W 11, Koyomi 10-11, Gate 23, Teekyuu 81

... through a lousy plot device.
… through a lousy plot device.

Dimension W 11 starts with the aftermath of the Loser/Chrysler fight, and now Loser has all the numbers and is probably invincible or something. Meanwhile, Lwai fills Kyouma and the rest about how he’s actually a robot controlled by what’s left of himself back home, and he’s fine with that. So is Kyouma, so the show makes a point to tell us, and I suspect it’s supposed to be a touching, breakthrough moment for him, but the show never really established his issues, because the big final story arc depends on him not knowing their source …

... and spawned another dull, predictable villain.
… and spawned another dull, predictable villain.

A little disappointed that so much of the backstory is made via a memory shared by Loser which everyone is forced to watch. Too convenient; this show has proven it can do better than this if it wants to, but there’s only one episode to go so maybe it was a timesaving decision. Worse, the memory also had a lot of pseudo-scientific bullshit about possibility factors mixed in before Seanmeyer got all evil and started killing people. The memory didn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know. Loser lost his wife, Seanmeyer is evil, and Kyouma was there. What I’m afraid of is that they’re going to take all those weird possibility theories and toss them around, with light shows, while Kyouma gets his memory back. No, wait! I forgot that we’ll probably start with Loser meeting his lost wife, now a gigantic octopus thingy.

Araragi up top ...
Araragi up top …

Koyomimonogatari 10 brings us Yotsugi, in search of something that can’t be found by searching for it, not only an interesting riddle but one you’d expect from this show. The conclusion, brought to us by Hanekawa again, was a pretty clever one, even if I had sort of guessed it midway through. While I wonder at Yotsugi’s motives for doing this (WHY was she looking out for Araragi?), the idea that she was in the first place was kind of nice, reinforced as it was by Araragi’s comment that people who have unfettered moments might have people looking after them to thank.

... and at the bottom.  Wonder if there's significance in this.
… and at the bottom. Wonder if there’s significance in this.

#11, maybe the weakest yet, has Araragi asking Yuzuru (after she beat the crap out of him) about Yotsugi. Land one punch and she’ll tell you, and the show spends the rest of this short time with Karen figuring out what Yuzuru actually meant by that. That it means a refusal to answer Araragi’s question I can understand, but Araragi’s attempt at going through with the fight out of some courtesy I can’t figure out. But the episode DID have Araragi and Karen in a bathtub full of puddings, so that’s something.

gate23-1

Gate 23, with its triumphant 11.5 hour raids on the capital and the Jade Palace, is not as fun as it could be. We see the JSDF prepare and implement their attacks, and apart from a few moments when they appear outnumbered, nothing goes wrong. They secure gates, they paratroop, they launch missiles on dragons, while Zorzal looks more flabbergasted by the second. The only interesting bits are Tyuule’s advice,” where I have to remember that she’s not on his side, nor the JSDF, but working purely out of revenge against the empire. I wonder how the show is going to treat her next week?

gate23-2

The raid on the Jade palace is a little better because, for me at least, there was more at stake. I wanted to see Bozes and her troops defeat the imperial troops, or at least survive. That they do, thanks to the JSDF, in ho-hum fashion, but Bozes then spices things up by galloping to the capital to rescue Pina, and nearly getting killed. As for Pina, she’s still stuck down in that cell, hopeless and useless as ever, and our heroes, Youji and the fantasy-fetish girls, are still riding in that jeep.

teekyuu81-1

Finally, Teekyuu! 81 slips badly to an SPG of 3.75 as Yuri accompanies Annenkov to a mixer full of monks and encounter a vengeful bathroom spirit. Maybe too much time setting up the scene.

