Just some quick thoughts. After watching Subete ga F ni Naru‘s finale I wondered what would have happened if Sakurako-san had been at that lab. She would have slapped on her gloves examined the body, and concluded that the corpse wasn’t Dr. Magata. Well, any competent detective would have done the same. In other words, this show was a mystery without a detective. They fumbled to their conclusions without a professional there, only a person who was very smart (okay, two people) and perhaps came close to the mindset of the murderer. But, as the episode’s first big conversation showed, “close” is the key word. He could rationally understand her motives only, not share them. Because of that it’s unpleasant to think that he could accept the woman who killed three people, willing victims or not, and laugh when he learned she had escaped.
The second conversation felt more like a making-up than anything else. Moe is upset that she hasn’t gotten closer to Souhei, so he tells her a little story to derail her negativity and show he cared, like he apparently used to do to her with jokes. Still, Moe still can’t catch up to Souhei, while he possibly feels the same way about Shiki, as if he ought to. No answers in the third conversation either, just a figurative trip in the Arabian desert with her daughter while she explains that seeking answers to things gives rise to positive human emotions. The show might be talking about Moe and Souhei, and Souhei and herself, but maybe not.
In a mystery story without a detective I suppose there needs to be as must focus on the characters as in the mystery, though the sleuthing affirmed that it was at least taking the mystery part seriously. Most of the imagery in this episode, Souhei and Moe’s jumping from location to location, that desert, and the beach with the rotting ship, went past me and I can only make wild grasps at their meaning. I suppose I could add that to the seeking answers metaphor, but it actually means I’m a lazy watcher. Leave it at that. I think I’ll leave this review at that, too, except to say it kept me interested and I was somewhat appalled by the rational immorality shown by some of the characters.
Sakurako-san 11 finishes up the latest mystery in two episodes, like the others. It would feel too brief except that this mystery leads directly to another one. First, Minami has an odd dream and runs downstairs to tell Sakurako where Hitoe probably is, in other words, something that might have taken the whole episode is accomplished during the teaser. So off they go to the cabin with the elm tree, where Hitoe is disappointed that her latest suicide attempt failed (frankly, I don’t think she meant it. She could have swallowed all the pills) and the cute doggie is inexplicably dead. No, not THAT cute doggie. That one is happily digging up Futaba’s corpse.
It gets a little odd here. First, Minami says that Hitoe said one thing. And after Sakurako, enjoying this demonstration of shock, sorrow, and recriminations a little too much, points something out, the story changes. More tears from everyone except Sakurako and Shoutarou, until the latter brings up another little fact about the corpse, and it becomes something out of AnoHana, only with more hate. And so we get a bead on where the second cours will go, though I’m surprised that Sakurako’s goodbye forever business at the end happened when it did. I expected this out of Sakurako, especially after what happened to him in the previous scene, but how are they going to get the story going if Shoutarou’s not with her?
It is late in the season, so you’d expect the current arc of Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai would matter more to me, but I don’t really care much. Sure, I hope Kiseki lives but lives happily, but I can’t say the series has inspired me more than that. Maybe it’s because we didn’t know about Kiseki last week, and I can’t even remember if Kyouya appeared before this arc, or when, or why he’s pissed off all the time, well, Nero has something to do with it. So it’s all getting very messy, and harder for me to care. But I will say that I like Ouka’s little speech about sharing his burden, since that’s his line and all. And the other harem, er, platoon members shocked that he’s accepting help at all.
Sakurako-san 10 looks to be the start of a nice, juicy detective story. We find out early on that Hitoe, one of Isozaki’s students, has gone missing. That makes her the second of a trio of former students to vanish, and Isozaki blames himself. And so he, Sakurako, and Shoutarou going from one girl’s family to another (both of them unpleasant), where they actually find tangible clues we can understand, such as teddy bears, receipts, and empty cell phone battery boxes. So far at least, nothing involving the esoteric knowledge of bones that give her an unfair advantage. And it’s fun to watch Sakurako bully and insult the losers that pass as the girls’ parents.
On the other hand, we pretty much know what’s going on. Some psycho painter probably seduced and offed Futaba and is preparing to do the same to Hitoe. Minami, though another girlfriend, somehow wasn’t a victim–maybe she made the right choices; we don’t know yet. So we watch and wait for the heroes to locate the cabin, which means getting info out of Minami she doesn’t want to give. I suppose it’s still a mystery, but it feels more like a police procedural at the moment. Well, that’s okay too. And we’ll get to the bottom of what Shoutarou said at the end about Sakurako and Minami in the house next week. Knowing Sakurako, you can only wonder.
