Demi-chan wa Kataritai12 finishes the season with another low-key episode, well, it’s a swimsuit episode, but apart from that, apart from a quick summing-up from Takahashi at the end, it feels like any other episode. Hikari wants to swim in the outdoor pool and just about everyone else shows up. Even those side-boys do a little peeking. We even have little sciencey bits like Hikari’s eyes glowing in the dark, and the continual fascination with Machi, the most extraordinary demi of the lot. Her head’s never been underwater, but they take care of that soon enough.
I don’t know how much more source material there is, and I don’t know if we need another season of Demi-chan. Oh, I liked the series we got very much, but I think teens dealing with their demi-ness as a metaphor for any average highschooler working through adolescence, the growth, the search for identity, while used very well in this series, is going to get stale if they keep it going much longer. Maybe I’m wrong. Besides the show’s characters were strong enough to entertain me anyway. For that reason, I’d happily try another season if they come up with one.
Little Witch Academia 12 gives us the prep for the Samhain Festival, with all sorts of bigwig witches coming and where a moonlit witch will be chosen, and it certainly won’t be Akko. There’s a middle section where she’s briefly transformed into Diana for a bit, but the story thankfully doesn’t stay there for too long. Then back to being despondent until she gets a clue as to what to do, but it’s the end of the episode and she won’t tell us. One of those episodes where some things are set up but can’t move forward yet, both the Samhain and Akko’s development. We do get a clue with the latter in a vision Akko gets at that Polaris place, one of Chariot practicing her magic for the pleasure of one person, very sweet and makes Akko wonder if her own motivations are correct (Chariot was not practicing to win a festival event), though she’s pretty much doing the same thing with Ursula, except Akko keeps screwing up.
Seiren 11 starts with Kyouko nearly getting hit by a truck, only to be rescued by Shouichi. She proceeds to give him some underpants that she knitted herself, and then forces him to go underwear shopping for her. A typically strange series of events that ranks as par for this franchise. Alas, the rest of the episode is pretty normal. It’s mainly about Shouichi being tagged with the “nice girl next door” title, which he’s fine with until it begins to rankle him and he announces that, I guess, he’s going to confess or do something brave and manly this Christmas. Not much else, really. Short amusing bits, cake baking, a reference to the girls’ swim team’s oden, appropriate because the tea club was into that in Amagami, more venison references. Oh, we learned that itwas Araki who asked all those girls out, and he did it to cheer Shouichi up. Not much to this episode, and they only have one more with Kyouko.
I knew it! Youjo Senki 10 turned out to be the Empire doing their thing successfully, with lots of scenes of Republic troops in shock as they got blown up. It got so boring I skipped forward a couple of times. That board meeting didn’t fool me one bit; you could tell the show was trying to build up a false conflict which would be resolved with perfect timing of the military, after all, infantry battles are always perfectly timed in real life, right? What a tiresome batch of scenes. At least at the end we got that crazy guy take out one of Tanya’s troops, though I suspect next week, after a difficult and bloody battle, Tanya’s guys will win again. Hope I’m wrong.
Little Witch Academia 11 full of overarching prophesies, is uncharacteristically sober in its approach. It starts the usual way, with Akko trying hard but messing up in Ursula’s extra lessons, so she becomes despondent. Will she ever become like Shiny Chariot? Well, it’s a blue moon that night, the last one for a few year, so she sneaks out to go to another obscure foggy place on campus to get her question answered. Meanwhile, the witch profs bemoan the fading of magic (that’s all they ever do when they’re not scolding Akko) and Diana asks for a rare tome that she can only access with a special key on a blue moon. Amazing that more magical people aren’t out and about doing blue moon things.