Advertisements

Dagashi 9, Shoujo-tachi 10, Phantom World 11, Teekyuu 80

dagashi9-1
Dagashi Kashi 9 is one of the better ones. The first one, concerning wata-pachi, brings up the idea that foods that bring you pain can be enjoyable (Hotaru has a mouth ulcer). Actually, they bring up a different issue, that foods that you should not eat are tastier for that reason, but watching the pleasurable pain Hotaru experiences (livened up with a mini-drama) makes me think they were going for that point, too. Then it’s on to Lucky-choco droppings, and a very tasteful fantasy Hotaru and Saya conjure up to eat a candy that comes out of an animal’s ass.

dagashi9-2

There follow two more dagashi, Sakura Daikon, which I can’t believe kids like, and prompts Kansai talk from Hotaru because, apparently, you can’t get it there, and boob, sorry, bomb ice cream, both sequences showing us once again that Hotaru is out of her mind. Really, she makes almost no sense at all during much of it. Her onlookers, Saya and Hotaru, are usually too stunned to do anything but play along; really, was Saya really that deterred by those toy frogs? No! She wanted to see what Hotaru would do next.

One of the more disgusting metaphors for creativity I've heard.
One of the weirder metaphors for creativity I’ve heard.

Shoujo tachi wa Kouya o Mezasu 10, not content to give us a new story arc, gives us two. One of them will distract our gang from the other. First, we meet Mitsuteru, and more importantly, Taiko, from Typhoon, a professional and highly-polished studio, who see Bunta’s demo and are impressed enough to try and lure him (and Yuki and Andou) away to join Typhoon and be miserable. They do this by posing as fellow amateur nerds and arrange a meetup. Why production-savvy Kuroda didn’t recognize the name or reputation before is not explained. So we now got a competition with consequences that would never make it in the real world. As annoying as all this is, the appearance of Kuroda’s brother, Iwao, and the discovery that their game is intended to pay off his debts, is even worse. How much money did they expect to make, anyway?

phantomworld11-1

After weeks of dull predictability and forced emotions, Musaigen no Phantom World 11 finally takes this formula and makes it work. Turning Haruhiku into a child wasn’t all that clever (though going to a grade school was a nice touch), turning him into something of a brat was a little better, but it took a nice little scene where he and Mai, his temporary mom, bonded a little over both being alone to lift the show above its normal level. For one thing, Mai got a chance to show her sweet, protective side. Also, need I say that the show looked even better than usual, not only the battle at the end, but the playing in the park scene.

teekyuu80-1

Teekyuu! 80 has Yuri out with a cold, so naturally the other girls go visit her and make trouble. And Kanae is the second show this post to work the Kansai-ben thing, though this episode is actually two weeks old. They’re still not at full steam, GPS of 3.14, but it’s not bad, and they actually worked in a beat gag this week. I didn’t think this show was capable of that. This show can do ANYTHING!

W and Phantom 10, KonoSuba 9, Teekyuu! 79

Whoops, it's not dead yet.
Whoops, it’s not dead yet.

Dimension W 10 brings us (and Kyouma) closer to the mystery of what happened years ago. First, Mira and the twins do a number on the robot that’s going after Kyouma, only to have it wake up again, only to have Kyouma wake up as well and finish the job. Why did he wake up? Because he tore that thing from his ear? But he was unconscious … Lwai shows up, sans arm, from wherever he was … Anyway, we learn that Adastrea was working on space development and transporters to get them there. And that dreams and memories connect us to Dimension W, but we already knew that. Meanwhile, in a sideshow, Loser and Jason Chrysler give us more info while duking it out. The heroes get closer to the labs, where everything is clean and the power is working, and we get a confrontation with KK and the brainwashed Yuri.

Sorry Doug, ol' buddy.
Sorry Doug, ol’ buddy.

There follows a longer, delightfully weird scene where KK fills in narrative gaps, plays a Dance Macabre as Wendy Carlos might arrange it as he does, while the good guys tackle Yuri and an old comrade of Kyouma’s, Doug, now a soulless monster. KK doesn’t seem to be the type to do mad scientist impersonations like this, being a hired gun and all, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. Kyouma figures out a little more, then catches up with KK and decks him, and another Lwai shows up (KK killed the first one). This is supposed to be the big surprise moment of the episode, coming at the end and all, but I wasn’t shocked at all. In fact, as fun as the episode was to watch, I don’t really feel a connection to anyone in it. This show does a lot of things very well, but it isn’t the best at making us care for anyone. Fun to watch, though, as usual.

phantomworld10-1

Musaigen no Phantom World 10 is another by-the-books episode about little trivial quirks about the characters, in this case Ruru’s size, made great to look at and little else. The firework phantom reminded me of the monsters in Nurse Witch Komugi-chan, but with a bigger conscience, and it struck me (finally) that this entire series is little more than a magical girl show without wands, or cards to collect, and even less of an overriding story arc.

