The last finales: Asukara, Yakuindomo

Finally, Nagi no Asukara crosses the finish line. They added a little sprint at the end to shave a second off their time, but frankly, it didn’t amount to much in the long run.

Looks like a nativity scene, actually.
Looks like a nativity scene, actually.

To start this episode we got the people on the surface trying to figure out just what the hell is going on with all the waves and weird lighting. And we see Chisaki pulling Manaka onto a salt-flow(?), and she’s cured! She even has her ena back! Turns out being surrounded by fragments of Ojoshi-sama’s feelings cured her! Of course, it doesn’t happen quickly. We have to undergo a narration by Manaka explaining that the pieces were telling her that she loved Hikari, and a flashback to what really happened in that legend, or rather, what that bastard sea god was up to when he took Ojoshi’s memories away. Anyway, she remembers she loves Hikari! Yay! Story over.

Oh, that's right.  Forgot about her.
Oh, that’s right. Forgot about her.

Hikari’s rescue of Miuna is a typical example of his shouting and hitting things to make his point. He fuels it with his perceived guilt over how he treated Miuna (i.e., he didn’t love her, hardly a sin) when she had fallen in love with him and helped him so much when he had returned all naked to the surface. And he’s pissed because love sucks sometimes, so take his ability instead. The god seems to take him up on this, throwing in a light show, but it seems the god was having a realization himself.

Not much has changed after all.
Not much has changed after all.

It only seems fitting that this god, shallow and capricious enough to want a sacrifice every year, all of a sudden realizes, after many years, that taking away Ojoshi’s ability to love was stupid because she loved him, too, not just that other guy. You’d think after bearing two of his kids would be enough to get it through the god’s head, but instead he waits for centuries not figuring it out until some middleschoolers get tangled up in a love heptagon. Nothing this episode did raised my opinion of this guy. And in spite of the overall good vibes of the episode (by the way, the climate change crisis that was threatening the well-being of billions of human beings is averted, not that that’s important in this show) I can’t say the finale raised my opinion much. It was a fairy-tale the characters had to take as fact, not as legends full of metaphors, and stories like that fall apart because you’re not supposed to look too closely at it. Over that we have some middle-schoolers who were mostly either annoying aggressive, or dully passive, who all fall in love with one another. It didn’t add up. I will say that it looked great and was well-produced, but, as I’ve said before, I expect nothing less from PA Works.

yakuindomo213-1

The Seitokai Yakuindomo phew finale hardly plays up its own love-square, or rather, it simply gets a situation where Uomi and Shino both appear at Takatoshi and Kotomi’s house to feed them dinner when the parents are away. They wind up staying the night. There’s a scene where Takatoshi tries to take a bath. Then they watch a film (Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon, if you want to know). Then more food, they sleep, and the next day clean the house.

yakuindomo213-2

Back at school there’s ANOTHER interview with Hata, then other scenes with underused characters, including one hapless male student who actually gets a line. The student council works late and gets home late. Later Suzu and Takatoshi work alone, and we are reminded yet again that Suzu is short. Some other girls complain about the double-standards concerning male and female behavior in society, and the Judo advisor worries about his baldness.

Takatoshi has just said something innocent but that could be taken the wrong way.
Takatoshi has just said something innocent but that could be taken the wrong way.

Then its graduation, a straight-up, sentimental affair, with a surprising realization (by me) that is quickly turned into maybe the best gag of the season. It’s not even dirty! However, naturally, things get dirty before the end, and they’re done. It was pretty much the same as the first season, and my reaction was more or less the same, so I’ll let Shino have the last word:

yakuindomo213-4

Asukara 25, Yakuindomo ?, Nisekoi and Fool 12

The events of Nagi no Asukara 25 seems to be all about gods playing dice with the loves of adolescents and young adults.

asukara25-1

Actually, for a while it looked like things had settled down. Hikari loves Manaka, and if Manaka could, she’d love him back. Miuna isn’t happy about this because she loves Hikari, too, but you know how that goes. Meanwhile, Chisaki loves Tsumugu and vice versa, but Chisaki has to come around to it. Kaname and Sayu are on their way to become a couple, so they’re taken care of, too. All that’s left is to get Manaka’s love-ability back, and they decide to have another boatdrift show to see if that works, because you remember how well the LAST one turned out.

