Genshiken N 12, Watamote and Teekyuu finales

Genshiken Nidaime 12 has two stories running in it that are sort of related.

Give 'em hell, Madarame!
Give ’em hell, Madarame!

In the first and more “fun” section the Saki/Madarame arc finally finishes. Not only has he more-or-less admitted that he’s had a thing for Saki for years, now he’s forced to go face the rest of the club and discover they all knew about it. Keiko’s idea, of course. But it winds up as more than that as most of the girls that really matter (and two boys posing as girls) posing with him for a harem shoot. They’re doing it to cheer him up, or something, but there’s an element of “real life” in the idea, even if Madarame later says harems don’t exist in real life. Madarame’s harem right now consists of Angela (absent), Hato, maybe Sue (absent), and Keiko (who isn’t permitted in the harem photo–this is real life, after all), and like many harems, most of the characters are unaware they’re in one. That aside, it takes Madarame’s returning to his old self and going on a long spiel, questioning the ratio of girls in a cosplay harem of trap characters, before he really feels better (until Saki shoots him down again). If you told Madarame he had a harem, he would deny it.

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Part two seemed at first like a completely new chapter (it probably was), this one involving Ohno trying to face her future with no job lined up and no real desire to get one. It’s not as “fun” as the first one because the subject is a serious one. It’s made more fun by Yoshitake’s suggestion that she release a cosplay CD of her own, though that might damage her chances for employment. A rambling drunken cosplay scene where this all comes out is further livened up by Tanaka more-or-less proposing to her, though I’m not sure that’s what he intended to do. His future is uncertain as well, but at least he has a direction in mind, and some options. And, to my surprise, they bring Madarame back. I was sure the show was done with him for now, but it turns out, maybe because of the thought he should leave the club soon, he’s just made his future as uncertain as the others by quitting his job. This is going to make the final episode a little less joyful than most of the other shows ending soon.

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And we have the finale of Watamote, and like everyone expected, Tomoko is exactly the same at the end as she was at the beginning. And once again, it’s not that she’s unpopular, really, as no one really notices her. And when they are forced to notice her, they often find her kind of creepy, and it’s just often unfair. In this episode she gets involved in killing a cockroach, but apparently stomping on it just creeped people out. How ELSE do you kill a cockroach? It’s not that she killed the roach, it’s that it was HER killing the cockroach. Apparently those vibes wafting from her isn’t just her imagination. Indifference from her classmates is one thing, forced indifference because they find her repellent is another. Or something. Moving on, it all adds up to an unpleasant show where there’s no hope for the protagonist, everyone knows it, and all that happens is she tries something and it fails or backfires, and she’s as miserable as before, if not worse. I think I kept watching because of a foolish belief that maybe something really would get better for her, and now that it’s over I realize how foolish that idea was. On the other hand, it looked great; they had countless weird ways to portray Tomoko’s angst, my favorite being the cubism face they revived this episode (nice Another
reference too). … Not another season, please. I might feel obliged to watch it, in case, you know, things get better.

Not really a finale.
Not really goodbye.

Teekyuu winds up the season with a gag every five seconds, still way off their best scores of mid-season, but they’re coming right back with a new season, so maybe they can turn it around then.

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Railgun S 23, Watamote 11

Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S 23 is an episode of long talks that I suppose were necessary before we get to the big battle next week.

What a strange concept!
What a strange concept!

The first, inevitably, comes from Aritomi, one of those smirking speeches bad guys give that give away just about everything, along with some twisted logic involving espers and normal people. While we need to hear his motivations, it comes as no surprise that his are rather predictable, and not new to this show. Normal people are ignored in favor of espers, etc. In the four seasons this franchise has had, we’ve explored this no doubt legitimate problem from every angle, so it’s become tiresome. Anyway, he’s going to start a revolution at the conference tomorrow. Misaka and Shinobou listen to it and then have a talk of their own, where the other old Railgun chestnut “I have to fix this on my own,” is held up and destroyed by Misaka, who knows better.

Pre-battle bonding moment.
Pre-battle bonding moment.

Then we get the next talk, back at Judgement headquarters, and thankfully there are no more themes evoked apart from the “every smiling” image (However, we do switch to STUDY doing more gloating and using the “darkness” theme somewhere in there). Instead it’s one of those strategy talks where everyone is depressed for a while. They don’t know where Janie is, can’t get Anti-Skills to do anything because they’re compromised, and so on. So everyone makes a few phone calls, the smiling image is evoked, everyone cheers up, and we end with everyone set up and prepared for the human/robot showdown. Saten with her bat was a nice touch. So I can forgive all the talk we had this week, it all had to be said (even the stupid parts), and next week we get what we really want from the show, unless you’re in it entirely to watch Kuroko grope Misaka.

