Hataraku Saibou begins their final story arc, a two-parter, and it doesn’t look very cheerful. It STARTS cheerful, with our Red cell getting another Red cell as a Kouhai. The new sempai is barely able to find her way around by herself, so much of the comedy is having her try to act like a senpai while screwing up, while the kouhai, obviously much more capable, politely defers and gives advice. On their way we meet the usual lot. The kouhai is appalled by the White cell, “distributing violence instead of justice,” delivering real-world judgment in a cellular world. Where is she from, anyway? But since the episode is entitled “Hemorrhagic Shock,” you know things are going to get bleak. We don’t know what happens, but it’s a disaster like the body hasn’t seen since …, well, last week with the heatstroke. While it’s nice to see senpai get a hold on herself before the kouhai does, we’re just waiting for the worst to happen, but we don’t really know. Just the tattered hat and gloves found by White, and nothing else. They weren’t going where the other cells were, so it seems more of a mystery than a real cliffhanger, especially when you hear Kana Hanazana in the preview bit for next week.
In Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight 12 we follow Karen in the weeks and months after Hikari’s betrayal, if that’s what it is. Karen makes countless efforts to reach her, and as the 100th performance comes up, she finds she has lost her mojo, her “shine,” if you will. It’s dragging the other performers down, and so while they’re sympathetic to her, there’s nothing more they can do and there’s talk of removing her from the show (Maya and Claudine have snagged the top spots, by the way). She tries to read the original book but the English is too difficult, so she spends all her time translating it word by word. Oddly, the other girls are very supportive of this, like they know something Karen doesn’t, that or it’s better than her moping. Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the “Aha!”
It comes when she gets to the end and discovers that one of the girls in the book was imprisoned for reaching for that star, meaning they’ve been performing a show with a different meaning. Karen figures that Hikari was imprisoned somehow, maybe not to steal Karen’s shine. Karen breaks the elevator door (revealing stairs), and in a return to the show’s heavy symbolism walks down while the other girls each individually show up, spouts a strange line about being a stage girl and says they’ll see her on stage. Then there’s what looks like a futuristic memorial plaque, and inside it, presumably, is Hikari in a desert. Sorry about the straight plot synopsis; I usually try to avoid that, but I was trying to get my head around this episode, partly because you could argue that it’s actually Karen who is imprisoned, by her need for Hikari and her refusal to let go, though the latter is Banana’s job. Or maybe it’s both of them. But I believe the show intends us to know that Hikari deliberately chose that path, getting the wish and refusing to use it, so that Karen can shine on her own, but Karen can’t, not right now. So one more episode to go to reconcile the girls, then there’s that show to do, though it doesn’t seem very important now.
Planet With 12 ignores the appeal from the Paradise Person that last week’s episode ended with and goes straight into the battle, mainly, the Nebula Forces (nyan) and those other guys (wan) along with various aliens who are to supply the psychic power to hinder whatever the dragon does. With great effort (the scene aided by more heroic fanfares) they manage to get the dragon near the dimensional hole. The dragon, Azrabarakura, gets Souya to dream about his homeworld being destroyed and tries to get Souya to hate, want revenge, and be the dragon’s heir, but in a bit of anticlimax, Souya says “Nope, sorry,” and so the dragon is pushed into the hole–along with all the folks we know, who all get out except for the dragon and–you guessed it.
Now the forgiveness bit the last show hinted at so heavily returns. Ginko tearfully thanks the dragon (who now looks like some ancient tree-thing) for saving her home planet, Souya thanks it for that dream, etc. But it looks like they’ll be trapped in the hole as well, which would have made a logical, but unsatisfactory end–self-sacrifice is heroic and all, but Souya has people to live for now, like Nozomi, and you don’t want to break her heart. So in one more closure scene, the PP shows them the way out–the surface of Souya’s destroyed planet. Having spotted a flower and made peace there, the dogship appears to take them home. Really this is sort of an ending you see in anime, the two adversaries meeting and talking, the apparent doom of all the heroes to save the universe, and rescue appearing, to everyone’s surprise.
In other words, this often was like a standard anime battle show. The only differences were in the trappings, the aliens looking like company mascot figures, except for one maid-girl and a couple others, and the convoluted opening episodes when you didn’t know what side you should be rooting for. I guess you could say that these differences amounted to little more than a smokescreen for a traditional show, except that they gave the show a weird angle that made it more fun. The writing made it wittier than others as well. But in the end it all comes down to a boy pilot who doesn’t really want to fight unless he’s given a reason, and then who finds one. I normally don’t really care for such stories, but Planet With’s silliness sweetened the medicine for me.