asukara25-2

During the event, among some lovely-looking scenes (I haven’t said too much about PA Works’ artwork in this series recently, believe me that the show still looks great), we get another violent sea upheaval, and Manaka goes overboard. Everyone with ena dives in to save her, except Kaname, who goes to Sayu. Miuna gets to her first, ena and thoughts are exchanged, and so it’s Miuna who winds up in that weird graveyard, because she’s expendable, I guess, and this time there’s no getting her back. So in the last episode either they’ll go down with some digging tools and REALLY piss off that sea god, or everyone will mope all episode, or someone else will offer themselves. Hey, how about Akari, the little kid. I can’t stand him anyway. Kudos to Hikari, though, for reminding Miuna before the festival that they were doing it so that maybe this ecological disaster might be averted, not to work out the love-lives of some adolescents.

yakoindomo212-1

Seitokai Yakuindomo is another show that’s not quite dead (okay, the finale just came out, but I haven’t watched it yet). Let’s see … It’s New Years, so they go shopping and meet Uomi, Kaede, and Hata. The third trimester begins, so Hata interviews everyone about their New Years resolutions. We get the penultimate Squid and Takatoshi episode. It’s cold. Their lunches are cold. The judo team needs a manager. It’s still cold. It’s Valentine’s day, so Dejima teaches the girls to make chocolate gifts, which they give to Takatoshi. “Todoroke Nene’s Trivia” is actually interesting, though still dirty. Takatoshi meets Uomi while shopping for White Day, and the girls, and a joke is made that has consequences later. Then it’s the final Squid and Takatoshi, and the culprit is … After the closing credits, Shino makes the Tsuda kids a bento. Then the consequence business happens. Everyone thinks Takatoshi and Uomi are dating. For real. Actual plot.

Always dithering.
Always dithering.

Nisekoi has lots of little plots working out from the main story. Most of the time they’re an unwanted distraction, unless they’re funny. But here in episode 12 they start right up with sort of the main story. Chitoge is going to test her key out on Raku’s locket. Since the episode was getting to the point right at the start, I forgave and actually had a mind to laugh at Chitoge’s nervous blabbing. Well, that’s not fair. I often laugh at this show, even when it does digress too far. I won’t try to analyze the symbolism of a girl’s key entering a boy’s locket, and when the key breaks, I’m not going there. But it was funny enough, forgivable because you KNEW something to delay the proceedings would happen. I’m just proud of the two kids that they got their gumption up and try the obvious, after so many episodes. After that, and an infodump by Chitoge’s dad (helping the plot along), the digressions inevitably happen, this time with the pictures from their camp on sale. It’s predicatable, but I did like how Chitoge wants a copy of just about every one. It shows how far she’s come as a social being.

Yeah, I don't think the gods are pleased by this event.
Yeah, I don’t think the gods are pleased by this event.

With the new season starting very soon I’m tempted yet again to dump Nobunaga the Fool. I haven’t made up my mind yet, and this episode did nothing to sway me either way. Basically, they have the tea party, after what seemed like weeks of preparing for the tea party. It was livened up a little by potential mayhem by Mitsuhide’s stealth minions, but that didn’t happen this week. What did, after it became obvious to everyone watching but no one in the cast, was Ichihime agreeing to become Caesar’s bride. The fact that she agreed and wasn’t just taken makes me happy, because she’s basically unreadable as a character apart from her devotion to duty, which is her reasoning here. It will save the land and its people, etc. That might be true, but I’m waiting to see what deviousness she might concoct behind enemy lines. The only other thing worth noticing this week is Nobunaga becoming a little more humble, not a good sign in terms of bloody battling. Still on probation.

Kill 23, Nobunagun, Yakuindomo, and Chuunibyou Ren 11

Kill la Kill 23 is a big epside with lots of dramatic moments, fighting, and shouting, all to get us ready for the big finale next week. Good thing, too.