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Watamote 11 is as close as this series gets to a happy episode. So happy that they stuck balloons on the closing credits. This comes after a girl in a dog suit gives Tomoko a balloon, and a hug. Now, I could add that before this the dog had been giving balloons and hugs to children, and so we come back to the thought that Tomoko is no more than an overgrown elementary-schooler, but sometimes everyone needs a hug. The girl in the suit was the school festival chairman, who had been running into Tomoko throughout the episode and seen her either moping or injured, and so borrowed the suit to give Tomoko a special gift. And so, for one of the few times in the series, a stranger does something nice to Tomoko because she needs it.

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Normally, strangers, not to mention classmates and teachers, treat her with benign indifference. The same is true for the earlier parts of this episode. Her class is busy with their cosplay cafe plans but somehow doesn’t manage to include Tomoko in them. This is fine with Tomoko, it seems. School festival–bah! But we know her too well. She wants to be put to work, be part of a team, if only they’d remember she existed. On the other hand, they’re probably not sure how good a job she’d do, and their fears are confirmed when she injures herself with the box cutter. Otherwise she mopes a lot, gets sick, the usual. Until Yuu visits the festival and she realizes that she’s actually … having fun, and it’s because she’s doing things with a friend. Her problems are still there, but the goal has rarely been so obvious. Alas, she still has no way of fixing them, so it’s nice when a stranger in a dog suit gives her a balloon and a hug.

Watemote and Genshiken N 10, Teekyuu still slumping

Trouble is, it's the same as the old show.
Trouble is, it’s the same as the old show.

After a shocking opening bit, Watamote 10 settles down and becomes simply depressing. There’s a seating change and Tomoko suddenly finds herself stuck right in the middle of that group of chatty, flirty kids. I can sympathize with her. Being stuck with in with a group of people who are everything you’re not day in, day out, when you’ve already got social anxieties, that’s a lot of pressure. But it calms down when she finds an alternate place to eat her lunch, it’s pleasant to watch her enjoying her break in peace–until THAT gets taken away, too. That’s a problem with this series. Even when she isn’t being obnoxious about something, the comedy gods conspire to make her miserable anyway. All she wanted was a quiet place to eat lunch. It leads to the saddest scene yet, her eating lunch late, in an empty classroom, the other desks bunched around her like a fortress. The second part shows her deciding to form one of those useless Do Anything clubs you see people make in anime. You can see the punchline a mile away, but once again, she’s trying to do something on her own; the gods should at least toss her a bone. Of course, they ARE comedy gods, and the main reason she did it was to get out of helping her class with cultural festival work, but still … These scenes have two Tomoko fantasies about being in a club. I don’t really get the point of that. As I said, we knew the outcome way in advance. Were they trying to fool us by setting one up as the fantasy to make us believe the next one would be reality? We know this show too well for that.

Ogiue and Hato ponder the fictional potential of Hato having sex with his brother.
Ogiue and Hato ponder the fictional potential of Hato having sex with his brother.

Genshiken Nidaime 10 is another one where we get a look at a character’s unhappy high school experience, in order to reference the shock the character feels when old friends pop by. This time it’s Hato’s turn. It’s not so bad as far as Genshiken flashbacks go, certainly better than Ogiue’s. The three girls, Kon, Kaminaga, and, er, the tall buzz-cut girl, show up out of curiousity, and with a vague sense of guilt for what they pretty unintentionally did years ago. I’m not sure why Hato felt he had to read Kaminaga’s BL stuff in the john, but such triggers are what unfortunate fictional misunderstandings are made of. And it gets mostly straightened out, to the point where Kaminaga can suggest that Hato’s got a thing for his brother and Hato can calmly nod and say he understands where she’s coming from. Ogiue, who’s been trying to keep the peace up to now, adds fictional embellishments. They’re all rotten girls there, even if one of them is a guy.

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Teekyuu 22, by my estimate, has a gag every five seconds, still way off their best. It didn’t help that the show felt it had to explain the rule about a batter intentionally getting hit in the strike zone. That took a dent out of it. They should have called in the Apaches sooner.

Railgun S 21, Watamote 9, Teekyuu’s still in a slump

Two things stand out in Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S 21. One has to do with the show’s essential message, the other is just an annoying term.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! WRONG!
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! WRONG!

It was an action-free episode where the girls get up and start working on the Febri situation. Misaka gets clues from a lot of different sources, things that Dr. Frog said, and Kongou, and even a Sister (who manages to guilt-trip Misaka as well), yet Misaka’s reaction to all this is to rescue Febri without involving the others, AGAIN. But this time, mainly thanks to Kongou of all people, the message about entrusting some of the work (and danger) to others finally gets through her thick skull, and when she does tell the girls they snap into action–and find nothing. I expected nothing less from them. On the other hand, it’s much more fun when everyone gets involved. Anti-Skills and Dr. Frog, however, help out as best they can.

