Bakuman3 8, Tonari 10

The Hyde version.
The Hyde version.

There’s a lot to chew on in Bakuman3 8. We’re introduced to an exciting newcomer named Tooru Nanamine who has contributed an excellent, if overly dark manga for the JACK contest. Turns out he’s manipulating the editorial process in order to get a leg up on the competition. Rather sneaky. He puts his entry online before JACK is ready, rendering it worthless but creating a huge buzz for himself. In other words, his plan is working. I’m not sure he needs such a Jekyll and Hyde personality, however, as his technique for creating the manga is simply different. He submits his work to a few dozen people online whom he respects, who makes suggestions to him. In that respect it’s a collectively created manga, edited before it even reaches the real editor (Kosugi, a new guy who looks like a victim already). I wonder what JACK would have thought if he had said that outright. The question for Tooru is how he intends to treat these contributers. Right now he’s just exploiting them for his own ends. Will that continue? Or will the contributors act like idiotic fanboys happy to help with a JACK manga? I’m guessing, since he’s the show’s new bad guy, that that will be his undoing, but it will be interesting to see how his manga turns out along the way.

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun
10 gives us the first Christmas episode of the season, rather early, too. Like most of the episodes it sort of stumbles around a current story and the various sub-plots with no apparent goal in mind, but it’s fun to watch anyway.

It LOOKS like an innocent enough party ...
It LOOKS like an innocent enough party …

They hold a rather dysfunctional Christmas party at the game place (without warning Misawa) and the various characters interact in their usual ways. Yamaken’s two hangers-on act like idiots, especially when poor Oshina (a girl!) shows up. Yamaken himself is fun to watch, since he now denies being in love with Shizuku (after Haru blurted out the fact) yet is drawn to her in spite of himself. So I don’t know what prompted the usge to needle Haru on the stairs like he did.

Happy partygoers.
Happy partygoers.

All of the girls are fun in their own way. Asano, who planned this misadventure, tries to keep an eye on things, keeps away from Misawa for reasons he doesn’t get, and has to apply emotional damage control when someone else says the wrong thing, which happens a lot in this episode. Oshina has apparently never encountered a get-together like this before, but wonders if that makes her the weird one of the group. Shizuku stays out of the battles, but she has two perfectly-expressed speeches at the end. The first is when she tells Haru she loves him, so don’t worry about Yamaken, exactly what the boy wanted to hear. The other comes in the scene right after, when Haru complains about she and Yamaken going to cram school together, and is summed up nicely below.


Thus Shizuku’s feelings for Haru are summed up in two scenes.

Kanojo Pet 8, Tonari 9

Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo 8 appeared to be a downer episode but to my relief the show refused to give in.

Sorata’s game design passes the first round and he has to give a presentation. Meanwhile, Mashiro’s manga comes up for serialization consideration that very same day (I like to imagine the editors in Bakuan sitting at that table with manila envelopes spread out in front of them. I think she and Eiji would get along famously). This show likes to schedule big days together so that you can’t get too happy about one person’s success without feeling bad for the other’s failure. Everyone helps Sorata prepare his presentation, and overall it’s lighthearted. As a distraction, Mashiro’s going around asking what love is, leading to the usual misunderstandings.

The episode could have gone down this path …

The actual presentation scene wasn’t fun to watch, one of those intimidating wall of suits at a long table type. One of the geniuses Sorata looks up to asks Sorata one of those vague, personal and unanswerable questions you dread hearing at an interview and it’s downhill from there. Since I’ve been back in job interview hell myself recently I can sympathize, and I fully understand why he takes his performance and the rejection so hard. He’s new at this rejection stuff. He hasn’t developed a thick skin yet. He’ll get better at it, but telling him that right now won’t make him feel better. Going home and learning that Sorata’s manga got accepted won’t cheer him up either. And it’s here that Sorata and the show reaches a fork in the plot. Sorata could mope and lash out when people tried to help him, meaning we’d have a two-parter full of dull apologies, or someone could come in and lighten the mood.

But to my relief it went this way instead.

