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W 11, Koyomi 10-11, Gate 23, Teekyuu 81

March 22, 2016 Leave a comment
... through a lousy plot device.

… through a lousy plot device.

Dimension W 11 starts with the aftermath of the Loser/Chrysler fight, and now Loser has all the numbers and is probably invincible or something. Meanwhile, Lwai fills Kyouma and the rest about how he’s actually a robot controlled by what’s left of himself back home, and he’s fine with that. So is Kyouma, so the show makes a point to tell us, and I suspect it’s supposed to be a touching, breakthrough moment for him, but the show never really established his issues, because the big final story arc depends on him not knowing their source …

... and spawned another dull, predictable villain.

… and spawned another dull, predictable villain.

A little disappointed that so much of the backstory is made via a memory shared by Loser which everyone is forced to watch. Too convenient; this show has proven it can do better than this if it wants to, but there’s only one episode to go so maybe it was a timesaving decision. Worse, the memory also had a lot of pseudo-scientific bullshit about possibility factors mixed in before Seanmeyer got all evil and started killing people. The memory didn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know. Loser lost his wife, Seanmeyer is evil, and Kyouma was there. What I’m afraid of is that they’re going to take all those weird possibility theories and toss them around, with light shows, while Kyouma gets his memory back. No, wait! I forgot that we’ll probably start with Loser meeting his lost wife, now a gigantic octopus thingy.

Araragi up top ...

Araragi up top …

Koyomimonogatari 10 brings us Yotsugi, in search of something that can’t be found by searching for it, not only an interesting riddle but one you’d expect from this show. The conclusion, brought to us by Hanekawa again, was a pretty clever one, even if I had sort of guessed it midway through. While I wonder at Yotsugi’s motives for doing this (WHY was she looking out for Araragi?), the idea that she was in the first place was kind of nice, reinforced as it was by Araragi’s comment that people who have unfettered moments might have people looking after them to thank.

... and at the bottom.  Wonder if there's significance in this.

… and at the bottom. Wonder if there’s significance in this.

#11, maybe the weakest yet, has Araragi asking Yuzuru (after she beat the crap out of him) about Yotsugi. Land one punch and she’ll tell you, and the show spends the rest of this short time with Karen figuring out what Yuzuru actually meant by that. That it means a refusal to answer Araragi’s question I can understand, but Araragi’s attempt at going through with the fight out of some courtesy I can’t figure out. But the episode DID have Araragi and Karen in a bathtub full of puddings, so that’s something.

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Gate 23, with its triumphant 11.5 hour raids on the capital and the Jade Palace, is not as fun as it could be. We see the JSDF prepare and implement their attacks, and apart from a few moments when they appear outnumbered, nothing goes wrong. They secure gates, they paratroop, they launch missiles on dragons, while Zorzal looks more flabbergasted by the second. The only interesting bits are Tyuule’s advice,” where I have to remember that she’s not on his side, nor the JSDF, but working purely out of revenge against the empire. I wonder how the show is going to treat her next week?

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The raid on the Jade palace is a little better because, for me at least, there was more at stake. I wanted to see Bozes and her troops defeat the imperial troops, or at least survive. That they do, thanks to the JSDF, in ho-hum fashion, but Bozes then spices things up by galloping to the capital to rescue Pina, and nearly getting killed. As for Pina, she’s still stuck down in that cell, hopeless and useless as ever, and our heroes, Youji and the fantasy-fetish girls, are still riding in that jeep.

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Finally, Teekyuu! 81 slips badly to an SPG of 3.75 as Yuri accompanies Annenkov to a mixer full of monks and encounter a vengeful bathroom spirit. Maybe too much time setting up the scene.

W and Phantom 10, KonoSuba 9, Teekyuu! 79

March 15, 2016 2 comments
Whoops, it's not dead yet.

Whoops, it’s not dead yet.

