Finales: Tokyo ESP, Free2, Hanayamata

Tokyo ESP ends in about as ridiculous fashion as you would expect.

Just when I thought things couldn't get goofier ...
Just when I thought things couldn’t get goofier …

Episode 11 brings us right around to episode 1, with the parliament in the air, literally, and people rushing to get there and find a way to stop these unstoppable bad guys, who, as it turns out, could be stopped quite easily when you get the right ESPer for the situation. You could say that it’s a way for the show to save animation costs, but it’s always fun to watch good guys beat up bad guys, and what’s more, Rinka did all that beating up without any ESP powers at all. Meanwhile Kyoutaru gets some unexpected help from, er … I told you it would be ridiculous.


And then we get the expected Rinka/Minami rematch, which was actually some crossing of blades in between speeches about Kyoutarou, good and evil, the show’s usual stuff. The physical fight is pretty much a draw, while Rinka wins the debate by simply not being on the side of a smug, superpowered meglomaniac who plays the piano badly and has the worst lines I’ve heard from a villain in some time. Meanwhile, in the side battle, two kids make short work of Hokusai’s nastiest henchman, including the one holding up the building (which they knew), and there’s some uninteresting effort to stop lots of people from getting crushed. Then another debate, between Koutarou and his new best buddy albatross, and Minami, and then some even weirder people show up, and well, does it matter?

and catch that goldfish!
and catch that goldfish!

The “Professor’s” mad scheme to make a lot more espers doesn’t sound too bad to me. The only people who might argue are those who insist on “us” and “them.” If it becomes “we,” then no problem. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t take that route, and neither do the new espers, all of them apparently lawless. But realism and logic have never meant much to this show. This absence of normality was also one of its charms. It was, in spite of the violence, a cheerful, goofy show, with flying penguins and talking albatrosses and ninja masters in panda suits. And the good guys goofily believed in good and executed violence for its cause. The bad guys fought for evil, or whatever, and had terrible lines. I can’t make myself dislike this show too much.


Free! Eternal Summer has the expected climax, the big race in the nationals. It’s about as joyous and fun to watch as the season one finale was, each boy finding what they want while they have their final race together, and, just like Ping Pong, it really didn’t matter how they did, and the show finally tells us via a framed picture on the wall, again like Ping Pong. While that bit, and the aftermath where everyone goes their separate ways and keeps working, was immensely satisfying, the stuff that came before wasn’t.


There was no real no urgency to it. Season one’s arch rival, Rin, was now their closest ally. Haru had pretty much solved his problems in episode twelve. That left us a dull scene where he had to explain what his problems were and everyone had to verify their friendship, especially Makoto. Then there was an even worse scene the night before finals where they basically recapped both seasons in a “Hey, remember when so-and-so …” style that had me consider fast-forwarding, something I almost never do. Well, they pulled out the nice ending, and I’ll say that, like K-ON!! and unlike Chuu2koi, they found reasons to make a season 2 necessary. Graduation is a nice built-in plot device, isn’t it? But I’m glad the series is over, time to give it a rest. Looking forward to Kyoani’s new show.

You're late, Hana!
You’re late, Hana!

Hanayamata 12, like Free!, sticks the landing. It felt a little odd. The girls were prepared to do the festival show without Hana, and there was a nice bit where Naru gives Machi a pep talk, and everyone else is surprised that it’s Naru giving the pep talk, how much she’s grown, etc, and it occurred to me that it might be appropriate for Hana NOT to be there. As they say, Hana might have started the yosakoi club, but it kept going and acquired new members mainly because of Naru. But I suppose that would be unfair to Hana, and the girls want to perform all together, and this is a show with happy, sappy overtones. So here comes Hana!


I could have done without the “will she make it?” business and the rushing about, but it did give a momentum to things when the music plays and Hana leaps onstage just when the music hits the chorus, well-timed! After that it was dancing, fireworks, and happy-happy, and I was sucked back into the series, for the first time in a while. Never mind all those invented dramas that came before it, or that Hana wasn’t the fairy she seemed to be … I wrote in my introduction to this series that it had cast spell on me that began when the OP hits the chorus and the girls start dancing. It turns out that it was the OP casting the spell. The story that came afterwards could get pretty dismal. But at least they put together a lovely final performance that lives up to that song. But I wonder if the series is casting about for another season. I hope not. It would be about as unnecessary as some other season twos I mentioned in this post. Let’s leave it as it is.


