Golden Kamuy – 46 – Making the Mortar Dance

I didn’t know we’d delve into Tanigaki and Inkarmat’s situation so soon, but I’m certainly not complaining! Inkarmat keeps things light at the hospital where she’s being held, selling roots to Koito and using her clairvoyance to locate Nikaidou’s false hand. Tsukishima tolerates it all, but remains all business.

Ienaga Kano is there too, hoping to experience what he couldn’t when his mother fells down stairs and miscarried: the “perfection” of a mother. He also wants to eat the placenta, which…gross. As for Tanigaki, when faced with the choice of searching for Asirpa and Sugimoto or returning to his love’s side, he picks the latter.

Thanks to a flashy rich kid who also chews on roots, Tanigaki learns where Inkarmat is being held, and sneaks in under cover of darkness to reunite with her. Their reunion is soon stained with blood, as Tsukishima returns from his bath with his gun drawn.

Inkarmat uses her pregnant body to shield Tanigaki, having told him moments prior that she’s ready for danger. They both are; being together no matter what the consequences are. Thankfully fortune favors them; Ienaga drugs Tsukishima (and is shot dead in the process), and Koito, grateful for everything Inkarmat did for him during his convalescence, lets them go.

Tsukishima still manages to get a few shots off which graze Tanigaki and leave a trail of blood for him to follow. Needless to say, horseback is no proper place for a nine-months-pregnant woman. But when they rest in an abandoned house, Tsukishima is on top of them almost immediately.

They manage to slip away, but when Inkarmat’s water breaks, Tanigaki carries her the rest of the way, reluctantly shooting his horse in the bum so Tsukishima will follow the wrong blood trail.

By morning Tanigaki and Inkarmat are in Asirpa’s kotan, where Huci and Osoma’s mother are ready to take care of her. The latter tells Tanigaki that Huci has been delivering babies since she was nineteen, and even has a personal god behind her neck that helps her determine the babe’s gender, and thus the proper orientation for delivery.

Tsukishima arrives with gun drawn once more, but hot on is trail is Koito, who orders him to stand down. Tsukishima initially asks Koito whose side he’s on, but in this Koito is unequivocal: he’s on Lt. Tsurumi’s side, but doesn’t believe Tanigaki and Inkarmat need to be killed.

Tsukishima, initially remaining rigid as doing his job is all he has left, Koito appeals to the Tsukishima who gave up on his lost love Igogusa (covered in episode 27). Finally, he stands down. Inkarmat replies to the anguish in his face with an outstretched hand, but then her contractions start.

From there, Osoma’s mom starts barking out orders for the men to make themselves useful. We’re treated to a lot of details of Ainu neonatal care, from the use of sagebrush gauze, tar straps for bracing, antiseptic rasupakap, and Huci’s midwife chanting. The men also roll a mortar to aid the difficult birth.

Eventually, the cry of a newborn babe emanates from the hut. Inkarmat holds her new child in her arms, then offers it to Tanigaki, who makes the obligatory mistake of thinking the umbilical cord is a big dick. It’s a girl, and he couldn’t be happier.

In the aftermath of the successful delivery, Koito insists that Tsurumi must be a man concerned with more than a petty lust for power or willingness to sacrifice anyone and everyone for his own ends. He holds Tsurumi to higher ideals, even Tsukishima isn’t sure if Tsurumi even has any beyond burying his comrades and securing prosperity for Japan.

Koito resolves to believe in Tsurumi, and urges Tsukishima to believe in him in turn. A week later, Tanigaki, Inkarmat, and their daughter depart the kotan. We may not see them again, as their part in this story seems to be complete. Inkarmat offers to tell Tsukishima what she saw in her clairvoyance, but he declines to hear it.

Like the brand-new family whose freedom he and Koito are allowing out of nothing but compassion, he has everything he needs to move forward. So he doesn’t need to hear it.

Skip and Loafer – 10 – Tough Little Rose

When Sousuke is asked if he’ll agree to be cast in the school play for the festival, he looks at everyone watching him expectantly and agrees with his usual easygoing demeanor. His old acting friend Chris tells him if he puts “staying in character” before his own feelings, he’ll eventually snap.

That said, Chris tells Sousuke that he always seemed to be having the most fun acting, so it can’t be all bad that he’s found himself in a position to act again. Maybe he’ll summon that happiness. What Chris might not know, but Mitsumi does, is that Sousuke wasn’t happy because he was acting, but because he was making his mom happy.

As rehearsals commence, Sousuke is, as expected, great in his role as Johan the gardener in an adaptation of a Sound of Music stand-inWhile Mika notes that his love interest in the play is spoken for in real life, a part of her worries about Mitsumi, as “School Festival Magic” is a real thing. Then she remembers she’s supposed to be a bad girl, and forgets about worrying about Mitsumi.

Mitsumi doesn’t have time to worry. As a member of the Student Council, she’s on call for any and all little odd jobs that need doing, meaning she’s scrambling along even more than usual. She’s also not getting proper sleep and probably skipping meals to keep up with the work. When she nearly trips on the wooden sets, thankfully Sousuke is there to catch her.

She agrees to take video footage of the rehearsal and the script home to study and offer feedback to the director, but that night, while clipping festival voting ballots, she nods off, and the next day has to tell the director that she has nothing for her.

The director vents about this to her friend later, and Sousuke overhears it. So does Mitsumi, who had just watched the footage on her phone and was going to provide some belated input. Sousuke redirects her and treats her to a cold drink.

