Phantom World and Haruchika 2-3, Boku Dake 2

Guess I’d better get to some of these shows.

I love this magic paintbrush effect.
I love this magic paintbrush effect.

Musaigen no Phantom World 2 sets up the routine. A phantom of the week, Mai stretching, Ruru stretching … We do get a new character: Koito, the outsider who has no respect for the team and will eventually be brought around. Actually, she already has a little respect, as she should, since she got in a jam and Haruhiko’s thinking and the girls’ acting bailed her out of it. Then the show forgets about her for a while. This is odd. Most shows devote whole episodes or even arcs to get a character settled in, but in the second half she only appears at the end, says she doesn’t respect them after all, and walks out again, itself a refreshing way to do things.

From the depths of hell ...
From the depths of hell …

Elsewhere the first battle was decent and the second one silly–you’d think they’d know enough to take the battle outside and reduce the damage, and both were great to look at once the light shows began. I wonder if they’re going to work the redundant power angle. Reina is much better at sealing than Haruhiko, and while he’s aware of it and making himself useful elsewhere, such as leadership, it might be worthwhile to keep an eye on it. Oh yeah, he’s got that evil, dangerous and fluffy servant now, so maybe he’s indispensable because, like all the girls, he can offer cuteness.

The memory cloud, or an excuse for Kyoani to show off its bubble effects.
The memory cloud, or an excuse for Kyoani to show off its bubble effects.

Episode 2 didn’t offer us much that was fun to watch apart from production values. Episode 3 gets no better. And I’m getting irritated by the show’s throwing around science, pseudoscience, and magic cliches whenever the show demands it. This week it was the concept of memories backed up to a cloud system and then downloaded into another person’s head, and it worked when Haruhiko and Mai banged theirs together. As for why they were banging heads, it barely is worth mentioning. You’d think Mai would get a little more introspective when the two phantoms called her name. All I wanted was for the little girl with the bear to finally get her introduction episode. Probably next week.

That's a terrible thing to ask a guy who's just time-traveled fifteen years into the past and barely knows what's going on.
That’s a terrible thing to ask a guy who’s just time-traveled fifteen years into the past and barely knows what’s going on.

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi worried me; I didn’t want to see Satoru stumbling through his childhood days, but the episode, dedicated to settling in and setting up the situation, went better than I had feared. They kept his confusion over things he should know, like where his desk was, to a minimum. His friends are annoying at times but good sorts and write off his strange behavior as that of a slightly weird but okay guy. You begin to wonder about them, especially Kenya, the blond kid who seems to know more than he’s letting on. So now that we see Satoru is not going be sent to a child shrink, we can pay attention to the actual story, Kayo.

bokudaki2-2

A bruise on a child’s thigh is, in most fiction, an alarm for domestic abuse. While this show might have a twist for us, it’s clear enough. If nothing else, her essay (pointed out to Satoru by Kenya) is, as Satoru thinks, “clearly an SOS.” Wonder why none of the teachers noticed … So we know why Kayo is so reserved except for talking about the false front people put on before others, something we all do, yet she considers it dishonest. Satoru reaches out to her, admitting the false front, announcing that he’s trying not to lie, and it obviously gets through to Kayo. She’s still young enough that someone who she thinks is legitimately kind can make her drop her own facade. That Satoru is both shocked by his own, bold utterances, and pleased that they seemed to work, was a good touch. Well, next week we’ll probably get some darkness back in the story, but this was a good episode to set the story.

Chika actually gets a clue this way.
Chika actually gets a clue this way.

Haruchika 2’s mystery feels to me more like an existential statement. Miyoko, a skilled oboe player, has given up the instrument because it distracted her from her sick brother’s condition. The boy was a puzzle freak, and his last challenge to her was a rubik’s cube with nothing but white. What was this young boy trying to say to Miyoko? Haruta figures out the answer and overloads it with talk about moving on in life. To me a blank rubik’s cube suggests a pointlessness to all endeavors, perhaps a cry of anger for being taken from this world at such a young age while his big sis gets to play oboe. Also, I’d like to hear a professional oboe player comment on Haruta’s defining them as a single personality type. Haruta needs to shut up. However, I did like how Chika got the important clue about the puzzle from sniffing it.

Oh god, Haruta, just shut up already.
Oh god, Haruta, just shut up.

As for episode¬†3, I don’t see what learning about his original parents, and brother, would keep Maren from playing the saxophone. The improv thing had some okay bits because it allowed the people to get creative with the fictional setting, and I liked how the drama club prez was also in on the plan. But it put them at odds with what the club was supposed to be doing, having Miyoko leave the stage and not Maren. All this misdirection led to an episode that made little sense to watch. Finally, is the band club going to recruit ALL of their members by solving their personal dilemmas? They had better find a new type of story to work with.

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