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More finales: DanMachi, Nisekoi2

June 28, 2015 Leave a comment

I haven’t seen Sidonia or BBB‘s yet, so at this moment DanMachi has delivered the best finale of the season.

Uh, guys, maybe run away for now?

Uh, guys, maybe run away for now?

It was far better than I expected, and yes, it had draggy moments.  Early on when the adventurers (even the bad ones) were regrouping and then flinging everything they had at the goliath, arrows, swords, incantations, the kitchen sink, bits of string, shouts, etc, you knew it wouldn’t work because Bell wasn’t in the battle yet–he had been sent back to fight smaller beasties.  Also, it was far too early in the episode for killing blows yet.  We had to be satisfied with the occasional attack that stopped the goliath, only for it to regenerate and start his rampage again.
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And there was the bit after Bell had had enough of being in the background and stepped up to the Goliath for the second time.  His attack was effective (Firebolto!) but insufficient and left him nearly dead (rescued by Ouka).  Then dream speeches from his father and from Hermes about what a hero was all about, and the super-duper magical hero strike spell Bell suddenly had.
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But from the moment Bell woke up and was given that weird sword, everything came together.  Supporting characters, speaking their motives (mostly to atone for bad things or prove something to themselves), gave their biggest best shots, got battered and rescued in turn, until it was Bell’s turn.  It was a terrific buildup, and what made it even better was that the Hero’s Strike didn’t finish the job.  Bell had to do that in his old way, almost a coda, running, leaping, using that knife.  And immediately, with no dramatic pause, the lusty cheers rose up, because hundreds of people were watching.

danmachi13-5I can’t think of a better way to finish the series.  Kudos to the creators for putting their best work into it.  I will quibble and suggest that they could have put more work into some of the earlier episodes, but this was meant to be a silly, fun adventure series without the biggest budget in the world, and they did well with the uneven source material.   Not great, but certainly good enough to keep me watching.  There’s certainly going to be another season, even if Hestia didn’t have those ribbons, and I’ll be happy to watch it.

One more of Aiz, summing up the finale.

One more of Aiz, summing up the finale.

 

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Nisekoi‘s finale had no big story to wrap up.  What plot they do have was forgotten awhile back, and they’ve been been spinning their wheels with character studies since.  Last week it was Onodera, this week Chitoge.  In the first half Chitoge loses her iconic ribbon.  All of Shaft must have gasped in dismay when they read that bit in the manga–they play with the image so much–but she gets it back with a minimum of slapstick, after briefly turning into a nice girl and freaking Raku out.  In the second half she considers confessing but quickly realizes it ain’t gonna happen.  The best bit was her father’s story about how he and her mother met.  But overall the episode was sweet, and not overly so, because this is Shaft after all.  As for another season, well, as I said, it’s Shaft, and I watch just about everything they do.

Shaft

Shaft

… If there is one I hope they remember about the locket and all those keys.

