Ping Pong 2 is all about getting Smile to care about something, especially ping pong.
Everyone who watches him play sees the level of talent he has. Wenge keeps wondering where the hell he is, not knowing he’s at another school. A great player named Kazama comes in to scout him after seeing him play in middle school, for chrissakes. And the old sensei Koizumi decides to make Smile his pet project. But Smile simply doesn’t care. Why he doesn’t hasn’t been revealed to us. We get flashbacks of him stuck in a locker, presumably by bullies, and he seems to like it there, or rather, he tells himself he likes it. He’s safe there, until a “hero” (Peco?) removes the broom and gets him out. But that was a while back, and now, as the narration tells us, there is no hero to save him. He’s going to have to do it himself.
Which makes his transformation while playing Koizumi, to get him off his back, rather odd. Suddenly, during the surreal beatdown Koizumi’s giving him, he suddenly wakes up. Suddenly, we’re dealing with machine metaphors and he fights back, relentlessly, and nearly kills the old man. Visually, similar to this vocabulary and imagery are in that handheld game he plays on the train, the other kids in the flashback, using robot words to describe him, and an image of his silhouette meshed with circuitry. Well, we’ll take it at that. He snapped, found a metaphor for himself he can use, and so begins to fight for real. How long it will last we’ll have to wait to find out. There’s no indication that his attitude toward the game is different now. He won to get Koizumi off his back. There needs to be more.
Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii 2 is all about Livius getting Nike to make it rain, when it comes down to it.
I hadn’t really expected the rain to come like this. I suspected it might be an season-end climax or something like that. But if you’re going to do it early, you might as well do it well, especially in a ham-fisted episode like this one with tiresome lines like “You’ve conquered the world, but you’ve never seen it?” (What would Zvezda say?) and countless references to how unchildlike Livius’s eyes are. Great, I thought. Nike is going to bring Livius raindrops and roses and whiskers on kittens … It gets better when Nike is wounded and Livius returns to the way he was when he conquered the world. He’s much more fun in that state. On the other hand they must be doing something right; I found the episode end to be more moving than it should be. If they hadn’t turned it into a pop song, it would have been better, and never mind that that small shower couldn’t have put out a fire that size. Never mind. Lovely moment. If they keep doing things like that I might not drop it after all.
Gokukoku no Brynhildr 2 works much better when “The Lab” is threatening. When we see them at work, or hear Kana talk with Kuroha about them, or even see the predicament the two girls (and the other witches) are in, their power as villains are increased and I want to get to the danger business quickly. Unfortunately most of the episode is dedicated to Ryouta learning about Kuraha, stepping in when she’s in danger, and generally wondering why he’s so concerned in the first place. Frankly, I’d find a girl with superpowers who saved my life to be quite fascinating on its own. Worst of all was the woman in red business. It was obvious when it happened that they had already saved her life by making her stop her bike. I could see this obliviousness from Ryouta, who’s new to this prediction business, but surely the more experienced Kuroha should have put two and two together. Instead, it’s Ryouta who figures it out. Elsewhere, we’re going to get a beach episode, and I predict that something bad will happen, after a scene where Kuroha is shown having a great time.
Nisekoi 15 devotes most of its time to the Marika fallout. She remains as aggressive as ever, even kissing Raku on the cheek (leading to some embarrassing moments later when she blurts out the fact to anyone who it’ll upset), and Raku has to deal with the fact that this girl has been honestly in love with him for many years, the responsibilities to her that he has, those that he doesn’t have … She even gets him to meet her scary father, who knows Raku’s background all too well. Actually, that scene was a bit of a letdown. First he scares Raku, then he settles down and accepts the fact that Raku loves someone else. Then he gets all crazy again later and we’re back to square one. The biggest surprise comes earlier, when, somehow, all three girls get together with Raku and, believe it or not, discuss the entire situation. Important things (i.e., Raku/Onodera) are not said, but at least everyone is more or less on the same page. They try to remember what happened back then, who it was they met, and they even present their keys! Too bad Raku’s locket is still in the shop. Well, little steps.