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Kill la Kill finale: my inadequate take

March 29, 2014 Leave a comment

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I expected nothing less. I expected a lot of fighting and shouting with quick doses of comedy, sometimes at the same time (Senketsu’s attack on Ragyo), I expected all the characters to have a moment to shine, well, that didn’t happen. The devas had some action until the midway point, then stayed to the side and commented, except, of course, for Gamagoori. I expected the fighting to turn several times, heroic moments by the, er, heroes, quickly followed by Ragyo or Nui chuckling before launching their counterattacks. I expected things to get bigger and grander, and I suppose it did, up to a point …

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The final battle was between two people (four if you count Senketsu and Nui’s life-force), and while this was appropriate, it felt like a minor letdown, even if they added some over-the-top, inane slogans: “Clothes are clothes! People are people!” (We traveled 24 episodes for that?) It just felt like a waste to have everyone else back on earth, watching. Sure, we spent plenty of time with them before, and they all caught the plummeting Ryuuko and wound up in a naked heap afterwards, though, considering the theme of clothing in this series, that was a nice touch. Maybe I just like big fight scenes more small ones, but I figured Satsuki at least ought to have been up there with them.

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The “clothing are clothing” business fell flat for me partly because I think Ryuuko already knew that. It may have resonance because she is both at once, but, really, the only revelation that anyone got this episode was Senketsu, and it was almost lost in the finale’s wonderful mayhem. Because he realized that he was also partly human (is that right?) he not only turns the tables on Ragyo, but becomes perhaps at peace, able to sacrifice himself for Ryuuko’s sake. … Maybe. I think he’d have sacrificed himself any time it was necessary. Maybe the creators figured that it was the final episode, so someone had to die, since Gamagoori didn’t (honestly, when he “died,” did anyone out there actually believe it?).

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And the Mako/Gamagoori ship? What does Mako do? She asks Ryuuko on a date!? … Okay, I’m just joking and nitpicking now. I enjoyed the hell out of the final episode, though I preferred the first half, when EVERYONE was involved, coming up to save the day right when it was needed. Everything that made this show fun to watch was on display from the start of the episode. Like I said, I expected nothing less, Trigger knew we expected nothing less, and they did not disappoint. It’s been that way since episode one. They promised us grand, crazy action, and that’s exactly what they gave us. What’s more, they managed to ramp up the intensity through the last handful of episodes yet kept it watchable. That’s very, very hard to do. Applause to Studio Trigger, looking forward to their next series. But not quite yet. I need a breather.

One more of Mako and Satsuki.

One more of Mako and Satsuki.

Categories: Kill la Kill

Kill 23, Nobunagun, Yakuindomo, and Chuunibyou Ren 11

March 21, 2014 Leave a comment

Kill la Kill 23 is a big epside with lots of dramatic moments, fighting, and shouting, all to get us ready for the big finale next week. Good thing, too.

I'm beginning to feel that way too.

I’m beginning to feel that way too.

Frankly, it’s beginning to wear thin. When you have a show as over-the-top and intense as this one, you run the danger of bludgeoning the viewer into indifference. Happily for us, the show knows it too. It has leavened the intensity with just enough quiet moments and comedy to extend and heighten the big dramatic scenes. Oh, and the surprise twists. Mustn’t forget those. But that’s all right. They timed it almost perfectly. And while we have more bonding moments, still more level-ups for the costumes (didn’t we do this last week?), it’s all in anticipation of a final battle next week, with everyone wearing their final battle outfits, in the final episode. Unless Trigger fools us and makes a post-finale battle, outfit, or even episode. I could see them doing that.

smackdown #46702 for the series.

smackdown #46702 for the series.

As for the events, well, nothing much we haven’t seen before. Well, we hadn’t seen Ryuuko cut in half, but that was a ruse in order to distract Ragyo (I think the show’s writers were giggling furiously while writing that scene). We’ve seen the four devas in new suits before. Mako does her best to hold the fort until they show up. It was nice to see that tableau of everyone on the ship, not only the main characters, but all the little people as well (which reminds me that I felt the same way watching the freed suit-wearers on that hamster wheel). Two questions, apart from how they’ll win, remain. Didn’t they win already by killing the main life fiber? And, is Satsuki going to do any sort of penance for the years of abusing people she did?

