Maria the Virgin Witch finishes nicely, with me scratching my head.
The witches face off against Michael, in spite of Maria’s protests, and are easily beaten. Then Michael gets to the important matter, what to do with Maria, who, by the way, hasn’t backed down an inch. Neither has Joseph or Ezekiel. Michael is confused by this loyalty, so he shows up on the ground and interviews everyone around who knows her. Funny that the regular folk treat it like a normal thing while the monks freak out, Bernard so much so that he tries to strangle Michael … bad idea. And it’s a shame, because he had become a crazy scholar, and the world needs more of them. So, after Michael does what he should have done earlier, i.e., check out the scene on the ground, he decides to forgive Maria, even calling her part of the natural law on earth. Off he goes, and everyone’s happy.
I don’t know about the interviews. Surely Michael ought to know how everyone feels already. If not, it’s proof that the heavens are too distant from the world and have no business ruling it. Of course, others, especially Viv, have said just that to him and it didn’t make a difference. But there are other things that I can’t figure out, too. If Maria is considered part of the natural law on earth, that means she wasn’t before. Wouldn’t the heavens really hate having her and the other witches around? Why didn’t they wipe then out a long time ago? Maybe they can’t? They’re not omnipotent? Or maybe the main God is as distant from the angels as the angels are to us on earth.
Frankly, I kind of wish the show had explored Bernard’s theories a bit farther; while I’m not a theological scholar or even close to one, I think I recognize Bernard’s line of thinking somewhere. Too bad Micheal showing up kind of blew his theories out of the water. No wonder he tried to strangle him. And along more practical lines, is Maria going to marry Joseph, lose her virginity, and thus her powers? I can’t imagine such a headstrong, flamboyant character settling down to being just a farmwife. Well, I could go on forever with questions and speculations. In that sense, the show was very successful. I can’t speak for veracity, but it was interesting to take a Japanese take on western history, especially such a confusing time. But the series also felt too busy, juggling too many theme and plot-balls in the air. It was directed and paced well, but sometimes it felt like too much. Still, not the usual anime series we see on TV, and I’m grateful for that.
Yuri Kuma Arashi‘s finale is so weird that I’m not going to bother with most of it.
Basically, the reason Kureha was on trial by Judgemens was that she had wanted Ginko turned into a girl, so they couldn’t exclude her. A sin of pride. And by the end of the show she had seen the error of her ways, and instead wished to become a bear instead. This takes some time to get to, as we have the current situation to sort of work out. Ginko is facing a firing squad, saying she never loved Kureha, she just wanted to eat her, gao-gao, and Kureha seeing through her lies, while the girls with guns watch, aghast. Not sure why, but her appeal breaks her handcuffs, and Kumalia herself floats down from the heavens.
My brain broke a little there, but earlier Kureha had mentioned that Sumika had brought love back to her life. Maybe that was the trigger. Speaking of triggers, after the bears are reunited, the exclusion girls fire, and it’s a bit of a mystery after that. Kureha and Ginko are presumably in some yuri-bear-la-la land, we see Lulu and that little prince alive, happily reading the storybook, and one of the exclusion girls walks out and befriends that bear whose name I forget.
I suppose it’s a happy ending, but it feels like an ending that the afflicted tell each other to feel better about their situation. “They’re together in heaven” and all that. But the situation between humans and bears, or girls and girls, hasn’t changed one bit in that world. Well, if the series was meant to be a statement about society’s attitudes to those “who stand out,” it carried other things with it, such as love, of course, and friendship and forgiveness. Kunihiko Ikuhara likes to pack in as many images and themes as he can in his works, so to distill it to one theme feels wrong. On the whole, this series felt like “Penguindrum-lite,” inevitable since it was only twelve episodes. It feels slighter, fewer important characters and plotlines to follow, but with all the weird imagery you’d expect. But, like Penguindrum, it tired me out by the end. Twelve episodes is enough.
