Planet With 11, Harukana and Isekai Maou finales

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Today’s magic word is “forgive.”

After last week’s craziness, Planet With 11 starts off sedately enough, five years in the future, sort of a “Where are they now?” feeling to it even though the story isn’t over yet. Everyone except the ojiisan is still around, and we learn that they have psychic powers because of the armor that the dragon gave them … wait, why does Nozomi have powers then? She was the show’s standard normal, unpowered character. Well, nevermind. Souya is taller and more mature. No longer interested in revenge, he, with the encouragement of Ginko and all the aliens who have assembled near Earth to assist, want to forgive the dragon. It goes on in this nice way most of the episode until the dragon wakes up, and we find it’s the Paradise guy’s brother. Paradise guy looks like Souya’s lost brother, but little is made of the connection, or the fact that Souya first fought partly to avenge his own brother. And so, the metaphors are locking into place, and we’ll have the big battle, if there is one–probably a lot of forgiving violence, next week.

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Championship point.

Harukana Receive ends, and for my money the wrong girls won. There’s just no way a relative beginner should advance against Eclair, no matter how good her teammate Kanata is. At least they didn’t delay the final point too much. There was an annoying Haruka memories bit before the last rally, and more ridiculous comments from courtside from Ai, or is it Mai, which they had to repeat twice. Still, it was over with over half the episode to go. After that it was tidying up. Harukana felt down for winning, Claire, of course, puts on her happy face and tells them to be happy. Eclair have to have a moment by themselves, of course, and then a beach barbecue party, and that’s about it.

harukanareceive12-2So now the girls will go to nationals, and unless there’s a season two, we won’t get to see it. We still have emotional blobs about Kanata and Harumi to work out, so the creators have the material. But will I watch it? Well, season one wasn’t all that great, not bad, mind you, but nothing I would recommend to anyone unless they were into girls bouncing around in bikinis. Haruka, the main character, had the least dimension to her. Kanata was all right, but apart from her growth she couldn’t give that much, especially when the show didn’t cover the situation with Harumi, one of Kanata’s biggest character points. Claire and Emily were always fun to watch. Akari hardly had anything to do after she joined. The matches, as I said last week, weren’t all that exciting to watch. Too many slow-motion shots and the like. If there is a second season, well, I don’t know …

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One more of Claire,
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Diablo starts the job …

Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu finishes too, with the big battle between KlemSkulm and Diablo, which concludes in predictable fashion. Klem has Diablo running around for a while, he whips out some big magic which weakens Klem, but it takes the revived Rem to appeal to Klem before the battle can stop. After that there’s the decision of what to do with Klem. Sylvie doesn’t want her in the city, so Klem agrees to become Diablo’s slave. After that there’s the matter of Alicia. In perhaps a too-long scene, where everyone has to give speeches, all is forgiven and she leaves town. After that it’s more sexy time, of course.

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… Rem finishes it.

Not a great show unless you like fanservice. The best moments came from Diablo, a human loner nerd who has to struggle with people in his life for the first time, lapsing into his demon lord persona because he had no other way to interact, yet also trying to be decent to these strange new people who need his help or not give into temptation when they pull off their clothes and hop into bed with him. Alas, none of the other characters had much going for them apart from their stock fantasy-world personas. I didn’t mind the fact that Diablo was overpowered and capable of winning every battle, I think because in its core this was a silly fantasy comedy and not a straight-up adventure series. As for a second season, I’d probably watch it. They have things they can work with, the Fallen and the Elves for example, and they can always invent a new race or two.

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One more of almost all the girls, all naked of course.
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Island and Harukana 11, Saibou and Planet With 10

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Good to be back.

Island 11 only advances the story a little, and it happens in the final minute. But that’s okay, because Setsuna’s back on the island, and it’s summer! Not only that, he’s back at the same time he came back before, but he doesn’t meet himself, which is odd because Saya has a throwaway line about travelers meeting themselves, but let it pass. Since he knows what’s going to happen, he spares us from repeating all the old story arcs and wraps them up before the episode is over. Karen’s sneaking on the boat, meeting Sara, Karen’s trip, the shack, the island, everything is done, until we find ourselves in an outdoor festival we didn’t see before, so it’s time for new stuff. This time it’s weirdness with Kuon, Rinne’s mom, who, in an old photo, is wearing the same homemade ring Setsuna gave Rinne. Not only that, but we finally get a peek into her room and see she’s got another pod in there. So is Setsuna actually Rinne’s father and he’s doing a loop? Who’s the dad in the picture? Well, there’s only one episode left, not enough time to whip up much drama, so I guess there will be one crisis, averted, and then lots of happy gooey sentimental stuff.

