I’m getting tired of writing farewells to series. Today I must write a couple more. Starting with Last Exile – Fam, the Silver Wing.
Let’s start with the big crisis. Luscinia has Sara in the center of the big white exile, everyone else is either trying to get to them, trying to destroy the exile before it blasts another hole in a country, or fighting to stop them. We jump from moments of wild action as vanships and vespas elude starfish, for want of a better name, and warships blasting away on the outside, to calm speeches by both Luscinia and Fam, more worldview declarations than actual fighting. Except Luscinia seems off. He’s not as smug. Either he sees that it’s too late for his side or their side, or he’s just tired of the whole thing. So Fam gets the edge.
As for the action, it’s again fun to watch, but I’m wondering what all those vanships are going to do when they get to where Fam already is. Meanwhile, those on the outside are trying to blow up the exile while their allies are all inside of it. Again, fun to see the guns go off and commanders shouting orders (especially Millia, whose battle command experience points must be about nil up to now), but apart from destroying the exile’s cannons, you wonder if the allies are working at cross purposes.
It’s disappointing that Luscinia doesn’t put up more of a fight. He listens to Fam, he hands over Sara, and that’s it. We’ve learned that the exile was meant to take everyone into space; maybe he’s figured out that most people don’t want to go. Or he’s just given up. Whatever, it’s no fun if the man doesn’t have something evil up his sleeve (evil, but for the greater good, he would argue). The best moment is when the exile is disintegrating around them, Luscinia calm and ready to die, and Fam telling him to take responsibility for his actions. Fam’s last words to Luscinia are good ones. Then all that’s left is flight from the collapsing exile, Sadri’s sad and noble death, momentary fear for the heroes until they show up, some tears from Fam. But mostly: Yay! Time for a grand race! And the appearance of two characters we’ve been waiting for! Claus and Lavie. There they are! Yay! Er, Claus …
I briefly googled and found that most everyone else is wondering the same thing: why is Claus in a wheelchair? I think the creators want another season. I guess I’m okay with that. I think the first series was better overall. LE-F told a grand story, but LE’s was even grander. And it did a better job of using its pair of plucky heroes than the successor. LE-F had better battles, but improved animation techniques can explain that. If they do try another series, maybe they should try a different format. Don’t get me wrong, I love the air battles, but it’s getting stale. Maybe some ground-based forces, with infantry and foxholes … Nah. Well, it was fun to watch. One more question: what did Dio get carded for at the race? Because his navigator was imaginary?
I was worried the the Inu x Boku SS finale would be one long love-fest, but I was only half right. In fact, I was surprised at the opening tone. It’s as if the events last week were resolved without showing us. Instead everyone is writing letters to future incarnations of themselves for a time capsule, and it’s all lightness and jokes. And since I like the oddball supporting characters in this show I didn’t mind a bit.
And when they do get to the lovey stuff the road there brings together two of Ririchiyo’s issues nicely. Her remark to her future self was in fact a list of goals, one of which was staying with Soushi, but she got it mixed up with another letter. Now, it would be easy to explain that she meant to stay with him in a professional way, no harm done, but she bravely decides to confront her other issue at the same time. She won’t hide or put on an act to avoid contact, she tells him that she loves him. A golf clap for that, please. A simple confession is dull, fighting against your fears to confess is far more interesting. That made the final lovey scenes (where a man and a girl in high school seven years his junior consider children–in the future) more palatable.
I don’t have much to say about the end of Daily Lives of High School Boys except it was funny much of the time, and through the narrow lens of television entertainment it tried to be honest with the concept. The boys were young enough that stupid things became important to them, yet just old enough to know that the whole thing was really a big joke so you might as well enjoy it while you could. Or something like that. I don’t know. It’s been a long time since I was in high school. Maybe they WILL come up with another season, and, please, not a live-action one with handsome actors playing the leads …
The seams are beginning to show in Black Rock Shooter. I was afraid this would happen. What started as a bizarre and entertaining metaphor where young girls’ pain is shouldered by fighters in another dimension is beginning to lose its power because they feel an obligation to explain everything. I shouldn’t have expected anything else, especially when the franchise began with the fighting world, hell, one image of that world, with the “real” events tacked on later to make a story out of static battle. This week we learn that Yuu, unable to face the pain in her world, switched places with her alter-ego strength. It does provide one point of interest. Yuu seems quite content to battle in that world, and freaks BRS/Mato out when she starts to talk to her. Nobody talks in that world. You could also call it a nice commentary on how Yuu really is, so messed up that she actually considers beating BRS to a pulp as a revenge on Mato. But in the end it feels like a gimmick. Desperate for an idea at a late-night story meeting, someone said “Hey! Let’s have someone switch roles!” and they thought up stuff from there. Now they have one more episode to clean this mess up. What’s more, they’re bringing Yomi back into the fight. It’s going to be messy.
