7-8-9s, Komi-san, Sakugan, Senpai ga Uzai, Mieruko-chan, Laika

Meet Komi’s mom.

After the extended drama of last week’s Komi-san Comyushou desu, we go back to short skits this week. The first has Makeru challenging Komi in the fitness tests, though again, Komi is not aware that there’s a challenge. Like most of the more comic scenes in this show, it’s held up by the other person, Komi’s character being limited to reactions and all. Not bad. Then Najimi invites herself (and Tadano) to Komi’s house. I’ve been looking forward to seeing how Komi interacts with her family, and her mom is an interesting case. At first she seems exactly like Komi (okay, Komi is the last name, but you know what I mean), but, well, I’m guessing that she has the same fundamental issues, which explains her shocked initial response, but has developed a persona over it, that of a ditz. Alas, we don’t meet the rest of the family.

Meet Nakanaka.

Then Komi wants to visit a ramen shop, and it turns out Agari is a ramen expert. Komi does surprisingly well since the rules are to order, eat in silence, and get out. This time Komi carries the scene, and it’s the others who react to her calm demeanor. Finally we meet a new character, a chuunibyou named Nakanaka, who wants to form a blood pact (make friends) with Komi. With a flashback to Tadano’s embarrassing chuunibyou phase (relayed enthusiastically to Komi by Najimi), Komi decides to befriend the girl, but not before a scene where we watch Nakanaka sitting alone in gym class, her imagination fighting with her loneliness. It’s a sweet moment in spite of the sadness because you know Komi’s going to rescue her. Two lonely people making a connection. Finally, a shared umbrella scene, the only one that doesn’t really work in spite of Najimi’s evil plan. Too routine.

Drugged.

Sakugan 7 looks to be a simple story about the team getting intoxicated by some red flowers they picked up, acting drunk and stupid, except for Memempu (Thanks for wearing a mask!), who seems to be allergic to it. There are attempts to make antidotes, which only make it worse, and so it goes. However, the story, with its repetitions of travel and dialogue, gets more threatening. Memempu’s dream of the tower, and a robed figure whom she thinks is Urorop, weaves and morphs, and a dying Gagumber is added to it. Memempu’s reaction is to get to that place sooner to find out what’s going on, and I don’t understand it. If the dream is true, her father will die. If it’s a metaphor for something, it’s a metaphor for something bad. Also, her team is still recovering from the drugged flowers. The real-life Gagumber nixes her wish to hurry along and it causes a snit. I don’t know why Memempu doesn’t tell them this new part of the dream. It might not make a difference but could help everyone understand. At the end we see the robed figure watching their camp, which might or might not be a good thing. I think it’s the latter. And I think we’ll get a flashback episode next week, so answers may have to wait.

First meeting.

Speaking of flashbacks, Senpai ga Uzai 7 is full of them, mostly centering on Natsumi. We see how they meet and other moments related to the idea that you should do what you love, even if you suck at it. In elementary school Natsumi was tripped during a race and so grew to hate competitions, though she likes to run. In high school Futaba is bad at drawing, so two rude boys say, until they’re roughed up by Natsumi for making her cry. So Futaba joins the art club, and Natsumi joins the track and field team. There are also present-day bits with Natsumi encouraging Yuta to play basketball. And, as a way to sit and tell stories, a drunken company hanami party. Takeda does next to nothing this episode except act as a foil for Futaba’s stories, but for his uncouth reputation he’s good at listening.

On to the eights. I jumped Takt op. Destiny to the top of the list because I wanted to see the confrontation. It pretty much went as I expected, except the whole Shindler story is done with. I thought he would be the final boss and that this fight was just a preliminary … Anyway, Takt jumps in without Destiny’s help and nearly gets himself killed. Destiny drags him away and we get him deliriously calling her “Cosette” and then soberly telling the girl all about the past, while at the motel Anna talks to Lenny and she realizes she should be calling the girl “Destiny.” She might never figure out who she’s supposed to be at this rate. Then, instead of Takt going in alone against Shindler and Hell, it’s Cosette, with no powers. Takt limps in and the two start calling each other “baka,” which was a welcome lift to the otherwise depressing episode, well, up to that point. Naturally Lenny and Titan show up, and then Heaven, Sagan’s musicart, and the battle is essentially over. It was odd but fun to see Hell, all twisted and violent, happily turn her back on Shindler when he’s stripped of his powers and walk off with Heaven. The meaning of the names I’ll leave for someone else. But how is the story going to progress now? Well I guess there are still D2s around, and we gotta figure out the deal with Takt and Destiny, all that life force draining and all ….