That’s when he realizes Mitsumi has been reminding him of his younger self: practically tripping over himself to please others; always on the verge of falling flat on his face. Mitsumi remembers Sousuke saying he only acted ot make his mom happy, realizes he went out of his way to cheer her up after what the director said behind her back.

Mitsumi gets emotional over how nice Sousuke is, and the two have a break in the sun-dappled shade. As always, Mitsumi is direct and earnest in how she’s feeling: she had the ambition and desire to take on a job, but couldn’t deliver. At the same time, she feels even worse for not speaking up when Sousuke ended up agreeing to be in the play, when she knew it wasn’t his cup of tea.

Sousuke is happy for her concern, but part of him wonders if someone as pure and sensitive as Mitsumi is really cut out for Tokyo or politics if she gets so worked up over things that, at least to him, aren’t that big of a deal. As much fun as it is having her by his side at school, he wonders if she wouldn’t be happier in the countryside.

When talk shifts to Sousuke’s role as Johan, he dismisses him as a bad guy who went to the dark side and ran when the going got tough, but Mitsumi presents a more optimistic view: that the writers of the play left out the endpoints of the characters’ paths, leaving open the possibility for redemption.

Hearing this, Sousuke stands up, holds out his hand, and invites Mitsumi to join him for a little song and dance—the first time they do so outside of the adorable OP. I cannot tell you how sweet it is hearing Mitsumi’s off-key flubbing of the lyrics as she and Sousuke dance about.

Mitsumi then allays Sousuke’s unspoken fears about her by telling him that she’s the kind of person who falls flat on her face a lot, but that’s made her a pro at dusting herself off and getting back up. So she may feel the sting of adversity, but she’ll never let it keep her down long.

Hopefully Sousuke won’t just admire this about Mitsumi, but learn to live a little like she does as well, rather than gripping his burdens so tightly.

TONIKAWA: Over the Moon For You – S2 09 – Red Ginger Piled High

Tsukasa’s mysterious (and long) past is always something out there on the margins, adding depth and mystique to what is otherwise an  exemplary slice-of-life rom-com. But sometimes that mystery is brought to the foreground, like this week’s stinger, in which Tokiko is just a little girl wandering what looks like the aftermath of boming during WWII.

A pretty lady offers her some ohagi. That lady looks just like Tsukasa. Take that for what you will, because I almost got thematic whiplash from the following segment, in which Nasa helps Tsukasa with little tehnology issues. I like how he makes it clear she’s amazing, and he finds the rare instances where something does fluster her justifiably endearing.

In the next segment (this episode is a bit of a grab bag) we check in on Yanagi-sensei, who is preparing to marry Taniguchi-sensei. Tsukasa and Nasa aren’t surprised, since they happened to see the happy couple messing around in the park. But Yanagi has a dilemma, and it involves, of all things, red ginger on her beef bowls.

When Taniguchi piled red ginger sky-high on his bowl, it threw Yanagi off, but he did it so that there would be no secrets in their relationship. He also wanted her to avoid his fate (apparently it’s not that good, but you can’t help but do it every time after doing it once) and remain “normal”, but when she had a solo bowl she piled on the red ginger, and now she’s one of them.

So basically Yanagi is panicking because the Yanagi Taniguchi fell for and asked to marry wasn’t the Yanagi she is now, who piles her red ginger high. Nasa at least tries to engage with Yanagi’s “problem”, but Tsukasa tries a lot less. She rightfully clocks this as the nonsense it is. If this is the most she has to worry about, she and Taniguchi are going to be very happy together.

Next up, FAT NASA! All those delicious home-cooked meals from Tsukasa, combined with working long hours on his laptop and not exercising a lot has left Nasa in awful (for him) shape. Even more frustrating, Tsukasa has the same diet but remains slim and fit.

The detail-oriented Nasa puts a laser-focus on getting back into shape fast, going on a diet and running ten kilometers a day. But he has very little stamina, at least early on, enabling Tsukasa to easily overtake him. He can’t even do a chin-up at the park.

Nasa tells Tsukasa he wants to be strong enough to protect her, but she reminds him that she saved him that night, and is perfectly capable of not only protecting herself, but her darling as well. She steals his line, but he accepts it, as he’s in no fit shape to dispute it!

Finally, Nasa prepares some cold noodles for dinner (something I’ve gotta try sometime this summer), and Tokiko appears at their table. She goads them into going on a camping trip with her, then leaves a gift behind. Throughout their interactions Tsukasa treats the elderly woman more like a kid sister than anything else.

Of course, that happens to be true. Despite her youthful looks, Tsukasa is older than Tokiko, while the gift is ohagi, the same thing she offered Tokiko when she was at her lowest point. So yes, Tsukasa is extremely long-lived, possibly ageless, and may even be a immortal supernatural being. But she’s also an amazing and cute-as-hell wife! She can be both!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Insomniacs After School – 09 – Swimsuit Dates

Summer is here, and with it oppressive heat, but at least it dries the laundry faster. We meet Isaki’s older sister (voiced by Amamiya Sora), presumably home for break and bossing Isaki around while she luxuriates on a beanbag with an ice cream bar.

Ganta has big plans for an astrophotography training camp to Noto, but the astronomy club has no track record, so it has no funding. Not wanting Isaki to dip into her New Year’s money or ask his dad, he plans to obtain a summer job so they can fund the camp.

