A Christmas Eve filled with battles and blood: Kanata finale, Kill la Kill 12

Well, the last few days have been most unpleasant, so it’s appropriate first I put Kyoukai no Kanata to rest.

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The whole thing felt rushed. It LOOKED good, as usual. Akihito and Mirai’s big battle at the end great eye-candy, but the things holding it up felt routine and the end perfunctory. Akihito had to battle his inner demons, or accept them, maybe, in order to force that part of the dreamshade back into himself. The stuff with Mirai felt a little better. Akihito got to rage against her decision to pass on and give him a normal life, if that’s possible for him, and that set up a truly tragic situation. She made the decision to die for him, he refused the gift and tried to save the both, but, um, she was dead already. OR IS SHE!?

Oh, not again.
Oh, not again.

The other story had just about everyone else (save Ayako and Ai, who briefly join Akihito and Mirai’s fight and then aren’t seen again, like the show had forgotten about them) square off against Miroku, whose reason for destroying the world is that he’s part dreamshade himself and therefore evil. It’s also revealed that Izumi also has a dreamshade, so we get some “You’re the same as me!” bullshit from the former while Izumi tries to kill him and fails, until she succeeds, just like that. Also perfunctory, but Miroku was so annoying I was glad to see him go.

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Now, about the ending. I was saddened by Mirai’s death but was about to tip my hat to the show for sticking to the only logical ending. Only it didn’t. Suddenly she’s there on the roof and Akihito’s putting glasses on her. Or maybe she was a memory, or a new type of dreamshade, they don’t say. So we have to assume we have a miraculous resurrection on our hands. Or maybe Kyoani hates unhappy or bittersweet endings. On the other hand, there’s a lot in the finale that begs for a sequel. I mean, it was a big finish and all, but so much was treated in a “we’ll tell you later” way that you can’t help but wonder. I would like to see more. The characters have developed enough, and are diverse enough, that I think they could continue killing dreamshades or each other, hell, it’s the only justifiable reason for bringing Mirai back. And if they do, I hope they can explain things a little better.

Kill la Kill, on the other hand, while it’s not ending, finishes up the current arc in spectacular fashion.

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Since the show thrives on action and energy, the best moments, and there are a lot of them, can’t be described. But imagine that they took the best parts of the series so far, the wild art, the music (it felt like a greatest hits of the series so far), the action that keeps topping itself, and concentrated it even further than before. Add to that Ryuuko’s uncontrollable rage and Mako’s sheer, er, whatever she has, brilliance at living maybe, both turned up to eleven, and it seems wrong for me to quibble.

Reason to love Mako #256.
Reason to love Mako #256.

I was wrong; it looked like it was indeed Nui who killed Ryuuko’s father (though he got her eye for it, good to see she’s not invulnerable), but I’m sorry I am. I don’t mind adding additional characters at this stage, but Nui was just dropped in there with no warning. Ryuuko didn’t even have to discover the truth for herself; Nui just walked up and said “I did it.” It feels clumsy. Well, maybe it was the best way for the series to move to the next stage, where we’ll probably see a lot more of Nui, not to mention Nudist Beach and whatever other little plot thingies are hanging.

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Catching up with Kanata and Biyori

(By the time I got round to posting about episode 10, episode 11 came up, so these two reports come several days apart)

Kyoukai no Kanata 10 gives us some misdirection, a great whammy, and proceeds from there to confuse us all over again. Not a bad episode’s work.

Er, Akihito?  The window ...
Er, Akihito? The window …

Part of the confusion stems from the alternating winter/summer scenes, which turn out to be flashbacks, but at the end of the episode there is Mirai, in a cold town, heading toward the core of Beyond the Horizon, which took me a bit of rewatching to figure out. The summer scenes, at least in the first half, happen during the aftermath of Mirai’s fight with Akihito, where he is wounded but recovering, admiring Mitsuki’s sunglasses and getting verbally abused by her, in short, normal routine. Meanwhile, of course, we were wondering what the hell had happened, but glad that it turned out all right. So when the windows of the school start showing flashbacks and Mirai tells Akihito the truth, it’s a well-timed sucker punch. The glasses on the empty chair by his bed was a nice touch.