Maybe the best touch on the “let’s sneak into the school pool and have a party!” idea is that the party is not to celebrate Mashiro’s success or to cheer up Sorata. It’s to welcome Aoyama to the dorms. So no guilt about feeling good for Mashiro. And even then, Aoyama doesn’t want to–until Sorata, rightfully forcing himself out of his funk, urges her to go along with it. And in fact, during the pool scene he still carries his disappointment, why shouldn’t he? But thanks to the others he refuses to let it drag him down and at the end feels re-energized. I have to say it was refreshing to watch a character, not to mention the show itself, not go the easy, sulking route but shrug off the bad news and keep fighting. The fireworks were a bit much, but who cares?

How many male tsunderes can you think of?

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun 9 … The ugliness from last week is gone; no one even mentions that Haru was more or less holding a girl hostage. Instead everyone does very little of anything. Asako fumes because Chizuku has been thinking about the relationship for a month with no progress, because Haru hasn’t given her much reason to, apart from trying to catch her a crayfish she doesn’t need. There’s some background on Chizuku’s life. Her father is a “failure” and her mother has to work to keep the family together. There’s a goldfish metaphor going on which is related to that crayfish. Meanwhile Kenji has officially fallen in love with Chizuku, but he’s not an idiot about it. And Asako seems to be falling for Misawa, and since she does have idiotic tendencies it could be entertaining to watch. I suppose you’d call this a filler episode.

Tonari 8, Kanojo Pet 7, Panzer 6

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun 8 manages to get stuff done amongst some silly scenes, to my surprise. And it made me think too: just how long is Shizuku going to put up with this?

I think it’s the show’s lighthearted atmosphere of the school festival that threw me off. Starting off with Shizuku as a haunted nurse with a face ala Black Jack, I expected not much of importance was going to happen. When such stuff did happen I really didn’t take it seriously, well, until Haru accidentally slugged Shizuku again, setting off another outburst. Or maybe I couldn’t take it seriously because Shizuku was feeling bad about being pissed off–after getting slugged. Not to mention Kenji insisting that it was all his fault, when, uh, guys, it’s Haru’s fault. I don’t know what goes on in these characters’ minds. But something here gets accomplished amid all the inner monologues of a nurse-zombie, not to mention all the other craziness. Kenji hangs out with Shizuku and to her surprise turns out to be a perceptive guy (that bullshit line about loneliness being impossible without other people around aside) who doesn’t seem interested in making a move on her–except if it pissed off Haru, that is, .

This part was kind of funny.

And Haru has another, much more serious lapse, which came out of the blue because it was one of those “people needing to be alone or hide from other people find themselves all in the same classroom” type of thing. Since it was coming off of an amusing conversation between Oshima and Haru (apart from the “using force” line, a precursor as it turned out), it looked like a comedy topper; Shizuku and Kenji eavesdropping on Haru and Oshima when Yazun walks in. I was getting ready for an entertaining confrontation between Haru and Yuzan, with Kenji as an added bonus. Instead, Haru gets truly frightening for the first time since episode one, and poor Oshima is the near-victim.

This part wasn’t.

I understand that he feels bad afterwards and Shizuku knows it and all that, but a lot of messed up people know that after they mess up. There’s plenty of guilt and then it starts right up again. Then again, Shizuku seems to think her reaction to his antics is somehow a problem, too. She does indeed have a problem. Asana didn’t deserve to be talked to like that. But getting hit, even accidentally, and having to talk Haru down from what’s basically a hostage situation, and not seriously reevaluating her involvement with him, is an act of stupidity. Okay, at the end she does say she needs to think about it, but that’s just because her heart gets all thumpity when she’s trying to study. It’s a shame because the episode (and the series) otherwise can be great fun to watch, but those moments stick out so much it yanks me right out of watching.

Yuuko meets Mashiro.

Just like Sukitte, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo 7 starts lighthearted, but it stays this way. No plot advancement. No Misaki/Jin angst, no Sorata angst, no Aoyama despair. Sorata doesn’t even hear back about his game proposal. Maybe the creators thought for this episode “Man, it’s too soon for the new story arc, so let’s throw in all the spare gags we had lying around.” So they get Sorata’s little sister Yuuko to visit and do all the things anime little sisters tend to do …wait, she doesn’t clean his room or find any porn. But she does meet the girls at the dorm and get led into believing the usual things about big brothers and evil, lascivious older women who want to corrupt them.

