Seiren 11 starts with Kyouko nearly getting hit by a truck, only to be rescued by Shouichi. She proceeds to give him some underpants that she knitted herself, and then forces him to go underwear shopping for her. A typically strange series of events that ranks as par for this franchise. Alas, the rest of the episode is pretty normal. It’s mainly about Shouichi being tagged with the “nice girl next door” title, which he’s fine with until it begins to rankle him and he announces that, I guess, he’s going to confess or do something brave and manly this Christmas. Not much else, really. Short amusing bits, cake baking, a reference to the girls’ swim team’s oden, appropriate because the tea club was into that in Amagami, more venison references. Oh, we learned that itwas Araki who asked all those girls out, and he did it to cheer Shouichi up. Not much to this episode, and they only have one more with Kyouko.
I knew it! Youjo Senki 10 turned out to be the Empire doing their thing successfully, with lots of scenes of Republic troops in shock as they got blown up. It got so boring I skipped forward a couple of times. That board meeting didn’t fool me one bit; you could tell the show was trying to build up a false conflict which would be resolved with perfect timing of the military, after all, infantry battles are always perfectly timed in real life, right? What a tiresome batch of scenes. At least at the end we got that crazy guy take out one of Tanya’s troops, though I suspect next week, after a difficult and bloody battle, Tanya’s guys will win again. Hope I’m wrong.
Little Witch Academia 11 full of overarching prophesies, is uncharacteristically sober in its approach. It starts the usual way, with Akko trying hard but messing up in Ursula’s extra lessons, so she becomes despondent. Will she ever become like Shiny Chariot? Well, it’s a blue moon that night, the last one for a few year, so she sneaks out to go to another obscure foggy place on campus to get her question answered. Meanwhile, the witch profs bemoan the fading of magic (that’s all they ever do when they’re not scolding Akko) and Diana asks for a rare tome that she can only access with a special key on a blue moon. Amazing that more magical people aren’t out and about doing blue moon things.
But Diana and Akko’s quests don’t intersect; the former merely serves as exposition for the latter, stuff about (checking my notes) the seven words of Acturus, of which Akko’s revived number one (Ursula has exposition duties this episode, too). Shiny Rod reveals a hidden underground place where Akko meets all sorts of spooky things, the last being a dead-tree thing that offers to grant her wish if she relinquishes her memories. Up to now the episode had been interesting but predictable, but upon Akko’s refusal, we get a transformation, with quick cuts of blood-red and often violent events, including the Triskelion that represents the words. NOW I’m interested! Are the red events a warning of what might become? Are they part of magic’s history? What was the triskelion doing in it? Oh, I like a mystery! Plus, the show gets a new goal: Akko’s gotta revive the remaining five words. We’ll all be keeping an eye on the lights on Shiny Rod from now on.
In Demi-chan wa Kataritai 11, the evil-looking vice principal made his evil move, that is, he told Takahashi that he should cut back on the attention he was giving the demis and allow them to work it out themselves by interacting with other students. It is resolved by a series of intelligent conversations and by the fact that the vice-principal isn’t really evil, just concerned. It also helped that two side characters were present at the scolding, and they told two others, the mean girls from a few episodes back, I believe. Their own conversation got a bit convoluted, but it was nice to see four kids trying to figure out a difficult topic by discussing. In the end, both sides have a point, and so the relationship between Takahashi and the demis shifts slightly and positively. As for the side characters, doubt we’ll keep seeing too much of them, since it’s the nearly the last episode, but they did their part for the plot.
Youjo Senki 9 begins preparation for a major operation that I’m sure will end up as a victory next week, alas. You know, why aren’t the forces allied against the empire thinking up fiendish plots of their own. The only fun to be had this week is the sheer absurdity of the strategy. The empire pulls back from the front lines and spread lies about how their railroads and communications are in disarray, luring the republic forces in. But there’s also talk of a war of attrition, and then they’re also going to take out the enemy headquarters. I guess all three might be effective. What’s fun is that the HQ will be taken out by Tanya’s mages, via V-1 rockets! The mashup of various wars makes me giggle. Amusement aside, I don’t think I’m looking forward to a full episode of the empire destroying everything, even with the occasional setback they’ll stick in in an attempt to make it more exciting. It’s not like the outcome is in doubt.
