Kuromukuro 24 has the big battle, but it felt rather small. I said last time that I wondered what the rest of the world was doing while the Efidolg was busy getting ready to upload the hinge stone. Maybe they haven’t been checking out their answering machine because this battle was between all the regulars with some extra soldiers thrown in. You knew the battle would go well when these soldiers aren’t treated like cannon fodder but actually deliver timely shots that save GAUS pilots’ butts, and so the whole thing is a success. No one had to make a noble sacrifice and die honorably, though just about every character made such a declaration at one point or another in the episode. Well, apart from Kennosuke and Yukina, who trusted their lives to each other, a nice moment made silly by his marriage offer, which, of course, everyone hears. In fact, they gain a life, since Sebastian returns (at just the right time to bail out Sophie–this battle has a few too many “in the nick of time” moments).
Apart from those moments it’s a pretty good battle, maybe for me because I didn’t really know what the good guys were up to. Why were Ken/Yukina fighting alone? What about the GAUS people? And so the strategy worked. The necessary people showed up to bail out the ones who needed it (in the nick of time! Over and over), while the others snuck in to the still fully functional headquarters and rebooted it. Frankly, Efidolg didn’t fight very well. Typical bad-guy arrogance. I don’t think they expected the enemy to have improved, not only in skill but with firepower; I mean, in episode 2 those shots would have bounced right off. The two efildog robots fusing to make the Final Boss made me think that casualties would finally occur, but they (thanks to Yukina, of all people, perhaps channeling her inner Yukihime. I hope they remember to explain that) defeat it with little trouble. I’m a little shocked. Did ANYONE on our side die in this fight? I figured Tom might. Well, it’s all good. Now to figure out what those 220-odd cycles amount to before the next invasion.
And in #25, the battle is won! Hooray! Now things can get depressing. Everyone in the show has to figure out what to do next, starting with the high school buddies, most of it predictable. Nice to see Ryoto is still determined to pass exams and join the mecha military. I’m also not worried about Jundai; it’s not that he has an overreaching goal in life, but his desire to film and broadcast minute-by-minute will keep him moving toward something. Wish Mika had an idea, but there’s nothing to say a highschooler should know exactly what she wants to do with the rest of her life. As for Jose, who cares? Then we move on to adults, including Tom, now not fully human but fine with it, burning some unseen orders and having to work with Liu again, to his, er, delight.
Then it’s the main characters’ turn, and it gets more unpleasant. The UN, having won for now, is pushing people around. Hiromi is canned, poor Muetta has a hard time, forced to wear a neck thing like Kennosuke once had, and being (mis)treated as a spy. Almost as sad is Zeru, whose work is done and wants to return to his home world and fight there. But the giant earth forces stand in his way. Kennosuke is disgusted by all of this, and so we reach the big emotional moment, when he decides to go off with Zeru and fight, if they can. Being a samurai this is appropriate for him, but also he decides not to take Yukina along. As Ryoto said earlier, in a rare moment of clarity, she shouldn’t have to live her life on a battlefield. Of course, Yukina isn’t very happy with this decision, and once again in this series, we see how powerless she is. In this episode we see this is true for everyone.
Macross Delta 25 is a long, deep breath before the big fighting begins. First we have to take care of a few matters. We learn that Hayate’s dad, told to destroy the protoculture ruins with that dimensional weapon, actually carried it away to lessen the casualties. Berger tells them more things, much of it steeped in franchise lore that I never learned or have forgotten, but it makes us all wonder, not for the first time, just who the hell Lady M is and what she’s on about. Oh, NUNS is going to blow up Windemere and our fleet is ordered to Ragnak because that’s the other important ruins site for galactic control, which is lucky because the captive Mikumo, still in thrall of that phrase, is ordered to sing and so all the NUNS fleet goes boom with their own weapons. This is right at the end, and after a long introspective session where everyone swears they will protect or defend something, much like he Kuromukuro guys did, come to think of it, only we’ll have to wait for next week to see it. Lots of angles to play at, but I think Walkure will have to rescue Mikumo somehow, and maybe Heinz with him. Oh, Hayate’s fight with Keith for a bit, and Bogue will take another shot at Freyja.
