Shoujo-tachi 11-finale, Dagashi 10-11, Phantom 12

shoujotachi11-1
Shoujo-tachi wo kouya o Mezasu 11 begins by having Kuroda’s brother thanking the gang for making the game to help him pay off his debts, to which everyone, including Bunta, goes “Hahh?!” and walks out. Everyone mopes for a quarter of the episode, then, predictably, dully, they all come back because finishing the game has become important to them. Yuuki scolds Kuroda, and Andou slaps her–that’s all the punishment she got for lying to them. Anyway, it’s the usual crunch-time montage after that, though the nice use of background music enhanced the race to the train station and almost made burning a CD seem exciting. Next week they’ll have to defeat Typhoon, unless it’s a longer series.

Yay,
Yay,

Nope, it finished in twelve episodes, in uninspiring fashion. They win, because the competition was set for day one, for units sold, and it was cheaper. But a win’s a win. We learn this early in the episode so there’s plenty of time to waste with celebratory eating, and discussing what to do next. We even have two scenes with Kuroda’s brother when one would have sufficed. The only interesting bit was Kuroda believing that Taiga, the rival game, might have a longer shelf-life because it has more depth, perhaps believing the idiocy that dark works of art are more profound than lighter ones. Anyway, I’m glad it’s wrapped up neatly; now I can forget about it. Apart from a couple of good moments here and there, and attempts at making THIS dull work more profound with its “wasteland” metaphor (used to death this episode), there wasn’t much to watch. I’d rather play their game.

dagashi10-1

Dagashi Kashi 10 must be an important episode because it doesn’t break into two or three stories but tells only one–actually, I suppose you could argue that this is an actual story arc now: Hotaru’s mouth ulcer from last week is worse! In fact, it looks terrible and I wonder why she hasn’t seen a doctor, apart from being out of her mind. I wonder if the show wants to send a message that too much dagashi can make you sick. If so, it’s a pretty good way to do it. Sadly, being sick isn’t very dramatic, and the ways they tried to add drama didn’t work until the end, when Hotaru REALLY goes crazy. She won’t tell why she refuses dagashi, and Kokonotsu doesn’t do his reputation any favors by trying to coax her with some.

Saya retells Hotaru's heroic backstory from ep1.
Saya retells Hotaru’s heroic backstory from ep1.

But it’s all over by episode 11. No sign of a mouth ulcer. Instead we learn more about why Hotaru’s headhunting You, though I ought to say that the way he eats into the profits I wonder if it’s a good idea. How DOES that shop stay open, anyway, or Candy Store’s in that other show? No one ever buys anything. But we do learn about cola gum and it has a lot of Saya. The second half is all about waiting for the train in the heat and sucking kombu. Oh, and a fascinating history lesson about how Perry managed to open Japan. But there’s no Saya so it gets docked a point. On the other hand, it was such a relief watching this episode after the Shoujo-tachi finale. It’s just fun all the way through, the way many shows don’t know how to be.

phantomworld12-1

Musaigen no Phantom World 12 starts by showing the team at work taking down a dual-phantom affair, showing their splendid teamwork (meaning they all take their turns and help), and thus setting us up for some downfall. Sure enough, there’s a new phantom in town who takes on a sexy vampiress look (though its victims don’t seem to remember this very important fact) and steals powers away with a kiss. Haruhiko et al almost capture it but it escapes, maybe, so everyone’s on edge. Then the show does a left turn.

phantomworld12-2

We figure early on that it’s not really Haruhiko’s mom, well, the moment Ruru gets suspicious. So we wait for the unraveling while Haruhiko gets used to having a parent around who likes to ask him which of the girls he likes–in front of the girls. When it comes it’s a bit of a letdown. Mai gets a phone call and that’s it. While we do have some issues for the finale, like will Haruhiko get his powers back, will he reconcile with his unpossessed mom, what the deal is with Enigma, and will Ruru wake up, once again if it wasn’t for KyoAni’s usual brilliant animation and direction this would be a pretty lifeless episode–again.