I'm beginning to feel that way too.
I’m beginning to feel that way too.

Frankly, it’s beginning to wear thin. When you have a show as over-the-top and intense as this one, you run the danger of bludgeoning the viewer into indifference. Happily for us, the show knows it too. It has leavened the intensity with just enough quiet moments and comedy to extend and heighten the big dramatic scenes. Oh, and the surprise twists. Mustn’t forget those. But that’s all right. They timed it almost perfectly. And while we have more bonding moments, still more level-ups for the costumes (didn’t we do this last week?), it’s all in anticipation of a final battle next week, with everyone wearing their final battle outfits, in the final episode. Unless Trigger fools us and makes a post-finale battle, outfit, or even episode. I could see them doing that.

smackdown #46702 for the series.
smackdown #46702 for the series.

As for the events, well, nothing much we haven’t seen before. Well, we hadn’t seen Ryuuko cut in half, but that was a ruse in order to distract Ragyo (I think the show’s writers were giggling furiously while writing that scene). We’ve seen the four devas in new suits before. Mako does her best to hold the fort until they show up. It was nice to see that tableau of everyone on the ship, not only the main characters, but all the little people as well (which reminds me that I felt the same way watching the freed suit-wearers on that hamster wheel). Two questions, apart from how they’ll win, remain. Didn’t they win already by killing the main life fiber? And, is Satsuki going to do any sort of penance for the years of abusing people she did?

Sio, doing what she does best.  Shootin' and grinnin'.
Sio, doing what she does best. Shootin’ and grinnin’.

I’ve said before that Nobunagun is always better when Sio is grinning, and she grins a lot in episode 11. And why not? As the episode goes on all we see is her plan succeeding. Newton messes with the gravity, Gandhi and whatshername cut off the rear, and some others, notably Jack, meet them head on in a Gaudi-created dome of death! Hell, apart from Capa and Newton, everyone’s smiling this episode. Meanwhile, Sio is blazing away from the ship at that thing they insist on calling a battleship. Yeah, she’s grinning every step of the way, except when she’s fanboying over tanks and their drivers. Then she uses some hovering thing so she can blast at the thing from close range. It’s only here that things go slightly wrong, like another battleship or something, with tentacles that threatened to turn this into a porn movie for a minute. Judging from the previews, however, it’s a minor setback.

yakuindomo11-1

In Seitokai Yakuindomo 11, Shino and Takatoshi walk by a lake, then after this week’s proclamation, we learn that it’s Autumn and getting colder. The SC decides to remind the student body of certain rules by using the newspaper, then turn to other things, but someone is leaking their information, so Suzu suggests they use a code. You can imagine the jokes, can’t you? It doesn’t work anyway, more info is leaked, though it’s wrong and embarrassing. After that Takatoshi learns the pond has a turtle, then Uomi invites them to her school’s festival, where they attend a cooking class and watch some acts. Time passes, and it’s snowing! They have to shovel the school entranceway. I didn’t know you could make so many dirty jokes about snow. After that comes winter break and a surprise stew party, where the mystery ingredients are, happily, not obscene, except for the sausage. Then Shino plays secret santa. Weird to have a xmas bit when it’s really March. Oh, and Suzu is short the entire time.

chuunibyouren11-1

With Chuunibyou Ren 11, the closest thing I can figure is that the “Dark Flame Dragon” was Satone’s battle with the image of Yuuta as a boyfriend, a false image that must be destroyed so that she can face the reality of the situation, that Yuuta’s got a girlfriend and she’s got to let go. That would help to explain Yuuta’s line about the dragon not existing, so we can’t see it, etc. To that end, Satone gets to see Yuuta constantly worrying about and chasing after Rikka to ensure she doesn’t get into trouble, for two episodes now, every time she turns to him, really. It feels unrealistic. Feelings don’t just go away over a summer break. Kumin’s “give her time” line was the most sensible advice. Meanwhile, through finding all those tokens, Rikka gets the confirmation of Yuuta’s affections that she needed, given in terms her dark fantasy-addled mind can understand. And in the meantime this sequel series still doesn’t have much to show for itself. But we’ve been saying that for a while now.

