Little Witch Academia 24 and Finale

Since I’m once again in wild catch-up mode, I won’t be able to give the last two episodes of Little Witch Academia the attention they deserve, but here we go anyway.

I expected the final magic word to be utilized in the final episode, at the big climax, but instead it happens in #24, and it makes sense, since it has as much to do with Chariot and Croix’s story as with Akko’s, and this ep was mainly devoted to the two teachers, first fighting, then rescuing each other and making up. Croix was always upset that that wand had gone to Chariot and not her, and Chariot felt responsible for stealing Croix’s dreams, as she put it (not fair–that green goddess chose her outright), and stealing Akko’s powers, well, her flying ability anyway. One other thing she seems to have picked up from Akko was her bullheaded determination, hopping aboard Croix’s rocket to continue the confrontation.

No surprises in #24 after that, but it was well done. The stick bit was funny–even the learned witches were going “What the hell is that?” And it was telling that Croix did not believe it was the Grand Triskelion, and so rejected the very thing she had built drones and missiles and sucked negative energy to get. Then after the students’ dramatic entrance we get a nice scene between Chariot and Akko. There’s a lot of making up in this episode. No surprises in it, but like the ones with Chariot and Croix, we had loose emotional ends to tie up before the big, more-or-less predictable finale.

Predictable in that we know the threat from the first minute, and everything else in the finale is devoted to stopping it. The bonding moments between estranged friends was already done. Apart from the concept of friends, former enemies, and rivals working together to build that super-broom (and the lovely sequence when they eject themselves one by one, when their magic was used), oh, and the “believing heart is your magic” line they’ve been using too much, with the mobs and people glued to media cheering them on (did they even know why they were cheering?) … well, those ARE a lot of emotional moments, aren’t they? Okay, apart from all THAT, it’s to get Akko and Diana, of all people, up to that magic missile and whip out some super combined power, beautifully executed by Studio Trigger at their most passionate …

… and it’s over

This series took its time to get to the end. I believe 25 episodes was too much, especially when so many of the early ones were little more than Akko trying and failing and trying harder. But one season and 12-13 episodes would have been too few. So we got thrilling episodes that moved the story along mixed in with bits of fluff, often concerning Lotte, who was very nice and all but not very interesting. Not all the side episodes were bad–the trip inside Sucy’s head was a hell of a lot of fun. Not to mention that just about every episode had a moment of Trigger’s exhilarating animation. But I felt the main story almost got lost in the side stories. It got much better when Croix showed up and the show gained a focus. Still, overall the series was fun as hell. What’s Trigger going to do next?

One more of the gang, showing off their battle duds.

LWA 23, Uchouten Kazoku and Sakura Q 11

As expected, Little Witch Academia 23 is a mopey, sad episode where Akko, repeatedly told “A believing heart is your magic,” finds there’s nothing to believe in at the moment and vanishes, while characters spend most of their time worrying about her. The rest is Ursula’s flashback to Chariot’s wild days, and we learn an important fact that you’d think SOMEONE would tell AKKO about: Chariot had no idea what that Dream Fuel Spirit magic was doing to the audience, and when she discovered the truth, she dropped it immediately … and lost her audience, though not before trying to blow up the moon … Anyway, it wasn’t deliberate, and while Akko has every right to be upset, she shouldn’t be upset too much with Ursula, which Ursula and/or Croix should have told Akko last week, but didn’t. Ursula possibly because she would still feel responsible, Croix because she’s the bad person on the show. No, the only person who actually sits down and talks with Akko about all this is Diana, who reassures her while sternly refusing to let her drown in her own pity, and gives everyone watching the last of the backstory. Now we’re set for the final big story arc.

It might happen.

Considering there are only two episodes of Uchouten Kazoku left after this week’s, and now we have Benten actually pissed off at Yasaburou, I figured they’d be cramming in as many story bits as possible, but the episode took its sweet time getting anywhere, building up the tension, flitting from Yaichirou’s ceremony to Yajirou’s travels and meeting that nice young girl, to Yasaburou’s comfortable hiding … how would they get to Yasaburou? And who or what would they pull out of their enormous bag of tricks to do the job? With hindsight it makes perfect sense. I was wondering what was going on with Tenmaya and that gun … Well, he and Kaisei will get out of it somehow. I’m actually more intrigued by the idea that the now-decent Kureichirou might be an imposter; that has long-term ramifications for both families, and whether the time the show has left will be enough to take care of this news.

