Finales: ACCA-13 and Youjo Senki, and Maid Dragon 12

ACCA-13 gives us a splendid finale which had me grinning through most of it, right after the moment Mauve stepped in and explained to Schwan that this coup business was nothing more than a public demonstration of his vulnerability, so please take care of yourself, okay? At first it didn’t feel right that Schwan would announce his confidence and support towards ACCA, I thought he would be too resentful and stubborn, but then I realized that this was a show of force, that he COULD be removed and he knew it, and all he had to do was let things continue the way they were, apart from Furawau. It took the look of surprise on Lilium and his countrymen’s faces for me to realize I wasn’t the only surprised by these events, though unlike the Furawau people, I was grinning throughout.

The whole scene was a marvel of understatement. Even the crowd didn’t overreact (that whole scene was a bit weird in that they were in the middle of a big ceremony which fizzled into explanations and flashback moments, and the crowd didn’t seem to think anything was strange about it). Most of it was a key line here and there, mixed with shots of various characters, smiling or looking blank in the background, and it worked so well. All you had to see were their static facial expressions to get a full idea of how they felt now and the part they played in this non-coup. Especially Jean’s smile. I KNEW he had something up his sleeve, I just hadn’t realized that everyone else was in on the game.

And so it ends up deliriously happy for everyone. Mauve becomes the director, a job she didn’t pursue but seems happy to accept. Jean and Lotta are almost certainly happy that no one learned their secret. Nino is free now but seems unable to let go of Jean … I think he and Lotta ought to hook up, myself. The “bad” characters are unpunished. The oldest princess even welcomed Lotta, connected as they are by blood and no longer rivals. Lilium is quite happy in independent, prosperous Furawau. Yep, every district and person within are happy. No surprise. For all the intrigue going on, this show kept a light touch throughout, with the country in the shape of a bird, and all the food that everyone loves to eat. It’s one of the reasons I kept watching, that and they dolloped just enough plot on in every episode, and I was curious about what all the districts looked like. I know there won’t be another season of this, but I wish I could see more of that bird-shaped continent.

One more of Lotta.

Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 12 is not the finale. Next week they’re going to throw some plot at us in the form of some new dragon, and I wish they wouldn’t. This week looked to have even less of a story than last week, but there was the omrurice to prepare and flashbacks to consider … I would have enjoyed just watching Tohru going through her day if that’s what they wanted to do, but it was nice to see the flashback to when she and Kobayashi met. The second flashback, with the bandit, was interesting with its thought that people can happily become servants if it’s their choice to do so. Right there it’s a good episode, but then they hint that we might see the bandit girl again next week, maybe not. Either way, with the new dragon showing up to cause trouble we’ve probably seen the last slice-of-life bits for this series, at least this season. Too bad. I think it would be fine for the show to end with the lack of story we’ve had recently. Rather fitting.

Finally, a week late, comes the finale of Youjo Senki, where nothing blows up, there are no battles, and no one dies. On the other hand, Tanya might have broken her record for number of evil faces per episode, and that’s mostly in the final scene. First she’s pissed about not utterly destroying the Republic forces, to which higher-ups say “Give it a rest,” until they notice that the survivors are forming up in the south. So it’s war! All over again!

At this point we get a lot of talk of peace, the nature of it, and how the Empire and others try to achieve it by forcing as much violence on those they see as enemies as they possibly can. Tanya says it, then, later on, in a crazy speech of her own, the daughter in the USA (United States of Arkansas, heh) says pretty much the same thing, though she adds talk about God’s grace while showing her crazy yellow eye. So now you know who’s going to duke it out with Tanya next season, if there is one.

If there is, I’m not so sure I want to watch it. The depictions of war, its justifications and ethics, were treated superficially but well, however, it was sunk by Tanya’s elite crew of soldiers who destroyed everything in sight and hardly sustained a causality, and I only suspect more for the next season, and that Tanya will manage to kill Sioux. The question of faith and rationality wasn’t much better, as simplistic as the talk of war, though for an anime show it did pretty well. However, because it is an anime show, a work of fiction as they remind us at the end, both sides shrink to a battle between one superbeing and another. You can yank more ideas out of its metaphors, but I don’t know if the show can support any more. Well, if they get another season I’ll probably give it an episode or two.

