Heroman 26 – Finale

Heroman 26, the big crash-bang finale, has plenty of action and light shows but, sadly, it took so much time making its point that at times the episode dragged.

It looks bleak. Heroman’s got a huge hole in him and isn’t moving. Kogorr moves to kill Joey but Will gets in the way and makes a dying speech. “Your father never gave up!” Joey has already turned a glowing orange, now his control club-hand morphs into a robot hand that reminded me a little of the ones in FLCL. The orange color is possibly related to Heroman turning beet-red when he thought Joey was dead, though that time Heroman went into an inhuman rage. Orange Joey wants to save the world at his own expense. And at first it looks like he’ll succeed, until …

Hey, Heroman! Who's side are you on, anyway?

I guess just like Joey stopped Heroman when he went beserk, Heroman must return the favor. Nice to see that Heroman’s picked up the “Not dead yet” skill that Joey possesses. Here’s where things start to drag. We’ve already had high-level talks about firing ballistic missiles, which we all know won’t do squat. And we have a brief display of more conventional weapons also not doing squat. I don’t know why they waste their time with this. Denton and the gang are ordered to pull back, but refuse. They won’t let their heroes down. And of course we haven’t seen Minami’s power-up tech in action yet; you know they’re going to play that card sooner or later. As it turns out—later. They have a lot of profound talking to do first.

One of a great number of speeches.

Now, the idea that sacrificing yourself only makes the ones you leave behind unhappy is an important one in this show and to Joey and especially Holly, so I can’t complain if they revive it at the climactic moments. But the timing is just awful. We get speeches or lines from just about everyone, a lot of flashbacks of a young Joey protecting Lina from a vicious dog (with the most important part, Holly rushing in and saving them both). All to say that suicide missions are bad. Even heroes need backup. Meanwhile Kogorr is happily drilling into the Earth’s core to suck out the energy, a fact which seems totally forgotten by everyone. Time is ticking away and suddenly I was worried that it might go onto ANOTHER episode.

So they have very little time to do the big final fight. You know when it’s actually the final one when the music isn’t loud and propulsive but more of a power ballad. Denton does the Heroman power-up, Heroman breaks off Kogorr’s drill. Kogorr goes “NOOO!” and then boom (seems kind of easy with hindsight), and the aftermath comes during the closing credits, so close did they cut it. Oh, they added a scene of Minami and his minions breaking out of prison, in case there’s a second season.

One more of the rest of the gang.

Overall the show balances out to about average. Much of the time the plot execution was ham-fisted and predictable. The character development was either good (Joey and Holly), inept (Will), or nonexistent (everyone else). On the other hand the action scenes, even the absurd ones, were almost always exciting and fun to watch. I didn’t always look forward to watching it every week, but I watched it anyway. Dunno if I have the energy to watch a sequel.

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Heroman 25, Amagami 12

The pentultimate episode of Heroman is called “Crisis,” and like any good action series it gets to that crisis with an entertaining battle.

Joey, Heroman and Will (whom they find and rescue) work to get closer to the big plant thing and Kogorr, who seems half stuck in it. It’s fun enough as they manage to fend off tentacles and warriors formed out of tentacles, but the show has more to set up. So we often switch to Denton and Psy (and occasionally Keisha and Hughes), who are also working to get closer so they can do their power-up-Heroman plan, thanks to Minami’s green monster truck. Lina and Holly are with them, for absolutely no reason I can think of, except it might give Lina a reunion scene with Will later. They have their own crises, in fact they should be dead at the end of it, but instead they’re still rolling so that they can implement their plan—next time. And that should have told me something.

Because for a while the good guys, apart from a few minor setbacks, easily dismissed, make excellent progress, and for a moment I wondered if the conflict would actually end this episode (It helps that Kogorr starts eating his own troops). That would mean an entire episode to fill in the gaps … rather a long time. Will says Kogorr’s weak point is the crystal on his chest. With minutes to go in the episode Heroman leaps up and smashes it. Kogorr cries out in pain, etc. But (evil laugh) that wasn’t really his weak spot. Nope. No episode-long denouement next time.

So now Heroman’s dead (again). That’s how it should be. We can look forward to whatever Denton has in store next week, and although the previews were careful not to show Heroman alive you know he’s going to make a comeback. Maybe they’ll explain what those flying bowling balls were doing melting. Nah.

Amagami SS 12 ends the Sae story arc pretty much the way you’d expect. Happily they throw in just enough eccentricity to give it some life.

