Finales: UN-GO, iDOLM@STER, Ben-To

Happy Holidays everyone! I had a great Christmas, I hope you had the same. Now it back to work. Today we say goodbye to three series and start to wrap up another season. Damn, this has been a good year.

There he is! Hey guys! Kaishou's right there! Listen to me!

UN-GO came and went, delivering either a mystery that I didn’t have the wits or mystery-reading training to follow, or not-so-original thoughts on modern technology, politics and culture, not to mention the more philosophical questions of truth. So with the finale we get the “one of you in the room is the murderer” scene, even though the supposed victim shows up halfway. Heated accusations and denials fly, evidence is presented … at one point everyone gets a weapon, but then they hardly do anything with them (what’s up with that?). While I’m not fit to criticize it all as a mystery, my more general, fiction-reading instincts gave much of it away. Of course Kaishou would show up, even with the misdirection over who the real one is. Meanwhile, Kuramitsu the politician is there to help present the energy/political side of things, though they don’t go far with it apart from suggesting the current state of Japan isn’t very good. The higher concept of truth degenerates into a monster battle. I blinked at that. But Inga is his/her old self, so it’s all right. And at the end, everyone is more or less happy, except for the culprit (correctly guessed, not deduced, by me, using those fiction reading instincts I mentioned). In other words, UN-GO could get pretty messy, but that’s fine. NoitaminA has had a bad year, but with UN-GO it at least tried to give us something different and challenging, not the bland SF pap it otherwise tossed to us. That’s what they used to do all the time. Now, if they could avoid any more Guilty Crowns in 2012, I’ll be happy.

No huge drama for iDOLM@STER 25. They took care of the last shred of adolescent angst in the last episode. Okay, there were two major events in the episode. The girls were sad that the Producer would miss the big concert, but he shows up anyway. The other is a trivial last-minute shot by Kuroe concerning 765’s new digs, but frankly, moving to a hi-rise didn’t seem right for them anyway. No, the bulk of the show is taken up by the concert. Good thinking. iDOLM@STER’s concert footage is always great to watch. It is again, but frankly it didn’t have the same emotional charge earlier ones did; none of the members had crises to overcome. On the other hand, you might like this one better. You didn’t have to worry. This one was a celebration. And so, hats off to the creators of iDOLM@STER. It’s hardly a compliment to say this show wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, but when you consider that the very concept of an iDOLM@STER anime series would make money, it would have been tempting to just mail it in and watch the bank account grow. But the creators obviously cared about this show. The girls were mostly clichés but they were almost always used to good effect, and they wound up showing more depth than I expected. Their character designs were expressive and fun to look at. And there were so many of them that you’d never get bored of one. The story arcs went along predictable lines, but were told well enough that I didn’t care too much. And, as I said, the concert scenes were amazing. Fluid, detailed, energetic, the camera glancing at one girl for a moment before swooping around and through all of them. Watching these scenes you could see how much care was put into them. So, again, well done!

Ben-To 12 had two disappointments. We don’t get to how Orthrus is beaten, and we don’t get to see the Ice Witch in action. But these were problems that just occurred to me now. Otherwise the finale was great fun. When we learn how the Club of Hercules “defeated” (if that’s the word) Orthrus it gave the concept of battling for bento a new wrinkle. Tired of losing, Hercules convinced the others to simply wait and let the invincible twins take what they want. By refusing to fight, they humiliated Orthrus into not returning. This sounds like rather dishonorable behavior for wolves; I wonder how any of them managed to handle the shame on their end. Now Hercules is back and it looks like he’s doing the same thing. (Other wolves, I’m ashamed!) This might be the only possible way for me to sympathize with Kyou and Kyou, and it shone a light on what this whole bento thing is about: fighting. Or so I thought. Satou returns, ready to muck up Hercules’s plan, and the story turns ludicrous (okay, the CONCEPT is ludicrous. I’m talking comparatively), and fun as hell as he reminds everyone of the missing element: hunger. In other words, he convinces everyone to fight two people who will likely kick their ass, in order (partly) to redeem the people who will kick their ass. There follows another great Ben-To fight, bodies flying to a thumping soundtrack, and just as Orphrus, redeemed, welcomed, enters the fray … we jump to the aftermath. Oh, well. They added a good twist at the end and managed to emphasize what the show is about, apart from lunacy. Ben-To was the most consistently entertaining series of the fall season. It took a premise weird even for anime and made it exciting. I said at the beginning that I didn’t know if they could sustain such an idea for an entire series. Well, they did, and I’m wondering now if they have plans for a sequel.

