Finales: Saibou and Revue Starlight

I know, the new season has started, but lemmie finish the old one first, dammit!

hatarakusaibou13-1In Hatarku Saibou the title of final episode, Hemorrhagic Shock #2, tells you all you need to know. Turns out our new Senpai and Kouhai were not sucked out of the body, but most of their red cell buddies were, and with not many cells left, they’re stuck delivering O2 to cells as fast as they can, possibly knowing that it won’t be enough. We learn that with this shock, blood pressure increases, not good for the cells stuck transporting on the side of a cliff with no room to go but down (or out). Also, body temperature goes down, so our girls are carrying their boxes through a snowstorm, where we get the “It’s useless” speech from the kouhai, and the “fight-on” speech from our favorite. Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the tranfusion, which, when it comes, is amusing enough. The new cells are confused, as are the locals, but the day is saved for whatever body this is, not to mention the trillions of cells doing their job every day. There’s a happy segment where we meet everyone again, and that’s how the show ends–happily.

hatarakusaibou13-2It was all predictable, because this was a predictable show. Most episodes start happily, there’s a threat, and the threat is disposed of. Along the way the creators roll out predictable side stories, like the Sensei/Kouhai bit in this last story, the cells training to be white cells, or Killer-T’s and nearly failing to make the grade, all the stories with roots that go way back in storytelling and weren’t told very cleverly here. One exception was the allergy episode with the mast cell and the antibody coming to blows was the exception, and that was the funniest episode. The show had to lean on its novelty of humanizing the cells (which was often amusing) and putting their daily routine using symbols we can understand. I think the red cells being the dependable delivery folk we see in Japan every day summed it up the best. And I learned some things about how our body worked, though it meant stopping the action for monologues. Still, even if I expected to be bored by the story every week, I still enjoyed watching. It was cute, happy, and occasionally clever.

One more of, of course, a platelet, giving us good advice.

revuestarlight12-1Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight finishes with imagery and symbolism I can only begin to figure out. What I got, however, is that Hikari, believing that grasping for a star, big, little, or both, is a sin, and by shutting herself off in that pink desert she is atoning for the sins of all the others who have tried. Part of that means losing her memory, making herself Claire in the story. Karen manages to break Hikari out of her Sisyphean routine of building a hill out of pink stars and having a big star swing down and destroy it (little idea what that’s supposed to mean with the stars), but once she gets her memory back it means another battle, and Hikari wins again. All of this is cut off from time to time by passionate declarations by the giraffe and cuts to the other girls making nabe at their dorm and setting places for the two missing girls …

Wait … what?

All of this is entertaining enough, but then the show turns the weirdness up further, and we get a spectacular rebirth of Karen, the pillars shining an image of Tokyo Tower, only to be smashed up by the big Tokyo Tower, which forms a bridge for Karen. The giraffe expounds excitedly about this being a continuation of the ending, i.e, a break from the cycle of grasping only to be cast down. Wakarimasu! However, for me, wakarimasen. While I love stories where such cycles are broken, I saw nothing from Karen that would allow such a rebirth–it came from nowhere. I get that Hikari realizes that Karen herself is the star she was trying to grasp, but I didn’t catch anything before that would lead to that.

revuestarlight12-3Well, nevermind. The girls return and eat nabe and take up the two lead roles in a production that now has a happy ending. It didn’t entirely sink under the weight of its symbolism though it came close, and I like puzzling shows. I guess that’s why Revue Starlight and Planet With were my two favorite shows this season. Apart from the weirdness, the show did a fine job of fleshing out all of the characters, to the point where one of them was maybe more compelling than the stars. Also, it was great to look at. The camera was always taking an interesting angle to view things and the battle scenes were fluid and exciting. I understand that this show is part of a franchise and no one apart from the creators expected much from it, so for the anime to turn out this well is a testament to the people who made it. Well done. Now, on to the new season!

One more of Banana.

Saibou and Starlight 12, Planet With finale

hatarakusaibou12-1Hataraku Saibou begins their final story arc, a two-parter, and it doesn’t look very cheerful. It STARTS cheerful, with our Red cell getting another Red cell as a Kouhai. The new sempai is barely able to find her way around by herself, so much of the comedy is having her try to act like a senpai while screwing up, while the kouhai, obviously much more capable, politely defers and gives advice. On their way we meet the usual lot. The kouhai is appalled by the White cell, “distributing violence instead of justice,” delivering real-world judgment in a cellular world. Where is she from, anyway? But since the episode is entitled “Hemorrhagic Shock,” you know things are going to get bleak. We don’t know what happens, but it’s a disaster like the body hasn’t seen since …, well, last week with the heatstroke. While it’s nice to see senpai get a hold on herself before the kouhai does, we’re just waiting for the worst to happen, but we don’t really know. Just the tattered hat and gloves found by White, and nothing else. They weren’t going where the other cells were, so it seems more of a mystery than a real cliffhanger, especially when you hear Kana Hanazana in the preview bit for next week.

