Delta 12, Bakuon and Kumamiko finales

The scientific terminology in Macross has always been over my head.
The scientific terminology in Macross has always been over my head.

I kept waiting for something interesting in Macross Delta 12, but nothing much happened until the very end. We learn that Ernest once tried to train King Gramia. We learn that Mirage doesn’t feel she has Hayate’s talent (this time it’s her turn to be caught listening in to a conversation, BTW). There’s NUNS announcing they’re going to blow up the ruins at Ragna, which would cause massive damage to the planet, but then they decide to wait, and we’re back to listening to all the talk. Walkure talk their usual nonsense, Mirage is promoted, hey, congrats. On the Windemere side there’s the usual: Roid saying they shouldn’t strain Heinz any more and Keith scoffing. And lots of talk of wind on both sides. And lots of oohs and ahs as the good guys’ big ship takes flight … Well, next week we’re going to have a big battle, but I wish they could have gotten started sooner.

I think this is supposed to be a happy ending.
I think this is supposed to be a happy ending.

I was disappointed to see the cynical ending to Kumamiko. The way I see it, poor Machi became so traumatized by the idol contest that she never fully recovered, insisting that people at Sendai jeered and threw rocks at her, and now has no desire to ever leave the village again, spouting inanities about the internet to the complicit Natsu. She’ll never allow herself to see the rest of the world on her own terms, and everyone in the village is fine with it. It’s not the ending I expected, after she overheard Hibiki and Yoshiro debating whether she should compete in the contest. Yoshiro even suggests that she’s a sacrifice, like in the old legends, the slimeball. His only good point is that the village is rooting for her. And her performance was a lovely moment; a shame that she mistook the cheers for hostility.

Machi gets into a zone.
Machi gets into a zone.

It could be a cute show, but moments like the end left a bad taste in my mouth. No one tried to guide Machi gently into the strange places, she was forcibly yanked in before she was ready, and sometimes blamed when she naturally panicked. Yoshiro was the worst offender, of course, a disgusting piece of trash who didn’t care for one moment about Machi’s own feelings or development, but used her as a promotional tool whenever he could get away with it. Natsu, Machi’s best friend, sometimes did this too, maybe not understanding what was so bad about it. He is, after all, a bear. And he, at least, tried to help her when he could, though he stood aside too often when Yoshiro was up to something. It’s a shame. I would have loved to see Machi grow more, at her own pace. I’m disappointed that no one else in the show thought the same.

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Bye girls! See you again, I hope.

No cynicism for Bakuon!!, well, maybe a little. The show didn’t really have much to do this episode except bring Baito back in an even more neutered form. Sorry they had to go out with a “what if there were no bikes?” dream that was a little depressing. On the other hand, it made a good point: we’d probably get along just as well without motorcycles; we’d be safer and happier, but the world would also be less fun. It was this acknowlegement that a lot of things about bikes (and bikers) are actually kind of silly (well, I suppose most hobbies are) that made the show so much fun to watch, especially for someone like me who never paid attention to motorcycles before. So while the show was, like today, inconsistent, it had some of the funniest scenes of the season. It was also the most educational; I learned more about motorcycles than I ever thought I would. Now, I still don’t want one, but I’m thinking a scooter to get around might be nice …

Elevens: Delta, Kumamiko, Bakuon

Let me get out of bed first ...
Let me get out of bed first …

Macross Delta 11 gives us the aftermath of the Windermere attack for both sides. For the bad guys, they’ve unlocked 60% of whatever power they’ve going to use, so they start preparing for a bigger invasion to take over the last couple of ruins. I’m not sure if that’s what Johnson is telling Arad when he shows how Windermere can blanket the galaxy with their network should those last ruins fall, but it amounts to the same thing: Windermere wants the ruins and our guys must defend it. More pressing is the idea that Heinz and Mikumo/Freyja made contact in that scary space last week, and both sides think the other did it on purpose, a nice wild card, as is that old geezer rising from his deathbed to command that big ship for the invasion.

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Meanwhile, the good guys have no choice at the moment but to say goodbye to Messer, both by staring out into the sea a lot, and by doing a jellyfish wake where they speculate on the type of man Messer was, and what they each should have done to prevent his death.  And they agree to strive to do more.  I don’t think they have much of a choice in that, since the bad guys are beginning their offensive.  It’s a nice scene, with an acapella song thrown in.  Frankly, the way the war is going I wonder if it’s the last relatively happy scene we’ll have for a while.

