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

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.

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Episode dump with a couple of finales

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, I also watched this. It ended too.

Episode catchup dump post

Alice, early feminist in training.

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

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

An attempt at drama.

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, shut up and go back to Osaka already.

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

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

Natsume Yuujinchou 6-7 and other, mostly lesser shows

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.

A few more things I watched before I stop watching for a few days

Because I can, I will tell you some more of the things I’ve been watching before I take an actual vacation …

Idolm@ster 3 splits the story between the girls’ performance in the sticks, and Yukiho’s fear of men and dogs. The sticks part works all right. The girls adapt and help out in ways they didn’t anticipate. The other part had far too many Yukiho freakouts and bonding scenes and was dull as dirt, except for the performance. She gets the audience to respond to her. I’ve seen it before. Some performers like performing because they like the control they have over the crowd, full of people that they might not be able to handle one-on-one. But that’s my observation, and certainly not a reason to be watching this. Why AM I still watching this?

Okabe runs a lot but he never seems to get anywhere.

I know why I’m watching Steins;Gate. It’s excellent, though I’m so lost with all the time traveling that I don’t quite follow what’s going on anymore. Which is why I haven’t said anything about it. But a couple questions: first, what happens to the old timelines? Do they simply vanish or do they go on their merry way? So while characters regret things that they will lose when Okabe jumps, will those things carry on in other timelines? Second, I found an IBM 5100 on Ebay for about 8 grand, after 1 minute of searching. Why haven’t they thought of that? Maybe they don’t have the funds?

You have to ignore a lot of things in Uta no Prince-Sama in order to enjoy it. In episode 4 Ren was able to come up with a full arrangement for his lyrics in so short a time, and Haruka manages to find all those eeny-teeny bits of paper. Fortunately, the insert song is so forgettable that it’s safe to ignore it altogether. What’s maddening about this show is they give us a painful Ren flashback only to leave questions unanswered, i.e., why did his father hate his mother? And his dilemma about staying or going doesn’t work; does he slack off only because he was forced to come to that school? What triggered these thoughts about his mother? Not a very satisfying episode, even for this show.

In Kamisama Dolls 4 good scenes are followed by dumb ones, and by the end all the antagonists have been introduced to one another, to the regret of Kyohei.

Now that we're all gathered ...

Good scenes include the ones between Aki and mad-scientist wannabe Kuuko, who’s tied him up and attempts to torture him. They’ve both got a twisting obsession within them, but it’s not the same one, and it’s nice to see Aki taken aback by an outsider who’s just as crazy as he is. Dumb scenes include the completely unnecessary bath scene and the one where Aki enrages Kyohei by mentioning “Sensei,” causing Kyohei to go beserk. I hate this sort of thing, when the smug villain says THE BAD THING just to piss off the protagonist so he gets to say “See, we’re actually the same,” in order to justify his own psychotic actions. Like any of us DON’T have a very painful memory that causes us to react foolishly.

Worst of all is the kid who does the smug bit to little Utao, the one character who’s totally innocent. Apart from his voice and his size he’s playing an adult character. The fact he is indeed a kid just makes him more annoying. Unfortunately, he’s obviously going to be a long-term villain in this series, and he’s already started the “You’re the same as me” bullshit by announcing that he’s Kyohei’s brother. Sigh.

Bleh! Bluh-bluh-bluh-bluh!

“If there’s someone you want to see, you aren’t alone anymore.” That’s the message, I suppose, of Natsume Yuujinchou San 4, and I don’t buy it. Or maybe I’m thinking not about being alone, but being lonely, something both Natsume and the unnamed youkai of the week have suffered from.

At first we think the story will revolve around Natsume’s grandmother (or whatever she is) meeting an old elementary school classmate and resolving a little fight they have, but that turns out to simply be the theme for a story involving old friends and differences we remember. We watch it mainly through the youkai’s POV, and she’s a lot of fun. Frustrated by the fact that humans can’t see her, when she finds one that does she takes delight in scaring him whenever she can. Pretty childish behavior, but the youkai in this show are rarely models of maturity. So in spite of the problems she causes poor Natsume, I still enjoyed her antics, sitting in her tree, hrumphing her frustrations.

What she doesn’t realize is that she liked having Natsume around not because she could scare him, but because he could actually see her. Being bitter and immature meant she dealt with this the wrong way. It takes the boy Natsume lashing out at her (and an interlude where she becomes a cat and befriends him—did Natsume know all along?) and finally getting shunted away to the next relative before she realizes this. When she does it doesn’t help her mood one bit.

But even if she hasn’t matured, Natsume has. He knew they parted badly and goes out of his way to visit. It’s a simple ending which leads to the Natsume quote above. Okay, maybe you aren’t alone if you want to see someone, even if from time to time you pretend to the world, like Natsume and the youkai do, that people aren’t worth the trouble. It doesn’t make the loneliness go away. Natsume has learned that sometimes you can do something about that.

Nekogami Yaoyoruzu 3 is better than last week’s (I think. I don’t recall what it was about at all). The gang are enlisted to help Yukina, a manga artist and diviner, make a deadline when her familiars run out on her. So half the show is them making a mess of things, and the other half is them trying to capture the wayward familiars, and making a mess of things. They set up the idea of the cat goddess being useless and then forget all about it. There’s a nice bit where we read a bit of the manga and the characters do the dialogue. That’s about it.

