Sukitte 8, Spacebros 34, Lagrange12.5

One of the things I like about Sukitte Ii na yo 8 is that the romance is messier than the usual anime. It doesn’t have the lovers overcome some obstacle like a boss in a game that leaves them happy ever after (though shows like that can be fun too). Things linger in this show; people find it hard to forget.

Yamato founces off for something she said relating to things he did.

We still have the moments like in other series where the characters are being unrealistically dense and you want to slap them around. Yamato, you should have told Mei flat out about going to Megumi’s apartment the first time you did it. You especially shouldn’t have gone again and again without telling her. And you, Mai, you should have told him how upset you are sooner. Because you didn’t and bottled it and just said “it’s okay” all the time he doesn’t know what to do around you anymore!

Anime characters never listen to me when I lecture them.

It leads to a downer of an episode interrupted by that guy with the hair, whom we learn (because he says it out loud for no reason in particular) that he’s moved to town and will be attending Mei’s school. He seemed sort of threatening at first (the hair?) but anyone who can express such love for a theme park can’t be all bad.

The girl who didn’t get the guy gives love advice to the guy she didn’t get.

Well, they got it cleared up, sort of. We’re not sure what residual damage has been done, and that’s what I meant when I used the word “messy.” Sure, Yamato apologized (after Aiko verbally slapped him around) and they’re picking up the stones from the broken bracelet (rather a cheesy bit of symbolism, I thought), but I don’t think Mei has completely forgiven him. And Yamato still doesn’t really know how to handle her, if that’s the word, or maybe it’s handle himself, and she isn’t giving him much help. Is Aiko going to have to slap them around every time there’s another misunderstanding? Surely she has better things to do, like planning a healthy diet for herself (and not those donuts). One more thing, can we please lose the “overheard classmates” shtick? Every time the show wants to stick it to Mei they have two girls pass by talking about what a great couple Yamato and Megumi would be. It’s three episodes in a row, I think.

Space Brothers 34 starts with Hibito on the moon, skipping around like an idiot (every time I see him in that suit I think of Tintin in “Explorers of the Moon”) and seeing a little flash of light. It will be nice to see if they explained this one. They never did explain the UFO the kids saw, and I realize these oddities in space are as much driven by poetry as by plot, but part of me wants to know what that was flash he saw was. Other than that we had to put up with the highly trained astronauts talking out loud about chores they would never bother to discuss in real life for the benefit of we, the viewer. But Hibito manages to settle most of these problems by stepping in and being Hibito.

I thought it would be appropriate if the episode stayed on the moon, but instead we switch back to Mutta, his parents, and Apo. Some of it is inspiring. I liked him seeing others in his building putting up telescopes on their balconies. I liked how every item in the store is branded with the moon, or Hibito. For personal nostalgia’s sake I had hoped for space food sticks. What these scenes also did was distract us from worrying about the astronaut applications. We’re not reminded of it until Mutta starts obsessing about his luck levels in his typical, Mutta way. It’s only at the episode’s end that the atmosphere gets tense and phone calls start coming in. And guess what? We have to wait until next week. Did you expect anything else from this show?

The entire galaxy tunes in to a girls high school athletic festival.

A Rinne no Lagrange OVA has popped up called “Kamogawa Days,” which is pretty much what it is, a few weeks in the town’s off-season between the show’s two seasons. They try to stick some foreshadowing in but who cares since we know what’ll happen already. We get to spend time with everyone, but the three girls aren’t together, alas. However, Lan and Muginami do meet up at the most amusing concept of the episode, an almost complete replica of Kamogawa, Earth’s most important city. The show still won’t explain how Villa got to be king, but there he is being one and setting fashion styles for the Polyhedron. Meanwhile Madoka goes about being Madoka, even forgetting her birthday, though of course no one else does … It’s what you’d expect from a Lagrange filler episode, only a little longer.

Finales: Tari Tari, Lagrange

Sorry to say that Tari Tari‘s final episode was everything we expected and nothing more. But I expected that, too.

