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Finales: Another, Lagrange … also Kill Me Baby 12

March 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Another 11, jam packed with craziness and deaths, apparently wasn’t long enough to show them all.

A hotel full of frightened kids on fire (not pictured: homicidal maniacs, lightning)

Another 12 picks up right where we left off. I think the first minute had three or four additional deaths thanks to the homicidal landlady and the hotel burning and all. And the chandelier that lands on a handful of students. One of them manages to squeeze free and runs for the exit LOOK OUT FOR THE PILLAR! … Oh, damn … That moment made me giggle. I think whatever being was in charge of the mayhem was giggling a little at that point, too.

Okay, fun is fun, but this is the final episode. There is a problem to be solved amidst all the mayhem. Okay, two problems: finding the dead person and killing them, and staying alive when some of the people who are also trying solve the problem think you’re the dead person. Both Kouichi and Mei have this second problem. Mei’s already been gone at by two people (yet she remains so eerily calm–only when there’s a weapon pointed directly at her does she show any reaction at all), and now Kouichi’s the intended victim of Kazami, who’s got his dates mixed up. The first death came before Kouichi ever came to class, but no one knew about it, and now he’s past listening to reason. Kouichi is saved by Akazawa, trouble is, she thinks Mei’s the dead one. Soon we got two or three people rolling around hitting and pulling and slashing–oh, the hotel is on fire, remember, and let’s not forget about the lightning, or whatever caused the explosion.

I hate to see a good tsundere go, especially one that’s been trying to fight the good fight all this time, but it seems that if you take a swing at one of the heroes, even under duress, you’re not forgiven. At least she got a few parting lines out. And so, much of the danger is passed, the suddenly heroic librarian has gotten the survivors out, but problem one has yet to be solved, until Mei forces the issue. The identity of the dead person came as no shock to me, but that’s only because it was spoiled for me. And frankly I didn’t really feel that big an emotional connection. Not true for Kouichi, however, and so it was still a moving scene and difficult to watch.

After twelve episodes we finally get sunshine.

After that it’s back to normal, sort of. Some confusing explanation by the librarian in the cemetery, some chat between the two heroes about getting together again, sort of a letdown. Teshigawara and Mochizuki make another recording for future students, and hide it–why? This is important information. It should be written into the student handbook for chrissakes! And so one of the best shows of the spring season ends. Like most shows, I find things in it that don’t make sense, such as how the class handles its curse, and the curse as a whole was so convoluted that I lost interest in details. The middle parts dragged the story down, but that’s true with a lot of shows. Kouichi was a bit of a wuss but he was brave when he had to be. Mei needed more range. She kept up her undertone behavior even when her life was in danger. But the show did an excellent job in conveying an atmosphere of dread, from the cloudy, decaying feel of the town to the excellent use of music and sound. And if the final two episodes were a bit extreme, they were fun as hell to watch. Another good job by PA Works.

When I started to watch Rinne no Lagrange 12 I thought I had done the same thing as last time, and skipped an episode. What happened? Madoka was going beserk and that flower thing was happening! Now it’s a goodbye party? Nope, I didn’t miss anything. The show was just playing some games with me, or maybe it was telling me where the heart of this show really lay.

The sun is ALWAYS out in this show.

We learn some whats but now whys or hows. Lan’s side has shown up on Earth, Lan’s a princess and is going to leave soon. I suppose you could have predicted all of that, so it’s not really a spoiler. Muginami isn’t there, but since no one’s terribly upset you figure she’s not dead. So it’s a bittersweet time when the three must break up, possibly for good. And that’s what this show was all about, much more than any silly intergalactic war or strange cosmic light shows. It was about the friendship of three girls and the town they’ve come to love. Not that I cared. I wanted the battle and the light show. I wanted to know what happened. And finally the show decided to fill me in.

Okay, there's no sun here, but there's a giant, glowing flower. That counts for something.

It made even less sense than I expected. The three girls are caught in some kind of glowing triad while the trippy theme plays. Villaguilo is blasting away at them to no effect, and suddenly Madoka’s sitting on a beach, where that strange woman everyone refers to chats with her about personal decisions, though I’m not sure what that has to do with Madoka. Maybe that she shouldn’t let her vox freak out and sit around on surreal beaches. Revived, she gets the others to fly around and around the big cloud, and a big flower is formed. “Aura!” says Moid. But all of a sudden Midori stops dead, The flower withers (in a cosmic, colorful way), Villawhosits attacks, but here comes the De Metrio calvary, and Muginami shows she’s learned nothing and flies him away before he can get killed. So much for the flashback. Now we know.

