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

May 16, 2017 Leave a comment

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

May 1, 2017 Leave a comment

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

March 28, 2017 Leave a comment

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.

Seiren, LWA and Demi-chan 11, Youjo Senki 10

March 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Seiren 11 starts with Kyouko nearly getting hit by a truck, only to be rescued by Shouichi. She proceeds to give him some underpants that she knitted herself, and then forces him to go underwear shopping for her. A typically strange series of events that ranks as par for this franchise. Alas, the rest of the episode is pretty normal. It’s mainly about Shouichi being tagged with the “nice girl next door” title, which he’s fine with until it begins to rankle him and he announces that, I guess, he’s going to confess or do something brave and manly this Christmas. Not much else, really. Short amusing bits, cake baking, a reference to the girls’ swim team’s oden, appropriate because the tea club was into that in Amagami, more venison references. Oh, we learned that itwas Araki who asked all those girls out, and he did it to cheer Shouichi up. Not much to this episode, and they only have one more with Kyouko.

Ho hum.

I knew it! Youjo Senki 10┬áturned out to be the Empire doing their thing successfully, with lots of scenes of Republic troops in shock as they got blown up. It got so boring I skipped forward a couple of times. That board meeting didn’t fool me one bit; you could tell the show was trying to build up a false conflict which would be resolved with perfect timing of the military, after all, infantry battles are always perfectly timed in real life, right? What a tiresome batch of scenes. At least at the end we got that crazy guy take out one of Tanya’s troops, though I suspect next week, after a difficult and bloody battle, Tanya’s guys will win again. Hope I’m wrong.

Little Witch Academia 11 full of overarching prophesies, is uncharacteristically sober in its approach. It starts the usual way, with Akko trying hard but messing up in Ursula’s extra lessons, so she becomes despondent. Will she ever become like Shiny Chariot? Well, it’s a blue moon that night, the last one for a few year, so she sneaks out to go to another obscure foggy place on campus to get her question answered. Meanwhile, the witch profs bemoan the fading of magic (that’s all they ever do when they’re not scolding Akko) and Diana asks for a rare tome that she can only access with a special key on a blue moon. Amazing that more magical people aren’t out and about doing blue moon things.

But Diana and Akko’s quests don’t intersect; the former merely serves as exposition for the latter, stuff about (checking my notes) the seven words of Acturus, of which Akko’s revived number one (Ursula has exposition duties this episode, too). Shiny Rod reveals a hidden underground place where Akko meets all sorts of spooky things, the last being a dead-tree thing that offers to grant her wish if she relinquishes her memories. Up to now the episode had been interesting but predictable, but upon Akko’s refusal, we get a transformation, with quick cuts of blood-red and often violent events, including the Triskelion that represents the words. NOW I’m interested! Are the red events a warning of what might become? Are they part of magic’s history? What was the triskelion doing in it? Oh, I like a mystery! Plus, the show gets a new goal: Akko’s gotta revive the remaining five words. We’ll all be keeping an eye on the lights on Shiny Rod from now on.

In Demi-chan wa Kataritai 11, the evil-looking vice principal made his evil move, that is, he told Takahashi that he should cut back on the attention he was giving the demis and allow them to work it out themselves by interacting with other students. It is resolved by a series of intelligent conversations and by the fact that the vice-principal isn’t really evil, just concerned. It also helped that two side characters were present at the scolding, and they told two others, the mean girls from a few episodes back, I believe. Their own conversation got a bit convoluted, but it was nice to see four kids trying to figure out a difficult topic by discussing. In the end, both sides have a point, and so the relationship between Takahashi and the demis shifts slightly and positively. As for the side characters, doubt we’ll keep seeing too much of them, since it’s the nearly the last episode, but they did their part for the plot.

Youjo Senki 9, Seiren, Demi-chan, Academia 10

March 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Tanya’s heard that before.

Youjo Senki 9 begins preparation for a major operation that I’m sure will end up as a victory next week, alas. You know, why aren’t the forces allied against the empire thinking up fiendish plots of their own. The only fun to be had this week is the sheer absurdity of the strategy. The empire pulls back from the front lines and spread lies about how their railroads and communications are in disarray, luring the republic forces in. But there’s also talk of a war of attrition, and then they’re also going to take out the enemy headquarters. I guess all three might be effective. What’s fun is that the HQ will be taken out by Tanya’s mages, via V-1 rockets! The mashup of various wars makes me giggle. Amusement aside, I don’t think I’m looking forward to a full episode of the empire destroying everything, even with the occasional setback they’ll stick in in an attempt to make it more exciting. It’s not like the outcome is in doubt.