After the morning prep scenes and rain-watching (I will always remember Miyamoto in her fish suit), we get the inevitable confrontation with the school board presidents and our plucky kids who just want to put on a show. It came out of some after-school juvenile drama, the evil president (so ridiculous he becomes a caricature), intervention by the principal (Did he lose his pension over this? The show never treated him as more than comic relief) who inadvertently pulls down the president’s trousers, and finally, rescue via the much stronger Takakura, who just happens to have brought her own chorus, and the wind ensemble along. The rain stops, too. Funny how that happens. The performance goes on and the camera to points to someone or another depending on the double-meaning of the song lyric. I won’t say that the whole thing is bad. We’ve spent too much time with the characters for these scenes not to have an effect, and the show does its usual good job of injecting little glances and sly lines to keep things buoyant, but it was completely predictable, cheesy even, even while the writing and directing enhanced the moments.

A few loose ends to tie up.

Plenty of time left for us to see the kids decide what they will do next and then see them do it. Sawa hasn’t given up on being a jockey yet, that was the most surprising bit. Otherwise, they graduate and do whatever they had intended to do. It’s satisfying and certainly less cliched than the first half, but it felt like something was missing. I watched it and had thoughts like “Oh, Wein sees Jan again. How nice.” In the end I think it’s because none of the characters really had an effect on me. That made everything that happened to them seem inconsequential. Plus, they added the school-closing bit which was so melodramatic that it partly negated the show’s slice-of-life plotting. Yes, there was plenty to like in this series. The direction and script were strong. It gave us little moments, details, that worked around the action, either to support it or to comment on it. It looked great. But PA Works always does that. They always give us a solid production; I expect nothing less from them. But Tari Tari was nothing more than that.

An example of what made Rinne no Lagrange a great show: during all the doubt and the light shows and the teeth gnashing about the fate of Earth, I was mostly worried about whether the girls would have to split up, and what Madoka would do next.

We get it. Switch the the important scene, please.

Okay, we had seen the big fight last episode so there wasn’t much suspense there, though the show tried tried very hard to make us worry. We had far too many little shots of various characters looking up at the evil-looking skies frowning, or if you’re Youko, talking about having faith in Madoka. Take us to that alien beach where the action is. When we finally get there, well, as I said, the battle was already over and the girls were wondering what would happen next. After that there’s a small bit where Madoka convinces Yurikano to return to our world, to face her feelings, whatever that means in this context, and then a triumphant return, and the series’ final cosmic light show with trippy music. I’m going to miss those. I especially liked the Vox-colored bubbles coming out of the sea, since those colors had a lot to do with the series’ art style as a whole.

I’m not sure what this scene was about, but it’s a nice show of solidarity.

After that, like in Tari Tari, it’s tying up the loose ends. I’m sort of glad we didn’t get to see Dizel back on Earth since he would have had to answer for a lot of deaths and there would be a lot of diplomatic immunity issues. He reconciles with Villa–again–on another planet. I’m not surprised that Yurikano return, but I was that we didn’t have a scene with her and the still-unconscious Villa. Well, Muginami had one; I suppose that was enough. Moid just disappears. Did the Rinne finally accept him? We’ll never know. As for Lan, I’m confused. What was she doing in that palace scene? I thought maybe she was being coronated and becoming the Empress of De Metrio, but then why was she back doing stuff with the other girls later?

Madoka, galactic gadfly.

Madoka’s future story is the most satisfying. She’s getting to go all around the Polyhedron (I won’t go into that miraculous change of orbit business) acting as a good-will ambassador, sort of an intergalactic Jersey Club. That sounds like something Madoka would both be good at and would love doing. Plus, she still gets to spend time on Kamogawa getting calls from galactic United Nations groups, eating her uncle’s lunches, and she gets to do it all with her BFF Lan and Muginami! Not to mention she can still fly her Vox. It’s the perfect ending for her, she gets it all, and she deserves it. They add one bit about the time she nearly drowned ten years ago, saying that the Vox picked her then, and suggesting that was her mother’s way of telling her to “Snap out of it.” Which was exactly what Midori had told her last week when she was despondent. Hmm …

Bye, girls!

