noitaminA finales: No.6, Usagi Drop

Safu/Elyurias gives us a light show.

No.6 went through the motions until the very end. It gave us the destruction of the wall, the “liberation” of the inhabitants (who, at the end, were walking like lemmings to the outside, even though they never showed us a single indication that most of them really wanted to know what was out there), and the vindication of the earth mother thing, Elyurias apparently can get vindictive and kill innocent people when she wants to), complete with light shows and explosions. Oh, she can also raise the dead, so we have our happy ending. And we never learned WHY. Why did No.6 turn out so bad? Bad people? That’s an answer for children. Misguided people? Then what turned them to the wrong path? What about the other cities? I suppose the peace-loving inhabitants are meant to represent the happy, materialistic people of our modern society, but that’s also simplistic. This was also a problem with Fractale, that the people in the story were masses of people with no direction at all, except for the few who got lines and were mouthpieces for one view or another. There was one bit I liked, when Sion operates on Rat while the facility is exploding around him. It summed up his love for Rat and his possibly misplaced love of humanity nicely. Then Safu/Elyurias turns up later and heals Rat anyway … Argh, what a mess. This is the third season in a row when a noitaminA show took a promising SF premise and botched it.

If you want to see rich, internal lives of individuals you go to the other noitaminA show that just finished. Usagi Drop has no real story to speak of, it has minor crises that litter ordinary days. We start with Yukari’s cold, the cliffhanger from last episode, and learn that it’s just a cold, though she appreciates the concern Daikichi and Rin bestow upon her. Next comes two huge crises: the jump-roping competition and baby teeth falling out. The former allows four sets of parents to bond and Daikichi to get some exercise. The latter is more suspenseful. When will Rin’s tooth come out? Should she throw it or save it in a cute ladybug box? Next week, if there was one, we’d see something else as thrilling, and as fun to watch. In between these events the episode took time to look back and sum up. None of it comes as a surprise. Daikichi’s happy with Rin. Playing father is difficult but rewarding. That sort of thing. In fact, little in this show came as a surprise, but that was never the point (as opposed to the manga, from what I understand); normal lives don’t have big crises every single day. Measuring Daikichi’s growth as a person is like recording a child’s height by marks on the wall. It’s pointless to do it every day. Yet it happens. Just like the winter season, noitaminA goes one for two.

Steins;Gate finale, and other shows.

Not sure I like the ending of Steins;Gate. It makes perfect, logical sense, at least it seems to. I lost track of the endless returns in time to fix this thing or save that person long ago; it really boiled down to whether Okabe could rescue Kurisu, and in what messy way would his Master Plan (you have to use caps to describe much of Okabe’s actions) go wrong, because you knew it would. And it did, with a lightsaber he didn’t check beforehand (just like a mad scientist), leading to his brave sacrifice.

Go, Okabe, er, Hououin, go!

What made it so satisfying was that Okabe was able to be his mad scientist self all the way through the crisis, whipping his lab coat around, taunting Kurisu’s father, even though he knew what he would have to do next, or rather, have done to him. And while I wondered if he would live, I wondered if his death would be worth it. He went through hell to save his friends’ lives; how would they feel if he sacrificed his own. Even though they would not know what he did, they would dearly miss him, and would change the past themselves to save them if they had the ability.

A happy ending.

So I’m glad he’s still around. I’m less happy about the meeting with Kurisu at the end. I know they set up the idea that everyone has some deep-down memories of the lost timelines, but the two getting together at the end felt like a forced happy ending. And, perhaps more importantly, we never do find out who Daru managed to have a kid with. Oh, well, this was a splendid series. Time traveling, suspense, world conspiracies, mixed in with eccentric characters who were as much fun in the slow moments as they were when there was danger, perhaps more so. Okabe, especially, was fun to watch, whether he was speaking into a switched-off phone, making mad scientist speeches, or desperately running to save someone, always arriving too late.

And the finale gave us two “do-do-doos.” It wouldn’t have been complete otherwise.
Tiger and Bunny and Hanasaku Iroha are finishing soon, too. Three solid series that suggest the anime industry isn’t sinking after all. Speaking of which …

A not-so-happy ending, oh, there's an episode left.

