Finales: Saibou and Revue Starlight

I know, the new season has started, but lemmie finish the old one first, dammit!

hatarakusaibou13-1In Hatarku Saibou the title of final episode, Hemorrhagic Shock #2, tells you all you need to know. Turns out our new Senpai and Kouhai were not sucked out of the body, but most of their red cell buddies were, and with not many cells left, they’re stuck delivering O2 to cells as fast as they can, possibly knowing that it won’t be enough. We learn that with this shock, blood pressure increases, not good for the cells stuck transporting on the side of a cliff with no room to go but down (or out). Also, body temperature goes down, so our girls are carrying their boxes through a snowstorm, where we get the “It’s useless” speech from the kouhai, and the “fight-on” speech from our favorite. Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the tranfusion, which, when it comes, is amusing enough. The new cells are confused, as are the locals, but the day is saved for whatever body this is, not to mention the trillions of cells doing their job every day. There’s a happy segment where we meet everyone again, and that’s how the show ends–happily.

hatarakusaibou13-2It was all predictable, because this was a predictable show. Most episodes start happily, there’s a threat, and the threat is disposed of. Along the way the creators roll out predictable side stories, like the Sensei/Kouhai bit in this last story, the cells training to be white cells, or Killer-T’s and nearly failing to make the grade, all the stories with roots that go way back in storytelling and weren’t told very cleverly here. One exception was the allergy episode with the mast cell and the antibody coming to blows was the exception, and that was the funniest episode. The show had to lean on its novelty of humanizing the cells (which was often amusing) and putting their daily routine using symbols we can understand. I think the red cells being the dependable delivery folk we see in Japan every day summed it up the best. And I learned some things about how our body worked, though it meant stopping the action for monologues. Still, even if I expected to be bored by the story every week, I still enjoyed watching. It was cute, happy, and occasionally clever.

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One more of, of course, a platelet, giving us good advice.

revuestarlight12-1Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight finishes with imagery and symbolism I can only begin to figure out. What I got, however, is that Hikari, believing that grasping for a star, big, little, or both, is a sin, and by shutting herself off in that pink desert she is atoning for the sins of all the others who have tried. Part of that means losing her memory, making herself Claire in the story. Karen manages to break Hikari out of her Sisyphean routine of building a hill out of pink stars and having a big star swing down and destroy it (little idea what that’s supposed to mean with the stars), but once she gets her memory back it means another battle, and Hikari wins again. All of this is cut off from time to time by passionate declarations by the giraffe and cuts to the other girls making nabe at their dorm and setting places for the two missing girls …

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Wait … what?

All of this is entertaining enough, but then the show turns the weirdness up further, and we get a spectacular rebirth of Karen, the pillars shining an image of Tokyo Tower, only to be smashed up by the big Tokyo Tower, which forms a bridge for Karen. The giraffe expounds excitedly about this being a continuation of the ending, i.e, a break from the cycle of grasping only to be cast down. Wakarimasu! However, for me, wakarimasen. While I love stories where such cycles are broken, I saw nothing from Karen that would allow such a rebirth–it came from nowhere. I get that Hikari realizes that Karen herself is the star she was trying to grasp, but I didn’t catch anything before that would lead to that.

revuestarlight12-3Well, nevermind. The girls return and eat nabe and take up the two lead roles in a production that now has a happy ending. It didn’t entirely sink under the weight of its symbolism though it came close, and I like puzzling shows. I guess that’s why Revue Starlight and Planet With were my two favorite shows this season. Apart from the weirdness, the show did a fine job of fleshing out all of the characters, to the point where one of them was maybe more compelling than the stars. Also, it was great to look at. The camera was always taking an interesting angle to view things and the battle scenes were fluid and exciting. I understand that this show is part of a franchise and no one apart from the creators expected much from it, so for the anime to turn out this well is a testament to the people who made it. Well done. Now, on to the new season!

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One more of Banana.
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Saibou and Starlight 12, Planet With finale

hatarakusaibou12-1Hataraku 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.

revuestarlight12-1In 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!”

revuestarlight12-2It 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.

planetwith12-1Planet 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.

planetwith12-2Now 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.

planetwith12-3In 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.

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Yes it is, weird alien cat.