The trouble is, it raises more questions. Why did Midori suddenly conk out? What was that flower? The show has no interest in telling us. It goes back to goodbyes, and they’re very sweet, but now that we know there’s unexplained story there we know there’s probably more to come. So the sad “bye byes” kind of lose their potency. What’s more, we learn during the previews that not only will there be an OVA but a second series in July! So much for “bye bye!” Not that I mind. This show is by no means a classic, or even very good, but its kind nature, sense of fun, and colorful, trippy aesthetic made it a pleasure to watch every week. Apart from Macross on a good day this is the happiest mecha show I can think of. Sure, I’ll watch more.

And there was Kill Me Baby 12.

Another knows how to build to a climax. Chihayafuru and Bakuman don’t care.

March 22, 2012 1 comment

Whoa! Another is through with being a moody, eerie thriller. Episode 11’s quiet moments happen only to briefly lull us after the last atrocity in order to sucker-punch us with another one. The surprises and twists and blood never stop. It’s wonderful. And it’s all because of people acting stupidly.

Start with Teshigawa. He suspects his childhood pal Kazami is the dead one and during their struggle pushes him over a balcony. Rather than go check up on him, he goes to Kouichi and Misaki (interrupting the revelation from last week). They talk forever instead of doing the obvious thing. Finally, they decide to go, splitting up so that we get double the wild encounters. Kouichi encounters another victim who says don’t look in the dining room. Kouichi does anyway. It’s on fire. The hotel manager is among it all, murdered. Now what would you do? Alert the others and evacuate, of course. Oh, and look out for a bloody murderer while your at it. I TOLD you Another upped its game.

The bloody murderer in question ... wait, there's more than one?!

Things get a little muddled here. For a while no one seems too concerned about the hotel being on fire. Well, considering we got an old lady with a cleaver hacking at people you can imagine they’d be a little distracted. Rooms are checked, blood trails, lots of blood trails, are spotted. We get a fresh moment of tension every time they tentatively open a door. Especially since it turns out the landlady isn’t the only homicidal maniac around.

Someone's been listening to that tape.

Takako has gone completely ga-ga and broadcasts the tape over the hotel speakers, saying that Misaki’s the dead one. Now we got a whole class of terrified students out to kill Misaki thanks to evidence from a loony. Yes, in this episode, people behave stupidly indeed. Hats off to Kouichi. He’s a scrawny kid, but when he sees Misaki threatened we see his angry courage come out. In the ensuing escape he rescues her twice, even if one of them meant locking themselves into a room. Er, guys, there’s a fire, right? And a homicidal maniac, no, two homicidal maniacs, and a class full of kids frightened enough to kill. People behaving stupidly has rarely been this much fun.

Kouichi brave rescue #3, bloody death #47 coming up.

You want surprises? You got ’em. Near-fatal escapes? Right over here. Spectacular, bloody deaths? We got a special this week! Oh, and that forgotten fire makes itself known soon enough, better add a few more to the corpse list. At the end of the episode, they’re STILL not out of it. Whee!

In the Karuta world episode 24 of Chihayafuru would be the biggest event of the year, but for our heroes it’s just a chance to sit back and watch the people who beat them compete for the championship. So there’s nothing at stake, only the chance to watch and learn. The closest thing to serious drama in this event is when Taichi inwardly refuses to stop and help Chihaya practice because HE has some things he wants to watch, too, namely the men’s defending champion, Suo, who seems to play by stealth. There’s fun to be had with every characters’ reactions, especially when the slender, lovely Shinobou is shown to have gained a few kilos. It throws her game off–a little. Kana is dazzled by Shinobou’s kimono. Nishida roots for Yumin. We do go into the minds of the competitors but don’t learn much, maybe a little about Shinobou’s grandma, who apparently has passed away. So with one episode to go, it’s obvious whatever big crises they were going to show us has already happened and they’ll spend the time setting up an inevitable (I hope) season two.

Seiji, phoning his fiercest rivals.

