Shoujo-tachi wo kouya o Mezasu 11 begins by having Kuroda’s brother thanking the gang for making the game to help him pay off his debts, to which everyone, including Bunta, goes “Hahh?!” and walks out. Everyone mopes for a quarter of the episode, then, predictably, dully, they all come back because finishing the game has become important to them. Yuuki scolds Kuroda, and Andou slaps her–that’s all the punishment she got for lying to them. Anyway, it’s the usual crunch-time montage after that, though the nice use of background music enhanced the race to the train station and almost made burning a CD seem exciting. Next week they’ll have to defeat Typhoon, unless it’s a longer series.
Nope, it finished in twelve episodes, in uninspiring fashion. They win, because the competition was set for day one, for units sold, and it was cheaper. But a win’s a win. We learn this early in the episode so there’s plenty of time to waste with celebratory eating, and discussing what to do next. We even have two scenes with Kuroda’s brother when one would have sufficed. The only interesting bit was Kuroda believing that Taiga, the rival game, might have a longer shelf-life because it has more depth, perhaps believing the idiocy that dark works of art are more profound than lighter ones. Anyway, I’m glad it’s wrapped up neatly; now I can forget about it. Apart from a couple of good moments here and there, and attempts at making THIS dull work more profound with its “wasteland” metaphor (used to death this episode), there wasn’t much to watch. I’d rather play their game.
Dagashi Kashi 10 must be an important episode because it doesn’t break into two or three stories but tells only one–actually, I suppose you could argue that this is an actual story arc now: Hotaru’s mouth ulcer from last week is worse! In fact, it looks terrible and I wonder why she hasn’t seen a doctor, apart from being out of her mind. I wonder if the show wants to send a message that too much dagashi can make you sick. If so, it’s a pretty good way to do it. Sadly, being sick isn’t very dramatic, and the ways they tried to add drama didn’t work until the end, when Hotaru REALLY goes crazy. She won’t tell why she refuses dagashi, and Kokonotsu doesn’t do his reputation any favors by trying to coax her with some.
But it’s all over by episode 11. No sign of a mouth ulcer. Instead we learn more about why Hotaru’s headhunting You, though I ought to say that the way he eats into the profits I wonder if it’s a good idea. How DOES that shop stay open, anyway, or Candy Store’s in that other show? No one ever buys anything. But we do learn about cola gum and it has a lot of Saya. The second half is all about waiting for the train in the heat and sucking kombu. Oh, and a fascinating history lesson about how Perry managed to open Japan. But there’s no Saya so it gets docked a point. On the other hand, it was such a relief watching this episode after the Shoujo-tachi finale. It’s just fun all the way through, the way many shows don’t know how to be.
Musaigen no Phantom World 12 starts by showing the team at work taking down a dual-phantom affair, showing their splendid teamwork (meaning they all take their turns and help), and thus setting us up for some downfall. Sure enough, there’s a new phantom in town who takes on a sexy vampiress look (though its victims don’t seem to remember this very important fact) and steals powers away with a kiss. Haruhiko et al almost capture it but it escapes, maybe, so everyone’s on edge. Then the show does a left turn.
We figure early on that it’s not really Haruhiko’s mom, well, the moment Ruru gets suspicious. So we wait for the unraveling while Haruhiko gets used to having a parent around who likes to ask him which of the girls he likes–in front of the girls. When it comes it’s a bit of a letdown. Mai gets a phone call and that’s it. While we do have some issues for the finale, like will Haruhiko get his powers back, will he reconcile with his unpossessed mom, what the deal is with Enigma, and will Ruru wake up, once again if it wasn’t for KyoAni’s usual brilliant animation and direction this would be a pretty lifeless episode–again.
