Steins;Gate and Hisone 6, Franxx 18, Comic Girls 7

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At least they had a nice New Year party before the goons burst in.

Steins;Gate 0  7 has bad guys busting into the lab while everyone’s there, but they haven’t killed anyone yet. It would be interesting if they killed Mayuri again, well, maybe not, as it would make Rintaro such a basket case that the story couldn’t move forward. Also, they burst in but don’t do anything except point guns and a taser at everyone. If there is going to be a shocking (not from the taser) moment it would have happened before the episode finished, to make the cliffhanger more exciting. My guess is that Yuugo the landlord is going to interfere somehow, since he spotted a guy staking out the place, and his daughter is up there. Well, we’ll find out. More interesting to me was everyone meeting the Amadeus Kurisu, and Rintaro’s comment that she is not Kurisu, and while Kagari might be the spitting image, she’s not Kurisu either. Maybe if they can get a third non-Kurisu, they can triangulate one. Meanwhile, I hope it isn’t long before those profs out themselves as SERN stooges. The show has made it too obvious for the viewer what they are. Besides, the blond guy gets on my nerves.

comicgirls7-1One of the best features of Comic Girls is Kaos freaking out about something or other. On the other hand, the things that freak her out don’t often feel real. In the second half she goes into the city alone, and after a lovely time in Akihabara, she’s stopped by a friendly policewoman who thought she was a lost little girl. This spirals downward until she’s hiding in a box in an alley, while I was tapping my toes waiting for her to snap out of it. It also bewilders me why she acts that way while at the same time working as a new manga artist who has to deal with constant rejection by her editor. Well, I don’t think about it too much and just enjoy the freakouts. This week the scary but kind Suzu has some more fun with her, but Kaos is getting used to it, besides, Suzu is a good teacher. Then there’s the whole issue of glasses. The show makes it clear that she needs them, but she doesn’t feel worthy of looking so mature. This fits right into the believability range for me, but they stretch that crisis out a bit too long.

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omedetou!

Darling in the FranXX 18 decides not to follow up on the klaxosaur princess business but instead decides to make the squad’s lives even more miserable. Oh, there’s a bit near the end where the encased elders talk about how everything is mostly going to plan, but most of the episode is spent with Kokoro and Mitsuru’s wedding preparations, which we watch knowing full well that some shit was going to go down and ruin it. Everyone was too happy. So the Nines show up, not sure why, unless they’re Papa’s personal henchmen, though I suspect the show just wanted Alpha to be there to say smug lines so we can hate him more. Meanwhile, the pilots’ role in this society is becoming clearer and more depressing. I wonder when it’s going to backfire on the elders. As suggested by the brainwashed Kokoro’s interest in the Sakura at the end, and the fact that Hiro and 02’s altered memories didn’t stay altered, someone, somewhere is going to recall something. And, as the Ikuno/Ichigo scene points out, these kids have experienced a hell of a lot more and have more complex, adult emotions than any of the other Not sure what the kids will do with the memories when they return, though. They are, as they always have been, powerless.

hisone6-1I think we all figured out that the way for the Hisone to Masotan pilots to get off the island was for the dragons to be happy, and that mostly meant getting F2, I mean Ken-San, er, Norma happy too, which wasn’t going to happen while Eri was so grumpy and stubborn. How she loosens up at the end didn’t really work. She tells the others why she is so angry–she wanted to be a real F2 pilot and not a dragon pilot, she turns around when Norma is overheating and talks to her. Okay, I like the way her change of heart is not overt and melodramatic, but it doesn’t give us a chance to see the change-of-heart moment for ourselvs; she’s come around without us noticing. Oh, well, it was another good episode anyway. I like how the other three characters play off each other now. We can hopefully depend on the four characters to provide a backbone for the future weirdness, i.e., what the hell is up with that island, that weird dream all the girls had, and finally why was that one guy talking about a “ritual?”

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Steins;Gate and Hisone 5, Comic Girls 6, FranXX 17

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Not who you think, OR IS IT?!