Revue Starlight 10, Maou and Saibou 11, Island finale

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The combatants

I’m not sure about how Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight is pacing itself. In terms of the giraffe auditions, everything is accomplished, we have a winner. Now, there’s going to be fallout from how it turned out, but it shouldn’t take two episodes to wrap up. Anyway, we have final audition day, and the girls are doing their usual off-say routines, rehearsing, cleaning, hanging out. Karen and Hikari revisit the aquariums, including the one that was closed, and reaffirm their goals, including an odd but lovely bit where Hikari speaks to the child Karen, then vice-versa, while the two as children watch from their theatre seats, beaming … except Hikari does a strange thank-you at the end of all this, a clear sign she’s thinking of something else. Back to the stage, it’s going to be a two-on-two battle, Karen and Hikari vs Maya and Claudine (who had been reaffirming their own goals to each other). Aha! So two girls CAN get to the star! Or so we think. Meanwhile I love how the girls who were left out get to watch from the balcony and eat bentos prepared for them.

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I don’t like where this is going.

As expected, Maya/Claudine go on the offensive. They’ve been dancing together for a long time now and know each other very well. But during a brief pause and silent nodding of heads, our heroines come roaring back. Frankly, while it’s not bad, it’s not one of the more amazing battles to watch. It feels more static than some. In the end, some nifty teamwork and sheer determination on Karen’s part gets the gold button from Maya. Here the show switches to two contrasting situations. Claudine is distraught that Maya could lose, but Maya tells her that it’s just one situation and she couldn’t have gotten this far without Claudine, so Merci. So those two girls are now closer than ever. As for the victors, they are surprised to learn that there’s one final battle, one-on-one. Hikari repeats her thank you speech from before, and well, while Maya and Claudine are closer, Hikari cuts the cord, so to speak, on Karen. The twist makes sense in terms of Hikari’s character, but I was still surprised by her cruel efficiency at it. … So again, it it going to take two episodes for then to become friends again? What else will happen. As I often say about this show: I have no clue.

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You’d be pissed off too if you just saw your best friend get stabbed multiple times.

Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu 11 is a pretty ugly episode all around. Basically, Rem and Klem get accosted in town by Saddler and Alicia, the latter actually being (and this is the only bright spot in the entire episode) completely EVIL, well, she worships demon lords who want to exterminate mortal beings, so close enough. A nice heel turn, though the rest of the episode is so dire I can’t get to excited. Anyway, they’re taken to a church where Saddler starts to torture Rem (not threaten to, but actually torture), while the distraught Klem is told by Rem not to interfere, even though she could use her powers not to hurt anyone but simply help them escape. Meanwhile, Diablo is running around without a clue until the light-show at the church when Klem REALLY wakes up. Okay, two bright spots in the episode, as Saddler is vaporized. Well, the series wouldn’t be complete unless we had a real demon lord vs. demon lord battle, but they didn’t have to get there by indulging in torture porn.

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It’s a miracle!

For a while now I’ve thought about things the body does that I want Hataraku Saibou to cover, and one of them was running a marathon. Well, episode 11 touches on that a little with a heatstroke episode. Man, this body can’t buy a break. It’s a shame that, apart from the educational aspect, it’s not that great an episode. Most of it is spent either with blood cells going around saying how hot it is, or White going after a bacillus cereus, who has the upper hand for too long and laughs way too much. And even the education voice-overs by the nice lady go on a bit, and all action stops while she’s talking. So we wait for the turnaround, which turns out to be a transfusion and general cooling down. I did like how the cells had no idea how the transfusion fluid was getting in. They have no idea what’s going on outside of the body, as I guess they shouldn’t. Finally, I would like to thank the creators for airing this episode in September, and not in July or August when it was miserably hot outside.

island12-1Island crosses the finish line in convoluted fashion, no surprise because time travel shows usually do. In the future, Rinne, distraught over sending Setsuna back to our time, and pregnant with Rinne, er, the young Rinne, apparently made another time machine which got her washed up on that beach, where she was taken in by that guy, became a maid, and when the family’s matriarch died, took on the role of Rinne’s (not Rinne, Rinne) mother, which she was anyway, and was renamed Kuon. Then Setsuna showed up. So Setsuna, close to proposing to young Rinne, would have been marrying his own daughter. So we get some confrontation bits, and young Rinne, in a moment of clarity and generosity that exhibits her growth (the best part of the episode) gives Setsuna and her mother her blessings. They get married for real and everybody’s happy.

