Vinland Saga S2 – 04 – Thank You for Waking Me

Snake, the boss, turns Fox’s face into mush and scolds everyone for picking on the slaves. But having seen how Thorfinn reacted to Fox’s cuts, he decides to test him himself. Thorfinn’s body moves on its own to protect him from a surely fatal slash from Snake’s sword. Snake tells him that must mean his body wants him alive, so he’d better stay that way.

Maybe Snake doesn’t want to pay for needlessly killed slaves, or maybe there’s a shred of kindness in him, but he has Thorfinn and Einar escorted to Pater, who treats Thorfinn’s wounds so they won’t fester. When Einar tells Pater if Snake hadn’t intervened they’d have died for sure, Thorfinn says “the strong kill the weak” and that’s just the nature of things.

While Thorfinn is allowed to take the day off to heal up, he heads into the woods anyway, since his wounds are “nothing”. As he continues to fell trees like nothing happened, Einar asks Thorfinn straight up if he’s been to war, if he’s killed, and how many. Thorfinn truthfully answers that he doesn’t remember how many; only that he’s killed a lot. That tends to happen when you’d been a warrior since you were six.

After Thorfinn owns up to this, he apologizes to Einar, whom he thinks must hate him now. Indeed, that night an enraged Einar puts his hands around a sleeping Thorfinn’s throat and starts to squeeze. Thorfinn happens to be in his standard dream, a hellscape of a burning village where he must kill or be killed. Einar lets go, and when Thorfinn starts screaming, he wakes him up by grabbing his arm.

Einar asks Thorfinn if he really wants to die, and tells him he’s spoiled if he truly thinks nothing good has ever happened in his life. The very fact the two of them are alive is a good thing, made possible because someone kept them alive. Whether that’s Einar’s father, mother, and sister, or for Thorfinn, Thors, Askeladd, and others. A sulking Einar returns to his hay pile, saying it’s not as if Thorfinn personally killed his family.

Then Thorfinn says to Einar what he neglected to say to Pater: Thank you. Thank you for reaching out,: for pulling him from the hellish dreams of his sleep, if only for a moment.

In this tense and moving sequence, Einar learns more about who Thorfinn is (or rather was) and why he is the way he currently is. He also makes his peace with that, not letting his hatred for those who took everything away from him dictate how he treats Thorfinn, who had nothing to do with it.

In / Spectre – 16 – Honeymoon Period

Kotoko tells Masayuki and Yuki-onna that she knows precisely who the culprit is, and furthermore, that the police aren’t really seriously suspecting him at the moment, which explains why they haven’t been hounding him of late.

The reason? Evidence indicates that the victim Mahiru didn’t have any of her effects taken, and there’s every indication that she and the murderer had time to converse. In that time, she would have surely warned the murderer about the formal accusation she’d written up beforehand.

After all, Mahiru wasn’t trying to be killed, and would do everything she could to avoid that outcome. And if Masayuki killed Mahiru, he would have taken steps to obscure her identity and/or the location of her body. And the cops already all but ruled Masayuki out as a serious suspect after he was wishy-washy about his alibi, and unprepared to defend himself from the facts they’d collected thus far.

As for why it looked like Mahiru was trying to write Masayuki’s name on her hand? That was written by the true murderer after killing her. Before Kotoko says the name of the murder—Iizuka Nagisa—the name already pops up in Masayuki’s name as the only possible culprit.

Iizuka was the only one who sided with him when he was forced out of his company. She loved him, and murdered Mahiru and framed Masayuki so that he’d have no choice but to go to her for support. Sure enough, as Kotoko discuss this, Iizuka calls Masayuki, but he doesn’t answer.

Kotoko reveals that she didn’t deduce this from the mere facts of the case as they stand, but from the eyewitness ghosts who were at the scene of the crime when it occurred. They identified a woman that matched Iizuka’s description. If that’s “cheating”, Masayuki can hardly complain, as the information Kotoko gathered from the ghosts categorically clears his name.

With Masayuki’s name sure to be cleared and only a matter of time before Mahiru is arrested, Kotoko gives him and Yuki-onna her blessing—as long as they use protection! Kurou shows up shortly thereafter, terrifying Yuki-onna (as he tends to do). Kotoko then tells Masayuki and Yuki-onna to get lost and bone already, since they’re now in “the optimal mood.” Yuki-onna  scoops Masayuki up and flies them back home.

While riding a flying yokai home, Kotoko and Kurou talk about the case a bit more. Kotoko explains further how Mahiru had overplayed her hand. She wanted a suspected Masayuki in the palm of her hand, but ultimately didn’t go any further lest the consequences of framing him cause him distress. The two conclude that Masayuki has and may well continue to have horrible luck with women.