Mieruko-chan brings a new dilemma for Miko, as their new homeroom teacher, Zen, is the guy who they almost gave the cat to episodes ago, but at the time Miko saw the bad aura around him, and it hasn’t gone away. In fact, he looks like he might pose a serious threat to her. My guess is that he loves to torture and kill animals, and he might remember that Miko refused him that cat before. We then get a scene or two of the threatening-looking guy, looking threatening and being nice to his cat. I hope he interferes with whatever Zen wants to do. Elsewhere, it was short vignettes as usual, the only difference being Miko mulling over whether she should confront the ghouls instead of ignoring them. We get a changing room scene, and then a rather good bit on the subway where a ghoul swings an axe at oblivious passengers before finding what he wanted. So in a way the ghoul saved the girl from a ghoul. I wonder what the social situation is for ghouls, anyway.

Note that Miko actually looks happy.

In ep9 the new plot wrinkle of Zen the scary teacher stays in a holding pattern. He oozes supernatural menace, and there seems to be more ghouls around than usual, including one who tells Miko “Don’t look,” but the context isn’t clear. All Zen does is walk around while ghouls follow him and Miko observes. The more interesting story comes at a haunted house the girls visit for free donuts. Compared to the real thing, the guys in scary suits aren’t that scary to Miko, and she discovers that, for the first time, she can react to being frightened, and so finds a terrific release valve for her pent-up fears. She can run! She can scream! She can show her fear! Even when a real ghoul joins the collection of crazy monster suits, she can pretend she is reacting to them and not to the real thing (the ghoul is seriously confused about this). Nice to see Miko letting loose for a change.

There’s some symbolism here, but I can’t figure it out.

Tsuki to Laika to Nosferatu 8 isn’t much, really. The show decides to give Irina a chance to bask in what little glory she’s allowed for a while. We do learn that Irina’s “disposal” is delayed so they can run further tests, possibly Lyudmila’s doing, but the idea of an “accident” is brought up. Lev is reinstated as a candidate and is separated from Irina while he prepares and heals his leg, leaving Anya to hang out with Irinyan and have cute scenes together. Seriously, Anya seems like she was dropped in from a completely different anime, but she lightens the mood. We also get more grumpiness from Roza, and other little things like that. The new year is celebrated, Irina wears a cute dress, and we quickly figure out that whatever bad stuff will happen, it won’t be this episode.

Roza lightens up a little.

If episode 8 was about taking a breather, 9 is about moving on. To no one’s surprise Lev is chosen as the #3 cosmonaut and immediately begins training. Also, Irina is being transferred to some bureau to work and undergo more tests. Anya is also going somewhere, but we don’t know the details. In parachute training, Roza freezes in the air and Lev rescues her, which causes her to unfreeze–emotionally, a little, and we learn about her. She is so prickly because, as a woman, she felt she had to fight for everything in this male-dominated space program. I’m sure she wasn’t happy that another woman went into space before her, too. Irina and Anya have a talk about the candidates, and it’s suggested that Mikhael was chosen as #1 because he’s handsome, and I’m thinking that having a woman in the top three is good propaganda value for the country. So being female might be both an advantage and disadvantage. The question is did her freeze-up ruin her chances? Among other interesting scenes, someone makes an attempt to run over Irina, but he was acting without orders. Also, the UK sends a monkey into space, and we see on the streets of pseudo-New York a kid on the street with vampire ears, who is looked down upon by other kids. So apparently vampires are free to live in the UK, but there’s prejudice. A nice, subtle bit that tells us a lot about UK society in only a few seconds and no words. Next week some possibly romantic goodbyes.

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