hatarakusaibou10-1Hataraku Saibou 10 starts as just another day in the body, with all the cells doing their cell-stuff, everyone chugging happily along, the one threat used as an introduction to the guys in the yellow suits (monocytes, we’re told). I would have been happy if the entire episode was like this low-stress happy time, but you know they have to give us something serious (though I frankly don’t know why–just let the body be healthy for once). This time it’s the return of the staph cell, but she’s stronger now and has some nasty tricks up her sleeve. And so we meet the only cell in the show we haven’t learned about yet–the lovely and deadly macrophages, who turn out to be the monocytes out of their suits. Apart from the explanations it was all pretty routine. I enjoyed Red’s visit to the nasal cavity with all its amenities for relaxing the hard-working cells. It’s good to see them get a break now and then.

harukanareceive11-1Harukana Receive 11 is one of the reasons why I rarely watch sports anime. I can understand Harukana winning the second set to make things more exciting, and the switches to side characters watching or wondering who’s winning, but then they draw out the final set with endless pronouncements of “We will win this!” from both sides and at the end of the episode it stands at deuce. If the gameplay was at least fun to watch maybe I wouldn’t mind so much, but the action scenes have gotten repetitive, Claire and Haruka rising to spike or block, close-ups of the ball flying around, all in slow motion. The creators have nothing else to show us. So now we have to wait until NEXT week to crown the champion …

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The only show I know of where fighters on both sides use performance-enhancing drugs.

Planet With 10, on the other hand, has a fight so nutty and fun that I thought for sure it was the finale. Souya challenges the big dog, who suggests they meet in a week for the final battle. But there are no delays in the story here–the show immediately jumps to a week later and a deserted island where both sides and cause damage. The others are invited too, mainly to provide commentary. It’s pretty evenly matched, both sides giving and receiving damage, when Takezou roars in with his great final blow to avenge his son, and, having done so, falls out of the action while dog and cat continue their battle, just a non-sequitor moment, or maybe the show decided they needed the trailing plot-strand sewed up.

planetwith10-2The battle goes on until they’re … in SPAAACE … where they knock each other out, fall to earth, wake up, swallow themselves again, and how they’re huge machines, still trading blows, until a hole is opened in the big dog and Souya and the rest charge into it, leading to a sort of de-evolving, until they’re back in human form, and the final blow is made. Again, the action was exciting, kind of ridiculous at times considering the people fighting it, while the CGI manages not to call too much attention to itself and the soundtrack blares inspiring, old-school anime fighting anthems. I thought for sure that everything was taken care of and this was a rare, ten-episode series, but there’s still that dragon to fight in five years, actually next week. While I wait I will wonder why there aren’t more shows that can be out-and-out goofy as this one.

Saibou and Planet With 09, Harukana 10, Revue Starlight 9, Isekai Maou 10

Hatarakusaibou9-1Hataraku Saibou 9 features Killer T, well the one we’ve watching, and the story of his arduous training alongside who would become Helper T and a bunch of other grunts. Helper T was a genius who always did best, and Killer T was a low-confidence bumbler. Naturally, they are enemies and rivals, but they secretly hold respect for the other one, with lots of army-type scenes, shouting, punches of love, etc etc. The stuff of many a manga, I’m sure, and one I don’t really want to watch. Apart from the interesting facts the voice-over gives us, nothing much redeems the episode. White Cell is hardly seen, same with the platelets, and I don’t recall seeing Red at all. Let’s move on to the next episode.

planetwith9-1Saibou might have been a letdown this week, but Planet With brings everything together with the silliest and most dramatic confrontation I’ve seen in a while. It comes down to two people’s desires. First we have Yosuke, who has come to the realization that he can never have Benika (and frankly, she’s way too cool for him), and to deal with that pain and others, decides he will seal the world and stop their evolution forever. Torai tries to stop him, then Miu and Harumi, wait, weren’t they on the same side? Anyway, they fail, and everything is sealed … except Souya, thanks to that cosmic being guy. Which leads us to the other person this episode’s about.

planetwith9-2A few episodes ago it was clear that Souya had no clear reasons for fighting once the threat of the dragon was gone. Besides, this isn’t his planet–let them make their own mistakes. But Nozomi talks to him and says “I’m on the side of the people I want to befriend!” and Souya’s eyes went wide. I guess then seeing Nyan, Ginko, and Nozomi all sealed made him realize that he actually did care for some things on this planet. First, a speech to the sealed people to wake them up, then, as the music soars, Souya, the big cat, and the cute maid take on Yosuke. The scene is very exciting and triumphant, but also kind of loopy when you consider who the heroes are:

planetwith9-3Most importantly, Souya finally has something to fight for, and while we were expecting this realization for weeks, having it happen doesn’t take away from the moment.