I just finished Steins;Gate 0 5 and find I have little so say about it. Again, the plodding writing sometimes threatens to pull me out of things, but they threw in enough surprises, especially the doozy at the end, that it didn’t matter. And, to be fair, while I might gripe about the writing, this is one of those shows where time whizzes by; it’s over before I know it, or want it to be. Perhaps they’re doing a good job at dropping in surprises and ramping up the suspense to keep me interested. That last one boggled the mind: we have a Kurisu look-alike who has lost her memory who ALSO happens to be the missing Kagari, Now I have all sorts of questions, like what the hell was she doing as a guest at Ruka’s house? Who is the other guest? Add that to What prompted Maho’s panic attack? What is Moeka up to? Hell, just about everyone in the show, including that new professor character, is probably up to something, this show being what it is. Yeah, I might quibble, but I think I’m finally hooked again.

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Some bonding.

I’m trying to figure out the SECRET MEANING in the Hisone to Masotan ED. I get that they added character voices when they were introduced, but in week 5 (and in week 3) they were singing in harmony. I guess it means the four girls have some found harmony with each other. And they have. At first, stuck in survival training on that island, they were dysfunctional, but then Hisone found water, Rinko made fire, and Mayumi found food, and they sat down and talked about how awful they are, while Liboshi, observing, talks about how connecting with the dragons brings something that is missing in the girls, or something like that. The only one left out of the bonding (and in the sweetest moment of the episode, we see the dragons playing together in the water–even they’re bonding, or remembering each other, as Liboshi says) is, of course, Eri, and I’m sure she’ll have her breakthrough and accept her dragon in a tearjerker scene next week. Another good episode, though the fanservice came as a surprise.

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The show finds a new way to freak out Kaos.

Comic Girls 6 continues the trend of taking predictable story ideas and elevating them, slightly, by some clever lines and Kaos’s freakouts. She has plenty to freak about in the first half, when she meets a scary ghost-girl. We at home of course already knew that the mysterious thing was probably a schoolmate, or a former tenant, or a friend of somebody. Turns out to be a little of all three. Fuura, former tenant, second-year, etc. She has fun scaring poor Kaos through much of the story until the show gets soft and turns her into an awkward girl who isn’t used to social situations, just like Kaos. I liked her better when she was scary. But what was that bit with her hanging from a tree at the start? The second story, where the homeroom teacher turns out to be a major otaku and a huge fan of “Wing-V” Tsubasa doesn’t have the same sense of fun, apart from the girls pondering the penname “Wing-V.”

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Making babies, she means.

Speaking of weird nicknames, Darling in the FranXX 17 has the kids in the Nines Squad pay our gang a little visit, and you know that won’t end well, especially with 9 Alpha, the smirking blonde brat going around saying suggestive things to anyone he knows will be bothered by it. What makes it interesting is that he probably doesn’t know everything himself, only what Papa told him, and we’ve see the parental figures in this show don’t want, or are afraid to tell the truth much of the time. I say “afraid to” because of Nana’s breakdown when Kokoro confronts her about making babies. Some adolescent emotions forcing their way through her unnaturally-erected defenses. All that training and therapy for naught.

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Huh? Huh?

What it seems to boil down to is that humans don’t do it like they used to, and in fact they’re trained to not even think about it. The contrast between a seeming utopian world where emotions and love are cut out for the good of humanity isn’t exactly a new idea in science fiction, but how the creators work it out is what matters. They seem to be doing a good job; I wonder a little about the adults letting the kids hang out together like this and discovering the forbidden fruit by themselves. Being able to pilot a franxx is one thing, but making babies is a whole different matter. Maybe, as Dr. Franxx hints, it’s because the adults have lost this knowledge or ability, or some part of it. I am also intrigued by 9 Alpha’s claims that the old way of doing things limited people to two genders. I wonder what gender he considers himself. Well, lots to ponder, and I didn’t even touch on the Klaxosaur Princess, 02’s humanity or lack of it, and that whole part of the story, and how it will tie in with everything else, oh, and Hiro growing horns!

Steins;Gate 0 4, Comic Girls 5, Hisone 4, FranXX 16

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Things are slowly getting weird again for Rintarou.

