3-gatsu no Lion – 03


3GL‘s third episode is again split into two vignettes with an overarching theme: Rei encountering those with more powerful outward emotions than he expresses, leading him question if the way he handles his own emotions is really optimal.

The first vignette deals with his self-proclaimed rival Nikaidou Harunobu, whom Rei beat on the rooftop of a department store in the searing summer heat years ago. In what he describes as an arrogant presumption, he wished to defeat Harunobu quickly so the poor kid could get out of the hot sun.


But his strategy only made Harunobu play harder, desperately dragging out the game until he was totally out of moves. Years later he faces Harunobu in a professional match, and Harunobu is pumped up, but nothing has really changed.

It takes many hours, but Rei eventually defeats Harunobu once more, because like him, he doesn’t want to lose. Harunobu’s new line of attack is better than the last one, but Rei is better too, and he does what has to be done to win again. He’s both bemused and a bit inspired by Harunobu’s raw intensity.


The second vignette, a real tearjerker, marks the welcome return of the Kawamoto sisters and their gramps, completing their Obon observance with an elaborate meal. Rei comes late but Rina has his dishes ready, in appropriately small portions to match his slight appetite.

As they light the fire to see off their lost loved ones they only recently welcomed back with a similar ritual, Rei sees the barely-contained pain in the faces of the Kawamotos, though Akari is still smiling outwardly and Momo hides her face. He doesn’t see the point of doing something that brings out so much pain.


When Hinata suddenly says she has to grab a manga at the convenience store, Gramps sends Rei to go with her, but Rei keeps his distance, even as Hina’s pace quickens and it’s clear her destination isn’t the store, but the river. There, he finds her crying her eyes out, the gorgeous July moon shining down on her.

As with Harunobu, Rei is a bit in awe of Hina’s intense display, a display he long gave up on when he decided to push the pain of losing his family away. There is no doubt Hina is not okay, but just because he’s not crying doesn’t mean he is.

Again he wonders if the path he chose in dealing with his loss was the right one, all while staying with Hinata and giving her all the time she needs to cry it out. Just as certain defeat isn’t enough to rush a match to its conclusion, pushing pain aside doesn’t make it disappear.


Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku – 04


In Magipro, Ruler is what Mokuou Sanae can’t be in the real world: in control. She always ranked at the top of her class, but speaking out of turn at the office where she worked got her reassigned by a boss who wanted her to learn her place. She always saw everybody in the world as idiots to be brought to heel. It’s how she ruled as Ruler, and it was her downfall.


Getting Ruler’s backstory was a sure sign that she’d be the next victim, despite having come up with a devious scheme to steal Snow White’s Magical Candies. As it happens, her desire to keep distance from her subjects by insulting them at every opportunity became her fatal flaw when she relied on Swim Swim to transfer Snow White’s candies while she held her pose to keep Koyuki from moving (the flipside of her magical power to control).


As such, Swim Swim took it upon herself to doublecross Ruler, only taking half of Snow White’s 50,000+ candies and distributing them evenly to all but Snow White herself, La Pucelle…and Ruler. That puts Ruler in last place at the time of the rankings, and it kills her.

Tama seems torn up by the coup, but the twin “angels” are fine with it, and acknowledge Swim Swim as their new leader. In a nice twist, Swim Swim was the young girl who Nemurin said could be a princess if she tried hard enough. But Swim Swim couldn’t be the true Ruler until the old one was eliminated. And so it comes to be.


The entire situation disgusts Koyuki, who was ready to die rather than let anyone else die in her place before she learned Swim Swim only took half of her candies. But Souta isn’t so dedicated to Koyuki’s ideals, especially if it means Koyuki’s death. So La Pucelle re-vows to be Snow White’s knight, doing whatever is necessary to keep her alive and safe – whether Snow White wants such treatment or not.

With the sixteenth magical girl entering the field, Koyuki will no doubt continue to need protection, not just from those who would eliminate her, but from her own stubborn refusal to defend herself at the cost of others.