That night, Ganta broadcasts a radio show as he uses the telescope’s astronomy software to direct it at the heavenly body of his choosing; in this case the moon. He notes how life has suddenly gotten “pretty thrilling”, and he says what Isaki would say in response to his anxiety about getting a job (“go for broke!) the same time she says it, causing her to fall of her bed head first and get yelled at by her sis.

The next day, Ganta fails his job interview and is down in the dumps, but Ukegawa cheers him up and says it’s all part of the territory. Ganta heads to the arcade to find Yui apparently collapses, but she just overslept after pulling an all-nighter for an upcoming adult gaming event. While she heads to a hot spring to wash up (Yui’s life is my goal) he straightens up the arcade to her surprise.

When he mentions how he needs funding (for what she halfway-jokes is a training camp for his and Isaki’s “secret flirty time), she asks why he can’t just go to his family, assuming he’s rich because he has a high end camera. Ganta tells her his dad always takes things to the extreme, perhaps out of guilt that his mom isn’t around anymore. Yui decides to offer him a job at the arcade, and he’s so grateful he accidentally soaks her.

Isaki and Ukegawa stop by to congratulate Ganta on his new job, but then Isaki is off to the beach with her girlfriends. Predictably, Kana is the one whose heart is set on snagging some boys (or getting their attention and rejecting them gracefully).

Everyone has cute swimsuits, but Isaki wears a big tee over hers…perhaps to hide the scars from her operations? To Kani’s disappointment, there are no hot guys biting, while Isaki, Momo and Anamizu act like a bunch of little kids. Regardless, they’re all having fun.

When Ganta reports to work that day, Yui is relaing in a kiddy pool with shade, a watermelon, and other comforts, simply Living the Goddamn Life. He tells her his planned itinerary for the camp, and she tells him that it will probably cost a lot more than he thinks. She prepares a list for him of what he’ll need so he can recalculate.

As he goes through this list in her apartment, he realizes he badly underestimated the cash needed; even his summer job might not cover it. That’s when Isaki appears seemingly out of nowhere. After her beach trip, where she had no intention of meeting a guy, she decided to pay a visit to the guy she already has!

She also reports that she was hit on for the first time, waits for his jealous reaction, then qualifies her experience: it was grade schoolers who bought her shaved ice.

When Ganta relays to her their club’s dire financial straits and the need to seriously pare down his ambitious training camp plan, she fires the bullet she’d been saving for the right time: her grandmother has a house right smack dab in the middle of Noto. They can get there by bus for cheap, stay there for free, and cook their own meals.

Isaki’s crucial input makes the training camp doable and reignites Ganta’s excitement. In celebration, the two gently put their hands together and start dancing and singing like complete and utter dorks! Like what the hell, why are they so damn cute?! Then again, I get their enthusiasm. They’re essentially going to be playing house together. It should be bliss!

Alas, Isaki’s parade is rained on when her sister announces that she’ll be “tagging along” on her little training camp, presumably as a chaperone. That said, I imagine her sister has normal sleep patterns, which mean Isaki and Ganta should still have plenty of opportunities to be alone together. And oh yeah, take pictures of the stars or whatever. Sure, why not!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Vinland Saga S2 – 22 – The Man With No Enemies

The punches begin, and even after twenty of Drott’s best, Thorfinn is still standing. Among the warriors watching, only Wulf realizes that Thorfinn is subtly positioning himself so that the punches don’t impact his core. Einar believes this to be madness and wants to stop it, but won’t interfere; he owes that to his friend.

When Snake arrives with Olmar, Thorfinn is distracted enough not to make the right move, and the thirty-second punch lands true, sending him flying to the ground. Snake tells Thorfinn there’s no need for this; if talking could have solved this conflict, they would have done so. Thorfinn disagrees: Did they really exhaust all avenues of conversation?

The answer, of course, is no. When Canute’s men raised their swords, Ketil’s men raised them in turn. But what follows is one of Thorfinn’s best and most noble and badass moments to date.

He stands back up, points at Drott, tells him his punches hurt less than bug bites, and tells him to hurry up with the remaining sixty-eight, as he’s a busy man with things to do.

Drott isn’t angry. Instead, he regards his indomitable opponent with the respect he deserves, and gets back to the punching. Snake moves to intervene, but Einar grabs his arm and tightens his grip. Thorfinn must be allowed to see this through.

The sun is low by the time Drott reaches one hundred punches, and by then, he is so exhausted they have no power at all. The hundredth is merely a gentle tap against the grostesquely swollen but still-standing Thorfinn’s chest. Drott falls to one knee and apologizes to Thorfinn for doubting him. He is a true warrior.

Drott then begs Wulf to let Thorfinn have an audience with the king. Under the cirsumstances, Wulf cannot refuse this request, and has the other solders make way for Thorfinn and Einar. Whatever else happens from here, Thorfinn and his “first method” has prevailed. He has shown everyone present that 100 punches from their strongest man aren’t enough to break his will.

Canute hears Wulf’s plea and grudgingly allows Thorfinn to approach, respecting his men’s feelings. Canute begins their talk by remarking that Thorfinn must hate him for enslaving him. However, Thorfinn offers the king his gratitude for sparing his life after he struck Danish royalty.

He also apologizes for giving Canute the scar on his face, and Wulf puts the remaining pieces together: despite being so young and tiny, this is the Thorfinn who is a match for that man-beast Thorkell himself. Canute acknowledges Thorfinn’s words as commendable, but when asked to leave the farm, he must refuse.