The big crisis in Bakuman II is over before the finale as well. It’s a letdown. After last week where the vote goes 4-3 against, some of them change their votes because they feel they should support their artists, which I don’t understand, since Shonen Jack has gone on a limb for the boys at least twice now. Anyway, it changes what might have been a depressing episode to one filled with high spirits, even a Christmas song by Miho which feels as christmassy as anything done during the proper season. Things continue to look up as Hattori becomes their editor again and is as impressed with the boys’ drive and raw talent as he was before, approving Mashiro’s desire to work with only a script to aid his spontanaety. It also leads to the best comic moments when Miura takes over Hattori’s editorship role with Aiko and is immediately put in his place. It fires up the rivals, too. Fukuda starts working on a one-shot to throw a monkey wrench into the Seiji/Muto Ashirogi rivalry. They’re all delighted their friends are doing well, they’re working hard to beat them. Only good can come of this.

Categories: Another, Bakuman, Chihayafuru

Another 10, Ano Natsu 10, Chihayafuru 23

March 15, 2012 Leave a comment

After watching Another 10 I don’t exactly want to strangle Mei, but only because she’s too cute. I’d just shake her to make that fake eye rattle a bit.

Mei has always been the person in the class that makes everone uncomfortable. Her appearance and demeanor must be a sort of living reminder of the curse they’re under, not to mention a reminder that Countermeasures haven’t worked well this time around. The show sneakily adds a hint of jealousy of Mei over Kouichi, and that’s all it takes for Countermeasures head Akazawa to heap blame for the deaths onto Mei during the most depressing group dinner scene I think I’ve witnessed. Interesting to note that the people who have Matsunaga’s confession tape don’t tell her about it. Their excuse is that they don’t want anyone else to know, and, based on what happened to those two girls last episode, it’s a sensible decision. But Akazawa, as the class rep for death, should normally be included. The tape is interesting indeed. Matsunaga found a way to stop the deaths: send the dead back to death. In other words, kill the person in the class who’s already dead. This makes sense in a backwards way, but it poses other problems. Kouichi states one: could you kill a classmate? The dead person doesn’t know he’s dead, after all. And there is no way to tell … or is there? dum dum dum …

NOW she tells him.

Back to why I want to rattle Mei. She looks at the old photo that Kouichi has finally found (and not mentioned to us) and he’s able to spot the dead person, and so can Mei but for different reasons. Sigh … All this time she’s had the ability to see the color of death in people. Not only the dead, she could see traces of it in doomed people, too. What’s more, she knows who the class’s dead person is! Okay, to be fair, the full implications of being able to see the dead haven’t been important, though it would have been good to know. And you can understand why a young girl with a rather troubled childhood would be reluctant to talk about such abilities, or even use them, hence the eyepatch. But with so much going on she ought to have taken a deep breath, pulled Akazawa or someone aside at least, and LET THEM KNOW! On the other hand, maybe she’s tried but keeps getting interrupted, like what Teshigawara does when she’s about to spill the beans to Kouichi. I bet we’ll have to wait until someone spots something weird in the photo they took; you do realize that’s why they spent so much episode time with them taking it, don’t you? Sometimes it’s not just Mei, I want to strangle the entire series. It can be so good and yet fall into plot devices that come off worse than any of the corpses.

Kanna, screaming. This was a heavy episode.

So, in episode ten of Ano Natsu de Matteru we have not a love triangle but a linear string of people, all of them unhappy except Kaito and Ichika, who have managed to tie a knot at the end (Damn, I’m good with metaphors!). And in spite of its unnecessary SF fru-fru the show has managed to work with the romantic hunt so that we find all the stories compelling, though for me some are more compelling than others. The episode follows them down the line. After a scene or two of Kaito and Ichika being lovey-dovey we start with the moping Kanna, in love with Kaito, who’s visited by Tetsurou, who’s in love with Kanna. Tetsurou leaves and runs into Mio, in love with Tetsurou. All the way down, and climbing back up, things are confessed or coerced. Mio’s already confessed to Tetsurou, but understands the truth. After their scene, Tetsurou meets Kanna again and confesses. She’s the only one to be taken by surprise by any of this. Anyway, she runs off, screaming, and pointlessly confesses to a bewildered Kaito, though she already knows his answer, I guess to make everything clear to everyone. There are a number of sweet moments, such as Mio showing up to comfort Tetsurou after his confession to Kanna, but my favorite bit had to be from the picture above, Kanna, discovering her childhood friend’s in love with her while she’s been rejected by the one she loves, screams about the craziness about it all. They throw in some SF at the end, but who cares, unless one of the unhappy characters falls for Ichika’s sexy sister.

