Akanesasu Shoujo 11 is very much a penultimate episode of an anime series, with fundamental crises of motivation and confidence overcome, and a big heroic battle at the end–followed by a twist.
The twist wasn’t a big surprise, once I thought about it. The episode had been leading to it. Asuka realizes that this super-Asuka doesn’t just want Asuka to join the twilight because it’s going to win (and what IS super-Asuka’s motive for calling this Asuka, of all the Asukas in the dimensions, to join her?). By the face she makes when the girls reject her, you can tell how disappointed she is. Probably she’s just lonely in that place where nothing changes. Or she realizes she made a mistake, that she should have lived on and come to grips with the loss of Kyo-chan in her world. So Asuka’s abrupt turnaround, agreeing to join super-Asuka in the twilight is either because she feels sorry for her and wants to help, or maybe she can find a way to defeat the twilight from within, or both.
While the two Asukas are debating, Yuu is running around looking for her, and finally manages to transform when she tells Asuka that she loves her. There’s more talk after that, during the battle, about truths and lies. Seeing the two make up must not have made super-Asuka very happy, either … And then there are the other girls, captured and forced to listen to a “lesson” from that teacher, who basically tells them that while they all grew up a little, they will never truly become what they want because this is the way the world is. After some moping, the girls realize that everything he said was bullshit. That is apparently enough to inspire them to break free, then rush to save Asuka and Yuu in that twilight world, in the nick of time, of course. And a splendid action scene follows. In fact, a lot of the animation and artwork looked better this week, and not just in the CGI department. There was that striking shot of the city from above that started the episode, and then first Noizie battle, seen from a still camera in the distance, the girls still talking over their friendship while taking out snake heads. So now they have to wrap everything up next week. I wonder if Kyo is going to show up in some way? After all, in a way, he started all of this.
Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken 11 is no buildup to a big finale, just a story arc one. After we see the goblin village getting more and more sophisticated (they’re weaving silk already?!), and the incident with Shion’s cooking which even Rimuru considers a trope, we get the meeting with Gabiru the vain lizardman. To have Rimuru just humiliate him would be boring, so they get little Gobta to do it instead. So we get the expected result with a bit of character development–Gobta is becoming more formidable than Rimuru expected. A nice bit which almost makes up for the too many times everything stops so that Gabiru can pose. I’ll add that watching Shion get pissed off and squeeze Rimuru nearly to death got old pretty quickly too, but at least those bits are brief. After that everyone worries about the Orc army, and while we’re trying to figure out just how they’re going to beat up an army of 200,000 orcs, a cute dryad named Treyni appears and asks them to defeat the orc lord, thus simplifying the situation considerably. But that’s all the time they have this week, of course. I’m curious about next week’s title: “Things Spin Out of Control.” For whom?
The preview for next week’s Yagate Kimi ni Naru has Touko, after a terse comment from her unsmiling father about forcing herself to do this student council play, followed by a memory dream, announce that she’s going to become her late sister. Of course, this is a core issue in Touko’s character, one that she would not really deny to Yuu before, but it was set up in this episode like it was a startling revelation. While I appreciate this character asset, I’m not sure we needed to be reminded of it at this moment, unless they’re setting up a breakdown during summer camp rehearsals. That could be the case, especially when Konomi’s script prods at Touko’s identity issues (Touko plays a woman witn amnesia who has to decide which version of herself the people around her have of her), and, delightfully, casts Sayaka as her lover! I guess we’ll find out soon enough. Elsewhere, we get a nice scene with Yuu and Natsuki, where the latter says she held off inviting Yuu to join the high school club, because she’d have wound up doing it. In other words, having no passion of her own, Yuu gets roped into the passions of others, which is still the case. And yet her indifference is a thing that makes her appealing not only to Touko, but to Natsuki. Not that Natsuki’s going to make a love triangle out of this, but I wonder at how Yuu’s indifference attracts people.