Episode dump; iDOLM@STER 23, UN-GO 10, BakumanII 12, Ben-To 11, Tamayura 11

Another iDOLM@STER character spends time with her outer child.

iDOLM@STER 23 continues the Haruka story, rather, it’s her turn to wander off in a funk and think things out while everyone else worries about her. It’s practically a mirror image of Chihaya’s crisis, though this one has no ridiculous bad guys behind it or painful past to overcome (but she does sit around at home and even meets her younger self, just like Chihaya did). Rather, she’s worried about the future. The drifting apart continues, people still aren’t making it for the New Years rehearsals. Not to mention that the producer is in the hospital because of that trap. One of the weirder moments of the story arc is that while everyone is worried about him, the show pretty much ignores him except for some words of wisdom for Chihaya which sets the girls plan in action. Other words of wisdom come from Touma, Jupiter’s former lead asshat, who’s happier with the smaller-scale productions they are forced into because he enjoys the sense of community. And so on. Meanwhile I waited and worried that there wouldn’t be anything to spice the inevitable reunion up … until a typical kids in the park sequence, where their little voices transform into those of 765 Pro, an unexpected and beautiful moment that made me gasp and fumble for the rewind button. And yes, we get our reunion bit, though everything else felt flat compared to that moment before.

But he's still alive, or maybe he's not, or he's an AI or ... my head hurts.

I had a write-up for UN-GO 9 all written up, but it went missing, overwritten, probably, or copied over … Or maybe Kaishou didn’t want me to post the explosive truths contained in that post, so he used that software he made!! YEAH!!! Anyway, episode 11 goes farther out of its limb concerning The Truth. Let me just say that I hope the series doesn’t wind up with a pat conclusion such as “there is no absolute truth or reality.” I hate it when creators do this, unless he’s Philip K. Dick (on the other hand, at least this show’s source material isn’t simply ripping Dick off). But I think Shinjuru agrees with me on this. He seems pretty certain that there is a truth. Not to mention that Inga could force it out of people (But this would explain why he/she’s at a loss when Bettenou’s around). As for the plot, I’ll say again that I suck at mysteries. I was following along quite happily until they got to the humming and the handkerchief and suddenly Shinjuru was running off somewhere, throwing Kazamori at somebody, at which point my eyes glazed over. I didn’t really focus again until Shinjuru held up that invitation. Well, all will be explained next week unless it’s not the truth, or THAT’s not the truth, or THAT’s not, ad nauseum.

Lovers' tiff.

The straight line in Bakuman 2 12 is the growing relationship between Miura and the boys, or that’s how it felt like, and looking at it that way it makes a nice contrast with the episode’s theme of love and relationships in general. Starting with an embarrassing text dialogue Kaya jokingly reads aloud, we next get Nagai falling in love with Kato (poor sap), Aoki’s new editor putting the moves on her (what a slimeball), and Aoki’s subsequent meeting with Aiko at college. I had forgotten completely about her, but she’s the one who rejected Takagi because he wanted to write manga, or did he reject her? I forget. Now she meets Aoki, and the scene feels completely different, like the beginning of a romantic story not at all related to Bakuman. Where it will go, I don’t know. But back to the heroes and Miura. The arguments about whether or not to do a gag manga, not to mention the exhaustive research on sales Miura makes, then his saying the wrong thing and having to apologize, after the boys had realized how much work and care he had taken (shown in a gift package full of gag manga with extensive, scrupulous notes) for them, feels like a manga-ka equivalent of any relationship past its first stages and at the point where you start to learn what your lover is really like.

Who is this guy and why is he barging into our story arc?