Yuuko meets the maid avatar.

And it’s pretty funny. Yuuko is especially inspired with the little sister tropes and establishes a lot of ways to be angry when Aoyama goes in denial mode about something misconstrued but innocent, and all Mashiro has to do is open her mouth to cause sibling shock. To help out we get some different artistic styles when Sonata’s desperately calling home, including a live-action puppet thing. Not only that, but the Mashiro breaks the bath so we get a public bath fanservice scene. And now and then they cut to Misaki taking driving lessons. You can imagine how those turn out. It slows down a bit when Sorata takes all the girls on a “date,” though it didn’t get any weaker. Yeah, it was a predictable episode but well-done, and a nice break from sentiment. Just sit back an watch the jokes fly by.

The battle in Girls und Panzer 6 gets a little confusing in spite of the fun of watching the characters react and over-or-under-react, depending on the temperament. We got Oorai leading the Saunders Shermans off to nowhere and then stumbling upon (and chasing) their flag tank, a coincidence that masks its silliness by having the tank commanders not believing it, either. So our gals can win if they can take out that one tank, but when the Shermans come back they seem to forget this strategy and have to be reminded of it. Well, we got the usual from both the heroes and adversaries. Loved the sneaky Saunders commander suddenly babbling about how some guy doesn’t love him. And apart from for battle confusion and the too-long “we’re doomed” bit in the middle, it’s fun to watch as usual. Too bad they have to invent a new crisis at the end, involving Meko’s grandma. But next week, we’re promised Anzio! Don’t know if that’s good or bad …

Tonari 7, Bakuman3 and Pet 6

I can’t tell if their relationship is progressing or not.

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun doesn’t seem to care if it makes any progress toward a happy couple ending or not. We start with Haru’s dead aunt Kyoko, whose practical life aphorisms have gone whoosh over his head until recently. It’s a testament either to the show or to Haru’s strange way of thinking that she only appears in his mind now and that he seems to have no real emotions either way about her passing. After that we get the first of a couple nice chats between him and Oshima, who’s happier these days, while Haru doesn’t seem sad as much as bewildered by Shizuku’s recent dumping. So he tells her he loves her and they start to fight. Much is made about how odd Haru’s behaving but I’m not seeing any difference. Meanwhile, Shizuku’s grades have recovered but Haru’s still ahead. That blond guy shows up again (same cram school as Shizuku), Haru hits an upperclassman when he shoves Shizuku … Things you could find in any episode so far, almost randomly tossed together. The main points are that Shizuku at the end finds her heart getting thumpity over Haru when he breaches her two-meter space, there’s a cultural festival episode coming up, and Haru has a dead aunt. Not to say it was a bad episode, in fact, most of the scenes were entertaining in their own right, but at the end of it they’re still separate and Haru’s still acting up.

On the other hand, Bakuman 3 6 cluttered with events. At the beginning our boys and girl have entered the Super Leaders Fest, where the top five talents for JACK are contributing, but since Takagi is helping out with Shiratori’s new work Mashiro asks to do it alone. The path that follows becomes almost impossible to follow. Mashiro wants to do a love story, so does Aoki, so does Eiji(!), and it becomes a Super Leaders Love Fest instead. So Mashiro struggles with his love story and Tagaki struggles with the dog story, both start think that something’s wrong. Takagi is spending so much time with Shiratori and that dog that Mashiro begins to wonders if he cares about PCB and even Kaya is worried. Er, other stuff happens involving stuff and the next thing you know the boys are slugging each other in the park (in that bonding, manly way all men do but freaks out Kaya), and the next NEXT thing you know the whole Love Fest business is history. It’s feeling like the series is trying to do too much, maybe trying to squeeze in the entire story into this final series. Because it’s being rushed I’m enjoying it less. Slow down, guys! Work slowly toward your goal, like your heroes and Miho are doing.

