2015 Fall new shows 4 … yes, I’m behind …

Yes, I’m way behind.  Sorry about that.  And I may not be able to catch up for a while.  For now I’ll put up what I have.

Concrete Revolutio is an odd thing that seems to be about superheroes keeping earth safe and people who try to keep the superheroes safe.

Nice sunny day to begin Concrete Revolutio
Nice sunny day to begin Concrete Revolutio

We keep flashback-and-forwarding, so it’s hard to say what’s going on, but it seems like a magical girl named Kikko, while at her day job, is enlisted to aid a guy named Jiro try and stop a scientist from selling data to someone, but then it turns out the scientist is BUYING rather than selling, the other party in the transaction is outed as an evil alien, and Jiro more or less outs Kikko in an attempt to stop the alien, or maybe they’re trying to lure a good superhero into the battle because he’s inhabiting a human body, and in the flash-forwards we see Jiro and Kikko in a different situation, maybe on opposite sides, maybe not.

It's a magical girl show!
It’s a magical girl show!
No!  It's a mecha show!
No! It’s a mecha show!

It mostly makes sense once you get past the giant robots, magical girls, and light shows it’s constantly throwing at you.  Unlike some other shows that try to dazzle you with strange stuff right from the start, this one gives you just enough narrative so you have something to follow while you’re being dazzled.  Even so, I sort of lost track at the end until they flat-out explained it.  Also, it’s hard to say where the plot is going now.  How far in the future was that flash-forward, and is that where we’ll start next week?  Maybe I’ll watch it and tell you.

Maybe the most hyped show of the season has been One Punch Man.  Does it live up to the hype?  Well, episode one was pretty entertaining.

One Punch Man's opening moment doesn't really describe what's going to happen.
One Punch Man’s opening moment doesn’t really describe what’s going to happen.

In case you don’t know, One Punch Man stars a superhero who can take out any opponent with just one punch. He got this way after risking his life to save a kid from a giant crab guy in underwear and realizing his regular, job-seeking life, was rather empty.  I love how they don’t give any more details.  He basically trained a lot.  But as he absurdly defeats one super-villain after another, he feels his life has become somewhat empty.  There’s a big fight near the end that seems to give him a reason for go on, but, well, this is a comedy show.  Among other things.

That's more like it.
That’s more like it.

So we got this ordinary bald guy who can’t be beaten thinking about his purpose in life, and we got big fights with all sorts of monsters and villains.  The fights are fun as hell, not only for the flow of the action and the animation but for OPM’s ordinary looks and the over-the-top villains.  It’s all so crazy that they destroy city after city and all I do is giggle.  Now, episode one works well for an opening, but it also could be a standalone with no part twos; if feels complete on its own.  What are they going to do for the rest of the series?  Bring in new characters, of course.  Hope they can add to the great but limited concept of episode one.
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JK Meshi has three girls studying the French revolution, getting mixed up about it, and none of it’s very funny.  Also, the CG animation is so bad it’s almost creepy.  Then one of them goes to cook up a snack, and we realize it’s a cooking show.  And it’s about three minutes.

What's up with that arm?  Is it her's?  Is it out of its socket?
What’s up with that arm? Is it her’s? Is it out of its socket?

The studying part was a bore.  The cooking part was better only because there was food involved, but all they did was add fried tomatoes and ground sesame to miso soup and talk about its healthiness.  It made me want to try it, but they could have spent the entire three minutes on the soup and gotten rid of the studying.  Still, there’s food involved, so unless the CG keeps creeping me out I’ll keep watching.

The first season of Yuru Yuri didn’t do much for me, the second improved.  As for the new third … well, just like the franchise as a whole, it’s some good some bad.

Yuru Yuri 3 begins by looking down at things.
Yuru Yuri 3 begins by looking down at things.

The first sketch was the best.  The girls start playing the king game, and Chinatsu plots to be king so she can have … whoever it is kiss her.  Part of my problem with the series is I can never remember who has a crush on whom.  But the scene reintroduces all the main characters and reminds us of how devious and greedy they can be, and it’s a good way to start.  The second sketch involves cooking in home ec class and isn’t much, and the third one, where Akari (the dullest of the lot) meets a little girl in the park and tries to act grown up.

Hey, girls!  Look alive!  It's a new season!
Hey, girls! Look alive! It’s a new season!