Zankyou 9, Glasslip 11, Tokyo ESP 10

Zankyou no Terror 9 is mainly two deceptively quiet scenes that are extremely powerful and just fly by, leaving me wanting more.


In the first scene Shibazaki and Hamura visit Souta Aoki, one of the one’s responsible for the Athena Project, and he spills the beans. Simple as that. And we the viewer probably didn’t need to learn the information because we’ve already been clued in, apart from the Dr. Mamiya bit. But there are other things going on. Obviously, there are the two cops’ reactions to the information, rage on Hamura’s part and a sort of resigned, mild surprise on Shibazaki’s. Also, Aoki seems to be unburdening himself for the first time in years. His calmness and his age suggest that he has fully accepted that he is a sort of monster, one who is too old to care. Finally, his confession puts all three men in danger, and they’re all aware of it. I expected a gunshot through the window at every moment. When the scene was over, to my surprise, I discovered that half the episode was done.

The rain has stopped.  The moon is out.
The rain has stopped. The moon is out.

The second scene had Twelve racing to rescue Lisa, who’s shackled inside a ferris wheel car with a bomb strapped to her. While Twelve defuses the bombs they talk. Lisa apologizes, Twelve forgives her. What makes this scene beautiful to watch is that there are too many bombs on Lisa for Twelve to defuse before the clock on her chest gets to zero. He knows it, but doesn’t tell her, just keeps working, gently, like a doctor slowly treating an hurt patient. Also there’s another lovely Yoko Kanno song playing, almost a lament, timed perfectly at the point where Lisa realizes why Twelve willingly walked into this trap, at which point the camera pulls back, so we can see most of the wheel, a completely unnecessary and beautiful moment. Certainly the most romantic bomb-defusing scene I’ve ever seen … Five’s rude phone call and Twelve’s “betrayal” of Nine (I’m not buying that just yet–Nine’s got something up his sleeve), and Five’s collapse, you know, plot, felt like an intrusion after what we’d seen. There you are. Two scenes that could have been nothing, made amazing by creators who know what they’re doing.


With episode 11 of Glasslip, our three sort-of couples are back together, but none of them can be considered a couple yet. Hiro and Sachi are going at their own pace–up a mountain, Yukinari and Yanagi are running together with the latter sitting in on the former’s dance class, and Touko and Kakeru are conducting “experiments.” Apart from that kiss last episode, which is not elaborated upon, the romance with all three is uncertain. But maybe they’re close enough for them to see the snowflakes that Touko keeps seeing. Hell, everyone should be able to see it. It’s actually sticking. I was briefly reminded of Nagi no Asukara and expected someone to jump into the sea … wait, didn’t Touko “see” Kakeru fall once? Maybe he’ll fall in and get rescued by Hikari or Shisaki, complicating both plotlines.


But Touko is having different hallucinations as well. Now she’s seeing fireworks in the glass beads, and, weirdly, Kakeru can see them too. And we can hear them. Touko seems to think it means that Kakeru will be with her next summer instead of going off around the world with her mom, but I’m thinking it might be a flashBACK instead, to the first moments they were together. If so, they’ve moved past something, but things are too unsettled with Kakeru now. He still has conversations with his double, fragments of himself, I guess, and besides, his mom hasn’t finished her recital yet. Who knows what more they have to do in the two episodes remaining?

No, it's just you.
No, it’s just you.

Tokyo Esp 10 starts with Rinka’s capture, followed by a catchup thanks to the Panda. Still looks bleak. We also have Kyotarou trying to escape, which leads to Minami’s flashback, where we learn how Azuma became a murdering shithead. It’s standard Sweeney Todd stuff, murdered wife and friends and a government cover-up, so everyone must die. We DO learn where the goldfish come from–the arc of the covenant, of course! It even looks like the one in the movie. More interesting, though only by default, is Kyotarou’s “What would Rinka do?” bit, because it nicely pushes away justifications of the insane. Too bad he’s still stuck on that island.

Glasslip 10, Tokyo ESP 9, Aldnoah 10

Glasslip 10’s quiet little moments felt especially enjoyable this week, so I was a little sad when they had to do some plot at the end.

Surprised to see these two talking together.
Surprised to see these two talking together.

