I haven’t seen Sidonia or BBB‘s yet, so at this moment DanMachi has delivered the best finale of the season.
It was far better than I expected, and yes, it had draggy moments. Early on when the adventurers (even the bad ones) were regrouping and then flinging everything they had at the goliath, arrows, swords, incantations, the kitchen sink, bits of string, shouts, etc, you knew it wouldn’t work because Bell wasn’t in the battle yet–he had been sent back to fight smaller beasties. Also, it was far too early in the episode for killing blows yet. We had to be satisfied with the occasional attack that stopped the goliath, only for it to regenerate and start his rampage again.
And there was the bit after Bell had had enough of being in the background and stepped up to the Goliath for the second time. His attack was effective (Firebolto!) but insufficient and left him nearly dead (rescued by Ouka). Then dream speeches from his father and from Hermes about what a hero was all about, and the super-duper magical hero strike spell Bell suddenly had.
But from the moment Bell woke up and was given that weird sword, everything came together. Supporting characters, speaking their motives (mostly to atone for bad things or prove something to themselves), gave their biggest best shots, got battered and rescued in turn, until it was Bell’s turn. It was a terrific buildup, and what made it even better was that the Hero’s Strike didn’t finish the job. Bell had to do that in his old way, almost a coda, running, leaping, using that knife. And immediately, with no dramatic pause, the lusty cheers rose up, because hundreds of people were watching.
I can’t think of a better way to finish the series. Kudos to the creators for putting their best work into it. I will quibble and suggest that they could have put more work into some of the earlier episodes, but this was meant to be a silly, fun adventure series without the biggest budget in the world, and they did well with the uneven source material. Not great, but certainly good enough to keep me watching. There’s certainly going to be another season, even if Hestia didn’t have those ribbons, and I’ll be happy to watch it.
Nisekoi‘s finale had no big story to wrap up. What plot they do have was forgotten awhile back, and they’ve been been spinning their wheels with character studies since. Last week it was Onodera, this week Chitoge. In the first half Chitoge loses her iconic ribbon. All of Shaft must have gasped in dismay when they read that bit in the manga–they play with the image so much–but she gets it back with a minimum of slapstick, after briefly turning into a nice girl and freaking Raku out. In the second half she considers confessing but quickly realizes it ain’t gonna happen. The best bit was her father’s story about how he and her mother met. But overall the episode was sweet, and not overly so, because this is Shaft after all. As for another season, well, as I said, it’s Shaft, and I watch just about everything they do.
… If there is one I hope they remember about the locket and all those keys.
Hibike Euphonium 12 … It’s going to take a while to get that little tune out of my head.
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 …
Show 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.
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.
Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku‘s finale was pretty silly, but it was funny-silly and had moments of joy in it. Though 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? In 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. Eruna 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.
Finally, 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!
Nisekoi 10 is a more sober affair than most episodes. Shuu has a crush on Kyoko, the homeroom teacher, but she announces she’s quitting to get married next month. So the question for Shuu, and Raku, is should he confess before she leaves, knowing it might complicate things, or carry the secret to his grave. As if he can’t fall in love again. Strangely, Raku asks Tsugumi her opinion and no one else. I kept waiting for complications to appear, conversations overheard or meanings misconstrued, but the show was determined to play this out straight. Shuu is such an annoying character that I didn’t really care too much, and seeing him sad and contemplative didn’t change my opinion. I much rather liked the Raku/Tsugumi conversations because of her reaction to these personal though theoretical questions. Show by Rock 11 gets us to the big showdown, part one. Most of the episode was spent getting everyone fired up, wondering where Mr. Berry was, Grateful King’s new but as yet unheard song, and meeting all the acts we’ve met before. Necessary, but I sort of hoped that they would polish off the series this week and spent less time with it. As for the big attack, there was still mystery about how it would be done. Sending one monster out so that Darudayu could fight it was a tad predictable, but having that girl from Critacrista inside the monster, scared as hell, was an unexpected thing. Of course it meant that next week we’ll have a lot of scenes where the good guys can’t figure out how to fight it and get their butts kicked for a while …
All I get out of Hibike! Euphonium 11 is “what a rotten way to run an audition.” Okay, not true. It’s just that we have both Kaori and Reina performing in front of each other, in front of the entire band. In this situation, the question is no longer “who plays the part better?” but “which girl do you prefer?” What’s more, the judges are just as exposed as the contestants are. A couple of them, Yuko and Kumiko, aren’t afraid to be in that position, applauding for their friend, but the rest of them are too afraid to clap for anybody. What a miserable situation to be in, for everyone except Taki, who doesn’t seem to care.