One more of Tanya doing a crazy face.
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Tens: ACCA-13, Maid Dragon, KonoSuba (finale)

They say that a lot this episode.

Not much to say about ACCA-13 10, except to speculate. One thing is made clear, however. Lillium is supporting the coup because he wants Furawau to snatch up whatever it can in the coup. That will be interesting because north of Furawau is Pranetta, and as we discovered this episode, there’s nothing much there, just desert and some perhaps overly-optimistic miners. Don’t remember Famasu and Jumouku, the west and east districts, however. Another thing to make clear is that Mauve seems to have no issues with a coup, so no story potential there. The story instead goes back to the royal family and their possibly dying king, which has set up another threat to Jean and Lotta’s life (what is the princess’s motive for this, anyway?), and on the other side, sped-up plans for the coup. At the center, as usual, is Jean, who once again just takes in information without giving anyone a clue about what HE thinks. Will he continue to passively take in information and let things happen, or will he finally act in the final episodes? Everyone in the episode talks about chasing dreams. Does he have one to chase?

Ladies and gentle, we present The Little Match Girl.

Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 10 takes us to the Christmas season, when winter is still seen as cheerful and romantic and not dull and depressing like it is now here in mid-March. The episode, with the usual odd filler bits, is about Tohru and the gang putting together a Christmas play for the local elderly home, a creative interpretation of “The Little Match Girl.” Since we pretty much know what’s going to happen it’s a question of how they go about it that will mark the success or failure of this episode, and it mostly succeeds, like the show in general. Kanna as the girl basically steals every scene until Tohru comes in playing some evil person. The filler material, Kanna waiting for Santa, works pretty well, too. The look on Kobayashi’s face when she sees the chimney …

KonoSuba 10 is the last episode of the season, alas.

I couldn’t resist.

And since it’s the grand finale, they give us a big, exciting battle with effects you don’t normally see in this series. The gang go to the source of the polluted water to find out it was that pissed-off guy from the past two episodes, and he’s really Hans the Deadly Poison Slime. They run away, they run back, because the mob is still after Aqua, Wiz gets pissed off (Do NOT piss off Wiz), Aqua gets REALLY pissed off, Kazuma gets sneaky, we have some light shows and heroic music … and it’s over. Hopefully not forever.

Megamin being impressive.
Aqua being impressive.

None of it makes much sense. I thought the hot springs water was already polluted, and that’s what makes it effective. Why did Kazuma get Hans to swallow him? Well, the triumphant bits more than made up for it, as did the comedy, though it took a while for that to kick in. And since it all happens at night, some of the gags were hard to see … If I rate season one slightly higher than season two it’s because the show made less sense, but the really important things, the quick gags, the girls’ weirdness, and Kazuma’s dead-on snark and timing, were equal to the first. I could go for third season of this.

One more of the gang.

ACCA-13, Maid-Dragon, KonoSuba2 9

In ACCA-13 9, the secret is slowly leaking out, and various factions are beginning to bare their fangs.

Lotta learns she’s a princess.

It appears that the first princess doesn’t like the idea of this not-royal couple going about eating delicious food, and she sends out some assassins. Interesting that she says Schwann was “in her way” too, so we’re sure what she wants. Anyway, they come after Lotta, and lovestruck Nail, told to keep her safe, does his best and fails, the idiot. The whole “chase,” if that’s what you want to call it, is full of incompetence and so hard to take seriously, especially when they stop by a cafe. Most fun of all is the rescue accomplished by Oulu; because now we have to figure out what HE knows about it all.

Less amusing are the revelations within the ACCA faction. While I fully agree that Schwan should not be king, I can’t really say I want ACCA to produce a coup of their own. I don’t trust them, even if they claim that their department safeguards the people. And, of course, I trust them even less after that unpleasant scene between Grossular and Lilium at the end. On the other hand, it makes the whole story even more interesting. Meanwhile, Jean travels to two more eccentric places, and while there’s still a whimsical edge to each one, the talks are turning to his possible royal future. As usual, we don’t know what he’s thinking or planning. It will be fun to find out. It will also be fun to see what Mauve thinks about all this next week.

