Finales: CC, Charlotte

Classroom Crisis has a suitable ending that is rousing enough for the low-to-middle expectations I had of it.
Most of it jumps between two different scenes going on more or less at the same time.  To start with, we get an odd bit where Mizuki stops Iris from going off on the new rocket, saying she’s not fit to fly it, etc.  Then the lights come on, workgirls come in to prep the rocket, and Misuki does a full 180 and practically begs Iris to fly it.  Right before Iris was about to reveal her big secret.  Then off they go (both girls), to rescue Nagisa.  The actual rescue scene is briefer than I would have liked, but appropriately tense.  Having some music that sounds like they stole it from Sidonia didn’t hurt.  Then they develop the love triangle a bit, and Nagisa starts making bold pronouncements from the rescue craft, to the other scene, the CEO meeting.
While we’ve been jumping from space to corporate offices, it’s fitting that the action finishes here.  Kaito does his “Don’t dump A-TEC” speech to a skeptical group of suits who grow more interested by the minute, especially when they get live footage of the rescue.  The only argument against was “This new rocket is great in theory, but let’s see you test it first!”  After the CEO does his “hum-hum, we voted down A-TEC last meeting, hurr hurr,” Kaito does something he should have done in episode one.  He resigns.  Why this hadn’t occurred to him earlier I don’t know, apart from the well-being of his students.  But then I can’t believe he could be so dumb as not to know that the new, tested engine is Kirishina’s property.  What an idiot.  Nice timing then for the revived Nagisa to tune in …
As for the show as a whole, Kaito’s character sums it up.  Ambitious, starry-eyed, attempting to be inspirational but seemingly blind to reality.  Also, he tried to take on too much.  In the show’s world, it’s okay because it’s fiction and we allow it if we buy into the story, but for this show, it tried to juggle too many things and dropped too many balls.  When did they suddenly come up with this new rocket design?  What was the whole point of the Iris/Nagisa identity switch, really?  Well, I’m going to give the show some credit for trying hard.  I don’t think they copped out on anything they put into the series, they just couldn’t handle them all.  It had some fun bits, not least the idea of small company turned giant and working to squash the independent spirit that created it in the first place.  Overall, not bad, but not great either.

The large group of undeveloped side characters give their opinion.
The undeveloped side characters give their opinion.

Charlotte‘s finale goes a long way toward redeeming the series.

The E.T. ability.
The E.T. ability.

Since they only had 25 minutes for Yuu to remove all the abilities in the world, they didn’t waste any time.  We spend all our time with Yuu as he goes from one place in the world to another, quickly picking up the ability to identify users and efficiently removing them, one by one.  While he does encounter some interference, he’s gained enough abilities by now to get through them.  Part of the fun is that we don’t know exactly what he’s picked up, so when he encounters some new threat it’s a surprise to see what sneaky trick he’s got to counteract it.  While I think in real life the users would band together more efficiently and get governments and other powerful people involved, the show makes it makes his success plausible, even with mundane things like getting on aircraft.  They even think about those people whose powers haven’t awakened yet.  Turns out Yuu’s picked up an app for that too.
And while he goes around doing what he promised to do, he’s also slowly cracking up.  We are reminded of his earlier breakdown when Ayumi first died, except there’s no Nao around to keep an eye on him.  The question of whether he’ll turn and use his powers badly occurs to us, and to Yuu, but there’s that ring of flashcards he still keeps with him which reminds him of a promise he no longer knows the reason for.  At the beginning of the series, and even after his first crackup, he might have broken the promise.  That he keeps it now shows us how much his friends and sister have redeemed him.  And, at the very end, when we see the price he pays for his mission, I felt it was sad, but not hopeless.  He still has his friends, and even if he doesn’t remember who they are, they know who HE is.
An excellent episode, really the best the show could have managed under the circumstances.  There wasn’t time to show much other than Yuu, and his adventures and slow breakdown were paced almost perfectly.  His rescue near the end by a girl about Mayumi’s age was a nice touch.  And any quibbles, like how Shunsuke found him, aren’t worth pursuing.  Maybe the episode felt a little too relentless, but I don’t think there was any room for the silly comedy the series could lapse into, not until the end, but there the characters have bonds to remake.  I frankly hadn’t expected such an optimistic finale, but I think Yuu earned it.  As for the series as a whole, this episode lifted it from good to very good.  If I had a complaint about Charlotte it’s that it wasn’t as consistently good, early episodes in particular.  But I feel much better about it now.