We start with a continuation of the confession in the tower, where Sachi says she’s confessing her love to both of them. That’s perfectly all right with them, and does nothing more than reaffirm their friendship and solidify the notion that Sachi is a little weird. At least she doesn’t seem to be up to anything now. Later, to prove it, Kakeru comes to visit her and they talk almost like friends about Touko’s ability with shiny objects. I don’t know how she knew, but maybe I missed something. What’s especially nice is Sachi’s acceptance of Kakeru needing Touko, because she does as well, still, an odd little scene. Speaking of weirdness, Yukinari returns home from training camp looks at the cryptic messages Yanagi’s been sending her, and they match up perfectly with what he’s seeing now. Perhaps they’re making a point that if nothing ever changes, the present can look like the future. Still, it’s uncanny. Three cats, two white, one black …

It's snowing, in Touko's head, so Kakeru can kiss her now, right?
It’s snowing, in Touko’s head, so Kakeru can kiss her now, right?

Also among the quiet nothing scenes (my favorite being an odd non-conversation between Hiro and Kakeru, where both seem prepared to talk about things but don’t know what to say), Touko has a chat with Kakeru’s parents (odd conversational pair-ups this week: Kakeru and Hiro, Kakeru and Sachi, Touko and Kakeru’s parents …) and realize how his circumstances might make him feel isolated. Also, Yanagi’s running, now witnessed by Yukinari. But finally the show gets some serious plot done and get Touko and Kakeru together again, while she’s hallucinating snow and looking for a chicken. Even now that they’ve kissed it seems unclear to me whether they’re together romantically or not. It could have been an experiment in fulfilling one of Touko’s visions, though it was snowing then … well, it’s snowing in the scene, too, but only in her head … Argh, I think on one level or another I’m never going to fully understand this series, but it can be fun to watch.


I figured Tokyo ESP 9 would be pretty depressing, but the show was clever at making it more so. The girls (and one guy we never see again) waltz into the school, terrorize the students, and proceed to beat the crap out of Rinka when she tries to intervene. Sure enough, Azuma joins in, holding poor Rinka up so they can pound her some more, though I don’t think it’s from anything sneaky they did while he was captive, he’s just another innocent party, mesmerized by one of the espers. Here, maybe the show takes a couple of missteps. In true anime fashion, he snaps out of it, but it’s pointless, because he’s whisked away by Minami, who doesn’t kill him, because maybe she likes him, though the episode takes great pains through flashbacks at showing how devoted she is to her dad. Anyway, Rinka’s “dead” and loses her powers, Peggy is captured, Azuma’s a long way away, and it’s all depressing. I guess I can live with Minami’s actions. After all, she did take Azuma out of the action.


The show does a clever turn to make it even more cheerful by having the government rush through their anti-esper bill, meaning the police storm in on the recovering Rinka (her heart stopped for several minutes. No big deal), her dad, panda-sensei, etc., so now Rinka’s on the run from just about everyone. So is Kuroi, though Murasaki manages to reach her dad. The others, for now, are out of the picture. I’m trying to guess how they’ll get out of this. Rinka’s got to get her powers back, we’ve got Azuma, Murasaki and Ayuma still uncaught, as far as we know. And three episodes to do it all in.

Asseylum adds to Rayet's insanity without meaning to.
Asseylum adds to Rayet’s insanity without meaning to.

Aldnoah.Zero 10 begins with what we all expected. Inaho manages to revive Asseylum, though the ship I guess needs a full reboot, and then it’s time for Rayet to explain herself. We have a standoff (Rayet manages to get a gun) while she gives a speech that makes little sense, but we cut her slack because the balance of right and wrong have gone screwy in her head. She was a martian trying to take over earth, which led her father to try and kill a martian, messed-up enough, but then the martian princess doesn’t change her attitude but instead blames herself. No wonder Rayet winds up pointing the gun at her own head. Inaho, who is annoyingly everywhere he needs to be again, puts a stop to that. I’m also trying to figure out if there was any meaning to the fact that both assailant and victim wore nothing but white towels during this entire section.

A flashback to the partial orgins of Saazbaum's own insanity.
A flashback to the partial orgins of Saazbaum’s own insanity.