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Claire’s game face.

Harukana Receive 10 starts the final match, and naturally they don’t do it all in one episode. The first set takes up most of it, and early on it’s Haruka marveling at how intense Eclair gets when in a match, especially Claire, normally so carefree but now downright scary with her game face on. They get an early lead, but naturally Harukana regroup and keep it close. That’s expected, I suppose, but I really wonder if Harukana have any business being in a final game against Eclair, even though they trained together and had their mom as their coach. Well, Kanata’s no slouch, either. We get a flashback to when Emily learned to assert herself (Ironically, a loss to Kanata), and a bit where Shii sings her song on the sideline, at which point I muttered “Can we get back to the match now?” Not to mention some surprise moves by both sides. So next week we’ll finish the second set. I just hope they don’t extend it for too long. Finally, why do I find myself rooting for Eclair?

revuestarlight9-1It’s hard to tell at first who Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight 9 is going to feature. At times it looked like Karen and Hikari, but it settles on Banana again. She STILL can’t let go of the 99th performance, and in fact is acting a little crazy about it to Junna. She talks about that performance and how it brought everyone together, and how she doesn’t want to let it go, even as the script, costumes and weapons undergo changes. Meanwhile, we get the entire story of Starlight from Hikari, from the original book, and, yep, it’s depressing, and, judging from the flashbacks, not a great choice for showing off the talents of the school’s best performers, but let that pass. Two goddesses, Claire and Flora, try to reach the star in order to get Flora’s memory back, and she does, but Flora loses her sight and vanishes somewhere. Karen and Hikari can easily see themselves in those roles, and they happily imagine it together.

revuestarlight9-2Banana’s true feelings come out in the duel with Karen, not Hikari, because Banana realized that it’s Karen’s new passion that changed the circumstances and ruined Banana’s dream of a repeat performance. In the battle Banana admits she doesn’t understand why Karen is so passionate to go to the new, blinding light. Karen’s replies among the sword slashes are banal, though true enough: every performance is different, people need to move forward, etc. And because these duels are won by who has the better argument and not by skill, Karen wins. Fortunately for Banana, Junna is around to console her and quote famous westerners about moving forward, and Banana seems fine with it all. It all makes me wonder if the auditions (and they’re almost done, says the giraffe) are going to do something unpleasant but beautiful to the girl who finally wins. Will Karen actually lose her eyes, or vanish into the star, of which there are two? What about Hikari? Your guess is as good as mine.

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Demon logic.

Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu 10 takes the ultimate story arc, getting that demon out of Rem’s body, and makes it ridiculous. Let’s ignore what Diablo has to do to get to KrebSkulm, if you can, get to what has been obvious to anyone watching the ED: Krebskulm is a pre-teen girl in skimpy girls who isn’t sure why she should destroy all mortals, and since the ones here are nice to her and offer her biscuits, she happily joins up with them. More biscuits! There’s brief interference by another demon, who gives a good fight and then runs. If the show hits another season I’m sure we’ll see more of him. Also, Rem is torn because Krebskulm did mayhem to her people and family, so there’s a moral issue. And we get a new story arc at the end when Alicia seems to go a little crazy, but I didn’t understand it. It will be an anticlimax if that becomes the last story arc. These are a lot of issues to resolve in the last two episodes. Probably the show will turn silly and resolve them in ten minutes, leaving more time for Diablo and the three girls (Four? Five?) in bed.

Saibou 9, Harukana 8-9, Isekai Maou 9, Starlight 8, Island 10

hatarakusaibou8-1Hataraku Saibou 8 leaves me a little confused, in that the episode was straightforward, Red cell trying to deliver her CO2 without getting too lost and with White sneaking around behind her, helping her out, but hasn’t Red been to the heart before? I mean, it was fun to watch, with the heart depicted as a sort of massive transportation depot, with ventricles going this way and that (and frankly, I would easily get lost if I had her route), and the yin-yang sign at the entrance, but surely her job is to go to the heart and get sent somewhere else. Surely this would be an everyday occurrence for her, but she’s never taken the trip before … My favorite bit this week was probably the red cells getting sweets to refresh themselves, since they rely on glucose for energy, you see. Oh, White cell gets punched and bleeds red blood. It’s just a show …

harukanareceive8-1Harukana Receive 8 is still in the middle of their between-tournament downtime episodes. We do get a new character, Marissa, Eclair’s mom, basically a taller, more mature, and just as sexy blonde girl, who kindly becomes their coach with no one objecting. I wondered if they were going to make her a super-sadistic demon coach, but while she’s hardcore, she’s not cruel, and she knows the backstory, that is, she knows what happened to Kanata and is pleased to see how Haruka has opened her up. The big moment comes at the end, when it turns out Harumi and Ayasa are at the airport, so they rush over and Kanata manages to get a small affirmation from Harumi of the promise they once had. So it’s a happy episode, filled with practices, popsicles, Marissa’s Yukari-sensei-style driving, and New Year visits to the shrine, the first time I can remember such a scene where everyone is wearing summer clothes and not coats.

