11s and some finales

She says this ten seconds into her conversation with Memempu.

Sakugan 11 is a routine episode where Merooro takes the gang to see the Dream City’s princess and head diva Sina at a concert, which she’s holding even with threats of Shibito around. It’s one of those “cloistered characters break free and have fun in the real world episode,” with the usual scenes of eating street food, playing on a slide, shopping, er, and other things. Meanwhile the city is hunting for them, and Gagumber and Memempu are considered Shibito, so they’re always on the run in funny and cute ways. All the while Memempu is trying to convince Sina that she doesn’t have to play the diva role, that she could do what she wants, but local kids who all want to follow in their parents’ footsteps undermine her argument, and Gagumber isn’t for it, either. But of course she can’t, and returns to give the concert, and we get a stirring song while I was wondering when the Shibito were going to show up and ruin everything, or make a lackluster episode interesting. That happens at the end, when, that weird mask-kid mentions to Memempu, while beating her up, that she doesn’t know her true identity, or her true father. THAT line makes the story much more interesting. If Gagumber isn’t her real father, surely it doesn’t matter in that he raised her and treats her as his daughter, but it will be interesting to see Memempu’s reaction. Meanwhile, there’s only one episode to go, and way too much to clear up in that time. Season two, I guess.

Senpai ga Uzai 11’s new year episode is about what you’d expect. There’s the izakaya party, and everyone drifts off to do the usual new year things. Futaba and Natsumi head for a shrine, and when they spot Takeda Natsumi makes hurried “things to do” lines and leaves the two alone, where they behave exactly like they normally do. Meanwhile, Kazama, Sakurai, and Yuta are going to spend the evening together, but Yuta remembers another party and rushes off. So THEY wind up doing what you’d expect them to do, visit the shrine, etc. The only really funny bit comes when Kazama and Sakurai are interviewed and start talking about Futaba and Takeda, infuriating Futaba enough to rush over and beat Kazama up. Which leads to a sweet scene between the secondary (though more interesting) lovebirds. Did Sakurai really kiss Kazama when he was unconscious? Ooh! Otherwise, a nice harmless episode, new year sunrise, shrines, happy people walking around on a cold but bright day. I like new year episodes for this reason.

Don’t be afraid, Komi-san!

Last week’s episode of Komi-san wa, Comyushou desu was packed with fun scenes with well-timed gags. This week, not so much. Too often the scenes have Komi alone doing something that causes her great stress. They’re cute, but exasperating in that we wait forever for the poor girl to get up the gumption or just leave. So we get scenes where she has to get Najimi a sandwich at a Subway (really, Subways aren’t really that high-end, even in Japan), while another of the show’s tropes, a smitten classmate observing and mistaking Komi’s terror for coolness, plays in the background. Hello Nokoko, new classmate! I hope the show doesn’t forget about you. Nakanaka invites her over and so we get a game-oriented scene. Komi also gets roped into handing out tissues (by Najimi, of course), and you can imagine how that plays out. And then the “call me by my first name” business, and again, you can guess how THAT turns out, though it was fun to see Tadano wimping out as well.

Now, some finales. Mieruko-chan has a wrap-up episode shows us that everything is back to normal, but along the way tosses us some disturbing teasers for the future. Actually, even the normal wrap-ups are a little disturbing. Zen-sensei catches the cat-killer (some guy we don’t know) in the act, and the next thing you know the guy is a missing person. What did you do, Zen? Also, the nice neighbor who has been feeding him stuff has been sticking her own hairs in the food secretly. On the other hand, he adopts the cat he rescued. More interesting is Mieruko’s visit to the shrine to thank the spirits, who suddenly turn nasty on her. Turns out it was a dream, but the spirits are still seen following her around. Takeda the old lady gets a photo in the mail which shows the girls with bright auras. I am pretty sure, if the series gets another season, that she’ll get involved in things again. Elsewhere it was butt-buns and normal school life for the girls, but the ghouls are still around.

If there IS a second season what will it do? The finale ends with Mieruko’s determination to fact the ghouls head-on, but it’s clear she can’t do that now, not without some backup from someone, the old lady or the spirits. Will she go on the offensive and start fighting back, with that help? It can’t be another season of her reacting to ghouls, that was getting a little tiresome. And will that affect the nature of the show, which was that of a young girl surrounded by things that could be a threat to her? I said way back that the ghouls seemed to represent predators and the girls they prey on, but later events disproved that. I still think, however that the ghouls represent dangers in everyday society, and that Mieruko-chan is a vulnerable figure trying to weave her way through and around them. Her only advantage is that she is more aware of the predators than others are. Well, I’ll probably give another season a shot. It will be interesting to see what they do with the characters next, Miko, and especially Yulia and the old lady. They didn’t get a chance to show their potential. Not a bad series, fun to watch at times, though frankly I don’t think I will ever eat one of those “butt-buns” Hana is so fond of.