Asukara 23, Chuunibyou Ren and Yakuindomo * 10

Sorry, busy with work so I’m falling behind.

I think I like Manaka better this way.
I think I like Manaka better this way.

Nagi no Asukara 23 spends most of its time not trying to figure out how to get Manaka’s ability to love back, but instead whether she’s better off without it. On the pessimistic side are Chisaki and Kaname, with Hikari and Sayu doing the yelling for the other side. It’s an interesting question. Manaka looks happy enough these days even though she can’t love. On the other hand, she hasn’t been told this, and I wonder if keeping this secret from her is a bigger moral and philosophical question than the actual problem. Meanwhile Manaka goes cheerfully on, getting an answer from that sea slug from so long ago I myself forgot what she asked for, and perhaps wondering why people act the way they do around her, like burst into tears.

Tsumugu's turn to get ena'd.
Tsumugu’s turn to get ena’d.

In other, more annoying news, Hikari goes around insisting to everyone who seems interested that he’s NOT in love with Manaka, or that he is but it’s not going to happen. Everyone else thinks “bullshit,” but that doesn’t faze him, until he learns that Tsumugu is in love with Chisaki. Hikari is shocked. So is Chisaki, as she appears just at the moment he says it to Hikari to get him to shut up, one of the show’s weaker plot moments. Oh, after that, he develops ena, so now we have to put that information into our jigsaw puzzle of emotions and legends that this series has become.

chuunibyouren10

At least with Chuunibyou Ren you have an idea what each character is thinking and who likes whom. Plus, the supernatural elements are rightfully products of each character’s imagination rather both being real and being metaphors and plot devices. So this show can take more time to have fun. And they better, since they stretched out Satone’s revived feelings for Yuuta to last the entire episode. By now everyone in the show save Yuuta is aware of how she feels and spend most of the episode dancing around her as she struggles to banish Yuuta from her thoughts. The series high production standards keep it from getting too tedious, but a few more episodes like this and, well, I’ll still be watching, though with gritted teeth like I watch much of Asukara nowadays. At least they didn’t simplify Satone’s feelings, though. Banishing the one you love from your thoughts isn’t as easy as Satone thinks.

yakuindomo210-1

Seitokai Yakuindomo * 10 starts with Ecology Month, so after visiting a farmers market the SC goes into the mountains to look for edible plants. Mushroom jokes. Suzu has a cute bell. More mushroom jokes. It rains but they get to a cabin. Bath scene, followed by a delicious dinner. But the cabin only has two bedrooms. Oddly enough, they don’t make more of this situation than they should. After that it’s back to school, where Takatoshi thinks about getting more exercise. Did you know that the SC has a lost and found? The joke isn’t even dirty! It’s boring in the SC offices, then it’s busy as they prepare for the Halloween Festival. Rain threatens but does not cancel the cosplay event. Everyone has a good time. I’ll add that the mountain scenes had some lovely background art.

Fool 8, Nobunagun and Yakuindomo2 9

The winner, i think.
The winner, i think.

Nobunaga the Fool 8 again removes any hope of serious intrigue by rushing through the story. We have Caesar, with the loyalty of Takeda behind him and lusting after Ichihime, settling in, all ready for some intrigue (at least he’s plotting things), but Nobunaga decides to go ahead and attack and ruin his fun. There’s a fake castle they “build” using a DaVinci projector to distract the rest of the army, and we have another big robot fight as the centerpiece. Jeanne intervenes and screws up a prphecy, and Caesar gets … well, hard to say, since he sort of fades to white after Nobunaga comes up with another Regalia power (wind). If he’s dead I have no idea where the story goes from here, and it would be a story arc far too short for the stature of both him and Nobunaga, so I’ll assume for now he’s alive. Either way, Nobunaga rises in power and stature again. Who’s going to stop him, unless they’re actually going to resume with the intrigue and have some aides plotting his death, or something? I’d enjoy that.

Looks like Sio doesn't believe it either.
Even is as bewildered about this ridiculous new power as we are.