And finally, I’m going to say goodbye to Sousei no Onmyouji. I let out a sigh last season when I learned it would run for another, but now I learn they intend to keep it up for a whole year. Sorry, I don’t like the show that much, and with my time strictly limited now–I don’t even know if I’m going to watch any shows next season (though things will hopefully lighten up next year)–it’s time to prioritize.
BTW, sorry, but I may not cover the new shows for the Fall season. But I’m not abandoning this blog entirely.
Macross Delta 23 makes you wonder what CHAOS and all those other guys were thinking, sending the Walkure to the enemy stronghold without much of a backup. Okay, getting through that gate last week was tricky, but they should have had a better plan in mind. In the first half of this episode the good guys hang out in separate groups mainly to chat until the time comes to get captured, well, Makina, Reina, Arad, and Kaname are still out there, but they’re not central characters. Mikumo shows off some super powers before she goes down, possibly to be a tool for Roid thanks to some exotic words. For the others it’s guilt-trip time as Hayate is taken to the place where his dad dropped The Bomb. We still don’t know what’s going on with that, or with Mikumo, or with Roid, and even at 27 episodes (says ANN), more than most two-cours, they’re running out of time to wrap it all up adequately.
We get no real answers to any of the questions in #24, but at least the good guys are off that cold planet. We start with the expected kangaroo court scene, softened by Freyja and Heinz’s talk about music and compare notes about their own performance, before they’re inevitably condemned to death. But we know there’s going to be a dramatic rescue scene since Berger showed them the relic of the plane, which we hear can actually fly. Hayate’s behavior during the walking the plank bit suggests that he knew what was coming, or at least suspected, while we at home waited for the plane to show up. Didn’t expect the other planes, or for the planned attack on the ruins to continue as planned, including the music backup, bit of stretch of plot there, but at least something was happening. That is, until Mikumo debuted as the Star Singer and screwed everyone up on both sides. Well, they got out, and I’m sure Makina’s fine. But again they put off the questions for another time. Not to mention the question of what Roid’s going to do with Mikumo
Now to catch up with Kuromukuro … Episode 22 at least (haven’t seen 23 yet) is understandably quiet after all the bad news last time. Both sides are settling in and doing the things they should be doing. Edidolg’s side start to raise the lost pieces and stick them with the others so they can, as we discover, make a wormhole for their main fleet. There is no hint of dissent or doubt on their side now, so no one’s going to screw up their plans from inside, now that Muetta’s outside. Rather annoyed that Mirasa didn’t buy it last episode as it makes Sebastian’s sacrifice less meaningful, though he did save Sophie, who sadly mutters that he shouldn’t have gone to the trouble. Elsewhere among the good guys, we mourn Sebastian, hear a lot of talk about things being real bad, learn about Takehito’s sad demise, and Muetta runs off to god-knows-where looking for god-knows-what, so Yukina searches for her, nearly dies in the snow (wonder about the reference to her dad’s death there), and winds up naked with Muetta for a while, mainly to please certain members of our audience. But the big question remains: how did Zeru manage to get Amazon to deliver packages to him?
After all that I believed the action, or at least the story, would get back up to speed in ep23. Sadly …
I guess after the regrouping they did last time, the good guys decided it would be a good idea to do even more. So we get a lot of nonsense and a lot of talk about how the nonsense is necessary because we’re probably all going to die soon. Oh, some character work is done; Muetta hangs out with the schoolkids, discovers she likes omelet-rice, gets some decent life advice from Marina, and later, Kennosuke, who has had career worries of his own dumped on him, not to mention a weird story about frogs using butter to escape a pail, asks her to fight alongside him as equals. And everybody makes a silly movie. There’s no mention of counterattacks, or even strategies, nor any word from the world outside, who must be concerned about the UN base being turned into a snowdome. Meanwhile, Efidolg goes about its business, raising up the completed stone to begin their invasion. Hope the good guys had enough fun.