Dagashi 9, Shoujo-tachi 10, Phantom World 11, Teekyuu 80

dagashi9-1
Dagashi Kashi 9 is one of the better ones. The first one, concerning wata-pachi, brings up the idea that foods that bring you pain can be enjoyable (Hotaru has a mouth ulcer). Actually, they bring up a different issue, that foods that you should not eat are tastier for that reason, but watching the pleasurable pain Hotaru experiences (livened up with a mini-drama) makes me think they were going for that point, too. Then it’s on to Lucky-choco droppings, and a very tasteful fantasy Hotaru and Saya conjure up to eat a candy that comes out of an animal’s ass.

dagashi9-2

There follow two more dagashi, Sakura Daikon, which I can’t believe kids like, and prompts Kansai talk from Hotaru because, apparently, you can’t get it there, and boob, sorry, bomb ice cream, both sequences showing us once again that Hotaru is out of her mind. Really, she makes almost no sense at all during much of it. Her onlookers, Saya and Hotaru, are usually too stunned to do anything but play along; really, was Saya really that deterred by those toy frogs? No! She wanted to see what Hotaru would do next.

One of the more disgusting metaphors for creativity I've heard.
One of the weirder metaphors for creativity I’ve heard.

Shoujo tachi wa Kouya o Mezasu 10, not content to give us a new story arc, gives us two. One of them will distract our gang from the other. First, we meet Mitsuteru, and more importantly, Taiko, from Typhoon, a professional and highly-polished studio, who see Bunta’s demo and are impressed enough to try and lure him (and Yuki and Andou) away to join Typhoon and be miserable. They do this by posing as fellow amateur nerds and arrange a meetup. Why production-savvy Kuroda didn’t recognize the name or reputation before is not explained. So we now got a competition with consequences that would never make it in the real world. As annoying as all this is, the appearance of Kuroda’s brother, Iwao, and the discovery that their game is intended to pay off his debts, is even worse. How much money did they expect to make, anyway?

phantomworld11-1

After weeks of dull predictability and forced emotions, Musaigen no Phantom World 11 finally takes this formula and makes it work. Turning Haruhiku into a child wasn’t all that clever (though going to a grade school was a nice touch), turning him into something of a brat was a little better, but it took a nice little scene where he and Mai, his temporary mom, bonded a little over both being alone to lift the show above its normal level. For one thing, Mai got a chance to show her sweet, protective side. Also, need I say that the show looked even better than usual, not only the battle at the end, but the playing in the park scene.

teekyuu80-1

Teekyuu! 80 has Yuri out with a cold, so naturally the other girls go visit her and make trouble. And Kanae is the second show this post to work the Kansai-ben thing, though this episode is actually two weeks old. They’re still not at full steam, GPS of 3.14, but it’s not bad, and they actually worked in a beat gag this week. I didn’t think this show was capable of that. This show can do ANYTHING!

KonoSuba 8, Koyomimonogatari 8-9, Dagashi 8, Shoujo-tachi 9

Can't you see how evil she is?
Can’t you see how evil she is?

KonoSuba 8 … I don’t know what the hell happened. What were all those dolls? Why was Aqua behind the door? And you know, it didn’t matter much. Our heroes are sent to exorcise a bunch of spirits by Wiz, a nice but hapless servant of the demon king. There’s lots of running around in fear (those dolls WERE kind of scary) and jokes about peeing. It could have been dismal but once again the direction and voice-actor work kept it afloat. Also, I’m happy to see that Kazuma got another skill and they have a decent place to live now. Living in that cold barn all this time was depressing to watch.

Ougi's up to something again.
Ougi’s up to something again.

Koyomimonogatari 8 has Ougi and Araragi going up a mountain to visit a ruined shrine, and the big question this week is: how was it moved there? It used to be somewhere else, and its current presence has stuck things out of balance (mostly corrected by Shinobu, I believe), but that’s not really important. The answer, or punch line, as Araragi likes to say, comes from Sengoku, pre-snake form. I was going to ask “why her?” but it just occurred to me that Ougi and Araragi had talked about snakes before. But this scene happens before Sengoku’s troubles … Oh, well, call it foreshadowing.

This is an ancient and feared vampire, once worshipped as a god.
This is an ancient and feared vampire, once worshipped as a god.