Stupid Question.
Stupid Question.

The “annoying term” I referred to is “the darkness,” or alternately, “the underworld.” Twice Dr. Frog asks Misaka if she’s ready to get involved with such people. But I’m trying to remember a time when she WASN’T dealing with them. It seems like there’s more underworld in Academy City than world, as much fighting in dark buildings as there is walking in the sunshine. Those girls she fought earlier in the season, the people they worked for, who had also made a deal with Accelerator, and let’s not forget the entire first season. Don’t forget all those thugs the show coughs up whenever they need an easily-dispatched threat. So when Dr. Frog (who should know all this already) arranges a meeting with one of these mysterious underworld people I figured it had to be someone Misaka had already met. Delighted to say that I was right.

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I expect the rest of the season to be just as insane as Therestina is.

A rare happy moment with a kitty-kat.
A rare happy moment with a kitty-kat.

Watamote 9 is a low-key affair, where we watch Tomoko mope through the rest of her summer vacation. Nothing hugely embarrassing happens to her this week, and she even gets a happy moment watching a meteor shower with a cat. She had wished to watch it with a boy, and she gets a boy cat, but she seems to appreciate the irony. Elsewhere, I have to admire her steely resolve when having to sort through old toys and stuff to see what to throw away, she recognizes most of it as junk and doesn’t give in to sentiment. I also respect how, when told to clean the bathroom, she buckles down and cleans it, which is more than I do …

A baseball episode, for gods sake ...  Does the show even care about its gag count?
A baseball episode, for gods sake … Does the show even care about its gag count?

Meanwhile, Teekyuu 21 continues the slump, with only one gag every six seconds! A couple of weeks ago they were down to three. Snap out of it, girls!

Uchouten and Watamote 8, plus disappointing Teekyuu stats

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Uchouten Kazoku 8 starts with last week’s surprise, as well as some startling new information which doesn’t add up until the end. It’s also an elegy of some sort for the old man, for us, really, as the family had said goodbye long ago. In that respect it’s a lovely episode of memory, and it becomes even more poignant when Akadama-sensei tells us his side of what happened that evening. Souichirou hears that Yajima is in love with Kaisei (whom we better damn well meet one of these days), though she’s engaged to Yasaburou(!). Souichirou tells his son not to grow separate from the rest of the family. Then we later discover that Souichirou met Akadama to say goodbye before going off to … wherever they go.

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I missed it the first time, in fact, I had a paragraph written about how he went off to be caught, deliberately, but actually Souichiriou meets Akadama for the last time after his death, not before, and the questions that raised about Yajiro and the rest of the family. Instead, we simply have a restatement of the fact that Souichirou went to his death with few if any regrets, and the questionable assertion by Yasaburou that the death united the family. The only question I have is why Yasaburou isn’t sharing more of these stories with his brothers and mother. Especially in an episode filled with memories and regrets like this one is. Well, the other question has to do with the details of Souichirou’s capture, or maybe it’s not important. They have idiot blood, you know, the show won’t shut up about it, though I must say Souichirou and Yasaburou seem to have less than the others.

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Watamote 8 was the most painful one to watch yet. The only part that offered any hope for her at all was her cousin’s internal decision to forgive her for all the shit she tried to pull. As for Tomoko, the return karma burned her even more than usual, and it was worse because she is so idiotic in letting things spiral out of control. She could have just said the truth, that the boy wasn’t her boyfriend, just a guy, and kept up her fabrications. Safer that way. But perhaps the most pathetic part was that card game. Not only is cheating schoolkids a low thing to do, but it brings her the only adulation she ever gets. On the other hand, I did admire her slight-of-hand. Maybe she ought to learn some other tricks like that. She doesn’t have anything else to do. Sigh.

So am I!
So am I!

Finally, Teekyuu 20 has an embarrassing drop in gags. They had been averaging about one gag every 3-4 seconds, but episode 20 takes over an average drops to over five! There was only one gag in the teaser, and later one of the girls goes into a ten-second speech about how they’re all different and how that makes them special, and there was no gag whatsoever! C’mon girls! You know better than that!

Sevens: Watamote, Uchouten Kazoku, oh, and Teekyuu

Well, that's how I spend most of MY free time ...
Well, that’s how I spend most of MY free time …

Watamote 7 shows Tomoko on the first eight days or so of summer break, sometimes agonizing because she’s not doing anything. But the thing is, she actually is. Sure, little of it can be called productive. She surfs the net, she watches tv, she reads books and magazines, and from time to time she worries about where her vacation is going, but on the whole she seems happy. There’s a stigma placed on people who prefer to be alone, and Tomoko certainly feels it, but it’s really nothing to be ashamed about. And in Tomoko’s world, the outsiders may not be understanding, but once again in this episode, no one is deliberately unkind to her. They are simply indifferent. So enjoy your free time alone, Tomoko! And good on you for going to that seiyuu handshake event (and good for the seiyuu for being so professional), at least trying a webcam, and doing that creative sound splicing, even if that was to satisfy your own perversions. You’re doing stuff. Relax!

