Robotics 8, Honeycomb 9

Well, those scary men in suits and black dress girl, that supposedly signified the convergence of plot in Robotics;Notes, was a ridiculous red herring.

She was much more interesting wearing that dress and those shades.
She was much more interesting wearing that dress and those shades.

I can see Akiho’s dad trying to help her out, but to get a bunch of goons and black vans was going overboard for this unassuming guy. Not only that, but once they were taken away they just wound up in JAXA along with Furugoori (meaning they had to use stealth) around a table we’ve seen before, and the black dress girl, Nae, returns not even wearing the dress any more. What was the point of the masquerade at all? So instead of a dangerous situation involving international conspiracies and mysterious ringtones (and was it just coincidence that the phones rang just when the vans showed up?) it’s JAXA, well, Akiho’s dad, trying to help her kid out, and we’re back to “plucky kids try to build a robot for the big tournament.” What a letdown!

robotics8-2

When we do get back to the bigger, scarier picture, we find it bubbling under the surface for now. Airi/Sister Centipede gives him the conditions for finding the second Kimijima Report. Most of the conditions are ridiculous, including the way Kaito goes about meeting them. He’s completely oblivious to the fact that there’s a typhoon coming and that opening up that dome would expose the antenna, on the other hand, at least there’s something story-wise happening. Nearly getting himself killed, rescued only by his time-affliction, was frightening while it lasted but nothing came of it, apart from Akiho learning about Airi, and Airi saying she makes sure the antenna broadcasts a signal. As a more practical matter for Kaito, he does get the second document, but he makes it way harder for himself than he could have. The document itself has frightening information about the Committee of 300 and the “Human Domestication Project,” but since Kaito falls asleep reading it I don’t think he’s too concerned, even if we are. This is an odd show. I’m no longer taking bets on when stuff will actually start happening.

Hidamari Sketch – Honeycomb 9 is crowded with gags about previous seasons. If I hadn’t watched them I don’t think I would have enjoyed the episode as much as I did.

Game modding.  And what is Miyako doing to Sae?
Game modding. And what is Miyako doing to Sae?

It’s time for the landlady to show up and mess with the girls a little. She won copy “Game of Life,” gives it to Yuno because she’s too old for it, then stays and plays with them because, well, she’s the landlady. They soon decide that the game isn’t realistic enough for them and so they get out their brushes and paper and create a new, Hidamari Apts version of it. Making and playing it takes up the rest of the episode. No half-episode stories this week. Most of it is good fun, not least for the visual riffs that SHAFT got to do with an iconic game. That spinner, those little cars with the pegs in them …

Chika's on the phone!
Sae? Chika’s on the phone!

They replace squares on the board with things they’ve experienced since moving in. So we get references to the welcome party, that sculpture, crabs in the cafeteria and the ones Miyako won, etc. (and even apart from the game the show piles on more references: “love and piece,” running tofu, so you can’t use the fact that Nazuna and Nori don’t know them either as an excuse) and the only reference new viewers would get is the onsen. I don’t mind remembering about those old episodes but as I said, new viewers won’t know what they’re talking about. It also bothers me a little because it’s self-celebratory. However, there were some original bits. Nazuna’s “talk like a cat” square, which Sae lands on just when Chika calls, was the highlight. In the end it gives the girls a chance to think about the future and their dreams, and for the landlady a chance for encouragement tinged with regret on how SHE turned out. Good episode, but I could use some fresh material.

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Polar opposite eights: Honeycomb and Jojo

Better get multiple copies, Yuno!

Hidamari Sketch – Honeycomb 8 brings us to the preparation and the actual school festival. Last year each got its own episode but that was because Yuno had a small crisis. This year her class’s program illustrations are their exhibit, so their actual project, a haunted house, doesn’t need much buildup. Besides, we’ve seen all the possibilities of cultural festival haunted houses, haven’t we?

Okay, this is new.

But there is prep work to be done, and to complicate matters Miyako falls and sprains her wrist. Yuno takes it on herself to do help Miyako with the things Miyako needs doing, which primarily means eating, not that she needs any help with that. You wonder how much Miyako actually needed the help and how much she was letting Yuno be helpful. Actually, apart from the wrist, Miyako had a lot of fun this episode. You could tell she was having a great time walking around the festival in her bloodstained kimono and wideface (Unlike others I’ve never had a problem with the wideface, and Miyako’s is my favorite because it shows just how delighted she is by whatever’s happening), and she also gets to play extra tricks on just about everyone.

