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Finales: Zankyou, Glasslip, Nozaki-kun

September 27, 2014 Leave a comment

The ending of Zankyou no Terror seems a bit low-key, with no real surprises in it, but it did everything it needed to do.

Ooh, pretty atomic blast!

Ooh, pretty atomic blast!

First off, I was pleased to see Shibazaki realize that the kids didn’t intend to kill anyone with their bomb, then it was just a minute to talk with genius wife about what they DID want to do. Here I got a little disappointed. Nine wanted to create an EMP pulse, or whatever it’s called, which would fry Japan’s electronic infrastructure. Considering this is Japan we’re talking about, this seems like a sacrilige … Anyway, after that they find some drama in getting the planes out of the sky (Had Nine thought of that, or did he trust that they could be grounded in time? Well, they were, so it’s a moot point), except for some American fighters. And they point out that about the only people on the entire country who have EMP-proof devices are the Americans. Why?!?

Plot.

Plot.

The Americans show up later to help cover their own ass, and to provide us with the unnecessary climax at the end, when Shibazaki was about to arrest the boys. I suppose by the logic of fiction or something they had to be killed, and Twelve didn’t get shot, but collapsed from the same thing that Five died of, presumably, but, really, why Twelve? Let him carry on the mission of revealing the monstrous secrets to the world. Or maybe I’m pissed because those two old monsters lived on, in intense public scrutiny, but alive. In the end all the kids got was a minute or two of goofing off together at their alma mater. Nice to watch, I suppose, and they didn’t kill off Lisa. Small favors.

She does, however, get splashed.

She does, however, get splashed.

The most underwhelming thing about the finale was the boys’ ultimate motive: to bring attention to the project and the bomb. Doing a big blowup in order to shock the world isn’t terribly new. On the other hand, they were kids, and maybe a bit naive about how things work. On the other hand, it DID work, so who am I to say? Well, all in all, it was a very good series. It leaned toward SF but was set in a real world where girls run away from home (and where did Lisa go after all this?) and detectives pound the pavement looking for evidence. The bigger metaphors usually fell flat for me; I really don’t see Shibazaki as Oedipus, and that Vor business at the end felt tacked on, considering they used it so rarely. But they told the story extremely well. Scenes that could have been dismal, like the airport bomb chase, weren’t, because they were directed so well. And I’ve already praised Kanno’s music enough. Not the best series of the year, but right up there.

Glasslip decides to keep us bewildered right to the end.

Touko becomes a procrastinator.

This ending, where Touko has a vision on her way to school after summer break, turning around at the sound of Kakeru(?)’s voice, was deliberately misleading. All through the finale, with everyone more or less in happy couple land except for the main couple, the show refused to answer the big question: is Kakeru staying or going? His tent is gone from the backyard, his mom is apparently gone, but they didn’t say whether or not he went with her. Plus, their marble-tossing scene felt like a moment of closure for both of them. Instead of answering the question directly they have to just have his voice and Touko’s surprised face. It sort of summed up the series for me: why do anything directly when you can just make hints, suggestions, or have Touko have another misleading vision?

But she's not talking about the future ...

But she’s not talking about the future …

Speaking of visions and bewilderment, we had that odd conversation in the forest. Touko’s mother had just told her that she used to have visions too, but that they didn’t show the future. Huge clue! It’s hereditary! But that’s swept aside as Touko weighs the possibilities: the visions are the future, or they’re of things that are sure to happen, but what’s the difference? I don’t know either, but Kakeru helpfully confuses us more by asking her what answer she wants. Meanwhile, the three other Kakerus don’t show up at all, and he’s getting nothing from the music anymore, so perhaps his own problems have settled down. Not that we’ll ever know.