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Well, not until next week …

Tired of all that interim stuff, episode 9 jumps to the actual qualifier tournament and some bad news. Because of a lack of teams, only one pair get to advance to nationals. This makes Akari very upset because she’s afraid a match between them will tear the club apart. Meanwhile I’m thinking “they have to get to the final match first–one step at a time, girls.” But when Harukana’s second opponent, the Aragaki sisters, well one of them, declare a challenge to Eclair for a loss three years ago, I was pretty confident that Harukana would spoil their fun. And so they did, rather easily, even with the Aragaki’s use of topspin. That quickly-manufactured drama point concluded, we’ll get to the final game next week. Now, this is a 12-episode series, and the important thing is to get Kanata to meet Harumi at the nationals, so I’m predicting a Harukana upset of Eclair. Unless there’s a season 2, and in that case it will be Eclair, and Harukana will move on next season … Wait, they’re third-years … Hmm.

isekaimaou9-1Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu 9 begins the job of getting rid of that demon that’s sealed inside Rem. But first we get a paladin knight named Saddler who is going around massacring village in the name of God, or because he’s a murderous lunatic. Then we get Shera getting some magic, a gratuitous bathing scene and then Edelgard shows up and pretty much says “Let’s do this final story arc now!” She’s going to show our heroes how to get rid of the demon and not hurt Rem in the process–nice of her. I guess to fill out the episode they bring Saddler back to act threatening and righteous … and, well, did they really need this substory at all? Well, as I said, it was filler. Oh, and Rem goes around telling everyone who didn’t know about her dark secret and gets a lot of hugs out of it.

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The London production, which moves to Tokyo later.

Another interesting episode of Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight this week, as we focus on Hikari and her time in Dondon, er, London, doing the same things she’s always done, and so there’s giraffe auditions there, too. And she loses a match, and then her mojo, er, shine. The auditions seem to be getting more sinister the more we learn about them. Winners take the shine from the losers apparently, though from how the girls battle in the Japanese auditions, I don’t see this happening except this one time, to Hikari, and it’s quickly easy to see that it’s because she had forgotten her promise to Karen to stand up as stars together. I suspect I ought to lighten up on figuring out the hidden mechanics of this whole deal and take the battles as heavy symbolism.

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Banana is nice even when kicking butt.

The giraffe, however, thinks she hasn’t lost her shine completely, and sends her back to Japan. Next thing we know she’s fighting Banana, that most complex of the contestants, and losing. Banana is full of sympathy, sensing something lost in Hikari (meanwhile Karen’s getting her butt whooped by Claudine), while the crazy backstage effects resemble those of a scene back in London, giant scary hand in fire and all. This leads to Hikari declaring the old promise, and her knife levels up … and Tokyo Tower falls top-down into water, the big WTF moment for me. Well, fire, water, I guess. Good for Hikari, I guess, but my surprise is Banana being the one to fight her. While she fights well, she’s obviously more concerned and curious about Hikari, at one point saying that Hikari is “one of us.” Her team-player side coming out, I guess. Both Banana and Claudine ask their opponents why they are doing this, and get the same answer.

revuestarlight8-3Banana also points out that “Starlight” is a tragedy of sorts, that separation is in store for them, and more directly, she asks what Hikari will do when she has to fight Karen. Good question! Karen and now Hikari’s determination to share the spotlight is at odds with the auditions themselves and its assumption that there can be only one. The giraffe can only ponder. We’ll find out in the next few episodes, I suppose. Meanwhile, I’ll add that this was yet another episode that dazzles visually and bewilders me with some of the imagery, but I’m fine with that.

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The mission isn’t going well.

Meanwhile, (Never) Island 10 is still stuck in its dystopian future, but Setsuna’s on his way back now, after an unpleasant episode where they go to rescue Karen’s little friends and find they’re already dead. Then her dad is killed in a coup which is also a trap, and Setsuna, Sara, and Karen are almost burned at the stake before Rinne rescues them using fireworks–nice touch. Then, on their way to an underground cave (at least they spend some outside so we can see a glimpse of blue sky), Sara dies from her injuries. Then Karen of Soot Blight. Happiness all around. But Rinne figures out that Setsuna was sent to the future so he can change the past, which doesn’t sound right, but what she means is that he needs to bring some tech knowledge back to his own time, or before, or wherever the hell he’s going now. And, after declaring vows and some sex in the dark, off he goes to, well, as I said, wherever the hell … Just get us out of winter, please.