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We get two extremes in Kumamiko 11. On one hand we have Yoshiro, who only treats Machi as a tool to get what he wants, even if it means putting her in an idol competition the poor girl can’t handle because of her self-esteem issues. On the other we have Natsu confessing to a holy rock that he wants Machi to stay as she is and stay in the village forever. No one has considered what Machi wants, even if she doesn’t know what she wants. Why hasn’t anyone taken her to a big city before? Okay, she couldn’t even go into a Village Vanguard earlier, but she seemed fine with what little she saw of Sendai before getting to the audition venue and letting her nerves overwhelm her. Let her take little steps; don’t just fling her into the deep end of the pool. And of the two extremes, they are both wrong, except at least Natsu’s feelings come from love, while Yoshiro is a manipulative little prick, which made the screenshot above so satisfying.

Onsa terrible affliction is revealed!
Onsa’s terrible affliction is revealed!

Bakuon!! seems to be out of plot, apart from what bike Chisame should get, and that takes only one-third of the episode, if that. What’s more, such as the haphazard way this show is put together (and I mean that as a compliment), they put it last, with Chisame quoting a racing legend that motorcycles aren’t meant for the road,” but scooters are. So that’s that. Glad she’s happy. The first part deals with cyclists and their obsession with how much their bicycles cost, led by an asshole who cuts off Onsa to prove that bicycles are the kings of the road, and gets some justice for his reckless riding. The middle part is the silliest and best. Onsa accidentally eats some of Rin’s drool and catches “Suzukiphilia,” and it’s one of the funniest bits the show has brought us yet. But actually the entire episode is full of little funny bits. Switching the names on a generic bike, sumo wrestling to decide what bike Chisame will get …

Delta 10, Witch 9, Asterisk 22, Kumamiko 10

I should have seen it coming in Macross Delta 10 …

Alas, not for long ...
Alas, not for long …

There are reasons why I didn’t. First, Messer looked like he was going to be peacefully shipped off to a Vars-free environment and teach recruits, not that we believed for a second that he would stay gone long; I figured there would be a return in the nick of time episode, maybe five episodes from now. I didn’t expect him to come roaring back into the battle immediately. That’s one reason. Another was that mysterious comment: “The vars has consumed him, but he’s controlling it!” a wrinkle I expect them to fully explore later, but with Messer as the test subject. The third reason I didn’t expect it: there were no pineapples, just lots of jellyfish.

Should have seen it coming ...
Should have seen it coming …

I should have seen it, however. Messer gets quality goodbye time with Kaname, though we didn’t know the goodbye would be permanent. In fact, everyone gets to say goodbye to him. Don’t know if the show’s pineapple character ever got a send-off before. Aside from THAT, it was an interesting episode anyway. The good guys showed that they suck as a squadron when Messer isn’t around. We had some “conflicting” waves that sent Freyja and Mikumo, and maybe the princess, er, prince, so a different dimension or something. The only thing lacking is on the Windermerean side. There’s conflict there, but no one is out and out rebelling yet. Everyone just complains a little or gives worried looks about the princess, er, prince.

Toasting with radishes, of course.
Toasting with radishes, of course.

Flying Witch 9 has Inukai coming over to apologize for the other day and to use her skills to help out with any problems they might have. Trouble is, no can think of any. Also, she brings a Japanese treat instead of cookies going against the book Chinatsu’s mom wrote. Anyway, she tells fortunes that sort of come true. None of it really matters because the magic on this show is an aside, something to liven up a moment or that can potentially happen in this rural-domestic world. For instance little jokes are made about the mandrake Makoto is growing, but the highlight of the show is looking at the edamame buds and harvesting the radishes, and eating them, not magical at all, but just as satisfying as the talking origami Akane makes.

Party time!
Party time!

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk 22 has the gang pay a visit to Lieseltania, Yulis’s kingdom, over winter break, whereupon everyone talks a lot. Claudia wants them to make a team with her for the Gryps Festa–geez, they just won a festa, give the kids a break, and besides, what about that long-lost sister? In other talk Saya wants to apologize to Ayato for not communicating enough after they were separated; unlike Claudia’s talk this one isn’t a plot-mover but a loose end to tie up. Julis talks about her puppet brother, her puppet country, and how she’d really like to change everything, as if the show wasn’t busy enough right now. Kirin wants Ayato to lend her his arm. Finally, a friendly geezer tries to get Ayato NOT to join the Gryps team, and then whips out a monster when he refuses. Some action at last! I nearly cheered. BTW, Saya becomes even more my favorite character by not paying attention to the rules and bringing a weapon to the party. Came in handy.