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As I said, the other two couples continue to progress, but only through little things, which is fine with them. They’re happy enough. Really, this has been a happy show. All the strangeness happens in the course of ordinary lives and while they they sometimes seem to lose their way, it’s not for long, and there’s someone there who can help them out. What it was all about I can’t tell you. Friendship, adolescence, certainly. Loneliness, finding a place for oneself. Also visions, glass, music and everyday life. Told rather indirectly at times, but pleasant to watch.

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Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun finishes up with the usual stories. In the first one, Sakura tries to give Nozaki the Valentines Day chocolates she couldn’t bear to give him before (it’s midsummer). It’s a chance for Sakura to show off both her determination and cuteness, and it works well enough. The story is notable in that we have all three of the main girls having a conversation together, something the series rarely gave us. Odd that Seo winds up being Yuu’s straight man, but I could see that switching if the scene needed it. In the second, it’s off to the festival, one more chance for everyone to interact, and to offer a hint of resolution to poor Sakura’s love woes … which doesn’t happen, but it’s a sweet little scene anyway, and I’m not convinced that Nozaki didn’t understand what Sakura meant.

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And that wraps up one of the better light comedy series I’ve watched recently. Not every bit worked, but the ones that did worked very well. We had a pack of fun characters who worked off each other nicely, and its two main characters were almost always fun to watch. While we figured out where the jokes were coming from with Nozaki pretty quickly (even Sakura talked this episode about “figuring him out”), his lunkhead appearance and deep, deadpan voice gave his punchlines a boost. Sakura was a terrific character. She managed to keep her crush on Nozaki fresh throughout, had solid straight-man skills, took everything thrown at her in stride, and could give us a big array of shocked and bemused facial expressions, plus, she was cute. Excellent voice work by Ari Ozawa one of her first roles. Hope to hear more of her. Hope to see more of the series, too.

One more of our happy couple.

One more of our happy couple.

Aldnoah finale, Zankyou 10, Glasslip 12

September 23, 2014 Leave a comment

Aldnoah Zero 12 … whoa, what a mess.

Touchdown!

Touchdown!

Let’s see … (Spoilers) Slaine manages, after being shot at a few times, to board a Vers craft he shouldn’t be able to operate, but it comes to life and off he goes to find the Princess. Meanwhile, Inaho dukes it out with Saazbaum, who, in a ridiculously long procedure, powers up his craft so it has most of all the nasty tricks the previous bad guy mecha had, though the arms aren’t as ridiculous as that woman’s craft. Of course, Inaho had defeated most of those machines already, so with some speed and guile he manages to pretty much wreck Saazbaum’s craft. Slaine then slams into him, for reasons I can’t understand, but it gives Asseylum just enough time to get to the glowing thing and shut down the Aldnoah Drive. Whereupon Saazbaum, not dead yet, shoots her. So Slaine shoots him. The mortally wounded Inaho crawls toward the probably dead Asseylum, but Slaine shoots him too. Fade to black and a voice-over saying that the good guys won, but Asseylum’s whereabouts aren’t known, and then there’s an announcement for season two.

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Let’s start with Slaine, like, where is his mind? I can understand him shooting Saazbaum, since the asshole had killed his love and he was possibly responsible for that, but killing Inaho made no sense at all unless he didn’t want to see him sully the princess, though I wonder if, since he had seen Asseylum treat Inaho like she had once treated him, he was simply jealous. But why did he attack Inaho in the first place? Did he consider him a threat to Asseylum? Maybe he thought Inaho’s cynical views of the war to be a threat to her more high-minded goals? Or he had no beliefs or cares apart from the princess.

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The first half of the episode was all fighting, though half the protagonists were too wounded to do so. For those remaining, we had to squint through the snowstorm to figure out what was going on, and then the battle switched to different parts and we weren’t sure how they fit together as a whole, especially with Slaine acting as a wild card. As I said, a mess, with a nasty, violent ending that suggested that the main theme of the series was “War is bad and everyone dies,” except there’s another season coming up. What story are they going to tell next time? Who’s left to tell it? Slaine, Asseylum, Inaho’s sister, the drunk guy, maybe that’s it. It will be interesting to see, if I choose to see it. Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll watch it.

