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New shows Spring 2017 1

April 4, 2017 Leave a comment

Hooray, I think. It’s time for me to begin my new show reviews for the new season! For those of you that might not be aware, or just don’t care, I tend to follow the shows as they appear on the Random Curiosity Preview page. I will watch just about anything, but not the following: sequels to shows I never watched in the first place, and, er, anything else I don’t want to watch. That will probably include sports shows, male idol shows, and yaoi. I have absolutely nothing against these genres, they’re just not to my taste. Stupidity, as I said last time, is not a deal-breaker. Also, I will introduce each show with the first comprehensible image it gives us, unless it’s all moody and starts with thirty seconds of black ooze or something. So here we go!

First is Boku no Hero Academia 2, but I never watched season 1, so that’s out. That means …

Gin no Guardian starts by telling you who made it.

Gin no Guardian is first out of the gate. We start with some pajama-girl ogling as they talk about how their school rests on a graveyard or something, leading the adored dorm boss student, Riku Rei, to think fondly of the person who protects them all, and who also dominates most of in the OP, Riku Suigin, and his devoted cat, we switch to him in another dimension, trapped, I believe, and guarding a mausoleum against thousands of robed zombie things, mostly by hand. He has to do it every night and doesn’t seem to mind it. Then it’s flashback time to when he was a pool boy who couldn’t swim and nearly drowns, rescued by Rei, he’s told by someone.

I’ll say this for Suigen: he’s got a cool scarf.

My heart sank as I watched the OP. There was nothing new there at all. Things got a little better when we got an idea of the story, i.e, when Rei thought about Rin and then we switch to him. The battle was too ludicrous to think about, all those zombies, and got insipid when we turned to the pool flashback. I don’t really care how Rei and Ruigin met. Will there some day be a show where this sort of thing is NOT considered vital information? Well, I guess they’re trying to sell this as a romance, too. I am a little interested in how Ruigin got stuck in that hell-world, but I’m also afraid it will take too episodes to get there, and the other things didn’t interest me terribly much. Probably this is a no.

Shingeki no Kyojin 2 starts with a book with all sorts of grotesque pictures in it.

Next is Shingeki no Kyojin 2. Will it compare to the first season? Well, it starts, after a pleasant flashback of mayhem, with the unwelcome discovery that there are titans inside the walls, not in the city, but literally inside. While a woman I don’t remember the name of (easy to do in this show) interrogates a pastor who knows about it and isn’t telling. But there’s more bad news, as it turns out titans have broken through Wall Rosa. Flash back to an outpost and some old favorites (Sasha, Conny, well never cared for him myself) as they learn the news and ride off to warn everyone, leaving Miche to distract the big approaching idiots. Then this new one shows up.

No, the question is how come you’re speaking at all.

In other words, this series wants to dump us into a bunch of mysteries as well as the usual gallons of blood and limbs. That’s a good way to work it. The action scenes are great to watch as usual, but week after week of battling doesn’t interest me too much. Now we have to figure out what the talking titan wants, who he’s going to show the battle gear to, and what those titans in the walls are doing there, and why they should be kept out of the sun. As for our core trio, Eren, Mikasa, and Armin, we only get one scene with them. Maybe the show will drift away from them a little. It’s got plenty to do otherwise. As for me, I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch another season of this, but I admit this episode got me interested again.

Granblue Fantasy starts with a porthole looking at some purple things.

Next it’s Granblue Fantasy, the Animation, based on a game I must have seen before. We have Lyria and bigger, stronger Katalina running away on a steampunkish battleship until they run into a bad guy who wants to do more experiments on Lyria, who freaks out, her gem interacts with another one and she’s thrown from the ship in the explosion, which was witnessed by the brave young lad, er, Gran, who finds and rescues her (Katalina shows up too) until the bad guys catch up again and everyone conjures up monsters. Oh, Gran gets killed but Lyria tries to give him her powers, but is interrupted, so now they BOTH have powers, one half each I assume. And time runs out before the monsters can duke it out.

Vyrn, Gran, Lyria, and Katalina on the run.