Alas, this is the sort of show that probably won’t get another season. They’ve wrapped up everything too well. And I’m genuinely sad about that. I fell for this show late in the first season while wondering why I did. It’s doesn’t break any new ground, the story was kind of silly, and while I enjoyed the trippy art style and bits like the three chairs, the animation was not spectacular (the score, however, was often breathtaking). Yet I can’t think of another series that just ended that I will miss more. Its goals were modest compared to other series but all done incredibly well, and with a lightness that other mecha shows don’t even think of trying. Madoka was fun as hell to watch, and she was surrounded by characters, good and bad (or bad turning good) who each could carry a scene on their own. The direction was smart and funny; it had great comic timing. The tone could get dark, but it usually was light and colorful. The first season began in cold, grey January and made the season brighter, and now it ends with the weather turning colder and the days shorter. Unlike last Winter, however, I don’t think we’ll see a series that will pull me out of the blues like this one did.

Lagrange 23, Yuru Yuri II finale

In shows like Rinne no Lagrange, with all its intergalactic battling and cosmic light shows, I expect that some of it won’t make sense. And in the case of episode 23 I don’t care.

All the girls make their share of undignified faces this episode.

There seem to be two themes at work here. The obvious one is exemplified by the battle each girl has with the Uber-Dizel. Each of them furious and not thinking too hard about what they’re doing, throwing themselves at the damn thing and being blown back each time, no matter how many spare weapons this dark seaside world (reminiscent of both Kamogawa and that miserable world Muginami grew up in) gave them. We see that they’re each battling a different one, or they’re not aware of each other. And you know that any attempt to beat Dizel will be useless until they team up. We also see it in the flashback when Yurikano triggered the first Rinne and split into the three voxes. And in that vision Madoka has of a young Dizel and Villa agreeing to work together for the Polyhedron’s sake. But we sort of knew this already, and watching this episode’s first fight felt a bit tedious because we knew how it would work.

The second theme has to do with betrayal, or maybe desertion. It harkens back to the first time Lan and Muginami tried to fly a mission without telling Madoka, and now it returns with Dizel driven to madness over Villa’s long-gone attempt at rebellion. And we see it again with Moid’s own crazy speech to Asteria about how the Rinne rejected his offerings and it was HER fault. Utterly nuts, these grudges. That speech, by the way, presents us with the show’s best example of unexpected humor as the raging Moid opens his eyes and sees not Asteria, but Youko, and, boy is she pissed! This show’s ability to slip humor in at the darkest places is ingenious.

The super-powerful uber-Vox is taken down using a backflip.

As for the inexplicable, where do I start? The very fact that the girls were unaware of each other at the beginning, only to find themselves tangled up? What was the reason for that? Why did they find out then? We had just seen the Dizel/Villa flashback, so we know Madoka knew the answer and was ready to rejoin the girls, but who’s sending the messages in the first place, who lifted that fog the three were in? What mecha were those that the Uber-Dizel kept sucking up? And the Vox sending Madoka an email for chrissakes, not to mention their lunch bags dropping on their heads (another funny moment in the middle of despair)? The Voxes as a whole were a lot more “alive” this episode in general, what with Aura shielding Madoka from a Dizel-blast when she was outside of it, but I figure in that crazy alternate universe anything goes, which explains away all the other weird things, too. And the lunch bag bit was not only a good gag, but a suggestion to Madoka to sit back a moment, have something to eat with her friends. Regroup.

One more episode to go, but it looks like they used the fighting in this one. They more or less did that last season, too, and so the final episode was a bit of a letdown. We’ll probably get a lot of infodumps, tears and hugging. Oh, well.

Yuru Yuri 2 puts it all together and produces a fun finale. I’ve never been a big fan of this series, but I didn’t drop it. There was just a little too much I liked about it. I’ve mentioned it before, but the show works best when it gets utterly strange, like Chinatsu’s ball-eating hair, or her bizarre interpretation of cute drawings, or the Nana/Rise combo (which always cracks me up). The more mundane slapstick rarely worked for me, though as I grew used to the characters I began to enjoy them a little more. In the first half Kyouko brings a bunch of old toys to the tea club room, and various people are scared by a stuffed snake. It’s all right. The characters work better as a team, and the core group is assembled here.

