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.
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.
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.
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’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 …
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.
Sword Art Online has a cute little story arc going.
I thought this would be a silly honeymoon episode, but when we see the happy couple they’ve already been relaxing for a few days. A nice new house in the woods, some domesticity, getting used to living together, but apparently not sleeping together. Other than that they’re a perfect young married couple. I think there’s someone keeping an eye on them in this game, because they get delivered the logical next step. The two take her home whereupon she decides to call them mama and papa. Oh, boy.
Yui brings a whole lot of questions not only to Kirito and Asuna but to us as well. What’s she doing here? Where did she come from? And who would put a child in a battle game? Also, what are they going to do with her? They can’t take her along; the front is no place for a child. At the same time, she’s brought out Asuna and Kirito’s parental instincts. They just can’t abandon her. This is far more more interesting than the ridiculous thugs they find at the first level threatening a woman and three kids, except for the kids part (and the fact that Kirito has no problems with letting Asuna handle the fight, even telling Yui to see how strong she is. Loved that). I assume they’re players, too, but their natural forms make them unfit for battling and easy prey for monsters. What does the game society do with them? All sorts of questions. And apart from a bizarre fit Yui has at the end and her talk of hearts, we don’t get any answers.
Space Brothers 24 feels like the beginning of a sequel sequel series, and a filler episode as well. Gone are all the others for now. Now it’s Hibito, Jennifer, and new people. Idiots like Lowry and especially dangerous people like Azuma, who got passed over when the lunar mission was announced and still holds a grudge, so we’re told. We don’t get much of Azuma this episode. He has one scene where he glowers, and otherwise it’s people talking about him, which means our perception of him is going to be fundamentally wrong in some way. And now Mutta has to have a final interview with him. This could be interesting, and I have an idea we won’t get to it next week. We’re probably going to get a lot of scenes showing Azuma’s point of view, as well as the Mutta prep scenes the preview showed us. Then they’ll bring them together. As for this episode, it was a lot of lawn mowing, lunar dust-pitching, and heavy thinking, really a respite for the fun ahead.
Tari Tari 12 is little more than buildup for the big performance. Most of it is solving small crises, such as the confiscated props, getting a pianist, and new challenges, like letting the town know there’s going to be something going on even if the festival’s been shot down. I enjoyed the fact that some of the other students are sympathetic to the choir club’s goals and wind up helping, since, hell, they have nothing better to do now anyway, but its not a universal “let’s put on a show! madness that other series might make out of it. We do get some insight into the adults. Takakura and Wakana share a moment at the gravesite, and I suspect Takakura’s role in the series isn’t done yet. Same with the hapless principal, who can’t even make the rules at his own school anymore, though at least he tries, using the same words he overheard from Miyamoto earlier. But the biggest obstacle are the owners and the construction people. The students might wind up suspended or worse if this goes on. Expect a lot of big confrontations at the finale, expect Takakura and the principal to intervene, and then we can call it a wrap.
Like in every other episode of Tari Tari, episode 11’s big events are mixed almost evenly with the rest of the side stories and quick looks at characters.
Well, that’s an exaggeration. There’s nothing bigger than the school being closed down (after the remaining students have graduated) and turned into condominiums, but if there’s a theme to this series it might be that nothing that happens is bigger than the people involved in it. Wait, I don’t like that definition. How about “Ob La Di, Ob La Da …” But that’s trite. Moving on … We get a first half of cheerful White Festival preparations and the crises each club member faces as they try to fulfill their obligations. From Taichi’s attempt at drawing scenery and sneaking photos of Sawa to the ridiculous story Miyamoto wrote for their production, to Wakana still trying to write that damn song. The show even starts setting up another feud with the “real” choir club. It’s all low-key fun until the whammy.
And just like that: The school will shut down. Not even a White festival. Scene after scene of students and parents and teachers hearing the bad news. In other words, the show completely abandoned its work toward a big festival finish. Even with all the hints they gave it’s still shocking, and it must have been a huge blow to our gang, but we don’t see it. Sawa practices archery, Taichi practices badminton. We see others doing whatever they were going to do anyway, resigned to this less exciting (Can you imagine Miyamoto yawning in this show?) road their life has suddenly taken. It happened. This isn’t the type of show in which the school will be rescued by some benefactor or by a concentrated effort by the heroes. They can’t do anything, they know it, they move on.
