Sakura Quest has settled into it’s cute slice-of-life routine without a misstep and with much efficiency. All four of the side girls had been introduced by episode two, and at the end of episode 3 they became members of Yoshi’s court. Meanwhile, Yoshi herself has accepted her role of queen, in spite of the daily verbal abuse she gets from Ushimatsu. Nothing we didn’t see coming. What I personally didn’t expect was for Yoshi to come to the conclusion that the town really didn’t need economic stimulus or any sort of change. For a moment I wondered then what the show would do next? If there’s no overall goal to the series, apart from getting Yoshi to love the countryside again, what’s she going to do apart from showing up for events? But it struck me that while the townspeople are fine with things as they are, the town still has a problem with its dwindling population. I don’t know what Yoshi and her team can do about that, but should be fun to see her try.
I caught up with Renai Boukon, but I have nothing to say about it, apart that the crazy, nearly random atmosphere I liked in episode one might be a bug, not a feature … So it’s on to Hinako Note. Eps 2-3 with this show aren’t filling me with hope, either. I know shows like this need to stop everything for the sake of cuteness from time to time, but episode 2 stretched things too far. They decide to form a theatre club, which we already knew from ep1, and there’s a very long and dull flashback to Hinako’s childhood scarecrow days. I’m already sick of that joke, I hope they retire it soon. Things get a little better in episode 3, where they finally start school, and Kuu (my favorite character right now) manages to cover Hinako’s scarecrow reflex as a joke. Meanwhile, all the girls join another theatre group at the school. How many do they need? But a new character, jealous (over Chiaki) tsundere Yua, tries to outshine Hinako, who stupidly takes it as a kindness. Still, we need a tsundere to liven things up in this show.
ACCA-13 11 gives us the promised intrigue in Furawau in two ways. First there’s the promised attempt on Jean’s life, in the midst of doing the same thing he’s been doing all around: accepting cigarettes. … Rather a nice touch, to signify “we’re with you on the coup” by offering Jean a single cigarette. I should have noticed it earlier. Wonder how long it took Jean to figure it out. Naturally, it’s Nino who takes the bullet, glad to find out he’s not dead. The second intrigue from Furawau is Lilium finally spilling the beans to Grossular (for no reason) about how his district will run the entire country, due, i suppose, to their oil. Grossular is mad enough about it that I’m sure he’ll do something in the final episode. As will Jean; that line about needing a final push is oblique enough to be intriguing. We also get a much-needed, sober speech by Warbler, in Badon for centennial party, who thinks everyone in on the coup is making a terrible mistake, and when you hear the higher-ups talk about it, all the the talk about protecting the citizenry sounds like empty promises a dictatorship uses to justify itself. I’m glad someone said it. As for me, and probably everyone else reading this, I’m looking forward to next week’s Anniversary celebration!
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 11 felt like a finale episode for a while. I guess holiday episodes often feel that way. It’s because there’s a lot of reflection here around the New Year. Everyone thanks each other (Kobayashi thanks Tohru a lot). Also, all the side characters show up at the shrine and at K’s place afterward, like it’s a big farewell. Turns out there’s at least one more episode to go. As for the episode, I’ve rarely seen one concerning New Years where so little happens (winning a kotatsu nonwithstanding) but remains interesting up to the end.
From one viewpoint, Youjo Senki 11 was a major disappointment. The enemy, with that crazy guy, has Tanya and her crew in dire straits, and we’ve actually seen a few of them shot down, the first time I’ve seen them take causalities apart from that potato. But they regroup, Tanya survives a ton explosions at point blank range and kills the crazy guy. What’s more, all the soldiers shot down are alive. And the Empire wins the war. Yay, I guess. I was rooting for the other side. And naturally, we get a lot of shots of Imperial people being smug and marching down the arc de triomphe, or whatever they call it in this show. What a letdown.
Well, since the show has moved into WWII territory, we can hope that the Republic’s Dunkirk maneuver means there will be more resistance. Perhaps the United States of Arkansas will join the fray. Meanwhile, we can enjoy Tanya being upset because she couldn’t go and bomb that port and REALLY end the war, and wonder if a bit of genuine patriotism hasn’t infected her. And we can laugh at Being X for his latest failure at the god-job.
Seiren 12 polishes off the third romance in not terribly inspiring fashion. The best moment is before the opening credits, where Shouichi appears with dramatic western music, to display his determination. Later, he and Kyouko meet up on the roof and have a perfectly normal and sane conversation with a few oddities thrown in, such as the fact that he’s carrying around the underwear she made him (later she wears them, making you wonder what went on between). And then they kiss. The rest of the episode is filler, the Miss Santa competition, the Swim Club’s oden, venison, etc. Amusing, but underwhelming.