Flip Flappers – 03


The Gist: Papika walks across a burning desert littered with wrecked ships and submarines. She colapses and is taken in by some Jawa’esq creatures and slowly brings us up to speed on how she and Cocona were separated…

which involves a BDSM flower girl who pretends to be a friend at first but has our friends fight each other by way of an emotion amplifying mask and…

yeah this episode is a tremendous run-on sentence of a plot!


The important take aways are: Pure Illusion can be populated by a variety of sentient beings, Papika and Cocona can transform magic-girl style (including magic weapons that can merge into a magic gun) in addition to powering up, and Yayaka works for the mysterious group of Robots from the end of the first episode.


If all these details feel heaped on and difficult to absorb, the decision to flash-back in the middle of the episode to explain what was going on, only served to make it more a of a mess. Yes, the short reveal of Cocona as a bad-ass villain in a mask was, yes, ultra bad-ass BUT the same effect could have been achieved in a more cohesive fashion.

While the episode made me feel like it belonged several episodes deeper into the series, or part of an entirely separate anime, not all was lost. The animation remains tremendously fun to watch, with stylish and swift gestures and lovely character design. Think something between Final Fantasy the Legend of the Crystals and TTGL and/or Die Buster. (Nono from Die Buster even feels incredibly similar to Papika)



The Verdict: Animation aside, abrupt narrative shift aside, Flip Flappers remains lovely on an emotional level. The characters are warm, fun, and surrounded by a blend of oddly grim and magically dream like. I can not recommend this enough!


Keijo!!!!!!!! – 03


The Gist: Cockroach-chan and Miyata-chan spend this week upgrading their skills, one more obviously than the other. While the vacuum butt cannon is obviously powerful and highly regarded by the instructors, Cockroach-chan is forbidden to use it due to significant health risks it entails. However, she earns the right to learn more about it by wearing a BDSM swim suit for a month.

Meanwhile Miyata learns about… making a tighter butt crack to increase her multi-hit speed, which she will use during the episode-ending challenge with the elite class players.


We also learn about the 3 types of players: Infighters that rely on strength, outfighters that use speed and position, and counters that …use counters. This is very straight forward but lends a bit more credibility to the sport, which is massively important in a show that could otherwise be about butts only.

Straight up, this week was packed with pandering shots. There’s no escaping all the boobs and butts and that’s not even getting into the moaning and homosexuality that seems more erotic than character related.

Still, the episode remained very well rendered, full of charm, and carried the characters forward. We even see some cleverness in the other room 309 players: they give free massages to the girls, which gives them a deeper understanding of muscle and each girl’s tactical strengths.


The Verdict: The fact that Keijo calls out its hero’s super attack as dangerous and possibly career ending, goes way beyond more serious sports anime like Haikyuu!! or Days. I still can’t believe I’m saying this but this show actually puts thought into a typically formulaic genre.

This is sports anime it its best, most pandering, well rendered, and likable. Call it shameless for all its boobs and butts, but Keijo puts all of its heart in the right place: it treats its absurd subject sincerely.


To Be Hero – 03


It is as we feared, we are all male and can not fight the female ‘globers’

The Gist: The aliens have studied humans and believe the race is divided into two types. The male type has tiny globes that are useless and the female type has a broader range of globe sizes, that indicate their innate power. Unfortunately, the Aliens discover they are all male and nosebleed/boners guarantee they can not dominate our world.

Not only is the diagrammatic scene that explains all this hilarious, details like the the alien king growing an ever more absurdly tall boner while chastising his men for panic, had me in stitches.

To overcome this challenge, the aliens create the perfect love weapon… and the result is a guy with an emoji’ head who drives a rapping yellow muscle car called BumbleZ… who’s arms and legs are too short to attack Old Man and is quickly defeated.


“I’m Earth’s hero but you got a fancy CG transformation scene?!”

Verdict: The dialog was slower and less base than last week and it all worked very well.

