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Seiren, LWA and Demi-chan 11, Youjo Senki 10

March 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Seiren 11 starts with Kyouko nearly getting hit by a truck, only to be rescued by Shouichi. She proceeds to give him some underpants that she knitted herself, and then forces him to go underwear shopping for her. A typically strange series of events that ranks as par for this franchise. Alas, the rest of the episode is pretty normal. It’s mainly about Shouichi being tagged with the “nice girl next door” title, which he’s fine with until it begins to rankle him and he announces that, I guess, he’s going to confess or do something brave and manly this Christmas. Not much else, really. Short amusing bits, cake baking, a reference to the girls’ swim team’s oden, appropriate because the tea club was into that in Amagami, more venison references. Oh, we learned that itwas Araki who asked all those girls out, and he did it to cheer Shouichi up. Not much to this episode, and they only have one more with Kyouko.

Ho hum.

I knew it! Youjo Senki 10┬áturned out to be the Empire doing their thing successfully, with lots of scenes of Republic troops in shock as they got blown up. It got so boring I skipped forward a couple of times. That board meeting didn’t fool me one bit; you could tell the show was trying to build up a false conflict which would be resolved with perfect timing of the military, after all, infantry battles are always perfectly timed in real life, right? What a tiresome batch of scenes. At least at the end we got that crazy guy take out one of Tanya’s troops, though I suspect next week, after a difficult and bloody battle, Tanya’s guys will win again. Hope I’m wrong.

Little Witch Academia 11 full of overarching prophesies, is uncharacteristically sober in its approach. It starts the usual way, with Akko trying hard but messing up in Ursula’s extra lessons, so she becomes despondent. Will she ever become like Shiny Chariot? Well, it’s a blue moon that night, the last one for a few year, so she sneaks out to go to another obscure foggy place on campus to get her question answered. Meanwhile, the witch profs bemoan the fading of magic (that’s all they ever do when they’re not scolding Akko) and Diana asks for a rare tome that she can only access with a special key on a blue moon. Amazing that more magical people aren’t out and about doing blue moon things.

But Diana and Akko’s quests don’t intersect; the former merely serves as exposition for the latter, stuff about (checking my notes) the seven words of Acturus, of which Akko’s revived number one (Ursula has exposition duties this episode, too). Shiny Rod reveals a hidden underground place where Akko meets all sorts of spooky things, the last being a dead-tree thing that offers to grant her wish if she relinquishes her memories. Up to now the episode had been interesting but predictable, but upon Akko’s refusal, we get a transformation, with quick cuts of blood-red and often violent events, including the Triskelion that represents the words. NOW I’m interested! Are the red events a warning of what might become? Are they part of magic’s history? What was the triskelion doing in it? Oh, I like a mystery! Plus, the show gets a new goal: Akko’s gotta revive the remaining five words. We’ll all be keeping an eye on the lights on Shiny Rod from now on.

In Demi-chan wa Kataritai 11, the evil-looking vice principal made his evil move, that is, he told Takahashi that he should cut back on the attention he was giving the demis and allow them to work it out themselves by interacting with other students. It is resolved by a series of intelligent conversations and by the fact that the vice-principal isn’t really evil, just concerned. It also helped that two side characters were present at the scolding, and they told two others, the mean girls from a few episodes back, I believe. Their own conversation got a bit convoluted, but it was nice to see four kids trying to figure out a difficult topic by discussing. In the end, both sides have a point, and so the relationship between Takahashi and the demis shifts slightly and positively. As for the side characters, doubt we’ll keep seeing too much of them, since it’s the nearly the last episode, but they did their part for the plot.

Youjo Senki 9, Seiren, Demi-chan, Academia 10

March 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Tanya’s heard that before.