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Rinne (if that’s her name now) has a shining moment.

But wait, what about the fact that the time machine wasn’t a time machine but a time-freezing device, so you can’t go back into the past. Or that nonsense about about history going through a cycle. If so, shouldn’t they try to break out of it? I would–I hate stories where the characters are stuck into a pattern they have to repeat, or at least have no control over. Yeah, so anyway the mechanics that make the story has a lot of problems, but time travel stories often do. Besides, it was only a device to tell a story, and this one wasn’t terrible. Setsuna and just about all the other cast members were fun to watch. I particularly liked Sara and her crazy hair. I enjoyed the tropical island setting and worried when they seemed to abandon it. A pleasant series to kill a half-hour this summer.

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One more of Saya.

Saibou and Planet With 09, Harukana 10, Revue Starlight 9, Isekai Maou 10

Hatarakusaibou9-1Hataraku Saibou 9 features Killer T, well the one we’ve watching, and the story of his arduous training alongside who would become Helper T and a bunch of other grunts. Helper T was a genius who always did best, and Killer T was a low-confidence bumbler. Naturally, they are enemies and rivals, but they secretly hold respect for the other one, with lots of army-type scenes, shouting, punches of love, etc etc. The stuff of many a manga, I’m sure, and one I don’t really want to watch. Apart from the interesting facts the voice-over gives us, nothing much redeems the episode. White Cell is hardly seen, same with the platelets, and I don’t recall seeing Red at all. Let’s move on to the next episode.

planetwith9-1Saibou might have been a letdown this week, but Planet With brings everything together with the silliest and most dramatic confrontation I’ve seen in a while. It comes down to two people’s desires. First we have Yosuke, who has come to the realization that he can never have Benika (and frankly, she’s way too cool for him), and to deal with that pain and others, decides he will seal the world and stop their evolution forever. Torai tries to stop him, then Miu and Harumi, wait, weren’t they on the same side? Anyway, they fail, and everything is sealed … except Souya, thanks to that cosmic being guy. Which leads us to the other person this episode’s about.

planetwith9-2A few episodes ago it was clear that Souya had no clear reasons for fighting once the threat of the dragon was gone. Besides, this isn’t his planet–let them make their own mistakes. But Nozomi talks to him and says “I’m on the side of the people I want to befriend!” and Souya’s eyes went wide. I guess then seeing Nyan, Ginko, and Nozomi all sealed made him realize that he actually did care for some things on this planet. First, a speech to the sealed people to wake them up, then, as the music soars, Souya, the big cat, and the cute maid take on Yosuke. The scene is very exciting and triumphant, but also kind of loopy when you consider who the heroes are:

planetwith9-3Most importantly, Souya finally has something to fight for, and while we were expecting this realization for weeks, having it happen doesn’t take away from the moment.

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Claire’s game face.

Harukana Receive 10 starts the final match, and naturally they don’t do it all in one episode. The first set takes up most of it, and early on it’s Haruka marveling at how intense Eclair gets when in a match, especially Claire, normally so carefree but now downright scary with her game face on. They get an early lead, but naturally Harukana regroup and keep it close. That’s expected, I suppose, but I really wonder if Harukana have any business being in a final game against Eclair, even though they trained together and had their mom as their coach. Well, Kanata’s no slouch, either. We get a flashback to when Emily learned to assert herself (Ironically, a loss to Kanata), and a bit where Shii sings her song on the sideline, at which point I muttered “Can we get back to the match now?” Not to mention some surprise moves by both sides. So next week we’ll finish the second set. I just hope they don’t extend it for too long. Finally, why do I find myself rooting for Eclair?

revuestarlight9-1It’s hard to tell at first who Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight 9 is going to feature. At times it looked like Karen and Hikari, but it settles on Banana again. She STILL can’t let go of the 99th performance, and in fact is acting a little crazy about it to Junna. She talks about that performance and how it brought everyone together, and how she doesn’t want to let it go, even as the script, costumes and weapons undergo changes. Meanwhile, we get the entire story of Starlight from Hikari, from the original book, and, yep, it’s depressing, and, judging from the flashbacks, not a great choice for showing off the talents of the school’s best performers, but let that pass. Two goddesses, Claire and Flora, try to reach the star in order to get Flora’s memory back, and she does, but Flora loses her sight and vanishes somewhere. Karen and Hikari can easily see themselves in those roles, and they happily imagine it together.

