Kokoro finale(?!) and Space Bros 26

Kokoro Connect surprised me by apparently ending. ANN says 17 episodes, but we only got 13, and this felt like a finale. Wikipedia confirms it. I wonder if the additional four episodes will be DVD-only, or maybe the public turn against the show changed someone’s plans. Well, we do get a finish to the current story arc and we finally get a better look at Lori’s life.

Heartseed 2 gets pissed off at Taichi for spilling the beans about the current situation, and blammo, suddenly he’s younger for the first time. But the show doesn’t bother to do much with this. Instead we finally get to Lori and her perceived persona switches, which has never been a problem. When she asks what she was like when she regressed they tell her: polite and mature. Lori sees this as a sham, but that’s because she’s stuck in her own body. I’ve never seen this as a legitimate psychological problem at all. But she does have problem–her abusive father has returned home and it’s getting ugly. She gets a phone call from her mom telling her not to come home.

There’s an obligatory scene where she tries to run off to take care of the problem herself, even though the kids are now regressing randomly. In what is supposed to be a big moment, she tearfully asks the others for help. It doesn’t work for a couple of reasons. First, we’ve seen this thing in the series all along in various forms, where the kids learn to turn to each other to help them face their issues–it’s just Lori’s turn. Second, her mother is quite possibly getting beaten up by her worthless ex and all the kids can do is stand around talking! It’s one of my biggest peeves in anime; it makes me want to shout at the screen.

When they finally get their asses in gear there’s some good stuff. Heartseed 1 appears and we learn this is the last of this particular torture. I don’t think I want to know what he did to Heartseed 2 … Lori’s regressing at her own door was a great touch. But the conclusion was laughable. Mother and daughter talk about it all, apparently for the first time. “You mean you DIDN’T want him back?” It’s ridiculous. It gets even worse when the father is driven away by Lori’s mother shouting at him. I’m no expert, but I expect dysfunctional families don’t actually work like that.

So now I guess it’s over. We never learn what Heartseed was up to or see him get his ass kicked for doing all this. The kids have all learned things, I suppose, but they would have probably learned them anyway. There really wasn’t much of a point to it. It wasn’t a bad series, but it’s just as well it’s ending now.

Space Brothers 26 is a good one. Looks like NASA and JAXA decided to play a little trick or two on Mutta, and on us. It brings us maybe the series’ funniest moment yet, and there’s still the afterparty.

Mutta notices Asuma for the first time.

The long-awaited, dreaded interview arrives with scenes of nervous waiting, and we get to meet the other Japanese astronauts who will conduct it. Great, more names to memorize. Actually, apart from Azuma the one that really concerns us is the mischivious Murasaki, who loostens the interviewee chair to see what Mutta will do. Meanwhile, Mutta’s knees are in pain from the 216 squats he did the episode before. Adding to the hilarity of Mutta’s slow-motion fall is his inner monologue (smile!) when seeing Asuma’s scowl for the first time.

Apparently Mutta will fit right in with NASA.

That scene made the episode. The actual interview isn’t shown at all, but this series likes to break away from tense moments and come back to them later, so no surprise there. But they’re not done yet. There’s a party at a local steakhouse where the established astronauts and the applicants get to meet, and it’s time to relax, we think, while hoping Mutta doesn’t do anything embarrassing (the chair wasn’t his fault, so no problems there). But the established astronauts are giving each other sidelong glances, and it’s instantly clear that the interviews haven’t ended yet.

It’s a good scene. Mutta’s answers to Murasaki are positive bordering on silly, but nothing that would hurt him. Hell, Murasaki’s a lot goofier than Mutta. If they accepted HIM, Mutta’s got no problem. In fact, Mutta meets all the challenges this episode, or rather, overcomes all the obstacles, by being his usual self. And to finish it they set up a cliffhanger where Mutta, warned to stay away from Asuma, does just the opposite. You can attribute this to a slight rebellious streak Mutta retains, or consider that he’s trying to clear the air between Asuma and Hibito. Either way, well done, Mutta! Looks to be a good scene.

