ACCA-13 gives us a splendid finale which had me grinning through most of it, right after the moment Mauve stepped in and explained to Schwan that this coup business was nothing more than a public demonstration of his vulnerability, so please take care of yourself, okay? At first it didn’t feel right that Schwan would announce his confidence and support towards ACCA, I thought he would be too resentful and stubborn, but then I realized that this was a show of force, that he COULD be removed and he knew it, and all he had to do was let things continue the way they were, apart from Furawau. It took the look of surprise on Lilium and his countrymen’s faces for me to realize I wasn’t the only surprised by these events, though unlike the Furawau people, I was grinning throughout.
The whole scene was a marvel of understatement. Even the crowd didn’t overreact (that whole scene was a bit weird in that they were in the middle of a big ceremony which fizzled into explanations and flashback moments, and the crowd didn’t seem to think anything was strange about it). Most of it was a key line here and there, mixed with shots of various characters, smiling or looking blank in the background, and it worked so well. All you had to see were their static facial expressions to get a full idea of how they felt now and the part they played in this non-coup. Especially Jean’s smile. I KNEW he had something up his sleeve, I just hadn’t realized that everyone else was in on the game.
And so it ends up deliriously happy for everyone. Mauve becomes the director, a job she didn’t pursue but seems happy to accept. Jean and Lotta are almost certainly happy that no one learned their secret. Nino is free now but seems unable to let go of Jean … I think he and Lotta ought to hook up, myself. The “bad” characters are unpunished. The oldest princess even welcomed Lotta, connected as they are by blood and no longer rivals. Lilium is quite happy in independent, prosperous Furawau. Yep, every district and person within are happy. No surprise. For all the intrigue going on, this show kept a light touch throughout, with the country in the shape of a bird, and all the food that everyone loves to eat. It’s one of the reasons I kept watching, that and they dolloped just enough plot on in every episode, and I was curious about what all the districts looked like. I know there won’t be another season of this, but I wish I could see more of that bird-shaped continent.
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 12 is not the finale. Next week they’re going to throw some plot at us in the form of some new dragon, and I wish they wouldn’t. This week looked to have even less of a story than last week, but there was the omrurice to prepare and flashbacks to consider … I would have enjoyed just watching Tohru going through her day if that’s what they wanted to do, but it was nice to see the flashback to when she and Kobayashi met. The second flashback, with the bandit, was interesting with its thought that people can happily become servants if it’s their choice to do so. Right there it’s a good episode, but then they hint that we might see the bandit girl again next week, maybe not. Either way, with the new dragon showing up to cause trouble we’ve probably seen the last slice-of-life bits for this series, at least this season. Too bad. I think it would be fine for the show to end with the lack of story we’ve had recently. Rather fitting.
Finally, a week late, comes the finale of Youjo Senki, where nothing blows up, there are no battles, and no one dies. On the other hand, Tanya might have broken her record for number of evil faces per episode, and that’s mostly in the final scene. First she’s pissed about not utterly destroying the Republic forces, to which higher-ups say “Give it a rest,” until they notice that the survivors are forming up in the south. So it’s war! All over again!
At this point we get a lot of talk of peace, the nature of it, and how the Empire and others try to achieve it by forcing as much violence on those they see as enemies as they possibly can. Tanya says it, then, later on, in a crazy speech of her own, the daughter in the USA (United States of Arkansas, heh) says pretty much the same thing, though she adds talk about God’s grace while showing her crazy yellow eye. So now you know who’s going to duke it out with Tanya next season, if there is one.
If there is, I’m not so sure I want to watch it. The depictions of war, its justifications and ethics, were treated superficially but well, however, it was sunk by Tanya’s elite crew of soldiers who destroyed everything in sight and hardly sustained a causality, and I only suspect more for the next season, and that Tanya will manage to kill Sioux. The question of faith and rationality wasn’t much better, as simplistic as the talk of war, though for an anime show it did pretty well. However, because it is an anime show, a work of fiction as they remind us at the end, both sides shrink to a battle between one superbeing and another. You can yank more ideas out of its metaphors, but I don’t know if the show can support any more. Well, if they get another season I’ll probably give it an episode or two.
