The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan finished up without me even noticing. Not that there was a lot to do. Kyon had that dilemma of what to do around Yuki, when the other Yuki had confessed to him. I liked his strategy, telling her he would have fallen for her (the other Yuki) but saying it when Yuki couldn’t hear because of the fireworks. Since confessions and lovey-moments happen so often during fireworks it was a nice twist. In the meantime the show was giving us as many Endless Eight references as it could. It was maybe the one time I was happy that this series didn’t have aliens or espers in it; we only had to go through the summer events once (though there was a nice tease at the very end).
Now that it’s over and nothing much has happened, I’m still not sure if I would have enjoyed this series much if it didn’t have these references to the old show adding resonance and teasing us with the hope that this was in fact another Haruhi-built world, and that weird and wonderful stuff might actually show up. I enjoyed it enough. It was fun meeting the characters again, and even though I was never in the Kyon/Yuki camp, it was seeing what might have happened if, you know, Yuki wasn’t an alien organic interface and all the rest. That for me is the reality of the franchise. This show was just a harmless toss-off.
Meanwhile, in Jitsu wa Watashi wa 2-3, we find out that more people in Asahi’s school are weird as hell. Episode two features Aizawa, the class rep and the girl who dressed Asahi down last year for staring at her. You kind of figured that she would have a weird secret because there’s a screw in her head. It’s always visible and makes me wonder if this school is so laid-back that no one would bother to ask her why, or maybe EVERYONE at the school has a secret and thus are considerate to the appearance of others. Aizawa herself isn’t terribly interesting, just a tsundere who might have feelings for Asahi. Though I must admit seeing the little Aizawa come out of her head is a good visual moment.
Episode three’s weird girl, Mikan, is a lot more fun, at least at first. She runs around chasing Asahi to find embarrassing information she can publish in the school paper. Everyone else–not interested. Only Asahi. After we realize this we begin to wonder why she’s constantly trying to humiliate him, a sort of twisted, childhood-friend love? Turns out that’s exactly what it is, because they more or less tell us. Well, she gets turned on somehow by forcing the issue and getting Asahi to resist her. So when he turns the tables and says “go ahead, publish that embarrassing article about me and Shiragami,” she’s completely defeated. I don’t know if the show should have played this hand so quickly, as Mikan can be fun as hell to watch (also, her secret about her glasses is the craziest one yet), though the episode had too much running around.
Sore ga Seiyuu! 2 is a nice mix of our three heroines’ daily lives, meaning part-time jobs or school and how their respective agencies work. Futaba’s is the only one we really see, and it’s a bit perverse with its newbie seiyuu standing in a line at the front greeting people and looking up to Futaba because she has a single job. Nice cameo by Hiroshi Kamiya too. When he said “kawaii!” it sounded like Araragi-kun talking about neko-Hanekawa. I was waiting for an “I’m in despair!” when he saw all his fan mail … The ups and downs of seiyuu life also works well this episode; the excitement over an audition felt real, so did the mind games you play on yourself during the audition itself, and Futaba learning that her character was getting killed off actually had an impact. Okay, the web radio offer felt a little forced, but it was overall a stronger episode than the first. Let’s see about #3 …
Okay, #3 is a bit of a step back to watching Futaba try something new and be mediocre at it. At least this time she shares the feeling with Ichigo and Rin, who all contribute to the “all over the place” feel of their first broadcast. I actually recognized one of the bits from the 4-koma, where Rin innocently steals her Ichigo schtick. Well, they’ll get better, we expect. But I can’t really believe that these trained performers would freeze up so much when the time came. Not knowing who should speak next–okay, other first episode goofs–fine, but they don’t even try to improvise around it, and that’s the most fun part. But Ichigo’s dad replying to her Twitter followers was a good scene, and I love how they draw the radio director, like he’s from a completely different series. This week’s celeb cameo, by the way, is Yukari Tamura. The only one I’ve recognized so far is Kamiya …
After two weeks of watching new shows and meeting unfamiliar characters it’s a relief to get back to shows I’m familiar with and characters I know and like.