Except for Wakana. Before the news we see her happily working on the song, struggling at times, but pressing on. After the whammy she’s still writing it, until she’s done. It’s as if the bad news had completely passed her by. All the exterior events had become unimportant to her, maybe inconvenient at worst. Just as what’s happening to the school is nothing more than an aside to these students, inconvenient or sad at the time, but unimportant in the big picture of their lives. Wakana’s proposal to perform it anyway (When? Where?) will be a nice way to give them all some closure, nothing more.
Space Brothers 23 is sort of filler. We tie up some loose ends, particularly with Teshima, who caused confusion by dropping out of the selection after the fact, because he wants to find life in space and there’s a probe going up that will do just that. Nice scenes between him and his stern father, and we’ll probably never see him again. This means that Tenji HAS been selected, but the announced number of qualifiers was misleading, well, it was meant to. Well, good for him. Elsewhere, Mutta the successful applicant still has to earn money, but the Santa Claus scenes are mercifully brief. My favorite bit was Serika, eating two taiyaki (one with custard), doing a little dance, while the plane taking Mutta to Houston flies overhead. Next week … another examination?? I thought they were done with that!
In Binbougami Ga! I was beginning to wonder if they’d ever really resolve this issue of Ichiko sucking the good fortune out of everyone else. On the other hand, if I was her I wouldn’t want Momiji sticking a giant syringe into me while cackling, either. And so, like in many other episodes, we get a few scenes where Ichiko’s reminded of this curse (for that’s what it is, really) and feeling bad about it. Finally the shit god, I mean God of Toilets of all people, gives her a necklace that inhibits the, er, sucking. Now we’ll see what happens, I suppose. Otherwise the episode wasn’t bad. Ichiko really ought to fill Ranmaru in on the situation, especially after she sees Momoe transform, but it was nice to see Ranmaru interact with the others, and that Ichiko thought to invite her over to see the kitten in the first place. I wish the kitten could have remained a cat god, though it was touching to see it rescue Ichiko because of the kindness she had shown it. I could have done with less of the toilet god, though.
Man, Space Brothers knows how to tease.
We knew last week that Mutta wasn’t selected, but they managed to go through that entire episode before we learned who did make it. Not to mention the show’s off-week, we waited a long time. And though we knew that JAXA would chose additional candidates at their discretion, we also knew it was possible that Mutta wouldn’t be one of them. We’ve seen so much of him that it’s hard to imagine him with the likes of Neal Armstrong. That is to say he’s human. Meanwhile JAXA mulls him over, marveling at his rock-paper-scissors gambit, and noticing that Group A was the only one where the members left as friends. It was pointed out to the candidates before the third round that they had already shown they were qualified to be astronauts. JAXA must be looking for something else.
So we get scenes where Mutta looks for jobs. He gets a letter, but naturally we don’t get to read it. He then meets Fukuda, who’s been hired by a private space company. Good for him. He’s still in the industry and surrounded by people as excited by space as he is. But Mutta had referred to the two of them as “unemployed men.” And it looked for all the world like Fukuda was the successful one and Mutta was a failure. We also see Hibito training at NASA, with new goals. He seems to know something, or he has that odd confidence of his. So does Apo the dog … Even so, when Fukuda shakes Mutta’s hand and congratulates him on passing the exam it is a shock. Mutta didn’t make a scene out of it, well, the show didn’t. He didn’t dance around or make a fool of himself. Instead we see him sober and determined. The biggest moment of his life, and he acts like an adult. No wonder we couldn’t tell! Okay, I hope we’re done with the teasing now. And as for the new, sober Mutta, the previews suggest we’re going to get something sillier next week.
