Finales: Tsurezure and PP, plus Abyss 12

Some of the couples are right back where they started.

The finale of Tsurezure Children has basically two scenes, the first being a comedy-ridden sports festival soccer tournament where we see most of the couples we’ve been following interacting on the pitch and on the sidelines. Sort of touching base with them one more time. Most of the relationships don’t change, but we get a good deal of Chiaki/Kana’s complicated situation as the latter insults the former until he saves her from an errant ball, more “hmphs”, then she cheers him in a strange way and he gets inspired. After that we turn to the sweet, heartwarming part, the last class before summer break and everyone wants to go to the beach, except Takano doesn’t want to go if Sugawara isn’t, and vice-versa. Who’s going to break through this? Let me just say I was pumping my fists over the outcome. Happy about Chiaka/Kana, too, but really those two ought to take better care of their phones.

So not every couple got to the finish line, and there’s no indication we’ll be getting a season two, which is a damn shame. This was a consistently funny and sweet show throughout, and, with Made in Abyss, a highlight of my weekly viewing. It juggled countless relationships and made them all interesting and fresh to watch, partly because, while every couple’s issues were different (an amazing feat right there), they were always recognizable. And while this show was a comedy, it wasn’t cruel to any character. The kids are new at this, they are awkward, they make mistakes, and I rooted for them to push through that and to get what they want, and I’ll say it again, it’s a damn shame we won’t get to watch them succeed. I want a second season!

One more of Takano, who finally took a step forward.
And one more of Kana, nicely summing up.
Reg’s revenge.

Which leads me to Made in Abyss 12, and while this one has another episode to go, a long one, I hear, it too will end and have me sobbing in frustration. Back up on the surface there’s a strange curse that kills off children on their birthday, except Kiyui recovers, to the shock of Jiruo. So this is the “True nature of the curse” that the episode title is named after, not the nature of the abyss curse, well, they’re probably related. The episode jumped from this scene to others. until a shocking request from Nanachi at the very end, which I won’t spoil. Every one its own was effective, but didn’t work with the other scenes as well as they could have.

The creepiest scene of the episode for me.

Anyway, we jump to Nanachi explaining the latter curse to Reg in ways I really didn’t understand, except a cloth covers you. Then more confusion as Nanachi has Reg take on that orb piercer by thinking something weird and jumping sideways. … Wait, if he used his blaster, why didn’t he fall asleep? And a very odd vision (flashback) at something distorted looking through an eye-hole. With hindsight it was the scariest moment of the episode. All of these things, topped by Nanachi’s request at the end, didn’t mix well, but at the very least there’s more weird things about the abyss for us to ponder, and there’s what Nanachi asked at the end.

Princess Principal finishes with a stumbling episode where we learn that the revolutionaries’ plot is to drop the cathedral ceiling on the queen, and then Princess will, I guess, assume power and start the big changes, or the plot fails but causes enough unrest that the Republic invades. Not sure of the logic of either, really. Meanwhile, the other girls regroup and even Ange makes it back, only to have Dorothy trick her in some way that matters to no one. Anyway, the girls provide just enough trouble that the ceiling dropping (done with a key in a lock) doesn’t happen, everyone escapes, Ange and Princess reconcile, L returns for unexplained reasons and kicks the general out of his chair, and the girls hang out in Casablanca. But what about the revolution now? The rebels Princess talks to seem unsure whether to rebel or to obey her orders. In other words, it’s a half-baked episode full of missed opportunities for fun (the ceiling, for example) and unexplained details.

No, just episodes.

I bet they’re angling for a second season, but I’m not sure the show deserves one. Most of the episodes were stand-alones that didn’t do much for the big story arc, such as it was. And when they finally came up with one, it was a mess. It’s too bad because this was a potentially rich world full of possible story ideas and an excellent steampunk aesthetic, and I rather liked all the characters in it. If they had worked on a bigger overall arc, and they had two unfriendly nations to work with, it could have been much more interesting. Instead, they chose to focus on the girls themselves. As I said, I liked them, but they weren’t enough to carry the series. This show was a regrettable miss.