Kagami's attempt at concealment actually works.

In Sacred Seven 4 Alma and Kagami must stop a darkstone from interfering with the school festival. With hilarious results. Well, not really. It looks like next week we’ll return to the drama with … a beach episode. Certain to be followed up by a hot spring episode, a karaoke episode, athletic festival episode, home center episode (To my knowledge, only HidaSketch and K-ON!! have had one. It’s underused cliché fodder), etc.

There, that’s done. Tomorrow I catch a train to do touristy stuff.

I stumble through some more early episodes.

Idolm@ster 2, just like 1, isn’t as bad as I feared. It’s not good, either. It’s not a show I’d recommend to someone I’d actually like to have a conversation with. It’s often inane and it gives an overly-nice view of the idol business, but they do just enough to keep the episode from wallowing in its expected mistakes. What worries me after seeing ep2 is that they’re going to make each episode a little lesson instead of the mindless fun it should aim for. This time it was “individuality.”

Onward, up the great pyramid of ... I forget.

The younger, stupider members, in spite of being professional idols in training, try to be individualistic by and wind up looking like 8 year-olds who who trying out their mothers’ makeup (and bras). And so the lecture begins, with examples. This is actually just fine as we see characters posing for a shoot in ways that show their strengths and keeps them from talking too much. And since we constantly hop from one girl to another there’s no time to get sick of any of them—yet. And in spite of my quibbling, the episode was more mindless fun than moral lesson.

Baka to Test Ni has the same quick, inane gags and setups as before. But it seems different. Was the show this sparkly last time?

Hideyoshi is sparkling!

Three episodes into Morita-san and my reactions are pretty much the same. “Huh?” or “That’s it?” or What was the point of THAT bit?” And why are they so scared of Morita and not treating her like an unfortunate speaking-disable case?

I said before that I thought Nekogami Yaoyorozu 1 was cute. So’s episode 2, but the story was so lackluster that I may drop it anyway. They get a big pot sent to them, Mayu throws it away, but naturally it’s something very important. Everything takes too long, from the discovery of what the pot is all about, to finding it. New characters show up and hang around until they are used briefly, then pretty much forgotten again. Things got a little better when the cherry blossoms bloomed, but then THAT went on too long. But I still find the damn thing cute. I like Mayu’s voice acting. The poverty god isn’t bad, either.

Kamisama Dolls 3 gives us a little background, brief action, and some good plot twists, but the way it accomplishes this does us no favors. First we learn of a rivalry between the Huga and Kyuga families from two extras just before they get skewered by the annoying Aki, and then it’s one new annoying character after another.

New annoying character #1 (on the right).

First there’s Suou who makes a fuss over Utao for too long, and then Aki shows up again to act like a jerk and bug Kyohei. I really get tired of insane murderers smirking about how the hero is the same as he is. The only similarity between Kyohei and Aki is that they’re bores.

New annoying characters #2 and #3.

Then more annoying people show up. We got the posturing Koushiro and some brat who’s name I didn’t get who launches a truck at Utao. Happily, Koushiro is more interested in trying to kill Aki, part of the village family feud, I’m assuming. No wonder Kyohei decided to leave.

Two shows I expect not to like: Nekogami Yaoyorozu, Manyuu Hikenchou

Nekogami Yaoyorozu has nothing that stands out, no reason to watch it, but I think I will anyway. I think it’s cute.

At times, maybe too agressively cute ...

Even through the OP I was thinking to myself, “Hey, that’s kind of cute.” And it’s strange. I’ve seen these sort of character designs before. None of them really stood out as especially cute. The story, where our cute little gods try to keep a cute little poverty god from entering their town, is routine (In fact, I’ve been racking my brains. In what other anime series was there a god of poverty that needed repulsing?).

Cuteness and comedy work together, but I didn’t laugh that much. I enjoyed the tycoon watching his profits rise while eating sticky candy, and I liked how every character who had a flashback announced it in some way or another, but that’s it. Maybe the characters all cooperated to form a ensemble cuteness that is greater than the sum of its parts. Maybe the show comes close to my hitherto undefined personal cuteness ratio, where character design combines with art and story and voices to achieve a balance pleasing to my senses.

And you’re all thinking “He’s nuts. This show is stupid.” I’m sure you’re right. But I’m going to keep watching it to investigate this phenomenon. There are worse reasons for watching a show.

Which makes me wonder why I watched Manyuu Ikenchou 1 all the way to the end. What was I hoping for?

Um ... no, that's not it.

Chifusa, successor to the Manyuu clan, runs off with the secret scroll for big breasts (Act NOW and get the secret for three easy payments of … oh, sorry), since in this alternative universe, tits rule the world. Women are punished by having them cut off (or something. Fortunately the show censors itself), and, though Chifusa’s got a big rack herself, she doesn’t think it fair. She encounters an ordinary woman who was a victim of her clan’s cruelty, which gets her a guilt trip and nearly killed, and then the pursuers arrive. There’s a fight with a bizarre ending, and Chifusa decides to devote her life to overturning her own clan. If you removed the breasts aspect and replaced it with something else, this would be an unimaginative historical adventure series episode one. As it is, it’s ridiculous. In fact, the (male) narrator who sets up the story sounds like he’s stifling a laugh. Too bad the show’s serious. Dropped.