Seiren had its moments, but it never really came up to the level of Amagami SS. I liked some of the recurring themes and the innuendo, the venison and the rabbit hutch to name two, but Amagami felt much more playful; it had more fun with the characters and the situation and would get inventive when it turns out one of the girls is a bore. Seiren had no such tricks up its sleeve, and none of the girls really stood out in terms of interest, well, maybe Tsuneki. Also, and I’ve said it before, Souichi is no Junichi. The latter was more active, daring to assert his desires, and was more kinky (remember when he complimented the breasts of the entire girls swim team?). Shouichi was just a boy, and an overly passive one to boot. Overall, while it had potential, Seiren rarely took advantage.
Catching up with second, okay, and the third week, starting with Seiren, where we left our hero Shouichi getting freaked out by a girl crawling into his bedroom late at night. Turns out to be Tsuneki, of course. Her parents threw her into this study camp and she tried to escape. Soon Shouichi is lending her his sweats, leading to lewd rumors about the two, which Tsuneki happily plays up, partly for the fun, mostly for the fun of messing with Shouichi. I thought for a while the theme for this romance would be aromatic sweats, but it might be domestication. Not only does she cook for Shouichi (okay, and Ikou and that nice girl who looked a little disappointed when she learned her new friend wasn’t a slut), but she does his laundry, too. Well, she’s been wearing it … On the romance front, the two have bonded and you can see romantic thoughts forming, but nothing tangible yet, no belly-button kissing. Okay, unfair to always compare this to Amagami, but I have to say that Shouichi still has some work to do catching up to Junichi.
Youjo Senki 2 gives us the inevitable backstory, where we learn that Tanya was once a modern-day salaryman and complete asshole on our world, cheerfully firing people and plotting his way to the top, until one of the fired people decides to push back, so to speak. There follows, frozen in our time, a strange conversation with God over the existence of God–which for some reason pisses God off–and he awakens as baby Tanya, and Yuuki Aoi’s voice takes over, an amusing contrast.
Little Tanya is about as nasty as the salaryman was, but all she wants is a quiet, easy life. Ironically that means joining the military, no lessons taught him about the disparity of wealth. The best scene comes later, while on a training mission she gets her first taste of battle. Some odd moments here, among them Tanya’s brief lapse into despair until her blood-lust awakens, her ability to out-fly five more experienced soldiers, but mostly the self-destruct thing that she does later. Not only did she not self-destruct, but she said as she fell that looking like you fought hard and then leaving the battlefield is the best way to get by, but she DID fight bravely, and sustained injuries. They were right to give her that medal; why was she so surprised? Well, it was a good episode.
Episode 3 has Tanya being transferred to an instructional division, which she likes, but it means she has to test new magic jewels, which she doesn’t, especially when the damn things prove to be unstable and blow up in the sky. She manages to get those experiments shut down, but that leads to God getting pissed off and fixing it by “blessing” the jewels so that she has to do a prayer in order for them to work. Whereupon I started rooting wholeheartedly for Tanya. A god that demands faith and punishes those who refuse to worship aren’t fit for the office of deity.
Demi-chan wa Kataritai 2 shifts the focus to Kyouko the dullahan. It’s about as sweet as the first episode. Takahashi is nice to her, after the initial shock, and Kyouko quickly gets a crush on him. Hikari can’t help but meddle and soon Takahashi is doing an experiment (actually a date), but with Kyouko’s head only. Hikari is messing around with Kyouko’s body. It sounds dirty but it isn’t, though the show does briefly tease the thought of the advantages and disadvantages of sex with a dullahan. They also touch on interpersonal relations on a more mundane level, like the initial shock and discomfort that strangers might feel, and as a side note I’m surprised that the people Takahashi and Kyouko see on their “date” don’t do more double-takes; there are only three in the world, after all. The other thing that bothers me is that Takahashi is a little quick to explain things that Kyouko ought to know already, like how to hold the head while walking to prevent motion sickness. Surely Kyouko knows this already.
