New shows, old shows and more finales

Aside from marrying her off to whoever wins a fight, she’s fine.

La Storia della Arcana Famiglia brings us to the island of Regalo and the “family” who runs the place. We start with one of those nameless villains whose villainy brings out all the characters to defeat him and introduce themselves to the viewer. Thus introduced to a boatload of young men and one feisty girl we move on to the next scene, where their “Papa,” Mondo is going to retire. So everyone’s gonna fight and the winner becomes the new boss AND marries the feisty girl! The FG (Felicita) is not amused. Neither are some of the guys. Nor am I. What kind of asshole marries off a girl in his employ? Is it any wonder that so few woman are part of his group? While they debate this and get into little skirmishes with each other AND with Mondo, who’s the strongest (another reason to despise this organization that picks the best fighter as the leader) we learn that they all have Arcana Powers based on a tarot card, so we have little asides where some characters get a background description for our benefit, or annoyance. None of this bodes well. I can overlook this autocratic mafia-based government story, maybe, but the moldy opening episode introduction and exposition scenes suggest the entire series will be as clumsy as this. I’m not dropping it yet, but …

While I could predict the scenes in Arcana a mile away, I have no idea what Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita was going on about, and I didn’t care much. Once you think you have a handle on things the world makes a left turn and becomes even weirder. Just what I like.

Chicken killing time.

It looks like we have a future where the human race is dying out, albeit in a colorful, pastoral way. We meet, er, Wikipedia calls her Watashi, a young girl who is a mediator with the United Nations conciliation Commission, which makes her something of a VIP to the local peasants, who seem to think she’s an expert on everything, including, in the opening scenes, killing cute chickens for their meat. When that ends in failure (the menfolk don’t help because they’re off hunting, returning empty-handed), she goes home and we learn what she mediates: cute little Keebler Elves the humans call fairies. They’re adorable and like sweets. They also ask interesting questions.

I figured that the elves, sorry, fairies, are just imitating words they hear. This world is full of bureaucratic speech people seem to use because they haven’t come up with any new words. But later we see humans reacting to mass-produced fairy goods in cans, marginally edible, too. Is this more imitation, or the fairy way to help the humans survive? Possibly the latter. They are disappointed when Watashi comes home without sweets for them. Interesting questions, and I was thinking I had a grip on this thing when the show proceeded to lob weirdness bombs. First the headless, skinned, living chicken with the fairy logo branded on it living in the wild, and then the discovery of a fairy factory, with a human receptionist and a robot slice of bread that … well, I won’t give it away.

Through it all there’s a pull between absurdity and the remnants of mass-production society and the bureaucracy that comes with it, all coming together in Watashi. She can be nervous about her mysterious hair, threatening girls with governmental speak the next (in order to cover her butt), muttering ironies, making a note on the pointlessness of meetings, whatever. She’s stuck in an uncomfortable role and uses the verbal tools she’s learned to cope, all delivered in a matter-of-fact way that adds to the humor. In short, she’s a delight, this world is a delight, episode one is a delight. What happens next? Will we get a story arc? I rather hope not. If they can keep up the strangeness, and there’s no guarantee they can or it might wear thin, I’ll have fun just watching whatever they choose to throw at me.

Where a man does his best thinking.

Space Brothers 14 is more character development in that pod. I’m getting tired of it. I suppose it had advantages. The applicants have nothing outside to mess with them and the show can take its time looking at everyone’s soul. But there are limits. Well, this week we take a look at Fukuda, a man older than I am! There’s hope for me yet! … And he breaks his glasses his scores plummet. Since everyone in the show has to have a sad part of their past (well, that’s true for anyone) we get lowlights of him neglecting his daughter to design and build rockets. His designs are passed over and his wife wants nothing to do with him, and now he’s trying to live a children’s dream again. The other side of this is Furuya, the team’s annoying member, too proud to apologize over the glasses but feeling more and more guilt because of it. A lot of other little things happen, Mutta tries to size up the team members, Reiji acts superior, and Serika eats. One week in the pod gone, one more to go. Oh, boy.