Laplace finale, CC 12, Seiyuu and Biyori Repeat 11, Teekyuu 59

Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace is the first show of the season to finish, and it does so in no better or worse fashion than the ridiculous final story arc permits.

Nice visuals, however.
Nice visuals, however.

Namikoshi’s nefarious plan to create an explosion of twenty faces for society to deal with is near fruition with his own death.  Meanwhile Kobayashi is there too, ready to jump off the tower with him.  This was my first disappointment.  Kobayashi is a smart, resourceful kid, and I was hoping he would plan some countermove, even if it meant simple debate.  Instead, he agrees with everything Namikoshi says and, in that cheerful fashion of his, prepares to kill himself too.  Meanwhile the social network of god that Namikoshi made is turning everyone who could hinder Akechi and Hashiba from getting to the site, but nice interference by bag-head guy.

No thanks.
No thanks.

Meanwhile, Namikoshi prattles on with how the victims will rise up and strike back against their aggressors, as if this was a good vs. bad situation (well, the show indeed has always made it out to be–another disappointment), and I began to get bored, in spite of the dazzling visuals.  I was also trying to figure out why the hell Namikoshi wanted Akechi to shoulder blame for rescuing either him and not Kobayashi or vice versa.  So Akechi shows up, there’s more of the usual talk, and Akechi makes his decision.  Namikoshi and Kobayashi are both happy with it–untl Hashiba ruins everything by being heroic.  The wonderful, godlike, social virus program has been outdone by a completely expected act by a side character.
Too many things like that prevent this series from fulfilling its potential.  I loved the look of it, the evocative imagery, especially the mannequins they would use to suggest outsiders that introverts like Akechi and Kobayashi can’t afford to recognize unless they get in their face.  Could have done without the death-butterflies, though they looked pretty.  But the show had problems with equating revenge and justice, and the fact that hate makes more hate no matter who’s side is right.  Oh, the show tried to show it was wrong, but in saying at the end that the program’s aftereffects have led to a calmer city, the show tells us what side it’s on.  Also, I would have liked to know more about Kobayashi, or at least watch him talk about horrific things with that happy voice of his, or maybe I want to figure out if he’s actually a boy.  I couldn’t read him as one.  Sadly, that is what I’ll take from this show.

Classroom Crisis 12 does a nice job of aligning all the pieces for the big finale next week.

Good!  Now do an evil laugh.
Good! Now do an evil laugh.

Nagisa’s crisis is not finished, but extended; the stab in the back was just a prelude to more unpleasantness, and it looks to be great fun because Yuuji hasn’t just had a breakdown, he’s transitioned into full Crazy Mad Scientist mode.  Not only does he gloat and drool and spout revenge things, but he’s going to stick Nagisa in an improvised rocket/suv and shoot him INTO SPACE!  And the rocket will land on top of A-TEC’s last ditch demo!  Excellent mad scientist work.  And still, Nagisa infuriates him further every time he opens his mouth.  I think Nagisa might be enjoying this a little, stab wound, kicks to the side and punches to the head notwithstanding.
Meanwhile the good guys work for a while on locating him until Kaito tells them to go back to their rocket, because of something Nagisa was working on.  Seems odd to me, too.  That leaves Angelina to track him down.  A visit to Coldwood construction firm, where she allies herself with Ibra, their boss, and there’s a nice fight scene after, nice because we get to see Hattori, er, Angelina fighting in a rage for what’s been done to Nagisa.  The character has developed a nice combination of kindness, bitchiness, and badassery through the episodes.  Too bad they can’t stop the rocket in time.  Well, not too bad, because now next week A-TEC will launch their rocket and rescue Nagisa, hopefully with Iris on board.  All she got to do this week is fail flight simulations (stupid rocks) and mope a lot.

Ryoko Shiraishi, ladies and gentlemen.
Ryoko Shiraishi, ladies and gentlemen.

