Episode dump with a couple of finales

The Ikoku Meiro no Croisée finale has another Yune/Claude conflict, Yune trying to track down a nonexistent cat (though the bell sound, ever explained, was a nice touch), a crisis, and we finally learn enough about Claude’s grump of a father to learn why Claude’s a grump himself. Not for the first time, Yune becomes the catalyst which triggers memories and actions from others. To make this less dull, she gets to have little adventures of her own, though the finale’s was especially dangerous. And there’s the bell on the cat metaphor with Yune put in the cat’s position. But in this case Claude thinks the cat, or Yune, actually hates the bell and wants to run away. Mice don’t enter into it except as a toss-off line at the end.

What was Ikoku Meiro no Croisée all about in the end? A comparison of cultures and beliefs. A study of class differences and a romance it kills. A story where a grumpy man becomes less grumpy because of cuteness. A story of a little girl learning to live and make herself useful in a foreign land. These are all simplistic answers, but this was a simple show that tried not to do much but tickle serious issues, show a cute little thing living in a big city, and show off some nice artwork from time to time. And not pander, no matter adorable Yune got.

It’s pretty clear what’s going on in Dantalian no Shoka 10. Violinist Christabel is a robot. She’s going to play a phantom score. When the man who built and cared for her is murdered, she’s going to play a nastier phantom score, out of revenge, maybe, or because she has a soul. All predictable. So I kicked back and hoped the performance would produce some cool animation from Gainax, but apart from a brief appearance of a demon nothing much happens, well, the theatre collapses, but that’s all. All that leaves to ponder is the concept of a phantom score. Since written music is meant to be performed, it makes sense that musicians that played the score all died, but was that from trying to perform it, or reading and studying it? Do they have to be skilled musicians? If I sat at a piano and plunked out the notes (I can’t play or read music) would I suffer a terrible end, too? And what about listeners who are tone-deaf? Unfortunately, that’s a lot to ask a half-hour anime show to tell us.

Let’s see, in Kamisama no Memochou we learn that the school greenhouse was used to grow the flowers needed for Angel Fix, but of course we knew that already, because we’re not stupid. It makes you think that the characters are stupid for not realizing it, but then again, they’re in the show, while we were handed a piece of fiction with obvious clues (the drug’s made from flowers, there’s a greenhouse … d’oh!). Maybe it was the show’s intention to make it obvious to us, since they have other themes in mind, if only I could figure them out. Or maybe they just want to concentrate on the character drama, which means Naruma stands around looking defiant, The Fourth tells him yet again to butt out, etc. I’m sorry, I just can’t relate to this show.

Meanwhile, I skipped one episode of The iDOLM@STER ages ago and it seems to have come back to bite me. Miki’s upset about not getting into that other group that I know nothing about. Otherwise it’s a bland episode where the girls work hard for a live performance, except Haruka and Yayoi are struggling, which leads to some despondency, “fight!” speeches, and yet more bonding. The best scenes come when Haruka stays at Chihaya’s empty apartment for the night. Haruka obviously has a hard time believing Chihaya can live like that, while Chihaya, listening to Haruka talk about her family, begins to think the same way. It works because none of it is spoken out loud. It’s all subtext from glances and reactions. I wish more of the show was like that.

Nekogami Yaoyorozu 11 finishes one story and starts another, the first one bland and the second one bewildering (Marriage? Really?), but there’s one charming scene. The seemingly useless and selfish Mayu tells Amane that in order to do the god-things they’re to do, they need allies. Allies? Where? “Don’t sweat it,” says Mayu, and then proceeds to interact with townspeople in little ways, helping kids win a boss battle, cheering up a crying girl, getting gifts for her trouble and giving them away a minute later, generally showing herself to be a respected member of the neighborhood. These people aren’t the allies she was talking about, but it’s a demonstration of how to behave in society, a productive side of her we haven’t seen before. It’s refreshing. Mayu can be a fun character when she’s not all greed and sloth.

Oh, I also watched this. It ended too.
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Episode dump: little bits about Hanasaku, Steins;Gate, Croisee, etc

Takako shows Ohana how it's done.