Acchi Kocchi appropriately sets up its “will they or won’t they?” finale with another Valentine’s Day episode. Along with the usual riffing, and making sure Mayoi didn’t put a frog in her chocolates again (Sakaki retaliates this year with White Day pigs’ feet in marshmallow) the show takes extra time for the Tsukimi/Io angle. It’s actually sweet and romantic, with no punchline. So is the White Day section, though it doesn’t give us any confessions, just Io stroking Tsukimi’s head, so there’s room for a sequel. And why not? This show effectively gave us cuteness with occasional violence for twelve episodes. There’s plenty of room for more.

Shining Hearts – Shiawase no Pan ends the way you’d expect it. Big battle between the huge battleship and the small pirate boat, with cosmic help from those folks from the palace, except the prince, who’s too busy playing his lyre. Meanwhile Rick cuts a hole in the ship and finds Kaguya, not to mention the boss lizard, so they have a fight. Rick is saved by the glowing pendant which then rises to join Kaguya (trussed up crucifixion-style like Queen was earlier), which sends a signal to Queen to unleash her big red beam, which opens up a hole made by Hank’s big gun earlier. The ship blows up. Rick and Kaguya get blown or floated or whisked to a safe part of the island to talk about how tired they are, and the crisis is over. So much for the unimportant stuff. The big news is that everyone eats bread. Rick apparently has to retrain himself as a baker, but that’s done quickly enough, and so there’s even more bread to go around. The bread of happiness, they call it. Why did I watch this all the way through? Anything interesting, besides the bread was eventually unexplained except for stuff like colliding dimensions. Why was Kaguya and the amulet so important, and why together? Oh well, there was the bread. Which reminds me, it’s dinnertime.

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Finales: Fujiko, Nyaruko … also more bread.

Lupin III – Mine Fujiko to lu Onna has an effective but underwhelming finale. (some spoilers here …)

All right, who the hell’s this?

Two reasons for this. The first was the big mystery itself. Instead of getting what we expected, we get additional characters and a story even more convoluted. It was great to look at; I loved the elaborate typewriter thing that Aisha used, and there’s something to be said that Fujiko’s past isn’t what Almeida made it out to be, that she was already an adult and a thief when she was abducted. To know Fujiko’s past is to lessen it. Let it be a mystery. On the other hand it was too many revelations, too many new characters, in too short a time, and once we learn the truth I’m not sure it added up to much. While I’m sort of glad we don’t really get Fujiko’s backstory, the answers we get diminish the story given us. It’s just one more adventure in Fujiko’s life.

Fujiko looks determined here, but she really didn’t do much in the finale.

The second lies in the characters and what we expected from them. This is the finale; you’re supposed to unleash the big action scenes, the twists and doublecrosses. We want to see our four (or five) heroes doing what they do best. But the only one who lives up to their legend is Lupin. He gets through to Fujiko when she’s about to lose it in front of Almeida. He unmasks not only Almeida, but the other owl, and practically leads Fujiko up to the tower for the final confrontation. Jigen and Goemon inhale the drug and thus think the other enemies. We only get bits of their gun vs sword battle, not enough, and all they do is cancel each other out for the episode. Zenigata is stuck with mad Oscar the entire time, and I’m not sure what Oscar was going on about the whole time, and who cares, really? As for Fujiko, the main character, she is saved by Lupin, led upstairs by Lupin, and gets the whole story, such as it is, because of Lupin. It’s only at the end, as they make their escape with Aisha, that she’s allowed to be herself, and while it’s fun to watch, it’s nowhere near as fun as it would have been had she become more assertive earlier.

As it should be.

Oh, well, it’s too bad the show ended as it did, but it doesn’t distract much from the series as a whole. It was fun, witty, exciting, and stylish almost the entire way through. This incarnation of Lupin, Fujiko, Jigen, Goemon and Zenigata were the same ones that made this franchise so entertaining for so long. And now that they’ve shown that you can have an R-rated Lupin series and carry it off with style, I hope we’ll see more of them.

Yep, one of THOSE episodes.