Kobayashi-san chi no Maid Dragon 9, though dedicated to Kanna’s school sports festival, is really divided into two stories, both of which we’ve seen before, but not through the eyes of these characters. Kobayashi can’t come to the festival because of work, so Kanna’s sad. No surprise that she works extra hours beforehand to clear up time for it, reminded again that she is a mother figure now, whether she likes it or not. The second story it the festival itself, where teamwork is espoused and Kanna-chan doesn’t use her powers. The relay scene reminded me of Azumanga’s classic from the past decade. Saikawa messes up, afterwards is despondent, until she she hears her team’s anchor (Kanna) is making up the loss, some of the angles are right out of Azumanga. Luckily for Kanna’s team there’s no Yukari-sensei to ruin their chances.

Only Aqua could pull it off.

In KonoSuba2 9 they’re all still in the hot springs town full of religious nuts. I must say, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone in anime who can screw things up so thoroughly as Aqua. At the start she’s hanging out at the Axis Church HQ, hearing confessions and enjoying her status, and by the end the city wants to tar and feather her. And really she was trying to help, though frankly I’m getting a little tired of this accidentally purifying water gag they’ve got going. To stretch out the episode a bit further, we get the expected peeping scene, well-handled by everyone involved. And we got that angry guy who’s just as disgusted by the Axis Church’s proselytizing as Kazuma and poor Megumin are, but who’s identity and motivations are unknown, but I’m sure we’ll learn all by the end of the arc, whenever it ends.

ACCA-13, Maid Dragon, KonoSuba2 8

The princess walks away.
The princess walks away.

ACCA-13 8 brings the background on the odd sitation. I was expecting intrigue and bloody murder (or less bloody murder with some poison or something), but in fact it’s all very sweet, and domestic. Privy Counselor Qualm thinks the young princess Schnee’s interest in revolutionary things will be bad for the country, but rather than kill her off, he (with the blessing of both the king and Schnee herself) fakes her death and sets her loose to live in the more cosmopolitan prefecture of Badon, with a couple of people to keep an eye on her, an assistant and his young son, Nino. Aha!

Young Nino and his dad.
Young Nino and his dad.

We see next to nothing of Schnee, her husband (who remains something of a mystery), or their kids Jean and Lotta, only photographs Nino’s devoted father takes. In fact, a large part of the episode is the father and Nino at home, developing photos, talking about reports to the king, eating bread and sweets. The episode, though technically Nino’s story about Jean’s past (begun at the end of the last episode), is more about Nino’s past, sharing his father’s enthusiasm in the former princess’s life, entering high school at age 25 to befriend and watch over Jean–which comes off as rather creepy, actually, and the unspoken point that he gave up his life’s freedom for these chores, and doesn’t mind. As for the big story, Schnee was written out of the family and so has no claim to the throne, so neither does Jean, not that me minds. I have to ask: where does the show go from here? Maybe some people don’t think Jean hasn’t a claim, or they want to put him back on the rolls because they don’t want Schwan in power. I suppose they could do that. But I can wait for an answer. I rather enjoyed this look at domesticity, even though it wasn’t the family I expected.

Elma is powerful but easily swayed.
Elma is powerful but easily swayed.

Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 8 finally introduces Elma, a dragon from the harmony faction, so she can’t stand Tohru, who works for the Chaos faction. They have several confrontations that fizzle when Elma is conned into going away, or fed something. More interesting, apart from the blasts of animation quality that spring up, is the relationship angle. Kobayashi admits that she isn’t sure how to respond to, let alone handle, people needing her, so we learn in a sweet, ackward bit. Tohru needs her of course, as does Kanna, and she’s training Elma at work (how she got hired we’ll never know), which gives Tohru something more to be jealous about. I’m also curious about how Elma is getting alone since she has no place to live or money yet. The show took care of Fafnir and Lucoa, finding them places, so is Elma getting any help? I worry about my fictional dragons.