Meanwhile, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo 6 does pretty much what we expect it to, and like the last arc it got a little confusing along the way. Aoyama is on Mashiro duty, working her jobs, going to school and doing some unspecified voice actress thing, meaning that in every other scene she’s in she nearly collapses, and naturally, om the big day, she collapses for real. The confusion comes when Mashiro begs the others to let her go to the event anyway, in spite of her fever and being unable to walk. She’s worked so hard for it! So, after some complications added by Chihiro she escapes to the event … and fucks up, to the point where her fellow voice actors are shouting “Why didn’t you stay in bed?” The point is made that Aoyama would have kept pushing herself until exactly this happened, or someone acknowledged how hard she was working. I’m not so sure about the latter choice since people have been telling her that for two episodes now. I think working herself nearly to death is the better indicator. Elsewhere we get progress (if you can call it that) on the Misaki/Jin non-romance front, with Jin planning to move away for college and not to tell Misaki, and Misaki asking Sorata how to get Jin to notice her. Nothing but heartbreak in that scenario. What fun.

Bakuman3 5, Tonari 6, Panzer 5

Geez, Bakuman doesn’t stop for anything, does it?

It’s not that the series feels rushed, well, busy maybe, it’s that the the everyday working events are made dramatic by the precariousness of the manga artists’ profession, and then emphasized by time jumps to the big moments. What happens in episode 5 occurs in a time period of maybe under two months, but it’s all slammed into 25 minutes, this means Shiratori’s story (getting support from his peers but no love from his rich, appearance-happy mother) only gets the episode, but, since it’s pretty lame as a story (son rebels, father and daughter take his side, mother goes out in a huff, similar to Mashiro’s story) it really only deserves the time it got. Though the rich daughter giving the best inspirational lines was a nice touch.

It’s not like he has enough work to do.

More important to the main characters is Takagi’s participation in Shiratori’s happy dog story. Mashiro wants him to improve but clearly has some doubts. He’s worried that PCP’s quality will drop. He’s perhaps also worried about their partnership. And he’s worried about Eiji, who’s drawing two manga at the moment. In true Bakuman fashion (no matter how hard you’re working you can always work harder) he decides to learn to draw more quickly so he can do two at once as well. Not so coincidentally, Shiratori happens to great at that. No wonder they want him around … And if that wasn’t enough (I didn’t even get to Otters and Aoki’s cancellation), there’s going to be a Super Leaders Fest where EVERONE will do a one-shot, MORE work for our heroes. And so the hardworking series about hardworking people, FINALLY brings the episode to a close. Get some rest, guys.

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun 6 is as lively as Bakuman’s episode, but here it’s due to working into the jokes.

Haru’s bluntness is sometimes a good thing.

The episode juggles two stories at once, and I got a little bewildered by it. We start with Shizuku realizing that she’s in love, and we see her reaction: That just won’t do. It’s hurting her grades. But we’re almost immediately thrown into Oshima’s backstory (no friends, lonely, etc). Hers is rather like Shizuku’s except the latter doesn’t seem to care if she’s alone or not. This isn’t true, but that’s the appearance, and what she’s telling herself. Haru blunders into Oshima’s sadness and decides to do something about it whether Oshima wants him to or not. Just like that, Oshima has friends. If that’s not bewildering enough for her, the nearly-forgotten Shizuku story decides to mess with THAT, because it’s interfering with her studies. One, no, two great scenes follow.

The first, Haru’s “make Oshima friends” meeting sets off Shizuku, who’s trying to study. After she says a few blunt things to Haru, he returns the favor, while the girl they’re meeting about sits cowed, wondering if it’s all her fault they’re fighting. Shizuku later says no. And the next day there’s another scene where she finds herself in the middle, and her sudden outburst about Haru’s density about love rattles everyone but us. Watching from a distance we’re seeing her not as a strange, unliked outsider girl, but a member of a group with her own idiosyncrasies, if she can only realize it. The scene also carries a wonderful depiction of Shizuku’s blunt honesty. She basically says she’s avoiding him because she’s in love with him and it’s a distraction from her studies, without using word “love.” So while we’re reeling from those scenes we get a “date,” where Shizuku has reset herself completely, claiming she’s no longer attracted to him, and while we know she wants to study, we can’t figure out why she’s enclosed herself like that all over again. In a side scene Yuzan claims that Haru is a coward, but it’s Shizuku who’s doing the running away right now, while sitting there studying.

