Yes, I’m way behind. Sorry about that. And I may not be able to catch up for a while. For now I’ll put up what I have.
Concrete Revolutio is an odd thing that seems to be about superheroes keeping earth safe and people who try to keep the superheroes safe.
We keep flashback-and-forwarding, so it’s hard to say what’s going on, but it seems like a magical girl named Kikko, while at her day job, is enlisted to aid a guy named Jiro try and stop a scientist from selling data to someone, but then it turns out the scientist is BUYING rather than selling, the other party in the transaction is outed as an evil alien, and Jiro more or less outs Kikko in an attempt to stop the alien, or maybe they’re trying to lure a good superhero into the battle because he’s inhabiting a human body, and in the flash-forwards we see Jiro and Kikko in a different situation, maybe on opposite sides, maybe not.
It mostly makes sense once you get past the giant robots, magical girls, and light shows it’s constantly throwing at you. Unlike some other shows that try to dazzle you with strange stuff right from the start, this one gives you just enough narrative so you have something to follow while you’re being dazzled. Even so, I sort of lost track at the end until they flat-out explained it. Also, it’s hard to say where the plot is going now. How far in the future was that flash-forward, and is that where we’ll start next week? Maybe I’ll watch it and tell you.
Maybe the most hyped show of the season has been One Punch Man. Does it live up to the hype? Well, episode one was pretty entertaining.
In case you don’t know, One Punch Man stars a superhero who can take out any opponent with just one punch. He got this way after risking his life to save a kid from a giant crab guy in underwear and realizing his regular, job-seeking life, was rather empty. I love how they don’t give any more details. He basically trained a lot. But as he absurdly defeats one super-villain after another, he feels his life has become somewhat empty. There’s a big fight near the end that seems to give him a reason for go on, but, well, this is a comedy show. Among other things.
So we got this ordinary bald guy who can’t be beaten thinking about his purpose in life, and we got big fights with all sorts of monsters and villains. The fights are fun as hell, not only for the flow of the action and the animation but for OPM’s ordinary looks and the over-the-top villains. It’s all so crazy that they destroy city after city and all I do is giggle. Now, episode one works well for an opening, but it also could be a standalone with no part twos; if feels complete on its own. What are they going to do for the rest of the series? Bring in new characters, of course. Hope they can add to the great but limited concept of episode one.
JK Meshi has three girls studying the French revolution, getting mixed up about it, and none of it’s very funny. Also, the CG animation is so bad it’s almost creepy. Then one of them goes to cook up a snack, and we realize it’s a cooking show. And it’s about three minutes.
The studying part was a bore. The cooking part was better only because there was food involved, but all they did was add fried tomatoes and ground sesame to miso soup and talk about its healthiness. It made me want to try it, but they could have spent the entire three minutes on the soup and gotten rid of the studying. Still, there’s food involved, so unless the CG keeps creeping me out I’ll keep watching.
The first season of Yuru Yuri didn’t do much for me, the second improved. As for the new third … well, just like the franchise as a whole, it’s some good some bad.
The first sketch was the best. The girls start playing the king game, and Chinatsu plots to be king so she can have … whoever it is kiss her. Part of my problem with the series is I can never remember who has a crush on whom. But the scene reintroduces all the main characters and reminds us of how devious and greedy they can be, and it’s a good way to start. The second sketch involves cooking in home ec class and isn’t much, and the third one, where Akari (the dullest of the lot) meets a little girl in the park and tries to act grown up.
All the while I kept waiting for my two personal favorites, the teacher who blows stuff up and the SC prez who speaks too softly for anyone to hear, but they don’t show up. As for the rest, it had its moments, like Chinatsu’s shoujo manga fantasy. Kyoko has her moments as well. I liked the masochist cider bit. I don’t remember the music being so laid-back with undertones of jazz … Other than that, nothing much has changed. I’ll wait for the show to add its crazier elements and decide then.
In shows like Rinne no Lagrange, with all its intergalactic battling and cosmic light shows, I expect that some of it won’t make sense. And in the case of episode 23 I don’t care.