Even Yuki-onna, who has been good to and for him thus far, is still a thoroughly volatile yokai who could one day freeze him to death for a slight real or imagined. Kurou likens Masayuki’s plight with his own, not just where his ex and Rikka are concerned but with Kotoko. Kotoko is not amused by this remark!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

To Your Eternity – S2 14 – The March Begins

Princess Alme couldn’t afford to take Fushi at his word, but now that she’s witnessed his sundry good words across Renril, she has decided to trust him with her kingdom, capital, and palace. She takes him to meet her father King Boldron, but he’s not in his room. Fushi then senses intense pain and finds him on the balcony.

The king appreciates this stranger’s kindness, but he considers himself a “walking corpse” for which nothing more can be done. In the ultimate gesture that she can now trust Fushi completely, Alme removes the veil covering her face, and gives him her blessing to complete the preparations by dismantling and rebuilding the palace.

One must suspend one’s disbelief in the logistics of such an undertaking; even if it were imploded, the sheer mass of the palace would cause widespread destruction to the surrounding buildings. It’s fine though, it’s Fushi, and this is basically magic anyway. What’s different is that unlike those other buildings, there’s no hiding the palace being torn down and build back up. Fortunately, Fushi now has the trust of the entire city. He doesn’t have to hide anymore.

Pocoa returns to Renril with knights from Uralis, as well as Iris and Chabo. Much of the final days of preparation are from Pocoa’s perspective as she is starved for attention, particularly from men. But she proves a useful rallying voice for the troops, and also gets Kahaku’s Nokker to admit it is scared about what might happen if it departed from Kahaku’s left arm.

When Bon asks Fushi to replicate some of the anesthetic gas he used on the church at his own execution, he ends up passing out himself, which was Bon’s intention. He gathers Kai, Hylo and Messar and summons “Mister Black”, whom he deeps the true “captain” of the ship upon which they’re about to embark.

The Beholder, who seems annoyed Bon and the others can see him, insists he’s only there to observe Fushi, his eventual replacement. When Messar stabs him, the Beholder throws him against a wall and turns his sword into a crumpled paperweight.

Yet even knowing what a dubious entity has been guiding Fushi so far, the three lads (not sure why a woman isn’t among them), like Bon, have made their choice. Even when Fushi tells them they can still flee and save themselves, they tell him they have no intention of dying in this battle. They’ve all come from places of regret, and their intent now is to restart their lives.

Speaking of restarting: Fushi strategically places the empty bodies of his other vessels throughout the city so he can quickly transfer himself if directly attacked. As long as they’re connected to him via rope. they’ll be fine, he says. But when the Nokkers appear right on time (Eko is their early warning system), the resulting tremors cause March’s body to slide off the top of the wall…and the rope to slide off her wrist.

She lands in a bed of flowers…and opens her eyes. What Fushi had done before will the ill girl without knowing it, he has now done to her—March is back! It’s a big city, and Fushi and his friends will have their hands full simply stemming the tide of Nokkers assaulting Renril. But I can’t wait to see what happens when Fushi notices March is alive.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World – 04 – Fish Tales

Mitsuha finds a centrally-located storefront in the Capital, hires a craftsman to renovate it, then stocks it mostly with specialized, semi-useful items from the 100-yen store. But even after pounding the pavement distributing flyers, the day of the grand opening passes without a single customer. The second day reaches 4:00 PM and still no one.

Even when the first three marks customers step through, they’re a little weirded out by how random everything is, and seem particularly off-put by the fish scaler. The three young women are interested in the “hair elixir”, but the 16 silver price tag is a little too steep, so they prepare to depart for lunch. Mitsuha believes if she loses these customers she’s done for, so she makes them an offer they can’t refuse.

First, Mitsuha demonstrates the near-magical power of modern-day budget shampoo in a world with renaissance level of development. In short: a few more pumps are needed for hair that has never been shampooed, but eventually Anke’s hair is as soft and shiny as Mitsuha’s.

Then Mitsuha treats the ladies to a sumptuous multi-course feast…made up entirely of boil-in-the-bag meals from said 100-yen store, fine delicacies of unprecedented flavor to the palates of this realm. When one of the women suggest they might be dealing with a witch, the others shush her.

When they return to the manor where they work with a gift of chocolate almonds (remember to take off the wrappers!), the chef Marcel calls a meeting with the Lord and Lady of the House. The three servants give a detailed report on their unusual visit to General Store Mitsuha.

They all agree that the only plausible explanation for serving fresh fish in a city ten days’ ride from the sea is that Mitsuha is a witch…but maybe a kind one? I love how far into the weeds they go contemplating the logistics of transporting fish to the city.