But Diana and Akko’s quests don’t intersect; the former merely serves as exposition for the latter, stuff about (checking my notes) the seven words of Acturus, of which Akko’s revived number one (Ursula has exposition duties this episode, too). Shiny Rod reveals a hidden underground place where Akko meets all sorts of spooky things, the last being a dead-tree thing that offers to grant her wish if she relinquishes her memories. Up to now the episode had been interesting but predictable, but upon Akko’s refusal, we get a transformation, with quick cuts of blood-red and often violent events, including the Triskelion that represents the words. NOW I’m interested! Are the red events a warning of what might become? Are they part of magic’s history? What was the triskelion doing in it? Oh, I like a mystery! Plus, the show gets a new goal: Akko’s gotta revive the remaining five words. We’ll all be keeping an eye on the lights on Shiny Rod from now on.
In Demi-chan wa Kataritai 11, the evil-looking vice principal made his evil move, that is, he told Takahashi that he should cut back on the attention he was giving the demis and allow them to work it out themselves by interacting with other students. It is resolved by a series of intelligent conversations and by the fact that the vice-principal isn’t really evil, just concerned. It also helped that two side characters were present at the scolding, and they told two others, the mean girls from a few episodes back, I believe. Their own conversation got a bit convoluted, but it was nice to see four kids trying to figure out a difficult topic by discussing. In the end, both sides have a point, and so the relationship between Takahashi and the demis shifts slightly and positively. As for the side characters, doubt we’ll keep seeing too much of them, since it’s the nearly the last episode, but they did their part for the plot.
Youjo Senki9 begins preparation for a major operation that I’m sure will end up as a victory next week, alas. You know, why aren’t the forces allied against the empire thinking up fiendish plots of their own. The only fun to be had this week is the sheer absurdity of the strategy. The empire pulls back from the front lines and spread lies about how their railroads and communications are in disarray, luring the republic forces in. But there’s also talk of a war of attrition, and then they’re also going to take out the enemy headquarters. I guess all three might be effective. What’s fun is that the HQ will be taken out by Tanya’s mages, via V-1 rockets! The mashup of various wars makes me giggle. Amusement aside, I don’t think I’m looking forward to a full episode of the empire destroying everything, even with the occasional setback they’ll stick in in an attempt to make it more exciting. It’s not like the outcome is in doubt.
Late in the episode Seiren 10 introduces a crisis which is impossible to take seriously. It looks like Shouichi, after Kyoko turned down his offer of Christmas pancakes after the founders festival, went a little nuts and went around asking random girls out. It’s ridiculous of course; even Kyoko has her doubts, and we saw the scene where Ikuo announced he was pursuing a girl who goes to his cram school, and remember arc #1, and watched Shouichi confront Ikuo the next day. And so the crisis not only can’t be taken seriously, but can be laughed at, and we can enjoy the latest batch of strange lines and double-entendres this franchise is famous for, as well as venison for the festival, love-hotel ads, a lengthy but mostly-unseen explanation by Tsuneki about why boys get so horny around Christmas Eve, and hand-me-downs for decorating the tree, or something like that.
In Demi-chan 10, we spend a little time with Kyouko being playful and irresponsible, and putting her head in danger, so Takahashi gets upset at her. That bit on nonsense cleared up, we switch to the two of them visiting an oddball physicist named Souma to try and figure out what the deal is with the head. The resulting explanation by Souma is partly interesting, talking about a wormhole connecting her head to her body and the potential this shows for modern science. It gets to being bullshit when he suggests a third party is responsible, and the way he expresses it suggests that the universe is entirely a construct of humanity … I suppose you can make a claim for metaphysics there … ANYway, the best part of it all is that Kyouko might become a researcher herself. But I’m a little surprised that she wasn’t snatched away a long time ago by some government organization or another and had nasty experiments done to her. Also, they set up a future plot with the disapproving vice principal …
Little Witch Academia 10 was fun enough, certainly better than last week, but I felt it missed out on opportunities. It was great that the bee flew around stinging everybody, and I appreciated the fact that Akko, Diana, and others knew it was a bee from the start, but the show didn’t make nearly enough mayhem as it could have. Four guys fall for Lotte, great potential right there, but we don’t see any of it and only return when the spell’s wearing off. Diana is stung twice but both times it’s only good for a quick gag while Akko continues to chase that damn bee, though I rather liked the second one, and how the object of everyone’s desires takes on the look of a shoujo heroine. The show was more interested in developing the possible Andrew/Akko romance and to further establish his independence from his family, which I suppose it did, but I keep thinking, in other episodes as well as this one, that the episodes reach their potential.