There seem to be two themes at work here. The obvious one is exemplified by the battle each girl has with the Uber-Dizel. Each of them furious and not thinking too hard about what they’re doing, throwing themselves at the damn thing and being blown back each time, no matter how many spare weapons this dark seaside world (reminiscent of both Kamogawa and that miserable world Muginami grew up in) gave them. We see that they’re each battling a different one, or they’re not aware of each other. And you know that any attempt to beat Dizel will be useless until they team up. We also see it in the flashback when Yurikano triggered the first Rinne and split into the three voxes. And in that vision Madoka has of a young Dizel and Villa agreeing to work together for the Polyhedron’s sake. But we sort of knew this already, and watching this episode’s first fight felt a bit tedious because we knew how it would work.
The second theme has to do with betrayal, or maybe desertion. It harkens back to the first time Lan and Muginami tried to fly a mission without telling Madoka, and now it returns with Dizel driven to madness over Villa’s long-gone attempt at rebellion. And we see it again with Moid’s own crazy speech to Asteria about how the Rinne rejected his offerings and it was HER fault. Utterly nuts, these grudges. That speech, by the way, presents us with the show’s best example of unexpected humor as the raging Moid opens his eyes and sees not Asteria, but Youko, and, boy is she pissed! This show’s ability to slip humor in at the darkest places is ingenious.
As for the inexplicable, where do I start? The very fact that the girls were unaware of each other at the beginning, only to find themselves tangled up? What was the reason for that? Why did they find out then? We had just seen the Dizel/Villa flashback, so we know Madoka knew the answer and was ready to rejoin the girls, but who’s sending the messages in the first place, who lifted that fog the three were in? What mecha were those that the Uber-Dizel kept sucking up? And the Vox sending Madoka an email for chrissakes, not to mention their lunch bags dropping on their heads (another funny moment in the middle of despair)? The Voxes as a whole were a lot more “alive” this episode in general, what with Aura shielding Madoka from a Dizel-blast when she was outside of it, but I figure in that crazy alternate universe anything goes, which explains away all the other weird things, too. And the lunch bag bit was not only a good gag, but a suggestion to Madoka to sit back a moment, have something to eat with her friends. Regroup.
One more episode to go, but it looks like they used the fighting in this one. They more or less did that last season, too, and so the final episode was a bit of a letdown. We’ll probably get a lot of infodumps, tears and hugging. Oh, well.
Yuru Yuri 2 puts it all together and produces a fun finale. I’ve never been a big fan of this series, but I didn’t drop it. There was just a little too much I liked about it. I’ve mentioned it before, but the show works best when it gets utterly strange, like Chinatsu’s ball-eating hair, or her bizarre interpretation of cute drawings, or the Nana/Rise combo (which always cracks me up). The more mundane slapstick rarely worked for me, though as I grew used to the characters I began to enjoy them a little more. In the first half Kyouko brings a bunch of old toys to the tea club room, and various people are scared by a stuffed snake. It’s all right. The characters work better as a team, and the core group is assembled here.
It’s part two that actually shines. The group enact Snow White for the school festival, and EVERYONE’s either in it or in the audience. To say it gets surreal would be an understatement. My favorite bits include Chizuru (the hunter) trying to kill Snow White (Kyouko) with automatic weapons. The seven dwarves introduction was pretty good, and the Wicked Queen (Nana) along with the talking mirror (perfect role for Rise!) bringing out a giant robot to finish off the heroine. Yes, it’s all gags, but they come fast and play up everyone’s eccentricities. In the episode’s best touch, the play gets a huge ovation, allowing them to do a bow, and poor Akari gets the final one, which is sort of fitting, not because she was the star of the series, but because she put up with so much I felt sorry for her. It was a great way to say goodbye to the characters. Now, if the rest of the series had been as good as the last couple of episodes I might have liked it a lot better.
Rinne no Lagrange 22 brings all its strengths together and produces a huge episode. Not its greatest, but damn close.