He explains that Ketil began this dispute, while his son killed ten of his men, and then Ketil refused demands to surrender and grossly overestimated his ragtag army’s strength.

All these things are true, but they are also excuses. We know that because we were in Canute’s private chambers when he decided he needed to make an example of the landowners and requisition farmland to feed his armies. Despite not having been privy to that context, Einar still calls Canute out for what he is: nothing but a thief, no better than a Viking chiefs who raized his village and killed his family.

Canute admits that is true; he’s not only a Viking Chief, but Chief of Chiefs. Thorfinn asks him if he still intends to build a paradise for those who suffer. But just as Thorfinn changed in the last four years into someone like his father who rejects war as nothing but a waste, the past four years have hardened Canute into someone who embraces war as a tool.

Like a farmer tills a land with a hoe, he shall till the very world itself with his vast armies of Vikings. Only then, when he has the power to defeat a God who has denied happiness to all who walk the earth, will he truly be able to build the paradise he envisions.

As Canute gestures for his men to menacingly surround Thorfinn and Einar, it is clear these two men, once boys, share the same dream of paradise but hold diametrically opposed philosophies for achieving it.

Having spoken his piece (and letting Einar speak his as well), the only two options remaining for Thorinn are to die right there on that beach, or flee and live until such a time as his arguments are persuasive enough to convince Canute, or some other king, that war solves and achieves nothing.

Loving Yamada at Lv999 – 10 – So Cold It’s Hot

When Tsubaki first approached Yamada, it was because she suspected him of cheating in a game she watched him play online. He lets her watch him play, and she does—for hours. He didn’t cheat, he’s just that good. In the present, neither she nor Okamoto can get ahold of Yamada.

Okamoto tells her if she doesn’t make a move, Yamada will end up with some rando. Tsubaki’s mask falls and she tears up, and Okamoto rightfully feels bad for pressuring her, as she’s already quite aware of her situation.

Turns out Tsubaki wasn’t the younger girl with whom Yamada couldn’t promise to be together forever. Rather, she hears from Yamada why he doesn’t have a type, never had a crush, and is generally uncomfortable with women. It all comes down to that girl, who was mercilessly bullied for liking Yamada until she stopped coming to school.

Their teacher sent him to the girls to give her handouts, keeping a connection between the two. The girl kept liking him, and then asked him to make a promise he couldn’t make. He says he only did what he did because the teacher told him to, but often wonders what would have been the right thing to say instead of what he did say.

From the day Tsubaki learned that about Yamada to the present, she feared ever falling for a guy as kind and cruel as him, lest she get hurt someday. And that day seems to have arriving—or will do so soon.

As Okamoto and Tsubakai wander the streets and presumably head to their respective homes, Yamada spends the night at Akane’s, but not for romantic purposes. His role is purely to observe and protect. Akane is in a terribly bad way, to the point he wisely takes her to a late-night clinic where she gets an IV.

Akane is somewhat aware of these events, but her fever is so bad it all feels like a fuzzy dream, up to and including when she comes to and finds Yamada dozing beside her bed, her “getting over heartbreak” book loosely in his hands.

When she realizes all of the things Yamada did for her when she was well and truly much out of it, Akane bursts into tears of gratitude, feeling like “someone like her” wouldn’t normally deserve such kindness (which is of course untrue).

When the heartbreak book comes up, Akane tells him how it’s really gotten her out of her funk, he tells her he’s not the good guy she thinks he is, and she recognizes his expression. It’s the same one Takuma had when he broke up with her.

Akane tells Yamada she’s glad Takuma put an end to things that way rather than lie to her. It’s her hope that should he look back on the memory of her, it’s of her smiling, not crying and wailing, making him think “she was a great girl” and “I shouldn’t have let her go.”

Just as Yamada’s face reminded her of Takuma’s, Akane’s bright toothy grin reminded him of the girl he essentially broke up with without knowing it at the time. He even remembers something he forgot: the last time he saw her face—and the first time we see it—she’s smiling at him through tears, thanking him for being there for her.

As the night wears on and Tsubaki logs off the game with no one else around, Akane’s fever drops and she’s able to eat some yogurt. As she eats, she can’t help but notice how safe and secure Yamada’s presence makes her feel. But when she tries to reach out to him, she suddenly feels horrible.

It’s a leg cramp, and it’s agony. But as she shouts and thrashes, Yamada calmly takes hold of her foot and leg and stretches it out. Her other foot flies wildly around his head and face, sometimes hitting only air, and sometimes hitting face. But after a minute or so, the pain subsides.

Yamada thanks him for saving her yet again, and Yamada comments that she’s “so dramatic.” But when he looks over at her as she says her leg was killing her, she’s scarcely looked more beautiful. The two have an extended moment where something might happen, but it passes, and the night proceeds without incident.

The next morning Yamada heads off to school without sleep, something he assures Yamada he’s done before. She’s fine for him to go, but hopes he’ll take care and let her know if he feels sick. No doubt she’ll want to be the one to nurse him should he fall ill; such is her transactional way of showing affection and demonstrating her worth.

But more than ever before, Akane is acutely aware of her body being naturally drawn towards Yamada without her having to think. That’s the product of how safe and secure she feels around him. He’s about to leave when she grabs a corner of his jacket, only to tell him she’s fine and to go ahead and go. But when he’s gone, she can’t help but sigh, and her blushing isn’t just from her cold.