Papa no Iu Koto o Kikinasai! 10 seems to have done all the things it can do with the basic story. The family is set, poor but surviving, and now all that can really happen is everyone will grow older. Though there’s still room for problems near-poverty can bring. This time the show concentrates on Sora, the eldest, and the one who thinks she has to be the most responsible. She’s working far too hard, just like everyone else, and is a little frustrated because she can’t do everything as well as she can. There’s a touching bit where she quits the choir even though she loves it because she considers it something she “likes,” therefore, I guess, it’s a frill that can be cut out so she can improve on things which really matter. It’s a sad thing to watch but completely realistic. Everyone has had to sacrifice something they love in order to survive. Alas, the show tries to make a happy ending out of it. After some pep talks by Raika (full of entertaining non-sequiturs) and Yuuta (dull, just like him) she rejoins the choir, at least on paper, and her cooking skills magically improve. Also, the Seiiyu next door, also about to give up, comes back. Well, I expected no better from this show.
Daily Lives of High School Boys 10, er, let’s see. The ice bit demonstrates that timing is as important as unpredictability in comedy. I also like Literature Girl chasing down Hidenori (or was that Matsuo? I can’t tell them apart). But I think the best bit was the very end of Mitsuo’s bad luck section. Or was that Hidenori?
Maybe I’m tired, but I couldn’t get any enthusiasm up for the great secrets revealed stuff in Inu x Boku SS 10. We’ve known for a while that Soushi has a secret he’s hiding from Ririchiyo. It was only a matter of time before it came out, and since the show won’t run much longer (I believe), the sooner the better. Naturally, we have to wait next week, just like the coffee date that waited for this week, and still didn’t happen. It partly bugs me because Kagerou is involved. He’s a one-joke character who wore out his welcome five minutes into his appearance this episode, but since he’s the other one with the secret they’ve got to keep him around. All the other characters who are adept at livening up a scene are given one or two lines and pushed out of the way, and so the show tilts toward annoying static self-doubt scenes from Ririchiyo or that secret they’re keeping, scenes stretched to breaking point, like my patience.
Bakuman II 22 is one of the more lighthearted episodes, and considering the pressures the boys have been under, it’s a relief.
Of course, things are dire at first, with two failed attempts out of three, they have to come up with a decent idea. But Hattori is at their desperation meeting as well as Miura, and he makes the suggestion of “serious humor.” And for the rest of the episode Takagi wrestles with this idea, and I do, too. I like that they acknowedge in this show that there are more types of humor than simple gags. Too many people in the world don’t quite understand how encompassing comedy can be. It isn’t just jokes and gags and punchlines. Whether this will pass in a kids magazine, well, an editor is suggesting it. And back to the story, our boys are fired up about the idea, even if they don’t have a setting yet, or characters.
Takagi gets a little weird in this episode. He and Saeko tail Hattori for a day, but they can’t really put a finger on why. Half-hearted explanations like how Hattori had manipulated them (not true) are the only reasons we get for them watching him commute to work, meeting with Aiko (the show’s best moment, since she makes another move on him). Normally tailing and disguise situations bug me, but this one has such a lighthearted feel that I didn’t really care. And consider that the boys are supposed to be working on their last-chance idea. Instead they’re sneaking around town. It felt a little like a holiday, and frankly, they need it. Whatever they were up to, it works; by the end Takagi is onto an idea. Another silly escapade concerning Miho’s birthday, and they’re set to go. I kept waiting for something to go wrong, but nothing does. The episode feels too fun for anything really serious to happen. As I said, it’s a relief.