I’m have three problems with Steins;Gate 0. The first is the obvious one: I can’t remember all the characters. It’s been seven years, after all. So it took me a long moment to figure out why Rintarou was so freaked out by Moeka’s appearance. Rintarou’s flashbacks helped. The second problem is that Rintarou is still in calm, serious mode and has become a lot duller than before. After all he’s been through I don’t expect him to thrown himself completely into crazy mad scientist mode, but anything that can get his energy up (not counting those painful flashbacks) would be appreciated. The third problem is that the plotting is more inept than the original. Pointless scenes about meeting people, or asking people for help finding that little girl, are included when they could have been avoided. Things plod along, and it’s getting a little dull, so the sense of dread the show is trying to bring about isn’t coming across as well. I’m hoping more plot will kick in soon, like that deal with the professor vanishing like that, not to mention the girl and the gun …

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I’m happy for you Kaos.

Meanwhile, Comic Girls, with its nearly thoroughly predictable storylines, moves forward confidently. It’s never going to be a great series, but it uses what is has to such effect that it all becomes … better than average. First we got the inevitable beach episode, with swimsuits and insecurities about bust sizes. Nevertheless, everyone manages to have a good time, even if Kaos is stung by a jellyfish, a moment so cute (yes, cute) that I had to laugh. Also, the show is keeping a good rhythm, and every scenes segues nicely into the next. After the beach we have Tsubasa and Kaos playing vid games while Ruki and Koyumi go shopping, where Ruki suggests asking Tsubasa out on a date, and thus we have our third story, at the amusement park with, naturally, all the other girls stalking them. There’s a little heart-to-heart on the ferris wheel that helped open up Koyume’s feelings (about her career(, but that’s the only moment of heaviness. The episode’s only misstep was having the two editors also stalk the girls. I didn’t recognize them at all, they haven’t been seen apart from the professional meetings, so I kept wondering “who ARE these girls? Classmates?”

hisonemasotan4-1I’ve been watching the five girls dance in that fun ED for a couple of weeks now, so it’s nice that we’re finally able to meet them in Hisone to Masotan 4. They’re pretty much what we expected. Ririko is shy and depressed, Mayumi, the big girl, is sweet and affectionate toward her dragon, and Eru is even meaner than she appeared. It is a question of which girl will present their personal crisis to the world first–this is, for its eccentricities, a traditional show, though I was a little surprised that it’s Eru first. Fully trained and contemptuous of those who treat their dragons like living things (hers is a tool to use, nothing more), you know the show will turn her around quickly enough, and it does, even quicker than I thought it would. The surprise for me, was that she is shown to be not as great a pilot than she believes she is, or wants to be. Where did she get that attitude? And when she’s out-maneuvered by Zaitou, of all people, she and her dragon freak. THAT was a surprise. I thought for sure this episode would be all about Hisone not living up to the other girls’ expectations, but there’s only a little of that. Hisone’s weekly “I didn’t mean that” speech, again for me, was perhaps unkind but I’m glad someone said it.

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Hiro gives another uplifting speech.

After a week off, Darling in the Franxx 16 returns to look at that battle’s aftermath. The higher-ups are quite happy with the result, even with the casualties, and they’re talking about confronting the Klaxosaur Princess, whom I think we get a glimpse of at the end. Meanwhile, apart from some basic necessities, our gang are cut off from everyone else, and there are signs that something is wrong with them. Ikuno gets a fever, Futoshi stops eating, Miku has some grey hairs, and 02 is nice to everybody. Okay, that last one isn’t so worrisome, in fact, it’s welcome to the others, but it does make her a little less fun to watch. It might all be stress-related, and indeed the episode’s point is to show the gang adapting to their new situation, maybe no longer needed by Papa, no longer franxx pilots, the only things that gave their life meaning. As for WHY they are cut off, ask the Doctor, but he’s not giving anyone any answers. The episode is effective enough, their bonds grow stronger, and it’s good to see no one bickering for a change, but it was also a little dull. Time to get that fairy tale metaphor about the monster back in the story and have 02 confront her non-human side, for while she’s happy being human right now, there’s still the monstrous side to deal with.

Catching up with Steins, Comic girls, and Hisone

It’s apparent without checking that Steins;Gate 0 is going to run through two cours, because they’re taking their time with everything.

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Nah, that doesn’t feel like Kurisu.

