Psycho-Pass – 14

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It’s probably no coincidence that the episode after the chief confirms that Makishima is rare but not unique in his ability to confound Sybil, brutal crimes start cropping up that are committed by those with similarly clear Psycho-Passes. Unlike Makishima, they’re wearing helmets, so it much be a question of technology and not genetics.

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It’s later determined that the helmets run scans of everyone and copies the lowest Crime Coefficient among them, so as far as any technology with AI is concerned, the one wearing the helmet is a good law-abiding citizen above suspicion, even as he’s shoving scissors or pens into pharmacists or stripping and beating a woman to death with a hammer. The system is being well and truly gamed.

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It’s not surprising there’s extant tech that can, if not flummox Sybil, at least deceive her by copying a clear Psycho-Pass. What is truly chilling is how all of the witnesses to these horrible crimes stand there and do nothing, as the helmet-wearer’s associates film it all. Chilling because years of depending on Sybil to maintain peace has rendered the average person incapable of even fathoming what a murder is, let alone do anything to stop it.

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While the helmets are yet another tool Makishima uses to enable would-be murderers and thugs, the effect of the crimes being committed on the city are far more than the sum of their parts. In addition to raising the area stress levels, which could render entire neighborhoods latent criminals if kept up, it is a means of planting public doubt in the system; a crack in the dam that could lead to a deluge.

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Of course, that’s precisely what Makishima wants: not just to expose Sybil as a sham, but to demonstrate that humanity has been torn from its natural state into a withering limbo of boredom; boredom he’ll cure. And if anyone manages to catch on and try to stop him, so much the better. The status quo is his bane.

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Kogami pulls off some nifty detective work here, studying the recorded scans of the crime to determine the Psycho-Pass was coming from someone other than the culprit, and narrowing their search by identifying someone with the motive to harm the victim. Akane’s role here is small, but amusingly consists of literally staying away from the action, lest the perp copy her Psycho-Pass and render the Dominators inert. In this case, having Enforcers who could successfully target and administer justice to “themselves” proved essential.

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Psycho-Pass – 13

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After reading Ginoza’s report about Akane’s Dominator malfunctioning, the Bureau Chief has a simple response: as far as the public is concerned, that malfunction never occurred. After Ginoza vouches for Akane’s aptitude, the Chief has little choice but to let her pupil in on what the next level up knows.

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Specifically, roughly one out of two million people are like Makishima: “criminally asymptomatic” and immune to the Dominators’—to Sybil’s—judgement. That is not a public fact, nor is it ever meant to be, since the Sybil system must be perfect in order to justify society’s acceptance of it.

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That perfection is, of course, a farce, and so various means are employed to come as close to perfection as possible, including having humans rather than drones handle Dominators. That requires enforcers who aren’t bound by a clear Psycho-Pass, as well as inspectors who risk theirs by being so close to crime.

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It also requires a rather inelegant protocol in the event an asymptomatic criminal is found. Makishima is not the first; the last one, Touma, is officially “missing”, but let’s not kid ourselves: he was quietly eliminated and swept under the rug, and the chief has the same fate in store for Makishima. All Ginoza has to do is fetch him for her.

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I don’t think I have to point out the irony of a system of supposed moral perfection requiring morally suspect methods to survive, or the real-world parallels. Suffice it to say, Sybil is a lie, and closer people are to its true workings, the less trustworthy they become. But even so, for now, Ginoza, Kogami, and even Akane are going to stay the course.

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I was worried that Akane’s experience would turn her into an enforcer, but she recovers remarkably quickly. Not only that, she’s all gung-ho about undergoing a “memory scoop”, essentially reliving Yuki’s murder so they can process an image of Makishima’s face, because her memory is the only lead they have.

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She comes right out and says she’s willing to become an enforcer if it means nabbing Makishima. However, her Psycho-Pass never reaches the danger zone during the scoop and recovers incredibly quickly afterwards. At this point, and with all the now-realized doubts about Sybil swirling in my head, I was wondering if Akane is “under”-symptomatic; if Sybil has an incomplete picture of her soul.

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That could, in theory, eventually make her a target of Sybil’s minders, just as Makishima is. After all, when pursuing perfection, why only go after the asymptomatic? Why not go after the weak readings next? Still, for now, Akane’s still within the dark about all that, and still an Inspector, and her primary goal is to capture Makishima. The photo extracted from her memory breaks the case wide open.

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Wanting to know more about Akane from someone who spend more time with her, Ginoza asks Masaoka, and in their conversation it’s revealed that they’re father and son, which…makes sense, actually. I can’t recall any past dialogue that would contradict it. It also explains why the dude is always so uptight: he shares office space with the living embodiment of his potential future.