Tiger and Bunny is a good-natured, but heavy-handed show. Not much subtlety. Either everything’s going well or they aren’t. Episode 24’s first half, everything is bad, and in the second, everything is good, well mostly. Sometimes it’s too much to bear. There’s so much angst and evil gloating in the first half that I almost jumped ahead. Only the necessary “We believe” speech, provided by Blue Rose, breaks things up. Meanwhile, why didn’t Kotetsu or Barnaby think of using the robot’s gun before? Why didn’t Kaede think of her escape attempt before? At least they explained Lunatic away, though it was through a flashback, as if the creators suddenly remembered they had to account for him. As for the ending, I think it’d be a hell of a thing if Kotetsu is actually dead, but I don’t believe it. Lovely dying conversation between the two heroes, tearful and silly at the same time.

SKET Dance 23 is even more frantic than usual. After introducing us to an anime called “Liberty Maji” in which Maji does a Mami-diamond-musket-barrage thing except with baseball bats, and we learn that the anime director “Watanabe” (think afro) and character designer “Kikukata Sadako” contributed (we see them running down the street, screaming, with storyboards before them), I’m thinking “How many references are going to slip past me THIS week?” Also “Well, it’s got to slow down at some point.” But it doesn’t, really. The girls all drink the youth-elixir and the usually quick dialogue gets even quicker, and louder. Everybody shouts at everything, and this time some of the shouts are little girl voices. I can imagine a lot of people hating this episode for that reason, but I ate it up. I won’t worry too much about the different artistic design this episode, or what the odd, stylistic bits were while they were chasing the cat who had stolen their seaweed (don’t ask).

No.6 10 gives us more absurd dystopia but mainly concerns itself with the action, that of getting Safu out of the correction facility, or whatever they call it. Sion and Rat see another side of this place–from the bottom, where they are dumped, and then climb up a mountain of corpses to get to the ventilator shaft, which is supposed to give a counterpoint to the nice, clean regular No.6 environment. It would have worked better if the corpses were decomposed. Instead, the thousands of them all look fresh. Meanwhile Dogkeeper and Rikiga have gotten into the facility rather easily using other people’s clothes and stolen IDs, where they are able to open automatic doors the moment Sion and Rat need them. No.6’s high-tech surveillance abilities aren’t up to snuff. Things get better when Safu/Elyurias infiltrate Sion’s brain and the tables are turned: Sion suddenly knows exactly where to go and what to do; Rat can only watch in awe. But this god-like force in his mind also turns the boy into a cold-hearted killer. Rat warned Sion that the facility would change him, but I don’t think this is what he had in mind. So while we chew over this moment of relative morality, another door magically opens for them and we’re ready for the finale. I hope it’s hopelessly silly. It’s the only thing that can redeem the series now.

Inami, as usual, ready to hit someone.

Like last time, we get an early look at Working!! season two. Hmm, not bad. They wanted to introduce the characters again so no one dominates the episode, that is to say, Inami only throws one punch. Takanashi’s little thing fetish seems bigger; he gets upset when the manager swats a bug. We still hardly see the new girl. Let’s hope they can keep a better balance this season.

Kyoko, after hitting her head.

Yuru Yuri has a story where the girls recollect a bully from their childhood, who was obviously Chitose. Not bad. Then a story where Kyoko hits her head and becomes normal, and everyone worries. Dull.

Episode dump: Croisee, Natsume, Tiger/Bunny, etc.

I should have posted this before my weekend from hell began and I got too busy (Labor Day Weekend? I wish. Weekends are my busiest time around here). Once again, while I write about these episodes, new ones appear.

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée 9, sorry, partie neuf, continues with the little tea party as the adults muse on the past and what separated Camille and Claude, as if we hadn’t figured it out. We see scenes of the kids having fun together, and then Camille begins to pull away, while Claude remains the boy he always was. She’s still a child at this point, so we can perhaps write off her standoffish behavior as a byproduct of her environment, but, taking into account that these are selected memories, it comes off as abrupt. Last week’s star, Alice, mostly stays out of sight after a humorous attempt at a Japanese tea ceremony with the ever-patient Yune. And at the end we get a cryptic conversation about why Camille wears corsets, i.e., why she allows herself to be constrained by her surroundings, what she gets in return, but while all fingers point to Claude, I’m having trouble making the connection.

Natsume Yuujinchou usually sums up each week’s episode at the end, as seen above, but I don’t know about the road it took. There’s a youkai that’s inhabiting a small rock, then various people, trying to get close to Natsume. When it does, it asks “What’s your secret?” Himoe (after kicking the damn thing out a window—nothing like a direct approach) says the thing had probably spent hundreds of years in a riverbed and is curious about things, and that it’s pretty nasty. Since the episode occurs during the school cultural festival, I thought it would look around and actually SEE what it’s been missing, but it still goes after Natsume. His secret is, of course, his abilities, which he could probably just tell the thing … Never mind. The episode is full of joyous little moments showing just how much Natsume has changed, from spooky kid to a nice one who sometimes acts a little weird and falls over a lot, sometimes off bridges into rivers, and has loads of friends who don’t care if he’s a little weird. The show is in danger of overdoing these moments, but for the time being I smile when the people (or youkai) he’s trying to protect try to protect him back.

