Penguindrum 17, Chihayafuru 5, goodbye Mashiro-Iro Symphony (finally)

Mawaru Penguindrum 17 was, compared to some of the other episodes, fairly normal. But there are the usual portents such as the fact that Himari is feeling better much too early in the episode, Sanetoshi having a cryptic solo conversation about the nature of truth while grooming his bunny (not a eumphimism), and a later conversation between Yuri and Keiju that given extra weight by the LACK of anything else, no music, no penguins vs. octopuses, just Keiju sensibly telling Yuri that the sins of the father cannot be passed down, etc, while Yuri mutters about how sensible he is. Hoo, boy. Should have seen it coming.

Normalcy.

It looked for a while like the pressure was off Himari. While she still does the penguin thing (and has another suggestive scene with Kanba–apparently he can still protect her), she was almost ready to be discharged. While they have not yet gotten her the penguindrum (and it’s obvious by this point that she doesn’t know what that is, either), the diary is no longer the issue. Let Masako and Yuri fight over it. Ringo, too looked to have a peaceful future. Maybe their family is cursed after all. All of a sudden, for reasons I don’t understand, Yuri decides to take revenge on Himari–perhaps it had been Shouma at one point, but Ringo has a crush on him, so he’s off limits(?). So it’s a relief when Masako shows up, Clint Eastwood style (gosh!), for another of their battles using strange imagery, gatlin guns vs gatlin bows, red petals vs white, arguing purity vs experience. Phew! Himari’s off the hook for once. Now, just get her back to the hospital and …

Oh, shit ...

As I said: should have seen it coming. Keiju is the only non-family member in the show who has always sensible and compassionate. Early in the series he was a bit of a victim, too. It’s always the quiet guys, or it was his time to turn, or they ran out of characters to do crazy stuff with. All I know is that Keiju as a threat is somehow scarier than any of the other characters, because he HAS been so sensible, and no one saw it coming.

Unless he’s got something else in mind. Wouldn’t put it above this show.

Unlike Penguindrum, where you have no idea what’s going to happen next, I predicted pretty much everything that would happen in Chihayafuru 5. In fact, I was a little disappointed in the show that Arata’s reasons for quitting Karuta was so predictable. Arata’s grandfather, a god of the game, died, and he hasn’t been able to touch a card since. We knew that last week without having to be told. But in this show, mood and character are as important as story. We may have guessed the events, but it’s their unveiling, and their impressions on Chihaya that are the important thing. Chihaya is a beautiful, young girl full of emotions and care for her friends, and she missed Arata terribly. And her reactions are what you’d expect, i.e., she cries a lot and a lot of leaves and petals fall around her. What makes her different from other manga/anime girls of this type is she is also a doofus, running with excitement when there’s no reason, collapsing on the train floor, writing little notes for her upcoming conversation (not used, but when Arata stumbles across them it’s the thing that possibly reminds him of the endearing girl that was his best friend once), yanking Arata off his bike, and so on. Taichi goes from protector to jealous suitor to asshole, sometimes combining the traits. As for Arata, since we know what he’s about right now, he’s the dullest. That’ll change once he gets back in the game. Meanwhile the aforementioned leaves and petals fall or float by and the orchestral score plays on, though it’s getting a bit repetitive. Now it’s on to form the club, and meet the archer-girl looking at the poster. As good as the main characters are, it’s about time we met some new ones.

About the only decent part in the episode.

Finally I say goodbye to Mashiro-Iro Symphony. I was two episodes behind, I got to see the whole “Sena’s secret” thing play out, and it was even duller than I expected. She’s poor (but by her own choice. She could go back to being rich at any time, I imagine). When they all learn about it and are stil nice to her, she immediately drops most of her tsundere-ity and becomes another boring-as-hell character. The episode is like this. People are nice to her, she is shocked and fights back tears, over and over again. The scene pictured above, with a girl I forget the name of, was the only part of the episode I enjoyed. At least she had an emotion beyond happy and teary. Ack, goodbye.

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I try to catch up, I fail, I break a laptop. Episode dump.

How can anyone expect me to catch up if my laptop dies one me? … Oh, that’s right. No one does. Luckily, I never save anything too important on it, and I had a backup of Mawaru Penguin 16 on the desktop. But all my screenshots are gone. The gods of computers, at least the faction that hates me, or maybe it’s the god of blogs, must have known that I’m far too lazy to go back and get more. So no screenshots for Mawaru Penguindrum this week.