Sousei no Onmyouji 22 … oh, damn, there’s that kid again. Fortunately she takes a back seat during most of the episode’s events, which is a “dragon spot” opening up and allowing kegare to roam freely on earth. So everyone goes off to seal the hole and get rid of the corrupting smoke which is making everyone who’s not a regular character fall sick (heightened magic abilities–at least they gave a decent excuse). It’s all better than watching Sae act cute for an episode, but not very interesting, except for the basara Suzu, who finds the hole, traipses into our world with her entourage, boombox, and death metal music, to administer some actual justice to an asshole who deserted his girlfriend. Then, after a look at the good guys, especially Sae, she sashays back to Magano. I don’t think I could tolerate her presence for long, especially when they let her song and dance routines run so long, but for a brief time I thought her existence in the show refreshing.
I think Macross Delta is misplaying its story; I just can’t get excited over anything that’s happening at the moment. We start in Windemere where Bogue states the obvious: if Heinz dies or is otherwise unable to sing, they can’t use the ruins to control minds and their entire galaxy-domination plan goes kerflooy, and those guys only live to around 30 anyway. No one seems to have a solution. This could be part of my problem right here; the enemy is so wrapped up in their internal problems that they can’t mount an effective offense. And the good guys didn’t do anything to make this happen, unless that contact with Mikumo has accelerated Heinz’s illness.
As for Mikumo, I’m not clear on this … How long has she been aware that she’s a clone and only three years old? It doesn’t seem like a shock to her. It’s everyone else who’s worried. But Mikuno has always been a a cypher, early in the episode even more so. A brief scene with Hayate might have been put there to show her settling in on her goal, that is, to sing, but when she rejoins the group her positive words sound rote. Maybe she said them to reassure everyone else. Also, Freyja’s sudden inability to sing didn’t seem natural. I understand that she’s worried about setting off Hayate again, but the whole situation seemed forced, or maybe it was so we get to see Mikumo slapping her. As for Cassim’s death, his whole story wasn’t set up well enough for me to care, though I enjoyed Hayate’s attempt to rescue him at the end. Yeah, not much in this series is working as well as it could right now.
Kuromukuro 21 starts with the necessary welcome back bits, and putting Muetta under arrest (and we learn her origin, not that we hadn’t figured it out) and the demon showing up and giving exposition while no one shoots him. So I figured all this time that he was actually Yukina’s father, warped in some way, but now I’m not so sure, even with that watch he’s wearing and the quick flashback. This means the mystery of what happened to daddy is nowhere closer to being explained, and they don’t have a lot of episodes left to do it, not when, in the second half, the shit hits the fan in a big way.
And actually, on the surface it all looks hopeless. The Efidolg forces launch everything they got, and it all looks doomed from the start. The odds are, say 1000 to six, not counting all those powerless, tax-wasting (nice line Sebastian) regular forces. What follows are a lot of fights with some individual duels thrown in. Shenmei fights bravely but is outmatched. Tom beats up a lot of headless robots and gets rescued. Kennosuke/Yukina/Zell duke it out in the skys and under water with that one guy … not sure what happened at the end of that battle, but they manage to pull Tom out.
The most satisfying duel is between Sebastian and Muetta, even though it ends in the death of both. You knew Sebastian wouldn’t let Sophie get hurt. The saddest part was Sophie, who can fight with the best of them but not being allowed to, watching Sebastian sacrifice himself for her. Well, I figure the worst is over. Next week (this week, actually), the good guys will regroup in their respective places, Muetta, Kennosuke/Yukina/Zell/Tom, and we’ll start getting the counterattack.
After all that happened last time I didn’t expect much action from Sousei no Onmyouji 21, instead, I thought we’d get a filler thing. It’s two years later and they have to catch us up, after all. But not much has changed. Our lovebirds act the same way toward each other as they always did, but there are some changes. Mayura is now an adorable exorcist in her own right. Rokuro works harder, is more confident, and all of a sudden girls are starting to like him. Interesting that this doesn’t bring up any jealousy, ineptly suppressed, from either Benio or Mayura, so I figure it’s just them for the love triangle now. But they have to start a new story sooner or later, so there are “holes” showing up, a sickness going around, and a mysterious, cute little girl they find in that bad area, which, alas, drives the episode into cute little girl territory. Hope they wrap up her story quickly because I don’t know how much I can handle of her.