Chihayafuru 22 was infuriating. Not the episode itself, which was well-done as usual, but for its events. Chihaya in the second round goes against the former Queen, Yamamato Yumi-San (said several times with excitement and fear early on) or “Yumin.” At the start, she’s interesting. A drab woman who lives for Karuta, who lost her crown to Shinobou last year, she hasn’t gotten her groove back yet. We see her at first as tired, questioning herself. Meanwhile Chihaya is fighting her awe, yet takes the early lead. This goes on for awhile, while I realize that due to the rules of sports anime, the other side must make their comeback soon. Outside, we have some lovely observer moments, such as Kana’s awe of the reader, a seed planted that this might be what she wants to do in her life, and Nishida’s mixed allegences. Chihaya’s her friend, but Yumin belongs in her club. And Yumin’s coach Kitano shows why Harada dislikes him so. And then there’s the comeback, and where I get pissed off. Yumin’s old style, abandoned when she became queen was to contest every close call, lengthening the game, basically, being a jerk. I lost most of my respect for her then, and I lost a lot of respect for Chihaya for getting so rattled about it. Damn, is she going to fall apart every time a opponent dishes out something new? Come on, Chihaya! It gets me madder when I realize that the season is too close to ending for there to be a rematch and a chance for revenge.
In Ano Natsu de Matteru 9, secrets come out–at last! First, Ichika has to confess to the whole alien business, like anyone really cares. Honestly, if you found out a good friend of yours was an alien suddenly is sporting an outfit out of the Jetsons, what would you do? Anyway, after everyone settles down from that news (takes half a day for them) it’s on to clearing up who’s in love with whom, well, mainly it’s Kai and Ichika’s turn, and it takes longer for them to get the words out, with all the avoidance, then the alien business did. Along the way, Kanna is amazed that others actually know she’s in love with Kai, but when she spits the words out to Ichika (part of stopping the avoidance bit I mentioned before), it’s the best scene in the episode. I find Kanna the most sympathetic character in the series, the one who isn’t getting what she wants and has to watch someone she likes get it instead. We’ve all been in that situation; there’s no good in it at all. Besides, she was there first. Poor Mio is in the same boat, but I don’t feel as concerned for her. Maybe it’s her looks. Well, there are a couple episodes left. The show might have time for more romances, but I have a feeling they’ll have to deal with more alien rescue pods first.
In Daily Lives of High School Boys 9, Tadakuni doesn’t show up at all, and no one notices. Don’t tell him that it’s one of the better episodes. They get a laugh out of not being able to see a girl’s face, since half the girls in the show are faceless. But the student council are able to see Ringo’s panties–oh, the guilt. We also meet Emi who, in spite of the picture above, is actually pretty normal. … I suppose I could go through each sketch and comment, but I’ll just say again the the episode was better than average.
Black Rock Shooter 5 almost makes sense.
The fighting world is more of the same. This time it’s Yomi and Mato’s girls squaring off. The former now has all those skulls working for her while the latter, as usual, doesn’t rely on anything else besides her blade(s) and that big gun of hers. Not that she’s seriously outmatched. This must have been triggered by Yomi’s descent into outright madness, which we first get from her frantic mother but makes itself manifest when she tries to cut off her hair to use in an art class collage. And there’s that painting she’s been working on. That’s enough for Mato to be freaked out about right there.
To add to Mato’s fun, Saya has pretty much stopped going through the motions of being a responsible counselor and is telling the girls all sorts of interesting things, like how wounds heal quickest when you’re young (which is, I suppose, her justification for opening them in the first place), that said to Yuu, and when Mato pays a visit Saya tries to strangle her. I’m not even going to guess why she’s gone from coffee to tea … So there’s more for Mato to fume about. Oh, don’t forget the bird book, which now has a depressing ending about taking all the colors and then dying from it.