All the while I kept waiting for my two personal favorites, the teacher who blows stuff up and the SC prez who speaks too softly for anyone to hear, but they don’t show up.  As for the rest, it had its moments, like Chinatsu’s shoujo manga fantasy.  Kyoko has her moments as well.  I liked the masochist cider bit.  I don’t remember the music being so laid-back with undertones of jazz …  Other than that, nothing much has changed.  I’ll wait for the show to add its crazier elements and decide then.

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2015 new winter shows #4

That's an elevator cable.
That’s an elevator cable.

Death Parade brings us a young newlywed couple who find themselves in a mysterious bar, where Decim, the bartender, tells them that they can’t leave until they play a game, betting their lives. Turns out to be darts, only the board will cause pain somewhere in the opponent’s body depending on where its hit. As the two play, secrets come out and it’s clear that the two would quickly be heading for divorce court if they weren’t already dead. The game was in fact a way to reveal or decide … something.

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I’ll watch episode two, but the first one left a bad taste. I suppose the game is a way to tear away the illusion that they were a happy couple. In fact, it’s an act of cruelty, and an opportunity for us at home to pass moral judgments on the victims. In the end we learn that the game winner will go off to “the void” while the loser will be reincarnated, and if you say that well, she deserves it, I wasn’t crazy about his behavior during the game, either. In fact, I think their fates had already been decided, meaning the game it self was a way to inflict a little pain on two people who were already going through plenty. But at the end we get a peek of two other characters, and a hint that this series might turn away from “victim of the week,” so I’ll keep watching for now.

Durarara resumes by giving us a close-up of possibly its most beloved character.
Durarara resumes by giving us a close-up of possibly its most beloved character.

Durarara x2 brings back the gang, or gangs, after five years, though it’s only been six months for the characters. Little has changed, or at least that’s what Mikado thinks, and indeed we don’t see much out of the ordinary, just the little plot bits being scattered about. We start with Celty on the run from that motorcycle cop–live on TV, which gives us a reintroduction to many of the characters, because they’re all watching, though they really wanted to watch a documentary on Yuuhei Hanejima, Shizuo’s younger brother, so we get a glimpse of him as well. There’s also a string of grisly murders that has made the TV, which Kyohei and the guys in the van are watching. Which is all mixed in with flashbacks of six months ago.

Too many people figure into this episode, so here's a random pic of Erika and Martin.
Too many people figure into this episode, so here’s a random pic of Erika and Martin.

And so the wild ride starts again. Hard to tell, as usual, where they’re going with this, but apparently Celty’s figurative head is up for grabs with a 10,000,000 yen bounty, and her literal head is not seen this episode. Then there are the murders, and Yuuhei, and Izaya-kun’s up to something again. And new characters to mix in. We get a glimpse of just about everyone, though not enough of Simon. Seeing all the characters made me smile, but we’ll see if this new series can live up the the classic first.

Aldnoah's new season doesn't waste any time.
Aldnoah’s new season doesn’t waste any time.

The first season of Aldnoah.Zero had a pretty crazy ending, with Slaine shooting just about everybody around out of some weird jealousy or misplaced loyalty. It looks like the creators didn’t really like the ending too much, since most of the characters that made the show fun were now dead, apart from Slaine. “What the hell, bring ’em back! And let’s mess with the fans while we’re at it!” So when the story starts, Slaine is apparently a knight of the Vers empire, so a bad guy, and Asseylum is the same, though in a vat in Slaine’s quarters, and there’s another princess back there, muttering about her bloodline. Saazbaum is alive. Oh, we get some backstory to explain it, but it’s still pretty crazy. In the episode, things look dire for the good guys until Inaho (he’s alive too!) shows up and knocks out another generic Vers baddie using only his guile, just like the old days.

And we get another Inaho saves the day scene.
And we get another Inaho saves the day scene.

Like in the first series, the big question is “what is going through Slaine’s mind?” He appears to be a loyal Vers knight now, but since Asseylum’s still there perhaps his loyalties still lie with her. So why did he help Saazbaum escape? Was there no way to rescue the princess? Also, I’m confused about what it was that gave Inaho the aldnoah ability to rescue his team. The blood? The kiss? I wonder if we’re going to get any answers until Asseylum wakes up, which could take a while. It’s an effective episode, getting us back in the war and keeping us guessing at the same time.