The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan 14 has to tie up the loose ends from Yuki’s trauma, and they start with a nice conversation between the real Yuki and the stand-in, and it’s brought up that the latter developed her own feelings for Kyon, which we’re supposed to imagine are different from the real Yuki’s, though she was being fed memories from the depths of Yuki’s disheveled brain, so who’s to say? I thought it odd that stand-in Yuki would tell real Yuki that she confessed, but nothing else, but real Yuki’s reaction was cute enough that I didn’t really care.
So now the confusion turns to Kyon, confessed to by a stand-in and trying to figure out if it’s also true for the real Yuki. The upshot being that he doesn’t really know what to say to her now. Real Yuki, possibly not remembering what stand-in told her, is a little troubled by this but not much. And then the show shifts gracefully into Haruhi’s memories of Kyon and the John Smith Incident, how happy he had made her, and we begin to wonder if she’s about to make a play for him, even though she had correctly guessed the meaning of Kyon’s confusion and was surprisingly perceptive and supportive. Haruhi’s hard to figure out sometimes.
Episode 15 plays this out further while the gang do summer activities (the beach, the mountains, lots of watermelon, a test of courage, a reference to the island murder). Kyon still doesn’t know what to say to Yuki; she’s just happy to spend time with him–nice to see her content and not strung out about it all. She has the right idea, just let it flow so that at the episode’s they’re holding hands and have forgotten about it. That’s all the story we get this week; it’s enough.
Teekyuu!, THE GREATEST SHOW EVER, kicked off with a two-parter about a visit to Cambodia. Episode 49, all about getting there, had a SPG of 3.1, an excellent start, and then they top it with their tour of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom (who’s he?), and a near-record SPG of 2.81! The show hasn’t missed a step! Well, it’s not like they took a break or anything …
Houkago no Pleiades ends sweetly, and as expected, it’s confusing .
The girls, reunited, make a last jump to catch the last bit of engine only to find it’s in a black hole! Well, they’ve done every other cool astronomical thing out there, I guess this is the way to top it. But they don’t go in. First Suburu has to convince Minato (who’s already charging in, totally fine with whatever happens) to drop his self-destructive tendencies and help them out, by kissing him, then they use the almost-repaired ship to make a singularity of their own, six of them, actually, to suck the black hole’s contents out.
Then we get some revelations: the Alien Overlord is actually that kid who helped Minato, only he’s lost his memories or something. Also, he intends to use the black hole to help find potential for all those little rocks. It’s bye-bye after that and the girls find themselves on Earth at the beginning of potentiality. They can choose their own potentials, and naturally choose to stay the same. Then they’re all back in our time, but they’ve lost all their memories of what happened and have to meet again. Why? The show doesn’t explain. Doesn’t matter, they meet up soon enough …
Seems rather cruel to Minato, something he even mentions. He’s back in IC and Suburu’s forgotten all about him. Maybe they’re angling for a second season. I could also point at a number of ridiculous things about the, er, physics of the whole thing (like that tree of potentiality), but they make the point that when physics can’t explain it, it’s magic, a convenient way to pretend to be scientifically accurate until the plot needs pushing or they want to play Claire de Lune again. Never mind, the goofy tour of the galaxy and beyond was part of the show’s fun and help balance out the more mundane tale of friendship and change they were trying to tell. Though the idea of taking up and using lost rocks of potential worked well as a plot device and a metaphor. All in all, a cute show about friendship and change with cosmic overtones. Let’s see if they do another season and get Minato’s story straightened out …
The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan 13 is not a finale, but it would have been fine if it had been. In it, the interim Yuki continues to see fragments of the real Yuki’s past, and there’s that love thing to deal with. She realizes that, whether she wants to or not, she’s slipping away, and the next time she falls asleep, she’ll be gone and the real Yuki will return. There’s a sad, fatalistic feeling to the entire episode which intensifies when she decides, before she can slip away completely, to tell Kyon how she feels about him. It’s a beautiful death scene except Yuki lives, so it spares us the inconvenience of weeping. Sad to say, nothing against the regular (for this series) Yuki but I rather prefer the interim, laconic, book-reading Yuki. Maybe it’s because of the source material. I’ll also miss the quiet mood the past three episodes have had and rather dread seeing Haruhi barge in shouting again.
