Twelves: Euphonium, Nisekoi2, Finales: Show by Rock, Mikagura, and Teekyuu!

Hibike Euphonium 12 … It’s going to take a while to get that little tune out of my head.

She practiced her way to the infirmary.
She practiced her way to the infirmary.

It starts with Taki asking the Euphs to help play one particularly nasty passage.  Kumiko can’t handle it, but spends most of her time practicing, and gets better.  Taki is still not impressed, but she promises she will play it well by the competition.  And still it’s not good enough.  Taki asks Asuka to play it alone.  There could be a little life lesson here, saying “No matter how hard you work you still might not be good enough,” which is true, but the situation puts Kumiko in a funk.
But it demonstrates a change.  Earlier, Katou had mentioned that Kumiko seemed less detached and more passionate now.  After she loses the part, she runs around screaming how she wants to get better (and so does Shuichi, but who cares about him?).Obviously, Reina is an inspiration.  Reina seems to like this new passion, and offers encouragement, as well she would, because Kumiko HAS gotten better.  It comes down to a chance meeting with Taki, where he talks about doing things he wants to do (not to mention encouraging her to keep practicing that part, because she had promised she’d get better).
“I love the euphonium!” she cries out more than once near the end, which, frankly, makes her a little weird in my book, but weirdness is good.  She wants to keep working at it.  All of this is countered by reality and studying, her sister who dropped music to cram, and Aoi, who’s doing the same thing, making practical decisions they say they don’t regret, and I believe them.  I believe there’s only one episode left, which is a shame partly because we won’t get to see Kumiko and the others deal with life after the competition.  Meanwhile, I’ve still got that little tune in my head.

Nisekoi 12 seems to have abandoned any pretense of the plot moving forward.  I mean, when was the last time anyone brought up the locket?  Instead in episode 11 it’s two stories about Onodera.  The first one was predictable.  She’s afraid she’s gaining weight and starts starving herself, er, dieting.  I think we all knew the second time she got on the scale that it was broken.  The second story is much nicer.  We go back to middle school and see how she decides to get into the same high school that Raku is going to.  It sounds like a silly reason to choose a school, because your unrequited crush is going there, but she adds that it’s the first time in her life she feels determined to do anything, a nice though unintended reference to Euphonium …

And there was this lovely moment in the middle.
And there was this lovely moment in the middle.


showbyrock12-1Show by Rock! was a dumb show from start to finish, so I guess I shouldn’t have expected a great, slam-bang finale, but I was still surprised that it was such a clumsy, ham-fisted affair.  It felt like the creators said “Okay, you guys do the rescue Rosia bit, you guys do the Angelica and Maple sneaking in bit, yo guys work on those kids coming to Midi City.  Don’t worry about flow–we’ll just splice it all together.”  That is to say, one scene would go on, then another, and back to the first scene, full of clumsy starts and finishes, each of them full of potential that they wasted.  You had all those bands together, you could have had a big battle, but instead all they did was gape, except for that blonde guy and Darudayu.  Dagger turned into an impressive monster and Cyan wiped him out with one shot.  Grateful King’s ultimate song was never used.  And I never did figure out what the deal was between Rom and the blonde guy.

During the big battle, the other girls just stand there gaping.
During the big battle, the other girls just stand there gaping.

Okay, one or two good points, like Grateful King sending Cyan back to her own world but she fought to come back and finish the battle.  They spared us the tearful goodbye scenes (they had enough tearful scenes already) at the end and just had Cyan getting the nerve to enter that clubroom–end of show … That’s all I can think of.  Okay, I shouldn’t have expected more, except that this show had given us moments of loopy fun and a couple of moving scenes before.  And they had handled the story pretty well–until the finale.  Sigh.

One more of Shingan Crimsonz, and what's left of Dagger.
One more of Shingan Crimsonz, and what’s left of Dagger.

Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku‘s finale was pretty silly, but it was funny-silly and had moments of joy in it.
mikagura12-1Though they never really explained what was going on with the reality breakdown.  Eruna has a flashback dream to … her ancestors maybe, and Seisa is there too, and, sadly, Shigure, then she’s falling in the air, caught and finds herself in what must be the real world, the ruins of the school.  The rest of the student body is there too, but they don’t seem shocked at all.  Do they even notice?  Meanwhile, the fighting pavilion is still in one piece and there are still midterm matches to attend to.  Through the rest of it, sometimes we see the complete school, sometimes the ruins.  Later, it all comes back, but isn’t that an illusion?  Should they all be happy to be there?
mikagura12-2In terms of the story now, there are no villains to defeat.  They just want to get Seisa out of her mansion.  Eruna asks her to join her club if she wins, and Seisa doesn’t say yes or no, but in the final, which is supposed to be Eruna and Kyouma, he is suddenly “abducted” by the drama club.  Up to that point the episode had dragged a bit; the confusion over what was going on mixed with heartfelt speeches about intentions was responsible, but the sheer inanity of the abduction (to clear the way for Seisa) brought back the happy, goofy side of the series, and led to the moment of joy I mentioned before.
mikagura12-3Eruna has always been fun to watch because, as I’ve said countless times before, she’s a blithering idiot, but also because she manages to have fun no matter what the situation, and when she hits a setback she bounces right up to try again.  Finally, this rubs off on Seisa, and they have a great battle, crashing out of the pavilion, over rooftops, into the forest, then flying in the air (while Bimi exclaims that they’re breaking the laws of physics).  Eruna is smiling throughout … and so is Seisa.  And while there’s a little wrap-up time after that, it isn’t really necessary.  You knew Seisa would join Eruna’s club, nothing else really mattered.  I don’t need to say more about it, or about the show.  Eruna’s positive idiocy redeemed Seisa, and most of the time, it redeemed the show as well.  Well, the Drama Club helped.

One more of just about everyone.
One more of the Drama Club (right).


teekyuu48-1Finally, Teekyuu!  THE WORLD’S GREATEST ANIME SERIES EVER, UNLESS IT’S NASUNO DESU, finishes with a dismal SPG of 4.5.  It felt almost leisurely.  And only two of the girls were in it (doesn’t Nasuno have enough screentime with her own series?  Is two minutes a week not enough for her?) But don’t worry!  Season 5 is coming up!

Yuki-chan 12, Pleiades, Mikagura, and Nasuno-desu! 11

Yeah, near enough.
Yeah, near enough.

Houkago no Pleiades 11 is a pleasantly confusing as the episodes leading up to it.

The main confusion this time around is the concept of change.  Suburu, now powerless and unable to see the alien overlord thanks to her adventure with Minato, is told by her parents that she’s changed, though she denies it.  I’ll take this to mean she’s grown up a little.  But she’s not very happy about it, since her friends are off chasing the final machine fragment (using “dark energy!”) and she can’t help them.  Meanwhile, getting that last fragment might be impossible because the universe, tilted in their favor because of their magic, keeps pushing the fragment farther away, which is to say they actually don’t want to stop being magical girls and chase fragments.  That is, until the girls realize this but decide (for Earth’s sake) to keep chasing it, no matter what.  At which point the fragment becomes visible.

In a hospital bed, in another galaxy.
In a hospital bed, in another galaxy.

That all makes sense.  But then earthbound Suburu starts noticing little things that suggest the missing Minato is still around.  A flower in the weeds, the vending machine offering strawberry milk again.  A classmate vaguely remembers him.  This leads to her eventually opening the right door and poof! (well, actually a whoosh), she’s in Minato’s IC room.  There’s some business with two stars, and then both of them are in space, with the hospital bed, though Minato is doing much better, with new, “different” magic powers and a black outfit.  Then the other girls comically show up, vanish, then come back.  So if she’s changed and has abandoned some potential, unused, what’s she doing now?  Or Minato, for that matter?  By the way, his goals haven’t changed; he’s still after the fragment.  Next week’s finale is going to be interesting.

Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku 11 gives us a lot of backstory and the rising threat.  The midterm battles we see are mere asides.
The first part, the love triangle, is pretty straightforward.  Seisa feels, not betrayed, but jealous of Eruna and Otone.  The betrayal came two years earlier, when her BFF, a girl from the photography club, turned on her, and so we get to see those unpleasant scenes that opened the series over again.  I thought before that this show would involve Seisa learning to love and trust again, and while that still might be true, we now know it’s more complicated than that.  She’s in the photography girl’s position now, with a younger girl who loves and admires her.  But she doesn’t have the malice that her upperclassman did, or the desire to fight.  She does, however, have the painful memories, and there’s the fact that she used her magic to seal off the photography clubroom, suggesting that she can’t face the past but is unwilling to let it go either.  … But the magic is waning now.
So is everything at the school that Eruna lives in an alternate universe?  Are the people here just not from the same world that Seisa came from?  That doesn’t sound right.  Either way, we now learn what those strange gaps Usamaru saw last week are–gaps into Seisa’s original world.  Eruna wanders into one, leaving Otone behind, and is stuck in the old photography room with Bimi, who tells her the whole story.  Why he didn’t tell her before I don’t know.  Meanwhile, Shigure and Kyouma have a midterm battle though they both know something’s wrong.  It’s an odd distraction and it didn’t make sense given the characters, especially Shigure.  Looking forward to seeing what will happen now that reality’s crashing into this world.

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan 11: the Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan part 3, casts such a lovely, quiet spell that I wish this current Yuki-chan didn’t have to go away eventually.

That's the Nagato Yuki I love.
That’s the Nagato Yuki I love.

It’s not just the quiet library scenes with the piano music (Debussy?), though it certainly helps.  I never cared for the fact that this Yuki normally enjoys games and not books.  The original Yuki’s, dare I say, passion for reading was one of her most charming traits, and it felt wrong for her to go around with a portable Playstation in her hand.  And it gave us another reference to the original series, when she entered the library and floated down the aisles … and finds “Hyperion.”  Not to mention the library card, which Kyon got for her before.  All that was missing was that adorable moment when he led her out of the library.
Those are good reasons for liking the episode, but what put it over the top was the searching Yuki was doing inside herself.  The current her is afraid of going away when the other Yuki awakens.  If it happens like that (and her “I don’t have enough data” was something the original Yuki would have said).  Since she is Yuki’s consciousness at the moment it’s a genuinely frightening thought.  It leads to a couple of dreams where she’s watching scenes of her and Kyon together from earlier, but standing apart from them, and there’s also an older-looking Yuki from the future, or maybe I’m mistaken.  The tone throughout all this is still quiet, but the dreams, especially when the memories come of reaching up (to the stars, and for a book), seem to trigger a fundamental shift in her consciousness.  It’s no doubt her subconsciousness doing basic repair work, like the doctor suggested, but it’s beautifully shown in this episode.  … By the way, what was that “Alyosha … that feeling” text refer to?  Is it a reference I missed?

Finally, on Takamiya Nasuno Desu! 11 the girls all go to the skating rink.  It has a combat penguin!  And an SPG is 2.8, which has GOT to be the record.  Congratulations girls!

Mikagura and Pleiades 10, Yuki-chan 11

Otone's scary look.
Otone’s scary look.

Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku 10 brings the Otone/Seisa rivalry to a head, and at the same we start seeing glowing things.  About the latter, it looked like the ghost tracking story was just a flimsy plot thing to goof around with while Otone and Seisa squared off, but apparently there is something going on because we see it, Usamaru sees it, and later Bimi, and we haven’t seen the latter since.  I’m betting it’s all to do with Bimi’s transformation equipment acting up.  As for the Otone/Seisa fight, I think I understand Otone’s reasoning.  She can’t get into Eruna’s heart because Seisa is already there; what’s more, Seisa doesn’t seem to care.  How fighting Seisa is going to change any of this I don’t know, unless Otone just can’t control her frustration.  As for Seisa, why the hell isn’t she at least defending herself?  Maybe she can’t?  Anyway, I bet that in next week’s first scene Otone will get very angry, give a big speech, and run off in tears.

As for Houkago no Pleiades, it’s hard to get emotionally moved when I can’t figure out what the hell is going on.

The show introduces an important new character two episodes before the end.
The show introduces an important new character two episodes before the end.