Sio, doing what she does best.  Shootin' and grinnin'.

Sio, doing what she does best. Shootin’ and grinnin’.

I’ve said before that Nobunagun is always better when Sio is grinning, and she grins a lot in episode 11. And why not? As the episode goes on all we see is her plan succeeding. Newton messes with the gravity, Gandhi and whatshername cut off the rear, and some others, notably Jack, meet them head on in a Gaudi-created dome of death! Hell, apart from Capa and Newton, everyone’s smiling this episode. Meanwhile, Sio is blazing away from the ship at that thing they insist on calling a battleship. Yeah, she’s grinning every step of the way, except when she’s fanboying over tanks and their drivers. Then she uses some hovering thing so she can blast at the thing from close range. It’s only here that things go slightly wrong, like another battleship or something, with tentacles that threatened to turn this into a porn movie for a minute. Judging from the previews, however, it’s a minor setback.

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In Seitokai Yakuindomo 11, Shino and Takatoshi walk by a lake, then after this week’s proclamation, we learn that it’s Autumn and getting colder. The SC decides to remind the student body of certain rules by using the newspaper, then turn to other things, but someone is leaking their information, so Suzu suggests they use a code. You can imagine the jokes, can’t you? It doesn’t work anyway, more info is leaked, though it’s wrong and embarrassing. After that Takatoshi learns the pond has a turtle, then Uomi invites them to her school’s festival, where they attend a cooking class and watch some acts. Time passes, and it’s snowing! They have to shovel the school entranceway. I didn’t know you could make so many dirty jokes about snow. After that comes winter break and a surprise stew party, where the mystery ingredients are, happily, not obscene, except for the sausage. Then Shino plays secret santa. Weird to have a xmas bit when it’s really March. Oh, and Suzu is short the entire time.

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With Chuunibyou Ren 11, the closest thing I can figure is that the “Dark Flame Dragon” was Satone’s battle with the image of Yuuta as a boyfriend, a false image that must be destroyed so that she can face the reality of the situation, that Yuuta’s got a girlfriend and she’s got to let go. That would help to explain Yuuta’s line about the dragon not existing, so we can’t see it, etc. To that end, Satone gets to see Yuuta constantly worrying about and chasing after Rikka to ensure she doesn’t get into trouble, for two episodes now, every time she turns to him, really. It feels unrealistic. Feelings don’t just go away over a summer break. Kumin’s “give her time” line was the most sensible advice. Meanwhile, through finding all those tokens, Rikka gets the confirmation of Yuuta’s affections that she needed, given in terms her dark fantasy-addled mind can understand. And in the meantime this sequel series still doesn’t have much to show for itself. But we’ve been saying that for a while now.

Those Nobunaga shows, and Kill la Kill 22

March 14, 2014 Leave a comment
Trying to think of a joke for this.

Trying to think of a joke for this.

Unfortunately, in Nobunaga the Fool 9, Caesar isn’t dead. I guess I shouldn’t have expected him to be, but smirking bishie villains drive me up the wall. Now he’s teamed up with Uesugi Kenshin, another clan overload, and a bishie himself, but doesn’t smirk and actually seems to be a decent sort; he’s got this power to open up the earth and make mecha fall into it, and with that power you’d think he’d have gone for conquest already, but he hasn’t. But after this new threat is explained to us and news gets out nothing much happens. Nobunaga’s aides were reluctantly accepting Nobunaga as their new boss, but now they have a new reason to doubt him. People are doubting a lot of things in this episode, or searching for answers, from Jeanne to Mitsuhide to even Ichihime, who now obviously has Mitsuhide as her goal. More guilt for the guy. Nobunaga goes about rallying support through speeches through loudspeakers. At least one character in this series isn’t doubting anything. He’s got too big an ego for that.

People had doubts about using Nobunaga from the start.

People had doubts about using Nobunaga from the start.

