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Flying Witch 11 and finale, Delta 13

June 28, 2016 Leave a comment

We get the final two episodes of Flying Witch at once. I haven’t seen episode 12 yet, but #11 is a delight.

flyingwitch11-1This is such a quiet, peaceful show that a flying whale traveling the world whose back contains the ruins of an ancient civilization … well, it IS of great interest to Akane, Makoto, and of course Chinatsu, the same way a yearly festival might be, but it only takes half the episode and the girls (including Anzu from the coffee shop) are home by breakfast. The whale has sailed away and everyone settles in for a breakfast of hotcakes. The ensuing discussion of the origin of hotcakes, by the standards of this show, almost as interesting as that giant flying whale and the speculation about the civilization that once lived on it; meanwhile the show smiles at us and doesn’t divulge any extra information. Would you like a hotcake?

A lot of flying sea creatures today.

A lot of flying sea creatures today.

The series ends in a fairly understated way. It being the final episode you expect the side characters to make a brief appearance, and so we meet Nao and Inukai as Makoto flies to the fabric store to buy materials to make new witch robes for herself and Chinatsu. The first half, in fact, is all about the robe-making, or rather, it’s about Chinatsu’s excitement over her robe. We never see Makoto wearing hers. In the second half we meet earthfish, which is exactly what you think they are, but I bet you didn’t guess they like festivals. Speaking of which, there is a festival coming up, but apart from some still shots during the credits we don’t get to see it. Too many other wonders all around.

One more of Chinatsu, putting on a spell every little sister would do given the chance.

One more of Chinatsu, putting on a spell every little sister would do given the chance.

A lovely series which was touted as being about Makoto’s learning to be a good witch but was more interested in the small, everyday magical things in the world, some of which were supernatural and some not. The pheasant is treated with the same sense of wonder as the earthfish are. Making tempura out of seasonal herbs gets as much attention as any of the spells Akane casts. Big and little things are celebrated when they come, then we say goodbye to them, until next time. They could make more of this series–we only see the family over spring and early summer, I believe. What about winter? What will they quietly welcome then? And the anime world always has more room for quiet, rural shows. Now that Flying Witch is over, what’s going to replace it?

Macross Delta 13 brought us the big battle they promised. I feel a little underwhelmed.

So, how's the battle going?

So, how’s the battle going?

Basically, Windemere shows up but Elysion takes out its amps, at least temporarily. So it looks like the good guys are winning. But then that NUNS asshole decides to set off the bomb in the ruins, destroying much of that little town, and nearly Hayate (nice save Mirage) and revealing something that doesn’t look much like ruins. The Windemere big ship connects with it, no need for amps now, and the bad guys are winning and the good guys are ordered to run away. Which they do, but not before Freyja starts muttering “rune, rune” and jumps off the edge of the stage, her song inspiring Hayate, smashing through Windemere defenses, and THEN the good guys run away.

See, when Freyja focuses, she can be really cool.

See, when Freyja focuses, she can be really cool.

Well, Gramia’s dead, so that’s something. Keith might be dead too, but I wouldn’t put it above the show to bring him back. On the other hand, the bad guys won the ruins and thus have supreme control. That’s part of the underwhelming part. Also, I’m getting tired of the cockpit cliches. Hayate hears Freyja’s voice and nearly gets shot down. Mirage reacts to something else and nearly gets shot down. I swear, the pilots on this show all seem to have an attention deficit disorder of one kind or another. Once or twice it wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s being repeated way too often for it not to get on my nerves. Ernest is about the only one there with any focus at all. I’m also tired of Freyja flaking out during a song every time Hayate’s in trouble. Get a grip, people! Sing or fight!

Kuromukuro 10, Asterisk 11, Tanaka-kun and Flying Witch 10

June 14, 2016 Leave a comment
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Evil person.

Kuromukuro 10 gives us one or two dollops of information and spends the rest of its time with pointless side bits. The surrendering bad guy, Fusnarie, gets questioned by the UN and tells us that they invaded 450 years ago but the advance party was driven off by the Black Glongur (relic), though of course he talks in terms of bringing civilization to enlightened masses. He also casts doubt on Kennosuke’s story, the most interesting bit of the episode. How could Kennosuke have piloted the mecha back then? And we get other questions, like how did the princess steal the damn thing? They also don’t try to answer why Yukina can bring it to life, though I don’t know why not. Most likely Fusnarie is holding out and we’ll find out next week. Meanwhile, can we please get Marina and Ryouto off this show? Their antics have little to do with anything, apart from the old sayings Marina tries this week. The show is spending way too much time with them.