Dagashi Kashi 9 is one of the better ones. The first one, concerning wata-pachi, brings up the idea that foods that bring you pain can be enjoyable (Hotaru has a mouth ulcer). Actually, they bring up a different issue, that foods that you should not eat are tastier for that reason, but watching the pleasurable pain Hotaru experiences (livened up with a mini-drama) makes me think they were going for that point, too. Then it’s on to Lucky-choco droppings, and a very tasteful fantasy Hotaru and Saya conjure up to eat a candy that comes out of an animal’s ass.
There follow two more dagashi, Sakura Daikon, which I can’t believe kids like, and prompts Kansai talk from Hotaru because, apparently, you can’t get it there, and boob, sorry, bomb ice cream, both sequences showing us once again that Hotaru is out of her mind. Really, she makes almost no sense at all during much of it. Her onlookers, Saya and Hotaru, are usually too stunned to do anything but play along; really, was Saya really that deterred by those toy frogs? No! She wanted to see what Hotaru would do next.
Shoujo tachi wa Kouya o Mezasu 10, not content to give us a new story arc, gives us two. One of them will distract our gang from the other. First, we meet Mitsuteru, and more importantly, Taiko, from Typhoon, a professional and highly-polished studio, who see Bunta’s demo and are impressed enough to try and lure him (and Yuki and Andou) away to join Typhoon and be miserable. They do this by posing as fellow amateur nerds and arrange a meetup. Why production-savvy Kuroda didn’t recognize the name or reputation before is not explained. So we now got a competition with consequences that would never make it in the real world. As annoying as all this is, the appearance of Kuroda’s brother, Iwao, and the discovery that their game is intended to pay off his debts, is even worse. How much money did they expect to make, anyway?
After weeks of dull predictability and forced emotions, Musaigen no Phantom World 11 finally takes this formula and makes it work. Turning Haruhiku into a child wasn’t all that clever (though going to a grade school was a nice touch), turning him into something of a brat was a little better, but it took a nice little scene where he and Mai, his temporary mom, bonded a little over both being alone to lift the show above its normal level. For one thing, Mai got a chance to show her sweet, protective side. Also, need I say that the show looked even better than usual, not only the battle at the end, but the playing in the park scene.
Teekyuu! 80 has Yuri out with a cold, so naturally the other girls go visit her and make trouble. And Kanae is the second show this post to work the Kansai-ben thing, though this episode is actually two weeks old. They’re still not at full steam, GPS of 3.14, but it’s not bad, and they actually worked in a beat gag this week. I didn’t think this show was capable of that. This show can do ANYTHING!
Dimension W 10 brings us (and Kyouma) closer to the mystery of what happened years ago. First, Mira and the twins do a number on the robot that’s going after Kyouma, only to have it wake up again, only to have Kyouma wake up as well and finish the job. Why did he wake up? Because he tore that thing from his ear? But he was unconscious … Lwai shows up, sans arm, from wherever he was … Anyway, we learn that Adastrea was working on space development and transporters to get them there. And that dreams and memories connect us to Dimension W, but we already knew that. Meanwhile, in a sideshow, Loser and Jason Chrysler give us more info while duking it out. The heroes get closer to the labs, where everything is clean and the power is working, and we get a confrontation with KK and the brainwashed Yuri.
There follows a longer, delightfully weird scene where KK fills in narrative gaps, plays a Dance Macabre as Wendy Carlos might arrange it as he does, while the good guys tackle Yuri and an old comrade of Kyouma’s, Doug, now a soulless monster. KK doesn’t seem to be the type to do mad scientist impersonations like this, being a hired gun and all, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. Kyouma figures out a little more, then catches up with KK and decks him, and another Lwai shows up (KK killed the first one). This is supposed to be the big surprise moment of the episode, coming at the end and all, but I wasn’t shocked at all. In fact, as fun as the episode was to watch, I don’t really feel a connection to anyone in it. This show does a lot of things very well, but it isn’t the best at making us care for anyone. Fun to watch, though, as usual.