Banana parfait of love.

We don’t actually see much of the falling in love process. It sort of happens to them while little events take place. Again, shy Sae knows what she wants, so it’s off to a estrogen-filled cafe where, Sae is told, if a couple finish a certain banana parfait, they’ll be in love forever. We never know if they succeed because it’s off to the best couple contest. This, too, manages to work even while the clichés (Sae is afraid to get on stage, nearly trips, etc) try and make it stale. The joke couple of Haruka and Hibiki (Junichi’s next victim) works especially because they DO make a fun couple, even if one is in drag.

A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do ... Hey, who's this guy?

Our lovely couple wins tickets to a private room to see a movie. Naturally it’s a love story. You can guess what’s going to happen. But again the show throws us something we didn’t expect. Junichi, still burned by the two year-old heartbreak, is afraid to tell Sae his feelings. In the bathroom he encounters some bearded guy who gives him love advice in English in the way a character in a western might. We find out who he is later but it doesn’t take away the sheer weirdness of the moment.

One other thing it does is give us a metaphor: making movies. Junichi uses it to his advantage. Then the sofa back collapses and well, you can guess the rest. Thus the Sae arc comes to a successful close. The show found enough things to keep us occupied in spite of having a mostly passive lead character. They threw in a narrator that seemed to be gently laughing at Junichi and Sae, other characters upped their game, especially Miya, and then there were the moments of quiet oddness. Not bad at all! Next week: scary Hibiki.

Heroman 24, Amagami 11

After a splendid opening to this story arc Heroman 24 gets down to business: getting Joey and Heroman to the White House, or what’s left of it, to defeat whatever the hell it is.

Oh, that's right, they're also rescuing the president.

The fights are routine. The Skruggs (and everyone’s shocked when they appear, as if they couldn’t figure out who their enemy is) send out some yellow warriors which turn to green slime the moment Heroman punches them. So our heroes go from skirmish to slimy skirmish in order to get closer to the White House. Meanwhile, other things happen. Psy, Denton, Lina and Holly are on a plane headed toward the action so that Denton can put some plan into action. Unfortunately we don’t get to see the plan at work. Consider it a teaser. So let’s move on to a couple of genuine complications. First, the military can’t launch an all-out strike because the President is still in the White House. Again, who’s idea was it to have a secret lab below it and put Kogorr’s egg there? And then there’s the Fourth Estate.

We are finally introduced to the reporter who took the footage in an earlier episode, Keisha Jackson. Now she’s ordered her helicopter right to the action. Joey says he can’t fight with her whizzing around but she refuses to back off. Earlier in the series Keisha was a brave reporter who insisted on revealing the truth behind the NIA’s coverup. Now she’s a dangerous reporter interfering with her story. And she causes another problem: she spots Joey, and since this is a nationwide feed, EVERYONE spots Joey, including the guys at the coffeehouse … and Holly. Somehow she hadn’t figured out that Joey controls Heroman. You can imagine her distress. But, like Denton’s plan, the ramifications will have to come later. Since there are only two episodes left I wonder how much time they’ll devote to it? And what is Central City thinking about this?

But mainly it’s Joey and Heroman beating up yellow Skruggs, then a really big yellow skrugg. As they get closer to their goal it gets trickier and trickier. To add to the spectacle the Skruggs resurrect those damn bowling balls, except they can fly now, and they go whizzing off to the White House as well. Why didn’t they do that before? And Kogorr is brought to life and given another chance to do what he couldn’t do before. So we’re all set up for the big battle. What about Will? The previews show him standing alongside Joey and Heroman, but this episode we didn’t see much of him at all. He seemed to be tied up, or maybe he was hiding …

Amagami SS 11, the third of the Sae arc, gets a little better, though Junichi has yet to kiss some weird part of her body. Chances are she wouldn’t go for that anyway.

Finally.

Sae is still too meek and submissive to do much, but she’s getting better. Meanwhile the interview lessons continue, this time projecting the voice in a high wind, possibly so that Junichi can see her skirt fly up. All of his lessons have a double meaning to them and it’s not clear he even realizes it. In fact, he hasn’t realized yet that he’s beginning to fall for her. Well, in this episode he gets a clue or two. Happily the lessons end as she finally goes for the interview and gets a job at a restaurant with cute uniforms, natch. The gang all visit her at work and are a little surprised to see her so competent. Sae says she owes it all to Junichi but it’s clear that something else is happening here: her confidence has grown.