Being mostly a silly comedy, Sore ga Seiyuu 11’s big crisis is Ichigo’s twisted ankle, and that comes at the very end.  The theme this week, so they say, is Taking Care of Yourself, and it’s mainly over halfway through, thanks to celeb cameo Ryoko Shiraishi and her cough drops.  A more fitting theme would be Going at your Own Pace, which is what Futaba is trying to do and tries to remember when she sees Ichigo and Rin racing ahead of her.  Shiraishi helps there thanks to a unpleasant vocal cord anecdote (the manga had another vocal cord story going, but I don’t know if the the show wants to go there).  It also shows while Earphones try to sell tickets to their first concert.  I wonder if the theme will continue next wee, with Ichigo’s bum ankle and all …

Save the email!
Save the email!

No crises in Non Non Biyori: Repeat 11 at all, which is how it should be.  Instead, we get a mixed bag of little sketches.  Komari wants to send a cell phone message and makes me wonder exactly when this story is supposed to take place.  She barely understands what means …  Then we watch Renge making New Year cards while Kazuho tries to peek, and then we get a closer look at Hotaru’s maturity.  As usual, Renge steals the episode, but I sort of liked Hotaru at home, too, acting like the fifth grader she actually is.
Finally, Teekyuu! 59, while feeling a little off–I think it was because Marimo’s mother was in it–but had a ration of just under 3.00, which is excellent.

Laplace 10, CC 11

Kobayashi doesn't say much this episode, but he has the best line.
Kobayashi doesn’t say much this episode, but he has the best line.

Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace 10 is maybe the weakest episode yet, though it does deserve some credit for stretching out the obvious without me throwing up my hands and jumping forward.  Basically, Namikoshi’s abducted Kobayashi and tells him his life story, in the third person, which is basically a story of physical abuse by classmates and his parents until Akechi came along.  We knew much of it already from last week, only it becomes more absurd.  This Dark Star program that they created, a societal manipulation program at work, basically, bullshit about Laplace’s Dragon aside, can cause trucks to go out of control hit people who just happened to be walking there, and other equally outlandish actions.  And so the show, for me, takes a major hit.

Go, bright magical program of god!
Go, bright magical program of god!

Before, this was a show about criminal behavior, predicting it, and solving mysteries (well, and androgynous boys, etc).  But the Dark Star program doesn’t fit in.  It’s pure fantasy, a godlike piece of software that was programmed and runs easily on a laptop and is now running the story.  I can’t believe in it or its place in a tale about detectives and culprits.  However, the show can still play to its strength: Akechi catching Namikoshi and rescuing Kobayashi, though I suspect the boy might not need the help.  Kobayashi spent the episode asking questions in that curious voice of his; I expect he’s going to have something to do next week, unless Namikoshi pushes him off the tower first …

Iris and Mizuki fail to figure out where the plot is going.
Iris and Mizuki try to figure out where the plot is going.

Classroom Crisis 11 is one of those episodes where the good guys regroup after the bad guys triumphed the week before so we can get ready for the big finale.  Well, that sordid little event at the end might throw a monkey wrench into things, but I since Iris didn’t die last week I assume Nagisa won’t die either.  I actually don’t care for Nagisa enough that me might as well die, but anyway …  The only thing that I’m curious about is why Iris ran away when she saw Mizuki and Nagisa getting romantic; not sure what that was about.  And I’m curious about what devious plan Kaito has in mind, but again that attack at the end may make the point moot.  I also rather liked Li happily joining the military research unit; he’s an amoral bright-boy playing with toys.  But he also has very little to do with the story now.  Well, he might, but I can’t figure out what the story is anymore.  Is it about A-TEC?  Is it about Nagisa’s redemption?  The CEO’s downfall?  Kirashina’s corrupt past and present?  All of them?  One or two?  I don’t know where to look anymore.

Tens: CC and Gate

Classroom Crisis 10 is sort of the reverse last week.  This time the bad guys do the double-crossing and the good guys meet with disaster.

Yeah, I trust these guys.
Yeah, I trust these guys.