If there’s a flaw to the series it’s that the events sometimes get so cosmic that we lose our connection to it. That’s because the show is centered around and grounded by Madoka, a Kamagawa girl who can can certainly fight with her Vox but is more effective when she’s dealing with people. In this episode she has two key moments. The “of COURSE I’m coming with you” bit near the start, complete with face-pinching (just about all the humor we get in the episode), and her taking down of Dizel when he attacks Lan, which, though it ranks up there on her greatest moments list, proves only to be a temporary respite. Otherwise she’s a bystander. The rest of the episode stars Dizel and Villa, with Kirius, Izo and Array (I knew they’d be back) helping out, and Lan and Muginami watching in shock at what their brothers are doing.
And while the battles are exciting, the light shows are fun to watch and the danger feels real, it’s not as compelling as it should be. I was curious but not surprised when Dizel turns out to have the “tainted heart” and goes stark raving mad, maybe killing Villa for an old offense forgotten by everyone but him. What shocked me was how he went after Lan, and that was because we know Lan and like her (and made Madoka’s enzuigiri all the more satisfying), but at the same time I was thinking “Well, this proves he’s gone nuts. No way he’d try to hurt Lan if he was right in the head.” Going nuts means we’re not dealing with that character anymore; we’re dealing with, well, a nutcase.
It feels like I’m dropping negativity all over the place, which is unfair. There’s a lot to like in this episode. The space battles were good, so was Villa’s desire to reach out to Dizel in spite of the situation–the highlight of the episode. The girls have to break their vow not to use the Voxes for violence, but, thinking about it, only Madoka dealt any. The misdirection was well-done; I thought this would be Asteria’s arc. For much the episode we didn’t know Dizel had lost his mind, so I had fun trying to figure out why he was attacking everyone. And the score is magnificent. Lagrange has one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard for a awhile, and it cuts loose here and makes every scene memorable. As for Madoka, she’ll surely have more to do next episode. Maybe she’ll headbutt with Yurikano again. Looking forward to it.
Yuru Yuri II 11 is a change. It’s a full story, not a sequence of sketches, and it’s actually sweet. I’m going to ignore the fact that it was Kyoko’s own story they were telling. They find a time machine in the tea club’s storage closet (naturally), and then it’s only a question of who’s going to fall into it first. Akari loses and winds up a year in the past, where she gets Nishigaki to get it fixed while she tries to prevent all the terrible things that happened to her that year (all about her self-esteem) to not happen. It drags a bit after that because we know she’s doomed to fail but it’s fun to see her try. Akari is the dullest character of the lot but the other characters get a lot of screen time (with a bonus Chinatsu ball-eating hair moment). And it actually gets touching as her sister holds off her impulses and gives her some decent advice. Again, a sweet episode even with the Kyoko story ruining it.
Even if I don’t know what’s going on, Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon II is the busiest anime show I can think of, and that means it can pull off an entertaining episode through sheer volume. Here in episode 23 we lurch from battle to battle and even manage to forget that Tenzo was off to rescue Double Bloody Mary until we get back to him at the end. We start with him and Margot, the latter buying him some time before nearly getting crushed by “Miss Iron Balls” and “Miss Balloon” until Kimi rescues him. Meanwhile Muneshige is continuing to rewrite history by not having the armada move on and refuel and so that the Brits can firebomb them by firebombing the Musashi instead. A slight rewrite of history. In fact, more than one battle this episode is won by editing, namely Neshinbara’s rewriting of King Lear (Nesh can do it because he’s in the play) so that MacBeth shows up and skewers him. That’ll show old Thomas Shakespeare, who, by the way, was BOTH the girls in Nesh’s past. Now they’re friends again and Nesh even as a sacred armament to boot!
But that comes later. Right now things look hopeless for the Musashi, pounded by enemy craft that shouldn’t be there and with its robot dolls out of commission, until the still-naked Toori shows up and tells her to rewrite too, so she cries for help and everyone not already fighting shows up to counterattack. Why they weren’t doing so already I don’t know. We also get ends to individual battles between Honda and that death guy, Honda winning when her anteater, aided by those little black blobs, materializes full of offensive spells, and Mitotsudaira by using her chains, and Joan of Arc is brought up, but mercifully, doesn’t actually appear. And that’s all my notes, ladies and gentlemen. Next week we get back to Tenzo dueling that guy. I don’t think it will have the manic pace as this one, but it’s certain to be weird.