Categories: DanMachi, Nisekoi

Sidonia and BBB 11, DanMachi 12

June 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Knights of Sidonia 11 …  Damn, I wish the entire series was as good as this episode.
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When KoS does a big battle scene it is always fantastic: fast, fluid action with terrifying moments, aided by the amazing art and soundtrack.  And at this episode’s conclusion, you wonder how the hell Nagate is going to get out of this one, with Benisuzume, or what’s left of her, squirting tentacles into his gardes and forming into what has to be Shizuka, sitting on his lap.  Before, what was going on with Izana and Tsumugi, you had the feeling that it would be all right because Nagate was still around, but who’s going to help him now?
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Well, someone had better, because he spent most of his screentime this episode being resourceful and heroic.  First there was Izana and that guy (after a strange and pointless talk by him about discovering alien worlds–how do you like it now?) being chased around by that giant who looked like Attack on Titan thing crossed with a gauna, until the ledge is cut off and they’re falling–and Nagate catches up to then.  It’s a bit of a shame that Izana didn’t have more to do in her side-story except survive, not that survival doesn’t require any less skill and bravery than skewering gauna does.  I was hoping that they’d have let her make more of a difference.  One more thought: I knew that little ceremonial sword those pilots got would come in handy …
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For making a difference you have to look at the two main battles, Tsumugi and Benisuzume and Nagate and lot of gauna.  The first one was great to look at for a while but got a little stale because it was basically a red dot and a pink one flying around and crashing into each other.  We also had Norio/Ochiai smirking about how Tsumugi was the more advanced model, and he’s not wrong a lot.  So it came as little surprise when Tsumugi got the upper hand.  Unfortunately, Benisuzume has more guile than Tsumugi, and soon I was wondering if this was the last we’d see of her.  As for Nagate, he pulls Izana and the guy out of danger, fights off a couple dozen gauna, and then rushes over to stop Benisuzume just in time.  But again, NOW what’s going to happen?  Great episode.
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Kekki Sensen 11 is a quieter episode, but still an amusing one, at least until the end.  Much of it was White, or Mary MacBeth, telling the story of her and Black, er, Will as children.  White is born without psychic powers in spite of her parents being casters.  The parents love her anyway, and so does Black, who has powers to spare but has decided not to use them.  This infuriates White (and me too, since he gets bullied a lot).  Still the siblings are close and always work out their difficulties.  And there’s some business with a camera.
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Naturally it gets darker, so at the end she captures and “blinds” Leo, and Black takes him away and starts a new armageddon, or something.  More unpleasant stuff follows … but I sort of wonder if White is actually dead or not.  I also don’t get the idea that she has no heart but instead a shield inside to protect her (the shield acting up is what I assume to be the reason she lives in the hospital), and besides, characters who are supposedly powerless quite often have a lot of power.  As for her looking at pictures in Leo’s camera, maybe that triggered the change of heart in her.  Like Will once photographed Mary, Leo photographed White.  Well, next week, look for a lot of things blowing up.  Two more questions: what about Leo’s eyes?  They didn’t just pluck them out like I thought they would.  And why did the kids get the nicknames “White” and “Black?”

About time a god started glowing around here.

About time a god started glowing around here.

DanMachi 12 almost feels like a side story.  They’re still down in that lovely, peaceful 18th level where the trees are lush and the goods hopelessly overpriced.  And for it while it remains placid, just a peeping at bathing girls scene and some backstory from Ryou, and then some adventurers who are jealous of Bell’s rapid rise decide to ruin the fun by kidnapping Hestia and challenging Bell to a duel, and turns invisible and beats the crap out of him, until Bell makes the inevitable comeback.  Hermes set this up in order to teach Bell that there are some unpleasant people out there (he also set up the peeping–probably trying to teach Bell something else).  I suspect the show was also trying to teach us the viewer about the unpleasant people, useless because we’ve seen them since episode one.  It gets ridiculous when Hestia uses her powers, as if she couldn’t use them before, and then that big skull shows up, the episode ends, and I’m scratching my head.

Sidonia 10, DanMachi 11, Teekyuu 46-47, and BBB 10.5, if that matters

June 16, 2015 Leave a comment

Normally I write up my comments for a show within minutes of watching it, or an hour, but I watched Knights of Sidonia 10 two days ago.  You’d think this would mean a more thoughtful review, but it probably means I’ve forgotten most of it, in spite of the 78 screenshots that are cluttering up my desktop.
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First, the episode is a welcome return to the danger and fighting.  Second, they’re doing a couple new things, not least that Izana is having an adventure of her own, well, with that other guy.  Izana’s hasn’t had a hell of a lot to do in the series apart from going into battle and not being the focus, except when she was injured and Tsumugi rescued her, or being a ticketholder in the Nagate harem sweepstakes. But now she’s fallen into the atmosphere of that planet and has had to use her brains to get herself out of danger from the gauna by jettisoning her fuel cells, estimating that she had enough power to coast down.  And I say it’s about time we got to see Izana use her wits and guile for a change.

Sometimes this episode reminded me of Roger Dean

Sometimes this episode reminded me of Roger Dean …

... and other times of The Road Runner.

… and other times of The Road Runner.