Marcel pays Mitsuha a visit, and Mitsuha is thrilled that the women spread the word like she’d ask. Marcel buys a basket full of mostly cooking-related articles, then asks her about fresh fish. Specifically, he is unsure of his ability to put on a top-shelf banquet for Viscount and Lady Ranier’s daughter Adelaide’s upcoming debutante ball, but fresh fish could be just the ticket.

While Mitsuha initially envisioned hordes of customers of all stripes packing her store and filing her pockets with that sweet, sweet silver and gold, she instead has unexpectedly received something arguably more important than immediate hard cash: connections.

If her consulting leads to a successful ball, she’ll have powerful, grateful new friend in Ranier, and all the other nobles who attend will want her wondrous services as well. Mitsuha’s store may have endured a slow start, but things are looking up for her overall business. Because even if the products need tweaking, her talents for salesmanship and improvisation are legit.

Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro 2nd Attack – 05 – Senpai Down!

Naoto and Hayase aren’t fooling anyone. Certainly not their friends, who catch them red-handed—or rather, holding hands with fingers intertwined. It doesn’t matter if it was technically an accident; it was the result of them messing around trying to grab one anothers’ sleeves. This isn’t one-sided teasing, it’s just plain PDA!

Last week portended a reversal of Naoto’s house visit to Nagatoro, and sure enough, Naoto wakes up one morning feeling like crap. His mom (whom we meet for the first time) has a work trip but offers to stay home for his sake, but he says he’s not a little kid anymore. Now we know where he gets his fuwafuwa hair!

When Hayase can’t find Naoto at school and texts then calls him, she learns that Naoto is home, having caught her cold. Two shakes of a black cat’s tail later, she’s ringing his doorbell. Then, worried he might’ve passed out (just like he was about her) she enters his yard and presses against the screen door. Once she’s in his room (which he notes is weird), she immediately begins searching for porn, as you do!

When he protests and starts coughing uncontrollably, Hayase calls of the search…for today. She’s here not just to return the favor, but because she wants to care for and pamper her senpai. This is the perfect scenario for her to get closer to him in any number of ways, including tenderly touching foreheads to check his temperature.

She cools him down with a cold compress, then makes him some rice porridge, which he allows her to feed to him without protest. At this point Naoto is very dizzy and out of it, and his dream of Hayase in a business suit acting as his doting wife bleeds into real life, to the point he thanks her and casually calls her by her first name, Hayase.

This obviously flusters Hayase to no end, but she’d probably been hoping he’d do it ever since he learned it from her sister. In fact, she wants to hear him call her Hayase again, but he’s fallen asleep again. This gives her the idea to kiss him, and she gives him every opportunity to stop her if he’s playing dead, drawing closer and closer…

until Naoto’s mom comes home. Hayase’s loafers are in the genkan, so even with her athletic ability, jumping out the window isn’t a viable option. So she heads down, encounters Senpai’s mom, and explains that she heard he was sick and came by to check on him. Like Hayase’s friends, Naoto’s mom wasn’t born yesterday! The next morning, Naoto is right as rain, and his mom asks about the flustered cutie.

When they meet up for the walk to school, Naoto and Hayase are uncharacteristically shy and awkward towards each other, and Hayase overcompensates by piling on the mock judo-kicking. Naoto grabs her leg to halt her attack, just when her upskirt is in full view. That’s the scene when Gamou, Yoshi, and Sakura approach, once again remarking how the lovebirds it again first thing in the morning.

I don’t ask much. I don’t need much. As long as Hayase and Naoto are being a delightfully sweet, playful, and adorable couple, I’m a happy camper! With the exchange of house visits, Don’t Toy with Me 2 continues to offer that in spades. I’m firmly ensconced in rom-com Laid Back Camp!

The Fire Hunter – 03 – Staying Useful

Koushi meets more members of the Okibi family, including his new lovely sister Kira, who is a year older than him. Up to that point, she’d led a lonely, isolated life in her father’s sprawling mansion, and is clearly excited to have siblings. Voice by Hayami Saori, Kira marks the addition of another kind soul who, unlike her father, doesn’t have ulterior motives.

The Okibi family doctor says Hinako probably will never be cured of her fetal contamination, but with proper nutrition, hygiene, and fresh air of the manor, far from the factories, she should regain her strength. She and Koushi join the Okibis (including Kira’s mother Hibana, who takes to her bed often of late) for a quiet but for them quite luxurious dinner.

In the aftermath of the black beast attack, Kaho is wounded but will recover. Benio rightfully says it’s an injustice for Touko to be kicked off at the next village, and urges one of the crew, Shouzou, to talk sense in to the boss, whose main gripe wasn’t that Touko left, but that she didn’t close the hatch behind her.