As for the episode, Penguindrum 16 was going along just fine. I was enjoying the episode as usual, taking in the visual marvels, watching Masako’s flashbacks, the repeated dreams of killing her grandfather, the maid in the clutches of Penguin-Himari, the odd fight between Himari and Kanba, Ringo happily taking on her new role as Shouma’s stalker (being decent enough to tell him), when the episode began to get a little weird. I could handle the thought of Mario being possessed by the Grandfather, even the blowfish-eating duel he offers. What confused me was I wasn’t sure when this was happening. Before or after she started going after Kanba, i.e., is this present day, a flashback, or a flashback that occurs after the other flashbacks? It doesn’t help that we still don’t know much about Kanba and Masako’s relationship, only that they were friends as kids. What about all the MiB, and that line about how they’ll use Kanba like they did her father? And so the series throws up yet another plate to juggle. It’s amazing that so far it hasn’t dropped a single one yet.

To make up for the lack of screenshots for a visually-rich show like Penguindrum, I will give you THREE of a normal high school harem series with nothing striking visually about it. Because Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai 4 brings us three new characters.

'Wagh!'

Okay, apart from her first line (“Wagh!), which made me burst out laughing, Maria is your usual ten year-old nun loli. Also their advisor, and easily manipulated to the point that even Sena is taken aback. After we get a taste of Maria she gets shoved aside and we meet the next one.

I’m not sure how much Yukimura can bring. He either has the Hideyoshi thing going for him to the point that boys in his class avoid him in the changing room or maybe he is indeed a girl who thinks she is a boy, which is more twisted because in that case something’s actually WRONG with him. But what else can he contribute except for this gag? Yozora is working on it already. Already she’s got him wearing a maid costume. We move on to #3:

Rika has potential. Unlike the others, she is outgoing (Yozora wonders why she needs to join a friendship club) and can drive some of the scenes herself, unlike the other newbies who, to a greater extent, need help from others. First thing she does is cause a small explosion in the lab–good start. While thanking Kodaka later for “rescuing” her she goes off on a dirty tangent. Then there’s that hair scene (with two lol moments in it, at least for me), and of course the dirty book business which was great until they pushed it too far. You never really know how Rika’s going to respond to anything.

So that’s five weird characters in this show who are fun to watch, sorry, six. I forgot about Kobato. Judging from the previews I think we’ll see a lot of her next week.

With one thing after another going on around here I have decided I need to simplify my entire watching and viewing practice. I will watch fewer shows an write on even fewer than that. So after watching episode 4 I have decided to drop Mirai Nikki. It’s not that I dislike it. This show is a lot better than most of the things running now. It’s partly because suspense and horror are not my favorite genres, so a show has to have something beyond that to keep me watching shows like that. Also, though this was another good episode, some flaws are beginning to show. Too many diary holders are showing up now, each with their own agenda, and it gets wearing. When that guy who captured the ninth does his silly act near the end I could not believe this was the same formidable person we met last week. Yuno’s crazy act is getting a little stale, even if she’s some kind of inspired-crazy as ninth insists. Show is becoming routine. If you ask me why I’m dropping this while still watching iDOLM@STER, well, maybe I’m crazier than Yuno. So good luck, Yuukii! Don’t turn your back on the crazy chick! Er, any of them!

As for iDOLM@STER, episode 17 is a disappointment considering it features Makoto. We get the whole “I want to be a princess, that’s why I became an idol” thing, and the producer, after some harrowing amusement park rides and a run-in with some thugs, tells her she’s doing what an idol does by letting the girl fans be treated as princesses. Just as expected, but nothing more. First, I wanted to see her rough up those thugs, because we know she could. Roughing up Jupiter or their boss would have been nice, too. We’re still waiting for Jupiter to make their face turn, but I guess it’s too soon to expect that. Nah, we don’t really get much of what makes Makoto one of the best characters in the show: she CAN act like a man. More than the producer, but that’s not saying much.

Penguindrum 15, UN-GO 2, Working’!! 3

Mawaru Penguindrum 15 explains something we’ve all been wondering in the context of Yuri’s sad life and current passions.