Also, this is the first time we’ve not had a battle in inky space but in a place with an atmosphere.  I frankly wasn’t tired of the space battling and I’m sure we’ll see more, but it was a refreshing change.  That the little floating mountains made me want to put on Yessongs was a bonus for me.  I’m looking forward to watching gardes and gauna duking it out while flying around those rocks.  Or, like Nagate, landing on them.  Ouch.  I don’t care how new his armor was, I don’t see anyone coming out of a fall like that alive.

Oh, damn, she's not dead.

Oh, damn, she’s not dead.

Let’s see, there was also Kobayashi’s cryptic decision not to rescue Izana and that other guy, well, until Norio/Ochiai gave her a reason–to test a new thing.  I wonder if it’s because she has confidence that Izana could survive, or maybe that she was expendable.  I personally think Kobayashi’s getting scarier by the episode.  And finally we have the return of our old friend Benisuzume (with the scariest music the soundtrack has come up with yet) … Damn, I thought they had killed her off last season.  Not only is she a Sidonian nightmare, but we have the odd moment of Tsumugi just racing up to attack her.  Strange behavior if you take into account that Benisuzume could technically be called her mother.  Either Tsumugi doesn’t know the history or her own origins, or she knows them all too well and attacks her in a blind rage.  Hard to tell at this point.  Still, it’s all a good introduction to the next arc, and I can finally say it’s a pleasure to watch this series again.
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Kekkai Sensen 10.5 or whatever is a catchup episode, so nothing new.  But, this show being what it is, it was fun to watch anyway.

The horrors of dungeon-crawling.

The horrors of dungeon-crawling.

DanMachi 11’s dungeon crisis is a little disappointing.  It starts out okay, with the rescue team showing off their abilities while the gods and goddesses just stand around … great job, being a god, hun?  Meanwhile Bell struggles with all of his might, dragging his unconscious friends down tunnels, encountering that goliath (who looked like he lived in AttackonTitanland and took a wrong turn) and barely escaping by jumping down a hole into utter darkness.  I was looking forward to a taste of a goliath fight, so I was disappointed in that.  Then level 18 where they’re rescued, Bell picks up a couple more female admirers, and that whole “you just ran off!” business is settled, because the rescue squad shows up too.  And no one in Aiz’s group shows a bit of surprise when the gods show up where they’re forbidden.  Unfortunately, next week it appears we’ll have to deal with some of Welk’s issues.
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Teekyuu! 46 has Marimo and the alien girl visiting an electronics store.  The alien girl gets mind-controlled by, er, an alien.  An excellent 3.10 SPG.  Episode 47 isn’t as successful: SPG of 3.6, and there was even a split-second pause!  Show, what’s wrong with you?!?!

Sidonia and Nisekoi 9, BBB and DanMachi 10

June 7, 2015 Leave a comment

In Knights of Sidonia 2 9, something finally happens.

No, not that.

No, not that.

Okay, it takes a while.  First we have Nagate and Izana off on their romantic visit to the Thousand Year Village, with its cherry blossoms, zero-gravity hot spring, Nagate’s thickness, and Izana’s growing frustration, which causes her to fling him and herself into the lovely giant window shielding them from the vacuum of space.  But Yuhata and Tsumugi are somehow peering in, i.e., the show is in full romcom mode so nothing much happens except for some blushing afterward.

Uh, guys, I think that's a gauna ...

Uh, guys, I think that’s a gauna …

Thankfully we get back to more pressing matters after that.  They’re close enough to planet nine to send out recons with that armor thing protecting them, and we get an interesting scene where … was that Samari … spits out bile at Nagate because he’s not going out with them.  I often wonder how the other pilots react to Nagate’s status.  Also, Izana is herself going, replacing a pilot who deserted (another useful look at Gardes morale).  And guess what?  She sees a gauna, before anyone else does, even the sensors, interesting in itself but that can wait, because this gauna is as nasty and full of tricks as all the others, but it’s to be continued yet again.  Damn, if they had cut back on the harem antics we could have gotten this battle already.

Kekkai Sensen 10 promises a big fight, but sort of weasels its way out of it.

Oboyoboyoboy a big fight! ... Huh, what?

Oboyoboyoboy a big fight! … Huh, what?