Er, girls, the robot is starting to smoke …

It’s part two that actually shines. The group enact Snow White for the school festival, and EVERYONE’s either in it or in the audience. To say it gets surreal would be an understatement. My favorite bits include Chizuru (the hunter) trying to kill Snow White (Kyouko) with automatic weapons. The seven dwarves introduction was pretty good, and the Wicked Queen (Nana) along with the talking mirror (perfect role for Rise!) bringing out a giant robot to finish off the heroine. Yes, it’s all gags, but they come fast and play up everyone’s eccentricities. In the episode’s best touch, the play gets a huge ovation, allowing them to do a bow, and poor Akari gets the final one, which is sort of fitting, not because she was the star of the series, but because she put up with so much I felt sorry for her. It was a great way to say goodbye to the characters. Now, if the rest of the series had been as good as the last couple of episodes I might have liked it a lot better.

Lagrange 22, Yuru Yuri II 11, Horizon II 23

Rinne no Lagrange 22 brings all its strengths together and produces a huge episode. Not its greatest, but damn close.

If there’s a flaw to the series it’s that the events sometimes get so cosmic that we lose our connection to it. That’s because the show is centered around and grounded by Madoka, a Kamagawa girl who can can certainly fight with her Vox but is more effective when she’s dealing with people. In this episode she has two key moments. The “of COURSE I’m coming with you” bit near the start, complete with face-pinching (just about all the humor we get in the episode), and her taking down of Dizel when he attacks Lan, which, though it ranks up there on her greatest moments list, proves only to be a temporary respite. Otherwise she’s a bystander. The rest of the episode stars Dizel and Villa, with Kirius, Izo and Array (I knew they’d be back) helping out, and Lan and Muginami watching in shock at what their brothers are doing.

And while the battles are exciting, the light shows are fun to watch and the danger feels real, it’s not as compelling as it should be. I was curious but not surprised when Dizel turns out to have the “tainted heart” and goes stark raving mad, maybe killing Villa for an old offense forgotten by everyone but him. What shocked me was how he went after Lan, and that was because we know Lan and like her (and made Madoka’s enzuigiri all the more satisfying), but at the same time I was thinking “Well, this proves he’s gone nuts. No way he’d try to hurt Lan if he was right in the head.” Going nuts means we’re not dealing with that character anymore; we’re dealing with, well, a nutcase.

What I like about this scene is that Madoka’s mecha has its arms crossed.

It feels like I’m dropping negativity all over the place, which is unfair. There’s a lot to like in this episode. The space battles were good, so was Villa’s desire to reach out to Dizel in spite of the situation–the highlight of the episode. The girls have to break their vow not to use the Voxes for violence, but, thinking about it, only Madoka dealt any. The misdirection was well-done; I thought this would be Asteria’s arc. For much the episode we didn’t know Dizel had lost his mind, so I had fun trying to figure out why he was attacking everyone. And the score is magnificent. Lagrange has one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard for a awhile, and it cuts loose here and makes every scene memorable. As for Madoka, she’ll surely have more to do next episode. Maybe she’ll headbutt with Yurikano again. Looking forward to it.

Yuru Yuri II 11 is a change. It’s a full story, not a sequence of sketches, and it’s actually sweet. I’m going to ignore the fact that it was Kyoko’s own story they were telling. They find a time machine in the tea club’s storage closet (naturally), and then it’s only a question of who’s going to fall into it first. Akari loses and winds up a year in the past, where she gets Nishigaki to get it fixed while she tries to prevent all the terrible things that happened to her that year (all about her self-esteem) to not happen. It drags a bit after that because we know she’s doomed to fail but it’s fun to see her try. Akari is the dullest character of the lot but the other characters get a lot of screen time (with a bonus Chinatsu ball-eating hair moment). And it actually gets touching as her sister holds off her impulses and gives her some decent advice. Again, a sweet episode even with the Kyoko story ruining it.

Something I rarely do.

