Quick ones: Hyouka 9, Kanojo X 11, AKB0048 8

This episode they’re better at shooting down solutions.

I could say that Hyouka 9 was unsatisfactory in a lot of ways, but I’ve bought into the characters and the format, so to me it was another half hour of pleasure. But I can understand that others might disagree. It’s the driest episode yet. Houtarou and the others just sit there and listen to three people give their theories about who Hongou intended the murderer to be. The first one is abrasive, the second one smug. Only the third one is really any fun, but her theory was a little out there. The only thing we get to break the infodumps and cross-examinations are the usual amusing animation tricks and, of course, Chitanda getting drunk off whiskey candies (As you would expect, she makes an adorable drunk, but she’s nowhere near Clannad’s Nagisa level). And at the end, all they’ve done is reject theories. We still don’t know, because we, and they, don’t have enough information. Next week we’ll get more from Irisu. I’m still thinking the answer has more to do with the film club’s internal politics than anything in the movie. I guess we’ll find out.

Like every other male lead in an anime, Tsubaki doesn’t think to close his eyes.

I expected a few things out of Nazo no Kanojo X 11, such as Urabe showing up at the festival to keep an eye on Tsubaka, Oka and Ueno spotting Tsubaki, Hayakawa putting the moves on Tsubaki, and Tsubaki waffling a lot because he’s a hopeless case. I also expected some violence done to him, maybe with a drum solo. And indeed all these things happened, but not the way I expected. I didn’t expect Oka dress up as a maid, for Ueno to freak out when other boys take pictures of her, like Tsubaki did two episodes ago. I didn’t expect Urabe to appear during the seduction scene wearing a robot costume. I didn’t expect a drool-showdown between the girls. And no one expected that both of them would go through most of the scene naked. What a delicious agony for Tsubaki! This, er, distracted me from a rather nice scene, where Urabe and both take pains to let the beaten Hayakawa down gently, with the added eroticism of the nudity and Urabe reacting almost sexually to Hayakawa’s saliva. As for the violence, what else do you expect in a scene when the blindfold comes loose.

Minami, can that wait? Someone’s shooting at you …

Looking past the weirdness of the entire AKB0048 universe you get a straightforward story with some stock elements that work and some that don’t. I’m frankly getting a little tired of the “must try harder” lines that everyone seems to be saying now, and that the 76th generation SHOULD be saying because the 77th is getting gigs before them now … though I wonder if doing a show in a heavy DES territory isn’t actually a way to cull the ranks, you know, use them as cannon fodder … nah. Teammate jealousy isn’t my favorite plot device in the world. On the other hand, it was a fun, fluid battle at the end. And Minami does have an interesting dilemma. She wants Kanata to become a successor, but that means succeeding HER, and that leads to some angst during battle–that’s the part I didn’t like. You’d think she’d a bit more clear-headed when people are actually shooting at her … Well, it was a good battle, anyway.

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