In Kokoro Connect 9, instead of watching the gang fall further apart, we see them reaching out. It’s a relief after the cruelties inflicted on them. The characters who had distanced themselves (nearly all of them) were talked into returning to the fold. We start with Lori and Taichi. Even if the logic they use is sort of weird, the aim is correct. Taichi confesses to being a bullhead righteous guy who refuses to accept anyone else’s opinion about what’s right. This comes from last week, of course. He basically says that it’s better to be together and run the risk of hurting one another than isolating themselves to avoid the risk. But it gets translated somehow to mean “We need to hurt each other.” Um, no, that’s wrong.
And it’s odd that the Aoki/Yui coming out conversation runs in parallel. Yui is afraid of hurting people. Aoki argues that now that she has actually done so, her revulsion shows that maybe her deepest desires have become NOT to hurt someone. If this whole thing is about the releasing of the Superego and releasing the Id, it suggests that she has a brand new desire in her’s. I’m thinking it not as simple as that, but, hell, it works. Yui returns to school and is hugged and smiled at and teased by her classmates and Gotou. So Aoki manages to do what he could not before. That he does it with talk of love hotels and other ecchi talk is just his style. Which leads to the Taichi/Aoki reconciliation, a simpler, boy-bonding affair. Here, both sides wanted to apologize righ t off, so it’s accomplished quickly. So that’s everybody but one reconciled, inexplicably shutting themselves into the clubroom with a week’s worth of food where their hunger desires are unleashed. I have no idea what was going on with that.
Because it can’t all be happy and good, we turn to Inaba, always the most stubborn one. Heartseed pays her one of his quiet, threatening visits, suggesting she’s shutting herself in like she used to, and that’s not very good, is it? Maybe he should DO something. He talks about getting her to destroy “that place” she holds dear but is so vague about it that we don’t know what he’s talking about. The clubroom? Nah. Maybe “place” is a metaphor for a place in her heart, the internal place she escapes to. Whatever it is, the whole situation reeks of danger. Looks like a fun field trip!
Tari Tari 10 moves some plot pieces around but doesn’t really seem to add up to much. Not to say it isn’t fun to watch.
The show has two modes right now: serious and silly. The silly balances and feeds the serious. The shopping district heroes act draws the ire of Takakura and acts as modern-day counterpoint to the days when she was a student at that school, already straight-laced and following the lead of Wakana’s mother, and the song they wrote together, and now the daughter is there before her asking her how they wrote it, and meanwhile surveyors are at work outside, preparing to change the school in a way she doesn’t like. Odd, by the way, that Wakana has turned out more like her than her own mother. Takakura gives her some composing advice: “Don’t overthink it.” A lesson Mahiru maybe taught her. Maybe facing an unpleasant future makes you mull over the past.
But silly stuff is the highlight this week. The whole shopping district rangers thing is ridiculous and everyone knows it but Wein. But since they go out and do it they gain the support of the passers-by (loved the kids aping their moves), and bond a little more. The conclusion was the most ridiculous of all but great fun to watch. Someone snatches Miyamoto’s bag including the Mexican band’s autographed album, and Wein (in costume) runs down the thief. Okay, the thief was on a bicycle which got magically slow Wein went after him, and singing that song at the end was beyond absurd, but it showed us just how much of a group they had become, and sometimes you have to throw reality into the wind. But we already knew they had formed a good team. The silly stuff just felt like the backdrop for those little plot moves and made no other contribution, unless they’re going to do the shopping heroes thing as that drama they’re planning.
In Tari Tari 9 it’s time for Wein to have a crisis of sorts.
Seems he befriended a sickly boy back in Germany and watched that Gamba hero show with him a lot. Now the kid’s moved and Wein doesn’t know what happened to him. He demonstrates his concern by not paying attention to the others, not taking notes, and going “huh?” a lot. Just so we know he’s bothered. This is all right as far as crises go. It’s frustrating to have no idea how a person you care about is doing. Unfortunately the show doesn’t handle it too well. In fact, it comes out of left field. The gang are going to be Gamba fighters for the local festival (long story, there’s plenty of other plot going on, too), and Wein takes it on himself to become their rather overbearing leader. One good bit, where he explains to Sawa that she can’t wear red unless she feels she can assume the role as leader, and it looked like we were going to get a status-within-the-group argument via suit color, but they miss the opportunity to play with the metaphor because Sawa isn’t stupid and backs down right away. Not often am I disappointed by a character being intelligent … Anyway, Taichi finally asks Wein what’s wrong with him; he could have said “So what’s YOUR crisis in this show, Wein?” Same thing. I swear, this show can be so smart and witty and at the same time so clumsy.