DARE the girls enter Yuno and Miyako’s haunted house??

Of course, the others have their own activities. Sae and Hiro help run an Udon restaurant, very traditional looking, and so not very interesting until the bloody Miyako shows up). Nori’s class does Romeo and Juliet where both are male. Remembering Wandering Son last year I expected something more, but judging from bit we see I’m glad the scene was brief. Whatever adolescent gender issues Hidamari Sketch has will come out as sly humor for shippers, which brings me to the bonfire dance. Both the Nori/Nazuna and Yuno/Miyako couples looked very sweet together (Sae and Hiro are sitting that one out). Nazuna’s class fills a classroom with balloons, good for ten second scenes, which is enough for this show.

Maye the best bonfire dance moment since Azumanga’s Sakaki and Kaori. The bloodstain is a nice touch.

Thinking about it, Hidamari Sketch is well suited for cultural festival episodes. Since it’s mostly short scenes strung together it allows the characters to hop from one exhibit to another without messing up the show’s rhythm. But not all of it worked. Yoshinoya was kept on a leash in the episode where she should be allowed to cut loose, not that she didn’t try. Having the parents show up was just annoying, especially since it meant Yuno missed out on more time with Arisawa. Stupid parents … But mostly it was another solid episode, and the second in a row where everyone ignores graduation issues and just has fun.

In ths show the poses are as good as the fights.

On to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure 8 where the characters are too busy shouting and ripping each other apart to have any fun, which is not to say WE don’t. It’s the final (hah!) battle with Dio and it’s momentous and epic … well, sort of. For me a battle between two men or a group of men and zombies can’t reach the epic level of a space battle or, say, Rider’s conquests. Plus the whole freezing and rippling stuff is getting a little old. I’m a fickle, spoiled viewer. I want new variations!

Like this?

Okay, that’s pretty good. So was Dio using his bodily fluids as a weapon that pierces Jojo’s hand. But the best part was Dio “pulling himself together” after getting pretty much sliced in half, gently nudging the two sides of his head as a final adjustment. And part of the fun is that the fighters and onlookers explain it all for us, because some of the stuff would be inexplicable. Along the way, Jojo defeats Doobie rather easily, while Straits easily dispatches Page, Plant, Jones, and Bonham. I’m looking for some symbolism there but can’t find any. Oh, Dire dies early on. But the final big fiery punch climax moment was a bit of a letdown, and you knew even though he was disintegrating that Dio wasn’t dead yet. We’ll have to wait next week for that. Maybe.

The big fiery punch climax.

Honeycomb and Jojo 7, Robotics 6

It’s been a while since we’ve had two Hidamari Sketch – Honeycomb parts both devoted to Yuno. I don’t know if there’s been an episode like that all season. Well, episode 7 makes up for it. It’s a full episode of good things happening to Yuno!

Basking in the glow of Yuno’s creation.

The episode feels like it wants to have fun after the sentiment of last week. It feels more playful all around. Even those cards between gags are more fun (I loved the “shoujo manga Miyako”). First, her class is assigned to make brochure designs for the upcoming cultural festival, the best one being used. It’s a chance for her trade lines with Miyako, who as usual is as carefree as Yuno is stressed. while being creative. It’s as entertaining as all the other such scenes we’ve had through the seasons–and it has an imporant difference. Yuno wins! The show has never been concerned with showing us how the characters mature as artists; all we’ve seen in fact is Yuno’s work being ranked rather low, leading to her usual self-esteem moments. This is the first time the show has ever suggested she’s improved. She’s certainly tougher now. When the time was running out she remembered what happened last year, buckles down, and finishes. After that it’s all congrats and watching her nose grow. And besides Yuno’s “Preparations …” drawing we also get the return of the infamous bust of the Principal by Yoshinoya.

So Yuno has plenty to be happy about, but in the second half she gets more when Arisawa calls out of the blue. I looked for hidden meanings here but really couldn’t find any, but it’s still rather odd. As far as we know they met twice last season and got along great, but why would Arisawa suddenly call her out of the blue after graduating and heading to college? All I could think of (ignoring the yuri undertones, even with the restaurant they choose) is that Arisawa is a little lonely, or homesick for high school, in spite of how great she says everything is, but I think I’m reading too much into it. There’s a brief return to sentiment when Arisawa makes the point about not letting go of friends; that brings us back to Hiro’s episode last week, but with no tears shed. So it was a great episode for Yuno; I doubt shell get another one like it this season. Enjoy it, Yuno!

