Quick fours: Natsuyuki, Moyashimon, Binbougami

You can see how much they’re enjoying it.

Natsuyuki Rendezvous 4, once again, has them getting absolutely nowhere, well, at least until the very end. Ryuusuke and Rokka go on a date to an amusement park where, as Ryusuuke says, he tries his best but doesn’t get anywhere. Part of the date reminds Rokka of the time she and Shimao went to the same place… bad choice of location, Ryuusuke! On the other hand, Rokka’s memories show that the living Shimao was a bit of a stick-in-the-mud; not everything he did pleased her, not that that matters to her, but it might pan out later. The only interesting part comes at the end when Ryusuuke drunkenly agrees to let Shimao use his body. Frankly it doesn’t bode well for the next episode; what’s he going to do to the poor, bewildered girl who knows nothing about what’s going on? Finally, what was that bit about at the end with the younger, glowing Rokka appearing before Shimao, er, Ryusuuke, geez … I get enough of this with Kokoro Connect …

Hasegawa’s having even less fun than the Natsuyuki couple.

Meanwhile Moyashimon Returns 4 slips in a couple major events amongst the lectures (liquor stores as representatives of towns, the changes a barrel can make to fermentation, and the advantages of having a non-assertive guy around to keep drunks in line). These events would be huge in some other show but don’t feel that way here. I kind of figure Hasegawa will be flying back to her research soon, but not soon enough; her arranged fiancee is a tool. I’m hoping she has the opportunity to beat him up before the story line is out. The question is how will this story pan out? I’m looking forward to what Itsuki plans to do; she did promise to buy him some cheese, after all. As for the other big story, Sawaki’s revelation about the microbes to Oikawa … well, what would YOU do if someone told you they can see microbes? Crises in this show are often just go away, or are laughed away.

Not a couple at all.

While I was happy that this week’s Binbougami Ga! wasn’t about Ichiko meeting a little doggy and then losing him as the preview suggested, the doggy being a dog god planted there to do Momiji’s work for her, it still wasn’t a very good episode. It was fine up to a point. Momou the masochistic dog god, tries to steal her good fortune a few times with the typical slapstick failures. But his internal monologue wasn’t very interesting at all, and then we get an extended “maybe she isn’t so bad after all” scene which sucked the life out of the story. We get some screaming and naked-bathtub-wielding near the end but it’s too late to bring the episode to life. And when I said earlier that the show needed more characters I meant INTERESTING ones, not this cliché dog character.

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Quick ones: Natsuyuki 3, Horizon II 2, Driland 2

So what we’re going to get with Natsuyuki Rendezvous is a slow, internal process, where the living wife and/or the dead husband slowly let go of whatever is keeping him around, allowing Rokka to move on to another love if she wants. Or maybe it’s Ryuusuke who’s going to undergo something, or most likely all three. The point is that it’s going to be a quiet process, almost unnoticed if we didn’t have internal monologues to listen to. And it’s going to be slow. And everyone’s going to go around in circles for episode after episode. Precisely what happens in episode 3. Rokka is nursed back to health and shows some affection for Ryuusuke, while at the same time thinking how much she misses her husband. Ryuusuke is making moves where he thinks it’s appropriate, but who knows how long this will take. Shimao is reduced to being a crying, wheedling child. This could all take awhile. On the other hand, Shimao is begging Ryuusuke to let him borrow his body, just for a time. So we’re going to get some scene where Ryuusuke nods off in the flower shop, probably in the near future. In other developments, Shimao has somehow acquired some telekinetic powers. That’ll liven things up. Otherwise this show is in danger of becoming unbearable.

Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon II 2 … er, let me look at my notes … We got glasses guy losing a fight with Shakespeare, briefly interrupted by the question “How do you get all that power?” which prompts a lecture on literary criticism. And does glasses guy remember the 13th Mutsugorei Academy? He does, but apart from Shakespeare’s sad memories of the place we learn little. As a last resort glasses guy sends a signal and the Musashi starts making big wide turns until an invisible ship fires on it. A “cargo ship” where all the fighting was going on nose-dives into the ground, nearly killing some kids. I have no idea what monk kid and hat-man were doing there. So the Brits hold a meeting … so we turn to Espana where they’re handing out treats to children and elves. Everything settles down. The brits aren’t allowing anyone near the crashed cargo ship, which is reduced to catching fish to survive, I think. People talk a lot. Glasses guy and one of the countless winged girls talk about their recent defeat in a conversation rife with theatrical metaphors. Oh, apparently GG has to kill Aoi to lift his new curse, you know, that Macbeth stuff. And finally a bit with a nice guy who gets letters from orphans, when he can extract the from between the sleeping Lady Juana’s boobs. A touching moment, actually. Not the boobs part.