Not much to say about ACCA-13 10, except to speculate. One thing is made clear, however. Lillium is supporting the coup because he wants Furawau to snatch up whatever it can in the coup. That will be interesting because north of Furawau is Pranetta, and as we discovered this episode, there’s nothing much there, just desert and some perhaps overly-optimistic miners. Don’t remember Famasu and Jumouku, the west and east districts, however. Another thing to make clear is that Mauve seems to have no issues with a coup, so no story potential there. The story instead goes back to the royal family and their possibly dying king, which has set up another threat to Jean and Lotta’s life (what is the princess’s motive for this, anyway?), and on the other side, sped-up plans for the coup. At the center, as usual, is Jean, who once again just takes in information without giving anyone a clue about what HE thinks. Will he continue to passively take in information and let things happen, or will he finally act in the final episodes? Everyone in the episode talks about chasing dreams. Does he have one to chase?
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 10 takes us to the Christmas season, when winter is still seen as cheerful and romantic and not dull and depressing like it is now here in mid-March. The episode, with the usual odd filler bits, is about Tohru and the gang putting together a Christmas play for the local elderly home, a creative interpretation of “The Little Match Girl.” Since we pretty much know what’s going to happen it’s a question of how they go about it that will mark the success or failure of this episode, and it mostly succeeds, like the show in general. Kanna as the girl basically steals every scene until Tohru comes in playing some evil person. The filler material, Kanna waiting for Santa, works pretty well, too. The look on Kobayashi’s face when she sees the chimney …
KonoSuba 10 is the last episode of the season, alas.
And since it’s the grand finale, they give us a big, exciting battle with effects you don’t normally see in this series. The gang go to the source of the polluted water to find out it was that pissed-off guy from the past two episodes, and he’s really Hans the Deadly Poison Slime. They run away, they run back, because the mob is still after Aqua, Wiz gets pissed off (Do NOT piss off Wiz), Aqua gets REALLY pissed off, Kazuma gets sneaky, we have some light shows and heroic music … and it’s over. Hopefully not forever.
None of it makes much sense. I thought the hot springs water was already polluted, and that’s what makes it effective. Why did Kazuma get Hans to swallow him? Well, the triumphant bits more than made up for it, as did the comedy, though it took a while for that to kick in. And since it all happens at night, some of the gags were hard to see … If I rate season one slightly higher than season two it’s because the show made less sense, but the really important things, the quick gags, the girls’ weirdness, and Kazuma’s dead-on snark and timing, were equal to the first. I could go for third season of this.
In ACCA-13 9, the secret is slowly leaking out, and various factions are beginning to bare their fangs.
It appears that the first princess doesn’t like the idea of this not-royal couple going about eating delicious food, and she sends out some assassins. Interesting that she says Schwann was “in her way” too, so we’re sure what she wants. Anyway, they come after Lotta, and lovestruck Nail, told to keep her safe, does his best and fails, the idiot. The whole “chase,” if that’s what you want to call it, is full of incompetence and so hard to take seriously, especially when they stop by a cafe. Most fun of all is the rescue accomplished by Oulu; because now we have to figure out what HE knows about it all.
Less amusing are the revelations within the ACCA faction. While I fully agree that Schwan should not be king, I can’t really say I want ACCA to produce a coup of their own. I don’t trust them, even if they claim that their department safeguards the people. And, of course, I trust them even less after that unpleasant scene between Grossular and Lilium at the end. On the other hand, it makes the whole story even more interesting. Meanwhile, Jean travels to two more eccentric places, and while there’s still a whimsical edge to each one, the talks are turning to his possible royal future. As usual, we don’t know what he’s thinking or planning. It will be fun to find out. It will also be fun to see what Mauve thinks about all this next week.
