Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate ends with annoying obstacles tossed in Yuuki’s path to election victory.
The Katahina faction, whatever the hell they are, put in a last-day-last-ditch effort. The negative article mysteriously put in the online newspaper was bad enough, but they also kidnap Chisato and have Yuuki run around from telephone to telephone receiving instructions to, er, go to the next telephone, OR ELSE. They’re trying to prevent him from making it to the final debate, but the technique is annoying as hell to have to watch. Meanwhile everyone else wonders where he is. Here the questionable ethics that the election runs on begin, finally, to work in his favor.
Some girls from the school spot him in his disheveled state and make a couple calls, and soon the President and everyone else knows more or less what’s going on. It’s nice to see the good guys battle back, especially when it gives those two girl club members who haven’t done a damn thing all series something to do. And it was nice to see Yuuki and Chisato reunited and declaring love before Chisato’s tsun side appears again. It was especially satisfying to see Yuuki (who OF COURSE got to give his speech, even though he was late) and admit everything that was going on. But it doesn’t change the fact that he managed to win the election because he got a lot of help from questionable forces. Well, he’s in, though the show only begrudgingly tells us this at the end, and as the President points out, his job’s only going to get harder.
Not that I really care. This show was a mess. It stumbled from one plot point to another without caring too much about finishing them well and completely forgetting them unless they sprung a new leak. What about that inflammatory article in today’s episode? What was in it? How did they deal with it? Were those two girls only around from episode one to now in order to bicycle Yuuki and Chisata to the debate? What the hell was inventor-girl doing in the show at all? Or yaoi-stick boy? No, forget that, I know why HE was there. Did Yuuki manage to add the anti-discrimination toward financial aid students to his platform? This show felt like it was plotted in a single drunken Friday afternoon using characters pulled from the secondhand anime character stereotype bin they found in the corner. Bah.
Enough of that show. Let’s see if the next show can change the mood. … Oh, dear god …
(spoilers) I’ll give Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru! a little credit: it didn’t try to twist the story up so that none of the girls were Shougo’s sister, or all of them. It was, in fact, one of the early favorites. Not only that, but it seems obvious with hindsight, not from the clues but how the show was structured, who was getting the most attention at crisis time, and that was Miyabi. In fact, they undid the Yuzurina story altogether. That doesn’t mean the episode was very good, however, or the series.
We get a lot of talk. Most of the episode is broken into two scenes, that is, after Shougo rejects Miyabi’s confession. The first exposes Yuzurina as an actress. Shougo starts the exposure by putting two and two together and Itsuku arrives just in time with the background facts. This unraveling takes some emotional strength because, well, it’s a big scene, but it goes on too long. Also, if Yuzurina, sorry, Danao Nayuri, former child actress, is just an actor hired to do a job why did she take such obvious evil pleasure in doing it? Even after being exposed she’s got that glinty look in her eye. Well, no matter. After that we get an even longer scene between Shougo and Miyabi. Miyabi has to go on and on about what happened, with flashbacks, and she seems to forget that Shougo knows she’s his sister now, so it’s not like she’ll never see him. After these two scenes there’s no time for anything but last-minute innuendos on the school rooftop and the series ends without Shougo actually getting a girlfriend, just a sister who actually wouldn’t mind marrying her brother if it wasn’t illegal. Who knows how Shougo feels about that …
This show wasn’t messy. It was clumsy, not good to look at, and the subject matter was unsavory, but it was straightforward and actually had a real mystery in it. Characters were used and more or less forgotten, like Konoe, but Mei actually got to perform plot duties beyond her story arc. But in the end the show had nothing much to say for itself. It was just a harem series with more cliched characters, and, as I said, unsavory overtones.
Binbougami Ga! wasn’t a great show either, but at least it knew how to end a series.