Meanwhile Wakana is trying to compose the song “with” her mother and is stuck. (a nice bit where the cat walks across the keyboard and doesn’t hit a dissonant note). I’m glad to see that they’re treating this personal crisis decently, i.e., to truly get over something takes time and effort. And that will probably include the softening of Takakura, who has some issues of her own involving the school (the show is being coy with this plot part) and with her own memories of Wakana’s mother, since Wakana is going to ask questions about her. This future plot stuff has the potential to be really good; I hope they handle it better than some of the others.
Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita 9 is the show’s most direct attempt yet at commenting on, er, human society. There’s been a spike in the fairy population and that has led to fairy bullying, the closest thing to dissent we’ve seen among them yet. Up to now they’ve been pretty much interchangeable. So Watashi is sent off with some of the refugees, or whatever they are, to form a new colony, or whatever they do. Stranded on an island, they decide to form a country with Watashi as the queen.
Watashi isn’t sure this is a good idea but she doesn’t mind seeing the fairies, with a new purpose in their lives, energetically build things for her. Civilization becomes more advanced by the day; meanwhile, we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s clear that they’re overextending the island’s limited resources, but that isn’t what makes the ecology topple in the end. It’s when they start building monuments, rather too many. I’ve trotted out that “A society that builds monuments to itself …” line here before, but I’ll also not the connection between the monuments they build (direct imitations of those we humans made) and the humanity monument that the show’s used as a plot device before. It’s all a crude allegory on the rise and fall of civilizations due to available resources, but what do you want? This is a fairy story.
My posts might be like this for the next couple of days, if I post at all.
If someone says too much they can usually apologize for it and say they let their anger get the better of them, or that was the beer talking, something like that. But that only excuses their saying the words out loud and doesn’t change the fact that at that point of time they actually felt those thoughts, ugly though they are. In Kokoro Connect 7 both Inaba and Taichi find out that the apologies can’t always erase the hurt. Inaba lays into an already emotionally wounded and confused Yui, and later when this causes her not to intervene when Lori snaps, Taichi lays into HER for her lack of compassion. I’m going to take Inaba’s side here. Apart from the personal insults, what she said to Yui was essentially correct. And the shock she felt after coming out of the attack made her actions with Lori understandable. Taichi’s outburst, by contrast, did nothing more than show that the two have different ways of thinking, and they both already knew that, not that the words didn’t hurt, didn’t add to Inaba’s own self-loathing. As for the others, they tried to make some of the possessions cute and funny, or get them quickly defused. Either way, I can’t see any of the characters having much fun next week. And I’m beginning to watch this arc like I would a cruel nature video.
Sword Art Online 7 is another standalone, and a pretty simple one compared to the intrigues and double-crossing the last story arc gave us. It’s about Asuna’s friend, a blacksmith named Liz, who meets Kirito and has an adventure with him while hunting for a rare crystal form for a new sword. You can see how it’ll pan out right away. They argue a lot, they fight a dragon and nearly die, they bond, and she falls in love with him, only to find out about Kirito and Asuna’s, er, relationship. Still, Liz is a fun character, not really tsundere but with a easily-riled side to her, nicely voiced. I don’t think this is the last we’ll see of her, and I’m glad about that.
Disappointed by Tari Tari 8. It was … predictable, but this isn’t SOA; it’s a show that’s supposed to be more sophisticated then that. Sawa’s in a funk because it’s become clear to her she’ll never be a jockey, too tall, too heavy, etc. The episode is mostly about wrapping her head around the truth while friends and family support her however they can, exactly the way the show handled Wakana’s crisis in the last story arc, except, losing a parent is a little more traumatic (there’s a scene between Sawa and Wakana where this comes out), and the father is less sympathetic this time. Anyway, it means Sawa mopes around most of the episode. Not only that, but they repeat the “rush to the theatre to get onstage on time” from the first arc. Come on, guys, think of something fresher than that! I don’t care if she did get there on a horse (a scene more ridiculous each time we see her riding–on the street, on the beach for crissakes!). I saw that coming a mile away. The only effective stab at humor this week was Miyamoto’s belief that Sawa’s moping was due to unrequited love; well, I suppose it is, in a way.