Kobayashi-san chi no Maid Dragon 9, though dedicated to Kanna’s school sports festival, is really divided into two stories, both of which we’ve seen before, but not through the eyes of these characters. Kobayashi can’t come to the festival because of work, so Kanna’s sad. No surprise that she works extra hours beforehand to clear up time for it, reminded again that she is a mother figure now, whether she likes it or not. The second story it the festival itself, where teamwork is espoused and Kanna-chan doesn’t use her powers. The relay scene reminded me of Azumanga’s classic from the past decade. Saikawa messes up, afterwards is despondent, until she she hears her team’s anchor (Kanna) is making up the loss, some of the angles are right out of Azumanga. Luckily for Kanna’s team there’s no Yukari-sensei to ruin their chances.
In KonoSuba2 9 they’re all still in the hot springs town full of religious nuts. I must say, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone in anime who can screw things up so thoroughly as Aqua. At the start she’s hanging out at the Axis Church HQ, hearing confessions and enjoying her status, and by the end the city wants to tar and feather her. And really she was trying to help, though frankly I’m getting a little tired of this accidentally purifying water gag they’ve got going. To stretch out the episode a bit further, we get the expected peeping scene, well-handled by everyone involved. And we got that angry guy who’s just as disgusted by the Axis Church’s proselytizing as Kazuma and poor Megumin are, but who’s identity and motivations are unknown, but I’m sure we’ll learn all by the end of the arc, whenever it ends.
ACCA-13 8 brings the background on the odd sitation. I was expecting intrigue and bloody murder (or less bloody murder with some poison or something), but in fact it’s all very sweet, and domestic. Privy Counselor Qualm thinks the young princess Schnee’s interest in revolutionary things will be bad for the country, but rather than kill her off, he (with the blessing of both the king and Schnee herself) fakes her death and sets her loose to live in the more cosmopolitan prefecture of Badon, with a couple of people to keep an eye on her, an assistant and his young son, Nino. Aha!
We see next to nothing of Schnee, her husband (who remains something of a mystery), or their kids Jean and Lotta, only photographs Nino’s devoted father takes. In fact, a large part of the episode is the father and Nino at home, developing photos, talking about reports to the king, eating bread and sweets. The episode, though technically Nino’s story about Jean’s past (begun at the end of the last episode), is more about Nino’s past, sharing his father’s enthusiasm in the former princess’s life, entering high school at age 25 to befriend and watch over Jean–which comes off as rather creepy, actually, and the unspoken point that he gave up his life’s freedom for these chores, and doesn’t mind. As for the big story, Schnee was written out of the family and so has no claim to the throne, so neither does Jean, not that me minds. I have to ask: where does the show go from here? Maybe some people don’t think Jean hasn’t a claim, or they want to put him back on the rolls because they don’t want Schwan in power. I suppose they could do that. But I can wait for an answer. I rather enjoyed this look at domesticity, even though it wasn’t the family I expected.
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 8 finally introduces Elma, a dragon from the harmony faction, so she can’t stand Tohru, who works for the Chaos faction. They have several confrontations that fizzle when Elma is conned into going away, or fed something. More interesting, apart from the blasts of animation quality that spring up, is the relationship angle. Kobayashi admits that she isn’t sure how to respond to, let alone handle, people needing her, so we learn in a sweet, ackward bit. Tohru needs her of course, as does Kanna, and she’s training Elma at work (how she got hired we’ll never know), which gives Tohru something more to be jealous about. I’m also curious about how Elma is getting alone since she has no place to live or money yet. The show took care of Fafnir and Lucoa, finding them places, so is Elma getting any help? I worry about my fictional dragons.