A split story in Nobunagun 10. The first half is Granny’s story about how she got to be the leader of Dogoo in the first place, which requires grabbing a gene here and then through time and going back into hibernation, until she gets sick of that (I couldn’t make out the reason), only to return when she’s an old lady. Fine and dandy, but if Dogoo is such a sophisticated, advanced and timeless organization, why didn’t they go out and destroy the damn meteor before it ever landed on Earth? They had hundreds of years to do just that. The second half of the story involves that damn “battleship” thing guarding the tunnel, and Sio’s gene-inspired insight that tells her (and Dogoo) what the aliens are really plotting. I think it’s more interesting for the way Jack treats her nowadays. He’s as unpleasant as ever, however, he’s realized that Sio’s a visionary warrior and is the first one of that dysfunctional organization to call for her advice. And when she manages to get her opinion heard, he’s grinning. Must be their egenes, both bloodthirsty types.

Kill la Kill 22 rescues this post by giving us twenty-four minutes full of … what was the word again?

Oh, incomprehensible.  That's right.  Thanks.

Oh, incomprehensible. That’s right. Thanks.

Okay, it wasn’t really incomprehensible. It was a mostly straightforward episode where the two opposing sides bond a little, take care of some minor things, and plan their strategy for the final two episodes. And there’s a complication right at the end, but Mako’s on the job! No worries there. In terms of incomprehensible bits, the only one that made me scratch my head was Mako’s dramatic reappearance from the sky, in that white box. Was she gone? When? What’s that box supposed to be? But it’s swept away by her appearance in what I think is her cutest outfit. Kill la Kill has a tendency to make your qualms about this or that plot point vanish by showing you something amazing.

Some things take longer than others.

Some things take longer than others.

Besides, who cares? I can barely remember what the Life Fibers’ ultimate plan entails, something about covering the Earth. All I know is that the four devas, Nudist Beach, and Mako have to destroy a transmitter and there’s a huge men’s suit blocking them, meanwhile Ryuuko and Satsuki are off to stop Ragyo. Both will involve a lot of fighting and shouting and will be great to watch. The fact that Ragyo’s their mom, and that they’re sisters, well, they do get a mention, but only in superficial, comic terms, and to allow us to see Ryuuko get all tsundere with Satsuki. Of the other personal things the most important was getting Ryuuko and Satsuki on the same page, involving a slugging contest that wasn’t, and the consideration of the disorderly “incomprehensible fools” who not only keep Ryuuko going, but Satsuki. But after the satisfying and rather gross defeat of Nui early in the episode, we didn’t have a lot of fighting. I believe the next two episodes will more than make up for that.

Kill 21, Asukara 22, Chuunibyou Ren 9

March 8, 2014 2 comments

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Kill la Kill 21 kept up the intensity it built over the last few episodes, but it felt like it was spinning its wheels. It was all about how to snap Ryuuko back to normal, or get that godrobe off her, and you knew that if it did happen this episode it would happen at the end. The episode tried to get everyone involved, but most of the time they were standing by or dealing with the Nui distraction. Plenty of battling, but not much action.

So is every regular character in this show going to wear Senketsu at least once?

So is every regular character in this show going to wear Senketsu at least once?

Still, it was mostly fun to watch. You’d figure that Satsuki and Senketsu wouldn’t have the bond to defeat Ryuuko (though I think I said the opposite last week). So it turns out the four devas had another plan. Then Nui shows up, so they had her to contend with. Meanwhile I payed attention for anything that would suggest a change in the situation, like Satsuki’s comment to Nui about how she hasn’t abandoned her scissor half, or Mako’s latest alleluia speech. Mako, inadvertently wearing Senketsu(!), entering Ryuuko’s mind finally worked, but not before we had a false Mako death (I really wasn’t worried about that, since it was a dream sequence of sorts, but the the blood spurting out did give me pause) and a moment of despair before Ryuuko did her surprising turnaround, which, by the way, wasn’t explained well enough for me. She “kills” Mako at that fantasy altar, the wakes up and stabs Nui. Huh? … Never mind. It wasn’t as effective as previous episodes, but still entertaining.

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Nagi no Asukara 22 continues to irritate me, with these angry, indecisive or useless characters. This week Hikari discovers that Manaka has seemingly lost some memories since returning from the Ojoshi-sama graveyard. Of course, they’re memories connected to his possible relationship with her, so he’s upset about it. This is about the only interesting thing we get in the first half. The rest of it is spent with people standing around, looking sad over innocent comments someone else has said. In the second half Hikari and Miuna (trying to figure out why he’s in such a huff) stumble upon a shrine, and there’s Uroko-sama, whom Hikari’s been looking for. He instantly gets creepy around Miuna and then lays a long, confusing infodump concerning a tale that seems to be repeating now, showing us that, as usual, gods are selfish, vindictive, narcissistic types who don’t deserve the worship people give them. So basically the sea god decided to take away Manaka’s ability to love someone because she wanted to return to the surface. So there! Neener! Not only that, this climate disaster is only going to get worse for everybody. That’ll show ’em! Punish all those innocent people because one middle-schooler regrets something! Not that any of that matters to the human characters in this show, apart from Tsumugu; they’re too busy trying to figure themselves out or messing up their love lives. Man, if this show wasn’t so damn close to its end I’d drop it like a stone.