Is there even a reason to recap Joshiraku? Um, I was surprised that they carried over last week’s little aside about Gan graduating and do much of the episode with the four remaining girls talking about how great the number four is. Countless (get it?) examples are brought up, and a few count-examples. But Gan gets some revenge later on she returns as a junior, and after that I’m not exactly sure what happened, but we turn to winning elections, and many manga and anime references are mentioned, out of which I might have recognized three.
In Kokoro Connect 6, Dung Beetle, er, Balloon Vine has apparently gotten bored with the body switching and has something even nastier set up for our poor victims. With the body switching, at least the kids were aware of what was going on and deal with the problem rationally, but now that their bodies “act on impulse,” they’ve lost that. They can try to adapt but when they’re in unfettered mode they have absolutely no control. This must be terrifying. And it’s not just when the blood boils over something that happens, like Yui beating the shit out of some jerk boys. Everyone has a bad memory that can trigger irrational thoughts at any time, usually laughed away or pushed aside with irritation. And, as Inaba quickly discovers, you run the risk of revealing too much of yourself (in her case, almost literally). The episode tries to make this scene comic, which I think is a mistake, considering the humiliation she undergoes. And so much for Balloon Vine’s promise that he would not actually harm the kids. He’s put them in a situation where they could harm anyone, including themselves, at any time, and they have no way to stop it. I’m still waiting for Inaba to think of a way to kill him.
On the other hand, Lori has decided to turn this into an opportunity to find out who she really is. I think she’s barking up the wrong tree. I still believe this multiple personality issue she feels she has is more common than she thinks. Besides, apart from some charming mood swings she really hasn’t exhibited much of that on the show. Her own moment of released impulses was pretty harmless: she called up Taichi to talk about their relationship. I actually think she might be the most normal character in the show. … I’m not looking forward to seeing what damage the kids will do to themselves and each other next week.
Now that Wakana has worked things out and she’s an eager participant of the choir/badminton club, Tari Tari 7 dithers around, planting little plot seeds for later, before deciding that Sawa is going to be our next crisis-girl. It’s not the most exciting crisis: she wants keep doing things with horses rather than focus on a safer and duller career, so we get lots of tense dinners with her father, not to mention appetite loss, the telltale sign for the others that something’s up with her, well, that and the fainting spell. But as usual the show is so clever with the direction and dialogue that these moments are bearable. Her scenes are mixed in with those of the upcoming cultural festival and whatever the apparently evil chairman is planning to do with the school next. A typical episode that bounces along happily until from the shock cliffhanger (which I’m actually a little relieved by, since it means Sawa’s decision might have been made for her and we can avoid more grumbling meal scenes) though Wein’s sheer idiocy in believing that there’s a rhino under the school struck a false note.
Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita 7 … I don’t what the hell happened here. It starts with Watashi being ordered to bring back Assistant. I’m already confused; Watashi doesn’t seem like she’s met him, she’s dismayed at the thought of another person around the place, while we know that she’s fond of him. So is this a flashback? Then there was the little talk about clones to the fairies, to which I went “AHA!” especially when Watashi meets her lookalike (though she doesn’t get the resemblance, odd in itself). And that dog, a shapeshifter clone thing, maybe. After that it slips (heh) into Endless Eight territory, and I was filled with fear. Happily, there were enough new clues added each time that it kept me going, though it was clear early on that Watashi shouldn’t eat that banana. The clone theory had by now vanished as a red herring, btw. Then at one moment she seemed to merge with one of herselves, and we hear a dog bark. More flashbacks, multiple Watashis and watches, and my brain began to close down. And what do we get in the end? Assistant and a village full of dogs, a return of the clone theory, and … I guess they’ll explain it next week. I’m kind of afraid to hear the explanation.