A crisis in the mundane half.

Last week Robotics Notes looked to be discarding the “plucky kids build a robot for competition against all odds” in favor of the more sinister thing about the sun blowing up or something. This week it’s the opposite. There is some of the latter here in episode 6, with Kaito going down the spooky stairway and findng a big machine that’s transmitting a signal into space, but that discovery is left there as if the creators signed out of the game at just that point, and we move to the plucky kids part, though Akiho, frankly, is about the only plucky one, the rest there by the sheer force of her enthusiasm, or something. And it takes a classic turn when Subaru’s father shows up for a “I told you never to ___” scene and references from two characters about the death of a dream (different dreams, though). The question is how long is the show going to tell these two stories at once? Furugoori seems to be a key to combining them but she refuses to come out, just snickers from her bunker. I don’t mind, really. I like both the stories and I’m looking forward to where it’s all heading; I just wonder how long it will take.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure 7 is a little disappointing. After a big buildup for Zeppeli’s epic battle with Tarkus he’s pretty much incapacitated (cut in half) only a couple of minutes into it. Yeah yeah, he gives his life force and his biggest power (SUPREME DEEP PASS OVERDRIVE!!) to Jojo before he goes, but I expected more from him. As it turns out, he’s cut in two, Jojo gets his power, and destroys Tarkus with half the episode to go. All that’s left is Zeppeli’s dying inspirational speech while Jojo holds him up like a ventriliquist’s dummy and we move on to the next part which is basically Dio acting evil and Jojo and Speedwagon (who does nothing again except declaim how cruel something is then giving out a huge scream) meeting Sage Tompeti (Zeppeli’s tutor) and his disciples (sigh) Dire and Straits. And there’s a town full of Zombies, and Poco’s sister … Yeah, could have been better. Let’s see if Zombie-town is any fun.

Oh yeah, and I watched this.

He gets eaten, but he’s died before.

Hidamari Honeycomb 6, Shin Sekai 7, Robotics 5

Hidamari Sketch – Honeycomb 6’s two parts make for one of the more different episodes in any of its seasons.

Mainly because part two takes a close look at Hiro. We’ve seen Yuno fret and worry about her goals and future a lot but rarely do we get this from the other characters. Maybe a little for Sae, certainly not for Miyako (the word “plan” is not in her dictionary, remember), and the others are a long way away from such decisions. But Hiro and Sae are right up against it, they’ve got those post-graduation goals forms we’ve seen in so many high school series, and like just about every other anime kid, are fretting about what to write. Even worse, Hiro is dreading graduation so much it’s making her sick. How sick? She’s lost her appetite!

Yoshinoya, for once, makes herself useful. Listening to Hiro talk about maybe becoming an art teacher sets off her bullshit detector, and she points out that even if she does and she returns to teach there, her friends won’t be around anymore. It doesn’t help her dilemma any, but now the reason for her anxiety has been clarified. After that it’s her friends’ turn. They give support in their own ways, useful or not, and she gets some touching reassurance from Sae. Hiro would make an excellent teacher, that’s not an unrealistic goal, and Sae will be there for her, emotionally if not physically. Sae, by the way, is considering liberal arts rather than art, which makes sense for her.

Miyako’s been staring at herself in the mirror too long.

For all the nice moments between Hiro and Sae in part two there wasn’t much to make the shippers happy. The scenes between them are intimate but platonic. You get more suggestive moments in a part one between Yuno and Miyako that’s more in the carefree spirit of the franchise as a whole. The assignment is drawing their own faces and hands and it leads to close examination of their own looks and each others. Miyako tells Yuno that she’s cute. Yuno is flustered and tells Miyako, no, SHE’S cute. This flusters Miyako, apparently (I say “apparently” because she keeps her head turned away from everyone for awhile and it’s left to two unnamed classmates to remark on her behavior), and the next thing you know Yuno is suggesting a sleepover and they’re sharing the bath. That should keep certain audience members satisfied.