Abyss 11, Princess 10, Tsurezure 11

I didn’t expect Made in Abyss 11 to be as intense, unrelenting, and painful as #10, and so it wasn’t. I’m also happy that the whole episode wasn’t simply a long infodump by Nanachi. We got a little information, sure, but the show continues to do a very good job at slipping the necessary info (and not more) when we actually need it. Instead we got a lot of treatment for Riko, and while some of it was kind of disgusting (I didn’t need to know about the butthole, thanks), it really wasn’t so bad. What bugged me the most was Reg’s persistent pleas for Nanachi to save Riko, even though, all the while, she’s been doing just that, not to mention his endless apologies and thank yous. When she sent him off to find things for Riko (heh) I think it was partly to get him out of her fur. And she saved them probably because Reg wouldn’t shut up.

That aside, we get to see more wonders of the abyss, none of it deadly this time, and more of its grotesqueries. The parasitic mushrooms (now sewn into Riko’s arm) I could handle, but I almost lost it when we meet Mitty, Nanachi’s roommate, and living proof of the damage ascending from the sixth level will cause you. But Mitty might be more than an object lesson, as it gets very interested in the resting Riko at the episode’s end. When you consider the episode’s other big event, the flashback for Reg that suggests he not only knew Lyza but perhaps buried her, and his hallucination of the “grave” ozen mentioned, you get the chilling thought that Mitty could be Lyza, and if not that, Lyza might look like that now, anyway. Oh, not to forget the flashback we get from Nanachi–wonder whose whistle that is? And so, a sort-of respite episode fascinates us with more hints, and no one had to cut off an arm.

Princess Principal 10, at the very end, with two episodes to go, gives us a story arc that lives up to the premise of the series. Their boss, L, has been replaced by a guy with medals they call the General, and he orders the to assassinate Princess. It’s an excellent idea–I can’t think how they’ll get out of it, and we have to consider just where the hell L went, and why General, a spy, wears all those metals. Also, which Princess? Say they get rid of the blonde girl. Ange can just step in, since she’s actually her, but that would really mess things up for Princess, even if they faked her death. Yeah, a lot of things to chew on. As for today’s episode, a former classmate at spy school turned double-agent, one of the better episodes, but I’ve had trouble caring once I realized there wasn’t going to be a big story arc in this series. I had more fun looking at the art and enjoying the steampunky atmosphere, as I usually do.

It was hard to say which part of Tsurezure Children 12 was the best, that is, until the final scene, with Kyouko taking an important test and actually trying to pass for once. If she could focus she could probably pass, but part of her is embarrassed by what the other kids are thinking of her, and another has esteem issues. It helps that Akagi stays out of the way for once. This scene stole the episode for me, but all the other bits were strong, too. There’s more mingling of couples as Takano gets details about how Kamine did it (Kamine/Gouda is the the model couple that others try to emulate), and it might FINALLY be getting through her thick skull that she likes Sugawara. It helps that she learns the vice-versa as well. Chiaki take possibly another step backward, while Takase and Kanda slowly advance,

Tens: Isekai Shokudou, Abyss, Tsurezure

Love those wings the fairies have.

Isekai Shokudou 10 is another routine episode where we meet still another magical race, cute little fairies with butterfly wings, led by their queen, Tiana Silvario XVI, and Victoria advises them to try a fruit crepe, though I suspect anything sugary would work for them. A few months later and the fairies are leading local contingents to the restaurant, and while we don’t see all of them inside, I like to imagine them fluttering all over the place, though, sadly, the show’s budget doesn’t really allow for that. The ones we see just float and hover. Then Fardania, traveling, meets up with Christian, a friend of her dad’s and they have … natto spaghetti. I didn’t know that was a dish. They then decide to try it with rice and like it even better. I wonder what the elves would think if the restaurant carried traditional Japanese food …

At least from this angle we can’t see why Riko’s screaming.