Haiyore! Nyaruko-San‘s finale had a first half that was about as bad as I had expected. Mahiro, after telling the others to get lost, wakes up to find himself completely alone. We get the wandering around scenes where he shouts out one name or another, the visiting the scenes of old escapades bits, complete with flashbacks. What he doesn’t seem to notice is that NO ONE’S around. No humans at all. Yet, for some reason, there are shows on TV. Mahiro is too busy being depressed about his friends that he doesn’t seem to care. Happily, when the storyline finally appears it’s all good. Heroic rescues, silly lines, an evil alien with a stupid motive (adult video games) that makes no sense, before a happy finish. I know shows have to switch the mood now and then, but like here, these attempts at sentimentality rarely work. We’re here for the inanity, not the bathos. And this show excelled at it. Overall the show was uneven, but when it got its combo of weird characters, dumb conflicts, fast dialogue, puns, Lovecraft riffs, and crazy action together, Nyaruko-san was a hell of a lot of fun to watch. I’d watch another season.

That’s more like it.
About time …

They promised us a big battle in Shining Hearts – Shiawase no Pan 11, but it can’t be so easy for this show. Things have to be done first, namely getting Rick to be the island’s warrior, thus endangering his present, preferred status as a baker. Apparently he can’t be a baker who battles, or vice versa. What finally seems to turn him is not the threat to the island, but the fact that he’s forgotten how to bake (or rather, bake well), so, he figures, it’s time to be a warrior instead. Meanwhile everyone, meaning me, the other characters, even his harem, waited for him to make the right decision so that he can engage the enemy fleet, which, we are told, is always coming closer but never actually does. Meanwhile, aboard the enemy fleet, they’ve taken Kaguya prisoner in spite of saying she’s useless without the stone. That’s okay, Rick is bringing it. It turns him into an angel-like being, and now we got a battle, i.e., Rick swings his sword and ships blow up. Not much of a battle, really. Next week, the hopefully battle and bread-filled conclusion, and we can finally say goodbye to this thing.

Amnesia and Kimi to Boku 12, Bread 10, Nyaruko 11

Finally, Tasogare Otome x Amunesia gets around to doing something they should have done episodes ago.

I’ve been complaining about how Yuuko won’t be whole and healthy again (if you can call a ghost healthy) until she accepts Shadow Yuuko, with all the painful memories and ugly thoughts that come with her, so why don’t they just do it already? Well, I have no idea if Teiichi knew this was the solution at the beginning of the episode, but at least now he was aware of just how much Yuuko had been enduring all that time. But now his touch is painful to her, and she can’t see or hear him. As Kirie says, he’s become a shadow Yuuko of his own; he knows too much. He’s got to solve that before anything can happen.

So he mopes, and fortunately for us there’s Kirie, doing her best “sacrifice my feelings for my beloved’s sake” rant (one of two roles she’s taken lately, the other being a combination foil and infodump girl) to shake him up a little. Now Teiichi takes action and the show finally begins to move. He and Yuuko communicate by writing in a notebook for a while, until given another clue by terribly-unused Momoe and Kirie, he meets the elderly Yukariko. Was Kirie keeping this a secret this entire time? If she really wanted to help Teiichi you’d think she would have let him know sooner than this. But at the time the scene feels unnecessary, well, apart from some news we don’t have any problems figuring out.

After all this waiting the reconciliation scene feels brief, but it’s well done. The problem seemed to be that Yuuko really had no reason to accept her shadow self, and the latter was so full of anger at her treatment (in life and after death) that she’s in no mood to compromise. Teiichi was the key. I said last week that Yuuko had finally gained a witness to her death. Now Teiichi takes advantage of this. Shadow Yuuko is right: he can’t share her pain, but she learns that he can at least empathize with her. Shadow Yuuko has no defenses for this. And when he says that he loves them both, they have every reason to come together again. I had never thought that Teiichi’s love would be the key. After that it feels like a final episode, but we get a bit of weirdness with the bell bracelet, so they’ve got something planned for next week.

Kimi to Boku 12 has Kaname in a funk because his pretty neighbor Shizuna, whom he’s had a crush on since he was a tot (Kaname seems to have a thing for older women), tells him she is getting married. So we get to see him work it out with both Shizuna and her little sister Hisaka’s help (Hisaka seems to have a crush on him, but they don’t force a love triangle on us), but none from his friends. Well, they don’t know, and are thankfully kept out of the loop so they only manage to do damage for one scene. It leads to a lovely scene at the end where Kaname and Shizuna go shopping, and dally on their walk home. Hisaka had insisted that Kaname at least confess to her, but Kaname and Shizuna both know that isn’t necessary. In moments where no words are spoken or at least nothing pertinent is brought up, she makes clear that she knows exactly how he feels and how it makes her happy. It’s a goodbye scene where no one says goodbye. The show excels at moments like this.