Apart from her bandages Yuri’s physical abuse is never shown. This being Penguindrum, it’s suggested in symbolic fashion using a ridiculous, huge David tower, sculptor’s chisels, and especially the chink-chink-chink sound they make (which the show exploits during Masako’s wounding speech prior to her attack). But there is more than enough violence in her father’s words to damage Yuri, or any small child. Is it enough to justify what she is doing to Ringo now? Of course not; it makes her actions understandable, is all. Oddly, Ringo is awake and telling Shouma over the phone that she’s freeing herself, or something, all of which sounds like a suicide message. It’s possible she’s still drugged. One more observation about the show in general: it turns out Shouma is at the same inn, and is RIGHT NEXT DOOR to Yuri and Ringo. Were this most other shows it would be the most ridiculous coincidence possible. But since this is Penguindrum we (or I do, anyway) just shrug it off. The show goes by its own logic. Besides, maybe Sanetoshi was behind Shouma’s friend winning the raffle.

We get a sweet moment where Himari sees her friends turned idols wearing the scarves she made for them on TV. They call her a “dear friend,” yet it’s a little scary that Sanetoshi was behind it. Is he behind everything? Probably. But most of the episode is about Yuri, befriended by Momoka (finally we see her!) and brainwashed and abused by her sick father. Momoka is a little too good to be true as she reaches out to Yuri even though she has no reason to, explaining that everything is beautiful. But I guess that’s why so many people are mourning her death. But she’s a little sinister, too. She calmly explains her diary’s powers to transfer lines of fate and that she can get rid of that tower (replacing it with a landmark that should leave a few heads spinning) and all the helicopters waving around it like she was saving another rabbit. The fact that she endures great pain to do so suggests we’re not dealing with a sane mind.

Back in the present day we get Masako’s attack on Yuri for the other half of the diary–naturally, since it’s at a hot springs inn, it involves ping-pong–and then, oddest of all, the fact that Yuri put Ringo (back in her robes) side by side with Shouma, as if his appearance had made her change her mind, that maybe Ringo was better off with her “Prince Charming.” AND she admits to Shouma that she was the one who stole Ringo’s half of the diary. Why tell him? What game is she playing now? I guess we’ll find out eventually.

I’m not going to say a lot about UN-GO 2, except that it’s clever, fast-paced, and bizarre, as episode one was. It goes by in a second; it’s like a blur. Maybe not the best thing for a detective show with murder mysteries. I’m busy trying to figure out a bit of information while they’re speeding past a second or a third. I was never very good with murder mysteries, anyway. But I love the show’s sense of style along with its speed. I’m having fun trying to figure out what Inga is all about, and Kaishuu, even while I stumble of Yuuki’s ramblings over, in this episode, breakability. Also interesting is the world they live in, a post-war Japan full of ruins where no one seems to be suffering, at least badly, and the police state the country’s become, thanks to such cheerful and real-world sounding legislation like “The internet Privacy and Protection Act.” On the other hand, I wonder if the show gives too much credit to the suppressors. Can you tell me that there is no possible way for Yonaga recordings to get distributed? That they can shut down downloads all over Japan just like that? What about encrypted files? What about torrents, the way through most of us get to watch this show in the first place? The show’s opinion on who controls technology is a tad naive. But no matter.

Izumi meets Inami.

At leaast with Working’!! I don’t have to think too much, or scribble endless notes like the other two shows here. Well, except that I can never get the sisters’ names straight. What little plot the episode has concerns Izumi, the gothy author sister, and her belief that she will be ignored if her beloved brother gets a girlfriend. She sees Popura in a photo and assumes her brother’s a pedophile. She will rescue him from pedophilia! And that way, she won’t lose him! If she has the energy. Ironically, she meets the real possible girlfriend, Inami, and takes a liking to her. Once again the show uses half-knowledge as a basis for laughs, that and excellent comic timing. The other highlight concerns Nazuna volunteering at the restaurant, and doing a better job than Yamada.

Yamada's cute when she's evil.

Naturally, Yamada’s plans come to naught. It’s always fun when Takanashi’s sisters tag along.

Penguindrum 14, Boku wa Tomodachi 2, and more

Mawaru Penguindrum is getting a little disturbing. Its world of fate and victims grows more insular. Is there any character in this show that isn’t connected to that wheel of fate of theirs?