Maybe evil person.

Maybe evil person.

I can’t say I like how Gakusen Toshi Asterisk is handling the story right now. They won the Phoenix Festa last week, or was it the week before, leaving us a couple of episodes where they’re not sure what to do. Sure, they set up next season’s arc by putting more pressure on Ayato and Julis to quit the Gryps Festa, and, oh, get married. And they introduced Ophelia, Julis’s former BFF and now a supremely powerful fighter who works for evil and nearly kills Julis without a second thought, well, there’s a trace of regret. She and her excellent light show are good plot seeds for next season, so it’s a good time to plant them, but now what? All Julis can do is mope and visit the dull orphanage, while Ayato in her wake. There’s still an episode to go. … Maybe they can dispatch that Gustave guy before the season ends. He gets on my nerves.

Miyano-chan is not evil at all.

Miyano-chan is not evil at all.

Tanaka kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge 10 listlessly takes care of Tanaka’s summer, first in an okay scene at the pool, the best part being his masterly skill of floating. Ohta’s description of it is one of his better efforts. However, I don’t believe that Tanaka wouldn’t know about this amazing ability before now. After that we get a good segment where Miyano looks for a yukata that will actually fit her, and Shiraishi does a sweet thing. The show always gets better when the “human bullet” is around. We get her excitement when she gets the two boys to come to the festival, and her deflated noise when Shiraishi announces that she can’t, sort of a “a-ruh-guh.” Almost every episode of this show has a character making a noise which puts me on the floor laughing.

In spite of her expression, Nao is not evil, just a bad cook.

In spite of her expression, Nao is not evil, just a bad cook.

Flying Witch 10 had absolutely no magic in it, I think. Even Akane, who likes to cast little silly spells out of curiosity or boredom, doesn’t do anything special. Instead, we watch a home ec class where Nao, who avoids cooking, is forced to make hamburg steak. We watch the series of recipe steps the same way we might watch Makoto or Akane prepare a witch’s spell, that is, like it’s a cooking show. Happy to say that they made no jokes at Nao’s expense (apart from cutting the onions, but she isn’t the only one) like other shows might–she makes no mistakes and prepares a perfectly good meal. After learning about hamburg steaks, we learn about apple thinning in the orchard, and how they trim apple trees so they’re low to the ground, so don’t bump your head. Another quiet rural experience in a show which is supposed to be about witches, but who cares?

Delta 10, Witch 9, Asterisk 22, Kumamiko 10

June 7, 2016 Leave a comment

I should have seen it coming in Macross Delta 10 …

Alas, not for long ...

Alas, not for long …

There are reasons why I didn’t. First, Messer looked like he was going to be peacefully shipped off to a Vars-free environment and teach recruits, not that we believed for a second that he would stay gone long; I figured there would be a return in the nick of time episode, maybe five episodes from now. I didn’t expect him to come roaring back into the battle immediately. That’s one reason. Another was that mysterious comment: “The vars has consumed him, but he’s controlling it!” a wrinkle I expect them to fully explore later, but with Messer as the test subject. The third reason I didn’t expect it: there were no pineapples, just lots of jellyfish.

Should have seen it coming ...

Should have seen it coming …

I should have seen it, however. Messer gets quality goodbye time with Kaname, though we didn’t know the goodbye would be permanent. In fact, everyone gets to say goodbye to him. Don’t know if the show’s pineapple character ever got a send-off before. Aside from THAT, it was an interesting episode anyway. The good guys showed that they suck as a squadron when Messer isn’t around. We had some “conflicting” waves that sent Freyja and Mikumo, and maybe the princess, er, prince, so a different dimension or something. The only thing lacking is on the Windermerean side. There’s conflict there, but no one is out and out rebelling yet. Everyone just complains a little or gives worried looks about the princess, er, prince.

Toasting with radishes, of course.

Toasting with radishes, of course.

Flying Witch 9 has Inukai coming over to apologize for the other day and to use her skills to help out with any problems they might have. Trouble is, no can think of any. Also, she brings a Japanese treat instead of cookies going against the book Chinatsu’s mom wrote. Anyway, she tells fortunes that sort of come true. None of it really matters because the magic on this show is an aside, something to liven up a moment or that can potentially happen in this rural-domestic world. For instance little jokes are made about the mandrake Makoto is growing, but the highlight of the show is looking at the edamame buds and harvesting the radishes, and eating them, not magical at all, but just as satisfying as the talking origami Akane makes.

Party time!

Party time!

