Mekaku City Actors 9 gives us some background on Ayano, the girl who gathered the red-eyes together. This means, sadly, some infodumps, but as usual for Shaft, they’re so dazzling to look at that I didn’t care.
Ayano finds one of her dead mother’s notebooks and finds that she was obsessed with the mysteries of these children she and her father had adopted, and in her research discovers that her husband, Ayano’s father, has the ability himself. This would be dull in spite of the information we’re getting were it not for the pen and ink drawings used to tell the tale of the monster, who finally makes her appearance in the main story, sort of. They were so good to look at I had to go back and watch part of it because they were distracting me from the subtitles. To add intensity, there’s a moment where Ayano meets her father in the hallway, while the lightning flashes outside, a bit that made me jump. Later, Kano takes up the story as he explains it to Ene, in his cellphone, rescued again by Shaft’s beautiful background art.
But it’s not entirely an infodump episode. Much of the time is spent with Ayano and the three kids, the original members of the gang. She is told to be a big sister to them, and she does. The kids are scared and a little suspicious, but she wins them over and thus shows us why they still mull over her death. This series can be confusing, or blinding with its style, but it’s done a good job at showing us why the kids feel so alone and why they cling to each other so much. We can feel the sympathy that the creators have for them. What we see this episode emphasizes that, but revelations at the end suggest that being together might be the last thing they should do. I hope not.
If I have it figured out right, M3 7 has a new nasty robot named Sable, and it somehow has Emiru in it, and Heito is going to pilot it. That’s okay, but then is there such a thing for Akashi’s robot? The girl he’s going for, Sasame, is alive and well, and being hit on rather obviously by whatshisname, and Akashi doesn’t like it. You can’t blame him; they learned this episode that they’re sharing dreams! The whole thing is marred by Heito and his by-the-book insanity. Everything from his happy memories of torturing Emiru to his utterly predictable crazy laughter, feels like dozens of previously attempts by fiction to depict psychopathic people. Worse, he has a “You’re the same as me!” speech to throw at Akashi. Worst of all is that Akashi buys it. They always do. The best bit was that Sable/Emiru keeps Heito from killing Akashi in rather satisfying ways. Elsewhere, the scientist guy has a temper tantrum, which was a lot more fun to watch than Heito ever is, and there’s probably a connection to the rejection he felt at the time to what the kids are going through, but I can’t spot it.
Episode 8 gets a little better. Interesting, question-raising things happen, like that beacon that comes back to life in the dead zone, prompting our heroes to go retrieve it. With hindsight it appears that the whole thing might have been bait for Akashi and Heito, and they take it, or rather, the asshole with the lollipops makes them. And what do they find? It’s clear on the personal level but vague once you look at the whole picture. Heito finds a teddy bear he lost years ago, and now finds himself absolutely alone, and he loves it. Odd that the Emiru spirit took this moment to play hard-to-get and not respond, unless she’s in on the wish-fulfillment, too. As for Akashi, he gets the memories of his brother, but he’s not nearly so happy about it. And the admonition that appears before both their craft, is that further fulfillment of their inner wishes and denials, or just the trap springing shut? Okay, not a bad episode.
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara 10 has Souta occasionally worrying about his lack of a future, but it’s mainly to remind us that that bit of story is still around. The rest of the episode involves the school festival (you KNEW this show had to have one, didn’t you?), and the beauty contest, which only the girls from Souta’s dorm enter, in spite of the school’s massive population. The way they go on about loving Souta during the intros I wondered why the school body’s male population didn’t rise up and murder him then and there. The swimsuit competition bit was possibly a new low for the series. The whole thing was nearly rescued by Nanami’s speech near the end, where she basically says what’s on her mind, and reminds him that he doesn’t have to shoulder his burdens alone, and it’s only fair that the show’s best Tsundere and best girl should win the competition. But now I just want to get the ending stuff over with.