Zankyou no Terror 10 is a little messy too, but at least we know what everyone’s up to.

Why not?  Shibazaki must be used to sociopaths by now.

Why not? He heard more of the same last week.

I thought we were going to have another long, intense scene between Shibazaki and a bureaucratic monster, but the one with Mamiya is brief and used only to clarify the situation and give Shibazaki a moment to confront the man who destroyed his career. Mamiya’s argument that Japan has a loser mentality and he was going to change that isn’t the first I’ve heard this argument, and it’s just the excuse another sociopath has for harming people. I wonder if he’s aware of the atomic bomb that the government is building in secret. Would he be proud of that? Never mind, we, and Shibazaki, move on.

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The Americans certainly ARE interested in this atomic bomb, and it’s the reason why Five and her assistant were sent there, well, so they think. As we have already figured out, Five has her own motives and is using the apparatus to reach it, no matter how many people she killed. The assistant, not a very nice man himself, is so appalled that he tries to take her off the case. And once again I’m reminded that so far the terrorists haven’t actually killed anyone. It’s been the Americans butting in and doing that, well, technically, it’s Five. In the oddest scene of the episode, she reaches him, says she can’t beat him, and kills herself. I frankly have no idea why she did that.

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But there’s a good buildup to that bewildering moment, though I thought Five’s group disrupted the motorcade rather easily. Twelve, convinced by Lisa to help Nine, works as the wild card here and gets Nine a reprieve from meeting Five. But it’s all moot because that bomb’s floating in the air now. Did he mean to launch it, or was it automatically triggered when the conference was canceled? That is to say, did he intend to launch that bomb and kill a lot of innocent people when he and Twelve haven’t killed anyone else before? If so, I’m disappointed. Twelve has always had a humane side to him, but Nine’s only point of sympathy was his non-fatal, if not non-violent means of getting what he wants.

Kakeru introduces the new girl, Touko, to Yanagi, Sachi, Hiro ... hey, wait a minute!

Kakeru introduces the new girl, Touko, to Yanagi, Sachi, Hiro … hey, wait a minute!

Meanwhile, Glasslip 12 decided we weren’t confused enough. Well, I for one was confused because I had forgotten how the last episode ended, at Miwako’s private recital, where Touko notices that it’s snowing in summer again. Even so, anyone would be taken by surprise by a winter scene where Touko moves into town for the first time, meets Kakeru (a happily-settled resident) and his friends, Yanagi, Yukinari, Hiro, and Sachi. Adding to the weirdness is the show’s same, overall cheerful tone, jumping from one character or couple to another, just like every other episode, the only difference being that it’s winter.

Oh what a giveaway!

Oh what a giveaway!

There is the occasional moment where we see through the illusion, such as when Kakeru invites Touko up to the museum balcony and whoosh, they’re there already. But the real cracks in the glass come later, when Touko sees Yukinari and Yanagi and greets them, but they don’t know who she is. Also, the group have assembled to watch the winter fireworks exhibition, but they’re also watching in other places. Finally, there’s Kakeru, who not only recognizes her but knows that they’re in an illusion cast in her mind. And it all came back to me. The glass vase, the piano music, the fragments came together to make … something that they’re not explaining to us. Unless, maybe, all this was Touko’s experiencing what Kakeru feels whenever he moves to another town. She has her explanation, that they don’t recognize her during the fireworks because she had shared unforgettable time with them. Not sure I buy that, but the show is leaning in that direction. Maybe the creators will deign to tell us next week.

Zankyou 9, Glasslip 11, Tokyo ESP 10

September 14, 2014 2 comments

Zankyou no Terror 9 is mainly two deceptively quiet scenes that are extremely powerful and just fly by, leaving me wanting more.