Kokoro 12, Space Bros 25

Kokoro Connect 12 brings Yui and Aoki’s problems to the front, and sort of takes care of them.

In case you were wondering what Nana looked like.

Aoki’s problem is easy. The fact that his younger self confuses Yui for Nana finally gets to the former, rather understandably, and while Aoki is a shallow sort, he is doing some hard thinking about this, though it’s harder with all these resurrected Nana thoughts in his brain. So he takes a train up to see Nana to see if his love is pure, or something like that. Once there, he conveniently runs into her on the street–and tells her he’s in love with Yui. I was more interested in Nana’s reaction. Their thing is old, and discovering the boy loves someone else now doesn’t surprise her. Maybe a hint of regret together with happy memories. The fact that he came all the way up to tell her have some effect, but we’ll never see her again. All this was prompted by Aoki’s realization that he wasn’t living his life to the fullest now. I suspect that partly means being shallow. Anyway, it was the only thing he could do, and he did it. Good for him.

Rather abrupt.

Yui’s problem is less easy to figure out. Sort of the opposite of Aoki, she’s gone from having a goal and focus in her life to whittling away her time doing nothing. Mihashi, her old karate rival, pops out of nowhere on the street a couple times, the first to fight her (Yui loses), the second because she’s simply worried, which I found sort of touching. Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out what Yui’s problem is in the first place because all of it can be explained away by the cruel games being played on all of them, especially when she regressed to just after her assault. She snaps out of it when Aoki returns from his trip and tells her what happened. In fact, she seems completely cured–again. But I’m not seeing the connection there. I also am not getting that the regressed Aoki no longer mistakes the two girls. It’s nice for them, I suppose, but it suggests that these aren’t actually the younger selves but a mockup of them using more recent events. Anyway, next week it looks like Taichi’s got some explaining to do … and I’m wondering when they’re going to mess with Lori again. Maybe they’re saving it for a big bombshell later.

Mutta’s rigorous training.

Space Brothers has put the show in a holding pattern. In episode 25 not much happens except the days pass by and it gets closer to the Hibito’s moon launch. Mutta, largely left alone, trains, or tries to. Hibito thinks about Azuna but otherwise we don’t get much from him, not that we do anyway. Apo pants and barks in his comic relief role. Other shows would jump over these days or maybe pause to do a bit, but Space Brothers is fond of showing us day-to-day scenes to inject whatever little thing they want to inject in. And flashbacks, like the Hibito/Azuna baseball scene, are often cut up and injected into other scenes. It’s not that there are no events. Progress is made. Mutta exercises a lot but we see results. We get a little more info on Azuna, especially his warning to Hibito not to get too close to him. And while I want Mutta’s interview from hell done with (I predict we’ll see only pieces of it, followed by reactions from Mutta and the committee members to flesh the scene out), it’s not too bad to watch an episode where people simply get ready. Mutta for an interview, Hibito for a trip to the moon.

Moyashimon R finale, Polar Bear 24, Kokoro 11

Bye guys!

It feels like Moyashimon Returns finished when it was just getting started. Even though the entire finale was dedicated to goodbyes in France and Hellos in Japan, Marie finding the perfect thing for her dad to do that will keep him interested in the business, and Hasegawa free to return home, only to wonder what’s keeping her at that school now that she’s free, and then finding reasons to stay, I got the feeling the series was over before it began. It’s the show’s fault. It takes so much delight in side bits that have nothing to do with the main plot, like the sideshows at the festival (my favorite bits) and the absolutely necessary lectures by our friends the microbes, that it doesn’t have much room for a story. The ones we got were interesting enough. It’s good that Hasegawa is free, and I never expected that she and Misato would bond a little. Not that the show needs much depth, but it’s nice that they did it. But it wasn’t enough, yet to add more story would have ruined the show’s charming, loony balance … Hmm, I have a perfect solution: Another season!

… By the way, did you notice that both noitaminA series finished with a creatures floating in a blue sky?

The seal-eating contest.