Dimension W 10 brings us (and Kyouma) closer to the mystery of what happened years ago. First, Mira and the twins do a number on the robot that’s going after Kyouma, only to have it wake up again, only to have Kyouma wake up as well and finish the job. Why did he wake up? Because he tore that thing from his ear? But he was unconscious … Lwai shows up, sans arm, from wherever he was … Anyway, we learn that Adastrea was working on space development and transporters to get them there. And that dreams and memories connect us to Dimension W, but we already knew that. Meanwhile, in a sideshow, Loser and Jason Chrysler give us more info while duking it out. The heroes get closer to the labs, where everything is clean and the power is working, and we get a confrontation with KK and the brainwashed Yuri.

Sorry Doug, ol' buddy.

Sorry Doug, ol’ buddy.

There follows a longer, delightfully weird scene where KK fills in narrative gaps, plays a Dance Macabre as Wendy Carlos might arrange it as he does, while the good guys tackle Yuri and an old comrade of Kyouma’s, Doug, now a soulless monster. KK doesn’t seem to be the type to do mad scientist impersonations like this, being a hired gun and all, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. Kyouma figures out a little more, then catches up with KK and decks him, and another Lwai shows up (KK killed the first one). This is supposed to be the big surprise moment of the episode, coming at the end and all, but I wasn’t shocked at all. In fact, as fun as the episode was to watch, I don’t really feel a connection to anyone in it. This show does a lot of things very well, but it isn’t the best at making us care for anyone. Fun to watch, though, as usual.

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Musaigen no Phantom World 10 is another by-the-books episode about little trivial quirks about the characters, in this case Ruru’s size, made great to look at and little else. The firework phantom reminded me of the monsters in Nurse Witch Komugi-chan, but with a bigger conscience, and it struck me (finally) that this entire series is little more than a magical girl show without wands, or cards to collect, and even less of an overriding story arc.

Well, actually ...

Well, actually …

You might as well skip KonoSuba 9. Basically, Kazuma arranges for a sexy dream with a succubus club and real-life Darkness shows up at the wrong time and … So lots of unpleasant behavior by Kazuma, and lots of skin displayed by him and Darkness, oh, and the succubi. But next week we get a new invader. Good thing, too. This show’s been in a rut recently.

teekyuu79-1Teekyuu! 79 slips to an SPG of 3.75 in the exciting school lunch cooking battle. Maybe they concentrated too much on the plot this week …

Phantom World 9, Gate 21, W and Komugi-chan 9

March 8, 2016 Leave a comment

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I probably would have enjoyed Musaigen no Phantom World 9 more if I understood the historical context of the play the gang gets roped into performing, that is, more than a thirty-second peek at “Ikedaya Incident” in Wikipedia. Still, it was fun to watch. I cringe when I see shows that have amateur plays in them, with my own memories and all, but they laid off on the bad acting and stage mishaps, and when they settled into the Phantom’s realistic play setting, we got some of the best sustained action yet, a period dramatic story with a phantom thrown in, exciting action, and, it being KyoAni, it looked fantastic.

What do you mean "right now?"

What do you mean “right now?”

Gate‘s story is getting so big, I wonder how they’re going to wrap everything up in the episodes they have left … We start with the brief battle at the Jade Palace where, as expected, Pina’s soldiers and some others drive off the bad guys, but the political fallout has begun, with the PM telling ministers to wait, then later gives in when a bigger bad guy force arrives. I suppose it’s not an issue, but it feels weird to know the ministers are more up on the Jade Palace situation than Youji and his team are. Radios are a good thing, guys.

At least in Rondel.

At least in Rondel.

Elsewhere they plant little seed of future problems with an unpleasant press photographer, and then of course there’s Pina, still a political idiot, who, when summoned to the Palace by Zorzal, in spite of what she knows, ACTUALLY GOES, and is promptly locked up. I’d feel a lot more confident about the good guys’ chances if someone besides Pina was in her position. As for Youji and company, well, that assassin is still after Lelei, but judging from the idiots he hires, this pied piper fellow can’t be that big of a threat. Then again, it’s hard to take anything that happens in Rondel seriously.

So THAT'S how it works.

So THAT’S how it works.