And Nobunagun gets even sillier than it was before. First, we get no conclusion to that bit with Sio drowning. She just wakes up in a hospital in Japan, with no explanation as to why she was transported halfway across the world when all she had was a head abrasion and a sprained ankle, except so she can meet Asao, I guess. Naturally, more beasties attack and no one’s around to fight them. Sio would, except they took her AU ball away for … safekeeping (seriously, what’s up with this organization?), and she’s got a bum ankle that conveniently gives her a dose of pain whenever she moves to do something helpful. Asao bravely tries to lure one monster away from the others, but it’s basically a suicide mission and everyone knows it. It’s actually a nicely set-up dire moment if you ignore the idea that it shouldn’t be happening in the first place, and I wondered how they’d get out of it. Here’s how: with no gun to conjure, Sio fires a deadly ray WITH HER FINGER! … And so, a silly show becomes even sillier. I should have known.

yakuindomo29-1

Seitokai Yakuindomo 9 … Takatoshi’s not eating a good breakfast, and has a bag for one onigiri. The weekly pronouncement. The SC helps Ranko get out the latest issue of the school newspaper, where they discover and reveal Daimon and Michishita’s engagement (remember the field trip? Of course not). Congrats! The strange young woman in the clubroom turns out to be former SC president Furuya-senpai. There’s much catching up and everyone discovers she’s very old-fashioned about some things, but not all. Everyone goes to her college festival and has a good time. Then we learn that Uomi’s uncle and Takatoshi’s aunt are getting married (lot of marriage talk this week), so now he and Kotoba have to call her onee-chan. Shino and Suzu are clearly jealous. And we finish with Aria’s “What’s This?” corner, where Takatoshi and Suzu are driven to scream their lines. And there you go.

Nobunagun 8, Fool 7, Yakuindomo* 8

Wait, Nobunaga DID show up this episode.
Wait, Nobunaga DID show up this episode.

Nobunagun 8 has Sio and her guys joining up with another bunch of guys to fight what they’re calling a battleship, though it looks like a giant octopus to me. No wait, only two tentacles, so would that be a bipus? Whatever it is, the first platoon has to take out one tentacle, our guys the other one. Good thing too, since the two platoons don’t get along at all, as they make clear early in the episode, the middle of the episode, and up to the end. But they’re (almost) united by their mutual, growing hate for Vidocq, who orders sweet little Galileo to take in key information until it nearly kills her from the feedback, then says he’s too busy to visit her in sickbay. The poor thing’s got a crush on him, too. I frankly don’t care too much about that; the show’s at its strongest when Sio channels Oda and gets that evil grin on her face, and while that doesn’t quite happen, she has a moment of battle insight that saves just about everyone, including that old lady who runs things and came out to take direct command for no reason I can see except she needed to be put in danger for the plot. As for Sio, her heroic moment now has her sinking, unconscious, in the water, and nobody seems to have noticed. I’m beginning to have my doubts about this organization.

nobunagafool7-1

I would talk about the great intrigue found in our other Nobunaga show this season, Nobunaga the Fool, but it’s pretty straightforward and naive. We have Mitsu doing nefarious things like killing Nobunaga’s brother while still devoutly obeying the fool himself, in fact, the murder was out of loyalty. On the other side we have Caesar supposedly working with the Takeda clan while actually planning his own conquest of the land, or maybe just Ichihime. Both of them are fooling a lot of people, but it’s just a single level of deception. There are no wheels within wheels going on here. As for the actual story this week, we get a lot of mourning for Nobukatsu, though it looks like Ichihime will pull through. I liked her better anyway. I was surprised that the big fight (okay, the second) between Nobunaga and Shingen had such a decisive ending. Still, it was fun. They even had some time during locked-sword time to talk (“Sorry about your dad.” “Shit happens.”). I enjoyed Shingen’s honest bloodlust and sense of honor, so it’s a drag to see him go and die and have that smirking Caesar take over.