When the collection truck arrives at Weaver Village, Hotaru gets to take a hot shower and is dressed and made up to the nines. A female crewmember gives her an elegant hairpin as a parting gift. Hotaru can’t say she ever wanted to be married off to lift the curse of her village, but if she hadn’t, she wouldn’t have met Benio and Touko, which she considers a blessing. I can only hope a gentle soul like Hotaru is able to live a good life with her very lucky groom.

Back in the capital, Yuoshichi wastes no time showing his newly adopted son the skyfire his dad had collected, as well as a secret lab where he’ll be expected to develop “bottled lightning.” Yuoshichi reveals his distaste and distrust of the ruling “Divine Clans”. Years before Koushi was born, a huge natural fire burned through the city, and he believes the Gods culled the population on purpose.

With Koushi’s help, and his growing connections to the rebel “Spiders” that lurk in the forests outside the Capital, Yuoshichi intends to be prepared to defend the people when shit hits the fan. Koushi doesn’t hesitate to declare he’ll do his utmost to help make that happen…and to keep all of this a secret. That said, if he lets something slip to Kira, I won’t be surprised.

With Hotaru delivered to her new village and Touko deemed allowed to stay aboard to the Capital, the truck presses on. Shouzou even tells her the boss is impressed by her hard work; she definitely earns her keep. But in the middle of a routine switching of fiendfire vessels, a giant white dragon attacks. The truck is armed to the teeth, but everything seems to bounce off the dragon’s thick scales.

As Touko was warned, the collection truck journey is no Rocky Mountaineer vacation. Between settlements, death can come at any time in any number of forms, and survival is never guaranteed. We’ll see if Enzen and the two dogs are enough to slay the dragon…and who’ll end up surviving its assault.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Eminence in Shadow – 17 – Moonlight Oriana

While sneaking away from his sister (by again flying out a window), Cid notices Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata being played in a concert hall. It’s Epsilon at the keys. Like Gamma and Beta, she’s using knowledge from Cid’s world to advance her position in this one. He doesn’t mind, and even compliments her figure, because he loves the Moonlight Sonata. And why the hell wouldn’t he? It’s the perfect theme song for Shadow.

He asks Epsilon about Rose’s whereabouts, but all she knows is that she is in the underground labyrinth. That’s all Cid needs to know. Alexia is already leading Beta down there, the former by now completely unconvinced that “Natsume” is a weakling. Alexia doesn’t know how fortunate she is that Beta is capable, because they’re heading into a totally unknown and potentially fatal situation.

When an exhausted and bloodied Rose catches her breath, we finally see what she encountered when she met with her father and Lord Perv. The king was clearly not in his right mind, and he and all of the assembled nobles and courtiers were under Perv’s control. Rose lashed out with violence, but now regrets that decision as a princess shouldn’t be so reckless and shortsighted (though considering that’s Alexia to a T, maybe they should?)

The nasty wound on Rose’s chest wasn’t caused by her pursuers; rather it is the early effects of possession; before long she’ll be consumed like Alpha & Co. were before they were freed from their curses by Cid. Just as Cid wishes he could have been there to see Rose go all “rock-n-roll”, Rose wishes she could get rid of Perv and his ilk, marry Cid, and live happily ever after. Now she’s not even sure how much longer she’ll live, period.

Throughout her monologue, which is spoken aloud, I kept thinking Cid would emerge from the shadows to tell her he still believes in her, still has her back. Of course that’s ridiculous; Cid would never act like that. Instead of emerging from the shadows, he appears before her in disguise as Shadow, playing Moonlight Sonata on the piano he borrowed from the concert hall. A gorgeous moonlike light suffuses the hall, and thousands of white feathers fall, all adding to the theatricality. Cid is killin’ it here.

Once the sonata ends, he stands up and asks Rose if she’s going to give up or keep going. Rose isn’t sure how. Shadow tells her he’ll give her the power to do anything and everything she needs and wants to do. With few other options, Rose accepts, and Shadow not only extracts the curse, but imbues her with power comparable to the Seven Shades.

Shadow doesn’t stick around, leaving a single black feather on the piano keys, because he doesn’t have to. Diabolos assassins arrive, but the newly supercharged Rose turns them all into red mist with a single slash of her sword. With this power, perhaps she truly can save her father, her kingdom, and all the other nations threatened by the Cult.

When she encounters Alexia and Beta, the former demands to know what’s going on, but Rose won’t tell her. She doesn’t want Alexia to get dragged into it, and telling her will do that. Alexia won’t take no for an answer, and starts a fight with Rose. While she fights better than Rose expected, she’s obviously no match for her.