And let’s not forget Yuu. She basically ceases to exist. So in other words, Mato’s little world has begun to completely unravel, and you have to wonder if she is actually the crazy one, or the craziest one, or one of the crazies. But Mato does manage to see Yuu again and what follows is the closest thing to a clear explanation we’re likely to get. Why Yuu’s figured it out and no one else I don’t know. Maybe because she doesn’t exist anymore. Apparently to be rid of the pain you’re shouldering on this world your alter-ego has to die. Then you’re happily cured. I’m not liking this cure much. The basketball girl is given as an example and she’s apparently happy now, but Kagura is another one to “die” and she’s become a twisted person I’d frankly avoid if I was going to that school. Yuu, unconcerned that no one knows her and her damn HOUSE doesn’t exist any more, sends Mato to the other world, where she’s just killed Yomi’s other self, apparently what you’re supposed to do, except Yuu doesn’t believe it. I’m with Yuu. Having your social and psychological issues resolved by other-dimensional combat doesn’t sound right.
On the other hand, the battles this week were entertaining. It seems like a waste if they were to just talk things out.
Nisemonogatari 9 has more odd conversations and abuse at Araragi-kun’s expense. And something suggesting the next story arc finally shows up. But first, more intelligent and heartfelt talk between Araragi and Karen.
As I expected, nothing whatsoever is made of the events that closed last episode, and we’re left to speculate or imagine, if that’s what interests you. Instead, we get a brief phone conversation (#1) setting up Araragi’s introduction of his sister to Kanbaru, then it’s on to conversation #2 as Araragi and Karen (I know, Araragi is his last name, Karen’s also an Araragi, but I’m so used to calling him that that I’m not changing. Besides, Senjougahara’s constant referral to him as “Araragi-kun” marks that permanently as his name) head over to Kanbaru’s house. Rock/Paper/Scissors, riding on shoulders, and one shocking event–Karen cuts off her ponytail … just like that. In a show so full of weirdness as this one why does that one seem especially shocking? Maybe it shows a self-destructive trait in her? Because she’s cutting off her old life and beliefs before she visits Kanbaru? Because she looked good in it? We’ll have to check up on her after her visit.
And then we get first hint at the new story arc. This woman named Yodzuru appears and calls Araragi “devil boy” and Karen “hornet girl.” Araragi doesn’t think enough on why she knows these secrets, or why she used “hornet” and not “bee.” It suggests that she is very powerful in whatever she does (Karen also thinks this) but may not be as expert as she thinks. Maybe. Or the translators screwed up. Anyway, she exhibits both confidence and menace, though not maliciousness. Oh, and skill for effortlessly leaping on things and away. She looks like fun. When she showed up I felt a bit of relief; we were getting a new character! Maybe the old ones were getting stale for me while I wasn’t looking. BTW that was #3 and #4, if you count a brief call to Hanekawa, which was more of the same.
Before she bounded off, Yodzuru warned Araragi that there might be another girl asking the same question she did (and WHY the interest in a cram school which is no longer there which was also the place that Oshino used to hang out, to “set up a home base?”), and we meet her soon enough. Goofy rather than elegant, Yodsugi asks the same question and makes the same too-knowing comments that Yodzuru did, though this time she’s talking to Araragi and Hachikoji (conversation #5), who had been indulging in their usual perverted topics. Hachikoji is “snail girl” to Yodsugi, especially interesting because almost no one can see Hachikoji except Araragi. And after Yodsugi walks (not bounds) off, Hachikoji, like Karen before her, is the one to size this new girl’s abilities up. So we get parallel actions concerning two new girls who seem completely unlike each other. What does it all mean? It’s too soon to tell. It’s ALWAYS too soon to tell in this series. All I know is that this story arc is supposed to be about Tsuhiki, and she doesn’t appear at all, unless there was a split-second flash to her somewhere.
In Inu x Boku SS 8 it’s Ririchihaya who wants to do the talking out. Once again she wants to reciprocate Souchi’s kindness, for reasons she’s probably not even sure about beyond common courtesy. And when she manages to say a few of the right things, about how it’s unfair that he knows everything about her but not the other way around, she’s quite eloquent. Unfortunately it takes her the whole damn episode to get to that point. Apart from scenes of the other master/servant relationships, showing how easily they get along, and some cute but inconsequential school bits, everything leading up to it are scenes of her trying to ask him to have coffee with her, or trying to actually say the words and get interrupted or just fail. Well, the ending was almost good enough to make up for it, but not quite enough.