Youjo Senki 9 begins preparation for a major operation that I’m sure will end up as a victory next week, alas. You know, why aren’t the forces allied against the empire thinking up fiendish plots of their own. The only fun to be had this week is the sheer absurdity of the strategy. The empire pulls back from the front lines and spread lies about how their railroads and communications are in disarray, luring the republic forces in. But there’s also talk of a war of attrition, and then they’re also going to take out the enemy headquarters. I guess all three might be effective. What’s fun is that the HQ will be taken out by Tanya’s mages, via V-1 rockets! The mashup of various wars makes me giggle. Amusement aside, I don’t think I’m looking forward to a full episode of the empire destroying everything, even with the occasional setback they’ll stick in in an attempt to make it more exciting. It’s not like the outcome is in doubt.

Late in the episode Seiren 10 introduces a crisis which is impossible to take seriously. It looks like Shouichi, after Kyoko turned down his offer of Christmas pancakes after the founders festival, went a little nuts and went around asking random girls out. It’s ridiculous of course; even Kyoko has her doubts, and we saw the scene where Ikuo announced he was pursuing a girl who goes to his cram school, and remember arc #1, and watched Shouichi confront Ikuo the next day. And so the crisis not only can’t be taken seriously, but can be laughed at, and we can enjoy the latest batch of strange lines and double-entendres this franchise is famous for, as well as venison for the festival, love-hotel ads, a lengthy but mostly-unseen explanation by Tsuneki about why boys get so horny around Christmas Eve, and hand-me-downs for decorating the tree, or something like that.

In Demi-chan 10, we spend a little time with Kyouko being playful and irresponsible, and putting her head in danger, so Takahashi gets upset at her. That bit on nonsense cleared up, we switch to the two of them visiting an oddball physicist named Souma to try and figure out what the deal is with the head. The resulting explanation by Souma is partly interesting, talking about a wormhole connecting her head to her body and the potential this shows for modern science. It gets to being bullshit when he suggests a third party is responsible, and the way he expresses it suggests that the universe is entirely a construct of humanity … I suppose you can make a claim for metaphysics there … ANYway, the best part of it all is that Kyouko might become a researcher herself. But I’m a little surprised that she wasn’t snatched away a long time ago by some government organization or another and had nasty experiments done to her. Also, they set up a future plot with the disapproving vice principal …

Little Witch Academia 10 was fun enough, certainly better than last week, but I felt it missed out on opportunities. It was great that the bee flew around stinging everybody, and I appreciated the fact that Akko, Diana, and others knew it was a bee from the start, but the show didn’t make nearly enough mayhem as it could have. Four guys fall for Lotte, great potential right there, but we don’t see any of it and only return when the spell’s wearing off. Diana is stung twice but both times it’s only good for a quick gag while Akko continues to chase that damn bee, though I rather liked the second one, and how the object of everyone’s desires takes on the look of a shoujo heroine. The show was more interested in developing the possible Andrew/Akko romance and to further establish his independence from his family, which I suppose it did, but I keep thinking, in other episodes as well as this one, that the episodes reach their potential.

Seiren 9, Youjo Senki 8, Demi-chan and LWA 9

March 7, 2017 Leave a comment

Though the last arc improved the average, Seiren still hasn’t reached the heights of its predecessor, but in episode 9 I realized that this show has an advantage: it can use Amagami itself.

Hi Kyoko! Welcome to Shouichi’s linear harem!

In a flashback, during a strange gender-swapping display by the very young Shouichi, we see Junichi in the background, possibly being stood up. I actually didn’t make the connection, and instead got absorbed meeting the new girl, Kyoko. She’s a childhood friend who’s still interested in things like a certain manga (which, after a hiatus, has become more adult). Shouichi humors her and agrees she might try to be a little more grown up. In the meantime we get name-checks and cameos of the other characters, especially Tsuneki, whom, I suppose cannot be ignore. Things were moving happily along with cute panties discussions and deer references when they suddenly give us this.

It’s the Tea Club girls! Great to see you! How’ve you … oh, you’re not?