Not much to Polar Bear’s Cafe 24. Panda-kun searches for a master to apprentice without having to do any training. Even Sloth’s laziness is too rigorous for him. The second half feels like it could have been funnier, with all the animals together for an athletic festival. The three-legged race isn’t bad, with Panda and Penguin teamed together (random draw), and the end (meaning the last two members to cross the finish line) of the foot race was kind of sweet. But I was expecting something more. I mean, Grizzly was there, all the penguins, all the zoo animals, the entire menagerie. Oh, well.

In Kokoro Connect 11 we get the latest fun torture from Heartseed.

Aww, aren’t they cute … er, I mean, oh how horrible!

Just looking at it, it doesn’t look so bad. From 12-5 every day, two of the gang will turn into how they were as kids. We’ve seen this sort of thing in comedies before and always for laughs, and that’s mostly how they treat it this episode. It’s fun to see how they acted as kids. And of course they drop some innocent verbal bombs on the grownups. Inaba was a cute, shy little thing. Yui was, er, a young Yui. It’s Lori and Aoki who pose some problems. Lori fits in amazingly well no matter what age she shows up as (it can vary). She still has that multiple-personality fear of hers but outsiders would simply call her a well-adjusted girl who’s easy to get along with. I’m still not convinced that her problem is all that great.

Kids say the most damned inconvenient things.

The young Aoki drops the biggest bomb. Turns out he grew up with and dated a girl named Nana, who would look exactly like Yui does now. This brings up some interesting questions that Aoki and Yui worry about a little too much. When they “regress” and then return, their childhood memories become fresh in their mind. Aoki remembers how much he loved Nana and wonders where it went, or if he loves Yui that way. They don’t play up the question of whether Yui is a Nana surregate or not; maybe they’re saving it for next week. Anyway, Aoki is now in a funk. I’d point out the obvious to him: “That was middle-school, you idiot!” But even if he wasn’t a fictional anime character he wouldn’t listen to me. Meanwhile, Taichi doesn’t regress and was told by Heartseed #2 (now we got more than one of the bastards) that he must “be a knight” and keep the others out of trouble. So far, no problem, but I think the real trouble will begin next week.

Tens: Kokoro, SAO, Moyashimon

After I learned about the ugly business involving the Kokoro Connect staff and a powerless voice actor I wondered how that would affect my viewing of the show from here on out. Turns out, not much, though the irony of it happening with a series about people being humiliated by a powerful force for shits and giggles doesn’t escape me.

Inaba’s kind of cute when she cries, but she’s cute when she’s grouchy too.

I have to wonder about what Heartseed was up to when he invaded Lori and gave that message to Inaba. Oh, sure, it was frightening for us since that looming cliff was given, rather obviously, as potential for disaster earlier (Kudos to Lori’s VA for a spot-on Heartseed imitation, by the way). But she’d have found out the truth soon enough. Maybe it was to prompt her crying jag, but after that talk with Lori she’d already be unstable enough to overreact. I guess I’ll chalk it up as Heartseed being his usual hateful self.

In this show many if not all of the crises are resolved by the civilized technique of talking it out. We get another one here, and while it left me disappointed at least it leads to future fun, as the way is clear for an honest battle for a boy. The conversation was more Lori shouting things at Inaba while the latter gave weak defenses and cried a lot. I can understand Inaba’s excuses, that she doesn’t want to make a play for Taichi because he and Lori make a good couple, and it would cause friction in the club, may cause her to lose friends, and she needs all the friends she can get, she has an ugly personality, etc. But we’ve been through much of this before when she earlier told the club she doesn’t trust anybody. For Lori to say she’d be Inaba’s friend anyway is nothing new. But it gets better when they decide to be open, honest rivals for Taichi (I don’t know if I envy or pity him). At least something is accomplished there. So now we watch for news on that front and wait for whatever Dung Beetle, er Heartseed has in store for them next. It can’t be any worse.

Sword Art Online 10 … Dawwww! It only took some treachery and near-death to bring the two lovebirds together.

Kuradeel could have been a lot more interesting than this.