I don't think the thumbs-up is going to work, Kotetsu.

I suspected for a couple episodes that Kaede would play a bigger role in Tiger and Bunny; you don’t give someone super powers and don’t let them use them, but I’m disappointed that she was used as a deus ex machina. I had rather hoped that Kotetsu would fix the heroes’ memories by himself. On the other hand, Kotetsu is such a great (but entertaining) doofus that it makes sense that he’d need help. And my disappointment was further assuaged by how she got those particular powers in the first place, a seemingly inconsequential scene (but scary at the time, since we couldn’t know if Maverick knew the girl at first.) from last episode. After that the episode fumbled around, trying to arrange for Kotetsu and Barnaby to get alone for their big showdown, and I had plenty of time to consider all the flaws in Maverick’s evil plan, again. All the people he missed, not taking care of Kotetsu’s family, or his former manager … sigh.

Thanks, Switch. I was actually curious about that.

Judging from the online places I look at, I think I am the only person watching SKET Dance. I wonder why that is. It’s not a bad show; it’s better than a lot of the stuff running now. Like too many comedies it can indulge in the maudlin and not easily climb out, but usually it’s fast and funny. It has quick dialogue, well-done by the voice actors, sly jokes about manga and anime, and likes to break the fourth wall (see above) if there’s a gag in it. Episode 21 was slightly different, more serious, as Switch and Reiko the occult girl go off to buy a laptop. They talk sense about their differences and appearances, and good-naturedly bicker. Reiko does get a makeover, but both agree that it’s not really “her.” There are just enough jokes (often supplied by the other team members, who are tailing them) to keep the episode from getting too normal.

Some good battle scenes, though.

No.6 continues to annoy. The episode itself was pretty interesting, what with Sion and Rat getting themselves captured to get into the correctional facility, Yoming ready to give a rebellion signal through the Internet, and Safu meeting Elyurias, but the setup’s flaws continue to distract. Yoning’s intended use of the Internet is just lazy thinking on the writers’ part, surely by that time the webs would have been superceded by something else, but then again, Yoming’s whole being is lazy, as is the idea that Karan can seemingly talk to anyone without worry of eavesdropping. Well, the whole city is a product of lazy thinking, too. How on Earth did it get that way? And is Elyurias going to be the Deux ex Machina? Hey! That’s it! I predict that Safu will prove to be one of the forest people, which is why she can meet Elyurias, and moreover, she’s Rat’s sister! Okay, maybe not, but it can’t be any worse than what the show has planned for its (I assume) final two episodes.

And finally, I can’t resist this romantic screenshot:

Nerd love.

Penguindrum 7, Natsume 8, Hanasaku 21

Through another rough work week and a head cold, I watch on …

Mawaru Penguindrum 7 continues with the sad and desperate Ringo story arc, which only gets worse, and buries us with another truckload of visual quirks that either have profound meaning or are the workings of my cold-addled head, I can’t tell anymore.

Sorry ...

But I will say I’m getting a little tired of Ringo’s story. In this episode they take her obsession and stretch it until she has only one course of action left. On the other hand, the whole thing is so much fun that I still watch, grinning, usually.

I don’t particularly like Ringo. I admired her when she punched Penguin-Himari, but that was because she was rebelling against an unfair situation, something the boys cannot do—granted, they have a compelling reason. But her obsession is liable to hurt a number of people and she doesn’t mind, because she has her own version of “fate” on her side. So I get enjoyment watching the oblivious Yuri defeat her again and again, finally through engagement to Keiju. We see this through Ringo’s POV; Shoma is just along for the ride, meekly tossing in the odd “Why don’t you give it up, already?” and undergoing her bizarre plan to create an aphrodisiac by having a toad spawn on his back. (His penguin eats the eggs; what that is THAT supposed to mean? For that matter, what was the point of taking one bite out of all the sandwiches? What is the food metaphor? I DON’T KNOW!) I can’t say I’m crazy about Shoma, either. So far all he’s done is meekly agree to whatever plan the other person has … for Himari, he tells himself, but his brother is more proactive at this. Alas, Kanda’s upcoming struggles with slingshot girl are still in a holding pattern.

All she needs is the laugh and we got Namami here.