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End-of-Month Rundown – September 2014

Click Here to see our September Chart
Click Above to see our September Chart

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall. Thanks to an assist from Franklin, Summer was our most proliific season of RABUJOI, reviewing over 200 episodes in all. It was a bit exhausting at times, we must confess. So how did it all shake out? Let’s hear it from the staff. As you’ll see on the chart, the season can be broken up pretty cleanly into three groups: those rated 8 and above, 7.5 to 7.9, and 7.4 and below.


Hannah

Five seemed to have soured Zankyou no Terror for many, but in hindsight I never really minded her. She was the wrench Sphinx’s best laid plans needed so that things wouldn’t be so easy for them, and bad English aside the airport chess episode was one of the more thrilling outings of the entire season. That said, when it was time for her to bow out, she did, and in the very end Nine and Twelve ended up joining Five in the afterlife, but not before they made a considerably more forceful impression than she did, digging up the secrets of the Athena project before they went. I’m also happy this wasn’t spread out over eleven more episodes. Sometimes one cour is plenty. Heck, this show could have done okay with just 8-10 episodes.

Damn you, Aldnoah.Zero! Here I thought we were going to get a concise, 12-episode run, and things were drawing towards a satisfying resolution to the immediate conflict, if not the entire Terran-Martian war. When Inaho and Seylum are both killed relatively quick succession, it only reinforced my belief that this was The End. But noooo, you had to have another season, didn’t you? And what am I going to do…not watch it? And then Franklin tells me he doubts the lead couple is really dead. In any case, Slaine is a jerk.

Rail Wars! did now wow in any particular area, but it was, for me at least, a consistent source of entertainment, and offered something unique and quirky with its extensive train-lore…the show also made every one of the trains it featured characters in and of themselves. The harem was silly, but the show never took it that seriously anyway.

Sword Art Online II‘s BoB/Death Gun arc slowed to a pedestrian crawl, to the point were were considering dropping the show out of disgust. First you neuter Sinon, then you have episode after episode of nothing but exposition cut with scenes of her ass. The thirteenth episode brings the Ballet of Bullets to a satisfying enough close, but I’ll admit I’m just glad that part is over. As for Sinon/Shino’s impotence as a self-actualizing character, this is a show with Kirito in it so it was always going to be about him saving her from getting raped in the real world by her so-called friend Kyouji. What interests us is what comes after that rescue, with Shino ostensibly safe.


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As shows wind down, even shows I’ve liked, I tend to get more forgiving, simply because the season is changing and I’m rearing for the new. Barakamon is a case of this, offering a finale that, as Franklin mentioned, missed the Sei-Haru interactions that were the heart and soul of the show. In my case, a little goes a long way, as Haru’s hope for Sei to return over the phone last week, and their one last scene where she tells him it’s fun when everyone is around, still moved me deeply. It was a genuinely funny and moving show that doesn’t come around often.

One of the Summer’s stronger endings belongs to Hanayamata, which brought back Hana right after taking her away without it seeming to contrived…or rather, the elation of having everyone perform on the big stage and share a moment of triumph trumped whatever plot calisthenics were required to make it happen. Every member of the club grew and learned something through the show’s run, and each had one or two loved ones see that growth for the first time. Nice finish.

Space Dandy followed up its season masterpiece with a ho-hum effort about dancing, then gave Dandy-Scarlet shippers the romance episode they’ve been hoping for (complete with a Gundam pilot stalker!), then another very bizarre story of Dandy’s seemingly impossible past relationship with a 4D being, then a surprising two-part finale, the first part was a kind of retrospective of Dandy’s adventures and relationships in courtroom drama form, followed by a part two that was almost all action, space battles, chases, rescues, and a little more metaphysics thrown in for good measure, as Dandy is the Man Who Would Be God, but wasn’t, since gods can’t frequent Boobies. In all, a great month for the show, and a better ending.

Ao Haru Ride seemed to be hinting a little too much at a second season for our tastes, but aside from that, Futaba finally succeeded in cracking open the door Kou had been stuck behind, where he feared loving anyone after his mom. The results are almost instant, with Kou making a more concerted effort to be a part of the group and studying to avoid summer courses, while also finding a way to reconnect with his brother and dad. There’s no concrete mutual confession of love with the couple, but we leave them in good shape.