I’m not sure I get what went down at the governmental and corporate level, and I don’t care either.  Nagisa is smacked down by the CEO when the vote to stop A-TEC funding comes up, and apparently everyone on the board of directors was coerced to keep sitting or don’t like Nagisa much.  And there’s the problem: I don’t like Nagisa much either.  I didn’t like him even when the show was attempting his face turn.  I didn’t like him when he did his power-play last week.  Not that I like his opposition.  I dislike everyone on the board, and those politicians forming coalitions to screw up the other politicians.  They can all go hang for all I care, and that includes Nagisa.
Meanwhile, Kaito and the kids work and work and get their test aircraft ready for launch, for added dramatic effect, at the same time the new coalition is announced and the shocked Nagisa is watching people not stand up.  You know it will all end badly because the background music is all nervous and scritchy.  We’ve got Iris in the cockpit, and, of course, she has another bad flashback at the wrong time.  Something about space debris.  How she got that far as a test pilot without this problem the show doesn’t bother to explain.  And the show decides to throw its big whammy at us: he is actually Nagisa.  But again, the family politics in this show turn me off and I don’t really care too much.  I DO care A-TEC, about Iris recovering her wits and not getting blown up …  Yeah, it’s a downer episode all around, but only one or two parts matter.

Since shows like CC are throwing downer episodes at us to prepare for big finales, I figured the same would happen in Gate, but instead ep10 a satisfactory end of the fetish symbols’ diplomatic and hot spring adventure.

Well, so much for THAT fight ...
Well, so much for THAT fight …

We start with the inevitable end of the bad guys sneaking up on good guys bit while Rory is coming on to Youji.  They had hinted that there were three different forces on the loose out there but I thought “Nah, what are the odds?”  I forgot that this is an anime series.  Soon the three forces are shooting at each other, and if that wasn’t enough, Rory jumps in.  Heh.  They play some somber Ave Maria-type music with a soprano, but it’s hard to establish a tragic mood when the soldiers are acting like Keystone Cops and Rory is slicing limbs off anyone the soldiers miss.

Pretty classy.
Pretty classy.

After that it’s sneaking out of the place and speculating what’s going on.  Since no one knows, they decide to set their own itinerary, heading to the Ginza attack memorial and then returning to the gate.  Bad guys are still around, but they’re rendered powerless because of the fanboy crowd, and we have an annoying introduction to Shino’s irritating reporter sister, but then we get one of the series’ most striking moments.  Before thousands of people who give them a clear path, the girls lay flowers at the memorial for the victims killed by their own people.  I was sort of reminded of the constant calls for Japan to apologize for the war; I wonder if the show wanted to make a comment about that … Anyway, the throng cheers and they return.  Next week we’ll start following Pina as she tries to stop the war at her own end.  Considering the Emperor, good luck with that.

Gate and CC 9

If you can't, don't expect us to.
If you can’t, don’t expect us to.

Gate 9 … so the Prime Minister or someone big is being more-or-less blackmailed into having the Special Forces withdrawn from guarding our guests, so that some other country can “invite” them somewhere.  This is the kind of power-play I’d been expecting from the series nearly from the start, and I’m glad to see it, but what was all that business about resigning, so they’d have no power over him?  Didn’t understand that at all.  Apart from that, I like the situation very much.  The bad guys (who have names from three or four different ethnicities, so we don’t know who they work for) are moving in, while Rory driven by her battle-sensing lust, makes a play for Youji.  What will she do when the bad guys arrive?  Do the bad guys even know her talents?  Hopefully, they’re in for an unpleasant surprise.

This part I understood.
This part I understood.

Before that it was a pleasant enough episode.  The girls are taken to various places in Tokyo, but the show doesn’t overdo these scenes.  Even the obligatory hot spring scene was better than it could be, thanks to the ex-wife’s explanation as to why she both married and divorced Youji.  Youji’s meeting with Defense Minister Kanou was completely unexpected.  Make me wonder a bit about Youji’s success, though I’m sure that wasn’t the show’s point, and how much the show isn’t telling us about what Youji knows.  Though he doesn’t seem to be too knowledgable about the bad guys creeping in.  You’d think he’d be able to read Rory’s behavior by now.  Good episode.  I hope the next one isn’t as depressing as the preview makes it out to be.