This episode was another triumph of shoujo romance shot composition and direction, full of beautiful cross-fades and dissolves reflecting the characters’ states of mind. Minase Inori and Uchiyama Kouki’s layered performances also add to the intimate atmosphere of an episode that takes place almost entirely in Akane’s bedroom.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury – 20 – Who’s Allowed to Live?

As Norea watches the carnage unfold on earth, she gets even more worked up and filled with an unquenching thirst for vengeance. Guel and Kenanji head to the school for evidence of Shaddiq’s treachery, but Shaddiq already knows what he’s up to, and he and Grassley House intercept them. Finally, these two are facing off in mobile suits, but it’s no longer a school duel, nor a game.

Martin reports his progress to Secelia, but she and Rouji are more concerned with why Aerial is on Earth wreaking havoc. Martin, of course, has no idea. Earth House watches helplessly as what’s left of GUND-Arm’s reputation goes up in literal smoke. Lilique tells the others to shut the news feeds off and leave it to the president.

The Earth Housers are left wondering if they should just be good and go back to attending class, as Suletta is doing. That said, she’s not paying much attention, as she’s understandably preoccupied with just what the heck is going on with Miorine. Petra offers Suletta her notes as further thanks for saving Lauda. When Suletta asks if Petra is in love with him, she bristles, but doesn’t deny it (obviously).

When Cathedra, Dominicus, and Guel in his Darilbalde are barred from reaching the school by Shaddiq and his fellow Grassleyans, it doesn’t take long for Guel to play the only hand he has and accuse Shaddiq without evidence. But Shaddiq doesn’t care what Guel hurls his way if he doesn’t have hard evidence. That evidence is about to be moved, as Henao is overseeing Sarius’ relocation while Shaddiq buys time.

However, Kenanji and Dominicus manage to slip through and land within the school environment. That’s when the door to the holding area is unlocked and Norea heads out like a revenge-fueld missile. Elan tries to stop her, first from leaving their quarters and then from entering the cockpit of her Gundam, but fails on both accounts.

Norea won’t be denied. But while she has her singleminded mission to take as much away from the wretched Spacians as they took away from her, Nika is also suddenly free, and her look of determination indicates she’ll be making a beeline for Earth House.

I knew Norea would be one of the series’ most volatile wild cards, and she goes absolutely feral on the totally undefended Asticassia. She blasts and blows up buildings, vehicles, and people without any rhyme or reason. She simply wants to let it all burn. In the process, she ends up blowing up her fellow Earthians hangar.

Petra leads a stunned Suletta through the increasingly distressing amounts of wreckage and carnage, and each of them carry an injured classmate on their backs when Norea fires on their location and they’re both obscured by smoke, dust, and debris. Considering Petra’s quite blatant death flags earlier about making Lauda take her out to lunch and dinner, I didn’t feel good about her chances.

Meanwhile, Lauda listens in as Guel and Shaddiq battle both with words and souped-up mobile suits, and then the inevitable happens: Shaddiq lets slip that it was Guel who killed their father. Lauda had been a loyal and trusty younger brother to this point but that’s probably over now.

There’s no more damning sign that Things Will Never Be the Same as watching a Front security mobile suit crush what looks like Miorine’s greenhouse. And while the camera doesn’t linger on any crushed tomatoes, it doesn’t have to use symbolism; students are being crushed and killed.

At first, Felsi’s campus-calibrated mobile suit is the only thing standing between Norea’s rampage and utter destruction of the school, but then Secelia, Rouji, and Martin arrive at Earth House (that’s right, Secelia is running in this episode) and offers Chuchu (the only pilot around) her prototype mobile suit.

The suit still needs to be calibrated for Chuchu, so who should show up right on time to do just that but a contrite Nika, ready to help. Apologies and forgiveness are put on hold—everyone has work to do. That said, Chuchu tells Nika to tell her everything “from A to Z”, otherwise she won’t know what she’s forgiving her for.

As Shaddiq and Guel continue to duel in space, Shaddiq condemns Guel for getting Miorine’s hands dirty, and he and his Grassley comrades tell him a boy who grew up with a silver spoon knows nothing of the struggles they’ve faced, and the choice they’ve made as a group of orphans to break the “unjust peace” that’s been forged by taking the power from the Spacians.

Henao needs just five minutes to get Sarius safely to the rendezvous point with the Assembly League…but she doesn’t get it. Guel defeats both Sabina and Shaddiq, telling them if all they do is take, they’ll never gain anything, which I thought was a great line. While Guel technically wins the battle against Shaddiq, it comes at the cost of his mobile suit…and very possibly Lauda’s loyalty as well.

Elan sorties in Sophie’s suit to try to stop Norea one more time…and he actually succeeds, tenderly taking her suit’s hand into his and promising that he’ll stay by her side come what may. If she’s scared of dying, of the things in her sketchbook, he’ll help her find a way to live, because they’re both allowed to live.

Unfortunately, Elan stopped Norea far too late. The damage she did had been done, the people she killed aren’t coming back, and under such circumstances, the security forces are shooting to kill. Just as she tells Elan to tell her his real name later, her suit is shot through the core and she is obliterated in the explosion.

Norea isn’t the only major loss this week. Petra doesn’t survive either. She died having saved Suletta when she was a deer in the headlights after the attack, and in the process of trying to save the student on her back. May both Norea and Petra find the peace she couldn’t find in life.

