FranXX 23, Hisone finale

franxx23-1Darling in the FranXX 23, while being a big space-battle episode, does a better job when it focuses on humanity in the future. I say “humanity” because the show makes a point that the Children, some of whom are fighting in space, some (Mitsuru and Kokoro) staying on Earth, are basically it, as far as humanity is concerned. Those strange other people have probably all died, apart from people involved in the battle like Nana and Hatchi. Those two talk about what the children will do next, surprised at their own concern and desire to keep guiding them. They’ve found their future role (so they probably won’t die next episode). Mitsuru has found, even with his memories gone, that his future lies with Kokoro, who at first resists and then accepts it. The Alphas have nothing but battle, so they happily die in a blaze of glory, helping Hiro reach Strelizia Apus, where he and 02 have their own stylized, storybook argument, before 02 happily accepts him. The other children have more choices for their future, but first they’ll finish the battle.

franxx23-2The battle, meanwhile, looks pretty. Lots and lots of spaceships and super-rays and explosions, but I could never really connect to it, even with the sacrifices and acts of bravery it takes to get Hiro to Strelizia. Sometimes enemy ships would land on Strelizia and do … whatever, and get blown away. I never got the impression that Strelizia was in trouble. I only began to worry when the two living beings who are suppose to run it won’t agree, so it wouldn’t turn on. When it did, it was fun but ludicrous. Streliza turns into a sexy, armored, live 02 in space! Flowing hair and all! Almost as weird is when the wormhole appears (the klaxasaurs seemed to have figured this all out) and Hiro/02 (the latter’s giant head saying the words–in space!) say, “Well, gotta go to the bad guys’ home and end the war. Bye bye!” leading all the characters (and myself) wondering what the hell’s up. The episode ends. The voice-over suggests that they haven’t returned yet. What is the finale going to give us? Will we see the battle? Will it be 24 minutes of the remaining children farming? I have no idea.

Hisone to Masotan finishes in grand style, confusing though it be.

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Make up your mind.

The girls learn that Hitatsu, the massive dragon, needs a sacrifice as part of the ritual, and that means Natsume, who gamely goes through the motions but you know her heart isn’t in it, and that’s important. The pilots are stunned by the inhumanity and you-know-who decides to put a stop to it. Interestingly, Masotan has no qualms about delivering her to Natsume (I thought he might refuse, but maybe he’s on the girls’ side), whereupon Hisone and Natsume get into a quarrel about Okonogi. And so Mitatsu isn’t lulled to sleep, so it’s all ruined. Er, except it’s not. Apparently the pilots, with Sada, come up with an alternate plan, which also almost fails (stupid torpedoes), so they release Mitatsu’s binds, or something, and it’s Hisone, of all people, who stays (well, with Masotan) to do the final thing, after announcing that she’d be back. Months later, Okonogi goes to the new island and there are Hisone and Masotan! What they were doing for three months isn’t explained. So the ritual really seems to be kind of a sham. I suppose Mitatsu needed a guide to his new resting place, but the sacrifices were, apparently, completely unnecessary …

hisonemasotan12-3Well, good for them for figuring that out. I’d hate to see anyone actually die. However, it does make the romance angle, and the decisions of what or who to love, or to love at all, a little confusing. We see Natsume, later, as just a high school girl, figuring out her career path in a scene mirroring the series’ first scene. She makes no mention of Okonogi. Happy to see Hoshino and Zaito clear the air … I guess in the end everyone ends up with what they want, more or less. Except Hisone and Masotan are still a team, so where does that lead Okonogi? At the end, Masotan swallows him, so he’s with Hisone inside, so does that mean Masotan’s accepted the current relationship? Or was it all the cell phones he had with him?

hisonemasotan12-4Yes, a messy ending that ignored the situation and the decisions the characters would have to make. Or rather, the characters ignored the situation and made their own ending. I always cheer when characters ignore or reject what fate tells them to do, but here there was no setup for that, no suggestion that there were alternatives. … It really doesn’t matter whether or not the ending was satisfactory. This was a terrific series from beginning to almost-end. It managed to work in serious issues of love and duty but kept the tone so light that I was chuckling throughout. It had a cartoonish look to it that belied the depth of the characters and the sophisticated art and animation. I found myself liking all the characters, even the unpleasant ones, though I wish Ririko had had more to do. And finally, the dragons managed to be both formidable and cute. Ah, I’m sorry this show is over.