From timing, to 4th wall breaking gags, to cynical views on what people find attractive, this week was pure comedy gold. More than that, it snuck a slightly thoughtful moment of drama in at the end AND cliff-hangered us with the evil emperor putting his hands right through Old Man’s chest.


To Be Hero – 02


The Gist: Old Man is trapped living next door with his nudist neighbor… but the alien threat keeps on coming. This week a chicken man and a pink bearded muscle man are undone in comical, but extremely quickly spoken dialog. Yet by the end, sadly, Old Man is still trapped in a fat perv’s body…

So this week followed the pilot’s template. The humor is odd and well timed, for example the cutting of Old Man and the Pink Bearded alien makes it look like they are about to confront each other at the door, only to be at the wrong addresses, which causes the pink alien to kill himself accidentally in embarrassment… humor is hard to talk about!


To be Hero’s humor at it’s finest

Oji’s Verdict: The back story of chickens being an alien race and the repeated jokes about the nudist’s family leaving him were all cute but good gracious dialog zipped by at break neck speed. I’m not sure that really helped and, in all honesty, the ‘potty humor’ aspect isn’t very… sophisticated.


Cheating Craft – 02


The Gist: L-type and C-type students go at each other and then the teacher to win their way through the school entrance exam. Body doubles, poison bees, copy-cat pingpong balls, and even micro-slicing a paper in half to repeat the answers, this show shows a ton of clever cheating and anti-cheating tricks of it’s world.

Unfortunately, that’s all it shows.

Verdict: While I got a many chuckles out of the episode, it was equal parts visual gags and technique-names, with no meaningful character development, no memorable music, and a snails crawl plot. The sound design was good at least but, at the end of the day, this is not the kind of show that leaves much room for a review.

Dropped… but:


Soushin Shoujo Matoi – 03


The Gist: ‘Toi and Yuma continue to dabble in magic girl hero antics, including another possessed dude bringing demon trouble, culminating in a showdown with another monster. It’s much the same as last week, except this time Clarus gets her butt kicked too and ‘Toi’s latent mom power has to activate and save the day.

While SSM is serviceable as a straight forward rise of an unlikely hero story, with decent graphics and sound, the dynamic between Yuma and ‘Toi continues to be its strongest selling point. The fact that Yuma over explains how embarrassing the situation is is especially charming too.


“Wow, ‘Toi, this has gotten more than 50 million hits! That means, roughly, 50% of Japan has seen you naked!” – Yuma

Oji’s Verdict: Soushin Shoujo Matoi provides some easy viewing girls against demon bad guys magic action. I’m not sold on the conspiracy going on in the background, and ‘Toi’s sudden power surge to save the day was… generic… to say the least.

However, at the end of the day, not every show needs to be a masterpiece to earn my respect, let alone my eyeballs as a viewer. If you’ve got time, you could do a lot worse than following this.


Shuumatsu no Izetta – 04


Word of Germanian defeat and rumors of a reborn White Witch travel all the way to Neu Berlin (where it seems they successfully built the Volkshalle) and the Germanian leader, who is excited by the news of a witch in modern times.

For the record, these guys don’t seem as bad as Nazis, but they are most certainly bad guys: arrogant bullies who pick on their weaker neighbors as part of a larger plan to dominate the continent and likely the world. Their power must have a check to avoid wholesale death and suffering.


So far, the show seems intent on keeping that potential check, Izetta, as modest and grounded as possible, befitting both her past status and her debt to Princess Fine for saving her from a mob. Izetta takes nothing for granted: not the bed she wakes up in, or the cheerful maid Lotte who is assigned to her.

Little does Izetta know that just by being there, she’s basically threatening to usurp the right-hand-woman position currently occupied by Bianca, who is still suspicious of Izetta’s abilities and motives. However, when Lotte slips off her stool and Izetta gets konked on the head by a stone jug, Bianca feels responsible for the injury.


This episode lacks any big battles, but sets the stage for an entirely new battle Eylstadt must fight—and win—to have any chance at peace: the PR battle.