There’s no way to describe the plot of Hanasaku Iroha 23. It moves forward, but in little ways, different characters, different scenes. As usual, most of these scenes are spot-on, gentle humor undercutting when things are about to get too maudlin. What I found most interesting was Ohana’s new, fumbling relationship with a woman who, rather to the surprise of both of them, is now her aunt. There’s plenty to dislike about Takako, but, as Ohana finds out when she body-slams the deadbeat director (with the lovely touch of the cellphone playing a tinkling “Ride of the Valkyries”), she has some admirable points. I’m less thrilled with the whole Ko situation; I thought the two of them would have moved on already, but I’ll grant that the scene of Ko and Ohana’s mother watching the “movie” footage was touching (and again, undercut with humor). The encounter at the footbridge was a bit much, though the evening lights coming on (Ohana’s favorite time of day in Tokyo) was another lovely touch.

Okabe's got his mojo back.

I long ago lost track of what happens in each timeline of Steins;Gate, or what the alpha or beta lines signify, or who is whose dad. And I don’t understand why Okabe had to see Kurisu die first. As for all those failed attempts at rescuing Mayuri, I guess he had to undergo that to get to where he is now. Maybe. This takes away a little of the interest for me, but only a little. For over half the season now the show has really been about Okabe trying to save the people he loves. And now he might actually have a way to do it. His triumphant mad scientist declarations and laughter at episode 23’s end was wonderful to watch after so much failure and dread. So I don’t care if the finale won’t make any sense! Go, Hououin Kyouma! Proceed with Operation Skuld!

Ikoku no Meiro Croisée takes the idea of things being there because you want to see them and presents them through Yune’s eyes in two ways. One is the fabulous slide projector and moving picture toys Oscar finds in the storeroom which not only amuses delights Yune but Alice and a store full of locals as well. I’ll ignore the fact that certainly Alice ought to have seen one of those before—I’m a little surprised she doesn’t own one. The other use involves Claude and his father, sadly gone, and Claude’s inability to compare his work to his. We see the father through Claude’s eyes, and through Yune’s, another thing you see because you want to. So the metaphor goes, and so the episode.

Coach

One thing I’ll say about Kamisama no Memochou 9: at least Alice’s Eddie Gaedel tactic wasn’t the reason they won the game, I mean, just give up first to a tiny girl who can’t run that fast, or rather, to the cheerleader who pinch-ran for her. Instead they gave us an A.J. Pierzynski which, er, is almost as stupid. Naruma knowing that the 21st pitch would be a forkball was almost as bad.

A stampede for the climax is never a bad idea.

The Idolm@ster 8 feels like a movie comedy. It starts with mistaken identities and a valuable ring, adds goons, sidekicks, strangers, zoo animals and an oil tycoon, throws in searches and chases and ends with a stampede before everything gets sorted out. It could have gone farther with the craziness but as it is it’s pretty fun. This show is no masterpiece but it it continues to entertain above its roots. And once again, Makoto shows herself to be the coolest girl in the series. Watch her kung-fu on a ladder! Swoon as she slings ham and flings crockery!

Yuru Yuri takes some of the girls to Kyoto on a school outing, where they stay at a Japanese style inn with a hot spring. It’s mainly Kyoko running around like an idiot while Yui acts as the straight man, Ayano as the angry bystander, while Chitose nosebleeds a lot. Points deducted for not covering the following hot spring inn clichés: ping-pong, drinking milk, vibrating chairs and ghost stories.

Episode dump: Croisee, Natsume, Tiger/Bunny, etc.

I should have posted this before my weekend from hell began and I got too busy (Labor Day Weekend? I wish. Weekends are my busiest time around here). Once again, while I write about these episodes, new ones appear.

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée 9, sorry, partie neuf, continues with the little tea party as the adults muse on the past and what separated Camille and Claude, as if we hadn’t figured it out. We see scenes of the kids having fun together, and then Camille begins to pull away, while Claude remains the boy he always was. She’s still a child at this point, so we can perhaps write off her standoffish behavior as a byproduct of her environment, but, taking into account that these are selected memories, it comes off as abrupt. Last week’s star, Alice, mostly stays out of sight after a humorous attempt at a Japanese tea ceremony with the ever-patient Yune. And at the end we get a cryptic conversation about why Camille wears corsets, i.e., why she allows herself to be constrained by her surroundings, what she gets in return, but while all fingers point to Claude, I’m having trouble making the connection.