Finally, Takamiya Nasuno Desu! finishes up with a revolving sushi episode and a SPG of 3.1, much better than Teekyuu’s. But there’s no indication that the show is returning! Flow my tears …
Houkago no Pleiades 11 is a pleasantly confusing as the episodes leading up to it.
The main confusion this time around is the concept of change. Suburu, now powerless and unable to see the alien overlord thanks to her adventure with Minato, is told by her parents that she’s changed, though she denies it. I’ll take this to mean she’s grown up a little. But she’s not very happy about it, since her friends are off chasing the final machine fragment (using “dark energy!”) and she can’t help them. Meanwhile, getting that last fragment might be impossible because the universe, tilted in their favor because of their magic, keeps pushing the fragment farther away, which is to say they actually don’t want to stop being magical girls and chase fragments. That is, until the girls realize this but decide (for Earth’s sake) to keep chasing it, no matter what. At which point the fragment becomes visible.
That all makes sense. But then earthbound Suburu starts noticing little things that suggest the missing Minato is still around. A flower in the weeds, the vending machine offering strawberry milk again. A classmate vaguely remembers him. This leads to her eventually opening the right door and poof! (well, actually a whoosh), she’s in Minato’s IC room. There’s some business with two stars, and then both of them are in space, with the hospital bed, though Minato is doing much better, with new, “different” magic powers and a black outfit. Then the other girls comically show up, vanish, then come back. So if she’s changed and has abandoned some potential, unused, what’s she doing now? Or Minato, for that matter? By the way, his goals haven’t changed; he’s still after the fragment. Next week’s finale is going to be interesting.
Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku 11 gives us a lot of backstory and the rising threat. The midterm battles we see are mere asides.
The first part, the love triangle, is pretty straightforward. Seisa feels, not betrayed, but jealous of Eruna and Otone. The betrayal came two years earlier, when her BFF, a girl from the photography club, turned on her, and so we get to see those unpleasant scenes that opened the series over again. I thought before that this show would involve Seisa learning to love and trust again, and while that still might be true, we now know it’s more complicated than that. She’s in the photography girl’s position now, with a younger girl who loves and admires her. But she doesn’t have the malice that her upperclassman did, or the desire to fight. She does, however, have the painful memories, and there’s the fact that she used her magic to seal off the photography clubroom, suggesting that she can’t face the past but is unwilling to let it go either. … But the magic is waning now.
So is everything at the school that Eruna lives in an alternate universe? Are the people here just not from the same world that Seisa came from? That doesn’t sound right. Either way, we now learn what those strange gaps Usamaru saw last week are–gaps into Seisa’s original world. Eruna wanders into one, leaving Otone behind, and is stuck in the old photography room with Bimi, who tells her the whole story. Why he didn’t tell her before I don’t know. Meanwhile, Shigure and Kyouma have a midterm battle though they both know something’s wrong. It’s an odd distraction and it didn’t make sense given the characters, especially Shigure. Looking forward to seeing what will happen now that reality’s crashing into this world.
The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan 11: the Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan part 3, casts such a lovely, quiet spell that I wish this current Yuki-chan didn’t have to go away eventually.
It’s not just the quiet library scenes with the piano music (Debussy?), though it certainly helps. I never cared for the fact that this Yuki normally enjoys games and not books. The original Yuki’s, dare I say, passion for reading was one of her most charming traits, and it felt wrong for her to go around with a portable Playstation in her hand. And it gave us another reference to the original series, when she entered the library and floated down the aisles … and finds “Hyperion.” Not to mention the library card, which Kyon got for her before. All that was missing was that adorable moment when he led her out of the library.