So much so that she asks him out on a date, even if they would deny it (It’s Junichi’s thank-you gift … right). It’s a nice little scene. Junichi admires her while they ride the merry-go-round, and we continue to a live show where Sae reveals some major geekery and gets captured by evil squid. Refreshingly this is about the only embarrassing thing to happen to her all episode.

Holding hands for the first time.

What’s more, she takes the initiative again and asks him to compete with her in the Founders Festival “best couple” contest, which I assume makes them an official couple. Then she goes even further and gets him to hold her hand. Now, she requests all this with lots of nervous pauses and quivering voice, she hasn’t changed that much but she does it. She goes through with what she wants. Interesting that Sae’s the one who takes the initiative while Junichi is still trying to figure out what she meant by not wanting to be his little sister. If she hadn’t, would he have stepped forward?

Heroman 23

Heroman 23 begins what I assume is the final story arc. I’m not sure why, but I can’t remember this show doing a good job starting its stories. They usually end well but the openings always seem so direct and ham-fisted. Happily, this is an exception.

Joey's briefing.

The reason why this one succeeds is that we’ve spent enough time with the characters so that their interplay has become interesting. Plot-wise, little happens. Essentially the Skruggs take over the White House (which has an experimental lab built underneath, which holds Kogorr’s egg or something. Who made that decision?) and Joey/Heroman go off to the rescue. But as side notes we get Will, working on his own, and the whole Joey/Lina thing. Everyone gets a little time and that not only gives the show some variety but lets us share what they’re thinking. Joey’s story is more than just Skruggs.

The scene between Joey and Lina gets a boost from the threat. Lina gets to do what she couldn’t last episode and lash out because Joey had not told her about the last battle with Will. Meanwhile I’m wondering why didn’t he? Will had made it clear that he was out to destroy Skrugg technology, and although they had clashed it had ended in a draw. Why not tell her? But in a nicely timed moment Hughes’ helicopter swoops down to pick him up. He shouts something she can’t hear and makes a dramatic, dare I say, heroic exit while she can only watch, astonished. Yeah, he made a mistake, he’ll fix it later. Right now it’s time to be a hero!

What thoughts going through poor Lina’s mind! He didn’t tell her and he was wrong for that, but now he’s gone to fight Skruggs. And, for all she knows, maybe her brother, for Joey didn’t tell her everything.

What follows is just as good even though nothing much happens. We see Joey studying the thousand-page NIA manual, thinking about both the upcoming fight and how he must protect Lina. Meanwhile, Lina mopes, then escapes out her window (where is she going?). It’s an interlude laden with emotion and expectation and then it’s over when the plane reaches DC and is immediately attacked. Meanwhile Will has arrived too, and has an unexpected reception. The fight is on! The episode ends there. But for the first time in a while I don’t think of watching the next Heroman episode as a chore, but rather something to look forward to.

Heroman 22, Yumeiro 46

Heroman 22 works as a more mature episode until a maudlin ending and the inevitable cliffhanger knocks it off the rails, but mostly it worked.

We start with Joey mulling over his late father, and we get a flashback of the man dying heroically while rescuing fellow miners from a fire. Joey was way too young to know his father well. In fact, he seemed to be an infant, so it’s amazing he’d have any memories of him at all. Holly, unexpectedly, says their father was NOT a hero, but won’t go into why. And what is a hero, anyway? It’s a question that gets resolved nicely a little later. As for now, Joey meets some miners who knew his father. Yep, no question, they say, he was a hero. But this doesn’t move Holly at all.

Lina’s unhappy situation gives us come clues. Will comes in the dead of night to talk to her. It’s a goodbye forever speech, coupled with “Stay away from Joey,” and “Take care of mom and pop.” Lina is one of the few people around who know that Will’s alive. In a later scene we see the problems with this when her father again tells her that Will is dead, and to move on. Of course it’s not that easy to move on after a death if the person isn’t actually dead. And even if they are, some people find it easier to move on than others. Back to Holly.

Being heroic is great, but to constantly think of other people instead of yourself can actually hurt them more. Holly’s anger toward their father is simple. He went to work, saying he’d be back, but he never did. You can argue with this logic. It’s clear that all the miners, the father included, would have died if he hadn’t done what he had, that it was just dumb luck. But that does little to comfort the bereaved. Yeah, big deal, he was a hero. Now he’s left his family without him. Holly often acts selfishly, but no one can blame her here. Her anger is directed toward a man whom she dearly loved and still misses. A shame that the episode goes maudlin at this point. Joey discovers a family photo folded into his old mining helmet. See? He was thinking about them all the time! Sorry, it doesn’t work. Neither much does the following scene between Joey and Lina. In spite of all they could say, they say next to nothing, except Joey pronouncing he won’t hesitate, whatever that means. Possibly referring to being heroic in spite of the consequences. Then a phone call to set up the next arc, and we’re through. A shame. This episode was working out very well until it didn’t.