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I had started this paragraph about KonoSuba 8 by saying there doesn’t seem to be any big story arc ramifications to our gang’s hot springs visit, but then I erased it.  I remembered that Aqua’s the chief deity for the Axis religion that seems to run the place, so I think that if she gets on the outs with the religion it might be bad for her or for Kazuma et. al in the long. Or not. If there is such a thing we’ll find out soon enough. In the meantime, we get a thoroughly entertaining sequence involving those ostriches from last week, followed by some zombies. When they finally reach, er, let’s see …Arcanretia, the Axis assault begins, so to speak. Much of it involves people approaching an increasingly weary and suspicious Kazuma and Darkness. They learn that Darkness belongs to the Eris cult, they spit and stomp off, and Darkness gets turned on by the treatment while Kazuma does his usual, excellent straight-man work. Nothing much else happens. You’d think they would actually go to a hot spring since they’re there.

Sevens: Demi-chan, Academia, ACCA-13

The worst liar in the show.
The worst liar in the show.

Demi-chan wa Kataritai 7 brings us two new characters who I hope will not be seen again. First, we get Ugaki, a police detective assigned to demi issues, he and his very young assistant, Kurtz, come to the school unannounced, don’t check in, and wander around looking suspicious. There’s no reason for them to be there, no complaint or issue, but they’ve come to check out the demi-chans. Ugaki gets into a conversation with Sakie that skirts the line of sexual harassment (it only helps a little that they’ve known each other for years). Meanwhile, Kurtz walks around the school looking suspicious, lying badly, and passing moral judgments on other kids who like Sakie, i.e., are they genuinely attracted to her or is it the succubus thing. I only tolerated these scenes because I thought we’d get some information on why he’s with the police and why Sakie’s touch didn’t affect him. The show never tells us. As for Ugaki, he’s doing his job, he says, and it used to be a lot worse. But his presence is an indication that society as reflected by the police haven’t made the changes toward tolerance everyone tells themselves they have.

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Little Witch Academia 7 has Akko studying hard for a variety of witch exams, and failing miserably at each one. This goes on for over half the episode and gets boring pretty quickly. The nature of her screwups aren’t funny enough to cover up that we KNOW she’s going to screw up, and we’re waiting for the turnaround. This happens near the end when she accidentally flushes Professor Pisces down a drain. Naturally, she suddenly becomes adept enough at transformation magic to be able to turn herself into a fish of sorts to look for her (maybe her friends helped). She suddenly can understand fish language (maybe she had to become a fish first). And she transforms back even though she used all her magic to turn into a fish in the first place (maybe Ursula rescued her). And Prof. Pisces was, naturally, impressed by Akko’s altruism and saves her butt by passing her. Oh, and a poaching incident helped, so she won’t flunk right away. This show’s stories balance on the most tenuous strings I’ve seen in a while, and meanwhile, the overall story arc, whatever it is, doesn’t seem to be moving at all. Oh, nice righteous speech by Ursula to the mean teacher. That was good to see.

The fun begins here.
The fun begins here.

This week’s episode of ACCA-13 is called “The Truth Emerges in the Night Mists,” and I thought they were kidding. I thought it was quite possible that all the coup talk was a batch of rumors feeding each other, with Jean their unwilling center, visiting each district and causing more commotion each time, a comedy of governmental paranoia. But instead, no, there’s a big revelation and another whole layer of development for us to watch, and they dump a hell of a lot of it on us in episode 7. And I’m not going to spoil it for you, nyah!

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But I’d like to speculate a bit on what I can make out, without giving too much away. Much of it involves Schwan’s mother and the story about her which, typically, the show doesn’t tell us. There’s also this so-called “coup” to deal with. If it exists, is it to prevent Schwan from taking power? Does it mean that other heirs, if they exist, are preferable? With what we know now, it doesn’t entirely mesh with Grossular’s behavior this whole time, unless he doesn’t know the whole story either, which is probably the case. Jean tells Mauve that he doesn’t believe Grossular is involved, and I’ll trust his instincts here. Then there was that odd scene between Jean, Nino, and the king. How much does that old man know? Finally, now that Jean knows the “truth,” if it is, and maybe it’s not, what does he do about it? One of the fascinating things about this show is that Jean never overly reacts to anything, unless it’s Mauve in a sexy dress. Is he forming his own plans? Meanwhile, we’ll wait until next week and seen what Nino has to say; also, about Nino, I’m beginning to get serious pineapple salad vibes about him.