Kuromukuro 20 has Yukina creeping around the Efidolg station, wisely realizing that she would have to make her own way out of there, which doesn’t exactly turn out to be the case, but it’s better than sobbing alone or getting stabbed by Mirasa. Also, it gives us more backstory as she stumbles, by amazing coincidence, into a device that gives us convenient flashbacks of nasty Efidolg invasions and the fact that Muetta’s (?) mecha has been repaired. We also get some cosmic bits that make no sense either to her or to us. Another odd thing she discovers is the top of her/Muetta/Yukihime’s head, with things attached to it. How many of these girls are there? At any rate, lucky for her she has the same DNA as Muetta and can prowl about in top-secret areas, though I must say the security systems up there aren’t the best.
Meanwhile Kennosuke and Muetta ride the green beam back to the spaceship (so THAT’S how they were going to get up there!), and all of the bad guys are a bit befuddled. Didn’t she already get sent up? But soon enough everyone’s on the run, the demon-guy, done with his chat with Sophie, shows up at just the right moment, using his wings above the atmosphere, and the good guys, plus Muetta, actually manage to escape. Why the Efidolg leader THEN announces that they’re come down is a mystery. They knew about the hinge-stone already; they could have descended any time they want. No matter, it means more battling on earth. I wonder what parts of the Prefecture are going to get smashed this time?
Macross Delta 21 is a bag of an episode where they toss in various, random backstories and poorly-connected fragments of plot, and shake it around for a while. While the girls are loafing around in prison we get a brief history of Walkure, the most interesting part being that they weren’t very effective for a good period of time, and slowly got better. Rather pleased to see they weren’t a miracle of a team from the start, even if Mikuno wasn’t there yet. As for Mikumo’s dark secret, we pretty much already figured it out. But why do they always stick clones in a vat of fluid instead of a regular hospital bed? And then there’s Windemere, where we STILL don’t know how much Roid knows or doesn’t know, except he’s at a loss too these days. My guess is he’s going to go after Mikuno to replace Heinz as the Star-Singer that will connect all minds, and the Aerial Knights will turn on him for it. Berger will have something more to do, too. I wish this show would get another battle going soon. It’s been too long.
Sousei no Onmyouji 20 looks to all the world like a final episode, at least for this season yet there’s more to go.
We start with Benio and her new legs kicking Yuuto’s ass for a couple of minutes. Benio does rage well; that and her abilities, and the fact that Yuuto is too busy getting beaten up to spout any smirking lines, made me smile. It looks good too. Not sure about the show’s animation budget, but there is enough color and stylistic things going on to make up for it. Alas, the legs have some kind of time limit, and soon Yuuto is back to his smirking self. So now that Benio’s had her moment of coolness, Rokuro steps up for his turn. At one point he gets a big hole in his midriff, but it’s only a flesh wound, and, with the help of either the spirits or the symbolic emotional power of those kids he couldn’t rescue pushing him up, they force Yuuto to his true, more colorful form, more punches, and Yuuto FINALLY plunges into the depths of wherever, i.e, he’s not dead yet.
That was all very well done, but the episode’s only half over. They go back and get confronted by the Twelve, get told they should have waited, etc, now they should just hang back, have that miracle baby and let the others do the fighting, at which point Rokuro does maybe the best thing he’s done all season, he spits on the prophecy. No way is he going to put that much pressure on his unborn child; he’ll destroy the Kegare himself. I absolutely love it when characters in a story refuse to accept their ancient fate. They have free will, they’ll do things their own way, thank you! And so Arima sets a two-year waiting period. End of story for now, and again, the show acts like it’s over, only to tease us with an (ahem) two-year time jump for next week. So, is this show going to go through another cours before stopping for now, or are they just going to dither out the final few episodes and take a break?
Sousei no onmyouji 18 and 19 stack up just the way I expected it to, except for the final ten minutes or so. In #18 it’s all training and practicing, with some of the usual moments of embarrassment at silly times. Benio has a freakout and runs off but gets a nice talk with Granny to sooth her nerves. And episode 19 is all about them getting their ass kicked, though it’s nice that they took Yuuto by surprise a couple times. I actually fast-forwarded a couple few times because it was so predictable, but more because Yuuto taunts were so annoying and took up so much time that I couldn’t put up with it.