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In the first scene Shibazaki and Hamura visit Souta Aoki, one of the one’s responsible for the Athena Project, and he spills the beans. Simple as that. And we the viewer probably didn’t need to learn the information because we’ve already been clued in, apart from the Dr. Mamiya bit. But there are other things going on. Obviously, there are the two cops’ reactions to the information, rage on Hamura’s part and a sort of resigned, mild surprise on Shibazaki’s. Also, Aoki seems to be unburdening himself for the first time in years. His calmness and his age suggest that he has fully accepted that he is a sort of monster, one who is too old to care. Finally, his confession puts all three men in danger, and they’re all aware of it. I expected a gunshot through the window at every moment. When the scene was over, to my surprise, I discovered that half the episode was done.

The rain has stopped.  The moon is out.

The rain has stopped. The moon is out.

The second scene had Twelve racing to rescue Lisa, who’s shackled inside a ferris wheel car with a bomb strapped to her. While Twelve defuses the bombs they talk. Lisa apologizes, Twelve forgives her. What makes this scene beautiful to watch is that there are too many bombs on Lisa for Twelve to defuse before the clock on her chest gets to zero. He knows it, but doesn’t tell her, just keeps working, gently, like a doctor slowly treating an hurt patient. Also there’s another lovely Yoko Kanno song playing, almost a lament, timed perfectly at the point where Lisa realizes why Twelve willingly walked into this trap, at which point the camera pulls back, so we can see most of the wheel, a completely unnecessary and beautiful moment. Certainly the most romantic bomb-defusing scene I’ve ever seen … Five’s rude phone call and Twelve’s “betrayal” of Nine (I’m not buying that just yet–Nine’s got something up his sleeve), and Five’s collapse, you know, plot, felt like an intrusion after what we’d seen. There you are. Two scenes that could have been nothing, made amazing by creators who know what they’re doing.

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With episode 11 of Glasslip, our three sort-of couples are back together, but none of them can be considered a couple yet. Hiro and Sachi are going at their own pace–up a mountain, Yukinari and Yanagi are running together with the latter sitting in on the former’s dance class, and Touko and Kakeru are conducting “experiments.” Apart from that kiss last episode, which is not elaborated upon, the romance with all three is uncertain. But maybe they’re close enough for them to see the snowflakes that Touko keeps seeing. Hell, everyone should be able to see it. It’s actually sticking. I was briefly reminded of Nagi no Asukara and expected someone to jump into the sea … wait, didn’t Touko “see” Kakeru fall once? Maybe he’ll fall in and get rescued by Hikari or Shisaki, complicating both plotlines.

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But Touko is having different hallucinations as well. Now she’s seeing fireworks in the glass beads, and, weirdly, Kakeru can see them too. And we can hear them. Touko seems to think it means that Kakeru will be with her next summer instead of going off around the world with her mom, but I’m thinking it might be a flashBACK instead, to the first moments they were together. If so, they’ve moved past something, but things are too unsettled with Kakeru now. He still has conversations with his double, fragments of himself, I guess, and besides, his mom hasn’t finished her recital yet. Who knows what more they have to do in the two episodes remaining?

No, it's just you.

No, it’s just you.

Tokyo Esp 10 starts with Rinka’s capture, followed by a catchup thanks to the Panda. Still looks bleak. We also have Kyotarou trying to escape, which leads to Minami’s flashback, where we learn how Azuma became a murdering shithead. It’s standard Sweeney Todd stuff, murdered wife and friends and a government cover-up, so everyone must die. We DO learn where the goldfish come from–the arc of the covenant, of course! It even looks like the one in the movie. More interesting, though only by default, is Kyotarou’s “What would Rinka do?” bit, because it nicely pushes away justifications of the insane. Too bad he’s still stuck on that island.