Rose leaves an unconscious Alexia with Beta, who doesn’t offer any resistance and even expresses her support for Rose’s future ventures. Their alliance may now be shattered, but Beta suspects they’ll meet again. Beta is hardly one to question Lord Shadow’s actions—if he bestowed upon Rose the same power as her and the other Shades, he must’ve had a good reason.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Urusei Yatsura – 15 – Airing of Grievances

In an effort to woo Rei, Ran buys a giant bag of bean-filled taiyaki and dresses in her best Barbarella outfit. It seems to work when Rei thanks her for the food by planting a tender kiss on her cheek. Ran declares it the happiest moment of her life.

She invites Lum to her place to gloat about it celebrate her newfound happiness. Considering Ran’s personality changes at the drop of a hat, Lum is initially unsure why she’s there, as more often than not Ran treats her like an enemy these days. But when she hears about the kiss she gives Ran and Rei her blessing.

It’s odd, then, when she returns to Ataru’s house, Rei is there waiting for her. Ran also shows up for more girl talk, and finds Lum in Rei’s arms. When the giant cat (who is also there for some reason) gives Ran a commiseratory taiyaki, she scarfs it down…and Rei kisses her again. Turns out he’s eating the bean crumbs off her face. Classic Rei.

Another day, Ran invites Lum out for coffee and pudding, declaring that Lum will be treating her. She unleashes a litany of events from her past, giving us adorable Lil’ Lum and Lil’ Ran. From pinning the blame on Ran when Lum wet the bed during sleepovers, to Lum being a lousy liar when trying to cover for her, Ran blames Lum for causing her to develop her current volatile personality—though her intense mom probably deserves more blame.

Lum doesn’t remember these events in quite the way Ran does, though why would she, when Ran casts her as the bad guy in every one? Even so, when Ran completes her exhaustive rundown, Lum can’t help but feel somewhat responsible. Ran has given her a lot to think about…and she thinks about it so strongly, she ends up leaving the café before Ran, thus leaving her with the bill! I guess there’s no changing this frenemyship dynamic…

The final segment involves Lum and Shinobu spotting Sakura roasting a newt. When Sakura lists all the traditional medicines it’s used for, they lose interest and start to walk away…until she mentions love potion. Sakura, who swears she’s never used it herself, nevertheless agrees to whip up a batch for Lum (for use on Ataru) and Shinobu (Mendou).

Ataru is the first guinea pig, and while he initially starts behaving affectionately (and monogamously) towards Lum, much to her delight, as soon as they interact with other people he starts spouting blatant, elaborate lies. Then he spots Shinobu and starts acting like she’s the only one in his heart. Clearly something is off about the love potion, and they head back to Sakura.

Sure enough, she made the “loud” potion, the recipe for which is right next to the love potion, and causes those who take it to lie, loudly. That certainly doesn’t bode well for Lum or Shinobu, but in particular it’s a step backwards in Lum and Ataru’s relationship. But just like Ran, and Rei, and Lum, Ataru is a creature of habit—in his case being an unrepentant horndog lothario. No potion can cure him of that, only time patience, and luck.


Rating: 4/5 Stars

DanMachi IV – 15 – Hope Reforged

As Ryuu sleeps and dreams of the past, DanMachi is content to gradually inch us along a tale of unfathomable woe. Ryuu can only watch as her comrades—her family—decide to head down to the Lower Floors to investigate, unaware it’s an Evilus trap. Meanwhile, Bell successfully scares a skull sheep away. They may be ugly bastards, but they’re intelligent.

The reinforcement squad composed of Tsubaki and Ryuu’s former co-workers Anya, Runoa, and Chloe reach the 24th Floor and find it in shambles. Tsubaki correctly suspects a Floor Boss rampage, but whatever happened, they believe they’re too late to help. That doesn’t stop Anya from leading the charge to scale down the walls to the lower floors in order to meet up with any survivors.

Speaking of survivors, other than Bell and Hestia Familia, Bors is the only survivor of the Ryuu elfhunt. Aisha, Welf & Co. rescue him, but he is the bearer of bad news: he fears even Bell and Ryuu were among the massacred. Lili more than anyone won’t accept this, but it’s Aisha who calmly gets Bors to admit he didn’t see Bell’s corpse, and indeed saw Ryuu healing him. So the mission objective remains the same: find Bell and Ryuu.

But they’ve already met heavy resistance from all manner of lower-floor baddies, and Welf is down to one slash from his fire dagger. Remembering Hephaistos’ pep talk, he decides to set up an ad hoc workshop in a dead end where the familia is catching their breath. He uses the last swipe of his dagger to light his portable hearth and prepares to hammer out some adamantine he found along the way.