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk 22 has the gang pay a visit to Lieseltania, Yulis’s kingdom, over winter break, whereupon everyone talks a lot. Claudia wants them to make a team with her for the Gryps Festa–geez, they just won a festa, give the kids a break, and besides, what about that long-lost sister? In other talk Saya wants to apologize to Ayato for not communicating enough after they were separated; unlike Claudia’s talk this one isn’t a plot-mover but a loose end to tie up. Julis talks about her puppet brother, her puppet country, and how she’d really like to change everything, as if the show wasn’t busy enough right now. Kirin wants Ayato to lend her his arm. Finally, a friendly geezer tries to get Ayato NOT to join the Gryps team, and then whips out a monster when he refuses. Some action at last! I nearly cheered. BTW, Saya becomes even more my favorite character by not paying attention to the rules and bringing a weapon to the party. Came in handy.

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Not much to Kumamiko this week. Machi wants a cell phone, even though it’s repeated over and over that there’s no reception. But all the cool kids, well, all the kids, have one … leading to a bizarre quiz from Yoshiro that Machi nearly fails because she has very little sense. After that it’s another episode of Yoshiro humiliating Machi by trying to remove her clothes by force so she’ll dress up as an idol (Machi has SOME sense–that outfit IS weird) for a disgusting event attended by idiots. Natsu is somehow fine with all this, and Hibiki is somehow won over, though she at least roughs Yoshio up first. I wish someone in this series would stand up for that poor girl.

Kuromukuro and Flying Witch 8, Asterisk 21, Delta 9

May 31, 2016 Leave a comment
About the only action we get this episode.

About the only action we get this episode.

Kuromukuro 8, to my surprise, has no battle in it, well, one slice at the very end after an interesting chase (the robot tried to go under the log.  Note that for later).  In fact, the episode dithered a bit too much.  Perfectly fine for Yukina’s absense to simply be a big pout, and I guess it’s okay that those two boys are okay after all; rather amused by the idea that the big one thinks Yukina’s absense is because of him.  We get some political fallout from the bad guys nicely requesting that their weapon of war be returned, but not much.  We get Kennosuke repeating the line “She’s not a tool!,” but it wasn’t such a big deal because he’s always tried to treat Yukina respectfully anyway, when he’s not insulting her.  Basically, we have characters catching up with events this week, again, until the end, where we get the big surprise.

The gang annoy a paying customer.

The gang annoy a paying customer.

Flying Witch 8 ambles on without a care, like the other episodes.  We start back at the cafe, where there’s a silly misunderstanding concerning the owner and her daughter, probably the weakest thing in the episode because Makoto comes off as being an blithering idiot.  But after it’s straightened out things get charming.  We meet other guests, two ladybugs on a date, the Veil of Darkness, and a fox, though it bugs me that Makoto and Chinatsu would be so keen on bothering other, paying guests who just want a cup of tea or a thistle.  The guests, happily, are fine with it.  Then, 3/4ths of the episode in, the show decides to show us the credits and a little side story concerning Akane.  I sort of admire that.  The cafe scenes weren’t unnaturally squeezed or stretched to fit a 24-minute block, but allowed to run as long as it needed, no more, no less.

Something big is happening, but we can't see it for the reaction shots.

Something big is happening, but we can’t see it for the reaction shots.

I had said that the Gakuen Toshi Asterisk 21’s battle would wrap up quickly, with Ayato getting his Sers back and all, but the show dragged it out by having AR-D get more powerful, up to danger levels.  However, they did not ramp up his way with words, so we get a lot of “So this is my true power!” lines.  At least he was enjoying himself, even after he got beat.  Meanwhile, Ayato got his Sers serviced by Julis to increase its speed.  I’d like to see the ratio of battle with talking in this match …  But after all that it gets deadly dull, as everyone has to congratulate the victors, and more “We couldn’t have done it without you” lines, and of course Flora has to tearfully thank everybody.  Much more interesting is Yabuki, former bro, now deadly killer on the good guys’ side.  Anyway, now the festa is over and we can get on with finding that sister, and we get an excellent hint where she is …
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Macross Delta 9 was set up to be Messer’s episode, and it mostly is.  We see a nasty flashback in a dream, probably the catalyst for the var, and then we have Hayate and Freyja confronting him about the issue.  It’s about the first time that we’ve seen Messer as a human and not as an emotionless jerk commander who goes around pissing people off, and it’s welcome.  The relationship between the three is now partly based on trust and respect.  Naturally we have to have a battle to see Messer nearly lose it before Kaname’s singing and pleading pulls him back.  Their bond is one of the other things the episode presents us, and it gives us some background on Kaname.  Also, the bad guys discover ruins on Ragna, Hayate learns he has the fold ability, and they push the love triangle pieces around as Freyja wonders what Hayate and Mirage are sneaking about doing (worrying about Messer, of course).  It all feels uneventful, but they got a lot of things accomplished this week.