revuestarlight9-2Banana’s true feelings come out in the duel with Karen, not Hikari, because Banana realized that it’s Karen’s new passion that changed the circumstances and ruined Banana’s dream of a repeat performance. In the battle Banana admits she doesn’t understand why Karen is so passionate to go to the new, blinding light. Karen’s replies among the sword slashes are banal, though true enough: every performance is different, people need to move forward, etc. And because these duels are won by who has the better argument and not by skill, Karen wins. Fortunately for Banana, Junna is around to console her and quote famous westerners about moving forward, and Banana seems fine with it all. It all makes me wonder if the auditions (and they’re almost done, says the giraffe) are going to do something unpleasant but beautiful to the girl who finally wins. Will Karen actually lose her eyes, or vanish into the star, of which there are two? What about Hikari? Your guess is as good as mine.

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Demon logic.

Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu 10 takes the ultimate story arc, getting that demon out of Rem’s body, and makes it ridiculous. Let’s ignore what Diablo has to do to get to KrebSkulm, if you can, get to what has been obvious to anyone watching the ED: Krebskulm is a pre-teen girl in skimpy girls who isn’t sure why she should destroy all mortals, and since the ones here are nice to her and offer her biscuits, she happily joins up with them. More biscuits! There’s brief interference by another demon, who gives a good fight and then runs. If the show hits another season I’m sure we’ll see more of him. Also, Rem is torn because Krebskulm did mayhem to her people and family, so there’s a moral issue. And we get a new story arc at the end when Alicia seems to go a little crazy, but I didn’t understand it. It will be an anticlimax if that becomes the last story arc. These are a lot of issues to resolve in the last two episodes. Probably the show will turn silly and resolve them in ten minutes, leaving more time for Diablo and the three girls (Four? Five?) in bed.

Saibou 9, Harukana 8-9, Isekai Maou 9, Starlight 8, Island 10

hatarakusaibou8-1Hataraku Saibou 8 leaves me a little confused, in that the episode was straightforward, Red cell trying to deliver her CO2 without getting too lost and with White sneaking around behind her, helping her out, but hasn’t Red been to the heart before? I mean, it was fun to watch, with the heart depicted as a sort of massive transportation depot, with ventricles going this way and that (and frankly, I would easily get lost if I had her route), and the yin-yang sign at the entrance, but surely her job is to go to the heart and get sent somewhere else. Surely this would be an everyday occurrence for her, but she’s never taken the trip before … My favorite bit this week was probably the red cells getting sweets to refresh themselves, since they rely on glucose for energy, you see. Oh, White cell gets punched and bleeds red blood. It’s just a show …

harukanareceive8-1Harukana Receive 8 is still in the middle of their between-tournament downtime episodes. We do get a new character, Marissa, Eclair’s mom, basically a taller, more mature, and just as sexy blonde girl, who kindly becomes their coach with no one objecting. I wondered if they were going to make her a super-sadistic demon coach, but while she’s hardcore, she’s not cruel, and she knows the backstory, that is, she knows what happened to Kanata and is pleased to see how Haruka has opened her up. The big moment comes at the end, when it turns out Harumi and Ayasa are at the airport, so they rush over and Kanata manages to get a small affirmation from Harumi of the promise they once had. So it’s a happy episode, filled with practices, popsicles, Marissa’s Yukari-sensei-style driving, and New Year visits to the shrine, the first time I can remember such a scene where everyone is wearing summer clothes and not coats.

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Well, not until next week …

Tired of all that interim stuff, episode 9 jumps to the actual qualifier tournament and some bad news. Because of a lack of teams, only one pair get to advance to nationals. This makes Akari very upset because she’s afraid a match between them will tear the club apart. Meanwhile I’m thinking “they have to get to the final match first–one step at a time, girls.” But when Harukana’s second opponent, the Aragaki sisters, well one of them, declare a challenge to Eclair for a loss three years ago, I was pretty confident that Harukana would spoil their fun. And so they did, rather easily, even with the Aragaki’s use of topspin. That quickly-manufactured drama point concluded, we’ll get to the final game next week. Now, this is a 12-episode series, and the important thing is to get Kanata to meet Harumi at the nationals, so I’m predicting a Harukana upset of Eclair. Unless there’s a season 2, and in that case it will be Eclair, and Harukana will move on next season … Wait, they’re third-years … Hmm.