Natsume Yuujinchou usually sums up each week’s episode at the end, as seen above, but I don’t know about the road it took. There’s a youkai that’s inhabiting a small rock, then various people, trying to get close to Natsume. When it does, it asks “What’s your secret?” Himoe (after kicking the damn thing out a window—nothing like a direct approach) says the thing had probably spent hundreds of years in a riverbed and is curious about things, and that it’s pretty nasty. Since the episode occurs during the school cultural festival, I thought it would look around and actually SEE what it’s been missing, but it still goes after Natsume. His secret is, of course, his abilities, which he could probably just tell the thing … Never mind. The episode is full of joyous little moments showing just how much Natsume has changed, from spooky kid to a nice one who sometimes acts a little weird and falls over a lot, sometimes off bridges into rivers, and has loads of friends who don’t care if he’s a little weird. The show is in danger of overdoing these moments, but for the time being I smile when the people (or youkai) he’s trying to protect try to protect him back.

I don't think the thumbs-up is going to work, Kotetsu.

I suspected for a couple episodes that Kaede would play a bigger role in Tiger and Bunny; you don’t give someone super powers and don’t let them use them, but I’m disappointed that she was used as a deus ex machina. I had rather hoped that Kotetsu would fix the heroes’ memories by himself. On the other hand, Kotetsu is such a great (but entertaining) doofus that it makes sense that he’d need help. And my disappointment was further assuaged by how she got those particular powers in the first place, a seemingly inconsequential scene (but scary at the time, since we couldn’t know if Maverick knew the girl at first.) from last episode. After that the episode fumbled around, trying to arrange for Kotetsu and Barnaby to get alone for their big showdown, and I had plenty of time to consider all the flaws in Maverick’s evil plan, again. All the people he missed, not taking care of Kotetsu’s family, or his former manager … sigh.

Thanks, Switch. I was actually curious about that.

Judging from the online places I look at, I think I am the only person watching SKET Dance. I wonder why that is. It’s not a bad show; it’s better than a lot of the stuff running now. Like too many comedies it can indulge in the maudlin and not easily climb out, but usually it’s fast and funny. It has quick dialogue, well-done by the voice actors, sly jokes about manga and anime, and likes to break the fourth wall (see above) if there’s a gag in it. Episode 21 was slightly different, more serious, as Switch and Reiko the occult girl go off to buy a laptop. They talk sense about their differences and appearances, and good-naturedly bicker. Reiko does get a makeover, but both agree that it’s not really “her.” There are just enough jokes (often supplied by the other team members, who are tailing them) to keep the episode from getting too normal.

Some good battle scenes, though.

No.6 continues to annoy. The episode itself was pretty interesting, what with Sion and Rat getting themselves captured to get into the correctional facility, Yoming ready to give a rebellion signal through the Internet, and Safu meeting Elyurias, but the setup’s flaws continue to distract. Yoning’s intended use of the Internet is just lazy thinking on the writers’ part, surely by that time the webs would have been superceded by something else, but then again, Yoming’s whole being is lazy, as is the idea that Karan can seemingly talk to anyone without worry of eavesdropping. Well, the whole city is a product of lazy thinking, too. How on Earth did it get that way? And is Elyurias going to be the Deux ex Machina? Hey! That’s it! I predict that Safu will prove to be one of the forest people, which is why she can meet Elyurias, and moreover, she’s Rat’s sister! Okay, maybe not, but it can’t be any worse than what the show has planned for its (I assume) final two episodes.

And finally, I can’t resist this romantic screenshot:

Nerd love.

Episode catchup dump post

Alice, early feminist in training.

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée 8 is another good episode, though it’s a mystery to tired ol’ me how the tension between Claude and Camille came about. All I know was that their little scene had so many secret meanings and unspoken facts going on that it tired me out just watching it. But it looks like their separation isn’t only because of status and wealth. Much more interesting are the folktales and stories that Yune and Alice tell, well, not the stories, but the way Alice reacts to them. She has constantly sniped about the roles women are stuck with in society. Until now I wrote it off as the babblings of a girl unaware of the enormous pressures women face, but now we learn that Alice is much more of an independent spirit than her older sister, and always will be. Alice is turning into quite the interesting character. As for Yune, the title character, she serves as a catalyst, nothing more.

As usual, no big plot dramatics for Usagi Drop 7-8. Though it looks like it at the start, with cousin Haruka and niece Reina leaving their home and showing up at Daikichi’s place. What we get are a lot of adult conversations, and comparisons of parental lives while the kids run around in the background. And since these scenes are all good it doesn’t matter what the dramatic level is. My favorite bit comes after Reina tells Rin that her parents fight all the time, and Daikichi and Haruka start to bicker … Though any one of the scenes where Haruka describes her home life, or the “strength” metaphor are worth noting. It makes an interesting comparison to episode 8 and Masako’s reaction to secretly watching Rin and Daikichi. Seeing Rin now seven years old, no longer a baby, she realizes what she has lost by giving her up, and decides to dive further into her work, the thing she gave up Rin for. That’s what she wanted right? Even though she already works so hard she’s about to collapse. Or maybe she sees her action as a mistake she must atone for, even at the cost of her well-being.