No, not Amagami’s tea club girls, alas. Instead, Koharu and Nao are the only remaining members of the present-day home-ec club, and it seems they might be doing rituals at night. Kyoko decides to visit the club, and it’s sadly mundane. No sinister uses for old clothes, never mind what that Trek Club guy was saying when he wanted them to make him a man. Just a nice late-night moon viewing session in kimonos, though the traditional food they prepare seems to be a reference to the tea club. Even without the Amagami reference it would have been a good episode, but now I wonder if we’ll get sarcastic narrators, pool club ramen, or ni-shi-shi-shi’s in the future.

Oh, just the usual for this show.

Youjo Senki 8 at last adds some variety to the “Ruthless Tanya destroys all opposition” schtick we’ve been getting. Yes, this week she destroys the opposition, not to mention a whole city with a lot of civilians in it, but in addition some of the people under her command are rather unhappy about this. One, Grantz, sees too much of the enemy’s faces and doesn’t exactly develop a conscience, or a spine, but goes berserk enough to try to shoot Tanya at the end. We didn’t even have to see what happened after to figure out if he succeeded. Also, God is going to interfere again, telling a soldier awakening from a coma to destroy Tanya. The trouble is, I can’t make out who it was … you know, if he’s been in a coma for two months why is he still wearing those bandages? Coma’s don’t stop the healing process, just a thought. Anyway, so it continues. Happy to see the republic or whatever they’re called is giving stiff resistance, though.

Demi-chan wa Kataritai 9 has Takahashi pondering and discussion demi abilities with their wielders. First, Sakie is called out of the blue by that cop and told to seduce Takahashi, in other words, make use of that succubus power she’s got. It still bugs me that that asshole cop gets to order her around, even though they’re in a sort of father/daughter relationship, mainly because he’s an outsider he should have little idea what it’s like to handle abilities like hers. But she tries making a move in her own way, not using her powers, and winds up sharing a nice talk with Takahashi. The show is unclear on whether she truly isn’t using her powers, however. Takahashi’s well hidden lusts might be from her natural looks, or maybe it’s some succubus mojo leaking out. It’s fun that they’re keeping it vague. In a less interesting part two, Yuki and Takahashi try ways to use her cold abilities in hot weather. Since it’s negative emotions that cause the cold, it’s no fun for her. Interesting concept, not much of a story apart from the fact it brings the girls into the episode for the first time.

In Little Witch Academia 9 all the students get leave outside of campus, and they can’t use magic. Naturally Akko screws something up and now there’s a resurrected skeleton in a pirate outfit rushing around looking for revenge for something he can’t remember, with the girls chasing him around. None of it adds up to much; when you know what this show is capable of, all the scenes here fall a little flat. The touching ending wasn’t terribly touching because we had no idea of the headmistress’s past, and besides, she isn’t terribly moved by it either. The big mystery was that case full of personal items that the headmistress and Ursula put in a case, and never seen again. I suppose it’s a plot seed for a later episode, but the fact that they don’t refer to it again (apart from the headmistress’s mallet) felt misleading.

Youjo Senki, Maid Dragon, KonoSuba, all sevens

February 25, 2017 Leave a comment
(sigh) Think again.

(sigh) Think again.

After a week’s hiatus Youjo Senki returns and gives us more of the same. This time, however, we start with an Entente officer named Sioux and his sad goodbye to his wife and kid, who are on their way to the United States of Arkansas (I love that). Therefore we know Sioux is going to get skewered later in the episode and the only questions are when and how. We move back to a bewildering confrontation between Tanya and some general, and then a friendlier one sends her off on a top-secret plan to wipe out the Entente forces at Orse Fjord so the Empire ships can sneak in. With Tanya around this happens with the same sense of drama that all the battle scenes have. Basically Tanya’s battalion wipes them all out–have her mages had a single causality yet? There hasn’t even been a hint of an enemy doing well in the fighting. The closest we get are reports and charts about how the such-and-such front is bogged down. Frankly, it gets more ridiculous and duller by the battle.