Episode 9 is livelier thanks to no creepy Ougi but rather Shinobu. Twelve minutes, more or less, on donuts, with hints of trust and love thrown in. Very sweet, and it made me hungry for donuts. What’s more, we had a Dagashi Kashi-type lesson about donut holes, and I learned what a torus is. The answer (possibly, because Araragi ate the evidence) comes to us again from Hanekawa, who’s on a beach with a suitcase and her two-tone hair, so late in the chronology.

Saya steals the scene.
Saya steals the scene.

Dagashi Kashi 8 brings us three stories and more things I didn’t know about. The first, where Tou tells scary stories taken from Super Scary Story Gum and Kokonotsu pokes holes in their logic, is pleasant enough, especially with Saya’s scared faces. Also, I like typhoon stories even if it’s just people sitting around telling scary stories. The second one … Kendama isn’t a dagashi, but it’s arguably the most successful story of the three, because Saya shows up and is cool. I think I’m developing a thing for Saya … No Saya in part three, so it’s the weakest, besides, I didn’t get the fortune telling concept. But it had the episode’s best weird moment, when a fantasy Tou as girl meets a handsome Hotaru as boy, with those same crazy eyes of hers. That and the crab.

shoujotachi9-1

Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya o Mezasu 9 gives Yuka another crisis, even though she had one earlier with the unrequited love business. Considering how confident and genki she is normally, I was happy that her crisis wasn’t that she fucked up all the time (just a little–rookie jitters in the audio booth) or outright sucked. No, she was good from the start, just not good enough by her standards, and everyone else has been trying so hard … After that it was just a matter of coaxing her back into the booth and set up the next crisis, either to do with Koruda’s brother, whoever he is, or Kai because being the organizer is not very interesting unless you get a show like Shirobako, which this isn’t.

Boku Dake 9, Komugi-chan R 8, Dagashi 7, Teekyuu 78

Bye Kayo!
Bye Kayo!

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi 9 sees the end of the Kayo story arc, if that’s the right thing to call it. The confrontation between Akemi, Kayo’s mom, and Sachiko … AND the children’s welfare people, goes along expected lines. Kayo is taken away (by nice people) and we may never see her again. This leaves Satoru with a bit of a dilemma. He needs now to save Hiromi and Aya, two people at once, and he can’t call on his friends to help because there’s no obvious reason to. Fortunately, the friends are saintly types, and one of them is Aya, so they agree to help even if they think he’s a little nuts. Not sure how he’s going to explain Aya, though. None of them know her. It’s here that the story might start getting implausible, but we’ll see. For now, let’s relax in the thought that Kayo is finally safe, probably. This show’s double-crossed us before.

nursewitch8-1

Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R 8 plays with what passes as the two stories going, and gets nowhere with either of them. You could call the monster-fighting a story, I suppose, but in most episodes that’s used as a plot device. The first story is the girls keeping their magical sides secret from each other. You wonder how long they’ll bother with it. Their mascots are the only ones that care, and we’ve seen that Komugi and Kokona aren’t against teaming up. But neither Kokona or Tsukasa and bring themselves to believe that ditzy Komugi is one of THEM, not that they know about each other, anyway. The other story is Tsukasa/Yuto as a pair, and it’s hampered by the typical romcom stuff: Tsukasa thinks Yuto’s in love with Komugi, while Yoto thinks Tsukasa’s in love with Kokona. Annoying to get through all that. Nice moon at the onsen, though.

dagashi7-1

Dagashi Kashi 7 (yes, I’m behind) eases up on the education and gives us a pleasant trip to the local festival. We do learn that dagashi is sometimes used in monjayaki, and there’s a brief foray into festival treats, but it’s more of an aside. Instead, we get You’s festival stall rivalry with a okonomiyaki girl, Hotaru’s splendid die-cutting work (you know, she IS cuter when she’s not talking, and having her bangs pulled away on one side doesn’t hurt, either), and the highlight, a nice walk-around with Kokonotsu and Saya, both of them happy as clams to spend time together, especially Saya, though there’s no movement on their romance. Did you expect any? Meanwhile, I’m still trying to figure out what makes Saya such an appealing character …

teekyuu78-1

After a few slow episodes, Teekyuu! 78 roars back with a SPG of 2.72. Excellent work. In this episode they go bowling and everyone likes to talk telepathically to Yuri, including, apparently, her bowling ball.

