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Episode dump with some finales: Natsume, Memo-Chou, etc

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Dantalian no Shoka provides us with a flashback episode as we go back to WWI and Huey’s experiences there. But Huey is not the center of this story; that belongs to his friend, then enemy, Ilas.

It’s a typical episode for this series, beautiful to look at with occasional stunning animation and images, tied to a flawed story. Ilas meets the young and cocky recruit Huey and instantly becomes his mentor through the use of a phantom book he is writing himself. The next thing we know Ilas has switched to the German side and has become a ace pilot, the “Faceless Phantom.” Okay, but why? Unless I missed something, no explanation is given for Ilas turning traitor. The point is made often that Ilas (and Huey) live only to fly, and you can do that on either side of this war, but to switch in the middle of it? To be fair, Huey is just as bewildered about this as we are.

When he isn’t flying around shooting at Huey, Ilas broods a lot. He talks to a bartender, then to Sefer, another library-keeper girl. We learn that the book is incomplete. He hasn’t forced in enough emotion in his poems about flying and battle. He lies around in an enormous bedroom. The mood is more sober than we’re used to for this show. And Dalian doesn’t appear, so we get no snarky comments. So we wait patiently for things to pan out, for it to make sense.

And it doesn’t, really. At first I thought that Ilas switched sides because of what Sefer said, maybe to turn traitor was the way to create the emotions needed to finish the phantom book, but he was in that bedroom when Sefer first talked to him, and it becomes clear that that room is sort of a death-place, an in-between, because he’s back in it before his last flight, made after he had died in a bombardment. Which leads to the oddest scene in the episode. Ilas, quoting lines from his unfinished book, becomes a giant, cloudy demon who not only swats at English planes but stomps on German ground batteries. to Ilas, war is more important than the armies themselves. But Huey, reading from the same book (rescued from the bombardment, we assume) shoots him down, and Sefer admonishes him for not getting beyond the wall. And he goes poof. But if the book is incomplete, how could it work? Why did Ilas become such a monster? The show raises too many questions for the episode to succeed, but I’m now watching this show for the visuals, not the plot.

Party!

Natsume Yuujinchou San finished, but we’re getting a fourth season in just three months! With that news this episode doesn’t feel like the poignant goodbye it should have been, but it’s a lovely episode anyway. The series likes to contract Natsume’s relatively happy present life with his dark past, and while we get some sad flashbacks, the rest of the episode is silly good times. After a rather long opening scene which is only there to show Natsume fully integrated into school life, making jokes with friends, etc, the youkai invite (meaning force) Natsume to a party in his honor. Their reasons aren’t clear except maybe it’s a good reason to party on a day when the sake will taste especially good. And we make the comparison betwen his human and youkai friends, all of whom want to do things together (well, with their own kind), with Natsume. The boy’s come a long way.

Nyanko-Sensei gets a little carried away playing Shadow Tag.

The other thing that both Natsume’s classmates and the youkai wonder is: what do adults do for fun? So we’re off with an extended shadow tag match, with the youkai adding little variations. Sadly, this goes on for too long, but it is a chance to meet some old characters again. And it ends with Natsume meeting his human friends again, and deciding that both are important. Not quite as good as other episodes, but still entertaining. Besides, we won’t have to wait long for more.

Kamisama no Memo-Chou concludes with a pretty good episode that made up for in ideas what it lacked in thrills. Indeed, the Angel Fix drug storyline finished with the whimpering of addicts in a basement. The operation had been broken with little violence, apart from Narumi cutting loose on Toshi after the fact. Indeed, the story was never about cracking a drug ring but rather for Narumi to try and rescue Toshi for Ayaka’s sake, and to avenge her after she fell. Alice’s little revelation at the end, and Ayaka waking up at that moment were thus oddly placed, rushed through as they were during the closing credits. And, as usual with this show, I didn’t care too much. I never found Narumi compelling enough to care about his story. And while the show reached for metaphors linking addiction, angels and death to Alice’s claim to speak for the dead, to the point where she pretends to be an addict’s angel, the connections are too unclear for it to work. However, I should praise the show for even trying things like this. Kamisama no Memo-Chou was an ambitious show, and while most of the time it didn’t succeed, at least it tried.

So in The iDOLM@STER 12 Miki gets all pouty because of a broken or misunderstood promise and has to be coaxed back to rehearsals before the big show. Yes, she’s acting like a brat, but the point is made that she is only fifteen years old. With this knowledge in mind the producer goes off and rather than yell at her, just follows her around, indulges in all the things she likes to indulge in, and waits for her to waver. What the producer lacks in management skills he makes up for with patience and tact. Though I wish the other girls had beaten her around a bit when she came back for putting them behind schedule. There are TWO sides to this, you know.

The not-so-happy bride.