An attempt at drama.

It seems I skipped an episode of Idolm@ster. No matter. I enjoyed (this is a relative term considering the subject) episode 7 for the things it did not do as much as for the things it tried. At first it looked it’d be all about Lori seeing how the commoners live and embarrassing herself, sigh, but Lori quickly adapts to Yayoi’s crowded and lively home and the drama is the kid brother running away. I was so pleased by this turn of events (and Lori’s pep talk to the boy) that I happily forgot that the drama wasn’t very interesting.

Both Sacred Seven 8 and 9 had no real point to them. Episode 8 has Tandoji and Ruri going off to find something to fix Hellbrick, but really it’s an excuse for them to have a date. So they argue, Ruri objecting that Tandoji just says “whatever” all the time and isn’t really interested in this saving the world thing. This is not true, of course; Tandoji always finds motivation to do heroic things. But they bond a little. I guess they both had to talk it out even though we already knew they were fine. But is Ruri’s concern about Tandoji because he’s a valuable teammate or because she likes him? Who knows? Episode 9 is even more pointless, two separate battles with no ramifications, almost a filler episode. But these two evil darkstones, lampposts of destruction, were fun to watch. Why Ruri and Tadaki didn’t realize that the fat one was feeding off the energy they throw at him I don’t understand.

We meet new characters in Yuru Yuri. Episode 8 brings us Chitose’s twin sister Chizuru, which leads to a long and, I suppose, inevitable character confusion scene involving Kyoko at her most annoying. Why the hell did no one in the cast know Chitose had a twin? Even Ayano didn’t know. Chizuru’s best trait is that Kyoko bugs her and she isn’t afraid to retaliate with violence. I wish the other characters would show such initiative. A nice scene where Chitose announces she’s lying, but then says she lied about lying, so in other words, the Student Council president DID explode. I scratched my head over this until I saw episode 9, where we meet said president, Motsumoto and her favorite teacher, Nichigaki, who likes to do experiments. Normally, I like people who like to blow up things, but Nichigaki comes off as dull. Meanwhile her sidekick Motsumoto speaks so quietly that no one can understand her. But together, they’re a bit more interesting. “We’re explosion friends!” So two episodes, three new characters of varying interest.

It's been so long since I watched it I don't remember why they're freaking out.

In Nekogami Yaoyorozu 7 nothing happens. The girls/gods prepare for the festival, sleep over, and tell ghost stories. I didn’t expect any scary stories from them, but I figured on some half-funny ones. Wrong. Only Mayu tells a story that has anything spooky to it. But isn’t it odd to for gods to tell ghost stories in the first place? Once again, I defy my own tastes by finding the whole think kind of cute.

Oh, shut up and go back to Osaka already.

Whenever I watch an episode of Kamisama no Memochou my overall responses are “That was put together well enough,” and “But who cares?” And I feel a little offended. The show assumes I have bonded with these characters, when in fact to me they’re all ciphers, seen just often enough so that we know who they are and what they do, but not enough that I feel any attachment to them. My interest in the Renji and Sou conflict was diminished because I don’t like either character. Let ’em kill each other. It didn’t help that I knew Hison was alive the moment embroidery-guy said “he” had pain in his abdomen. And while the characters can consider it a success that the gang showdown at the concert was a success, we hardly saw any of it.

And finally, Baka to Test to Shoukanju‘s thrilling conclusion to the “I must expose the blackmailer even if it means peeping in the girls’ bath!” story arc. Er, a bit of a letdown. They finally get a good strategy, the blackmailer is exposed, the boys are suspended for a week (they never get the breaks), etc. The only real surprise came at the end, shown in the picture above. Now I’m only one episode behind. Sigh. But I can’t watch anymore.

Ikoku Meiro no Croisee 5-7

Itoku Meiro no Croisée 5 has the closest thing to a crisis we’ve had yet. Yune runs off from the store and gets lost. And this is after Claude has given her a lecture on how not to trust Parisians, especially if they smile at you. She didn’t listen and a little thief stole a candlestick. Then when she’s lost, she remembers the advice and so can’t ask anybody where she is, even when they offer to help. Add to this her mangled concept of freedom (she came to think all Parisians are untrustworthy, so she was not free, or something like that), and the idea that in Claude’s shop she is more important than the customers (says Claude). All of this messes with her little foreign mind to say the least. Part of it is unsolvable; who DO you trust? Adults struggle with that, never mind a little Japanese girl in Paris. But it is also the first time Yune’s culture shock is negative, rather than simply strange or interesting.