But things turned around nicely. I wasn’t expecting much of a counterattack after Benio got her legs clobbered, but the sight of Kamui watching from a distance surprised me. So was his interference when Benio was about to get eaten, not to mention his offer to give her kegare legs, even though she might wind up using them to try and kill him. Kamui is a more interesting villain than I thought, much more interesting than Yuuto’s tiresome “I want all the power ha-ha-ha-ha!” tripe. The transformation bit was very well done, Benio almost getting devoured by Kegare hate only to hear Rokuro’s voice, and her conflicting emotions over impure desires and her simple wish to fight alongside Rokuro again. Even Kamui is taken back. Hope he doesn’t regret giving her those legs …
Macross Delta is STILL working with the fallout from the last battle. On Windemere we’re introduced to two new characters, Norman, and a new doctor for Heinz whom Keith is immediately suspcious of, and probably for good reason. With this, and Berger’s comment about how Roid’s motivations have changed, we can see at least part of the finish line, where a lot of people will team up and stop Roid from whatever evil thing he intends to do. Things are just as depressing, but more fun, on the good guys’ side, as Hayate and Freyja get into a cute “I’ll quit!” “No, I’ll quit!” sort-of lover’s quarrel, though the underlying problem is more serious. Meanwhile, the other Walkure do an adorable infiltration of the med labs to figure out what’s up with Mikuno. Again, the action is fun, but the reason is more serious.
Some quick thoughts about Sousei no Onmyouji, episode by episode as I watch them, as usual …
Ignoring episode 14’s catching up, we move to one that doesn’t really do much. It features Ryogo, for once, the nice girl who’s sudden liking to him made me suspect her of being an enemy in disguise, and Fushihara, whom I don’t think we’ve met before and as it turns out it doesn’t really matter. We also get Rokuro making grunting noises, and a useless bit in the middle where he and Benio both declare that they really don’t like her brother. One question about the ending: did Seigen berate and humiliate them at the end because he really thinks they’re worthless, or did he just want to get them out of the way before they learned who the Kegare used to be?
And episode 16 is sort of a relief. With the preview I thought it was possible for Mayura to die this time, that the show was going to start to kill off regular characters in an effort to ramp up the angst. But if Mayura was gone who would give us all those lovely, strange turns of phrase. So our kids manage to cleanse Mayura of her kegare infection, thanks to powers only the Twin Stars can use. It’s satisfying because Mayura’s a good kid, because it gives Rokuro and Benio some confidence after the tongue-lashing they got last week (and Seigen witnessed it), and because it gives us some insight into Seigen’s attitude toward his daughter. Apparently he feels guilty about leaving his family, and when it looks like he’s going to have to kill Mayura he … sighs with regret. I still don’t like him very much, though frankly I’m also a little tired of Rokuro’s shouting angst about his past. Maybe that’s another reason to like Mayura: she doesn’t seem to wallow in stuff, even if she’s the losing corner of the love triangle.
And finally for now episode 17, that ends with one of those “I know I’m going to die but I have to go anyway” speeches from Rokuro. Actually it was a pretty good speech considering, and I AM wondering how he’s going to beat Yuto, or rather, how he and Benio are going to do it. Otherwise I found the episode rather annoying. They spent too much time with the Seigen-is-going-to-his-death business, though thinking about it, maybe it was deliberate, since he wasn’t going to die, but it was too long anyway. And there was way too much Rokuro screaming and choking and other emotional noises, and there was WAY too much of Yuto smirking and needling, so much that I skipped ahead a few times. I expect the big battle, which may or may not happen this week, will have a lot more of this. Looking forward to the battle, but not the shouting and needling.
I had no idea this episode of Bungou Stray Dogs was the finale until it ended with no preview and I checked sources.
Well, it was a good episode to end with. We have the appearance of the Guild, basically rich, gifted assholes from America with enormous power and influence in their hands. We already knew that they were the ones behind Atsushi’s kidnapping, but I didn’t expect them to make an ouvert appearance so soon, trying to buy the Agency out went the way we expected (No), and then making Kenji vanish just like that, hinted at abilities the good guys may not be able to counter. Soon others vanish too, at the Shibuya crosswalk, and Atsushi, Tanizaki, and a mystery guy find themselves in the playpen of a crazy girl named Lucy.
