Ushio to Tora … not bad.
The grumpy son of a local priest is told to air out the storeroom, and he trips over a basement door, goes down, of course, and meets Tora, a demon who’s been stuck there for 500 years because of the Beast Spear pinning him to the wall. Ushio isn’t stupid, though he has moments (Tora being even more stupid about his motives gives him away), and he goes back upstairs, well, until youkai start swarming the place, attracted by Tora, and threatening two girl classmates, including the tsundere love interest Nakamura. So Tora gets released to help out and some mayhem ensues.
Not really my thing, but there’s stuff to like here. Tora would gladly devour Ushio, but the kid’s still got that spear, and Ushio needs Tora to drive the youkai away–at least for a while. Tora goes from nasty looking demon to cringing doggie, and Ushio goes from average boy to badass, grinning, long-haired warrior when the spear possesses him, and both are fun to watch. When they shout at each other it’s even more fun; you can tell the seiyuus are having a good time. It’s apparently an older work, so it looks dated, but there’s nothing seriously wrong with the animation. It could be an entertaining watch, but, as I said, not my bag.
Next we have Gate, where Youji, your average otaku is on his way to an event in Tokyo when a gate looking like a roman building appears downtown and a whole mess of demons, fighting pigs, Roman legionaries, oh, and dragons, start pouring out and attacking people. Youji, who’s been a goof until now, snaps into action and starts directing traffic and ordering police around, and I’m wondering where the hell he got the authority. But the show also slips in interesting bits, like two invaders wondering where the hell they are and if this was a good idea. Also, dragons turn out to be no match for military helicopters with machine guns, much less the forces on the ground, and the invasion is soon over. But the gate is still there …
This show could be dreadful or it might be all right. It starts dreadfully since we didn’t know Youji was on the Special Defense Force, but once we learn that it gets more interesting. Japan regroups and now its their turn to go through the gate. Will they meet opposition? Well, yes. Will they meet some fairlyland people who aren’t into all this invading? Possibly, judging from the elf-girls the show teases us with. But I don’t really know what to expect, and that’s a good thing.
Joukamachi no Dandelion has finally showed up. We start with a big, happy family waking up, having breakfast, fighting over the one bathroom, the usual, and then we learn that the father is king, and that his nine-odd offspring are all royalty. They live in a modest suburban home to give the kids a normal upbringing, though why they couldn’t have one more bathroom is beyond me. What’s more, the King has declared that his successor will be chosen by popular vote, and there’s much to-do in the country with monthly rankings. AND, all the kids have their own super-power! Camera-shy Akane can fly, and when she does, people can look up her short school uniform skirt.
Yeah, it’s an odd mix. Maybe the oddest thing of all is that they’re going the happy domestic comedy route rather than murder and intrigue route with this whole successor business. Everyone seems well-adjusted apart from Akane, and she’s just a little shy. They don’t begrudge each other their popularity rankings and cheer each other on during a silly television game show they’re forced to do. For that reason this series might turn out pretty dull. Right now the only thing that stands out is the weird setup. But it’s a cute, happy show, so I might watch it for a while.
Here’s another odd setup: Classroom Crisis.
With a title like that you expect a high school romcom series, and you’d be partly right, except this class is in the future, after more of the solar system has been terraformed. Still, they’re excited about a transfer student. Meanwhile, the CEO of the corporation that runs the school’s brother or son or something has been taken hostage way off on an asteroid mine and there’s no way to get the money there fast enough. But the intrepid kids of class A-TEC, with their engineer homeroom teacher find a way, no, scratch that, the monotoned Iris takes an experimental rocket there, but there are complications …
So it starts out as a hostage story, switches to romcom, then there’s a mad spaceship dash, and the surprise at the end that the hostage probably wasn’t worth rescuing. That’s a lot for an episode to juggle, but it does it well, in spite of some silly science they toss in. The show thought through how hard it would be to pay a ransom to criminals with no bank accounts; details like that make me take notice that this show might not just goofing around (though that’s fine too) and wants to give us a complex futuristic society, albeit with old-school looking spaceship capers. But it also ignores things for story–how did Iris get that ransom money to deliver in the first place? There’s also the conflict it’s setting up about putting people first vs a person’s worth to a company. Some good points, some bad points. Could be interesting. Don’t know if I want to spend a half hour a week watching Kiryu, or hear Sera’s speeches, though Iris is a lot of fun.
Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai (Shimoneta from here on out), set in a Japan where not only porn is banned (there goes the economy), but dirty words or even references to sex. Our hero, Tanukichi, enters the most moral high school of them all to get closer (platonically, he swears) to student president Anna. But he also runs into a indecent terrorist named Blue Snow, who tosses dirty cards to passers by and seems to be the only character in the show who’s enjoying herself. And guess who the student VICE president is?
This is the first show this season that made me laugh out loud. Repeatedly. And it wasn’t the dirty jokes–most of them are bleeped out. They set up Ayame’s transition from stern VP to laughing terrorist perfectly. Suddenly she’s grinning, and you KNOW something isn’t right. And once she’s revealed she’s great fun to watch, with her slightly crazed expression and her rich-girl laugh. Tanukichi starts as a dull male lead but turns out to have excellent straight-man timing. Then they throw in Hyoka, the science girl who’s far too into learning how reproduction works (since the students are not told and so have some weird ideas), and it gets even better. The gags mostly work, the direction and timing are spot-on, and it leads to a terrorist event involving dirty cards, a video of flies mating and ridiculous imagery including Godzilla … Even if dirty jokes aren’t your thing, you might enjoy this.
Finally for this installment it’s Durarara! x2 Ten, where our favorite weirdos and lowlifes sort of meander around waiting for plot to happen. Izaya’s recovering in the hospital, even so he tries to mess with people, setting up a fight with Shizuo, getting the police to call Shinra and ruining the man’s date with Celty. Meanwhile, the spectre of his assailant, Jinnai, grows larger. He’s got Yagiri industries listening to him, and we know Yagiri’s up to no good. And Izaya is confronted by a new character who doesn’t seem to be weird at all, only formerly suicidal.
Basically the show is reintroducing everyone again, thought it wasn’t that long since last season, having them think to themselves about this or that issue, and the incredible yesterday was. Masaomi wants to see Mikado and Anri again, that twin-tailed girl whose name I forget gets some screentime, everyone’s waiting for the new story, or stories, and so are we.
Shirobako ended in triumph, Saekano ended with little fanfare. Let’s see what Aldnoah Zero has in store for us.
Asseylum’s pronouncement doesn’t do much at all–everyone’s still out warring and having fun. The only one who seemed to notice was Slaine, and his decision is to abandon the moonbase and blow up everything up, including himself. I’m not sure why, especially after Lemrina said it was her home. Also, it’s a boring way to end things, just stop the battle and everything. There’s still two-thirds of the episode left!
Harklight decides that a suicide battle sounds like fun, and Slaine is reminded that Inaho’s still out there. Of course! Gotta have one last space duel with your arch-foe, right? Harklight and the others can keep the Earth Forces side characters occupied! Perfect! Okay, the battles were a lot of fun, but often too fast to figure out what’s going on. The worst of it is they’d switch from one to the other and our only clue was a flash of orange, or Harklight’s red. As for Harklight, someone who had always admired Slaine’s moments of goodness and clarity, it’s a stupid way to go. How’s Vers going to change if no one like him is around. Oh, yeah, there’s the princess …
And a little more weirdness at the end. Slaine is declared dead but isn’t (why?), Earth and Vers are at peace, with Assylum attending earth ceremonies with no one trying to kill her, meanwhile Inaho and Slaine play chess in some dungeon, and I think all the good guys lived. Something of a miracle there. But this was never the most realistic of shows and never pretended to be. It wanted to be an epic war series with complex characters, and sometimes it succeeded. Sometimes (most of the time) I would mutter “What the hell is Slaine thinking NOW?” but it made him fun to watch. Inaho, when not saving the day all the time, was a crashing bore. The other side characters on Earth just weren’t that interesting, and while the smirking villains of Vers were fun at times, they were mostly cannon fodder. But what the hell, the battles were fun to watch, and the creators managed to keep the situation tense and unsettled until the end. Fun. Forgettable.