Classroom crisis 9 has plenty of intrigue too, but here the political is mixed in with the corporate, and I actually understand it a little better.
Basically, the Seinen party’s rep, Furubayashi, is talked into defecting and joining the Oozora party, with the union’s full support, replacing Murakami.  We watch this scheme, orchestrated by Nagisa, from different angles.  We see Murakami’s rightful feeling of betrayal, Furubayashi’s temptation by a ministry position, Yuuji’s feeling of betrayal, Angelina’s amazement and dismay that Nagisa would do such a thing, the kids’ sense of betrayal, or something, and Kaito’s legitimate verbal smackdown of Nagisa.  And all I can do is wonder why?
Okay, Murakami has every reason to be upset, but he’s no better than any other politician in the running.  We don’t mind Yuuji being upset because he’s an asshole and a transfer off-planet is too good for him.  But why are the kids upset?  It’s possible they’re going to get their entire budget back, and they ought to have learned by now that people in positions in power don’t often behave well with that power.  As for Kaito, he’s disappointed that Nagisa would be capable of such a jerk move after the recent signs of humanity we’ve all seen.  This is a fair accusation (excellent speech by the way, cutting through Nagisa’s bravado by pointing out that he hasn’t made anyone happy, even himself, using a “A REAL villain would be …” tactic), and it makes you wonder what this show is really about.  Is it about the survival of A-TEC as we all thought, or the rehabilitation of one of its most dislikeable characters?  Maybe a bit of both.  But with Yuuji gone they traded the show’s biggest villains for a bunch of half-villains, including Nagisa.  And where does it go next?

Eights: Laplace, CC, Gate

Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace 7 set up an elaborate murder setting consisting of two victims, giant mannequins, gears, and the police and suspects standing around being colorful.  So many visuals going on that it was hard to figure out what was going on.  So, naturally I figured the solving of the murders would take a little time …

That was settled quickly ...
That was settled quickly …

Frankly, I was let down.  Weak metal, call in the girl who ordered it, bingo!  Then there was the murder confession bit, and I would have been pissed off by the victims’ behavior too, well and good, but considering all the groundwork they had set up, I was let down.  I wanted more interviews with witnesses, more weird visuals (well maybe not; they had too many as it was), more tantalizing clues and deduction.  Instead, even with a Kobayashi/Hashiba bickering session, there was still half the episode to go.

Sorry, I don't know why I chose backs-of-heads shots for this episode.
Sorry, I don’t know why I chose backs-of-heads shots for this episode.

What they filled it with was a flashback to Akechi’s old friend Namikoshi, who was trying to use chaos theory, Laplace’s Demon, and other math things I barely follow, to create a social … thing, I guess a meme whose rise and effects can be predicted beforehand.  Basically, the origin of Twenty Faces.  You know from the start that it will not end well for Namikoshi, so we’re just waiting for the how and why.  But all we really get was there were flaws in the math, or in the model, but Namikoshi “launched” it anyway.  I’m curious as to how.  A Twitter message?  Facebook page?  So now Akechi is determined to catch all the twenty faces that show up, not out of the belief that he’s partly responsible, but for his ego.  I’m not sure if this all worked or not.  The show, as we saw in the first half, masks its weakness with style, but it provides a nice idea or two.

A moment of fun in an episode otherwise filled with growing doom.
A moment of fun in an episode otherwise filled with growing doom.

Classroom Crisis 8 has a school festival in it, and A-TEC is going to launch a water rocket with Iris in it!  It sounds like a fun episode, but the show decides to suck the fun out of it through a variety of ways.  Iris gets a fever, though it’s unclear whether it’s a physical reaction to her horrible flashbacks, or that the flashbacks come because of her fever.  So she lies in bed and has a conversation with Nagisa about her lack of a past.  Then there’s the political wrangling going on, one party supporting A-TEC, the other Kirishina Corp., and there’s more ugliness among the Kiryuu clan, with money being siphoned off and some dark secrets going on.  The only positive note, apart from the water rocket, is that Nagisa and Angelina are a little surprised to find each other sympathetic to A-TEC.  The slow face turn is almost complete, just in time for the corporate and governmental politics to get REALLY nasty.
Gate 8 was the amusing episode I think we expected.  The fetish girls see modern-day Tokyo and make some astute comments about it as they marvel.  Then Pina and Bozes go off to talk politics and prisoners with the Foreign Ministry.  Interesting to watch how each side treats the other, and to realize that even back in fantasyland there is politics at play … Which prisoners should they release?  What kind of favors can Pina or the Ministry get out of it?  Pina gets to show off some smarts here after a few episodes of being a lousy general or a figurehead.