Gate 19, W 7, Dagashi 6, Teekyuu 77

It's going to be a serious episode ...
It’s going to be a serious episode …

Gate 19 starts with disturbing plans from the empire, then gets mostly silly. First we have Zorzal pronouncing himself emperor and raising the rabble against the green people, then meeting with his sneaky-looking generals about how to beat them using more underhanded, covert tactics, something they should have been doing long ago. Meanwhile that long-haired brother runs off to get other countries to help get rid of Zorzal, though that’s pretty much going to screw the empire, but as Diablo points out it’s pretty much screwed anyway. Pina is witness to both these situations and seethes a lot. I wonder how much she can actually do to prevent it. Apart from her efforts at peace with Japan, she’s never been a very forceful leader apart from her squad. So it’s all worrying and I want to see what happens next with their nefarious plans …

Oh, no it isn't.
Oh, no it isn’t.

And we don’t find out, as we immediately head out to that silly magician city Rondel to catch up on Lelei’s dissertation, a letdown after all the intrigue. The show makes it up to us by having Mimoza, who really ought to stop saying a-la so often, give us a general rundown on the fantasyland’s legends, all pointing to the gate opening and closing every millennia and letting a new race in, though they don’t explain why the last two races are human. If it opened on earth before, then where? An SCA event, perhaps. That would explain a lot. Anyway, we get some whining from Arpeggio about being an impoverished academic working on rocks while her younger sister goes out and contracts with large organizations and picks up practical experience, soup bowls are overturned, we get a destructive fight where the bystanders are hardly recompensed, while I wish they’d get back to the politics, and then it does just that.

On the other hand ...
On the other hand …

Not sure who ordered the assassin. Zorzal, possibly, out of jealousy, because Lelei’s popularity is a threat, or Tyuule, to pin it on Zorzal. No matter who it is, the one they hired wasn’t very effective. You don’t really need to walk up close to the victim if you have a crossbow, especially when she’s surrounded by armed friends. So Youji, making the first decision he’s had to make the entire episode, announces they’ll run for it. Another mystery, as is why Pina wanted Lelei at the palace in the first place, but that one’s probably just slipped my mind.

Miyabi, NOOOO!
Miyabi, NOOOO!

So that was fun, and so is Dimension W 7 … well, the first part isn’t. We learn why Kyouma hates coils so much. Turns out he was once the star of a “Juvenile delinquent is saved by good girl with a tragic disease” story. The girl, Miyabi, can possibly be saved if she’s given an artificial body, so Kyouma enlists in the Grendels more or less in exchange for that. He goes to Easter Island on that doomed mission … and mysteries happen. He can’t remember what happened after a point. At the same time, Dimension W takes Miyabi’s head. Tell me that’s not a coincidence, and the fact that it probably isn’t, and that I suspect he’ll meet Miyabi in some bodyless form later, rescues what would have been a dismal tragic backstory.

dimensionw7-2

Cut to the present, where all these oddball collectors have gathered at Salva’s request to travel to Easter Island to snatch an individual coil away. The collectors are the usual, arrogant types we see in these shows, but they don’t seem to hate each other. I guess they were too busy giving us exposition to argue. Still, I expect a few deadly duels before the arc is over. The exposition is interesting, however. The island, where Tesla’s experiential facilities were once headquartered before, you know, is a dead zone where coils don’t work, except for THAT one. More interesting to me is the thought that coils convert the unused potentialities of a situation into energy, and when possibilities materialize, they act up. So the more possibilities the crazier it will get. Then it ought to love this episode, because the plane carrying all the collectors except for Kyouma gets attacked by a blue thing and goes down. Are the collectors all right? Does this mean Kyouma has an advantage? Is that glowing thing they spotted Miyabi’s head? So many possibilities!

Yoguret brings up painful memories.
Yoguret brings up painful memories.