Hanayamata 8-9, Akame ga Kill 9, Zankyou 8, Free 2 10

September 5, 2014 Leave a comment

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Hanayamata 8 sort of ruined all the fun for itself by foreshadowing a disastrous accident onstage. It looked to be a real memory or an anxiety dream, and I can’t tell which because Naru and Yaya have never mentioned it before. Either way, you knew the dream meant a bad thing happening, namely Naru falling down, so I had a hard time enjoying the other parts of the episode. Now, in the dream, little Naru fell down and just cried, and here she still has her wits about her, more or less, so there’s a chance she can recover and the girls can chalk it up to a learning experience. I suppose the next episode (which I haven’t watched yet) will let us know, if they’re not too busy with their new subplot–Sally and Machi’s not-so-great relationship, which I can frankly do without.

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… And episode 9 handled the disaster just right. Before Naru can get too overcome, Yaya, then Hana and Tami are crouched around her, offering their hands. Alas, they extend it too long by doing a scene at school soon after, where it turns out everyone already knows about her fear of audiences, but I guess the show needs a bit of closure like that. Then it’s on to the Sally/Sachi nastiness and way too many scenes of Machi saying spiteful things about Sally, laden with hints of an earlier betrayal she can’t get over, followed by walking off in a huff. Meanwhile, Sally might be quitting anyway, though they don’t really follow up on that. And finally a typically heartfelt scene where we learn the whole background and Tami reveals the truth they could have told us sooner, and right then Sachi is almost turned 180 degrees. Well, I expected nothing more from this show. Well, the good bits were very good.

Introducing the new bad guys, apart from Wave, who's getting his ass kicked.

Introducing the new bad guys, apart from Wave, who’s getting his ass kicked.

Apart from an early training scene where Tatsumi once again swears he will get stronger in honor of another dead comrade (to his credit, he already has), Akame ga Kill 9 switches us back to the silly side, where Esdeath has a new crack team put together. Let’s hope it does better than the last crack team, all killed by two people. They’re introduced as a bunch of doofuses, and we see it through the eyes of Wave, one of the new members and a person who seems a lot like Tatsumi at first; young, naive, optimistic, and dull, so I wonder if he’ll turn out psychotic like Seryu (who’s also a member). Elsewhere, we get an amusing new setup where Tatsumi wins a fighting contest and thus finds himself a reward for Esdeath, who has taken a liking to him. She drags him off while I wonder how much they’ll let us watch of the following scenes. Afterwards, will Tatsumi give another “I must grow stronger!” speech? Really, I can’t remember a show that can get both so bleak and so silly as this one.

A fugitive shouldn't accept parcels with her name on them.

A fugitive shouldn’t accept parcels with her name on them.

Zankyou no Terror is a good series, make no mistake, but then they keep doing stupid things that bring it down. In episode 8 it’s the whole Lisa thing. Mind you, if I was a noble terrorist who’s had to drag an innocent girl along, I’m not sure what I’d do with her either. One thing I would have done, however, is make sure that absolutely no one sees her. Surely they must have known that the authorities have her ID and hence all the information they need. Maybe they could have told her not to even open the door and accept packages in her name, for chrissakes. Admittedly, Lisa shares some of the blame for that; at times she seems to have no common sense at all. If you need further proof of this, look at her fleeing the boys–right into Five’s arms. And meanwhile Shibazaki is suspended but continues hitting the pavement looking for clues, the necessary dull but necessary work of sleuthing and backstory-building that will become important in the next three episodes.

Hey, that's the other team's line!

Hey, that’s the other team’s line!

Free! Eternal Summer 10 pretty much forgets about Haru’s angst and switches to Sousuke’s shoulder, and his reasons for swimming without the dream of it being on an international stage. He went to see Rin screw up last year and redeem himself by swimming with the good guys, and realizes, after years, that he wanted to swim with people, not alone, against everyone. Well, it wasn’t a flash of insight but something he probably came to realize bit by bit, just as his shoulder problems didn’t come instantly. We learn all this during an emotional argument with Rin, two bros nearly beating the crap out of each other because that’s how they do things, another of those too-long weepy-shouty scenes where the other teammates arrive just at the right time to give emotional support, and, naturally, Haru overhears. Well, it’s settled. Both schools have unified teams, and when the relay comes, it’s genuinely exciting not only because the animation is terrific as usual, but because we have no idea who will win or who to root for.