Happily, Ringo’s POV is an imaginative one. And the show’s “real” moments aren’t exactly mundane either. We get another French Revolution drama where the character designs conjure up more Utena flashbacks. And we get another drama, this time in Ringo’s head. And killer whales. Meanwhile this week’s subway sign message is “Know when to give up.” That and the play title “The Tragedy of M,” is like the real world shouting at Ringo to just give it up, already. Well, she can’t go any farther than she does at the episode’s end, so maybe after they deal with the aftermath the show will move on.

After a two-parter with lots of plot and danger, Natsume Yuujinchou San returns to its usual pastoral ways in episode 7. And we meet up with an old friend, the Fox Kid, living on his own, learning to fight back against the bullies, hoping Natsume will show up again. And he does!


There’s little to say about the episode. The key word is time. The rock-guy tells Fox Kid that youkai, humans and beasts all live with different concepts of it, and of what one should do in life as well. We get that reinforced when we learn that Nyanko’s wounds from last week will heal quickly in youkai terms but slowly in human terms. Fox Kid finds a watch, which later breaks. Looking for Fox Kid, Natsume muses that, after all, he has a life of his own.

We can play “spot the metaphor” all we want, but its Fox Kid’s desire to meet Natsume again that carries the episode. Natsume is there on different business, and though he’d like to see Fox Kid, he has other concerns which keep them separated. I don’t remember too much about the boy from previous seasons, only that he is devoted to Natsume, which makes his disappointment and frustration sad to watch. And when they do meet it’s at a scene of danger and tragedy. This is where I don’t think the metaphor works. The watch breaks, signifying the end of Fox Kid’s relying on human time, but that suggests that it’s time he and Natsume should part ways forever. That’s not what happens. Well, Natsume does eventually leave, but there’s no indication that Fox Kid has changed his mind about him.

Mixed reactions to the marriage announcement.

I’m not sure of all the subtleties in Hanasaku Iroha 21, the relationship between wedding receptions and inheriting the inn, etc, but the main points are clear. Enishi and Takako, the two most idiotic characters in the series, are getting married. I smiled, because I knew that this would send everyone off in one tizzy or another and that we’d cheerfully jump from one to the next, with little slice-of-life asides thrown in. And that’s exactly what happens.

Minko has officially stopped making sense.

The most important tizzy involves Sui (well, she’s not the tizzying type), who is either for or against it depending on how you read her face. She is so intimidating that Takako asks out of it all before Sui breaks character and reassures her with a story of how she and her husband formed the inn in the first place. Then she throws the whammy: Enishi and Takako won’t. I can’t blame her at all, but on the other hand, who on earth is going to succeed her? Ohaha? Too young. Ohana’s mom? Yeah, right. What about Tomoe? Hmm … There’s no one in the small circle of Kissuiso staff capable of doing it. But all this can’t upstage the sillier tizzy that Minko has when she hears her beloved Tohru praising Ohana a little too much. Maybe because this one brings back Minko’s nasty sideand her insecurities, and includes a naked shower wrestling scene. As for the wedding, who knows if it will go on or not?

Ah, love.

On one side of No.6 you have the generic utopia/dystopia and its victims skulking around and within it. But now they’re playing up a weirder, mystical story involving peaceful forest people and their goddess, and a song which Rat somehow knows. Some people might find this departure from a practical adventure story a disappointment, but I am so indifferent to its poorly-executed clichés now that I find it a relief. We’re told in episode 8 (the mystical part) in dueling narratives that planners planned No.6 as a utopia, but then they turned bad. No explanation why or how. Who was responsible? Why didn’t anyone try to stop it? And, I guess, ever since then the city has been done the usual bad things, like abducting citizens, stamping out dissent, burning the aforementioned forest people out of their homes, etc. So give me some mysticism. It can’t be any worse than Sion discovering Safu was abducted by finding her coat, I mean, come on! Oh, Sion kisses Rat, and later punches him. Both welcome progressions in their little romance.

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.

Catching up with No.6

For the most part No.6 4 gives us more of the same, the same dystopia and the wretched hive of scum and villainy outside its walls. Rat is still a smug asshole. Sion is still the pure, helpless saint figure. And episode 4 gives us little more than some character background. In a show like this you look for variations, something that sets this dystopia apart from all the other ones. Often this means the characters. There are a couple I like.