Planet With 6, Harukana, Isekai Maou and Saibou 7, Island 8

planetwith6-1Planet With 6 makes wonder where the story is going to go from here … To start with we have two big confrontations left over from last week. The first one, Souya vs Takezou, ends quickly, with Souya landing the big punch and Takezou landing harmlessly in Yousuke’s mecha hands. Whereupon he and Yousuke both hand over their vials. So the sealing (dog) faction is defeated and all is good, right? Well, there’s that other battle, Shiraishi vs Takashi, made confusing because we don’t know why they’re fighting or who’s side they’re on. But the confusion ends abruptly. While no one wants the dog to seal mankind’s evolutionary growth, Takashi is revealed, in a long, bewildered doggy infodump, as the resurrected Dragon, who destroyed Souya’s planet, and declared that he will bring peace to Earth by smashing the hell out of anyone who fights.

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Our mighty heroes.

So instead of two factions, we apparently have three, though with Shiraisi out of action it appears to be down to two again. So we get a long fight with lots of declarations and shouting. Ginko joins Souya in the mecha mainly do nothing until one bit at the end. I expected there to be a stalemate, one of them escaping for a later episode, but instead … it finishes. Souya wins. Takashi, after hearing garbled advice from Souya (which he got from Takezou) crumbles away, Souya gets a vision of his brother … and that’s it. NOW what will the show do? Souya got all the vials, defeated the dragon, and got his complete revenge. Apart from dealing with tomorrow’s hangover the story is done … there’s still six episodes to go. We get a clue from next week’s title: Sirius, and we learned from the dog that that planet was “warlike,” so is there going to be a return to that? Maybe Souya will go rogue and his new friends Harumi and the occult club, and/or his former adversaries will bring him back. It’s anybody’s guess.

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Guess Akari’s character type.

The tournament over, Harukana Receive 7 turns to … well, it was weird at first. The opening concert scene with the crap CGI made me check the name of the program I was watching. Turns out it was the dream of Akari, that girl we met at the end of last episode. She wants to join because she saw Eclair in a volleyball magazine and thought beach volleyball was glamorous. The weird thing is that Akari is famous herself, a local idol made famous by a cute commercial she did years ago. She wants more glamour, I guess. But what she needs is friends, though the tsundere side of her won’t admit it. Haruka and Kanata instinctively realize this and do their best to befriend her, leading to many tsundere moments and another “If you lose, you have to join the club” challenge. For all of Alari’s bad attitude, she changes her tune and gets friendly rather too quickly. But I liked Kanata’s serious but encouraging thrashing of the poor newbie, and Haruka’s kindness toward her. The two are making an excellent team even off the court.

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Rem helps Diablo snap out of it.

Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu 7 does everything I predicted it would. Shera was hypnotized by Keera’s flute and so gets into the carriage with him. Later, Diablo, Rem, and Alicia go off to get her back, just as she’s undergoing an attack by flesh-eating slime as Keera gloats. As you can expect, there’s way too much fanservice, and too much “Shera, tell us how you really feel?” with Shera declaring how she feels a tad too much. Then Keera brings out a four-headed dragon and we get a cliffhanger. All was to be expected. However, the show takes an important step further. Shera’s apparent desertion early on reminds Diablo of his days in our world, as a boy named Takuma, deserted by his so-called friends. So now he’s again undergoing a feeling of being betrayed by someone important to him, and not wanting to get further involved in this emotional mess, doesn’t act until Rem, still a friend, snaps him out of it. I’m sure he would have come around to it, but better sooner than later when there’s clothing-eating slime involved. I wonder … if he had had friends like Shera and Rem back on Earth, would he have been sent to this world?

hatarakusaibou7-1Hataraku Saibou 7, underneath its usual silly cover, is the darkest episode yet. First of all, it’s cancer. I can’t think of a worse thing to happen to a body. It takes just about every type of cell, apart from the reds, who as usual stand around wishing they could help, the body has got to defeat it. Fortunately they do, well, until the foreboding line … for now. What makes it darker is the cancer cell’s backstory, hunted by killer-Ts, wondering why he was brought into this world, and White’s “Sorry, he have to do kill you.” For the good of the body, of course. It makes the human body seem like a rigid orthodoxy that does not permit any sort of difference within it. The metaphor falls apart when you remember that the cancer cells were trying to destroy this society out of revenge, they’re not just misunderstood, not-normal cells. I hear the body has a lot of bacteria floating around that aren’t produced by the body but don’t hurt anything, but indeed can be beneficial. I wonder if the show will mention that, and what they would be like. That’s another of the growing list of topics I hope the show gets to cover.