Chihaya, shouting. This is a more light-hearted episode.

Chihayafuru 23 finishes off the tournament and moves on to … nothing much, really. Chihaya doesn’t have to cut her hair after all, thanks to Harada taking the challenge of beating Sudo himself. Chihaya mopes in a locker and comes out. Taichi broods about his love for Chihaya (the first time he’s out and used the word), forbids her to go out with a strange boy who asked her out, and Kana watches it all with frustration. Meanwhile Arata is trying to get his groove back, but apart from a phone call he’s still completely separate from the main story. And there are silly Christmas parties to attend to. It sort of felt like an off-season episode of Cross Game. Little emotional plot pawns moved here or there, people practicing, recuperating, getting ready for the new season. But, damn, it always feels odd when there’s a romantic Christmas moment in a show when in reality it’s nearly Spring.

Another 9, Natsume Shi 10, Symphogear 9

March 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Whoa, a real bloodbath in Another 9. And it took me only a moment to realize that the show was using some cruel logic on me.

But the fun, if you can call it that, happens mostly at the end, as usual. Before that the show does some tidying up. Nakao probably died because of a head injury he received in Yomiyama. He could have keeled over and died at any time after that. Which can’t come as any consolation to the kids outside of town. The fact remains that he died outside of city lines, and if he had gotten himself checked in town who knows what would have happened? But let’s put that aside. The main thrust of the episode, apart from the flatbed truck carrying construction equipment inserting itself into a house… but I’m getting ahead of myself. The thrust is that Matsunga had said he had left something in the classroom, so Kouichi, Teshigawa and Mochizuki decide to go look for it. No one else. They don’t want anyone else to know, or they might be put in danger. So naturally, Kouichi tells two girls about it as they’re going to the meeting.Aha, I thought. One of them is doomed.

Misaki is also around (a fact that looks more suspicious every time I think about it), and the four of them explore the old school’s classroom 3, full of rotting wood and teetering dusty things piled up, so I knew nothing bad would happen there. They even find room for little bits of comedy. And they find what they’re after and it’s off to the AV room where they listen to Matsunga describe his class’s misadventures at the old shrine. Recently, I was joking about a character getting struck by lightning. Well, guess what. But I didn’t expect a second death moments after. Of course, this is just the flashback. The show cuts from that to shots of the two girls walking home, one getting in a car, maybe moving away, and a guy parking his flatbed truck. Ah! Which one of them will die?

Naturally, the tape cuts out the moment Matsunga gets to stopping the curse. Before I was able to do a facepalm over plot devices, they up the ante by getting interrupted, and Teshigawara breaks the tape. Misaki said “Idiot.” I added “Moron, dumbass,” and other things. I thought cassettes were still in use in Japan. Doesn’t he know not to pull a cassette out while it’s playing? But this bit of pathetic comedy gets brushed aside as the show again jumps to one girl, then the other. I should have seen it coming. Two people died on that mountain moments apart, so why couldn’t two people get killed the same way now? And it was a gloriously frightening series of scenes. We see the truck hit the house and think that’s it, and relax a little as the other girl’s car glides along mountain roads in the rain. Surely the show is just teasing us now, right? … Neither the character nor we viewers get any warning. Well done indeed.

So where does the show go from here? If Mochizuki can repair the tape and not die in the process, I guess that’s the next step. However, Misaki remains a mystery, and I’m still suspicious about the librarian.

Natsume Yuujinchou Shi 10 is mostly plot. While there’s the usual Natsume-musing speech at the end concerning his growing respect and understanding for Natori, it feels like an afterthought, like since they always have Natsume musing about something he’s learned or accepted at the end, they pretty much made it up on the spot. That’s okay. It can’t be easy to have something profound to say every episode. And the story’s conclusion was a good one. For a long time it was unclear how it was going to turn out. Was Houdzuki actually sealed? Did he actually leave the mountain and desert his followers? What if his rival Fudzuki wins their contest? The answers turned out a bit convoluted but with Natsume and Natori working together (and Hiiragi and Nyanko assisting) we get another lovely conclusion. They didn’t have to exorcise anybody, the rival gods made their peace (I don’t think they were really enemies to begin with), everyone floated away while the humans admired the light show. The usual. But it didn’t have the same weight that the great Natsume episodes have.