Made in Abyss 10 is even more harrowing than last week’s. It starts out quietly enough, with Riko going on about this 4th layer and its enormous cup plants full of hot water, and then an orbed splitter shows up and the kids’ fun trip immediately goes to hell. Riko is stabbed by a poisonous quill that will kill her, and, even worse, the only thing they can do is go back up, and the curse is especially bad at this level. Starting from the stabbing up to Riko’s apparent death, we get the most violent, visceral, and gripping scenes that I’ve seen in a while, and will purposefully never watch again. Scenes that made me turn my head because I didn’t want to watch, but of course I did.

Finally, Nanachi.

Okay, that weird character, Nanachi, that we see in the ED, shows up at just the right time, a little too conveniently for my tastes, but Riko would have died for sure otherwise, and with maybe three episodes to go it’s about time they introduced her. Not sure what they’re going to do with her with so little time to go, but I expect next week will be a healing and infodump episode, so we will probably find out.

He deserved that.

Tsurezure Children 10, let’s check the scores. Scene 1, Yamane/Kurihara has little progress made, in spite of Yamane’s pal Tomomichi shouting out each character’s subtexts because the lovebirds are too scared to get any closer. It doesn’t help. Kamine/Gouda have a head of the pack, dealing with every problem they have by talking it out and forgiving the other’s peculiarities. Then it’s Chiaki/Kana, who actually watch the previous couple’s latest kiss with admiration, but still can’t get settled to do the dirty deed themselves. Frankly, I blame Chiaki, who really ought to take the initiative, and what the hell was he thinking taking some liquid courage first? How was THAT going to put Kana in the mood? On the other hand, I think their games are actually getting in the way of further romance, so maybe this will knock some sense into him, well, along with Kana’s punch.

Tsurezure and Abyss 9, Re:Creators 20, Princess P 9

A lot of these kinds of looks in this episode.

Tsurezure Children 9 feels like a letdown though the content is perhaps the purest display of how kids can over-analyze every single thing their prospective sweethearts say and screw up any progress they’ve made, or say the wrong thing and regret it immediately. The best example is the Kanda/Takase scene, where both kids, desperate to get back on track with the other, almost mind-game themselves out of a relationship for good. She thinks he might not like her anymore, while he’s trying to find a way to confess. It’s a miracle they agreed to be friends after all. No wonder the episode was called “Square One.” Meanwhile, Kamine and Gouda, after that kiss, talk themselves out of another one, though they both clearly want to. Takano, the queen of fooling oneself, might slowly be getting it through her thick skull that she likes Takurou, but now HE’S playing mind games on HIMself. Meanwhile, Minagawa, who delights in mind games on other people, has more fun at Jun’s expense, and now I begin to see why he’s hesitating. It’s next to impossible to know when she’s serious. So, basically, no progress is made anywhere, not even Kanda/Takase, and that couple have been the best so far at overcoming their mind games and going for the lips, well, up to now.

You know what this means …

Made in Abyss 9 has all the frights and excitement I thought we would get in the survival training. More or less the first thing that happens, apart from using cute furry things to lure away a madokajack, is encounter the lair of another one. Reg has no choice but to blast it, and you know what that means. Now it’s up to Riko to drag Reg’s body around while she tries to survive without his help. They’re chased by another monster, then fall into the trap of a amakagame and wind up in its stomach! Then they’re chased by cute furry critters because they smell like fruit, because of the amakagame, you see, then, perhaps the worst of all, Riko has to ascend for a while, vomit, hallucinations, and ANOTHER monster at the end! But Reg finally wakes up.

