Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun sure didn’t waste any time getting the romance started. At first I thought we were just going to meet some of the side characters for the first time. Out of the blue comes Asako, a dumb but beautiful girl who begs Shizuku to help her study for a make-up exam. Shizuku says no, and Haru is oblivious, until he learns that if she fails she’ll have to take remedial exams and miss a first meeting with online friends. Haru volunteers to help. Much to Shizuku’s surprise.
The thing that struck Haru is that Asaka doesn’t have any real life friends. Girls don’t like her because they’re jealous and boys hover around her but they’re boys. Haru doesn’t have many friends either, apart from Shizuku. Haru talks about the empty feeling he used to have because of this, and finally this hits home with Shizuku as well. After being accused of being unfeeling, Shizuku decides to help Asaka as well. In an early internal monologue she talks about the background noise distracting her (actually it’s her feelings for Haru), but later, having dealt with Haru and now Asaka she talks about that noise being comforting. It’s not well handled; we’re basically told this.
Neither is her sudden confession to Haru. It’s only episode two, and Shizuku isn’t the type, I thought, to just come to such a conclusion. Well, she’s a practical girl … But what are they going to do for the rest of the series? We also meet Sasahara, a boy who knew Haru in middle school, but apart from providing background info on Haru he doesn’t do much. And I’m pleased to say that Haru’s toned down this week. He’s still impulsive and wild, but he’s not threatening sexual violence or stealing kisses this time. There’s only the moment where he prevents her from removing her head from his lap, but she discovers she’s fine with that.
In Kamisama Hajimemashita it takes maybe one second after hearing that gothy pop-idol Kurama is transferring to Nanami’s school to realize he’s some evil spirit after her. The rest is patiently waiting for him to reveal himself while Tomoe forces Nanami to wear a stupid hat to hide her divine symbol and constantly warns her about such people. Some bits liven it up. We learn that much of the class looks down on Namami because of her poverty. Nanami’s forgiving of Kurama at the end was a nice touch. Tomoe is more fun now, torn between serving a master he doesn’t like and a growing trust of the girl. But I’m not sure that’s enough to keep me watching another episode.
In Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! 2 we meet some new people, especially the fearsome Tooka, and we learn why Rikka is so afraid of her. Hell, I would be.
The issue this week is a lost cat that Rikka takes in. She dumps it in Yuuta’s care because Tooka is allergic, though she describes it in much more dramatic terms, of course. Along the way Yuuta manages to chat up Shinka, the beautiful classmate we met last week, and the more interesting Kumin, who might actually be the cat’s owner. They take her over to check out the cat and along the way she gets a full dose of Rikka’s weirdness and also witnesses Yuuta lapsing into geek mode. Her reaction? Smile. Smile cutely, in fact. I like her already.
But for the characters we meet this week, no one comes close to Rikka’s older sister, the dreaded Touka, she of the deadly ladle and other titles Rikka gave her that I didn’t bother to write down. You can understand where she’s coming from. She has to put up with Rikka full-time, there’s a cat in the apartment and she’s allergic to them, and she probably has a temper even without those hassles. She also has no problem blackmailing Yuuta with a recording from his shameful days. Soon all three of them (Kumin’s along for the ride), four if you count the cat, are on the run from her.
Leading to an ultimate duel between the powers of Rikka and Touka! We switch to Rikka’s imagination and get the best battle scene so far this season, so epic in scale that I kinda wished it was for real. When we switch to Yuuta’s POV and see what’s really going on it’s about the funniest moment this season as well. Excellent scene. But I wonder if Rikka’s overactive imagination is partly due to the amount of whacks to the head she gets every episode. Touka smacks her, Yuuta smacks her, and she manages to injure herself (usually while doing a spectacular maneuver). Let’s see, I among the main characters only the blonde hasn’t shown up. But there’s no way she can top Touka. That woman is scary.
Speaking of scary, next we have PSYCHO-PASS, the first of the new shows on the sometimes-esteemed noitaminA block, written by Gen Urobochi. If that isn’t enough to make you interested, or dismayed, you haven’t been watching much the past two years.
Episode one is a standard thriller setup with a moral quandary nastier than most. We first meet a guy named Shinya as he fights his way to a showdown, I assume, with a guy named Shogo. Okay, here is the story, I thought. But after that we switch to a situation where a rookie girl cop goes on her first mission, to track down a guy who’s crime coefficient is way off the charts. It seems everything you do AND think in this noirish, neon, predictable world is monitored, and potential villains are stopped before they start, which could ruin their lives. Hence the situation here, where the cops have to root out a guy who’s gone off the average, snapped, and taken a hostage.
The newbie, Akane, is assigned two helpers, “latent criminals” who work rooting out other latent criminals (Shinya is one of them). While we’re mulling the implications of that we learn all about their cheerful weapon, the Dominator, which won’t fire unless it’s at a latent criminal (explained by a friendly female phone-voice which must be a pain to the people using the weapon), and then can fire in paralysis or lethal mode depending on the target’s nastiness. During the hunt we get the usual speech by one of the “hounds” to the newbie about throwing away everything she’s learned in school, this is real life, etc. And later the same guy is just fine with killing the hostage because she’s gone over the limit, too. Well, she’s been abducted, raped, nearly killed, and now her rescuers are also pointing a gun at her. How would you react?
Here’s where the whole situation gets twisted. The innocent hostage is marked for death, too, because she’s passed some sort of neurological threshold. This is too much for Akane, who calms her down a little, just enough that the gun (not the users, who don’t seem to care either way) steps down to paralysis mode. So the girl is “only” paralyzed. And Akane is now in trouble with her superiors. Yep, Urobochi is going to have a lot of fun with this story, and that’s the only reason I’ll keep watching. Otherwise this show, in spite of its sophisticated look and feel, acts like a PKD knockoff.