The events of Nagi no Asukara 25 seems to be all about gods playing dice with the loves of adolescents and young adults.
Actually, for a while it looked like things had settled down. Hikari loves Manaka, and if Manaka could, she’d love him back. Miuna isn’t happy about this because she loves Hikari, too, but you know how that goes. Meanwhile, Chisaki loves Tsumugu and vice versa, but Chisaki has to come around to it. Kaname and Sayu are on their way to become a couple, so they’re taken care of, too. All that’s left is to get Manaka’s love-ability back, and they decide to have another boatdrift show to see if that works, because you remember how well the LAST one turned out.
During the event, among some lovely-looking scenes (I haven’t said too much about PA Works’ artwork in this series recently, believe me that the show still looks great), we get another violent sea upheaval, and Manaka goes overboard. Everyone with ena dives in to save her, except Kaname, who goes to Sayu. Miuna gets to her first, ena and thoughts are exchanged, and so it’s Miuna who winds up in that weird graveyard, because she’s expendable, I guess, and this time there’s no getting her back. So in the last episode either they’ll go down with some digging tools and REALLY piss off that sea god, or everyone will mope all episode, or someone else will offer themselves. Hey, how about Akari, the little kid. I can’t stand him anyway. Kudos to Hikari, though, for reminding Miuna before the festival that they were doing it so that maybe this ecological disaster might be averted, not to work out the love-lives of some adolescents.
Seitokai Yakuindomo is another show that’s not quite dead (okay, the finale just came out, but I haven’t watched it yet). Let’s see … It’s New Years, so they go shopping and meet Uomi, Kaede, and Hata. The third trimester begins, so Hata interviews everyone about their New Years resolutions. We get the penultimate Squid and Takatoshi episode. It’s cold. Their lunches are cold. The judo team needs a manager. It’s still cold. It’s Valentine’s day, so Dejima teaches the girls to make chocolate gifts, which they give to Takatoshi. “Todoroke Nene’s Trivia” is actually interesting, though still dirty. Takatoshi meets Uomi while shopping for White Day, and the girls, and a joke is made that has consequences later. Then it’s the final Squid and Takatoshi, and the culprit is … After the closing credits, Shino makes the Tsuda kids a bento. Then the consequence business happens. Everyone thinks Takatoshi and Uomi are dating. For real. Actual plot.
Nisekoi has lots of little plots working out from the main story. Most of the time they’re an unwanted distraction, unless they’re funny. But here in episode 12 they start right up with sort of the main story. Chitoge is going to test her key out on Raku’s locket. Since the episode was getting to the point right at the start, I forgave and actually had a mind to laugh at Chitoge’s nervous blabbing. Well, that’s not fair. I often laugh at this show, even when it does digress too far. I won’t try to analyze the symbolism of a girl’s key entering a boy’s locket, and when the key breaks, I’m not going there. But it was funny enough, forgivable because you KNEW something to delay the proceedings would happen. I’m just proud of the two kids that they got their gumption up and try the obvious, after so many episodes. After that, and an infodump by Chitoge’s dad (helping the plot along), the digressions inevitably happen, this time with the pictures from their camp on sale. It’s predicatable, but I did like how Chitoge wants a copy of just about every one. It shows how far she’s come as a social being.
With the new season starting very soon I’m tempted yet again to dump Nobunaga the Fool. I haven’t made up my mind yet, and this episode did nothing to sway me either way. Basically, they have the tea party, after what seemed like weeks of preparing for the tea party. It was livened up a little by potential mayhem by Mitsuhide’s stealth minions, but that didn’t happen this week. What did, after it became obvious to everyone watching but no one in the cast, was Ichihime agreeing to become Caesar’s bride. The fact that she agreed and wasn’t just taken makes me happy, because she’s basically unreadable as a character apart from her devotion to duty, which is her reasoning here. It will save the land and its people, etc. That might be true, but I’m waiting to see what deviousness she might concoct behind enemy lines. The only other thing worth noticing this week is Nobunaga becoming a little more humble, not a good sign in terms of bloody battling. Still on probation.
(I’m dumping what I got here because I’m off sightseeing for a couple days. Kyoto!)