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Not sure what’s going on with Chuunibyou Ren 9. Everything happens at a beach where they’re working at the behest of Kumin’s aunt, so it’s a beach/swimsuit episode. But the central story is that of Rikka losing her powers, which seems to mean she’s beginning to lose interest in her tyrant’s eye delusions, to which I say: good. But Satone, who seems to know exactly what Rikka’s thinking, gives her an ultimatum of sorts: sacrifice the delusions for the sake of her boyfriend, or embrace them like she did, though it’s becoming obvious that she now regrets her decision. There’s also a token involved. All this will be developed later on, I guess, but I don’t see that it’ll be very interesting–everyone on this show’s too nice to let anybody get too hurt. Also Touka shows up out of nowhere (EVERYONE’S in this beach episode, even the cat), with both her ladle and a small girl named Cento, who buys into all this 8th grade syndrome nonsense and has a great time. Touka is both relieved and disappointed that the romance involving her sister is hardly moving forward. As for me, I’m getting annoyed. Like I said, I don’t Satone can pose a serious threat, but then what will the show do for the next few episodes?

Kill 20, Asukara 21, Chuunibyou Ren 8

March 1, 2014 Leave a comment

After watching Kill la Kill 20, I give up on trying to predict what the show will do next.

I NEVER expected to see this.

I NEVER expected to see this.

It’s too much to say that they turned everything 180 and now we have to root for the villain to defeat the hero. Ryuuko’s simply brainwashed and needs someone to talk or knock some sense into her. But if we had seen the screenshot above a dozen episodes ago we wouldn’t have believed it, or we’d have invented some other story line. But now I’m already breaking my vow. Maybe Ryuuko won’t get her senses back during this fight. Maybe she’ll win, and that ship will sink with everyone on it, and someone else will have to betray Ragyo, maybe Nui. … Nah.

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Besides, thinking about it, I don’t know if she CAN win. True, even without Junketsu, Ryuuko was able to slice building up, but she’s not herself. A couple of episodes ago she was able to tear life fibers out of her brain! This episode, she gave up pretty easily. Also, I remember Satsuki having difficulties controlling Junketsu, and though it didn’t matter at the time, I suspect now that they inserted those bits as foreshadowing. On the other hand, if Ryuuko is a life-fiber monster she shouldn’t have such a hard time. On the other other hand, Satsuki is wearing Senketsu with the clothing’s permission. While she had struggled to dominate Junketsu, she asked Senketsu for his help. They’ll do their best to cooperate.

Seriously, who could possibly have imagined?

Seriously, who could possibly have imagined this?

So place your bets, if you dare. What will happen next week? Will Satsuki get through to Ryuuko? Will Senketsu? Maybe Senketsu will get through to Junketsu instead! Will Mako succeed where she failed this week? Will the four Devas be able to assist? Will Nudist beach manage to do anything useful at all? Don’t ask me. I just don’t know anymore.

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For Nagi no Asukara, I suppose it’s not fair to complain because the story arc might give a little hiccup and move forward once an episode, because at this point I can’t figure out what the actual story is. As for the characters, they can’t take care of the mysteries of this cooling period, or waking up the people underwater, because they don’t know enough. Besides, they’re all trying to get their personal lives sorted out. On that side, Manaka’s awake and delighted by … well, I was going to say everything, but she seems fixated on the salt-snow at the moment. Everyone’s happy that she’s happy, except Miuna, who thinks she might be happy about it but feels guilty because maybe she doesn’t. At any rate, she’s been shoved aside in the Hikari sweepstakes. The others go on the way they always do, especially Chisaki, who, Manaka implies, hasn’t changed at all. I can’t remember now, but does she WANT to change? And so another episode slides smoothly past, until the surprise fish at the end, suggesting that asshole god is around, hopefully to speed up the plot.