This is not a complaint. I don’t think the show is stretching anything needlessly. It’s working in a patient, orderly fashion. Episode two was getting Rintarou to meet the AI Kurisu, and that pretty much takes the whole episode apart from the others doing Christmas planning. And here I get a bit confused about as well. I would have thought that this new Kurisu would remember Rintarou, but then I realized that her data was recorded before she got to Tokyo and met Rintarou … Anyway, for those who waited for the old Rintarou/Kurisu dynamic, well, we needed to be patient about that. They make the point early on, when this Kurisu doesn’t reject the idea of a time machine outright, that this is NOT the real thing, and apart from a moment where Rintarou loses himself and tells AI Kurisu to shut up (I wanted to cheer), It’s all “hajimashite” and the like at first.

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That’s better.

And episode 3 continues the slow, steady pace of the first arc, seemingly “the rise and fall of Rintarou’s mental state.” It’s actually a cruel trick–the dynamic I mentioned before has begun to reappear, but at the same time we know Rintarou is using the AI Kirusu as a crutch to avoid the reality that the real Kurisu is dead, something Maho was afraid of. But it’s great fun. Kurisu infuriates and embarrasses Rintarou just like the old days, inquiring why he called her Christina, joking about his lame behavior at the mixer (turn off your apps, Rintarou) and the messy state of the lab. It’s almost like we’re watching Kurisu reinvent herself, which, of course, makes Maho’s necessary declaration at the end more cruel. Meanwhile, her story arc not ready yet, Suzu pops up every now and then, patiently waiting for her turn.

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Kaos, terrified by a group of nice girls who are curious about her.

I’m still not sure whether Comic Girls will entertain or bore me in the end, and episode 2 was a little of both. One thing about this CGDCT show that’s a bit different (and the good ones are all a little different from the norm). Yeah, the girls go into the city to have crepes and go shopping, but they’re shopping for manga and art supplies. So no going kawaii! about a dress or a hat, though they say that a lot anyway, but they all have takes on the latest screen tones, pens, and masking tape. The second half, with Kaos’s first day as a transfer student, has more substance, seeing that strangers frighten her (well, lots of things frighten her, that’s part of her schtick) and now she’s surrounded by them. But of course her friends help her settle in, and sooner or later she’ll start to fit in.

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Kaos’s anxieties lead her to a kind of nirvana.

Episode three is also filled with Kaos-chan’s anxieties. It also works very well because it switches from one story to the next so smoothly that you don’t even notice it. I guess the main theme is “make Kaos-chan more normal so she can do a normal manga,” whatever normal means. So they change her hair and outfits, the show each time finding something for Kaos to get embarrassed or intimidated by. The story changes from clothing to a sketching contest which provides our weekly fanservice, to Kaos deciding to work harder, to Kaos working TOO hard and making herself sick from not eating (which is also related to a new anxiety, this one about being a gourmet). Along the way the episode delivers a steady stream of good gags, and to my surprise, they have managed to keep Kaos’s constant insecurities fresh and funny, though I hope for her sake that she manages to gain a little confidence.

hisone2-1Episode two of Hisone to Masotan settles in to do the usual character development stuff. They bring in a suave but creepy flight suit designer named Ikushima for some cheap laughs, but it’s Nao who gets the most attention. She is again such a loose cannon that I figured the show needed to deal with her first before she got into real trouble, though she does anyway. Turns out she’s jealous because Hisone grabbed her #1 pilot job without trying or even caring too much. In fact, when Hisone asked Masotan to let Nao take her place because she didn’t really care, she not only pissed off Nao (conveniently overhearing from outside the hanger–a plot device the show has already overused) but hurt Masotan’s feelings. Overall it’s a pretty traditional story being told here, but again the touch is so light that it makes everything bearable.

hisone3-1As for episode three, I wish they would finally introduce all those other girls they show in the credits. I suspect they will next time. As for THIS time, more of a confused episode where Hisone, when not undergoing sexual harassment by her new fellow pilots (she got promoted), she wonders who her mysterious predecessor Moriyama was, what she is like, and fumes jealously because Masotan obviously adores her. A credit to this show that rather than create some big tragic story about “Forest,” has her appear with her young son, happy as a clam, though it’s no help to Hisone, who finally has to lecture Masotan on responsibility before he’ll take her up to show off at the big air show. Again, a fairly traditional story framework given a light touch, making it sweet and funny rather than heavy. So far, I think this is my favorite show of the season.

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Plus, the ED with its retro song and the dancing, is fun as hell.

Spring 2018 #4

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Ah, thanks for the info. Still a stupid name, though.