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And while we’re chewing on this latest information the flashbacks start announcing themselves as flashbacks and we learn the truth about why Mirai was sent there in the first place. Many of the weird bits of the past few episodes fall into place. But what did we really learn? We’ve watched Mirai repeatedly stab Akihito from episode one (this episode replays some, and a couple of others, in a much-needed comic sequence). All we really learn is that the Nases recruited her to do it. It changes little in the greater story. What’s more important is that Mirai sees only two outcomes: either Akihito dies or she does, so she chooses the latter. But this can be fixed, and I suppose the final episodes will deal with that. What we don’t know yet is how Akihito and the others will get involved. It’s not in the show’s best interests to have her doing this solo.

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And indeed, she won’t. But it takes most of episode 11 to Akihito to get there.

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But first, what is Fujima up to? While Mirai has been battling Beyond the Horizon (I know, that’s not its name), he sticks some cables on that big ugly thing at attaches the other ends to his car battery, jump-starting BtH to a level where it could destroy Earth, which, I assume, is his intent. But surely he’ll go with it? So is he purely evil and destructive, wishing to destroy all existence, or does he have an escape plan? Unless I’ve forgotten, his motivations are much pettier than that. Surely he’d be as happy if the Nase clan was wiped out? And who is he working for? Does that old bozo in the cave have the same wishes? Well, I guess we’ll find out.

A giant cube coming out of the earth is never a good thing.
A giant cube coming out of the earth is never a good thing.

The rest of the episode has fewer mysteries. Akihito has to come to terms with Mirai’s “death,” even while he keeps hearing those booms and must be thinking this whole sad business isn’t over yet. We get the expected shouting at Izumi bits and some exposition, until things hit the fan and everyone’s running around again. The appearance of Yayoi, Akihito’s mom, for some NOT needed comic relief (though it was funny enough) and for the final clues of the puzzle, was unexpected, but, then again, she had to show up sometime. After everyone’s straight on what’s going on Akihito goes off to replace his own self and help Mirai out in a big special-effects finale–next week. Actually the fighting and lightshows this week were pretty good, too. They’ve done a good job at showing us just enough detail so we know what’s going on before overwhelming it with light and shapes and the next bit. But, while I expect the final episode to look pretty, will it actually satisfy the story?

The festival play.
The festival play.

The first part of Non Non Biyori 9 wasn’t bad if you like school festival episodes, or maybe if you hate them. The girls run through a few of the things you’d expect, like running a cafe (badly) or doing doing a play (surreally, thanks to Renge and Komari, latter’s humiliation and depression adding a layer of despair to the whole event), and it’s mostly pathetic. As usual, Renge is the best thing in it. What was that “paint it black” style lyric she was singing at the beginning?

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Episode 10 focuses on the Miyauchi family, plus Candy Store, er, Kaede, as first the girls head up into the mountains in the middle of the night to watch the New Year sunrise. It’s plenty cute since Renge forces herself in among the company and, typically, becomes the most interesting character to watch, especially since Kazuho is wearing a ski mask. The flashback to Kaede babysitting a one year-old Renge was a little jarring, not least for the weather change, and while there’s not much to it, just the usual “how do I take care of a kid” crises and the expected bonding, it’s sweet without being cloying, and Kaede trying to figure out what will and won’t set baby Renge off wasn’t bad. Oh, Renge sings another odd song.

Kill, Coppelia, Kanata 9, Galilei 8

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At the end of Kill la Kill 9 I wondered a few things. Mainly, is this going to be the format for the foreseeable future? Every week Ryuuko takes on another high-ranking student council member, she gets beaten up for most of the episode while we get the odd side scene about the bad guy’s background and whatever, then comes up with a strategy, or counterargument to the bad guys’ philosophy, or both, and wins. That will last three more weeks and I believe this show’s running 25 episodes. Even if you add in an extra episode or two to further develop a villain you still won’t get there. Besides, it’s too predictable, anyway. So what we’re basically waiting for now is the twist in the plot that will send things out of control. As for episode 9–predictable. I’m a little surprised that they’re going straight to battle two without any fuss, since we don’t know much about the new villain. Expect lots of flashbacks, or maybe that plot twist.

