Seiren 8 finishes off the Miyamae arc by pretty much ignoring gaming altogether and switching to cosplay. Maybe this is supposed to represent a change in Miyamae’s priorities, but I think rather that they wanted to get her in a sexy deer outfit with a zipper she can’t locate but Shouichi can. I could also suggest that the return to the interest in Deermas as opposed to GunGal suggests a more domestic outlook, where you raise deer rather than blast mecha. What it means that Shouichi’s sister dresses in a skimpy GunGal outfit is beyond me.
And from Amagami we get a return of the kiss in an unexpected place, but this time the girl is doing the kissing, and it’s Miyamae’s adam’s apple. This fits nowhere with gaming, let alone deer, but it was a sweet moment, at least, after she explained why she kissed him there. In fact, the whole park scene was sweet, even if Miyamae’s reason for storming off felt trite, just a reason for them to kiss and make up and become boy/girlfriend. And at least this time there’s no platonic future for them; ten years later they’re raising a deer, I mean child. So, a decent ending to the arc. I do with the art and animation were a bit better, I suppose it’s passable.
Demi-chan 8 starts with Hikari’s appalling mid-term score and then takes great care to show us that a book has fallen out of Yuki’s bag, so much that we figure the book is very important. Turns out it’s a manga volume that Satou discovers right away, and leads to a too-long scene where she and Yuki talk manga and bullying, livened up only by the revelation that Yuki has a bit of a dirty mind, and an entertaining flashback to Satou’s middle school days. After that there’s plenty of studying (this is appropriately timed because now is the big test season for Japanese schoolkids) with the usual bits (Hey Yuki, I don’t understand this part) but there’s also a good scene where Hikari announces whose arm she’d like to chew on. Thematically it doesn’t add up to much, but it’s an entertaining enough episode.
Meanwhile, I think Trigger blew their entire budget on Little Witch Academia 8.
Sucy tries a late-night experiment to unlock her potential powers and falls victim to Sleeping Witch Sickness, which, in her case, also means a lot of mushrooms growing everywhere. Lotte sends Akko inside Sucy to wake her up. Akko meets a lot of different Sucys there, parts of her personality. You’ve probably all seen episodes in various series like this, but the events happen so fast, there are so many Sucys and so many sight gags that it’s impossible to take them all in. But the fun is just getting started.
Akko busts up a mass-execution of Sucy’s more trivial desires (important to the plot, what I can make out of it), and, because she’s an idiot, she stops to watch a drive-in movie of Sucy’s memories, the show pointing out that things are going to get self-referential. It looks like a 1930s cartoon, with a hilarious take on both Diana and Akko, the latter depicted as an idiot, and then things get even crazier with a race to find the “original” Sucy before something or other not only devours Sucy’s world, but the real one of the school, don’t ask me why, I don’t know, or care.
The whole thing is insane, and brilliantly executed. First, was that Michiyo Murase doing ALL the Sucys? If so, Murase deserves a medal. There are dozens of them, each with their own variation of Sucy’s voice, some flying past so quickly that you hardly notice them. Second, the episode has a funny, fast-paced script that was fully aware that it wasn’t terribly original and so jumped on quick gags and at least one unexpected turn to make it effective. Third, the direction, art, and animation are astounding.
Once the action ramps up, every moment had something great or funny to look at, little things like Akko’s spinning pupils as she looks for the right room, to my personal favorite, the enormous transition from drive in to real disaster (with sudden ramped-up ominous music), suddenly leaping into a chase scene. I’m looking forward to watching this episode again, because there’s so much I bet I missed. I know this is only February, but this is a strong candidate for “episode of the year” honors, if you do that sort of thing.
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.