A pretty but misleading image to start Rolling GIrls.
A pretty but misleading image to start Rolling GIrls.

Let’s see, Rolling Girls starts with some background on how all the prefectures are now independent, because reasons, and now each prefecture has little squabbles with other prefectures, usually resulting in a fight between super-powered “bests,” while the others “rests” try to mitigate the damage. We watch one best, the maccha-green Masami, go at it with another girl, meanwhile her younger sister, Nozomi, wants to join the gang, to the dismay of Masami and family. Then there’s a fake robot, a ramen eating contest, and in the end Maccha’s group are stuck on a deadly roller-coaster, which even the enemy thinks is a little extreme. Oh, and a girl on a scooter keeps showing up.

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It’s next to impossible to understand what is going on, especially if you’re like me and don’t understand the intricacies and history of the various prefectures, which is what fuels much of the plot. I don’t mind too much. While the two bests are indeed beating the crap out of each other, the rest of it is bright, colorful, and eccentric. The clever, offhand way it introduces everyone reminds me of a better-than-average noitaminA series, something like Tsuritama. It’s nice to look at and has a fun ED. For me, it’s worth keeping an eye on to see if I can figure out what’s going on.

2015 new winter shows #3

Saekano begins with female flesh, and irony.
Saekano begins with female flesh, and irony.

There’s really no story to Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata 1. Instead, it’s an episode-long character and background information episode that mocks the concept even while doing it. For instance, the girls are introduced by Tomoya, the unabashed nerdy male lead, while one of them, Utaha the scriptwriter, complains about the infodump way he’s going about it. We also learn, through narrative techniques that Utaha would prefer, that the five girls and one boy are doing a dating sim for comiket. And that he’s probably closest to Kato, the girl no one notices but him. That’s about all we learn. The rest of it is stuff like an onsen scene with lots of flesh while the girls complain about anime that start that way, and countless scenes of the girls jerking Tomoya around, often literally.

Utaha is a hands-on type of scriptwriter.
Utaha is a hands-on type of scriptwriter.

This would be all right in a show where the fourth wall isn’t there, but there’s no indication that the characters are aware that we’re watching. In that train scene, Tomoya continues to give the girls introductions while they sit there and wonder why he’s doing it, and so do we. He’s not talking to us … In the onsen scene, it feels like they’re trying too hard to be self-referential. On the other hand, some of it IS funny, because there’s something resembling plot AND attempts to screw around with the plot at the same time, like the heartfelt but predictable speech by Tomoya undercut by the girls finding new ways to mess with him. So, can this series succeed in using old anime tropes and explain them away by mocking them? Can it get away with showing an excessive amount of female skin (and almost all the girls do) by making references to it? Can it have its cake and eat it too? Well, it’s great to look at, and it IS sometimes funny, and its attempts to do whatever it’s doing knocked me off my pins a few times.

Koufuku Graffiti starts with oinarisan and sexy eating.
Koufuku Graffiti starts with oinarisan and sexy eating.

Koufuku Graffiti stars Ryou, a high school girl living alone after her beloved granny dies (parents are away on business, as in most anime families). She’s mostly over that, but she’s worried that her cooking has gone off without grandma’s influence. Then a cousin named Kirin, the same age as her, but looking and acting much younger, comes to stay a night or two after a fight with her mother, and they both realize things about themselves and family through the all-encompassing concept of delicious food.

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Though Shaft has proven it can pull off different types of shows using their trademark style, this still seems like an odd fit. It’s not that the episode doesn’t work; it’s a pleasant if a little dull way to begin a series, but with the camera angles and art style I kept expecting something weirder and kinkier to happen. They save the latter for when Ryou eats–even Kirin notes that she looks erotic. In fact, all the food scenes have a sensuality to them that Shaft’s dirty minds happily exploit. But it feels low-key compared to what they usually bring us. I wonder if Shaft can contain themselves to just food and eating. Never mind. It looks great, and the story seems pleasant enough.

Fafnir starts with a city being attacked before moving on to the fanservice.
Fafnir starts with a city being attacked before moving on to the fanservice.