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One more of Natsume, because I love this screenshot.
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And one more of Futomomo, my favorite dragon.

 

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FranXX 22, Hisone 11, Steins;Gate 12

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You know, if I were the Earth, I’d consider rejecting you too.

Darling in the FranXX 22, post Grande Crevasse battle, has the kids trying to prepare for the next stage in their lives, or so they think. So they dutifully plant vegetables, which die because there’s no life in the earth anymore. Meanwhile, everyone learns what we already knew–that Kokoro is pregnant, and she’s given choices, neither of them having to do with actually having a baby. Other team members get sick from the pressure or overwork. The Nines are pitiful possibly because they can’t get the nutrients they need, but they’ve lost their reason for existence. And 02 is a zombie who keeps getting mysterious cuts on her arms, until Hiro, not at 100% either as you can imagine, realizes it’s because she’s still in Strelizia, up in space, and the cuts wounds from battle (he learns this from a mind-meld from when their horns touch–something I figured they would have figured out before). But there’s hope. One of the plantations is still intact and it has good soil, but by now Hiro has made his decision. He’s going to ride a Klaxosaur that somehow will respond to human orders up into space, up to Mars, to reach Hiro, as they promised. The others … well, it’s an interesting question.

franxx22-2They use the proverb “You can’t swim in the same river twice” several times. You can take that as a metaphor for them to turn their blades into plowshares, but for all of them to decide to go up with Hiro, to return to the fight, seems to reject this notion. Battle is all the Nines ever knew, it’s all they think they’re good for, so they’re fine with going up (never thought I’d see that asshole Alpha on the same side as our guys, but anime loves to redeem villains). But the others are now fully-human adults who have seen other things of the world. Hiro, of course, has no choice but to join 02, but the others? Because they can’t abandon their friend, who has always, as Goro points out with a fist to the jaw, gone his own way? Because eking out a living on Earth isn’t appealing to them? Because the battle isn’t over? Maybe the latter, but the people doing the fighting were never doing it for them. Why should they care? And what about those frozen people, the ones without abilities. Quite possibly our heroes will die or get transformed in space and they’ll be unfrozen and sent to Mistilteinn to start a farm …

hisonemasotan11-1Hisone to Masotan is getting near the climax, too, and while episode 11 is the grandest episode of the lot, the major story-point, well, up until the very end, is an internal realization and decision by Hisone. She’s quit the SDF and returned to her parents’ house where she mopes and remembers Kakiyasu almost physically throwing her off the base. Meanwhile, the ritual has begun, Sada flying Masotan, and it’s going swimmingly. I figured Hisone would have a turnaround at some point, and it comes. She realizes that while she had found a lot of people to love (that she turned her back on), but it was because of Masotan, and she must protect that which is most precious.

hisonemasotan11-2Great, I thought, but the ritual has begun, Masotan is a long way away, how on earth could she even get up there? But at this point the show throws us a curveball, as Sada remembers a lost love of her own–how she lost it is the episode’s last story-point, and Masotan freaks out. How Hisone manages to meet up with Kakiyasu et al., in a nice, wet scene of apologies and forgiveness, then actually get back in Masotan’s stomach, is absolutely ridiculous but effective and fun. And cheerworthy. As provincial as I am, I should point out that there is a bridge like that in Toyama–it’s on the way to Takaoka.

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When this show started, I never thought the yogurt lady would play such a key role.

The episode has by now hit us with despair and triumph, but we got the final plot point, and it’s an interesting one. While Hisone has realized how important Masotan is to her, there’s still her interest in Okonogi to contend with. The situation looked impossible before, now it’s maybe impossible again. Can someone bear to let whoever it is get sacrificed? I’m not sure who it’s going to be … by the ragged clothing it’s suggested that it will be that girl whose name I can’t remember, but I get the feeling Okonogi will intervene, or Hisone. Either way, it’s a sad, primitive way to do things, and I for one would object to anyone going. I wonder if the people in the belly of the giant dragon feel the same way? Well, we’ll find out next week, even if I think it can’t possibly top this episode.hisonemasotan11-4

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This is a lovely little scene, even if Mayuri doesn’t know what’s going on.