Those fragments either restore Minato’s memories or remove the good ones, either way, he rushes off with them to await the twelth star, and our girls can’t all go and chase him because their powers have been weakened, so they jury-rig their brooms and Suburu goes off alone.  Meanwhile, we’re treated to Minato’s lengthy flashback to the hospital, where ANOTHER alien shows up, befriends him, and they’re soon off collecting fragments of unused potential, or something like that.  That’s around the time Suburu wanders into Minato’s hospital room.  But then he learns he’s actually in intensive care, and he decides to get fragments (the new kid’s or the alien overlord’s?  Or is it the same?) to leave this world, world being a relative term here, along with the unused potential, since he feels akin to them.  Correct me if I’m wrong … no, don’t.

Also spikes through the chest.
Or it’s that spike through your chest.

The weird thing, well, one of many, is that Suburu had met him before, she remembers it, so she’s not a fantasy or a hallucination, and neither was the hospital room scene, even though the illusion of a healthy Minato started when he met the alien, before that.  And the show doesn’t explain why we have two Minatos, or what happened to IC Minato.  Dead?  Did he become the gardening Minato?  Anyway, Suburu forces the issue by telling him she remembers last week’s traipse around the galaxy, which should make him happy but doesn’t, and then starts un-magicking herself for no reason I can figure out except to force him to rescue her, just to get skewered by the spiked final fragment.  I think it’s supposed to be a moment of great symbolism or at last great emotional power, but, as I said, everything leading up to it was so bewildering it just made me go Hah?  Oh, and what about that alien we met this week?  Whatever happened to him?  Does the show care?
The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan brings us the new Yuki from her own, differing POV.  As usual there are Melancholy overtones here.  I half-believed that we had the original Yuki, in a crisis of her own, somehow stumbling her way into an alternate dimension and inhabiting, er, herself.  Except she has no memories of anything else.  Or maybe it’s because this different Yuki-consciousness talks about being an outsider in Yuki’s body, the way the original Yuki might have felt, being an organic interface.

Kyon checks out the new Yuki.
Kyon checks out the new Yuki.

And very little happens, except that Yuki freely explains her inner confusion to Asakura, and the doctor thinks there’s nothing life-threatening going on.  Still, it’s a calm and restful episode, and very sweet.  The new Yuki wants to be treated as Yuki (who’s to say she’s not?), and Asakura, her best friend, accedes to her wishes.  Naturally, so does Kyon, especially after he discovers that she can explain math a lot better now.  They refuse to be put off by the new Yuki, and because of that she loses some of her fear of the situation.  Watching two of them dote on and worry about Yuki was maybe the best thing in the episode, besides the usual and aforementioned overtones.

Mikagura and Pleiades 9, Yuki-chan 10

She almost loses, and she doesn't have a club.
She almost loses, and she doesn’t have a club.

So the situation currently in Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku is that Eruna needs one more member to form a club, but just can’t get one.  Midway through, we find out that the only other member, Otone, being something of a celebrity, has attracted interested people, but she has driven them away.  When Eruna sees this and asks why, Otone says she doesn’t want others getting in the way of their friendship, because Eruna is the only fried she has.  Eruna, who is a blithering idiot but perceptive at important moments, doesn’t state the obvious, that more members means more potential friends for Otone.  Instead, she simply announces she won’t recruit more members … but that means she can’t have a club.  Not that she seems to realize this.  There’s a meaningless fight with a newspaper club girl over a potential clubroom which is there primarily to show how close Otone and Eruna have become, and then the matter is sneakily solved by Bimi, but I don’t know why Eruna doesn’t simply invite Seisa (who’s jealous and lonely) to join.  Or just join the drama club.  Every time she does stuff with them she has a blast.  Well, I do find Eruna’s indifference to reality and her kindness rather appealing, not to mention her dirty mind.

It looked at first like Houkago no Pleiades 9 was going to ignore the cosmic mind-messing for once.  It’s festival time and the girls decide that since they’re technically a cosplay club, maybe they ought to make some costumes, while Suburu decides to make a planetarium for her one-person club, with Minato helping as a favor.  The thought of Suburu and Minato together in a dark room sets the other girls into a tizzy.  Nope, no interplanetary trips today …  So I thought.

I thought wrong.
I thought wrong.