But it led to a nice outcome, unexpected until a moment later. Kaori gets a few golf claps more than Reina and is asked to do the solos, but she refuses, saying Reina should do it. It was the closure Kaori needed. She had the solos but could choose whether to accept it or not. Because Kaori is a decent, reasonable person who wants the best for the band, she hands the parts to Reina. No one has any right to complain now.
Elsewhere, we get an odd comparison between Kaori/Yuko and Reina/Kumiko, girls and the girls who worship them. I don’t know if Yuko’s really figured her feelings out for Kaori, and I’m not sure about Kumiko, but it appears she might actually have feelings for Reina, who has feelings for Taki, in spite of that charged scene between them, the best scene of the episode in spite of all the audition drama. In fact, I wonder just how much Reina has feelings for Taki or for Kumiko or if she just doesn’t know or care.
In Knights of Sidonia 2 9, something finally happens.
Okay, it takes a while. First we have Nagate and Izana off on their romantic visit to the Thousand Year Village, with its cherry blossoms, zero-gravity hot spring, Nagate’s thickness, and Izana’s growing frustration, which causes her to fling him and herself into the lovely giant window shielding them from the vacuum of space. But Yuhata and Tsumugi are somehow peering in, i.e., the show is in full romcom mode so nothing much happens except for some blushing afterward.
Thankfully we get back to more pressing matters after that. They’re close enough to planet nine to send out recons with that armor thing protecting them, and we get an interesting scene where … was that Samari … spits out bile at Nagate because he’s not going out with them. I often wonder how the other pilots react to Nagate’s status. Also, Izana is herself going, replacing a pilot who deserted (another useful look at Gardes morale). And guess what? She sees a gauna, before anyone else does, even the sensors, interesting in itself but that can wait, because this gauna is as nasty and full of tricks as all the others, but it’s to be continued yet again. Damn, if they had cut back on the harem antics we could have gotten this battle already.
Kekkai Sensen 10 promises a big fight, but sort of weasels its way out of it.
It’s really a dirty trick. I mean, we get the makings of a fight between the good guys and the Thousand Regioka Brothers, in Chinese battle suits, but the show decides to get stylish again and so us why Leo was crying over the burger and spaghetti being plunked down in front of him at the diner, basically a tour of the weird and disgusting restaurants in NYC. Sure it’s fun, both for the extreme meals and the trios’ reactions to them–I especially enjoyed Leo’s hallucinatory encounter with the God of Chow, but all the while I was hoping to get back to the big fight they were promising. Sigh. So all we get out of the non-adventure is a little more background on Black, or whoever’s inside him, apparently a caster of high reputation, not that it matters. And as far as the overall story goes, White tells Leo she wants his eyes. We don’t get to see his reaction, for a more ordinary type of messing with the viewer than the show usually employs–the episode ends. Next weeks seems to be a recap, too. Damn.
DanMachi 10 has Bell (now level 2), Werf, and Lili traipsing merrily into the middle floors, where things get very nasty for them. Nasty enough that Hestia organizes a rescue party and is prepared to break the rules and go in herself. I wonder if that would make Bell happy, to get rescued again. Well they haven’t found them yet, and I hope that the moment1t the rescue team gets too far they encounter Bell’s team happily limping their way up with no need for rescue. Probably won’t happen. Hestia spent too much time making a team for such an anticlimax.