After the trauma of last week, Ben-To 11 comes as a disappointment. Two or three things go on. First, we learn about the Sawagi twins’ happy childhood, kindergartners entranced by a violent bento fight, and we get some more of Kyou (not Kyou)’s dual identities. Then there’s Satou visiting Sen the day after and learning she has a cold, and that’s maybe why she lost. The scene is inflated with the usual Satou fantasies, which never really work for me. Meanwhile other people try to figure out where Othrus comes from. We find out. And the usual Oshiroi bit. Satou loses again to Othrus but we don’t see it. The only interesting thing comes at the end, when some totally unmentioned newcomer, who three years ago beat Othrus so badly they still have nightmares (well, Kyou does. Not Kyou), shows up to do it again. Where did he come from? Why is he messing up with our perfectly good but currently slow-moving story arc? Especially with only one more episode to go?

Tamayura – Hitotose 11 presents us with possibly the most excruciating type of story (for me) imaginable: doing a stage show. Because I’ve done a lot of theatre I know what can go wrong, so I can’t help but feel nervous along with the poor performers. This episode promises to be even worse, for it’s Maon who’s going to perform. But right away they do some things right. First, it’s not a whistling exhibition! (Insert cheers and fireworks here). Rather, it’s going to be a recital drama, where she’s going to stand up there and tell a story, or something. Here’s where the unwelcome pressure comes in. Since it’s for the “Ourselves Festival” she wants to try out her material in her home town, at her family’s inn, for whoever’s around. But word gets out, big posters are made, people invite other people, and soon they have to rent out the Virgo Theatre, a large space where, ironically, Maon has always dreamed of performing. Also, she has no material to try out. What keeps this from getting to be too much is the gentle overall tone of the series. There’s that tranquil piano music playing throughout even Maon’s worst moments of fear. You know the show is not mean-spirited enough for worse-case theatrical scenarios. And while her nervous recitation of a text any 2nd grader could write wasn’t all that great (we are fortunate to only see a little of it), and was no more than a metaphor for her making friends and growing up, everyone watching is a friend. It could have been a lot worse. For one thing, she could have chosen whistling.

Episode dump: Ben-To 10, Bakuman 11, Tamayura 10, Kimi to Boku 11

Ben-To 10 makes me wonder about the use of magical items found in supermarkets. It’s obvious to anyone who’s used them that shopping baskets have some sort of fundamental magic to them, something which causes them to knock items off the shelf when you’re not looking. But to have the weird black stuff coming out of them that Orthrus, i.e., Kyou and nee-san, i.e., the twins, use to defeat the Ice Witch, I dunno. It’s pushing whatever physical and unnatural laws the show had in place. On the other hand, battling with baskets is such a good idea I wonder why the other Wolves don’t use it. As far as the story is concerned, seeing Sen go down was for me a bit hard to watch, but the show had to do it sooner or later, and she WAS double-teamed. But it’s hard to follow a battle when all three are have the same uniform and hair color. Since Kyou and Kyou are comfortably in the opening credits now, I assume there will be a face turn in the future, hopefully after they lose a battle for once.

Eiji's opinion of Future Watch

With Bakuman II 11, the boys embark on their goal to both win the monthly contest with Future Watch and get a serialization with Ten. Okay, they really want a serialization out of Future Watch, but many people disagree, especially Miura. And in the end, both appear as one shots; let the readers decide. Meanwhile, they begin to suspect that Miura’s opinions, especially about gags, are suspect, and newly serialized Takahama is beginning to agree. And in the end, well, it’s hard to keep watching this show sometimes. Everything is such a damn grind. You work your butt off and no one cares. On the other hand, real life is like that, too, especially in creative fields. Success doesn’t magically appear. You have to work hard AND get lucky. You have to give Bakuman credit for that, even if it makes everything move at a snail’s pace. But there were good moments, Eiji’s good for a laugh, Ishizawa reappears for a bit, and Nakai meets Kato …