Though the last arc improved the average, Seiren still hasn’t reached the heights of its predecessor, but in episode 9 I realized that this show has an advantage: it can use Amagami itself.
In a flashback, during a strange gender-swapping display by the very young Shouichi, we see Junichi in the background, possibly being stood up. I actually didn’t make the connection, and instead got absorbed meeting the new girl, Kyoko. She’s a childhood friend who’s still interested in things like a certain manga (which, after a hiatus, has become more adult). Shouichi humors her and agrees she might try to be a little more grown up. In the meantime we get name-checks and cameos of the other characters, especially Tsuneki, whom, I suppose cannot be ignore. Things were moving happily along with cute panties discussions and deer references when they suddenly give us this.
No, not Amagami’s tea club girls, alas. Instead, Koharu and Nao are the only remaining members of the present-day home-ec club, and it seems they might be doing rituals at night. Kyoko decides to visit the club, and it’s sadly mundane. No sinister uses for old clothes, never mind what that Trek Club guy was saying when he wanted them to make him a man. Just a nice late-night moon viewing session in kimonos, though the traditional food they prepare seems to be a reference to the tea club. Even without the Amagami reference it would have been a good episode, but now I wonder if we’ll get sarcastic narrators, pool club ramen, or ni-shi-shi-shi’s in the future.
Youjo Senki8 at last adds some variety to the “Ruthless Tanya destroys all opposition” schtick we’ve been getting. Yes, this week she destroys the opposition, not to mention a whole city with a lot of civilians in it, but in addition some of the people under her command are rather unhappy about this. One, Grantz, sees too much of the enemy’s faces and doesn’t exactly develop a conscience, or a spine, but goes berserk enough to try to shoot Tanya at the end. We didn’t even have to see what happened after to figure out if he succeeded. Also, God is going to interfere again, telling a soldier awakening from a coma to destroy Tanya. The trouble is, I can’t make out who it was … you know, if he’s been in a coma for two months why is he still wearing those bandages? Coma’s don’t stop the healing process, just a thought. Anyway, so it continues. Happy to see the republic or whatever they’re called is giving stiff resistance, though.
Demi-chan wa Kataritai 9 has Takahashi pondering and discussion demi abilities with their wielders. First, Sakie is called out of the blue by that cop and told to seduce Takahashi, in other words, make use of that succubus power she’s got. It still bugs me that that asshole cop gets to order her around, even though they’re in a sort of father/daughter relationship, mainly because he’s an outsider he should have little idea what it’s like to handle abilities like hers. But she tries making a move in her own way, not using her powers, and winds up sharing a nice talk with Takahashi. The show is unclear on whether she truly isn’t using her powers, however. Takahashi’s well hidden lusts might be from her natural looks, or maybe it’s some succubus mojo leaking out. It’s fun that they’re keeping it vague. In a less interesting part two, Yuki and Takahashi try ways to use her cold abilities in hot weather. Since it’s negative emotions that cause the cold, it’s no fun for her. Interesting concept, not much of a story apart from the fact it brings the girls into the episode for the first time.
In Little Witch Academia 9 all the students get leave outside of campus, and they can’t use magic. Naturally Akko screws something up and now there’s a resurrected skeleton in a pirate outfit rushing around looking for revenge for something he can’t remember, with the girls chasing him around. None of it adds up to much; when you know what this show is capable of, all the scenes here fall a little flat. The touching ending wasn’t terribly touching because we had no idea of the headmistress’s past, and besides, she isn’t terribly moved by it either. The big mystery was that case full of personal items that the headmistress and Ursula put in a case, and never seen again. I suppose it’s a plot seed for a later episode, but the fact that they don’t refer to it again (apart from the headmistress’s mallet) felt misleading.