Meanwhile, while we and Bell have been told how nasty the middle floors can be, I wonder if Freya has a hand in this. Maybe not. Ouka’s group had just as much trouble. Maybe the floors are really this bad. If so, maybe everyone should have prepped a little more, or made a larger team. It makes you wonder how earlier adventurers survived it. On the other hand, I hope she interferes now. It sort of bugs me to see Hestia and Hermes going into a place where gods aren’t allowed. It would be funny if the gods proved to be completely useless at this and need rescuing themselves.
Nisekoi 9 is in two pieces. In the first half, Raku is forced to clean the school pool and calls upon Chitoge and Chu, and naturally everyone else shows up too, all wearing cute swimsuits. And we meet Fuu, a friend of Haru’s and another new girl for the harem, but after introducing her the story completely forgets she’s there and goes on the usual pool-cleaning comedy bits like slipping on the slimy floor and splashing each other with hoses while Paula hangs back and pretends she’s too cool for them. … and that’s about it. In part two Onodera is sick, Raku is sent to take care of her, and naturally Haru is there to display her jealous rage, until SHE turns out sick, too. Apart from Raku getting the locket back (remember the locket?), nothing much happens in the second half either. I like Haru’s jealous rages, but it’s time the show moved on to other things …
In Kekkai Sensen, we finally learn that White, not to mention Black, is up to. It really comes down to one line.
Okay, I should have figured it out already, that whatever story arc they come up with will be some baddie or other going for Leo’s eyes. Maybe because others had already made the attempt (and failed) that I stopped thinking about it and figured it would be something bigger, like the destruction of NYC or Hellzapoppin or whatever they call it now. Well getting the eyes could lead to that. It’s a good setup because White is conflicted about it. She’s devoted to her brother (with good reason), but she likes Leo, and there’s her father’s line about stopping Leo when he does something bad. So I guess there’s the second side to the story, driving the demon out of Black. And also taking care of White. Why did she collapse in the station, anyway?
That happens later. First off we get another confusing but fun battle to deal with, and the introduction of a new character, Zed, shoved into Libra’s ranks by that old master like the old guy was tired of him. This time Libra battles another of those supreme vampires or whatever they are, winning after some effort but not as much as you’d expect, because they’ve become a good team, as the master says before fobbing Zed off on them. Still, I think the monsters ought to be a bit more formidable sometimes. But who cares? It looks great.
For Nisekoi 2 8, at least the first half, it looks like Shaft got tired of the main story and decided to have a little fun.
Mind you, this isn’t a straight up Madoka parody, though it has it’s moment, like Rurin (who doesn’t actually look like Kubey at all) explaining the negative parts of magicalgirlness (girlity?) after Madok–, er, Onodera signs the contract, and her frilly undergarments.
Rather, they’re just having a little fun at the genre’s expense. There are plenty of MG parodies out there but this one holds up pretty well. I especially liked Chitoge’s reaction to her transformed outfit, compared to Tsumugi’s. Of course, this being Shaft, there’s transformation fanservice (and the enemy’s clothes-rending attack) every few seconds. But being Shaft also has advantages. The scenes’ visuals are incredible, and they have Madoka overtones throughout. So it had a visual resonance for most of us. Some of the jokes are good, too.
Alas, it was only half of the episode. In the second half, Raku goes to help Onodera’s mom at their sweet shop again and is stuck in the kitchen with Haru for most of the scene, leading to the inevitable “I hate him … oh, he’s kind of nice in some ways … what am I saying? I HATE HIM!” bits. Though, perhaps inspired by their work in the first half, Shaft’s visuals seemed even more wild and vivid. Or maybe it’s just me. Anyway, it rescued the scene, as Shaft’s production work so often has with this series.
Judging from Knights of Sidonia‘s teaser last week, I thought for sure we were in for a return of the good Sidonia, with intrigue and thrilling battles, and not the harem antics we’ve had for the previous two episodes.
