Let’s see how the few shows I’ve chosen look like in round 2.
Dokyuu Hentai HxEros doesn’t get much better. It starts with some comical bits concerning a dog and Momoka’s panties, and Sora sleeping in the wrong room, and I got the impression that it could have been better if the show had just shaved a second here and there to improve the pace. Then it gets to Retto trying to convince Hoshino to join the team, but she’s still too full of hangups for that, at least, until a couple more aliens show up and she has to defend a boy she had just shot down, and then herself, well Retto shows up to do the damage but her clothes come off too, so he must have borrowed some of her power. So she joins the team as their unofficial tsundere character. That’s about it, except again I felt that the pacing was off, and the embarrassing parts weren’t funny again.
Lapis: re:LIGHTS has Tiara getting a grip on the situation and encouraging her team to improve on their points, and they all fail miserably. Then the threat of expulsion is forgotten as they decide to tail Rose to see what she does in the afternoons, wind up chasing a duck, then there’s more bonding, oh, and a song at the end by a girl group called Supernova, which includes a princess, Yue, the unpleasant girl from episode 1. In other words the show jerks us one way and then another and nothing much is gained, except maybe the bonding. Oh, we meet Ratura, who, like Rose, is royalty doing part-time work. It seems like all the noble families in this show have fallen on hard times. Wonder why that is?
Episode 3 has more bonding, and a couple fights as well, as Lavie gets mad at Ashley for forgetting to sew something for her. This causes Tiara’s team to lose the first game of the “Blockball” (hey that sounds like a good name for a new cryptocurrency) tournament. But they make it up in an almost forgotten side-story. As for the matches, it’s basically dodgeball with magic thrown in, plus if you catch the throw it doesn’t count as a point against the other team. Some nice moments, like Lynette trying to cast a long spell when someone’s about to throw a ball at her, and some of the opposing team’s bickering was fun. But in the end it was a mess, plus we meet so many girls I sometimes couldn’t tell who was on whose team. At the end they share some skinship with the victorious (it was close) Noir team, so the fanservice fans won’t be disappointed.
Maou Gakuin no Futekigousha 2 does a better job than the other two. Basically the class splits into teams for an upcoming battle, but no one will join Anoth’s except Misha. Sasha, the twintail girl, is annoyed, not sure why, because though she might be protective of Misha, her sister, all she does is insult her. Apparently Misha is an animated doll or something. Then again I suppose it’s expected because Sasha is the show’s leading tsundere character. Anyway, they have a fight, Anoth wins easily, and now Sasha has to join his team instead of leading her own. Kind of a drag because during the battle she demonstrates she is a good leader, giving pep talks when things look down, and her subordinate look up to her. The other point they want to make is that she and Misha make up, but there’s no basis for it. Sasha loses the battle and that’s all it took? Otherwise an okay episode, though Anoth might actually be too power for any drama to develop, unless they bring back that Kanon guy from the flashback.
Episode 3 pushes the drama, namely what Sasha is up to, around the trappings of a dungeon-crawl test for the students. It’s pretty easy for Anoth and his girls since it’s his castle, after all. However, before and during, we get some interesting backstory about someone tampering with history. No one remembers Anoth as the demon lord because memories have been changed. During the dungeon crawl Anoth mentions that things there have changed slightly. While he’s mulling over that Sasha does her heel turn, but frankly I don’t believe it. However shocking it was to see Misha apparently stabbed to death, it’s still classic tsundere behavior, and Anoth correctly points out Sasha would have done more if she was truly evil. Then there’s Misha’s surprise announcement that she doesn’t really exist, though she’s been around since episode one. And if she is going to vanish at midnight on her fifteenth birthday (tomorrow) does that mean that this nonexistent being is going to not exist even more than now? Or maybe it’s a double-negative and her not-not existing means she will exist? Doesn’t matter. Anoth will find a way to fix things. I’m more interested in seeing how Sasha’s tsundere act plays out.
As for Deca-Dence, since I’m two weeks behind and all of you have no doubt watched or heard about episode two, I’ll spare you the plot details and simply say my reaction was “HUUHHHH?!” I’m a little relieved. The human story was interesting but not that new, but throwing in a virtual level makes it much more interesting, even if the characters all resemble things from Kaiba. While we were learning the details of the robot world I kept thinking “Yeah, but what about Natsume?” The show plays coy with that. She, to Kaburagi, is a “bug,” someone who died but isn’t dead. But she is a lively human being with her own goals and needs. She isn’t just a virtual thing run by a cute robot. She feels real, like the human world of the game, and more real than the robots playing the game. It makes you wonder just what is the reality here, especially when the robots live in a cartoonish dystopia where their lives are controlled and ended by some big company. Another good thing is setting up Kaburagi so that he is moved by Natsume’s presence and can’t bring himself to just get rid of her, which will certainly cause complications later on. In short, we now have a lot to chew on, thanks to an effective and certainly surprising episode two.
Ep3 can’t have the surprise value loaded into it, and it doesn’t try. Most of the time is spent with Kaburagi training Natsume. It’s the usual stuff: she founders around, gets clobbered a lot, but slowly gets better. At the end Kaburagi treats her to a new right hand that won’t inhibit her in battle. Meanwhile the robot Kaburagi looks at old recordings to figure out just what’s up with this girl, and we see him adapt Pipe, because he has a soft side or he’s rebelling against the Company, or both. The episode sort of loses its way at the end with a training session interrupted by a big bunch of Gadoll underground. I guess Natsume is going to get her first taste of real battle. However, every time there’s a quiet human scene, like between Natsume and that girl, whether the other person is also a bug. If not, why would anyone want to live in a game where they just scrub floors or something. And what about those destitutes in the sleazy section of town? Which leads us back to the big questions: How much of this is a game, how much is real, and how are they related? How much of what Kaburagi knows is truth and how much is the Company hiding something?