Lots of shows: AKB0048, Tsuritama, Natsuiro, Eureka Ao, Sankarea, Polar Bear

AKB0048 3 is just as insane as the first two, hurrah!

It’s going to be hard to talk about this episode without spoilers, and I’ll do my best, but you are warned. Because for this episode the other side of future-idoling comes into play–the combat. The girls have reached the mothership and are immediately put into training. No singing or dancing, it’s all wrestling robots and learning to fire guns. Naturally the girls all suck at it, and some are pissed off: they thought they would be singing and dancing! They must be from one of the planets without a ban on fabulousness, or they’d know better. Our girls have thoughts both ways. Chieri is the hardest working and most determined, but also aloof from the others. She’s told she won’t pass the audition that way. Nagisa and Yuka, exhausted, visit an AKB0048 rehearsal. Gee, they’re working just as hard as the auditioners are! No one points out that the AKB0048 girls are just singing and dancing.

This is an idol series.

The reason for the intense training is a secret concert on another planet, and here’s where the show gets really wild. The trainees, young girls with maybe two weeks’ training, are put on lookout in a dark wasteland a mile from the concert. DES attack robots show up and all of a sudden we’re in a war movie. Gunfire, explosions, bodies flying, while the AKB0048 group performs in the distance and provide an eerie soundtrack for the carnage and their manager, Tsubasa Katagiri, watches from a safe distance. It’s graphic and not a little frightening, especially when Nagisa and Chieri encounter an armored thing dead set on wiping them out. This show isn’t supposed to do things like this! And it makes me wonder just what they’re going to pull out next week.

Everyone’s too comfortable. Something better happen soon.

Tsuritama 5 is its most uneventful yet. All we get is the usual: Yuki has a new goal, meets adversity, overcomes it, and becomes a slightly better and happier person. The episode feels especially empty because the struggle isn’t a metaphor for anything. Yuki wants money for a rod and reel, goes to help out on the Captain’s fishing boat, fails, then succeeds. There’s nothing more to it except for him saying at the end that he’s happier than he’s ever been. Well, that’s good. His grandmother does not show up, is never mentioned. Coco talks about the thing out there, and Akira hangs around to keep an eye on Haru and talk to his duck. In fact, all Haru does this episode is do his happy thing. It’s like they’re waiting for more stimulus. Maybe what we’ve got here is the end of the first story arc; they’ll work in the other things and get Akira and the duck into the action. Or they’ve run out of things to do.

In Natsuiro Kiseki 6 the girls make a double of Natsumi so she will have time to practice for the big tennis match, help with homework, and take care of her little brother. It goes as expected. We get fairly predictable scenes of shock, frustration of trying to live with oneself, so to speak, but we also get a twist that any other show with a wish premise would not think to do. Natsume 1 is practicing, working on her serve, and getting frustrated. While #2 does the other chores, and more importantly, talks to Saki–and observes. When they become one again, during the tennis match, Natsume has her practice ability AND the advantage of having seen herself from a distance, figuratively and literally. That was well done. And again I truly appreciate this show for taking the idea of wish consequences seriously and not making them a monkey’s paw or a silly moral lesson about how they should have left well enough alone. The girls use the wishes well and gain knowledge and experience from them.

I’m not sure what Eureka Seven Ao 5 was trying to do. It’s one of those episodes where the gifted stranger is taken into the group where he will work. The trouble is, no one really seems to know what to do with him. His teammates are dismissive, won’t even tell him where his quarters are. Fleur says he won’t fly with the Pied Piper team, they just wanted his craft. But when Secret is found lurking in a hurricane he suits up with the rest of the team. Meanwhile the three stowaways are immediately accepted into Generation Bleu as semi-respectable employees, because they apparently know something. And so the episode goes. Ao spends most of the time blundering about, tracking down his the sloth thus meeting another team of eccentric girls, wondering what he’s going to do. Messy.

Chihiro, make a note of what she’s doing, okay?

A couple of things happen in Sankarea 6 as well, but they happen early, after Chihiro discovers what we’ve known all along, that Rea replenishes herself through eating hydrangea leaves. It’s an amusing enough scene, with Rea sneaking about on roofs and the nutty grandfather telling us the instructions for the care and feeding of zombies while swinging around on a half-naked Ranko, but then there’s half an episode to go. The rest of the time is a series of settling in. Rea gets used to zombie life and is grateful for this new lease on life, so to speak, while Chihiro spends his time ogling her and trying to figure out how to keep her alive in winter, when those plants aren’t in bloom. He still hasn’t put the clues together, like the wound-licking, etc … Too bad grandpa went back to being senile after his romp.

Polar Bear’s Cafe 6 gets a little interesting, but not much, when Polar Bear takes Panda to a seedy bar run by a grizzly, after Panda decides he wants to be badder. We meet animals that you wouldn’t actually want to meet in the wild. They all hang out, and apart from the crocodile, make no trouble. I guess they know they’re all dangerous enough not to mess with. I makes you wonder what’s in Polar Bear’s past. Grizzly has the best line. “I guess if a panda made up his mind to be black or white, a polar bear would just be a bear. HAW HAW HAW!”

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