And Nekogami Yaoyorozu finished. I said at the beginning that I was watching this show only because I thought it was cute. And that’s how it turned out. I hardly ever paid attention to the story. I was watching because I like a show where cute, happy things bicker in cute voices over something entirely silly. And you can’t get sillier than the final story. This whole thing about forcing Mayu to get married, a revelation that shocked and saddened everyone and inspired rivals Sasana and Meiko to invade the cat palace, was all a misunderstanding that the groom didn’t clear up because he wanted a laugh. Oh, and the haunted plate wasn’t really haunted. Maybe there’s a lesson in there about taking things too seriously when everything’s really all right … Nah. Well, the characters in this happy show get a happy ending, time for me to move on.

Episode dump with a couple of finales

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

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.

Episode dump, Natsume, Usagi Drop, too many others

September 12, 2011 1 comment

Natsume encounters our Youkai of the Week, or Two Weeks in this case.

Natsume Yuujinchou San 9 begins a two-parter, but it’s clear that the underlying theme will again be friendship, the “Trust them” variation. Most interesting to me was the way Natsume and his friend Tanuma react to the situation. Natsume can interact with youkai and Tanuma can sort of see them, so there’s nothing they have to hide from each other, but they do anyway. Tanuma avoids Natsume until a hammer-wielding youkai becomes a danger, and then confesses all. Now it’s Natsume’s turn to withhold information, until a line from Tanuma about talking things out makes him realize his mistake. Later, when they learn all, the youkai possessing Tanuma threatens harm if Natsume doesn’t help her, not knowing that Natsume would help her anyway. And even Tanuma has to go through the motions of asking Natsume even though we know what his answer will be anyway. And we have the usual variations: Nyanko peevishly tells Natsume to dump Tanuma as a friend but later won’t drive out the youkai for fear of hurting him (and earlier we saw him wave to Tanuma). And poor Saki, who can’t see a thing, tags along because she’s both curious and they’re her friends. You have to feel sorry for her, watching the boys dig up invisible objects, wanting to be of help.

Usagi Drop 10 brings us the first real crisis in Daikichi’s stint as parent. To us watching at home it’s no big deal: Rin has a fever. But to a man unused to this it’s a frightening event, and inexperienced Daikichi comes close to freaking out. Fortunately for him (and Rin) Yukari’s around to give advice, make gruel (I thought that’s what you fed orphans in Dickens novels) and above all, tell him not to panic. The scenes with Yukari and Rin are sweet, Yukari being the gentle, patient caregiver while Rin must be wondering where Daikichi is. Not that he’s AWOL. He watches and takes mental notes, and in a long series of scenes, Rin gets better. Rather an inconsequential moment in a child’s life, one repeated for years until they meet enough germs and build immunity, but this show specializes in the little moments and how they reflect on a life as a whole. On the romance front, this is the second episode in a row where Yukari has spent extensive time at Daikichi’s place. Little steps.

I find this interesting about Hanasaku Iroha: there is really no bad end, yet there’s a great deal of tension toward the outcome. It matters a great deal to many people if Kissuiso closes, but if it does it is not the end of the world for any of them. Great times in life, when you find yourself surrounded by people you love, doing work you love, don’t last forever. Sui tells Ohana that keeping the inn running is forcing Enishi and others to live her dream, not theirs. Meanwhile Enishi and others are conspiring to keep the place open in spite of Sui’s orders. Maybe Enishi works at Kissuiso out of family obligation, but he would deny it, and everyone else there wants to work there. But will it be the same place when Sou steps down? No. It will be a different kind of workplace. Dynamics will change. So even if it stays open, and it’s pretty clear story-wise that it will, something will nonetheless be lost. Other than that, the episode has a couple of missteps, the biggest one being the Minko/Tohru manga business, but it was funny, so I’ll let it slide. Same with Sui’s surprise appearance in the bath, not the whole scene, but the end of it. But again, it was funny.

The 101st Fightin' Maid Battlion in action.

Sacred Seven 10 was all flashback,using the “horrible attack which wipes out the beloved family on Christmas Eve” schtick. Episode 11 is a rushed mess, which means it’s a lot of fun to watch. Ruri is accused of tax evasion but when she’s arrested it’s Kenmi who’s got her. He’s going to take out her heart and become, I believe, king of the Aztecs. Meanwhile Tandoji, Kagami, and a bunch of armed maids who escaped arrest because they had been laid off (huh?), oh, and Fei, storm Kenmi’s fortress, or whatever it is. Knight is also storming the place, but he’s freelance. Tandoji discovers his mom’s long-lost magic pendant, releasing Ruri from her crystal shield which came up when Kenmi was going after her heart. Oh, Zero’s been let loose and he goes beserk to the benefit of Kenmi until Fei injects him with serum and he goes beserk on her side, until Kenmi takes HIS heart and becomes an invincible armored something-or-other with an evil laugh, and now it’s showdown time. I will say that the action scenes are a lot of fun and the action music with its big horns and disco-y beat sounds almost old school. I had more fun with that then trying to figure out the plot.