Zankyou and Tokyo ESP 7, Glasslip and SAO2 8

August 24, 2014 Leave a comment

It was suggested to me that Zankyou no Terror 7 was going to have a lot of running around in airports. That proved to be the case, but the show did a terrific job of salvaging what could have been a dire bunch of scenes.

The best part is she's surprised.

The best part is she’s surprised.

The “chess match” business was ridiculous last week, and just as much this week (not to mention ultimately pointless), and so was the searching, but to help the scene out, Nine and Twelve weren’t just running around and waiting for the next move. They had a countermove of sorts, to capture some security camera footage and loop it so that no one really knew where they were. Also, they got Lisa involved, though she wound up as more or less a pawn in this chess match, causing a distraction but then getting captured by the asshole forces and stuck on a plane where the bomb was. Also helping throughout was a terrific, understated jazz piece that worked busily underneath and gently raised the tension without calling undue attention to itself. It actually makes me want to watch all that running around again. Every anime is better when Yoko Kanno is involved.

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The bomb searching, plus the mind games, was as well done as possible. Nothing much else was accomplished except now the bad guys know who Lisa is. But I’m curious about the fallout from Shibazaki and his colleagues interfering in Five’s evil plot, since he wasn’t supposed to be there. Everyone knows now that NEST is destructive and out of control, or at least Five is, but they still have authority. The Tokyo police force does not, no matter how many lives they saved this week. So what will happen to them? On the other hand, the irony of Shibazaki and Nine teaming up prevent a disaster wasn’t terribly effective. I figured it would happen when Five showed up. The bigger irony of authority figures acting without restraint comes when you look at the news from Ferguson this week. Still, a very good episode.

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Tokyo ESP had more training, lots of Rinka getting tossed about by this middle-school kid Ayumu, because he has precognition. So she finds a way to turn the tables by not attacking, forcing him to attack and leaving an opening, or something. So in the rematch he could just not attack, I suppose, but he’s bored and wants to get it over with, and we learn that this over-thinking makes him a slow combatant. More amusing is his anti-esper mother being attacked by an Esper and he and Murasaki taking him down. Amusing because even with his precog he can’t figure out a good end, until he THINKS of a way. Nice job of showing both the strengths and weaknesses of his abilities. Also Murasaki has become a hell of a lot of fun since discovering she can read the history of a weapon and perform its best moves, and her dad is a kung-fu nut. Nothing else in the overall plot happens apart from the inevitable Asuma/Minami scene, which goes no further than all the others.

Another scary premonition for Touko.

Another scary premonition for Touko.

I’ve completely lost track of the symbols and metaphors in Glasslip. Episode 8 had the characters all doing the little things they were doing before and I tried to figure out a purpose for any of it. There was maybe the point of false assumptions, suggested earlier when Touko envisioned Sachi in the hospital and this time with Yukinari not running past the middle school, leading the girls (and others) to assume he’s not running, when in fact he was–at a track team training camp. But maybe that has nothing to do with anything. Instead, Yanagi deliberately runs the same route … at which point I gave up. One or two points that stood out, apart from the strange scene where Yanagi walks around her house naked (with more of those frozen images–WTF?): Sachi and Yanagi are beginning to guess at the secret that Touko and Kakeru share, and Touko’s visions are getting darker and more threatening. So I guess something’s coming to a head, but I have no idea what it is.