Alice attack.

Episode 6 brings Alice back into the picture (is Alice a name used in France?). I suppose we’re supposed to dislike her, but I find that hard. While she’s spoiled and willful, she takes such delight in Yune’s presence that you can’t help but enjoy it. It certainly helps that she’s voiced by Aoi Yuki, playing a role closer to Miya than Ichigo this time–all that’s missing is the laugh, who accents her squeals of delight with gasps and grunts depending on what she’s reacting to. And here’s it’s mostly Yune, possibly the only young girl around she’s allowed to play with. To further stress Alice’s position the show takes great pains to demonstrate that Alice is trapped in a cage of affluence, rather too many pains, as you couldn’t get five minutes without a reference to birdcages, either about her crinoline, or from older sister Camille, who makes wistful comments from time to time. Alice is too young to realize she’s trapped, but Camille isn’t, and to prove it we get glimpses of her and Claude noticing each other. Judging from the ep8 preview we might soon learn more about that. But is the comparison fair? Yune works diligently at Claude’s shop, and while you could make the point that she is free to, is she? She’s bound by her conceptions of honor and duty as much as Alice and Camille are by their wealth and status. Again, we’ll see if the show comes back to that.

Episode 7’s story goes along a predictable line. Yune and Claude have a little fight, Yune gets sick, Claude feels remorse, all is forgiven. Along the way the show again highlights differences between East and West, and again I wonder if the comparisons are fair.

No, scratch that. While the episode makes a lot of comparisons, most notably with two Alice visits (she’s used for comic relief this episode, and used well), the main “difference” it explores, the opinions Claude and Yune have about the little boy, begins as a culture clash but rises above it. It’s not really fair to even call it a culture clash. Claude (rightfully) mistrusts this one particular boy but in his anger winds up condemning all young French males. Yune cannot do this and continues to be kind to the kid. We’re led to believe that it’s a Japanese thing. Maybe it is. But after Yune falls ill all talk of culture vanishes. Claude desperately tries to find ways to cure her and reassure her that she’s not only welcome, she’s family. Meanwhile, the boy brings her a flower he pointedly did not steal. The point is made that Yune’s kindness was empathy for a person who also lives outside of society who needed help. Also, kindness is often reciprocated. This is not East or West, it is universal.

Frankly, the most interesting this episode is the idea that Yune might be hiding her true feelings behind her quiet facade. Maybe she WANTS to go home. After Claude mentions this I can’t look at her the same way. What IS she thinking?

A few episodes I watched

After three episodes of No. 6 it’s partly what I feared. It’s a not very original dystopia story with rebels who want to see it torn down. But I think the series is aware of this as well and is going to play with our expectations for a while. Rat is a complete bore, justifiably angry, perhaps, but all the bitter thoughts characters like him are supposed to make, not to mention the snarky “I don’t give a shit what happens to them” comments, along with an abrasive smugness toward Sion, who’s only trying to figure out what’s going on, because he can get away with it. But Sion’s humanistic but naïve worldview balances it out. Episode 3 introduces us to another character, and the preview promises even more. Good thing, too. If this series was all Sion and Rat there would be nothing more to see.

Sparkly girl defense.

Rou Kyuu Bu through four episodes has nothing much new to offer. I liked how Subaru coached the girls to victory: convince the tall girl with height issues that she is the small forward, and teach cute, useless little Hinata to flop! That made me smile. Nothing else much does. Give it credit that I kept watching to see who would win the boys vs. girls game, but it’s time to drop it.

At least she has the sense to be embarrassed about her transformation.

I was hoping that Rie Kugimiya’s entrance would liven up Twin Angel, and she has her moments, but with one other exception the series is dull and predictable. The other exception was the battle Misty Knight has in a men’s bath.

Claude tries writing kanji.

The people in Ikoku Meiru no Croisée have problems. Claude is struggling to keep his shop operating in a failing shopping district. There’s the problem of Yune’s kimono. But the show’s tone is so gentle, and Yune is so disgustingly cute, that it’s hard to believe anything really bad will happen to anyone. If they do, it will happen sadly and gently, and will feel bittersweet. I’m an episode behind, so I don’t know what drama will unfold when the rich girl meets Yune. Maybe things will get serious after all. … Nah.