Steins;Gate 0 had a mid-way arc-closer last week, so I figured something big would happen this week. Looks like we’ll have to wait until next week, because episode 12 turned to the more personal story of Kagari and her lost memories, and the question of whether it’s better if she gets them back or not, considering the hell she’ll remember. But the issue is presented gently, in the form of a song that Mayuri in the future taught the young Kagari, that causes a fainting spell when Mayuri sings it again. We spend most of the time with Rintarou and the girls going from character to character trying to find the origin of the song. One person heard it from another, just about every girl in the cast except Maho, who’s not around. Rintarou thinks it might be a telephone game, and it would indeed have been fun, if a pointless exercise, to discover that no one invented it–someone heard it from the past, or the future, from someone else who heard it from the same people. It all finishes with a bit of plot at the end. Kagari discovers at least part of her memories, happy ones, but at the same time, some bad people have spotted her. Well, overall a sweet way to spend an episode, but I suppose it couldn’t last.

FranXX21, Hisone 10, Comic Girls 11

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Our heroes are, understandably, at a loss as to who they should fight.

Darling in the FranXX 21 is a big, grand, heroic episode where everyone makes dramatic decisions and sacrifices, sometimes more than once. Naturally, little of it makes any sense. We start with the ongoing fight, and the bad guys announcing again that they’re going to set off the Klaxosaur bomb thing and blow everything up, like, in an hour or so, enough time for several things to happen. 02 manages to crawl back where Franxx and that other guy is, while muttering about how little time they have, and she gets an IV or two. Then the gang, disobeying orders that no one should take seriously anyway, since they’re actually from the bad guys’, burst in, giving 02 and Franxx transportation and defense to get to where Strelizia is. Meanwhile, Hiro and the Princess are doing the contrasting “We’re doomed” “No, we’re not, I’ll fight for life until I’m dead!” routine. The rescuers do their heroic last actions and speeches, getting 02 and Franxx to the gate that won’t open until Franxx gives up his arm to open it, a klaxosaur appears and lets 02 ride it to where Strelizia stands immobilized by tentacles or something. Okay, in anime terms, this part is pretty normal. We may not know quite what’s going on, but we can follow the characters’ desires.

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I hope this isn’t the overriding theme of the series.

Things get out-and-out weird when 02 gets to Strelizia’s cockpit and finds Hiro apparently dead. She kisses him and then they’re both in an enchanted garden and have the grateful reunification that, I suppose, the show needs them to have. This inspires the nearly-dead princess to give her very last effort. Before, she had been talking about how the klaxosaurs had, out of a necessity not explained to us, they evolved alone and unable to procreate. Now she sees 02, her despised clone, kissing the random variable boy, and decides maybe solitude isn’t the way for everyone. Time’s up, but 02 grows a new set of horns, Strelizia bursts out of the Crevasse in its new Strelizia-Apata form. The bad guys, pissed that the bomb didn’t go off, grab some super-lance and run off, shouting that they would return. So I guess the good guys won, but what was with that garden? Is 02 now dead? (nah!) And what are they going to do in the remain episodes? I think there are three more … Okay, I’m going to stop here. It was confusing as hell, but fun to watch in that “everyone does the heroic thing, even the morally ambiguous guys” way.

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… and coming to a stupid solution

Hisone to Masotan 10 is no weirder than any of the other episodes. It’s very simple, everyone tries to help get Ei and Hisone straightened out. Ei’s problem was handled easily, though at the cost of some heartbreak for her and for Zaito. All he needed to do was act like a sexist jerk around her, which he reluctantly does, for the good of the mission! Poor guy, for once I feel sorry for him. On the other hand, it means we’re treated to Ei in full fury mode, which is her best. Unfortunately, Hisone’s problems aren’t so easy to fix, partly because she’s the main character and so we want her to have her cake and eat it, too. Quitting the air force won’t help at all, of course. What was Ikushima thinking, getting Nao to pilot Masotan and letting Hisone see it? The last thing she needs to think is that she can be replaced.

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Kaos receives some good news for a change.