Nagi no Asukara 23 has the all the usual characters limping around emotionally, in love with people who don’t appear to be in love with them, but who knows?
Nobody seems to know what’s going on. Manaka has an excuse; the asshole sea god took her ability to love away. This episode it actually seems to bother her. We get in especially in once scene where that little tyke writes her a love letter and something seems to hit her. Also, the sea gets really loud when she’s thinking in this episode. Other times she comments how she doesn’t know what love is in that “never been in love” way, to which you should be smug and say “you will,” but around her no one is sure she will, so instead we get tragic looks that she doesn’t understand.
Besides this week’s spoonful of plot, about doing another boatdrift festival, using that stone Manaka has (will she give it up?), and talk about detritus being the memories of living things, we get one interesting scene. Kaname’s been wandering around with that always-a-bridesmaid attitude he gets, and Sayu, who knows he’s in love with Chisaki, who’s in love with etc., gets sick of it, or maybe’s she’s sick of everyone in the show wandering around wondering if they’re in love, SHOULD they love somebody (Chisaki is especially annoying about that this week), or CAN they? So right then and there, at the train tracks, she confesses to Kaname. Since nothing every goes right for Sayu this is especially brave of her. And kudos for Kaname for actually thinking “Hey, she likes me. Maybe I ought to see what she’s like. It’s not like I have anything else going on…” Other characters in this show have confessed, of course, but they always make it as complicated as possible, or their would-be partner does. So I had to cheer or these two side-characters who are going to work it out. Also, nice speech, Sayu.
With Bouryaku no Zvezda 11 the worrisome thing is not that the bad guys (Zvezda) are about to lose, it’s that the real bad guys are going to win. The darkness that began to overrun this show last episode got even worse this time (I got an unpleasant chill when Jimon’s father announced the annexation of West Udogawa, thinking of the Crimea situation happening now), even while there are signs of life in Zvezda, starting with Natasha and her tears (what the hell was that about?), and Jimon’s announcement to Renge that he was going away. And Goro, lying there in the morgue, well, I don’t count him out yet. Jimon’s departure (after a sweet little scene with Renge) I take the least seriously, because he’s the most powerless. What’s he going to do? Confront his father? The man’s not even human anymore. As for Kate, judging from her reactions to her stuffed doll, I can only assume she showed up at the ceremony in order to die, maybe to be reborn somewhere else and try again. I don’t know. Every main character is acting so weirdly. Well, they always have.
After three good episodes, Space Dandy falls back into predictability in episode 12. The boys try to catch a Chameleonian, a creature who can look like anything it wants. Naturally, they bring one onboard without knowing it, naturally it imitates each of them until the boys, naturally, are beside themselves. Naturally they have to play a game to guess who the real Dandy is. An offshoot of the “evil twin” story that I first saw in Green Acres; who knows where it started. I will say that though the writing is hackneyed, the direction isn’t. The show managed to keep moving even as I was cringing from the predictable scenes. And they add a nice touch at the end, where Dandy begins to question his identity and the chameleonian forgets his. And I liked the digression they added with QT becoming a fishing nut. Too bad it came early on and they didn’t bother with it afterwards.
Damn, I wish Nonunaga the Fool would be done with Caesar, already. Smug villains bore me. As for the episode itself it wasn’t bad in terms of the story, that is to say, there’s a battle, though we know that since we see Nobunaga announcing his strategy to Mitsuhide and Hideyoshi, that it would fail in some way. Well, be fair, it didn’t. It was working to perfection when Caesar called upon a god or a dragon or something and leveled up, and now it looks like he might have won this battle. Ho hum. I suppose it was too early to get rid of him, since he lusts after Ichihime but hasn’t actually met her yet. Also, the card of the week is Death, so, in spite of DaVinci’s commentary on how that could mean the death of their robot armor if they overheat (basically a way to feed us information on the upcoming battle), we know someone’s gotta die. Turns out it was mainly peasants and small soldiers. I feel let down. The only thing it does to the main characters is give Jeanne a big guilt complex.