Asterisk 20, Flying Witch 7, Delta 8

May 26, 2016 Leave a comment

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk 20 has to carry both Ayato and Julis’s finals match and Kirin and Saya’s rescue mission.  Didn’t expect both of them to finish up in one episode, but they came close.

The opponents, looking impressive.

The opponents, looking impressive.

Starting with the match, we get some pre-planned maneuvers and, as usual in this series, too much talk, as A/J try a couple of neat maneuvers, regroup, try something else, and, surprisingly, manage to take out the RM-C but not before she flings all her extra weapons and power to AR-D, making him damn near invincible.  The details were a question, but this was to be expected.  The good guys getting their shots in first means this would be a three-round battle, with the good guys winning #1, the bad guys winning #2 and the good guys winning #3, though we haven’t gotten there yet.  So we switch to …

This didn't really happen.

This didn’t really happen.

Saya and Kirin, who have to rescue Flora and not get killed by that shadow guy.  This proves to be tough since, like the other battle, they don’t work terribly well as a team.  If this guy can mechanize shadows, a couple big flares ought to take care of him until they get Flora out, but Saya uses the trick only once.  Yeah, the guy used Kirin’s shadow from the flare, so how about TWO flares, Saya?  And in the end, Kirin does some sneaky virtual swords tricks to almost disable the bad guy while nearly dead while Saya is … reloading, I guess.  Well, they save Flora but Kirin’s nearly dead.  That last bit is not related to A/J by Claudia in her charming interruption of the match, but the Flora rescue is, so Ayato can use his Sers, meaning the battle should be over within one minute of episode 21.

Chinatsu's in the wrong rural show.

Chinatsu’s in the wrong rural show.

Flying Witch is turning into one of those shows where nothing much happens but I don’t care in the slightest.  In episode 7 the gang go up a mountain to pick herbs.  There might be bears around!  But all they do is pick ostrich ferns.  The only other point to make is that Nao is afraid of frogs.  When they get back to the house Kei seasons them (with closeups that again make me think this is partly a cooking show in disguise), and they eat.  Chinatsu doesn’t like them much.  This is the level of drama the show brings us, and I don’t care.
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The first half could happen to anyone, well, apart from the cat, so in the second half they bring in the magic by having Makoto, Kei, and Chinatsu visit a mysterious cafe that only witches know about, though there are few enough of them that I wonder how they stay in business.  I ought to add that the ruined house was one of the most striking backgrounds I’ve seen.  Once inside there’s more magic, but it’s cute and charming with a shy ghost waitress, and then the episode is over before I wanted it to be, apart from an epilogue.  Wouldn’t mind seing the ghost girl again, or meeting the witch.

Pillage BEFORE you burn, damn it!

Pillage BEFORE you burn, damn it!

Macross Delta 8 starts where we left off, with the good guys trapped and the bad guys pointing guns and swords at them.  Worse, one of the bad guys is Bogue, who would rather just kill them all, except he and his blonde pal are stopped by Roid, their boss.  Still since they have the upper hand, they get to make some speeches about how it’s okay that they’re brainwashing people with water and apples because they’re the victims, and besides, it’s war.  Hayate, to his credit, finds a few chances to push Bogue’s buttons (and get further beaten up in the process).  All the while, they’re calling Freyja a traitor, which leads to Mikuno’s question: Why the hell is she singing, anyway?  I hate questions like these because the answer can’t always be put into words, but the show demands one, and by the end, we get it.
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It takes a battle, however.  Naturally Walkure mess up the baddies’ plans (what was Mikuno doing all this time?), and soon we have the good guys trying to get off the planet in their various craft, but it gets complicated when that princess, er, prince starts singing again.  The ruins were resonating with his sound, but then with the Walkure’s counter-song, meanwhile Hayate and Freyja get into a mini-crisis involving the vars-afflicted father from last week.  Freyja was taken aback when Bogue or whoever told her that song was an illusion, but now she reaffirms that it’s the truth, and in pulling the father back, she has her answer, as silly and inane as it is, spoken to Mikuno, who seemed to have been hiding her amusement.  No matter.  Freyja has her answer, Hayate manages to impress Messer a little, it’s all good.