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Sword Art Online 8 only gets interesting in the second half as we watch the Bullet of Bullets final melee unfold. After watching Sinon in action for a while she is ambushed in a non-threatening manner by Kirito so he can see the battle below unfold and Death Gun show up. It’s interesting because we see how DG works–stunning his victim first than doing some ritual thing before pulling the fatal trigger. And the show wisely leaves it like that, as a cliffhanger, so we don’t get to see if Sinon or Kirito will interfere in time. I’m interested in why this supposedly overly-powerful character hasn’t seen them yet, or maybe he has. Up to the battle it’s more of Kirito begging the annoyed Sinon for information about the final round and combatants and Sinon wondering what’s up with him, leading to more tsundere moments. Meanwhile, we don’t get to see anything going on in the real world. Just as well, but again I wish they had involved Asuna more. The first series was better when the two of them were together.

Glasslip 7, Tankyou and Tokyo ESP 6

August 16, 2014 2 comments

Glasslip 7 has the same nonchalant tone as the others have had, but they throw in some extra weirdness right at the start.

One of him was too many, and now ...

One of him was too many, and now …

Something like this makes the viewer stand up and take notice, but we’re not told the reason why there’s extra Kakerus around. The other two of him are unwelcome, but not threatening. He tells them he doesn’t hate them, and he’s perfectly relaxed while the others are there. All I can figure here is that this is a manifestation to his being “broken,” though I think it’s rather late to throw this sort of visual metaphor in the series. Anyway, they show up twice and vanish just as quickly. Elsewhere on the weird front, Kouto has another couple of visions, one of them of Kakeru falling (with that Escher print of birds turning to fish in the background), and she becomes freaked out for his sake. “Don’t go anywhere high!” But, seriously, he could be falling into the ocean from a pier. They WERE planning a beach gathering later … The second one involves Yanagi and a big flock of crows, and it’s the most surreal of the lot, suggesting these visions aren’t actually reality. Hmm, bird prints, crows, chickens, that nest, the odd hawk in the sky. Maybe we ought to keep an eye on the birds in this series.

The scariest vision yet.

The scariest vision yet.

The other big running whatever-it-is this week is Yukinari’s attractiveness. A bunch of middle-school girls thinks he hot, Hina certainly thinks so, and urges him to “stay attractive” in might be the weirdest scene of the episode. And Yanagi, just before crows show up, tells Kakeru that he’s the reason Yukinari’s no longer attractive. Kind of like the three Kakerus, this metaphor is new to the series and isn’t developed further than the repeated use of the word. On to the happy couple. Sachi disappoints Hiro (and us) by scheming to crash Touko and Kakeru’s beach date. This is so surprisingly underhanded of her that we can only gape like Hiro does. On the other hand, it leads to an affirmation of Touko’s earlier vision, as Sachi sits there sadly, in her pajamas, on a hospital bed. On the other hand, at least she’s not getting sicker. Touko ought to learn that these visions are easily misconstrued, or maybe that’s another theme the show’s working on.

Oh, not another game ...

Oh, not another game …

Zankyou no Terror 6 is supposed to make me go wow at the irony of the two boy terrorists racing to Haneda Airport in order to stop a bomb, but the whole thing just irritates me. The reasoning for Twelve and Nine to stop a bomb going off in their name doesn’t hold up. They don’t think anyone would believe them, and I say they ought to make another video refusing responsibility and let the two factions above them duke it out. Unless it’s Nine deciding he has to interfere because it’s Five, and there it fails again because they haven’t told us enough. I’m more curious about the white-hair blowing up, or whatever the hell she did, the event itself, than I am about Nine’s conflicted guilt. Maybe if we knew more we could care.

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I’m also irritated by the ridiculous chess game Five is having them play. First, the last remaining piece will tell them where the bomb is? That’s not how the game works unless one side is playing not to win and the other knows it. On the other hand, I am very interested in how Shibazaki and his rogue buddies are going to interfere, if they can, and what the ramifications will be if they do. Right now the police have been shoved aside by FBI (and isn’t their restriction limited? What about saying Homeland Security, or NSA?), forces that don’t give a shit about civilian lives, and their struggle to save those lives and their own dignity have a greater impact on me than anything those kids can come up with.