To that end, Fine appoints her Grand Couturier, Lady Elvira (Hanazawa Kana in an adult role)—a kind of alternate-WWII version of Effie Trinket—to help polish Izetta’s image as the famed White Witch and saviour of the country. Elvira is also very handsy; quite inappropriately so.


Izetta reveals to Fine and her war council that her powers don’t come from within, but are dependent on a network of ley lines distributed through the lands. In some places, like the old capital, she cannot use her magic at all; in the old capital, the lines are dense, and the depths of the old castle they find a helpful map so they’ll know where she’ll be most effective.

That being said, Fine is keeping it the highest of state secrets that Izetta has any weaknesses at all: winning hearts and minds of both her own people and potential allies abroad is dependent on the lie that Izetta is invincible, and that is part of the burden both women must bear on top of  actually fighting and winning more battles.

With the enemy not only well aware of Izetta’s existence but having previously had her in captivity, we’ll see what countermeasures they’ll come up with. In the meantime, Fine succeeds her recently deceased father as Archduchess, with Izetta the White Witch by her side. There’s no turning back.


Watashi ga Motete Dousunda – 03

R to L: Snow White, Eren Yeager, Shion

The Japanese government mandates that at least one episode of romantic comedies must be a cultural festival episode, but Kiss Him Not Me didn’t treat it like legal compliance; it put quite a bit of effort and its own wonderful brand of energy into it, making for twenty minutes of television that felt much longer, but had me wishing by the end it was longer still. All the positive aspects I mentioned in the first two eps apply here, and then some.


This KHNM took its real life otome game theme to its natural next step: growing mutual resentment among the boys. The four of them are only together because they like Kae. Kae, a fujoshi, its perfectly content to keep things this way, but they aren’t. They want to court Kae properly, which means they need alone time with her (the last thing she wants).

It’s a great dynamic, and I’m glad it comes to a head so quickly in the series, and so organically, as a result of the give-and-take of the otome scenario. Kae formed a coalition so her class would vote for a cosplay cafe, and she gets to dress up all her boys the way she sees fit. But in exchange, she has to tacitly accept it when they set up time slots for alone time with her during the festival.


To the show’s credit, despite her amazing physical transformation, Kae remains steadfastly Kae, even if she often manages to hide her baser instincts from the lads. She worries she won’t do well alone with guys, and then she goes and doesn’t do well alone with the guys. It’s the English title in a nutshell: She wants them to Kiss (or do other romantic things with) Him, not her.


It doesn’t help that the guys are a little overeager. Nana backs her into a wall and they come close to a kiss, Mu achieves an indirect kiss through chopsticks; Iga takes her hand in his, then puts it on his knee; and Shi leaps into her arms in the haunted house, resulting in a fall and his face in her bosom.

It’s all just too much for Kae, who is completely un-inoculated against such romantic gestures. She rushes into the arms of her friend Akane, lamenting how impossible it all is. A-chan was initially amused that Kae had four dates with four hotties, but she’s quick to drop the ribbing and offer support when it turns out badly.


But while A-chan is grabbing Kae a drink, Kae is accosted by three less-than-savory classmates, who make her guys’ aggressiveness seem coy by comparison. These guys aren’t even trying to be subtle: this girl’s hot and they’re going to get as much out of her as they can.

Then she gives one of them an uppercut, which both he and she thought was overreacting…but how the hell else is a girl supposed to act when there are hands all over her and a crotch in her face?

They chase her down the hall, but she’s rescued by Iga and Nana in the nick of time. Soon Mu and Shi are also there and the four locked in combat with the punks. Kae stops gawking and spluttering and yells, at the top of her lungs, “KNOCK IT OFF!” 


Kae’s four guys hear her, and realize that and how they erred, and apologize, and all agree to take things slower so as not to overwhelm her again. Thus we return to the status quo, as expected, but it was a fun ride. The show didn’t want us to forget not just that these four guys really like Kae, and not just in a buddy-buddy way, but that when it comes down to it, they also don’t hate each other’s company.

