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Finales of the season’s best shows (in my opinion): Owarimonogatari, OPM, Teekyuu!

December 23, 2015 Leave a comment

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Owarimonogatari finishes up a little sooner than I thought, or hoped.

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Why is it I have so little to say about the shows that are finishing up this season? Let’s see. There’s a sweet conversation between Araragi and Senjougahara, a reaffirmation of their love that made both happy in their particular crises and maybe added a little twist to the duel between him and, er, Seishiro, the first one, over who is Shinobu’s #1 minion. Senjougahara says she would dump Araragi if a better qualified man came along, because there is no such thing as an absolute bond. You have to work to keep the ones you love. Yet that’s pretty much what Seishiro claims to have with Shinobu, even if she even refuses to appear before him. Meanwhile Araragi learns that Senjougahara AND Hanekawa are in danger, but I guess you have to work for one love at a time …

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Not sure what tossing the sword into the fight was all about. Was she upping the ante? At any rate, it’s made ironic because the sword never gets to strike a blow, thanks to Araragi’s sneaky thinking and one of Oshino’s charms. Not that it was the point. Seishiro is melting, and FINALLY Shinobu comes out, to both say goodbye and devour what was left. As if she could only come out when she knew the matter had been settled and was past her influence. At least she was nice about it. And after that I presume Araragi showed up as Hanekawa’s hero in her story, tattered clothing and all, and we’re left to ponder the last conversation, this one with Ougi, where he claims that his odd relationship with Shinobu doesn’t do anyone any good at all, even Shinobu. Yet he has no intention of stopping it, even if he could, just as he can’t stop with the other weird females in his life. As for why he explained this to Ougi in the first place, early in the morning of his college entrance exams, the show never really answered any questions about its featured character, did it? That’s okay. And next comes a movie, where we’ll get some Araragi backstory and yet walk out of the theatre even more confused than before…

One Punch Man finishes up as expected … heh.

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One thing the show has done very well is depict the fights, and they saved the best for last. The Saitama/Boros battle was spectacular; tons of great visual bits, great hits, blinding explosions, yet you could tell at every moment what was going on, who was getting hit and where his body was thrown. To make it more interesting it appeared for a while like Saitama was losing … well, I don’t think any of us believed that. The question to the end was when would Saitama throw his punch. At only one point did it lag, when Boros started bragging about how superior he was, and, as usual, Saitama told him to shut up. Saitama reflects the anime fan in all of us who doesn’t need all the talk and wants to get to the hitting. Meanwhile, the other S-rankers dispatch the remaining powerful bad guy in satisfying, if occasionally dysfunctional fashion. Glad to see Silver Fang get the last marble.

Then this asshole shows up.

Then this asshole shows up.

That done, the show starts working on the inevitable second season, setting up rivalries and so. Genos is warned about Metal Knight, his possible arch-enemy, though he’s supposedly a good guy. That celeb hero Sweet Mask shows up to dis everyone in S-rank who was there and had done the fighting. You can imagine how that went down. And Tornado probably has a story arc coming to her, too. And so it ends. While Owarimonogatari was my favorite show this season, One Punch Man was the one which made me smile the most in anticipation. They took a superhero idea that seems extremely limited, stuck it in a comic story, provided enough strange characters at the right times to keep our interest, and gave us good commentary about the superhero business, not to mention great fights. No way there won’t be a second season; I’m looking forward to it.

One more punch, just for fun.

One more punch, just for fun.

Finally, the last two episodes of Teekyuu!, THE GREATEST ANIME SERIES EVER!

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It’s a shame that all the girls couldn’t be around for this two-part story about Marimo, Tomarin and Kondo going on a space adventure. Also, the SPGs were 3.21 and 3.6 respectively, a little slide. I blame it on a three-second speech by Kondo in #71, and there was, believe it or not, a PAUSE in #72, yes, a PAUSE! Happily, the show has a chance to get its mojo back. The next season is right around the corner! I won’t have to kill myself yet!

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Cavalry, Asterisk, and OPM 11, Teekyuu 70

December 15, 2015 Leave a comment
The real Touka.

The real Touka.

