wishes, so he announces he’ll become king of the world and lists just about every single weird thing we’ve seen in twelve episodes and balls them up into “Us.” It’s a long, eloquent list, an impressive speech overall, so naturally she rejects it. So he says he loves her. She says, being an automation, love is a foreign concept. So he talks about her boobs, she (and everyone watching) calls him disgusting, and announces that their personalities are “parallel,” so it can never work. Perfect! Toori plays that game where you reverse every sentence so that their contradictions wind up agreeing with you. This works just fine until he brings up her boobs again. After the Pope tries to interfere he accidentally touches the deadly wall (actually her boob, which is on the other side of it) and now he has to deny his greatest sin, which really isn’t much, since it wasn’t entirely his fault. They survive the trial, Horizon is rescued, hooray! Parallel lines meet above the horizon! Hooray! Let’s end the series right here! … Unfortunately, there are too many other characters standing about, and a few armies. It looks like they have to fight a war first. Maybe next episode.