A new psychological rehabilitation technique: Enka singing.

The main thrust in Senki Zesshou Symphogear 9 is Tsubasa’s healing process. Physically, she’s pronounced fit, not that we needed to know that, really, considering she was in a battle recently, but it’s good to get an official pronouncement. But there’s still the internal stuff going on which leads to a conflict in her character which doesn’t make much sense. She’s said over and over again that singing is a form of combat, that she’s always thought that, but there she was five or so years ago singing happily with Kanade. So she must be lying to herself. This is taken care of when Hibiki and Miku (trusted enough that she’s allowed into the secret base underneath the school–who the hell built a school over a base, or vice-versa? This is almost as stupid as Heroman‘s alien research lab hidden underneath the White House) take her on a “date,” i.e., the usual: Shopping, soppy movie, karaoke, and Hibiki shows her the city that’s been around her all the time. The climax is when Tsubasa does a live concert and rediscovers her love of singing. Well, I’m glad she’s finally cured. Now they can work on Chris, who still mistrusts everyone yet aids Hibiki in destroying some noise, then goes into a bout of self-loathing for it.

Eights: Another, Lagrange, Ano Natsu …

March 2, 2012 Leave a comment

When Another began getting plot and exposition heavy in the past few episodes, some of the sense of dread enhanced by the background music suffered for it. This episode is light on exposition, only Matsunaga’s bit near the end really mattered. Just about everything else was mood, and the sounds returned.

Even Another can't resist a beach episode.

And by “mood,” I don’t mean just one. Through much of the episode the episode is light. The kids are off to meet a man who might have saved his class (if he can only remember how) and to visit a shrine that might also have something to do with it, but it’s all on the ocean, at a seaside resort! It’s time to do all the silly beach things we’ve seen in every other anime series. For a while, the music almost gets happy. Kind of a sickly-happy, but happy nonetheless. It feels like a relief. And the kids are so relaxed now that they can divide into teams, the “Countermeasures” vs “Forgotten.” They can be that way because they’ve left town–apparently the deaths only happen there.

The good news is that the boat misses the beach ball. The BAD news is ...

Which reminds me of another great moment of sound in the episode, one where no music is played at all. As they drive out town a huge tanker truck passes by them, very slowly. They say nothing. We only hear the engine noises as it passes. Everyone (including me) is holding their breath, waiting for the disaster, which does not happen. When they pass the town limits, everyone exhales. As for the story, as I said, it’s pretty light until the end, after the wind picks up (you can tell when something bad is going to happen when it suddenly gets windy) that things get dangerous again, the first time since the opening scenes which were more eerie than threatening. And then it’s back to deadly business, and by the way, so much for that notion that leaving town makes you safe. I feel kind of sad. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give the kids one episode off from worry.

Not much action in Rinne no Lagrange 8. Bigshot loli Asteria something-or-other flies in and leads an investigation about the little kerfluffle the vox pilots had while in mortal combat. She decides to ban Madoka from flying the Aura vox. The rest is stuff we sort already knew, like the scary legend of the vox losing control, Moid wanting to see the Rin-Ne blossom and Asteria and the, er, let’s see … “Novumundus High Council” that she represents decidedly NOT wanting that to happen. It was nice to be reminded, I guess. Oh, and Earth was nearly destroyed 20,000 years ago (we assume by the vox) and now descendents from other planets are coming back. And the girls bond some more. That’s about it. That Asteria visits the bad guys at the end wasn’t terribly interesting since she’s clearly not one of them. Lan and Muginomi going on strike was cute, though a little out of character. No, not much this episode except that Madoka can’t fly her ship right now.