Uchouten Kazoku 7 was a bit of a disappointment, for two reasons.

Sorry.
Sorry.

First, I expected a big fight in the baths with lots of slapstick damage and tails flying, but the only tail the flew was Kinkaku’s or maybe his brother’s. The comic bit with the iron underpants was okay, but surely those two tanuki aren’t THAT stupid. And why don’t they tranform into something threatening so we could have that big fight? The second disappointment, well, not really a disappointment, was the discovery that Yajirou spent the evening getting drunk with Father the night he was caught.

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Yaichiro is hurt by this news, but Yasaborou takes it with his usual calm. I suppose it’s his nature, and his carefree look on life, or maybe hearing about Hotei’s meeting with him, and the respect he felt, had Yasaburou feel like his father had died well. Or you could argue that it reflects on Yasaburou’s maybe too-heavy sense of fatality. Also, even with the brothers being hit hard by the news, it doesn’t do much to the story except perhaps explain why Yajirou’s now living as a frog in a well. What happens next with the story? That election? More on Benten? I don’t know where this show is going.

School athletic festival.
School athletic festival.

I don’t remember the exact stats, but Teekyuu is still managing a gag about every 3 1/3 seconds. Midseason form.

Titan 18, Watamote and Genshiken N 6

Parts of Shingeki no Kyojin 18 doesn’t work very well, like when someone says something. Other parts are great, like whenever the female giant is around.

No, it's so we can get bored listening to you and the others speculate about it.
No, it’s so we can get bored listening to you and the others speculate about it.

I swear, after all those episodes of “normal” giants lumbering around looking grotesque and eating people, it’s a relief to see one who does her killing with such panache. It makes everything else in the episode, fraught with plot though they be, seem like dull filler. Okay, and a lot of it IS dull filler. How many times and from how many angles can we hear corpsmen mutter things about Levi’s weird strategy to run to the giant tree forest? Since Levi isn’t talking, and Armin of all people doesn’t get it, it’s confirmed, and we don’t have to hear more of the same from Jean and everyone else. Besides, we can pretty much guess. The same goes with the constant flare signals and the endless speculation about them. They use up those flares almost as fast as they should be using up their gas.

Cruel, yet classy.
Cruel, yet classy.

But, as I said, all is forgiven when the giantess shows up. I shouldn’t be rooting for her, but there’s a certain art to her murdering style, a confidence because it’s obvious she knows what the soldiers can throw at her. She seems to take a certain satisfaction at crushing their attacks one by one. I know who the good and bad characters are in this series, but I wanted her to pick off a few more. Of course, she would use a different maneuver each time. And naturally, I’m waiting for Eren to take that bite and grow up so we can have the inter-gender giant throwdown we all know is coming. Of course, next week will be more chasing and we probably won’t get what we really want until episode 20 …

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Watamote 6, at least the first part, makes me wonder just how smart Tomoko really is, I mean, on a basic getting-through-the-day level. In the first part, she learns that sex can increase certain hormone levels and make you more physically attractive, so it’s off to her games for a bit of, er, beauty work. That much I get, but she somehow thinks not bathing is part of the process. Never mind the soda, and the ants. Really? She didn’t notice she didn’t have all those ants crawling around her? The second half, where she tries anything she can to get anyone to go to the fireworks with her, is all right, a little dull, but it’s rescued by a nice ironic twist at the end, where you expect one thing (finding a fireworks mate) or another thing (not finding one), and you get a third thing (ahem). Nice fireworks, too.

Madarame gets asked to the clubroom for this?
Madarame gets asked to the clubroom for this?

Meanwhile, Genshiken Nidaime 6 continues to play with gender issues, and stuff. First, the girls try to make Hato feel better about his actions at Comic Fest by all agreeing that Madarame’s a bottom, and here’s Ogiue’s old drawings to prove it! Though god knows what Sue (who had the original idea) was thinking when she asked Madarame to come to the clubroom, and shouldn’t Kuchiki just be kicked out of the club for his actions? After giving our lad some more emotional scars, we get more gender confusion thanks to Yoshitake, her sibling, and suspicious club leadership people. I generally like Yoshitake, but sometimes I want to strangle her, especially when she tries to peek at Hato when he’s showering, which I suppose is odd of me considering all the anime episodes I’ve seen where a guy tries to peek at a girl. But, but this is Genshiken, it’s real life! More seriously, doesn’t she think Hato maybe deserves a break considering all the stuff that went on at school? It’s something of a miracle that Hato doesn’t just do what Madarame did: run out of the clubroom, screaming.