In episode 14 we learn a lot about Yuri, we see her dump her lover from her theatre company and speed off in her fabulous red car, talking about haves and have nots until a memory of her One True Love (not Keiju) stops her. Interesting. Who is this person? It should have been obvious. And when the episode is not about Yuri it’s about Ringo. Well, Kanba gets a scene with slingshot girl (how easily he takes her down, too). But HIS mysteries are again left for a later explanation. His scene with Sanetoshi is more disturbing with his talk about the market managing the lives of children and dividing them into salvagable and unsalvagable. What do you have to do go from the latter to the former? What do Kanba and Shouma and Himari have to do? And Himari makes scarves for her idol friends and then throws them away, and they are reclaimed by Sanetoshi, himself fabulous. While my mind races around trying to figure out the significance.

But no, the episode really belongs to Ringo, even though she doesn’t do anything. Things happen to her. All of them bad. First we get Shouma rejecting her for a stupid reason: he feels he can never make up to her the fact that his parents killed her sister. How that justifies him treating her like a girlfriend he caught cheating, I have no idea. It was a callous and wrongheaded thing to do. None of them are responsible for what happened before. I’m hoping this show will make that an issue later on, but for right now it turns former instigator Ringo into a victim, and while instigator Ringo got tiresome, victim Ringo is fresh enough that I don’t yet mind.

It gets worse. Yuri grabs her and speeds her away in her fabulous red car for a fabulous max night at a hot springs inn. If it wasn’t for the darker side we’d seen of Yuri before, we’d think that this is just what Ringo needed. As it is, we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, or rather, the drug to drop into Ringo’s drink. Yep, turns out Yuri’s lost love was Momoka, and in a moment of twisted irony, after Ringo had spent episodes trying to become her dead sister and resigning herself to the fact that she isn’t, now Yuri is treating her like she is, by drugging her and presumably, raping her. No matter how she behaved in the past, Ringo didn’t deserve that, hell, no one does. And you wonder if this is another indication of how the unsalvagable, the people on the unfortunate side of this two-tiered system the show imagines, gets treated by the fortunate. But if there is this wheel of fate going on, it should keep turning, and eventually bite Yuri on the ass. I’m looking forward to that.

The iDOLM@STER 15 goes from nefarious rival idol organizations to nefarious robots and other things in a completely silly and useless episode that I enjoyed quite a bit.

It’s some daytime variety show thing, and all the girls are helping out. It’s a nice idea and it allows every one of them to show their strengths and eccentricities. The only thing remotely serious (apart from the fear that the girls as a whole will screw up) is Chihaya’s inability to loosen up and have fun, something we’ve heard before. It’s well handled, though, as in the end just about everything sets her off into helpless giggles (or something: she hides her face). Elsewhere, Takane’s “Ramen expedition” was a highlight, along with Makoto’s makeover, which only succeeds with the audience when she dresses in drag. On the other hand, I don’t know where Hibiki’s bit was going, and Yayoi, Azusa, and Lori were stuck with kindergarteners.

Maken-Ke! 2 brings us some more info on the mysterious maken power that all the students have. Takeru has an unidentifiable type, so naturally the plot will go that route. Not that I really care. What I want to know is what is with the fanboys’ obsession over panties and boobs? Half the episode is about showing girls flashing their panties, and their boobs are so unnaturally large that I wonder how they can stand up straight. I know we see this in anime all the time, but watching this show drives it home that I just don’t understand the obsession. And because the show is more interested in THAT than in telling the story, it’s dropped.

Yeah, never mind about Miho's problems ...

Bakuman II 2 continues the straightforward story. Really, everything about this show is about the boys’ rise as professional manga artists. Everything else is just a series of bumps along the way. In this episode the bump is Miho getting an offer to do a photobook with the threat that if she doesn’t, her career as a voice actress might be in danger. Serious stuff. But the show wraps it around how it will affect Saikou. Yes, there is the problem that the barriers the two future lovers have set up keep them from communicating, or in this case, make it too easy NOT to communicate when you should, but more central to everyone else is, is this crisis distracting Saikou from his manga work? Yes, he and Miho do finally talk, but more important is that they made their deadline.

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai 2 doesn’t introduce any new characters, even though the OP and ED are full of them. Instead, we get the friends club’s first attempt to build trust and teamwork, through gaming. Like last week, Yozora and Sena’s bad temperments spice things up. For the second week in a row, I found myself giggling helplessly–when they try playing Monster Hunter, and the girls realize that they can kill each other.