Comic Girls 11 is predictable from start to finish. Not that that’s a problem if it’s executed well, and it mostly is. The dorm closing did not come as a surprise, in fact, when the episode starts they are already preparing to leave. The main issue is whether Kaos-chan will manage to get a manuscript accepted before the dorm, and the show, closes. Of course she will–the world isn’t THAT cruel to Kaos. So we have a first half of the girls going through old files and manuscripts left behind by previous tenants, with Kaos discovering a Gannbate! message on a wall. This fires her up, and she winds up submitting four manuscripts. We all know that it will be the fourth (her worst) one that will interest Mayu; the only question is what will the manga be about. I should have expected it–it seems to be more or less about four girls doing comics. But it does bring up an important lesson for creative types: sometimes you do your best work when you’re tired, so that stuff gets past your inner defenses. Again, most of this is predictable, but it’s made effective mostly by Kaos-chans frequent anxiety attacks. In fact, that carries the episode, which was quieter and more introspective than usual.

Hisone 9, Steins;Gate and Comic Girls 10

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Hisone has just figured out that she’s in love …

I think Hisone to Masotan topped itself with episode 9. A big crisis ensues that threatens the entire mission, and it’s done within the show’s witty style; a script that sneaks humor into places you don’t expect, and the usual deceptively simple artwork. It also doesn’t quite work the way I expected. I thought the episode would set up a conflict between Hisone and Natsume the miko, and it did, but I expected Natsume to lose out (which she will, but later). I did not expect that the episode was really about Hisone realizing she’s in love with Okonogi and that Natsume was more of a guide toward that realization. It leads to one of Hisone’s best scenes, where after a delay as the camera closes in on her face, her head nearly explodes and she starts running around the base screaming.

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… and Masotan can’t handle it.

Now Masotan has gone a bit nuts and wants to actually eat Hisone. How will they get on with the mission? Not to mention that the same thing happens to Eri and her dragon, the funny bit here being she didn’t know she’s in love. Now, this being a happy show, I know that Hisone WILL do the mission with Masotan, and she’ll also get the boy, but they’ve set the premise that she can’t have both. You’d think the dragons would be more understanding about this. Also, if Okonogi is such a big-shot priest, why is he spending all his time in the hanger and not working with the shrine maidens?

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Nothing much happens in this episode, well, until the end.

Steins;Gate 10 is one of those episodes where everyone is in sort of a holding pattern, having little fun times with each other, so you basically knew something huge was going to happen in the second half. While it was not on the level of gunmen breaking in, or surprise entrances from dead characters, I guess it was a strong ending. It was marred a little by the fact that I had no idea Kurisu’s old data actually existed. I believed Maho when she said it was gone last week. I also did not realize its full import until Rintarou, panicked, orders her not to retrieve the data because of WWIII and all that. I guess the big event isn’t that the data still exists but that Rintarou blurts out the truth about it. … While we waited for whatever big event it was to happen, we saw n entertaining, low-key episode of Nae becoming “Sergeant Clean,” and a pajama party where Moeka gets felt up. The business of Kurisu being Amadeus and Maho being Salieri doesn’t quite work for me, since Maho clearly loved Kurisu, but it’s probably a character point that will be referenced later, when she maybe shows her own inner Wolfgang.

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Tsubasa is losing her battle with gentility.

I’m trying to figure out what part of Comic Girls 10 I liked more. The part where Ruki gets depressed because she’s not getting the love her shoujo characters are wasn’t bad, and it kind of set the tone for the episode–that Kaos isn’t the only one who has issues distracting them from their work. But in terms of laughs we have to look later, like when Kaos spends the New Year holidays at Tsubasa’s huge castle (every time they show its front they play a “O Fortuna!” style lick, then cut it off and get to the action, which in this case has Tsubasa reverting to her refined mindset and forgetting about her manga. In a nice turnaround it’s Kaos who saves the day, well, and Ruki.

comicgirls10-2But if you’re in it for Kaos-chan freakouts, check out her misadventures at the shrine (worst possible luck, etc). That and the subsequent, ceremonial burning of old manuscripts to make a fire to roast sweet potatoes worked the best–in other words, everyone burns their bad work and moves on. As usual, the jokes and sight gags pop in and out constantly. Getting near the end of the series and the show is getting funnier. Next week the dorm’s destruction becomes an official storyline, so I don’t expect to laugh as much.