To Aru Majutsu no Index III, after some goofing around with Misaka, has Touma and Index flying to England aboard a passenger jet where, naturally, there are terrorists. Apparently England/France relations are strained because the “Eurotunnel” got blown up, and the terrorists are French and want some revenge. The terrorists and the crew are equally inept. Well, Touma accidentally damaging a circuit that might get the plane blown up (something that is forgotten moments later) caused the terrorists some trouble. As for how the terrorists were defeated, Touma punches one of them, but the one skulking in the cargo hold with a grenade is harder to explain. Something about hot tea in the duct, which caused a thermal something, distracted the bad guy, but as for Stiyl showing up in stealth jet with magical, fiery cards, I really don’t have a clue. Neither did I really get the point of casting an illusion on the plane’s gauges so it looks like they have a fuel leak … But that’s Index for you. This week was sort of a prelude, a little adventure while magical forces on the ground do little plot things. We don’t have a clear picture of the conflict yet, and with this show, we may never get one. But who cares?
Akanesasu Shoujo 10 spends most of its time beating around the bush. We all figured that the next clutter attack would occur on our world, we’re just waiting for it to happen. Instead, the episode devotes time having the girls speculate about Asuka’s weird state of mind. As expected, after the tragic events last time, Asuka holes up for a week then reappears genkier than ever, with talk about going to defeat clutters and throwing a party for Takumi, whichever Takumi that was. He got shifted here with the girls, apparently. This leads to an argument between Asuka and Yuu over telling Takkun lies to make him feel better, and Yuu’s inability to say what she’s on her mind, and I was still waiting for the clutter to show up. Well, we also learned what happened to Kyohei (he vanished). When the presumed Kyohei does show up, after messing with a teacher for no apparent reason, we learn that the kid isn’t the King of Twilight, but his emissary, and it’s not actually Kyohei, but, er, I don’t understand it. So I figure the next couple of episodes will wrap things up by having the other girls fighting and Asuka going through some profound realizations about herself and her role in the world, though the whole Kyohei thing is still up in the air.
There’s also dithering in Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken 10, but since the show likes to take its time showing Rimuru adjust to the new world and meeting new races, it’s to be expected. Apart from the both proud and ashamed orc leader Benimaru (named by Rimuru before he fell unconscious), agreeing to be a temporary subordinate until they expel the orcs, all 200,000 of them, there’s not much happening except orc infodumps. Well, they teased a new problem by having Rimuru collapse before he could name anybody, but nothing is made of it. Still, I wonder … And we have a counterplot with the lizardmen, also trying to beat the orcs, and their vain son of the king. He’ll meet Rimuru next week and get taken down a peg or two. I was hoping it would be this week, but in spite of all the information and background we get, the episode whizzes by. Once again, I wonder how they do it. Akanesasu seems to be twice as long in comparison. As for all the infodumps, there’s a majin going around naming lesser creatures, seemingly at random, not only orcs, but goblins, ogres, whoever. The question of why is just as interesting as any goblin/ogre/lizard/orc epic battle we’re going to see.
Yagate Kimi ni Naru 9 was about halfway through this sports festival episode when I realized that the show had not featured a race, or showed anyone obsessing about a race. How refreshing! Alas, just then they introduced Serizawa of the basketball team and her long, one-sided rival with Touko, and the big relay event that will guarantee bragging rights! But even with that, it’s not played too seriously. Serizawa and Touko bicker but are friendly, and the big moment of the race is not who wins, but when Yuu is transfixed by watching Touko run her lap. I didn’t think seeing Touko running would be the thing to inspire feelings in Yuu, but there you go. Indeed, the sports festival is really a sideshow to what would happen afterwards–if Touko manages not to put moves on Yuu until it’s over, Yuu has to kiss HER and not vice-versa. It leads to the second awkward scene in the storage shed. You’d think if Yuu had realized any desire during the race, as she apparently had, she would find the strength to take the initiative, but to my surprise she still can’t, it doesn’t feel right. So once again it’s Touko taking the initiative, with tongue this time, so I guess that’s a step forward, and about the only one. Earlier there was a scene with Maki where Yuu claims she’s fine with not feeling love, and Maki not believing it, but it seemed out of place. So really the episode felt like a race with no winner, everyone running around to no real effect.