Let’s see … Skipping High School DxD HERO (sequel) and Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori (too many cute men, though the tea shop aspect had me briefly interested), so it’s time for Last Period – Owarinaki Rasen no Monogatari-. Where a kid named Haru, who is a “Period,” meaning he has some superpower or another, along with what’s left of his guild after someone steals all their money, go after “Spirals,” your typical nasty creatures. He’s joined by Liza, who also has a superpower I couldn’t figure out, and Campanella, who hits things with his sword, and whom I couldn’t figure out the gender for until later. Oh, also Choco, a laconic, white-haired thing who hangs out with Haru, though their relationship isn’t explained yet. They do a mission for Stingy Village, which lives up to its name, and encounter a team of rivals who call themselves “Wiseman,” who are much cooler than our heroes are, and get to do the ending credits.

lastperiod1-1I appreciate how this series skips all the backstory. Normally it would start off as Haru, seeking his fortune, coming to the city and meeting all the characters episode by episode. Here they’re already together. Sadly, none of our heroes interested me that much, though they each had moments. I liked Choco’s comments about the writing quality, and Liza had some good barbs as well. Alas, Haru is a total bore. As I mentioned, Wiseman were a lot more fun. They’ll probably do a face turn a few episodes down and become less so. I enjoyed the cynically capitalist attitude the show has, not only with Stingy village, where the mayor manages to hire two teams to defeat spirals, turn them on each other, and sell tickets for the big battle, but with people leaving Haru’s guild the moment they discover the money is gone. And some well-timed gags. I’ve seen better kids shows, but this one isn’t bad.

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Ah yes, that slightly brownish tint Steins;Gate is so fond of.

Stein’s Gate needs no introduction. The only questions for the 0 sequel is would I remember all the characters and exactly what happened, not to mention that I watched only the happy ending. However, it wasn’t hard to figure out the main difference–Kurisu is dead. Anyway, we watch a much more sober, serious, and less fun Rintaro as he goes about being normal, undergoing therapy and taking medication, while Mayuri keeps an eye on him, well, everyone is, really. Old friends (Daru, John Titor, er, Suzu, etc) are introduced, and we are gently reminded that this timeline is going to go straight to hell if Rintaro doesn’t do something, and he has no intention of messing with time again. He attends a conference and encounters a new regular (I’m assuming) character, Maho, and then is shocked out of his skull when a lecture brings up a theory by Kurisu. And I’m confused already, because while it’s a coincidence, it doesn’t change anything. She’s still dead …

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Rintaro, shocked, as he should be.

Well, anyway, this is a good enough opening, and it dispels some of my fears. It looks and feels like the same world, even if they make some conscious changes to differentiate it: it’s Winter, not Summer, Rintaro wears black, not his white lab coat. Speaking or Rintaro, while his new behavior and desire to be normal are understandable (and his mental instability underneath is well-depicted), I can’t wait for him to bust out of his constraints and get back into “crazy mad scientist” mode, full of bluster and humanity, the thing that makes him one of my favorite male characters in anime. In fact, and again, it’s understandable, the episode feels understated, with only some comic antics from Daru and the girls. However, Maho looks to be a fun new character. She’ll fit right in. Of course I’m going to keep watching. This was, for me, the second-best series of 2011, the best single year of anime I have watched so far, and it looks like this season needs a heavy hitter.

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Nisone to Masotan tosses us into a high school setting, then yanks us right out of it in less than a minute.

Hisone to Masotan stars Hisone, a girl who considers herself a social pariah because she runs off at the mouth a lot, and chooses the Special Defense Forces as a career because she can’t think of anything else to do. She’s told to deliver a document to hanger 8, which doesn’t seem to exist, but with the help of a Yakult lady (Yakult ladies know everything) she finds it, and then a dragon appears and swallows her. Turns out the dragon is an “organic transforming flier,” (OTF), and since the dragon took such a shine to her, Hisone is transferred to hanger 8 to become a pilot. Her life gets steadily worse from there until the inevitable breakthrough moment comes, and she and the dragon are flying!

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That’s the second time today!