Forward!
Forward!

Coppelion 9 wasn’t all that ridiculous. Plans are made, forgotten resources (the granny) come back, seeds are sewn for the big finish. Not bad. The only nutty thing was the pregnant lady asking if the team could rescue a 1st Division soldier, the baby’s father, who really isn’t all that bad. Oh, and Aoi just happened to meet him while she was captive. How they’re going to recognize him when they’re all wearing gas masks is not explained, but it’s a problem the show’s had all along. It’s too hard to care about victims when you can’t even see their faces. The rest of the episode is about putting the plan into operation, that is, reviving an elevated train and using that to get to the rendezvous point, okay, that’s pretty ludicrous too. Meanwhile, the wacky Ozu sisters are back, purely evil and insane characters that make the legitimate, moral questions Haruto asks pointless, but whatever battle they’ve got in store now will wait until next week.

Wha... Hey, wait a minute!
Hey, wait a minute!

Galilei Donna feels like a filler episode, or maybe a “Kyoto in the winter” travelogue. The only story business worth speaking about was Anna’s continued treachery and her growing conscience, but these things were already known about and expected; we’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop. On the other hand, it’s nice that they were able to find one of those sketches without any bloodshed or sacrifice. The scenes with gramps were disgustingly touching. But what got me slamming my head against the table, Kuroko-style, was that the Goldfish was flying around like nothing had happened! I mean, it was trashed last week. It got shot at and fins and rudders flew off, and it crashed in the frozen tundra somewhere, and this week, almost first thing, we see it floating happily in the sky, maybe singing a little song to itself, like nothing had happened to it. Argh.

So Kill is routine, Coppelion and Galilei are more-or-less inane, it’s up to Kyoukai no Kanata to raise the bar for this viewing day, and it does.

Almost like a dance.
Almost like a dance.

We get three fights going on early. Izumi is squaring off against Miroku over Akihito, though we’re not certain why, yet, just that the boy has something special about hm, er, apart from being half demon, that is. Meanwhile, Hiroomi and Mitsuki are battling some big monster thing, but I’m not sure why. Finally, Mirai is rushing to be at Akihito’s bedside before he turns into … whoops, too late! This all happens on rooftops, building lots, and in the sky, and while we switch around we get a little more idea of what’s going on and why they’re fighting.

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And then all the scenes are done with, with only the monster being defeated. Akihito’s gone off and others go to find him until they stop because it’s making little sense to them. Izumi delivers the big line, not really a surprise, but it obviously comes as a shock to Mirai, who had once managed to calm Akihito out of his demon-ness, and everything more or less stands still while we get some backstory. That the SWW and the Nase’s don’t like each other much is already obvious, but why they’re fighting over Akihito was still a mystery, at least to our young heroes who have been kept out of the loop. It boils down to him being actually really really powerful and nasty, and if his demon side prevails, he’s going to get nastier yet. Wait, that explains why you might want him dead, but both sides seem to have additional plans for his corpse. I’ve been rooting for the Nase side, not least because Miroku’s such an ass, but I’m no longer trusting their motives as much. At least not Izumi’s. Happily for us, neither do Mitsuki and Hiroomi now.

I gasped when I saw this screenshot.
I gasped when I saw this screenshot.

Meanwhile, Mirai finds her quarry and crazy demon, would-be boyfriend, and sets about killing him. What’s surprising about this scene, well, one thing, (the usual dazzling visual effects are no longer surprising, just great to look at again) is that she looks quite capable of doing it on her own. Hiroomi had mentioned before that only she could do it, though I can’t remember why, but I didn’t expect to see her have little trouble slipping through his attacks and inflicting damage on her own. But more surprising still is that she is resolved. Yeah, we had a crying in the bathtub scene earlier where she got sorrow out of the way, and there are a couple of times during the fight when they cheat and show us the real Akihito face behind the train track one, causing her to waver, but those are just lapses. Mainly she is relentless in what she is trying to do, even removing her glasses before the assumed final strike, maybe to cause the Akihito inside less pain. A very good scene in a very good episode.