Next it’s Juuou Mujin no Fafnir, where we get a backstory of dragons attacking earth, then vanishing, only for people to appear with dragon powers, useful for defending us against the real dragons, which apparently have not disappeared after all. In more mundane matters, our hero, Yuu, is sent to an all-girls “Type-D” school as the first male “D.”, and the first thing that happens is that he catches one of the girls naked. There follows the usual scenes introducing Yuu to his beautiful and skeptical classmates, and then he watches them train, which means a mild transformation, allowing us to ogle each girl in succession, while we get dull talk about defeating dragons. Next week, a real dragon will show up.

... and bores the hell out of the audience.
… and bores the hell out of the audience.

A shame I won’t see it. This was a completely routine episode one, uninteresting in every way, and made worse with the transformation bits. Did we need to see so many? There is nothing to Yuu at all, and all the girls we’ve met are all types, when they show any personality at all. The mock-battle scenes have the screen fade out and images fizzle, which I suppose is supposed to look cool but instead made me wonder if the file was messed up. Nope. Often even a weak show will have just enough of a crisis at the end that I decide to watch next week. With this one I just don’t care.

Cinderella Girls' opening is appropriate enough.
Cinderella Girls’ opening is appropriate enough.

I watched the last iDOLM@STER series and liked it well enough, but am I ready for a spinoff? All these new girls to remember, the silly emotions, etc. On the other hand, the first series was a pleasant surprise for everyone. This new series: The iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls, starts differently in that the new production company hasn’t even been formed yet. We meet Uzuki, a girl who failed her first Cinderella audition but is still determined, idiotically say “yes,” to a creepy guy who wants to be her producer. Next, he tries to recruit another member, Rin, who is much more sensible and tells him to fuck off. But he’s persistent.

Someone get Uzuki an agent for her protection, or a cop.
Someone get Uzuki an agent for her protection, or a cop.

The man is tall and frightening, and when he speaks (which isn’t often) its in a deep undertone. It’s supposed to be funny. They’re trying to show the producer as creepy-looking but misunderstood. Doesn’t matter. If you solicit adolescent girls on the street for anything, you’re creepy. And Uzuki’s blind acceptance of anything the man says and asks made for some disturbing viewing. When the girls finally sit and talk, I expected Rin to set Uzuki straight, but apparently she’s not immune to flattery herself, and so now the man has two girls. At least with two of them they can compare notes. I don’t think I want to watch any more of this.

Assassination Classroom wants you to know what class it is from the start.
Assassination Classroom wants you to know what class it is from the start.

I had heard enough about Assassination Classroom that I was pretty certain I wouldn’t care for it, but I quite enjoyed episode 1. We start with just another day in school, only the kids all whip out rifles and shoot at the teacher, a squidlike thing with a happy face. Then we follow student Nagisa (who I thought for sure was a girl for half the episode) into flashback land and learn the origin. This teacher, Koro-Sensei, blew up most of the moon and will do the same to Earth unless this class can kill him, and he’s got super powers. So we watch a few attempts at his life and get accustomed to this weird situation, as the kids also do.

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Since I knew what the setup was, it would take more than that to entertain me, and much of the time the show did just that. I loved the OP with the students happily dancing at their desks, and the government’s explanation to the kids. I also like that Koro is a humane, caring teacher that this class (full of dead-end kids) responds to as students, and that he doesn’t mind all the attempts on his life, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the class. And when Nagisa is forced to put his life on the line in one attempt, Koro admonishes the classmates that made him do it. Anime loves giving us weird, neurotic, ditzy teachers, so it’s ironic that one of the few good ones we’ve seen is an alien set on destroying the earth. But how far can they take this? Are we in for weeks of failed assassination attempts? I’m not sure I want to watch that, but episode one surprised me; let’s see if they can keep it up.

Asukara 25, Yakuindomo ?, Nisekoi and Fool 12

The events of Nagi no Asukara 25 seems to be all about gods playing dice with the loves of adolescents and young adults.

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Actually, for a while it looked like things had settled down. Hikari loves Manaka, and if Manaka could, she’d love him back. Miuna isn’t happy about this because she loves Hikari, too, but you know how that goes. Meanwhile, Chisaki loves Tsumugu and vice versa, but Chisaki has to come around to it. Kaname and Sayu are on their way to become a couple, so they’re taken care of, too. All that’s left is to get Manaka’s love-ability back, and they decide to have another boatdrift show to see if that works, because you remember how well the LAST one turned out.

