Nisemonogatari ends (I think) early, Ozma begins early, Bakuman plods along

I’ve seen other blogs call Nisemonogatari 11 the final episode, and it certainly acts like one, but ANN says the series is twelve episodes long but elsewhere says it’s ended. Don’t ask me.

In terms of the story, this is actually a good thing.

Episode 11 feels like an ending from its start. The conversations are straightforward, not sidetracked. After important background information about the phoenix, actually a cuckoo, where we learn that Tsuhiki didn’t displace anybody to be there (important because it means Tsuhiki isn’t an imposter, she started in the womb like she is), Araragi meets Karen at the destroyed front of their house. He asks if she would die for him, or her sister. Of course! she says. And so would he: a key point for later. He goes up to where the reattached Tsuhiki is sleeping and kisses her awake which leads to sputterings and talk of thefts of first kisses and the like. Normal stuff, nothing weird about it at all. Even the kiss feels like a simple joke. Again, no digressions. He’s just checking up on her before going to settle the matter of Yozuru. I don’t recall a time in this series when Araragi’s been so calm and single-minded. He simply talks about family. Another key point for later.

This sense of purpose continues on the bike ride. Shinobou says she might help out. She likes Tsuhiki, to the point she even remembers her name. Everything is pointing at the confrontation, and there will be no conversations to slow things down. Oh, there’s plenty of talking. Yozuru talks throughout her one-sided fight with Araragi. But we’ve heard her speech before. She’s a Good Guy. She’s trying to eradicate an intruder in this physical world, and even if Araragi doesn’t mind the intruder, it doesn’t mean his feelings should take precedence. What about his family? What would they say? Araragi’s too busy getting beaten beyond recognition to say much.

Then it’s Araragi’s turn. The other early talking point comes up. This is a fight that must be won with talk. It would be a disservice to the show if it was settled with fisticuffs. It’s a little disappointing, but Araragi’s never been the strongest talker. He points out that the people Yozuru claims would be hurt by learning the truth aren’t “other people,” they’re family. It all boils down to that. What’s unspoken is that Yozuru is also forcing her beliefs on others by trying to kill Tsuhiki. Anyway, Yozuru has no real answer. She mutters some lines about the perceived value of imitations to sidestep the issue and drags Yotsugi off with her. The good guys win.

As I said, it feels like a final episode, maybe it is. We even get a nice beach scene with Araragi and Senjougahara at the very end, maybe because it would be wrong to end the series without at least one last look at her. If it is, well, I’m pleased. This series rambled more than Bakemonogatari, which rambled plenty. There was even less plot, but I don’t think many fans of the show watched because of the events. They watched for the fast, often bewildering talk, and for the equally quick and bewildering direction (Shinbo!) and the beautiful artwork. For a series where so little actually happens, so much actually did that it often left me both tired and energized from watching. I wouldn’t mind a third season. Or another episode.

If it IS the final episode, it’s a little early in the season. And next we have an early start. Ozma 1 shows up weeks before the new season is actually supposed to begin. And it’s about as different from Nisemonogatari as you can get. Watching one after the other nearly gave me whiplash. We’re talking old school here. The character designs look about twenty years old. The music is heroic and overblown. The story is straightforward adventure. I’m ready. Bring it on!

After some narration about how everything’s all dry now we get an OP of a guy driving around the desert in a floating hoverthing. He sees a woman in another floating hoverthing being chased by three enormous hoverthings with guns. The chase is cut off by something called an Ozma, a sand whale, which rises up and wreaks confusion by being huge, and in the confusion the guy rescues the girl. And worry enters my head. The story isn’t being badly told here, but it was impossible to tell what was going on, or how much danger the girl was in, only that the guy grabbed her hand and they’re flying away.

Never mind. We get back to the traditional storytelling as the guy (Sam) brings the girl (Maya) to his ship at Port Oase. For a wasteland, the town looks like a nice place to live. Everyone freaks out when they get a look at her, not least Mimay, a spunky girl who’s obviously Sam’s future love interest–until Maya shows up. Everyone wants to know “Where did she come from?” We at home already know Maya’s on the run from the Federation, or Empire, or whatever. You figure someone on that ship would put two and two together, especially when the bad guys show up in the town in force to take her back.

The best character in the show so far.

Which brings us to the Captain. She thinks Maya will bring trouble–she’s right. She’s also headstrong enough not to let that from keeping Maya safe, either from a sense of justice or because it’ll piss the bad guys off. She’s easily the most fun character we’ve seen so far. She’s cynical yet uses tarot cards to predict the future. She doesn’t take shit from anyone. She also wears a short skirt and stockings like Ririchihaya’s. And she is utterly confident. ZThere’s a moment when the bad guys are firing at her, near misses left and right, and she simply looks at them with contempt, swings her cape around, and leaves. This is what Marika will be after fifteen years of hard travel, ill-advised love affairs, and plenty of death. And so they make their escape–by diving into the sand. The Federation or Empire or whatever had no inkling they could go underground. Hmph, some bad guys. But again, the action scenes are too confusing. We don’t know what’s happening. Only lots of gunfire and wind. But otherwise this show could be fun. I like the old look, and it’s only six episodes. So why not?

You know it's serious when the boss uses the Gendou pose. Points off for no light reflecting on his glasses.

Bakuman 23 looks optimistic early on and becomes rather a nice study in grounding your optimism. The boys’ new story, Perfect Crime Club, impresses everyone who looks at it. It’s hard not to get fired up about their chances. The episode even takes extra time showing us the first few pages (which is sort of a giveaway if you figure they wouldn’t waste the time if the idea’s going to go nowhere). But you must remember their special circumstances. Perfect Crime Club can’t be just good enough for serialization, it has to be better than Eiji’s current series, or at least be more popular. And who can say? The boys are experienced enough, have been burned enough, not to let their confidence get the better of them. They can’t even enjoy their christmas dinner because they’re waiting for the serialization meeting results. As for the meeting, Sasaki shows that he was dead serious about making these conditions, making the meeting a far more tense affair than anyone expected, even if you’re trying to be realistic. Meanwhile, I wonder what’s going through his head. Yes, he made these conditions for a reason, but now he’s got a property that might be a winner, yet it might fail because it doesn’t win enough. What will the boys do instead? Take it to a rival company and make it a hit there? Not good business. Tune in next week …

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