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Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 7 appears to be the summer episode. The gang go to the beach and later to Comiket 90, meaning we already missed Tohru posing for pics with her wings and maid outfit. The reason the wings are out is because she took inspiration from both other cosplayers, who were having fun dressing up as their favorite characters, and from the many actual otherworldly creatures mixed among them, happy for the chance to go about in their true form with no repercussions. Earlier, at the beach, she went full dragon, so you could say this was an episode about letting your true self out now and then. But there was also that guy answering Tohru’s question about why everyone comes to Comiket, which Tohru takes as “enjoy the moment,” and we had a taste of that in the beach scene too. Or about families. Or maybe it was about Kanna eating living things. It cracks me up every time.

A brief, happy interlude between crazy moments.

A brief, happy interlude between crazy moments.

KonoSuba 7 meanders a lot, so I thought, until I realized that this was a multi-episode road trip thing, so the pointless, funny scenes just got longer because they had more time. We start with Kazuma and Aqua’s “rich” act (funny), then that demon shows up and pisses of Aqua (funny), a visit to the store (fairly funny), fights over these seats to the hot spring resort (not funny. I thought they’d miss the caravan), then the caravan is going to be overrun by ostriches or something, because of Darkness’s armor (funny), and we have our cliffhanger, though can it be called a cliffhanger if we know nothing seriously bad is going to happen? So what if Darkness gets trampled? She’d LIKE that.

Youjo Senki 6 and recap, Demi-chan, Academia and ACCA 6

February 19, 2017 Leave a comment

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Youjo Senki 6 gave me the information I was curious about: where are all the aircraft and how to they fit into battle with mages. The answer is they can fly higher than mages (except for Tanya) and can carry heavier things, like bombs. When you do have a mage that can match their altitude, with a mage’s speed, it’s no contest, as Tanya proved. Nothing else really mattered for me this episode, which was another one of Tanya destroying everyone that dared cross her. Frankly, this is getting boring no matter whose side you’re on. Generally I’m against the Empire’s side, but on the side of Tanya when she’s battling that God asshole. “God” has been interfering behind the scenes, apparently drawing other nations into the fighting and making it a world war, just to spite Tanya, but it’s too soon for see the consequences of this, so it’s hard to care at the moment. Maybe later, if things become more desperate and Tanya is actually taken aback (in battle, at least), it will get more interesting.

Tanya fills us in on why there's a recap this week.

Tanya fills us in on why there’s a recap this week.

… And 6.5 is, as expected, a recap episode. While I like recaps when I’m behind in my viewing, I don’t like having to watch all those scenes again in the hope that they’ll add some new material somewhere. Which they didn’t.

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Demi-chan wa Kataritai 6 features a visit to Hikari and Himari’s home, where we see the two bickering at great length while Takahashi looks on and comments about how close they are, at great length. Well, they are fun to watch, though it makes me wonder if Hikari acts irresponsible because she wants the attention, i.e., she’s insecure and needs affirmation. Could be. Not a vampire thing but the show isn’t really about being demi. It’s all somewhat ruined when Himari is led to believe that she’s just done something terrible by not helping Hikari with her hair, because vampires don’t reflect in mirrors. But they DO, and the idea that Himari didn’t realize this is ridiculous, and the same to Takahashi for suggesting it in the first place. Later there’s a cute but dull bit between Kyouko and a sleeping Takahashi which takes too much time; you get the idea that that they have filler material ready for when the main story doesn’t stretch to a full episode.

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Little Witch Academia 6 gives us more evidence of the low esteem that many people have for magic nowadays. We have a bigwig who is secretly unsympathetic to magic and his son who is outwardly so. Naturally the latter runs into Akko as she’s sneaking around trying to get to the polaris fountain to ask it for abilities, and Akko’s crappy magical skills don’t do much to change his mind on the matter. But we’ve seen in every episode the kinds of things that magic can do; to call it obselete and antique is entirely missing the point. Math is pretty old too, you know. But I guess the school needs a threat. Anyway, it’s not a terribly exciting episode until Akko reaches the fountain, instead of powers it gives us a Shiny Chariot highlight reel which was more affecting than I would have believed. But no magical cure for Akko, I suppose the show had to make that point to her, though Andrew gets his ears back and gains a little sympathy for magic, though I’m not clear why or how.

