Yumeiro Pro 4, Soredemo 3

Yumeiro Patissiere Professional 4 is a low-key episode. This is usually the case when there’s a crisis. Also, overall this new series is less silly. Maybe it’s because the characters are older.

Or maybe it’s that the series turns to the most quiet and dullest of the team: Andou. He doesn’t have the personality to make his crises interesting. Well, never mind, he is an important character, so let’s pay attention to him for a while. After he collapses from exhaustion he’s talked into taking a few days off to recuperate. Worried about the shop’s profits, he still can’t relax. The others spend time sympathizing with him or admonishing him. Johnny’s lecture about “chance loss and disposal loss” helps a little in thinking about what’s wrong with the shop, but for the time being they still ignore another big problem: they’re understaffed! But that comes later.

Much is made about helping people out in times of need. Johnny can’t figure it out, and frankly I too was thinking that the characters were worrying about Andou and ignoring their own problems, for their own shops aren’t selling much either. But the chance loss theory comes up again and the characters realize that they should work together in one shop, not do their individual thing (Johnny, the typical individualist American, is the one vote against this). Interestingly, Andou is shown to be an individualist himself, so we suddenly have solutions for both shops.

Fairy precision dancing!

The show gets a little maudlin here. It’s a long scene where Andou is persuaded by everyone (including Satsuki, whom Kashino has brought in) to let everyone contribute. Now the assistant girls can help cook and the place bursts with new ideas. Even Johnny lends a hand in one of those “I’m an ass but I have a heart of gold” bits. Now that Andou and his shop have recovered we can turn to using the same teamwork to rescue Team Ichigo’s, or Lemon’s or whoever’s turn it is to have a line. But I think we’ll have to wait. Next week it looks to be all fairies, which means silliness returns!

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru 3 … hmm, this sometimes annoying series is growing on me. The first story was a lot of fun. Homeroom teacher Moriaki, who, like everyone else, thinks Hotori is a blithering idiot, comes to her for advice because she has “a sense of the extraordinary.” His grandfather’s paintings were split among the descendants, and he wound up with a weird one.

Hotori’s task: figure out what the hell his grandfather was on about, especially since he also painted one with the correct number of eyes. It’s a fun story for a few reasons. First, it’s a legitimate mystery. I was trying to figure it out myself. Second, it lets the other characters come up with their own flawed or absurd theories. Third, for the first time in the series we see Hotori as something BESIDES a blithering idiot.

I mean it. She used every clue that flew right by me and came up with a logical and, as it turns out, correct theory. Good thing, too. I sometimes get tired of her antics. It was also an imaginative solution that made me go “Oh, so THAT’S why they mentioned such-and-such.”

Good job, Hotori!

The second story isn’t as good. Off to buy vegetables (and getting the order wrong again) Hotori meets a boy trying to coax his cat out of a narrow alley. Nothing much to it, but the boy is not what she thinks, and so we have the final member of the band that plays during the closing credits.

Still more Twos: Yakumo, Soredemo, Milky Holmes

Shinrei Tantei Yakumo 2 isn’t much better than the first.

Haruka begins to explain why she likes Yakumo.

We start with Yakumo waking up and insulting Haruka for whatever reason. Then we have to see his sympathetic side when he points out that ghosts used to be people, that they’re not monsters to be purified or exorcised. Alas, Haruka is just the sort of girl who goes for these quiet, rude types with hearts of gold. And we move on to the ghost of the week, who’s rather violently haunting a shrine that’s to be merged with another. And Haruka, naturally, has a visitation herself.

The ghost story turns mundane, an old man accepts the past and we learn more about Yakumo and his family and how troubled the guy is. Sigh. We also get some bad guys who stand around in the dark and make plans. We had them last week as well and I’m sorry we didn’t get to their story, because the one they gave us instead was completely forgettable.

After watching Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru 2 I’ve uncovered some of the things I like and ones that will annoy me the longer I watch it.

Hotori's usual courteous service.

Hotori is a little of both. She’s goofy and often fun to watch. On the other hand she’s willful and can be mean and uncaring when she wants to be. In episode 2 we see her mishandling her siblings, clobber a cop in the family jewels with a scooter without a trace of remorse and try and tear down the dentist’s sign next door. But she does this all so energetically that I find it hard to hate her. Her half-baked strategies for bringing in more customers shows some of her good side.

As for the show itself, I enjoy how it’s directed. Shots come from all angles and there’s a lot of energy. I sometimes like how the story goes off-tangent, I sometimes don’t. The side characters, well there’s not much to them yet. Granny is the biggest mystery of the group. I’m not in love with this show, but so far I don’t dread watching an episode.

I was hoping Tantei Opera Milky Holmes 2 would be a bad as episode one and I’d have an excuse to drop it from my backbreaking schedule, and it wasn’t very good. However, it was … odd. I have a weakness for oddity.

The bad guys take a moment to grin evilly.