Ichiko rescues the “good” Momiji and so we have an exciting chase before Kumagai and Momou can catch up and dirty Momiji up. It seems pretty straightforward, and entirely wrong for the series, so you know there’s going to be a complication, and we soon get it: if Momiji isn’t dirtied up in a half-hour she’ll cease to be a god at all, but human instead. And while this doesn’t sound too bad from a human perspective, it still isn’t right. What’s weird is Ichiko’s line of thinking. Momiji’d still be around, but human and thus relatively defenseless. Just what Ichiko wanted, right?
It all leads to a senseless moment where Kumagai has cornered good Momiji on a bridge. Momiji was thinking she was doing the right thing, and actually her reasoning makes sense: she can still appeal to Ichiko’s good side as a human. So the show decides to produce a gust of wind to blow her off into the water, ending the argument when it’s just getting started. Cue the dramatic rescue and the subsequent dumping of Momiji into a garbage scow, and we have our happy, if confusing ending.
Until bad Momiji’s triumphant return, the finale’s tone felt more serious than usual, less fun, though we still had moments of what made the show fun. Ranmaru was a delight from the moment she appeared in the series and she had good moments in the finale. The others did their jobs well. Keita isn’t given much to do except have a brief but important but pointless discussion with Ichiko where he tells her what she already knows. Oh well. As I said before, this wasn’t the best series in the world by any means, but it delivered what it promised, a load of slapstick violence, fanservice and shouting. There should be a series like this every season. Well, there usually is.
In Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon II 24 the important things come through even if the details are as confusing as ever.
First we get Tenzo, I mean Clothutil’s attempt at rescuing Mary from an execution she actually wants, maybe. Tenzo demonstrates his skills by getting past that sword guy who nearly killed him before (with the help of that bird) and recognizing that Mary and Elizabeth had switched places by comparing their boob sizes. Well done, Tenzo! All that’s left is to pull that sword out of the stone, actually two smaller swords, suggesting that the Earth Pulse feels there’s room for the Musashi people in history, too. Love is declared on both sides, Tenzo lowers his mask and the world doesn’t end (but we don’t get to see his face because he’s kissing Mary) I think. Elizabeth tearfully bids goodbye to Mary, who swears to have a child who will usurp Elizabeth’s throne. She’s actually being comforting, you see, because after that Elizabeth’s job will be done and they can all play in fairyland. A touching but bizarre scene. Oh, Azuma(?) and Kimi beat that emaciated guy and the gravity-doll, but I’ve forgotten what they were fighting about.
That done, it’s back to the Armada battle. Here I kind of lost track of things. Muneshige doesn’t get to die with his forces because Juana rescues him and they start making out on the burning vessel until Tachibana breaks it up. Tres Espana’s flagship, the San Martin, is firing huge slow broadsides from angles too fast for them to move without detection. Turns out there are two San Martins! No, there are three! But one of them gets rammed by Grace O’Malley’s ship. I do not remember who Grace O’Malley is, but apparently she owed the Musashi a favor. But now Espana forces have boarded the ship with baseball bats and explosive balls and are running all over the Musashi. So it looks like more individual duels for the next episode.
In Polar Bear’s Cafe 25 the first part is Penguin’s art exhibit, and then we get to see how Polar and Grizzly met as kids. The latter gets a little too sweet, though I liked how Polar was the only animal around who wasn’t terrified of Grizzly. In fact, it should be the other way around, but Polar had no desire to scare anybody. He could also cook an excellent salmon stew. The first half is better, but like last week I thought it missed a lot of potential laughs. But the combo of Penguin’s highly derivitive or simply blue paintings, followed by Polar’s follow up and Panda’s non-sequitors, had some fun in it.
Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru! 11 is called “The Sister Trap,” and may not come as a surprise in this lazy series that there is no trap sprung anywhere in it. In fact, nothing much happens at all. The day after the party Miyabi doesn’t come to school, and she later forces Shougo to take her out on a date. It’s the dullest date sequence with music interlude I’ve seen, and it’s completely pointless. Shougo also gets warnings from Ikusu to be careful because those plotting to get at him are close by, which is so obvious by now that I figured it the scene was there because Isusu didn’t have anything else to do this episode apart from looking at someone who might be Yuruzina in some movie footage. Meanwhile Yuzurina, whom we KNOW is evil, stirs the pot by denying that she was the girl speaking to him at the funeral, so either she’s come up with a cunning plan along with the current one (which involves feeding Shougo breakfast and dinner) or she doesn’t know everything, either. Meanwhile, front-running harem girl Konoe isn’t given anything to do for the second straight episode. And, again, no trap. Stupid series …
In most series that have a main character change personalities the big challenge is to return them to the good side. In Binbougami Ga! 12 it’s to get Momiji to change to her bad self. I’m rooting for it too. The nice Momiji bit worked for a while because of the effect it had on everyone else. The class was suddenly in love with her. Ichiko, naturally suspicious, drives herself into a frenzy wondering what she’s up to and when the trap will snap, but there’s no trap. Momiji hasn’t abandoned her mission, either, but now she tries to talk Ichiko out of her spare fortune, using bland speeches that, while true, are deadly dull to listen to. Does anyone want Momiji like this? No! Bring back the bad Momiji! Bring back the sneak attacks and mad violence and screaming that made this show bearable to watch! And that’s the theme of the final arc, to make a character bad, cunning, and smelly again. Oh, there’s a nice Death Note scene too.
I shouldn’t be surprised the Natsuyuki Rendezvous finale was different and a little confusing.
We jump way into the future, where the daughter of Rokka and Ryuusuke is making plans for the shop now that her father has died, and we get a line on how he followed Rokka. So the two have passed on, just as Shimao did. Why is Shimao is still floating around the place? Rokka and Ryuusuke apparently have moved on. It becomes clear when you realize he’s been floating everywhere now; he’s not stuck at the flower shop. The final scene is of him floating lazily in the sky. My guess is that while he managed to leave Rokka for good, he died too soon to want to stop living completely; he couldn’t yet get up the desire to leave completely. So he chats up the credulous grandson, shows him the mysterious room (and never have the storybook flowers seemed so menacing, but it was just a joke) and floats away. Guess he was just checking in. I wonder if he’ll leave for good, now that Ryuusuke and Rokka are gone …
The stuff before that, in the forest, took an unexpected turn. I hadn’t considered the fact that Rokka might consider dying to be with Shimao. And it’s interesting that she lets Shimao make the decision for her. At that moment she had no idea what to do. In the end I think that was a weakness in the show. Rokka was too passive. She makes a realization during the episode that she’s one of the reasons why Shimao is so miserable. In that case maybe she should have done something about it. We’re lucky that Shimao had seen enough to realize that the best thing for all concerned was to give Ryuusuke his body back and exit. I’m not sure what prompted this decision, but I could never figure Shimao out anyway.
So it ends happily enough for all concerned. Shimao finally did something right and seems happy just floating in the sunshine. As for me, I’m glad it’s over. This was a good series but the unresolved tensions between the three protagonists remained much the same for too long. It sometimes felt like a chore to watch an episode and see little things happen, but nothing big, until the body switching, and even after that the show spun its wheels. I don’t mind subtlety or complexity in my anime, but I don’t care for wasted episodes, either. On the other hand, I’m glad it was on. We need subtle, complex anime, even if makes mistakes like Natsuyuki Rendezvous did.
Now let’s turn to a couple of much sillier shows. The first, Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru! 10, stumbles along in its usual dull way. Shougo, thanks to his newly-found genuine sister, gets to bring ALL the girls to the big party. Which is the way it should be. It’s obvious now that his father probably bedded a lot of women even after getting married, so it’s in the spirit of things for him to bring his entire harem. Once there, however, the show botches whatever opportunities for fun it had. Miyabi gets depressed and wanders off, and only Tendou shows any inclination to enjoy herself. The others might as well not have shown up. They hunt for Miyabi, who gets drunk and tries to bed Shougo. Meanwhile, secretary Seri is revealed to be in a plot to disgrace him by bringing up the whole sister thing. My reaction? Let her try, and Yuzurina agrees with me, but at the end we learn she’s actually on Seri’s side (i.e., evil). Not that it matters. Just let the matter out. The man is dead. Sigh.