All everyone else has to do is guard the entrance to the area they’re in and make sure nothing gets to him, as he’ll obviously be a sitting duck while crafting. But considering they don’t have the weaponry to continue much further anyway, the best move they’ve got is to stay put and let Ignis cook.

Tomo-chan Is a Girl! – 04 – Shooting You Down With a Smile

Tanabe wants to see Misuzu smile, but Jun sees her smile all the time. It’s just her sadistic smile; the pure smile Tanabe imagines doesn’t exist. But true to her acerbic self, Misuzu gets Tanabe stop fooling around and approach her seriously. She then promises to shoot him down with a smile, one of many great lines uttered with sardonic perfection by Hidaka Rina.

Misuzu also isn’t all that into a lot of physical contact with friends, but Tomo watches other female classmates glomping and embracing and wants a piece. Carol offers herself as Tomo’s hugging partner first, and the feel and smell of her has Tomo briefly wondering if she’s a guy after all; Misuzu simply assures her “that one’s made special.”

After hugging Mifune and Ogawa (and giving them similar feelings as she got hugging Carol) Tomo notices that Misuzu is mad; she knows the very subtle changes in her expression, as well as her change in aura. Carol, who has been constantly clinging to Tomo, suspects she’s to blame, and apologizes by slamming her forehead against Misuzu’s desk. Misuzu then  finally lets the former gather her into her ample bosom, and they make up.

This leads to Misuzu asking Tomo if she’s tried glomping onto Jun; lord knows he isn’t shy about initiating contact. When she tries it, he pulls her off, and I thought for a minute Tomo was going to fall (and need Jun to swoop in and catch her). But she regains her balance, because she’s a jock! I liked that little detail. Jun declaring that he can initiate contact but she can’t earns him a well-deserved right hook!

Jun once again asserts his long-standing familiarity by being in Tomo’s room when she wakes up the next morning (her mom let him in). This leads to a big loud fight that wakes her mom. Tomo then makes breakfast for Jun: rice balls filled with dried sardines for strong bones. Jun’s reaction suggests they taste…interesting, but he still eats every bite.

In the dojo, Tomo’s dad demonstrates how he can still pass out from lovesickness at the sight of his wife. But in a nice scene with Tomo and Jun, she says that her dad has and will always protect her mom no matter what.

Back at school, Carol and Misuzu tell Tomo they are having lunch without her, so she has an awkward lunch alone with Jun. In addition to wanting to supplant Tomo as Misuzu’s #1 best friend, Carol also wants to show Misuzu firsthand what she’s dealing with in regards to the guy she likes.

That guy is Misaki, and Carol’s problem is he doesn’t see her as a girl or potential mate, but as a little sister due to their long history together. Misuzu suggests Carol “take life more seriously” if she wants to succeed with Misaki. Fat chance of that!

In the final segment, Mifune and Ogawa come to Tomo with boy problems. Specifically, like, a Don Juan-type upperclassman has his eyes on Ogawa, and like, won’t take no for an answer? Tomo agrees to be with her when she turns him down. When he fails to act in a gentleman-like fashion, Tomo lays him the fuck out with a thunderous kick to the solar plexus.

The girls warn her that the guy has four equally unsavory buddies, but Tomo coolly promises that she’ll deal with all comers, and won’t hesitate to protect them, before striding away like a badass. Mifune and Ogawa can only swoon.

The five pricks never get a chance to exact any kind of revenge on Tomo, because Jun overhears them plotting to go after her, and delivers a very similar kick to the leader’s chest that Tomo scored. We don’t see him fight the other four, but when all five of them approach Tomo, it’s to prostrate themselves and apologize.

On their walk home together, Tomo wonders why they did that, and why the four she never met were already beat up, and why Jun has a bandage on his cheek. He says he “fell”, but we know he was inspired by what she said about her dad protecting her mom, and wanted to do the same for Tomo. Even if, like Tomo’s mom, she probably didn’t need help!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Tenten Kakumei – 04 – Breaking the Mold

Anisphila, clearly sleep-deprived from making Euphyllia’s new magic sword, nods off in her lap for quite some time, and thanks her for it when she awakens. Euphie is just glad to be “somewhat useful”, unaware that she’s been Anis’ magicological muse for years.

Ilia, who continues to slay in every scene she’s in, scolds Anis for leaving herself so vulnerable “to the person she likes”, then lays into the princess for stinking and having messed up hair. It’s as if Ilia isn’t a maid at all, but the big sister Anis never had.