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Since the important story of Chuunibyou was taken care of in the first season, a lot of us worried or wondered if Ren would have a backbone strong enough to hold up new stories, and while watching the Yuuta/Rikka romance slowly blossom has been cute, the new season has been less compelling to watch. But episode 8 manages to find something interesting. A fake Mori Summer appears and has bamboozled Sanae away from Shinka. My first reaction was “So what’s the problem?” and indeed, Shinka was, at first, relieved. I liked this reaction. She had tried to put Mori Summer behind her, and this reaction showed that she had succeeded.

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But this would ignore the fake Mori and her interest in Sanae. She comes off as creepy in her first scene, and when we (and Shinka, Yuuta, et al.) get in our heads that she’s interested in more than Sanae’s pure spirit, or purity for that matter, the episode becomes less comic. After all, she’s a deluded, love-struck stalker. But it manages to remain light, since in order to battle her Shinka must remember Mori Summer stuff she’d rather forget. The big imaginative battle at the end stretched my incredulity somewhat, I mean, with the others cheering her on, it’s almost as if that big light show was actually happening, but the show hits just the right note when Shinka gives her big speech at the end, with that heavenly music playing. It’s one of the best moments of the season, and it made Sanae come somewhat to her senses. I do feel a little sorry for the fake Mori Summer, however, while at the same time I worry that she won’t let go and Sanae will have a stalker to deal with. Nah, not that kind of show.

Kill 19, Asukara 29, Chuunibyou Ren 7

February 22, 2014 Leave a comment

I don’t really know what to think about Kill la Kill 19.

Well, mostly.

Well, mostly.

I didn’t expect a huge episode full of fights and revelations after that craziness last week, and I didn’t get one. Not to say it was sedate. Instead, the episode concentrated on getting us caught up with what happened to everyone AFTER last week, since they jumped ahead five months, with moments of characteristic action bubbling to the surface. But it felt off, like there was now a distance between me and the characters and events. Maybe it was that the circumstances had changed so much. Revocs has pretty much won. Nudist Beach, with the Four Devas helping, can do little more than rescue some people and fiddle with new weapons. Satsuki is hanging from her arms in a cage. Ryuuko won’t wake up. Or maybe it was the “all is lost” feeling about the whole thing.

There.  It's official.

There. It’s official.

About the only things that I managed to get excited over was the Mako / Gamagoori Ship Watch, which took another couple steps forward after Mako gets sucked into a Cover and is later rescued by him, and some of the signs of life the others show near the end, such as Satsuki’s toenail, and Ryuuko waking up. Of course, the Ryuuko we have now is bitter and nihilistic about her own existence now, a “life fiber monster,” as she describes herself. But, hell, she’s awake, and more capable of doing damage than anyone else on the good guys’ side. But what were those harp things supposed to be? That’s where the show took a further step away from me. And why is Ragyo going on now about rage, and is Ryuuko’s rage what she’s talking about? Okay, plenty of stuff to enjoy and think about this week, but it didn’t have the impact it should.

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Meanwhile, Nagi no Asukara is still making it hard to care about anything at all. Plot-wise, Manaka is still unconscious, and they take the whole episode trying to figure out ways to wake her up, and when she does at the end, saying the most profound thing I can remember her saying (“Ue?”), it’s not clear whether any of the things they tried worked or not. Let’s see, she woke up when Miuna and Hikari were arguing about whether to wake her up with a kiss … maybe there’s a connection there, maybe not. Well, it’s better than kissing her and having her wake up. The show’s not stupid like that, just slow and pointless at times. Elsewhere we spend time with Miuna, who’s afraid that she actually doesn’t want Manaka to wake up because of something she blurted out earlier in the episode. This is silly, but she’s in middle school and can be forgiven beliefs like that. And there’s the question of why Miuna now has ena and Manaka doesn’t–is it a passing of the torch between the two? Are they suggesting that Miuna is the one Hikari should wind up with? But considering that I don’t really like both Manaka and Hikari, I can’t find the energy to care. Sad to say that this has become the dull, downer show I watch after Kill la Kill …

But then they get sensible.

But then they get sensible.