So he says.

So he says.

In ACCA-13, I’m not sure why Lilium is suddenly asking Grossular for all his info on Jean, after Grossular tried to give him grief for outing Nino. Is Lilium now suspecting Jean, or is this a ruse of his? Goodness knows what Grossular thinks, even after Jean’s little speech at the beginning. Jean plays a few mind games of his own, but with him it might have simply been out of amusement. Why did he mention Mauve in that speech, anyway? Speaking of Mauve, she’s now giving Jean the cold shoulder for not producing any coup information. So he tries and doesn’t like it much, and now Mauve has her own spies on him. Geez. It could be another episode of rumors chasing their own tails, but the whole thing feels like there’s motion under the surface, though Jean seems oblivious to it as usual. Oh, we get some flashbacks to him ten years ago when his parents died in a famous rail accident, but I can’t fit it in yet. Maybe I never well. Meanwhile, people give Lotta lots of cake. ┬áSome things in this show are easy to understand.

FIves: Youjo Senki, Demi-chan, Academia

February 11, 2017 Leave a comment
Oh, Tanya, you minx!

Oh, Tanya, you minx!

Youjo Senki 5 is full of people who disappoint our little Tanya by exceeding expectations. After failing most of the recruits for her battalion to stall for time, she is ordered to lower her standards. She says she can train them in a month if she puts them through hell, figuring that the men would drop out, only they fight their way through it, not dying in the process, proving their mettle even as they ruin Tanya’s plans to slow everything down. However, she cheers up when she finds a new invading force is so inept that they’re basically cannon fodder, and she even makes it to their capital to blow stuff up. SO it’s not all bad for Tanya. Sadly, the fact that the Dakians were so crap at this war business was a bit of unreality I couldn’t buy. Hadn’t they seen all the war stuff going on around them for years? Also, I think this episode we see our first airplane of the series. I wonder how they fit in with the flying mages?

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Demi-chan wa Kataritai 5 finally gets to Yukki’s issues as a snow-woman, and there’s not really much to say. Takahashi figures out that this turning bodily fluids to ice mainly happens on Yukki’s feet, it’s related to stress, and it’s harmless. This is a great relief to Yukki, who was worried that if she touched or even breathed on someone the wrong way they would turn to ice. It’s a bit ridiculous, really. Surely, if people are now free to out themselves as demis in this world, there had to be some research done on them to find out their different conditions and needs if nothing else, yet Yukki seemed totally oblivious to what she was like. We’ve had this before in this series, most notably with Kyouko’s head, and it still bothers me. I realize that the creators are using the differences as metaphors for people who are different in real life, and tying that in with the often stressful changes adolescence brings to everyone–and they’re doing a good job, but you still have to follow rules for a believable story. No support group? No research? What about the parents? This isn’t an old legend like the ones Takahashi keeps reading.

Interesting couple.

Interesting couple.

Little Witch Academia 5 starts with great promise and then fizzles, at least in terms of the action. The Sorcerer’s Stone is stolen by some dragons, Akko and Amanda enlist some pals to sneak off from their punishment and steal it back, only to discover that there seems to be legal matters involved. Not only is there no big sneaky raid (well, there is, but Fafnir–another one–catches everyone easily), but the matter is solved by Diana being able to read the original contract, galling for Akko and Amanda. On the other hand, the show spends a lot of time establishing Akko and Amanda’s relationship, both outraged by the same thing and fighting on the same side at one point, and at each other’s throats the next. This dynamic is a lot of fun to watch except when they overdo it and just call each other names for too long.

KonoSuba2 3, Youjo Senki, Seiren, Demi-chan and Academia 4

February 4, 2017 1 comment
Sorry the picture's so dark, but it is a dungeon after all.

Sorry the picture’s so dark, but it is a dungeon after all.