I had started this paragraph about KonoSuba 8 by saying there doesn’t seem to be any big story arc ramifications to our gang’s hot springs visit, but then I erased it. I remembered that Aqua’s the chief deity for the Axis religion that seems to run the place, so I think that if she gets on the outs with the religion it might be bad for her or for Kazuma et. al in the long. Or not. If there is such a thing we’ll find out soon enough. In the meantime, we get a thoroughly entertaining sequence involving those ostriches from last week, followed by some zombies. When they finally reach, er, let’s see …Arcanretia, the Axis assault begins, so to speak. Much of it involves people approaching an increasingly weary and suspicious Kazuma and Darkness. They learn that Darkness belongs to the Eris cult, they spit and stomp off, and Darkness gets turned on by the treatment while Kazuma does his usual, excellent straight-man work. Nothing much else happens. You’d think they would actually go to a hot spring since they’re there.
After a week’s hiatus Youjo Senki returns and gives us more of the same. This time, however, we start with an Entente officer named Sioux and his sad goodbye to his wife and kid, who are on their way to the United States of Arkansas (I love that). Therefore we know Sioux is going to get skewered later in the episode and the only questions are when and how. We move back to a bewildering confrontation between Tanya and some general, and then a friendlier one sends her off on a top-secret plan to wipe out the Entente forces at Orse Fjord so the Empire ships can sneak in. With Tanya around this happens with the same sense of drama that all the battle scenes have. Basically Tanya’s battalion wipes them all out–have her mages had a single causality yet? There hasn’t even been a hint of an enemy doing well in the fighting. The closest we get are reports and charts about how the such-and-such front is bogged down. Frankly, it gets more ridiculous and duller by the battle.
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 7 appears to be the summer episode. The gang go to the beach and later to Comiket 90, meaning we already missed Tohru posing for pics with her wings and maid outfit. The reason the wings are out is because she took inspiration from both other cosplayers, who were having fun dressing up as their favorite characters, and from the many actual otherworldly creatures mixed among them, happy for the chance to go about in their true form with no repercussions. Earlier, at the beach, she went full dragon, so you could say this was an episode about letting your true self out now and then. But there was also that guy answering Tohru’s question about why everyone comes to Comiket, which Tohru takes as “enjoy the moment,” and we had a taste of that in the beach scene too. Or about families. Or maybe it was about Kanna eating living things. It cracks me up every time.
KonoSuba 7 meanders a lot, so I thought, until I realized that this was a multi-episode road trip thing, so the pointless, funny scenes just got longer because they had more time. We start with Kazuma and Aqua’s “rich” act (funny), then that demon shows up and pisses of Aqua (funny), a visit to the store (fairly funny), fights over these seats to the hot spring resort (not funny. I thought they’d miss the caravan), then the caravan is going to be overrun by ostriches or something, because of Darkness’s armor (funny), and we have our cliffhanger, though can it be called a cliffhanger if we know nothing seriously bad is going to happen? So what if Darkness gets trampled? She’d LIKE that.
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 6 continues with the running theme of friends and intimacy, often inappropriate. First we get a scene where Saikawa invites Kanna over, and Kanna brings Kobayashi and Tohru, where we get a lot of bonding over maids (another one pops up), plus a strange moment of intimacy between Kanna and Saikawa that, alas, gets interrupted. I say that not out of any hentai urges toward young girls, but out of curiosity. What WAS Kanna about to do? After that Kobayashi and Tohru pay a visit to Lucuo’s new place, where she was “summoned” by a young boy, and has proven a bit too much for him to handle in a number of different ways. After that it’s male-bonding time between Fafnir and Takiya, who are getting along just fine. After the near-assaults on children earlier, this one was a relief. Then some umbrella-sharing. In little ways, all the characters are getting closer to the people they want to be with.