I predict the figurines will be available in about two days.
I predict the figurines will be available in about two days.

But the real fun comes with Youji and the others getting investigated by … whoever’s pissed off at them, notably the prosecutor lady who tosses off a lot of accusations only to get shot down by Youji and the girls.  Meanwhile, those watching on TV or the interwebs fanboy out.  But I can’t just see them just going to a subway afterwards.  Even if it’s to throw off some evil organization we don’t know anything about yet, surely they’d be recognized by somebody.  And surely there’s a better place to take them than the home of Youji’s otaku ex-wife.  Even if the group are celebs and possibly in danger, surely there’s some better place to put them.  Besides, I want the girls to meet some creepy otaku to see how they react.  Still, fun episode that finished before I was ready.

CC, Rokka and Shimoneta 7, Teekyuu 55

I’m starting to get things mixed up in Classroom Crisis.  Or I’m not paying enough attention.  First, A-TEC feeds Angelina and Iris the information they need to sneak into the hijacked spacecraft’s cockpit and gives them a flight plan.  The stupid pilot interferes, Iris has a traumatic flashback and faints, no one is operating the ship and it’s about to crash into the Death Star when they’re guided away by a rescue ship sent by … who?  It looks at first like Yuji’s doing, but it’s not.  And while I’m thinking it might be the hijackers again, the next thing we see is Dr. Li, former hostage, being welcomed by Yuji and Nagisa’s brother–the big boss, much to Yuki’s displeasure.
And what was the deal with Yuji wanting to leave Li for dead?  Well, a lot of questions, but it was nice to see Yuji squirm for once, thanks to an older sibling.  As for the battle on the plane, it was ridiculous, Angelina flipping around and flipping thugs as well.  But we did get more background on Iris’s mysterious past, though no real answers.  But it makes me worry about Iris.  If she’s going to go into immobilizing flashbacks when the ship is in a crisis, it makes you wonder just how good a test pilot she can be.

Well, what would YOU say if Flamie told you her story?
Well, what would YOU say if Flamie told you her story?

Rokka no Yuusha is spending so much time with trying to figure out who the fake brave is that they’ll never get around to fighting the fiends at this rate.  Well, I suppose it was necessary to continue the Flamie/Adlet discussion and learn more about why they’re both in this.  Adlet suggests that they have pretty much the same story, though I’ll add that Flamie’s is a much more twisted version.  They both were betrayed by people they love and trusted and lost their home.  What makes them different is that Adlet says he became strong not to lose anyone again, while Flamie is acting out of revenge, which Adlet says never makes anyone strong.  So that’s settled, then.

I think she's the one.  Unless it's one of the others.
I think she’s the one. Unless it’s one of the others.

Meanwhile, it’s hard now to watch any of the characters and not analyze their smallest comments and reactions.  Through the subsequent scenes I suspected about every one of them, apart from maybe Maura and Chamot.  Nachetanya seems to be trying to con Goldov, and I’m not sure what he thinks.  Hans is easy to suspect, but I don’t think it’s him (I’m also curious about what he’ll do now that he’s in a position to kill Adlet), but if it is him maybe we’ll stop hearing that annoying laugh.  Meanwhile, I wonder why they haven’t thought that the fake brave might still be on their side …  Anyway, another episode of mostly talk apart from a nice one-on-one between Adlet and Hans.
After last week’s satisfying and instructive filler episode, Shimoneta 7 brings us a new story arc, maybe two.  The first is another ero-terrorist group, named Gathered Fabric, who claims to have joined SOX but are doing things on their own, and they’re more extreme.  I don’t know if SOX would ever stoop to stealing underwear, especially when the people are wearing them.  Anyway, Kajou is not pleased.  Then there’s Kosuri, a the daughter of a that compromising terrorist who has the same mindset as Gathered Fabric and manages to worm her way into SOX, though Kajou isn’t pleased with that, either.  When not working on plot there’s an amusing side story of a Okura/Gouiki BL comic, now at volume ten.  This is the only show I can think of besides Genshiken where the characters ship each other.
Teekyuu! 55 has the girls gaining revenge on a telephone pole, until even Kanae agrees that it’s stupid.  SPG 3.00, excellent work again.