Rakudai no Kishi no Cavalry 11 brings us to Ikki’s family problems again, when a fake scandal is pumped up by the knights organization and he’s brought in for interrogation, over a week of it and counting, with breaks to do his battles. It all follows a pleasant break where we learn what we expected, Touka is a big adorable klutz with a heart of gold (the glasses were the giveaway) and Ikki wondering what his own source of strength is. Turns out it’s not his family; at one point, Ikki thinks maybe he has earned some redemption and respect from his father, he learns it’s nearly the opposite.

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He’s doing better than expected in the tournament, which might inspire underlings, which is bad for business. So he has to recover from that, find a new source of strength, and battle Touka next round, The episode makes it all work well. Everything to do with the interrogation is done in a blurry, black-white-red setting, and the scene with his dad is made more effective for it. Meanwhile we see the other characters, working hard and feeling a little helpless. The music’s a bit overdone, though. A little O Fortuna-ish.

Priscilla and the real Irene.

Priscilla and the real Irene.

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk 11, the more innocent of our two magical-battle-schools series, works further to change Irene from a dangerous killer to a crazy, spontaneous fighter who’s afraid of her sister. Actually, they did that last week. This time around Ayato rescues Priscilla from some thugs, and Irene thus feels obliged to pay the debt by telling him she’s going to destroy him tomorrow in the tournament because of his weapon. Nice of her. We also hears her story: basically she owes this Dirk asshole a lot of money. Ayato, being a nice, dull, harem male, starts to feel sorry for her. Considering they’re going to battle to possible death tomorrow maybe this isn’t the best idea, but we have to some issues for the battle next week. Also, Claudia tells Ayato about her own weapon and how it imagines all sorts of deaths for her, and she comes on to Ayato twice. I guess seeing a different death every time you doze can make you a tad clingy.

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Often during an episode I’ll watch the clock to see how much time’s left because the episode is dull. With One Punch Man 11 it was with the hope that there’ll be enough time for Saitama and Boros to finish their battle. No such luck. This series is too good at stretching things before the inevitable, and they have an episode to go. Still, it was fun to watch. The S-Class bunch on the ground do a nice job with the seemingly invincible, er, Melzagard, holding off his attacks, finding his weakness, and working together to defeat it, well, there’s one head left. Nice to see that the S-Class gang aren’t incompetents.

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As for Saitama, he wanders around the ship, doing his thing, while the crew there act like idiots, until he gets to Boros, the boss. I should have known the fight wouldn’t start until next week when Boros began telling his story, but it’s of course interesting to learn it’s similar to Saitama’s. No one can beat him, he got bored and traveled through the universe looking for the one who could give him a fight. Saitama might care more if Boros wasn’t trashing his city. I wonder what Saitama would say if a fortune teller told him his one true opponent was elsewhere in the galaxy. Probably “Oh, man I can’t get out there. Oh well (shrug).” Also, I wonder if he’ll get any credit for beating Boros next week. Probably not. Sadly, that’s part of the joke for this series.

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I’m a week behind with Teekyuu!, but will save the gloriousness of ep71 for later. As for #70, they actually play tennis! It’s their annual practice, you see. There were a couple of second-long lags, so it drops to a SPG ratio of 3.00, still impressive.

Tens: Owarimonogatari, OPM (and 9), Cavalry, Asterisk

December 8, 2015 Leave a comment
It's always Araragi's fault.

It’s always Araragi’s fault.

It’s not that I’m tired of all the talking. If I didn’t like talking in anime I would have dropped the franchise long ago. But Owarimonogatari 10 is the second week in a row where a lot of talk can be wearying. I suspect it’s because Gaen is doing all the talking and she has an answer for every question and is a little smug about it. One of the reasons Ougi also gets on my nerves. In this episode, through much of it, anyway, she explains why the “first one” managed to revive himself at that shrine, and it’s somehow all Araragi’s fault. The fault seems to lie in the fact that he happened to be there, or at least did something quite innocently; nonetheless it’s his fault, Gaen says, so naturally Araragi accepts it and goes off to buy a BL book for Kanbaru and donuts for Shinobu, whereupon, to my relief. the episode gets cheerfully silly again. The First One showing up in the guise of a young boy was another welcome, quirky moment, welcome after all the one-sided talk.