In Subete ga F ni Naru we get to mostly the bottom of the mystery while I’m trying to figure out the logic of a crazy woman.
Much of the fun happens on a virtual beach resort, or in Moe’s case, an interrogation room, where she and Souhei hold conversations with Shiki. An odd contrast between the two. You could argue that Souhei is working purely through intellect while Moe is the emotional side; Souhei explains the concept of everything become F, or rather FFFF, whipping out hexadecimal code while Shiki smiles and nods, while Moe is stuck going “Why?! Why!? Why?!” a lot. Nevertheless, it turns out Moe was the one who screwed up Shiki’s immaculate plan by asking not-Shiki a very simple question at their first meeting. After that, Souhei and Shiki take a lovely virtual walk and swim, and we learn the rest.
And it all makes sense, even if it’s completely unbelievable. I thought it crazy that police wouldn’t have noticed something weird about the body, but I guess she only needed time to escape the island, so I’ll let that pass. But it’s this whole 15 years business. Shiki seems to be saying that kids kill off their parents after fifteen years, but that suggests that parents are useless after that, and she had no trouble reversing the situation when the daughter proved to be less crazy than she was. And there’s also Moe’s story to consider, though Shiki never seemed to know what to think of her. Finally, sealed rooms or not, I refuse to believe that a child could be raised in such a place with no one outside noticing. And that child would have more fucked-up than Shiki was. On the other hand, the people running the lab were pretty nutty, too …
Now, was this the final episode? noitaminA shows usually go 11 …
In spite of my complaints about the pacing, I found myself looking forward to Subete ga F ni Naru 9, if only because noitaminA shows traditionally run only 11 episodes and so they had to start moving along. This week’s breakthrough by Souhei (complete with “how could I be so STUPID?” lines) was ingenious but it stretched things a bit when they all agreed that the new file would have overwritten the older file of the same name. Some programs will save it under a different name, or at least thrown up an error message. Some would have panicked and crashed–well, I suppose Magata-san was too slick for that. The point is that Souhei had assumptions about Red Magic OS that may not have been the case. At any rate, my theory about what really happened to Shiki is back on the table.
Almost as interesting this week is the Souhei/Moe relationship. Moe forgets about her jealousy over that Tokyo reporter when the intellectual challenge of the mystery comes back. There’s another discussion on the roof, where they seem to bond further, and that’s even before they get into what one of them can “see” that the other can’t. As for that, it was a lovely token of respect from Souhei to Moe, not to mention a display of Moe’s calculation skills, and the best moment of the episode, but I remain unimpressed. Being freakishly good at math doesn’t make you an insightful person. Indeed, Souhei could have whipped up a program find the date himself if he had wanted. That he didn’t shows how much he wanted to show Moe how much he valued her. Kind of sweet, really. And I’m not dismissing Moe’s skills, either. In Hyouka, Satoshi would disparagingly call himself a “database,” but we need databases sometimes. I just don’t think at this moment Souhei absolutely needed Moe to be a calculator.
Sakurako-san 9 is a sentimental and rather dull affair, all about grandmas, with Sakurako, Shoutarou, and Yumiko’s trying to figure out which painting her dead gran wanted to give her, and then why Shoutarou’s gran insisted he bring a certain type of pudding when visiting her in the hospital. The latter “mystery” was a tad darker, since it gave us an unpleasant insight of what the cancer was really doing to her. I liked how the insight came from Sakurako’s own “gran,” showing where some of Sakurako’s formidable reasoning may have rubbed off from. It was all very sweet, and distracting because there are bigger arcs afoot, like what the hell Sakurako was talking to herself at the end, and that girl with the metaphorical butterfly wings.
35 Shiken Shoutai has short story arcs, so it’s fitting that their filler episode stories are so brief we can fit two of them in one episode. Too bad neither of them are much fun. In the first one everyone goes undercover at a hostess club to catch someone, and you can imagine the jokes, no, really you can, it’s that predictable. It does get better when Takeru accidentally puts on the drunkenness ring, but that’s because the seiyuus get to do their drunk voices. In part two they get to practice their underwater gurgling voices when they investigate a beach. Gee, a hostess club and a beach … Could it be the creators just want to put the female characters in sexy outfits? Nah.