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Not much to Kumamiko this week. Machi wants a cell phone, even though it’s repeated over and over that there’s no reception. But all the cool kids, well, all the kids, have one … leading to a bizarre quiz from Yoshiro that Machi nearly fails because she has very little sense. After that it’s another episode of Yoshiro humiliating Machi by trying to remove her clothes by force so she’ll dress up as an idol (Machi has SOME sense–that outfit IS weird) for a disgusting event attended by idiots. Natsu is somehow fine with all this, and Hibiki is somehow won over, though she at least roughs Yoshio up first. I wish someone in this series would stand up for that poor girl.

Nines: Kumamiko, Bakuon, Sousei no Onmyouji

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For a while it looked like KumaMiko 9 would be another exercise at humiliating poor Machi, with Yoshiro deciding to make a TV commercial to promote the village and having it star you-know-who … no, not the bear, and THEN putting her in a swimsuit. Machi does get her share of embarrassment this week, but it’s really not so bad because she shares the commercial with a bunch of enthusiastic villagers, and in the end seems to actually be enjoying herself. The commercial itself, at least before the editing, didn’t turn out so badly, and the post-edit version was different enough that the episode didn’t fall into the trap of using too much footage that we’d already seen. Also, Machi looks really cute in glasses.

Chimase realizes her crashing the Bike Club's recruitment show wasn't such a good idea.
Chimase realizes her crashing the Bike Club’s recruitment show wasn’t such a good idea.

Bakuon!! 9 is the usual messy affair. It’s graduation time and so it’s time for Reina to go, except, of course, she doesn’t, being a student there only to keep an eye on the kids. Often it’s a disadvantage for a character to not speak, but it also means she can hold up a single note and end the conversation. We then move to the important part, the introduction of Chisame, who can race motorcycles with the best of them, but is too short for street bicycles, meaning she both loves motorcycles and resents them and people who ride them (“First place is lonely. I am lonely. Therefore I am in first place”). For this reason she obviously doesn’t want to join the bike club, but is lured into it through a ridiculous school orientation scene. Her complex relationship with bikes is welcome; apart from Rin, the girls’ attitudes toward theirs are simplistic.

I don't think this spell is going to end happily.
I don’t think this spell is going to end happily.

Let’s see, in Sousei no Onmyouji 9 we start with Rokuro’s admission that he killed everyone in that dorm two years ago, and that would include Benio’s beloved oniisan. She’s upset, of course, and challenges him to a fight. We all knew there had to be extenuating circumstances, but I for one didn’t expect these circumstances to just walk up–the dead oniisan, Yuto. What’s more, he’s the once responsible, he’s evil, and he’s always been evil. There follows a grim flashback to what really happened (nice use of music in that scene), and then more explanations and a lot of talk about how EVIL Yuto is. Rokuro retaliates by playing pong against Yuto, using himself as the ball, until Benio stops him and they miserably stop. Now we see the path to the final episode. I didn’t expect to get this dark past business taken care of so quickly, but if this is a one-season show they don’t have much time left. But let’s give them a little normality first; I’m tired of clenched faces and choking noises from both our heroes.

Bungou 7, Kumamiko 8, Kuromukura and Tanaka-kun 7

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Bungou Stray Dogs 7, while not appearing to be, is actually about Kunikida and his ideals, though, like the first part of the story last week, you hardly notice it, at least until the end, when after an entertaining enough battle where the bomb guy, a smirking bishie and thus my least favorite anime character type, gets what’s coming to him by some clever teamwork between Dazai and Kunikida (who earlier was wondering how the hell these two became partners). The connection between the two men, after the surprises and tragedies of the final scene, became more compelling. Kunikida clearly believing in his strong-minded ideals and so frustrating and raging “why!” while the usually foolish Dazai talks about justice being a tool, and the danger of ideals destroying people’s souls. It DOES make you wonder why these two are a team, apart from the fighting baddies, I mean.

Damn Yoshiro.
Damn Yoshiro …

Kumamiko 8 continues the emotional abuse on poor Machi. This time Yoshiro cons her into working as one of those poor souls who have to prepare and hand out samples of food at supermarkets, claiming it’s sort of a path to stardom and the city. Naturally he ditches her there and we spend several painful minutes with her being ignored by customers and threatened by the boss. And turns out it’s only because the regular part-timer was off that day. I suppose you could argue that it was good experience of the real world for Machi, but I’d like to punch Yoshiro in the face for continually humiliating her to further his own interests. Though the cold rice dishes Machi and Natsu prepared at the start looked pretty good.