Ayaka doesn't seem to like the way the story is going.

I didn’t notice the direction Kamisama no Memochou 10 was taking until the big event that closes the episode. I thought it’d be all about drugs and addicts and rescuing Ayaka’s brother from Angel Fix, but the episode meanders. It spent a lot of time with Naruma and Ayaka as they chat, fight, make up, while the NEET gang are getting nowhere with their investigation, which is not like them. So it came as a complete shock when suddenly, wham, Ayaka attempts suicide. Was it over her brother? Was it because she was raising flowers in the greenhouse for use in Angel Fix (pesticides, hah!)? She chose a cruel place to do it, off the roof where she and Narumi had spent so many good times, and into another flowerbed. Ayaka is a complicated girl.

The iDOLM@ASTER 9 features the annoying twins in an episode that doesn’t really try too hard to make the mystery of the missing puddings interesting, which is just as well. It’s more of a character study of the two girls and how much they depend on each other, which would have been more touching if the two weren’t, as I said, so annoying. Episode 10 isn’t supposed to feature anybody, but show the girls as they cutely participate in a idol girl’s olympics, which they aren’t supposed to win, but do anyway, because they’re so full of spirit. There’s the cliché of the weak athlete bringing everyone down, also a snotty rival team. And while it doesn’t feature any one girl, Makoto rightfully stands out again by not only winning the key race but unknowingly seducing one of the rival girls.

Episode dump: little bits about Hanasaku, Steins;Gate, Croisee, etc

September 7, 2011 Leave a comment

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 catchup dump post

August 30, 2011 Leave a comment

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.

Natsume Yuujinchou 6-7 and other, mostly lesser shows

August 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Natsume Yuujinchou San 6 and 7 gives us a two-parter, and a departure from the show’s mood we’ve seen thus far, at least this season.

Nope, there's no subtext to this image. None at all.

The mood is darker than usual, and unlike most episodes, the greatest threat comes not from youkai, but from humans who are connected in some way to them. Natsume discovers that a human is taking youkai blood in order to perform a big spell. It turns out the culprit is the Matoba clan. Alas, I don’t remember why exactly they do the things they do. The long-haired, parasol wielding Seiji says he wants strong youkai to protect people, why we don’t know. Considering how youkai are interested in Matoba eyes there’s probably a long feud going on. But the Matobas aren’t the only returning characters: there’s Natsume’s old friend Natori.

That's only because you're not looking behind you, Natori.

He’s also in the exorcism business, which sometimes puts him at odds with the ever-humane Natsume, but he’s the opposite of Seiji. He works for safety and mercy, and he treats youkai with respect, even kindness, so much so that his youkai servant Hiiragi worries and pines for him when he’s late. And there’s another character who presents a fresh angle, the witch who was in love with her youkai servant and will stop at nothing to get her revenge on the Matobas for killing him, even if it means killing others. AND the youkai who gets Natsume involved in this mess in the first place, and then spends the rest of the two-parter worrying about him. The show dwells on these relationships at the very end, from the Matobas’ cruelty, the witch’s shattered love, to Natsume’s compassion and sense of belonging. That’s one place where the story does not deviate from the norm: as usual, Natsume gets a few sentences to sum up.

As for the story itself, it’s more exciting than most. More is at stake; it’s not often we see Nyanko injured. And now that Seiji is “interested” in Natsume and Nyanko, we can expect more out of them in the future. I almost think this is a shame. I prefer the show when it’s quiet and tranquil. Bringing in such big conflicts knocks the series off-balance.

Watching No.6 6 brought up questions in my mind, but only one of them had to do with the Sion/Rat dysfunctional not-yet romance (that being, of course, will Rat tell Sion that Safu got snatched by security?). First, I’m more interested in how the security works there. I would guess that any person who even thinks about knowing a suspicious person would have tracers and spies following their every move. And indeed, Safu is “arrested.” But why did they arrest her then? Was it because she visited Karan? It’s quite natural for a person returning home to want to visit an old friend. Are they bugging Karan’s home? Most likely. But then they ought to know something about the communications with Rat. Maybe they’re using Karan to out more unfriendlies? It’s interesting that this show doesn’t show any of the people in power. We don’t have their perspective.

Another thing I find interesting is Safu’s reaction when she returns. Apparently other cities don’t require identification bracelets, and don’t have a problem with Picasso (what was that all about?). Do people in the other cities think “Ugh, I wouldn’t want to live in No.6. Fucking police state.”

As for the Sion/Rat story, Rat is such a dick that I don’t really care.

The daily life of an assistant.