The Milky Holmes team are at a low ebb, living Baka to Test style, the worst desks, the worst food, and they’re beginning to turn on each other. Cordelia is so worried that she becomes delusional. When they rescue a stray cat they begin to get along again, until Cordelia sees Fish Paste (the cat) stealing bread. When the girls are accused Cordelia takes the blame on herself in a bizarre moment of opera singing.

Here’s an example of the oddity. There are moments like this scattered throughout, and many of them worked. What follows is Milky Holmes trying to discover the real culprit, using the worst detective skills imaginable. They were once star detectives? But what really confuses me is when the truth comes out. Student Council President Henriette, who, remember, is actually the leader of the bad guys, forgives Cordelia and allows them to keep the cat. The baker who did the accusing (and is also a bad guy) is remorseful in his apology. And earlier another bad guy helped them light a fire. Don’t they WANT the girls expelled? Don’t they hate them? What’s going on? A point is made that without Milky Holmes around, stealing is way too easy. Maybe they secretly want Milky Holmes around to make their thievery more exciting … Weird weird weird. Or maybe just bad. Haven’t made up my mind. I’ll give it one more episode.

The last episode ones? A Certain Magical Index II, Soredomo Machi wa Mawatteiru, Tantei Opera Milky Holmes

The first A Certain Magical Index series was both appealing and frustrating. It brought us some interesting characters but too often fell to incoherent stories with one magical group or individual after another showing up, as if they were pulling cult terminology randomly out of a hat. And Index appeared far too rarely in the show named for her. The spinoff, A Certain Scientific Railgun, had some of these same problems, maddening story arcs, sloppy writing, but grounded itself in the adventures of a handful of girls. The series was as much about their friendship as it was about level-uppers. Because of this the strange world managed to grow, and I found myself missing it when it was over. Which is to say I’m delighted to see A Certain Magical Index II.

I’m happy to say Touma is still Touma, a guy with no magical powers but a right hand that can dispel magic. He’s also unlucky and put-upon by everyone he meets, while all he wants to do is live peacefully and get his homework done. An appealing character whom I was always glad to see when he showed up on Railgun. And Index is … Index. Her main job in the original series was to get kidnapped or threatened, when she appeared at all, oh, and to bug Touma. The new series starts us with a minor stand-alone story to get us back into their world. A guy kidnaps Index so he can get a look at one of the forbidden books in her brain.

It turns out he wants to save the cursed woman he loves, he’s not really bad, etc. They do reintroduce a theme used very well in Railgun, that of a city where some people have powers, others don’t and the friction that can cause between them. I hope they get back to that. And as a bonus we briefly see Misaka, pissed and flustered in turns around Touma, though she gets more flustered than I expected. Hmm. Next week more old characters return and I’m going to have to catch up with all their affiliations and rivalries. Since this stuff dragged the original series down I’m not looking forward to that. Maybe this time they’ll do a better job.

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru is about Hotori Arashiyama, a half-assed girl, and the half-assed maid cafe she works in.

About the only thing maidy about it is the outfits. They don’t even serve tea, can’t be bothered. This seems to suit Hotori fine. It suits Hotori’s classmate Sanada, too, since he’s one of their few customers and so gets time alone with her. I’m not sure where the story, if any, is going to go. The first episode has two: first, Hotori’s friend Toshiko shows up and tries to get the place to act more classy. In the second their homeroom teacher shows up to berate them for breaking school rules. Slapstick ensues, some of it funny.

A clumsy maid exercise goes awry.

I liked the premiere well enough but I’m not sure it has staying power. There are a lot of quick camera shots to keep us on edge and keep us from noticing that the character designs aren’t all that much, though the art looks fine. It’s quirky, which I always like. We’ll see.

Tantei Opera Milky Holmes 1 brings us four cute and annoying little detectives attending Holmes Detective Academy. Apparently in this world everyone’s either a detective and a thief. A “golden age” of, er, thieving and detecting.

Meet the Milky Holmes girls.

Everyone has a “toy,” some sort of inner power that gives them certain abilities. Milky Holmes (the name of the four-girl team) has lost their toys, thanks to some deviousness or other concocted by their nemesis, Lady Arsene. Not content with that, Arsene and her cohorts work in the academy and are using their influence to drive the girls out of school altogether, a big drop from before, when Milky Holmes was the envy of the school. The girls have three months to get their toys back—or else. Why Arsene, who as Henrietta, is the headmaster, doesn’t just expel them I don’t know. Some weird things are going on behind the scenes. And where did Kobayashi Opera, who trained the girls, run off too? What was that mysterious bolt of lightning during the girls’ humiliating attempt to defuse a bomb in front of the student body?

Meet Lady Arsene. Now, whose side are you on?

Not to say I’m interested. The girls are shrill little clichés. The bad guys, known as the Gentleman Thieves, are clichés as well, but they’re more fun to watch than the heroes. The show is fully aware of this and devotes most of the ED to showing Arsene in revealing poses. Twenty, posing as a teacher, has some good moments of narcissism, not enough to save the series, but things liven up when he’s around. In the end the series had better whip the Milky Holmes girls into shape if I’m going to keep watching it.