Hanayamata 8-9, Akame ga Kill 9, Zankyou 8, Free 2 10

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Hanayamata 8 sort of ruined all the fun for itself by foreshadowing a disastrous accident onstage. It looked to be a real memory or an anxiety dream, and I can’t tell which because Naru and Yaya have never mentioned it before. Either way, you knew the dream meant a bad thing happening, namely Naru falling down, so I had a hard time enjoying the other parts of the episode. Now, in the dream, little Naru fell down and just cried, and here she still has her wits about her, more or less, so there’s a chance she can recover and the girls can chalk it up to a learning experience. I suppose the next episode (which I haven’t watched yet) will let us know, if they’re not too busy with their new subplot–Sally and Machi’s not-so-great relationship, which I can frankly do without.

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… And episode 9 handled the disaster just right. Before Naru can get too overcome, Yaya, then Hana and Tami are crouched around her, offering their hands. Alas, they extend it too long by doing a scene at school soon after, where it turns out everyone already knows about her fear of audiences, but I guess the show needs a bit of closure like that. Then it’s on to the Sally/Sachi nastiness and way too many scenes of Machi saying spiteful things about Sally, laden with hints of an earlier betrayal she can’t get over, followed by walking off in a huff. Meanwhile, Sally might be quitting anyway, though they don’t really follow up on that. And finally a typically heartfelt scene where we learn the whole background and Tami reveals the truth they could have told us sooner, and right then Sachi is almost turned 180 degrees. Well, I expected nothing more from this show. Well, the good bits were very good.

Introducing the new bad guys, apart from Wave, who's getting his ass kicked.
Introducing the new bad guys, apart from Wave, who’s getting his ass kicked.

Apart from an early training scene where Tatsumi once again swears he will get stronger in honor of another dead comrade (to his credit, he already has), Akame ga Kill 9 switches us back to the silly side, where Esdeath has a new crack team put together. Let’s hope it does better than the last crack team, all killed by two people. They’re introduced as a bunch of doofuses, and we see it through the eyes of Wave, one of the new members and a person who seems a lot like Tatsumi at first; young, naive, optimistic, and dull, so I wonder if he’ll turn out psychotic like Seryu (who’s also a member). Elsewhere, we get an amusing new setup where Tatsumi wins a fighting contest and thus finds himself a reward for Esdeath, who has taken a liking to him. She drags him off while I wonder how much they’ll let us watch of the following scenes. Afterwards, will Tatsumi give another “I must grow stronger!” speech? Really, I can’t remember a show that can get both so bleak and so silly as this one.

A fugitive shouldn't accept parcels with her name on them.
A fugitive shouldn’t accept parcels with her name on them.

Zankyou no Terror is a good series, make no mistake, but then they keep doing stupid things that bring it down. In episode 8 it’s the whole Lisa thing. Mind you, if I was a noble terrorist who’s had to drag an innocent girl along, I’m not sure what I’d do with her either. One thing I would have done, however, is make sure that absolutely no one sees her. Surely they must have known that the authorities have her ID and hence all the information they need. Maybe they could have told her not to even open the door and accept packages in her name, for chrissakes. Admittedly, Lisa shares some of the blame for that; at times she seems to have no common sense at all. If you need further proof of this, look at her fleeing the boys–right into Five’s arms. And meanwhile Shibazaki is suspended but continues hitting the pavement looking for clues, the necessary dull but necessary work of sleuthing and backstory-building that will become important in the next three episodes.

Hey, that's the other team's line!
Hey, that’s the other team’s line!

Free! Eternal Summer 10 pretty much forgets about Haru’s angst and switches to Sousuke’s shoulder, and his reasons for swimming without the dream of it being on an international stage. He went to see Rin screw up last year and redeem himself by swimming with the good guys, and realizes, after years, that he wanted to swim with people, not alone, against everyone. Well, it wasn’t a flash of insight but something he probably came to realize bit by bit, just as his shoulder problems didn’t come instantly. We learn all this during an emotional argument with Rin, two bros nearly beating the crap out of each other because that’s how they do things, another of those too-long weepy-shouty scenes where the other teammates arrive just at the right time to give emotional support, and, naturally, Haru overhears. Well, it’s settled. Both schools have unified teams, and when the relay comes, it’s genuinely exciting not only because the animation is terrific as usual, but because we have no idea who will win or who to root for.

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