The Acqua arc finishes in To Aru Majutsu no Index III, and to no one’s surprise, it’s almost incomprehensible. We start with Kaori’s battle with Acqua, which before long turns one-sided. See, Acqua’s got not only his Saint powers, but the Right Hand of God’s, and also the Holy Mother’s though maybe there’s some overlap. After getting battered around a lot and realizing a weakness, Kaori calls on the other Amakusians to help her, seeing that her big mistake was thinking they needed her protection, a realization that might have had more power in the books but in the show is too brief to have any effect. And there’s a quick line in there about Acqua using basic magic in certain circumstances … Hmm. Anyway, even with everyone attacking, Acqua shrugs it off, mutters some more letters … and is stopped by Touma and his Imagine Breaker. Right on time. Then it’s a finishing blow and we switch to Touma’s hospital bed, and, er, the usual head-biting hijinks and Kaori talked into wearing a maid outfit, that sort of thing.
Plenty of time left, so they set up the new arc, in Rome, with Fiamma of the Right’s new plan to do, er, something in England. Normally it would be the usual cult-babble talk, but Fiamma’s talking about HIS right arm, which is St. Michael’s, and naturally we think about Touma’s right arm and what he doesn’t know about it. I’m curious myself to be honest; are the two arms’ powers incomplete? However. this looks to be a fight away from Academy City, so I’m not sure why Touma and some buddies are rushing to England in the previews. Oh, and Misaka tells Touma she knows about his amnesia, but since it’s during the battle they don’t make anything more of it. And what IS there to make of it? It happened so long ago that it doesn’t change much. One more thing: I loved Itsuwa handing Touma a towel. I wasn’t sure, but I suspected it was the same girl.
Akanesasu Shoujo 7 finishes up the Chloe arc, and it’s a boring mess. Chloe deserved better. I figured that they would give a moment where she realizes that it’s okay not to be alone sometimes, and so they did. And it made a nice comparison to the idea that the other girls, brainwashed into staring at their smartphones, were actually the ones who were alone. Chloe likes to be alone, but she’s being productive–she doesn’t always need the company of others, while the other girls, more social by nature were losing their communal selves. I’ve never bought into that argument, that social media isolates us, but I can sort of see their point, and in this arc it was handled well. BUT, the climax, where Mia, Nana, and tough Asuka battle the clutters, with constant looks at Chloe, pausing, having the same revelations over and over, though she KNOWS what she needs to do, irritated me no end. It’s a shame–there are some good ideas in this show, and the characters can be fun, but it’s often so ineptly done. I did like Chloe’s power suit, however. I didn’t expect a snarky stuffed bear attached to it.
Much of episode 8 is filler, what with the girls helping out at the cafe when the owner takes a spill, dressing up in costumes related to the fragments they have visited. They introduce some questions about the future and what they’ll all do. Yuu doesn’t seem like she really wants to go to medical school, while Asuka is just fine with taking over the family miso shop. Everyone else suggests she try something else, since she has the freedom to do so. It’s implied that she’s too immature, which bugs her. Indeed, when SeriouAsuka, or Siri, shows up, she gets more needling from the comparison. Meanwhile Seriousuka envies her less mature version’s freedom to choose, when no one in her fragment can really do so. So, in the end, Asuka uses her freedom–to follow SiriAsuka into peril. I guess there’s a point to be made here about choosing what is important over what we desire, but I don’t know if the show was going for that.
So in episode 9 they visit Seriouska’s world, where the twilight has partly absorbed the planet but has been stopped here and there by the big tree, called the twilight amber. We meet some street urchins, and Seriouska shows the girls around the base they set up. But now there is a small boy in a raincoat hanging around. Everybody watching knows who it is, even if no one there does. The question is, what side is he on? Turns out to be the EVIL side as he manages to destroy the tree and letting all the bad people in. The girls are flung back to our world leaving Seriouska to try to take out “The King of Twilight,” the small boy, herself. My big question is: did the presence of our Asuka and the other girls trigger the appearance of Kyo the boy? If so, aren’t they the ones responsible for the probable end of that world, or fragment? If so, it bothers me a lot that this personal loss to a family is made out to be a interdimension destruction machine, wiping out the lives of people who have nothing to do with this. What is so damn special about Kyo, or Asuka?
Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken 7 starts with more of Shizu’s unhappy memories, including befriending a girl and a puppy only to be forced to kill them, rather dark for this show. After that dream she announces to Rimuru and her adventurer buddies that she’s going on alone to find the person who summoned her (Leon, I assume). But before she does she has an attack and transforms into the fire demon Ifrit, who seems hell-bent on killing everybody in sight. WHY is never answered, or even asked. But after that it winds up the way we expect. Rimuru finds himself in a fire vortex, but it’s not hurting him, so he eats Ifrit, who finds himself confronting Veldora the dragon in what is presumably going to be a one-sided match. So next week are we going to watch a duel inside Rimuru? Or are we going back to the Shizu story? The village has been burned down, so they’ve got to rebuild, though that could just be done in one of Rimuru’s quick voice-overs. It’s obvious that we’ve got to take care of Shizu. My guess is that they’ll form a team, maybe with the adventurers, and Shizu’s goal will become theirs. It’s about time Rimuru got back on the road, anyway.
By about halfway through episode 8, after learning even more about Shizue’s past, and wondering how many flashbacks we were going to get, it turned to be a deathbed speech. It happened so suddenly that I wasn’t sure what was going on. Suddenly she was asking Rimuru to eat her like he did Ifrit, and he agrees (doesn’t he worry about the two meeting up inside him, like Ifrit and Delgora?). Then her hair’s white, next thing you know various people walk in and find this strange girl standing there … Well, I was wondering when Rimuru would take on that human form we see in the OP, but I didn’t imagine that it would be taken from Shizue–I had assumed she would accompany Rimuru on their way to beat up Leon. Well, I guess in a way she is. I can only figure that it was Ifrit was keeping her alive and young all those decades, and now he’s gone … After that confusion we get a summation of the series so far that felt like a final episode event, and then a new plotline starts up. I enjoy watching this show, but I think at times they could structure it better.
Episode 9 gives us another local (goblin village) incident–I wonder if Rimuru will manage to get out of there before the series ends … Anyway, after playing around with his human form in predictable ways (he can be male or female, but his basic human form is sexless), he announces he will eat with the villagers today, and while the hunting party is out getting the food for it, they are attacked by ogres who, apart from one, don’t look like them. Riumru arrives and it’s clear that the attackers aren’t just being evil, turns out they are avenging an orc attack on their own people. Rimuru tries to settle things down, but naturally they refuse to talk until he beats them up a little, then everything’s fine and they head back to the goblin village to talk it out. Just like most of the episodes. Still, I don’t really mind it. This is one of those shows that just breezes cheerfully along. It was over before I realized it. How do they manage to do that I don’t know … I am watching another show like that …
Yagate Kimi ni Naru 7 dives into the life and heart of Sayaka. Fairly typical story. A girl confesses to her in middle school, they’re happy, then the girl decides relationships for girls isn’t for her after all, just a phase, leaving poor Sayaka, whose feelings were awoken by that girl, alone and confused. Then she meets Touko, and the unrequited relationship begins. It’s sad because of the nature of their friendship. We at home know that Touko is in reality a typical high school girl, full of insecurities, which she only reveals to Yuu. But Sayaka needs Touko to keep up her “perfect” persona, not let anyone else get close, otherwise it would damage the friendship she has with her. This is of course a bad idea, especially for Touko, who needs love as much as anyone else. Things settle down a little later when Sayaka says all this to an understanding cafe shop owner (who’s in a relationship with one of their teachers to boot!). It’s not great to sacrifice your feelings to maintain a friendship–it’ll cost you in the end, but Sayaka has no other option right now. So for now the equilibrium is maintained, but Sayaka’s story is unfinished. I’m sure the show will follow up on it sometime. It’s a love story, meaning somebody’s heart is gonna break sooner or later.
Episode 8 doesn’t give us any serious move forward in the main love story, though the two girls share an umbrella and Yuu thinks to herself that she wanted a little of Touko’s warmth as they sit and wait out the rain. It seems that this show can make anything into a metaphor, even bickering under the umbrella and not noticing that the light had turned green. It makes me want to over-analyze the “what color do you like” with the flowers repeating bit that they do. There is also a very satisfying moment when Sayaka meets the girl who dumped her before. Touko shows up and Sayaka grabs her arm. So there, dumping girl! Of course Sayaka and Touko aren’t really like that, and I wonder what the other girl would say if she learned that Sayaka’s “girlfriend” is just an unrequited love thing. Finally, Sayaka and Yuu put aside their differences a little (a baton exchange metaphor this time) and both wonder what Touko will be like when the play is finished. Will she relax a little. I’m with Sayaka on this one–not bloody likely.