I don’t game much, so I think I’m getting the deja vu vibes from Lyria, who looks amazingly like Belldandy without the jewel. As for the rest of the art and character designs, I found them attractive in a superficial gaming way. It all looks pretty nice. But the rest of it doesn’t hold up, no, wait, there was one excellent moment when evil knights were running up to our heroes while Katalina was running up to THEM. That was a great moment, but it was about all. The story was full of awkward pauses and moments where both sides just stood there while someone talked or recovered (Pommern interrupting Lyria’s transfer wasn’t bad, though–had to laugh at that). Lyria, Gran, and Katalina aren’t much beyond their fantasy roles, much as I liked Katalina, and the flying pet sidekick Vyrn got annoying quickly. And while I praised most of the art, the Bahahmut at the end looked like a crappily drawn DnD cover from the 1970s. Nope, going to avoid this.

A streetlight on a rainy night, perfect for an escape.

Next is Alice to Zouroku, a double-length episode where we watch Alice, a young girl, who has escaped from a research facility using her super-power, which is to conjure up anything she thinks of, teleportation, mind-reading, etc. She almost gets caught but gets help from another powered person and winds up in Shinjuku, where she meets grumpy old Zouroku, gets chased some more, and winds up staying at his place while he figures out what the hell is going on.

Because it’s a long episode it takes its time. I believe the show was more interested in introducing us to the characters than giving us a ton of action, which is just as well because the CGI clashes with the cute character designs. The scenes with Zouroku take even longer, but it feels more appropriate. Zouroku has to get from being annoyed and scolding the girl (and the sisters who are chasing her) to accepting Sana and deciding to help her and teach her a few things, like manners. The action-adventure plot isn’t terribly new: powered kids who escape abuse in an evil lab, but the slice-of-life side of it might help, if I’m up for a heartwarming geezer-waif story, and I’m not sure I am. I just wonder if the narrative and pacing can sustain both styles.

Tsugumomo hasn’t shown up yet, so …

Frame Arms Girls lets you know what to expect right from the start.

Frame Arms Girls stars …, oh, Ao, high school girl of course living alone who gets a “doll” in the mail. The doll wakes up, introduces herself as Gouran, and starts asking questions to aid her knowledge of the world while Ao underreacts. Ao, you see, doesn’t want to do anything hard, like assemble Gouran’s armored parts, so maybe freaking out over a talking doll takes too much energy for her. Later, two more dolls appear and everyone starts challenging each others to fights. We see one in all it’s CGI badness.

Actually, Ao’s tendency to let things flow helps keep this episode afloat. She just reacts and asks the right questions to move the story along. I’m not sure what the story IS except she’s going to watch the robot girls fight and take notes for the company. Even with more robot girls coming along in future episodes, each of them, I assume, also not wearing pants, I don’t think that’s going to carry the season. Now, if you’re someone who likes assembling models, the show goes into a some detail about doing it right, but I’m not one of those people. And as I said before, the CGI in the battles is pretty awful.

Finales: Kyojin, Railgun S

October 1, 2013 Leave a comment
It's hard to say what Levi thinks of all this.

It’s hard to say what Levi thinks of all this.

Shingeki no Kyojin ends with a hodgepodge of meanings dragging behind it. More than once we’re told that people who live safely behind walls don’t deserve freedom, which I guess was the point of the final battle between Big Eren and Big Annie, ripping each other’s body parts loose and crashing around the safest place of the city, killing off hundreds of people who I guess don’t deserve freedom, including that bloody, crying little girl, who probably doesn’t even know what’s going on. As Armin says at one point, it’s complicated. You have Erwin, who in the end doesn’t seem to care about the lives lost, feeling it’s necessary for mankind’s survival, but not saying why. Levi, who’s seen many friends and comrades die, might be the voice of conscience, but most of the time he just says “I hope you’re right,” and nothing else. The show makes pains to show how inept those who hide behind that inner wall are, but gives us no reason for why their lives are thus less valuable than any others.

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So let’s move on to the fight. It was better than I had feared. At first it looked like Annie, with her superior fighting ability, would win again, but Armin lets his blinding rage take control and becomes a mad flaming beast. It’s crazed, bloody action (especially with all the civilians getting squished) and it comes to a fitting conclusion when Mikasa stops Annie from climbing the wall and Levi stops Eren from eating Annie. The little guys on wires manage to get something done. After that it’s a letdown, all speeches about mankind, becoming monstrous to destroy monsters, and the philosophizing noted above. And in the end mankind doesn’t seem any better off than they were before. No matter. That’s not why the series has become a hit. It’s because it’s full of action, and it’s monstrous. The former was very well done and made up for the occasional artistic lapse, and the latter caught the audience’s imagination. Of course there will be a second series. The only question is when.

The Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S finale had to do two things. It had to top, or at least match, the terrific first season finale, and it had to somehow make this final story arc compelling. One out of two …

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The battle was just as exciting and nutty as I had hoped. It was also messy. There were tides turning throughout but most of them were forgotten in a minute. The bad guys jam the good guys’ signals? Is that so bad? Their enemies are right in front of them. And when friends arrive with reinforcements, well, that’s good, but it doesn’t seem to matter much. Just keep smashing things. With continuity issues, for me at least, the Index franchise can get away with almost anything. And, of course, everyone shows up at just the right time, says a line or two, and proceeds to kick ass while the techno score thumps on. I frankly hadn’t expected Mugino and her pals to appear, and when they did, I was delighted to see that they had their own agenda for being there. About the only ones that don’t show up are Accelerator and Touma.

Oh, just shut up and shoot.

Oh, just shut up and shoot.

There are too many great moments and lines delivered during the battle, so I won’t list them. It was great fun, and topped by Misaka doing the railgun thing–IN SPACE! And everyone ends up smiling. Let’s turn to the things you realize after all the craziness didn’t work, or at least left you scratching your head. The worst thing is this entire story arc. This bad guy organization was the dullest on record, a bunch of smirking bespectacled esper wannabees that I couldn’t care less about. Febri was just a cute little girl in danger, and we never really meet Janie, though we see her near the end, out of her pod, happily chatting with Febri. Those filaments were never really explained. And that entire missile business was confusing; I never understood what what going on (but nice touch using the sisters to help solve the problem, since they didn’t participate in the battle and I was just beginning to wonder where they were). And don’t get me started on Misaka’s speech to Aritomi, or that fact that it seemed to have an effect on him. Saten summed it up better when her robot was beating up a bad robot after the pilot had cursed all the espers: “Just so you know, I’m level zero!”

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But who the hell really cares? The show promised us a big battle and it delivered, it used all the characters well and gave them moments to shine. And if a lot of it was confusing, or just over-the-top crazy, well, that’s one of the reasons we like it. Railgun (and Index) knows how absurd it is, doesn’t care, and occasionally, thanks to the Sisters’ pithy lines, winks at you about it all before going back to the bizarre, endearing characters and wild action. I miss it already.

Kyojin 24, Monogatari SS and Uchouten K 12

September 24, 2013 1 comment

Shingeki no Kyojin 24 builds well and leaves us waiting for another big giantXgiant battle next week. But two things occur to me.

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First, why didn’t Eren transform sooner? He lay there in the wreckage for several minutes, had two pep talks, one from Jean, the other from Armin. At first it’s understandable; he couldn’t believe that Annie was really that Titan, even after she transformed right in front of him. Some people need time to digest shocking news, so I don’t mind that bit, and I appreciated that chilling moment when Mikasa suggested there were “other” reasons why he couldn’t transform. Never has Mikasa looked so scary. But in the end he practically had to will himself to be angry and focused enough. There was no other reason. He couldn’t see the fighting from where he was lying, couldn’t see Mikasa knocked flat, twice. The reason is, of course, that they wanted a big buildup before he came to the rescue, but that’s a poor reason.

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The rest of it, however, was fantastic. There were people flying around everywhere, getting squished by Annie, who, having a brain, keeps coming up with inventive ways of squishing them. Mikasa’s two attempts at Annie’s head, though failures, showed her at her most furious and brave. And the camera swoops and glides around everyone like it was on wires on its own. It was a joy to watch … and that’s the other problem. The men and women fighting on wires, small and vulnerable though they are, have a poetry to them; the two giants are just going to duke it out like two people in a cage. No matter how much money they throw at the animation, it simply can’t match up. Well, never mind. It’s bound to be exciting anyway. But many shows’ peak moments come in the buildup. I’m worried that this will be one of them.