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During the event, among some lovely-looking scenes (I haven’t said too much about PA Works’ artwork in this series recently, believe me that the show still looks great), we get another violent sea upheaval, and Manaka goes overboard. Everyone with ena dives in to save her, except Kaname, who goes to Sayu. Miuna gets to her first, ena and thoughts are exchanged, and so it’s Miuna who winds up in that weird graveyard, because she’s expendable, I guess, and this time there’s no getting her back. So in the last episode either they’ll go down with some digging tools and REALLY piss off that sea god, or everyone will mope all episode, or someone else will offer themselves. Hey, how about Akari, the little kid. I can’t stand him anyway. Kudos to Hikari, though, for reminding Miuna before the festival that they were doing it so that maybe this ecological disaster might be averted, not to work out the love-lives of some adolescents.

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Seitokai Yakuindomo is another show that’s not quite dead (okay, the finale just came out, but I haven’t watched it yet). Let’s see … It’s New Years, so they go shopping and meet Uomi, Kaede, and Hata. The third trimester begins, so Hata interviews everyone about their New Years resolutions. We get the penultimate Squid and Takatoshi episode. It’s cold. Their lunches are cold. The judo team needs a manager. It’s still cold. It’s Valentine’s day, so Dejima teaches the girls to make chocolate gifts, which they give to Takatoshi. “Todoroke Nene’s Trivia” is actually interesting, though still dirty. Takatoshi meets Uomi while shopping for White Day, and the girls, and a joke is made that has consequences later. Then it’s the final Squid and Takatoshi, and the culprit is … After the closing credits, Shino makes the Tsuda kids a bento. Then the consequence business happens. Everyone thinks Takatoshi and Uomi are dating. For real. Actual plot.

Always dithering.
Always dithering.

Nisekoi has lots of little plots working out from the main story. Most of the time they’re an unwanted distraction, unless they’re funny. But here in episode 12 they start right up with sort of the main story. Chitoge is going to test her key out on Raku’s locket. Since the episode was getting to the point right at the start, I forgave and actually had a mind to laugh at Chitoge’s nervous blabbing. Well, that’s not fair. I often laugh at this show, even when it does digress too far. I won’t try to analyze the symbolism of a girl’s key entering a boy’s locket, and when the key breaks, I’m not going there. But it was funny enough, forgivable because you KNEW something to delay the proceedings would happen. I’m just proud of the two kids that they got their gumption up and try the obvious, after so many episodes. After that, and an infodump by Chitoge’s dad (helping the plot along), the digressions inevitably happen, this time with the pictures from their camp on sale. It’s predicatable, but I did like how Chitoge wants a copy of just about every one. It shows how far she’s come as a social being.

Yeah, I don't think the gods are pleased by this event.
Yeah, I don’t think the gods are pleased by this event.

With the new season starting very soon I’m tempted yet again to dump Nobunaga the Fool. I haven’t made up my mind yet, and this episode did nothing to sway me either way. Basically, they have the tea party, after what seemed like weeks of preparing for the tea party. It was livened up a little by potential mayhem by Mitsuhide’s stealth minions, but that didn’t happen this week. What did, after it became obvious to everyone watching but no one in the cast, was Ichihime agreeing to become Caesar’s bride. The fact that she agreed and wasn’t just taken makes me happy, because she’s basically unreadable as a character apart from her devotion to duty, which is her reasoning here. It will save the land and its people, etc. That might be true, but I’m waiting to see what deviousness she might concoct behind enemy lines. The only other thing worth noticing this week is Nobunaga becoming a little more humble, not a good sign in terms of bloody battling. Still on probation.

Asukara 23, Zvezda 11, Dandy 12, Fool 12, Nisekoi 11

(I’m dumping what I got here because I’m off sightseeing for a couple days. Kyoto!)

Nagi no Asukara 23 has the all the usual characters limping around emotionally, in love with people who don’t appear to be in love with them, but who knows?

Oh, she probably does.
Oh, she probably does.

Nobody seems to know what’s going on. Manaka has an excuse; the asshole sea god took her ability to love away. This episode it actually seems to bother her. We get in especially in once scene where that little tyke writes her a love letter and something seems to hit her. Also, the sea gets really loud when she’s thinking in this episode. Other times she comments how she doesn’t know what love is in that “never been in love” way, to which you should be smug and say “you will,” but around her no one is sure she will, so instead we get tragic looks that she doesn’t understand.

Finally!  Someone says it!
Finally! Someone says it!