But all season the show has shown the enemy to be supremely powerful only to reveal cracks in their facades that allow the good guys to defeat and/or befriend them. Turns out Lucy has pretty much the same story as Atsushi and Kyouka: abandoned, feared for their powers. While this doesn’t actually affect the fight this week, it shows us that the Guild has broken people working for it, and that they will be abandoned again if they fail, much like the Port Mafia. This gives the Agency a card to play in the next episode. As for this one, Anne’s sob story goes on a bit long since we’ve heard it before, and Atsushi’s panic and self-esteem attack wasn’t much new, either. More interesting is the situation itself, and Atsushi’s solution (Tanizaki helped, too–nice misdirection there), not to mention the mystery guy. When it ended I thought for sure we’d get back to Lucy’s plight, but no time, show over. Season over. Don’t know if there will be another one, but if there is I’ll watch it.
Sousei no Onmyouji isn’t ending anytime soon, but frankly the show has been getting less interesting recently. At the moment it’s just training, Rokuro and Benio having domestic squabbles (this week it’s who’s the better cook), having a new supremely powerful asshole show up (Kamui), and finally, we discover another dark secret that torments one of the characters (Kamui killed Benio’s parents). Kamui is not a smug, smiling bishie, which is a relief, but his schtick (“I’ll give you ten seconds”) is already old. What works better is not only how it hooks into Benio’s psyche, but how the cooking theme is brought into it, with Rokuro offering her the kind of domestic routine she lost along with her dead parents, because of you-know-who.
Kuromukuro isn’t ending either, what’s more, my viewing of ep11 was delayed until today. #11 felt like a halfway point, finishing with the villains temporarily defeated and Yumiko and Kennosuke’s idylic onigiri picnic in the mountains. But there are questions to answer. During Ken’s fight with what’s-his-name, it’s hinted that he had his memories messed with, and maybe he’s not the Samurai he says he is. This makes the UN people suspicious of him (in spite of the other guy actually killing several men and taking Yukina hostage in order to hijack the Black Relic. Well, the UN are meant to be among the show’s fools), and of course it’s the truth. However, we know that Kennosuke is acting decently out of what he thinks is the truth, so in terms of the story it’s nothing to worry about unless more memories pop up and he becomes unsure.
Then there’s the question of Yukina’s dad. She somehow figured out, with the help of Kennosuke and GPS, where his old lair was, but why it was dug out of the ground like that is anyone’s guess. The dad probably did it. I mean, who else? I’m worried about this area of the story, because while it’s part of Yukina’s story and must be dealt with, I’m afraid of a Mari Okada style story where all the mecha and the backstory become metaphors for people exploring their own feelings. Well, too soon to tell, and right now I’m genuinely curious as to what that guy’s been doing all these years.
Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge wraps up, rather listlessly. Other closing series often add some profound, usually not terribly funny summation which breaks the mood of the overall story in favor of unneeded sentiment. Tanaka-kun tries this as well, as our tired hero realizes that he enjoys being listless more when his friends are around, espcially Ohta. But upon realizing this he is too lazy to actually act upon it–that’s the spirit! As for the ending itself. Seating arrangements in part one and a “Tanaka has a girlfriend” rumor in part two, and both feature Shiraishi more than I expected. Since Shiraishi has no chance of getting this boy, it gives the episode a sense of frustrating sadness, though she decides not to give up.
This show is one of my favorites for the season, and must have been one of the hardest to make. The show had to work to make Tanaka more than just a layabout who needs help with everything, but they gave him some moments of insight (and sudden action, like his rush to change seats with Miyano) which helped somewhat. They weren’t able to perfectly solve the dilemma of having a protagonist who doesn’t act, but the side characters filled the gap nicely, especially Miyano, who energized every scene she was in just by speaking, and Ohta, the best bro of the season who I think could have a series of his own if he was a little weirder. They didn’t always get the balance right–inaction and slow, deadpan humor vs nutty high school life, but it worked often enough that I’ll genuinely miss the series.