Well, actually ...
Well, actually …

You might as well skip KonoSuba 9. Basically, Kazuma arranges for a sexy dream with a succubus club and real-life Darkness shows up at the wrong time and … So lots of unpleasant behavior by Kazuma, and lots of skin displayed by him and Darkness, oh, and the succubi. But next week we get a new invader. Good thing, too. This show’s been in a rut recently.

teekyuu79-1Teekyuu! 79 slips to an SPG of 3.75 in the exciting school lunch cooking battle. Maybe they concentrated too much on the plot this week …

Boku Dake 9, Komugi-chan R 8, Dagashi 7, Teekyuu 78

Bye Kayo!
Bye Kayo!

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi 9 sees the end of the Kayo story arc, if that’s the right thing to call it. The confrontation between Akemi, Kayo’s mom, and Sachiko … AND the children’s welfare people, goes along expected lines. Kayo is taken away (by nice people) and we may never see her again. This leaves Satoru with a bit of a dilemma. He needs now to save Hiromi and Aya, two people at once, and he can’t call on his friends to help because there’s no obvious reason to. Fortunately, the friends are saintly types, and one of them is Aya, so they agree to help even if they think he’s a little nuts. Not sure how he’s going to explain Aya, though. None of them know her. It’s here that the story might start getting implausible, but we’ll see. For now, let’s relax in the thought that Kayo is finally safe, probably. This show’s double-crossed us before.

nursewitch8-1

Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R 8 plays with what passes as the two stories going, and gets nowhere with either of them. You could call the monster-fighting a story, I suppose, but in most episodes that’s used as a plot device. The first story is the girls keeping their magical sides secret from each other. You wonder how long they’ll bother with it. Their mascots are the only ones that care, and we’ve seen that Komugi and Kokona aren’t against teaming up. But neither Kokona or Tsukasa and bring themselves to believe that ditzy Komugi is one of THEM, not that they know about each other, anyway. The other story is Tsukasa/Yuto as a pair, and it’s hampered by the typical romcom stuff: Tsukasa thinks Yuto’s in love with Komugi, while Yoto thinks Tsukasa’s in love with Kokona. Annoying to get through all that. Nice moon at the onsen, though.

dagashi7-1

Dagashi Kashi 7 (yes, I’m behind) eases up on the education and gives us a pleasant trip to the local festival. We do learn that dagashi is sometimes used in monjayaki, and there’s a brief foray into festival treats, but it’s more of an aside. Instead, we get You’s festival stall rivalry with a okonomiyaki girl, Hotaru’s splendid die-cutting work (you know, she IS cuter when she’s not talking, and having her bangs pulled away on one side doesn’t hurt, either), and the highlight, a nice walk-around with Kokonotsu and Saya, both of them happy as clams to spend time together, especially Saya, though there’s no movement on their romance. Did you expect any? Meanwhile, I’m still trying to figure out what makes Saya such an appealing character …

teekyuu78-1

After a few slow episodes, Teekyuu! 78 roars back with a SPG of 2.72. Excellent work. In this episode they go bowling and everyone likes to talk telepathically to Yuri, including, apparently, her bowling ball.

Gate 19, W 7, Dagashi 6, Teekyuu 77

It's going to be a serious episode ...
It’s going to be a serious episode …

Gate 19 starts with disturbing plans from the empire, then gets mostly silly. First we have Zorzal pronouncing himself emperor and raising the rabble against the green people, then meeting with his sneaky-looking generals about how to beat them using more underhanded, covert tactics, something they should have been doing long ago. Meanwhile that long-haired brother runs off to get other countries to help get rid of Zorzal, though that’s pretty much going to screw the empire, but as Diablo points out it’s pretty much screwed anyway. Pina is witness to both these situations and seethes a lot. I wonder how much she can actually do to prevent it. Apart from her efforts at peace with Japan, she’s never been a very forceful leader apart from her squad. So it’s all worrying and I want to see what happens next with their nefarious plans …

Oh, no it isn't.
Oh, no it isn’t.