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Kuromukuro 7 has no battles, but after the fireworks in ep6 I didn’t expect one. This one’s all about people working out what they should be doing, what they have to do, and DO they have to do it. The character’s stances on these things come out in a sequence of little scenes. Now that she’s seen the face of the enemy, who was NOT a demon, Yukina is adamant about not getting back in the Black Relic. You can’t blame her. She also has painful memories about her father’s absence reawaken, maybe because he had called them demons, but what he meant by that term isn’t clear. There’s also some resentment about being considered a tool by just about everyone, and maybe a tad of jealousy about that princess who stole the artifact in the first place. And then there’s her mom, come home to work things out and failing. Perhaps not surprisingly, Yukina runs off.

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Meanwhile Kennosuke is working over his side of the issue. The not-really-clueless Yukina asks him some pointed questions about the nature of his revenge and what he intends to do even if he gets it (telling her he would then die wasn’t the best answer, Kennosuke!). He’s also against forcing Yukina to get back in that mecha, and is socially awkward enough that he doesn’t have the words to convince her. Yukina seems to be turning her back on destiny, or at least her duty to mankind, but how to bring her around? That’s the big question right now, as the bad guys (a bunch of riduculous-looking people wearing armor, who call the Black Relic “Glongur”–sounds like one of Stan Lee’s Amazing Stories monsters–who are so cliched and awful that the nearly sink the episode just by appearing) are trying the trick of appealing to Earth for the relic’s return, a political tactic that complicates things further. Good episode, even if nothing got blown up.

Like Rina-chan's bitter heart.
Black, like Rina-chan’s bitter heart.

Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge brings us a valentine chocolate episode with no annoying bits, because the chocolates in question were already delivered and the girl is a mystery. It allows Tanaka and Ohta to wander around (miraculously overhearing each of their suspects deny the chocolates to friends), speculate, and eat the sweets, homemade for Tanaka, bittersweet store-bought for Ohta, the presentation of which furthers the mystery. Of course, when we (finally) meet Rino, Tanaka’s sister, we pretty much guess. These later scenes were a little awkward because I couldn’t figure out what Rina’s all about, and she’s not obvious like Miyano is. But as usual, it’s all funny, if a little odd at times: WHY did Rino put the towels on Tanaka’s head?

Sevens: Asterisk, Delta, Kumamiko, Bakuon

No matter what I do something comes up in RL and I fall behind with my posts.  Sorry about that

All hail the story-simplifying   goddess!
All hail the story-simplifying goddess!

Coming into Gakusen Toshi Asterisk 7 things looked interesting, Flora still gone and Ayato, searching for her, on the run from goons. But instead, all of a sudden,we get this new girl Sylvia, who takes an interest in Ayato’s business because, maybe since she knows who he is, trusts him far beyond the bounds of common sense. Also turns out she’s an expert at Phoenix Festa historical rankings in general, a supremely gifted fighter in her own right, and has another super power or two so that she can tell him exactly what building Flora’s stashed in, flirts with him a little and then hops off the top of the building as super-people often do. Deus ex Genestella or something. So the story cops out and now Saya and Kirin just have to blunder in and rescue her and leave our heroes to the match, which actually starts next week. It will probably take two episodes, swinging between itself and the rescue.

A question I've asked more than once about these shows.
A question I’ve asked more than once about these shows.

Macross Delta 7 has them infiltrating a planet taken over by the bad guys, meaning they have to dress as cats. We get the nyan comments for a while, until they find out the secret of the vars infection. Windemere apples and, whatever planet they’re on’s water. Mix them together and you don’t just get apple juice, apparently. Wonder what a Windemere hard cider would do for you … Anyway, while they’re being sneaky we get a lot of scenes of Makina and Reina working cutely together, learn that that big “scar” on Windemere was actually Windemere’s doing when they tried to wipe out the NUNS, which is different from NUGS … But this week’s medal goes to Mikumo, who stops Freyja from revealing their presence and singing to prove to a kid that songs don’t suck, the typical stupid but sincere behavior that we see too much in these situations.

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KumaMiko 7 … I’m still confused as to why the place didn’t go up in flames when the rice cooker short-circuited. Also not sure why Machi and then Natsu were so unconcerned about it, well, Natsu was at first. I was also impressed by Machi’s chopping wood. Didn’t know she was capable of stuff like that. Still, I enjoyed the second part more. It’s like an anxiety dream where you have to get up in front of people but have no idea what to say. Fortuately, Natsu isn’t stupid and uses the situation to his advantage. At least the old folks seemed to enjoy it. Some times it’s good to have a ritual just to get everyone together.

Raimu catches the pack.
Raimu catches the pack!