After the theological riddles of Maria and the weird images of Yuri Kuma, it’s a relief to finish the season with its lightest yet most fattening show. Koufuku Graffiti‘s finale is one of the livelier ones. Ryou and Kirin right off the bat get accepted into the school they want, and that keeps things interesting for a few minutes. Ryou’s memories of her grandma and the school she’s graduating from drag it down a bit, but Kirin shows up out of the blue and gets things moving again. The main point to the story is that Kirin will be moving into Ryou’s home to go to high school, but nobody told Ryou. It’s not a serious crisis; once she gets over the shock of it she’s happy with the idea. As for the food, it’s yellowtail simmered in daikon radish, grandma’s specialty (granny’s picture keeps changing this episode), also more cutlet sandwiches (with shrimp), and when everyone comes to help Kirin move, we get Kirin’s mom’s famous veggie stir-fry, the only thing she can cook, and it’s as delicious as everything else, because they’re eating it together. Lovely final moment.
Nice series overall; it made me happy, which was the series’ only intent. My only disappointment is that these two art-school girls aren’t moving to an apartment building across the street from the school, where they meet, well, you know. Now that Hiro’s graduated, the other girls will need someone to cook for them.
I suppose with one episode left of Aldnoah Zero, it’s good that I don’t know what’s going to happen. Klancain manages to escape with Asseylum and Eddeltrittuo, and escorts them to Mazuurek’s castle, where she meets her grandfather, well, his avatar, and finds out he’s, er, unfit to lead. Personally, I would have given the emperor some completely nonsensical lines, like “Stop praying to the weasels,” but no one making this series has much of a sense of humor. Meanwhile, the earth forces launch an assault on the moonbase, and Slaine launches an all-out attack on the earth forces. Plenty of fireworks for next week, right?
Now that Asseylum has taken power ordered everyone fighting for Vers to stop, a lot of things could happen. They could ignore her, they could split into pro and anti factions and fight each other, they could attack Slaine. None of these seem completely right, and none of them take earth’s forces into account. I still have some hope that the good guys have some influence in all this, though I can’t see what that might be at the moment. Well, apparently Inaho’s orange craft is packing some serious firepower this time, but otherwise it looks like there will be war if Vers wants it, peace if it doesn’t. And there’s little the heroes can do about it. Not sure I like that ending. Well, let’s see what Inaho has up his sleeve …
Durarara!! x2 11 is as crazy as ever. We got Mikado trying to interfere with that girl’s kidnapping and getting beaten up for it by people who don’t know he’s the Dollars founder, and probably wouldn’t care if they did, until Anri shows up and beats on them instead. Kyohei and that other guy beat each other to a pulp behind the school, then they bond a little. Akane gets kidnapped again, Varona goes after Anri, other gangs show up, you know, the usual. As a plus, this seems to be old thugs week. There are losers from first season’s episode 3 and 6, and probably more if I looked closer, and that guy in the bunny suit shows up again, holding another girl this time. Apart from the rabbit suit guy, none of them fare any better in their second television appearance.
With that confession, the soaring music and triumphant return of her powers, and her big “I love you all!” speech, I briefly thought Maria the Virgin Witch 11 was the finale. But no, they have some loose ends to clear up, like Michel taking away her powers, meaning goodbyes for her familiars. I’m hoping for Maria to toss some good verbal abuse at that asshole angel before he does. The episode had a nice ending, but it took forever to get there. Galfa beat up on Joseph for too long; we were just waiting for the rescue. And waiting. The other witches showed up to help us kill the time. But the argument after Galfa is beaten was good fun, Maria basically proposing without even thinking about what she was saying, which prompted Joseph to make the next move.
Durarara!! has so many characters and so many plot balls to juggle now that in order to keep them all interesting and not ignore anyone (though they still do) that in x2 10. each plot-ball only gets a little nudge. Like a lot of episodes, this one starts with some narration and background, this time from Akane the little girl. Pretty straightforward, though I cringed when Namie and Izaya entered her story. Then as usual, the show gets bored with narration and moves on. In the meantime, Akane got from the ride from Shooter to that garage and the talk with Celty. That’s about it.