Musaigen no Phantom World 10 is another by-the-books episode about little trivial quirks about the characters, in this case Ruru’s size, made great to look at and little else. The firework phantom reminded me of the monsters in Nurse Witch Komugi-chan, but with a bigger conscience, and it struck me (finally) that this entire series is little more than a magical girl show without wands, or cards to collect, and even less of an overriding story arc.
You might as well skip KonoSuba 9. Basically, Kazuma arranges for a sexy dream with a succubus club and real-life Darkness shows up at the wrong time and … So lots of unpleasant behavior by Kazuma, and lots of skin displayed by him and Darkness, oh, and the succubi. But next week we get a new invader. Good thing, too. This show’s been in a rut recently.
I probably would have enjoyed Musaigen no Phantom World 9 more if I understood the historical context of the play the gang gets roped into performing, that is, more than a thirty-second peek at “Ikedaya Incident” in Wikipedia. Still, it was fun to watch. I cringe when I see shows that have amateur plays in them, with my own memories and all, but they laid off on the bad acting and stage mishaps, and when they settled into the Phantom’s realistic play setting, we got some of the best sustained action yet, a period dramatic story with a phantom thrown in, exciting action, and, it being KyoAni, it looked fantastic.
Gate‘s story is getting so big, I wonder how they’re going to wrap everything up in the episodes they have left … We start with the brief battle at the Jade Palace where, as expected, Pina’s soldiers and some others drive off the bad guys, but the political fallout has begun, with the PM telling ministers to wait, then later gives in when a bigger bad guy force arrives. I suppose it’s not an issue, but it feels weird to know the ministers are more up on the Jade Palace situation than Youji and his team are. Radios are a good thing, guys.
Elsewhere they plant little seed of future problems with an unpleasant press photographer, and then of course there’s Pina, still a political idiot, who, when summoned to the Palace by Zorzal, in spite of what she knows, ACTUALLY GOES, and is promptly locked up. I’d feel a lot more confident about the good guys’ chances if someone besides Pina was in her position. As for Youji and company, well, that assassin is still after Lelei, but judging from the idiots he hires, this pied piper fellow can’t be that big of a threat. Then again, it’s hard to take anything that happens in Rondel seriously.
Dimension W 9 is good and bad, mostly good. The bad comes with a new villain, Seameyer, who appears to behind just about all of the bad stuff that happens. Shadowy villains are common in anime and elsewhere, but in anime these characters tend to be smug, smirking types that bore me as much as they infuriate me. Seameyer is no different, grinning evilly while Lwai gets gunned down in a flashback, casting images of himself on the wall whenever the good (are they?) characters find a clue, and going nyah nyah nyah a lot.
But there was plenty of good. No surprise that Kyouma has the answers to what happened at Adrastrea, and so, what happened during his wife’s operation, and indeed, Kyouma wants to get to the bottom of it too. But it’s done very well. First Kyouma lapses into a coma, flashback time, but then we get Salva’s flashbacks, too. I was starting to wonder why. Then, Kyouma floats into one of Salva’s memories, to the surprise of both, and the revelation comes that Dimension W is connected to our world by memories, and memories are vital to the formation of possibilities. Nice concept. Don’t know if I buy it, but it’s solid enough to work as a foundation to this world. Speaking of possibilities, the show is loading them on us now. What’s with that weapon the girl found? Is Mira actually Kyouma’s dead wife? Will the other collectors we see actually have anything to do later on? I could go on and on …
As for Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R 9, we waited most of the episode to learn what the misunderstanding was. Kubi (fired) and kubi (neck). While we waited for the inevitable I managed to enjoy one bit, where the enraged Komugi defeated a monster not with her magic powers but by using her wand to bludgeon it into submission.