I guess Chuunibyou Ren is somewhere in between. Here, the little romance takes a step forward after nearly falling apart, thanks to Satone crashing Yuuta and Rikka’s school-trip date. What’s surprising here is how Rikka behaves. She is rightly upset that Yuuta tries to help out Satone, watching the two of them perform some nearly flawless magic on a monkey, and running off afterwards, but once she settles down she also shows more sense than I expected. It wasn’t their fault the monkey chased them and made them fall off that ledge, hell, just helping Satone out was the decent thing to do. And later, when Satone calls her out, they have a sensible chat. In spite of their degrees of delusions, they know enough now to drop the childishness when it’s important. But the biggest shock comes at the end, with the “I love you.” There was no beating about the bush, no lapse into Tyant’s Eye speech, no steam coming out of Rikka’s collar, no hesitation at all. If anything, she sounded playful, maybe enjoying the surprise on her boy’s face. A lovely moment. If this second season is simply going to be about the two of them getting closer, this episode was a good way to do it.

Kill 18, Nisekoi 5, Yakuindomo bleh 6

February 15, 2014 1 comment

I didn’t think it was possible but I believe Kill la Kill just topped itself.

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Last week we got a big plot whammy right at the end, after an episode of mostly talk. Now, in episode 18, we get a big info-whammy that changes everything as dramatically as last week’s whammy, and it’s on top of an episode where, I think, everybody fought everybody else for at least one minute … well, maybe not. But we had the Four Devas fighting Nui, Ryuuko fighting Nui, Ryuuko fighting Satsuki, Satsuki fighting Ragyo, Satsuki fighting the brainwashed student body, and the two Nudist Beach people were also there, fighting pointlessly. Just when you were getting interested in one fight they would start another one. And, unlike other episodes, this one stayed fresh and coherent throughout.

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… well, apart from the fact that I’m beginning to lose touch with this life fiber business. We get the rebellious Satsuki telling the stadium to burn their Revocs clothing, yet she has no trouble changing into her own. Neither does Ryuuko, but in that case there are nefarious consequences she faces until she and Senketsu literally snap out of it, a moment that itself set up the info-whammy at the end, if only we had known it. Satsuki loses her battle because she never fully bonded with her godrobe, but, at that point, why would she want to?

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Also, the big revelation at the end, shocking as it is (and I’m idiotic enough that I didn’t put the pieces together), disappointed me in one way. Not in terms of the plot, but it what it says about the world of the show. Part of the reason we hated (or loved to hate) Satsuki was that she believed the masses should be ruled by a rich and powerful elite, while Ryuuko, mad scientist father notwithstanding, seemed to come from humble origins. Certainly she had a more humble upbringing. One reason to root for her besides her being Mako’s friend. But now the show seems to be giving in to the idea that it’s okay to have a ruling nobility. Has Kill la Kill joined the 1%? That’s as big an issue for me as anything else the show has dished out, and as we see from this episode, this show can dish out plenty.

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Nisekoi 5 is still more of the same: a routine comedy given extra strength by the hand of Shaft. Of course, this being a Shaft show it’s going to do Shaft things as well. I suppose that no one at the studio could resist giving a poolside episode as many shots of girls’ boobs and crotches from as many angles as they could manage. Normally I just laugh off fanservice, especially in a high school romcom, but this time I think they overdid it. When they weren’t ogling Kirisaki and Onodera, we get nothing new with the pendant and key business, unless there’s some obfuscation going on, I there might be. I’m not sure I trust Ruri’s motives, and I like the idea that she’s actually working on her interests, i.e., Onodera. And we get some learn-to-swim scenes and everything that comes with that. Really, totally predictable, but great to look at, as usual, even with the fanservice.

Guess the punchline.

Guess the punchline.

In Saitokai Yakuindomo Bleh 6 we get a complete story in the first half, as Shino is approached by a scout for a modeling agency. It’s as predictable as you can get, apart from the dirty jokes, well, that’s predictable in this series anyway. After that, Aria has a corner, we get another episode of that sex-toy-in-the-clubroom story, then some self-defense training by the Judo Club (relatively tame, considering the scene’s potential), and that leads to Kaede’s androphobia, then, another episode in that drama. And Suzu gets by the episode without any jokes about her height, apart from the arrow pointing to the forehead she always gets. Tsuda’s remarks seemed better this week. I think he’s hitting his stride.