In the first half of Nisekoi 11 we had to watch Raku go through all the usual agonizings he usually does when he finds himself on a non-date with Onodera. The coffee shop scene was especially irritating (apart from the laughing waitress), and it looked like more of the same when Onodere, more proactive than usual, takes him to her secret place, which isn’t THAT hidden, really. We watch Raku torture himself (and us) while trying to ask a simple question about her birthday, while we knew it was a pointless question to begin with and it won’t get us anywhere. But in a flash of comic plot, he blurts out the real question: was she the friend from years ago? FINALLY, the story takes a step forward! Of course, no way could they get any further than that, like, you know, try out the key and locket. Not a chance. The gods of comedy wouldn’t allow it, and they’re too busy dithering over the implications to think about it. The second half, until the final line, is more wheel-spinning. Well, the gang learn that Chitoge’s family are mobsters, but they’re fine with that. Rather sweet moment when they find out, actually. Raku gives Chitoge the most ridiculous bday gift ever, and it made me laugh. What the hell was he thinking? And what store gives out Chitoge gorilla dolls?
Nisekoi 10 has the aftermath of the bath scene, with Chitoge possibly pissed off because Raku didn’t see her “perfect body,” though he actually did and is doing the decent thing by lying about it. Meanwhile, Raku had gotten a glimpse of Onodera’s pretty damn good body as well, and now can’t look her in the eye. The possible misunderstandings between them are cleared up by another white lie and an honest attempt to reassure. And then it’s time for a test of courage, where Chitoge winds up stuck in the woods without a flashlight. Remember, she’s afraid of the dark. The choices Raku has to make here are obvious and not very interesting apart from moving the hateful couple a little closer together. What makes this episode as fun to watch as the others is, as usual, the mind-blowing effects Shaft uses to show Raku’s elation and then terror at being paired with Onodera, especially the riff on #12, and those star-things that signified a heart-swelling moment, and the ones used to show Chitoge’s fear at being alone in the woods, including more of those heart-swelling star things when Raku finds her.
Space Dandy 11 is the third good one in a row. Two weeks ago they did a nice job of creating a strange, trippy world to look at; last week they threw two old tropes together and had fun with them. This week it comes down to the cool idea.
I suppose someone has thought and written a story about an intelligent book, but I haven’t come across it. What puts it over the top is what they do with the idea. Dandy and his pals come across the book, er, somehow, no one can remember. They find a slip of paper inside that they see as a free ticket to Lagada, a planet which is entirely a library. My librarian-sense went “Hooray!” I’m a sucker for good library stories. Meanwhile that bad guy is on the way to Lagada to challenge a returned item dispute by destroying it, but that’s really a sideshow.
They get to play with metaphors for a bit. The book is of a parasitic species which uses others’ brains to do the boring thinking, solving the mundane bits, by feeding them hints and letting the exterior intelligences work the problems out. It uses humans like humans use computers. I’m reminded of the “Language is a virus” phrase (especially with the drifting alien letters that float and flow around things), that language is a code that can affect behavior, such as the slip of paper rearranging its words to get Dandy to go to the planet in search of free food. Finally, there was the irony of the book’s reason for leaving Lagado in the first place. Fun stuff. And while I thought they could have presented it better, I’ll forgive them just for the fun of the idea, and for the excellent look (grey, black, white, like pencil scratches on paper) of Lagado.
You know, there was something I wanted to add to the paragraph above, but I can’t remember what it is now. Seriously.
Meanwhile, in Bouryaku no Zvezda 10, the shit’s hit the fan. Two of our beloved conquerors are down, maybe three. Jimon and Renge are the lam. So are Kate and Plamya. None of them have a home now, and if they’re found they’ll be shot. Most of the episode is pretty depressing, with Zvezda losing their home and source of energy, constantly running from an enemy so much worse than White Light that Renge turned against them. Unfortunately, the more capable Kaori didn’t, and she’s following the orders of the new boss, which is to kill his son, Jimon. No wonder the kid ran away. It’s sad to see them fall one by one, and the rest is bewildering. Most of all, Kate. She keeps saying these odd things, like “I didn’t want to be a little girl,” or lines about 12,000 years to Renge, and how the earth is shining like a diamond. She jumps from childlike behavior to meglomania so fast that Jimon wonders if there’s something wrong with her, I mean, more than usual. If we actually get an explanation, it will be a letdown, but we need something from the show. Three episodes left if you believe ANN, and I’m not sure I do. This felt like a penultimate episode.