Tamayura ~ Hitotose 10 gently drew me in to Kaoru’s problem and then proceeded to drive me crazy, gently. It was set up nicely. Everyone thinks Kaoru’s acting strangely. How they can tell is anyone’s guess, because Kaoru up to now has shown little personality at all. It’s her sister who’s the driving force in her family. But, okay, she’s acting strangely. Everyone else seems to know what they want to do, except for Maon, who has so many things she wants to do she can’t decide. Not knowing what you want to do with your life at age 14 or 15 is expected, you know. Besides, I thought they had gone over this theme with Maon. So they drag her off to the little cafe and they all talk about it until Kaoru announces theres something she wants to do: an “Ourselves Expo,” with Norie’s sweets, Fuu’s photographs, and Maon doing a whistling exhibition (No! NOO!), and a corner for Kaoru’s popurri. It feels a little sad. These are all, to put it bluntly, “first-world things,” what you’d do if you were living in some small town by the sea with a heavy tourist presence. Places like this are fine to visit, to enjoy some views, view fresh air, and forget about the real world for a while. But to people just starting out in life, with so much else to experience, I don’t know. It bugs me that they won’t look beyond their little touristy town, nice as it is. Just like this show is nice to watch once a week. But no more than that.

Kimi to Boku 11, our other slice of life show, though more realistic, has Yuuki maybe or maybe not developing a crush on a lunchlady. It’s hard to tell with him. Every chance he gets to do something with her can be easily construed as a normal interaction in school. Except for the last part, where he helps her wipe down tables for a couple of her convenience store stickers (collect thirty and you get a plate!), which he actually could care less about. The lunchlady, Kayo, is an ordinary young woman, and it seems even Yukki isn’t sure what the attraction is, apart from his talk about hair curled around a finger, this week’s poetic statement that sort of reflects the episode. None of the other characters have much to do. It’s refreshing to see Kaname amused by something for a few seconds. And how long does it take for paint to dry, anyway? I know they said they can’t use the roof for lunch because it’s getting colder, but no one takes the sign down. Such are the thoughts that go through my mind as I watch ths show.

Two nines: Ben-To, Tomodachi, and two tens: Kimi to Boku, C3

I could have picked a screenshot from any scene, really.

Ben-To 9 is a random episode where we see various characters doing the things they tend to do. It’s not bad, though again little attention is paid to Sen. We got Ume and the twins confronting each other about people at their respective schools, allowing us not only a staredown but a freakout by Kyou. Asebi causes a lot of damage by accident, and, in maybe the best scene, creates for Satou a “Taste Deconstruction Bento,” where everything tastes unlike the food it actually is, if it tastes like anything at all. Such a concept, probably common for molecular gastronimists, is the intellectual high point of the episode. Ume also serves a bento, to poor Oshiroi of course, providing us with the weekly requirement of Ben-To fanservice. She also slaps Satou around, as usual. As you can see, Satou doesn’t have a lot of fun this episode. And Sen, sadly observing Satou’s modern cooking ordeal, is not seen at all after that. Good points. Bad points.

Yes, Yozora, there is. Why the long face? HAHAHAHAAA!

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai 9 can be broken down into two sections, and you can argue about which was more entertaining. For me, it’s a toss-up. Do you go for Yozora wearing a horse’s head and freaking everyone out? Fine with me. Or do you prefer Kodaka and Kobato’s visit with Sena’s father and subsequent eventful sleepover? That’s fine, too. Both show off what I consider the show’s strengths. One reason these people don’t have friends is that they’re downright weird, well, except for Kodaka, our straight man. But often they’re weird in imaginative ways. A horse’s head and full body suit? I want to be friends with someone like that. But you wonder if she’s doing it to hide her skin or because she knows she’ll freak people out (and Maria provided the best freakout in the scene, beating Kobato by a nose, to use a horse reference. Whatever her motivations are, it was inspired. The other section was more low-key and had “meeting important grownups” overtones to it. Until you learn that Sena’s father “Pegasus” Kashiwazaki (another horse reference!) is pretty weird himself. And the calm, understanding steward Stella has sudden moments of strangeness as well. And while this part didn’t have the same outright lunacy as the first section, Sena’s running naked into Kodaka’s view and the realizing it was another comic high point. AND, for once, everyone in the show is happy at the end.