While Sakura Quest 11’s arc wrap-up was sweet, the series is beginning to feel more contrived than before. It always was to an extent, and I think that slice-of-life shows like this that have obvious themes for its arcs (here it was “outsiders”) have to bend realism a bit to get the theme to work in different ways. It’s not the theme itself doesn’t work; we have Ririko, the Resident Outsider, sad because she doesn’t fit in, who really just needed a hug, and that’s fine. We have the girl outsiders here for a visit, and they’re neutral. Then there’s Chitose, whose family life was broken by outsiders, and Sandal, part Manoyaman as it turns out, with his great grandfather being the outsider, for the counterpoint. Not to mention the origin of the dance, and the legends that go with it. The main idea gets viewed from several angles. Good. It’s the execution where we see the flaws. I can’t believe occult-nut Ririko hadn’t already known of the dragon legend and the various versions. And how Sandal’s song just happened to appear just at the right moment. At times like this my willing suspension of disbelief gets strained. Don’t even get me startd on the guy in the pond.

Uchouten Kazoku 9, Little Witch 22

Benten sums herself up, at least until her mood changes.

Though it looks as though Uchouten Kazoku 2 isn’t going to have as big a story arc as its first season, it’s still finding ways to entertain. It helps, again, that the show has Benten, a character so dangerous and unpredictable that the very thought of having her as the observer for the Trick Magister election fills the tanuki community with grave doubt. She does, after all, eat tanuki. She doesn’t float into the episode until very late, and then it’s to wreak a little havoc and get some revenge on Yasaburou, who was mostly responsible for getting Nidaime to take her place. It was the first time I’ve ever been grateful to have Nidaime–a bit of a tool–show up, because at that moment I was genuinely worried for Yasaburou’s health. The Benten effect again. One other thing … do we know why Yajiro has taken off on a grand tour of Japan?

All of Croix’s favorite things.

Uchouten Kazoku might be lacking in story right now, but Little Witch Academia 22 just doubled its own story’s intensity. It’s one of those episodes where the creators lay all their cards on the table, well save one (the incident at Chariot’s last show), and poor Akko is running away in tears, unable to trust anyone. That we find out the details of Croix’s nasty plans to save magic is the smallest event. Akko also learns that Ursula is Chariot. That’s been a long time coming, to the point where I was getting sick of every attempt of Ursula’s to tell her, because I knew there would be a knock on the door, or something flitting past the window, something to delay the news a little longer. It was also clear that when Akko did discover the truth, it would be by accident.

But because we were expecting this reveal for some time, it’s not the big moment of the episode. That comes at the end, when Croix rebukes Ursula for using emotion magic when she herself used something worse to fuel the magic for her performances, and hey, now you know why Akko has so little magic! It’s a revelation that technically makes little sense since Akko indeed HAS magic and is pursuing those stones, not sure how they’ll wriggle out of that one, anyway, that’s not the shock. Chariot/Ursula was not only morally okay with stealing magical abilities, but she probably stole Akko’s, and, maybe worst of all, she’s been lying about it all this time. Hell of a lot to dump on poor Akko in one episode! There’s going to be lots of tears and moping the next couple episodes, until she remembers that line she shared with Andrew: nobody else is going to do it, you have to do it yourself.

I have a feeling this line will become very important soon.

Re:Creators 8, LWA 20-21, Uchouten Kazoku 8

Oh what a giveaway!