Shin Sekai Yori 7 wraps up the kids’ field trip with a terribly busy episode. From running around to getting their canti back (for all the discussion that scene last week provoked, it was resolved rather matter-of-factly, same with Satoru’s questionable behavior–he’s not cruel or irresponsible at all this week. What are we going to discuss in blog forums NOW?!), they packed a lot in. Last week we had world-building and moral quandaries to consider while Saki and Satoru fled from one danger to another; this week it lightened up on the cerebral stuff and gave us a straight adventure episode, one of those where they at times fumble the narrative so we get scenes which just fade to darkness before another one fades in, as if they momentarily lost track of the story. The most jarring of these was when the fleeing kids are overtaken by the Giant Hornets. It looks bad but when they fade in again Kiroumaru, the GH chief, is towing them to a safe place. Why is he towing them? Because they’re gods? Because Satoru saved them from ground spider treachery? We don’t get an answer. Also, where are they going?

Even so, they want to return there.

They’re going home. There’s not discussion or dissent that we see. Even though they Learned Too Much and are in danger. It just occurred to me: Saki and Satoru fled the Giant Hornets because Satoru suspected that it’s they who do the killing when humans need to kill, since the death feedback prevents them from killing using their cantus (a rule that seemingly doesn’t apply to killing other creatures). But there are plenty of mundane ways to kill someone; can’t the humans use that? So I’m guessing that they don’t know what danger they’re still in. I mean, they’re home, right? They’re safe! But the show has not yet made it clear just what the powers are that removed the other kids from school. Is the faze-cat doing the adults’ bidding or does it patrol on its own, waiting for something to stray past a barrier?

Would he act that way if he knew they had no powers at the moment?

Those are thoughts for next week. When this week’s episode wasn’t giving us a chase or a confrontation it was giving us a little more dirt on the queerats and their relation to humans. Obviously they consider humans to be gods, and with the cantus it’s hard to argue with that. So Sakoru and Saki take pains to keep their sealed canti a secret. The queerats are divided into tribes and while there is some differentiation by species, a lot of them look alike. While the presence of a queen makes you think of insects the rest of the time they behave like primitive humans. We get types like Squealer and his questionable morality and more noble ones like Kiroumaru. The tribes tend to mistrust each other, even the friendly ones, and if you’re unfriendly you can expect your captured queen to breed slaves. Higher level queerats look on lower level ones just as the kids look down on queerats in general. Primitive and a pretty ugly society, really. Not to mention the fact that if it wasn’t for the canti just about all of the tribes would be all over the human race in a second. It’s an ugly world out there, and I suspect that the show wants us to regard queerats as representative to the human race; compare and contrast, etc.

Did you ever learn so much on one of YOUR field trips in school?

Interesting girl.

We get a lot of info in Robotics;Notes 5 but little action. Akiho’s brave attempts to bring attention and revenue to the Robotics club hits more snags, even with Suburu along. Meanwhile, Kaito as usual, doesn’t care much. He’s too busy hanging out with Daitoku and trying to figure out who that girl on his screen was. This scene delivers both information and a possible romance. Kaito hasn’t shown much romantic interest in anyone including Daitoku, but the time spent with her checking out urban legend spots and odd transmissions from Russia and JAXA having to do with the ionosphere certainly felt like a first date to me; two young people sharing their interests and feeling each other out. When Akiho finds out she’s more interested than usual (but not jealous, from the looks of it, though she’s so upbeat in general it’s hard to say). And Daitoku has a dark secret!

All well and good, but there’s more fun to be had when Kaito keeps looking with his PSP or whatever it is and actually finds the girl, a sinister staircase, and the first of some files talking about the sun exploding, though the author, Kimijama, may have been referring to past solar activity. NASA covered the information up, Kimijama is fearing for his life, and so Kaito’s stumbled on some conspiracy, or it’s a joke. But Mizuki freaks when she hears the name … What’s interesting about all of this is that the virtual girl, Sister Centipede or Airi, has gone out of her way, as much as an AI can, to contact him, though she won’t say why, and meanwhile, that obviously evil guy in the penthouse is spying on Kaito. Meanwhile I’m wondering if Akiho’s robot hasn’t become just a sideshow story. Who knows? It’s like last week. They keep tossing out all these tempting story angles but they’re not doing anything with them yet.

Bakuman3 and PSYCHO 4, Hidamari 5

Well, THAT problem got out of the way fast.