Eights: Kill, Coppelion, Kanata; Thirty-ones: Teekyuu

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Kill la Kill 8 is basically a setup for the Big Fights we’ve been expecting since the beginning, though we didn’t know it at the time. All we knew was that there would be a huge resetting of authority in the school and everyone, including the four devas, have to fight for it. So it would be battle, battle, battle, right? Wrong! We get get a lot of pointless battling between nobodies in the background, but Ryuuko doesn’t fight at all. All she really does is provide us with a flashback to her father’s death and duck for cover as the Automotive Airsoft Club tries to ambush Gamagoori, who is the only main character who does any fighting this episode. And we learn a few things about him. He’s devoted to duty to the point of assisting even Ryuuko when she needs it, he was inspired by Satsuki the way they all seem to be, he’s a masochist, and he doesn’t know what to do about Mako, either. Story-wise, the show decides to get to the big battles starting next week, figuring, I guess that they had done enough prequel, and the story is loose enough that it doesn’t matter. I wonder if this will be the setup in the future, a scene where we flash back to each of the deva’s stories and they they duke it out with Ryuuko?

The adorable Uzu sisters.
The adorable Ozu sisters.

Coppelion 8 isn’t as ridiculous as some of them, if you ignore Ibara whipping out that cable out of nowhere, or that grenade going off before the Ozu sisters were going to shoot her, or chaining the sisters up when one of them can snap street lamps in half, or the Railgun impersonation. Even the sisters’ motivation for joining the 1st division was perfectly logical considering the circumstances of the Coppelion’s existence. No, the glorious WTF of this episode was that the sisters have serial killer genes! Okay, even if the scientists didn’t know it at the time, they know now, yet they still sent them off on this mission, and even if they sent them off before they knew it, they took no steps to stop them. Haruto treats it almost as an “oh, by the way …” and saunters off to help while the sisters are in the process of nearly killing everybody. Well, he’s bitter too, just not insane, so maybe he doesn’t really give a fuck. As for me, I don’t really give a fuck about the wind that’s now blowing, or about much anything else in this series. Oh, Aoi’s still in that silly storeroom. I wonder if they’ll give her something to do, one of these days?

In Kyoukai no Kanata 8 they begin to aggressively push the story. It looks like a good one, too, if I could figure out exactly what happened.

This is the point where I sort of lost track.
This is the point where I sort of lost track.

Not sure what that first bit with Izumi and whoever she was meant, nor that bit where she reported to whoever HE was. But it apparently all has to do with the calm, we are told many times by many people, which is a bad time for yoomu because they’re weakened and become easy prey for people like his best friends. Worse, Akihito’s only half demon and no one really knows about them, so be doubly careful, Akihito, okay? Akihito is too busy falling asleep and having nightmares to pay much attention, so everyone else looks out for him, though I haven’t the foggiest idea what that train scene meant, if he’s actually down with a fever at Ayaka’s place.

Yet another train scene.  This one isn't even running.
Yet another train scene. This one isn’t even running.

Actually, a lot of scenes take place in trains or other forms of transportation this episode, and they usually end unhappily. There’s that odd scene with Izumi, another one with Mitsuki and Hiroomi, which comes after one between Hiroomi and Miroku, where the truck blows up. And Miroku and Mitsuki ride in a car. There were a lot of trains in the Hollow Shadow episode, too, but why trains? I watched all this and the only things that sort of made sense was the fact that the Spirit World Warriors want to snatch Akihito, while the Nase team, who has interfered on his behalf before, stand in their way. And Akihito’s about to, er, demonize again, and while I figure it’s only healthy to let your demon loose every now and then, I worry for Ayaka’s nice shop.

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About 4.5 seconds per gag in Teekyuu 31. The episode felt longer, more introspective, maybe because it was a heartwarming flashback on how this character met that character and joined the tennis club.

Kill and Kanata 7, NN Biyori 6, Teekyuu 30

Mako sure is cute in her fighter outfit.
Mako sure is cute in her fighter outfit.