After all that fun the point is made that Riko could not have made it this far without Reg, which we already knew, and Riko already knew. Ironic, then, that this episode is all about Riko doing exactly that, and dragging an unconscious and thus useless Reg with her to boot. For me, it was also satisfying. I had sometimes thought that Reg was doing all the heavy lifting in this journey. I’m very happy to see Riko act brave and resourceful, and survive, on her own.

Well, there’s two episodes left …

Re:Creators 20 had one good thing going for it: we finally got to see Altair taken aback, a couple of times actually. And there’s the long-awaited reappearance of you-know-who (not Mamika), thanks to Souta, and Magane’s illogic. Did you really think she wouldn’t show up somehow? On the other hand, the other parts of the episode were mostly downers. Sure, it looked like creating another version of Altair was going to work, but it was too early in the episode, so you know Altair would come back and make some more boring speeches about her fan-based power and the end of the world as she killed more people off. What’s her bullshit point about heroes all dying, anyway? It doesn’t work like that. … I’m curious as to what Blitz will do at this point. Surely they’ve kept him around because he was a sort-of father figure to Altair. What is he going to add at this point? Also, with two episodes to go, how are they going to pace it? I suspect that we’re in for a lot of long, emotional speeches next week.

Princess Principal 9 gives us a letter from Chise to her big sister back in Japan, and tells her that she’s a spy. Considering her connections and proximity to secret stuff, I’m not sure she should be writing that. Maybe the letter will be sent by private courier. Anyway, we have an amusing series of clash of cultures scenes to begin with, then a confrontation with some asshole, which leads to a duel. Not sure what the point of it all is. We didn’t really learn anything new about Chise. However, I enjoyed the ignorance that both sides have about each other and the scenes where one side refuses to learn anything, as opposed to the scenes where one side tries awkwardly to learn, summed up by that ridiculous dance the other girls do for Chise at the end. Also, that this is a Japanese show, but its one Japanese character is more of a western stereotype.

Eights: Abyss, Shokudou, Tsurezure

Back from survival training.

I had expected Made in Abyss 8 to be a long, dangerous and scary half hour where Riko and Reg are close to torn apart every second, with lots of fleeing through dark forests until something new comes up to make their survival training even worse, and it indeed starts like that–you knew there was something in that glowing pond that would pop up. But after that, the show decides it can mix in some other things as well, namely having Ozen and that geezer talk about the kids’ progress, praising their spunk, etc, and a flashback to Lyza and Ozen. The only other survival activity they show, apart from the insects, is the “rhino-thing” that nearly kills Reg and that they somehow manage to capture and eat. And then the ten days are up and the pair are dragging themselves back to the settlement. While I didn’t really want a full half hour of terror, I feel a little cheated. Or maybe it’s to drive home the idea that time moves more quickly the farther down the Abyss you go. Even Reg says that the ten days went by in a flash.

Not sure why the show put it in this episode, but Lyza’s hair is amazing.

Once they’re back the show glosses over other things. Ozen tells them all sorts of secret truths that only White Whistles know, including the identities of other White Whistles, each with their own weird title, none of them as cool as Lyza or Ozen’s. But we only get a quick synopsis from Reg (interesting choice, that) and no details. And then Rika and Reg are ready to plunge down to the third layer, the Great Fault, and the guys at the camp (whom we have barely seen at all), including heartbroken Marulk (she finally gets to meet people her own age and now they’re leaving) say goodbye. The rest of the episode is another flashback with Lyza and Ozen, where we learn how important Rika is to Lyza. It also demonstrates how close Lyza and Ozen have become, and their mutual respect. The show has, sadly, rehabilitated Ozen, but I suppose it’s okay.