Daily Lives of High School Boys 8 didn’t do much for me. I wonder if the show’s style is wearing thin. The balcony bit was okay. The centipede stuff just made me freak about what critters might be in my house, and it isn’t even summer yet. The bag stuck in the tree was funny only when I try to imagine why the bag was up there in the first place. The convenience store scene was excruciating. I can’t even pick a best scene this time. The show’s in a slump. Maybe that’s why the girls’ segment at the end is getting longer. The boys are running down.
With Black Rock Shooter 3 the Kagari arc is over with for now, time to introduce some new real-life conflicts that will be sort-of mirrored in what’s going on in the fighting world. And we see the barrier between the worlds begin to blur a little. The stuff in reality introduces Yomi’s sad jealousy of Mato’s best friend Yuu, and what happens to the basketball team leader when the boy she confesses to turns out to be a douchebag. Saya, we see, is marking down people who just happen to have counterparts in the fighting world, meanwhile, in THAT world, the new character tries to raise a flock of harmless little things that bear sort of a resemblance to the counselor Saya, though I might be completely off on that, only to have BRS come and kill them all rather nastily. Why? I don’t know. As for the colors, Mato’s dreams of the other world (which Yuu suggest show people helping her bear her pain, though Mato’s in no particular pain and her character is no less violent than the others) we get a blue tears metaphor, which makes sense, since just about everyone cries this episode, even Saya, who, judging from her actions this episode, might be insane, or maybe too connected to the other world … Ah, I give up. The episode was interesting to watch, but I guess it’s too soon for it to start making sense.
I’m beginning to lose patience with Ano Natsu de Matteru. Episode 6 takes them to Okinawa (I wish tickets like that would fall into my hands that easily. I need a drunken older sister, I guess), where they will film their little movie. And wear swimsuits. Then two more girls show up, Kaori, a childhood friend of Kaito, natch, and a horny thing who just leaps onto Tetsuro. The two boys spend much of the episode fighting off girl attacks while Ichika, Kanna and Mio fume and Remon schemes. Remon gets on my nerves, but I have to feel sorry for a girl who’s got so little going on her own that she has to manipulate everyone around her to have any fun. There’s nothing else in the episode.
All I could think of during Bakuman 19 was “How the hell is Takashi going to make time to settle in with Kaya with all those deadlines?” Well, other thoughts crossed my mind too, I’m sure, but after watching the boys work so hard and continue to work hard, even if it’s 11th place for a gag manga they don’t really like doing, how can Takahashi find time to do stuff like move in, etc, and especially, how to keep his lovely bride happy? Well, she’s used to the routine by now. This is all the serious plot we get this episode. The rest of it was the usual: friedly rivals all aiming for the top spot in Shonen Jack, until next week, that is. Akina and Seiji’s new manga is a hit. The others react. A nasty confrontation between Akina and the loving couple turns funny at the end. The show’s pretty good at throwing in an odd revelation when things threaten to get too sour.
After the wild events of the past two weeks of Last Exile – Fam everyone is content to get their affairs in order or become turncoats. It’s also a way for us to see the current political, military, and exile-ly status of the principals. Most important, it’s where where little Sara Augusta is finally convinced that Luscinia’s technique of blowing up the other side’s ships and dropping huge moon-things on their capitals isn’t the best way to unify the world. But how much of this can she understand? What’s more, there are lots of undercurrents here. Dian and what’s left of Glacies will only grudgingly fight for Millia, the sister of the woman who dropped an exile their land. In a depressing (for the ethnic stereotypes as well as the emotions they’re exhibiting) scene, a war council of sorts becomes a “Let’s all kill that bitch Liliana” fest, much to the frustration of her sister, as you might expect. Millia also sees people who want nothing more than to return to their homeland, people who were there before she was. Again, how much of this can Sara comprehend? It doesn’t really matter. Fam does her usual thing, becomes Augusta’s excellent friend, and thrills her with exploits of the grand race, something they can share. She’s got the right idea. Let’s unite everyone for a beautiful and noble dream! I wonder how many of the soldiers can be talked into that …
Some people didn’t like it, but Ai’s story was one of my favorites in the original Amagami SS series. The romance was nothing much, but they had this weird theme going on concerning things in liquids. Ai’s a swimmer, of course, but also the ramen stall, the fact that she turned into ramen at one point, and then they were bobbing about together in a hot spring. The return to Ai here doesn’t feel the same. Oh, it’s still playful and mildly sexy (how did Junichi’s request to sleep on her belly turn to that? And can you think of a better situation to be chastised than by a group of angry girls in swimsuits, or whipped by that fantasy cram school teacher?), but some of the unintrusive weirdness that marked the Ai story is missing. What’s more, the story isn’t terribly dramatic. Junichi, through no fault of his own (he says) has to attend a cram school camp, thereby missing out on their anticipated Christmas Eve date. Frankly, I don’t think they could have topped last year’s anyway, even without the deer breeding (okay, there’s SOME weirdness to this episode), but now they don’t get any fun at all and we get lots of shots of Ai looking sad. But don’t worry, Ai! This is Junichi we’re talking about. It’ll be fine.