In To Aru Majutsu no Index III 7 we learn that there’s a whole other level of Academy City, underground. Rather pretty, too, but it looks expensive. Besides that we get the late threat of Acqua showing up to beat up Touma and take his right arm away, though he’s going to wait a day for the latter bit, because he admired Touma’s courage while getting beat up. Before that it looked like a filler episode, with Itsuwa showing up to be Touma’s bodyguard and be a perfect wife of sorts. And we get bits with Misaka, meaning a lot of misunderstandings. Maika makes a brief appearance, and there’s school antics with trying to get lunch. RailDex’s filler episodes are usually pretty good, so I was sorry they had to throw in a story arc at the end.
As expected, episode 8 doesn’t finish the fight, but it’s still entertaining. The Amakusa Church regroups and Tatemiya gives Itsuwa a pep talk (this is an episode after he performs an experiment to test her bust size) that works TOO well. And that’s all the humor filler we get this episode. We get background on Acqua, he was a British Knight, etc, and then the fight resumes, complete with long speeches about the trap the Amakusas just set for him and Acqua’s considered explanation on why they didn’t work. Back and forth. Acqua can use both angelic magic and human magic, he explains more than once, and also he’s a right seat of God, so he’s a triple threat. Nonetheless, some of the attacks come close, and it was nice to see the unbeatable near-saint taken by surprise once or twice. Then he walks off because another threat has appeared, and I’d completely forgotten who she is … Had to look it up. Kanzaki Kaori, who hasn’t much in the series that I can remember apart from talking Touma to death and vice versa in season one. But she’s here now, looking fabulous in her new hair decs. That battle will be next week, with Touma staggering out of bed, so he has some more to do too. I wonder if he’ll get to punch Acqua …
Yagate Kimi ni Naru 4 sets up a new surface plot, involving a student council stage show, an abandoned tradition which Yuu and Maki oppose, and around it continues the real story. It looked like it was going to be a little more of the same–Touko gets Yuu alone and comes onto her while Yuu tries to figure out her feelings, but this time they’re seen by Maki. Being a gentle show, he has no intention of telling anyone, except Yuu. It’s a nice sequence. We go inside Maki’s brain a little and learn, though an appropriate metaphor of a stage, that he likes helping from the sidelines and observing, to the point that when one of the people he once watched confesses to him, he walks away from it. I wonder if the show will give him another opportunity to star in his own love story? Anyway, he provides another little plot-push when he informs Yuu that he can see that she likes Touko, forcing Yuu to confront her feelings. Maki apparently likes to sneak onstage to meddle from time to time.
In episode 5 the student council plot stuff is put aside so we can have a “studying for midterms together” story instead. Oh, Maki pokes his nose in a couple times but that’s because he can’t help himself. At first it’s Yuu being nervous that Touko is studying with her, but things are switched around when the tests get nearer, the library is too crowded, and Yuu invites Touko to her house. Touko becomes a nervous wreck, and Yuu perversely takes advantage. That honestly surprised me. I didn’t think Yuu was capable of that, but maybe she’s just doing the same thing that Touko is, trying to know the other person better. At the same time, it’s become clear now that Yuu is actually the stronger of the two. Well, Touko has not kept her feelings hidden, and Yuu’s current inability to return those feelings might give that impression. A minor subplot involving Koyomi and the novel she’s written helps to reveal one of Yuu’s weaknesses: she feels she has no direction, no goal in her life. Koyomi wants to write, Maki knows at least that he belongs on the support staff of whatever he winds up doing; Yuu feels she is behind them.