yakuindomo27-1

Seitokai Yakuindomo Huh 8 starts with all the events of summer you’ll ever find in anime apart from the ghost stories. The SC is off scouting beach locations for the school trip, but it seems like more of an excuse to have a beach episode to me. Shocking. Anyway, Takatoshi takes a group photo, we have our weekly rule announcement, more beach activities, then night falls, so there’s test of courage (scouting) and the inevitable local festival with fireworks. When they get back home they do their summer homework together, except for the bored Suzu, and Kotomi, who ran away. Shino tells the dozing Takatoshi that she’ll be giving him morning calls from now on, and believe it or not, the punchline is not dirty. Then the latest of the riveting drama corner “Takatoshi and Dried Squid: Max Power!” And finally, it’s too hot to sleep so Shino calls her friends. Oh, and Takatoshi has a photoshopped photo of Takatoshi that’s making the rounds. It felt tamer than the usual episode, or I’m not getting the jokes.

Zvezda 6, Dandy, Nobunagun and Yakuindomo 7

I suppose it had to happen.
I suppose it had to happen.

Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda 6 has Kate, Roboko, Natasha, and Itsuka entering Jimon’s school as transfer students. This is relatively late in the series for them to do this. Normally the weirdos transfer in during episode 1 or 2. But they might not stay long; they’re only there to look for the “Udo Bride,” an artifact the learned about from a school flier made by the Treasure Club, a mysterious and frightening unofficial organization which is itself a front for something else. This episode is mostly a highly amusing setup for the hunt/trap our evil heroes will encounter next week. They keep the transfer school clichés to a minimum and devote most of the time to investigating the Treasure Club, the highlight being the initiation film talking directly back to the audience, not to mention Jimon’s subsequent humiliating performance. Well done, Jimon. It’s another example of this series’ ability to juxtapose serious matters like world conquest (well, that’s a little silly, too), with things a small girl might find interesting, or high schoolkids, and winding up somewhere you didn’t expect.

But by this point I was past caring.
But by this point I was past caring.

Almost nothing to say about Space Dandy 7. Dandy decides to enter a race because he’s pissed off at this guy named Prince because the girls like him. We get a bunch of Wacky Races in Spaaace bits, except none of the competitors are entertaining in any way, and then Dandy goes so fast he reaches Nirvana or something. End of episode. At this point I wonder if the show is trying to make a point about the ham-fisted, cliché-ridden stories it’s been giving us, taking them apart and putting them back together wrong, maybe, in order to make fun of the clichés themselves. But they take too much episode time with the stories themselves for me to believe that (not with good results–I mean, what the hell was that little Micky Mouse character doing, threatening to sue, then sabotaging ships? It was like they had an idea but ran out of time to work it out), then so what are they actually doing with 25 minutes of our time a week, apart from throwing a lot of good production money (the show looks great) toward nothing more than a pose?

Like she was going to stop.
Like she was going to stop.

Nobunagun 7 is a straightforward standalone where the nasty EIOs resurrect the WWII ship Musashi and head toward the Panama Canal to destroy it. Why? Actually, there IS a reason, which Sio learns when she encounters the memories of the dead sailors, which she does when the EIO core-thing has wrapped her up in tentacles. It all feels like a bit of a misstep. Sio is naturally very moved by the fact that the Musashi is back on the surface, but rather than delving into that (or the dead memories) further, she does her job and helps to blow things up. It’s fun when things blow up, and it’s fun watching Sio have fun doing it. And I rather liked her thought process. This grand piece of history is afloat and being used against humanity–Sio wants to be the one to sink it again. I guess that’s a gesture of respect when you’ve got a healthy blood-lust.

yakuindomo27-1

Seitokai Yakuindomo phew 7 is all about the hot weather. Let’s see … First, they sell a bike, then Suzu walks her dog and meets a few interesting people, we get the weekly Student Council Pronouncement, then they doodle with roman characters. Suzu does some shopping with a friend. The Student Council get some morning glories, and fresh veggies. Suzu wears an old gown, and they talk about clubs. Shino joins a couple of them, just to see what they’re like. After that they dig out a telescope and talk about constellations. Then it’s testing the school pool before opening it, and acting as lifeguards after it opens. Finally, Yokoshima teaches us some English. I learned something about constellations in this episode, by the way, but I don’t think education is what this series is going for–not THAT sort of education.