isekaimaou9-1Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu 9 begins the job of getting rid of that demon that’s sealed inside Rem. But first we get a paladin knight named Saddler who is going around massacring village in the name of God, or because he’s a murderous lunatic. Then we get Shera getting some magic, a gratuitous bathing scene and then Edelgard shows up and pretty much says “Let’s do this final story arc now!” She’s going to show our heroes how to get rid of the demon and not hurt Rem in the process–nice of her. I guess to fill out the episode they bring Saddler back to act threatening and righteous … and, well, did they really need this substory at all? Well, as I said, it was filler. Oh, and Rem goes around telling everyone who didn’t know about her dark secret and gets a lot of hugs out of it.

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The London production, which moves to Tokyo later.

Another interesting episode of Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight this week, as we focus on Hikari and her time in Dondon, er, London, doing the same things she’s always done, and so there’s giraffe auditions there, too. And she loses a match, and then her mojo, er, shine. The auditions seem to be getting more sinister the more we learn about them. Winners take the shine from the losers apparently, though from how the girls battle in the Japanese auditions, I don’t see this happening except this one time, to Hikari, and it’s quickly easy to see that it’s because she had forgotten her promise to Karen to stand up as stars together. I suspect I ought to lighten up on figuring out the hidden mechanics of this whole deal and take the battles as heavy symbolism.

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Banana is nice even when kicking butt.

The giraffe, however, thinks she hasn’t lost her shine completely, and sends her back to Japan. Next thing we know she’s fighting Banana, that most complex of the contestants, and losing. Banana is full of sympathy, sensing something lost in Hikari (meanwhile Karen’s getting her butt whooped by Claudine), while the crazy backstage effects resemble those of a scene back in London, giant scary hand in fire and all. This leads to Hikari declaring the old promise, and her knife levels up … and Tokyo Tower falls top-down into water, the big WTF moment for me. Well, fire, water, I guess. Good for Hikari, I guess, but my surprise is Banana being the one to fight her. While she fights well, she’s obviously more concerned and curious about Hikari, at one point saying that Hikari is “one of us.” Her team-player side coming out, I guess. Both Banana and Claudine ask their opponents why they are doing this, and get the same answer.

revuestarlight8-3Banana also points out that “Starlight” is a tragedy of sorts, that separation is in store for them, and more directly, she asks what Hikari will do when she has to fight Karen. Good question! Karen and now Hikari’s determination to share the spotlight is at odds with the auditions themselves and its assumption that there can be only one. The giraffe can only ponder. We’ll find out in the next few episodes, I suppose. Meanwhile, I’ll add that this was yet another episode that dazzles visually and bewilders me with some of the imagery, but I’m fine with that.

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The mission isn’t going well.

Meanwhile, (Never) Island 10 is still stuck in its dystopian future, but Setsuna’s on his way back now, after an unpleasant episode where they go to rescue Karen’s little friends and find they’re already dead. Then her dad is killed in a coup which is also a trap, and Setsuna, Sara, and Karen are almost burned at the stake before Rinne rescues them using fireworks–nice touch. Then, on their way to an underground cave (at least they spend some outside so we can see a glimpse of blue sky), Sara dies from her injuries. Then Karen of Soot Blight. Happiness all around. But Rinne figures out that Setsuna was sent to the future so he can change the past, which doesn’t sound right, but what she means is that he needs to bring some tech knowledge back to his own time, or before, or wherever the hell he’s going now. And, after declaring vows and some sex in the dark, off he goes to, well, as I said, wherever the hell … Just get us out of winter, please.