Little Witch Academia 2 has Akko starting classes, interesting and boring, and news that no one knows where Shiny Chariot is and no one really cares, especially the talented rival Diana Cavendish. Naturally this inspires Akko to defend Shiny’s honor and the humiliation that comes with it. All expected. Then, also expected, she gets some redemption, with the sick Jennifer Memorial Tree. Episode twos are often this uneventful–introduce some side characters, maybe the rival, make hints about the main story arc if there is one. As for the latter, much more interesting than that tree, we know SC is missing and Akko never collected that one card. Though I’m much more interested in that tower near the school. It’s been a long time since I saw the original show, so I forget what it’s all about.
Kuromukuro 24 has the big battle, but it felt rather small. I said last time that I wondered what the rest of the world was doing while the Efidolg was busy getting ready to upload the hinge stone. Maybe they haven’t been checking out their answering machine because this battle was between all the regulars with some extra soldiers thrown in. You knew the battle would go well when these soldiers aren’t treated like cannon fodder but actually deliver timely shots that save GAUS pilots’ butts, and so the whole thing is a success. No one had to make a noble sacrifice and die honorably, though just about every character made such a declaration at one point or another in the episode. Well, apart from Kennosuke and Yukina, who trusted their lives to each other, a nice moment made silly by his marriage offer, which, of course, everyone hears. In fact, they gain a life, since Sebastian returns (at just the right time to bail out Sophie–this battle has a few too many “in the nick of time” moments).
Apart from those moments it’s a pretty good battle, maybe for me because I didn’t really know what the good guys were up to. Why were Ken/Yukina fighting alone? What about the GAUS people? And so the strategy worked. The necessary people showed up to bail out the ones who needed it (in the nick of time! Over and over), while the others snuck in to the still fully functional headquarters and rebooted it. Frankly, Efidolg didn’t fight very well. Typical bad-guy arrogance. I don’t think they expected the enemy to have improved, not only in skill but with firepower; I mean, in episode 2 those shots would have bounced right off. The two efildog robots fusing to make the Final Boss made me think that casualties would finally occur, but they (thanks to Yukina, of all people, perhaps channeling her inner Yukihime. I hope they remember to explain that) defeat it with little trouble. I’m a little shocked. Did ANYONE on our side die in this fight? I figured Tom might. Well, it’s all good. Now to figure out what those 220-odd cycles amount to before the next invasion.
And in #25, the battle is won! Hooray! Now things can get depressing. Everyone in the show has to figure out what to do next, starting with the high school buddies, most of it predictable. Nice to see Ryoto is still determined to pass exams and join the mecha military. I’m also not worried about Jundai; it’s not that he has an overreaching goal in life, but his desire to film and broadcast minute-by-minute will keep him moving toward something. Wish Mika had an idea, but there’s nothing to say a highschooler should know exactly what she wants to do with the rest of her life. As for Jose, who cares? Then we move on to adults, including Tom, now not fully human but fine with it, burning some unseen orders and having to work with Liu again, to his, er, delight.
Then it’s the main characters’ turn, and it gets more unpleasant. The UN, having won for now, is pushing people around. Hiromi is canned, poor Muetta has a hard time, forced to wear a neck thing like Kennosuke once had, and being (mis)treated as a spy. Almost as sad is Zeru, whose work is done and wants to return to his home world and fight there. But the giant earth forces stand in his way. Kennosuke is disgusted by all of this, and so we reach the big emotional moment, when he decides to go off with Zeru and fight, if they can. Being a samurai this is appropriate for him, but also he decides not to take Yukina along. As Ryoto said earlier, in a rare moment of clarity, she shouldn’t have to live her life on a battlefield. Of course, Yukina isn’t very happy with this decision, and once again in this series, we see how powerless she is. In this episode we see this is true for everyone.
Macross Delta 25 is a long, deep breath before the big fighting begins. First we have to take care of a few matters. We learn that Hayate’s dad, told to destroy the protoculture ruins with that dimensional weapon, actually carried it away to lessen the casualties. Berger tells them more things, much of it steeped in franchise lore that I never learned or have forgotten, but it makes us all wonder, not for the first time, just who the hell Lady M is and what she’s on about. Oh, NUNS is going to blow up Windemere and our fleet is ordered to Ragnak because that’s the other important ruins site for galactic control, which is lucky because the captive Mikumo, still in thrall of that phrase, is ordered to sing and so all the NUNS fleet goes boom with their own weapons. This is right at the end, and after a long introspective session where everyone swears they will protect or defend something, much like he Kuromukuro guys did, come to think of it, only we’ll have to wait for next week to see it. Lots of angles to play at, but I think Walkure will have to rescue Mikumo somehow, and maybe Heinz with him. Oh, Hayate’s fight with Keith for a bit, and Bogue will take another shot at Freyja.