Besides this week’s spoonful of plot, about doing another boatdrift festival, using that stone Manaka has (will she give it up?), and talk about detritus being the memories of living things, we get one interesting scene. Kaname’s been wandering around with that always-a-bridesmaid attitude he gets, and Sayu, who knows he’s in love with Chisaki, who’s in love with etc., gets sick of it, or maybe’s she’s sick of everyone in the show wandering around wondering if they’re in love, SHOULD they love somebody (Chisaki is especially annoying about that this week), or CAN they? So right then and there, at the train tracks, she confesses to Kaname. Since nothing every goes right for Sayu this is especially brave of her. And kudos for Kaname for actually thinking “Hey, she likes me. Maybe I ought to see what she’s like. It’s not like I have anything else going on…” Other characters in this show have confessed, of course, but they always make it as complicated as possible, or their would-be partner does. So I had to cheer or these two side-characters who are going to work it out. Also, nice speech, Sayu.

Not Kate's best idea.
Not Kate’s best idea.

With Bouryaku no Zvezda 11 the worrisome thing is not that the bad guys (Zvezda) are about to lose, it’s that the real bad guys are going to win. The darkness that began to overrun this show last episode got even worse this time (I got an unpleasant chill when Jimon’s father announced the annexation of West Udogawa, thinking of the Crimea situation happening now), even while there are signs of life in Zvezda, starting with Natasha and her tears (what the hell was that about?), and Jimon’s announcement to Renge that he was going away. And Goro, lying there in the morgue, well, I don’t count him out yet. Jimon’s departure (after a sweet little scene with Renge) I take the least seriously, because he’s the most powerless. What’s he going to do? Confront his father? The man’s not even human anymore. As for Kate, judging from her reactions to her stuffed doll, I can only assume she showed up at the ceremony in order to die, maybe to be reborn somewhere else and try again. I don’t know. Every main character is acting so weirdly. Well, they always have.

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After three good episodes, Space Dandy falls back into predictability in episode 12. The boys try to catch a Chameleonian, a creature who can look like anything it wants. Naturally, they bring one onboard without knowing it, naturally it imitates each of them until the boys, naturally, are beside themselves. Naturally they have to play a game to guess who the real Dandy is. An offshoot of the “evil twin” story that I first saw in Green Acres; who knows where it started. I will say that though the writing is hackneyed, the direction isn’t. The show managed to keep moving even as I was cringing from the predictable scenes. And they add a nice touch at the end, where Dandy begins to question his identity and the chameleonian forgets his. And I liked the digression they added with QT becoming a fishing nut. Too bad it came early on and they didn’t bother with it afterwards.

Now that you've said that: no.
Now that you’ve said that: no.

Damn, I wish Nonunaga the Fool would be done with Caesar, already. Smug villains bore me. As for the episode itself it wasn’t bad in terms of the story, that is to say, there’s a battle, though we know that since we see Nobunaga announcing his strategy to Mitsuhide and Hideyoshi, that it would fail in some way. Well, be fair, it didn’t. It was working to perfection when Caesar called upon a god or a dragon or something and leveled up, and now it looks like he might have won this battle. Ho hum. I suppose it was too early to get rid of him, since he lusts after Ichihime but hasn’t actually met her yet. Also, the card of the week is Death, so, in spite of DaVinci’s commentary on how that could mean the death of their robot armor if they overheat (basically a way to feed us information on the upcoming battle), we know someone’s gotta die. Turns out it was mainly peasants and small soldiers. I feel let down. The only thing it does to the main characters is give Jeanne a big guilt complex.

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In the first half of Nisekoi 11 we had to watch Raku go through all the usual agonizings he usually does when he finds himself on a non-date with Onodera. The coffee shop scene was especially irritating (apart from the laughing waitress), and it looked like more of the same when Onodere, more proactive than usual, takes him to her secret place, which isn’t THAT hidden, really. We watch Raku torture himself (and us) while trying to ask a simple question about her birthday, while we knew it was a pointless question to begin with and it won’t get us anywhere. But in a flash of comic plot, he blurts out the real question: was she the friend from years ago? FINALLY, the story takes a step forward! Of course, no way could they get any further than that, like, you know, try out the key and locket. Not a chance. The gods of comedy wouldn’t allow it, and they’re too busy dithering over the implications to think about it. The second half, until the final line, is more wheel-spinning. Well, the gang learn that Chitoge’s family are mobsters, but they’re fine with that. Rather sweet moment when they find out, actually. Raku gives Chitoge the most ridiculous bday gift ever, and it made me laugh. What the hell was he thinking? And what store gives out Chitoge gorilla dolls?