In Teekyuu! 69 the girls decide to form a band. All those episodes and they haven’t done this before. I’m impressed. And with at 2.64 SPG the show continues to be in fine shape.
As for Subete ga F ni Naru 8, well, I still think the jury’s out on Shiki uploading herself. The show, through Shimada, does its best to convince us that anyone could have faked her “appearance” thanks to voice files. And it would mean a different show than what we thought, but I haven’t thrown out the idea. Elsewhere, we get the institute switching from Red Magic to UNIX, which frankly sounds pretty hard. There’s more talk to no end, until, in the dark, Souhei has some sort of breakthrough, which we know must be big because they show us those images of aborigines again, plus some other strangeness. But of course he isn’t letting anyone in on it yet. There’s also the thought that the two murders are unrelated, that is, different murderers with different motives. And Moe helpfully says people could get up and down floors with a rope (what about her elevator insight? Forgotten this week). There’s a touching sunrise conversation. And they play that Bach cello piece. I guess we’ll have to wait until next week before we get any more clues. But if Shiki did upload herself, did she just die when they switched OS’s?
It’s getting colder here, so the last thing I wanted to see was another Heavy Object story arc in a cold place. Yet in episode 9 there they are in Antarctica. The good news is they wrap it up in one episode. Evidently all they really wanted to do this episode is introduce Havia’s bethrothed, some pretty blonde thing from another rich family–that Havia’s family is supposed to hate. I’m sure that angle will be explored sooner or later. Anyway, our heroes encounter terrorists, fanboy over penguins with said terrorists (the episodes stupid cute moment) get shot at blow up a lot of ice, nearly get blown up by guns, etc. It leads to them deciding to screw up a mission to kill an asshole because it would also kill the bethrothed, our moral puzzle of the w
Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai 8 confused and bored me at times, but at the end I was satisfied with the story arc. My interest went up when Ikagura met Isuga and we never saw that little shiny green lost matrix gem. Instead, Ikagura opens her shirt (yet again) and transforms into a dark elf. So she was able to crack the code. What’s more, we later learn that Alchemy or Valhalla had managed to build a big dragon, all part of the confusion for me. But it gets clearer when we realize Ikagura was there to rescue her clone-sister. This was all very good, but outside the tower we had a dull battle with Takeru going against mecha run by we don’t know who, though in the dark they looked exactly like the ones Outori sent to attack, meaning they were on Takeru’s side, so I don’t get what the fighting was all about. Still, we learn that Ikagura is a lot more interesting than the show was letti
There are episodes that aired earlier than Owarimonogatari 8, but nothing as good, I reckon, so it jumps the queue. I’ll get to HO and those magical-sword-HS-harem shows later. Having said that, episode 8 has a lot fewer surprises than last week’s, and unfortunately I have to remember the plots to all the previous and concurrent arcs to catch it all. All I can say is that we start with a nice conversation between Araragi and Yotsugi, primarily about the promise the former made to deliver the now-sleeping Kanbaru to Gaen for whatever reason, and Araragi’s reluctance to do so–guilt over breaking a promise vs. guilt over endangering Kanbaru, who, frankly, is in enough danger just being around Araragi.
And then we shift to a getting-lost sequence, and of course Mayoi comes to mind, also that suit of armor, who may have caused it. Meanwhile we get another conversation, and still another when Araragi calls Gaen for help. She knows everything but doesn’t tell them anything useful. We only get information we need when they reach the meeting place and find not Gaen but Shinobu, and we learn she and Araragi have been separated somehow and need to get back together, but they’re interrupted by another strange being. Through it all I try to remember the old series–I don’t remember if or when Yotsugi and Shinobu teamed up, and the connection to Tsubasa Tiger. I remember the darkness stuff, and Mayoi passing on, but, sigh, this arc is piling on too many references for me to follow it. All I can do is enjoy bits like Kanbaru freaking out over Shinobu.
Subete ga F ni Naru 7 throws a surprise at us that seems obvious now, but I confess I didn’t see it coming.
It starts the way most of the recent episodes have, with Souhei wandering around, sitting, smoking, muttering, before finally visiting Miki, Shiki’s sister, who the show has been hiding from us all this time. I was surprised I was there. Then I was annoyed at the English they were speaking. I assume Miki is fluent at it, but both of them have stilted accents that sounds like actors reading lines on paper. That wouldn’t be so bad, but their vocabulary is too sophisticated and they make no grammatical mistakes at all. That threw me off so much I have a hard time remembering what they were saying, except that the idea that bodies are shells comes up again, as does the concept of dolls.