And we don’t find out, as we immediately head out to that silly magician city Rondel to catch up on Lelei’s dissertation, a letdown after all the intrigue. The show makes it up to us by having Mimoza, who really ought to stop saying a-la so often, give us a general rundown on the fantasyland’s legends, all pointing to the gate opening and closing every millennia and letting a new race in, though they don’t explain why the last two races are human. If it opened on earth before, then where? An SCA event, perhaps. That would explain a lot. Anyway, we get some whining from Arpeggio about being an impoverished academic working on rocks while her younger sister goes out and contracts with large organizations and picks up practical experience, soup bowls are overturned, we get a destructive fight where the bystanders are hardly recompensed, while I wish they’d get back to the politics, and then it does just that.

On the other hand ...
On the other hand …

Not sure who ordered the assassin. Zorzal, possibly, out of jealousy, because Lelei’s popularity is a threat, or Tyuule, to pin it on Zorzal. No matter who it is, the one they hired wasn’t very effective. You don’t really need to walk up close to the victim if you have a crossbow, especially when she’s surrounded by armed friends. So Youji, making the first decision he’s had to make the entire episode, announces they’ll run for it. Another mystery, as is why Pina wanted Lelei at the palace in the first place, but that one’s probably just slipped my mind.

Miyabi, NOOOO!
Miyabi, NOOOO!

So that was fun, and so is Dimension W 7 … well, the first part isn’t. We learn why Kyouma hates coils so much. Turns out he was once the star of a “Juvenile delinquent is saved by good girl with a tragic disease” story. The girl, Miyabi, can possibly be saved if she’s given an artificial body, so Kyouma enlists in the Grendels more or less in exchange for that. He goes to Easter Island on that doomed mission … and mysteries happen. He can’t remember what happened after a point. At the same time, Dimension W takes Miyabi’s head. Tell me that’s not a coincidence, and the fact that it probably isn’t, and that I suspect he’ll meet Miyabi in some bodyless form later, rescues what would have been a dismal tragic backstory.

dimensionw7-2

Cut to the present, where all these oddball collectors have gathered at Salva’s request to travel to Easter Island to snatch an individual coil away. The collectors are the usual, arrogant types we see in these shows, but they don’t seem to hate each other. I guess they were too busy giving us exposition to argue. Still, I expect a few deadly duels before the arc is over. The exposition is interesting, however. The island, where Tesla’s experiential facilities were once headquartered before, you know, is a dead zone where coils don’t work, except for THAT one. More interesting to me is the thought that coils convert the unused potentialities of a situation into energy, and when possibilities materialize, they act up. So the more possibilities the crazier it will get. Then it ought to love this episode, because the plane carrying all the collectors except for Kyouma gets attacked by a blue thing and goes down. Are the collectors all right? Does this mean Kyouma has an advantage? Is that glowing thing they spotted Miyabi’s head? So many possibilities!

Yoguret brings up painful memories.
Yoguret brings up painful memories.

Dagashi Kashi 6 starts with dagashi you can play with before you eat it, though the idea of eating Himo Q after playing with it is kind of gross. Also, Maken Gumi was crap for rock-paper-scissors. Ohajiki you can’t eat, I believe, so I don’t know why they brought it up. We then switch the first winter scene the show’s offered us yet, a flashback to Saya desperately wanting to play doctor with Kokonatsu, and featuring Yoguret, maybe the only dagashi that’s actually good for you, and made by a pharmaceutical company. It’s a predictable but cute scene and shows us that the boy Kokonatsu was as dense as the teen one.

teekyuu77-1

Teekyuu! 77 is a disappointment. Much of the story is taken by a brown bear getting ready for hibernation, and the jokes don’t come very fast. SPG of only 3.91. But I learned that bears stick a cork up their butt to keep themselves from pooping before they hibernate. This show is almost as educational as Dagashi Kashi!