The doll character turns out to be pretty cool. They should have woken her up a long time ago.

Shining Hearts – Shiawase no Pan 10 sets up the forces for a big battle (next week), and it’s going to be a big mess. Xiao-Mei and Hank are in the palace jail when Hank’s doll, having recovered that bit of circuitry, blasts its way down, not to see them, apparently, but because it’s the safest place for Kaguya when the big armored fleet arrives to blast the hell out of the island. They’re after kaguya, and the doll (named Queen!) is her robot servant, in spite of her name. But Kaguya says that will put the island, and all their delicious bread, at risk, so off they fly to the enemy fleet, which starts to shoot at them. Everyone else on the island spends their time running around being useless and staring at the sea a lot. Prince Ragnus learns about the fleet and springs to action–he plays the harp and sings about worlds colliding. The enemy fleet, you see, is full of lizard aliens! We learn this from Dylan the pirate after his damaged ship makes it ashore. Xiao-Mei and Hank make it out of the palace, only to be recaptured. As I said, everyone is useless. And because Rick is troubled, even the bread tastes funny.

Meet Ghutatan, a red herring.

Haiyore! Nyaruko-san 11 is pretty messy too. We get introduced to a new character, named Ghutatan, an adorable little girl who, according to Wikipedia, should turn anyone who gazes upon her into a living mummy. So we have an episode mostly about keeping the tot occupied until they figure out what to do with her. But it’s rather a waste because the real story is how Mahiro wants a quiet life but how he’ll actually miss his malign deity pals when they’re gone. He wakes up, and poof, they’re not there, not even Ghutatan (whom he actually got along with). And I’m guessing next week is the final episode. So why introduce Ghutatan in the first place? Why have that stupid chase? Why are their Shoggoth on the roof and why do they start moving down the roof twice?

Hyouka 8, Shining Bread 9, Acchi 10

I’m beginning to think that what we see in Hyouka is what we get. If they were going to dive any deeper into the characters or work on a more “important” mystery they would have done so by now. They literature club mystery is the as ambitious as they’re going to get. Houtarou would probably be happy to hear this.

So it’s little mystery of the week, or two weeks, as this episode doesn’t try to include it all. The film club made a mystery movie, but it’s incomplete and the writer fell ill. They have to resume filming in two days with no idea what happens next. Based on the footage the formidable Irisu shows them, who is the killer? They haven’t told the lit club, and therefore us, why they’re watching the footage but it’s obvious to us. But even so, the movie does too good a job at being a bad amateur production to the point where it was difficult to watch. Also, I was distracted by the fact that here’s another high school club in a KyoAni series who’ve made a bad movie. When it started I expected to hear “Mikuru BEAMU!” Alas, that doesn’t happen. The only break in the dullness is a shot of the lit club members, watching, making a comment or a STFU face.

But I think there’s more to this than simply figuring out who the incapacitated Hongou meant to be the killer. We spend a lot of time seeing Irisu, the Princess, looking archly at them. We also meet Eba, Hongou’s best friend, and have too long a conversation with her to suggest that she’s a throwaway character. Irisu has a way of making the people around her pawns, we hear, and Hongou’s description makes her seem like Chitanda. Ebu wasn’t involved in the production because she wasn’t interested. Irisu would have voted it down if she had been in charge then. Lots of questions. Why is Hongou sick? Why is Irisu now in charge of this movie? Why does Eba show disdain for it? Why was the footage so bad that I did better with a student film I did in middle school? Right now I haven’t the foggiest idea, and it will only get more complicated next week when they start to interview the crew members.