Youjo Senki 6 and recap, Demi-chan, Academia and ACCA 6

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Youjo Senki 6 gave me the information I was curious about: where are all the aircraft and how to they fit into battle with mages. The answer is they can fly higher than mages (except for Tanya) and can carry heavier things, like bombs. When you do have a mage that can match their altitude, with a mage’s speed, it’s no contest, as Tanya proved. Nothing else really mattered for me this episode, which was another one of Tanya destroying everyone that dared cross her. Frankly, this is getting boring no matter whose side you’re on. Generally I’m against the Empire’s side, but on the side of Tanya when she’s battling that God asshole. “God” has been interfering behind the scenes, apparently drawing other nations into the fighting and making it a world war, just to spite Tanya, but it’s too soon for see the consequences of this, so it’s hard to care at the moment. Maybe later, if things become more desperate and Tanya is actually taken aback (in battle, at least), it will get more interesting.

Tanya fills us in on why there's a recap this week.
Tanya fills us in on why there’s a recap this week.

… And 6.5 is, as expected, a recap episode. While I like recaps when I’m behind in my viewing, I don’t like having to watch all those scenes again in the hope that they’ll add some new material somewhere. Which they didn’t.

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Demi-chan wa Kataritai 6 features a visit to Hikari and Himari’s home, where we see the two bickering at great length while Takahashi looks on and comments about how close they are, at great length. Well, they are fun to watch, though it makes me wonder if Hikari acts irresponsible because she wants the attention, i.e., she’s insecure and needs affirmation. Could be. Not a vampire thing but the show isn’t really about being demi. It’s all somewhat ruined when Himari is led to believe that she’s just done something terrible by not helping Hikari with her hair, because vampires don’t reflect in mirrors. But they DO, and the idea that Himari didn’t realize this is ridiculous, and the same to Takahashi for suggesting it in the first place. Later there’s a cute but dull bit between Kyouko and a sleeping Takahashi which takes too much time; you get the idea that that they have filler material ready for when the main story doesn’t stretch to a full episode.

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Little Witch Academia 6 gives us more evidence of the low esteem that many people have for magic nowadays. We have a bigwig who is secretly unsympathetic to magic and his son who is outwardly so. Naturally the latter runs into Akko as she’s sneaking around trying to get to the polaris fountain to ask it for abilities, and Akko’s crappy magical skills don’t do much to change his mind on the matter. But we’ve seen in every episode the kinds of things that magic can do; to call it obselete and antique is entirely missing the point. Math is pretty old too, you know. But I guess the school needs a threat. Anyway, it’s not a terribly exciting episode until Akko reaches the fountain, instead of powers it gives us a Shiny Chariot highlight reel which was more affecting than I would have believed. But no magical cure for Akko, I suppose the show had to make that point to her, though Andrew gets his ears back and gains a little sympathy for magic, though I’m not clear why or how.

So he says.
So he says.

In ACCA-13, I’m not sure why Lilium is suddenly asking Grossular for all his info on Jean, after Grossular tried to give him grief for outing Nino. Is Lilium now suspecting Jean, or is this a ruse of his? Goodness knows what Grossular thinks, even after Jean’s little speech at the beginning. Jean plays a few mind games of his own, but with him it might have simply been out of amusement. Why did he mention Mauve in that speech, anyway? Speaking of Mauve, she’s now giving Jean the cold shoulder for not producing any coup information. So he tries and doesn’t like it much, and now Mauve has her own spies on him. Geez. It could be another episode of rumors chasing their own tails, but the whole thing feels like there’s motion under the surface, though Jean seems oblivious to it as usual. Oh, we get some flashbacks to him ten years ago when his parents died in a famous rail accident, but I can’t fit it in yet. Maybe I never well. Meanwhile, people give Lotta lots of cake.  Some things in this show are easy to understand.