In the aftermath, there are rows of dozens of dead Asticassia students. Chuchu slams her fist on her cockpit display, bitterly wishing she could have done more. But both she and Felsi definitely saved an even greater number from being added to Norea’s butcher’s bill.

That night, as security drones hover over the ruined school, the members of Earth House and Nika are reunited with Suletta. But before Nika can say anything to her, Suletta interrupts. Her hands are covered in cuts and bruises as she scratches and heaves and moves the mass of stone and metal rubble before her.

She simply asks that everyone help her. There are still students trapped under this debris, and some of them may not be beyond help. It’s only a glimmer of hope in an episode called “The End of Hope”, but it’s an important one. Suletta’s meager request galvanizes Earth House not to worry about what they did or couldn’t do, but focus on what they can in the here and now.

More importantly, no one is telling Suletta to do what she’s doing, and she’s doing what she feels she needs to do. It’s another first for her, and even if it wasn’t on her wish list, both that and more firsts like it will be essential in the days and weeks to come.


Heavenly Delusion – 10 – Stone Cold

It was clear from the jump that this was a different kind of episode of Heavenly Delusion, but not due to its narrative content, which is almost its weakest aspect. Instead, it’s how that content was presented, which was with a dynamic, freewheeling style more reminiscent of Trigger anime.

That’s no coincidence, as Trigger’s own Ikarashi Kai is the guest storyboarder, director, and key animator this week. And the episode looked fantastic. So fantastic, it almost overshadows the fact that Juuichi…wasn’t lying about the “walled city” where women held men captive as breeding pigs!

Juuichi drives Kiruko and Maru to the former school where there’s a huge hole in the wall. The place is abandoned, but when a sudden rush of icy air threatens to kill Kiruko and Maru, Kiruko just manages to fire off a round of the Kiru-Beam and save both their lives. There’s a Hiruko in there, and it uses ice to freeze its prey. Both the visuals and sound design excel at portraying the extreme cold.

Kiruko doesn’t take too much time warming up, instead choosing to bum-rush the monster and fire the beam at it before it freezes them to death. The plan seems to work, and the beam cleaves the Hiruko in half, but the half with the core gets away, and thus the threat lingers.

From there, Juuichi is reunited with two of his fellow “boars”—men who were awake and escaped the women when the man-eater arrived. They brought with them a baby boy—Juuichi’s son. His reunion is so touching even a tough nut like Kiruko wells up a little bit.

A hot bath and a soft sofa later, Kiruko and Maru are planning to head to the Takahara facility the next morning, but before morning arrives, the Hiruko returns. Kiruko grabs Juuichi’s son and runs as far away as they can, only to find the cold is following them. That’s when Maru realizes that the kid is the Hiruko: capable of creating deadly ice to defend himself.

In this week’s seemingly cursory check-in at Takahara, Tokio remains isolated as she carries her child to term, while her friends are suddenly introduced to a new batch of “fifth year” kids who are shot in such a way as to look sinister, even evil.

That intro is juxtaposed with Juuichi gruesomely murdering one of his fellow boars with a circular saw while his son plays with blocks (the block sounds also accompany the shots of the creepy new Takahara kids). I don’t 100% know why, but I guess he believed the man he killed sounded the alarm that he was escaping?

Either way, something’s not quite right with Juuichi, but at least he’s reunited with his son, who has special powers like one of the X-Men. Since he has no more need to travel, he gives Kiruko and Maru his van, which breaks down ten feet from where they started off. Hopefully they’ll get it running again so they can get to the fireworks factory Takahara Academy to uncover more mysteries.

Hell’s Paradise – 09 – Something’s Different This Time

Not content to sit around and think about how to proceed, Gabimaru leaves Sagiri, Senta, and Yuzuriha and heads through the mists to Horai on his own. When he reaches the gates, he’s met by one of the Tensen. He breaks its arm and neck, but it regenerates almost immediately. He burns it to a crisp with Ascetic Blaze, but its charred body still delivers a devastating blow.

Realizing he can’t fight this monster like he would a living thing, Gabimaru jumps into another gear and pulverizes it so quickly it cannot regenerate. Even then, its body sprouts flowers and it transforms into a giant plant monster that zaps him with electricity. He wakes up in his home with Yui, momentarily relieved he woke up from the nightmare that was the island, only to realize that this is the dream. Nevertheless, he’s glad he got to see and talk to Yui once more.

When the Tensen has him on the ropes, his body goes into instinctive self-preservation mode, enveloping his opponent in ninpo flames before collapsing into a heap. Before the monster can counter, Mei appears and puts up a shield around Gabimaru and herself. That morning, the others see both Gabimaru and Mei are missing and go looking for them. On the way, then encounter a “forest” of trees that were once humans—some of them Houko’s family.

The seven Tensen, including Zhu Jin, whom Gabimaru fought to a draw, assemble in their little gazebo in Horai. Their leader then distributes shots of the Elixir of Life that they all imbibe. Gabimaru wakes up beside a river with Mei, glad that the Tensen aren’t really gods, but demented monsters that can be killed. But first he’s going to have to deal with Tamiya Gantetsusai, who just happens to cross paths with him.