As for Durararax2, it sort of ends. They decided to put season-long breaks between each story arc, it seems. So this time there’s a lot of wrapping up and some setting up for next time. Most surprising was Mikado’s stabbing of Aoba, not that he didn’t deserve it, and Mikado saying it was because Aoba got Anri involved is a good enough reason for the boy, but Mikado has never done anything as nasty and violent as this before. And to slip suddenly back to his old “I have a bandaid!” self was even more disconcerting. But since we haven’t seen this before, even after so many episodes, it feels as though the creators thought Mikado was too dull (they’re right) so gave him a psychotic side out of the blue to liven things up.
Yeah, this cours finale felt a little darker overall. It’s still weird to see Simon participating in gang activity rather than as a general peacemaker and sushi prostelizer. Izaya’s sudden stabbing at the end suggests that there are even more disruptive forces at work, and we’ll meet them next time, and Varona and her sidekick got taken out a little too easily, like everyone was just playing around with them until they got annoying. The exception was Shizuo, who is obviously concentrating on his temper. Trouble is, he feels a little tame now; it was a relief to have him get pissed off when Varona was stupid enough to attack him. Well, most of the characters and relationships have changed since the season start, which is a good sign, and this series loves to keep us guessing, so this was a good way to end it for now.
I suppose with one episode left of Aldnoah Zero, it’s good that I don’t know what’s going to happen. Klancain manages to escape with Asseylum and Eddeltrittuo, and escorts them to Mazuurek’s castle, where she meets her grandfather, well, his avatar, and finds out he’s, er, unfit to lead. Personally, I would have given the emperor some completely nonsensical lines, like “Stop praying to the weasels,” but no one making this series has much of a sense of humor. Meanwhile, the earth forces launch an assault on the moonbase, and Slaine launches an all-out attack on the earth forces. Plenty of fireworks for next week, right?
Now that Asseylum has taken power ordered everyone fighting for Vers to stop, a lot of things could happen. They could ignore her, they could split into pro and anti factions and fight each other, they could attack Slaine. None of these seem completely right, and none of them take earth’s forces into account. I still have some hope that the good guys have some influence in all this, though I can’t see what that might be at the moment. Well, apparently Inaho’s orange craft is packing some serious firepower this time, but otherwise it looks like there will be war if Vers wants it, peace if it doesn’t. And there’s little the heroes can do about it. Not sure I like that ending. Well, let’s see what Inaho has up his sleeve …
Durarara!! x2 11 is as crazy as ever. We got Mikado trying to interfere with that girl’s kidnapping and getting beaten up for it by people who don’t know he’s the Dollars founder, and probably wouldn’t care if they did, until Anri shows up and beats on them instead. Kyohei and that other guy beat each other to a pulp behind the school, then they bond a little. Akane gets kidnapped again, Varona goes after Anri, other gangs show up, you know, the usual. As a plus, this seems to be old thugs week. There are losers from first season’s episode 3 and 6, and probably more if I looked closer, and that guy in the bunny suit shows up again, holding another girl this time. Apart from the rabbit suit guy, none of them fare any better in their second television appearance.
With that confession, the soaring music and triumphant return of her powers, and her big “I love you all!” speech, I briefly thought Maria the Virgin Witch 11 was the finale. But no, they have some loose ends to clear up, like Michel taking away her powers, meaning goodbyes for her familiars. I’m hoping for Maria to toss some good verbal abuse at that asshole angel before he does. The episode had a nice ending, but it took forever to get there. Galfa beat up on Joseph for too long; we were just waiting for the rescue. And waiting. The other witches showed up to help us kill the time. But the argument after Galfa is beaten was good fun, Maria basically proposing without even thinking about what she was saying, which prompted Joseph to make the next move.
