Three threes and a thirty: Robotics, Psycho, Sukitte, Polar Bear

Kaito, in the zone, or something.

ROBOTICS;NOTES 3 continues to slip in a darker story around its lighthearted robot battlin’. Just a little at a time. We got the sudden blurriness Kaito experiences which could be easily attributed to fatigue (staying up all night because you don’t have hotel room will do that to you) except the show makes too much of a point of it, and after that we worry about how it might affect Kaito’s performance in the matches … and it does. We also learn a little about Akiho’s older sister, reluctant to contact her for some reason, though when you see the person she’s working for you may understand why, well, we don’t know if that guy’s actually a good sort or not but with him around, and all the hints about some accident four years ago, undoubtedly the reason for Akiho’s ailment and Kaito’s newly-encountered, opposite-working one, but you couldn’t blame the older sister for keeping Akiho distant. Oh, and Fraukoujiro, programmer, shows to give Kaito a terrific grin, so we got plenty on our plate for next week.

Not dazzling the stage.

But with all, the real focus is on the tournament. The scenes here have their moments, but does every opponent the good guys face have to be a trash-talking asshole? Also, Kaito does way too well considering the amount of time he has. I cant believe no one else has thought to wire their robots with existing online game technology. Maybe having Fraukoujiro, the creator, do Kaito’s gives him an advantage, but surely there are open-source alternatives out there … but it’s only the final battle where any opponent gives him any trouble. And here we get to a different type of unbelievability, if that’s a word. It’s as if we’ve left this world and entered Tari Tari to steal a plot point (come to think of it, the robotic club has some similarities with the choir club–not enough members, fiercely independent, a teacher who hates them …). It was certainly unexpected and it helped get Subaru into the main story, but not terribly believable and a bit silly, really. Never mind. The show is moving along nicely, and I’m frankly glad they didn’t spend any extra time on the tournament.

Shinya does his Bad Cop, with frightful results.

PSYCHO-PASS 3 is almost entirely a standalone episode. We get one bit at the beginning where Shinya obsesses at a blurry photo pinned to a wall as character development, and then it’s off to a factory where drones have killed three people in a year. We learn that the place is completely cut off from outside communications, the workers go around the clock, and we quickly realize that this is not the happiest place to work. Worse is when the detectives, when not arguing procedures or lecturing Akane the newbie, witness a worker getting bullied and learn this is one of the few outlets they have for fun. We have the setup right there. A cut-off workplace where cruelty is overlooked, no wonder the victim snaps. It’s ridiculous in terms of realism but this show doesn’t seem to have a problem with that. That they couldn’t tell when the victim’s hue reached a dangerous level, or rather, they didn’t seem to care, that the victim just snaps when Shinya tries some psychology on him. So let’s ignore the details and look at the connection to us. There are workplaces like this in our world which are so poorly arranged they inadvertently cause people to snap, and policy is to hide it. But once we accept the connection, what do we do? Why, we sit back and watch drones chase Shinya and Akane and wait for the cool Dominator guns to work, and maybe wonder why Shinya and Ginoza hate each other.

Sukitte Ii na yo 3 is similar to episode 2; Mei gets comfortable around Yamato, learns something shocking about him which sends her into a funk, then has Yamato pull her out of it, with another kiss.

Here the shock comes from Aiko, that girl seen at the end of scenes, usually glaring at Mei and Yamato as they pass by. In this episode Mei is going out to have her hair done, Yamato invites himself and calls it a date, and they run into Aiko and a guy named Masashi whom she repeatedly insults yet is in bed with by the episode’s end. In other words, she’s hard to figure out. She tells Mei that she and Yamato had had sex (shocking enough), and, just as interestingly, tells her that if Mei isn’t sure she’s in love with Yamato, she should just back out of it. For Mei it’s time to abandon the bowling game and pet the stray cat for a while. Yamato tracks her down and there’s a discussion about his flawed middle school days and what he sees as betrayal of a friend, consequent self-loathing and a lack of self-identity, at least, compared to Mei. Hence the attraction.

Well, what did they expect Anteater would have for treats?

Which is all in direct contrast to Aiko, who believes you have to earn the love of someone if you want them. Unfortunately, this means changing her image completely to appeal to the boy she was dating, to the point where she ruined her skin, and then she found out the boy was cheating on her anyway. The complete opposite of Mei, who hasn’t changed a thing about herself, apart from trying to learn to trust people, and now has Yamato’s full attention, I think. I still don’t quite trust the boy. Who’s to say some other distraught girl won’t rush to his arms asking for a pity-fuck like Aiko did. Anyway, you can see that Mei’s apparent indifference to Yamato would be enough to infuriate Aiko. Through it all Mei never does get the haircut she went out for, and Yamato has suggested she let it grow. He likes long hair. Will she take his preference into consideration or will she style it the way she wants to? Cut it short, Mei!