Late in the episode Seiren 10 introduces a crisis which is impossible to take seriously. It looks like Shouichi, after Kyoko turned down his offer of Christmas pancakes after the founders festival, went a little nuts and went around asking random girls out. It’s ridiculous of course; even Kyoko has her doubts, and we saw the scene where Ikuo announced he was pursuing a girl who goes to his cram school, and remember arc #1, and watched Shouichi confront Ikuo the next day. And so the crisis not only can’t be taken seriously, but can be laughed at, and we can enjoy the latest batch of strange lines and double-entendres this franchise is famous for, as well as venison for the festival, love-hotel ads, a lengthy but mostly-unseen explanation by Tsuneki about why boys get so horny around Christmas Eve, and hand-me-downs for decorating the tree, or something like that.

In Demi-chan 10, we spend a little time with Kyouko being playful and irresponsible, and putting her head in danger, so Takahashi gets upset at her. That bit on nonsense cleared up, we switch to the two of them visiting an oddball physicist named Souma to try and figure out what the deal is with the head. The resulting explanation by Souma is partly interesting, talking about a wormhole connecting her head to her body and the potential this shows for modern science. It gets to being bullshit when he suggests a third party is responsible, and the way he expresses it suggests that the universe is entirely a construct of humanity … I suppose you can make a claim for metaphysics there … ANYway, the best part of it all is that Kyouko might become a researcher herself. But I’m a little surprised that she wasn’t snatched away a long time ago by some government organization or another and had nasty experiments done to her. Also, they set up a future plot with the disapproving vice principal …

Little Witch Academia 10 was fun enough, certainly better than last week, but I felt it missed out on opportunities. It was great that the bee flew around stinging everybody, and I appreciated the fact that Akko, Diana, and others knew it was a bee from the start, but the show didn’t make nearly enough mayhem as it could have. Four guys fall for Lotte, great potential right there, but we don’t see any of it and only return when the spell’s wearing off. Diana is stung twice but both times it’s only good for a quick gag while Akko continues to chase that damn bee, though I rather liked the second one, and how the object of everyone’s desires takes on the look of a shoujo heroine. The show was more interested in developing the possible Andrew/Akko romance and to further establish his independence from his family, which I suppose it did, but I keep thinking, in other episodes as well as this one, that the episodes reach their potential.

Seiren 9, Youjo Senki 8, Demi-chan and LWA 9

March 7, 2017 Leave a comment

Though the last arc improved the average, Seiren still hasn’t reached the heights of its predecessor, but in episode 9 I realized that this show has an advantage: it can use Amagami itself.

Hi Kyoko! Welcome to Shouichi’s linear harem!

In a flashback, during a strange gender-swapping display by the very young Shouichi, we see Junichi in the background, possibly being stood up. I actually didn’t make the connection, and instead got absorbed meeting the new girl, Kyoko. She’s a childhood friend who’s still interested in things like a certain manga (which, after a hiatus, has become more adult). Shouichi humors her and agrees she might try to be a little more grown up. In the meantime we get name-checks and cameos of the other characters, especially Tsuneki, whom, I suppose cannot be ignore. Things were moving happily along with cute panties discussions and deer references when they suddenly give us this.

It’s the Tea Club girls! Great to see you! How’ve you … oh, you’re not?

No, not Amagami’s tea club girls, alas. Instead, Koharu and Nao are the only remaining members of the present-day home-ec club, and it seems they might be doing rituals at night. Kyoko decides to visit the club, and it’s sadly mundane. No sinister uses for old clothes, never mind what that Trek Club guy was saying when he wanted them to make him a man. Just a nice late-night moon viewing session in kimonos, though the traditional food they prepare seems to be a reference to the tea club. Even without the Amagami reference it would have been a good episode, but now I wonder if we’ll get sarcastic narrators, pool club ramen, or ni-shi-shi-shi’s in the future.

Oh, just the usual for this show.

Youjo Senki 8 at last adds some variety to the “Ruthless Tanya destroys all opposition” schtick we’ve been getting. Yes, this week she destroys the opposition, not to mention a whole city with a lot of civilians in it, but in addition some of the people under her command are rather unhappy about this. One, Grantz, sees too much of the enemy’s faces and doesn’t exactly develop a conscience, or a spine, but goes berserk enough to try to shoot Tanya at the end. We didn’t even have to see what happened after to figure out if he succeeded. Also, God is going to interfere again, telling a soldier awakening from a coma to destroy Tanya. The trouble is, I can’t make out who it was … you know, if he’s been in a coma for two months why is he still wearing those bandages? Coma’s don’t stop the healing process, just a thought. Anyway, so it continues. Happy to see the republic or whatever they’re called is giving stiff resistance, though.

Demi-chan wa Kataritai 9 has Takahashi pondering and discussion demi abilities with their wielders. First, Sakie is called out of the blue by that cop and told to seduce Takahashi, in other words, make use of that succubus power she’s got. It still bugs me that that asshole cop gets to order her around, even though they’re in a sort of father/daughter relationship, mainly because he’s an outsider he should have little idea what it’s like to handle abilities like hers. But she tries making a move in her own way, not using her powers, and winds up sharing a nice talk with Takahashi. The show is unclear on whether she truly isn’t using her powers, however. Takahashi’s well hidden lusts might be from her natural looks, or maybe it’s some succubus mojo leaking out. It’s fun that they’re keeping it vague. In a less interesting part two, Yuki and Takahashi try ways to use her cold abilities in hot weather. Since it’s negative emotions that cause the cold, it’s no fun for her. Interesting concept, not much of a story apart from the fact it brings the girls into the episode for the first time.