Kill la Kill 7 was a nice little fable about the dangers of success, or something like that. Ryuuko and Mako form a fight club. Ryuuko beats up all the other clubs and Mako does the paperwork, AND gets first a one-star and a two-star uniform. Each one brings her and her family higher up the social and financial ladder, until she’s told she can get a three-star if she defeats Ryuuko. You can see where this is going, and it’s good enough. I liked some of the clubs Ryuuko had to fight, and the odd costumes the folk dancers wore. But I have a question. A one-star uniform lifted the family out of poverty and allowed them to live comfortably for the first time. It was the two-star status that put them in luxury and almost drove them apart. Well, Mako couldn’t predict what would happen when she argued for higher status. But it changes the moral a little bit. As happy as they were to return to no stars and be happy together, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to step up and live comfortably and eat croquettes where you know where the meat is coming from.

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Kyoukai no Kanata 7 brings Sakura back, trying to kill Mirai as before. I thought that the Hollow Shadow incident had polished that off, and so had Mirai. But the fact remains that Mirai killed Sakura’s sister. Nothing can change that or remove the bad feelings about it. I appreciated this serious thinking after the stupidity of last week. The episode also works well in moving the overall story arc along. Sakura, who had no powers to speak of, is given a nasty weapon by a strange man (which is about the only unbelievable thing in the episode), and she’s been going around attacking dreamshades to make it stronger so she can have her big fight with Mirai, which she loses without a lot of fuss. Thus we get to see Mirai’s growing confidence and skills, and what’s more, Sakura gets to see it too. This girl who handles that nasty weapon is not the same frightened little thing that killed Yui due to inexperience. Meanwhile the weapon is abandoned (the other unbelievable thing this episode) and we discover who the strange man is, and how the plot will continue. An all-around solid episode.

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Non Non Biyori 6 has one nice little moment near the end, after the ridiculous test of courage at the shrine, where Komari is the “scarer” and scares herself more than anything else. They light off fireworks, Komari settles down, even the silent nii-chan is allowed to pet a kitty … and nothing else happens. I know this show is basically a comedy, but the show’s best moments have all been when they’re not trying to be funny, but instead enjoying the moment. Otherwise in the episode, Natsumi shows herself to be a lazy bum again, Komari is short, and Hotaru still idolizes Komari. Actually, that scene with the room full of Komari stuffed dolls wasn’t bad once they go through the inevitable hiding the evidence only to have Renge open a door moment. They see the dolls and don’t bat an eyelash. And Renge’s declarations of non-sequiturs is still funny. But they should all relax and enjoy the scenery more often.

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As for Teekyuu 30: One gag every 4.5 seconds. Pretty good, but the episode felt draggy anyway.

Kanata 6, NouCome 5, Asukara 6

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I think it’s all agreed that the fewer episodes like Kyoukai no Kanata 6, the better. I don’t mind a decent filler episode, nor do I object to funny ones to break the tension, but did they have to come up with one where all the characters wind up idol singing? With Ai as the loli star? And if the spirit had a thing for cute girls, what the hell were Akihito and Hiroomi doing in the act? And why is Akihito even on the goddamned ROOF if he’s not a spirit hunter AND not a girl? Not only that, but I saw the final anticlimax coming a mile away, so THERE, KyoAni! And that pink stuff that Mitsuki got sprayed with, I thought they said it wouldn’t go away until the monster was dead, so why doesn’t she at least keep trying? I tend to like pointless filler episodes, but I like for them to make at least a little sense.

For the life of me I don't know what Kanade's complaining about.
For the life of me I don’t know what Kanade’s complaining about.

NouCome doesn’t make a lot of sense, either, but it’s a silly show to begin with. Basically, in episode 5, Kanade works on his goal of getting each girl on either side of this competition they’re putting on to say they like him. At the end, he’s still trying. Oh, and we meet the members of the other team that we hadn’t met already. Oh, and Yuragi, the recently returned childhood friend who is everyone’s little sister, especially Kanade’s. We see her do her onii-chan! thing a little too often, but it’s mitigated by the various reactions she gets. So we get to meet a number of people who each bounce off the others in one way or another. In fact, the organizational meeting with both teams devolves into each weirdo type matching up with their arch-nemesis or best friend. Since this show moves so fast none of these displays of character types have the time to wear out their welcome. But by the end I think they begin to stretch the arc too much. Time to get on to the competition.