Binbougami ga! is just as stupid, maybe more so, but it’s also more lively and fun. Episode 11 is the Fanservice Episode, so proclaimed by Bobby and Momou in the opening bit, with a rousing song about tits. I haven’t been so touched since Mayoi Neko Overrun‘s ode to bloomers (which still pops into my head from time to time). The story: everyone in the cast shows up at the public baths at the same time. You can imagine what happens. Yes, the walls come down. Nothing much stands out, except for Keita’s temptation to peek by Bobby. With that and his desire to show Momou and the cat god transform for cash, it’s good to see the boy is prone to greed and temptation like the rest of us. And as an equal-opportunity fanservice episode, the girls and the interested viewers get plenty of glimpses of him as well. Altogether it’s the usual senseless violence and jokes with extra splashing and convenient fog. And since there’s no sentiment this week, it’s a good episode.
The big line in Natsuyuki Rendezvous 10 comes at the end, where Rokka asks Shimao (still in Ryuusuke’s body) where the Ryuusuke she fell in love with went. It’s a nonsensical question because while Shimao told her that it had been him and not Ryuusuke for some of the events, he hasn’t told her exactly when they switched. I’m not surprised he wouldn’t. This episode removes all of the remaining sympathy I had for him. We see him now as he’s always been–egotistical and selfish. Anyway, for all she knows he’s been Ryuusuke for months, even as far back as the time she said she loved him (Ryuusuke). But in terms of the story, unless Shimao is hinting at something when he talks a “last meal,” it’s an important one.
She loves Ryuusuke, and WE know she fell for him before Shimao’s devious body switching. Just like Ryuusuke can never erase the love she had for Shimao, or would want to (The show makes a point of having him say that he’s fine with that), Shimao can’t erase Ryuusuke. Nor can erase the fact that while she hasn’t been able to let him go, Rokka is doing just fine in running the shop on her own, doing things without him. It will be interesting to see how this pans out in the last episode or two. Meanwhile, this episode gets even more bizarre and chilling than before as Ryuusuke realizes he can’t return to his body now, and Shimao symbolically kills him. Then he has to watch the odd physical couple, one using his body, be all lovey-dovey while he floats about hopelessly. It looks bleak indeed for Syuusuke – until Rokka asks that question.
Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru! 9 throws out one good thing and one bad thing. The good thing is the new girl Yuzurina, who, right after moving next door to Shougo, tells him that she’s his sister. Nothing new there, but there’s a twist: she has no interest in marrying him. She’s actually a little sister, the type that worries about oniisan with no strings attached. Well, she listens in through the wall, but that’s acceptable in this sort of show, and might actually add to the show’s abysmally low comedy level. What’s more, they do a blood test and it’s positive, all in one episode! We’ll ignore that fact that she’s illegitimate and so it must be kept secret when the next thing you know she’s blabbing about it to all the other girls; an actual little sister overly worried about who he’s bringing home, complicating Shougo’s life won’t hurt the show at all. The bad thing is the formal party coming up, and he must choose one girl. And Miyabi later spots him getting ready to kiss Konoe. Who cares? Shougo, you got a sister now. Choose one girl and let’s end this thing.
Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate 9 has a fascinating bit at the end. They end with Shougo possibly being run over by a truck. This is after a few painful flashbacks where Chisato tries to wake up a dead boy named Daiki by offering him chocolate (thus revealing the origin of her choco-phobia). Yes, it’s incredibly trite, but it was how they went about it. One of those scene or episode-ending comical moments where the girls turn accusingly on a boy and he runs away. The camera is far away, as they often are when you’re ending a scene like this, and it looks for all the world like the episode is going to end right there … Yuuki yells “Run!” and runs … then the truck shows up. In other words they stuck a cliffhanger over a silly moment. The rest of the episode wasn’t bad either. We get the return of Yuina Oosawa, planning on making an elected Yuuki her puppet, and who got suspended for harassing a financial aid student, Yuuki wanting to add a platform plank abolishing just such a thing, leading Chisato to shout at him because it will cost him votes, but really because she’s afraid he’s leaving her behind like Daiki did. Election politics and romance, just like the title says.