Finally, it’s time for our weekly question: which half of Polar Bear’s Cafe is better? This time it’s part one. Our three heroes go off trick-or-treating and it’s worth it just to see the variety of costumes Polar Bear manages to try. My favorites were the matador costume and the pink dress. Part two, where Llama asks for a special day at the zoo, fails because Llama’s running gag, besides the eyelashes and spitting (and he’s “sealed” that), is that there’s nothing remarkable at all about him.

Two ep28s and more twos

Mei picks up a friend awful quick.

Sukitte li na yo 2 continues to give the shoujo romance tropes little twists to keep them fresh, though some of the storytelling effects that made episode one stand out are missing this time. What amazed me the most about this episode was how quickly Mei accepts new friends. Naturally, she’s a little uncomfortable being in a group singing karaoke but no one really minds that. Her new best girlfriend is Asami and before you can blink she’s asking Mei if she likes Yamato and admitting that she herself does. Mei has every reason to be embarrassed or run away from these new social things but she doesn’t, which I find very interesting.

Standard-issue girl bullies.

I also like how they handle some of the other common shoujo things, like our pair of backbiting bullying bitches who make fun of Asami for her big chest. Standing up to them was a nice thing to see (though why didn’t she use her excellent kicking skills?), but the surprise was that we don’t see the fight. Also, nothing is resolved. You know that Asami will continue to get abuse from them, and so will Mei, probably. Bullying is a fact of life in that school, an ongoing nuisance, and probably for this show a convenient tool for moving the story along when someone needs to be tested. And there is the side story of Kenji the fool, trying to do some good and only making it worse, until he takes a tip from Mei (already someone he can trust) and makes everything better than it was in the first place. (Nice confession, Kenji!).

I’m getting suspicious of Yamato.

But the most interesting pot stirring comes from Yamato. The story goes around that he’s kissed every cute girl in the school. Asami’s in love with him and isn’t surprised when Mei says she is too (no dilly-dallying for Mei. She won’t lie to herself and extend her indecisiveness for episodes or like that other show, an entire two seasons). Everyone likes him because he’s so nice, but you begin to see here that this might simply be a way of manipulating people, especially girls he wants to kiss. At the episode end Mei confronts him about this kissing business, so he plants a few more on her. After the third or fourth Mei is completely defenseless, and he knows it. How many other girls has he done this to? Another good episode, but as I said, the story was told more straightforwardly than usual. Too much to tell, less time to get flashy.

A hoedown before the launch.

Space Brothers 28 takes a little time to digress about the UFO. Why not? The show takes its time doing everything, and I was curious about what that footage Hibito had recorded actually was. So are the astronauts, showing their wondering, geeky sides as well (I loved that. These men and women are trained physically and mentally to do practical things in space, yet they still have a trace of “wow!” sensibility) It shouldn’t be a surprise to find out what it was. The point of the whole thing was to demonstrate the bond the brothers have, that one of them would do so much to make the other one happy, and protect him from bullies. Even if the footage was bad enough that no one would believe it. It was pretty much a farewell episode for Hibito, even if he hasn’t actually gone up yet.

Zetsurn no Tempest 2 tells us very little we didn’t know already. We get some talk at the beginning in the “Now, let me get this straight” category to fill Yoshina in on the situation, and to remind us, I suppose. Hakaze wants off the island, Fuwa wants his bloody revenge, and we spend much of the episode watching Yoshino try to figure out what he wants, apart from staying alive for the time being. Yamamoto’s still gunning for him,, you see, and come to think of it I wouldn’t have minded some explanation as to why. I honestly can’t remember why she’s pointing guns at people. In the end it looks like Yoshino’s decided not to abandon his friend. Good thing, too, since Fuwa, gleefully quoting Hamlet, has taken on a Samon guy who’s probably too powerful for him. And so we have a pretty good idea of the two boys’ basic differences. And it looks like I was wrong about that girlfriend in the next town.

The first half of Polar Bear’s Cafe 28 isn’t terribly interesting. Panda switches places with Polar Bear and runs the cafe. He actually does a pretty good job when they finally get him to unlock the door. Polar Bear trying to be Panda was the funnier bit. Part two, all about Full-Time Panda, is a lot better. FTP, pretending to be Panda-kun, asks the creepy Rin Rin out, and the whole thing resembles a scene where a jealous girl is confronting a boy about another girl he likes better, except the girls in this case are pandas and the boy is creepy. To be fair, Rin Rin acquits himself well, patiently listening to FTP’s increasingly drunken speeches and coming to the zoo the next day to give him cuteness tips. I think they could have done more with that scene and less with the aftermath, but it’s a good segment nonetheless.

It took me longer to choose a screenshot than watch the episode.

Teekyu 2 is as frantic as #1. I had to watch it twice and I still missed some of the jokes. And trying to get a decent screenshot is a nightmare. But it’s only two minutes, what the hell.

Still more new shows, but Sukitte might be the only one worth watching

From the basic setup, Sukitte li na yo seems to be another high school romance story, but in terms of execution it’s clearly different.

