Watching continuing shows while the new ones are showing off their bright, shiny faces for the first time can be difficult. This is, in fact, the reason why I’m dropping Eureka Seven Ao. I found it hard, after a week, to maintain any enthusiasm for it, and when the new shows appeared the backlog got higher, I said “enough.” However, I had no problems at all watching Hyouka 11.
Of course, it concludes a story arc which had just revealed that Houtarou’s version of the mystery was not the correct one. The genius detective has screwed up! First there are scenes where each other member of the gang let him know, in their own ways, that they didn’t accept his final theory, while muttering “I liked the movie though!” over and over, as if to not hurt his pride. Too late for that. The next batch of scenes are mostly Houtarou solos where he wonders what made him go wrong and what the true answer is. There’s a hint, in his thumbing through a tarot book that he has a powerful intellect but is weak toward the opposite sex (which he rejects but resonates for us: Chitandra, Irisu, and his sister Tomoe know, consciously or not, how to get him to do what they want. As for the mystery of the mystery, we have to wait for the second half.
When that comes, for maybe the first time in the series, we see Houtarou truly angry. We’ve seen him grumpy and bored and peeved, mostly about having to DO things. But when he meets Irisu he can barely contain his anger. I’d be a little annoyed, too. And confused. Why couldn’t Irisu gone to her clubmates and told them straight out that Hongou was uncomfortable with all this so they needed help with the script? Why fake an illness? Why the con job? Houtarou doesn’t ask these questions, he lashes out at Irisu for lying to him, especially about his abilities, and both the lit and film club in general and manipulating them to finish the script. Irisu keeps her cool during all this, but later she gets a real online chat-lashing from Tomoe, possibly the only person she knows who she truly respects or fears. It was a clever way of finishing this story off, but I have a couple regrets. I too wanted to know why those characters in the film fought. Also, I would very much like to see Tomoe appear in the series.
On to more new shows. First, Tari Tari, done by PA Works, a company that hasn’t put out a bad series yet, not even Canaan (that was weak, not bad). Last year’s Hanasaku Iroha was terrific, so I have high hopes for this one. Tari Tari looks and acts rather like Hanasaku in that it has a realistic slice-of-life feel and slides effortlessly into humor when necessary. In fact this story could be taking place at the same time Ohana goes to work at that inn. In addition, it’s very very busy. We jump from one character to the next so quickly we barely have time to remember who they are. I learned the names of the horse and the cat before I did the main characters. And of course all the characters come dripping with backstory, but fortunately PA Works makes generally smart shows so we only learn just enough for now. The story of Miyamoto forming her own chorus after she’s relegated to page-turner in the school’s proper one seems to be less of a plot than the foundation for the characters to hang their own stories on. Looks promising.
Muv-Luv Alternative looks clumsy and amateurish after Tari Tari’s sophisticated plotting. Scenes often end with awkward pauses and you wonder why they’re in there in the first place. What we got is some nasty aliens called BETA who are set on wiping out humanity for reasons no one knows, and, throughout the few years depicted in episode one, are doing a pretty good job of it. We see much of this through a girl named Yui, who’s going to pilot a mecha thing and fight when she graduates, along with all her schoolfriends. Her military uncle shows up to talk about some weapon, talks about Gekishin and Zuikaku weapons while coming to no conclusions and then leaves again. Yui gets a rival in a girl named Yamashiro but they’re buddies before you can even blink. We get clothes-changing fanservice. The only good thing, if you can call it that, is the inevitable dread of the BETA invasion hitting the Japanese mainland, with the girls still in training. So I’ll have to watch the second episode to see how it turns out, though I have a pretty good guess. Otherwise, I don’t think I can stomach too much of this.