Ano Natsu de Matteru 8 … FINALLY we get past the love circles, that hemming and hawing over things they need to say (but always get interrupted the moment they try), and back to what REALLY matters: Aliens! Okay, this is not really an alien show, it’s a romantic comedy, but it doesn’t hurt to remind us what Ichika’s main barrier is: she’s an alien. The turn of events comes late in the episode and is a little shocking. All episode Rinon had been worrying his head/body about something, and all of a sudden, it’s here: Alien rescue pod! But now she doesn’t want to go, at least quite yet. “There are things I need to do,” she says, but doesn’t specify the trees and water (I forget) or Kaito. So now Kaito at least knows she’s an alien, and we can finally move on with the next step. Should she stay or should she go? I have to say, that pod was certainly assertive about wanting her to come along. And on the love front, Remon’s diagram shows Tetsuro interested in Kanna, though I’ve seen no actual evidence of that. Moving on …

Ho hum four sevens … Another, Lagrange, Moretsu, Kill Me Baby

February 22, 2012 1 comment

'Red rain is falling down ... red rain ...'

Another 7 gives us a Kubodera’s spectaularly bloody death at the very start, and then speculation runs rampant. The fact that the pressures put on Kubodera from both teaching this doomed class and taking care of his sick mother might have driven him to slashing himself up before his shocked students (honestly, couldn’t he have done that at home? The deaths don’t need to be public), which opens up speculation about whether the forces meant for him to do that. Nevertheless, he’s a goner, disproving the ghost student theory and bringing our two heroes back into normal social reality, for what good that does anyone. Now everyone’s trying to figure out who’s the actual dead on in the class, and it begins to settle down into detective work and a field trip that worked once before but not since. Meanwhile there’s a guy Yuuta’s sister knows who might have some useful information, yet no one has actually thought to visit him before? All those corpses through the years, you’d think SOMEONE might have looked him up?

Moretsu Pirates 7 continues with the ridiculous fake pirating of luxury yachts for entertainment value. I wonder how the pirates on board the Bentenmaru sleep at night? Oh, and there’s Marika’s life back on Earth, too, as she tries to sustain both her grades and pirate training and fails at the former, which leads to friends worrying about her. In other words, more of the same … but wait! Something’s afoot! The yacht’s escorts didn’t surrender in the usual manner, and Chiaki gets a worrying phone call, and now they have a stowaway! But she’s a little girl princess (as we learn from the previews), so it looks as though the show’s going to continue with its fluffy ways for the near future, no matter the talk of things changing. The thing that keeps me watching is Marika’s progression. It’s clear that the crew are taking her training as gently as possible, letting her command when she can and stepping in when they have to (like when the escort ships do something suspicious). I’m waiting for the inevitable real crisis where she has to get out of things by herself.

Rinne no Lagrange 7’s interestinng bits, the flashbacks, are about the only interesting thing in the episode. For a while I was confused. We had Lan telling us that Villagiulio was once a crown prince and was a great hope for peace, yet when we see Muginami’s apple-laden memories, he’s a youth on the mean streets of U-Go, where t’s always winter, the sun never shines, and everyone is either stealing from or shooting each other. Which one is he? Rather than a more interesting explanation (alternate realities or something) we learn he got deposed–by Lan’s people. Okay, that’s pretty interesting too, and it explains the tension between them. I’m not sure what the apples were all about except they’re a sign of nourishment and well-being, maybe. They had a beach thing going, too. U-Go’s beach is cold and depressing while in Madoka’s world it means warmth and relaxation or romantic moonlit evenings, you know, happy stuff. The other bits are just the three girls making up and getting naked a lot.

And I watched Kill Me Baby 7, but again I don’t have anything to say about it.

Chihayafuru 19, Another 6, I’m Your Father 6, Aquarion 7

February 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Chihayafuru 19 is all battle with a little twist. The characters are battling each other.

Chihaya (who lost in the first round) watches Desktomu and Kana finish up their match, even though the bigger fight is over on the B-side, so to speak. They give the Class D match more attention than I thought, especially when we were following it last week. I’m glad they did. Though I know nothing about Karuta I could somewhat follow Desktomu’s strategy of sticking is remaining cards in one area so as to easily guard them, playing the odds. It works for a while, but everyone knows that sooner or later one of Kana’s cards will be chosen, and then the other. Her lead was simply too big. And we have the usual mental narration, first with Desktomu coming up with strategy, and then with Kana, though frankly I don’t remember anything she said. Still, it was a well-done competition scene which ends with a touching moment between the two players.

Intensity-wise they're just getting started.

