ACCA-13 gives us a splendid finale which had me grinning through most of it, right after the moment Mauve stepped in and explained to Schwan that this coup business was nothing more than a public demonstration of his vulnerability, so please take care of yourself, okay? At first it didn’t feel right that Schwan would announce his confidence and support towards ACCA, I thought he would be too resentful and stubborn, but then I realized that this was a show of force, that he COULD be removed and he knew it, and all he had to do was let things continue the way they were, apart from Furawau. It took the look of surprise on Lilium and his countrymen’s faces for me to realize I wasn’t the only surprised by these events, though unlike the Furawau people, I was grinning throughout.
The whole scene was a marvel of understatement. Even the crowd didn’t overreact (that whole scene was a bit weird in that they were in the middle of a big ceremony which fizzled into explanations and flashback moments, and the crowd didn’t seem to think anything was strange about it). Most of it was a key line here and there, mixed with shots of various characters, smiling or looking blank in the background, and it worked so well. All you had to see were their static facial expressions to get a full idea of how they felt now and the part they played in this non-coup. Especially Jean’s smile. I KNEW he had something up his sleeve, I just hadn’t realized that everyone else was in on the game.
And so it ends up deliriously happy for everyone. Mauve becomes the director, a job she didn’t pursue but seems happy to accept. Jean and Lotta are almost certainly happy that no one learned their secret. Nino is free now but seems unable to let go of Jean … I think he and Lotta ought to hook up, myself. The “bad” characters are unpunished. The oldest princess even welcomed Lotta, connected as they are by blood and no longer rivals. Lilium is quite happy in independent, prosperous Furawau. Yep, every district and person within are happy. No surprise. For all the intrigue going on, this show kept a light touch throughout, with the country in the shape of a bird, and all the food that everyone loves to eat. It’s one of the reasons I kept watching, that and they dolloped just enough plot on in every episode, and I was curious about what all the districts looked like. I know there won’t be another season of this, but I wish I could see more of that bird-shaped continent.
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 12 is not the finale. Next week they’re going to throw some plot at us in the form of some new dragon, and I wish they wouldn’t. This week looked to have even less of a story than last week, but there was the omrurice to prepare and flashbacks to consider … I would have enjoyed just watching Tohru going through her day if that’s what they wanted to do, but it was nice to see the flashback to when she and Kobayashi met. The second flashback, with the bandit, was interesting with its thought that people can happily become servants if it’s their choice to do so. Right there it’s a good episode, but then they hint that we might see the bandit girl again next week, maybe not. Either way, with the new dragon showing up to cause trouble we’ve probably seen the last slice-of-life bits for this series, at least this season. Too bad. I think it would be fine for the show to end with the lack of story we’ve had recently. Rather fitting.
Finally, a week late, comes the finale of Youjo Senki, where nothing blows up, there are no battles, and no one dies. On the other hand, Tanya might have broken her record for number of evil faces per episode, and that’s mostly in the final scene. First she’s pissed about not utterly destroying the Republic forces, to which higher-ups say “Give it a rest,” until they notice that the survivors are forming up in the south. So it’s war! All over again!
At this point we get a lot of talk of peace, the nature of it, and how the Empire and others try to achieve it by forcing as much violence on those they see as enemies as they possibly can. Tanya says it, then, later on, in a crazy speech of her own, the daughter in the USA (United States of Arkansas, heh) says pretty much the same thing, though she adds talk about God’s grace while showing her crazy yellow eye. So now you know who’s going to duke it out with Tanya next season, if there is one.
If there is, I’m not so sure I want to watch it. The depictions of war, its justifications and ethics, were treated superficially but well, however, it was sunk by Tanya’s elite crew of soldiers who destroyed everything in sight and hardly sustained a causality, and I only suspect more for the next season, and that Tanya will manage to kill Sioux. The question of faith and rationality wasn’t much better, as simplistic as the talk of war, though for an anime show it did pretty well. However, because it is an anime show, a work of fiction as they remind us at the end, both sides shrink to a battle between one superbeing and another. You can yank more ideas out of its metaphors, but I don’t know if the show can support any more. Well, if they get another season I’ll probably give it an episode or two.
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.
I knew it! Youjo Senki 10 turned 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
… 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.
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.
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.
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. Some things in this show are easy to understand.
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?
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.
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.