Other things seem frozen or backtracked as well. We go back, or to now (I don’t know anymore), and watch Kyohei continue their talk from 2-3 episodes ago, then agree to go to a place and duke it out. We don’t see the battle, just hear a bit of it (don’t worry, they’ll be at it next week, and possibly the week after), while we move on to the aftermath of Aoba’s gang’s fight, Shinra still talking with that gangster (Hollywood might be the new suspect in the murders), Masaomi bitching over the phone to Izaya about Mikado’s involvement in all this, and some people plan to kidnap a friend of a character I can’t remember. However, I would like to thank the person who took that picture and sent it to everyone. When people received it, you knew that they were more or less at the same point in time. Rather good anchor, that.
Maria the Virgin Witch has ramped up nicely. That kid who was put in charge of the inquisition decides to rush Maria’s execution so she can’t regain her powers in time, meaning there’s going to be a burning the next morning. Meanwhile, the French army starts bombarding the British forces. But we start with Viv, spouting her best lines yet, going against Michel, who can only mutter something about how far above it all they are, using a wheat and scythe analogy. That leaves the debate floor clear for Viv to say that God is incapable of love. I think that one actually got to Michel, as he overreacts (Viv pointed a weapon toward the heavens, or something like that, is his excuse), and that battle’s over.
More time is devoted to the preparations for battle, with Joseph running everywhere being useless and deciding to fight in order to get glory for Maria, though I don’t trust his old man. Besides, as I said, Maria’s getting burned next day anyway. More practical help is coming from the familiars, of course, the still-injured viv, and, this episode’s sleeper, Edwina, who claims she doesn’t have the right powers to stop the burning, but in that case what was that glorious if clumsy attack she pulls off? It made me smile. Meanwhile, Maria is perhaps rightly wondering why she did all the things she did if she’s just going to have the townspeople turn on her, while I was thinking she ought to trust her simpler instincts and continue as before. Finally, I wonder if Bernard is truly out of the picture yet …
In Saekano 9 we have to reconcile Tomoya and Eriri. The former was obtuse and the latter childish … well, it was sort of rude. Artistic egos need to be stroked and not ignored. So Tomoya and Utaha (with Megumi making dry asides) concoct a God-Only-Knows style plan to whisk Eriri away from a party so that things can get romantic. It wasn’t going well for Tomoya (Eriri’s stubborn) or for us (dull) until Tomoya loses his cool and tells her what he REALLY thinks about her. Painful childhood memories are dredged up, we get outrage on both sides, and we at home realize that this previous little snit is just another chapter in a long relationship painful to both of them. And it worked. Eriri decides to keep working and improve in order to show him who’s better. I think appealing to Eriri’s pride and anger was the best strategy from the start.
Maria the Virgin Witch 9 works on the expected path, and then gets absolutely batty.
Good thing too. The first half of the episode was full of the bad stuff that I was hoping the show would avoid. Galfa drugs Maria with that smoke, then apparently rapes her, though the show is awfully vague on that for a while. If that wasn’t bad enough, her nice little cottage is burned down and she’s dragged off to be charged as a heretic. But during most of this the show raises little flags to suggest things aren’t quite that simple. Artemus and Priapus don’t vanish, as Joseph points out (and the two familiars really should have figured out already). I don’t know what the Catholic stance on rape or purity is, and Galfa confuses the issue further by claiming that he did not rape Maria, just stopped her from using her magic, but, in that case, how?
Meanwhile, the good guys try to regroup. Maria shows she still has some cunning (and humanity) by letting the reluctant old lady hit her with a rock. That was a good sign, one that she was not only thinking, but attempting to spare the village from more church hassle. Artemus gets Viv, who starts duking it out with Michel. It’s suggested it’s not going well for her, but we see her in the previews so it can’t be that bad. Priapus sneaks into the dungeon, and Ezekiel does something or other. But the real action is taking place in Maria’s cell, where Bernard asks why she signaled the old lady to stone her.