As usual with Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon II, I spend more time trying to figure out who the hell everyone is and what their relationship is with everyone else than I do following the story. This time we pay a lot of attention to Chancellor Segundo, who is leading the Armada against Musashi in what is basically a suicide attack using lots of little ships. It’s great to look at (and for all my complaining about this series, the battles usually do), but left me scratching my head. We’re told the little ship attack leaves Musashi no chance to counterattack … until they do. So Segundo moves on to the next spot on the circle-the-island battle tour. Speaking of head scratching, that’s what the Musashi crew are doing as well. Why is Segundo doing this crazy stunt when all they need to do is tilt swords with Musashi and leave? That, like everything else in this series, is a long story and I’m not going to go into it here because I wasn’t paying much attention anyway.
When we’re not watching that battle start we watch some of the Musashi crew start new battles like those duels we had awhile back, so that Tenzo can rescue Mary from her execution, which she actually wants to undergo. But this would break Tenzo’s heart, so he’s going to rescue her anyway. You could see a parallel to this in the way Juana gets upset about Segundo’s suicidal actions. And Gacchan is rebuked (rather, smacked the hell out of) for her selfish desire to die protecting Margo, if need be. This all makes Horizon make her decision and live, by the way. Next week will have plenty of action and less talk, not that it makes it any easier to understand …
Typical of Yuru Yuri that in episode 10 the seniors take a school trip and we see next to none of it. All the scenes are of the others waiting for them at home, especially Chinatsu, who tortures Akari nearly to death with kindness. Maybe the best bit was the phone call Sakurako’s sister gets while a shocked Himawari listens in. Otherwise each scene worked with pairs, one regular (relatively) girl with one blithering idiot. It gets tiresome to see when it’s scene after scene of this with nary a truly lunatic moment to be found, through Chinatsu’s lovely drawings make a comeback.
Not a great episode of Polar Bear’s Cafe, but it’s not bad. Handa asks Polar Bear on advice for winning the affections of the fair Sasako. Others chip in with useless advice, and meanwhile everyone Sasako serves at the cafe is some handsome dude or another. And we learn that she likes tall, comforting guys, which puts Handa at a disadvantage on the height issue, anyway, though he seems like he could be the comforting type if he didn’t stress out over Sasako all the time. The second story could have been a bore, but the Red Squirrels and King Penguin give Panda Mama (or is it Mama Panda?) good tips on all-you-can-stuff groceries and all-you-can-eat cake deals.
Rinne no Lagrange 20 is a filler episode to gear up for the next big plot thing and to give the girls a breather. Unlike other such episodes, they save the plot-gearing for the final couple minutes, and while there’s no action, they’re heavy with import. We got that stone carving that Asteria wish she could remember but can’t, since her soul was ripped away by Rinne 20,000 years ago. The next thing you know, Moid is down there, turns it into something like a grief seed, and offers it to Dizel(!) and shows scars he got 20,000 years ago. I kind of figured Moid would show his past sooner or later, you can’t stand on the sidelines and smirk a lot without knowing something, but how many faces does Dizel have, anyway? Is he still going to do Rinne stuff? Even after Madoka punched him??
As I said, this all happens in the last three or so minutes. The rest of the episode is typical high school silliness as the Jersey Club is threatened with the loss of that clubroom they hardly ever spend time in anyway, and the appearance of a clumsy girl named Reika who joins the club in order to fly robots and is shown to be the clumsiest girl in school, unless she’s stalking one of the jersey club, whereupon she becomes the epitome of stealth. We also get the three guys pondering their future and drunken talk with Youko about her own needs. Yeah, not much of an episode, but by this point I enjoy watching the girls do whatever, so it’s okay.
Hyouka 19 left me a little confused. Houtarou claims that you can make a theory out of anything, Eru says that his theories are usually right on the money, and that’s where his talent lies, so he supposedly comes up with a theory about a cryptic intercom message that just happens (ding dong!) to play at that point. So what’s he trying to do? Shouldn’t he try to come up with a bizarre theory that sounds plausible rather than try and earnestly try to figure it out? Or maybe that’s what he WAS trying to do, but he wound up being right anyway? Wait, WAS he? We don’t see anything in the newspaper that would connect his theory to the crime. As for me, I still don’t get why Student X would be considered a perp. I’m not convinced he’d simply turn himself in. I was certain Student X was a witness to a crime, not the perp. Anyway, now you know what Houtarou and Eru do when they’re alone. Well, they had a couple of close-face moments too, but I’ve pretty much given up on anything happening with that.