I don’t know if it’s because I watched Abyss just before, but Isekai Shokudou 8 looked bad, still figures with moving mouths. It also was a more-or-less uninspiring episode in terms of story. The first one was about a man who is rescued by a mermaid, and to thank her he treats her to hamburg steak. while it was sort of cute in the shy romance area, there wasn’t much more to it. Even the food descriptions were toned down. However, it does give us the mystery of how and when Arte the mermaid first visited the restaurant and tried the steak. I figure sea creatures aren’t familiar with beef, so maybe that’s it. The second half had Aletta becoming Sarah’s housekeeper, good for her, and Sarah’s worried sister Shia trying cookies for the first time. Apart from the bonding between social classes, there wasn’t much to this story either.

The score remains 0-0.

On the other hand, Tsurezure Children 8, like most of the episodes, is a delight. I still don’t like the Ryouko/Akagi stories that much because the latter is too manipulative, and I’m getting tired of Katori’s act, but then we have Kamine/Gouda, a couple to love because even though they’re both reluctant for different reasons, they manage to express their needs, only to discover that the other person is completely fine with cuddling more, or (gasp) kissing! Then, in a rare mingling of stories, Chiaki and Kana both hear about the kiss, and so they awkwardly try their own, though they’re still insecure enough that they need a comic routine as a buffer; here it’s sports, and it allows Kana to deliver her most acid line yet.

Princess Principal 6, Tsurezure 6-7

Fortunately, we won’t see the man again after this episode.

In the middle of Princess Principal 6, Princess bemoans the fact that many people were torn apart by the wall, lovers, families, etc. The irony here is that the wall changed Dorothy’s life for the better. It separated her from her father, Danny McBean, a decent man who lost his hand and became a violent, child-beating wretch. Now she has to work with him in a morgue to find some ciphers stuck in a corpse’s tooth. He’s doing it for Normandy and she’s doing it for the Commonwealth, but whatever. We spend a lot of time observing Danny be nasty to everyone around him, except Dorothy, but there are maybe hints of reconciliation, though Dorothy probably doesn’t want her dad back in her life, at least not full-time. It ends tragically, with Dorothy and Beatrice (it’s usually Beatrice who does side-kick duties) waiting for Danny at a pub, not knowing that he has been killed for doing something stupid and completely in-character. I would say it’s a cruel ending, but I don’t think Dorothy has a strong emotional connection to Danny anymore. And, as Beatrice says, she wouldn’t have become friends with Dorothy if her father had been a decent father, not to mention the wall. So it ends with Beatrice singing Dorothy and Danny’s favorite song. A lot of irony this week. Not to mention the fact that this is the second week in a row where a character’s father got offed. If you include episode 1, this show is deadly for fathers.

Another week of Aho girl, where she ruins everyone’s time at the beach, tries to ruin Akuru’s peaceful time at home, but partly fails, and then ruins the city’s bon dance. And I’m tired of it. Much as I like Aoi Yuuki, the constant tone on a character who’s not going to show any depth, because she’s designed not to, has worn me down. I accidentally deleted the screenshot, too. Really.

It’s sibling on the 15-minute show plate, Tsurezure Children, is ironically one of my favorite shows of the season, even if this episode started with Akagi/Ryouko, my least favorite couple. Not Ryouko’s fault, but Akagi comes off as so damn manipulative that it’s hard for me to stomach. And Ryouko, showing she has a soft side, is falling prey to it. Moving on, we get Kana/Chiaka, trying to work kisses into their comedy routines, but a kiss is, you know, a kiss. I like this couple a lot because they’re old friends who pretty much know what the other one’s up to inside, that is, until this love business started to complicate things. After that, a not great bit between Yamane and his otaku bud Motoyama, the result being Motoyama’s been invited to Yamane’s date with Chiyo, and I wonder if this isn’t actually the most manipulative person on the show. Or maybe it’s Katori, charming up a girl who’s name I didn’t get, but he’s all flirt and nothing else, doesn’t really want to be, I think. So the girl will have her heart broken soon. At least she gave him a good elbow.

Yuki messes with Hotaru’s mind again.