Shining Hearts – Shiawase no Pan 9 has four scenes, the interesting ones bookending the dull ones. First we get Xiao-Mei and Hank sneaking back into the palace to steal more stuff–and that shining doohicky in the box that was taken by Hank. Not much to it except for Hank’s little car that he carries on his back, and smashing their way out of a maze. What fun is that? We get a maze and then they don’t even use it. After their escape we join Rick and the girls, including the recovered Kaguya as they go on a picnic where nothing is accomplished except to show how recovered Kaguya is, and show the girls in swimsuits, for they drop by the sea (or is it a lake?). Rick drops them off but doesn’t stay to see them in their swimsuits, basic lust being one of the things he must have forgotten about. After that there’s a scene with Rick and Amil where he says yet again that he’s a baker for the foreseeable future, which we knew already but Amil apparently didn’t. Not much point to that scene, either. Finally we get some more fun as Hank wakes up his hanging doll just as soldiers arrive. But we’re out of time. Really, they didn’t need to take all that much time at the picnic, swimsuits notwithstanding.

There’s something just plain wrong with having a Christmas episode in the middle of June, so I’m going to ignore the second half of Acchi Kocchi 10 and concentrate on the first half, which has Mayoi in a bear costume trying to scare everyone for no good reason. Io and Tsumiki aren’t scared at all, but she has success with Hime not because she’s a bear but because she runs like a man. She adds a sled prop to get Sakaki and as you would expect both nearly die in the attack. But my favorite cute moment actually comes in the Christmas half when Mayoi and Tsumiki hide in a locker when they learn Io’s got plans for that day.

Amnesia 9, Naruko 9, Shining Bread 8

We know! We knew two episodes ago! Get on with it!

It was clear two episodes ago in Tasogore Otome no Amunesia that the Shadow Yuuko was not going to go away. Unfortunately, Teiichi and Kirie haven’t figured it out yet and Yuuko’s in denial. So when Shadow Yuuko returns we get a lot of running away and trying to escape, first Yuuko alone, then with both her and Teiichi. These scenes are eerie (the running away/towards the school was a good effect) but by then I wanted them to get caught. What Shadow Yuuko wants from Yuuko is what I want, no separate bodies for good and bad feelings, but the whole package. And we’d finally dispense with the “Who am I? I am YOU!” exchanges we’ve heard for three episodes now. Get on with it! And why the hell didn’t Teiichi and Kirie sit Yuuko down and tell her what was going on with herself? They act like it’s a secret. On the other hand, next week we might get a hell of an episode, as Teiici gets to experience exactly what Yuuko went through. The glimpses we saw this week looked terrifying.

Haiyore! Nyaruko-san deserves some credit for at least trying to keep the backstory in place. It seems the now-empty Dreamlands are a perfect way for malign races to invade Earth to steal its anime and games, I mean, its culture, and rogue Yith are planning to do just that. They send one of their kind to warn Nyaruko and the others. Of course, this being the show it is, it’s only an excuse for that Yith to botch the mind-switching so Mahiro and Nyaruko can spend time in each other’s bodies. I hate this concept because it usually leads to endless scenes with the people trying to figure out the opposite sex’s bodies work, but thankfully this show is more interested in cheap laughs. So intent are they to get all the jokes in that whatever attack is coming is delayed until next week. Indeed, any idea of an attack would be forgotten after Nyaruko takes advantage of the situation to declare to the class (as Mahiro) that he loves Nyaruko. It’s a shame the production didn’t switch voices, too, so that the actors could have some fun playing the other’s role.

Shining Hearts 8 is basically an episode where Rick sits around thinking, or thinks while other people tell him things. He makes a delivery to Flora’s Bar and later visits it (asking for milk and not getting guffaws or even a raised eyebrow), since he has learned that Flora, too, washed ashore on this island with no memories of her past. Let’s see, that makes six now, oh, I forgot Dylan the pirate, so it’s seven, over half the cast, hell, everyone in the cast except Medara and the folks up the palace. Rick broods on it. His girls seem happy for the change. Kaguya, now recovered thanks in part to bread, is still getting her bearings, by it seems looking for the moon. Flora has found something new but can’t let go of parts of her past–whatever they are, and Dylan spouts fatalistic philosophical stuff. He saw that huge battleship last week, so no wonder. Meanwhile Medara and the royalty and possibly Hank know more than they are saying, and I think since the castaways outnumber the other regular characters like 2-1, the natives ought to assume some responsibility and fill them in, or at least Rick, since he’s the most curious.