I’m not crazy about how they handled Kuradeel. When Kirito joined Knights of Blood (through a convincing loss. It’s good to see the boy is capable of losing a fair fight) and is forced to team with him for training, the scene was full of possibilities. Kuradeel could be in love with Asuna and wildly jealous, that sort of thing. They could have made him complicated. Instead they make him an insane killer, in other words, deadly-dull unless his plans are in action. Well, we get plenty of that, and an uncomfortable amount of time watching him smirk and gloat before killing Godfree and almost killing Kirito. It was hard to watch, not only for the cruelty but because we know Kirito would get out of it somehow.

Speaking of cute …

Kirito talked earlier about the limits of being a loner, and at the time we figured he was saying it to make Asuna feel better about joining her guild. But we then witness the advantages of having at least one person fighting with you. Yeah, it was a little ridiculous to have Asuna show up like the cavalry but I can live with it, because it leads to a fun moment where she makes some slices in this scumbag, and leads to her and Kirito breathlessly declaring their devotion to each other, and the show changes, maybe permanently. Kirito is no longer alone. Everything he’ll do from now on he’ll do with Asuna. And it was well-done; from the moment he met her early in the series, the events leading to this felt completely natural. Of course, everything AFTER that in the episode is nervous reaching out as they get accustomed to the new arrangement, so it was silly, but sweet nonetheless. I suppose they’ll have a frivolous episode or two coming up, but why not? They deserve it.

Who’s cuter, the French girl or the microbe?

Moyashimon Returns 10 has both Hasegawa and Marie coming to terms with fathers and would-be fiancees. Both stories work pretty well, though Hasegawa’s is more dramatic, with Ryuuka threatening her at one point and collapsing from the norovirus the next, but the keep the drama raised with both by switching from one scene to the next. I frankly don’t quite understand why Marie’s father is so upset that she’s discovered he can’t drink alcohol. I know there’s some pride at stake, but surely if you can’t consume the wine you’re making you should get some help if you’re going to keep making it. Though stomping off from Marie was, as I said a good tense moment. So was her realization that the brewery was too cold (well, the microbes helped by spelling out a message on the car windshield, and Sawaki helped the microbes by pouring wine there in the first place), and what her subsequent actions made her father think. As for Hasegawa, it looked like a good talk with Ryuuka was all they really needed. It’s hard to believe that he might be considered a friendly character now. But the unsung hero of the episode is Sawaki, who not only splashed the wind on the windshield so the microbes could write a message, and recognizing the norovirus before Hasegawa could get infected by it.

Space Bros 22, Kokoro 9, Tari Tari 10

Man, Space Brothers knows how to tease.

The winners!

We knew last week that Mutta wasn’t selected, but they managed to go through that entire episode before we learned who did make it. Not to mention the show’s off-week, we waited a long time. And though we knew that JAXA would chose additional candidates at their discretion, we also knew it was possible that Mutta wouldn’t be one of them. We’ve seen so much of him that it’s hard to imagine him with the likes of Neal Armstrong. That is to say he’s human. Meanwhile JAXA mulls him over, marveling at his rock-paper-scissors gambit, and noticing that Group A was the only one where the members left as friends. It was pointed out to the candidates before the third round that they had already shown they were qualified to be astronauts. JAXA must be looking for something else.

So we get scenes where Mutta looks for jobs. He gets a letter, but naturally we don’t get to read it. He then meets Fukuda, who’s been hired by a private space company. Good for him. He’s still in the industry and surrounded by people as excited by space as he is. But Mutta had referred to the two of them as “unemployed men.” And it looked for all the world like Fukuda was the successful one and Mutta was a failure. We also see Hibito training at NASA, with new goals. He seems to know something, or he has that odd confidence of his. So does Apo the dog … Even so, when Fukuda shakes Mutta’s hand and congratulates him on passing the exam it is a shock. Mutta didn’t make a scene out of it, well, the show didn’t. He didn’t dance around or make a fool of himself. Instead we see him sober and determined. The biggest moment of his life, and he acts like an adult. No wonder we couldn’t tell! Okay, I hope we’re done with the teasing now. And as for the new, sober Mutta, the previews suggest we’re going to get something sillier next week.