I still think Tanken Driland is a charming show, I’m worried that I might get bored by the straightforward children’s formula. It’s time for the show to assemble its team, and so we get Pollon, a brave hero/hunter who screws up everything, but his heart’s in the right place. The three set out to rescue a fairy village from giganto birds, which are actually kind of cute, and after all, they need to eat, too. But if you hit one it vanishes in a puff of smoke, so obviously they’re evil or something. It goes the way you’d expect: Pollon, low on self-esteem at the moment, manages to save Mikoto from the boss bird by screwing up. Happy ending and a new team member. But I found him kind of annoying. I don’t mind the character designs for this show (though I won’t argue with anyone who does), but Pollon’s bugs me, especially when he puts on his embarrassed, aw-shucks face. Not enough for me to drop it though. Not yet.

I zip through a number of episode twos of little value

Natsuyuki Rendezvous 2 leaves me a little worried. It looks for all the world that we’re going to get twelve or however many episodes of the three unhappy people spinning their wheels. Shimao-kun will continue to interfere with Ryousuke’s moves on Rokka, because he clings to her. Rokka will play around with the thought of an affair (is that the proper word when your husband is dead?) with Ryousuke, even though it’s becoming clear (using the not-very-original technique of fever-talking) that she hasn’t let go of her husband yet. And Ryousuke will get more frustrated, and round and around we go. But even if we get this pattern for a while, this episode shows that there can be some fun to be had. Rokka can’t read Ryousuke’s intentions most of the time because he’s distracted by the damn ghost, but the idea of a new romance clearly makes her more alive, just what she needs to get rid of her husband. Which is maybe why Shimao’s being so selfish about the situation. Then there’s that weird connection between Ryousuke and Shimao after Rokka collapses. But I don’t think they’re going to make much more out of that. I suppose the big question is: does Shimao need to forget about Rokka or vice-versa? Or both? And how long will it take for them to figure it out?

Binbougami-Ga! 2 decides to throw out (for now) the moral issues of Ichiko sucking up everyone else’s positive energy and goes for the cheap laughs. The first half is Momiji transferring into Ichiko’s class (of course) and making her school life miserable. Plus she’s moved into one of Ichiko’s closets at home using a space-warp device that would put an end to the world’s overcrowding problems in a flash, not to mention giving you unlimited closet space. Meanwhile countless jokes and references to other shows and comics went whizzing by without me understanding a bit of them. The second half, where Ichiko turns the tables on Momiji with the help of a perverted priest, is crazier and funnier. And everything is helped by Kana Hanazawa and Yumi Uchiyama in the lead roles; it’s as much verbal sparring and commenting through the fourth wall as slapstick fights in this show. But it will still get old fast unless we meet some new characters. I think the classmates come into play next week.

Not what you think.

For a couple minutes I thought I had missed an episode of Campione!. Suddenly Godou’s back in Japan, doing the usual Japanese high school things, like being late to school and discovering a nude lady in his bed. And Erica is suddenly acting like they’re engaged. Oh, and we get a disapproving younger sister as well, and no sign of parents. And Erica transfers into Godou’s class (of course). Last we saw of these people they were in Rome and Godou had just defeated a god, or something. The rest of the episode fills us in (and Godou, who’s as surprised at the turn of events as I was), meaning some new characters who bring infodumps with them: Amaksu, a Japanese magic rep, a shy little shrine maiden, then, crazily, back to Rome where another campione (there are seven now) who likes owls talks about taking the snake, and three guys whose names I didn’t bother to write down. Oh, there’s a fight, just because this is an action show, I think. And lots of talk about the prophecy of the starless night, where the plot is now headed. I’m tolerating this now because Godou is a step up from your average harem lead, quick to respond to Erica’s come-ons and whatever weirdness comes his way.

Nothing much to Yuru Yuri this week. They had a nice segment about catching a cute little snake. The Yui/Kyouko scene early on wasn’t bad. Also Old Maid and nicknames, and it ended with preventing colds. Two good scenes is a good average for this show.