Ougi Oshiro

Sengoku meets Ougi Oshiro

We start Monogatari Second Season‘s Nadeko Medusa arc with that very same character brutally killing Araragi and Sengoku. With that cheery future event to look forward to, we move past the OP (a pretty good one) and follow Sengoku Nakeko around as she has Monogatari-style conversations. In the first one we meet Ougi Oshino, who nearly runs her over, tells her that they will meet in the future, so this is a screw-up, and lectures her on victims and aggressors. Basically, You can be one or another, or both, and which one is Sengoku, anyway, because you’re not purely the victim, Sengoku, ARE YOU? It makes little sense to Sengoku, or to me, but never mind, this bizarre bicycle girl who talks like Hidamari’s Miyako triggers the new arc.

Another snake.

Sengoku meets another snake.

While I was trying to remember exactly how Sengoku could be blamed for anything, we get a monologue about her class in school being fans of those charms that that con-man was peddling a while back, and why they’re all so melancholy now. So maybe Sengoku is guilty by association? No, she and her friends are victims here. But that snake that pops up and engages her in the final conversation of the week give us an answer, or the snakes’s answer, anyway. I don’t trust the snake. There’s more at work in Sengoku’s mind than guilt over killing a bunch of snakes back when she was trying to save her own life. It probably has to do with that snake that Araragi got to leave back in Bake–. Why kill him and Shinobou over that? Well, the snake will let us know soon enough.

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Uchouten Kazoku 12 brings us the big action promised last week, but it’s undone pretty quickly, then redone, and we wind up with a bizarre confrontation brewing in the final episode. Fun as it was (and this episode was all about fun) I was a little surprised that Yajiro did his streetcar impersonation so early in the episode. It meant a turnaround thanks to more of the twins’ treachery, but I didn’t anticipate another turnaround, thanks to Yashiro. I should have seen the flying trolley bit coming, it happens so often in anime. The other great surprise was Akadama’s sudden appearance right when things were getting the most grim. I should have seen it coming, but unlike Yajiro’s train job, even if the previews hadn’t given it away, I didn’t. Great to look at though it was, I’m more interested in next week, when we get the Friday Fellows meeting a room full of tanuki. I’m looking forward to the reactions on both sides when they find out. I just hope they do it without ignoring all the questions we have about Benten, or are they pretty much done with her? Never mind. Remember what Yasaburou (and half of the rest of the cast) says this week:

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Quick thoughts on Kyojin 23 and Railgun 22

September 15, 2013 4 comments

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The big reveal in Shingeki no Kyojin 23 should come as no surprise, except to those of us who had forgotten who giantess is. The show’s had problems establishing characters from the start. Even after the opening scenes where we see her sympathizing with an overly zealous outer of corruption named Marlo while telling him that he’s a complete idiot, we’re still not sure why she does the things she does, just that she doesn’t like the corruption in the system. But after that, at least story-wise, the episode wasn’t bad. Armin’s plea to Annie suggested a different and just as logical turn of plot than what we got, which meant the buildup at the stairs was well-done because we weren’t sure what was going on. That said, we got questions, like how did Armin get permission to use Eren and Mikasa for this trap, what were those townspeople doing helping out, and again, why is she doing this?

Therestina uses both images in one sentence.

Therestina uses both images in one sentence.

Toaru Kagaku no Railgun 22 is again mostly talk, with a pointless action scene in the middle, and it raises more questions than answers. Judgement and Anti-Skills manage to find information on the head bad guy, Aritomi, when Kongou happens to spot his face on a database Uiharu had opened up, which is the way these two agencies tend to work. Mugino and her pals get a job to look into something and there’s nothing there, but they blow stuff up anyway, hence our action scene. Misaka mulls a lot over her conversation with Therestina, partly about clues but more often about that darkness image. And guinea pigs; that’s the new one. The questions involve those capsules with the hair in it, who hired ITEM to attack that old factory, why Shinobou, knowing that the information in that factory was bogus, went in there anyway. Well, that last question is more a question of plotting, not a story factor we’re supposed to consider. In the end, Shinobou and Misaka prove to be even stupider than Aritomi, actually believing he’ll give them the poison neutralization, especially Misaka letting herself get paralyzed, unless she has some trick up her sleeve. Yep, a lot of questions, some of them not the ones the show wants us to ask.