Seiren8 finishes off the Miyamae arc by pretty much ignoring gaming altogether and switching to cosplay. Maybe this is supposed to represent a change in Miyamae’s priorities, but I think rather that they wanted to get her in a sexy deer outfit with a zipper she can’t locate but Shouichi can. I could also suggest that the return to the interest in Deermas as opposed to GunGal suggests a more domestic outlook, where you raise deer rather than blast mecha. What it means that Shouichi’s sister dresses in a skimpy GunGal outfit is beyond me.
And from Amagami we get a return of the kiss in an unexpected place, but this time the girl is doing the kissing, and it’s Miyamae’s adam’s apple. This fits nowhere with gaming, let alone deer, but it was a sweet moment, at least, after she explained why she kissed him there. In fact, the whole park scene was sweet, even if Miyamae’s reason for storming off felt trite, just a reason for them to kiss and make up and become boy/girlfriend. And at least this time there’s no platonic future for them; ten years later they’re raising a deer, I mean child. So, a decent ending to the arc. I do with the art and animation were a bit better, I suppose it’s passable.
Demi-chan 8 starts with Hikari’s appalling mid-term score and then takes great care to show us that a book has fallen out of Yuki’s bag, so much that we figure the book is very important. Turns out it’s a manga volume that Satou discovers right away, and leads to a too-long scene where she and Yuki talk manga and bullying, livened up only by the revelation that Yuki has a bit of a dirty mind, and an entertaining flashback to Satou’s middle school days. After that there’s plenty of studying (this is appropriately timed because now is the big test season for Japanese schoolkids) with the usual bits (Hey Yuki, I don’t understand this part) but there’s also a good scene where Hikari announces whose arm she’d like to chew on. Thematically it doesn’t add up to much, but it’s an entertaining enough episode.
Meanwhile, I think Trigger blew their entire budget on Little Witch Academia 8.
Sucy tries a late-night experiment to unlock her potential powers and falls victim to Sleeping Witch Sickness, which, in her case, also means a lot of mushrooms growing everywhere. Lotte sends Akko inside Sucy to wake her up. Akko meets a lot of different Sucys there, parts of her personality. You’ve probably all seen episodes in various series like this, but the events happen so fast, there are so many Sucys and so many sight gags that it’s impossible to take them all in. But the fun is just getting started.
Akko busts up a mass-execution of Sucy’s more trivial desires (important to the plot, what I can make out of it), and, because she’s an idiot, she stops to watch a drive-in movie of Sucy’s memories, the show pointing out that things are going to get self-referential. It looks like a 1930s cartoon, with a hilarious take on both Diana and Akko, the latter depicted as an idiot, and then things get even crazier with a race to find the “original” Sucy before something or other not only devours Sucy’s world, but the real one of the school, don’t ask me why, I don’t know, or care.
The whole thing is insane, and brilliantly executed. First, was that Michiyo Murase doing ALL the Sucys? If so, Murase deserves a medal. There are dozens of them, each with their own variation of Sucy’s voice, some flying past so quickly that you hardly notice them. Second, the episode has a funny, fast-paced script that was fully aware that it wasn’t terribly original and so jumped on quick gags and at least one unexpected turn to make it effective. Third, the direction, art, and animation are astounding.
Once the action ramps up, every moment had something great or funny to look at, little things like Akko’s spinning pupils as she looks for the right room, to my personal favorite, the enormous transition from drive in to real disaster (with sudden ramped-up ominous music), suddenly leaping into a chase scene. I’m looking forward to watching this episode again, because there’s so much I bet I missed. I know this is only February, but this is a strong candidate for “episode of the year” honors, if you do that sort of thing.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
… 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.
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.
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.
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.