Late in the episode Seiren 10 introduces a crisis which is impossible to take seriously. It looks like Shouichi, after Kyoko turned down his offer of Christmas pancakes after the founders festival, went a little nuts and went around asking random girls out. It’s ridiculous of course; even Kyoko has her doubts, and we saw the scene where Ikuo announced he was pursuing a girl who goes to his cram school, and remember arc #1, and watched Shouichi confront Ikuo the next day. And so the crisis not only can’t be taken seriously, but can be laughed at, and we can enjoy the latest batch of strange lines and double-entendres this franchise is famous for, as well as venison for the festival, love-hotel ads, a lengthy but mostly-unseen explanation by Tsuneki about why boys get so horny around Christmas Eve, and hand-me-downs for decorating the tree, or something like that.
In Demi-chan 10, we spend a little time with Kyouko being playful and irresponsible, and putting her head in danger, so Takahashi gets upset at her. That bit on nonsense cleared up, we switch to the two of them visiting an oddball physicist named Souma to try and figure out what the deal is with the head. The resulting explanation by Souma is partly interesting, talking about a wormhole connecting her head to her body and the potential this shows for modern science. It gets to being bullshit when he suggests a third party is responsible, and the way he expresses it suggests that the universe is entirely a construct of humanity … I suppose you can make a claim for metaphysics there … ANYway, the best part of it all is that Kyouko might become a researcher herself. But I’m a little surprised that she wasn’t snatched away a long time ago by some government organization or another and had nasty experiments done to her. Also, they set up a future plot with the disapproving vice principal …
Little Witch Academia 10 was fun enough, certainly better than last week, but I felt it missed out on opportunities. It was great that the bee flew around stinging everybody, and I appreciated the fact that Akko, Diana, and others knew it was a bee from the start, but the show didn’t make nearly enough mayhem as it could have. Four guys fall for Lotte, great potential right there, but we don’t see any of it and only return when the spell’s wearing off. Diana is stung twice but both times it’s only good for a quick gag while Akko continues to chase that damn bee, though I rather liked the second one, and how the object of everyone’s desires takes on the look of a shoujo heroine. The show was more interested in developing the possible Andrew/Akko romance and to further establish his independence from his family, which I suppose it did, but I keep thinking, in other episodes as well as this one, that the episodes reach their potential.
Though the last arc improved the average, Seiren still hasn’t reached the heights of its predecessor, but in episode 9 I realized that this show has an advantage: it can use Amagami itself.
In a flashback, during a strange gender-swapping display by the very young Shouichi, we see Junichi in the background, possibly being stood up. I actually didn’t make the connection, and instead got absorbed meeting the new girl, Kyoko. She’s a childhood friend who’s still interested in things like a certain manga (which, after a hiatus, has become more adult). Shouichi humors her and agrees she might try to be a little more grown up. In the meantime we get name-checks and cameos of the other characters, especially Tsuneki, whom, I suppose cannot be ignore. Things were moving happily along with cute panties discussions and deer references when they suddenly give us this.
No, not Amagami’s tea club girls, alas. Instead, Koharu and Nao are the only remaining members of the present-day home-ec club, and it seems they might be doing rituals at night. Kyoko decides to visit the club, and it’s sadly mundane. No sinister uses for old clothes, never mind what that Trek Club guy was saying when he wanted them to make him a man. Just a nice late-night moon viewing session in kimonos, though the traditional food they prepare seems to be a reference to the tea club. Even without the Amagami reference it would have been a good episode, but now I wonder if we’ll get sarcastic narrators, pool club ramen, or ni-shi-shi-shi’s in the future.
Youjo Senki 8 at last adds some variety to the “Ruthless Tanya destroys all opposition” schtick we’ve been getting. Yes, this week she destroys the opposition, not to mention a whole city with a lot of civilians in it, but in addition some of the people under her command are rather unhappy about this. One, Grantz, sees too much of the enemy’s faces and doesn’t exactly develop a conscience, or a spine, but goes berserk enough to try to shoot Tanya at the end. We didn’t even have to see what happened after to figure out if he succeeded. Also, God is going to interfere again, telling a soldier awakening from a coma to destroy Tanya. The trouble is, I can’t make out who it was … you know, if he’s been in a coma for two months why is he still wearing those bandages? Coma’s don’t stop the healing process, just a thought. Anyway, so it continues. Happy to see the republic or whatever they’re called is giving stiff resistance, though.