(Note to self: when writing about these two shows, stop mixing up the names Mikasa and Misaka.)

Kyojin 22, Monogatari SS and Uchouten Kazoku 10

September 10, 2013 Leave a comment

Shingeki no Kyojin 22 is, er, not very cheerful.

Levi makes it look easy.

Levi makes it look easy.

We get two action scenes, the first being the pursuit and rescue of Eren, that is to say, the incapacitating of the female giant who ate him. It’s an interesting look at Mikasa in blood rage compared to the much cooler and more effective Levi. In fact, Levi is so adept at making the giant a hunk of useless meat in human form that you wonder why he didn’t do that when the giant was chasing them all earlier. Well, it doesn’t matter, Eren is rescued, though Mikasa wasn’t given the chance for revenge. Maybe next time. The second bit of action was a cautionary tale about recovering the bodies, which wound up creating another body or two. I’m fully on Erwin and Levi’s side on this one. Dead is dead.

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The remainder involves the army’s inglorious retreat to the city, and the show takes great pains to compare it to previous inglorious returns, the ones that the young Eren looked at with such admiration. There’s even a little kid playing the Eren role, which probably cheered Eren and Mikasa up a little, but the whole thing was so heavy-handed that I felt more like Erwin and Levi at that moment, stoically moving on while townspeople asked about sons and daughters or jeered about the terrible loss of life. That’s how I felt about the scene, anyway: just keep moving, they’re laying the sorrows of war stuff on too thick, but the scene will be over soon. Things promise to get more interesting next week when it’s back to the courtroom. Oh, shit, another courtroom scene with stereotypical societal faction members give ridiculous speeches? Maybe not so interesting. We’ll see what Armin has up his sleeve …

On the other hand, Monogatari Second Season 10 is a pretty cheerful episode … overall. I didn’t expect this arc to finish so quickly.

Mayoi's grown into her backpack.

Mayoi’s grown into her backpack.

We start with the initial shock of Araragi returning to the present only to find his world overrun by zombies. Rather, as Oshino helpfully explains in a letter, this is actually an alternate timeline, and not the inevitable consequence of saving Mayoi. I think. I’m not really sure. Time travel stories always confuse me. Anyway, after the zombies are driven away (with rice?!), we and our heroes get the delightful surprise of seeing Mayoi fully grown and in survivalist mode. What’s more, she has a letter from Oshino that explains the situation. As far as conversations go it’s straight and too the point–surprisingly so, I thought, and I sort of wished Araragi had told her the truth of the situation. I’m sure she was wondering what’s going on.

Not quite, you're going to save the girl AND the world.

Not quite, you’re going to save the girl AND the world.

After that it’s time to meet Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade, or the person wielding it. I had forgotten who this person or thing is, only thinking when they briefly showed her face during the Oshino letter visual rush, that she looked like Shinobou. Along the way, of course, we have a conversation, and given the circumstances (possible death from an opponent far more powerful than them) it’s a brave and positive one that showed the bond that these two odd people have made, mostly on the idea of “saving the girl in front of you” and choosing between the girl and the world. They’re both smiling and laughing throughout. They’ve made their choices and don’t regret them.

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Which I suppose was the intent, for this older, bitter Shinobou they encounter is the person who didn’t make the right choices and regrets it. I expected a long, bloody battle with bitter tongue-lashings from KSAOHUB and Shinobou both, but the only blood we see comes from KSAOHUB’s eyes, and then Shinobou’s, as they’re both in agreement. “I made the wrong decisions and now you’re standing before me happy.” “My decisions were pretty close to yours, so I can’t figure it out.” “Me neither. Well, you better kill me.” “‘kay.” And that’s it. So rather than a fight, we get another conversation, a short, sad one. All Araragi gets to do is pat KSAOHUB’s head. Mission accomplished. Araragi saved Mayoi and then the world she was in, then returns and meets the Mayoi he knows in typical fashion, but reversed. I didn’t expect that at all, and it was beautifully done.