Nisekoi 10, Dandy 11, Zvezda and Fool 10

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Nisekoi 10 has the aftermath of the bath scene, with Chitoge possibly pissed off because Raku didn’t see her “perfect body,” though he actually did and is doing the decent thing by lying about it. Meanwhile, Raku had gotten a glimpse of Onodera’s pretty damn good body as well, and now can’t look her in the eye. The possible misunderstandings between them are cleared up by another white lie and an honest attempt to reassure. And then it’s time for a test of courage, where Chitoge winds up stuck in the woods without a flashlight. Remember, she’s afraid of the dark. The choices Raku has to make here are obvious and not very interesting apart from moving the hateful couple a little closer together. What makes this episode as fun to watch as the others is, as usual, the mind-blowing effects Shaft uses to show Raku’s elation and then terror at being paired with Onodera, especially the riff on #12, and those star-things that signified a heart-swelling moment, and the ones used to show Chitoge’s fear at being alone in the woods, including more of those heart-swelling star things when Raku finds her.

Space Dandy 11 is the third good one in a row. Two weeks ago they did a nice job of creating a strange, trippy world to look at; last week they threw two old tropes together and had fun with them. This week it comes down to the cool idea.

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I suppose someone has thought and written a story about an intelligent book, but I haven’t come across it. What puts it over the top is what they do with the idea. Dandy and his pals come across the book, er, somehow, no one can remember. They find a slip of paper inside that they see as a free ticket to Lagada, a planet which is entirely a library. My librarian-sense went “Hooray!” I’m a sucker for good library stories. Meanwhile that bad guy is on the way to Lagada to challenge a returned item dispute by destroying it, but that’s really a sideshow.

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They get to play with metaphors for a bit. The book is of a parasitic species which uses others’ brains to do the boring thinking, solving the mundane bits, by feeding them hints and letting the exterior intelligences work the problems out. It uses humans like humans use computers. I’m reminded of the “Language is a virus” phrase (especially with the drifting alien letters that float and flow around things), that language is a code that can affect behavior, such as the slip of paper rearranging its words to get Dandy to go to the planet in search of free food. Finally, there was the irony of the book’s reason for leaving Lagado in the first place. Fun stuff. And while I thought they could have presented it better, I’ll forgive them just for the fun of the idea, and for the excellent look (grey, black, white, like pencil scratches on paper) of Lagado.

You know, there was something I wanted to add to the paragraph above, but I can’t remember what it is now. Seriously.

Cornered.
Cornered.

Meanwhile, in Bouryaku no Zvezda 10, the shit’s hit the fan. Two of our beloved conquerors are down, maybe three. Jimon and Renge are the lam. So are Kate and Plamya. None of them have a home now, and if they’re found they’ll be shot. Most of the episode is pretty depressing, with Zvezda losing their home and source of energy, constantly running from an enemy so much worse than White Light that Renge turned against them. Unfortunately, the more capable Kaori didn’t, and she’s following the orders of the new boss, which is to kill his son, Jimon. No wonder the kid ran away. It’s sad to see them fall one by one, and the rest is bewildering. Most of all, Kate. She keeps saying these odd things, like “I didn’t want to be a little girl,” or lines about 12,000 years to Renge, and how the earth is shining like a diamond. She jumps from childlike behavior to meglomania so fast that Jimon wonders if there’s something wrong with her, I mean, more than usual. If we actually get an explanation, it will be a letdown, but we need something from the show. Three episodes left if you believe ANN, and I’m not sure I do. This felt like a penultimate episode.

Hideyoshi strikes a pose.
Hideyoshi strikes a pose.