Episode 6 came in moments after I wrote the above, so while I thought a break from these heavy, uncertain emotions would be good, I couldn’t resist watching it right away. Yes, the emotional twists are heavier than ever, but plot-wise we return to the stage show, where Yuu lies about knowing someone who could write a script, gets called out by Sayaka about it (that emotional subplot is still simmering away–Sayaka considers Touko’s hidden weaknesses her responsibility and resents Yuu taking her place). Meanwhile we get a Hyouka-type mystery about why the student council records are missing for one year, the one where they stopped doing the stage show, but the answer’s simple–Touko’s older sister was the SC prez but died tragically. Basically, Touko’s been imitating her sister ever since. Yuu won’t have it, she thinks it’s bad for Touko, but she won’t go back. In the end, in yet another sunset scene, the two sort of agree to lie. Yuu is lonely too and has decided to need Touko, because Touko’s the same, yet Touko is afraid of what will happen if Yuu finally falls in love. Episodes like these make you think the whole thing will end in tragedy, unless both girls wise up and knock off the over-thinking.
So let’s leave these confused, earnest kids trying to sort out their feelings and their futures together and return to Toaru Majiutsu no Index III, where the adolescents usually have super-powers, or at least guns, and aren’t afraid to use them for, er, whatever they’re up to. In episode 4 we learn about several “informal” groups of mostly villains, known as GROUP (Accelerator’s group), ITEM (those girls from Railgun 2), also SCHOOL, MEMBER, and BLOCK. SCHOOL hires a hitman to snipe Monoka, that nice old lady who got shot in ep1 but got better, I guess, but it fails. ITEM gets involved, chasing SCHOOL and its nasty killer kid around, while a member of GROUP infiltrates BLOCK, rather on the fly, to figure out what they’re after. Turns out it’s a telescope controlling a satellite which has an air-to-surface laser. So after a story arc with all sorts of magic, we now get one which is purely science and espers–but not a single look at Touma or Misaka, so it’s not all that fun, in spite of Accelerator. Well, we do get to see Dr. Frog …
Episode 5 is so confusing that I have no idea who is working for who anymore. We start with MEMBER making a move on two guys, Accelerator and that evil blonde guy. Both attempts don’t fare well. Meanwhile 5000 mercenaries are ready to attack either the satellite facility, or the prison where Awaki, or Move Point’s old comrades are being held. Turns out she’s the target because she can transport into the “Windowless Building” where Alesteir lives. Helicopters show up and kill a lot of mercenaries. GROUP goes into the reformatory, an Aztec magician shows up to fight what’s his name out of revenge, but her attempt to meld with a grimoire before undoes her. Awaki is almost done in by a soldier but manages to overcome her hangups over telporting, even when she finds her leg stuck in the concrete, and defeats her. So GROUP wraps things up. However, the evil blonde roughs up an ITEM member and gets the info as to where they can be found, so the story arc will go on awhile. I went to an Index wiki to try to figure this all out, and it seems we’re getting a very brief version of a much more complicated story. I suppose they can’t do all the stuff from the books, but it makes it more confusing to us. Oh well, it’s fun to watch something where you have no idea what’s going on, sometimes. Just give us familiar characters and that excellent BGM, please.
I’m such an idiot that while Last Order was babbling to Uiharu about the “lost child,” it didn’t occur to me that she was referring to Accelerator (says Peter, knocking himself on the head). But I’m also glad, because it made the episode’s grand climax much more powerful. Indeed, as fun as the confusing storylines can be, the show’s great power comes when it boils down to two familiar characters duking it out. We start with Hamazura, trying to protect Takitsubo from first Kakine (or Dark Matter) and then Mukino. This hapless, failed villain from Index II takes a lesson from Touma’s old speech and shows some gumption and care for another’s life. The confrontation with Mukino was effective; he stopped running and charged headlong at Mukino, and he deserved the victory.
But it’s almost forgotten when we switch to Kakine trying to find Last Order to draw out Accelerator, which indeed happens. Now it’s a battle between Accelerator’s vectors and Kakine’s dark matter, with lectures on the true nature of villainy laced through it. Accelerator has been going on about how no one is the villain he is, but I wrote it off as a comment on style. After all, he does his best not to hurt any of the people in the vicinity of this Level 5 on 5 battle. But when Kakine injures Aiho, who had almost forced Accelerator to calm down, Accelerator goes beserk and becomes an actual “villain,” that is to say, insane. Then comes Last Order’s great appearance. After some fruitless raging, Accelerator again becomes a villain in style, not of substance. Oh, there is some stuff in the end about Alesteir’s “Underline,” a nano-communication system in Academy City’s very air, but that’s while the credits roll. Good enough, I think everyone could use a rest now.