Later, we have a scene or two between Slaine and the more traditionally crazy Saazbaum. He gives his motives for invading the Earth–his fiancee was killed during the disaster caused by their side while they were invading the Earth the first time, and Mars is impoverished. I thought he had sworn revenge on the emperor? Or is he going after Asseylum only? He also leaves Slaine to his own devices, probably a bad idea, but Saazbaum is thinking about as logically as Rayet is, though he doesn’t have the excuses she has. Anyway, Saazbaum’s going to attack the Earth’s last stronghold. The good guys, including Asseylum, are obviously going to fight back. We know where the finale is headed.

Tokyo ESP 8, Glasslip 9, Free! 9, Space Dandy 8

I get that way when i study, too.
I get that way when i study, too.

Tokyo ESP 8 is a mixed back of little events to set things up for what looks to be a big battle arc. The Professor and Minami go to work recruiting other people who have taken the goldfish, so to speak, one of them completely indifferent, another a sympathetic victim. Since they must murder someone in order to join, one of them goes for Rinka and gets her ass handed to her, I guess to establish how Rinka’s grown or to get us in on the bad guys’ plan, or both, or neither. Too bad there was a long and pointless Rinka in the amusement park scene before it. They also let Azuma go, a move so weird that everyone on both sides is confused by it, including Azuma. Obviously, they’ve done something to him, but the show has given us no hint of that. All they’ve done is bring him food, keep him from leaving, and argue good vs. evil from time to time. The latter scenes do nothing but exhibit the almost random evil platitudes the bad guys live by. My favorite is that doing good is nothing but arrogance, or something like that. Anyway, he’s out and going back to school, and so are the evil girls, but not for the same reason. And on the WTF level this week, they captured Ayumu being an esper on camera, but no one has noticed that he’s a notable anti-esper’s son.


Glasslip 9 has more small events interrupted by bigger ones. The big one might be Kakeru’s inability to hear the “fragments,” something that certainly has to do with his mom showing up and hanging around the house. It could simply be the desire to be a part of a family, fulfilled when she’s there (Indeed, his father seems pretty lonely when she’s not around). But she’s leaving again for a long time soon; we’ll see what happens then. Apart from that, we get Yanagi sending Yuki weird poetic texts that I thought were invitations to meet up at first, but no, they’re just weird texts. This is outside her normal behavior, but Yuki doesn’t seem to mind. The final big moment leaves me confused. Sachan invites Hiro and Touko to hang out on a museum balcony after closing to look at the moon, and suddenly they’re discussing Natsume Sousuke and how he translates “love.” “Tsuki kirei da yo?” and suddenly both Touko and Hiro are slowly turning to her like she said something important. Was it a confession to Hiro? With Touko there? Was she expressing her love to both of them, as a way of making up for her earlier meddling? I have no idea.


Free! Endless Summer 9 was blatant in foreshadowing what would happen this episode. All the talk of college scouts, and the principal declaring him the pride of the school finally got to Haruka. They started the pressure early and kept up the entire time. I wonder, however, if Rin was being his most tactful by talking about scouts and the future between a big race. Surely that can wait until after. In fact, that’s the message Haru should have gotten before, but no one had the brains to tell him. But oddly enough Haru didn’t crack from trying to achieve, instead he lost track of the reasons he wants to swim. He should have been smart enough to ignore all that. And the way he cracked was a splendid moment. He just stopped swimming. As for the other crisis, involving Sousuke’s shoulder, they didn’t get to his race this week, meaning he gets to grimace in pain for longer. Cruel show.


In Space Dandy 8, Dandy finds himself in Limbo, a strange place even by this show’s standards. We pretty much figure out what’s going on at the start, but as the one guy says, some people go hundreds of years before they realize they’re dead. While he gets to the conclusion, or rather, is told it by bizarre characters who could have said it from the start, we see him visit all sorts of bizarre places. The series lives up to its capability this week: each thing we see is weirder than the last, and while we marvel at what the artists and designers have brought in this week we begin to wonder things, and not just “who is that girl?” Why the repetitive talk about living only as a prequel to dying? Was the couple at the dinner table trying to feed him hints? What about the chorus of slug-things chanting like monks about life being an avoidance of death? And what about the girl maybe (because who knows?) sacrificing herself to save him, or what she experiences after that? Was that a hallucination before death? Was the entire planet a hallucination before death? Well, it was a very good episode, and there’s no rule that says it had to explain itself to my satisfaction.