Nobunaga the Fool 10 feels more ridiculous than usual. They go to Takamagahara, the only place where ships from the West Star can land, and pretty much tear it up in order to steal a war armor. Nobunaga is leading the infiltration/assault, which I cheer him for, but surely he could have left it to the subordinates. Never mind, it’s not his episode, really. It actually belongs to Hideyoshi. We figured it would when he mentions off-handedly early on that his sister died at the hands of the Oda clan (indirectly, it turns out), and later says out loud “Gee, I sure wish I had a giant robot of my own to pilot.” We also learn that his sister died of starvation because the war took all the food, and after he got over the hate he decided to stand beside Nobunaga to conquer everything so there won’t be war anymore. Also, because Nobunaga’s got intregrity. Well, Hidiyoshi’s never been the brightest of characters. Anyway, guess who winds up with the armor they steal? Oh, and if Nobunaga shows weakness, Hidoyoshi will strike him down. This is said many times this episode, by both men, usually with grins on their faces.

Those Nobunaga shows, and Kill la Kill 22

Trying to think of a joke for this.
Trying to think of a joke for this.

Unfortunately, in Nobunaga the Fool 9, Caesar isn’t dead. I guess I shouldn’t have expected him to be, but smirking bishie villains drive me up the wall. Now he’s teamed up with Uesugi Kenshin, another clan overload, and a bishie himself, but doesn’t smirk and actually seems to be a decent sort; he’s got this power to open up the earth and make mecha fall into it, and with that power you’d think he’d have gone for conquest already, but he hasn’t. But after this new threat is explained to us and news gets out nothing much happens. Nobunaga’s aides were reluctantly accepting Nobunaga as their new boss, but now they have a new reason to doubt him. People are doubting a lot of things in this episode, or searching for answers, from Jeanne to Mitsuhide to even Ichihime, who now obviously has Mitsuhide as her goal. More guilt for the guy. Nobunaga goes about rallying support through speeches through loudspeakers. At least one character in this series isn’t doubting anything. He’s got too big an ego for that.

People had doubts about using Nobunaga from the start.
People had doubts about using Nobunaga from the start.

A split story in Nobunagun 10. The first half is Granny’s story about how she got to be the leader of Dogoo in the first place, which requires grabbing a gene here and then through time and going back into hibernation, until she gets sick of that (I couldn’t make out the reason), only to return when she’s an old lady. Fine and dandy, but if Dogoo is such a sophisticated, advanced and timeless organization, why didn’t they go out and destroy the damn meteor before it ever landed on Earth? They had hundreds of years to do just that. The second half of the story involves that damn “battleship” thing guarding the tunnel, and Sio’s gene-inspired insight that tells her (and Dogoo) what the aliens are really plotting. I think it’s more interesting for the way Jack treats her nowadays. He’s as unpleasant as ever, however, he’s realized that Sio’s a visionary warrior and is the first one of that dysfunctional organization to call for her advice. And when she manages to get her opinion heard, he’s grinning. Must be their egenes, both bloodthirsty types.

Kill la Kill 22 rescues this post by giving us twenty-four minutes full of … what was the word again?

Oh, incomprehensible.  That's right.  Thanks.
Oh, incomprehensible. That’s right. Thanks.

Okay, it wasn’t really incomprehensible. It was a mostly straightforward episode where the two opposing sides bond a little, take care of some minor things, and plan their strategy for the final two episodes. And there’s a complication right at the end, but Mako’s on the job! No worries there. In terms of incomprehensible bits, the only one that made me scratch my head was Mako’s dramatic reappearance from the sky, in that white box. Was she gone? When? What’s that box supposed to be? But it’s swept away by her appearance in what I think is her cutest outfit. Kill la Kill has a tendency to make your qualms about this or that plot point vanish by showing you something amazing.

Some things take longer than others.
Some things take longer than others.

Besides, who cares? I can barely remember what the Life Fibers’ ultimate plan entails, something about covering the Earth. All I know is that the four devas, Nudist Beach, and Mako have to destroy a transmitter and there’s a huge men’s suit blocking them, meanwhile Ryuuko and Satsuki are off to stop Ragyo. Both will involve a lot of fighting and shouting and will be great to watch. The fact that Ragyo’s their mom, and that they’re sisters, well, they do get a mention, but only in superficial, comic terms, and to allow us to see Ryuuko get all tsundere with Satsuki. Of the other personal things the most important was getting Ryuuko and Satsuki on the same page, involving a slugging contest that wasn’t, and the consideration of the disorderly “incomprehensible fools” who not only keep Ryuuko going, but Satsuki. But after the satisfying and rather gross defeat of Nui early in the episode, we didn’t have a lot of fighting. I believe the next two episodes will more than make up for that.