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Setsuna, hanging out with Setsuna.

A lot happens in Island 8, and every time something does, the show gets even weirder. First we have Setsuna in a boat, rescuing Rinne, whereupon they shipwreck on that island. They actually find the other Setsuna, decaying, and also some super-advanced technology, with a weird capsule, not what I expected. They spend a few happy days on the island to settle Rinne’s obviously rattled psyche back in order, and they had back in the boat … and Rinne dies. Did not expect that, either. Then Natsumi returns and we get a lot of backstory about how Rinne was not washed up on the beach a few months ago, but sleeping in a time-stasis capsule on the island. Turns out the island isn’t so hard to find after all.

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Or send them to the past, or something. I’m not sure.

The lengthy infodump brings back Karen’s mom and also gives us a lot of mysterious artifacts found around the world, each with its own legend about a witch who cursed two lovebirds, so they travel a long way to find the witch, who says they will be reunited in time, or something like that. And the capsule is to keep whichever Setsuna fresh until that point, I guess, like it did Rinne, or it goes back in time so that Setsuna can save the girl and kill the guy (who, our Setsuna muses, was the Setsuna within Rinne), or maybe I’m getting confused and it’s a different capsule. Anyway, Setsuna agrees to get inside it and go back in time, or the future where they will be reunited, or to just not die so … I don’t really know anymore. The final bits seem like a farewell to Karen and Sara, so maybe we’ve seen the last of them and we’re going into the past or the future … argh.

Isekai Maou 5-6, Island 6-7, Starlight 4-5, Harukana and Saibou 6.

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Meet Alicia.

Nothing much to report with Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu 5, just a story arc beginning with the information given us first by Sylvie and then by the town’s protector, Galford, the latter allowing Diablo to try and balance his sternness and his people skills, and it works out as he manages to put out the right lines at the right time. Mainly, however, it’s a chance to meet the overly-diligent new character Alicia, who balances her people skills with an annoying tendency to apologize for not being perfect. For action, Shera is briefly abducted, Alicia blames herself, and Emile shows up to introduce himself again. It’s good to see Diablo, behind his bravado and social anxieties, have the presence of mind to conjure up a plan to defeat those elves in the woods, without hurting them, though we won’t actually see the plan until next week. I’m glad his social balancing act is only part of his character.

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Yes, we are, Shera. Now lie down.

Episode 6 is nothing much either. The three go to a slave market where the owner, Medios, teaches Diablo a way to remove Shera’s collar. Naturally it’s extremely sexy, though it doesn’t work and it exhausts Diablo. I’ll let you play around with the metaphors. Then Keera visits, nicely, and tries to talk Shera into returning to Elfland, which makes her a little nostalgic, but still unwilling. Keera’s evil plan will be hatched next week. Oh, and then Shera repeats the collar-removal sexy bit with Rem, so we get to see both girls aroused this week, if you’re into that.

island6-1Having more or less taken care of Sara and Karen for the time being, Island 6 gets back to Rinne and the main mystery. This episode follows the usual pattern–the first half is lighthearted and fun, and the second gets serious with new revelations. So to begin with we watch as Rinne and Setsuna get closer, still not romantically, go on a cute date, sleep together chastely (at Rinne’s request, Setsuna going with the flow, which is what he always does), while Sara invents theories about future-man and present-woman destroying the time-space continuum, as she does. There’s also a cute scene between the cop and Karen, the former claiming he’s going to marry her, the latter playfully deflecting his statements. But here Setsuna shows up and more legends about the first Rinne’s fate comes up. Apparently she throws herself off a cliff when she discovers she married the wrong man, but that contradicts the memory-return she experiences when she and Setsuna finally open that shack, where she and the real Setsuna spend the night, whereupon her angry father throws Setsuna into the ocean, and she jumps after him … Fanciful legends, fairy tales versus an uglier reality. None of this, however, helps us with Setsuna’s own memory loss and whether he’s the real Setsuna or just a surrogate.

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Rinne’s in full crazy-mode now.