Bakuman 3 4 slipped by me; often when I realize I hadn’t watched a show for a while it’s because I wasn’t looking forward to it, and so I consider dropping it. But I’ve invested too much time in this show to drop it now, and it’s too good. Besides, how will I get by without learning if PCP passed Natural, or even Crow? They take care of that plot point early on, and then the head editor says the obvious: the manga is too popular to cancel. Which is a better way of putting it than “you beat this other manga in one particular week, so we won’t cancel you,” I guess. So now with PCP in no danger of immediate cancellation the show can start seeding the next arc. For a “crisis averted” episode they manage to keep things moving.

Mashiro, you don’t mind if Takagi writes another manga in his spare time, do you?

Our boys aren’t complacent, but they’re comfortable. Making their manga has become routine enough that they discover they have some limited free time. So you know the show is going to mess with that, first. Shiratori, one of the assistants, decides to make a manga of his own after Mashiro and Takagi encourage him. And since we also visit his home it’s clear that this is going to be one of the strands of the next arc. Shiratori is a good artist but his wealthy parents disapprove, etc. Not very interesting, but it’s already messing with the other plot point. PCP is popular, they get a drama CD (with Miho!) and a novel–but no anime. Hattori bluntly tells them that they won’t get one, either; apparently PCP is corrupting Japan’s youth, which is a noble thing to do but not popular with parents. How will Miho and Mashiro achieve their dream?? Hey, they got time, now. Make another manga series! But Hattori suggests Takagi and Shiratori collaborate on HIS manga … the plot wheels never stop spinning in Bakuman. About the only time they stop to breathe is to give an inspirational speech …

Undercover work.

PSYCHO-PASS 4 gives us our first two-parter of the series. It’s hard to make out the point of it yet. We get a missing, later dead man who was a popular online avatar character, yet the avatar is still going strong. Akane, who hangs out in these online places a lot sets up a trap through another avatar, who happens to know way too much about her. But the people behind the murder pick up on it. Two things intrigued me. First, Akane was visiting Talisman, the first avatar and asking him advice on how to handle Shinya, and it looked for a moment like she might have actually gotten that advice from an AI of some sort. Not a new idea, but still one with interesting implications. The other thing is that the murderers are adamant about keeping the victims’ online presences alive, which begs the question: why are they killing them in the first place? Do they feel that the spirits of the avatars are something important to the community and should be left alone? Talisman was supposedly straying from the things that made him popular before the murder, and as for Spooky Boogie, making a deal with the Feds … well… So are they sort of online enforcers of avatar purity, or are they simply covering their tracks? We don’t see much of the murderers, only that they’re rather bloodthirsty, so I figure we’ll get the answer next week.

Hidamari Sketch – Honeycomb 5 features the two newest girls, though they’re not all that new anymore; it’s been over a season now since they first moved in. But it struck me that we don’t really know all that much about them.

Fried chicken practice.

First we turn to Nazuna, the dullest of the main characters, capable of being cute and helpless and that’s about it. Now she has to make dinner for her visiting parents, you remember, the ones who up and left town without her because the father got new work and claimed he’d be helpless without the mother taking care of him. Well, apart from that they’re lovely people and quite proud of their daughter even though they could tell she got extra help with the fried chicken dinner she made for them. It’s interesting that Nazuna turned first to Yuno for help (Yuno spends the entire episode as a side character) instead of Hiro, even if Hiro gets involved pretty quickly. Sure, Hiro is a senior and studying a lot, but maybe Nazuna considers Yuno a more accessible upperclassman. I was also pleased to see that Hiro had Yuno make the miso soup. Yuno HAS learned a few things. It’s also nice that Nazuna actually did most of the cooking herself in the end. It was the rice(!) that did her in. Nazuna is still a dull character, but since everyone else gets involved it didn’t turn out so bad. And Miyako got plenty of leftovers!

Oh oh, here we go …

The second half had the more interesting combination of Nori and Sae. Apart from brief Natsume moments we rarely see Sae without Hiro around. Here the two spend some time together after Nori has a nightmare. Nori’s more fun than Nazuna, more mature, outgoing, and outspoken. Plus she’s a computer nut, even though she doesn’t save her work (er, excuse me … ctl-s) often enough and uses Shaftsoft Wonders rather than a Mac or Linux distro (Hmm, which character would use which distro, I wonder?). And we learn from their pointless book vs. computer argument that she can be as headstrong and stubborn as Sae, and mature enough to pull back before going too far. But I kept getting distracted by the sparse arrangement of Sae’s room, and the repeating books on her shelf and that poster … what do all those numbers mean?