Euphie can’t help but feel smitten by Anis, who mistakes her for having suddenly come down with a cold. Into bed Euphie goes, and Nurse Anis prepares some medicine, even patting Euphie’s head like she’s her little sister. As Anis talks spiritedly about Arc-en-Ciel, Euphie simply watches her admiringly, as a beautiful bird that flies as far as it wants. Meanwhile, Euphie feels like a bird that just can’t stop falling.

She feels empty. Anis seems to sense this, and takes Euphie’s hand. Euphie asks what she should do; Anis of course says “whatever you want”. And if she doesn’t know what that is, that’s okay, they’ll take their time looking for that together. That’s when, after weaving her fingers into Euphie’s, Anis draws closer to Euphie, who starts to panic until it’s clear Anis is just touching her forehead to check for a fever. That negative space tho…

After a few moments like this, Euphie relaxes; she likes the feel of Anis’ warmth. She nods off, and when she wakes up, Anis is still there holding her hand as she sleeps, glowing in the sunlight, so bright and beautiful it makes Euphie’s chest ache.

Anis may have minced no words about her prospective romantic intentions with Euphie, but little by little Euphie is coming around to the fact that this girl is special, and makes her feel like no one else in the world ever has. That’s powerful, and I love how gently and poignantly the girls’ love is developing.

We briefly check in with Prince Algard, who is under house arrest after his little stunt. The head of the Ministry of the Arcane pays him a clandestine visit, no doubt to inform him of the appearance of the dragon in the cold open. Then we get right back to Euphyllia secretly watching Anis practice swordsmanship.

Ilia spots Euphie and tells her that the princess has taught herself most of her skills in battle, but then changes the subject to Euphie herself. As Euphie awkwardly follows Ilia as she does chores, Ilia asks her if she finds it hard to voluntarily do things outside her given role; her mold.

Euphie then states that she’d always worked towards becoming the best duke’s daughter and future queen she could be; an ideal Ilia tells her defined her self-worth. Ilia too was once fitted into a predetermined mold, and even offered to an old, rich man for marriage.

That mold was shattered by none other than Anisphila, who took her in, and demanded not to be treated like a princess, but something like equals. Ilia adds that it’s okay for Euphie to worry, because Anis will see to it she has all the time she needs to figure things out.

This lovely heart-to-heart is interrupted by Anis boisterously rushing at them with News: there’s a stampede of monsters, caused by the appearance of a dragon—and she’s going to take it down! It’s the first Euphie is hearing that Anis is not only an adventurer, but a Gold-Ranked one at that. She’s utterly stupified that a princess, even a princess like Anis, could go off and battle monsters.

And yet, Euphie remembers that Anis is a bird who can fly as far as she wants, looks at Ilia, who wordlessly tells her there’s no talking Anis out of this, and tells Anis that she accepts her flying off into danger to battle a dragon…but she’s coming too! Considering she’s a magical genius and has Arc-en-Ciel, I have no doubt she’ll be able to contribute.

Anis and Euphie unknowingly steal a march on Prince Algard, who barges into a royal council meeting and declares to his father that he’ll slay the dragon if he can get what he wants—Lainie Cyan’s hand in marriage. He tells his father and his courtiers how he’s always heard people saying “if only” his sister was a man.

Orphans can tell that after Anis and Algard got along famously as little kids, a rift grew between them when Anis discovered magicology. The resentment and bitterness have been stewing within his only son. He also knows that Anisphila could most definitely assume the throne, and perhaps do a better job than Algard—but made a conscious choice to reject it for Algard’s sake.

But while Anis’ intentions were good and loving, a part of Algard must also feel patronized by his amazing big sister. So the king isn’t going to hold him back from trying to stand on his own two feet and prove himself. The only problem is, I seriously doubt he’ll get his chance at the dragon before Anis and Euphie take care of it.

After two episodes off it’s good to have Algard back in the mix. I still hate him for what he did to Euphyllia, but I also understand why he did it. I can also understand how he wants to be with the woman he loves, not the one chosen for him. He’s an ass, but he’s also a compelling character who wants to break out of his mold.  I can’t wait to see him, Anis, and Euphie in action—either together or at cross purposes.

Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible – 03 – You Can’t Go Wrong with Mittens

Shiraishi returns the tracksuit he borrowed from Kubo, and she asks if it was small on him. It was, but only a little, as he’s 5’4″ to Kubo’s 5’3″. She gets onto a higher step on the stairs to become 5’9″, because she heard six inch difference is ideal for couples. Then she gracefully jumps down to Shiraishi’s level and declares that she prefers it this way. Give this girl an inch…

Kubo wants to hang out after school, but Shiraishi rushes out in an apparent hurry, with plans. This turns out to be taking his baby brother Seita to the park to play in the snow. Shiraishi is no fan of the cold, so it’s fortuitous that Kubo (who lives nearby after all) spots him. She has a warm bottle of cocoa which she offers to Seita, who then offers it back to her. But when she offers it to Shiraishi, he won’t take the obvious indirect kiss bait.