A solid episode of Sword Art Online. The big question is did they just finish a small story arc or is this part of a larger one? Never mind the biggest one.
Kirito and Asuna get a look at the 75th level boss and, being the experienced warriors they are, run away and have lunch. Thus we get to see the Kirito/Asuna dynamic in battle and domestic mode right after each other. And I wonder how they’re making it work. It’s clear they’re a great couple, though they’d surely do that “no-no-no” with handwaving if someone told them so. Maybe it’s that the other players get one look at them together and instantly think “couple.” Klein does it in this episode, like Liz did it a while back. Maybe it’s just that reinforcement. But more important, they’re a fun couple. They’re of like minds when it matters, bicker over little things, and back each other up when they need to.
Not everything worked. We learn that Kirito has a special ability no one else has. Where did it come from? I don’t recall it being mentioned before. Even Kirito doesn’t know why he has it. Then there was the “Front,” a team of armored guys who just walk up to the boss and nearly get slaughtered because their leader doesn’t know the word “retreat.” How far can you get in a game like that? And while the boss battle was great fun to watch, I don’t get Asuna’s just charging in when she sees the Front getting wiped out. She’s too experienced a player to behave like that. Besides, she’s got Kirito and Klein, two excellent fighters, with her. Think of a plan! And I mentioned Kirito’s mysterious ability. Were it not for the fact that he was taking damage and the fight scene was so well-done, it would have been a Deus ex Machina.
But these are minor points, and even while those questionable things passed by on the screen I was enjoying the hell out of the episode. It’s one of those shows where the episode ends and I wonder how time could have flown that fast. Looking forward to getting Asuna out of that guild now.
Moyashimon Returns 9 is almost completely focused on plot right now. There were hardly any microrobe lectures until the very end. Though Maria, through anecdotes scattered throughout, taught us more about wine-making. Actually, there are two plots right now. One is getting Hasegawa away from Ryuuta, and it just sort of happens. She decides to run away and Kaoru and Takuma help her. The two are actually useful this episode, and Kaoru actually gets a nice quiet scene with her that involves no violence whatsoever. Well, Why not? The man was actually talking sense for a change. The other plot involves getting Marie to return to the wine business she obviously loves. Sawaki has some good scenes with her. They share a sort of bond–over the smell of yeast. But on the whole the episode wasn’t crazy enough for my tastes.
Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru! 8 stumbles along and then falls dead in the final moments. This time it’s Rinko who’s the culprit. In order to kill time the show takes her, Shougo, Ikusu and Mana to an amusement park in order to get her outside of school and her morals-nazi mode, and there follw the inevitable scenes. There’s only one moment here worth it, and that’s Ikusu doing a parachute ride, completely unrelated to the story, just someone having fun. Well, it stuck out for me, anyway. Through a coincidence too stupid to mention we learn later that Rinko had the magic pink cell phone, made the call, etc, and we get her sob story, engaged to the son of Shougo’s company’s biggest rival, try to dig up some dirt, on him. Shougo’s solution for this not only makes no sense (pretend they’re dating), but leads to them actually dating even though the engagement was cut off, or something. Well, another one for the harem.
In Moyashimon Returns 8, the guys find Hasegawa, but in a typical Moyashimon way.
They just can’t find the church she’s going to be married in, or anything like that. Instead they have to ride a three-seater bicycle around Burgundy, and we get a small tour and a lecture about the entire region and the wines made there, both from the humans and the microbes. No other show would bother with this sort of information but I know nothing about wine I found it interesting and wanted to know more. They proceed to get hit by a car driven by a young woman who looks just like Kei if he was a blonde frenchwoman. Who just happens to speak Japanese by the way. Oh, and is part of a famous wine family. Because they need a place to sleep they agree to act as waiters for a small banquet she’s a part of that evening.