Demi-chan wa Kataritai 9 has Takahashi pondering and discussion demi abilities with their wielders. First, Sakie is called out of the blue by that cop and told to seduce Takahashi, in other words, make use of that succubus power she’s got. It still bugs me that that asshole cop gets to order her around, even though they’re in a sort of father/daughter relationship, mainly because he’s an outsider he should have little idea what it’s like to handle abilities like hers. But she tries making a move in her own way, not using her powers, and winds up sharing a nice talk with Takahashi. The show is unclear on whether she truly isn’t using her powers, however. Takahashi’s well hidden lusts might be from her natural looks, or maybe it’s some succubus mojo leaking out. It’s fun that they’re keeping it vague. In a less interesting part two, Yuki and Takahashi try ways to use her cold abilities in hot weather. Since it’s negative emotions that cause the cold, it’s no fun for her. Interesting concept, not much of a story apart from the fact it brings the girls into the episode for the first time.
In Little Witch Academia 9 all the students get leave outside of campus, and they can’t use magic. Naturally Akko screws something up and now there’s a resurrected skeleton in a pirate outfit rushing around looking for revenge for something he can’t remember, with the girls chasing him around. None of it adds up to much; when you know what this show is capable of, all the scenes here fall a little flat. The touching ending wasn’t terribly touching because we had no idea of the headmistress’s past, and besides, she isn’t terribly moved by it either. The big mystery was that case full of personal items that the headmistress and Ursula put in a case, and never seen again. I suppose it’s a plot seed for a later episode, but the fact that they don’t refer to it again (apart from the headmistress’s mallet) felt misleading.
Seiren 8 finishes off the Miyamae arc by pretty much ignoring gaming altogether and switching to cosplay. Maybe this is supposed to represent a change in Miyamae’s priorities, but I think rather that they wanted to get her in a sexy deer outfit with a zipper she can’t locate but Shouichi can. I could also suggest that the return to the interest in Deermas as opposed to GunGal suggests a more domestic outlook, where you raise deer rather than blast mecha. What it means that Shouichi’s sister dresses in a skimpy GunGal outfit is beyond me.
And from Amagami we get a return of the kiss in an unexpected place, but this time the girl is doing the kissing, and it’s Miyamae’s adam’s apple. This fits nowhere with gaming, let alone deer, but it was a sweet moment, at least, after she explained why she kissed him there. In fact, the whole park scene was sweet, even if Miyamae’s reason for storming off felt trite, just a reason for them to kiss and make up and become boy/girlfriend. And at least this time there’s no platonic future for them; ten years later they’re raising a deer, I mean child. So, a decent ending to the arc. I do with the art and animation were a bit better, I suppose it’s passable.
Demi-chan 8 starts with Hikari’s appalling mid-term score and then takes great care to show us that a book has fallen out of Yuki’s bag, so much that we figure the book is very important. Turns out it’s a manga volume that Satou discovers right away, and leads to a too-long scene where she and Yuki talk manga and bullying, livened up only by the revelation that Yuki has a bit of a dirty mind, and an entertaining flashback to Satou’s middle school days. After that there’s plenty of studying (this is appropriately timed because now is the big test season for Japanese schoolkids) with the usual bits (Hey Yuki, I don’t understand this part) but there’s also a good scene where Hikari announces whose arm she’d like to chew on. Thematically it doesn’t add up to much, but it’s an entertaining enough episode.
Meanwhile, I think Trigger blew their entire budget on Little Witch Academia 8.
Sucy tries a late-night experiment to unlock her potential powers and falls victim to Sleeping Witch Sickness, which, in her case, also means a lot of mushrooms growing everywhere. Lotte sends Akko inside Sucy to wake her up. Akko meets a lot of different Sucys there, parts of her personality. You’ve probably all seen episodes in various series like this, but the events happen so fast, there are so many Sucys and so many sight gags that it’s impossible to take them all in. But the fun is just getting started.
Akko busts up a mass-execution of Sucy’s more trivial desires (important to the plot, what I can make out of it), and, because she’s an idiot, she stops to watch a drive-in movie of Sucy’s memories, the show pointing out that things are going to get self-referential. It looks like a 1930s cartoon, with a hilarious take on both Diana and Akko, the latter depicted as an idiot, and then things get even crazier with a race to find the “original” Sucy before something or other not only devours Sucy’s world, but the real one of the school, don’t ask me why, I don’t know, or care.
The whole thing is insane, and brilliantly executed. First, was that Michiyo Murase doing ALL the Sucys? If so, Murase deserves a medal. There are dozens of them, each with their own variation of Sucy’s voice, some flying past so quickly that you hardly notice them. Second, the episode has a funny, fast-paced script that was fully aware that it wasn’t terribly original and so jumped on quick gags and at least one unexpected turn to make it effective. Third, the direction, art, and animation are astounding.