Happy to see Miki got work after iDOLM@STER.

You can’t really blame the Saunders team for “cheating” in Girls und Panzer 5, after Yukari had snuck into their school and infiltrated a strategy meeting. Besides, there’s nothing against it in the rulebook. It does, however, make you wonder why all the teams don’t rely on cell phones if they’re available and not the radio. This is overall a silly show so you have to expect some of it won’t bear close scrutiny. We can thank Miho for turning the tables on Saunders in the first place. So by episode end our heroes still have all five tanks and Saunders has only … nine. Elsewhere, we meet Miho’s sister, who apparently is with Black Forest Park School, and who comes off as just plain evil, at the panzer cafe. Of course they have panzer cafes.

Panzer, K, Pet 4, Tonari 5, and this Lychee thing 1-2

Girls und Panzer 4 brings us one of the sillier armored combat battles you’ll ever see. I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Either Miho has a killing instinct or everyone else in the battle is an idiot.

The friendly between our gals and the St. Gloriana (or whatever) Academy brings us back to the original episode, but, happily, very little repeated footage. We see Miho’s tank draw off the more experienced enemy, who claim they know it’s a trap, but proceed anyway, Just as well; Oorai’s cunning plan nearly leaves them surrounded and soon two tanks are deserted or damaged and they retreat–right into town, while the townspeople either cheer or look on with curiosity (apparently they’re heavily insured and are quite used to tan battles). They take advantage of the local obstacles and get done in by others. Loved the parking garage bit. Through it all I was wondering if Miho was an inspired commander or the other team was a loaded with incompetents, especially near the end where Miho takes out two tanks in about ten seconds due to a turn. Never mind. It was a harmless battle with that cheerful martial music they play. It’s hard to resist.

Back to reality. In the time left we get a personal crisis, this one involving Hana, who’s mother is shocked to learn she’s on the panzer squad and not arranging flowers. It’s not much of a crisis right now even though she gets kicked out of her home. She was living in the dorms anyway and is sure she can get her mother to come around eventually. The whole thing is settled (for now) so quickly there’s still time to start the national championships drawing. Naturally, Oorai gets to fight one of the tournament favorites in the first round. So we had a battle, personal crisis and the new story arc this episode, and each was done as superficially as the others. Just as well. If this show gets too deep it’s doomed.

We spend most of K 4 watching Shiro go about trying to prove his innocence. The incident was over an hour away from the high school, so if he can prove he was at the school, he’s okay. This proves to be more difficult than he thought. No one can remember him being around that night. He didn’t have his PDA so he can’t prove he was or wasn’t there, etc. Meanwhile Kuroh gets more and more irritated, until Kukuro remembers seeing him. Then he goes home and finds bloody clothes. So he’s all confused, as you can expect. That’s basicially the story for the episode.

There’s really no point to this moment.

The thing is, the show is trying very very hard to be clever and stylish, not to mention blue-tinted (I swear, I wanted to check my screen settings). We’re treated to numerous flashbacks of an incident (Mishino elaborately confessing to Kukuro and getting shot down) from various times and angles, eccentric stuff, and meant to put an absurd edge on this serious matter of establishing an alibi, and while it’s amusing enough I didn’t really care about it. I knew that something would happen somewhere to contradict Shiro’s story; it was just a question of where and when. Also, Shiro gets on my nerves so I don’t care if he lives or not. Finally, its clear that the show has taken such great efforts to shove weird characters in our faces, two gangs and a high school, not to mention a cat girl and a ninja-cook, but none of them really matter, and they keep getting lost or ignored. At one point Kukuro has just innocently destroyed Shiro’s alibi, Kuroh has drawn his sword to kill him, Neko has jumped in his way and … what happened to Kukuro? Isn’t she surprised by this? It’s like there’s an offstage that she retired to until her next line comes up. The show feels like a collection of lunatic scenes placed in order, not a story.