The Sion/Rat dynamic is interesting once you get past their circumstances, hardened pragmatist and babe in the woods. The romantic tension between them adds a little, but not much. Rat is only interesting when he’s knocked off-balance. This happens when Sion says or does the right thing, but he manages to hide it. It’s the other characters who notice it, and are more than happy to mock him for his sudden “weakness,” also called compassion. As for the others, they’re nothing much. The journalist turned pimp, Rigika, is the character doing immoral things and getting rich for it, so we’re supposed to dislike him. On the other hand, they’re giving him screen time doing not evil things, so maybe this view will change. More interesting is the Dogkeeper. Ridiculous backstory aside, she (and the voice actress) take obvious delight in the shit around them. Things get more entertaining every time she opens her mouth. Alas, I have a hunch she’s going to get killed off by the end, but not before she does something decent and not in her nature, like using her dogs to save Sion. That’s my prediction.

So we move on to episode 5, where we catch up with Safu, and things start to get a little weird. New motivs are added which pull the series away from a simple dystopia examination. I’m of two minds about that. First, in spite of all the clichés they’d thrown at us, I was still hoping for a new angle, a fresh way of looking at this society they’d invented, and how that reflects with the one I live in. Adding a spiritual angle feels like a cop out. On the other hand, by this time I wasn’t really expecting much in the way of new angles, so why not bring in some new stuff?

We see another bee-death, to remind us that they’re still around, and also to toss us a hint. Safu’s grandmother has contact with the victim shortly before she become a dessicated corpse, and while you can say it’s a coincidence, this show can get ham-handed in its storytelling. Something’s going on there. But the weirdness really begins when we watch Rat perform Ophelia (which is weird in itself) and he spots Sion in the audience. At the same time Safu is admiring a stained-glass picture of bees, and suddenly they hear a song. Both collapse. What is going on here?

It’s clear that Sion unknowingly has something to do with it. But how? He was close by Rat when it happened, but Safu was miles away, in another city, where there’s no bee problem that I know of. But now we have some more story clues to work with. Not just the bees, but songs, and remember that Rat is able to sing to the dogs to comfort them when they’re dying, guiding their souls away, says Dogkeeper. But that still doesn’t explain Safu’s collapse, except that she’s capable of whipping up a nice poem when she needs to. And why is there a stained glass window of bees, anyway? Safu was in an art museum that has historical work (a quick Google proved fruitless). In Rat’s vision he sees a swarm talking to him, wanting to take him away. Ah, so much to consider! Let’s hope that they can innovate with the bees and songs better than they can with the dystopia.

A few episodes I watched

After three episodes of No. 6 it’s partly what I feared. It’s a not very original dystopia story with rebels who want to see it torn down. But I think the series is aware of this as well and is going to play with our expectations for a while. Rat is a complete bore, justifiably angry, perhaps, but all the bitter thoughts characters like him are supposed to make, not to mention the snarky “I don’t give a shit what happens to them” comments, along with an abrasive smugness toward Sion, who’s only trying to figure out what’s going on, because he can get away with it. But Sion’s humanistic but naïve worldview balances it out. Episode 3 introduces us to another character, and the preview promises even more. Good thing, too. If this series was all Sion and Rat there would be nothing more to see.

Sparkly girl defense.

Rou Kyuu Bu through four episodes has nothing much new to offer. I liked how Subaru coached the girls to victory: convince the tall girl with height issues that she is the small forward, and teach cute, useless little Hinata to flop! That made me smile. Nothing else much does. Give it credit that I kept watching to see who would win the boys vs. girls game, but it’s time to drop it.

At least she has the sense to be embarrassed about her transformation.

I was hoping that Rie Kugimiya’s entrance would liven up Twin Angel, and she has her moments, but with one other exception the series is dull and predictable. The other exception was the battle Misty Knight has in a men’s bath.

Claude tries writing kanji.

The people in Ikoku Meiru no Croisée have problems. Claude is struggling to keep his shop operating in a failing shopping district. There’s the problem of Yune’s kimono. But the show’s tone is so gentle, and Yune is so disgustingly cute, that it’s hard to believe anything really bad will happen to anyone. If they do, it will happen sadly and gently, and will feel bittersweet. I’m an episode behind, so I don’t know what drama will unfold when the rich girl meets Yune. Maybe things will get serious after all. … Nah.

Ohana's movie dreams are shot down.

I’m disappointed that the movie plans in Hanasaku Iroha turned out to be a scam. That is, I’m disappointed for the people at the inn. They were having so much fun! But even when the scam was revealed it was still a solid episode. We had the glaring lack of leadership shown by Erishi demonstrating the power vacuum once Madame Manager leaves, changes in his relationship with Takata, and perhaps his mother. Oh, and now they have a pool. Ohana and the other young ‘uns do nothing this time but join in the fun and observe when things go sour.

Oh, I also watched this.