ACCA-13 4-5, Maid Dragon and KonoSuba2 4, Seiren 5

Part of the fun of this show is that we don't know how much Jean knows or doesn't know.
Part of the fun of this show is that we don’t know how much Jean knows or doesn’t know.

ACCA-13 4 feels like a “district of the week” type of episode, where Jean goes to a place, sees a problem and then … doesn’t do much. Well, he’ll do what he can, like giving Warbler low scores so he’ll get to stay in Suitsu, but other than that he’s basically a sometimes-kidnapped bystander, observing, listening for a coup but doing little else but letting events play out around him. At least this episode because when he arrives at Suitsu they’ve got their own coup going on, unrelated to the big coup everyone KNOWS is brewing but no one has any real information about. Few plot moves there. Lotta is being tailed by the Prince’s goons, Nino is still reporting in … But we learn more about the losers who run Suitsu and hang out in Badon ignoring their responsibilities than we do about anyone else. While I like visiting these new districts I’d like to get more about the big picture, but I think the show is having too much fun dangling that just out of our reach. Or maybe Jean, taken by surprise by the situation in Suitsu, is going to get more proactive.

All right, ACCA-13, knock off the delicious food already!
All right, ACCA-13, knock off the delicious food already!

After watching episode 5 I’m not so worried about a ‘district of the week’ setup. True, he visits two this time, snowy Birra and a place that looks like New Mexico, but now the places have gone back to being background for the intrigue, whatever the hell it is. After Jean discovers (thanks to Lilium), that Nino is the one who’s been tailing him, they have a little talk, and go back to Badon, where Jean gets Nino to take Lotta to dinner every night while he’s on his next inspection, i.e., don’t tail him this time. Nino could easily demur, but instead agrees, suggesting a mutual trust. Jean’s reason is unclear. He didn’t seem to expect to find Grossular in Kokkusu. The conversation next week will be interesting. Meanwhile, the episode starts hilariously with two men, both tailing Lotta for less-than-professional reasons (okay, Magie’s acting on orders), getting distracted by toast. This is the funniest political intrigue story I think I’ve ever seen.

School supplies.
School supplies.

Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 4, for a moment, looked like it might have a dark story arc prepared for us, when I saw the bodies on the ground, but I should have known better. Turns out it was just a game of dodgeball at dragon-tempo. A mildly amusing conclusion to a mildly amusing episode which took Kanna to school where she made friends and one enemy who became a friend through some guile on Kanna’s part. That was actually a rather nice way of defusing the situation, actually. There was some serious talk about how people in Japan aren’t allowed to stick out; I think that’s about as dark as the series is going to get, unless they do a story later about Tohru having to leave, or something like that.

Darkness's taste in men.
Darkness’s taste in men.

Konosuba2 4 lost me at times. We have Darkness having to meet a prospective husband in an arranged marriage, but Kazuma’s strategy for handling this got a little confusing, and so did Darkness’s. It leads to them fighting because Walther, the possible husband, wouldn’t hit her, no matter how much she demands it, and ends with people thinking that she’s carrying Kazuma’s baby, yeah, I couldn’t figure out the story so much, but I was too busy snickering at Darkness’s speeches on how nobles ought to act (badly) and the usual batch of good comic timing (Fu-hee! Fu-hee?) to care much. Unfortunately, since they pulled Megumin away to deal with some monsters, the full ensemble still isn’t back to normal. Hopefully next week.

Seiren 5 … who’s the new girl, I wonder …

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In a way it’s like an episode 1 of a series only they don’t have to introduce all the old characters again, just the one. And after the episode we don’t really know too much about her. She’s straightforward about things she loves, like games, and isn’t afraid to barge into a boy’s clique if she’s playing the same one (the boys, on the other hand, are astonished and pleased). Plus, she has an almost erotic fixation on headshots, a bit of weirdness which is appropriate for the show, and she used to play a partner game in grade school. But she doesn’t really give us anything beyond that, though I wonder what made her quit that old game. Maybe she was too rough on the other characters, but that’s speculation. Soichi hasn’t really figured her as a romantic possibility yet, but it’s only episode one of the arc. Wondering what will kick these game-addled lovebirds into romantic mode.