And in episode 7, more stuff is explained, or theorized, though can’t believe that Setsuna has spent all that time on the island without anyone telling her that Rinne had vanished five years ago and reappeared only a month ago, looking the exact same age and wearing the same clothes. Or about the mysterious island Boryujima which only appears during storms. But now that we all know this the story doesn’t get any less complicated. Sara speculates that Setsuna came to the past, while Rinne, now slightly crazy with returning memories, is trying to get to her own past to find HER Setsuna (whom we see, more or less, and it’s not our Setsuna. He’s got weird marks on his skin for one thing), who gave up the one spot on the boat for her. Whatever’s going on, her current motivations are clear–riddled with guilt, she tries to get back to that island, glowing with menace, in a storm, which is where, naturally, the episode ends …

revuestarlight4-1Shoujo Kakeki Revue Starlight has no battle in episode 4, mainly it’s just Karen running around to various Tokyo locales to find Hikari, who seems to be leaving the school. Meanwhile I’m trying to work the jellyfish imagery into all the other stuff this show has, and failing. Anyway, they make up whatever conflict they were having by having Karen say that the two girls will reach the center position together. But is that even possible? Before that they both seemed confused as to what to do next. Karen is perhaps afraid to go it alone, and she can’t win that way, either. Hikari says very little about her own dreams but seems happy to be a part of Karen’s. Elsewhere we get Maya and Claudine dancing but not saying anything we didn’t know already, and comical bits by the girls to cover for Karen and Hikari’s absence, including a nice acting out by Mahiru, who didn’t seem the type to twirl a baton and declare herself the guardian of the hallway.

revuestarlight5-1Then, episode 5 has the battle that I figured was coming, though I wasn’t aware that Mahiru was actually a part of the Giraffe Auditions. They’ve been teasing this angle forever; Karen is drawn to Hikari and no longer hangs out with Mahiru, and the latter’s self-confidence wasn’t all that great to begin with, a simple rural girl who worked hard and got to a prestigious academy where she was placed among people who outshine her. Finally she snaps, and we get the weirdest battle yet, Mahiru on the attack with baseball metaphors, Karen falling through trap doors and barging into the other girls’ duels (to various expressions of WTF from them). It only takes a few lines from Karen between feints to convince Mahiru that she’s better than she thinks she is, and the battle swiftly finishes. Though I kind of liked the “crazy-Mahiru” from the duel. The conclusion is a broad show of support from all the girls for Mahiru, or at least the delicious potatoes that her family sent her. Not sure if they love her for her enthusiasm and kindness or for the spuds.

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That’s the match.

I’m relieved that Harukana Receive lightened up on the flashbacks and other delays and gave us about nine minutes of straight-up volleyball, with a funky drum track, to start episode 6. I guess there wasn’t anything more to say. Kanata kept doing those pokeys and the strategy became clear. She was running poor Mai all over the court until fatigue set in and she began to make mistakes. Also, it gave Haruka more time to figure out her timing on the blocks, so, apart from some silliness at the end, the show got through to the victory more quickly than I imagined. I’m just glad it didn’t go to a third set. After that we naturally go to Ai and Mai, apologizing and cheering each other up, and then it’s the usual post-match silliness all around. Eclair won the tourney and Harukana didn’t get past round two, but everyone’s satisfied. Time to introduce some new characters, which happens right at the end. Good. The show could use some fresh bodies.

hatarakusaibou6-1Two stories in Hataraku Saibou 6, and the way they present them brings up a possible weakness in the series. More or less, what we’re getting every week are traditional exciting stories, mostly for children. The first one gives us Red Cell on a nostalgia trip as she sees her old bone marrow, er, school, and where, as a little Erythroblast youngster, she has a scary experience with some sort of invader, but is defended by a young White cell in training, a story of possibly romantic rescue and a moment of courage for the white blood cell, like he was fending off a bully, all scenes you need for that kind of story, but it takes so long with the pauses for evil speeches and reaction shots that the whole thing gets too long, so that the second story, for me the more interesting one, is cut off before it’s finished. Here it’s White Cell, a Killer-T, and a new one, an NK-cell, done as a rogue fighter who can’t get along with anyone, try to track down a virus that’s invading the T-shirt guys. Here they have to dally too so that Killer and NK can be seen not getting along, for too long. I didn’t mind as much because it tickles me to see good cells not getting along. Besides, the NK is kind of hot.

Island 5, Harukana and Saibou 4-5, Planet With 5

island5-1Once again, Island takes a complex story arc and polishes it off in one episode. In episode 5 we focus on Sara, the cute little shrine maiden with great hair, as she has Setsuna do a few weird things. First, catch a dangerous sea snake (the venom might help cure Soot Blight Syndrome), then a dangerous massage, then make him ride her all around the island to give the old folks massages, er, that aren’t dangerous. Setsuna does it all with his usual good nature, and then the really weird truth comes out. She has to go back in time and conceive herself, with Setsuna as the father, and yes, Heinlein is mentioned. That way she can also prevent the terrible fire that killed her mother, I mean, her, and become a child of god again. If you think that’s weird, the true story of her famous family (which is conveniently in a book Rinne finds) is even weirder, and especially nasty. But there’s a happy ending, well, apart from the shrine burning down. For all the events it’s actually a nice, compact little episode, but they’re running out of people for Setsuna to help.