Because I had to put a picture of SOMETHING ...
Because I had to put a picture of SOMETHING …

After watching Nagi no Asukara 6 my question is exactly what happened in this episode that really matters. Manaka and Chisaki have a falling out over Hikari, but they make it up over an optical illusion and a childhood memory, which was nice and pretty, but, er, so what? The two love triangles are still in place. Earlier we get a pleasant scene involving the wooden maiden, where we see all the protagonists and antagonists are all on the same side, including the two jerky land guys and the two bratty land girls. Nice to see, and perhaps the only real development in the entire episode (Not to mention that the high school relations between the two factions are a lot friendlier now). The only interesting thing we learn is that the sea people don’t do well in competitive swimming because they aren’t used to going on the surface of the water. I actually found that very interesting. I figured already they wouldn’t like the chlorine. Oh, and Hikari can’t make a turn. One other thing: a land girl seems to like Isaki, but the show just puts that in there for later use. They do that a lot in this show. Meanwhile we get episodes of not much real story like this one.

NouCome 4, Kill and kanata 5

The new story arc kicks in.
The new story arc kicks in.

NouCome (or NouKome, whatever) 4 starts up a new challenge, er, story arc, for Kanade, and takes a few moments to give us more insights into why all this is going on, but it’s overwhelmed by the usual silliness and only comes up at the end. As for the rest of it, you could see the whole harem question consequence a mile away with a minute’s thought, but Kanade proved last week that he can’t think that fast, or doesn’t think things through. While I’m not sure I like Furano and Ouka, I do admire their almost random reactions to whatever weird thing is going on at the moment, or their ability to take a concept (x-ray glasses) and twist it (so powerful you can see inside the body, which is what interests her, I guess, though, for pure non-sequitor fun you have to go with Furano’s “glee club” suggestion). The new girl, Seira, seems to know more than she’s letting on. As for that one popular guy, the show brings him on, Furano and Ouka have fun with him, and Seira has to come in and do his exposition, I guess. What was it with that scene? Not that I mind. I like how the show will take a predictable scene and simply wander off into kookooland with it.

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Kill la Kill 5, for all the usual craziness, is more about setting up what I assume is the main story arc. It’s brought to us by Kinagase, tough guy on a motorcycle, who comes to town in order to take Ryuko’s godrobe. Not for himself, in fact, he sets himself up early as a mutual enemy of the school, but because these super-suits are apparently capable of betraying their wearers. Either that, or he doesn’t trust clothing in general. He and Aikuro belong to a group called “Nudist Beach,” and while he doesn’t have a proclivity toward stripping (though the show is kind enough to briefly show him naked in his tent), it might explain why Aikuro always seems to be on the verge of it. It takes another touching speech by Mako (Alleluia!) and hearing Senketsu threaten him (after he’s won the battle) before he backs off. Meanwhile, more future plot is afoot as the Student Council have been monitoring the battles for reference. I’m guessing that if any godrobe goes rogue it’s going to be Satsuki’s. I also think that Kinagase is right, and that everyone should get naked, but that’s just me.

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Since Kyoukai no Kanata is shifting to a new arc there’s not much to episode 5 apart from the steady theme of being alone. This time it’s Mitsuki’s turn to feel it, when an annual festival comes up and she, like every year, refuses to go. It doesn’t help that her older sister Izumi has been gently drilling the “we’re always alone” crap into her head for years. Mirai, cursed as she is, used to believe that but is not fighting against it, and persuades her to go. And Akihito has gone into a lonely funk since that time he nearly lost control and destroyed everything, but he is also dragged to the festival, by Hiroomi, so they can be alone together, I suppose. But the actual highlight for many people will be Mirai forced into posing in a maid outfit for Ayaka, and the fact that Ayaka will pay good money if she posed nude, and the photos are for her personal collection. Even if Ai proudly shows Mirai her own nude pics taken by Ayaka, you have to wonder. The whole thing dragged a bit. It’ll be better when they get back to a story.