Dimension W 9 is good and bad, mostly good. The bad comes with a new villain, Seameyer, who appears to behind just about all of the bad stuff that happens. Shadowy villains are common in anime and elsewhere, but in anime these characters tend to be smug, smirking types that bore me as much as they infuriate me. Seameyer is no different, grinning evilly while Lwai gets gunned down in a flashback, casting images of himself on the wall whenever the good (are they?) characters find a clue, and going nyah nyah nyah a lot.

What's Mira doing there?

What’s Mira doing there?

But there was plenty of good. No surprise that Kyouma has the answers to what happened at Adrastrea, and so, what happened during his wife’s operation, and indeed, Kyouma wants to get to the bottom of it too. But it’s done very well. First Kyouma lapses into a coma, flashback time, but then we get Salva’s flashbacks, too. I was starting to wonder why. Then, Kyouma floats into one of Salva’s memories, to the surprise of both, and the revelation comes that Dimension W is connected to our world by memories, and memories are vital to the formation of possibilities. Nice concept. Don’t know if I buy it, but it’s solid enough to work as a foundation to this world. Speaking of possibilities, the show is loading them on us now. What’s with that weapon the girl found? Is Mira actually Kyouma’s dead wife? Will the other collectors we see actually have anything to do later on? I could go on and on …

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As for Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R 9, we waited most of the episode to learn what the misunderstanding was. Kubi (fired) and kubi (neck). While we waited for the inevitable I managed to enjoy one bit, where the enraged Komugi defeated a monster not with her magic powers but by using her wand to bludgeon it into submission.

Koyomimonogatari 7, Gate 20, KonoSuba 7, Dimension W 8

February 29, 2016 2 comments
Tsuhiki stomps her feet.

Tsuhiki stomps her feet.

Koyomimonogatari 7 starts with “Platinum Disco,” so I was in a good mood to enjoy another trivial little episode of this Bakemonogatri-lite series.  As you could guess, the person with a question this time is Tsuhiki, about her tea club-mates’ refusal to listen to reason and accept that there is no ghost-kid who signed up as a member.  She tries to stab Araragi with a tri-color pen a couple times for good measure.  The answer to her question, or rather, her object of rage, is pretty clever and it does make you wonder just who is doing the deceiving here.  Kanbaru helps out this week too, but she’s more subdued, watching poor Araragi mine the books at her house.  I’m trying to remember: has Araragi solved ANY of the mysteries in this latest series, or has he always turned to some girl or another?

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Gate 20 turns back away from Youji and company’s flight from the assassins to show us Sherry and the dove diplomat Casel’s flight from Zolzal’s (or should that be Tyuule’s?) private stormtroopers, the, er, Oprichnina.  At the end of which they wind up outside the Jade Palace. Japanese soil right now, with Sherry shouting out to Sugawara for help, forcing him into a rather disgusting decision, but it’s for a good cause, right?  Not just to get certain fanboys watching to get excited, or course not.  Too bad for Casel, dragged away with no one wanting to marry him.  Last episode I was grumbling that we were spending time in that silly magic town, but now I want to go back there.  Oh right, Lelei’s not there anymore.  And we’ll have to get this current crisis sorted out before going back to the main characters.
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KonoSuba 7 is a bit of a letdown.  Kazuma dies again (at least this time it was less embarrassing) and meets another goddess, the perfectly sensible Eris, who actually feels bad for him and is set to send him to a comfortable life in modern Japan, when he realizes he actually misses Aqua and the other goofballs.  One of those stories.  … Well, he’s set to move on in spite of that, but Aqua calls him back and of course his life is miserable again.  And it’s winter there now.  It’s still winter here, by the way, and I’m getting tired of it.  Not that that has anything to do with the show.
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Dimension W 8 … Well, of course those guys on the plane aren’t dead; they spent too much time introducing them last week.  And I still can’t figure them out.  They’re mostly a bunch of cynical bounty-hunters who would turn on each other in a second, but, apart from that one American guy doing a number on the other one (and that feels more like a personal issue rather than cold-blooded business), they spend a lot of time cooperating and bailing each other out.  Well, occasionally they’re left behind, but no one’s doing any killing yet.  Meanwhile Kyouma and Mira innocently drive up the road on their own, oblivious to the fates of the others, until a couple of them show up.  They’re cuddly and cute so you know they can be trusted.
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I’m still trying to get how this island works.  People left there start waking up when the collectors show up, animated by new potentialities, and tend to get swallowed by that blue thing when they do, if they’re male.  Salma was swallowed up, but there he is lying on a couch–albeit near death.  It grazed a collector and he’s also in a coma.  Coils aren’t supposed to work but they seem to be working fine.  Kyouma, Mira, and the cute diggers go through a dead zone, where Mira stops functioning, and apparently Kyouma also nearly dies as well, no idea why–but they make it through.  However, it doesn’t feel as though the show is just making shit up as it goes.  There seems to be sound logic in this invented world, and my confusion over it is partly because it doesn’t want to tell us everything yet, that and I’m forgetful.