Zankyou and Tokyo ESP 7, Glasslip and SAO2 8

It was suggested to me that Zankyou no Terror 7 was going to have a lot of running around in airports. That proved to be the case, but the show did a terrific job of salvaging what could have been a dire bunch of scenes.

The best part is she's surprised.
The best part is she’s surprised.

The “chess match” business was ridiculous last week, and just as much this week (not to mention ultimately pointless), and so was the searching, but to help the scene out, Nine and Twelve weren’t just running around and waiting for the next move. They had a countermove of sorts, to capture some security camera footage and loop it so that no one really knew where they were. Also, they got Lisa involved, though she wound up as more or less a pawn in this chess match, causing a distraction but then getting captured by the asshole forces and stuck on a plane where the bomb was. Also helping throughout was a terrific, understated jazz piece that worked busily underneath and gently raised the tension without calling undue attention to itself. It actually makes me want to watch all that running around again. Every anime is better when Yoko Kanno is involved.


The bomb searching, plus the mind games, was as well done as possible. Nothing much else was accomplished except now the bad guys know who Lisa is. But I’m curious about the fallout from Shibazaki and his colleagues interfering in Five’s evil plot, since he wasn’t supposed to be there. Everyone knows now that NEST is destructive and out of control, or at least Five is, but they still have authority. The Tokyo police force does not, no matter how many lives they saved this week. So what will happen to them? On the other hand, the irony of Shibazaki and Nine teaming up prevent a disaster wasn’t terribly effective. I figured it would happen when Five showed up. The bigger irony of authority figures acting without restraint comes when you look at the news from Ferguson this week. Still, a very good episode.


Tokyo ESP had more training, lots of Rinka getting tossed about by this middle-school kid Ayumu, because he has precognition. So she finds a way to turn the tables by not attacking, forcing him to attack and leaving an opening, or something. So in the rematch he could just not attack, I suppose, but he’s bored and wants to get it over with, and we learn that this over-thinking makes him a slow combatant. More amusing is his anti-esper mother being attacked by an Esper and he and Murasaki taking him down. Amusing because even with his precog he can’t figure out a good end, until he THINKS of a way. Nice job of showing both the strengths and weaknesses of his abilities. Also Murasaki has become a hell of a lot of fun since discovering she can read the history of a weapon and perform its best moves, and her dad is a kung-fu nut. Nothing else in the overall plot happens apart from the inevitable Asuma/Minami scene, which goes no further than all the others.

Another scary premonition for Touko.
Another scary premonition for Touko.

I’ve completely lost track of the symbols and metaphors in Glasslip. Episode 8 had the characters all doing the little things they were doing before and I tried to figure out a purpose for any of it. There was maybe the point of false assumptions, suggested earlier when Touko envisioned Sachi in the hospital and this time with Yukinari not running past the middle school, leading the girls (and others) to assume he’s not running, when in fact he was–at a track team training camp. But maybe that has nothing to do with anything. Instead, Yanagi deliberately runs the same route … at which point I gave up. One or two points that stood out, apart from the strange scene where Yanagi walks around her house naked (with more of those frozen images–WTF?): Sachi and Yanagi are beginning to guess at the secret that Touko and Kakeru share, and Touko’s visions are getting darker and more threatening. So I guess something’s coming to a head, but I have no idea what it is.


Sword Art Online 8 only gets interesting in the second half as we watch the Bullet of Bullets final melee unfold. After watching Sinon in action for a while she is ambushed in a non-threatening manner by Kirito so he can see the battle below unfold and Death Gun show up. It’s interesting because we see how DG works–stunning his victim first than doing some ritual thing before pulling the fatal trigger. And the show wisely leaves it like that, as a cliffhanger, so we don’t get to see if Sinon or Kirito will interfere in time. I’m interested in why this supposedly overly-powerful character hasn’t seen them yet, or maybe he has. Up to the battle it’s more of Kirito begging the annoyed Sinon for information about the final round and combatants and Sinon wondering what’s up with him, leading to more tsundere moments. Meanwhile, we don’t get to see anything going on in the real world. Just as well, but again I wish they had involved Asuna more. The first series was better when the two of them were together.

Glasslip 7, Tankyou and Tokyo ESP 6

Glasslip 7 has the same nonchalant tone as the others have had, but they throw in some extra weirdness right at the start.