And finally, I’m going to say goodbye to Sousei no Onmyouji. I let out a sigh last season when I learned it would run for another, but now I learn they intend to keep it up for a whole year. Sorry, I don’t like the show that much, and with my time strictly limited now–I don’t even know if I’m going to watch any shows next season (though things will hopefully lighten up next year)–it’s time to prioritize.
BTW, sorry, but I may not cover the new shows for the Fall season. But I’m not abandoning this blog entirely.
I just wrote about Rewrite 2 yesterday, so might as well get three out of the way …
I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not, but this is a busy show. In this episode Kotarou informs us all about the Harvest festival, meets a guy, apparently Chihaya’s butler, who hates him, gets on a mission to find a tsuchinoko, which they actually catch (well, Chihaya does), leading to a brief meeting with an office lady with a fishing rod, disrupts class with his buddy, sees what’s underneath Chihaya’s eyepatch, gets beaten up by Lucia twice and gets a lecture on recycling to boot, sees Ribbongirl, meets a nasty person who sets off a devil hound to eat him, but he’s rescued by someone, meets a guy named Esaka at a ramen stand, who tells him things, then the butler guy tells him he hates him again. Not to mention all of Kotarou’s forays into lust, insulting one-liners, and general supportive lines. Things never stand still in this series.
In Taboo Tattoo 2, Izzy, or Bluesey Fruesey, goes slightly against orders by not dragging Seigi to America forcefully but instead invites him to join her group, the, er, Team Blue Moon, and tells Tom that she’ll get him used to his powers before putting him in danger. Alas, the show doesn’t want to waste any time, and by the end of the episode, nice Touko is been converted into a mad killer who wants to kill him (this is what happens when you follow protagonists in violent action series around, silly girl!), Tom is maybe dead, but I doubt it, and Izzy is fighting a battle of her own with a sadist, at the loss of much of her clothing. I must say, the new ruler of that country, Aryabhata, doesn’t waste any time. This is after Izzy, of course, transfers into Seigi’s class and other high school comedy hijinks. It’s straightforward, and while I expect the good guys to counterattack quickly, it’s a credit to the series that I’m curious as to how they’ll do it. I’m betting on the rabbit.
Oh look, here’s TT 3 just down the pipe.
As I figured, the good guys beat off the bad guys, and in doing so we learned a little more about both sides. Iltutmish, the little blonde thing, was given a chance in life by that nasty princess, so now she’s a cold-blooded killer who spouts strange-logic lines about justice and what it means to her, the usual bullshit to justify her insanity, perhaps not knowing that the guy she’s fighting is actually named Justice. Iltutmish also keeps stray and hurt animals, while the show works on two concepts: “The weak must be put out do die,” vs. “The weak must be protected.” I think she’s got a moral dilemma coming up. Meanwhile, for the good guys, Touko now has a tattoo! Not sure what it does yet, but no doubt it will come in handy some day. Plus the usual infodumps, and more of Izzy’s motives for keeping Seigi a secret, even though the bad guys even know all about him. Oh, and we meet a new character who will probably die next week.
You know, I probably should drop Masou Gakuen HxH, but after two episodes of pretty much the same material I still can’t bring myself to do so. It helps that episode 2’s opening scene was maybe the funniest of the season, with Reiri, the principal, announcing to the class that the earth is in grave danger, and so Kizuna will be required to sex up all the girls in the school. This is accompanied by shots of Kizuna looking shocked, or in action with Aine, and was so ridiculous I couldn’t help but laugh. After that the girls of his squad (he’s the captain now) bicker over him in various ways, we get an infodump, and we meet the American ace, Yurishia, and then a mission to an island to get samples of something, and of course a bad guy or twelve appears, Yurishia’s power is low, and we welcome a new member of Kizuna’s harem. Now she, like Aine, sneaks into his room for some fun. Assuming we get a new girl every week it’s going to get awful crowded in there.
I’m close to dropping Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru!. Last time I said that the three characters’ traits had already gotten tiresome, but that new characters might improve things, but this week they didn’t even bother to introduce any. Instead, we got a handful of unfunny sketches with the same old group, with Subaru’s 2D love pretty much dominating things again, except perhaps for the first one, where Usami’s latest labor of love is ruined by the guys’ idiocy, and their attempts to cover it up, so to speak, made it even worse. There was a sweet bit during the missing girl scene, where he draws the girl’s mom, but then it was back to unfunny loli stuff. Bring in that new girl ASAP, or any one of the others that Usami hangs out with when she’s not wasting her time at that club.