Meanwhile, Moe is having a more interesting time. After being hit on by Shimada, one of the lab girls, she gets shoved into a pod which makes her thoughts visual, or something like that. While cavorting with Souhei in her dream world, Shiki intrudes, and some of what we’ve been hearing about starts to make sense. Looks like she uploaded herself somehow, like Motoko in GitS maybe, or maybe this is a backup self she made. Alas, Moe is so shocked by all this that she doesn’t ask any questions, like “Who killed you, or who killed your shell if you like?” or “Who killed the Uncle?” Instead, she finds herself on the receiving end of more questions about her own parents’ death. The fact that Souhei was there with her in the flashback, supporting her, brings up a lot of interesting thoughts about Moe’s character, but damn it, she had the perfect opportunity to solve the mystery and she let it slip away … Well, I suppose I can’t blame her.
Heavy Object 8 makes a little more sense now since it went into straight-up practical strategizing. First, however, the show has to make sure Milinda doesn’t interfere with the show’s main theme, that little guys can beat big guys if they’re cunning. So they have that allied object block Milinda’s way. Then it’s our two heroes thinking up a plan for the .5 HO, well, Qwenthur does the thinking and Havia just acts as a fellow grunt making grunt comments. At least both of them have the courtesy to realism to nearly get themselves killed this time, though their answer seems a bit ridiculous. I know water can conduct electricity, but I’m not sure it works the way they had it. Then the episode completely confuses us with a flash-forward to a completely different battle, just so they can get that asshole politician out of the way. I thought he was going to be the long-term villain …
I’m going to punt on Heavy Object 7. I didn’t understand Oceania’s evil plan to bring attention to itself by massacring its own citizens, or how Seewax screwed it up. The bit at the end, with the boss looking at a bunch of child-clones (anything to do with the child that got killed in the battle?) looked good and sinister, but with my sinuses acting up it’s hard for me to work up an opinion. What struck me the most was that Qwenthur and Havia could come up with the idea that the Sandy Bridge (isn’t that a CPU?) readings were a trap but no one else did, and that the military didn’t just send an object to both places. Also, Qwenthur and Havia get away with a lot of shit, don’t they?
I was beginning to lose patience with Subete ga F ni Naru. At the start of episode 6 Souhei and Moe leave the lab and rejoin the students. Souhei is planning to leave the island and Moe is pissed off that he is. They go through all the evidence in the bright sunlight (how does Moe get drunk on zero beer?) but nothing much else happens, and I’m waiting for some step forward in the mystery and wondering how many more episodes it will take before I get it. But I guess it all was necessary to get to the point where Souhei decides to stay and solve the mystery. So back from the wild beach to the climate-controlled lab they go. Souhei making the same point about the contrast that I was thinking.
But finally a little progress is made. Moe notices that during Shiki’s grand entrance the elevator was changing floors. How that works into things they don’t tell us, since we don’t see anyone coming or going unless it was done in the two-second blackout. But at least it’s a step in the right direction. As for the flashback near the end, I figured it was something like that fifteen years ago. I sort of hoped that Shiki was completely innocent in all this, but it seemed obvious, dramatically at least, that the uncle was complicit Yumiko had either misread the situation or refused to see the truth.
After the mundane ending to last week’s story arc, Owarimonogatari brings back Kanbaru, and things couldn’t be more fun!
I wonder if we’ll ever learn why Araragi asked Kanbaru to meet him, well, probably at the end of the arc. Not that it matters. Kanbaru starts with a flying knee to the face, shifts to a discussion of the proximity of body parts in general and what to imagine them as, followed by come-ons (obviously Araragi wants to ravish her, that’s why he called her out, right?) and a brief foray into the works of Shugoro Yamamoto and BL stories. As usual, poor Araragi can only parry and act as straight man. Maybe that’s why all the girls love him; he doesn’t hit back. Anyway, it’s the Monogatari style, verbal and visual, at full power, and I watched with delight.