Boku Dake ga Inai Machi 8 starts with a bit of terror, and a conundrum. The killer enters the bus. Kayo is too terrified to escape, but all the killer does is kick a box, dumps a backpack full of incriminating things … and leaves without opening the curtain. The only thing I can think of is that he intended for the items to be found, a lure for Satoru, perhaps. It’s almost as if the killer knows about Satoru’s ability and past and is messing with him somehow. After that, the kids wisely decide to move Kayo elsewhere, and we’re reminded that only Satoru knows about the murders-to-be. The others simply think they’re helping out a classmate in trouble.
So no terror this week, though the happiness that comes later feels like we’re being set up for it. Satoru decides on plan B, basically take Kayo to his mom. He knows she knows pretty much everything–even if he’s 29 he’s something of a guileless one, and now he’s in a 10 year-old body and it’s his mom we’re talking about. Anyway, he guesses right, and we get a sweet sequence of events where Kayo, maybe for the first time in her life, is, er, mothered. A hand is raised, Kayo expects a hit, and instead gets a pat on the head. A bath with tickling, a night light, a delicious breakfast. It was hard not to get emotional when it got too much for her. As for the terror, maybe next week, but first we have a confrontation to deal with.
Musaigen no Phantom World 8 … do I really have to? Not only do we get ridiculous fanservice, we get unexplained moments like why the hell Haruchiko was the one painting Mai’s butt, or what happened to the other students in what started as a school-wide event of taking down the monkey, and why sneaking up to it in a horse costume was ever considered to be a good idea. Even Cthulu was lame. And explaining it away as using Abramelin’s finger, as described in scene one is technically dramatically okay but a cheap way out. Well, the little monkeys were cute.
Shoujo-Tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu 8 has Bunta in a dull writers-lockdown episode. The usual: he complains, tries to escape a couple times, buckles down and makes the deadline. Nothing in it works terribly well, and I’m trying to figure out why. Maybe it’s that we don’t know enough about the script, the problems with it, or even the deadline. It’s all vague. And if he does rush and finish it won’t the others have to proofread and complain about it and lock him down again? If we knew the exact starting and finishing times were, or how much he had to go, I would have felt more excited, and “You have to write 66 bytes a second” doesn’t help, it just makes things seem hopeless. Well, it’s done. Next week I guess it will be pressure on Yuuka for a change.
Nurse WItch Komugi-chan R 7 brings us very little. Kokona thinks she needs a gimmick to advance to advance as an idol and so tries a lot of stupid ones, only to be told by Tsukasa and Kokona (early in the episode) that the best trait for her would come from her natural strengths, and those are her dedication and work ethic, pretty dull traits for an idol, I would say. She should have stuck with the belly button. Or she could use her magical-girl sadism; that would work too. The show throws us just enough goofiness (see screenshot above) to keep it from being a total loss.
Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 5 has a first part that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Aqua wants a dangerous quest, so they stick her in a cage and put her in a lake to purify it, never mind about the alligators. When the alligators show up the others just stand around and watch. Okay, she’s safe in the cage, maybe give her some support other than shouting encouragement. The second half is far better. We meet Kyouya, a guy who Aqua had sent to the land to be a hero, in her previous job. Trouble is, the guy takes himself seriously and because his magic sword does his fighting for him, overinflates his abilities, and means to rescue Aqua from the losers she actually chooses to hang out with. Nice contrast with Kazuma, who’s not a narcissistic romanticist but an experienced realist, who worked his way up.
With #6 we finish a major story arc in triumph. I didn’t even know we were IN a big story arc, but the series treats it as one anyway. Basically, the demon general, Verdian, comes back because Megumin’s still been exploding at his castle, and there is a great, epic battle where everyone, including Verdian, gets to show themselves at their bravest and goofiest, while at home I laughed a lot. Mostly what made me laugh were the replies and asides (usually Kazuma’s, but the girls have good moments too), not the battle. I figured early on what Kazuma would have to steal to weaken Verdian. And so it ends in triumph and some closure that we didn’t really expect, or need, but it was a nice moment.