Even if I don’t know what’s going on, Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon II is the busiest anime show I can think of, and that means it can pull off an entertaining episode through sheer volume. Here in episode 23 we lurch from battle to battle and even manage to forget that Tenzo was off to rescue Double Bloody Mary until we get back to him at the end. We start with him and Margot, the latter buying him some time before nearly getting crushed by “Miss Iron Balls” and “Miss Balloon” until Kimi rescues him. Meanwhile Muneshige is continuing to rewrite history by not having the armada move on and refuel and so that the Brits can firebomb them by firebombing the Musashi instead. A slight rewrite of history. In fact, more than one battle this episode is won by editing, namely Neshinbara’s rewriting of King Lear (Nesh can do it because he’s in the play) so that MacBeth shows up and skewers him. That’ll show old Thomas Shakespeare, who, by the way, was BOTH the girls in Nesh’s past. Now they’re friends again and Nesh even as a sacred armament to boot!

They’re not supposed to be doing that.

But that comes later. Right now things look hopeless for the Musashi, pounded by enemy craft that shouldn’t be there and with its robot dolls out of commission, until the still-naked Toori shows up and tells her to rewrite too, so she cries for help and everyone not already fighting shows up to counterattack. Why they weren’t doing so already I don’t know. We also get ends to individual battles between Honda and that death guy, Honda winning when her anteater, aided by those little black blobs, materializes full of offensive spells, and Mitotsudaira by using her chains, and Joan of Arc is brought up, but mercifully, doesn’t actually appear. And that’s all my notes, ladies and gentlemen. Next week we get back to Tenzo dueling that guy. I don’t think it will have the manic pace as this one, but it’s certain to be weird.

Religion had Declined 10, Hyouka 20, Lagrange 21

My take on Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita 10 written here is a rambling mess, because sometimes it’s good for the mind to ramble about a show, especially one as odd as this one.

We go back to Watashi’s first days as a mediator, er, researcher, whatever it is; just so she can avoid working in the fields. Her first contact with fairies. This time they build a bustling, colorful city overnight and declare her a god after she gives them a naming dictionary. She doesn’t want to be god and so passes the honor to one of the fairies, and the entire city collapses in ten minutes, except her statue. What are we to make of all of this? I have no idea. I want to know why humanity has declined and where the fairies come from. If humanity had declined it’s to an agrarian society where there are shortages but basically enough to go around, enough water so that they can run fountains, and plenty of places for shelter. It actually seems like a nice place to live if you like that sort of life. Maybe humanity has declined only to the point where they can inhabit a stable and not intrusive environmental niche.

Of course the fairies’ presence should remind me that I shouldn’t look for too much realism in this anime. They’re around, apparently, to present metaphors for human society, and to act cute. This week it’s all about religion. Watashi abducts and befriends three, make that four fairies, showing herself as immensely big and powerful but kind at the same time. She makes the mistake of trying to give them names, a concept that had not occurred to the fairies and so, even though they possess abilities far beyond human comprehension, she becomes like a god. Watashi doesn’t want the title. She had explained to them that old humanity had stepped down. But the fairies, the “current humanity,” don’t seem to be capable of anything without something from old humanity to spark their interest. So I’m not sure the concept of us humans as gods is so far-fetched. But again, this is a fairy story loaded with metaphors. The Whys and Hows aren’t important as the themes themselves. Now I’m repeating myself. Time to move on.

This did not happen.

Hyouka 20 is just another passing fancy, another way to get Houtarou and Eru together, this time locked in a freezing shed, a variant of the locked room mystery, I suppose. I simply marvel at the over-formality, or maybe the timidity of those two that they can’t even get close to each other for warmth. It’s the perfect opportunity! You have the perfect excuse: cuddle or freeze to death! Maybe Eru’s social status puts an extra barrier on it. And the other thing is that they can’t shout out to anyone, because of that same social status. I admire Houtarou’s foolish respect for Eru’s reputation, but damn it it’s freezing in there! So instead he has to come up with a cryptic message that only Satoshi (if he’s even at the shrine) will understand (and he may not), if the item is picked up at all. It adds up to one of the more frustrating episodes we’ve had. At least Houtarou probably managed to score more points for imaginative thinking and gentlemanly behavior, if not for common sense.