Everyone’s glad he’s staying, but why is he?

Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo 4 wraps up the first story arc, but I’m not really sure what causes Sorata’s change of heart about leaving the dorms. Like last episode much time is spent stewing over the fact that so many of the others around him are focused geniuses while he isn’t sure what he wants. And we also get time with Jin talking about how hard it is to survive when near extraordinary talent. Wait, I thought Jin was really good at something too, apart from the women. This isn’t the normal type of problem in high school romance anime, so I was interested. So what makes Sorata change his mind? Ryuusuke hinted that he hasn’t actually tried to achieve anything on his own, yet. But that doesn’t mean he has to stay in that dorm; in fact, he’d probably get more work done elsewhere. It couldn’t be because he wants Mashiro to have a better ending for her manga, because she changed it anyway. After he tells Mashiro he’s going to follow these suddenly-recalled dreams she calls it his “debut.” So why is he staying? Has he decided he’ll risk being burned by the bright lights around him? It’s a shame I can’t follow the logic here, becausse the first story arc was surprisingly good, though I don’t know what they’ll do next.

Which is fine because no one wants him to.

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun 5 is some sort of filler episode and about the only thing we get out of it is some more background on Haru and a possible rival at the end. They hint at a crisis where Haru’s brother Yuzan shows up and talks about their father wishing for Haru to return now that he’s cleaned up his act a little, oh and sweets. But it’s no crisis at all because Yuzan doesn’t want him to return. Haru “hates” his family and wouldn’t return anyway. Shizuku certainly doesn’t want Haru going away, either. All three are in agreement, but they decide to have a confrontation, anyway. The other thing, about glasses-girl Chizuru, might be more interesting if only what it does to Shizuku. She admits by the end of the episode that she would miss Haru if he left, and what’s more, she would miss hanging out with the people she’s met. So this possible rival could put her in a blue funk. But only her. I don’t see Haru straying from her, and Chizuru doesn’t seem the type to up and try to steal Haru away, even if she could. In other words, it’s going to be an examination of Shizuku under jealousy. Maybe.

I had heard that Lychee Light Club was a cruel and disgusting work of manga, and maybe it is. But the two five-minute episodes that have popped up on the web aren’t all that depraved. Maybe the club members get worse. Anyway, the first two mini-episodes have the various club members come up with ideas for a problem (punishing an intruder and converting the robot who kidnapped the girl), which are either implemented and get laughs or get shot down by the club’s leader. Some of the suggestions remind me of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, but everyone’s a guy here. Well apart from the girl, who doesn’t seem to mind being kidnapped and has made friends with the robot who abducted her. The animation is crude but I like the character designs, half grotesque, half cute, and the rest of the art. Not bad.

Bakuman 3 2, Shin Sekai 3, Tonari 3, Dakedo 2

Bakuman 3 2 moves so quickly that it’s hard to keep up.

Their biggest enemy tells them to work harder.

Well, it STARTS slowly … After Hattori tells the boys that PCP will be canceled if it can’t beat out Crow and Natural+ in six months we get at least a couple of months in this episode alone. And scenes that you could only find in a series like this: a rival gets serialized and phones them to thank them (and to receive congratulations) only to tell them his new manga will beat theirs. Mashiro and Takagi don’t mind at all. Then Iwase, the greatest threat to their livelihoods, hearing about the cancellation threat, calls to tell them to work harder. Your greatest rivals are your greatest supporters; I love that about this series.

But after that, weeks fly by like nothing. We get news on how everyone’s work has done lately, and the reactions, of course. Eiji, who also fits into the friends/rivals categories, does a little of both. He hints, knowing that it will get to the boys, that PCP could be better. Mashiro realizes that it’s because the art is boring, he works on it, it gets better. Eiji turns to being a rival now and produces a chapter with no dialogue, the story told entirely through art, flexing his artistic muscles and risking a hit in the rankings in the process. Through it all our heroes can do nothing but work harder than they have before, if that’s possible, since they swear that at least once every episode. I’m not sure what the shock at the end really represents, however, unfamiliar with how JACK’s stories are laid out in each issue. Let’s just leave it at: it’s bad news. … And there’s an amusing sidestory when the rumor flies that Iwase and Eiji are shaking up.