In Musaigen no Phantom World 6 we visit another fantasy land, this on in Kurumi’s head, and it’s the usual fluffy-fluffy world you get with adult concepts on what goes on in little girls’ heads. And apart from the number of bears in it, it’s boring as hell, but cute. I did like the magic rake weapon she had–a nice connection to meeting the girls in the sandbox, but damn, I wish the stories in this show were more interesting.
And ep 7 is little better. Everyone starts turning into cats (and for the longest time, no one notices), and it’s traced to a phantom in an abandoned mansion that just happens to be near the school. I know I have a viewer’s mindset, but it seems to obvious that a place so close, formerly a haven for stray cats and cat lovers, would have something to do with this catness everyone was getting, especially since these people are supposed to be investigating phantoms. I hate this show’s simplemindedness sometimes, and I say this about an episode that was tossing around physics paradoxes and questions of human observation of phenomena. On the other hand, the weird images the kids all get when prowling around the mansion worked very well, subtle at first, then getting crazier and crazier. Stuff like that is what keeps me from dropping this show.
Haruchika 6 goes off the show’s usual path, which is a good thing. There’s a stealth clarinet player hanging around, and it looks like another trouble-student-gets-their-problem-solve-and-joins-the-band type of story, and Naoko does have her problems. Her mother left, her father’s family are assholes. So she turned to music, but she’s really good and probably doesn’t want to join a batch of beginners. But it turns out she’s also possibly going deaf (how they deduce this fact is Haruto’s weekly pulling answers out of his ass event). So now we don’t know where the episode is going. They have a decent scene where Naoko honestly assesses the band’s chances at the contest, a nice quick bit about following the difficult road you choose, and then Naoko brings up ANOTHER troubled student before saying she can’t join herself. Nice of her, when they can’t solve her problem, to provide future plot fodder before she goes.
In episode 7 it solves a mystery even though there really isn’t one. I mean, who cares who the geezers are on that radio show, or where they’re broadcasting from? As for Aso, the weird geology girl, discovering the location should change nothing. In fact, I’m trying to figure out what the people in the episode were trying to do. The SC pres wanted Aso to come in to discuss giving her club’s budget to the Brass Band club. No one has any objection to it, so why not just do it? So the story becomes tracking down Aso, ruined by her just showing up, so it becomes trying to get Kaiyu back at school, which he seems perfectly happy to do now. The whole affair seems pointless. Nonetheless, I think it’s one of the series’ best episodes. I especially liked the casual way everyone listened and occasionally talked back to the talk show. Also, there was no futile attempt at tearjerking. So even though little added up, I enjoyed it more than usual.
First, for Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu 6, we get a self-proclaimed fanservice episode. This isn’t Saekano; I don’t know if this series needs to go all meta on itself, but they do it anyway, at least for this episode. So we get the usual beach scenes and Kuroda trying to recreate some of the famous tropes for “research,” even though the episode did them earlier. We also get Yuka blowing up (in her cute genki way) at Bunta for paying more attention to Kuroda than to her, officially laying foundations for the next story arc. You can’t blame her for getting frustrated I guess; she’s been given very little to do not only as a member of the production team but as a character in the series. There. I just helped the show get more meta.
… Moving on to #7, and the next story arc was taken care of in about ten minutes. In order to both observe, and as a change of pace, Bunta and Yuka go on a date. Earlier in the episode the gang were trying out all sorts of elaborate confession scenarios, all of them a little twisted so fun to watch, Yuka actually does get to confess to Bunta, laughing it off as “not really,” a confession technique just as effective as the others, though it doesn’t do much in terms of the story. Nevertheless, it cheers up Yuka; she’s her usual happy-genki self at the end, and that’s that. Next it’s lockdown time for Bunta.