Let’s see. Of the Yuru Yuri 2 sketches in episode 9, I liked the Akari/Chinatsu sleepover, maybe because they didn’t devote too much time to trying to keep Akarin awake but instead got to the scary movie part. Chinatsu’s inadvertent hiding in a closet scene wasn’t bad only because of the monumental stupidity she exhibited by hiding in the first place. The study scene wasn’t bad. The final bits, possibly to fill out the episode, maybe little sketches that couldn’t fit in a longer scene were okay. All in all a B- episode.
I’ll probably watch Natsuyuki Rendezvous through to the end, but it gets harder and harder. It looks like Ryuusuke has found a way through the ridiculous impasse by the end of the episode, but his impetus, apart from scarily getting caught there forever by dwelling on the past, like Shimao perhaps, are unclear. Fairy Rokka (for want of a better name) said that there was a part of him that wants Rokka to be free; does that mean he’s willing to let her forget him and pursue future happiness, or is it a part of him that actually could not love her? Either way, he’s pissed off about it, probably about his dithering over it and wasting everyone’s time, including those of us watching. Whatever the reason, the show needs some kind of stimulus. I don’t care whether it’s from Rokka meeting Shimao/Ryuusuke while hiking, or Ryuusuke saying “enough!” and booting Shimao out of his body, or … Well, I’ve given up on Shimao doing anything constructive.
Binbougami Ga! lucked out when they brought Rindou along to be a side character. Thanks to her we’ve had two decent episodes in a row. Even the maudlin stuff at the end wasn’t so irritating. One reason is that she’s decided she’s a friend of Ichiko even if Ichiko refuses to accept it. She’s perceptive enough to see beyond Ichiko’s nasty facade and see the human being there, something even Keita hasn’t done. And she’s a tough, broad character who’s capable of a lot of violence. Perfect for this show. And so get the Bad Girls in the class kidnap Ichiko (who’s good fortune apparently isn’t always so abundant), Rindou rescuing her only to find herself with a collapsed building around her, and another mixed reaction scene from Ichiko, which worked because it was her acting on her own impulses. The bit after that with the sob story didn’t work because it’s hard to feel sorry for a girl who rejected all of humanity just because one friend once betrayed her, plus why would she suddenly change? Still, pretty good episode.
I lost my notes for Yuru Yuri 2 8, but I’ll just say that the best part comes at the end, with some of Chinatsu’s grotesque depictions of herself and her beloved Yui come alive. The rest of the episode was just average, maybe because it was relatively normal. I think I like this series better when shows things like Chinatsu’s hair eating ping-pong balls, or that teacher talking about blowing things up followed by the quiet one saying something we can’t hear, in other words, when the series goes off the deep end a little.
Polar Bear’s Cafe 21 has not enough Polar Bear or Penguin and too much Panda, though it’s amusing enough. Panda gets bored and tries to be other animals for a while. The best part is when Llama does the same and becomes a panda, a popular one, too, since he goes all out with the extra service. Poor Llama is starved for attention. The second part would have been annoying, with Panda’s little sister Mei Mei getting a crush on Mr. Handa, but Kana Hanazawa’s voice work rescues it.
Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru! 6 just limps along. I was afraid it would when we begin with Shougo deciding to help Sagara promote her failing cafe. The usual scenes, planning publicity, getting girls dressed as cat-maids (with tails which reveal their moods). It’s only livened up by the brief appearance of the newspaper perv girl and of Ikusu, both of whom are so different from the other girls that it’s a relief when they show up. There’s a terrible scene when Shougo confronts Sagara about this whole sister business and we get a lengthy and pointless unraveling of her motives which was unnecessary and dull to boot. It’s a little late in the season to say this, but I’m close to dropping this show again.