It’s really a dirty trick.  I mean, we get the makings of a fight between the good guys and the Thousand Regioka Brothers, in Chinese battle suits, but the show decides to get stylish again and so us why Leo was crying over the burger and spaghetti being plunked down in front of him at the diner, basically a tour of the weird and disgusting restaurants in NYC.  Sure it’s fun, both for the extreme meals and the trios’ reactions to them–I especially enjoyed Leo’s hallucinatory encounter with the God of Chow, but all the while I was hoping to get back to the big fight they were promising.  Sigh.  So all we get out of the non-adventure is a little more background on Black, or whoever’s inside him, apparently a caster of high reputation, not that it matters.  And as far as the overall story goes, White tells Leo she wants his eyes.  We don’t get to see his reaction, for a more ordinary type of messing with the viewer than the show usually employs–the episode ends.  Next weeks seems to be a recap, too.  Damn.

(I can't resist)  Run away!  Run away!

(I can’t resist) Run away! Run away!

DanMachi 10 has Bell (now level 2), Werf, and Lili traipsing merrily into the middle floors, where things get very nasty for them.  Nasty enough that Hestia organizes a rescue party and is prepared to break the rules and go in herself.  I wonder if that would make Bell happy, to get rescued again.  Well they haven’t found them yet, and I hope that the moment1t the rescue team gets too far they encounter Bell’s team happily limping their way up with no need for rescue.  Probably won’t happen.  Hestia spent too much time making a team for such an anticlimax.

What could possibly be worse than a minotaur?

What could possibly be worse than a minotaur?

Meanwhile, while we and Bell have been told how nasty the middle floors can be, I wonder if Freya has a hand in this.  Maybe not.  Ouka’s group had just as much trouble.  Maybe the floors are really this bad.  If so, maybe everyone should have prepped a little more, or made a larger team.  It makes you wonder how earlier adventurers survived it.  On the other hand, I hope she interferes now.  It sort of bugs me to see Hestia and Hermes going into a place where gods aren’t allowed.  It would be funny if the gods proved to be completely useless at this and need rescuing themselves.

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Nisekoi 9 is in two pieces.  In the first half, Raku is forced to clean the school pool and calls upon Chitoge and Chu, and naturally everyone else shows up too, all wearing cute swimsuits.  And we meet Fuu, a friend of Haru’s and another new girl for the harem, but after introducing her the story completely forgets she’s there and goes on the usual pool-cleaning comedy bits like slipping on the slimy floor and splashing each other with hoses while Paula hangs back and pretends she’s too cool for them.  … and that’s about it.  In part two Onodera is sick, Raku is sent to take care of her, and naturally Haru is there to display her jealous rage, until SHE turns out sick, too.  Apart from Raku getting the locket back (remember the locket?), nothing much happens in the second half either.  I like Haru’s jealous rages, but it’s time the show moved on to other things …

Quick nines: Yuki-chan, DanMachi

May 30, 2015 Leave a comment

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The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan 9 finishes the aimless arc and immediately sets up a new one, but since I don’t see any desperate hospital bed scenes I figure the next week won’t be that emotional.  Meanwhile, in this visit to the inn, we have more of the usual inn scenes with two of them standing out.  First, a nice bit between Asakura and Haruhi about what would happen to Asakura’s friendship if Yuki and Kyon did start dating, and the other a nice little moment or two with Kyon and Yuki which doesn’t really do much to the story but shows the friendship growing, along with Yuki acting cute, a starry night, and Claire de Lune.  Also notable was Asakura’s weird fantasy earlier, an unfolding of romantic events that the show made us think was real.  When reality came back it was almost like Haruhi was still a god and resetting something in reality.
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I kept wondering who that redheaded guy was in the ED of Danmachi, and today the show gets around to introducing him as Welf Crozzo, apparently a member of a disgraced smith clan, and a black sheep of that group as well.  It looked for a while like, in spite of his prominent position in the ED, that he would be another bad character who’s going to take advantage of rising star Bell, and to a certain extent he is.  He needs allies and a good party to join.  On the other hand, he’s more or less upfront about this and seems genuinely flattered that Bell likes his armor so much.  And his reaction when Lili was in danger wasn’t one of a schemer; he was genuinely worried about a girl who had made it clear that she didn’t like or trust him.  I’m sure we’ll get some bad stuff out of him, or his clan, soon enough.  I don’t quite buy his reasons for not making magic items, and what happened to his clan in the first place?  But for now he seems like a suitable foil for Bell.