Durarara!! has so many characters and so many plot balls to juggle now that in order to keep them all interesting and not ignore anyone (though they still do) that in x2 10. each plot-ball only gets a little nudge. Like a lot of episodes, this one starts with some narration and background, this time from Akane the little girl. Pretty straightforward, though I cringed when Namie and Izaya entered her story. Then as usual, the show gets bored with narration and moves on. In the meantime, Akane got from the ride from Shooter to that garage and the talk with Celty. That’s about it.
Other things seem frozen or backtracked as well. We go back, or to now (I don’t know anymore), and watch Kyohei continue their talk from 2-3 episodes ago, then agree to go to a place and duke it out. We don’t see the battle, just hear a bit of it (don’t worry, they’ll be at it next week, and possibly the week after), while we move on to the aftermath of Aoba’s gang’s fight, Shinra still talking with that gangster (Hollywood might be the new suspect in the murders), Masaomi bitching over the phone to Izaya about Mikado’s involvement in all this, and some people plan to kidnap a friend of a character I can’t remember. However, I would like to thank the person who took that picture and sent it to everyone. When people received it, you knew that they were more or less at the same point in time. Rather good anchor, that.
Maria the Virgin Witch has ramped up nicely. That kid who was put in charge of the inquisition decides to rush Maria’s execution so she can’t regain her powers in time, meaning there’s going to be a burning the next morning. Meanwhile, the French army starts bombarding the British forces. But we start with Viv, spouting her best lines yet, going against Michel, who can only mutter something about how far above it all they are, using a wheat and scythe analogy. That leaves the debate floor clear for Viv to say that God is incapable of love. I think that one actually got to Michel, as he overreacts (Viv pointed a weapon toward the heavens, or something like that, is his excuse), and that battle’s over.
More time is devoted to the preparations for battle, with Joseph running everywhere being useless and deciding to fight in order to get glory for Maria, though I don’t trust his old man. Besides, as I said, Maria’s getting burned next day anyway. More practical help is coming from the familiars, of course, the still-injured viv, and, this episode’s sleeper, Edwina, who claims she doesn’t have the right powers to stop the burning, but in that case what was that glorious if clumsy attack she pulls off? It made me smile. Meanwhile, Maria is perhaps rightly wondering why she did all the things she did if she’s just going to have the townspeople turn on her, while I was thinking she ought to trust her simpler instincts and continue as before. Finally, I wonder if Bernard is truly out of the picture yet …
In Saekano 9 we have to reconcile Tomoya and Eriri. The former was obtuse and the latter childish … well, it was sort of rude. Artistic egos need to be stroked and not ignored. So Tomoya and Utaha (with Megumi making dry asides) concoct a God-Only-Knows style plan to whisk Eriri away from a party so that things can get romantic. It wasn’t going well for Tomoya (Eriri’s stubborn) or for us (dull) until Tomoya loses his cool and tells her what he REALLY thinks about her. Painful childhood memories are dredged up, we get outrage on both sides, and we at home realize that this previous little snit is just another chapter in a long relationship painful to both of them. And it worked. Eriri decides to keep working and improve in order to show him who’s better. I think appealing to Eriri’s pride and anger was the best strategy from the start.
A great episode of Durarara!!, or Baccano! for that matter, leaves me feeling drunk and giddy. Durarara!! x2 9 left me a little tipsy. Good enough.
We get, basically, a continuation of the stories from last time. Mikado is still being confronted by Aoba about leading the Blue Squares, Celty, monitoring the situation, is being observed by Varona and that guy, Shizuo is being looked for by Awakusu gang, who thinks he offed those people, and everyone’s looking for Akane, the little girl, who’s still innocently waiting with Anri. Personalities help a lot. Shinra gets a visit from Awakasu folk and has no idea he’s saying too much, bless his heart. Celty, while being helpful and heroic as usual, can become a goofball when her cell phone goes off at the wrong time. The gangsters act like gangsters do, though the smarter ones (as Izaya puts it) have begun to figure out that Shizuo’s not to blame.