Gabi strolled right up to the front door of the final bosses, only to get his ass handed to him. But he still put up a decent fight, and makes the point that if he had two or three people helping him he might actually be able to score a victory. The thing is, neither the Yamada Asaemons nor his fellow prisoners have any reason to help him. None of them, that is, except for Sagiri, who earnestly hopes he’s okay as they search for him.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story – 22 – Wounded Beast

Eve uses her Rainbow Bullet Burst to salvage her Europe Women’s Open by going 5-under on the third day to claim second place at 6-under, but pays the price. Burst causes considerable strain to her body, something Ichina didn’t notice because Eve didn’t let her or anyone else see her pain.

Alan Harvey, who is a butler and a certified acupuncturist (love that) manages to get her in a position to play on the fourth and final day, but warns Ichina in no uncertain terms not to allow Eve to use Burst again. To do so would jeopardize Eve’s future as a pro.

Aoi, who is already a pro, is busy doing promotional work she hates, but not too busy to keep abreast of Eve’s progress. She, like Vipere and everyone else is concerned when Eve walks out on the second day covered in bandages. Leo tells her there’s no shame in forfeiting.

But Eve prefers her “candles” short, fat, and fast-burning (holy-moley that’s a lot of double entendres!) and is committed to finishing the tournament. When Ichina withholds her driver and warns her not to use the burst, but instead adopt a defensive stance for the round, Eve decides to trust her caddy. These two have come such a long way.

Aisha continues her consistently wild shelling of the course, showing no signs of tiring. The pro leader runs out of gas and falls to fifth place, and Aisha ties Eve with one hole to play. But Aisha doesn’t consider Eve an easy opponent. In fact, she smells dangerous to her—like a wounded beast.

When Aisha sets up a birdie that will trigger a playoff if Eve matches it, both she and Ichina know what must be done. It’s time for the Rainbow Bullet Burst, but that doesn’t make it any easier for a tearful Ichina to hand Eve her driver.

Even so, she heard Eve talk about not caring about words like “limits” or “impossible”, which she believes to be the excuses of cowards. Eve trusted Ichina, so now Ichina will trust in Eve. So she pushes the driver into her chest and tells her to prove that she can go beyond her limits.

Eve uses Burst to launch her ball nearly 290 yards—further than Aisha—and her driver cracks and shatters, apparently sacrificing itself to prevent her arms from breaking. Yes folks, the clubs are sentient. Why wouldn’t they be?! But the Burst isn’t even Eve’s final salvo.

With a fresh club, Eve whips out an even newer, even less tested shot—Over the Rainbow. The ball is shot straight up into the air, then majestically arcs across the green and straight into the cup. With an eagle on 18th, Eve defeats Aisha, wins the Europe Open, and becomes a pro.

But again, everything has a cost. And even though she held back for most of the final round, the final Burst and OTR ended up doing yet another number on her teenaged body. After the award ceremony, Ichina and Alan are helping Eve back to her cabin when she straight-up loses consciousness.

Our golf girl Eve has made a living killing people…in golf, but now she’s as close as ever to killing herself with golf—along with any chance of facing off against her beloved Aoi. And this time Alan’s needles might not be enough to help her.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride – S2 09 – Cause for Worry

After the camping trip, Chise stops by home so Mini-Elias can be re-merged with Elias and Silky can even out her fly new short hair. But back at the College, Lucy remains in the infirmary, unconscious for ten days. Chise is worried about her, leading Elias to ask what “being worried” means.

When Chise explains it, Elias admits he was worried about her on the trip, but she did what a mage should have done, and nothing he wouldn’t have done. Chise too is worried about the power that awoke under the lake, and a visit to the always sleepy Cartiphilus, who confirms the voice came from inside her and kept her from getting killed.

What she doesn’t tell him is that it is the voice of a dragon gone mad after cursing her, and there’s now no going back. Not only that, when she uses her blackened hand to place a cloth on Lucy’s head as she starts twisting fretfully in her sleep, she has a vision of a young Lucy at the edge of a mass of corpses lying in a sea of blood. Then Lucy suddenly comes to.

When she does, it’s shortly after Seth Noel arrives. Chise knows Seth, but didn’t know he was Lucy’s brother. Lucy loses it upon seeing him, telling him she doesn’t need a “loser like him” to worry about her, and telling him to buzz of before passing out again.

Seth commits to staying by Lucy’s side so Chise can take a break. While on the stairs she can smell the potpourri she gave Philomena, and sure enough, Philomena lifts her cloak of invisibility to talk to her. She tells Chise that she’s not used to talking to other people, but it’s okay when it’s just the two of them. Like Lucy, Mena is gradually growing from an acquaintance to a friend.

As for how Lucy ended up the way she did, the College president convenes a faculty meeting to report that a forbidden tome called The Testament of Carnamagos was found crumbled into dust in it’s storage unit. The book, which Elias admits he’s read (an extreme risk for a normal human), can take the life force and magic power of others.

The latter happened to Lucy, so it tracks that the crumbled book was a fake, and the real one was stolen and is being used for nefarious purposes.

Tory introduces Elias to the other teachers, who are excited to meet a mage and impressed by his transformation abilities. Among them is Simeon Paladilhe, who tells Elias (and us) the story of the Webster family, who used to make a living making and copying books with the help of silk-producing spiders they kept.

Eight years ago, the entire Webster family was killed except for Lucy. As for Seth, since he lacked any magical power he was cast out of the family before its demise. Shortly after parting ways with Elias and Tory, Simeon is attacked with the missing book.

By the time Lucy wakes up again, Seth has fallen asleep while sitting on the stool beside her bed. She sees him and the gift he brought and cannot fathom why he’s there, as he must hate her (he probably doesn’t).