One of him was too many, and now ...
One of him was too many, and now …

Something like this makes the viewer stand up and take notice, but we’re not told the reason why there’s extra Kakerus around. The other two of him are unwelcome, but not threatening. He tells them he doesn’t hate them, and he’s perfectly relaxed while the others are there. All I can figure here is that this is a manifestation to his being “broken,” though I think it’s rather late to throw this sort of visual metaphor in the series. Anyway, they show up twice and vanish just as quickly. Elsewhere on the weird front, Kouto has another couple of visions, one of them of Kakeru falling (with that Escher print of birds turning to fish in the background), and she becomes freaked out for his sake. “Don’t go anywhere high!” But, seriously, he could be falling into the ocean from a pier. They WERE planning a beach gathering later … The second one involves Yanagi and a big flock of crows, and it’s the most surreal of the lot, suggesting these visions aren’t actually reality. Hmm, bird prints, crows, chickens, that nest, the odd hawk in the sky. Maybe we ought to keep an eye on the birds in this series.

The scariest vision yet.
The scariest vision yet.

The other big running whatever-it-is this week is Yukinari’s attractiveness. A bunch of middle-school girls thinks he hot, Hina certainly thinks so, and urges him to “stay attractive” in might be the weirdest scene of the episode. And Yanagi, just before crows show up, tells Kakeru that he’s the reason Yukinari’s no longer attractive. Kind of like the three Kakerus, this metaphor is new to the series and isn’t developed further than the repeated use of the word. On to the happy couple. Sachi disappoints Hiro (and us) by scheming to crash Touko and Kakeru’s beach date. This is so surprisingly underhanded of her that we can only gape like Hiro does. On the other hand, it leads to an affirmation of Touko’s earlier vision, as Sachi sits there sadly, in her pajamas, on a hospital bed. On the other hand, at least she’s not getting sicker. Touko ought to learn that these visions are easily misconstrued, or maybe that’s another theme the show’s working on.

Oh, not another game ...
Oh, not another game …

Zankyou no Terror 6 is supposed to make me go wow at the irony of the two boy terrorists racing to Haneda Airport in order to stop a bomb, but the whole thing just irritates me. The reasoning for Twelve and Nine to stop a bomb going off in their name doesn’t hold up. They don’t think anyone would believe them, and I say they ought to make another video refusing responsibility and let the two factions above them duke it out. Unless it’s Nine deciding he has to interfere because it’s Five, and there it fails again because they haven’t told us enough. I’m more curious about the white-hair blowing up, or whatever the hell she did, the event itself, than I am about Nine’s conflicted guilt. Maybe if we knew more we could care.


I’m also irritated by the ridiculous chess game Five is having them play. First, the last remaining piece will tell them where the bomb is? That’s not how the game works unless one side is playing not to win and the other knows it. On the other hand, I am very interested in how Shibazaki and his rogue buddies are going to interfere, if they can, and what the ramifications will be if they do. Right now the police have been shoved aside by FBI (and isn’t their restriction limited? What about saying Homeland Security, or NSA?), forces that don’t give a shit about civilian lives, and their struggle to save those lives and their own dignity have a greater impact on me than anything those kids can come up with.


I thought Tokyo ESP 6 was going to take its turn and have the good guys beat up the bad guys, but instead the good guys, well, Rinka and Murasaki anyway, have to get some special training and a lot of speeches about motivation. So after a dark beginning where Rinka has to choose between rescuing Azuma and saving lives, she goes around saying she has no motivation, when she already has plenty, and getting training from a perverted martial arts master in a panda costume, once again mixing the serious and the silly, though not very well. I guess it’s a laugh after all bad stuff. She also gets a speech from Kuroi and is introduced to a new sparring partner who looks so much like Murasaki that I thought they were the same person. So I figure next week the first scene will be the new guy kicking Rinka’s butt for a while.

Tokyo ESP 5, SAO 5-6, Aldnoah 6

Esper overboard!
Esper overboard!