Gate 19, W 7, Dagashi 6, Teekyuu 77

February 23, 2016 4 comments
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.

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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.

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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!

Catching up: Koyomimonogatari, Dimension W, Teekyuu (somewhat)

February 16, 2016 Leave a comment

First, Koyomimonogatari.

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Episode 4 brings us back to Araragi helping to clean Kanbaru’s room, way back when, and follows it along with the usual come-ons and Araragi taking a bath and hearing a tale about Kanbaru’s father seeing a girl’s reflection in the water. When not part of a flow of larger things these little episodes seem inconsequential, even trivial, or rather, I should say that the regular story lines are littered with little trivial things like this story but we don’t really notice. Not that this new series isn’t fun to watch, they just don’t bear the same collective weight that the previous series do. But who cares? We have Kanbaru doing her thing and that’s good enough for twelve minutes.

She just got there.

She just got there.

I liked episode 5 better. Nadeko goes to Araragi’s house for a party to wrap up the Kaiki business. And among the blushing, underaged sweetness that is Nakeko we get a discussion on how rumors spread, while the popcorn metaphor takes us from a party to a movie. Then it’s Kaiki at the donut shop with Araragi and Shinobu, another little conversation that would have inserted itself before, after, or in-between that scene from Nisemonogatari, like a little digression before the characters take up the main theme again. It’s sort of fun to imagine these conversations snaking around the ones we’ve already seen.

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While episode 6, in one way, ties in with the concept of rumors in episode 5. The tree that no one had noticed before was going to be chopped down because it’s scary, no one had noticed it before. Hanekawa comes up with a lie that the tree’s wood was used to build the dojo, so it would be disrespectful to pull it down. Not really the same as Kaiki’s theory of troubled hearts being the easiest to lie to, but the people in the dojo were in an unsettled state and thus perhaps more willing to listen to a lie. Araragi points out that maybe they had now made the tree an oddity–nice touch. And we have Karen physically and verbally abusing Araragi, and teasing us with fanservice, to open the episode.

After two weeks I'm a little hazy too, sorry.

After two weeks I’m a little hazy too, sorry.

I waited too long to get back to Dimension W. After two weeks the interesting mystery they were working on is completely lost on me. But I suspect I might have been a little bewildered anyway. The coils and Dimension W, not to mention the strange water, managed to keep an alternate reality alive. I suppose I don’t have to really understand that part, and the business about long-lost daughters didn’t interest me very much anyway. I will say that I think they could have taken another episode for this arc and made it feel less rushed. Also, I continue to be impressed by what an excellent plot tool Dimension W is.

I could follow everything in episode 6 except what the hell this girl is doing there.

I could follow everything in episode 6 except what the hell this girl is doing there.