One more of Yuria and Hana.
No pressure …

The finale to Tsuki to Laika to Nosferatu could have gone in a couple of ways. In the end they decided on the sappy love story, but that’s fine. It was well done. When you know the angle it was predictable. Lev is going to speak to billions of people worldwide, in other words, whatever groups there are who wanted to thwart him were powerless to do so. Meanwhile, perhaps aware that she was going to be disposed of, Irina, with Anya, drugs a guard and rushes to Red Square or whatever they call it, to do what? Listen to the speech live? Or were they waiting for Lev to go off script? Which of course he does, announcing that he’s the second person in space, the first was a vampire, etc etc. There’s a heartfelt reunification scene off camera, and Irina is introduced, to hateful boos that she turns around with her own, improvised speech.

So the sappy ending occurs, and it gets a more so, as the Premier approves of all this, had it in mind all along. What’s more, the people Lev and Irina trained with, the other cosmonauts, even the technicians, are also applauding. It looks like love, or the dream of a better future, has saved the day. Sappy, yes, but I couldn’t help but like the flash-forwards to the west’s own efforts, an ISS with happy astronauts, cosmonauts, with vampires on board together. It may not seem like it now, with nations sending up warlike satellites and blowing them up dangerously, but there was a time where going into space was a dream of unification and the erasure of borders, and the closing of this series did a good job of reminding us. As for the series as a whole I don’t have much more to say. It managed the love story, the challenges of spaceflight, and the difficulties of surviving a harsh regime, and while it didn’t go as far into any of these themes as I would have liked, there was only so much you can do in a 12-episode anime series.

One more of Anya, who always acted like she was in a different anime series.

Well, you figure that the finale of Takt op. Destiny would end in Sagan/Orpheus’s defeat; the only reason to watch is to find out why Sagan was doing all this. At the start, after a fierce battle, Destiny manages to disable Orpheus for a while and keeps watch on her while Takt stumbles ahead to Sagan. Sagan is impaled on that crystal, shards through both hands, so he’s quite defenseless but wants a chat. We get a bewildering flashback to war carnage and his shock, and his decision then to gather and seal all the D2s in one spot. It will mean the sacrifice of the entire continent, but will give everyone who’s still alive peace. Besides, isn’t the true joy of life sacrifice? Isn’t it to know the pain of despair so that others can live? Yeah, it’s nutty, and smacks of a death-cult. Takt, his hair half-white which looks cool and sort of matches Orpheus’s, uses his bluntness well for once and tells him he’s an idiot, that music is life, etc. So Takt wins the verbal battle.

Meanwhile we get the other battle, where Destiny is getting beaten up until it becomes a war of words as well. Deprived of their weapons somehow, they resort to fisticuffs while arguing. Orpheus talking about duty and, well, I can’t remember Destiny’s rebuttal, but it amounts to pretty much what Takt was saying. Having lost the argument Orpheus loses the slugging match too, rather easily, I thought, when you know what damage Hell and Heaven is capable of. Well, I guess she isn’t as effective as a boxer. Destiny goes to where Takt and Sagan are, and Takt takes her weapon and kills Sagan. All the D2s melt away and we find our couple lying on a beach. While Takt snoozes, Destiny kisses him and … melts away? I can’t figure that out. None of the other musicarts faded away after the battle. After that it’s just cleaning up. Anna joins the Symphonia, Takt’s in rehab, etc, and I’m scratching my head a little.

I guess I never thought the end would make complete sense. Hell, the entire series was based on weirdness. Monsters attacking music and musicians for some reason, superpowered musicarts, okay, this is an anime series that used mostly classical music, well, mostly Beethoven and Wagner with maybe some Mahler at one point, to show off the joy of music with a supernatural battle love story. Kind of like Macross but less direct, and not as effective. I would have cared more if the show made more sense, or told us more, like the origin of the D2s. Well, it had some good points. I don’t like how they messed with the classical arrangements, but the battles were mostly good, and the visuals were often superb. NYC looks beautiful in this show. They used Takt well, antisocial but bluntly saying the right thing at the right time. Destiny/Cosette, in spite of her growth, remained too cold for me to care about. Anna was well-used as the long-suffering “mother” to both of them. All-in-all, not too bad.

One more of Anna.
Don’t touch that sword, Ruti! Whoops, too late!

I thought Shin no Nakama ended this week, but there’s another episode. Anyway, it’s about as confusing as the Takt finale. Everyone converges on the elfen ruins, a rather high tech affair holding sacred swords. We get a lot of crazed speeches by Ares about winning the hero back. We also get speeches from just about everyone about what the duty of a hero is, the best argument made by Rit, who’s chained up most of the time and doesn’t fight much, who says it’s the will of the people who decides if the hero is a hero, and screw all this blessings stuff. Shisandan, the main villain, agrees with her. We also get arguments from Theodora (I thought it was Yarandrala) about duty, spoken while she fights Ruti, her supposed ally. Anyway, there’s a lot of talking and speechifying. In the end, Ruti kills Shisandan, probably, but touches one of those sacred swords, which reverts her to full Hero, so she goes and tries to kill … Red?! What in the world possessed her to do that? Fortunately, or unfortunately, Tisse (whose voice in the argument is a more personal one) stops the blow but might be dead. And the episode ends. A lot of the adversaries died this week, but they still have a ton of stuff to explain in the finale.

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