This was an excellent first episode, the best I’ve seen so far this season. There’s a light touch to everything about it, bright artwork, simplistic yet evocative character designs, and a witty, fast-paced script that jumps over unnecessary bits that would make it drag. Hisone’s tendency to speak her mind turns out to be as much a virtue as a curse, as her verbal outburst midway through said all the things about her situation that I wanted to say. The animation is surprisingly vivid for something that looks like it’s intended for children. It got a little more traditional, and tiresome, near the end while Hisone is learning how to fly the thing, but by that point I was having so much fun watching that I didn’t care too much. Okay! So maybe this season has TWO heavy hitters so far.

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Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii begins with Narumi waking up.

Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii stars (I think) Narumi, waking up late, rushing to get ready, doing everything but the toast bit, only she’s not in high school, she’s an office lady starting a new job today. When her cool senpai with big boobs Hanoko is showing her around they bump into a childhood friend of her, Hirotaka, who asks her if she’s doing anything for Comiket. Oh No! Her otaku secret is out, except no one else reacts. So our future lovebirds start hanging out at izakayas and insulting each other’s otaku tastes (she’s into yaoi, he’s a gamer). And it turns out that Hanoko is a famous yaoi cosplayer and they’ve admired each other for a while, and Tarou, the guy who’s going to wind up with Hanoko, well, we don’t get his proclivities yet.

wotaku1-1Looks like a double-romantic series with no real speedbumps for either couple. Maybe because these are adults, not high school kids. Narumi keeps saying it would be weird to date an otaku like Hirotaka, but when he does a gamer-term confession to her she has absolutely no problem saying yes. It’s almost TOO smooth. Apart from that it comes off as a good, low-key romcom opening episode. The only thing that bugs me is I don’t care much for Narumi’s often shrill voice, though that’s a personal preference, and her mood swings come across nicely. Good basic first episode. We’ll see how it goes.

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Isekai Izakaya starts in an appropriate place.

Next it’s Isekai Izakaya, where your average izakaya has a door that opens up on a fantasy land, which would be a cool, original idea except there was that show last year. Anyway, an off-duty palace guard is taken there by his coworker, and he marvels at the wondrous food served there, such as, this episode, potatoes in oden, with a bit of mustard on the side, oh, and edamame and beer. He goes nuts for all of them, and the chilled beer mugs, and for the cute, cheerful waitress.

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Pretty much all you need to know.

I guess we’ll find out if it’s as entertaining as Isekai Shokudou. The palace guard guy was a total bore; guys like that remind me of the three guards in John Scalzi’s masterpiece fantasy Shadow War of the Night Dragons, but he’s sort of entry level, to get us accustomed to the situation. No other fantasy characters yet. The food is handled well, though I’m not really an oden fan. The waitress girl IS cute. The chef has no personality so far. It was about fifteen minutes of a guy swooning over oden, oh, and a real life chef guy at the end provides us with oden variations while a voice-over makes comments more entertaining than anything in the actual show.

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Invisible Victory begins with a big swooping.

Full Metal Panic returns with Invisible Victory. We start with Tessa visiting her parents’ graves, and Leonard showing up and telling her that his side, Amalgram, were going to get real serious now, forget those two other series. We then meet some asshole on Amalgram’s team who tells Leonard that he needs to get real serious. Then a visit to the high school where fan guy (forgot his name, and what the hell he does in the series) is about to graduate and gives Sousuke a heart-to-heart. Then Sousuke and Chidori walk to her place, where they might get real serious in a different way, only to find Leonard there. He warns them that Amalgram is about to get real serious. Sousuke calls Mithril to warn them, and then things get real serious, and we’ve got an escape scene coming next week.

fmp1-1I don’t remember FMP being so boring before. There was the original series, then the all-out fun of Fumoffu, and the much more serious but still entertaining Second Raid. This first episode just lays there. Boring dialogue, no life to anything. Even seeing old familiar characters didn’t give me the smile of recognition that another show might bring, though to be fair, it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten many of them. Chidori’s great fiery temper is nowhere to be seen, so Sousuke has no one to turn his deadly seriousness into comedy for him, so he comes off as dull. There’s a lot of CGI used here, so characters don’t have as life to them and we get weird camera swings for no reason. Maybe things will liven up next week, but I’m not counting on it.

There! Finished only a week behind!

Steins;Gate finale, and other shows.