Demi-chan wa Kataritai 7 brings us two new characters who I hope will not be seen again. First, we get Ugaki, a police detective assigned to demi issues, he and his very young assistant, Kurtz, come to the school unannounced, don’t check in, and wander around looking suspicious. There’s no reason for them to be there, no complaint or issue, but they’ve come to check out the demi-chans. Ugaki gets into a conversation with Sakie that skirts the line of sexual harassment (it only helps a little that they’ve known each other for years). Meanwhile, Kurtz walks around the school looking suspicious, lying badly, and passing moral judgments on other kids who like Sakie, i.e., are they genuinely attracted to her or is it the succubus thing. I only tolerated these scenes because I thought we’d get some information on why he’s with the police and why Sakie’s touch didn’t affect him. The show never tells us. As for Ugaki, he’s doing his job, he says, and it used to be a lot worse. But his presence is an indication that society as reflected by the police haven’t made the changes toward tolerance everyone tells themselves they have.
Little Witch Academia 7 has Akko studying hard for a variety of witch exams, and failing miserably at each one. This goes on for over half the episode and gets boring pretty quickly. The nature of her screwups aren’t funny enough to cover up that we KNOW she’s going to screw up, and we’re waiting for the turnaround. This happens near the end when she accidentally flushes Professor Pisces down a drain. Naturally, she suddenly becomes adept enough at transformation magic to be able to turn herself into a fish of sorts to look for her (maybe her friends helped). She suddenly can understand fish language (maybe she had to become a fish first). And she transforms back even though she used all her magic to turn into a fish in the first place (maybe Ursula rescued her). And Prof. Pisces was, naturally, impressed by Akko’s altruism and saves her butt by passing her. Oh, and a poaching incident helped, so she won’t flunk right away. This show’s stories balance on the most tenuous strings I’ve seen in a while, and meanwhile, the overall story arc, whatever it is, doesn’t seem to be moving at all. Oh, nice righteous speech by Ursula to the mean teacher. That was good to see.
This week’s episode of ACCA-13 is called “The Truth Emerges in the Night Mists,” and I thought they were kidding. I thought it was quite possible that all the coup talk was a batch of rumors feeding each other, with Jean their unwilling center, visiting each district and causing more commotion each time, a comedy of governmental paranoia. But instead, no, there’s a big revelation and another whole layer of development for us to watch, and they dump a hell of a lot of it on us in episode 7. And I’m not going to spoil it for you, nyah!
But I’d like to speculate a bit on what I can make out, without giving too much away. Much of it involves Schwan’s mother and the story about her which, typically, the show doesn’t tell us. There’s also this so-called “coup” to deal with. If it exists, is it to prevent Schwan from taking power? Does it mean that other heirs, if they exist, are preferable? With what we know now, it doesn’t entirely mesh with Grossular’s behavior this whole time, unless he doesn’t know the whole story either, which is probably the case. Jean tells Mauve that he doesn’t believe Grossular is involved, and I’ll trust his instincts here. Then there was that odd scene between Jean, Nino, and the king. How much does that old man know? Finally, now that Jean knows the “truth,” if it is, and maybe it’s not, what does he do about it? One of the fascinating things about this show is that Jean never overly reacts to anything, unless it’s Mauve in a sexy dress. Is he forming his own plans? Meanwhile, we’ll wait until next week and seen what Nino has to say; also, about Nino, I’m beginning to get serious pineapple salad vibes about him.
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 6 continues with the running theme of friends and intimacy, often inappropriate. First we get a scene where Saikawa invites Kanna over, and Kanna brings Kobayashi and Tohru, where we get a lot of bonding over maids (another one pops up), plus a strange moment of intimacy between Kanna and Saikawa that, alas, gets interrupted. I say that not out of any hentai urges toward young girls, but out of curiosity. What WAS Kanna about to do? After that Kobayashi and Tohru pay a visit to Lucuo’s new place, where she was “summoned” by a young boy, and has proven a bit too much for him to handle in a number of different ways. After that it’s male-bonding time between Fafnir and Takiya, who are getting along just fine. After the near-assaults on children earlier, this one was a relief. Then some umbrella-sharing. In little ways, all the characters are getting closer to the people they want to be with.