Moretsu 21, Spacebros 9, AKB0048 5, Shining Bread 7

A hell of a lot of fun in Moretsu Pirates 21, one of those episodes where a lot of things could happen and they do–all at once.

Ai, blinded, having fun.

First they have to set it all up. Hakou’s dinghy team arrives to the obvious fear and consternation of the other participants and the Chairwoman, who remembers all too well what happened six years ago, the event that put Hakou on suspension. Turns out it was Lynn’s doing, though she was unaware of the carnage she helped cause at the “13th Tournament Nightmare,” as it is known today. Frankly, if I knew I was with a team with such a bad reputation I would swagger a little more, but swagger isn’t their style, alas. The chairwoman is convinced that they’re up to no good again, and when she learns Marika will be observing in a dinghy of her own, she’s convinced. And there’s that evil faction who’s out to get Marika because she’s a pirate, with their own plans. Oh, Chiaki’s around, too, because it wouldn’t be as much fun without her. As I said, a lot of potential for fun here.

The beginning of the race is beautiful to watch. We see much of it via Ai, who has no ulterior motive except racing her dinghy, even if all the other teams are dead-set on beating her and the other Hakou contestants, you know why. The actual course, we’re told, is much rougher this year partly out of spite, which doesn’t make much sense since all the other contestants have to endure it, too. But the race itself is soon overshadowed when the craziness happens.

Marika, not blinded, not having fun.

First, the chairwoman in her own dinghy trying to take Marika down, nearly taking out some of the actual contestants in the process. If that wasn’t enough for Marika, the evil people show up moments later and start firing–on everybody. This being the sort of show it is, we don’t see any innocent people getting hit, but still, imagine being in a race and having some goon shoot at you because you MIGHT be their target! But Marika learns who they’re after. Against the advice of the Bentenmaru Marika does the decent (and near-suicidal) thing and gets the goons’ attention, and while they’re firing at her, the chairwoman reenters the fray, and THEN … out of nowhere … Well … I should add that these scenes are directed and animated superbly. The whole thing is a delight, one thing after another, help from unexpected places, and in the end it returns to Ai, her computers are down but she can navigate by the stars, like every good sailor, the wind blowing away her cute hat. The joy of sailing gets the last word. This might have been the best episode yet.

Don’t ask.

Space Brothers 9 is filler, a chance for Mutta to look around at where he is now, prepare for what’s coming next, and find new things to doubt himself for. First comes the finding of Hibito’s will, but after some odd reflection it’s clear there’s nothing he didn’t know already about astronauts dying. Even his parents (who for once have a good scene) laugh it off. There follows a number of silly scenes while we wait for something to happen. Some snark about his brother from astronauts who didn’t pass … mostly ignored. Reflection from Kenji about his daughter growing up while he’s absent, heading to Mars … Mutta can sympathize, but he’s not in that position. It’s Serika’s goal to work on the ISS on a cure for the illness that killed her father that finally gets to him. Serika has a reason to be in space, Mutta feels that he doesn’t. And so the third exam will begin and Mutta has something new to dwell upon. We’re set for the next story arc.

No doubt: Tomochin is the creepiest of the Idols.

AKB0048 5 is also filler. The girls have been training hard and now get their monthly day off. It’s a little opportunity to watch the girls at leisure, but the fun of the episode is learning more about the utter weirdness of the AKB0048 operation, oh, and to introduce the official members to us. The more normal members, like Yuuko and Yukirin, divulge odd facts to their underlings, like no one is supposed to inquire as to the chief of the organization, known only as the belly-button stealing Sensei-Sensei, or that the center performer role was removed after the performers kept vanishing. On the far scale of the weirdness is Tomochin, one of a long line of Tomochins in AKB0048, almost clone-like, who marry men who resemble them and even slavishly learn the family bad habits. So Tomochin is officially the creepiest one of the group. Oh, Sae is apparently little more than a sidekick and Mayuyu is hungry all the time. Nothing else to the episode except Nagisa tries to bond with Chieri again.

She just up and admits it.