Once the action ramps up, every moment had something great or funny to look at, little things like Akko’s spinning pupils as she looks for the right room, to my personal favorite, the enormous transition from drive in to real disaster (with sudden ramped-up ominous music), suddenly leaping into a chase scene. I’m looking forward to watching this episode again, because there’s so much I bet I missed. I know this is only February, but this is a strong candidate for “episode of the year” honors, if you do that sort of thing.
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 6 continues with the running theme of friends and intimacy, often inappropriate. First we get a scene where Saikawa invites Kanna over, and Kanna brings Kobayashi and Tohru, where we get a lot of bonding over maids (another one pops up), plus a strange moment of intimacy between Kanna and Saikawa that, alas, gets interrupted. I say that not out of any hentai urges toward young girls, but out of curiosity. What WAS Kanna about to do? After that Kobayashi and Tohru pay a visit to Lucuo’s new place, where she was “summoned” by a young boy, and has proven a bit too much for him to handle in a number of different ways. After that it’s male-bonding time between Fafnir and Takiya, who are getting along just fine. After the near-assaults on children earlier, this one was a relief. Then some umbrella-sharing. In little ways, all the characters are getting closer to the people they want to be with.
In KonoSuba 6, Kazuma dies again. The only noteworthy thing about that is that he realizes Eris might be, personality wise, that is, the right girl for him. Also, he discovers while hanging out with her in that starry room, that she sometimes goes down to the surface to visit. Thus we have another extra piece in the plot game they’re playing down there, ready to appear right when it will screw things up for Kazuma perfectly. Kazuma was killed in another funny scene where we watch the team’s splendid plans for getting rid of some monsters unravel bit by bit, thanks to Aqua, I believe, though Kazuma helped … sucking up Megumin’s powers like that … But I think the hignlight the whole sword-naming thing, both swords … Good episode. Still, I’m a little eager for a story arc to get rolling again.
Seiren 7 isn’t as crazy and event-filled as last week, there’s no deer mating or anything (though Shouichi’s deer is getting old–wonder wht that signifies?). In fact, it’s almost all talk, and unlike some other shows, it’s mostly interesting talk. First, Tsuneki fills Shouichi in on Miyamae’s past, and while you’d figure there would be a dark secret there, it’s much more mundane than that–she could outgame the boys and they were too immature to handle it, and somehow this is Miyamae’s fault, or at least Tsuneki thinks so.
Next Shouichi goes to Miyamae’s place, meets her brother Sota, and gets more background, with no terrible fact to reveal. After an inevitable gaming sequence it’s another conversation, but by now the couple seems to have talked their way to answers for their problems. Maybe fewer games right now, don’t be guilty about those boys, how about a date, and er, we’re kind of partners now, aren’t we? No big confession, no fake drama, just the realization of a natural outcome of things. Very nice.
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 5 is a pleasant series of little bits, the best being Tohru sneaking in to watch Kobayashi at work. I’m not a fan of the outward sentimentality some of the scenes give us but here it’s restrained to an early moment (Kobayashi wondering how she was before Tohru came along) and a final moment (She doesn’t remember, oh well …), followed by a punchline concerning the asshole boss. Not to say the other introspective moments don’t hurt the show. The bit with Fafnir at the traffic light was handled well, as was Kobayashi’s realization why Tohru wanted to learn ESP that much. The short bits worked pretty well, with Saikawa’s ridiculous overjoyed look working as a nice running gag. Turns out, by the way, that Kobayashi uses Python at work. Don’t know what that signifies apart from someone in KyoAni knowing it.
KonoSuba2 5, though all its main characters are in the story, refuses to fully utilize them again. This time it’s Kazuma and Darkness going through the dungeon to get rid of that magic circle Aqua put there that’s now keeping the monsters out. Then it becomes Kazuma, Darkness, and Vanir, who’s taken over Darkness’s body. Vanir’s bizarre motives and the logic of the whole thing made little sense to me, but as I’ve pointed out before, a coherent plot is low on my priorities for this show. What we got is a funny duel of wills between Vanir and darkness over who will be in control, and Vanir’s ongoing surprise that Darkness rather likes the promise of torturous pain for refusing. Kazuma can only stand there and do reactions. Better yet, Vanir is telepathic, and so can reveal embarrassing things about how the two adventurers feel about each other. So, that talisman that didn’t do anything? The monsters that aren’t there anymore? The fact that Vanir also wants the circle removed and should be cooporating? Who cares. And I think Lalatina is a lovely name.