Those are good reasons for liking the episode, but what put it over the top was the searching Yuki was doing inside herself. The current her is afraid of going away when the other Yuki awakens. If it happens like that (and her “I don’t have enough data” was something the original Yuki would have said). Since she is Yuki’s consciousness at the moment it’s a genuinely frightening thought. It leads to a couple of dreams where she’s watching scenes of her and Kyon together from earlier, but standing apart from them, and there’s also an older-looking Yuki from the future, or maybe I’m mistaken. The tone throughout all this is still quiet, but the dreams, especially when the memories come of reaching up (to the stars, and for a book), seem to trigger a fundamental shift in her consciousness. It’s no doubt her subconsciousness doing basic repair work, like the doctor suggested, but it’s beautifully shown in this episode. … By the way, what was that “Alyosha … that feeling” text refer to? Is it a reference I missed?
Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku 10 brings the Otone/Seisa rivalry to a head, and at the same we start seeing glowing things. About the latter, it looked like the ghost tracking story was just a flimsy plot thing to goof around with while Otone and Seisa squared off, but apparently there is something going on because we see it, Usamaru sees it, and later Bimi, and we haven’t seen the latter since. I’m betting it’s all to do with Bimi’s transformation equipment acting up. As for the Otone/Seisa fight, I think I understand Otone’s reasoning. She can’t get into Eruna’s heart because Seisa is already there; what’s more, Seisa doesn’t seem to care. How fighting Seisa is going to change any of this I don’t know, unless Otone just can’t control her frustration. As for Seisa, why the hell isn’t she at least defending herself? Maybe she can’t? Anyway, I bet that in next week’s first scene Otone will get very angry, give a big speech, and run off in tears.
As for Houkago no Pleiades, it’s hard to get emotionally moved when I can’t figure out what the hell is going on.
Those fragments either restore Minato’s memories or remove the good ones, either way, he rushes off with them to await the twelth star, and our girls can’t all go and chase him because their powers have been weakened, so they jury-rig their brooms and Suburu goes off alone. Meanwhile, we’re treated to Minato’s lengthy flashback to the hospital, where ANOTHER alien shows up, befriends him, and they’re soon off collecting fragments of unused potential, or something like that. That’s around the time Suburu wanders into Minato’s hospital room. But then he learns he’s actually in intensive care, and he decides to get fragments (the new kid’s or the alien overlord’s? Or is it the same?) to leave this world, world being a relative term here, along with the unused potential, since he feels akin to them. Correct me if I’m wrong … no, don’t.
The weird thing, well, one of many, is that Suburu had met him before, she remembers it, so she’s not a fantasy or a hallucination, and neither was the hospital room scene, even though the illusion of a healthy Minato started when he met the alien, before that. And the show doesn’t explain why we have two Minatos, or what happened to IC Minato. Dead? Did he become the gardening Minato? Anyway, Suburu forces the issue by telling him she remembers last week’s traipse around the galaxy, which should make him happy but doesn’t, and then starts un-magicking herself for no reason I can figure out except to force him to rescue her, just to get skewered by the spiked final fragment. I think it’s supposed to be a moment of great symbolism or at last great emotional power, but, as I said, everything leading up to it was so bewildering it just made me go Hah? Oh, and what about that alien we met this week? Whatever happened to him? Does the show care?
The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan brings us the new Yuki from her own, differing POV. As usual there are Melancholy overtones here. I half-believed that we had the original Yuki, in a crisis of her own, somehow stumbling her way into an alternate dimension and inhabiting, er, herself. Except she has no memories of anything else. Or maybe it’s because this different Yuki-consciousness talks about being an outsider in Yuki’s body, the way the original Yuki might have felt, being an organic interface.