When a colleague who is waiting for Seth gets out of the limo, he’s quickly impaled through the chest by a mysterious masked creature with doglike legs and claws wearing human clothes. The creature tosses the slain colleague off a bridge, and is then joined by a second creature. With Seth’s protection eliminated, Seth is their next target.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Golden Kamuy – 45 – Love and Pieces

Tanigaki is ready to walk away from the entire gold-hunting affair when Tsurumi informs him that Inkarmat has been moved to another location. Tanigaki takes this for the threat it is, but Tsurumi goes on: Inkarmat is currently pregnant with Tanigaki’s child.

Tsurumi will let her go if Tanigaki delivers Asirpa to him. Unaware that one of their most dangerous rivals now has one of their most reliable allies wrapped around his finger, Asirpa, Sugimoto, and Shiraishi inspect Heita’s tattooed skin and resolve to continue the search for the gold.

By studying the gold dust Heita collected on his travels, Shiraishi reveals another Abashiri prisoner: a skilled diver and murderer named Botaro the Pirate, whom Heita had dive to the bottom of Lake Shikotsu to recover a cargo of gold Nopperabo was transporting.

Meanwhile, we check in with Hijitaka’s crew as Ogata reunites with them and reports that a woman named Sofia Goldenhand will be coming for Asirpa, and that Asirpa knows how to decipher the code for the skins. There’s also a tattooed prisoner with a mustache going around murdering prostitutes in Sapporo.

Famous author Ishikawa Takuboku reports to Nagakura on the activities of this prisoner, whom Hijikata notes is being way to flamboyant in his crimes, and thus will attract the attention of the “ruffians” of the 7th Division. Tsurumi sends Kikuta and Usami to Sapporo to deal with the prisoner.

Kukuta and Usami don’t like each other, and that’s when the episode turns back the clock to when Tsurumi was a guest instructor at his master’s dojo and Usami was just an impressionable young lad. Like many young lads who’d go on to serve him, Usami fell for Tsurumi’s good looks and charms hard and early.

Tsurumi basically groomed Usami into a lethal weapon, while Usami’s friend Tomoharu failed to win a single sparring match against him. On the day they both graduate from the dojo, Tomoharu begs Usami to spar with him one more time. Since the master closed the dojo, Tsurumi has them spar outside.

Usami beats Tomoharu once more, then stomps on his throat, crushing his windpipe. Usami always hated Tomoharu for being the son of a well-to-do soldier who was always stealing away precious time with Tsurumi.

While Tsurumi never explicitly told Usami to kill Tomoharu, the end result is that his murder cherry was popped, and they became bound by their story that Tomoharu was killed when Tsurumi’s horse kicked him. Usami is deeply moved that Tsurumi covered for him even though it meant drawing the ire of his superiors.

The tale of how Usami became one of Tsurumi’s chosen ones is framed by a chat between Usami and his sensei about what he learned in the war in China: that it isn’t hatred of the enemy or fear of death or even differences in politics or ideology that draws out a soldier’s drive to kill. It’s love.

He has carefully nurtured and inspired “interesting” characters like Usami not just to follow his orders because he’s their superior officer, but because they love him. Usami’s jealousy drove him to kill and unlocked the killer Tsurumi would need for his plans. Now he’s poised to use Tanigaki’s love for Inkarmat and her unborn child to drive him to betray Asirpa and Sugimoto. He really is quite the sonofabitch!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible – 09 – The Flavor of Fulfillment

It may be a new year, but for Shiraishi, not much has changed. Most people still fail to notice his existence. But when he arrives at his new class, he finds that some things that haven’t changed are in his favor: Kubo is not only still in his class, but still sitting beside him, this time near the windows.

Kubo has celebratory soft drinks with her two besties, and with the next day comes the school committee assignments. Shiraishi notes that he usually just ends up with the leftovers since the teacher doesn’t notice him raising his hand, so Kubo gives him an assist by volunteering for the environmental committee and telling the teacher Shiraishi raised his hand too.

Kubo knows Shiraishi enjoyed the environmental committee because he was able to make the flowers bloom, even if everyone thought they were blooming without being tended to. The other member of the committee last year was Sudou, who happens to remember Shiraishi because of his green thumb.

When he and Kubo end up in the same lab group as Sudou and Sudou needs an eraser, Kubo mentions that Shiraishi has five, and Sudou strikes up a little convo with Shiraishi. Later, Shiraishi thanks Kubo, as it’s the first time he’s been able to enjoy talking with someone other than her. Kubo has to temporarily retreat to blush, as him saying he enjoys talking with her catches her off guard.

When Shiraishi is trying to buy a new “youthful lemon” flavored Fanta, Kubo surprises him and he accidentally buys water. She then wonders why youth tastes like lemon. Shiraishi thinks his youth would probably be more like water—often overlooked or ignored for its lack of flavor.

When Kubo talks about all the ways he could have a fulfilling youth—making friends, having his first kiss—Shiraishi is overwhelmed, as he claims not to even have any friends to begin with. This miffs Kubo, who asks what about her?

That’s when, now nine episodes in, Shiraishi finally realizes that he and Kubo are friends. I guess I can cut him a little slack as she’s his first friend, and realizing she is his friend greatly improves his mood. So he’s slow on the uptake as usual, but thankfully no longer totally clueless thanks to Kubo.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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