That’s not quite what he meant …

In Kokoro Connect 9, instead of watching the gang fall further apart, we see them reaching out. It’s a relief after the cruelties inflicted on them. The characters who had distanced themselves (nearly all of them) were talked into returning to the fold. We start with Lori and Taichi. Even if the logic they use is sort of weird, the aim is correct. Taichi confesses to being a bullhead righteous guy who refuses to accept anyone else’s opinion about what’s right. This comes from last week, of course. He basically says that it’s better to be together and run the risk of hurting one another than isolating themselves to avoid the risk. But it gets translated somehow to mean “We need to hurt each other.” Um, no, that’s wrong.

Aoki brings his unique style to the cheering-up-Yui session.

And it’s odd that the Aoki/Yui coming out conversation runs in parallel. Yui is afraid of hurting people. Aoki argues that now that she has actually done so, her revulsion shows that maybe her deepest desires have become NOT to hurt someone. If this whole thing is about the releasing of the Superego and releasing the Id, it suggests that she has a brand new desire in her’s. I’m thinking it not as simple as that, but, hell, it works. Yui returns to school and is hugged and smiled at and teased by her classmates and Gotou. So Aoki manages to do what he could not before. That he does it with talk of love hotels and other ecchi talk is just his style. Which leads to the Taichi/Aoki reconciliation, a simpler, boy-bonding affair. Here, both sides wanted to apologize righ t off, so it’s accomplished quickly. So that’s everybody but one reconciled, inexplicably shutting themselves into the clubroom with a week’s worth of food where their hunger desires are unleashed. I have no idea what was going on with that.

Die! Die! Why aren’t you dead yet??

Because it can’t all be happy and good, we turn to Inaba, always the most stubborn one. Heartseed pays her one of his quiet, threatening visits, suggesting she’s shutting herself in like she used to, and that’s not very good, is it? Maybe he should DO something. He talks about getting her to destroy “that place” she holds dear but is so vague about it that we don’t know what he’s talking about. The clubroom? Nah. Maybe “place” is a metaphor for a place in her heart, the internal place she escapes to. Whatever it is, the whole situation reeks of danger. Looks like a fun field trip!

Tari Tari 10 moves some plot pieces around but doesn’t really seem to add up to much. Not to say it isn’t fun to watch.

The show has two modes right now: serious and silly. The silly balances and feeds the serious. The shopping district heroes act draws the ire of Takakura and acts as modern-day counterpoint to the days when she was a student at that school, already straight-laced and following the lead of Wakana’s mother, and the song they wrote together, and now the daughter is there before her asking her how they wrote it, and meanwhile surveyors are at work outside, preparing to change the school in a way she doesn’t like. Odd, by the way, that Wakana has turned out more like her than her own mother. Takakura gives her some composing advice: “Don’t overthink it.” A lesson Mahiru maybe taught her. Maybe facing an unpleasant future makes you mull over the past.

But silly stuff is the highlight this week. The whole shopping district rangers thing is ridiculous and everyone knows it but Wein. But since they go out and do it they gain the support of the passers-by (loved the kids aping their moves), and bond a little more. The conclusion was the most ridiculous of all but great fun to watch. Someone snatches Miyamoto’s bag including the Mexican band’s autographed album, and Wein (in costume) runs down the thief. Okay, the thief was on a bicycle which got magically slow Wein went after him, and singing that song at the end was beyond absurd, but it showed us just how much of a group they had become, and sometimes you have to throw reality into the wind. But we already knew they had formed a good team. The silly stuff just felt like the backdrop for those little plot moves and made no other contribution, unless they’re going to do the shopping heroes thing as that drama they’re planning.

SOA, er, SAO 8, last week’s Horizon, and Kokoro 8

There are two main stories in Sword Art Online, and they’ve been neglecting both–up to now.