Things get muddled from here. We get a great scene about the stupidity of pairing wine with just anything, but it then becomes an examination of three people trapped by their pasts and their families. Hasegawa, obviously, but also Sawaki (though it’s been so long since he’s talked about his circumstances I’ve pretty much forgotten about it), and Marie, the blonde, the heiress who wants nothing to do with the business if she has to put up with idiots like Hasegawa’s would-be fiancee. So things get introspective until the end when the microbes give us another lecture which didn’t go as long as I wanted.
Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru! seems to be in catchup mode after the olympics with two quick episodes in a row. This one is more amusing than the last one, but it takes a while. Due to the mysterious little sister broadcasting all over the school about her existance, and at the same time telling Shougo to pretend she doesn’t exist, the dignitaries visiting the school feel the morals there are too relaxed, and thus Rinka becomes the morals nazi for the school. Just about everything gets banned, including flirting and multiple personalities. Otherwise the show as a clumsy mess again, with an unfortunate scene or two where Shougo tries to collect DNA samples (you can imagine how that turned out, in fact, I had some Nisemonogatari flashbacks, mostly like “Damn, I wish I was watching that show now instead of this one”).
Do I have to talk about Natsuyuki Rendezvous 7? Well, I’ll say this. Shimao has completely screwed up the situation, but not in the way I expected. At the end he’s given Rokka every indication that he’s still around somehow, what with that ghostly appearance and the flower arrangements he left at the shop. Then he leaves for god knows where in Ryuusuke’s body. Ryuusuke, by the way, is still having odd conversations with the idealized little mermaid Rokka, where perhaps a hint as to the future is given, but otherwise he’s simply trying to push giant flowerpots around. Where is Shimao going? Mermaid Rokka did say that the longer this lasts the sadder it gets, after all. Meanwhile, Rokka, after her declaration of love to whomever she’s in love with, possibly the combination of both, can only react to things and wait for phone calls. And I’m finding my self caring less and less about the whole thing.
Due to the Olympics, Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru! missed two weeks. Now we get episode 5, and I think I would like to thank the Olympics. Last time Konoe confessed to impersonating Shougo’s sister. But he’s still getting phone calls, so it looks like the real sister is on the loose, which I could have told Shougo when Konoe said she wasn’t near that wedding. Besides, we have to keep this story going somehow. You can’t just have a series where a bunch of girls throw themselves at a guy, well you can, and it would probably sell … so they throw Sagara the witch girl at him next. Lots of scenes with her. Well, lots of scenes with every girl, including a new one. We’ll eventually learn that it’s not Sagara (and deal with this moving away plot bit they threw in just to give us something for a cliffhanger) and move on to… possibly the weird school newspaper club girl.
Another Olympic victim was Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate, and to make up for it they tossed episodes 5 and 6 at us on the same day. During the hiatus I was thinking about dropping the show, and episode 5 didn’t do much to change my mind. The bulk of it was a scene where Yuuki had to make one roll-cake after another for bribing the voters on primary day, while Mifuyu sat around writing romantic fiction about them and one weirdo after another came in the door to do a comic schtick before exiting again. Actually, it was tolerable and passed the time so that the show didn’t have to get back to topics like that murder in the first episode (remember that?) or Isara getting bullied. The primary event scenes had some decent gags in it. Still, you saw the setup coming… instead of his campaign speech Mifuru gives her fiction to Yuuki, too late to get it back …
Happily, episode 6 was better. Rather than do the expected thing and embarrass himself with that speech, Yuuki is forced by different circumstances to improvise–and rescues the story arc. Nothing much could top that so they switch to election result-watching and tossing the odd gag in. Oh, there’s still that stuff that Mifuyu wrote and he read that has to be dealt with, and we got the guy in the mask, a mystery candidate that split the vote, and the bullying and the murder and god knows what else in this messy show, but this epidode ended on a high enough note that I’ll keep watching.