Re:Creators 8, after an amusing scene where more authors are confronted with their creations, well, Yuuya meets his and is not impressed, follows Souta’s path down the road of fear and self-hate, starting with a nice chat with Meteora, the first time I’ve not thought of her as a boy, must be the skirt, where he more or less blurts out that out of jealousy he was mean to Setsuna, and she offed herself because of it, or so he thinks. Meteora might not have realized who Souta was talking about, she didn’t let on, but that would surprise me coming from such a thoughtful and perceptive person. I hope she figures it out. Anyway, Souta should have blurted this all out the moment he made the connection two episodes ago. Now Magane, nasty as ever, knows the truth and will use it for her own ends, which surely aren’t good. Nice job Souta, you spineless wimp.

Meanwhile, Mamika has a goodbye speech with Aliceteria, has just enough wits to figure out the subtext but too dense to figure out what Mamika is up to, and we get our weekly verbal battle, this one with Altar (I’m so happy I don’t have to write “Military Uniform Girl” anymore), over her motives. We know enough now to see some sorrow in Altair, whose creator was alone and miserable, and to have a little sympathy for her. But Mamika’s right. She doesn’t have to choose this “destroy the world” path. It’s rather similar to what Meteora was saying to Souta about jealousy and how it festers. Altair also seems to suggest that her creator, Setsuna, is a character in another story; maybe she’s talking about our daily lives in this real world, and that’s why she wants to destroy it. Well, doesn’t matter, as she snaps when Mamika says Setsuna’s name, and I guess we’ll learn next week if these characters can actually die in this land …

Fell behind with Little Witch Academia again, sorry. Episode 20 finishes the Diana story arc in a way I sort of expected, that is, I knew Diana would get inspired by an Akko pep talk at one point, but I didn’t expect that the pep talk would have Diana go ahead and try to become family head. Well, okay, Akko suggests that Diana could be family head AND attend Luna Nova, which hadn’t occurred to anybody. The thing is, we still don’t know what Diana is trying to accomplish there. Akko’s got the magic stones thing going for her; what’s Diana got except stubbornness? The episode was worth it to see Diana’s face light up with joy when she sees the new stone recovered and discovers there IS a way to get the ritual done.

What is she thinking now?

#21 is much more substantial, even if it leaves a lot of things unaccomplished. While it has Akko off to climb a very big tree (more of a beanstalk, really, but that’s another tale) which might release pollen which will take her powers, such as they are, away, the big story is who she will choose as a mentor. So we have Croix lying to her about the tree’s danger and sewing seeds of doubt toward Ursula in the meantime, and we have Ursula coming to Akko’s rescue and being, at first, rejected, at least until the pollen comes out. And we get another new word in the process. It also makes Croix’s attitude toward Ursula a mystery. We get a flashback from Croix’s memory where rod chooses a partner: Chariot, not her, and we see Croix’s bitterness over that, but we also see Croix, in Ursula’s memory of things, being gracious about it. Which version is true? Maybe both. Maybe Croix’s version is tainted by regret and guilt, in which case it’s a shock at the end to have Croix announce that she doesn’t need all those words, she’ll break the seal with technology. Interesting woman.

This screenshot doesn’t have much to do with anything, but it’s pretty.

Uchouten Kazoku 8 naturally first spends some time with aftermath of Soun’s death, and some peace being made between the two families, thanks to Kureichirou. After that it looked to be a bunch little scenes to feed this plot point or that. Yashirou gets a “lab” play around with, there’s talk about what makes each of them lose their transformation and turn back into tanuki, Benten and Nidaime go out on an odd date, Yajirou plans to leave Kyoto, but why? It’s only later when Yaichiro asks Yasaburou to re-start his engagement to Kaisei that any sort of story momentum happens, as Yasaburou rejects the idea and goes off to pout for a week. For two seasons now we’ve been wondering why it was called off in the first place. Yasaburou’s disgust with Kaisei’s sharp tongue seemed like a superficial reason. Well, we find out when she goes off to bring Yasaburou back, in a sweet and funny scene, and one of the things I mentioned above turns out to be a punchline.

Re:Creators 6, LWA 18-19, Uchouten Kazoku 6

Meet Magane.