Okay girls, this is all very sweet, but let’s get back to some action!

So Hyouka pretty much wastes an episode. Rinne No Lagrange 21 does pretty much the same thing. It seems we’ve been getting a lot of these goodbye episodes recently, and they’re getting stale. I know we have to see Kirius and Array off, but how long do you think they’re going to be gone, anyway? A little more interesting is that Lan and Muginami are thinking of moving on, too. Of course they are. The only one not concerned with moving on with their life is Madoka, exemplified by her not filling out her future plans questionnaire for school. In a way I feel a little sorry for her. She’s quite happy in Kamogawa, doing all those little things, not realizing it can’t last forever. And there’s a whole galaxy out there to explore. On the other hand, would she be happy anywhere else? Or can she be happy at home without Lan and Muginami?

That’s more like it! Too bad the episode ends right there …

This all slows down developing story arc, and it’s a good one. Moid has gone missing with that big rock and is wanted all across the Polyhedon. He’s with Dizel, who is undergoing the kind of torture-thing he was putting Lan through at the beginning of the new series. This basically goes against everything he agreed upon with Villaguilio. And Villaguilio is covering for him! But Dizel is muttering things like how Villa betrayed him! Is he channeling something or remembering that past kerfluffle? It’s great for us because we have no idea what to expect now. Who’s on whose side? Our only clue for what’s going on might come from Asteria, sorry, Maycun, who reveals her past to the Pharos team to some incredulity and shrugging. But apart from the “Memoria” she uncovers, she’s pretty much in the dark, too, well until that fleet shows up at the end. Okay, enough goodbyes and introspection about goals in life. Let’s have some action!

Lagrange 20, Hyouka 19, Yuru Yuri 9

Nothing happens for 20 minutes and suddenly we get this.

Rinne no Lagrange 20 is a filler episode to gear up for the next big plot thing and to give the girls a breather. Unlike other such episodes, they save the plot-gearing for the final couple minutes, and while there’s no action, they’re heavy with import. We got that stone carving that Asteria wish she could remember but can’t, since her soul was ripped away by Rinne 20,000 years ago. The next thing you know, Moid is down there, turns it into something like a grief seed, and offers it to Dizel(!) and shows scars he got 20,000 years ago. I kind of figured Moid would show his past sooner or later, you can’t stand on the sidelines and smirk a lot without knowing something, but how many faces does Dizel have, anyway? Is he still going to do Rinne stuff? Even after Madoka punched him??

Lan and Madoka watch Reiko in action.

As I said, this all happens in the last three or so minutes. The rest of the episode is typical high school silliness as the Jersey Club is threatened with the loss of that clubroom they hardly ever spend time in anyway, and the appearance of a clumsy girl named Reika who joins the club in order to fly robots and is shown to be the clumsiest girl in school, unless she’s stalking one of the jersey club, whereupon she becomes the epitome of stealth. We also get the three guys pondering their future and drunken talk with Youko about her own needs. Yeah, not much of an episode, but by this point I enjoy watching the girls do whatever, so it’s okay.

Houtarou and Eru fritter away an afternoon making theories.

Hyouka 19 left me a little confused. Houtarou claims that you can make a theory out of anything, Eru says that his theories are usually right on the money, and that’s where his talent lies, so he supposedly comes up with a theory about a cryptic intercom message that just happens (ding dong!) to play at that point. So what’s he trying to do? Shouldn’t he try to come up with a bizarre theory that sounds plausible rather than try and earnestly try to figure it out? Or maybe that’s what he WAS trying to do, but he wound up being right anyway? Wait, WAS he? We don’t see anything in the newspaper that would connect his theory to the crime. As for me, I still don’t get why Student X would be considered a perp. I’m not convinced he’d simply turn himself in. I was certain Student X was a witness to a crime, not the perp. Anyway, now you know what Houtarou and Eru do when they’re alone. Well, they had a couple of close-face moments too, but I’ve pretty much given up on anything happening with that.

Kyouko ate all of Yui’s baked bread!!