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After and during a lot of dire warnings by frogs, Uchouten Kazoku 10 brings us the long-awaited Ebisugawa plans for winning the election, and it’s pretty cruel, actually. The father actually wants to wipe out the Shimogawa family, and we see them one-by-one fall prey to the attacks. Okay, we only see two of them and can only imagine what happened to the mother, and Yasaburou is surrounded at the episode’s end. All for a petty love squabble many years ago. We also, finally, get the details of Souichirou’s capture and death by stew, but as Yasaburou mutters, he sort of had figured it out already. In short, this is one of the bleak episodes that many series have before the tables slowly turn closer to the end, in this case, two episodes away.

Kyojin 21, Genshiken and Uchouten 9

September 3, 2013 Leave a comment

When, last week in Shingeki no Kyojin, the female giant got herself devoured to prevent capture, it meant we’d have to wait a few more dragging episodes before we saw her again. Happily, I was wrong.

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It STARTS that way. From their various locations in the forest the characters talk about the implications, Armin as usual making the most sense, Erwin pondering future strategies and battle philosophies while fleeing. The danger is still there. There is a traitor in their midst and they don’t know who, so there’s an edge to these scenes, but really you want the big girl back. Fortunately, Erwin’s speculation that the traitor may have to transform again is proven true, and we get what we wish. But then it begins to look like another pointless chase through that never ending forest, complete with another Eren “should I or shouldn’t I?” scene, but we get another twist: those elite corpsmen get the upper hand of the giant for a minute or two, then get crushed. … Well, Levi DID say there was no right or wrong answer, right?

And there's the bell for round one ...

And there’s the bell for round one …

It’s on! And it’s also weird as hell, and a bit kinky, especially when Eren straddles her and then pauses, as if he was thinking thoughts he hadn’t considered before. But no, he’s just thinking the usual things, revenge, kill, rage rage rage, the boring stuff he always feels. Meanwhile his opponent, already wounded, is clearly thinking about the battle more than Eren is. She’s on the defensive most of the time, but she’s clearly buying herself time to regenerate and waiting for the right moment, which comes so fast that you’re not sure what happened except the top of Eren’s giant head is falling off. And guess who shows up just in time to watch what happens next?

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Watching what happened next I fully expected to see Misaka actually kill the giantess. We all know that she’s a great fighter, and, unlike Eren, she uses her rage almost like a weapon unto itself, motivating her to make moves on the giantess that would be suicidal for other corpsmen. And we’ve seen enough of the giantess to know that she was afraid. If she hadn’t had that crystallizing ability … But even though Mikasa didn’t succeed, her righteous anger is a joy to watch. The scene also made me think. The giantess hadn’t eaten anyone before. What’s more, I believe she swallowed Eren whole. If she had wanted to kill him she could have mashed him like she does all the others. In other words, she wants Eren alive. This is a giant version of kidnapping. I want to see what they do with this.

Just one of many little conversations in this episode.

Just one of many little conversations in this episode.

Genshiken Nidaime 9, like many of the other episodes, moves along in a leisurely way, tossing out little plot and character bits along the way, until a small crisis I don’t understand in the slightest pops up at the end. Most of it works. They spend too much time with Hato realizing that others might also know about Madarame’s interest in Saki, but they also introduce a bunch of new characters, all of them old friends of the main group who have come to say hello during the festival. It’s fun to see the type of people they used to hang out with. Yoshitake and Yajima’s friends make sense (passionate and mousy), and we’ll learn more about Hato’s next week, including whether they’re actually friends or not. Meanwhile, that room is getting awfully crowded. Plenty of potential for fun next week.

There she is!

There she is!

Uchouten Kazokou 9 is pretty much the same as Genshiken. Little scenes that want to establish characters rather than move plot forward. We get a brief scene between Yasaburou and the professor about procuring a tanuki for their feast, perhaps there to show the prof’s reluctance to find one at all, another scene where the candidates for the election (and I hope both lose somehow) bow before the center stone (with an amusing flashback), one where the tanuki try to get stubborn old Akadama to preside at the election (handled by Yasaburou–contrasting the earlier scene where Ebisugawas try to bar the Shimogamos from the meeting, here the tanuki part to let Yasaburou in), until we get to the main bit, a conversation between Yasaburou and Kaisei, whom we finally get to see, though Yasaburou can’t and maybe never has. Not much to the scene. We already know that the girl doesn’t like her family, but has some sort of affection for Yasaburou, at least. There’s a hint of threat at the end, but we already figure that the Ebisugawas are going to go on the offensive again. Not that I care. And, like every week, the episode breezes by so quickly that I’m surprised when it’s over.