Comic Girls 8-9, Steins;Gate 0 8, Hisone 7-8

comicgirls8-1The first half of Comic Girls 8 was the usual stuff, Kaos agonizing over another rejection, the girls comforting her, and then a study session since exams are coming up. At least Kaos didn’t fail those. Things improve in the second half when the attention turns to Ririka, Mayu, and Miharu having a post-exam drinking binge, interrupted by the girls from time to time, who happily do not recognize Miharu without her makeup. Part of it, especially the ED they put in, reminded me of that K-ON!! episode where we see the teacher as a schoolgirl hanging out with her friends and behaving exactly like the kids do now, only in Comic Girls’ case three of the girls are already published artists and the adults are not. And again we have to wonder why Mayu keeps trying to encourage Kaos when it’s becoming clear that she hasn’t got much talent. Oh, and the dorm is going to shut down in a few months. No one’s bothered to tell the girls.

comicgirls9-1Episode 9 feels like the best of the series so far. Everyone involved has found a groove; the direction is fast, the timing is spot-on and the voice actresses are outdoing themselves. Also, while I love Kaos-chan’s freakouts, I get tired of her constant failures. This episode has a good share of the former and very little of the latter. The first half seems like it’ll be another “Kaos overthinks everything” segment but it shifts to a role-reversal for Koyume and Tsubasa, who go shopping for cute things. The other girls work humorous commentary-in fact, the asides everyone rattles off might be the episode’s great strength. The second part involves Koyumi trying to lose weight, and it seems one of the series’ key themes is “don’t worry so much and the problem will go away,” something Kaos needs to learn. The third part, where Tsubasa loses her manuscript at school, isn’t as effective since we know she’ll find it, and I was rather hoping it would be Miharu who does, but it works well enough.

steinsgate08-1Turns out the return of a real, live Kurisu in Steins;Gate 0 was just a temporary thing. Kurisu watches Rintarou freak out for a bit and then figures out, with Daru’s help, that this Rintarou is from an alternate timeline. The trouble is, in THIS one it’s Mayuri who’s dead–for the thousandth time. Kurisu puts together the phone-microphone device, and then it’s just a question of which timeline Rintarou wants or needs, in other words, who dies? Kurisu is fine with dying, or rather, not existing, because she knows how important Mayuri is to Rintarou, while I wonder what happens to the people in timelines that Rintarou’s abandoned … Anyway, it leads to a grey, melancholy episode with poor Rintarou not wanting either of them to die, of course. The horrible future of the other word doesn’t enter into it … I also wonder if there’s a possible way to find a timeline where BOTH women live. The reason for it all only struck me later: this all happens in order to give Rintarou some closure over Kurisu, a chance to finally say goodbye, so that he can move on with the main story.

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She’s obviously very excited about this cunning plan.

Also firing on all cylinders is Hisone to Masotan. Catching up, I find episode 7 to be one of the best. The show has established the setup and the characters, got them to bond, and now it’s free to do what it wants, and that means an utterly ridiculous plan involving the upcoming ritual (still unexplained), described in the screenshot above. And so the plan, from an officer and expert in love, is to get Hisone to get closer to Okonogi, which both would secretly like but are too shy and inexperienced to go for it. … and then crush it, I suppose. Okonogi is in on part of this plan, but is too duty bound to refuse. Also, we have Ririko going around, bribed by comics, getting info on the girls’ likes and dislikes on Iiboshi’s behalf, the one thing in the episode that doesn’t really work, though it’s fun to see the girls answering her odd questions without thinking. Also, as I figured, Eru is beginning to get a thing for Zaitou, in terms of how these stories go, not surprising, and Mayumi is also interested in a guy, neither possible relationship known to the higher-ups, which means, I guess, that the ritual is in danger, and Japan will be in danger. Meanwhile at home we don’t care but just happily watch each character bounce off the others.

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The girls learn about their mission.