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In One Punch Man 9, like Genos, I’m not sure what Saitama was thinking when he turned to the crowd and joked about the other heroes softening up the sea guy so he could he could polish him off and take all the credit. He was being sarcastic, maybe, bitter about the bad rep he’s acquired, or he’s being diplomatic, or he just doesn’t care. Probably all of them in measure. He’s already made it clear that he isn’t in this business for glory or fame, though he wouldn’t mind a nice fan letter or two. His reaction to the hate mail was telling: someone with a lot of free time. The crowd response isn’t important to him, at least not superficially. I also admire the honest way he deals with the other heroes: if they’re shits like the Tank-Top guys he responds. Otherwise he sees them as other folks in the same field, and likes the ones who try hard, like Mumen Rider. We need more superheroes like Saitama.

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And in #10 they have to bring up a new villain. Fortunately Saitama invited himself to the briefing so, unlike last time, he’ll be around right away to help stop the carnage, if the rest of the S-class heroes will stop bickering, that is. Well, that’s unfair. The other heroes are all strange people, as you would expect, but they’re not all pampered superstars, and I frankly can’t think of a time when any of them backed down from a fight. They’re individuals, with their own personalities and occasional petty jealousies. They’re also doing a pretty good job with the current threat. So, like Saitama, we’re all hoping the boss will show up next week and get this threat over with.

Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry 10 features the Shizuku/Touka fight. It goes along predictable lines, but has some nice moments.

Shizuku cleans off the blood.

Shizuku cleans off the blood.

In all such magical battles, the show invents strange magical physics and we’re expected to go along with it. Touka’s great power comes from lightning, and Shizuku’s water, so Touka should have the advantage, except Shizuku can conjure “ultrapure” water. which apparently does not conduct electricity. Okayyy … except the battle becomes such a whorl of water and lighting and ice that it’s never mentioned again. When the match begins, neither contestant moves. We’re told they’re waiting for the other one to move first, whereupon Shizuku moves. I don’t know why Ikki even tries to explain some things …

She's over there.

She’s over there.

No!  She's ---

The very next frame.

But it’s a good battle anyway. We’re told, for perhaps too long, that Shizuku needs to follow Ikki, and so she desperately needs to win this battle against the girl who single-handedly kicked all those monsters’ asses last week. That brings up another point: Touka is not an evil opponent, but an ally. It’s one of those battles where you really don’t want either to lose. The battle itself looks great. Like last week, the show uses another simple trick, having Touka in the distance and in the next frame be right in front of Shizuku, swinging her sword. Simple and well-timed. In the couple times the show did it, we don’t expect it. Neither, sadly, does Shizuku, who finally goes down after her last-ditch flurry fall short. Still, well done! Ikki says she’s become strong, but to me she was as strong before the battle as after it.

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk has a lot of battling, too, but they’re content to show us earlier matches and let some comedy in.

Yay you.  Now put on some clothes.

Yay you. Now put on some clothes.

But first they introduce Irene by having her beat up some thugs and get intimidating with Julis and Ayato … and then bring down her threat level considerably by introducing her more proper sister, Priscilla, who wears the pants in the family, it seems. I wonder what Priscilla thinks of Irene being incarcerated, or was she incarcerated too? Anyway, we move on to Saya and Kirin’s match and the nakedness following, and yet another magic battle academy series uses the “If I rub them they’ll grow bigger” trope, two in a row. There’s also head-patting later. Ayato/Julis’s next round is also a laugher.

MacPhail does better than expected, but ...

MacPhail does better than expected, but …

They save the crazy stuff for the Irene/Priscilla match against MacPhail/Fat Kid. It ends the way you expect, MacPhail being a cannon-fodder character in this series, but he does land some good shots and forces Irene to recharge by going vampire on her sister. So we learn she can be roughed up and perhaps taking care of the sister first would be a good idea. Well, Lester tried that … I liked the idea that her magic weapon made augmentations to her body so that she tap into her sister, so she’s technically a vampire, but not, you know, undead or anything. Anyway, they do look a lot more formidable than they did in the first scene.