Turns out Minato is a magician of sorts, and he decides to take stargazing Suburu out on a trip even farther than last week.  They start at Betelgeuse.  They’re just floating there.  Minato acts as an intergalactic (yes, intergalactic) tour guide and gives us and Suburu a talk about what she’s seeing, just like Suburu did before, when she was practicing for her planetarium demo.  How did they get there?  Well, Minato’s a magician, and at the moment they’re not in their old time and space, or the new one, either, and, by the way, they won’t be able to remember any of this because of the speed of light or something, didn’t catch that bit.  This brings up a “Is it worth seeing something if you won’t remember it?” question,  But before they can discuss that potentially interesting or boring topic, Suburu recalls a childhood memory about meeting a boy in the hospital … guess who?  They’re at the Pleiades now, by the way, the perfect time to steal a kiss, but the scene fades out and they’re back in the astronomy club room, Suburu crying, and she doesn’t know why.  It was a sweet and lovely scene, not to mention Pleiades-worthy nutty, and so I’m saddened by the bit after that, when the fragments act up and Minato does a heel turn.  Well, it was going to happen sooner or later.

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan 10 is a, dare I say, melancholy affair.

It deals with the aftermath of the car accident, which turns out to be not even serious enough to take Yuki to the hospital, in spite of Asakura’s pleadings.  Instead, Yuki’s personality is transformed into the “original,” laconic, monotone Yuki we knew long ago.  For us looking for references to the original show it’s almost a breakthrough, but for this current universe the characters live in it’s a problem.  It’s also a problem for us because a monotone Yuki isn’t as much fun when she doesn’t have the power to change reality, change game programs on the fly, instantly learn the guitar, etc.

Like in the old days.
Like in the old days.

So we get an episode where Asakura repeatedly checks on Yuki, asking if she’s all right, and getting the same “I’m fine,” in return.  Then Yuki is handed over to Kyon, and the situation is repeated, all while pleasant but vaguely unsettling background music plays.  This “new” Yuki doesn’t play games, but instead reads, but she doesn’t read Dan Simmons but old French mysteries.  I’ trying to figure out if that’s random or supposed to mean something.  But we finally get a break at the end when Asakura decides, daijoubus aside, something is not right with Yuki.  By the way, next week the episode title is in fact the series title, if you were wondering what the disappearance in this story referred to.  Maybe it should be called the “reappearance.”  … Nah.

Mikagura, Pleiades, and Nasuno 8

That's the cutest evil lair I've ever seen, Otone.
That’s the cutest evil lair I’ve ever seen, Otone.

I wonder if Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku is going to have a major story arc after all.  True, in episode 8 they start setting up a rivalry between Seisa and Otone, and there’s some darkness lurking elsewhere as well, but it all seems rather minor and disposable, like the rookie challenge battle arc which was over before we expected.  Not that the show really needs something big, or dark.  This time around is rather a sweet story where Eruna and Otone bond a little when they’re paired up for the rookie treasure hunt.  It’s better than some because it’s as silly as the rest of the series so far.  Otone is rough on the outside but it’s such an obvious act that everyone just wants to give her a hug, while Eruna is her normal, weird self.  Once again, most of the jokes work because of the latter, and they add some WTF near the end, with that robot cat transforming.  Where did THAT come from?

Houkago no Pleiades 8 gives us a look at Nanako, the one with the cute hat who interprets for the alien overlord.  Her tale isn’t terribly tragic.  Her mom and younger brother went off to travel the world several times for reasons that I suppose don’t matter, and they haven’t been back for years, a broken promise that makes her believe that people can’t be trusted and that it’s best to be alone.  Rather like Otone, except that Nanako seems to bear the sadness better.  Witch hat and robe aside, she’s maybe the most sensible character of the bunch.  Plus, her missing mom and brother send her a lot of mail and little souvenirs, and her father clearly loves her, so she’s not in a vacuum.

So it’s all mundane, except this is Houkago no Pleiades, so they balance her sadness with its trademark loopiness.  She sets off alone to recover a fragment on the edges of the solar system.  She travels at 99.999% of the speed of light!  Half a day for her, three months for her friends on Earth, but she will call them over when the time comes.  She spends the time thinking how it’s best when she’s alone, then starts to think about her friends, gets a little bitter, until she gets there and finds an unknown gas giant!  What’s more, the fragment’s passing near it forces its gravity to collapse, or something, and now we’re going to have a second star in the solar system!  Oh, and she calls her friends, Horned Cape shows up, they catch the fragment, they return home instantly (because someone really wanted to, we’re told), and it’s Nanako’s birthday, too!  AND they invent a new word (po-warm) for no good reason.  For piling random points onto the plot and its already-cosmic weirdness, this show has no equal, at least this season.