They made it through the primary with no room to spare, so in this episode of Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate they go off to “camp,” or sorts. The jump from celebration to next stage planning to the camp is so muddled I didn’t realize they were there until Yuuki is cooking and Isara is sucking his bloody finger. We get various uninteresting night scenes, including Yuuki sharing a bed with the gay guy and later getting chased around by girls because he snuck Satsuki’s drunk sister back into her dorm. And Chisato comes onto him in the bath. It’d have been a good night for him if he had any sense. Oh, Satsuki also apparently comes on to him, but I’m thinking that’s more innocent than it looks. It’s a typical, messy episode. I don’t mind a good harem show, but this one has too many other things flying about. Choose a girl, Yuuki, and then focus on the other things the show keeps bringing up and forgetting.
Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon 19 finishes up its story arc, I think. Well, at least the five duels were concluded and interrupted. First we get a history lesson from Master Scarred (cloak-girl) about how Catherine, Anne and Henry VIII all got whisked off by fairies at some points in their lives, which is linked somehow to Carlos I of Espana, but Tenjo can’t stop thinking about Master Scarred’s butt. After that look at the remaining battles. Tachibana dispatches the wolf in bloody fashion with the aid of a banana peel, I forget how Honda got away from Death-guy, and that third girl uses “flat chested evasion” to get out of a jam. In short, none of them lose, so Toori doesn’t have to fight anybody. I thought there would be at least one.
Meanwhile Toori and Horizon have their date, the concept of sadness and loss is discussed, robot to human. Meanwhile Shakespeare reminds Toussaint about his literary failings and now we’re supposed to guess which childhood friend she or he is. Suzu and whatshername decide to get that safety pod of theirs moving, And just when I thought the episode was getting a little too normal, turns out there are two Master Scarreds, a good and evil one, naturally. The episode ends with Tenjo doing a double, no triple take. As for me, I’ve gone beyond ever being surprised by this show.
Binbougami Ga! 7 brings us a new character, Rindou Ranmaru, your typical delinquent type. We meet her in a bewildering scene where Ichiko is temporarily mistaken for a shoplifter, prompting a bizarre speech by Rindou where you aren’t sure if she’s insulting Ichiko or the cops. At least, *I* was confused. Early on Ichiko confuses her for another god of misfortune, but she’s very human, and we learn how much throughout the episode, which proceeds to lose some energy along the way because of it. The overly stern dad who wanted a son, etc. It turns into another example of Ichiko learning to care about something in spite of herself. We even get a girly makeover scene, never mind the forced gender expectations this reinforces and the fact that Rindou is a lot more fun when she acts like a thug, and that some boys might actually prefer her that way. Never mind. She’s looks like a good fit for the show.
Yuru Yuri II 7 is pretty good, much better than the last one. We see all the characters’ sisters as they interact. Most of them are very nice and patient people, sometimes exasperated by their siblings’ behavior, but you have to feel glad for the girls that they have such people in the family. We get everyone from little Kaede and her adorable interest in Ayano’s boobs, er, well-being, to Tomako, Chinatsu’s older sister, who has an adorable crush on Akari’s older sister Akaze, who has a rather disgusting crush on … Akari. Okay, most of these sisters are as nuts and lustful as the main characters. This is all fine, except now I have a whole new batch of characters and I have to remember who has the hots for whom. I wish this show came with a scorecard.
Apart from Horizon, I take the most notes for Joshiraku, and not coincidentally they are the two shows I have to least to talk about. So (prepares notes), we start with Kukuru depressed, which leads to Christmas which leads to spending too much to boost the economy. They sing an ode to cheer Kukuru up, that religious woman shows up and gets slugged, a miracle occurs, then another, and now Kukuru’s happy but Marii’s depressed and turns into a demon and the only way to get rid of her bad vibes is to rub her boobs. On to part two, in Harakuku and Back-Harajuku which leads to the use of the word back, then tongue twisterscome to life and then on to crepes (there is a Miyazaki section in there, too) and Marii’s problems with ordering and eating them. Finally it’s skin types, including Marii’s big sister skin, then tattoos, “Skin Arranger!” and giving Genkyou goosebumps in a number of confusing and unpleasant ways. Not the best episode.