In Little Witch Academia 9 all the students get leave outside of campus, and they can’t use magic. Naturally Akko screws something up and now there’s a resurrected skeleton in a pirate outfit rushing around looking for revenge for something he can’t remember, with the girls chasing him around. None of it adds up to much; when you know what this show is capable of, all the scenes here fall a little flat. The touching ending wasn’t terribly touching because we had no idea of the headmistress’s past, and besides, she isn’t terribly moved by it either. The big mystery was that case full of personal items that the headmistress and Ursula put in a case, and never seen again. I suppose it’s a plot seed for a later episode, but the fact that they don’t refer to it again (apart from the headmistress’s mallet) felt misleading.

Eights: Seiren, Demi-chan, Little Witch Academia

February 28, 2017 Leave a comment

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Seiren 8 finishes off the Miyamae arc by pretty much ignoring gaming altogether and switching to cosplay. Maybe this is supposed to represent a change in Miyamae’s priorities, but I think rather that they wanted to get her in a sexy deer outfit with a zipper she can’t locate but Shouichi can. I could also suggest that the return to the interest in Deermas as opposed to GunGal suggests a more domestic outlook, where you raise deer rather than blast mecha. What it means that Shouichi’s sister dresses in a skimpy GunGal outfit is beyond me.

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And from Amagami we get a return of the kiss in an unexpected place, but this time the girl is doing the kissing, and it’s Miyamae’s adam’s apple. This fits nowhere with gaming, let alone deer, but it was a sweet moment, at least, after she explained why she kissed him there. In fact, the whole park scene was sweet, even if Miyamae’s reason for storming off felt trite, just a reason for them to kiss and make up and become boy/girlfriend. And at least this time there’s no platonic future for them; ten years later they’re raising a deer, I mean child. So, a decent ending to the arc. I do with the art and animation were a bit better, I suppose it’s passable.

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Demi-chan 8 starts with Hikari’s appalling mid-term score and then takes great care to show us that a book has fallen out of Yuki’s bag, so much that we figure the book is very important. Turns out it’s a manga volume that Satou discovers right away, and leads to a too-long scene where she and Yuki talk manga and bullying, livened up only by the revelation that Yuki has a bit of a dirty mind, and an entertaining flashback to Satou’s middle school days. After that there’s plenty of studying (this is appropriately timed because now is the big test season for Japanese schoolkids) with the usual bits (Hey Yuki, I don’t understand this part) but there’s also a good scene where Hikari announces whose arm she’d like to chew on. Thematically it doesn’t add up to much, but it’s an entertaining enough episode.

Meanwhile, I think Trigger blew their entire budget on Little Witch Academia 8.

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Sucy tries a late-night experiment to unlock her potential powers and falls victim to Sleeping Witch Sickness, which, in her case, also means a lot of mushrooms growing everywhere. Lotte sends Akko inside Sucy to wake her up. Akko meets a lot of different Sucys there, parts of her personality. You’ve probably all seen episodes in various series like this, but the events happen so fast, there are so many Sucys and so many sight gags that it’s impossible to take them all in. But the fun is just getting started.

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Akko busts up a mass-execution of Sucy’s more trivial desires (important to the plot, what I can make out of it), and, because she’s an idiot, she stops to watch a drive-in movie of Sucy’s memories, the show pointing out that things are going to get self-referential. It looks like a 1930s cartoon, with a hilarious take on both Diana and Akko, the latter depicted as an idiot, and then things get even crazier with a race to find the “original” Sucy before something or other not only devours Sucy’s world, but the real one of the school, don’t ask me why, I don’t know, or care.

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Guilty!

The whole thing is insane, and brilliantly executed. First, was that Michiyo Murase doing ALL the Sucys? If so, Murase deserves a medal. There are dozens of them, each with their own variation of Sucy’s voice, some flying past so quickly that you hardly notice them. Second, the episode has a funny, fast-paced script that was fully aware that it wasn’t terribly original and so jumped on quick gags and at least one unexpected turn to make it effective. Third, the direction, art, and animation are astounding.

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Once the action ramps up, every moment had something great or funny to look at, little things like Akko’s spinning pupils as she looks for the right room, to my personal favorite, the enormous transition from drive in to real disaster (with sudden ramped-up ominous music), suddenly leaping into a chase scene. I’m looking forward to watching this episode again, because there’s so much I bet I missed. I know this is only February, but this is a strong candidate for “episode of the year” honors, if you do that sort of thing.