Planet With 7-8, Isekai Maou 8, Starlight 6-7, Island 9

planetwith7-1Last week in Planet With they had a big colossal battle to save the earth from the dragon. Fine and dandy, but it looks like there are plenty of loose ends to tie up. There are characters not accounted for, like Shiraishi, and factions still at odds. To set up episode 7 we get a dream-backstory where the Siriusians (Souya’s race) are about to capture the Rielian princess (Ginko, still dressed as a maid), when the Dragon attacks Sirius. Whoever’s in the cat-mecha goes off to rescue both and succeeds in doing neither, apart from Ginko and Souya. Anyway, you figure Souya’s part is over with. Brother avenged, Dragon gone, etc, but now Shiraishi shows up as a schoolgirl to hypnotize him, then his brother appears and claims he’s actually another race to give him a warning, and finally Benika and Yousuke show up and announce they’re with the Sealing (dog) faction now … oh, and Souya has begun to exhibit dangerous psychic powers

planetwith7-2I rather like his answer for now, basically “You two groups fight it out. I’m through with this,” but it’s not the best answer in the long run. Benika considers humanity just as dangerous as Siriusians and needs them sealed, and Souya fought against that, though that wasn’t his only motive. Also, Souya’s battle is over but humanity’s is just beginning. He is going to have to make a decision to fight for humanity, to show compassion for others, in order to grow. Nozomi, the representative for Planet Earth in this show, nervously watching from the sidelines, is the key for that. I just hope we don’t get episode after episode of Souya grumping around while everyone tries to mess with him, as entertaining as the messing around in this show can be.

planetwith8-1Episode 8 spends a lot of time with Benika, member of the Sealing Faction and a self-admitted “traitor to the Earth.” We get her sad backstory, her life as a cop who sees a detective gunned down by a boy and decides that power will corrupt and destroy people. Ironically, she is now using her own, awakened powers (they Grand Paladin folks are discovering that they don’t need to vials) to try to seal humanity, which is about as big an abuse of power as I can think of. This forces Torai, a former ally and all-around good guy, to fight her. Why not Souya? Well, he’s still bitter about everything and even has a catharsis moment about his lost planet. He’s not human, after all. Let humanity decide for themselves, and he’s right. It’s an excellent little scene, with Nozomi defending him and the maid and cat loyally standing by. Ironically, it’s the ENEMY that wants him to fight the most. But since his refusal forces the other side to fight amongst themselves, it’s a good call. Too bad we learn that the Dragon is still alive, so he has some fighting left to do in a later episode. It IS a shame, however that Souya still hasn’t found a reason to fight for the Earth, not just for revenge …

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Diablo is, for once, on the defense.

Not a lot to say about Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu 8. The character development and additional bonding for the story arc happened last week. This time it’s Diablo vs first the Elves’ ultimate weapon, which Diablo is first at a loss to defeat until Shera gives him a tip. Then things actually get ugly as Keera, spared his life by Diablo after Shera pleads, is beheaded by Galford instead. I say “good riddance,” but Shera is upset and Diablo pissed, so Diablo fights Galford, and after another difficult fight, wins. And is exhausted, but not enough to drunkenly molest Sylvie in his sleep, because the episode hadn’t had any sexiness up to then. Well, it was interesting to see Diablo facing two difficult opponents. It seems as the series continues, his enemies are going to get more powerful, which is fine. Give Diablo a real challenge once in a while.

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Kaoruko and Futaba, in a flashback that foreshadows.

This time in Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight the light shines on Kaoruko and Futaba. We already know their dynamic. Kaoruko is lazy and conceited and depends on Futaba to get anything done, and up to now Futaba is happy to carry that load. But now Futaba has worked harder (not with Kaoruko) and gets a solid prelim audition slot (a regular audition, not a weird one–that comes later) while Futaba is shut out, and told that she doesn’t have what it takes. The two have a fight, she gets hissy and decides to leave school in girlish spite, fully expecting Futaba to chase after her. But Futaba almost doesn’t, and it’s giraffe time. The fight, like many, is more of a pep talk than a battle, where the two reaffirm their relationship, basically that Futaba will be the first to see Kaoruko truly shine. What gets me is, several episodes ago Kaoruko and Mahiru were sharing a bath and Kaoruko teasingly told her that they both are witnessing the people they need most drift away from them. She seemed more or less fine about it then … And if there are regular auditions as well as giraffe auditions, which take precedent. Who knows? Anyway, next time it’s Banana’s turn. She’s long overdue.

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Banana, in a light that’s a little too bright.