The closest thing we get to intrigue is Yure talking to Sasaki about the explosion and how it’s was her fault (debatable), and there was a movie-within-a-show scene that was supposed to fool us, but instead winding up frustrating me because it looked more fun than what the episode actually gave us, which was Yuhata adding to the harem by moving in unannounced, Yure forcing Izana to wear a sexy outfit then stranding her so she could naturally run into poor, oblivious Nagate, and then Yuhata spotting them and following them to figure out who that tramp was walking around with Nagate. And there was Yure conning Nagate (and this bit was actually funny, though I can’t believe Nagate is stupid enough to believe it) to go investigate an old park, basically set them up on a date, while Yuhata and Tsumugi’s tentacle listen in, and … Damn it, how long until Sidonia reaches that solar system anyway?
Kekkai Sensen 8 gets some of its energy back this week, even though the episode (and the next, apparently) all have to do with Zapp. Well, actually, that’s not true. We spend some time with Leo and Black early on, the latter so acting like a nice guy that I wonder if he really is, and later we learn that there’s a split personality going on here. Also Black and White say that they’re two pieces of the same thing, which makes me even more confused. I wonder if White is split in two like the person who’s part of the same thing she is, er, is. Never mind, it’s more teaser for the future.
Back to Zapp and his wasted life. He and we indulge a bit in that before we finally get the first decent battle we’ve seen in a while, where some kind of monster is battling another, and one of them is actually a highly-developed master of the blood-discipline, and wants Zapp to train with him, and when he says no, seals him into a blood-bubble with the other monster. It plays out in an amusing way, playing to Zapp’s lusts and not the purifying discipline you’d expect from this blood master. But it works. And next week we get more of Zapp, though by now I’m a lot more interested in the main arc with Black and White. Well, if there’s a good battle I won’t care much either way.
Knights of Sidonia also breaks out of its slump with a good first half, but it falls back into harem antics after that, until we’re teased with what should be the big story arc.
But back to good part first. The tentacles keep growing and then prevent Numi from disconnecting the monster from its Higgs-whatever supply. I’ll add that the brand new glowing red beastie growing a new weapon was one of the scariest moments in the second season, mainly because we didn’t know where it was pointing. The growing alarm onboard the Sidonia with the gravity going wonky, and Yuhata’s frustration because the classified nature of the experiment gone out of control made it hard for her to sortie the Gardes. But it’s settle, abruptly, when something cut it off and it went poof. Even that was scary because I expected it to appear again, somewhere else. And maybe scariest of all is Kobayashi’s decision to keep the experiments going. I thought it was a good thing when she killed off those immortal guys, but now I’m not so sure …
But it’s all covered up and the main characters have nothing better to do than to try to get Nagate’s attention. Izana turns into a girl at an embarrassing moment. That one pilot (Samari?) asks him out, talks about her growing fears about the big fighting coming up and propositions him with about the sexiest line a Sidonia girl can muster before learning that Nagate’s kind of an idiot, but that’s okay because she got to Nagate before En Honoka could–oh, yes, we’re allowed to ogle the Honoka sisters again. You know, I have nothing against harem series in general, and I don’t mind bits of it even in Sidonia, but it’s been three episodes with only a few scenes of importance, and the rest of it clones, gender-free people, and an artificially-produced alien hybrid all trying to make it with Nagate.
Nisekoi 2 7 also pulls the show out of its slump, in fact, they really ought to have begun the new season with this episode, never mind what that would have done to the Paula McCoy continuity. We meet Haru, a first-year on her first day, rescued from thugs by a brave fellow student whose face she didn’t see (guess who), and who is determined to meet him again and to warn another student, a villain named Raku Ichijo, to stay away from her big sister Onodera. Just the sort of thing you’d expect from this series, but it’s the first time all season we’ve had the level of playful confusion the show is capable of. The scene where they officially meet and she freaks out gets fresh energy every time another member of Raku’s harem shows up, and of course they all do (except Tsumugi, but they were saving her for a big belly-laugh at the end). It’s all Haru building on her own fear and hate while each girl wonders what she’s on about and Raku gets understandably more nervous. I expect things will get back to normal next week, but it’s nice to see the show rise above its doldrums once in a while.