But it had nothing on the other one. The Taichi/Nishida match was the best match scene of the series so far, and it had no hated rival to root against. Maybe that’s why I could sit back and enjoy it without a knot in my stomach. We only get the tail end. Each player has one card left, and they’re guarding their own. There are six other “dead” cards that could be read. It’s come down to the luck of the draw. Taichi will have none of it. He attacks. The music breaks out of its usual themes by groaning its cellos and scittering its violins (it did the same with the earlier match too–the music this episode was especially effective), and then something magnificent happens. A card is read, Taichi lunges, stops, Nishida blocks … dead card. Without a narrative or any sort of break, the players regroup, wait, the next card is read … dead card. No need to tell us anything. No need to slow things down or even change the camera angle. The show let the match speak for itself. And a tense scene had become even more tense.

It’s almost an anticlimax after that. Nishida helps Taichi get his head back on straight, there’s some comedy at Chihaya’s expense, and almost as an afterthought we learn that Nishida, Kana and Desktomu have all moved up a rank! It’s like it didn’t matter to them. They were too busy playing. So congrats to to the movers-up, and meanwhile, we get another scene with Arata. He hasn’t been around for so long I don’t know if he’s necessary any more.

No one dies in Another 6. We get a brandished knife at the very end, but don’t know who its intended for. Instead this episode is mostly two kinds of talk.

Good talk.

First there’s the good talk. Kouichi and Mei spend a lot of time talking to each other. They don’t have anything else to do. They’re both officially ostracized from the Class 3, while the others get together for lunch, they sit around and talk. When it’s PE they stand around and talk. They seem to like it. You begin to wonder how it was for Mei before Kouichi showed up to share her exile, and it’s fascinating to watch her now. She still speaks in a monotone, but she opens up more. She even smiles. She clearly likes having someone to talk to about this. She’s no longer mystery/eyepatch/death girl, she’s a lonely thing who likes to hang out. How Kouichi feels about this, besides the obvious, and the fact that he liked Mei from the start, might be revealed by that dancing daydream he indulges in. Nothing much plot-wise happens in these talks apart from the growing friendship, and it’s lovely to watch. Also lovely was Mei’s visit to the art club after school, where they welcome her as an old friend. It makes you wonder why she doesn’t spend more time there.

Unfortunately we get a lot of another form of talk: exposition. Kouichi and Mei are still getting to the bottom of this and that means talking to the librarian. The description of names vanishing from the school roster and reappearing again after it’s all over was confusing enough, but the show turns the discussion almost into an interrogation. I’ve seen this before. The protagonist asks questions about something that’s been bothering him/her (actually, us), and the other person gives flat-out answers with almost no hesitation, like they were expecting this question to come up right then and there. Scenes like this never explain the exposition clearly enough for the viewer and the characters have to babble on sounding foolish. It would have been a lot worse if the librarian’s voice actor hadn’t done such a good job replying. He sounded world-weary and resigned, and you could imagine the memories that these questions were giving him. The show does a better job at answering questions, like that odd phone call between Kouichi and his dad which opened up a new set of possibilities. And at the end, maybe to make up for all the talk, the knife appears. The show broke its death streak this week. They need to start a new one.

Papa no Iukoto wo Kikinasai! 6 is usual bland cuteness with occasional bits that border on the unsavory. It brings up one question. If their old house is standing there empty and the kids’ remaining belongings are there, why the hell don’t the adults let Yuuta and the girls stay there? In spite of the sweet but unconvincing final bit, where they now find they can’t sleep unless they’re close together in a cramped room, it would make their lives easier. They even make a point to show that Miu and Sora’s social lives exist in that neighborhood. It makes absolutely no sense. These in-laws are worse than the ones in Usagi Drop, and THOSE people eventually mellowed. Apart from that question rolling around in my brain, and a moment where Sora thinks over taking a family portrait with her, while Yuuta sadly watches, nothing much else to say. Next week apparently Raiko will meet the kids. Maybe that will liven the show up.

Aquarion Evol 7 … First of all, that music guy didn’t die last week. I’m glad to hear it even though it means we’re going to hear too many more speeches about his soul being torn apart by the perfect melody of Aquarion. Other than that the episode was pure silliness. There’s a ghost legend about a doll, the doll exists, turns out it’s just a shy little thing who can turn invisible, just the sort of vector pilot they need when they’re pinned down by random laser fire! Oh, and another moment where Mikono spots Amata apparently doing something naughty with someone else. They clear it up, but I hope that’s not going to be a weekly thing.