Virtual-Domestic

The main story is, of course, getting to the top of the game, if you can still call it that, and getting back to the real world. We learn, unfortunately largely through exposition, that the number of players still trying to do this has been shrinking. You still find front-line players who push the boundary up, but not as many, while many others have settled for hanging back and offering a support structure for them. After all, it’s been two years. Most people want some peace and quiet, or at least a comfortable home to go to, when they get sick of fighting monsters. Mills, as capable a fighter as anyone, runs a shop now. Asuna’s home is luxurious. Kirito says a day can go by without him thinking of the real world. And you wonder, if there is an end to this world and everyone has to go back, how many will regret it? How many of them could still fit into the real world, if they ever could? Will “winning” the game ruin it for the people who want to stay? Will some people try to stop people from winning? I dropped Accel World early so I might be wrong, but I recall that a number of the players there formed an alliance and pointedly didn’t try to make the last level.

Then we have Kirito and Asuna, the other story. They’ve been interested in each other since they first met, and the series has made it clear that they’re meant to be a couple, but we haven’t seen as much of Asuna as we should. Last week she just popped in and out to break poor Liz’s heart. But this episode they get together, first to enjoy a rare food item together, a nice domestic scene that shows why some people in that world grow comfortable enough to want to stay, then to enjoy a bit of exploring. It’s fun to watch them together, practically a married couple already. When they work together to kill a monster it’s almost as though they’re showing off for each other, proving that they’re worthy of the other’s respect. And for Asuna, restricted by her guild and with a tool of a guard stalking her to “protect” her, so he says, it’s no doubt a relief to get away with a guy she likes for a while. It’s a pleasure to watch them, especially when they fight so well together, and the fun isn’t over as we close with them facing a nasty boss. How much you want to bet those transporter cubes aren’t going to work?

I missed last week’s sub of Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon II and was thinking about waiting for this week’s to show up and take care of them in one post, but the thought of TWO Horizon episodes back-to-back unnerves me, besides …

So here’s plot-heavy episode 20. Any hope that I would be able to figure things out died in the first scene when Tenzo learns that the “Fairy Queen birthed by Anne Boleyn had a twin sister,” and so we got Mary Tudor and Mary Stewart in one body, and fairy Queen Elizabeth, and already my head’s hurting. The upshot is that Double Bloody Mary is going to be executed, but for real, no reenactment, as they hope to strengthen Excalibur Caliburn and England’s heart pulse, anyway, solidify the nation. DBM is fine with this, Tenzo is not, but not much he can do about it. Meanwhile the Musashi folks plan on leaving, but since they’ve proven they’re as strong as England, they won’t let them. So we check to see how Mitotsudaira’s doing. She’s naked, of course, and capable of laying out Toori with a side table when he barges in. Also, Horizon has created another plane of existence around her backside, where she can hide all sorts of stuff.

You know it’s important when the Queen starts glowing.

On to the True Festival of Oxford, another of those long talky scenes where reps duel with words. This time it’s Honda vs. Elizabeth over the immediate future of Musashi. Honda begins by giving us a strikingly clear and concise account of Musashi’s goals. I wanted to applaud. However, the word dueling then begins and things get less clear. Honda says they’ll just leave and negotiate with another country, and more or less declares war on everybody. Elizabeth says she’ll send Holland’s fleet in to intercept, and then there’s the question of who’s going to engage Musashi, apparently a point of honor. Both sides state what they already have and Elizabeth gets pissed off, but they are interrupted by the arrival of Tres Espana reps. They’ll save that for next week, er, this week.

Kokoro Connect has another shocking moment in its first scene, but is lackluster after that.

After all, you can’t top a main character slamming the head of the girl she loves against a locker for shock, even if he hadn’t quite meant for it to happen (hitting her with his schoolbag was bad enough, however), it was because his desires were unleashed, and Lori totally forgave him for it in her “Do whatever shit you want to me, it’s fine!” mode. And this moment of violence (so brutally well-timed that I flinched watching it) came as the topper to a cruel argument the boys were having about what to do with Yui. They hadn’t been “unleashed” at that time, it was simple anger. Moping at home later, Taichi begins to wonder what the difference is, anyway. Unsaid things were said: Taichi was being a selfish hero again and Aoki was jealous because he hadn’t been able to help at all. Ironically, it was Lori who summed it up that way.

Fujishima’s a lot of fun in an episode that dearly needs it.