A brief verbal sparring, Maria saying that a god that is only words is as good as nothing … and Bernard has a breakdown. Spouting christian philosophers, most of whom I’ve never heard of, something goes loose in his brain and he babbles on and on about God’s existence, our existence, and he does it for quite some time. It’s like badly-written code caught in a loop, or someone trying to discuss theology after too many bong hits. Bernard, trying to find a solution through what the church has taught him, winds up kissing Maria’s feet. I never expected such mindfuckery out of Bernard, and I appreciate it, but it sets Bernard in a whole new light. He’s no longer a cunning church official trying to seize power from the locals, he’s a christianity geek on a tear. I think the show would have done better than to keep the old Bernard, but let’s see what this new, slightly crazy one can do.
Yuri Kuma Arashi 9 leaves me wondering what there is left to be done.
After Kureha shoots Ginko (so that DID happen), Ginko falls into the Abyss, which is a place in the lily garden behind the secret door, where she meets, of all people, Mitsuko. What kind of place the Abyss is and why Mitsuko is there and not any of the other girls who’ve been offed since the show started, is a mystery to me. It’s not a hell of any sort, though the battlefield covered in snow makes it appear unpleasant. Maybe you have to be a bear and actually guilty of something. As it turns out, both Mitsuko and Ginko share blame for Sumika’s death, so maybe there’s something to that. Anyway, Mitsuko is absorbed into Ginko (in a highly erotic scene–this episode is full of girls making out) and becomes desire, a step down from love, perhaps, but that’s what you get as an accomplice to bear-crimes.
Meanwhile, Kureha has rightly deduced that Ginko’s involvement in Sumika’s death is more complicated than she knows, begins to worry, and is tricked into a rendezvous with Yurika (kuma-shock!). There’s something ironic in how she is rescued, and it leads to a romantic scene between Yurika and Kureha or Reia, didn’t quite catch that, and the statement that fate now belongs to Kureha, and Ginko, I suppose. And we learn where the rest of the picture book is. So again, what’s there left to do? Reconcile Ginko and Kureha? Not sure that’ll happen (the picture book suggests ill tidings but it’s the episode’s cliffhanger, so we’ll have to wait). Is Ginko worthy of Kureha’s love? And what about Sumika? And do I really care? With the show’s main antagonist gone I don’t know if we’ll get a traditional crisis/climax.
A couple of complaints about Koufuku Graffiti 9. For the most part it’s the same happy-happy as usual, with Ryou and Kirin sharing a meal together, which is a good thing. On the other hand, I’m getting a little tired of it. Not the characters, but their eating together, exulting about the meal, and saying that food is more delicious when you share it, which actually stated outright this episode, Ryou to Karin. Yeah, we get that. They need to bring the side characters in more often. Shiina gets a cameo this week but goes off to celebrate New Years with her family, with overtones of weirdness and danger surrounding them. Akira shows up but only near the end, when it’s too late, and she doesn’t actually eat with them. If they don’t include these or other characters more often the show will get stale. My other complaint is that they’re doing a New Years episode in March. I don’t demand seasonal anime episodes to follow the season, but the happy winter scenes in the episode can’t make up for the snowy hangover of March that much of the world is having. Here, we’re having a snowstorm. Bad timing.
Aldnoah Zero 20, thick with plot movements on both sides, doesn’t lend itself well to any sort of analysis. Not that that’s stopped me before …
On the Earth’s side, we got the big ship rescuing what was left of the fighters on the ground, including Inaho and Marika just when they were about to get destroyed, in one of those grand moments that would normally make me cheer except this is a Dunkirk situation. And later they’re ordered to do a big attack and retake the land they lost. And Inaho’s SmartEye is beginning to pain him … How many episodes is this season? Assuming just one, we’ve got maybe four left, so this will be the big story arc to polish everything off, unless there’s a season three. I suppose they could do another season, but I’m not sure the current characters and situations can sustain it.
On the Vers side, Slaine rather surprised me by confessing all of his thoughts about Asseylum to little Eddelrittuo, proving that he isn’t simply a conniving bastard, or he is, but he’s a lonely and confused one who doesn’t want to hurt Asseylum OR Lemrina. Eddelrittuo is busy this week; she also gets some mind games from Mazuurek, who’s showing more guile than I thought him capable of. So Eddel brings a certain pendant for Asseylum, and, we assume, the important memories it tirggered. The question is, what will Asseylum do about it? And what will Lemrina do now that she’s discovered that Asseylum is no longer in her tank? And will it interfere with the invasion?
