Ooh, ouch. Why is everyone in My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU so unhappy and messed up? It makes my brain ache to see the mental gymnastics everyone does to be miserable and keep a straight face or just find reasons to be miserable. Hachiman is the main misery-man, to be sure, and this week he found yet another opportunity to throw himself on the grenade to help out people he doesn’t know or doesn’t like too much, at the cost of his own pride or reputation. And once again he’s surprised to find out the people who genuinely like him are hurt because he hurt himself. Sooner or later you figure he might spare himself some pain and let others take the hit for things they deserve and know it, but Yukino, Yui and Hayato all get on his case for it this week and he just shrugs it off.
The motivations for Hina and Hayato could be considered selfish, but, apart from the dangers of falling into a rut, there’s nothing wrong with wanting things to stay the way they are for a while. Hayato offers no reason why he wants this, but why should he? Hina’s motives are harder to read after she said, about the status quo she enjoys now, that she hates herself. Hate herself for wanting to keep things as they are for now? Or because the way things are mean she is kept at a distance from boys, so she can safely fantasize about them with no danger to herself? Or maybe she just hates herself and that’s why she wants the distance? Well, better that than getting involved like the emotional martyr-suicide routine Hachiman performs every other episode, I suppose.
Hibike! Euphonium has some troubled kids in it too, but they’re much cuter and the troubles are less painful. They’re more like everyday worries about people who haven’t found their goals yet and are caught in the goals of others. This is played out nicely in the band club meeting where they’re asked to choose their instruments. Kumiko, who learned the euphonium because no one else was willing to play it, thinks maybe she’d like to switch to trombone, but Suichi is there (and we still don’t learn why Kumiko dislikes him, or acts like she does), and an old friend who’s there, Aoi, lets Kumiko’s past musical proclivities slip to the eager Asuka, and it’s bye bye for the trombone. Kumiko’s caught in the flow of others’ desires again.
Then there’s the band’s goal. The new advisor, Taki, asks what what it is: aim for nationals or just have a good time? Let’s vote! A rather unfair thing to put on the kids, who vote for nationals maybe because it’s what’s expected of them (some comment that they’ll just fuck off in practice anyway), with Kumiko abstaining. Meanwhile, the scary (to Kubiki anyway. To the rest of us she seems like a perfectly nice and polite person) Reina, one of the few characters in the show who knows what she wants, votes for nationals, but we know she means it. So the girls start on their quest to find their own desires and goals, while playing as a music unit with people who may or may not care.
Kekkai Sensen 2, with its stand-alone story intended to introduce more characters, is as fun as episode one.
Some traditional overall character-building elements pop up, such as the reason Zapp kept attacking Leo on his delivery job and eating the pizzas, but it’s almost an afterthought in what is basically a abduction, chase, and rescue story, which is itself traditional, but told with a lot of style. Basically Leo spots a dry-cleaning truck which is actually something more. The demons or whatever they are are actually running a cannibal racket, and they spot Leo spotting them, nab him and take him to the Alterworld, I believe, for dissection.
And I spent a lot of the time wondering what the hell Libra was talking about half the time, with the igniting, and what Leo was doing to fight back. I still don’t quite get what he did with his eyes. That’s the trouble with shows that try to dazzle you with style: you can lose track of the plot. But it comes together beautifully. When the blood trail is ignited and Chain (a werewolf) follows the flame, it was silly-grin time for me. And they manage to bring up a couple of points. Leo has a great power but he can’t fight much, and when word gets around that he’s got these eyes of god, a lot of people are going to go after him. I suspect the show’s going to use that a lot. That, and the blonde ghost girl we meet at the end. Also, both the OP and the ED might be the season’s best.
Houkago no Pleiades 2 works the Suburu/Aoi friendship angle, and it’s confusing because their estrangement is a mystery. Actually, the first section had me bewildered, and the girls too. Suburu goes to school and finds that all of her magical-girl pals are now attending; Suburu and Aoi even have the same shoe locker and desk. They didn’t transfer in the mundane way, either. They’re just all … there. The president talks (well, squeaks) about it being their strings of fate entwining. Okay, whatever. Pretty handy way to get them in the same place, however. Just ignore reality.
But it does throw a wrench into the friendship reparations. They really had never ceased being friends, and, according to Minato, Suburu’s life adviser and arch enemy, whatever distance they feel is that they haven’t accepted that the other has changed, or themselves. So they grab a couple of fragments together using perfect timing, and everyone’s happy, well, until Minato shows up again and snatches one. What’s with this guy, anyway? Never mind, it’s cute and pretty, though I hope they’ll go somewhere besides Aoi for the next few stories. And why do I think they need more characters, especially on Minato’s side? In spite of the five-girl team, the story feels a little empty. Maybe it’s all that big sky they keep showing us.
Finally, Teekyuu 4 2 (or 38) has the girls visit an aquarium, a devilquarium, and post a gag every 3.1 seconds! That might be the record, but I’ll be damned if I’ll go back and find out.