Episode 8 dumps that hare-brained idea of breaking the girls’ hearts and brings us the true identity of the yogurt lady, actually named Sada, one of the OTF fliers from 74 years ago, the last time the giant dragon Mitatsu-sama woke up and moved to another throne. That island they did survival training on was actually part of Mitatsu himself. Yes, it’s weird, but so is a show where military pilots fly dragons disguised as planes. The OTF pilots’ true job is to escort Mitatsu to the new place, requiring three days of flight, and the dilemma is getting the girls to trust their dragons to fly without guidance so they can get some shut-eye. Turns out to be quite easy, since after two days the girls need little more than Sada’s harsh lecture in order to doze off, and you remember that shared dream on the island ..? This is kind of a letdown, too easy, like they had to invent some little crisis in order to introduce more story material. Things will get more interesting next week now that the shrine maidens have shown up, one of them having strong interest in Okonogi, who’s not who he seems, either.

Steins;Gate and Hisone 6, Franxx 18, Comic Girls 7

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At least they had a nice New Year party before the goons burst in.

Steins;Gate 0  7 has bad guys busting into the lab while everyone’s there, but they haven’t killed anyone yet. It would be interesting if they killed Mayuri again, well, maybe not, as it would make Rintaro such a basket case that the story couldn’t move forward. Also, they burst in but don’t do anything except point guns and a taser at everyone. If there is going to be a shocking (not from the taser) moment it would have happened before the episode finished, to make the cliffhanger more exciting. My guess is that Yuugo the landlord is going to interfere somehow, since he spotted a guy staking out the place, and his daughter is up there. Well, we’ll find out. More interesting to me was everyone meeting the Amadeus Kurisu, and Rintaro’s comment that she is not Kurisu, and while Kagari might be the spitting image, she’s not Kurisu either. Maybe if they can get a third non-Kurisu, they can triangulate one. Meanwhile, I hope it isn’t long before those profs out themselves as SERN stooges. The show has made it too obvious for the viewer what they are. Besides, the blond guy gets on my nerves.

comicgirls7-1One of the best features of Comic Girls is Kaos freaking out about something or other. On the other hand, the things that freak her out don’t often feel real. In the second half she goes into the city alone, and after a lovely time in Akihabara, she’s stopped by a friendly policewoman who thought she was a lost little girl. This spirals downward until she’s hiding in a box in an alley, while I was tapping my toes waiting for her to snap out of it. It also bewilders me why she acts that way while at the same time working as a new manga artist who has to deal with constant rejection by her editor. Well, I don’t think about it too much and just enjoy the freakouts. This week the scary but kind Suzu has some more fun with her, but Kaos is getting used to it, besides, Suzu is a good teacher. Then there’s the whole issue of glasses. The show makes it clear that she needs them, but she doesn’t feel worthy of looking so mature. This fits right into the believability range for me, but they stretch that crisis out a bit too long.

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omedetou!

Darling in the FranXX 18 decides not to follow up on the klaxosaur princess business but instead decides to make the squad’s lives even more miserable. Oh, there’s a bit near the end where the encased elders talk about how everything is mostly going to plan, but most of the episode is spent with Kokoro and Mitsuru’s wedding preparations, which we watch knowing full well that some shit was going to go down and ruin it. Everyone was too happy. So the Nines show up, not sure why, unless they’re Papa’s personal henchmen, though I suspect the show just wanted Alpha to be there to say smug lines so we can hate him more. Meanwhile, the pilots’ role in this society is becoming clearer and more depressing. I wonder when it’s going to backfire on the elders. As suggested by the brainwashed Kokoro’s interest in the Sakura at the end, and the fact that Hiro and 02’s altered memories didn’t stay altered, someone, somewhere is going to recall something. And, as the Ikuno/Ichigo scene points out, these kids have experienced a hell of a lot more and have more complex, adult emotions than any of the other Not sure what the kids will do with the memories when they return, though. They are, as they always have been, powerless.

hisone6-1I think we all figured out that the way for the Hisone to Masotan pilots to get off the island was for the dragons to be happy, and that mostly meant getting F2, I mean Ken-San, er, Norma happy too, which wasn’t going to happen while Eri was so grumpy and stubborn. How she loosens up at the end didn’t really work. She tells the others why she is so angry–she wanted to be a real F2 pilot and not a dragon pilot, she turns around when Norma is overheating and talks to her. Okay, I like the way her change of heart is not overt and melodramatic, but it doesn’t give us a chance to see the change-of-heart moment for ourselvs; she’s come around without us noticing. Oh, well, it was another good episode anyway. I like how the other three characters play off each other now. We can hopefully depend on the four characters to provide a backbone for the future weirdness, i.e., what the hell is up with that island, that weird dream all the girls had, and finally why was that one guy talking about a “ritual?”