I was expecting more of the boys making Kaname’s life miserable in Kimi to Boku 10, but apart from laughing at his ghost outfit (everyone does) they pretty much lay off him and enjoy the cultural festival. And so the episode turns out better than I expected. The emotional highlight part (you can tell because that guitar does that bit) was Chizuru trying to cheer up Masaki after she flubs a line in her play, and apparently begins to develop a little crush on her. Since she rightfully despises him most of the time, I assume it won’t turn out well. On the other hand, it was nice to see him TRY to cheer her up, even when he manages to say the wrong thing over and over. The twins, having no set victim to set their wit on, turn it on things around them. Yuuta’s comments on being dressed as Snow White were some of his best. Overall, a happier episode than I was expecting.

I sort of follow the action in C3, but as I’ve said before, I don’t try too hard (Unlike Horizon, where I don’t try at all). I’m in it for the images. As for the plot in episode 10, the polite bass lady is killing people and it turns out they were all customers at Kuroe’s hair salon. And Ume collapses and then, for the bondage fans, tortures herself to cheer up.

Three shows not up to much this week: Ben-To 8. Tomodachi 8, Kimi to Boku 9

Ben-To 8 overall isn’t much, just a long-winded way of introducing the twins Kyou and, er, the other one. I’ll call her Nee-San. They are infatuated with Sen after seeing her in battle, and are, apparently, formidable wolves themselves. But the episode works more as a bunch of quick gag scenes, or rather, normal scenes that degenerate into oddness, such as Satou’s jumping out a window to rescue his beloved Saturn console, freezing in midair to recite a lovely poem about caged birds, or even Asebi’s plunge down several flights of stairs. And you have vocal gags, like Satou’s screaming or the porn music played whenever Kyou or Nee-San enter his hospital room. As for WHY the twins have mistaken Satou, wrapped up as a mummy, for Sen, god only knows. You accept things like that to get to the silly parts. Well, the whole thing is silly, but you know what I mean. No battle this week, but every character holds their end up.

Another battle between the forces of light and darkness (darkness is in the middle).

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai 8 is a strange episode. It looks like it’s going to be a pool episode, but there’s first a scene where Kobato finds a gothy reason to wear summer clothes to beat the heat which would have been funnier if not for the fanservice. Still, it’s Kobato at her ku-ku-ku best. Can’t complain. Then another good scene at the clubroom where everyone manages to mess with everyone else and the humor piles up. Sounds good, but then I notice that the episode is half over already. Will we have time to hear Yozora rattle off cynical comments about the popular scum? We do get the inevitable Yukimura in the dressing room scene, which told us nothing. But all of a sudden, Yozora and Rika are sick from the crowded bus and go home before even getting in the pool. This ruins it for the others, even Sena, and THEY go home. I guess there’s a point to be made about how it was no fun not to do it together and what that means as friends, but apart from a brief bit of introspection from Kodaka, and my personal speculation that Yozora is depressed and actually wanted to run away (though, what about Rika?) they don’t go any deeper. They just … go home. Leaving me scratching my head. This show is great fun when working as a comedy, but it needs work incorporating the more serious issues.

Kimi to Boku isn’t much, either. It’s school festival time, and everyone’s doing the usual school festival stuff. Kaname is in charge of it, and naturally it’s driving him crazy. Getting the mostly apathetic or clueless students to do things is bad enough, but it almost seems like the twins are deliberately trying to make his life more miserable. More miserablBoe than usual, anyway. Never mind Chizuru. At least Shun stays out of trouble. Worst of all is that Kaname is the type who doesn’t delegate authority, or maybe there’s no one competent enough to delegate it too. Most of the bits don’t work, and we’re supposed to be touched at the end because Yuuki or Yuuta manages to copy some things on his own? And this was only the preliminaries. I’m not looking forward to the festival itself.

Still behind – Last Exile Fam, Ben-To, Kimi to Boku

Much of the fun in Last Exile : Fam, is watching the affairs of great nations at war contrasted with a kid’s more innocent goals.

The inner workings of the Ades Federation is interesting now, but it’s only going to show its promise later, when Luscinia really gets his hands dirty. Right now, he can mutter evil things to his aide and wave at innocent Sara Augusta through the window. Meanwhile, Sara should be one of the good guys, er, girls. She wants a peaceful, happy world. But she doesn’t seem to realize that Luscinia’s plans for achieving this include conquest and bloodshed, and most probably, her betrayal. That’s the juicy stuff we don’t see yet.