So, naturally …

I wish that when I was in school and went on field trips, they were as cool as Shin Sekai Yori 3. The gang canoes up the river near places where they aren’t supposed to go, as if the teachers were tempting them. Well, if you were a teenage kid on an adventure and you see a place that’s off-limits, what would YOU do? Okay, there are elements of dissent. Satarou, who’s full of scary stories about monsters, isn’t as keen to go on that night rowing expedition as others, though he’s pissed when they draw lots and he’s left behind to tend the signal fire. Everyone turns to Shun for affirmation, while some think it’s just Saki doing it. In other words, we’re seeing the group dynamic at work in a place where they only have themselves, supplies, and a map showing where they should land and where they shouldn’t. And even before the strange stuff starts happening, the trip is full of interesting things to look at.

… they see one!

When they do land at a forbidden place they quickly encounter things that they’ve only heard of, like minoshiro, and EVIL minoshiro. Naturally, they encounter the latter and find themselves hypnotized, apart from Saki because of the sunglasses she’s wearing. Armed with that information they press on and actually manage to capture one (why didn’t the giant crabs eat it, I wonder?). Earlier, a voice-over had talked about species that appeared abruptly in the past few hundred years and how it might have been humans responsible, and now the minoshiro is “speaking” to Saki in a pre-recorded voice, spouting off rules and retulations and identifying itself as a library, a mobile storage vault. Fascinating. I had read the show previews and knew that the kids would discover a trove of information out there, but never did I expect to be a walking, talking, organic … thing. What a great field trip! And I have a feeling that it’s about to get even wilder. Good episode, and no one died this week, except in that flashback.

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun has managed to shed most of the negative baggage from episode one and has gone into purely lighthearted mode, and it’s not bad.

The first thing to take care of is Shizuku’s confession from last week. She immediately regrets this spur-of-the-moment utterance of great importance, and wen she says so, well, it’s hard to read what’s going on in Haru’s mind even when it’s not important. Later, however, she finally gives up and says it again. That makes two romantic comedy heroines this season who are honest with themselves enough to admit it nearly instantly, maybe with a little time to examine why they’re blushing all of a sudden. And it allows Haru to demonstrate his unexpected depth again, as he wonders if they love each other in the same way or not. Either that, or he read it in a manga somewhere.

The show also starts with the “enemies become friends” theme as the people who were using Haru in episode one appear in the hardware store where Shizuku, Haru, Asaka and sasahara are buying material for a chicken coop. After some misunderstandings and a small brawl they show up again and help Haru and his real friends build it. So now we get to learn about them. The blond one is the most suspicious as he constantly gets too close to Shizuku. The others are simply comic relief for now. And for next week’s plot we will learn about this mysterious Yuzan, whom Haru is trying to avoid, hard to believe as it is.

Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankei Nai yo ne is either unique or completely inept. I haven’t figured out which. We start with a discussion of the art of author Shindo Koichiro, who apparently writes historical siscon novels. Then we learn that Akito’s writing books and the same name comes up. That alone would be enough to carry the episode, but it’s never mentioned again. Instead Akito goes to school and Akiko hits on him. We get a lecture and demonstration of the Tsundere. After that Ana appears and SHE demonstrates her tsundere technique. Later Akito meets Gil and she … doesn’t act tsundere. In fact, the word is never mentioned again. They do have a fight, however. Something about abandonment. Maybe that fight was too serious because in the next scene Arashi just flat-out comes on to him. The upshot of all this was to suggest that Akiko spends so much time with Akito that he hasn’t had the time to make friends at his new school. The show just latches onto one idea and then forgets about it. Well, it wasn’t awful, in fact some of the dialogue, especially in the Gin scene, was pretty good. Maybe if the show can learn to focus I’ll keep watching.