Takamiya Nasuno Desu! 8 takes us to the beach, and breaks the 3.00 barrier with a SPG of 2.9!  Teekyuu’s last episode was almost twice as slow.  Diamond watermelons for everyone!

Mikagura, Pleiades and Nasuno-desu 7, Yuki-chan 8

The show gets another weirdo.
The show gets another weirdo.

Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku 7 introduces Otone, the girl who ruthlessly defeats Asuhi in the rookie finals.  A monotone girl who seems cruelly indifferent to everything and everyone, turns out she’s a flake, and a bigger one than Eruna.  Eruna has the attention span of a gnat, but the motivations behind these swings are easily grasped, usually lust, concern for friends, food, and lust.  But with Otone, we don’t know how her mind works, and she doesn’t either.  In her conversation with Eruna she laments her shyness, accuses Eruna of being a demon, and praises herself for growing up into a girl whom demons would go for, then thanks her late mother for it.  Even Eruna thinks she’s weird.  But does the show need another really weird character with a short attention span?

Everybody's happy.
Everybody’s happy.

Because this show is often as weird as the characters, once it introduces Otone it forgets about her while the gang prepare a “cheer up Arushi” party, which thanks to misplaced notes, Eruna believes is a challenge to fight, even though she thought up the party herself.  And so we almost get a fight this week (loved Minatogawa’s “uh, okay, whatever” reaction), but the right people intervene by showing up, and we get a totally predictable party scene, the only spice being Otone’s odd comment to Seisa at the end.

Nagato Yuki-chan 8 continues the mostly uneventful, almost lazy expedition to the hot spring.  About the only notable thing is Koizumi coming on to Kyon in the bath, giving us the “you’re too close” line.  In other references, Koizumi wants to play that game, Mikuru sings one of her character songs in karaoke, and there’s that chauffeur.  Like the last episode, the events move slowly and are playful and a little dull: the hot spring, ping pong, the dinner, all the traditional traditional inn scenes.  Oh, the bath has a little “matchmaking” so that girls can peek at the boys, which leads to some moments of embarrassment even though no one uses it much.  The episode pays as much attention to Kyon as to Yuki (who’s too blissed out by the inn’s offerings to do anything dramatic except try that little door once), which is a good thing.

Minato?  Who, me?
Minato? Who, me?

More weirdness from Houkado no Pleiades 7.  First, Suburu takes up gardening, maybe because of the greenhouse that only she can visit and doesn’t seem tobe around anymore.  However, there is a new student, instantly recognizable as Minato, also tending the plants, though he doesn’t appear to recognize her.  In the meantime, Aoi tries to find out what’s been up with Suburu recently and suddenly runs off, cursing herself for not changing.  I don’t really understand, but apparently the two girls have had another falling out.  And flashbacks to the girls in elementary school trying to find a Ursa Minor keychain that Suburu lost, and which contradict each other …  But never mind, there’s another fragment to catch.  This one is in a comet!  Heading into the SUN!!
The alien overlord tries to conjecture how the fragment got in a comet, and all we really get is that it became one when it got coated with ice.  Not in any astronomy textbook I know, but never mind.  Soon the girls are trying to reel the thing in while avoiding solar flares and Horned Cape, and settle their latest, highly confusing dispute.  They both agree that they didn’t hold each other back, or leave each other behind, and later we see that there are two keychains, one from each reality, I suppose, though why did Suburu give Aoi the keychain in one reality and not the other?  Finally, Minato recognizes Suburu after she tells him that he is him.  You see, “Suburu is Suburu and Aoi is Aoi no matter what” was the main thrust of the girls reconciliation, so it makes sense.  When something makes sense in this show, you have to take note of it.

Another useful fact brought to you by Takamiya Nasuno desu!.
Another useful fact that has nothing to do with the story, brought to you by Takamiya Nasuno desu!.