In KonoSuba 6, Kazuma dies again. The only noteworthy thing about that is that he realizes Eris might be, personality wise, that is, the right girl for him. Also, he discovers while hanging out with her in that starry room, that she sometimes goes down to the surface to visit. Thus we have another extra piece in the plot game they’re playing down there, ready to appear right when it will screw things up for Kazuma perfectly. Kazuma was killed in another funny scene where we watch the team’s splendid plans for getting rid of some monsters unravel bit by bit, thanks to Aqua, I believe, though Kazuma helped … sucking up Megumin’s powers like that … But I think the hignlight the whole sword-naming thing, both swords … Good episode. Still, I’m a little eager for a story arc to get rolling again.
Seiren 7 isn’t as crazy and event-filled as last week, there’s no deer mating or anything (though Shouichi’s deer is getting old–wonder wht that signifies?). In fact, it’s almost all talk, and unlike some other shows, it’s mostly interesting talk. First, Tsuneki fills Shouichi in on Miyamae’s past, and while you’d figure there would be a dark secret there, it’s much more mundane than that–she could outgame the boys and they were too immature to handle it, and somehow this is Miyamae’s fault, or at least Tsuneki thinks so.
Next Shouichi goes to Miyamae’s place, meets her brother Sota, and gets more background, with no terrible fact to reveal. After an inevitable gaming sequence it’s another conversation, but by now the couple seems to have talked their way to answers for their problems. Maybe fewer games right now, don’t be guilty about those boys, how about a date, and er, we’re kind of partners now, aren’t we? No big confession, no fake drama, just the realization of a natural outcome of things. Very nice.
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.
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon 5 is a pleasant series of little bits, the best being Tohru sneaking in to watch Kobayashi at work. I’m not a fan of the outward sentimentality some of the scenes give us but here it’s restrained to an early moment (Kobayashi wondering how she was before Tohru came along) and a final moment (She doesn’t remember, oh well …), followed by a punchline concerning the asshole boss. Not to say the other introspective moments don’t hurt the show. The bit with Fafnir at the traffic light was handled well, as was Kobayashi’s realization why Tohru wanted to learn ESP that much. The short bits worked pretty well, with Saikawa’s ridiculous overjoyed look working as a nice running gag. Turns out, by the way, that Kobayashi uses Python at work. Don’t know what that signifies apart from someone in KyoAni knowing it.
KonoSuba2 5, though all its main characters are in the story, refuses to fully utilize them again. This time it’s Kazuma and Darkness going through the dungeon to get rid of that magic circle Aqua put there that’s now keeping the monsters out. Then it becomes Kazuma, Darkness, and Vanir, who’s taken over Darkness’s body. Vanir’s bizarre motives and the logic of the whole thing made little sense to me, but as I’ve pointed out before, a coherent plot is low on my priorities for this show. What we got is a funny duel of wills between Vanir and darkness over who will be in control, and Vanir’s ongoing surprise that Darkness rather likes the promise of torturous pain for refusing. Kazuma can only stand there and do reactions. Better yet, Vanir is telepathic, and so can reveal embarrassing things about how the two adventurers feel about each other. So, that talisman that didn’t do anything? The monsters that aren’t there anymore? The fact that Vanir also wants the circle removed and should be cooporating? Who cares. And I think Lalatina is a lovely name.
It really isn’t fair to compare Seiren to the Amagami shows. While the format and many of the creators are the same the characters are completely different.. well, maybe it IS fair to compare them, and I can’t help it. But so far, this new series hasn’t lived up to the fun of the original–until episode 6. We get a great scene where they bring Tsuneki back (to help the son of her boss at her secret part-time job get revenge, which adds resonance from the previous arc) for a GunGal duel, complicated by the arrival of the school’s disciplinarians. The show skillfully jumps from one situation to another. It’s followed by Miyamae and Shoichi having their deer “mate,” dancing with the innuendo without overdoing it. Through it all they work further on the serious issues, like Miyamae’s gaming obsession and how her appearance has changed the dynamic between the boys, and shouldn’t Shouichi be studying more? And finally, an Amagami reference, I believe, to Junichi and whatever girl it was doing things in the pump shed. These are all the sort of things I expected this show to do, and they’re finally doing it.
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.