This bit was fun. Otherwise …

And it’s a damn sight better than Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru! 2. I spent the first half wondering just how the hell anyone could imagine this Mister X person was a boy. When the revelation happened it took me by surprise because I thought it was obvious from the start. Still, she’s one of the more interesting characters in the series so far, which isn’t saying much. Shougo is to bland to be interesting. Same with Konoe. Miyabi is too predictable a tsundere; and I don’t like my tsunderes to show too much dere early on. A boy’s gotta earn it. All Shougo’s done is be nice to her in his bland way … though the moonlight dance was kind of sweet. We also get Mana-san, who might be fun but we don’t see enough of her, and Rinka, your typical blonde princess. Like last episode everything seems to happen in slow motion, and since you know we won’t get the mysterious sister’s identity until the series end, and that IS an interesting mystery, I don’t know if slogging through this will be worth it. But we’ll probably get more girls next week. We’ll see.

More new shows: Natsuyuki, Moyashimon 2, Binbougami Ga!, and something Chocolate

Guess which one’s the ghost.

Natsuyuki Rendezvous looks like your average noitaminA show, … but when I think of an average noitaminA show I don’t know any more. You come up with one trait and immediately think of another that contradicts it. Smart shows? What about BRS? Realistic, adult characters? How about Trapeze, or even the next one I’ll look at. I will say that this one is realistic apart from one supernatural element (like AnoHana), stars adults (just about everything they do apart from BRS, or Tsuritama, or Wandering Son) who act their age (unlike Nodame or Trapeze) … Forget it. This one has slacker Ryuusuke in love with flower shop owner Rokka, only to discover that her dead husband is still floating around. Normally in these sort of shows that means they must find a way to get the deceased to move on, again like AnoHana, or Amnesia (whoops). Especially here, since Shimao, the dead guy is a pain in the butt, especially to Ryuusuke, the only one who can see him. It’s off to a good start. Ryuusuke confesses to Rokka by the end of the episode but nothing much comes of it. The marriage seems to be more complicated than they’re letting on, since Shimao said on his deathbed to forget him, but he’s the one hanging around. And Rokka can’t see him. Throw the sister-in-law in the mix and I’m looking forward to what they’ll make of it.

Guess which one’s the star of the show.

It’s been so long since the first season of Moyashimon that I had forgotten many things about it. First, the show isn’t really about anything. Okay, it’s about Sawaki, who can see microbes, but beyond that the show could be anything. This week the characters are set to start brewing sake and soy sauce … and so they start. More time is spent with brewing lectures (by humans and microbes) than anything else in the episode. They hint at a bath scene but ignore it. There’s a mysterious hidden door, but that’s next week’s plot. Haruka goes at Takuma with a whip over events from a drinking bout. Yuuki, in all his gothic finery, takes an ax to his family’s liquor store. Professor Itsuki ambles about being wise. The microbes serves as our hosts, welcoming us back, reintroducing the characters, assisting with lectures, giving little dramas, making asides, and being the cute microscopic scene-stealers they’ve always been. It’s all a big, wonderful mess. The OP and ED aren’t up to the level of the first season’s, but I’ll get used to them.

Guess which one is the Sweets Club’s student council presidential nominee.

I hate first episode weeks sometimes. The thrill of anticipation wears off quickly, and soon I’m watching the first seconds of a new show (usually a landscape or a building) wondering why I bother. And Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate is the show where I hit the wall. So forgive me if my thoughts are less coherent than usual (shut up). The show stars, I believe, Yuuki, a boy who eats sweets with a bunch of cute girls and one suggestive boy, and they learn their useless club is going to be disbanded if a girl named Satsuki wins the student council election. So Yuuki decides is forced to run against her. Sounds like a straightforward high school comedy plot, and most of the time it works that way. You got the childhood friend waking him up scene, also a drunk teacher, among other things. But there was the bizarre opening bit involving people in black cars exchanging things for cash and running over the girl who got it on film, a scene which hovered over every lighthearted event that followed. Also, the school is strangely high-tech and the student council room dwarfs many countries’ parliaments. And Yuuki keeps seeing things … It’s too soon to tell if the strangeness is merely a way to mask a mediocre HS comedy story or not.

Guess which … oh, never mind.

Binbougami ga! … I dunno. It looks to be a routine slapstick comedy, Ichigo being a girl overly-blessed with good fortune and Momiji, a goddess of misfortune sent to restore the balance. Episode one works out predictably; Ichigo’s good fortune outdoing Momiji’s bad through lot of slapstick fights and shouting, lots of shouting. The voices actresses in the leads seem to be having a great time. And to complicate things, the series makes it clear that Ichigo isn’t really that happy, just fortunate, and she’s sucking up the good fortune of others. But why should this disagreeable goddess of misfortune be the one to redistribute this karmic wealth? If they can work on those issues some more maybe I will enjoy this series, because the jokes in episode one weren’t all that funny.