KonoSuba2 3 has Kazuma’s gang getting first dibs on an unexplored bit of dungeon, so off they go. Unfortunately it’s not the best episode because Darkness is still in that lord’s lair, and since Megumin’s explosion magic isn’t practical underground they leave her at the entrance, making dramatic gestures to her cat. That leaves Kazuma and Aqua, and while it’s amusing it’s not what it would be with the whole team. It’s also uncharacteristically soft. Aqua shows a kind, merciful side when she purifies the undead spirits there (and the punchline that comes later isn’t that effective–they likely would have encountered undead down there even if they weren’t attracted to her life-force), and there’s a sweet bit with an “evil” magician who turns out to be quite nice. I was waiting for a punchline for THAT, but it never came. Not a bad episode, but let’s get the team together again, shall we?

You pretty much know what's going to happen next.

You pretty much know what’s going to happen next.

On to Youjo Senki 4, another little letdown. Basically Tanya is enjoying a comfortable life at the military academy, hitting the library and keeping her gun clean. We know the pattern, well, we knew it the first time she announced she was happy. To impress a general, she lays out a depressing and possibly true scenario for the war, and to show off her abilities to strategize, offers a solution, the rapid-response battalion of infantry and mages that we heard about in episode one. The general is interested. Meanwhile, we all know who’s going to be put in charge of this thing. And we wonder, for someone as shrewd as Tanya, why didn’t she see it coming? Maybe it was the talk about sending children into a battlefield, though the army has had no compunction about doing it in the past. So it was basically an episode-long version of the sort of event that we’ve already seen. All we can hope is that they’ve established the backstory and we will move on to new things.

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Seiren 4 finishes off the Tsuneki arc with the franchise’s usual quirks, but it feels flat overall, like the show was just going through the motions when they had all these character oddities to play with. The moment Yukie turned to face Tsuneki with a carrot in her mouth was pure Amagami and was probably the highlight of the episode, unless you liked the beach scene, which brought back the wet clothing theme. Tsuneki becoming adept at cooking venison was a funny bit. But overall the first arc missed chances to really come to life. Tsuneki was a good love interest–unpredictable and a little wild, but Shouichi is still an underwhelming male lead–that might have something to do with it. I can’t really believe Tsuneki would be interested in him at all. Also surprised that they don’t really get together right away, also a little pleased. They’re both young. Let them mature a little.

Hikari demands a hug.

Hikari demands a hug.

I expected at the beginning of Demi-chan wa Kataritai 4 that we’d learn more about the appropriately-named Yuki Kusakabe’s unique features as a demi, but by the episode’s end we haven’t learned a damn thing apart that she can make frozen tears. Instead we get a brief look at the profiling that demis can undergo via high school gossip, and later we get a speech by Takahashi about how people need to look at demis not just as humans but as unique person, i.e, you can’t ignore one, as when Machi’s classmates got uncomfortable talking to her when she talked about her head on a crowded bus. This comes out in a dull speech to Hikari’s suspicious sister and ends in a silly punchline, I suppose, to lighten the mood. There’s also an unrealistic scene where Hikari confronts a couple of gossipers made bearable because of Hikari’s honest nature–and jumping on her sister when she got home was a nice touch. Oh, and Takahashi gets hugged a lot. Maybe next week we’ll learn more about Yuki.

That's nice, Lotte, but you're too close.

That’s nice, Lotte, but you’re too close.

I didn’t expect Little Witch Academia 4 to live up to ep3’s craziness, and it didn’t try to. Instead we get Lotte wanting to get away for a big release event: Nightfall volume 365, but they’re grounded because Akko stole a tart. You think the sneaking out will be the story, but that’s done easily. The big story is Lotte winning a trivia challenge and becoming Nightfall’s 13th author, against her wishes. We get a big speech from Lotte about how she feels about that. Sounds rather dull, but happily the show has a lot of fun at the expense of popular fantasy literature (like Twilight), though it smartly goes lightly on the fans, who shouldn’t be mocked for liking what they like. Anyway, the episode is sprinkled with trivia and thoughts (“the loan shark who has only one line in volume 37,” or “the scene where Belle catches a nuke with her bare hands”) from this series, and this carries the humor for the episode, apart from Akko and Sucy’s straight-man lines.