Nothing’s resolved, of course, but things get entangled. Toramaru’s gang, looking for Mikado, encounter Awakasu members, misinformation is delivered, and there’s a fight. Toramaru’s gang is looking for the leader of the Dollars and learns that it’s Mikado, though he might argue with that. But there’s plenty he doesn’t seem to recognize. Actually, the episode’s weak point is when he does, and we get the voice-over talking about staring into the abyss and things like that, but I can’t connect to that because, mostly, I don’t care. Since the famous phone episode in season one Mikado hasn’t done much but stand on the sideline and gape. The show’s best characters are the other ones. Other than that, it’s another episode of strange encounters between strange and wilful people, and you can’t predict what will happen next, or who will show up, including grannies who clean up murder scenes.
Aldnoah Zero 21 brings up my favorite question again: What the hell is Slaine thinking?
Okay, he’s made his intentions clear to Harklight more than once: he wants to create a new kingdom on Earth, with Vers technology, but before I thought his main motivation was to get Asseylum back. Now that she is, he finds her in his way and has her (and Lemrina) locked up, adding that he really doesn’t care what they think. And even uses the “If I didn’t do it, someone else would have” line. You could say power has corrupted his heart, which is what Asseylum believes after her clever switching of identities with Lemrina (I find the two princesses working together surprising, but completely logical, and it made me snicker), but it might be a stupid move. He can’t depend on either of them to talk to the Empire and placate the knights.
And he might have to do so. The battle on the ground, where three more Kataphract go down, might cause some grumbling among the counts and countesses. The Earth forces story hasn’t changed much at all. They go into a battle, briefly get their asses kicked, until Inaho gets the data he needs, and the tables are turned. The only real change on Earth’s side is the captain’s grumbling that they’re being used as pawns in the battle (yeah, well, this is war), and Inaho’s increasingly painful eye problems. I don’t see anything happening with the former; she’s loyal, after all, and the time hasn’t come for Inaho’s condition to become critical. Give it a couple episodes.
Aldnoah Zero 20, thick with plot movements on both sides, doesn’t lend itself well to any sort of analysis. Not that that’s stopped me before …
On the Earth’s side, we got the big ship rescuing what was left of the fighters on the ground, including Inaho and Marika just when they were about to get destroyed, in one of those grand moments that would normally make me cheer except this is a Dunkirk situation. And later they’re ordered to do a big attack and retake the land they lost. And Inaho’s SmartEye is beginning to pain him … How many episodes is this season? Assuming just one, we’ve got maybe four left, so this will be the big story arc to polish everything off, unless there’s a season three. I suppose they could do another season, but I’m not sure the current characters and situations can sustain it.
On the Vers side, Slaine rather surprised me by confessing all of his thoughts about Asseylum to little Eddelrittuo, proving that he isn’t simply a conniving bastard, or he is, but he’s a lonely and confused one who doesn’t want to hurt Asseylum OR Lemrina. Eddelrittuo is busy this week; she also gets some mind games from Mazuurek, who’s showing more guile than I thought him capable of. So Eddel brings a certain pendant for Asseylum, and, we assume, the important memories it tirggered. The question is, what will Asseylum do about it? And what will Lemrina do now that she’s discovered that Asseylum is no longer in her tank? And will it interfere with the invasion?
Meanwhile, in Durarara!! x2 8, the more public members of the Dollars seem to have someone confronting them and other people waiting to get them from behind. The good news is that they’re not working together. We have Mikado, who just comes along with Aoba and a bunch of young punks to an abandoned warehouse (the same as in that big fight at the end of last season?) without arguing or fighting. Aoba reveals that he’s behind the attacks on that other gang, and now he want Mikado to lead his other gang, or first gang, the Blue Squares. Meanwhile, Celty is watching from a window, having trailed the bike, and Varona and that guy are watching HER, but they’re not connected to Aoba. And so the show goes on twisting our minds.