Re:Creators 6 introduces a new character, I didn’t get the name but Wikipedia calls her Magane. A nasty free-killing sort who will happily turn a lie into a lie and then a nasty thing shows up and slaughters whoever her opponent is. Aliceteria and Mamika, after a conversation between themselves over the type of people they want to fight with, meet her, Selestia and Meteora show up, along with beard-guy, Blitz, and soon everyone’s squaring off against each other.All of them apart from Mamika wanting to fight but for different reasons. By now we’ve got just about everyone’s motivations clear, and we see why Aliceteria is siding with Military Arms Princess–her world is a terrible place and she wants to put a stop to it. Meteora brings up the point that the “gods” of this world are just as mortal as anyone on their own worlds. Magane, alas, uses the stale “You’re the same as me” argument. Maybe the best moment apart from Rui chatting up girls on the street is Mamika coming to a decision about when she should fight, and that is to stop the fighting. Stopping Blitz’s bullet with a heart-thingy and a cute “pop!” noise jarred me with its stylistic clash, but was very effective. However, I hope they’re more or less finished with the talky character-establishment they’ve been doing. Oh, Souta cops out and doesn’t tell anyone about what he learned last episode. Idiot.

I fell behind with Little Witch Academia, so I didn’t watch the wonderful magical mecha battle until now. On the other hand, apart from that and another Croix experiment, there wasn’t anything in the episode that moved the story along. I suppose you could argue that Akko befriending Constanze does, but as a perso who likes being alone a lot myself, I kind of felt Akko’s refusal to not interfere annoying. Well, it was still fun to watch.

#19 might be getting closer to the main story. Diana has decided to leave Luna Nova and become the head of Cavendish, because if she doesn’t her Aunt Caryl will continue to sell off the family’s (and perhaps the story’s) important artifacts, including the Beatrix Tapestry left by either Beatrix or Sybilladura Lelladybura, I got confused there, one of the original Nine Olde Witches. That is to say, the Cavendish family is yet another victim of magic’s decline, and the sooner Akko can mix the traditional magic with modern … whatever, the better for Diana. Unfortunately it took the entire episode to spell this out and we’ll have to wait for more next week. It’s good to notice, however, that Diana has completely accepted Akko’s role of gem-getter and magic saver.

That’s the sugar bowl talking.

The thing about Uchouten Kazoku is that you’re never quite sure where the story is going. This episode looked to be about Yodogawa being forced out of the university, and while the episode follows that for a bit, Yasaburo is soon off to Arima Onsen for reasons I forget, and discovers, by following Benten, that the nasty Soun is back and to be inducted into the Friday Club, meaning a tanuki will eat tanuki, though he considers that he has been cast out of tanuki-dom, so it’s okay. There’s more than one person this season who is trying to deny their origins, Nidaime acting like a gentleman and the idiot twins imitating him, and the twice-made comment made this week that Souichiro didn’t smell like himself after an onsen, or when Soun tried to impersonate him.

Yasaburo hangs out in Hell for a while.

Anyway, Soun shows up and casts Yasaburo into a picture of hell, Tenmaya might have something to do with that, and suddenly he’s impersonating an oni and getting hit on by a female oni and being told about Hell’s industrial revolution. While we’re absorbing this he goes to a sumo match and finds a person there taking on all comers. Maybe you can guess who it is. In other words, once again the show has taken a couple things out of its bag and tied them together in ways you would not expect. Oh, the artwork for hell is as amazing as the show’s artwork for Kyoto, not that I’m making a connection there.

Sakura Quest 4, and catching up with Uchouten Kazoku and LWA

Don’t let this shot mislead you. Doku’s a lot of fun.

Sakura Quest 4 has Yoshi discovering the wood art tradition her area has and trying schemes to re-popularize it. Two woodworkers get the focus: Tatsuo, who is sympathetic, and the gifted Kazushi, who is definitely not. I think he, and Ba-san, have a point that trying to make traditional art modern by sticking the on gadgets (which are legitimately cool and made by a guy named Doku) just makes something like that turnip soda Doku invented, but his narrow, insulting attitude turned me off completely. It came to a head when he accused Sanae of “fleeing” Tokyo. Thought there was a sad backstory there, but instead we learn that she was simply getting out of the rat race. Escaping is not fleeing. But what most interested me was the fact that Manoyama is a place where people devote their time and energy into making things, even if they turn out to taste funny or not work as planned. In that respect, Kazushi and Doku are cousins. I suppose you shouldn’t try to combine them, well, it can be fun if you do, but it’s a value that’s good for the community. Don’t know how Yoshi and the gang would promote it, though.