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Caught!

Harukana Receive 4 has very little to do with the current story arc, which is about the junior tournament everyone’s training for. The episode is mostly about how Haruka can get Kanata to trust her more on the court (is “court” the right word for beach volleyball?), and it’s not one that is solved through any dramatic conflict, it’s little gives and takes, like choosing matching swimsuits. Haruka wants this one set, but they’re snapped up by another volleyball team, Ai and Mai, a convenient way to introduce more characters, so they go with the set that Kanata wants. Emily steps in, at the request of Narumi, encourages Kanata that it’s okay if she partners with someone else. Meantime, Haruka is doing secret training so Kanata will entrust more of the floor (sand?) to her. Apart from the expected “geez, I wish you had told me?” lines, everything is accomplished, and the two are now calling each other by their given names. How it’s going to work when they actually play together is anyone’s guess.

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The match is off to a rocky start.

Episode 5 brings us the first round of the tournament … well, naturally they are going to drag it out so we don’t get to see who wins the match with Ai/Mai. This is thanks to some flashbacks of Ai convincing Mai to try volleyball (indoor), because it’s a game where short people can defeat tall people, or so Ai says, whereupon they lose a match because, Mai thinks, she isn’t tall enough. Ai is determined to make it up to Mai, and Mai becomes an unlikable competitive trash-talker. Unused to beach volleyball they make a few mistakes, but by the episode’s end they seem to have their groove, and Kanata is so devoted to the pokey that Ai/Mai are now picking it up easily, and Haruka hasn’t gotten her block timing down yet. I wonder if Kanata’s strategy is to let Haruka find her groove, or she’s just pointing her obvious pokeys up because she doesn’t know what else to do. Meanwhile, Eclair win their match easily and then turn to adding sideline comments to Harukana’s. Because it’s only the second set, expect another episode just like this one next week, full of flashbacks and “We’ll definitely win!” comments. I’ll be looking forward to Eclair’s commentary.

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The Eosinophil cell shows her true strength.

It’s never a dull moment in Hataraku Saibou, just one disaster after another for this hapless human. Last week it was two types of flu, and this week it’s food poisoning probably from bad sushi. But it gives us a chance to meet another new cell, the Eosinophil, sort of like last week, she’s seen as weak against invading germs, though brave, and other cells make snide comments, but then another threat arrives, a parasite, something that even our regular white blood cell can’t handle, and she gets to show what she’s really made of. The visualization of the first germ, the enteritis vibrio, was kind of lame, though white blood cell killing it from the inside was fun. The parasite, Parasitic Anisakis, was pretty cool–a giant monster dolphin. The format is all getting kind of predictable, a new threat, a new cell to combat it, red cell going “What’s that?” and the white cell explaining, a bloody battle and some heroics. Next week it’s cedar allergies. Boy, this poor body can’t catch a break.

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Geez, I’m glad I don’t have allergies …

At least episode 5 deals with something mundane, well, pollen allergies are a yearly annoyance, but usually not life-threatening. But inside this body it wreaks more destruction than the other pathogens and viruses combined, to the point of legends of the apocalypse. The fun is that it’s two different body functions (B-cells and mast cells) who are trying to help and making things worse (“the B stands for baka!”). Their fight, coming right when things are at their bleakest, teardrop floods, mucus flooding, multiple sneezing launches, etc) was probably the funniest moment of the series so far. Also, I had wondered when and how the show would introduce a drug, and I figured it would be something robotic, and I was right! What do I get?

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Don’t forget about the snake.

Meanwhile, inĀ Planet With 4, even as we get new revelations, gets more confusing. We see what the sealing power can do to a human, as Nezuya appears, not weird, and with the fire out in his eyes. Then a sweet scene between Nozomi and Souya where he tells her a lot that he didn’t need to, and she thanks him for defending the town, which he did, and he’s taken by surprise by this fact. This might become important later when he squares off with Takezou and tells him that, essentially, he chooses whom he fights, i.e,, he’s amoral. The idea that he actually does care for some people and will defend them, like Nozomi, hasn’t struck him yet. Meanwhile, Takashi is set to battle the dog faction of Nebula after his nice secretary turns heel on him. In other words, two cliffhangers. So we got both Nebula factions in battle, and Souya and Takezou, who are Nebula and whoever the good guys represent. I don’t think they even know. Why Takezou is going against Souya when they have the same goals is beyond me, but in this show a lot of things are.