Glasslip got pretty weird there in the end, but I think it came down to Kakeru and Touka figuring out what kind of futures they want to have, with the possibilities coming in the form of those “fragments”, some of which they shared, including the first, which was likely the most important. Kakeru goes off with his mom rather than joining Touka, but there’s every indication they’ll be back together before long. As for the other couples, they also seemed to have come out of the summer in better shape than they went in, which is to say they matured, and their relationships matured with them. This wasn’t anywhere near as good as Nagi-Asu, but I still enjoyed it.


Preston

Akame ga Kill! has gone from weekly bad guys who are simply evil and awful to an “evil” equivalent of Night Raid itself, the Esdeath-led Jaegers; a no less colorful collection of characters than our good guys. The death NR members have been replaced by Susanoo and Chelsea, both with interesting backgrounds, while we continue to learn more about the others. Finally, the thirteenth episode marks the unexpected reunion of Esdeath with her beloved Tatsumi, a pairing that’s always welcome, considering the combination of dread, danger, and romance it entails.

Majimoji Rurumo‘s finale was a great culmination of the show as a whole: it was never about the magical mumbo-jumbo, but the humanity of the characters, and how Rurumo and Kouta were a couple that made each other better. It pulls a “world without Rurumo” scenario for much of the finale, but it’s revealed as a temporary magical review for Rurumo and not explained any further than that. Kouta’s life had gotten to the point where even with his memories of her blocked for a day, her absence was very much noted, with the effect of him missing her even though he wasn’t sure who he was missing.

Six episodes in and Sailor Moon Crystal still doesn’t have a complete set of sailor scouts, but Jupiter was a welcome addition, and despite all the new recruits, Usagi learns that she can contribute to battles with her power to bring people together. Still no sign of the titular crystal, the princess, or Queen Beryl’s boss, but the romance, such as it is, between Usagi and Tuxedo Mask is proceeding apace.

Like Hannah with Aldnoah, Tokyo Ghoul is a show I enjoyed but a second season wasn’t on my radar, nor did I consider it a necessity. However, with Ken just turning into “Rize-Ken” at the very end and a lot of manga left to draw from, I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets a second season too at some point, in which case I’ll probably give it a good look.


Franklin

Final words on Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun , Sabagebu! and other shows in the comments below.

Psycho-Pass – 12

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Complete change of gears this week, as we enter Backstory Mode, starting with how Kunizuka Yayoi joined the MWPSB as an Enforcer. A passionate guitarist, listening to “Non-Sybil-authorized” bands clouded her hue to the extent she ended up in a chilling rehabilitation facility.

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When reports of “antisocial organizations” spring up in her neighborhood, she’s visited by Ginoza and Kogami, who is still an Inspector. Brass tacks: Sybil says Yayoi has the aptitude to be an enforcer, they’re willing to give her a chance, and there aren’t a lot of other options for leaving rehab.

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Kogami breaks the ice by giving her some long sought-after guitar strings, and Yayoi agrees to assist in the investigation, eventually finding herself in the very club she used to frequent when she was free, listening to the band that clouded her hue to begin with, fronted by the lovely Rina.

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Yayoi admired and maybe was also a little into Rina, for she represented a rebellious nature she’d never been able to fully replicate, even if she eventually became a latent criminal. But when she learns Rina is an actual rebel, fighting against Sybil with Molotovs along with music, she seems to turn off her heart and turn on her head.

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Believing what Rina is doing is wrong, she pulls the Dominator Kogami gave her and tries to shoot her. The trigger is locked (even Kogami wouldn’t give a non-enforcer latent a live Dominator), but Yayoi passes the test: when the chips were down, she chose the side of law and order, horribly flawed (and unforgiving to her as it is).

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Yayoi’s story is pretty simple, but it doesn’t need to be that complicated: even among those wronged or harmed by Cybil’s tyranny may prefer it to violence and chaos. In this regard, Yayoi is an obedient student of her time. She’ll carve out the place she can in this messed-up world, just as Kogami and Sasayama seem to have done (Sasayama is, indeed, kind of a dick, BTW).

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They may not be true believers, but they’re willing to stand behind the safety and comfort Sybil provides, because it gives them power. In a world where things are constantly being taken away from you, the opportunity to be on the side of the takers is hard to pass up. Still, it’s encouraging to see there are people out there fighting against Sybil.

8_brav

Psycho-Pass – 11

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Last week, when Kogami finally made contact with the rest of the team it felt like a victory hard-one by having to balance Yuki’s life with the need to play the game set out for him. All that was left was for him to stay out of Senguji’s sight and wait for the cavalry to move in and destroy the cyborg while Makishima, again let down by one of his “clients”, simply retreats. How wrong I was.