Dagashi Kashi 6 starts with dagashi you can play with before you eat it, though the idea of eating Himo Q after playing with it is kind of gross. Also, Maken Gumi was crap for rock-paper-scissors. Ohajiki you can’t eat, I believe, so I don’t know why they brought it up. We then switch the first winter scene the show’s offered us yet, a flashback to Saya desperately wanting to play doctor with Kokonatsu, and featuring Yoguret, maybe the only dagashi that’s actually good for you, and made by a pharmaceutical company. It’s a predictable but cute scene and shows us that the boy Kokonatsu was as dense as the teen one.

teekyuu77-1

Teekyuu! 77 is a disappointment. Much of the story is taken by a brown bear getting ready for hibernation, and the jokes don’t come very fast. SPG of only 3.91. But I learned that bears stick a cork up their butt to keep themselves from pooping before they hibernate. This show is almost as educational as Dagashi Kashi!

Fours and fives: Haruchika, Shoujo-tachi, Dagashi

haruchika4-1
Haruchika can annoy me a lot, and one reason is know-it-all Haruta.  Happily, episode four introduced us to one of his terrifying older sisters, Minami who knocks him down a few pegs.  Unfortunately, we still have to witness his boy genius act, this time involving a so-called haunted apartment… which leads me to my next beef.  Haruta isn’t one to be frightened off by a ghost story, so why didn’t he just agree to take the apartment from the start?  Well, I guess it would have ruined the christmas miracle timing, but you could shift things about.  Second, who was putting the money in the slot?  The eccentric (I’d say perverse) uncle?  But he died.  I must have missed something, but if I did it’s because I was beyond caring in the first place.

You know, if you google elephant's breath you get a lot of hits.
You know, if you google elephant’s breath you get a lot of hits.

As for #5, Haruta continued to pull clues out of his ass to show that the old man wasn’t in San Francisco or Chicago in 1966, but had gone off to fight in Vietnam.  Well, maybe not out of his ass, but it’s rather like the other episodes–the clues and evidence are tenuous and could be seen in other ways.  I’m more interested in why the old man went to Vietnam in the first place.  Was he actually conscripted?  Did he volunteer?  I can’t see the former happening to a Japanese citizen (correct me if I’m wrong) no matter what kind of visa he had, and if the latter–Why?  That’s a far more interesting question to me than the silly talk about colors.

shoujotachi4-1

Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu 4 flings a couple uninteresting minor crises at us.  Bunta can’t get any words out, get some inspiration by making the story less weird, writes a script that’s “pretty good,” (words of doom to him), gets another block, talks to a successful game writer who Kuroda just happens to know, who tells him to stick his butt in a chair and sweat it out–rule #1 for writing, and that’s that.  The other one, Yuuki-chan overworking herself, is less interesting.  I was more worried about the game’s schedule than her, sorry Yuki.  But it’s all good after she collapses.  And so the production moves on in a rather dull way, which is how it is in reality, I expect.

A scene that has nothing to do with anything.
A scene that has nothing to do with anything.

#5 squanders one of the better sources of conflict, Andou vs. Kuroda.  Andou started making unauthorized changes to Bunta’s script and Yuuki’s art, she gets called out on it, has a brief confrontation with Kuroda, and walks out.  Naturally Bunta “reels” her back in after a bewildering sequence on her fishing boat which had nothing to do with anything.  Why did they make it so dramatic?  Was it to show how it affected Andou as a child?  Nah.  Was it to fill time with a silly adventure of the raging sea?  Yeah.  They talk a bit about it afterwards but we saw nothing that suggested a change of heart from her.  I guess, like most shows, they have to introduce each character using a crisis.  The loud girl will be next, after next week’s beach episode, another staple.
dagashi4-1
Dagashi Kashi 4’s first half, in which we learn all about the joys of funashi (yet another treat I’ve probably seen in stores here hundreds of times and never thought to buy), including a blindfold test with some erotic overtones.  Once again, the show manages to entertain me with only one situation thanks to the voice actors’ talents and the education I’m getting, that and the erotic overtones.  The second half is less successful, but goofier.  Kokonatsu and Hotaru are so involved in this concept of # meters per Glico Caramel that when they run out it turns to a heroic death scene.  Unfortunately that bit was dull.  They should have dumped it and come up with another box.  Gonna look for those caramels tomorrow.