Nobunaga the Fool 10 feels more ridiculous than usual. They go to Takamagahara, the only place where ships from the West Star can land, and pretty much tear it up in order to steal a war armor. Nobunaga is leading the infiltration/assault, which I cheer him for, but surely he could have left it to the subordinates. Never mind, it’s not his episode, really. It actually belongs to Hideyoshi. We figured it would when he mentions off-handedly early on that his sister died at the hands of the Oda clan (indirectly, it turns out), and later says out loud “Gee, I sure wish I had a giant robot of my own to pilot.” We also learn that his sister died of starvation because the war took all the food, and after he got over the hate he decided to stand beside Nobunaga to conquer everything so there won’t be war anymore. Also, because Nobunaga’s got intregrity. Well, Hidiyoshi’s never been the brightest of characters. Anyway, guess who winds up with the armor they steal? Oh, and if Nobunaga shows weakness, Hidoyoshi will strike him down. This is said many times this episode, by both men, usually with grins on their faces.
Unfortunately, in Nobunaga the Fool 9, Caesar isn’t dead. I guess I shouldn’t have expected him to be, but smirking bishie villains drive me up the wall. Now he’s teamed up with Uesugi Kenshin, another clan overload, and a bishie himself, but doesn’t smirk and actually seems to be a decent sort; he’s got this power to open up the earth and make mecha fall into it, and with that power you’d think he’d have gone for conquest already, but he hasn’t. But after this new threat is explained to us and news gets out nothing much happens. Nobunaga’s aides were reluctantly accepting Nobunaga as their new boss, but now they have a new reason to doubt him. People are doubting a lot of things in this episode, or searching for answers, from Jeanne to Mitsuhide to even Ichihime, who now obviously has Mitsuhide as her goal. More guilt for the guy. Nobunaga goes about rallying support through speeches through loudspeakers. At least one character in this series isn’t doubting anything. He’s got too big an ego for that.
A split story in Nobunagun 10. The first half is Granny’s story about how she got to be the leader of Dogoo in the first place, which requires grabbing a gene here and then through time and going back into hibernation, until she gets sick of that (I couldn’t make out the reason), only to return when she’s an old lady. Fine and dandy, but if Dogoo is such a sophisticated, advanced and timeless organization, why didn’t they go out and destroy the damn meteor before it ever landed on Earth? They had hundreds of years to do just that. The second half of the story involves that damn “battleship” thing guarding the tunnel, and Sio’s gene-inspired insight that tells her (and Dogoo) what the aliens are really plotting. I think it’s more interesting for the way Jack treats her nowadays. He’s as unpleasant as ever, however, he’s realized that Sio’s a visionary warrior and is the first one of that dysfunctional organization to call for her advice. And when she manages to get her opinion heard, he’s grinning. Must be their egenes, both bloodthirsty types.
Kill la Kill 22 rescues this post by giving us twenty-four minutes full of … what was the word again?
Okay, it wasn’t really incomprehensible. It was a mostly straightforward episode where the two opposing sides bond a little, take care of some minor things, and plan their strategy for the final two episodes. And there’s a complication right at the end, but Mako’s on the job! No worries there. In terms of incomprehensible bits, the only one that made me scratch my head was Mako’s dramatic reappearance from the sky, in that white box. Was she gone? When? What’s that box supposed to be? But it’s swept away by her appearance in what I think is her cutest outfit. Kill la Kill has a tendency to make your qualms about this or that plot point vanish by showing you something amazing.
Besides, who cares? I can barely remember what the Life Fibers’ ultimate plan entails, something about covering the Earth. All I know is that the four devas, Nudist Beach, and Mako have to destroy a transmitter and there’s a huge men’s suit blocking them, meanwhile Ryuuko and Satsuki are off to stop Ragyo. Both will involve a lot of fighting and shouting and will be great to watch. The fact that Ragyo’s their mom, and that they’re sisters, well, they do get a mention, but only in superficial, comic terms, and to allow us to see Ryuuko get all tsundere with Satsuki. Of the other personal things the most important was getting Ryuuko and Satsuki on the same page, involving a slugging contest that wasn’t, and the consideration of the disorderly “incomprehensible fools” who not only keep Ryuuko going, but Satsuki. But after the satisfying and rather gross defeat of Nui early in the episode, we didn’t have a lot of fighting. I believe the next two episodes will more than make up for that.