My backlog is getting bigger, so I dropped some more shows (Kamisama Dolls, Prince-Sama, etc), and I keep thinking that I’ll drop Kami-sama no memochou, but then I watch another episode and think “That was pretty good,” and I keep it. The plot hops from here to here, and you’re never quite sure where the next big moment will be. The latest one has a guy named Kenji who befriends Narumi (who seems to know him from somewhere), t-shirt theft, Yakuza, and who knows what else, tossed in the air as Narumi goes around doing promotion for a band (and why does The Fourth want him to do that?). I have no idea where the plot is going and I like it that way. Also, Alice, the stereotypical genius loli whom the show’s supposed to be about, sits on the sidelines, unable to snark at anyone until the scene enters her den. Not that I dislike Alice, but she’s only good in small doses.

No subtle, episode-spanning story arc for Nekogami Yaoyorozu. Instead, episode 5 takes all the characters and their weirdness and throws them into a beach inn episode, except that it’s raining and a typhoon is on the way. Gonta, the lone male god in the cast, is determined to see Yuzu in her swimsuit. Yukina the manga artist is, by an incredible coincidence, is also at the inn, tossing out bits of story in her desperate struggle to make a deadline, leading to perhaps the line of the week. “Someone is trying to show me how to stop a typhoon through the easy-to-understand panels of a manga.” Gonta hasn’t gotten much screentime before now, but all I learned about him is that he’s a hard-luck character, as lone males in a cast often are, and that the voice actress playing him has done trouser roles before. The best bits, unfortunately, are looking at the rejected manga sketches, which were as entertaining as the actual story.

Yui and Ayano have a date.

Yuru Yuri 6 happily ignores the stuff that happened before and continues on its stupid way. The girls make up stories full of suppressed feelings and then they model suggestive things out of clay, except for Yui, who molds dumplings. This is why I like Yui. Then Yui’s deadpan little sister comes to visit. And once again great pains are made to remind us that Akari is a completely useless character. Though I feel a little sorry for her, these bits are often the funniest parts of the show. Okay, Kyoko’s figurine was pretty good. Too bad they had to drive that gag into the ground. Episode 7 has more sustained action as the girls pair off for Christmas dates, the couples chosen by lottery. Since no two girls actually have a thing for each other, no one is going to be particularly happy, but it gave some of the one-gag side characters a chance to interact. The Himawari/Sakurako pairing worked the best, since they hate each other anyway, and it produced the best line: “Your breasts have ruined my Christmas!” And Chitose spends almost the entire episode with her reverse yuri-goggles on, and has a thoroughly nice, albeit dull time with Akari.

Sorting through episode twos

July 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Episode twos roll by, and it becomes a little easier to decide what and what not to watch. For instance, that show that left such an impact on me that when episode 2 came up I couldn’t remember what had happened before, and I can’t remember the title. … you know, that show with rabbits in the title that isn’t Usagi Drop. Girl vampire. The guy loses his head. Whatever it is, ep2 was so bad that I dropped it. Though it did have a nice exchange between the bad guy and his flunky. “You look like the bad guy.” “I’m a genius.”

As for the other bunny show, Usagi Drop 2 was just fine. Same with Croisée and Natsume.

As for Twin Angel 2, alas, the less said the better.

I can’t say I’m going for this concept of a dystopian world that Shion in No.6 lives in. First of all, I can’t believe he would be so stupid as to suggest the city was hiding information out loud to a coworker in a public building, in a city where just about everything is filmed, recorded and tagged. Shion doesn’t have the first clue how to survive in a place like that when everybody there should. Plus, this particular dystopia is nothing new, and the story of a model citizen who discovers The Truth is as old as it gets. Still, I’m watching it. It’s certainly not bad enough to drop.

Himawari and Sakurako show their affection for one another.

Sadly, Yuruyuri 2 forgets about the concept of dropping the main character and continues in its pointless way. I guess the characters we met last week aren’t interesting either, for the episode veers off and pays attention to two more, who, alas, are also not very interesting. But they fight a lot.

A rather bleak thing for an information specialist to say.

Kamisama no Memo-chou seems to want to give us good mysteries with lots going on, but there was so much going on in ep2 that I totally lost track of things and wondered what that cell phone was doing hidden in the bag. Alice isn’t much help. When not snarking at Narumi every word she says seems to have two meanings to it. Well, if it was easier to follow maybe it would be a stupider show. Or maybe it’s just not telling the story well.

Blood-C's greatest mystery: is this a dog or a cat?

Blood-C 2 is pretty much the same as 1. It’s either in happy normal life mode or desperate bloody battle mode. I suppose a lot of people won’t like this show because it wastes time on the former, and likes to outright stop at times, I mean, how long did that cat, er, dog scene go? But I don’t mind it.

So which shows will I actually write about? Unlike before, I’m not going to write about every episode. I don’t have that kind of time anymore. Besides, as I said, I’m still sorting through the episode twos.