Finally, in Takamiya Nasuno Desu! 7, Nasuno, Yota, and whats-her-name go to a pretty crappy amusement park.  It had a couple of slow, no-gag moments, but rallied for a SPG of 3.33, better than Teekyuu’s this week!

Sixes: Nisekoi (actually 5), Show by Rock, Mikagura, Euphonium

While it’s been clear for a long time that Nisekoi is going to play its ridiculous story out as long as humanly possible, and possibly not resolve at all, it doesn’t mean that it can get away with too many meaningless side stories like we get in episode 6.  Or maybe I’m annoyed because both feature Marika, my least favorite of the harem.  In part one we learn that she has terrible grades, not because she’s not bright, but because she’s unmotivated.  So she invites Raku home to help her pull a math test all-nighter.  Fortunately for Raku, Chitoge’s there too.  And the expected stuff happens.  In part two Raku takes care of Marika’s parrot, whom she has named Raku, and knows all sort of embarrassing (for Raku) phrases.  Naturally it gets loose and flies around the town.  Naturally all the other girls are around to hear it.  C’mon people, I know the plot is never-ending, but the show loses its edge when you don’t actually pursue it.

At least Show by Rock! has an active story arc going on, with an actual crisis to resolve first thing!  Let’s see how … er …

Not the scene I expected ...
Not the scene I expected …

It looks like this show has chucked everything away in order to get the girls in swimsuits, but we quickly flash back to where we were before, with Cyan’s secret revealed to everyone.  I’m still wondering why it was a secret in the first place, but anyway.  Before we can get anymore misunderstandings the guitar gives the girls the full story, including stuff we didn’t know about the bad guy, Dagger Morse, and his evil plan.  Mr. Berry (which is a good name for a guitar) goes on to clear Cyan of all blame, in other words, refusing any misunderstandings that still may exist, and I’d like to thank him for that.  The show was getting a little dark around the edges.

See?  I am TOO an alien!  See?  SPACESHIP!
See? I am TOO an alien! See? SPACESHIP!

But they still have to deal with Retoree’s sense of betrayal.  Fortunately that’s done with one heartfelt speech and a song Cyan sings alone that everyone overhears and start adding to, etc.  You know the kind of scene I’m talking about.  But it gets better after that, because don’t forget the show’s ridiculously clumsy arrangement of Moa, another girl from another world who must return, making two of four in the group.  Even the other band members think its too much and refuse to believe her until she calls down her spaceship.  At least the show knows how to enjoy it’s ridiculous, contrived situation.

One thing about Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku that I like is that it deals with things you often find in high school shows in a haphazard way, and things don’t wind up the way you expect.  Also, it deals with side character issues in a quick and perfunctory way.  In episode 6 the focus starts on grumpy, arty third-year Kyouma, who’s feeling the burden of great potential, but after a depressing intro scene and some backstory from Shigure, we shift back to Eruna and her first-years battle.  I thought for sure she’d battle Azumi, the evil band girl, but that threat is dispatched by Tonkyun.  Later, Tonkyun is dispatched by Eruna, and before you can breathe, we learn offhandedly that Eruna was dispatched by the broadcast club girl, a match we didn’t even get to see.  Hell of a way to build up tension, not that the show (or Eruna, who has the attention span of a gnat) cares too much.  Meanwhile, Kyouma watches all this, cheers up and gets his art groove back.  So that’s sorted.

After the evil (not really) Taki announces that they’ll be holding auditions instead of letting everyone play, Hibike! Euphonium decides to ignore the internal strife that naturally ensue and focuses instead on Katou, a beginner musician, playing a tuba that’s almost as big as she is.  She’s almost already written herself out of the band’s final ensemble, but Kumiko and the others convince her that she should at least try.  There follows some amusing scenes where she learns to take a tuba apart, takes it home to practice without dying, while others try to keep her motivation up in silly ways.  The “answer” is a little pat, but true enough.  I’ve heard tuba players practice, hooting out those notes, and wonder what the point was (I’ve thought the same about euphs, but don’t tell Kumiko).  Playing in an ensemble IS more fun than playing alone.  As usual, Kyoani makes the episode fun to watch, and I enjoyed the joyless, self-abusive reasons the other tuba players give for playing.