After that they try a dating sim where they react to 2D girls being 2D girls the way any overly cynical person would, which bites them later when they discover one they DO like. Here we see a little difference between Sena and Yozora. The former is heartbroken while the latter goes out the door (the real door) to get revenge. Kodaka, sadly, does nothing but follow along again. It looks like he’s destined to be the straight man of the group and little more. Still, the episode has fun playing with the game worlds, and it’s refreshing to have two female characters who are unpleasant to be around but not (as yet) tsundere.

Penguindrum 13, iDOLM@STER 14, SKET Dance 27

After a few days of watching new shows go through their paces (and usually falling down), it’s a relief to get back to some shows good, or at least decent enough that I haven’t dropped them already.

Mawaru Penguindrum 13 has a few moments of plot but mainly has the characters sitting around thinking and talking.

The big plot point is, of course, Himari’s latest resurrection, this one at the hands of Sanetoshi. It wasn’t hard to figure out this would happen after his dramatic appearance at the end of last episode (besides, did you really think the show was going to do away with Himari?). This could have taken just a moment, but there are negotiations to undergo first (and probably more plot is inserted because we don’t know exactly what Sanetoshi’s price for saving Himari is, only that Kanba is willing to pay anything). Not to mention that we’ve already had a reprise of Shouma’s “I hate fate” speech. But the question of payment, the repercussions hinted at, will wait for another episode.

Instead, interjected with little plot points, like Sanetoshi’s call to Juri, we get a lot of flashbacks and discussions. Shouma goes on at length about what happened sixteen years ago. The events aren’t surprising, the kids are taken away and slowly learn what their parents had done. Neither are their reactions (well, Himari, the innocent little lamb, sleeps through much of it). What’s more interesting is Shouma’s belief in the present day: all this is happening to them because of their parents. They are cursed. It makes you wonder if the curse is part of fate as well. Sanetoshi, meanwhile, wonders if fate is actually set in stone. He tells us a story about a girl that I can’t fit into the show’s master plan yet, but which suggests that he is searching for someone, and that he is more than willing to test the validity of fate. And, in maybe the happiest moment of the show, Ringo and Teiju talk about everything. It appears she has gotten over her obsession, but, on the other hand, she is still a firm believer in fate, that everything happens for a reason. That will be no comfort to the boys. They claim that they will never amount to anything. Maybe that’s their fate, but that doesn’t mean they like it. And Kanba, at least, wants to fight it.

Back to iDOLM@STER. Last week felt like a finale, but since it isn’t, they have to add some lows, that is, after ten minutes of highs. Watching all the shots of the girls getting more successful I was just waiting for other shoe to drop. Unfortunately, it’s a rather contrived obstacle. The president of 961 Pro has declared war on 765 Pro (what is it with these numbers?) and had a pop magazine switch covers on them to promote their own group, some noir trio called Jupiter. Naturally, Jupiter is first shown as snotty and aloof, but in what will probably be the key to the story arc, they don’t really like their boss Kuroi’s tactics. As for the 765 girls, they do the adolescent moodswing thing, disappointed, then angry, then read their fan mail and get bubbly again. Nothing much to the episode, but the fruit costumes the girls wear for a shoot are pretty funny.

SKET Dance 27 isn’t bad. We get a new teacher who’s an adorable klutz, and then Switch shows off his failed inventions. None of them are particularly funny on their own, but when you start piling one on top of another there are some laughs involved. Especially the ramen-cooling head.

Penguindrum 12

Mawaru Penguindrum has been going on with its penguins, survival strategies, torn diaries and such for quite some time, and the more I watched the more it seemed to make sense. We can’t have that, can we? So along with the sadness of episode 12 we get a fresh fairy tale to work into the mix.

'The Dark Bunnies' will be the name of my next, well, you know.

I joke, but was a sad episode to watch. We are told early on that Himari would die again, and after we get more history from Shouma that is exactly what we get, with the usual strange imagery. But back to Shouma and Ringo. We learn that not only did Ringo’s beloved older sister die in the sarin gas attack, but that Shouma’s father was responsible. This is shocking news, but it shouldn’t change much, should it? Shouma says “My family” was responsible, technically true, but Shouma himself can’t be blamed. He was too busy being born. The show is ambigious about whether Shouma’s birth was the trigger for his father to go into murderous action or not, but either way, you can’t blame Shouma. So this revelation in the subway car isn’t really a plot-changer. For that, you have to wait a few seconds.