Fam realizes she should have done some research first.

And then there’s Fam and Gisey. Sure, Fam likes Millia and supports her government-in-exile, but she’s just as interested in vanship racing and reviving the Grand Race (which, apparently, needs a free Turan). Not to mention capturing seven more Federation ships to get out of Titania’s debt. With this in mind she jumps into things without thinking, in this case a vanship race she can’t possibly win, placing a bet that puts this exiled government in jeopardy.

Whose side is she on?

We get three different scenes at once. Luscinia tells the folks whose vanships were taken by Fam that they are all traitors, and kills them on the spot. I’m not sure what his game is here, unless it’s to seize their property for his own goals. Whatever, it’s cruel. Then we have Millia, dressed as a boy, talking with Baroness Roshanak during the race. If Fam wins, Roshanak’s ship becomes Fam’s booty. If she loses, Millia will become Roshanak’s plaything (tsk, Fam, Fam, Fam!). But there’s more going on here. Roshanak clearly recognizes Millia, but doesn’t let on. Why does she not simply seize her? Also, if she loses (and of course, she does) and her ship is taken, then she will be in the same position as those Luscinia murdered. She isn’t aware of that incident, but you get the idea that it wouldn’t change her mind much. I have the feeling we’ll see more of Roshanak in later episodes. As for the race, it’s pure kids entertainment. The creators are sparing no expense with the art and animation during action scenes. They’re so fluid that it’s impossible to get a single screenshot that does them justice. Of course Fam/Gisey wins, hooray, and the crew loses a lot of money on wagers, ha-ha! And it balances with the intrigues and bloodletting nicely.

Everyone, into the pool! For BENTO!

How do you get the Ben-To characters into swimsuits and still have a thrilling battle for half-priced food? Easy! Make it a pool episode! While most of the episode is devoted to the usual theme of boys ogling girls while splashing about in the water, it gets entertaining when the water park’s version of bento battles begins. It works because it’s so over the top, well, and because the battle is well-done again, though many of the visual things they usually do don’t work as well with splashing water. In the end, bento should be fought over on dry land. And while we’re at it, baseball should always be played during the day and never in a dome. And football should always be played when it’s snowing. That’s what I think.

Kimi to Boku 8 is in two halves. The first half shows the predictable result when you get the five lads working on a manga story for Yuuki’s club. It’s typical for this show, but interesting that Yuuki actually disapproves of the result rather than not caring at all. Which doesn’t mean he changes his mood at all. The second half is more entertaining, as Ryunosuke, a Manga club member who, for some reason, idolizes Yuuki, tries to come up with his own manga, using Yuuki as the hero. So we get to see Yuuki’s calm indifference ruin a series of cliché-ridden genre tales. The Lone Wolf and Cub (I assume) spinoff was my favorite. It’s hard to see why star-struck Ryunosuke draws him that way, even with his explanation at the end, but it’s funny enough.

Penguindrum 19, Last Exile Fam 6, Ben-to 6, Kimi to Boku 7

Mawaru Pengundrum 19 … I am about to give up trying to figure out this show.

This, at least, I could figure out.

After the crazy events of last week the show settles down to gather what what we’ve gone through–and twist it around again, just to annoy us, I think. Kanba being in touch with their father was expected after his hemming and hawing last week. To actually SEE them was a bit of a surprise, but we don’t have long to dwell on that. Soon it’s time to celebrate with Himari, Shouma and Ringo as Himari has returned from the hospital, happy yet full of doubts. At first it seems only that she is seeing the people who care for her beginning to move on with their lives, while her life at the moment has always revolved around them. She wants it to stay that way forever, but this is naive and unreasonable. Sanetoshi tells her that only she knows where she belongs, but her lack of answer feels a little strange. As it should, as we find out. For Sanetoshi gets a little more spooky when Masako, sitting in the same chair Himari did, asks Sanetoshi some questions of her own. As usual for Sanetoshi, and for this show, his answers are cryptic. He wants to put the world back on track, children must do what their parents failed to, and after Masako storms out, unsure about the diary, he admits that he can’t do anything while it still exists. Does its ability to “transfer fate” interfere with his own plans? You know, this show would make a lot more sense if we knew where the key players stood. But it wouldn’t be as much fun.