It really isn’t fair to compare Seiren to the Amagami shows. While the format and many of the creators are the same the characters are completely different.. well, maybe it IS fair to compare them, and I can’t help it. But so far, this new series hasn’t lived up to the fun of the original–until episode 6. We get a great scene where they bring Tsuneki back (to help the son of her boss at her secret part-time job get revenge, which adds resonance from the previous arc) for a GunGal duel, complicated by the arrival of the school’s disciplinarians. The show skillfully jumps from one situation to another. It’s followed by Miyamae and Shoichi having their deer “mate,” dancing with the innuendo without overdoing it. Through it all they work further on the serious issues, like Miyamae’s gaming obsession and how her appearance has changed the dynamic between the boys, and shouldn’t Shouichi be studying more? And finally, an Amagami reference, I believe, to Junichi and whatever girl it was doing things in the pump shed. These are all the sort of things I expected this show to do, and they’re finally doing it.
ACCA-13 4 feels like a “district of the week” type of episode, where Jean goes to a place, sees a problem and then … doesn’t do much. Well, he’ll do what he can, like giving Warbler low scores so he’ll get to stay in Suitsu, but other than that he’s basically a sometimes-kidnapped bystander, observing, listening for a coup but doing little else but letting events play out around him. At least this episode because when he arrives at Suitsu they’ve got their own coup going on, unrelated to the big coup everyone KNOWS is brewing but no one has any real information about. Few plot moves there. Lotta is being tailed by the Prince’s goons, Nino is still reporting in … But we learn more about the losers who run Suitsu and hang out in Badon ignoring their responsibilities than we do about anyone else. While I like visiting these new districts I’d like to get more about the big picture, but I think the show is having too much fun dangling that just out of our reach. Or maybe Jean, taken by surprise by the situation in Suitsu, is going to get more proactive.
After watching episode 5 I’m not so worried about a ‘district of the week’ setup. True, he visits two this time, snowy Birra and a place that looks like New Mexico, but now the places have gone back to being background for the intrigue, whatever the hell it is. After Jean discovers (thanks to Lilium), that Nino is the one who’s been tailing him, they have a little talk, and go back to Badon, where Jean gets Nino to take Lotta to dinner every night while he’s on his next inspection, i.e., don’t tail him this time. Nino could easily demur, but instead agrees, suggesting a mutual trust. Jean’s reason is unclear. He didn’t seem to expect to find Grossular in Kokkusu. The conversation next week will be interesting. Meanwhile, the episode starts hilariously with two men, both tailing Lotta for less-than-professional reasons (okay, Magie’s acting on orders), getting distracted by toast. This is the funniest political intrigue story I think I’ve ever seen.
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 4, for a moment, looked like it might have a dark story arc prepared for us, when I saw the bodies on the ground, but I should have known better. Turns out it was just a game of dodgeball at dragon-tempo. A mildly amusing conclusion to a mildly amusing episode which took Kanna to school where she made friends and one enemy who became a friend through some guile on Kanna’s part. That was actually a rather nice way of defusing the situation, actually. There was some serious talk about how people in Japan aren’t allowed to stick out; I think that’s about as dark as the series is going to get, unless they do a story later about Tohru having to leave, or something like that.
Konosuba2 4 lost me at times. We have Darkness having to meet a prospective husband in an arranged marriage, but Kazuma’s strategy for handling this got a little confusing, and so did Darkness’s. It leads to them fighting because Walther, the possible husband, wouldn’t hit her, no matter how much she demands it, and ends with people thinking that she’s carrying Kazuma’s baby, yeah, I couldn’t figure out the story so much, but I was too busy snickering at Darkness’s speeches on how nobles ought to act (badly) and the usual batch of good comic timing (Fu-hee! Fu-hee?) to care much. Unfortunately, since they pulled Megumin away to deal with some monsters, the full ensemble still isn’t back to normal. Hopefully next week.
Seiren 5 … who’s the new girl, I wonder …
In a way it’s like an episode 1 of a series only they don’t have to introduce all the old characters again, just the one. And after the episode we don’t really know too much about her. She’s straightforward about things she loves, like games, and isn’t afraid to barge into a boy’s clique if she’s playing the same one (the boys, on the other hand, are astonished and pleased). Plus, she has an almost erotic fixation on headshots, a bit of weirdness which is appropriate for the show, and she used to play a partner game in grade school. But she doesn’t really give us anything beyond that, though I wonder what made her quit that old game. Maybe she was too rough on the other characters, but that’s speculation. Soichi hasn’t really figured her as a romantic possibility yet, but it’s only episode one of the arc. Wondering what will kick these game-addled lovebirds into romantic mode.