Catching up with Kanata and Biyori

(By the time I got round to posting about episode 10, episode 11 came up, so these two reports come several days apart)

Kyoukai no Kanata 10 gives us some misdirection, a great whammy, and proceeds from there to confuse us all over again. Not a bad episode’s work.

Er, Akihito?  The window ...
Er, Akihito? The window …

Part of the confusion stems from the alternating winter/summer scenes, which turn out to be flashbacks, but at the end of the episode there is Mirai, in a cold town, heading toward the core of Beyond the Horizon, which took me a bit of rewatching to figure out. The summer scenes, at least in the first half, happen during the aftermath of Mirai’s fight with Akihito, where he is wounded but recovering, admiring Mitsuki’s sunglasses and getting verbally abused by her, in short, normal routine. Meanwhile, of course, we were wondering what the hell had happened, but glad that it turned out all right. So when the windows of the school start showing flashbacks and Mirai tells Akihito the truth, it’s a well-timed sucker punch. The glasses on the empty chair by his bed was a nice touch.

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And while we’re chewing on this latest information the flashbacks start announcing themselves as flashbacks and we learn the truth about why Mirai was sent there in the first place. Many of the weird bits of the past few episodes fall into place. But what did we really learn? We’ve watched Mirai repeatedly stab Akihito from episode one (this episode replays some, and a couple of others, in a much-needed comic sequence). All we really learn is that the Nases recruited her to do it. It changes little in the greater story. What’s more important is that Mirai sees only two outcomes: either Akihito dies or she does, so she chooses the latter. But this can be fixed, and I suppose the final episodes will deal with that. What we don’t know yet is how Akihito and the others will get involved. It’s not in the show’s best interests to have her doing this solo.

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And indeed, she won’t. But it takes most of episode 11 to Akihito to get there.

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But first, what is Fujima up to? While Mirai has been battling Beyond the Horizon (I know, that’s not its name), he sticks some cables on that big ugly thing at attaches the other ends to his car battery, jump-starting BtH to a level where it could destroy Earth, which, I assume, is his intent. But surely he’ll go with it? So is he purely evil and destructive, wishing to destroy all existence, or does he have an escape plan? Unless I’ve forgotten, his motivations are much pettier than that. Surely he’d be as happy if the Nase clan was wiped out? And who is he working for? Does that old bozo in the cave have the same wishes? Well, I guess we’ll find out.

A giant cube coming out of the earth is never a good thing.
A giant cube coming out of the earth is never a good thing.

The rest of the episode has fewer mysteries. Akihito has to come to terms with Mirai’s “death,” even while he keeps hearing those booms and must be thinking this whole sad business isn’t over yet. We get the expected shouting at Izumi bits and some exposition, until things hit the fan and everyone’s running around again. The appearance of Yayoi, Akihito’s mom, for some NOT needed comic relief (though it was funny enough) and for the final clues of the puzzle, was unexpected, but, then again, she had to show up sometime. After everyone’s straight on what’s going on Akihito goes off to replace his own self and help Mirai out in a big special-effects finale–next week. Actually the fighting and lightshows this week were pretty good, too. They’ve done a good job at showing us just enough detail so we know what’s going on before overwhelming it with light and shapes and the next bit. But, while I expect the final episode to look pretty, will it actually satisfy the story?

The festival play.
The festival play.

The first part of Non Non Biyori 9 wasn’t bad if you like school festival episodes, or maybe if you hate them. The girls run through a few of the things you’d expect, like running a cafe (badly) or doing doing a play (surreally, thanks to Renge and Komari, latter’s humiliation and depression adding a layer of despair to the whole event), and it’s mostly pathetic. As usual, Renge is the best thing in it. What was that “paint it black” style lyric she was singing at the beginning?

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Episode 10 focuses on the Miyauchi family, plus Candy Store, er, Kaede, as first the girls head up into the mountains in the middle of the night to watch the New Year sunrise. It’s plenty cute since Renge forces herself in among the company and, typically, becomes the most interesting character to watch, especially since Kazuho is wearing a ski mask. The flashback to Kaede babysitting a one year-old Renge was a little jarring, not least for the weather change, and while there’s not much to it, just the usual “how do I take care of a kid” crises and the expected bonding, it’s sweet without being cloying, and Kaede trying to figure out what will and won’t set baby Renge off wasn’t bad. Oh, Renge sings another odd song.

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