revuestarlight12-1In Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight 12 we follow Karen in the weeks and months after Hikari’s betrayal, if that’s what it is. Karen makes countless efforts to reach her, and as the 100th performance comes up, she finds she has lost her mojo, her “shine,” if you will. It’s dragging the other performers down, and so while they’re sympathetic to her, there’s nothing more they can do and there’s talk of removing her from the show (Maya and Claudine have snagged the top spots, by the way). She tries to read the original book but the English is too difficult, so she spends all her time translating it word by word. Oddly, the other girls are very supportive of this, like they know something Karen doesn’t, that or it’s better than her moping. Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the “Aha!”

revuestarlight12-2It comes when she gets to the end and discovers that one of the girls in the book was imprisoned for reaching for that star, meaning they’ve been performing a show with a different meaning. Karen figures that Hikari was imprisoned somehow, maybe not to steal Karen’s shine. Karen breaks the elevator door (revealing stairs), and in a return to the show’s heavy symbolism walks down while the other girls each individually show up, spouts a strange line about being a stage girl and says they’ll see her on stage. Then there’s what looks like a futuristic memorial plaque, and inside it, presumably, is Hikari in a desert. Sorry about the straight plot synopsis; I usually try to avoid that, but I was trying to get my head around this episode, partly because you could argue that it’s actually Karen who is imprisoned, by her need for Hikari and her refusal to let go, though the latter is Banana’s job. Or maybe it’s both of them. But I believe the show intends us to know that Hikari deliberately chose that path, getting the wish and refusing to use it, so that Karen can shine on her own, but Karen can’t, not right now. So one more episode to go to reconcile the girls, then there’s that show to do, though it doesn’t seem very important now.

planetwith12-1Planet With 12 ignores the appeal from the Paradise Person that last week’s episode ended with and goes straight into the battle, mainly, the Nebula Forces (nyan) and those other guys (wan) along with various aliens who are to supply the psychic power to hinder whatever the dragon does. With great effort (the scene aided by more heroic fanfares) they manage to get the dragon near the dimensional hole. The dragon, Azrabarakura, gets Souya to dream about his homeworld being destroyed and tries to get Souya to hate, want revenge, and be the dragon’s heir, but in a bit of anticlimax, Souya says “Nope, sorry,” and so the dragon is pushed into the hole–along with all the folks we know, who all get out except for the dragon and–you guessed it.

planetwith12-2Now the forgiveness bit the last show hinted at so heavily returns. Ginko tearfully thanks the dragon (who now looks like some ancient tree-thing) for saving her home planet, Souya thanks it for that dream, etc. But it looks like they’ll be trapped in the hole as well, which would have made a logical, but unsatisfactory end–self-sacrifice is heroic and all, but Souya has people to live for now, like Nozomi, and you don’t want to break her heart. So in one more closure scene, the PP shows them the way out–the surface of Souya’s destroyed planet. Having spotted a flower and made peace there, the dogship appears to take them home. Really this is sort of an ending you see in anime, the two adversaries meeting and talking, the apparent doom of all the heroes to save the universe, and rescue appearing, to everyone’s surprise.

planetwith12-3In other words, this often was like a standard anime battle show. The only differences were in the trappings, the aliens looking like company mascot figures, except for one maid-girl and a couple others, and the convoluted opening episodes when you didn’t know what side you should be rooting for. I guess you could say that these differences amounted to little more than a smokescreen for a traditional show, except that they gave the show a weird angle that made it more fun. The writing made it wittier than others as well. But in the end it all comes down to a boy pilot who doesn’t really want to fight unless he’s given a reason, and then who finds one. I normally don’t really care for such stories, but Planet With’s silliness sweetened the medicine for me.

Yes it is, weird alien cat.

Revue Starlight 10, Maou and Saibou 11, Island finale


The combatants

I’m not sure about how Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight is pacing itself. In terms of the giraffe auditions, everything is accomplished, we have a winner. Now, there’s going to be fallout from how it turned out, but it shouldn’t take two episodes to wrap up. Anyway, we have final audition day, and the girls are doing their usual off-say routines, rehearsing, cleaning, hanging out. Karen and Hikari revisit the aquariums, including the one that was closed, and reaffirm their goals, including an odd but lovely bit where Hikari speaks to the child Karen, then vice-versa, while the two as children watch from their theatre seats, beaming … except Hikari does a strange thank-you at the end of all this, a clear sign she’s thinking of something else. Back to the stage, it’s going to be a two-on-two battle, Karen and Hikari vs Maya and Claudine (who had been reaffirming their own goals to each other). Aha! So two girls CAN get to the star! Or so we think. Meanwhile I love how the girls who were left out get to watch from the balcony and eat bentos prepared for them.

