Barakamon 4, Zanyou 3, Free 3-4, Hanayamata 4

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Barakamon 4 starts with a crisis of communication. Both Handa’s computer and cell go on the fritz at the same time. But before we can settle down and watch what we think’s going to be the episode’s theme explored, it gets bored with it. Well, there’s an amusing bit where he has to deal with a rotary phone, but that’s it for whatever technological statements they were going to make. Instead, we switch to Handa getting coerced into writing a strange piece of kanji on the hull of a guy’s boat. It gets tiresome after a while watching him struggle with the concept and working with the new materials, but it livens up once Naru forces his hand or, I should say, HER hand, I should say. Not much to this episode.

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Zankyou no Terror 3 works mainly as an examination of Shibazaki, the detective, and his effective deduction which prevents another bomb from going off. While his backstory isn’t the most original (investigated the WRONG person, got transferred, maybe carrying a grudge about Hiroshima so especially doesn’t like people who play with uranium), he’s good at what he does, and the battle of wits he has going on with the two kids is the best part of the series right now. As for Nine and Twelve, we get another glimpse at their own backstory and learn nothing more from it except they were once unloved and abandoned, which we had already figured out. So they remain two bratty kids who are trying to get revenge for something the show won’t tell us. As for the girl, i.e., the possibly humanizing connection to them, we barely see her at all. She runs away from home, to where I don’t know, and that’s it. I think it’s about time the show puts some other pieces into play. Well, they will. For all my snarking here I admit the creators know what they’re doing.

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Next week Free! finally gets to the prefecturals and we can put aside the pointless little dramas like we had in episode 4, where Nagisa may have to quit the swim club because his grades suck, so he runs away from home. It’s one-third “What’s wrong with Nagisa?”, one-third “We have to hide him from his parents!” and one-third “I’ll go and tell them what I really feel for the first time in my entire life!”. I was drumming my fingers near the end, knowing what would happen next, no surprises, no twists. Maybe if I actually liked Nagisa I would have cared more. Episode 3 is better; they continue to work Sousuke into the series by showing the bond he has with Rin, and the sacrifice Sousuke makes in order to share something his oldest friend has and he hasn’t. It’s a better story than anything the clowns at that other school have going.

I was waiting for someone to pick up that umbrella and use it.
I was waiting for someone to pick up that umbrella and use it.

Hanayamata 4 sort-of brings Tami into the group. Sort of what Nagisa went through in that she’s going against her parents’ wishes, at least her father’s. Her mother isn’t mentioned. Odd that considering all the princess-y flashbacks we got this this week. On the other hand there’s no question that her father will agree to her joining the yosakoi team if she wants to. Meanwhile, I’m not sure about her logic in getting to her sad place. She loved ballet, her father enjoyed watching her dance, and then, to further please him, she quit it. Maybe he was secretly disappointed in her quitting and that’s why he’s become more distant, and he sees yosakoi as a feeble substitute. Anyway, we have one future scene sewn up: he’ll watch her dance with her friends and grudgingly approve. Also interesting that part of the appeal for her is to do things with friends, just like Hannah, though judging from her schedule she does tons of things with other people. Oh well, it was cute as always, though a bit on the slow side, with all the tearful declamations.

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