Meanwhile, in Uchouten Kazoku 2, we’ve had a lot of little bits of plot hopping into focus and hopping away just when they were getting interesting. First it was Hell-refugee Tenmaya, who tricks and frustrates he comes across, until Benten makes her long-awaited appearance on his head. So we follow Benton around awhile, until she has an unpleasant run-in with Nidaime, which is set on the back burner so we can have a shogi tournament and a whole new story, the slow, shy courting of Yaichirou and Gyokuran, one of those deals where everyone knows they’ll wind up married. The shogi tournament devolves into backstory about this and goes on a bit long, and also demonstrates why the annual tournament was shut down years ago. And, to my surprise, it looked as though, a few bits notwithstanding, that this would be a stand-alone episode, well, until Gyokuran gets sucked into that square on the board. However, my favorite bit, besides the nice little scene where Yasaburo coaxes Gyokuran out of hiding, again showing the strengths of his carefree character, sort of hearkens back to Polar Bear’s Cafe–the zoo tanuki duties are usually fulfilled by Gyokuran’s family, but Yasaburo sometimes fills in; the pay is good.

Finally I caught up with Little Witch Academia. Too bad I have very little to say about it except speculate about Croix’s motives. She started out three episodes ago as a flamboyant but shady character, and that was borne out, apparently, when she knocked Akko out and tried to clobber Ursula (who has never looked cooler than her battle up the stairs. She looks so frumpy now that it was great to see she hasn’t lost her talent and energy). But it looks like Croix wasn’t about to dissect Akko or anything. When Ursula arrived she basically gave her back. What she wants, apparently, are the seven words, or at least the restoration of magic, just like the other witches do. She just has her own way of going about it. Well, she’s not a saint, either. Speaking of non-saints, Amanda got more screen time in episode 17, and the show as usual is better for it. However, we’ve seen little of Lotte and Sucy. True, they visit Lotte’s house, but both spend most of their time green and useless.

Demi-chan finale, Academia 12

I was hoping they could lay off a swimsuit scene, but …

Demi-chan wa Kataritai 12 finishes the season with another low-key episode, well, it’s a swimsuit episode, but apart from that, apart from a quick summing-up from Takahashi at the end, it feels like any other episode. Hikari wants to swim in the outdoor pool and just about everyone else shows up. Even those side-boys do a little peeking. We even have little sciencey bits like Hikari’s eyes glowing in the dark, and the continual fascination with Machi, the most extraordinary demi of the lot. Her head’s never been underwater, but they take care of that soon enough.

I’ve waited twelve episodes for one of the girls to say this to Takahashi.

I don’t know how much more source material there is, and I don’t know if we need another season of Demi-chan. Oh, I liked the series we got very much, but I think teens dealing with their demi-ness as a metaphor for any average highschooler working through adolescence, the growth, the search for identity, while used very well in this series, is going to get stale if they keep it going much longer. Maybe I’m wrong. Besides the show’s characters were strong enough to entertain me anyway. For that reason, I’d happily try another season if they come up with one.

One more of Hikari.

Little Witch Academia 12 gives us the prep for the Samhain Festival, with all sorts of bigwig witches coming and where a moonlit witch will be chosen, and it certainly won’t be Akko. There’s a middle section where she’s briefly transformed into Diana for a bit, but the story thankfully doesn’t stay there for too long. Then back to being despondent until she gets a clue as to what to do, but it’s the end of the episode and she won’t tell us. One of those episodes where some things are set up but can’t move forward yet, both the Samhain and Akko’s development. We do get a clue with the latter in a vision Akko gets at that Polaris place, one of Chariot practicing her magic for the pleasure of one person, very sweet and makes Akko wonder if her own motivations are correct (Chariot was not practicing to win a festival event), though she’s pretty much doing the same thing with Ursula, except Akko keeps screwing up.