Elsewhere, Kyouhei is followed and confronted by that gang leader (after they followed Walker for a while, while various attacks on the dollars (both in RL and online) go down. Shizuo encounters a murder scene and will certainly get blamed for it, and Celty still hasn’t seen Akane, though she will next week. And Izaya seems to be the one behind this, but I wonder if he’s responsible for the murders, or does he consider it collatoral entertainment? It hasn’t all come together yet, and probably not next week, but Durarara likes to take a few episodes to set things up and then throw us a doozy episode, and I think one’s coming soon.
Maria the Virgin Witch 8, like most of the other shows around this point in the season, is concentrating on setting up the last big story arc, and that means the bad guys are making their move. This time, Bernard provides some medicine for Anne’s grandma. It works, and so Bernard “proves” to these fictional idiots that Maria’s been poisoning her the whole time. This show has been pretty good at showing individual minor characters thinking for themselves, but they make a misstep here, I think. Meanwhile, Galfa has been put in charge of raping Maria for the good of the church, while the angels above, as usual, don’t show up. Though I do think it means they won’t show up for Bernard when he needs them, either, not that Bernard truly believes in them. Maria herself is getting less fun to watch, reeled in from acting out by both friends and enemies. Oh, and that weird god Cernunnos shows up, but he made even less sense than usual.
In Durarara x2 7 we get … more setting up. There seems to be two different stories going on now. One has to do with Mikado and the threat to the dollars. Izaya has conned him into doing something about whatever it is, suggesting that that Dollars would evolve into something beyond Mikado if he doesn’t get it in line. And that would apparently be bad. I’ve never figured out the Dollars’ identity myself. Mikado had created sort of an invisible group that was autonomous and acted out of good intentions, and that’s partly why most of the show’s good guys, some of them former gang members, have joined. But there are thugs acting under the Dollars name, now. But that was the case before. Does Mikado even have the power to fix it? Anyway, Izaya has him conned into doing something, which won’t be good for the lad.
Much more interesting right now is the other story. We get the background on Varona, the nutty, murderous blonde. She’s the daughter of a Russian gangster, and trained with Simon (the first real background we’ve gotten for him in two seasons) in her younger days. Not that it matters. In this part of Tokyo she’s just another nut, and not a nice one. So it was fun to first watch Anri turn the tables on her, and then Celty. I’d been looking forward to the latter for two episodes now. Next week it looks like Mikado get in trouble, or get conned some more, but I’d much rather watch Celty’s reaction when she goes home with Anri and sees that kid.
Aldnoah Zero 19 at least finds a release for one of its stories; the Vers ramp up their assault of Earth by, gasp, working together rather than going off half-cocked on their own. This changes everything. The biggest weakness Vers had was that they were idiots in battle. They had everything else going for them. You can thank/blame Slaine for this, as, in the other story, he has more or less taken control of Vers and is actually interested in running this war effectively. The reason for his autonomy is the announcement that Asseylum will marry him, an announcement that has the opposite reaction to what I thought would happen. I thought we’d be in for lots of infighting and treachery from rogue counts, but instead they’ve mostly gone “Yay!” and the few that haven’t aren’t worth mentioning.
That is, until someone besides Slaine and that little maid learn that the real Asseylum has woken up. Apparently she’s lost a lot of her memories (though, apparently not about Inaho) and is safe to manipulate for now, but Slaine knows the dilemma he’s in. This might be the reason he’s escalating the war now; he hopes to get it done with so he can then turn to his upcoming troubles in Vers. Or perhaps he’s REALLY pissed off that Asseylum remembers Inaho. Probably a little of both. So next week I expect we’ll see the Earth forces retreating a lot and more of Asseylum remembering things or wondering what the hell’s going on outside her pleasure dome.