Meanwhile, in Durarara!! x2 8, the more public members of the Dollars seem to have someone confronting them and other people waiting to get them from behind. The good news is that they’re not working together. We have Mikado, who just comes along with Aoba and a bunch of young punks to an abandoned warehouse (the same as in that big fight at the end of last season?) without arguing or fighting. Aoba reveals that he’s behind the attacks on that other gang, and now he want Mikado to lead his other gang, or first gang, the Blue Squares. Meanwhile, Celty is watching from a window, having trailed the bike, and Varona and that guy are watching HER, but they’re not connected to Aoba. And so the show goes on twisting our minds.
Elsewhere, Kyouhei is followed and confronted by that gang leader (after they followed Walker for a while, while various attacks on the dollars (both in RL and online) go down. Shizuo encounters a murder scene and will certainly get blamed for it, and Celty still hasn’t seen Akane, though she will next week. And Izaya seems to be the one behind this, but I wonder if he’s responsible for the murders, or does he consider it collatoral entertainment? It hasn’t all come together yet, and probably not next week, but Durarara likes to take a few episodes to set things up and then throw us a doozy episode, and I think one’s coming soon.
Maria the Virgin Witch 8, like most of the other shows around this point in the season, is concentrating on setting up the last big story arc, and that means the bad guys are making their move. This time, Bernard provides some medicine for Anne’s grandma. It works, and so Bernard “proves” to these fictional idiots that Maria’s been poisoning her the whole time. This show has been pretty good at showing individual minor characters thinking for themselves, but they make a misstep here, I think. Meanwhile, Galfa has been put in charge of raping Maria for the good of the church, while the angels above, as usual, don’t show up. Though I do think it means they won’t show up for Bernard when he needs them, either, not that Bernard truly believes in them. Maria herself is getting less fun to watch, reeled in from acting out by both friends and enemies. Oh, and that weird god Cernunnos shows up, but he made even less sense than usual.
Kantai Collection 8 … (Quick lookup of the actual battleship. Hmm, now I know why they named that island “Truk.”) The story had Fubuki and the others gather at Truk, their farthest base, where they meet Yamato, an elegant lady with great power, who is prevented from going to sea because she consumes so much. I hadn’t made that connection between Akagi’s status and her appetite before. Naturally, Fubuki feels bad for her and tries to entice her to go into the water. The episode begged for connections to actual history. You can’t just say the name Yamato and not get overtones, after all. I wonder if we’ll get to see her in action again. Otherwise, it was a slight episode. I’m waiting for the big final arc they’re preparing for.
I’m finally caught up with Maria the Virgin Witch, and while a lot of story happened, I don’t have much to say about it. I will say that Ezekiel is now fully corrupted, deliberately missing Maria, or at least changing the angle of the piercing so that Maria was only injured. Why? Either she felt Maria’s stance was right (doubtful), or she showed compassion for a human being. Either way, Michel is pissed at her, but considering the stance of the angels is on some different (I won’t say higher) plane (I mean, take a look at Michel. There is no humanity in his appearance at all, and his eyes appear blind), and inhuman to us, I’m for once on Ezekiel’s side.
The ambush of the English forces suffered for being confusing–I couldn’t figure out who was doing what on the French side, and from the low budget. It doesn’t take too many shots of soldiers jerkily waving spears around before I get tired of it. It was made interesting because Maria wasn’t interfering at first and it looked like one side would actually win. And even when she did show up, the soldiers fucked it up and a lot of soldiers died anyway, and more to come. And once more we hear the lie that without war the soldiers would go and do something else violent, so you might as well not stop them. Isn’t anyone tired of that shtick yet?