Catching up: Koyomimonogatari, Dimension W, Teekyuu (somewhat)

First, Koyomimonogatari.

koyomimonogatari4-1

Episode 4 brings us back to Araragi helping to clean Kanbaru’s room, way back when, and follows it along with the usual come-ons and Araragi taking a bath and hearing a tale about Kanbaru’s father seeing a girl’s reflection in the water. When not part of a flow of larger things these little episodes seem inconsequential, even trivial, or rather, I should say that the regular story lines are littered with little trivial things like this story but we don’t really notice. Not that this new series isn’t fun to watch, they just don’t bear the same collective weight that the previous series do. But who cares? We have Kanbaru doing her thing and that’s good enough for twelve minutes.

She just got there.
She just got there.

I liked episode 5 better. Nadeko goes to Araragi’s house for a party to wrap up the Kaiki business. And among the blushing, underaged sweetness that is Nakeko we get a discussion on how rumors spread, while the popcorn metaphor takes us from a party to a movie. Then it’s Kaiki at the donut shop with Araragi and Shinobu, another little conversation that would have inserted itself before, after, or in-between that scene from Nisemonogatari, like a little digression before the characters take up the main theme again. It’s sort of fun to imagine these conversations snaking around the ones we’ve already seen.

koyomimonogatari6-1

While episode 6, in one way, ties in with the concept of rumors in episode 5. The tree that no one had noticed before was going to be chopped down because it’s scary, no one had noticed it before. Hanekawa comes up with a lie that the tree’s wood was used to build the dojo, so it would be disrespectful to pull it down. Not really the same as Kaiki’s theory of troubled hearts being the easiest to lie to, but the people in the dojo were in an unsettled state and thus perhaps more willing to listen to a lie. Araragi points out that maybe they had now made the tree an oddity–nice touch. And we have Karen physically and verbally abusing Araragi, and teasing us with fanservice, to open the episode.

After two weeks I'm a little hazy too, sorry.
After two weeks I’m a little hazy too, sorry.

I waited too long to get back to Dimension W. After two weeks the interesting mystery they were working on is completely lost on me. But I suspect I might have been a little bewildered anyway. The coils and Dimension W, not to mention the strange water, managed to keep an alternate reality alive. I suppose I don’t have to really understand that part, and the business about long-lost daughters didn’t interest me very much anyway. I will say that I think they could have taken another episode for this arc and made it feel less rushed. Also, I continue to be impressed by what an excellent plot tool Dimension W is.

I could follow everything in episode 6 except what the hell this girl is doing there.
I could follow everything in episode 6 except what the hell this girl is doing there.

The dimension doesn’t do much in episode 6; instead we get a lot of plot threads set up. Prince Salva-Enna-Tibesti-Kiss-Shot-Heart-Under-Blade (wait, that’s not right, just call him Salva), a big jerk from Africa, comes to Japan to secretly challenge people who won’t be scared into some event on Easter Island. We find out his motives at the end, the rest is Kyouma being befriended against his will by who appears to be Salva’s younger brother, plus we meet Tsubaki, Kyouma’s sister and apparently the only person he’s afraid of, and there’s talk of him finally wanting to face his dark past and the memories he’s suppressed. We also get hints of Mira’s unknown origins, which Salva might actually know. It’s all setup for now, and I’ll be sure not to wait two weeks before I watch the next episode.

teekyuu75-1

Teekyuu 75 scores a 3.214 SPG, off their best work but not bad. In it, Yuri and Kanae hike in the mountains and Kanae nearly dies but no one, not even those involved in the show, know how.

teekyuu76-1

#76 slips to 3.33, as all the girls together decide to diet. You can figure out how THAT’S going to turn out.