Nobunaga the Fool 8 again removes any hope of serious intrigue by rushing through the story. We have Caesar, with the loyalty of Takeda behind him and lusting after Ichihime, settling in, all ready for some intrigue (at least he’s plotting things), but Nobunaga decides to go ahead and attack and ruin his fun. There’s a fake castle they “build” using a DaVinci projector to distract the rest of the army, and we have another big robot fight as the centerpiece. Jeanne intervenes and screws up a prphecy, and Caesar gets … well, hard to say, since he sort of fades to white after Nobunaga comes up with another Regalia power (wind). If he’s dead I have no idea where the story goes from here, and it would be a story arc far too short for the stature of both him and Nobunaga, so I’ll assume for now he’s alive. Either way, Nobunaga rises in power and stature again. Who’s going to stop him, unless they’re actually going to resume with the intrigue and have some aides plotting his death, or something? I’d enjoy that.
And Nobunagun gets even sillier than it was before. First, we get no conclusion to that bit with Sio drowning. She just wakes up in a hospital in Japan, with no explanation as to why she was transported halfway across the world when all she had was a head abrasion and a sprained ankle, except so she can meet Asao, I guess. Naturally, more beasties attack and no one’s around to fight them. Sio would, except they took her AU ball away for … safekeeping (seriously, what’s up with this organization?), and she’s got a bum ankle that conveniently gives her a dose of pain whenever she moves to do something helpful. Asao bravely tries to lure one monster away from the others, but it’s basically a suicide mission and everyone knows it. It’s actually a nicely set-up dire moment if you ignore the idea that it shouldn’t be happening in the first place, and I wondered how they’d get out of it. Here’s how: with no gun to conjure, Sio fires a deadly ray WITH HER FINGER! … And so, a silly show becomes even sillier. I should have known.
Seitokai Yakuindomo 9 … Takatoshi’s not eating a good breakfast, and has a bag for one onigiri. The weekly pronouncement. The SC helps Ranko get out the latest issue of the school newspaper, where they discover and reveal Daimon and Michishita’s engagement (remember the field trip? Of course not). Congrats! The strange young woman in the clubroom turns out to be former SC president Furuya-senpai. There’s much catching up and everyone discovers she’s very old-fashioned about some things, but not all. Everyone goes to her college festival and has a good time. Then we learn that Uomi’s uncle and Takatoshi’s aunt are getting married (lot of marriage talk this week), so now he and Kotoba have to call her onee-chan. Shino and Suzu are clearly jealous. And we finish with Aria’s “What’s This?” corner, where Takatoshi and Suzu are driven to scream their lines. And there you go.
Nobunagun 8 has Sio and her guys joining up with another bunch of guys to fight what they’re calling a battleship, though it looks like a giant octopus to me. No wait, only two tentacles, so would that be a bipus? Whatever it is, the first platoon has to take out one tentacle, our guys the other one. Good thing too, since the two platoons don’t get along at all, as they make clear early in the episode, the middle of the episode, and up to the end. But they’re (almost) united by their mutual, growing hate for Vidocq, who orders sweet little Galileo to take in key information until it nearly kills her from the feedback, then says he’s too busy to visit her in sickbay. The poor thing’s got a crush on him, too. I frankly don’t care too much about that; the show’s at its strongest when Sio channels Oda and gets that evil grin on her face, and while that doesn’t quite happen, she has a moment of battle insight that saves just about everyone, including that old lady who runs things and came out to take direct command for no reason I can see except she needed to be put in danger for the plot. As for Sio, her heroic moment now has her sinking, unconscious, in the water, and nobody seems to have noticed. I’m beginning to have my doubts about this organization.