This dreamy moment is quickly interrupted by a train.

We have Mei, the friendless high school girl. We got Yamato, the most popular boy in school, and his joking, pervy sidekick. We also also have some spiteful schoolgirls. We have the meet-cute scene, more violent than most. But it’s told differently. It starts with Mei having a dream about an early betrayal in her life, doing her morning things in a mopey way, and a moment at the train station that looks like it came from an arty movie. Not the normal way to start a high school romance story, though it settles in when she reaches in school and we have the usual loner scenes, with an extra of girls laughing at her. And her patiently walking through it.

Boy meets girl’s leg.

Which makes her lashing out a bit of a surprise. What’s an even bigger surprise is that Yamato, the innocent recipient of her kick, decides then and there that he likes her. She’s “interesting.” He tries to befriend her but she rebuffs him every time, but doesn’t throw away the phone number he gave her. Then there comes a point where she’s holed up in a convenience store hiding from a stalker and has no one else to call. Alas, the stalker bit was contrived to begin with, and Yamato’s technique of rescuing her, er, certainly enhances the story, but how many forced kisses have we seen this season already?

You could have just walked her home, you know.

Oh, well. As I said, the story’s telling used a lot of visual techniques and felt fresh, (my favorite being the shots of Mei’s feet, and Yamato’s as he follows her, until they’re in the same frame) though I got the impression they were new at this and some scenes just faded out as if they weren’t sure where to go next. Some, not all. It also has an interesting heroine. Mei doesn’t want friends because they always betray her. We get just enough scenes to realize that her father is gone, another “betrayal.” But when she has to reach out for help from a relative stranger he instantly responds. This is not only about Mei getting a boy, it’s about her learning to trust. A very promising start.

His slogan isn’t very exciting, either.

Code:Breaker brings us Sakurakouji, aikido expert and class beauty who sees some people burned up in a park as her train passed by. Whaddaya know, the culprit just happens to transfer into her class the very next day! She follows him around and we get the usual high school hijinks as everyone thinks she’s got a crush on him. Naturally, he comes off as a nice bishie boy, and when they meet accidentally later she begins to think he’s not so evil after all, meanwhile, he’s getting interesting phone calls and planning to kill her. Naturally we get a scene where bad guys surround her and beat her up a little and he has to rescue her. Than he starts to kill her, but since the credits roll and she’s obviously meant to be a main character I’m not too worried. Probably one of the other bishies they occasionally show (all posing in various locations, the way they do) will save her bacon, or save her from being turned into bacon. I might watch next week to see how she avoids death, but otherwise this show looks absolutely routine. Besides, I hate smirking bishies, and this show’s got loads of them.

Well, what would YOU say if you just landed in a rehashed fantasy land, along with your chair?

Ixion Saga DT is ANOTHER story where a game player from our world gets whisked to the world of his game. That makes two this season, three if you count the ongoing SAO. But unlike those two shows, Ixion goes for the laughs. Kon, the game player, chats up a girl in the game who promises to meet him soon, and next thing you know he’s just landed on top of a villain in a fantasy world, still in his desk chair, Dorothy-style. And he’s rescued a two warriors who’s escorting a diminutive, sarcastic princess named, er, let’s call her Piria. Part of the fun here is that this isn’t the game he was playing. It’s some other generic fantasy world where everyone has names like Steel Sanglain or, my favorite, Lord Jugglaburk. And while Kon isn’t a bad gamer, he has no idea how to actually use a sword. Episode one has him join Steel, the crossdressing Mariondel and the princess while making fun of fantasy games in general. I don’t know how much mileage the show has but I had a good time with episode one.

Magi 1 … It’s refreshing to see a fantasy story set in Arabian Nights territory for a change, even if it’s as generic in its way as any other. We got a poor servant named Alibaba who works to make money to “clear” one of the mysterious dungeons that have appeared over the years. But he has a cruel boss and hasn’t quite got the gumption to strike out on his own. He meets a child named Aladdin (told you it was generic) who has a djinn in his flute, who has the same goal. And there’s a slave girl Aladdin frees and that causes no end of trouble. Episode one is all about Alibaba getting his gumption back and Aladdin revealing his true powers with some good action scenes. The slave girl will hook up with them later, I guess. She didn’t do much here but get rescued and recaptured and stand around watching. Not bad, but it’s just replacing western fantasy stereotypes with Arabic one. I’ll pass.

Teekyuu 1 is two minutes long, thirty seconds of that is the OP. So if you’re going to do a comedy the jokes better come fast, I guess. That’s what happens in this episode. Yuri is teaching Kanae how to hit a tennis ball. The gags whiz by and boomph, it’s over. I had to watch it twice to catch them all. The other problem is you don’t get a chance to laugh even if the jokes ARE funny, so frankly I couldn’t tell if the show’s any good or not. Well, it’s only two minutes.