One thing that has been rock-solid throughout are the three’s devotion to each other, to make a family where they belong. Once again, I should have seen it coming. Masako comes to their house, and of people, goes after Himari, the one in the group who has done the least to her. While I sit back in my chair and think “it’s curveball time.” Ball is the right word to use, too, as after Masako demands Himari give Kanba back, because she’s not her real sister, despite all evidence to the contrary–photos, etc), she whips out a blue ping-pong ball of truth, and then the front yard is full of giant concrete balls and we got a chase on our hands. And then, to really smack us with images, the giant fans are back, old, disused, and we’re back in the child-roaster and learn something about the truth. What it means … you’re asking me? All I can do is remember that Kanba was in Masako’s flashbacks, and no explanation was ever given. So now we have to wait for next week. How soon is that?

Not much violence or heartbreak in Last Exile Fam 6. No action scenes, either, alas. Instead it’s all pluck and guile and obtaining little things you need.

And some pretty scenes.

Mainly, it’s about settling in, meeting your captors, and, for Fam, making good on that rather ludicrious promise to obtain for Titania fifteen ships. That’s the kind of wild promise and over-optimism that you want to see in Last Exile franchise heroes, but even for them it’s kind of steep. Good thing the Sylvius pirates see capable fellow-pirates when they see them, or rather, the entire ship kind of falls over backward to help them prepare for their first heist. Olaf, the maintenance boss, likes them immediately, and rest of the crew is honored to have princess Millia aboard. And their success is absolutely absurd, though it comes at the hands of that guy they conned in the first episode. Why Ades hasn’t sent him to the firing squad yet, I don’t know.

Turan, the first indoor country.

Millia has problems of her own. She can’t do pirate stuff, and her country is pretty much gone, except for her. And Ades is annexing it in a couple days. So she basically has no country, nor any real status aboard the Sylvius. Reminded that SHE is now Turan, and inspired by Fam, and at first defeated in attempts to wile the Sylvius crew, she decides to do some annexing of her own, waiting for a battle stations order to barricade herself in the kitchen. It’s little steps. Not everything comes from big battles, and not every Last Exile episode has a battle scene, but this is good enough for now.

Kimi to Boku 6 finally puts one of the twins in a position where they’re not being dicks. Yuuta gets a confession from a shy, nervous girl named Takahashi, and, to everyone’s surprise (once they find out), he agrees to go out with her. Half of the episode has the other boys, who discovered this romance by accident, tailing the poor couple and speculating on the normal things you’d talk about, but also, why the hell didn’t he tell them? But the other half shows us the relationship from the people actually in it. It’s fascinating to see Yuuta (though it could just as easily be Yuuki) deal with the situation. We can’t read him at all. We don’t even know if he likes her. His manner is like it always is. But this time the lines coming from him aren’t meant to annoy or confuse, but to settle down this painfully shy girl, and his indifference becomes a quiet, benign, no-pressure interest in Takahashi. And later, when she is inadvertently hurt by her friends’ gossip, he does the same thing, listening, accepting what she says. It’s a sweet episode that works better than the usual ones because the sincere and snarky are balanced well.

Maybe I’ll finally catch up on all the shows one day … So it’s been long enough that I still hadn’t watched the scintillating fight which polishes off Ben-To 6, where Sen, Satou and Shaga do a three-on-one to bring down the evil Monarch. If that sounds unfair, consider that they had to fight off Endou’s goons before getting to him, and Endou had sent other goons to soften Sen up before she had even gotten to the store. Other than the satisfaction of watching Endou go down, and a weird planning meeting to begin the show, there wasn’t much else to the episode. In the end, I couldn’t figure out what Endou’s real goal was. To defeat the Ice Witch? Something about Macchan? To get that title that didn’t make any sense even after it was explained to me (probably not the show’s fault)? No matter, it was another great fight scene, and the wolf pride’s pride is saved. Or something.