Comet Lucifer, OPM, and Sakurako-san 8, Teekyuu 68

November 26, 2015 Leave a comment

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Comet Lucifer 8 goes from blood death and getting slaughtered to happy la-la new-agey unicorn lands without the unicorns.  For the former, we have lots of flashbacks of Do Mon.  We know he was a grizzled soldier and allies with Gus, and now we know he used to watch over Sougo’s genius mother and obviously had a thing for her.  Then we see her get blown up by bad guys, and next week I assume we’ll see him adopting Sougo.  So there’s a grimness to him that makes him slug Sougo when the boys insists on protecting Felia, and that leads us to the la-la bit.  Moura and Sougo make a pact to protect Felia and so Sougo gets a hippy view of the universe and Felia’s part in it.  I’ve actually heard theories about life on Earth based on Moura’s story, that is until he gets to the part about one person being the living embodiment of a planet.  There’s a perhaps unintended contrast between Do Mon’s role of the mom’s protector, and the role that Sougo is taking up now.  Maybe Do Mon shouldn’t have hit him so quickly.
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One Punch Man 8 is the first where the annoying consequences of the premise overwhelmed the episode.  As I’ve said before, maybe, the big gag of the series is Saitama throwing his punch, which takes all of a second unless he has some ground to cover.  The rest of the time is spent with the bad guys posturing and the other good guys posturing and getting beat up until Saitama gets there.  This week we had some fish-king villain, nothing terribly exciting about him, and some new heroes like Puri-puri Prisoner with their schticks that got old long before the episode ended.  Meanwhile, Genos and Saitama run around looking for the action, and I began to drum my fingers…  And then I got seriously pissed off when the episode ended and Saitama still wasn’t there.  And even though Genos did, there was no time for him to fight before time ran out.  This show doesn’t have the setup to sustain a two-parter!  What were they thinking?

Another bone nut.

Another bone nut.

Sakurako-san 8’s arc conclusion gave us a nice though not unprecedented twist, but the delivery wasn’t terribly interesting.  Shoutarou and Sakurako go and deliver Sasaki’s effects to her sister, Sayuki, who, getting into the morbid spirit of bones along with Sakurako, is disappointed that there wasn’t baby bones added to it.  They find the baby bones quickly enough, and with a lucky circumstance involving toes, unravel more of the mystery, which was more of a regrettable and melancholy series of events and memories than a crime, all of it conveyed by talk.  So not terribly interesting to watch, though I’m relieved Sakurako didn’t do her transformation sequence this time.  As for that guy in the hospital, it was unrelated to this story unless it has something to do with those two cats.  About the only notable thing this week was Shoutarou using some solid insight about them; even Sakurako was impressed.
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Teekyuu! 68 retells the Cinderella tale with Yuri as Cinderella.  Three guesses as to who played the rich stepsisters, all 245 of them.  Not bad.  SPG ratio of 2.0, and there might have been some visual gags I missed.

Sevens: Comet Lucifer, OPM, Sakurako-san

November 19, 2015 Leave a comment
Felia goes all yellow on us.  Good or bad?

Felia goes all yellow on us. Good or bad?

It looks like Comet Lucifer ran out of ideas on its way to the story.  What we get in episode 7 is more of what we saw in episode 6, except no one’s getting married.  They travel for a while, exchange some encouragement, the bad guys attack, Moura gets beaten up again while Sougo and Felia manage to escape, if you can call falling off a cliff when cornered by a bad guy an escape.  … That was actually one of the better moments.  Out of nowhere Roman’s mecha comes flying out of control, hitting the pedophile’s mecha just as he was about to nab Felia.  Utterly ridiculous, and fun.  After that they all wake up in a magic glade, probably the place they were looking for, and Felia gets all cosmic light on everybody.  At least it’s a change from inept mecha pilots.  And it’s about time someone figured out who Honeybee was …
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It hardly feels worth it to talk about One Punch Man 7 so long after the episode aired …  The first half had the same basic flaw that the show often has: we’re just waiting around looking at the threat until Saitama decides to throw a punch.  Not that funny this time, as Genos isn’t terribly funny unless there’s some irony to what he’s saying or he had Saitama around to comment, and the Bang, the old guy, was too busy acting like the senior dojo guy he is.  The second half, where the uncomprehending and ungrateful crowd get egged on to harass Saitama was better, though it went on too long.  I wanted to know how Saitama would handle it, and I didn’t expect basically a “piss off!” from him.
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Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru 7 starts at Shoutarou’s school cultural festival and after some silliness about butler cafes, tosses that backdrop aside as Sakurako gets interested in a collection of bones a nutty old teacher collected.  And I was wondering if they’d be so tactless to stick a murder in a school festival …  Anyway, she starts to index the bones while Isozaki and Shoutarou find some personal effects mixed in, obscure old books with handwritten notes, a mysterious photo, that sort of thing.  So we settle back to see what they’ll figure out.  Then they up the ante with some human bones …
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But it’s hard to say if these bones are the multi-episode arc’s focus, or the spark to another mystery.  Also, there are weirder-than-usual things going on in Sakurako’s head.  After letting poor Shoutarou know that she removed the bones from a cat she had and put them on display, we get the idea that perhaps the old teacher, Sasaki, had much the same idea with the human bones they found, that of an old housekeeper.  But before we can make anything of that connection the story shifts to Sakurako at a hospital bed, getting permission to work on an unsolved case from Masamichi, the person lying there, someone we don’t know about.  Again, we don’t know if the mysteries are related or that Sakurako was prompted by the discovered bones and some buried emotions to investigate another mystery.  And the show isn’t about to tell us this early.