Okay, Katori comes back in episode 7, but this time he gives his advice to a guy, Takane, of “bad timing with phone messages” fame. So maybe Katori isn’t so bad after all. Too bad we don’t get to see Takane try out the advice this week. But we start with Hotaru, the jealous imouto, trying to mess with Yuki via Jun’s cell phone, only it’s Hotaru who gets played. I don’t know if Jun-Yuki is my favorite couple, but I think Yuki is my favorite character. She doesn’t seem to care that the collateral damage from her charade is going to make Jun’s home life a little more complicated. Elsewhere, Takeru tries his best to act like a boyfriend, only Kamine inadvertently nearly screws it up. Still, the direct approach is the best. Finally, Chizuru is faced with a dilemma. She’s hot and blushing a lot, so it must be a fever, right, but she takes her temperature and finds she doesn’t have one. Could it be ..? Nah!

Catch-up with Aho Girl and Tsurezure Children, though new episode come out today …

The boys don’t really want to be there.

In catch-up mode I would normally watch all the available episodes in succession, but one episode of Aho Girl, 15 minutes though it be, is too much for me to handle, so at the moment it’s episode four only. In it we have what I assume to be the core characters, now that the teacher is involved, and the show can start having fun bouncing them off each other as they try and fail to make Aho less stupid. What works is that in each scene we get a little more than we expect. We don’t expect the two little boys to intervene during the show to protect their friend Nozomi from Aho’s stupidity (keep fighting, boys!). We don’t expect the teacher to turn to Akuru to teach her how to love, and we don’t expect the girls to take that room investigation so far, especially the public morals girl. In short, Aho can turn any situation into chaos. And there’s the running gag of the delinquent punctuating the episode. This show might turn out to be pretty good.

Tsurezure Children has the problem that there are so many couples walking around being awkward that I lose track. I had forgotten about our first couple in episode 4, Kana and Chiaki, even though it was the funniest scene in the episode, Kana winding up trying to seduce him though neither of them are very comfortable with the idea. Second favorite is Yuki’s continued trolling of poor Jun, who is so easily manipulated (“Why are you staring at me?”) that I kind of wish she liked someone more up to her level, not to mention he’s kept her waiting for months. The Ryouko/Akagi scenes creep me out a little because it looks like Akagi is manipulating an actually very innocent girl. Finally the Sugawara/Takano relationship, which took a backward step for Sugawara but a forward one for Takano, if she could only figure it out. So one couple wind up in bed but nothing happens, another kiss, and the other two can’t get off the ground.

I’m not sure, Sayaka. You might want to stay hidden until the train comes.

So now I can watch Aho Girl 5 (I was actually going to watch Re:Creators but there’s no episode this week), where I have to contradict myself. The movie scene had nothing I didn’t expect. They go to a “Prechure” movie and Aho and Ruri overreact, as we all knew they would, well, maybe not Ruri. But it picks up in the next half, where Sayaka uses hard logic to persuade Akuru to come to the beach, and Yoshie shows up to sabotage Public Morals Girl’s attempts to snatch Akuru from Yoshiko, by drawing nipples on her swimsuit … things get out of control from there. And once again, 15 minutes of this show is like an hour of any other.

Meet Nanase, who’s fun right off the bat.

And back to Tsurezure Children 5, which is dominated by the second scene, where we meet Nanase, who’s had a crush on Kaga for a while, but he’s been ignoring her since middle school because he didn’t want friends to get the wrong idea. And now he’s got a crush on Sasahara from the astronomy club, which Nanase has just joined … We haven’t seen any love triangles yet, so this could be interesting. Nanase is a tsundere of the evil-eye variety, and while the show has several tsunderes already, I find that I don’t really mind. Anyway, Nanase and Kaga have a spirited scene and a coda (the second time this post where a mother screws things up for the kids). As for the other featured couples, Gouda and Kamine have a misunderstanding that gets cleared up sweetly, while Saki and Takase have one that really screws things up for them, though I thought it was funny as hell.