DanMachi, Show by Rock, Euphonium 8, Teekyuu 44

May 27, 2015 Leave a comment
Bell gets serious.

Bell gets serious.

DanMachi 8 feels like a story arc ending, but we weren’t really in one, were we?  But then I realized that all that getting beaten up by Aiz and moaning about how he isn’t getting stronger was a personal arc for bell, preparing him for his big success against that minotaur.  It works fairly well  I hadn’t expected that level-upped minotaur to appear for another episode or two, and during the fight we got to see Bell going through stages.  First, run away, second let Lili escape, third, survive …  When Aiz’s gang showed up the same thought went through my head as Bell;s: Oh, shit, is he going to get rescued again?  Bete became sort of a barometer: when he put Bell down you knew the story or maybe the battle wasn’t over, but when he shut his trap you knew Bell was going to win.  As for Bell, the stages kept coming, from survival mode to a sort of black rage, almost frightening to watch.  Well, it shut up Bete.  But I have a question: was his victory because of his great desire to get stronger, or because he rather unfairly levels up higher than most people do?

Isn't that his schtick?

Isn’t that his schtick?

Last week’s Show by Rock! gave us Shingan Crimsonz acquitting themselves well against a dark monster, and possibly the opinions of those who’d rather the show focus more on Plasmagica.  Well, this week they spent even more time with SC and it went nowhere.  It was hinted that the dark monsters grow in the darkness in performers’ hearts, and that Aion (the one with the hand in his face all the time) was a potential victim.  He quits the band and the others go and look for him.  Meanwhile, we’re all waiting for him to transform into something completely evil, you know, what the story was promising, but instead he gets a few punches from Rom and an apology from Crow and rejoins the band … and that’s it.  No dark monster, no nothing.  As for Plasmagica, they challenged Critacrista simply to do a live concert so they can get into a bigger contest, but didn’t that first band battle count?  Anyway, now we’re waiting for whatever Rosia’s evil about to move the story, unless the series craps out again.

Hibike! Euphonium 8 is a sweet, dreamlike episode about a love triangle, and it looks straightforward until we get to the later part.

Yeah yeah yeah ...

Yeah yeah yeah …

Let’s see, Katou digs Shuuichi, who may or may not like Kumiko, who doesn’t appear to be interested in anybody, so it’s not really a triangle, more like a string.  The opening scenes are full of Sapphire trying to get Katou to admit her crush and then act on it, while Kumiko tries to stay out of the way, even after Suuichi asks HER out (all to the Agata festival, BTW), so she snags Reina’s hand and says she’s going with her.  At the festival, Katou confesses (Bravo!), gets gently shot down, and so declares that she’ll help him get Kumiko from the sidelines.  Not sure he’s up for that or not.  They haven’t given us any of Kumiko and Suuichi’s history, but we can guess it isn’t entirely pleasant.
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Typical high school love stuff, nicely handled, but what takes farther is Reina dragging Kumiko (and her euph) up a mountain to play a duet.  This is almost a romantic scene, I expect shippers will like it.  During the climb and at the top Reina talks about Kumiko’s “terrible personality,” and how she likes it, how she wants to be special and to do things that other people wouldn’t (like climbing a mountain to play a duet).  Kumiko mainly listens and adds commonsense lines.  And in the end they play a duet, maybe reaffirming their friendship from before, as the credits roll.  Like I said: sweet and almost romantic.  So maybe Kumiko’s place in the love string is toward Reina, who seems to accept it in some way.

teekyuu44-1Teekyuu! 44 features only Kanae as she visits her grandmother.  Maybe because she didn’t have the other girls’ speedy mouths to support her, the episode has a wretched SPG of 5.29.  Very disappointing, especially when Nasuno has no trouble keeping the gags in her spinoff show racing along.  Tsk.