And in Bakuon!! 7 there’s a pretty fun motorcycle race. It’s not the most gloriously-animated one, but they do just enough visually, with multiple heads and quick shots to make it exciting. Also, the show’s done a nice job establishing the pride the girls each have in their bikes, so I wound up rooting for all of them, though I had Raimu picked as the winner (her surpreme skills vs the handicap). Thus I was shocked when she crashed in the first moment, but, you know, it was just to set up the dramatic finish. As for who won, I won’t tell you here, but kudos to the show for the unexpected victor, defeating the typical rules these silly competitions have. Never saw it coming.

Sixes: Delta, Kumamiko, Bakuon, Sousei, Stray Dogs

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Macross Delta 6 begins with Messer belittling Hayate and Mirage’s flying skills, while Mikuno has started to go all catty on poor Freyja. It’s not much fun to watch these sort of scenes, and I wish the show would get over it and settle our couple in. On the other hand, I was surprised to see Mirage on the receiving end of criticism, too, considering how they puffed her up to be so great. It also helped them bond a little, for the triangle that will become important when the couple has time for it.

Projecting the idols onto asteroids they're fighting around is a nice idea.
Projecting the idols onto asteroids they’re fighting around is a nice idea, but a tad distracting.

The main point of the episode comes after another spectacular if confusing battle (everything happens so fast and the ships are in the darkness anyway) was hinted at from the start. Hayate and Mirage only go for the enemy’s wings, i.e., they try not to kill. At the end of the battle, Hayate kills his first man (saving Mirage’s life in the process) and goes into a blue funk because of it. It sort of falls flat, at least for me, partly because I wasn’t sure what was going on at the end of the battle. Just that Hayate was moping on the dock afterwards. “Oh, he must have killed that guy.” Still, nice speech by Mirage, and it was better than what Freyja’s going through, basically more “What are you singing for?” accusations.

Machi, LIVE at the Vangard!
Machi, LIVE at the Vanguard!

Hearing that Kumamiko 6 would feature Village Vanguard, I began to think that this series was going to be about retail chains as much as about girls and talking bears. Instead the show veered from my expectations when Machi panicked in the mall, her self-esteem issues and shame over it giving her some significant trauma, and the second half of the episode was Natsu trying to get her to feel better and dealing with his guilt over sending her on this absurd mission (would Village Vanguard have a DVD on pythagorean devices?). I’m now worried about Machi being able to function in any urban setting, and if she has to do so maybe they ought to send Hibiki with her next time.

Onsa discovers the allure of the Sanma.
Onsa discovers the allure of the Sanma.

Bakuon!! 6 is a scatter-shot series of small bits revolving around the bike race the girls will have at the school festival. There’s the normal, obsessive and opinionated biker behavior (the Yamaha TZR2503MA get attention this week), including different ways to mod your bike (tuning, customizing … and occult). Then there’s the weirdness of the characters, such as Raimu’s betting to buy ALL the colors the Kawasaki GPZ250R came in. The best moment for me came with Hane’s dimwitted modding concept, the “double happy meter,” but most of it was amusing, partly because, apart from the festival, which we won’t see until next week, there was no real structure to any of it.

Not what Mayura thinks.
Not what Mayura thinks.

Sousei no Onmyoji, like Macross, is working on a triangle. Since there’s nothing much new on the Kegare front, apart from a discovery at the end which we don’t need because it just means more nastiness is coming, which we already knew, the show decided to get Benio and soon to be third wheel Mayura to bond a little, meaning Mayura won’t leave poor Benio alone (she thinks Benio’s a delinquent on the side). I thought for sure Mayura would be sucked into evil-land, but the show decided to leave the outsiders out of it. But turns out Mayura knows all about exorcists, which will save some explaining down the road, but didn’t know that Benio and Rokuro were living sort of together, leading to some adorable pummeling at the end. Now that she’s aware of the whole situation, we can get to the triangle story, if the show wants to and I hope it doesn’t.

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Bungou Stray Dogs 6 looks at first like a character study of Kunikida, but it really doesn’t feel like it because Atsushi and Dazai are around him almost the entire time. The way character episodes are supposed to work we’re supposed to long internal monologues and flashbacks, and, well, we do get those, but for the most part they’re so brief and matter-of-fact that we don’t have time to get bored by them. You see, I find most character episodes to be boring. The flashbacks we do get actually have meaning for their current case, tracking down the Azure Messenger who’s most likely another azure bad guy earlier. The internal monologues, usually about his book of ideals, are too brief; we spend more time watching Dazai making fun of it. Oh, and Akutagawa shows up again, but he’s driven away before he can mess up the balance of things.