Sensing the MWPSB will be on to him soon if they aren’t already (a suspicious proven right when Akane finds him), Makishima accelerates his plans in the most basic way possible: by exploiting the known weaknesses of his adversaries. Kogami takes out Senguji, but gets shot in the process, and so is helpless to stop Makishima from snatching up Yuki right in front of him.

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Kogami directs Akane to where Makishima was headed, but when she arrives at a catwalk where he’s seemingly waiting for her, she too is utterly powerless to stop him, but not because she’s shot, or because he has a hostage. Akane’s weakness is that she relies on the Cybil system to activate the Dominator, and Makishima’s Psycho-Pass is pure white, despite his obvious criminal conduct.

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I’ve been lambasting Cybil to kingdom come for the whole run of the show, as any free will-loving human being would, but I thought that at least it kind of worked on some level, i.e. is able to identify criminals through cymatic scans. Turns out it can’t’ even do that, at least with Makishima. Sure, he’s just one man, but who’s to say he’s unique in the world? Even if he isn’t, he’s a game-changer.

Makishima in his sporting generosity tosses Akane Senguji’s rifle and gives her an ultimatum: if she doesn’t kill him with that gun, he’s going to slit Yuki’s throat right in front of her. It’s basically the worst choice you can give someone who’s life will be ruined forever the moment she pulls that trigger. But I guess that’s his point: Makishima will have value for him if she puts in an effort.

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But she doesn’t. She can’t. She holds the rifle with one hand, wobbles and shakes, closes her eyes, and aims nowhere in particular. She’s lucky she didn’t accidentally shoot herself, but poor Yuki isn’t so lucky. The round misses her, but Sakishima’s razor doesn’t: punishment for his disappointment. He then disappears, leaving Akane to fester in her grief.

We’ll see how Akane’s hue fares following the most traumatic experience of her life by far: not only watching her friend be murdered before her eyes, but being unable to save her despite possessing the exact tools to do so. Makishima is convinced his criminal coefficient is nil because criminality cannot be measured by the Cybil system. His will to observe humanity “in all its splendor” is impervious to technology; impervious to judgement.

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Right now Makishima is just getting his jollies testing how far he can go with that goal, and how many others like him he can find. Akane seems like a long shot, but he’s really excited about Kogami, who after all didn’t lift a finger to stop Makishima because he was bleeding out, not because he lacked the will.

Here’s where I have to ask, isn’t there some kind of entity in government that is above Cybil, so that society can be defended against those like Makishima? It doesn’t seem like there is, so I guess it’s up to the MWPSB. They certainly have their work cut out for them. As for this show, it’s found a new level of cruelty.

10_brav

Akame ga Kill! – 13

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Like Brynhildr a season ago, AGK is not afraid to infuse comedy into any situation, whether it’s supposed to be serious. I actually don’t mind that, as at the end of the day the show is full of ridiculous characters and situations that frankly shouldn’t be taken too seriously. That’s not to say there aren’t any scenes wholly serious scenes to be found—this episode started with the brutal killing of a couple living outside the capital by the new humanoid danger beasts. But the show seems to know when to use laughs and when to not.

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It’s also wise in not having every single chracter cracking wise. The show is largely split into those who are primarily the butt of jokes or subject of snarky observations, and those who make said observations. Oftentimes this week we get pairs representing both groups: Minister Honest and the Emporer; Wave and Bols (I just like how Bols has a perfect, loving family); Tatsumi and Akame. I also appreciate how even-keeled in its portrayal of both sides of the conflict while they’re in relative down-time.

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For contrast, let’s look at the villains in Sailor Moon Crystal, which I’m also watching. When we get scenes with them, they’re really just plotting evil stuff; they’re not really interacting as people the way the good guys are. We also know next to nothing about them, their pasts, or their motivations, so they come off as a bit dull and dry. In theory, showing the lighter sides of Esdeath, the Jaegers, etc. could potentially minimize their power as villains, but that’s not really an issue for me here.

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It’s also interesting that even though the empire is working to eradicate all rebels including Night Raid, they actually share the mission to eradicate the new danger beasts, though that doesn’t make it a case of “the enemy of my enemy”. Tatsumi, taking the moral high road, rejects Chelsea’s position to simply hang back and let the Jaegers take care of the beasts, because there are people in danger as they speak and the more people on the job, the more people can be saved.