Pleiades 6, Yuki-Chan and DanMachi 7, Nisekoi2 6, Teekyuu 42

May 16, 2015 2 comments
There's a LOT in this show I don't get.

There’s a LOT in this show I don’t get.

Houkago no Pleiades 6 felt at times like a season finale.  For a while I thought maybe this was actually a six-episode mini-series, but no, there’s still more engine fragments to collect, but elsewhere much has changed.  Basically, Horned Cape or whatever he’s called (we learn this week it’s not Minato) sends off one of his fragments for the girls to collect, thus finding out where they operate so he can steal the ones they have.  Meanwhile, the spaceship is reforming, or something.  Basically it’s a big gold arc in the sky, while the part of the engine the boss has rebuilt looks like a cube made of glowing tinker toys.  And before you know it …

I don't think I can explain this.

I don’t think I can explain this.

It’s hard to explain because I don’t understand it.  The school is sealed off by HC with Suburu inside, and then it’s floating in space and HC is trying to bust in, and the spaceship is reforming …  Well, the big surprise this week is that, as I said, Minato is NOT Horned Cape.  HC stumbles into the observatory and he’s just as surprised as Suburu was.  And later, after this week’s cosmic light show, Minato and HC have a little talk about it being time to leave, we don’t see them on the screen together, so they probably are fragments of the ship, or maybe just split in two, or something.  Getting them together will probably be a focus for the rest of the series, as well as obtaining those remaining engine parts.  Oh, and the observatory is no longer a greenhouse, well it is, but it’s night there now and the trees are dead.  Before, everything bloomed, even though Minato said they couldn’t, which harkens back to the alien’s speech about stopping time.  My head hurts.
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Meanwhile, in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan … very little happens at all.  The gang go on a trip to an inn, well, they’re not there yet.  They’re too busy hanging sightseeing in Nagano for the time being.  And that’s pretty much the episode.  They catch the train.  They go here, they go there, they buy soba, buns, ice cream, and shaved ice, they buy wooden swords with massage rollers attached (well, Mikaru does).  Stuff about power spots in shrines.  Oh, there’s the business of trying to get Yuki and Kyon together, but the show doesn’t try too hard to play that up, and only Asakura is really concerned about it.  The episode is, overall, pleasant apart from the slow pacing.  Once again the show takes too much time with reaction bits, or simply ending a scene.  That meeting scene at the train station was far longer than it needed to be, though I admit I enjoyed the idea that Kyon’s imouto was in that bag.
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DanMachi 7 is little more than filler and some prep work for the next arc, which apparently has to with an adventurer who goes and finds a monster–and trains it to be even nastier.  We cut to several of these scenes, which are all pretty much the same, until the final bit when the monster starts going after other, more hapless adventurers.  In the meantime, Liliruca is introduced to the Hestia Familia, which is to say, Hestia, who is necessarily dubious about this new threat.  Meanwhile, Bell gets repeatedly beaten, er, trained in fighting, by Aiz.  I wonder if this is actually part of his fantasy, to have the girl of his dreams kick his ass every night.  Well, at least he’s getting over his fear of her.

Valentines Day

Valentines Day

Nisekoi 2 6 is the inevitable Valentines Day episode (Didn’t they do one already?  I can’t remember), and while it had some good moments I kept thinking the gods of comedy must have been taking a week off.  There was so much potential for misunderstandings and running around, especially when Shu lied to Tsugumi about what the chocolates implied, but they didn’t follow through and make things as crazy as they could have.  Well, it had some sweet moments.  Raku actually gets chocolates from all the girls in the end.  Chitoge and Onodera work together to make theirs (wait, didn’t Chitoge already make some?) and pledge to support each other in their quest for the people they like, not knowing it’s the same person.  Marika’s gift was good for a laugh, and Tsumugi got to whip out her guns.  I’ve seen worse Valentines Day episodes.
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Teekyuu! 42 continues the exciting beach adventure, where the girls get lost at sea and the gags come at an average of 3.21SPG.  And that’s counting a slow couple of seconds where they’re attacked by natives.  Very impressive, girls!