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I thought Tokyo ESP 6 was going to take its turn and have the good guys beat up the bad guys, but instead the good guys, well, Rinka and Murasaki anyway, have to get some special training and a lot of speeches about motivation. So after a dark beginning where Rinka has to choose between rescuing Azuma and saving lives, she goes around saying she has no motivation, when she already has plenty, and getting training from a perverted martial arts master in a panda costume, once again mixing the serious and the silly, though not very well. I guess it’s a laugh after all bad stuff. She also gets a speech from Kuroi and is introduced to a new sparring partner who looks so much like Murasaki that I thought they were the same person. So I figure next week the first scene will be the new guy kicking Rinka’s butt for a while.

Fours and fives: Zankyou, Dandy

August 9, 2014 Leave a comment

With episode four Zankyou no Terror was stagnating a little, but episode five lets in some fresh air.

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We got this woman whom Nine calls Five, and suddenly the work on both sides of this conflict are thrown into disarray. An order from highers-up tells Shibazaki and the rest of the force not to search the trains for the bomb, meanwhile, Nine gets hacked, everyone loses their cell phone connection, and there’s no way to remotely defuse the bomb, meaning the kids have to find the train and do it themselves. (A strange thought in my head: What would the kids in Rail Wars have done?) And within a few minutes the show got more interesting. The police have more bureaucratic headaches and the kids, well, Nine at least, have been flushed out. Also, maybe someone actually died.

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It also shows the kid-terrorists in a new light. In spite of their posturing and malicious intent, they don’t want to kill anybody. I suspected this, but it’s nice to see the show confirm it. Though I wonder then what they wanted that plutonium for. It also makes you wonder what they hell they’re doing any of this for. Why bombs? Why not some other, safer means of rebellion? Yeah, their motives are as big a mystery as before, and they’ve shown they can be distracted, Twelve by Lisa (who doesn’t do much in these two episodes except faint and play the bad-cooking newlywed), and Nine by Shibazaki, whom he either considers a worthy opponent or some kind of father-figure he never had.

It'd be cool if it was.

It’d be cool if it was.

Good, because as I said the show was stagnating. Episode four had another riddle, and it became even more tiresome because Shibazaki was pulling the answers out of thin air. How did he think to connect the dots and get “running red snake” anyway? It’s as if episode four was playing for time until Five’s plane arrived. But now the story has taken a step forward. Don’t know if I like the looks of Five, though. I mean, I’m not suppose to, but something about her, maybe that smug smile, or the thing with her nails, gets on my nerves.

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Catching up with Space Dandy, um, I thought episode 4 would be a chore, considering I didn’t watch any of those films and TV shows they celebrate, but their influence on pop culture means I got the jist. The first song and dance was a bore, as was most of the entirely predictable and dull storyline, but the big finale was rousing enough that I had fun with it; I’m a sucker for a big production number. When, midway through, I saw the sprout on that girl’s head, I thought it would end badly for her, but happily the show decided to leave her alone. And finally, I thought Meow had the best dance moves.

Not even a nibble.

Not even a nibble.

And episode 5 is the best of Space Dandy’s second season. Nothing new to the story, in which Dandy goes off to catch a big fish, meets a little girl, Erssine, and her grumpy grandfather. He hears the fish is a myth but keeps looking anyway, and guess who’s right? Really, most of the episode is nothing but Dandy fishing while little Erssine looks on, with occasional abuse from gramps. But the art team this week is imaginative and it’s never dull to look at. I was reminded of the plant planet episode from the first season, which I think was maybe its best. And even though the big sea monster bit at the end with the villagers all holding on to the rope was expected from the start, it was so trippy (excellent music choices too) that I had a good time watching. Space Dandy will never be the best series in the world, but its best episodes rank right up there.