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Chelsea, who has already lost a unit and knew how kind Bulat and Sheele are, is worried Tatsumi may be headed down the same road. At some point every assassin has to preserve his or her own life, even at the costs of innocent lives. She’s also uneasy about how lovey-dovey Night Raid is in general, but that’s to be expected of someone with her past; it doesn’t necessarily make her right. Tatsumi’s cool speech being ruined by the fact his fly is open: that’s AGK in a nutshell.

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Like last week, this episode squeezed a fair amount of material into its runtime. Night Raid finds a new hideout (pretty much the same as the old hideout; by design, says Akame); we learn that Lubbock was a rich, entitled ass who one day met Najenda, fell in love with her (which I can’t blame him for; she’s gorgeous) and enlisted on the spot, and his loyalty to her is still based on the hope that she’ll one day return his feelings. Lubba’s been the least developed of the original Night Raid, and this was an example of a short but sweet little nugget that helps enrich his character.

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In terms of surprises, I was not expecting Tatsumi and Esdeath to reunite so soon, but here we are. I still wish he got to spend more time with her before, and now that they’re together again I am very happy. Only good stuff happens when these two are together, but comedically and dramatically speaking. I continue to enjoy Esdeath’s earnest regard for her feelings and the way Tatsumi affects her moods and behaviors, but it isn’t a case of her love for him weakening her in any way. On the contrary, when danger beasts interrupt their reunion, she’s as focused and vicious in dispatching them as ever.

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FInally, the shadowy grinning guy who calls the Jaegers’ Imperial Arms “his toys” is looking like someone who will be giving them trouble soon; trouble which Tatsumi may be in the middle of now that he’s been re-captured. I wouldn’t even be opposed to Night Raid and the Jaegers holding a truce so they could join forces to defeat this guy, if he turns out to be that big of a threat.

8_mag

Space Dandy 2 – 13 (Fin)

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The long-standing criticism of Space Dandy’s M.O. of hitting the reset button after every episode, thus limiting its momentum across the entire run, is fearlessly addressed (and IMO officially debunked) this week, as just about every major serial element is brought into play for one hell of a satisfying grand finale.

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First of all, the show finally, finally lets Dr. Gel get his hands on Dandy, ambushing him as he’s walking out of the courthouse (Dandy is definitely a victim of publicly-televised trials in this case.) Not wanting Dandy to die at the hands of Gogol, Honey and Scarlet join Meow and QT on a daring rescue mission.

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That’s not a bad rescue party at all. Meanwhile, Commander Johnny (now a full-time general) learns from the Jaicro expert witness just how dangerous Dandy would be in the hands of Gogol, and launches an all out assault on the Gogol homeworld. That means the Aloha Oe warps right into the middle of a stellar pandemonium.

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The battle is fantastic, and made all the better by the funky soundtrack. Then, in a stunning turn of events, Bea reveals himself as Jaicro spy, betrays Gel, then betrays Jaicro, taking Dandy’s pyonium—and the promise of universal domination—for himself.

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Bea has shown signs of competence and initiative in the past, but never villainy until now, but hey, he’s ready to be his own boss, and certainly cuts a villainous figure with his popped collar and smirk. His only mistake was not making sure Gel was dead, and that proves fatal.

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After a harrowing journey aboard Aloha Oe than surfing in Little Aloha girls, robot and cat reach Dandy and free him from his chains, only to have to see his back once more as he volunteers to take Gel’s ship and destroy the berzerk superweapon before it destroys the universe.

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That’s when things get baroque: Dandy is ejected naked from Little Aloha and seems to merge with the core of the weapon, destroying everything and everyone we know.

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He ends up in some kind of purgatory and is approached by who else but the narrator, who is essentially God. Since Dandy is the only other being able to traverse dimensions without losing his memories (as demonstrated in many episodes), God wants him to be his successor once the multiverse is reborn.

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But it’s a sore deal from Dandy’s perspective. Being infinite and eternal and beyond all matter is all well and good, but he wouldn’t be able to flirt with Scarlet at the alien registration office or hang out with Honey at Boobies. That renders God’s offer moot. Dandy refuses, the multiverse as it was collapses on itself.

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We emerge back at the first episode of the series, with Dandy discussing boobs with a disinterested QT. There’s no narration, as God is gone and wasn’t replaced, but otherwise everything seems to be back to normal yet again. Then the credits roll, accompanied by a great pan through of the entire Dandy universe, and one more new, fantastic piece of music.

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This finale wasn’t just a tying up of all the loose threads the show had generated, but a love letter to all of its fans who always wanted to see Gel bag Dandy, Scarlet and Honey team up, a big decisive battle between empries, and finally, Dandy turning down godhood. I for one loved it.

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