Shiraishi has to go a little ways to get a limited edition manga magizine with a poster he wants, but when he finds it among the stacks, an adult magazine is laying on top of it. Assuming no one can see him due to his presence, he prepares to take a peek, but is caught red-handed. Just his luck Kubo’s sister Akina works there—and that apparently all Kubos can see him!

Akina doesn’t 100% buy his innocent explanation, but when he drops his school ID after leaving, she notices it’s the same school as her sister, and asks her to return it to its owner. When Kubo says it’s Shiraishi’s, Akina stirs the pot a bit by saying he was looking at a porno mag featuring big boobs. This leads Kubo to asking him if he likes big boobs, calls him ecchi, and flees before he can explain.

Kubo isn’t sore about it for long, as she overhears other girls hanging out with their boyfriends for Christmas, and decides to cash in Shiraishi’s promise. Only she asks if they can hang out “Saturday after next” and he agrees, and only later realizes that it’s Christmas day.

Nevertheless, he’s at the agreed-upon spot 30 minutes early, while Kubo comes 10 minutes early. She manages to deduce that he was waiting longer than a couple minutes by the coldness of his hands. She also came with a Christmas present for him, and gives him fifteen minutes to buy her one with a budget of 1000 yen.

Shiraishi draws a blank on what to get her as he mills through the mall, until he realizes that like him her hands must be getting cold as she waits, so he buys her a pair of cozy pink mittens that go well with rose sweater dress and pale pink coat. Kubo is elated to receive a gift into which he clearly put a lot of thought.

As for his gift? A highlighter yellow shirt that says “Main Character,” so he’d be more noticeable to others. Something of a gag gift, but still a thoughtful one. Put it all together, and this was another sweet, cozy, charming episode to warm the heart on a cold winter day.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

To Your Eternity – S2 13 – Fushi for the People

With Fushi having to build quicker to make his daily quotas, he isn’t home a lot, so Eko decides to bring dinner she made to him. It tastes terrible, but it’s the thought that counts. While everyone else is keeping Fushi on task, Eko and Kahaku don’t want him to forget the little things that make us human. But while Fushi appears to be sleeping in his room, it’s just a dummy; the real Fushi is out rebuilding through the night.

One of Renril’s biggest remaining vulnerabilities is its underground water and sewer system, which has to be completely rebuilt to make it Nokker-proof. During this process, Eko notices the water is dirty, tracks down the source of the fouling, and alerts the proper channels, all without saying a word. She even pitches in with the demo work, one stone and plank at a time.

At this point Kahaku has taken on the role of house husband, keeping an Eye on Eko, cooking meals, and keeping the Booze Man’s house clean. He also continues to worry about how hard Fushi is working. Eko lures him home with a clay pot vision of a feast of all his favorites. While he’s initially disappointed to find hot pot instead, once he tastes it, he gives his complimnents to the chef—in this case Eko. It wasn’t her cooking that was bad, but the city water.

Eko’s hard work spurs Fushi to work even harder. Messar gets the princess to agree to extend Founding Day to a week to keep the bulk of the citizens in the festival area, allowing Fushi to rebuild the network of towering walls one by one. The more he builds, the more sensations—both good and bad—he feels. If he focuses too much on them, they overwhelm him. He realizes he can’t help anyone. There are too many people with too many problems big and small.

Fushi’s in a charitable mood the next day, when he agrees to take the fall for Cam in a fighting tournament so he can impress the girl he likes. However, stuff happens that attract the suspicions of the citizen soldiers and Fushi’s little favor to Cam nearly exposes him. That night, the soldiers decide to head out looking for the one doing all the building, wondering if its the Fushi demon the Church of Bennett condemned.

The soldiers end up catching Fushi in the act…of rebuilding a wall. Fushi accepts that he’s been caught with cool resignation—a kind of do your worst, ya ingrates stance. He also boasts that even if the church captures him again, he knows his way out of molten metal now, and will be free again in two days. But by shifting into various forms the soldiers all know, they realize it was Fushi who helped them and their loved ones all those times in the past days, weeks, and months.

The next day, an adamant Fushi decides to walk out onto the streets in his regular form, whatever slings and arrows come his way. But to his surprise, both royal knight and citizen soldier salute him, and he gets nods of approval and thanks from the other citizens. Bon and Messar flank him as he continues his walk, not of shame, but of honor. The people have spoken: if Fushi is a demon, he’s a demon on their side.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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