Quick sixes: OPM, Sakurako-san, Teekyuux11

November 12, 2015 Leave a comment

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One Punch Man 6, apart from Saitama having to find villains to beat in order to keep his hero status, is more of the same, mostly.  Fortunately it’s still funny.  Learning that he has to catch a villain a week in order to keep his hero status, Saitama runs around the city looking for something to catch, frightening the civilians as he does.  He hasn’t quite figured out the comic laws in his world.  He just has to walk around doing his daily business and an opponent will show up, which is exactly what happens.  Saitama’s total guilelessness about these things can get annoying.  It took him forever to realize that he could get his status up by beating up the guy who wants to fight him anyway.  Most amusing of all is that heroes and monsters alike are now worried about the ghost town and the mysterious beings there, when it’s probably just Saitama.

In other shows this might be a romantic scene.

In other shows this might be a romantic scene.

The trouble with Sakurako-san 6 is that I had the so-called “suicide note” figured out from the start, and I was wondering why Yuriko was banging her head against the wall in the first place, much less Isozaki, who seems more perceptive.  Basically the setup was to set up the dilemma of whether to find this woman or not, whether to bow to her wish to die or try and stop her.  Isozaki made some valid points, though he was an asshole about it, and his briars growing ot of wounds speech made little sense, but Yuriko, working on emotion, had some as well.  What about the people you leave behind?  But finally Sakurako shows up and announces what everyone should have figured out from the start.  Best laugh came when Shoutarou pages Sakurako by calling her a lost child, which, in a way, she is.
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In Teekyuu 66 the girls try their hand at making Udon to keep so-and-so’s restaurant alive.  Pretty good.  SPG 2.81.

Quickly, Revolutio and OPM 4, Teekyuu 64

October 28, 2015 Leave a comment

Going to hop on another plane soon, so here’s what I have for a couple days …

Ho hum another weird battle.

Ho hum another weird battle.

Concrete Revolutio seems to be aiming for a single big story made up of all the little things they casually toss in each week, but frankly the little things are just piling up and not building the structure they need for it.  Part of the problem is the time hopping.  Tossing in a quick date isn’t enough to give us a firm footing as  viewers, and the events after date goes off the screen don’t really help.  Jiro doesn’t have super powers, then in another time he does.  Who’s side is he on this week.  Same with the detective.  And while all this confusion may make the show fun to watch for some viewers, the rather bland stories of the week, with their hackneyed, overused little morals (this week it’s “Beasts are people too,” or something like that) don’t live up to the setup’s possibilities.  The only thing that I really liked this week was the guy raising beasts exclamation that beasts are an expression of our anger.  I could argue the same about any giant monster tale coming out of Japan, and if I did I would be grossly oversimplifying things.  But it’s refreshing to hear a character say it.
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One Punch Man 4, not much to say, except that the two bad guys fought each other before they had the misfortune to meet Saitama.  This meant we had to put up with speeches and posturing from both men in the same battle, and wait for Saitama’s trademark battle cries such as “there you are,” “huh,” and “oh, really?” later.  Not that I’m mocking him.  His low-key approach to the verbal battle stance is a great response to the shouting and boasting the opponent does and one of the funniest things in the show.  Too bad they had to baddies fight each other first, because we had to wait for our fun.  Next week, Saitama joins a hero registry.  I can’t help doing a quick mashup of Concrete Revolutio and OPM in my head.  Would he work for Jiro’s organization?

Hanami prep.

Hanami prep.

Teekyuu! 64 features their annual hanami session, though they’ve actually never done it before.  There’s badminton, an old man, and a guy named Gomez.  SPG of 2.7–excellent, and I probably missed a joke or two.