Not sure I like the ending of Steins;Gate. It makes perfect, logical sense, at least it seems to. I lost track of the endless returns in time to fix this thing or save that person long ago; it really boiled down to whether Okabe could rescue Kurisu, and in what messy way would his Master Plan (you have to use caps to describe much of Okabe’s actions) go wrong, because you knew it would. And it did, with a lightsaber he didn’t check beforehand (just like a mad scientist), leading to his brave sacrifice.

Go, Okabe, er, Hououin, go!

What made it so satisfying was that Okabe was able to be his mad scientist self all the way through the crisis, whipping his lab coat around, taunting Kurisu’s father, even though he knew what he would have to do next, or rather, have done to him. And while I wondered if he would live, I wondered if his death would be worth it. He went through hell to save his friends’ lives; how would they feel if he sacrificed his own. Even though they would not know what he did, they would dearly miss him, and would change the past themselves to save them if they had the ability.

A happy ending.

So I’m glad he’s still around. I’m less happy about the meeting with Kurisu at the end. I know they set up the idea that everyone has some deep-down memories of the lost timelines, but the two getting together at the end felt like a forced happy ending. And, perhaps more importantly, we never do find out who Daru managed to have a kid with. Oh, well, this was a splendid series. Time traveling, suspense, world conspiracies, mixed in with eccentric characters who were as much fun in the slow moments as they were when there was danger, perhaps more so. Okabe, especially, was fun to watch, whether he was speaking into a switched-off phone, making mad scientist speeches, or desperately running to save someone, always arriving too late.

And the finale gave us two “do-do-doos.” It wouldn’t have been complete otherwise.
Tiger and Bunny and Hanasaku Iroha are finishing soon, too. Three solid series that suggest the anime industry isn’t sinking after all. Speaking of which …

A not-so-happy ending, oh, there's an episode left.

Tiger and Bunny is a good-natured, but heavy-handed show. Not much subtlety. Either everything’s going well or they aren’t. Episode 24’s first half, everything is bad, and in the second, everything is good, well mostly. Sometimes it’s too much to bear. There’s so much angst and evil gloating in the first half that I almost jumped ahead. Only the necessary “We believe” speech, provided by Blue Rose, breaks things up. Meanwhile, why didn’t Kotetsu or Barnaby think of using the robot’s gun before? Why didn’t Kaede think of her escape attempt before? At least they explained Lunatic away, though it was through a flashback, as if the creators suddenly remembered they had to account for him. As for the ending, I think it’d be a hell of a thing if Kotetsu is actually dead, but I don’t believe it. Lovely dying conversation between the two heroes, tearful and silly at the same time.

SKET Dance 23 is even more frantic than usual. After introducing us to an anime called “Liberty Maji” in which Maji does a Mami-diamond-musket-barrage thing except with baseball bats, and we learn that the anime director “Watanabe” (think afro) and character designer “Kikukata Sadako” contributed (we see them running down the street, screaming, with storyboards before them), I’m thinking “How many references are going to slip past me THIS week?” Also “Well, it’s got to slow down at some point.” But it doesn’t, really. The girls all drink the youth-elixir and the usually quick dialogue gets even quicker, and louder. Everybody shouts at everything, and this time some of the shouts are little girl voices. I can imagine a lot of people hating this episode for that reason, but I ate it up. I won’t worry too much about the different artistic design this episode, or what the odd, stylistic bits were while they were chasing the cat who had stolen their seaweed (don’t ask).

No.6 10 gives us more absurd dystopia but mainly concerns itself with the action, that of getting Safu out of the correction facility, or whatever they call it. Sion and Rat see another side of this place–from the bottom, where they are dumped, and then climb up a mountain of corpses to get to the ventilator shaft, which is supposed to give a counterpoint to the nice, clean regular No.6 environment. It would have worked better if the corpses were decomposed. Instead, the thousands of them all look fresh. Meanwhile Dogkeeper and Rikiga have gotten into the facility rather easily using other people’s clothes and stolen IDs, where they are able to open automatic doors the moment Sion and Rat need them. No.6’s high-tech surveillance abilities aren’t up to snuff. Things get better when Safu/Elyurias infiltrate Sion’s brain and the tables are turned: Sion suddenly knows exactly where to go and what to do; Rat can only watch in awe. But this god-like force in his mind also turns the boy into a cold-hearted killer. Rat warned Sion that the facility would change him, but I don’t think this is what he had in mind. So while we chew over this moment of relative morality, another door magically opens for them and we’re ready for the finale. I hope it’s hopelessly silly. It’s the only thing that can redeem the series now.