Shining Hearts Shiawase no Pan 7 has Rick pondering a lot of things, but not the one you’d think. Madera prompts him to go visit Xiao Mei about whatever is making his baking skills slip (Kagura, she of the perpetual coma, won’t even wake up for it anymore!), as if she knows what Xiao’s side job is. Maybe she does, she seems to know everything else. Xiao doesn’t bother to keep it a secret from Rick when he arrives, so the series has passed on one potential story, I guess, in favor of another. Neither does it occur to Rick to turn her in, even before he sees she’s basically doing a Robin Hood. No, what Rick ponders is whether he truly is (or should be) a swordsman or a baker, never once entertaining the possibility that he could be both. He’s open about his difficulties to his friends, but they don’t offer that answer either. So he makes his unnecessary either-or decision and gets back to baking. This is after many scenes, mind you, and me muttering for the show to get on with it and stop with closeups of each character giggling or frowning. FINALLY, at the very end, a huge, monstrous, unexpected mass of plot development happens, and the previews have Rick hanging out with sinister people. Oh did you know that not only Rick, but every harem girl in the series washed ashore? Did the island’s entire population?

Amnesia 7, Shining Bread 6, Acchi 7

The nasty black thing in Tasogare Otome x Amunesia is revealed. Episode 7’s telling is messy, the idea not original, but it’s effective nonetheless.

In order to lull us, the show ignores Kirie’s encounter with the nasty thing last week and devotes several moments to Yuuko’s delightful side, a mock exorcism, messing with Teiichi during PE, sitting on his lap during class–I think having a beautiful girl sitting on my lap during class would be a delightful experience. Instead Teichii is worried, especially when Yuuko gets jealous because Momoe comes on to him. From our perspective, and our knowledge of Yuuko, these are understandable emotions from a lonely ghost who is desperate for attention and can’t get all she needs. Teiichi’s not to blame. He’s got to be do human things, like interact with Momoe and go home at night. But Kirie thinks there’s more to it.

And she’s right. What we have here is a supernatural variation of the “Evil Twin” story, except the twin isn’t going around impersonating the other one. It’s all the ugly emotions that Yuuko doesn’t want to feel rolled into one nasty toothy ball of ugly. Alas, this leads to a number of scenes with lines like “I Am You,” “No! No!” And I’m not sure I buy the premise to begin with. Yuuko’s shown a lot of negative human emotions in her positive form. She’s never been all sweetness and light. On the other hand, the fact that she died (I don’t think Teiichi’s new theory is completely true, but whatever actually happened must be equally dire) and her corpse rotted in a basement means the girl has got to have some issues. Kirie tries to explain this to Teiichi, who might be in a bit of denial himself about the issue.

This leads to the surprising conclusion. My guess is that Yuuko pushed away all thoughts of the terrible thing she did to Teiichi, the way she handles her other bad thoughts, and that means the memory of Teiichi himself. But we already knew what she has to do: open herself up, accept the bad thoughts, and thus become a full human being, er, ghost again.

Actually, Rouna’s a capable fighter. Just don’t ask her to carry anything.

Hey, look! Shining Hearts – Shiawase no Pan 6 has an action scene! Never mind that it’s incompetently handled. Rick swings his big sword and slashes through the skin-tight hood Black Tail was wearing, though no deeper, and if she was so adamant on hiding her identity, why did she turn her head in the sunlight so that Rick (and us) could get a good look at her face and cat ears? Why was Rick appointed to help catch this palace thief when all he does is wind up running around like the rest of the soldiers? Why didn’t Rouna, surprisingly skilled in combat, assist the investigation in the first place? She tracked the thief down pretty easily. Well, we do learn a few things, like Prince Lagunas knowing more about Rick’s past than Rick does. And the fact that Rick does not turn in Xiao Mei to the authorities suggests a tension between the rulers and the commoners that the Imperials’ confiscating two weeks ago hinted at. The rest of the episode is the usual. Dialogue that needed trimming, bread that needed baking.

‘Tsumiki, I can dry your hair for you.’

Acchi Kocchi 7 wipes a few summer activities off its checklist. A trip to the mountains, fishing, barbecue and fireworks. It’s one of the better episodes because the expected jokes are done well. I especially liked Sakaki getting blown up by fireworks a lot. Tsumiki, I think, broke her own cuteness record, but I’m not sure why she would bite Io on the head after Mayoi suggest she sit on his lap.