Ohana's movie dreams are shot down.

I’m disappointed that the movie plans in Hanasaku Iroha turned out to be a scam. That is, I’m disappointed for the people at the inn. They were having so much fun! But even when the scam was revealed it was still a solid episode. We had the glaring lack of leadership shown by Erishi demonstrating the power vacuum once Madame Manager leaves, changes in his relationship with Takata, and perhaps his mother. Oh, and now they have a pool. Ohana and the other young ‘uns do nothing this time but join in the fun and observe when things go sour.

Oh, I also watched this.

My first peek at the new season: Ikoku Meiro no Croisée and Kami-sama no Memo-chou

I have decided to break my silence and look at the new season, but this time I won’t stick them all in a single post. And I don’t plan to keep up with every episode of what I watched like I did last year, but maybe you’ll see more of me from now on. So let’s get started with the first two.

Awww ... look at the cute little exotic foreigner ...

I suspect that the rest of the new season won’t be as peaceful as Ikoku Meiro no Croisée, a show where bustling 19th-century Paris seems more like a quiet village except with larger buildings. We meet Claude, a metal sign builder who’s grandfather, Oscar, returns from a buying trip in Japan with a number of exotic oddities, including a little servant, Yune, an adorable little thing wrapped in a kimono. She’s so cute and subservient that Claude at first suspects that his grandfather has a hitherto undisclosed fetish.

The descriptions I read beforehand suggested a lot of culture shock, and we do get some of that, but we realize quickly on that they will be small. Yune is too passive to cause much trouble, and the one bit of trouble she does cause is an accident she quickly tries to amend. Plus, she’s young and able to absorb new things quickly. It’s Claude who has the adjusting to do. Oscar may have some adjustments to make, because though he dotes on Yune, he has, a bit cynically, brought her there to draw customers into the shop.

But it’s Claude who has the most work to do. You can see his side of it. All of a sudden he has an unwanted servant from a strange, exotic country, who can’t speak the language (well … watch the episode), and he’s expected to take care of her. You know how some of it will pan out, in fact, Yune’s diligence and sense of honor have already softened him. But there’s a whole city, quiet as it is, for Yune to explore, and plenty of opportunities for East meets West stories.

The episode flows placidly along. The art is lovely and sets the mood of a romanticized Paris well, all the better to contrast with Yune’s kimonos and clopping shoes. The music is gentle and serene. It’s no surprise to learn that some of the Aria talent is working on this. It’s always good to have a show like this in an anime season. I’m looking forward to more.

I turn to Kamisama no Memo-Chou, about as different as Ikoku as you can get, well, apart from having a diminutive central character. We meet our hero, Narumi, who is not diminutive in size but feels that he is, being, as he says, a single pixel. He’s gnawing at this metaphor when a half-dressed girl jumps out of a window and crashes at his feet. Then some weirdos show up, as they do in shows like this, and reinforce Narumi’s self-image.

Narumi then meets lots of people, all of them, apart from Miku, weird. There’s the three he meets early on, then Ayako, a weird girl who gives off a Ryuuko vibe (in fact, her conversations with Narumi remind me of those between Ryuuko and Makoto), who just happens to know the original three weirdos. Then it’s time to meet their boss, Alice, an adorable little loli NEET detective (who drinks something like Dr. Pepper, making TWO weirdos in currently-running anime who enjoy it as much as I do. I’m proud). Later, Narumi is sent off to get her stuffed bear repaired, and he encounters MORE weirdos, all of whom do Alice’s bidding without complaint. Also, they all know who he is. Narumi gives up even asking about this.

The stuffed animal repair guy.

There’s a case to be solved, something about a girl who is looking for another girl, along with the other girl’s boyfriend, complicated by both girls indulging in “compensated dating” for different reasons, and it all comes to a satisfactory conclusion. But it’s not really what episode 1 is all about. It’s about Narumi getting sucked into this world of oddballs. He’s against it at every step but does nothing to stop it. For the first time in his life he’s become involved in something, picking up more pixels for his worldview metaphor (while someone else talks about pieces of a puzzle). It’s also about the mystery of Alice. Why doesn’t she leave her room? Why do so many people blindly follow her? Where does that touch of melancholy come from? Since the episode ends with Narumi an official member of the team, his story is more or less over, and I suspect he’ll stick with narrator/outsider duties for the time being. Future episodes will probably present little mysteries and dig deeper into Alice’s larger one. As for whether it’ll be worth watching, we’ll just have to wait.