Daily Lives of High School Boys has become the one show this season where the credits arrive and I say “Aw shit, already?” Then I notice that there’s still several minutes to go yet and they just did it early … Seriously, unlike my first encounters with this show, now I try to figure out which skit was funniest. Was it dubbing the girls? Motoharu’s seniority issues? The play-acting the boys do to save a stranger’s heroic fantasy? The only one that didn’t work was the rubber-band hero. Just a little too far out of bounds of reality for this show. Next from the bottom was the glaring girl, but I laughed at it. … As for my favorite I’m going to have to go with the Ringo-chan scene.
Natsume Yuujinchou Shi 4 is about Yobiko, a youkai skilled with voices who wants another youkai to repair an old letter … no, it’s about two lovers who meet every day at a shrine … no it’s about a youkai who falls in love with a human, ah, forget it. The whammy comes at the very end, when Yobiko discovers what the letter actually says, and it took a moment before it sank in. Yobiko, for all his well-meaning dishonesty in trying to keep the girl happy, and guilt for hurting her, is actually the only one in this affair who was honest with her. Geez, you have to keep an eye on this show. It’ll slam you with emotion with no warning at all. I was going to watch episode 5 today as well, but one Natsume show a day is plenty.
Daily Lives of High School Boys 3 … not bad. Liked the fact that the obligatory beach scene lasted all of five minutes and stopped when none of them could get girls. The mole scene took too long–normally in scenes like that I keep shouting at the screen for the character to get off his/her interior monologue and DO something. Episode 4 is the best episode yet. It decides that it’s not enough to show high school boys, so they bring in some high school girls to help with the cultural festival. Each gender acts like total doofuses and is as appalled and amused by the other as the other is of them. It’s great stuff. Student council president Ringo is the star, a mix of strident pride and jealousy fueled by low self-esteem, savagely voiced by Yuuki Aoi, or course! Every time I say to myself “Damn, I like that voice, who’s playing her?” it turns out to be her. Anyway, her highlight is a fight with the boys’ president while a girl band cheerfully plays background music. The much quieter reception table scene (with a different girl) relies on pauses and expressions between the lines, and is almost as good. This is turning out to be one of the better shows of the season.
Inu x Boku SS is getting me worried. It’s not that I mind that the idea that this supernatural series is partly about a lonely girl learning to trust others and change her basic nature, but three episodes in that’s about all we’ve seen. The show has all these other weapons at its disposal but it’s using only one of them. On the other hand, what they are doing is fairly well-done. You understand why she would get upset when watching someone else fake a smile to ease a situation, even though it’s a social tactic everyone must use at one point another. You get the feeling of “whoops” every time Ririchiyo blurts out something rude, though to be fair the reciprients, like the two generic, rude students in her class (the show’s low point. Why are they so rude? Why is it only those two? Why do they always say those things within earshot?), tend to deserve it. I’m rather relieved for her sake that we didn’t have to see her in class, though it’d be nice to watch her and fellow-student Karuta together, especially since the latter doesn’t get enough screen time. The expected makeup with Souchi was predictable and far too long, though the drinks in the hair was a nice touch.