Steins;Gate and Hisone 5, Comic Girls 6, FranXX 17

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Not who you think, OR IS IT?!

I just finished Steins;Gate 0 5 and find I have little so say about it. Again, the plodding writing sometimes threatens to pull me out of things, but they threw in enough surprises, especially the doozy at the end, that it didn’t matter. And, to be fair, while I might gripe about the writing, this is one of those shows where time whizzes by; it’s over before I know it, or want it to be. Perhaps they’re doing a good job at dropping in surprises and ramping up the suspense to keep me interested. That last one boggled the mind: we have a Kurisu look-alike who has lost her memory who ALSO happens to be the missing Kagari, Now I have all sorts of questions, like what the hell was she doing as a guest at Ruka’s house? Who is the other guest? Add that to What prompted Maho’s panic attack? What is Moeka up to? Hell, just about everyone in the show, including that new professor character, is probably up to something, this show being what it is. Yeah, I might quibble, but I think I’m finally hooked again.

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Some bonding.

I’m trying to figure out the SECRET MEANING in the Hisone to Masotan ED. I get that they added character voices when they were introduced, but in week 5 (and in week 3) they were singing in harmony. I guess it means the four girls have some found harmony with each other. And they have. At first, stuck in survival training on that island, they were dysfunctional, but then Hisone found water, Rinko made fire, and Mayumi found food, and they sat down and talked about how awful they are, while Liboshi, observing, talks about how connecting with the dragons brings something that is missing in the girls, or something like that. The only one left out of the bonding (and in the sweetest moment of the episode, we see the dragons playing together in the water–even they’re bonding, or remembering each other, as Liboshi says) is, of course, Eri, and I’m sure she’ll have her breakthrough and accept her dragon in a tearjerker scene next week. Another good episode, though the fanservice came as a surprise.

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The show finds a new way to freak out Kaos.

Comic Girls 6 continues the trend of taking predictable story ideas and elevating them, slightly, by some clever lines and Kaos’s freakouts. She has plenty to freak about in the first half, when she meets a scary ghost-girl. We at home of course already knew that the mysterious thing was probably a schoolmate, or a former tenant, or a friend of somebody. Turns out to be a little of all three. Fuura, former tenant, second-year, etc. She has fun scaring poor Kaos through much of the story until the show gets soft and turns her into an awkward girl who isn’t used to social situations, just like Kaos. I liked her better when she was scary. But what was that bit with her hanging from a tree at the start? The second story, where the homeroom teacher turns out to be a major otaku and a huge fan of “Wing-V” Tsubasa doesn’t have the same sense of fun, apart from the girls pondering the penname “Wing-V.”

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Making babies, she means.

Speaking of weird nicknames, Darling in the FranXX 17 has the kids in the Nines Squad pay our gang a little visit, and you know that won’t end well, especially with 9 Alpha, the smirking blonde brat going around saying suggestive things to anyone he knows will be bothered by it. What makes it interesting is that he probably doesn’t know everything himself, only what Papa told him, and we’ve see the parental figures in this show don’t want, or are afraid to tell the truth much of the time. I say “afraid to” because of Nana’s breakdown when Kokoro confronts her about making babies. Some adolescent emotions forcing their way through her unnaturally-erected defenses. All that training and therapy for naught.

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Huh? Huh?

What it seems to boil down to is that humans don’t do it like they used to, and in fact they’re trained to not even think about it. The contrast between a seeming utopian world where emotions and love are cut out for the good of humanity isn’t exactly a new idea in science fiction, but how the creators work it out is what matters. They seem to be doing a good job; I wonder a little about the adults letting the kids hang out together like this and discovering the forbidden fruit by themselves. Being able to pilot a franxx is one thing, but making babies is a whole different matter. Maybe, as Dr. Franxx hints, it’s because the adults have lost this knowledge or ability, or some part of it. I am also intrigued by 9 Alpha’s claims that the old way of doing things limited people to two genders. I wonder what gender he considers himself. Well, lots to ponder, and I didn’t even touch on the Klaxosaur Princess, 02’s humanity or lack of it, and that whole part of the story, and how it will tie in with everything else, oh, and Hiro growing horns!