Houkago no Pleiades 6 felt at times like a season finale. For a while I thought maybe this was actually a six-episode mini-series, but no, there’s still more engine fragments to collect, but elsewhere much has changed. Basically, Horned Cape or whatever he’s called (we learn this week it’s not Minato) sends off one of his fragments for the girls to collect, thus finding out where they operate so he can steal the ones they have. Meanwhile, the spaceship is reforming, or something. Basically it’s a big gold arc in the sky, while the part of the engine the boss has rebuilt looks like a cube made of glowing tinker toys. And before you know it …
It’s hard to explain because I don’t understand it. The school is sealed off by HC with Suburu inside, and then it’s floating in space and HC is trying to bust in, and the spaceship is reforming … Well, the big surprise this week is that, as I said, Minato is NOT Horned Cape. HC stumbles into the observatory and he’s just as surprised as Suburu was. And later, after this week’s cosmic light show, Minato and HC have a little talk about it being time to leave, we don’t see them on the screen together, so they probably are fragments of the ship, or maybe just split in two, or something. Getting them together will probably be a focus for the rest of the series, as well as obtaining those remaining engine parts. Oh, and the observatory is no longer a greenhouse, well it is, but it’s night there now and the trees are dead. Before, everything bloomed, even though Minato said they couldn’t, which harkens back to the alien’s speech about stopping time. My head hurts.
Meanwhile, in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan … very little happens at all. The gang go on a trip to an inn, well, they’re not there yet. They’re too busy hanging sightseeing in Nagano for the time being. And that’s pretty much the episode. They catch the train. They go here, they go there, they buy soba, buns, ice cream, and shaved ice, they buy wooden swords with massage rollers attached (well, Mikaru does). Stuff about power spots in shrines. Oh, there’s the business of trying to get Yuki and Kyon together, but the show doesn’t try too hard to play that up, and only Asakura is really concerned about it. The episode is, overall, pleasant apart from the slow pacing. Once again the show takes too much time with reaction bits, or simply ending a scene. That meeting scene at the train station was far longer than it needed to be, though I admit I enjoyed the idea that Kyon’s imouto was in that bag. DanMachi 7 is little more than filler and some prep work for the next arc, which apparently has to with an adventurer who goes and finds a monster–and trains it to be even nastier. We cut to several of these scenes, which are all pretty much the same, until the final bit when the monster starts going after other, more hapless adventurers. In the meantime, Liliruca is introduced to the Hestia Familia, which is to say, Hestia, who is necessarily dubious about this new threat. Meanwhile, Bell gets repeatedly beaten, er, trained in fighting, by Aiz. I wonder if this is actually part of his fantasy, to have the girl of his dreams kick his ass every night. Well, at least he’s getting over his fear of her.
Nisekoi 2 6 is the inevitable Valentines Day episode (Didn’t they do one already? I can’t remember), and while it had some good moments I kept thinking the gods of comedy must have been taking a week off. There was so much potential for misunderstandings and running around, especially when Shu lied to Tsugumi about what the chocolates implied, but they didn’t follow through and make things as crazy as they could have. Well, it had some sweet moments. Raku actually gets chocolates from all the girls in the end. Chitoge and Onodera work together to make theirs (wait, didn’t Chitoge already make some?) and pledge to support each other in their quest for the people they like, not knowing it’s the same person. Marika’s gift was good for a laugh, and Tsumugi got to whip out her guns. I’ve seen worse Valentines Day episodes. Teekyuu! 42 continues the exciting beach adventure, where the girls get lost at sea and the gags come at an average of 3.21SPG. And that’s counting a slow couple of seconds where they’re attacked by natives. Very impressive, girls!