Sousei no Onmyouji 4 among other things, strengthens the bond between Rokuro and his “big bro” Ryogo. You can probably already guess the way they do it. They have a fight, or rather, Rokuro doesn’t like being reminded to do his homework, Ryogo goes off to do an exorcism and is about to get killed when Rokuro shows up and beats up the monsters for him. Not much more than that, but we also see Rokuro swallowing his pride and begging Benio to come with him. That to me was more surprising. I had no doubts he’d stand up for Ryogo when things got dire, but to see him asking for help suggests he might be maturing a little. That said, the apology for the argument in the morning, though expected, was to me a waste of time. Rokuro shows his feelings with action; as Ryogo and Benio both say this episode, he coolest when he’s fighting demons.
Episode 5 is a bit of a letdown possibly because there was less at stake. All that really happens is we see Rokuro being slowly drawn back to the exorcism world, and we meet a super-talented exorcist named Shimon who’s only slightly older than our heroes. And an asshole to boot. However, he’s right about Rokuro not taking this seriously. Fortunately he’s sent back to Kyoto after the episode’s battling, but now that they’ve established his character unfortunately he’ll be back.
In episode 3 Bungou Stray Dogs made a nice transition from a stylish, a little silly growing-up story and made things darker than expected. In episode 4 they play with the potential for darkness further before pulling the rug out from under us. They start at the beginning where we find one of the near-death guys from last week was getting some … interesting medical treatment. Glad he’s all right. But when Atsushi learns there’s a 7 billion yen bounty on his head he decides to run off so as not to put his new comrades in danger. Rejected again. Meanwhile, the Black Lizard gang, as nasty and ruthless as last week’sguys if not more, assemble to attack the agency, so they can’t guard Atsushi anymore. Looks to be pretty bleak again.
The thing is, the Black Lizards are introduced, given name-things, set up like they’re going to be dangerous threats. When Atsushi hears the gunfire from the agency offices and runs back, we’re expecting the worst, not what actually happens. Well-played! It answers one of two questions I had: just how effective and dangerous is this agency (answered), but the other one, what Atsushi can do for them has yet to be answered. But that’s the long-term arc we’re talking about.
In episode 5 the detective agency actually solves a mystery. As far as mysteries go it’s not all that great. The clues that Rampo picked upon could be explained away in court. The main thrust of the episode is to give master detective Rampo some star time. So we see his colleagues, even Kunikuda and Rampo, fawn over him, we see his detective act, and at the end more talk about how he doesn’t even have a gift. That wrapped around the mystery, that’s all. Since we see a lot of Kunikuda in the preview I expect it’s his turn next week.
I guess I’ll keep watching Anne Happy though I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because there seems to be a goal to the series. Maybe the girls will find ways to be happy in spite of their misfortune, probably through their friendship. Or maybe there’s more to the story; the principal are taking quite an interest in these girls, both on the core team and the two outsiders, Hibiki and Ren, whom we finally meet in episode three (wonder what Ren’s misfortune is–being of interest to cuddly animals really isn’t a curse). It’s like they’re being scouted for something. And the school is shown to have sophisticated methods for measuring and evaluating all sorts of things. Makes you suspicious. Meanwhile, all the girls spend these two episodes running around, being both unfortunate and cute, getting nowhere, sort of like the show as a whole right now.
Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta? spends most of episode 2 setting up the series’ main story: getting Ako to know the difference between the gaming world and the real one, if you can call a normal high school life “real.” Kyou’s plan (without seeing ep3 yet) looks to be a sensible one: have them all do their gaming in the same room, where both realities can progress at once. However, I understand that Akane and Kyou want to hide their gaming life from their HS friends, but Hideki doesn’t have to. He could explain what’s going on to his friends and they’d probably be jealous of him. Stuff like that, and the lack of interest I have in just about every character, is putting me close to dropping this series.
And after episode 3 I’m still pretty close. I managed figure out that Hideki had developed real-world feelings for Ako, though the conversation he had with Akane and Kyou was so twisted around that I didn’t know what everyone was getting at … maybe because, even if he hadn’t developed feelings for Ako, he still ought to be concerned that she had gone off on a RL meeting with another guy, and the girls were idiots for not immediately coming along with him. But, though I should have seen it coming, the identity of the guy, and of the cat girl, took me by surprise, and gave us the tasty concept that Hideki had learned to treat game girls as girls, only to discover that not only was the girl actually a girl, but his teacher. If that had happened to me I would probably ignore the teacher/advisor’s rule and never come to school again.