Continuing my desperate catch-up …
Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku Wo! Is turning into a nice, silly comedy. Episode two introduced Megumin, a arch mage or something like that, with one very formidable power that takes FOREVER to conjure up (I think the show’s already cutting it shorter by ep3, though I’d like to see them work it more as a gag, like the endless stories in OPM) and only be used once a day. Ep3 introduces Darkness, a crusader who can’t hit anything but isn’t afraid to take punishment, in fact, she loves it. Your usual bunch of weirdos in an anime comedy series. Fortunately, so far this show is an example of simple craft overcoming shortcomings, that is, the gags are mostly funny and well-timed (I especially like Jun Fukushima as Kazuma with his side comments and exclamations of alarm), and it looks just good enough moves just well enough to carry the story. Sure, we got a panty skit in ep3, but they didn’t stretch it out, so to speak.
Oh, episode 4 came as I writing that. Well, more of the same. Good gags and reactions from everyone, especially Kazuma. For a while I didn’t know if this would be a two-parter or not; they were getting close to the end and Kazuma and Megumin were still talking about going to lift the curse placed on Darkness (who seemed happy about it, of course) by Celty’s relation. It could end with a gag, or the big quest and I could hope they could steal that guy’s head, though I didn’t think the show would do it. So when the end came I was a little let down. But again I’m having too much fun watching everyone screw up.
Back around to Musaigen no Phantom World. Not sure what to think about episode four. On one hand I thought it was worked extremely well. The story (Reina’s unhappy home life makes her a victim of a phantom that provides her with a happier, bunny-eared one) is certainly not new, but when she had to say goodbye to the fake family at the end it was a strong emotional moment, more than for other stories of this type. And the fantasy world looked fantastic, out of a painting. So no complaints there. On the other hand the episode takes the easy way out in some ways. Haruhiko and Mai getting sucked into the world was well-done, but just announcing that bathrooms are often portals and using that as an escape route was sort of cheap. And at the end Reina told her parents about the club and they’re okay with it, in spite of what we heard before, and it was treated as an afterthought. Wasted opportunity there. They could use her parents as an obstacle in a later story.
#5 feels the same way. It’s a “follow the rude, distant team member into a situation where she has to rely on her teammates so she has to apologize and blush adorably” episode. Again, it seems to make mistakes. We’re told at the end that this monster wasn’t the same as THAT monster (the one who killed the bunny and forced little Minase to manifest her powers), and it’s treated like a major mistake. But even if everyone had known this from the start, why wouldn’t Minase have jumped at the chance to take the phantom down? Even if wasn’t the same one, it was the same species, and it was threatening the same things. Still, it looked as good as before, and it was nice to see the little girl in action finally.
Things were too good in Boku Dake ga Inai Machi 4. Little by little, things were getting better for Kayo’s prospects. Sachiko, being a cool mom, interfered with Kayo’s abuse, at least for a while. While Satoru, determined to keep Kayo safe, practically never leaves her side for a couple days, in spite of the reaction of his classmates (though his friends are more supportive), and because of this, Kayo was beginning to open up. It led to a happy birthday party with everyone, and Satoru believing he had saved her life. Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the bad news.
In this case, it’s that Satoru did indeed keep Kayo alive on that day, so she got killed two days later. There’s a sick, twisted hint of the inevitability of Kayo’s death no matter what that pisses me off, but what I find most interesting is that we know who her killer is this time, and it wasn’t the same one we all thought. In all this thinking about stopping serial killers I had become blind to the thought that there could be more than one threat to her life. And so the show becomes more than just a time-traveling “stop the murderer” story and reemphasizes its concern for children and anger at the people who would hurt them. As for the story now, well, it’s getting a little ridiculous. How much reach does that killer have to set fire to Airi’s home? And why would he even want to do it? Well, we have a pretty good guess as to just who did it now. Just have to nail him. Sadly, the adults in the modern world seem to be about as powerless as the kids in the past.
I’m far behind with Teekyuu!, but in order to spread out the joy I’ll just do one episode now. #74 feels like it drags, or I’m tired, but it had an excellent SPG of 2.815. Only Yuri and Kanae this week, picking delicious fruit like durian and what you see in the pic above.