And very little happens, except that Yuki freely explains her inner confusion to Asakura, and the doctor thinks there’s nothing life-threatening going on. Still, it’s a calm and restful episode, and very sweet. The new Yuki wants to be treated as Yuki (who’s to say she’s not?), and Asakura, her best friend, accedes to her wishes. Naturally, so does Kyon, especially after he discovers that she can explain math a lot better now. They refuse to be put off by the new Yuki, and because of that she loses some of her fear of the situation. Watching two of them dote on and worry about Yuki was maybe the best thing in the episode, besides the usual and aforementioned overtones.
So the situation currently in Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku is that Eruna needs one more member to form a club, but just can’t get one. Midway through, we find out that the only other member, Otone, being something of a celebrity, has attracted interested people, but she has driven them away. When Eruna sees this and asks why, Otone says she doesn’t want others getting in the way of their friendship, because Eruna is the only fried she has. Eruna, who is a blithering idiot but perceptive at important moments, doesn’t state the obvious, that more members means more potential friends for Otone. Instead, she simply announces she won’t recruit more members … but that means she can’t have a club. Not that she seems to realize this. There’s a meaningless fight with a newspaper club girl over a potential clubroom which is there primarily to show how close Otone and Eruna have become, and then the matter is sneakily solved by Bimi, but I don’t know why Eruna doesn’t simply invite Seisa (who’s jealous and lonely) to join. Or just join the drama club. Every time she does stuff with them she has a blast. Well, I do find Eruna’s indifference to reality and her kindness rather appealing, not to mention her dirty mind.
It looked at first like Houkago no Pleiades 9 was going to ignore the cosmic mind-messing for once. It’s festival time and the girls decide that since they’re technically a cosplay club, maybe they ought to make some costumes, while Suburu decides to make a planetarium for her one-person club, with Minato helping as a favor. The thought of Suburu and Minato together in a dark room sets the other girls into a tizzy. Nope, no interplanetary trips today … So I thought.
Turns out Minato is a magician of sorts, and he decides to take stargazing Suburu out on a trip even farther than last week. They start at Betelgeuse. They’re just floating there. Minato acts as an intergalactic (yes, intergalactic) tour guide and gives us and Suburu a talk about what she’s seeing, just like Suburu did before, when she was practicing for her planetarium demo. How did they get there? Well, Minato’s a magician, and at the moment they’re not in their old time and space, or the new one, either, and, by the way, they won’t be able to remember any of this because of the speed of light or something, didn’t catch that bit. This brings up a “Is it worth seeing something if you won’t remember it?” question, But before they can discuss that potentially interesting or boring topic, Suburu recalls a childhood memory about meeting a boy in the hospital … guess who? They’re at the Pleiades now, by the way, the perfect time to steal a kiss, but the scene fades out and they’re back in the astronomy club room, Suburu crying, and she doesn’t know why. It was a sweet and lovely scene, not to mention Pleiades-worthy nutty, and so I’m saddened by the bit after that, when the fragments act up and Minato does a heel turn. Well, it was going to happen sooner or later.
The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan 10 is a, dare I say, melancholy affair.
It deals with the aftermath of the car accident, which turns out to be not even serious enough to take Yuki to the hospital, in spite of Asakura’s pleadings. Instead, Yuki’s personality is transformed into the “original,” laconic, monotone Yuki we knew long ago. For us looking for references to the original show it’s almost a breakthrough, but for this current universe the characters live in it’s a problem. It’s also a problem for us because a monotone Yuki isn’t as much fun when she doesn’t have the power to change reality, change game programs on the fly, instantly learn the guitar, etc.
So we get an episode where Asakura repeatedly checks on Yuki, asking if she’s all right, and getting the same “I’m fine,” in return. Then Yuki is handed over to Kyon, and the situation is repeated, all while pleasant but vaguely unsettling background music plays. This “new” Yuki doesn’t play games, but instead reads, but she doesn’t read Dan Simmons but old French mysteries. I’ trying to figure out if that’s random or supposed to mean something. But we finally get a break at the end when Asakura decides, daijoubus aside, something is not right with Yuki. By the way, next week the episode title is in fact the series title, if you were wondering what the disappearance in this story referred to. Maybe it should be called the “reappearance.” … Nah.
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.
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.