I don’t like where this is going.

As expected, Maya/Claudine go on the offensive. They’ve been dancing together for a long time now and know each other very well. But during a brief pause and silent nodding of heads, our heroines come roaring back. Frankly, while it’s not bad, it’s not one of the more amazing battles to watch. It feels more static than some. In the end, some nifty teamwork and sheer determination on Karen’s part gets the gold button from Maya. Here the show switches to two contrasting situations. Claudine is distraught that Maya could lose, but Maya tells her that it’s just one situation and she couldn’t have gotten this far without Claudine, so Merci. So those two girls are now closer than ever. As for the victors, they are surprised to learn that there’s one final battle, one-on-one. Hikari repeats her thank you speech from before, and well, while Maya and Claudine are closer, Hikari cuts the cord, so to speak, on Karen. The twist makes sense in terms of Hikari’s character, but I was still surprised by her cruel efficiency at it. … So again, it it going to take two episodes for then to become friends again? What else will happen. As I often say about this show: I have no clue.

You’d be pissed off too if you just saw your best friend get stabbed multiple times.

Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu 11 is a pretty ugly episode all around. Basically, Rem and Klem get accosted in town by Saddler and Alicia, the latter actually being (and this is the only bright spot in the entire episode) completely EVIL, well, she worships demon lords who want to exterminate mortal beings, so close enough. A nice heel turn, though the rest of the episode is so dire I can’t get to excited. Anyway, they’re taken to a church where Saddler starts to torture Rem (not threaten to, but actually torture), while the distraught Klem is told by Rem not to interfere, even though she could use her powers not to hurt anyone but simply help them escape. Meanwhile, Diablo is running around without a clue until the light-show at the church when Klem REALLY wakes up. Okay, two bright spots in the episode, as Saddler is vaporized. Well, the series wouldn’t be complete unless we had a real demon lord vs. demon lord battle, but they didn’t have to get there by indulging in torture porn.

It’s a miracle!

For a while now I’ve thought about things the body does that I want Hataraku Saibou to cover, and one of them was running a marathon. Well, episode 11 touches on that a little with a heatstroke episode. Man, this body can’t buy a break. It’s a shame that, apart from the educational aspect, it’s not that great an episode. Most of it is spent either with blood cells going around saying how hot it is, or White going after a bacillus cereus, who has the upper hand for too long and laughs way too much. And even the education voice-overs by the nice lady go on a bit, and all action stops while she’s talking. So we wait for the turnaround, which turns out to be a transfusion and general cooling down. I did like how the cells had no idea how the transfusion fluid was getting in. They have no idea what’s going on outside of the body, as I guess they shouldn’t. Finally, I would like to thank the creators for airing this episode in September, and not in July or August when it was miserably hot outside.

island12-1Island crosses the finish line in convoluted fashion, no surprise because time travel shows usually do. In the future, Rinne, distraught over sending Setsuna back to our time, and pregnant with Rinne, er, the young Rinne, apparently made another time machine which got her washed up on that beach, where she was taken in by that guy, became a maid, and when the family’s matriarch died, took on the role of Rinne’s (not Rinne, Rinne) mother, which she was anyway, and was renamed Kuon. Then Setsuna showed up. So Setsuna, close to proposing to young Rinne, would have been marrying his own daughter. So we get some confrontation bits, and young Rinne, in a moment of clarity and generosity that exhibits her growth (the best part of the episode) gives Setsuna and her mother her blessings. They get married for real and everybody’s happy.

Rinne (if that’s her name now) has a shining moment.

But wait, what about the fact that the time machine wasn’t a time machine but a time-freezing device, so you can’t go back into the past. Or that nonsense about about history going through a cycle. If so, shouldn’t they try to break out of it? I would–I hate stories where the characters are stuck into a pattern they have to repeat, or at least have no control over. Yeah, so anyway the mechanics that make the story has a lot of problems, but time travel stories often do. Besides, it was only a device to tell a story, and this one wasn’t terrible. Setsuna and just about all the other cast members were fun to watch. I particularly liked Sara and her crazy hair. I enjoyed the tropical island setting and worried when they seemed to abandon it. A pleasant series to kill a half-hour this summer.

One more of Saya.

Island and Harukana 11, Saibou and Planet With 10

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 …

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.