The dimension doesn’t do much in episode 6; instead we get a lot of plot threads set up. Prince Salva-Enna-Tibesti-Kiss-Shot-Heart-Under-Blade (wait, that’s not right, just call him Salva), a big jerk from Africa, comes to Japan to secretly challenge people who won’t be scared into some event on Easter Island. We find out his motives at the end, the rest is Kyouma being befriended against his will by who appears to be Salva’s younger brother, plus we meet Tsubaki, Kyouma’s sister and apparently the only person he’s afraid of, and there’s talk of him finally wanting to face his dark past and the memories he’s suppressed. We also get hints of Mira’s unknown origins, which Salva might actually know. It’s all setup for now, and I’ll be sure not to wait two weeks before I watch the next episode.

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Teekyuu 75 scores a 3.214 SPG, off their best work but not bad. In it, Yuri and Kanae hike in the mountains and Kanae nearly dies but no one, not even those involved in the show, know how.

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#76 slips to 3.33, as all the girls together decide to diet. You can figure out how THAT’S going to turn out.

Koyomimonogatari 2-4, Dimension W 2-4

February 2, 2016 Leave a comment

Midway through this post I realized that with my more limited time there’s no way to catch up if I write about every episode, so I will say even less per show than I was before.  At least until I get all the way back …

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Koyomimonogatari‘s short form is in a way a sort of relief after all the other monogataris out there, but I suspect I’m saying that because I’m still in a desperate game of catch-up. On the other hand, I’m not sure I want what seems to be the case after episode 2, that is, a small mystery that is wrapped up in thirteen minutes. I’m used to the bigger mysteries, and whatever oddity they had available. Episode 2, like #1, has no odditty at all, just some oddly-located bouquets of flowers that suggest a tragedy but in fact indicate nothing of the kind, maybe even the opposite. The speculation by Araragi and Senjugahara feels like its wasted, somehow. Well, the talk might not amount to as much as before (and monogatari talk can amount to everything and nothing at the same time), but it’s Senjugahara and Araragi doing the talking, so there’s fun to be had anyway.

It's going to be a good episode.

It’s going to be a good episode.

Episode 3 confirms my suspicious: I don’t think we’re going to seen an actual oddity in this latest series, just a lot of mysteries with different things behind them like reverse logic or natural phenomena. But at least this time we get Mayoi and Hanekawa. We also get a mysterious sandbox (I’m always a little taken aback when a strange presence like Mayoi can be weirded out by another strange presence) which isn’t so mysterious after all. I admired Hanekawa’s usual sensible logic: if the cause isn’t supernatural or outside interference, it should be completely natural. Also, we get trademark lines from both girls. I’m still a little sorry we aren’t getting a bigger story, but I’m happy enough with that.

Modern art, thanks to the W Dimension.

Modern sculpture, brought to you by Dimension W.

At first my heart sank when I watched Dimension W 2. It looked like this Loser fellow was going to be the first of a series of Kyouma captures, a “villain” of the week, but happily he not only escaped but will probably somehow help Kyouma in later adventures even though his motives–revenge against, er, Tesla I uess, might work counter to Kyouma’s. Still not sure who Kyouma is working for, well, for Mary I guess. But we learn something else is bubbling in his brain, what with that special unit he once belonged to and seems to be the only survivor of. He can’t be sympathetic to Tesla even with his odd friendship with Schuman, and he hates coils… Well, the accidental release of Dimension W on that curator is as good a clue as any. Too soon to tell, and the show is having a good time teasing us with things like “Numbers.” Wait for next episode. Oh, I have it right here …

Grand Guignol, courtesy of Dimension W

Absurdist theatre, courtesy of Dimension W

Episode 3 was for settling in and getting the situation stabilized. Mira gets a place to stay and interacts with the local kids, meanwhile Kyoma is off learning about numbers, and we start putting two and two together. Nice touch having one of the kids be related to a Tesla CEO. A decent enough episode for its type. Episode 4 is the best of the lot. While ghost legends mixed with murders aren’t exactly new to say the least, here we have the concept that the ghosts come from dimension W. This newly-discovered dimension is becoming a handy plot tool; you can create all sorts of different phenonemon and blame it all on the dimension. This week it’s ghosts and victims, and it’s by no means sorted out yet. We got one layer of reality resting on another one, and people who straddle both whom we call ghosts. They’re also nasty, so that makes it more fun.