In KonoSuba 6, Kazuma dies again. The only noteworthy thing about that is that he realizes Eris might be, personality wise, that is, the right girl for him. Also, he discovers while hanging out with her in that starry room, that she sometimes goes down to the surface to visit. Thus we have another extra piece in the plot game they’re playing down there, ready to appear right when it will screw things up for Kazuma perfectly. Kazuma was killed in another funny scene where we watch the team’s splendid plans for getting rid of some monsters unravel bit by bit, thanks to Aqua, I believe, though Kazuma helped … sucking up Megumin’s powers like that … But I think the hignlight the whole sword-naming thing, both swords … Good episode. Still, I’m a little eager for a story arc to get rolling again.
Seiren 7 isn’t as crazy and event-filled as last week, there’s no deer mating or anything (though Shouichi’s deer is getting old–wonder wht that signifies?). In fact, it’s almost all talk, and unlike some other shows, it’s mostly interesting talk. First, Tsuneki fills Shouichi in on Miyamae’s past, and while you’d figure there would be a dark secret there, it’s much more mundane than that–she could outgame the boys and they were too immature to handle it, and somehow this is Miyamae’s fault, or at least Tsuneki thinks so.
Next Shouichi goes to Miyamae’s place, meets her brother Sota, and gets more background, with no terrible fact to reveal. After an inevitable gaming sequence it’s another conversation, but by now the couple seems to have talked their way to answers for their problems. Maybe fewer games right now, don’t be guilty about those boys, how about a date, and er, we’re kind of partners now, aren’t we? No big confession, no fake drama, just the realization of a natural outcome of things. Very nice.
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 5 is a pleasant series of little bits, the best being Tohru sneaking in to watch Kobayashi at work. I’m not a fan of the outward sentimentality some of the scenes give us but here it’s restrained to an early moment (Kobayashi wondering how she was before Tohru came along) and a final moment (She doesn’t remember, oh well …), followed by a punchline concerning the asshole boss. Not to say the other introspective moments don’t hurt the show. The bit with Fafnir at the traffic light was handled well, as was Kobayashi’s realization why Tohru wanted to learn ESP that much. The short bits worked pretty well, with Saikawa’s ridiculous overjoyed look working as a nice running gag. Turns out, by the way, that Kobayashi uses Python at work. Don’t know what that signifies apart from someone in KyoAni knowing it.
KonoSuba2 5, though all its main characters are in the story, refuses to fully utilize them again. This time it’s Kazuma and Darkness going through the dungeon to get rid of that magic circle Aqua put there that’s now keeping the monsters out. Then it becomes Kazuma, Darkness, and Vanir, who’s taken over Darkness’s body. Vanir’s bizarre motives and the logic of the whole thing made little sense to me, but as I’ve pointed out before, a coherent plot is low on my priorities for this show. What we got is a funny duel of wills between Vanir and darkness over who will be in control, and Vanir’s ongoing surprise that Darkness rather likes the promise of torturous pain for refusing. Kazuma can only stand there and do reactions. Better yet, Vanir is telepathic, and so can reveal embarrassing things about how the two adventurers feel about each other. So, that talisman that didn’t do anything? The monsters that aren’t there anymore? The fact that Vanir also wants the circle removed and should be cooporating? Who cares. And I think Lalatina is a lovely name.
It really isn’t fair to compare Seiren to the Amagami shows. While the format and many of the creators are the same the characters are completely different.. well, maybe it IS fair to compare them, and I can’t help it. But so far, this new series hasn’t lived up to the fun of the original–until episode 6. We get a great scene where they bring Tsuneki back (to help the son of her boss at her secret part-time job get revenge, which adds resonance from the previous arc) for a GunGal duel, complicated by the arrival of the school’s disciplinarians. The show skillfully jumps from one situation to another. It’s followed by Miyamae and Shoichi having their deer “mate,” dancing with the innuendo without overdoing it. Through it all they work further on the serious issues, like Miyamae’s gaming obsession and how her appearance has changed the dynamic between the boys, and shouldn’t Shouichi be studying more? And finally, an Amagami reference, I believe, to Junichi and whatever girl it was doing things in the pump shed. These are all the sort of things I expected this show to do, and they’re finally doing it.