What’s more, after that there’s more action than what you find in a dozen regular episodes, mixed with the talk and Araragi’s thought process. Before they can even start for the rendezvous point they are confronted by a giant suit of samurai armor. Naturally Kanbaru knocks it to pieces without thinking. Naturally they discuss putting it back together and who should do the assembling (I love this series!) but the armor is tired of talk and reassembles itself, and it’s energy-sucking means Kanbaru can’t hurt it. Now, the flames that suddenly appeared were surprising enough, but Kanbaru muttering “Hanekawa?” was even weirder. The armor’s story is more straightforward. But no way did I expect Yotsugi to show up at the end. Woah, the episode threw a lot of stuff at us this week …
Well, that was a nice bit of holiday, so I decided to let a whole week’s worth of episodes go by before I wrote about anything again …
And when I do, with Sakurako-san, I find I have absolutely nothing worthwhile to say about it. Except nice dog! and so who IS that character who tried to lead Fukioka to his doom through toxic paint? I normally wouldn’t care–the show will get back to him soon enough, but that means going back to Fujioka and his terribly dull speeches about how much he loves his family and the guilt over the painting, oh, and now he’ll have the axe wound to add to his litany. Victrims in mysteries, at least the lives ones, are so often the biggest bores. And his wife chiding him and declaring her love for him isn’t much better. And there will be flashbacks where the evil guy talks Fukioka into doing what he did. Yeah, alas, we’ll meet Fukioka again.
I probably don’t have anything profound to say about Subete ga F ni Naru 5 either, just speculations and some contrasts the episode tries to point out, mostly between Magata/Seiji and Moe/Souhei. Both women are younger, capable of speaking their minds, and are frustrated at their man’s inability to break free of the strictures society has placed on them. Souhei is spot on when he rejects Moe’s offer to set him up in his own lab, though he then goes on with a bullshit spiel about how we all have multiple personalities but rein them in as we get older, and how it’s a more natural state to live as a multiple-personality child. All, I suspect, because he is nuts about Magata and wants to justify her actions. Moe gets pretty disgusted with him at that point, and I can’t blame her. As for the Seiji’s rationale, I don’t want to know.
Moe’s frustration partly stems from the fact that Magata quite probably killed her parents, though I’m beginning to have second thoughts about that (the show is hinting that it’s actually Seiji). Moe lost her parents too but it had nothing to do with her. In this episode we see the first signs of her outrage that Magata would do such a thing (which sparks Souhei’s bullshit spiel, by the way. Hard to tell exactly what he’s thinking), and the murders or lack of answers about it seem to be another mysterious act that she has no control over, so she overreacts by asking embarrassing questions to the director’s wife about Magata’s personalities. The wife, obviously in a state of shock, answers truthfully while handing out cookies. It’s the eeriest breakfast conversation scene I can think of. All in all this story is getting more complex and interesting.
After earlier episodes in the snow and sea, Heavy Object 6 takes us to a dessert, with some terraformed jungle out there. They’re to take out a rogue state’s .5 level object, but it’s hidden in the terraforming and Qwenthur and Havia have to go out and make sure there isn’t anything else there. Of course there is, so it looks like peacekeeping is their primary aim this time. This mostly happens in the final five minutes. Before that we have talk about the political situation, talk about the second elite pilot’s measurements, Milinda’s “tuning suit” and her flute, and the reporters do some talking, too. To make all this more palatable we get lots of fanservice throughout (Miniskirt Santa, the tuning suit, and a “Oh, it’s so HOT in this object!” scene) and lots of ogling noises from the boys, which is worse than the talk. Oh, there’s a cute catfight with objects for not much reason.
35 Shiken Shoutai decides to have some fun with fanservice too, primarily with the new arc’s central figure, Usagi. Apparently she’s in danger of flunking out if she doesn’t raise her grades, and a new festival the school’s installed will help with that. But the exec committee chair, who’s running the thing, is Usagi’s fiance and she’ll have to marry him if she drops out, which he wants. I guess the festival competition won’t be set up in the 35th’s favor. Oh, also he’s apparently being possessed by Mephistopheles and is really evil. Ouka’s been clued in on that. And there are touching scenes where everyone rallies around Usagi to help, and there’s a naked scene, of course. But what’s the point of that other squad the 35th are teaming up with? How’s a bunch of nerds going to add to this series?
Teekyuu! 65 stars Marimo as she meets a girl named Tanaka in a candy store. Since introducing characters usually slows things down, the SPG ratio climbs to 3.6. It’s odd seeing Marimo, one of the goofy girls, play straight man to Tanaka, especially when Tanaka’s voice is calm and Marimo’s is Kana Hanazawa at her most manic.