Looks like Tokyo ESP is falling into a routine. In one episode the bad guys beat up the good guys. In the next, the good guys beat up the bad. Episode 5 falls into the former category, where we’re introduced to another dull villain with a good super power. He calls himself “The Professor,” and his speeches are as bad as the name he gave himself. When waiting for the good guys to arrive he does things like play pianos in the jungle–both illusions, but they show his crappy sense of style. What he wants is for everyone to kneel before him, of course, but right now he wants an esper zone for the city. To that effect he has a tanker floating just off of Tokyo Tower and when the good guys arrive to figure out what’s going on, they’re more or less taken care of. However, I don’t think the villains expected Azuma to rip his hand free from the sword in an effort to escape, proving that the good guys are better at taking pain than the bad guys. We’re also supposed to ponder the Minami/Azuma relationship and their convoluted background, but she could just dive off that tanker for all I care. They’re not handling that part of the story very well.

Let's move along, shall we?
Let’s move along, shall we?

Sword Art Online 2 5 has the inevitable and unwanted “You’re a guy?!?!” scene early on. I suppose it’s good to get it out of the way, just so there’s no further misunderstanding between Kirito and Sinon. I wish, however, that they didn’t have to put it in a dressing room, with an overly long bit where Sinon stands there, shocked, in her underwear. I suppose the show couldn’t resist, but they stretch it too far. I wished for a moment that it was another series, like Love Hina, and Sinon would kick his ass the way Naru regularly did to Keitaro. But afterwards the episode gets much better, when Kirito gets his first round opponent, and the first actual battle he’s had in GGO.


It’s better because we see what Kirito does best: fight and strategize. We see him at an apparent disadvantage, trying to figure out what to do and using his experience to decide, and his skills to carry out his plan. It moves the plot forward too, as Death Gun (god I hate that name, I hate even typing it) takes notice and confronts Kirito after the match. Kirito realizes then what he’s dealing with, and he goes into a serious funk. This sequence also goes on too long. We didn’t need to see ALL of those people from the SAO game in a flashback. And you would have thought by now that Kirito had come to terms with the killing (in self defense) he did back then.


But in episode 6, Sinon, his new enemy, settles him down, somewhat. Kirito’s behavior in the next round is nearly suicidal, like he doesn’t realize he’s playing in a game, and then he just snaps. It’s a powerful moment, though I can’t place my finger on why. Was he blowing off steam, or had he come to a conclusion? But we’ve had a lot of Kirito’s problems so far and it’s a relief to kick back and watch Sinon in a match, winning easily, and listening to her thoughts for a change. But I didn’t know what to make of it when the two meet up in the finals. Kirito doesn’t try to dodge a thing, which is fine because Sinon is so flustered that she can’t shoot straight, but still, did he not dodge because he didn’t care, or because he knew she couldn’t hit him? At the end, after the duel within the battle, we get a good scene where Kirito realizes he’s acted rather badly to Sinon in a number of ways, and Sinon realizes that she’s not the only one around here who’s actually killed. So they bond while remaining enemies. So what happens next? Will Kirito go back to the real world and report that he’s got a lead on death gun? Well, probably. After all, he’s not really driven by revenge, or a need to prove himself. Maybe Sinon should kill Death Gun. That would be an interesting twist.

I can't.  I'm too busy laughing.
I can’t. I’m too busy laughing.

I’m getting amused by the alien weapons in Aldnoah.Zero. First, they’re weird-looking. Take a gander at that mecha the woman is piloting, especially the fist-missiles. I kept wanting to say “Robot Punch!” They look absolutely ridiculous. Since I’m assuming the Aldnoah tech they’re using doesn’t have to be in that shape to work, and no two we’ve seen have had the same weapons, the fact that her mecha looks like a fat, golden octopus on legs with fists at the end is her personal style choice. Which means it’s impossible to take her seriously as a fighter or a human, or even a martian. Also, once you get over the shock, and their destructiveness, they’re actually kind of easy to get around. Inaho doesn’t have to think very hard about what to do about them: force them off their course by firing explosives at them.

Sign her up!
Sign her up!

Which brings up a point that Marito makes: these glorious warrior-nobles are just as inexperienced in actual warfare as the humans are. If the humans can continue to think through the problems they can still hold their own. Marito clearly had this idea when he got in that one mecha before the flashbacks got too much for him again; Inaho isn’t the only bright mind around. Meanwhile the Martians are too busy puffing out their chests and acting contemptuous to notice. This is a lot of fun to watch; ragtag underdogs beating back a smug, cocky enemy is appealing. Good thing, too, because I’m still not crazy about most of the characters. I wonder if the show cares. Just so we hate the bad guys.