Koufuku Graffiti 7 features saury. The story this week is that Shiina has too much of it and so invites Ryou and Kirin over for a cookout, and they don’t want Ryou to do any work, because she always cooks for them. So, while she accepts and appreciates the kindness, Ryou feels a little left out. There is talk about how Ryou should learn to lean on her friends more, and how Kirin freeloads off her. So they cook a dish together later. But as usual all this nice stuff about friendship and kindnesses is secondary to the cooking and eating. This week is the closest the show has gotten towards being a cooking show. We see how to salt and cut the saury. Alas, we get more details apart from the grilling technique after that. Seems easy enough though. Make some X’s on it, sprinkle salt, and toss it on a grill …
Maria the Virgin Witch 4-5 continues to stir morality around, not to mention the plot, though it looks like Maria hasn’t changed her mind one bit. Okay, not quite true, she now accepts that reasonable people might think she’s wrong. However, I still think she’s in the right. Everyone has tried to come up with counter-arguments for her stopping the fighting, each more inane than the next. Most often, they argue “What next? If you stop the war, the soldiers will just plunder innocent people.” Viv, the British witch, pops in to argue much the same before she gets on that “Let’s find Maria a hot guy!” bandwagon. That pagan god pops in again and says it more obscurely, but it’s the same message. Often it’s the familiars and Ezekiel who do the arguing on both sides. Maria, to her credit, gives a serious listen to each of these arguments before she rejects them. Meanwhile, Bernard and others make plans for more wars.
Not that Maria’s a saint. Why didn’t she intervene when that village had the plague? The show hints that she was getting revenge for the way the church treated her. Or maybe she tried but was roughly pushed out? It’s unclear whether she was trying to save the village or her old friend. And she admits that she has plenty of doubts. She almost intervenes in the duel between Garfa and that knight, a petty, sordid business made deadly because of lust, jealous rage, and perverse views of honor. … Maybe there are some fights that aren’t worth interfering with. Everyone involved shared some of the blame. Story-wise, we see that Garfa is on his way up, and Joseph with him. Garfa should not be in charge of anything, and Joseph is a good man who is Maria’s friend and possible future magic-remover, if you know what I mean. Yeah, the show’s coming along nicely, but it feels a little busy with all these philosophical debates mixed in with the story.
In Yuri Kuma Arashi 6, Kaoru and her classmates spring their trap on poor Kureha, and Ginko does something heroic … and that’s it for plot, really, in terms of people doing something. Everything else is backstory.
As for that backstory, it has more invisible storming, more not backing down on love, more talk of promise kisses (has anyone actually delivered one in this series yet?) more saying her love is true, and a shabba-da-do–the usual. The big surprise is Sumika conspiring with Kaoru to break up with Kureha, though she’s doing it for love. If they break up Kaoru can protect Kureha from the invisible storm. You might ask why Kaoru can’t just protect her without Kureha and Sumika breaking up, and it must be that their love is forbidden, or rather, Kureha won’t forget love, so she hasn’t become invisible, and therefore she must be declared Evil by the rest of the class. Yeah, I suppose, but that sounds too simple for Kunihiko Ikuhara, a man who seems to take pleasure in confounding his audience.
Besides, we have those red and black desk drawers to contend with, oh, AND that dark lily that opened just before the betrayal and got burned up. And many other bits of symbolism I’m sure I’ve forgotten, so let’s move on to the plot. Kureha is finally allied with Ginko and Lulu. Took them long enough. They’ve withstood the invisible storm together, and all that needs to happen now is to give the star pendant back to Kureha. Then what? Well, there’s the whole bear problem, with Kaoru and that mystery lover of hers (remember girls: keep it invisible!) to defeat. And, um, oh, Kureha’s refusal to accept other friends, something they’ll have to deal with right now, unless they just forget about it. None of that will take long. So, where is this show going?
The last couple of days here have been cold and snowing, so I appreciate Koufuku Graffiti’s summery episode 5. I also appreciate how the show has such a simple, sentimental theme but Shaft manages to make it fresh every week. Kirin managed to do everything on her summer wish list, but it happens so matter-of-factly that I wasn’t even paying attention to that; I was too busy just watching the girls be happy in their own way. Things are livened up considerably by Shiina’s doting mom. I don’t know if the production asked Miyu Matsuki to toss in a little Yoshinoya in her portrayal or not, but it’s effective. Tsuyuko the maid is equally effective even though part of her shtick is silence because of her super-maid abilities. Another good, simple, happy episode.