Yumeiro Patissiere 46 brings back to Fairyland as Ichigo looks for her grandmother’s elusive strawberry tart recipe. Everyone’s interest is piqued when Kashino borrows a book from the academy’s library, only to find the tart recipe page blank, just like Ichigo’s grandmother’s recipe book. Everyone’s all for finding it, except Kashino.

It will surprise no one that this is the thrust of the episode, in fact, I predicted it the moment Kashino said it, but never mind, we’re going to Fairyland for more fairy antics! Trouble is, this time around the antics are pretty low-key. They start well enough with the gang of jerks (Kasshi, Andy and Narci, heh) reappearing, sneaking into a secret vault in a museum, and Caramel bludgeoning guards with her spoon. But the fun drops when they are caught.

Er ... On second thought ...

From here on it’s all talk. Kasshi, who in spite of looking like Kashino, has no connection to him (for one thing, Kasshi is nicer), tells Ichigo pretty much the same thing Kashino did. She needs to come up with her own recipes. Otherwise it’s not as satisfying. Then they’re taken in to meet the former director, Majoram, who talks cryptically and tells Ichigo which of the three tarts that magically appear on the table come from her grandmother’s recipe. Turns out the whole darn thing is a test, which Ichigo naturally passes. We get some talk about the importance of soil to grow strawberries. The recipe is transported back into the book—written in fairy language.

That looks like it might actually mean something.

All fine and dandy but I’m a little disappointed. Ichigo deciding she doesn’t need to recipe translated makes a good point, but we knew that was coming. But the whole thing with the sealed book and mysterious crones bearing keys doesn’t live up to expectations. I was expecting something more … cosmic, though the magical effects they used were kind of cool. Also, Ichigo wasn’t just looking for that recipe so she could use it in the Grand Prix. It was more than that. It was a connection to her grandmother. To suggest she had other motives cheapens her intent. Next week apparently we’re back in Fairyland, and Tennouji has scenes. It’ll be good to see her back, even if Miya is too.

21’s: Heroman, Maid-Sama

Heroman 21 sort of concludes the missing persons arc, that is to say, the missing persons are safely recovered, but it leads to other questions, like where is that other Skrugg? But in terms of character the episode is mainly about Joey.

So THAT'S how it happened. Boring.

Tracing Denton’s soil samples Hughes knows that the Skrugg is holed up in that abandoned mine (and, yes, it turns out this is indeed the mine Joey’s father died in). Joey is torn. He’ll do anything to save his sister, but if the Skrugg is indeed Will, would he be able to fight? Psy reassures him, and we get a flashback where Psy demands Will throw the football to him, and when he does it’s an ill-advised desperation fling under pressure. Psy gets his famous injury and Will quits as team captain as self-punishment. In other words, Will is not the type to hurt people (except for last time, though I remember he turned away from killing Psy back then). I’m thinking that it’s a nice story, but a football injury? Ho hum, I expected more.

So Joey, Heroman and Psy go into the Skrugg lair and find lots of that creepy organic stuff that the aliens like. Also Denton and Holly, who have managed to escape their pods and hide (none of the other victims, just them). The Skrugg shows up. We have a fight. We learn it’s not Will. Another Skrugg shows up, this one a dog, and Psy lures him away so Heroman can fight the big one. I sometimes wonder why defenseless Psy gets invited along on these missions. Here’s one reason: to be bait. But the battle has made the walls unstable and Psy’s cool scooter is damaged before he can reach the exit.

Here’s where the show nearly got me. Psy limps toward the opening, muttering about touchdowns. It seemed too much, the injury story, not being able to play again, trying to reach the goal line, I seriously thought the story was going to kill him off. Well, I was wrong. He makes it, but later collapses, so he’s not dead, but not at all well. Joey angsting about his friends getting hurt is apparently the theme of next week’s episode. As for the end of this one, the big Skrugg simply disappears. What’s up with that?

Kaichou wa Maid-Sama has two stories with a bit of overlap. In the first one Misa orders the sports teams to clean out their club rooms, promising refreshments. So she learns to make rice balls, which don’t go over well.