We’ve been waiting for the death part to show up, and it does when Penguin-Himari announced that Shouma et. al., had lost the Penguindrum. They must find it (and they STILL aren’t sure what it is) in order to save Himari, escape fate and “stop them.” Who is “them?” Natsume/Ringo? Sanetoshi? The type of people who release poison gas in subways? And what was that about dark bunnies appearing? The next thing you know they’re back in the ER, where Kanba tries to give more of his, er, life force, I guess, and Penguin-Himari refusing it, while Shouma babbles a fairy tale.

Why is Mary a guy?

So now we have a new batch of imagery to play with. Mary (Mario?) wants to spin the lambs’ wool into thread, like the string of fate, perhaps. We’ve also got an apple(!) tree dying, dark bunnies(!) who give Mary dubious advice, an angry goddess who kills the youngest lamb (Himari). I haven’t spotted anything in Penguindrum’s real world resembling a torch (maybe the life-force image we see in the Kanba-Himari scene), or ashes from it … Meanwhile, Kanba desperately tries to save Himari using the same bizarre technique used in ep1. A fairy tale on one side, a quasi-erotic death scene on the other. Meanwhile, Himari dies. I’m not convinced that this is the last we’ll see of her, but the scene plays it as a straight, tragic death, to the point of Penguin #2 fading into nothingness.

Presenting Sanetoshi and the Dark Bunnies!

And then, I’m guessing, Sanetoshi ushers in the next real story arc. His appearance there was a startling break of mood. Instead of grieving with the boys we’re wondering what the pink-haired bishie is up to. We can only guess what’s in those cases his dark bunny assistants are carrying in, or what side he’s on. Since he’s closely connected to fate, and since so many of the characters hate fate and are trying to escape theirs, it’s probable that he’s an enemy. Since so many of the characters hate fate and are trying to escape theirs. We’ll find out next week. Or not.

Penguindrum 11

Mawaru Penguindrum 11 pays attention to Ringo again, which didn’t make me very happy, but this time unexpected things happen, most of them weird, which is fine with me.

But first we get some answers from LAST week’s weirdness. First, that wasn’t Himari in the penguin hat last week; I should have looked closer. The fact that she’s called Mario should have told me so, but I was overthinking it. Himari must have a codename when she deals with Natsume, right? And the close-cropped hair? Okay, I’m an idiot. We don’t learn anything about Mario, except that Natsume is trying to keep her alive the same way Shouma and Kanba are trying to keep Himari alive. That’s why she needs the diary. How that mixes in with Natsume’s declaration that she is the hunter and Kanba the prey, with a penguins on a cliff metaphor, and why she erased those girls’ memories, is anyone’s guess. She’s after more than the diary of fate. I was mulling this over when she tosses off a line about the curse from sixteen years ago. I almost didn’t notice.

After that it’s back to, sigh, Ringo. The show had spent too much time with her stalking and my heart sank a little when I saw it was coming back to that. After a subway scene (I didn’t catch the message on the sign this week, something about a guy getting flattened by two girls) where she slaps Shouma around for worrying her silly, and Shouma saying he won’t help her stalk any more, we get her latest attempt. We’ve already seen one frog ritual, do we need another, amusing as it was (a sixteen year-old frog. Hmmm)? But the show tosses a curveball at us by having her magic potion actually work, turning Keiju into an ugly version of a lover that’s a reflection of Ringo’s own obsessions. That was surprising. So was Yuri’s sudden appearance and non-reaction to events. She seems used to it, like someone’s turning Keiju into one of those every other week, or she knows something about frogs.

Yuri’s suggestion that Ringo was in love with Shouma, though hinted at before, put what Ringo does in a new light. In her second beating of Shouma we see that Yuri was correct, and that Ringo is furious about it, because Shouma thus interferes with her master plan of becoming her sister. Then we get to the rest. I had forgotten that the Super-Frog story from two episodes ago was from an anthology about the Kobe earthquake, and it took some prodding from other bloggers to remind me that that was the same year as the sarin gas attack. Now I know what the “95” in the OP is all about. It makes me worry, considering all the time the characters spend in subways. What comes after that is exposition, or maybe revelation, that expands the story possibilities farther. People born on the same tragic day, cursed in some fashion. How many people born that day are reincarnations of those that died? How are they related? And why is Ringo’s diary the key to not only Ringo’s fate, but Natsume’s or Mario’s or am I mixing up the names? And how long until the next episode?