Inami, as usual, ready to hit someone.

Like last time, we get an early look at Working!! season two. Hmm, not bad. They wanted to introduce the characters again so no one dominates the episode, that is to say, Inami only throws one punch. Takanashi’s little thing fetish seems bigger; he gets upset when the manager swats a bug. We still hardly see the new girl. Let’s hope they can keep a better balance this season.

Kyoko, after hitting her head.

Yuru Yuri has a story where the girls recollect a bully from their childhood, who was obviously Chitose. Not bad. Then a story where Kyoko hits her head and becomes normal, and everyone worries. Dull.

Episode dump: little bits about Hanasaku, Steins;Gate, Croisee, etc

Takako shows Ohana how it's done.

There’s no way to describe the plot of Hanasaku Iroha 23. It moves forward, but in little ways, different characters, different scenes. As usual, most of these scenes are spot-on, gentle humor undercutting when things are about to get too maudlin. What I found most interesting was Ohana’s new, fumbling relationship with a woman who, rather to the surprise of both of them, is now her aunt. There’s plenty to dislike about Takako, but, as Ohana finds out when she body-slams the deadbeat director (with the lovely touch of the cellphone playing a tinkling “Ride of the Valkyries”), she has some admirable points. I’m less thrilled with the whole Ko situation; I thought the two of them would have moved on already, but I’ll grant that the scene of Ko and Ohana’s mother watching the “movie” footage was touching (and again, undercut with humor). The encounter at the footbridge was a bit much, though the evening lights coming on (Ohana’s favorite time of day in Tokyo) was another lovely touch.

Okabe's got his mojo back.

I long ago lost track of what happens in each timeline of Steins;Gate, or what the alpha or beta lines signify, or who is whose dad. And I don’t understand why Okabe had to see Kurisu die first. As for all those failed attempts at rescuing Mayuri, I guess he had to undergo that to get to where he is now. Maybe. This takes away a little of the interest for me, but only a little. For over half the season now the show has really been about Okabe trying to save the people he loves. And now he might actually have a way to do it. His triumphant mad scientist declarations and laughter at episode 23’s end was wonderful to watch after so much failure and dread. So I don’t care if the finale won’t make any sense! Go, Hououin Kyouma! Proceed with Operation Skuld!

Ikoku no Meiro Croisée takes the idea of things being there because you want to see them and presents them through Yune’s eyes in two ways. One is the fabulous slide projector and moving picture toys Oscar finds in the storeroom which not only amuses delights Yune but Alice and a store full of locals as well. I’ll ignore the fact that certainly Alice ought to have seen one of those before—I’m a little surprised she doesn’t own one. The other use involves Claude and his father, sadly gone, and Claude’s inability to compare his work to his. We see the father through Claude’s eyes, and through Yune’s, another thing you see because you want to. So the metaphor goes, and so the episode.

Coach

One thing I’ll say about Kamisama no Memochou 9: at least Alice’s Eddie Gaedel tactic wasn’t the reason they won the game, I mean, just give up first to a tiny girl who can’t run that fast, or rather, to the cheerleader who pinch-ran for her. Instead they gave us an A.J. Pierzynski which, er, is almost as stupid. Naruma knowing that the 21st pitch would be a forkball was almost as bad.

A stampede for the climax is never a bad idea.

The Idolm@ster 8 feels like a movie comedy. It starts with mistaken identities and a valuable ring, adds goons, sidekicks, strangers, zoo animals and an oil tycoon, throws in searches and chases and ends with a stampede before everything gets sorted out. It could have gone farther with the craziness but as it is it’s pretty fun. This show is no masterpiece but it it continues to entertain above its roots. And once again, Makoto shows herself to be the coolest girl in the series. Watch her kung-fu on a ladder! Swoon as she slings ham and flings crockery!

Yuru Yuri takes some of the girls to Kyoto on a school outing, where they stay at a Japanese style inn with a hot spring. It’s mainly Kyoko running around like an idiot while Yui acts as the straight man, Ayano as the angry bystander, while Chitose nosebleeds a lot. Points deducted for not covering the following hot spring inn clichés: ping-pong, drinking milk, vibrating chairs and ghost stories.