Well we got our Banana episode, though I’m not certain I got all of it. Banana is more of a behind the scenes type of girl, who found the spot for top star “too blinding,” even though Maya criticizes her for it. Nothing wrong with that–it’s good that the show acknowledges the performers and crews that don’t want stardom. But the show hints that because of this Banana is slacking. Not that she’s not without issues–the 99th performance gave her so much joy and warmth that she can’t let go of it, and because those memories and countless photos are safe ones, she doesn’t want to move on. Her experience in the giraffe stage is replay of the old “Starlight,” over and over again, until the present catches up and Hikari, not involved last year, becomes a random factor that helps her realize the new Starlight won’t be like the old one. But through it all, the replays, the conversations past and present, Banana remains her mostly serene self. She says she welcomes Hikari into the mix, but she’s so, as I said, serene that it’s hard to see if she’s changed at all. And so the episode ends and makes me wonder if this is actually going to be a two-parter, or if we’ll revisit Banana later in the game …

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I don’t like the looks of this.

Island, or is it “Never Island” 9 takes us straight out of the tropical paradise we’ve been used to and plunks us down into the future, a grim religious dystopia where it’s cold all the time and everyone lives on ever-shrinking rations. We slowly pick up the story as Setsuna, once again without memories but prone to visions of old times, meaning our times lives us with a Rinne who is building one of those pods based on old family blueprints. Meanwhile, little ragamuffins led by future Karen steal food and get shot, and Sara is the kindhearted daughter of the minister or something. Through misadventures it turns out that there is no life, no Avalon beyond their island, and everyone’s doomed from starvation or violent death by soldiers. Setsuna declares that he will save everybody, meaning probably getting back in that pod and, what, go into the future? That’s not going to work. I just hope he goes somewhere; the show just took one of its strengths, the tropical surroundings, the beach, the laid-back atmosphere, and replaced it with a grey-brown dirty city. That was a bad decision unless Setsuna leaves quick.

Isekai Maou 5-6, Island 6-7, Starlight 4-5, Harukana and Saibou 6.

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Meet Alicia.

Nothing much to report with Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu 5, just a story arc beginning with the information given us first by Sylvie and then by the town’s protector, Galford, the latter allowing Diablo to try and balance his sternness and his people skills, and it works out as he manages to put out the right lines at the right time. Mainly, however, it’s a chance to meet the overly-diligent new character Alicia, who balances her people skills with an annoying tendency to apologize for not being perfect. For action, Shera is briefly abducted, Alicia blames herself, and Emile shows up to introduce himself again. It’s good to see Diablo, behind his bravado and social anxieties, have the presence of mind to conjure up a plan to defeat those elves in the woods, without hurting them, though we won’t actually see the plan until next week. I’m glad his social balancing act is only part of his character.

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Yes, we are, Shera. Now lie down.

Episode 6 is nothing much either. The three go to a slave market where the owner, Medios, teaches Diablo a way to remove Shera’s collar. Naturally it’s extremely sexy, though it doesn’t work and it exhausts Diablo. I’ll let you play around with the metaphors. Then Keera visits, nicely, and tries to talk Shera into returning to Elfland, which makes her a little nostalgic, but still unwilling. Keera’s evil plan will be hatched next week. Oh, and then Shera repeats the collar-removal sexy bit with Rem, so we get to see both girls aroused this week, if you’re into that.

island6-1Having more or less taken care of Sara and Karen for the time being, Island 6 gets back to Rinne and the main mystery. This episode follows the usual pattern–the first half is lighthearted and fun, and the second gets serious with new revelations. So to begin with we watch as Rinne and Setsuna get closer, still not romantically, go on a cute date, sleep together chastely (at Rinne’s request, Setsuna going with the flow, which is what he always does), while Sara invents theories about future-man and present-woman destroying the time-space continuum, as she does. There’s also a cute scene between the cop and Karen, the former claiming he’s going to marry her, the latter playfully deflecting his statements. But here Setsuna shows up and more legends about the first Rinne’s fate comes up. Apparently she throws herself off a cliff when she discovers she married the wrong man, but that contradicts the memory-return she experiences when she and Setsuna finally open that shack, where she and the real Setsuna spend the night, whereupon her angry father throws Setsuna into the ocean, and she jumps after him … Fanciful legends, fairy tales versus an uglier reality. None of this, however, helps us with Setsuna’s own memory loss and whether he’s the real Setsuna or just a surrogate.

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Rinne’s in full crazy-mode now.