Kyojin 20, Genshiken N 8, Railgun S 19

August 27, 2013 2 comments
A statement of fact, not an accusation.

A statement of fact, not an accusation.

I expected Shingeki no Kyojin 20 to push Eren into a corner, where he’d have no option but to transform, with a confrontation at the end of the episode (and a giant slugfest next week), but the show makes its own decisions. Eren is pretty much a bystander this week, someone to bounce philosophy and military ethics off of. Elsewhere, at the edge of the forest, Armin does the same (while Misaka says hardly anything and Sasha made me laugh again). Last week they made a big point of trusting your fellow soldiers and superior officers. This week they play with that point a little. Even Levi, loyal to the end, is beginning to wonder if Erwin’s big casualties are worth it. Armin actually has a big speech about how you don’t gain anything unless you’re willing to risk everything. Inspiring stuff, to be sure, but I note that Erwin is always standing in those trees watching other people get slaughtered.

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After they’ve finished beating that concept into the ground, they get to have some fun with the giantess, whom I once again find myself rooting for. Even while restrained by hundreds of wires, she shows off a couple neat tricks, like calcifying her hands covering her nape so the soldiers can’t hack through them. Then, in an odd moment, Levi lands atop her head and talks about nasty things they’ll do to the person inside. The giantess responds by giving a series of dreadful screams, and the regular giants, milling outside the forest, charge in and eat her. So much for the Survey Corps’ plan. And we’re also back to the idea of abandoning everything, because the giantess just did. Were all the bodies worth it? Now we have a traitor in the ranks, as if the Survey Corps didn’t have enough trouble. You have to wonder when the cost of life will prove to be too much …

Madarame cuts through the nervous tension.

Madarame cuts through the nervous tension.

Genshiken Nidaime 8 features another lengthy scene between Hato and Madarame in the latter’s flat, except that this time Hato is dressed as a girl. I could compare and contrast the differences in the conversation between this and the first one, but to some it up, Madarame comes off as more or less the same: a friendly mentor type. It’s been a surprise and sort of a pleasure to watch the man grow up a little, still passionate about the same things, but with more experience under his belt. Early on we had some “He’s a guy! He’s a guy!” inner hysterics while the scene began to play out like an eroge game, but reality came back in after that. Madarame’s not stupid, and neither is the show. It simply likes to play with the contrast between fantasy vs. reality.

... Hato, on the other hand ...

… Hato, on the other hand …

The conversation veers from innocent chat to wild fantasies to chat again, mainly because, even if Madarame seems more sure of himself these days, Hato, a college freshman, certainly doesn’t. At times it looked like he wanted to jump Madarame’s bones. At others, he’s trying to invent an elaborate BL scenario with Madarame, Kousaka, and maybe Saki. While this is mostly internal on Hato’s part, Madarame obviously knew what the lad was thinking, and it’s a sign of his maturity that he doesn’t overreact. As for Hato, Kousaka/Madarame fantasies notwithstanding, I think he’s falling in love with Madarame a little. It would explain why everything his senior does Hato believes to be reflection of his own sorry actions, such as his reaction to Madarame thinking of looking for another job. It might spice up later episodes.

railguns19-1

Taoru Kagaku no Railgun S 19 is essentially a lost child episode, and I’ve seen better ones. They spend the entire show trying to figure out where Febri comes from, and each girl gets to bond with the little tot, including Kongou, who’s not part of the core team. The joke being, of course, that Misaka is the only one that Febri doesn’t seem to like. It takes a garbage robot drone attack, and Misaka’s rescue, to get Febri to change her mind. All terribly predictable. The only nice bit was Uiharu, still a bit lonely without Haruue around, getting to take her home. Nice of the show to give her the opportunity, unless the worst happens and Febri turns out to be some sort of living organic bomb, or worse. Meanwhile, the villains who are monitoring her don’t seem terribly threatening at the moment. That one guy didn’t even recognize Misaka until she wiped out the robots. All those sinister faces in that darkened room, and even Judgement seems to have more on the ball than them. Not a good sign for the bad guys.