A few quick ones before I take a break for a few days

Chuuibyo Demo koi ga Shitai 3 introduces Dekomori to the show, but I’m not sure that’s such a good thing.

Well, that’s one way to get the requisite numbers to form a club.

What we have here is another we’ll-make-our-own-club episode, a natural extension of a what-club-should-I-join episodes, and usually gets continued as a we-need-five-members episode. We get all of these. For the first category, Yuuta seems uninterested in any club. Rikka goes for the second. No surprise. And calling it the Far Eastern Magic Society isn’t a bad idea, really. Sounds sort of fun, well, until you see what sort of magic Rikka’s interested in. But we get an interesting twist when Yuuta, bored at the recruiting table, even after Kumin joins and they add naps to the name, goes to check out Shinka trying out for the cheerleading squad. Is that why Rikka suddenly forgets her own club and tries out, too? Or did it actually look fun to her and she did it impulsively, before her affectations kicked in? Never mind, we get a few amusing scenes with the cheerleading club and the drama club, where we see that Rikka is good at improvisation but a little narrow in her focus.

Dekomori gets wrapped up in her delusions. … Get it?? BHAHAHAHA!

For the third step Rikka brings in Dekomori, who is maybe more delusional than Rikka and has long pigtails which almost immediately lead to sight gags. Now, I gotta say Yuuta isn’t very surprised to wake up one morning and finding this strange girl sitting on top of him. Maybe he’s used to it, maybe Rikka or one of his younger sisters does it to him now and then. He also has no qualms about tying her up with her own hair, but I won’t go into that here. The problem with Dekomori is she’s more of the same. Different weaponry, but the same mind-set. Her imaginary battle with Rikka was enjoyable but I can’t see her bringing anything really new to the show. Now, Shinka joining the club, er, circle, that’s different. She’s not delusional. She’s utterly normal. We have no idea why she’d want to join. I find this a lot more interesting. And it means that if Yuuta actually joins (and no doubt he will now) we’ll have an interesting love triangle going on.

Hidamari Sketch Honeycomb 3 feels like the real first episode. No one’s off on a trip. Instead, for part one, all the girls are stuck in the building when a big storm blows in on the last day of summer vacation. There’s no food, so it’s off to Hiro’s room! I feel sorry for Hiro sometimes. The only time anyone helps her cook is to get a laugh, or it’s a big occasion, like their classic tomato episode last season. And if Nazuna hadn’t thought to bring a deck of cards, the girls would have succumbed to cabin fever and, well, no they wouldn’t. They’d just talk. They’re great at that.

The second half happens the very next day, odd for a show that jumps times and seasons whenever possible (though since Nazuna and Nori joined up they’ve had to get more chronological), when the school starts the semester with a disaster preparation drill. Since it’s not possible to sit around a table and talk we get a lot of quick gag scenes instead. Some work. Poor Yuno going through the earthquake simulator, Miyako whipping off her shirt in lieu of a handkerchief, Hiro and Sae’s silent communication, and the principal’s sudden, odd penchant for heights. I’m getting a little tired of Nazuna having to go to the bathroom all the time, though.

‘Cause I said so!

BTOOOM! 3 gives us the infodump that explains everything to everyone involved in this “game.” And frankly, my reaction is “Why are they going through with it?” There’s a very simple thing you can do: refuse. If everyone did that, well, they’d probably kill you, but on the other hand you’re being manipulated into killing others, and you’ll probably die anyway. I get a little tired of shows and movies that insist that this is a dog-eat-dog world and you must be cruel to survive. Maybe the show actually agrees with me and we’ll see some of this rebellion, but, apart from the uneasy alliance Ryouta makes with this Taira guy, I think this is going to be one ugly life story after another. Next week we’ll have to put up with that kid, well, YOU will. I probably won’t watch.

Oh, shut up. Shut up and go away.