And in episode 7, more stuff is explained, or theorized, though can’t believe that Setsuna has spent all that time on the island without anyone telling her that Rinne had vanished five years ago and reappeared only a month ago, looking the exact same age and wearing the same clothes. Or about the mysterious island Boryujima which only appears during storms. But now that we all know this the story doesn’t get any less complicated. Sara speculates that Setsuna came to the past, while Rinne, now slightly crazy with returning memories, is trying to get to her own past to find HER Setsuna (whom we see, more or less, and it’s not our Setsuna. He’s got weird marks on his skin for one thing), who gave up the one spot on the boat for her. Whatever’s going on, her current motivations are clear–riddled with guilt, she tries to get back to that island, glowing with menace, in a storm, which is where, naturally, the episode ends …

revuestarlight4-1Shoujo Kakeki Revue Starlight has no battle in episode 4, mainly it’s just Karen running around to various Tokyo locales to find Hikari, who seems to be leaving the school. Meanwhile I’m trying to work the jellyfish imagery into all the other stuff this show has, and failing. Anyway, they make up whatever conflict they were having by having Karen say that the two girls will reach the center position together. But is that even possible? Before that they both seemed confused as to what to do next. Karen is perhaps afraid to go it alone, and she can’t win that way, either. Hikari says very little about her own dreams but seems happy to be a part of Karen’s. Elsewhere we get Maya and Claudine dancing but not saying anything we didn’t know already, and comical bits by the girls to cover for Karen and Hikari’s absence, including a nice acting out by Mahiru, who didn’t seem the type to twirl a baton and declare herself the guardian of the hallway.

revuestarlight5-1Then, episode 5 has the battle that I figured was coming, though I wasn’t aware that Mahiru was actually a part of the Giraffe Auditions. They’ve been teasing this angle forever; Karen is drawn to Hikari and no longer hangs out with Mahiru, and the latter’s self-confidence wasn’t all that great to begin with, a simple rural girl who worked hard and got to a prestigious academy where she was placed among people who outshine her. Finally she snaps, and we get the weirdest battle yet, Mahiru on the attack with baseball metaphors, Karen falling through trap doors and barging into the other girls’ duels (to various expressions of WTF from them). It only takes a few lines from Karen between feints to convince Mahiru that she’s better than she thinks she is, and the battle swiftly finishes. Though I kind of liked the “crazy-Mahiru” from the duel. The conclusion is a broad show of support from all the girls for Mahiru, or at least the delicious potatoes that her family sent her. Not sure if they love her for her enthusiasm and kindness or for the spuds.

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That’s the match.

I’m relieved that Harukana Receive lightened up on the flashbacks and other delays and gave us about nine minutes of straight-up volleyball, with a funky drum track, to start episode 6. I guess there wasn’t anything more to say. Kanata kept doing those pokeys and the strategy became clear. She was running poor Mai all over the court until fatigue set in and she began to make mistakes. Also, it gave Haruka more time to figure out her timing on the blocks, so, apart from some silliness at the end, the show got through to the victory more quickly than I imagined. I’m just glad it didn’t go to a third set. After that we naturally go to Ai and Mai, apologizing and cheering each other up, and then it’s the usual post-match silliness all around. Eclair won the tourney and Harukana didn’t get past round two, but everyone’s satisfied. Time to introduce some new characters, which happens right at the end. Good. The show could use some fresh bodies.

hatarakusaibou6-1Two stories in Hataraku Saibou 6, and the way they present them brings up a possible weakness in the series. More or less, what we’re getting every week are traditional exciting stories, mostly for children. The first one gives us Red Cell on a nostalgia trip as she sees her old bone marrow, er, school, and where, as a little Erythroblast youngster, she has a scary experience with some sort of invader, but is defended by a young White cell in training, a story of possibly romantic rescue and a moment of courage for the white blood cell, like he was fending off a bully, all scenes you need for that kind of story, but it takes so long with the pauses for evil speeches and reaction shots that the whole thing gets too long, so that the second story, for me the more interesting one, is cut off before it’s finished. Here it’s White Cell, a Killer-T, and a new one, an NK-cell, done as a rogue fighter who can’t get along with anyone, try to track down a virus that’s invading the T-shirt guys. Here they have to dally too so that Killer and NK can be seen not getting along, for too long. I didn’t mind as much because it tickles me to see good cells not getting along. Besides, the NK is kind of hot.