Let’s see. Of the Yuru Yuri 2 sketches in episode 9, I liked the Akari/Chinatsu sleepover, maybe because they didn’t devote too much time to trying to keep Akarin awake but instead got to the scary movie part. Chinatsu’s inadvertent hiding in a closet scene wasn’t bad only because of the monumental stupidity she exhibited by hiding in the first place. The study scene wasn’t bad. The final bits, possibly to fill out the episode, maybe little sketches that couldn’t fit in a longer scene were okay. All in all a B- episode.

Jinrui 8, Hyouka 18, Lagrange 19

Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita 8 explains everything! Even the dog!

Now I understand EVERYTHING!

Okay, it doesn’t explain the underlying question how? We get a nice stab at Why, though. Assistant, never given an opportunity to develop a personality because he grew up in isolation, decided to look for one, and used the suggestions by Watashi and all those other Watashis in the forest for ideas. Okay, great, thanks for the explanation, Watashi. But I’ll probably never figure out how the fairies got involved, why they got involved, and all that other weird stuff, such as the hearth, had to do with it. Apart from them wanting sweets.

Fortunately this version of Assistant goes away.

At least they did the recap cleverly, cutting just enough that I for one didn’t start muttering “endless eight, endless eight” under my breath. And Watashi’s dry delivery and responses always lighten slow moments. And so we get Assistant, a nice boy in a Hawaiian shirt with many attributes that a young woman might find desirable in a boy, which is maybe not the best way to put it, but there’s that moment when they all giggle … So what was the deal with that other Assistant, the one with the hat who kept pawing Watashi and making suggestive comments and running around the place? A trial run, an experiment that was rejected? Whatever, I was just glad to see him go. Well, whatever the hell happened, I think we can label this an origin story and move on to whatever weirdness the show has in store for us next.

Hyouka 18’s mystery isn’t really one until one of the gang decides it is and decides to investigate. You’ll never guess who.

And so the episode’s biggest mystery may not have been “Why did Ogi-san like helicopters so much?” but “Why on earth is Houtarou so interested in that helicopter that one day in middle school?” The former is hardly a mystery. If they had gone to ask Ogi why he had reacted like that I’m sure he would have happily told them, if he could remember. And the investigation isn’t really much of one. A couple of deductions plucked out of thin air and a quick leaf through old newspapers (a half an hour to find an enormous bound volume? That library’s closed stacks must be a mess) and we have a satisfactory answer, though it’s a let down from the epic school festival arc we just had.

So instead we spend a lot of time wondering what goes on in Houtarou and Eru’s heads and watching the latter react cutely to books about vegetables and dung beetles. That Houtarou is interested at all shocks everyone (a great little scene, especially when Eru announces that she’s curious about why Houtarou is curious). He tries and fails to explain himself adequately at the end. Eru’s coming along could be explained away by her, er, curiosity, not to mention the unacknowledged attraction to Houtarou. Yeah, thinking about it, her motivations this time are pretty clear–to everyone but Houtarou, a brilliant mind but clueless when it comes to Eru.

Let’s see, at the end of last episode of Rinne no Lagrange, Madoka was cracking her knuckles in anticipation of smacking around two intergalactic kings far bigger than she is. No way, I thought. Then I began to watch episode 19:

Well, this IS Madoka we’re talking about.

That was about the only interesting thing in this half-hour denouement episode. Suddenly Dizel and Villa decide to work together, never mind their war, and so the Polyhedron Intergalactic Conference got a lot duller but happier. The rest of the episode was all about everything returning to normal. Seeing off the kings, doing homework, etc. Like the conference: happy and dull. In fact it felt like a series finale except that the girls this time get to stick together and ever swear never to use their voxes for violence again, thus guaranteeing that they’ll have to.

And so the new story arc begins.

But in the middle of Jersey Club activities and talking about love, we get the finale (I assume) arc going. It only makes sense that it’s going to involve Asteria and either that huge fragment they found or some bit of history repeating, or something, and it looks like it will lead to her death or utter destruction, but, let me guess, Madoka et al will find away to prevent annihilation and save her, or Madoka will do what her namesake did last year and sacrifice herself, only her friends interfere … Well, lots of possibilities, but possibly not a human enemy unless it’s Asteria herself.