3’s, 4’s, and 5’s: Kono subarashii, Phantom World, Boku Dake, and Teekyuu 74

Continuing my desperate catch-up …

... which I will laugh at.
… which I will laugh at.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku Wo! Is turning into a nice, silly comedy. Episode two introduced Megumin, a arch mage or something like that, with one very formidable power that takes FOREVER to conjure up (I think the show’s already cutting it shorter by ep3, though I’d like to see them work it more as a gag, like the endless stories in OPM) and only be used once a day. Ep3 introduces Darkness, a crusader who can’t hit anything but isn’t afraid to take punishment, in fact, she loves it. Your usual bunch of weirdos in an anime comedy series. Fortunately, so far this show is an example of simple craft overcoming shortcomings, that is, the gags are mostly funny and well-timed (I especially like Jun Fukushima as Kazuma with his side comments and exclamations of alarm), and it looks just good enough moves just well enough to carry the story. Sure, we got a panty skit in ep3, but they didn’t stretch it out, so to speak.

Guess whose explosions have been annoying the demon general ...
Guess whose explosions have been annoying the demon general …

Oh, episode 4 came as I writing that. Well, more of the same. Good gags and reactions from everyone, especially Kazuma. For a while I didn’t know if this would be a two-parter or not; they were getting close to the end and Kazuma and Megumin were still talking about going to lift the curse placed on Darkness (who seemed happy about it, of course) by Celty’s relation. It could end with a gag, or the big quest and I could hope they could steal that guy’s head, though I didn’t think the show would do it. So when the end came I was a little let down. But again I’m having too much fun watching everyone screw up.

phantomworld4-1

Back around to Musaigen no Phantom World. Not sure what to think about episode four. On one hand I thought it was worked extremely well. The story (Reina’s unhappy home life makes her a victim of a phantom that provides her with a happier, bunny-eared one) is certainly not new, but when she had to say goodbye to the fake family at the end it was a strong emotional moment, more than for other stories of this type. And the fantasy world looked fantastic, out of a painting. So no complaints there. On the other hand the episode takes the easy way out in some ways. Haruhiko and Mai getting sucked into the world was well-done, but just announcing that bathrooms are often portals and using that as an escape route was sort of cheap. And at the end Reina told her parents about the club and they’re okay with it, in spite of what we heard before, and it was treated as an afterthought. Wasted opportunity there. They could use her parents as an obstacle in a later story.

phantomworld5-1

#5 feels the same way. It’s a “follow the rude, distant team member into a situation where she has to rely on her teammates so she has to apologize and blush adorably” episode. Again, it seems to make mistakes. We’re told at the end that this monster wasn’t the same as THAT monster (the one who killed the bunny and forced little Minase to manifest her powers), and it’s treated like a major mistake. But even if everyone had known this from the start, why wouldn’t Minase have jumped at the chance to take the phantom down? Even if wasn’t the same one, it was the same species, and it was threatening the same things. Still, it looked as good as before, and it was nice to see the little girl in action finally.

bokudake4-1

Things were too good in Boku Dake ga Inai Machi 4. Little by little, things were getting better for Kayo’s prospects. Sachiko, being a cool mom, interfered with Kayo’s abuse, at least for a while. While Satoru, determined to keep Kayo safe, practically never leaves her side for a couple days, in spite of the reaction of his classmates (though his friends are more supportive), and because of this, Kayo was beginning to open up. It led to a happy birthday party with everyone, and Satoru believing he had saved her life. Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the bad news.

bokudake5-1

In this case, it’s that Satoru did indeed keep Kayo alive on that day, so she got killed two days later. There’s a sick, twisted hint of the inevitability of Kayo’s death no matter what that pisses me off, but what I find most interesting is that we know who her killer is this time, and it wasn’t the same one we all thought. In all this thinking about stopping serial killers I had become blind to the thought that there could be more than one threat to her life. And so the show becomes more than just a time-traveling “stop the murderer” story and reemphasizes its concern for children and anger at the people who would hurt them. As for the story now, well, it’s getting a little ridiculous. How much reach does that killer have to set fire to Airi’s home? And why would he even want to do it? Well, we have a pretty good guess as to just who did it now. Just have to nail him. Sadly, the adults in the modern world seem to be about as powerless as the kids in the past.

teekyuu74-1

I’m far behind with Teekyuu!, but in order to spread out the joy I’ll just do one episode now. #74 feels like it drags, or I’m tired, but it had an excellent SPG of 2.815. Only Yuri and Kanae this week, picking delicious fruit like durian and what you see in the pic above.