I would talk about the great intrigue found in our other Nobunaga show this season, Nobunaga the Fool, but it’s pretty straightforward and naive. We have Mitsu doing nefarious things like killing Nobunaga’s brother while still devoutly obeying the fool himself, in fact, the murder was out of loyalty. On the other side we have Caesar supposedly working with the Takeda clan while actually planning his own conquest of the land, or maybe just Ichihime. Both of them are fooling a lot of people, but it’s just a single level of deception. There are no wheels within wheels going on here. As for the actual story this week, we get a lot of mourning for Nobukatsu, though it looks like Ichihime will pull through. I liked her better anyway. I was surprised that the big fight (okay, the second) between Nobunaga and Shingen had such a decisive ending. Still, it was fun. They even had some time during locked-sword time to talk (“Sorry about your dad.” “Shit happens.”). I enjoyed Shingen’s honest bloodlust and sense of honor, so it’s a drag to see him go and die and have that smirking Caesar take over.
Seitokai Yakuindomo Huh 8 starts with all the events of summer you’ll ever find in anime apart from the ghost stories. The SC is off scouting beach locations for the school trip, but it seems like more of an excuse to have a beach episode to me. Shocking. Anyway, Takatoshi takes a group photo, we have our weekly rule announcement, more beach activities, then night falls, so there’s test of courage (scouting) and the inevitable local festival with fireworks. When they get back home they do their summer homework together, except for the bored Suzu, and Kotomi, who ran away. Shino tells the dozing Takatoshi that she’ll be giving him morning calls from now on, and believe it or not, the punchline is not dirty. Then the latest of the riveting drama corner “Takatoshi and Dried Squid: Max Power!” And finally, it’s too hot to sleep so Shino calls her friends. Oh, and Takatoshi has a photoshopped photo of Takatoshi that’s making the rounds. It felt tamer than the usual episode, or I’m not getting the jokes.
Space Dandy 6 wasn’t bad, but again completely predictable. You knew that Dandy and Meow would manage to talk the two aliens to the bargaining table, and you knew the two aliens would find an excuse to fight there. The fact that this all could be avoided if Dandy or Meow had a lick of sense and maybe had spare garments prepared was annoying, but their lack of sense happens every week. I shouldn’t be complaining that a silly SF concept has silly characters, but the creators could be smarter about it. The show’s good ideas are being wasted. For instance, we had the aliens killing each other, first with ray guns, and then when those died out, with bigger and bigger rocks, to a sort of logical end for not only them but their respective races. But that good scene came after a painfully dull bit where they try on each others clothes. And all the good bits can’t make up for the episode’s biggest problem: the rival aliens both had to say more or less the same thing to their respective captives/buddies, meaning we had to hear the same information twice, over and over, through the entire episode. Even predictable business can be saved if they add something fresh to it, but it rarely happens. The surfing bit at the end was pleasant, but by then I was past caring.
I had heard that Nobunaga the Fool 6 was a bad episode. I wouldn’t go that far. It did have a lot of people grumbling in it, perhaps too much, since everyone had to state their opinions about what an ass Nobunagais, or make nefarious plans concerning his downfall, with at least two different people in different conversations. And it leads to Jeanne going off in a huff only to stop and watch the fool half naked, screaming under a waterfall, before the assassin showed up and killed the character I most enjoy watching in the series, and it isn’t Nobunaga. Meanwhile, down goes Nobukatsu at the same time, but the bigger shock was who was doing it and why. Poor kid. Well, “Why can’t we be friends” doesn’t seem like the most practical mindset for a ruler in that place. So, apart from the guns going off, it was a subdued, no, dull episode where little happened. At least we got a murder or two to liven things up. Trouble is, that means more funerals next week.
While Space Dandy isn’t living up to the hype, and with the luster coming off of Nobunaga the Fool, I wonder why it is that I enjoy Bouraku no Zvezda as much as I do. This week’s episode, where our evil heroes try to discover the identity of White Robin (win a medal!), had some of possibly predictable scenes of its own, but somehow the show manages to sneak out of it with a clever or unexpected twist. What does Jimon do when about to be discovered in the girls’ locker room? Put on his evil minion suit, or course! It also helps that both Zvezda and White Light are organizations that not only screw up a lot but often succeed as well. I’m constantly kept off-balance by what they might try to do next, like in this episode, Jimon just happening to lead White Robin into a trap (okay, questionable plotting, but in this series they can get away with it). And, I suppose, the show’s oddness, that little girl running such an organization, hasn’t grown stale on me yet.