Another show on my drop list is CODE:BREAKER. We have more simplistic moral choices here, and what’s more we have the devil’s advocate side of things be a smug, laughing bishie, my least favorite type of character. Every time Ogami gave that condescending laugh of his I wanted to hit fast-forward, and he does it a LOT in episode 2. And we also get that loser’s excuse “Isn’t there a time when you wanted somebody dead?” A cop-out question to evade responsibility for your own actions. It’s a shame, as Sakura is an interesting character and I’d have liked to see more of her. But the idea that there five of these pretty-boys to put up with is too much for me.

I’ll be dropping other shows soon. Real life is making my life interesting again, and I’ve been watching too much for the past couple seasons anyway. In fact, I’m going to be gone from here for the next few days. See you when I get back.

Robotics:Notes 1, Btoom, Hidamari and Wooser 2

I’m not sure how, but ROBOTICS;NOTES (noitaminA has an all-caps block this season) is from the same creative source as Chaos;Head and Steins;Gate. The former was dismal, the latter, fantastic. Judging from episode one, I expect this one to fall somewhere in between.

Our heroes in their customary attitudes.

Our heroes are Kaito and Aki. Kaito is a bored sort who always has his head stuck in a game, but unlike other such characters in anime he doesn’t mind popping out of it to help the “stupidly positive” (her own words) Aki. They’re the remaining members of the schools robotic club and they have a giant one in construction. But there only being two of them there’s only so much work they can manage. The vice principal tells them that she’ll increase their budget if they win a robotics tournament in two weeks, which is no time at all. I’m unclear on whether she means with the Gunvarrel they’re working on or something smaller, but either way it looks impossible. This setup of “win the big tournament with no time to prepare” doesn’t inspire much confidence in me, but the series has more than that going for it.

Kaito seems full of concern.

We meet some other characters, such as Hidaka, who would bring a lot to the robotic club if he’d only join, which he won’t (so you know he will soon enough), their adviser the spitting Mitchie, who’s in love with the sexy convenience store clerk Mizuka. All of them are potentially interesting. It feels rather like a PA Works show where the characters are more important than the goal. And the show has a dreamy feel that’s mostly inspired by Kaito’s Houtarou-like indifference. On the other hand, Aki is genki as all getout and fun to watch, a good match for him. Oh, and there’s some mysterious girl in the final seconds who looks like she’s come out of a game, and who dominates the closing credits. The only weak point, apart from the main premise, is the episode’s tendency to throw infodumps at us. On the whole we got a cheerful first episode and a lot of possibilities.

BTOOOM! 2 switches from Ryouta’s story to that of Himiko, the blonde. We learn of a real-life offer where you can give the name of a person you want to see gone forever for a substantial sum of money, the best of both worlds. The only question is who sent Himiko there. We jump from the real world, where she and her friends are abused by a group of men (and she runs away to call the cops and thus earns the girls’ animosity) and the island, where she is befriended by a group of equally unsavory men, including a murderous psychopath whom I’m sure we’ll see again, and a fat slob who decides to try and rape her out of the blue. It’s not really Himiko’s fault that she couldn’t help her friend before (though her friend surely doesn’t believe that). Was she going to stay and maybe die or escape and call the cops? But this makes her a “bad person” who has been sent to the island supposedly for her sins. But everyone else on the island, except for Ryouta, is a foul, disgusting person. Aren’t there any others that have been wrongfully accused, or is the show just going to give us one asshole after another, so that we don’t have any qualms about them dying?

Hiro! Sae! Don’t say a word!

Hidamari Sketch – Honeycomb finishes up Sae and Hiro’s adventures in Hokkaido and what the others did without them. Yuno’s low-pressure angst about setting an example gets sorted out when she suggests they all go to the bathhouse and they have a good time. It’s also a chance to use some of the jokes from their previous visits (“Yuno-sama?!”). Indeed, bits of it, like Miyako’s milk drinking, are exactly the same. Not only that, it’s the third visit in a row where the place was deserted apart from them. While it’s nice to see Sae and Hiro together in a different environment, those scenes still felt lacking. They play off other girls on the trip but we don’t know enough about them to get as involved. Not that I’d mind additional characters, but if the show’s going to use them, introduce them already! Though there’s another bit about the perception of art and artists that I liked, when they botch their glass-blowing project. It reminded me of Yuno’s unfinished drawing for the festival and what people said about it.

Wooser no Sonohi Gurashi 2 isn’t a bad way to kill three minutes. In this one Wooser dies. That’s about all they have time for, apart from the bass quartet pictured here.