Sixes: Kuromukuro, Tanaka-kun, Flying Witch

May 17, 2016 Leave a comment

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Kurumukuro 6 is an extensive mecha battle where they manage to smash up the airport, which is no fun for me because I’ve never actually been there. Good battle anyway. It starts with a buildup using clips from last week and then we have the three-on-one with Kennosuke/Yukina vs the Yellow Crab and the two dullahan minions. Naturally at first it goes badly for our heroes; it would have been worse had the dullahan not been idiots, deciding to fight one moment and then letting their boss do it. Maybe the answer to that lies in the enemy mecha pilot, a human, full of honor and all that, making them fall back (so they’re taken out by Tom and Sophie). In spite of it being dusk and then night, the battle is clear and understandable, though they don’t explain how Ken’s machine withstands the nanobot attack, or what those little glowing things Yukina was looking at meant. As for the two classmates, dead or not, I’m glad they didn’t interfere with the battle by being there demanding rescue.

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Tanaka-kun wa itsumo Kedaruge 6 breaks the reality rule for me. Most everything else that’s happened, no matter how farfetched, could still be considered plausable in Tanaka’s world, but for him to believe he can develop a rain barrier skill (or for that matter, dodge raindrops) breaks the character a little, maing him seem more stupid than he really is. Apart from that it was another fun episode. I expected a “sick Tanaka” episode to have lots of bedside scenes, but instead he actually comes to school. Leading to an adorable umbrella-sharing scene with Shiraishi. However, I didn’t really laugh at his and Ohta’s efforts to find new ways to communicate to be very effective. Overall, Echizen’s bits were better, with mistaken belief that she must choose between marrying Tanaka or Ohta. Thus her tough front and inner girly-mode stand at odds with each other. Meanwhile Miyano runs around in both scenes, doing her best (and succeeding) in livening up both.

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Flying Witch 6 … not much to say about it. Like the others, very little happens, yet an episode breezes by in no time at all and I’m never bored. In this one, Chinatsu decides to become a witch. This bit takes up half the episode, well, other things happen. Makoto practices her flying, Kei hangs around, that sort of thing. The spell that Akane teaches Chinatsu makes the episode feel like a cooking show, or at least reminded me of the tempura they made awhile back. The result of the spell wasn’t all that funny, though the mom had fun with it. It was the getting to the spell that made it enjoyable.

Flying Witch 4-5, Asterisk 6

May 12, 2016 2 comments

Falling behind again.

Well, THAT didn't work ...

Well, THAT didn’t work …

Didn’t realize I was still two episodes behind with a show: Flying Witch.  Still, this show continues to breeze by so quickly that two episodes felt like only twenty minutes … okay, thirty.  In episode 4 we meet another witch, Inukai, who had an unfortunate encounter with Akane’s experimental chocolates and now looks like a dog-girl in the daytime.  I believe that, in spite of the revelation of what really happened, Akane share some of the blame.  She had the chocolates and even showed them to Inukai.

An adventure!

An adventure!

In episode five, we go on two walks with Chito the cat, with Chinatsu and Makoto in tow each in for one.  Chinatsu’s is treated something like an adventure, and it ends with a mystery that keeps us watching the second, where Chito shows Makoto all the cool places he found the first time.  It works partly because we don’t know anything about Chito and can’t read his behavior.  He obviously understands the human activity around him, but at the same time, he’s still a cat.  Another reason it works is because this is a leisurely, patient show that can bear the repetition of two nearly identical walks, in fact, seeing everything twice just makes things seem more secure.  How the show does this I can’t figure out.

Our heroes scurry off to look for Flora.

Enemy dispatched quickly, our heroes run off to look for Flora.

Surprised that Gakusen Toshi Asterisk 6(18) brought us the semi-final battle so quickly, and ended it in the first half, even with a few flashback interruptions.  Also surprised that such a weak team (a prodigy with little experience and an experienced but rather stupid teammate) made it this far into the tournement.  But there’s plenty of other story-fodder to get through so I guess it’s okay.  Maybe they’ll get the final over relatively quickly and spend the next few episodes taking care of Ayato’s sister issues.  Anyway, the second half featured the hunt for Flora, going mostly nowhere even with help from those two girls from last season (that WAS Priscilla at the end, wasn’t it?).  But my favorite moments came with a little talk between Ernesta, who both have goals I actually find altruistic, Ernesta to make sentient beings that will be accepted, and Camilla to bring the world a weapon that can be used by anyone, not just gifted people.  Makes me sad I have to root against them …