There’s nothing more to this episode except that Misa tries hard and succeeds. We’ve seen it before. What’s intriguing is the new character they sneak into scenes. Jumping off roofs to rescue stray pieces of bread, eating grass, actually eating one of Misa’s rice balls. We’re not told who he is until the second story, which is much more interesting.

Hinata endears himself to everyone in the school thanks to his eccentric gluttony and backstory. Even when it looks like he’s about to be bullied it just turns out the guys are offering him food. Only Misa is unaffected. She keeps confiscating everything he gets until he’s convinced she’s just a meanie. Oh, part of the backstory is that he’s come to this school to find the girl he swore he’d follow years ago. Guess what her name is?

Got it in one!

After a tree incident that repeats an incident they shared in the past, Misa is revealed to him, and she has a new suitor. This could be interesting. Kanou, acting as foil for the main characters this week, is convinced that Misa and Usui like each other. However, she’s too proud to admit it and Usui says relationships are “a bother.” But now possibly he has a rival. Good thing, too. Usui is too sure that he can wrap Misa around his little finger, and the show gives us glimpses of him obviously not pleased with this turn of events. On the other hand I can’t see Misa treating this eccentric guy as romantic potential. As for me, I like Hinata. I just hope they can keep the gluttony scenes to a minimum. They’ll get old fast.

20’s: Heroman, Maid-Sama

Heroman 20 is an annoying one. People in Central City are being abducted, along with cows. Naturally Dr. Denton is on the case, wasting Joey and Psy’s time, until he vanishes, too. Then Holly decides to join in the investigation.

The first half of the show is a waste of time. Holly drags Joey and Psy around, wearing stupid outfits, as they visit abduction sites, one of which is conveniently a beach, so she can have a swim. Joey and Psy sigh a lot. They make fools of themselves, accuse the beach’s local strongman that he’s the culprit, you get the idea. We know from the prologue that there’s a small girl who witnessed her father’s abduction, so we’re waiting for that angle to open up. And we know that the bad guy is either Will or some other Skrugg-thing. Kind of takes the mystery out of it.

A couple of nice character scenes improve the story. Holly is self-absorbed and brusque, but when she wants to she can display some empathy. In an otherwise annoying scene they sneak into the hospital where she gets the frightened girl to talk. I thought bothering a traumatized little kid was a bad idea, but she managed it well. And later, when the Skrugg does appear and she doesn’t see Joey she races out of cover to find him … to get abducted herself. Still, a good moment. Also decent was Lina, grounded at her house because of the abductions. You think her family has gone too far. On the other hand her father reminds her that they have already lost Will; they don’t want to risk losing her too.

But mainly it’s Holly, Joey and Psy poking around. The monster has to conveniently show up for any plot development, dead flower mystery notwithstanding. There’s a brief fight, Holly gets taken and that’s it. Five good minutes and twenty annoying ones.

Kaichou wa Maid-Sama! 20 has two complete stories. The first one falls apart at the end, the second didn’t make any sense at all, but they were both enjoyable.

Ruri, Yukimura’s younger sister, wants nothing to do with her brother. Rather, since she wants to be a princess she wants a handsome prince. She takes one look at Usui and falls for him. Yukimura wants her to look up to him, so he begs Usui to go on a date with her. Misa joins Yukimura’s side so Usui can’t say no, can he? Naturally, Misa, Yukimura, Kanou and later the three idiots watch from the bushes.

Naturally it goes wrong. Misa and Aoi (I forgot, he’s there too) concoct some schemes to make Usui look bad, Misa playing jilted lover, the three idiots playing thugs, etc. Usui is along for the ride. One of the things the character does well is nonchalantly regard the craziness happening all around him.

It leads to a ridiculous moment where Yukimura and Ruri sort of make peace. I don’t quite understand how it got that way. On the other hand it was fun to watch with all the plans changing instantly and quick dialogue by those watching undercutting the main action.

And if you like quick, underscored dialogue and nonsensical action, the second story delivers it. That’s about all it delivers. Aoi wants to take photos of herself and charms Yukimura and Kanou into helping. Then the three idiots show up (twenty episodes in and I still can’t tell them apart) and get roped into it, too. Aoi delights in and later regrets using these fools in that way, admitting she had fun with them, which I guess is the story’s thrust, but mainly it’s everyone acting like idiots and bonding a little. But again it’s fast and frantic. Maid-Sama can do that well, so I was entertained even though nothing much happened.