So Yui’s not coming to school at all. Inaba is, but she refuses all contact. Now Taichi’s doing the same. Who knows what’s up with Aoki. Lori is the only one who wants to keep contact with the rest, but she’s coming to an empty clubroom now. Time for some outside interference. First there’s Fujishima’s scene-stealing, nutty organization of a class trip (I went “Oh Oh!” when I read that on the board) to encourage love. That bit was all right because it might actually make things crazier to get certain people in the same group. Less interesting was Gotou in regular human mode trying to give Taichi a pep talk, encouraging him to talk to his friends, which is exactly what cause the problem last time. Then Fujishima returns in her dictator of love mode and gives him more or less the same advice. And we learn that Lori is going to do the same. For the team to talk it out might be the right thing to do or it might be a disaster, but it either way it’s superficial advice that didn’t do much but waste time and set up a possible conflict during the field trip. Well, I suppose they’ll talk a lot next week; based on the previews there’s going to be a lot of shouting, but I expect that anyway.

Four shows, written on the fly, not worth reading …

My posts might be like this for the next couple of days, if I post at all.

Inaba knows she’s said too much, but she couldn’t help it.

If someone says too much they can usually apologize for it and say they let their anger get the better of them, or that was the beer talking, something like that. But that only excuses their saying the words out loud and doesn’t change the fact that at that point of time they actually felt those thoughts, ugly though they are. In Kokoro Connect 7 both Inaba and Taichi find out that the apologies can’t always erase the hurt. Inaba lays into an already emotionally wounded and confused Yui, and later when this causes her not to intervene when Lori snaps, Taichi lays into HER for her lack of compassion. I’m going to take Inaba’s side here. Apart from the personal insults, what she said to Yui was essentially correct. And the shock she felt after coming out of the attack made her actions with Lori understandable. Taichi’s outburst, by contrast, did nothing more than show that the two have different ways of thinking, and they both already knew that, not that the words didn’t hurt, didn’t add to Inaba’s own self-loathing. As for the others, they tried to make some of the possessions cute and funny, or get them quickly defused. Either way, I can’t see any of the characters having much fun next week. And I’m beginning to watch this arc like I would a cruel nature video.

LIz is taken by the moment.

Sword Art Online 7 is another standalone, and a pretty simple one compared to the intrigues and double-crossing the last story arc gave us. It’s about Asuna’s friend, a blacksmith named Liz, who meets Kirito and has an adventure with him while hunting for a rare crystal form for a new sword. You can see how it’ll pan out right away. They argue a lot, they fight a dragon and nearly die, they bond, and she falls in love with him, only to find out about Kirito and Asuna’s, er, relationship. Still, Liz is a fun character, not really tsundere but with a easily-riled side to her, nicely voiced. I don’t think this is the last we’ll see of her, and I’m glad about that.

This gets a little ridiculous.

Disappointed by Tari Tari 8. It was … predictable, but this isn’t SOA; it’s a show that’s supposed to be more sophisticated then that. Sawa’s in a funk because it’s become clear to her she’ll never be a jockey, too tall, too heavy, etc. The episode is mostly about wrapping her head around the truth while friends and family support her however they can, exactly the way the show handled Wakana’s crisis in the last story arc, except, losing a parent is a little more traumatic (there’s a scene between Sawa and Wakana where this comes out), and the father is less sympathetic this time. Anyway, it means Sawa mopes around most of the episode. Not only that, but they repeat the “rush to the theatre to get onstage on time” from the first arc. Come on, guys, think of something fresher than that! I don’t care if she did get there on a horse (a scene more ridiculous each time we see her riding–on the street, on the beach for crissakes!). I saw that coming a mile away. The only effective stab at humor this week was Miyamoto’s belief that Sawa’s moping was due to unrequited love; well, I suppose it is, in a way.

Is there even a reason to recap Joshiraku? Um, I was surprised that they carried over last week’s little aside about Gan graduating and do much of the episode with the four remaining girls talking about how great the number four is. Countless (get it?) examples are brought up, and a few count-examples. But Gan gets some revenge later on she returns as a junior, and after that I’m not exactly sure what happened, but we turn to winning elections, and many manga and anime references are mentioned, out of which I might have recognized three.