Hotaru's gambling addiction gets worse.
Hotaru’s gambling addiction gets worse.

And episode 5 brings us some unpleasant vices, the first being bottle ramune powder.  Hotaru and You have been sneaking it instead of selling it.  And like in every episode, we learn all the strange ways you can consume the stuff.  As for me, I never liked the powdered candy when I was a boy …  The best part were Hotaru’s declarations of an addict in denial: “It’s perfectly safe.  It’s not addictive at all!”  We also witness gambling and quick-cash schemes thanks to Yatta Men and Sour Grapes candy.  Trying to remember if we’ve had gambling in the show before.  We’ve had lots of challenges and contests …  Mixed in the middle is a predictable Youtube video story where we learn about Baby Star Ramen, rescued by Kokonatsu’s passion.

2-3’s for Dagashi, Divine Gate, Pandora, Marshmallow. Guess which I’m dropping? WRONG!

dagashikashi2-1
After episode one, I figured the point of Dagashi Kashi was to show us Hotaru’s various schemes to keep Kokonatsu working at the candy store. I expected devious and funny plans and a good deal of tempting via fanservice. Episodes 2-3 showed us that while Hotaru’s goal is the same, the show is less interested in that than honoring and riffing on the idiosyncrasies of various bad snacks. Okay, if they can keep it entertaining, I don’t care much either way. In fact, in a way it reminds me of Moyasimon in how it decides to ignore the story for awhile when if finds something irreverent but fun to explore. In episode 2 we get strategies for eating kinako-bou, Hotaru getting drunk on namaiki beer (because they wanted a cute drunk scene), the uplifting story of fue ramune, and Saya’s utter mastery of menko card throwing.

dagashikashi3-1

Episode three continues with eating Buta-men broth in intense heat, not eating kurukuru bou jelly at the pool (part of an evil plan that fails), while the bontan-ame segment gets poetic with lines about removing the rice paper from Endo’s heart, and we learn, from Seven Neon packaging, how candies are made more difficult to eat to extend the time it takes to eat them, important for kids with little pocket money. Sounds silly, but I recall how Tootie Rolls marketing strategy was to show kids how long it took to eat one. So while the show’s plot isn’t moving forward at all, I’m learning a lot about bad Japanese candy.

divinegate2-1

Decided to drop Divine Gate after episode 2. It still looks impressive, but it’s heavy-handed on the themes, has not a single interesting character and a character or two (Loki) whom I wanted to strangle after fifteen seconds, and it gets damn confusing to boot. This week they took the concept of fathers and tore it to bits. Aoto supposedly killed his, claims he did, anyway. Akane lost his dad, maybe. And there’s the dad this episode who wanted to save his son but couldn’t. Akane is furious at him, never mind that the man was on a cane and the kid up at least twenty feet in rubble. Instead, we get a inane explanation from Aoto about conscious and unconscious. The only person in the show I want to open his mouth less is that weird kid that Aoto can see, who spouts ridiculous proverbs and then goes away. No, I’ve heard enough.

koukakunopandora3-1

On the other hand, I’m keeping Koukaku no Pandora for now. It’s just as confusing as Divine Gate is, has a few annoying characters, the story is all over the place, and it doesn’t move forward as much as it gasps and jerks from one scene to the next, or even in a conversation. Even the fanservice is ridiculous, given that these are robots we’re talking about. And, compared to Divine Gate, it looks terrible. On the other hand, it’s so all over the place that it makes you wonder where the next bit is coming from. Since it’s a comedy series it can get away with silliness. Also, it’s cute. I might throw up my hands after episode four, but I kind of want to know what happens next. That’s not something I care about with Divine Gate.

The season's most romantic scene so far.
The season’s most romantic scene so far.

Finally, it’s a no-brainer to keep Ojisan to Marshmallow. It’s weirder and funnier than any of the full-length shows, apart from Dagashi Kashi … which also features snack food that’s bad for you … IS THERE A CONNECTION HERE? … Ahem, it also has Wakabayashi, her strange attraction, and Hige’s defenseless confusion concerning her, you can’t blame him. So will he figure it out? Will Wakabayashi have to fling him down and ravish him to get her point across? Who knows?