When the time comes for the bonfire dance, the four agree to drop the romantic pursuits for the day and give Kae a little something for tolerating their forwardness (and the brawl, for which there was somehow no punishment). That something turns out to be another dream come true not just for fujoshi Kae, but her fujoshi BFF Akane: the four pair off and dance with each other.


Drifters – 03


As I mentioned last week, I don’t find the overarching conflict being fought between the Octobrists (with Drifters) and the Black King (with Ends) to be particularly coherent or compelling, but thankfully that doesn’t matter, because the Drifters and Ends themselves have been enough to carry the show along nicely.


It was a shame we didn’t see any of our cranky Samurai trio until the very end (when they find the hapless Octobrist magician who’s been observing them), but that disappointment was quickly tempered with a bunch of new faces, or I should say old to very old faces.

While their leaders/facilitators (the Octobrists and Black King) aren’t that interesting, most of them are…and also pretty funny at times, keeping things from getting too stilted.

On the End (AKA “Offscouring”) side: A sadistic pyromanic Joan d’Arc who has clearly renounced God; the blizzard-summoning final surviving member of the doomed Romanov family, Anastasia; and Hijikata, the former vice commander of the “Shingensumi” special police squad who can summon the ghosts of his men to hack people down.


This week’s historical figures on the Drifter side include Scipio Africanus and Hannibal from Roman times, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Kanno Naoshi, a WWII fighter pilot with a wonderful penchant for cursing who just arrived. Kanno decides to side with the Drifters by gunning down the Black King’s dragons when he gets traumatic flashbacks to the bombing of Tokyo.

Both End and Drifter are essentially superheroes, as if passing into this new world has imbued them with superhuman/supernatural powers. As such, much like the Avengers, X-Men, or Jedi, they are front-line heavy hitters, capable of taking on entire armies by themselves. Once could also liken them to reusable tactical nukes.

One intriguing element is that Drifters and Ends are given roles and abilities surpassing even their great statures in normal world history. Some are bigger names than others, and all react to their situation in different ways. Kanno’s decision to take out the dragons was motivated by his experience in the previous world, just as Joan just wants to watch shit burn now, because that’s what happened to her.


The Drifters at the besieged kingdom are safely evacuated to fight another day. But when Olmine explains to the three Samurai (who were left out of the fighting altogether this week) what the deal is, they react in appropriately amusing ways: Toyohisa is apathetic, Nobunaga is unconvinced, and Yoichi simply isn’t interested. But something tells me once they’re given an enemy to fight, they’ll reconsider their inaction. They’re just not catching the Octobrists at their best.

Drifters continues to be a wonderfully over-the-top action / adventure / comedy that has put a clever twist on the utilization of historical figures in anime. They’re neither too-faithful reproductions of the guys and gals in the books (which are themselves open to interpretation) nor completely unrelated.

It’s a surprisingly welcoming show that doesn’t demand we take its milieu any more seriously than the titular Drifters, but simply enjoy the ride.


Fune wo Amu – 02


When I was in Tokyo, I availed myself of the impeccable (compared to my city) mass transit, not just to get from Point A to Point B, but because I have an affinity for trains, and subways in particular. It was like I had died and gone to heaven: the unique aesthetics of the individual stations, the elaborate yet useful signage, the machines that sold everything from drinks to books.

Oh, and the people. Never did a single person block the opening doors of a train. People got in tidy lines, often using the lines on the platform, and ingress and egress were smooth and efficient, and ultimately quicker than if it was every person for themselves. Especially in the early mornings, it was a rush and a crush, but it all worked, and it was all polite and precise.

When Majime speaks almost wistfully about the way people on the subway got into neat lines (as if controlled by some unseen power…called courtesy!) and rode the escalators up and down, I could relate. I was on vacation after all; I had no particular place to be, nor any particular time to be there. Majime also takes his time, and Araki and Matsumoto are impressed by how he’s able to express how he enjoys his “hobby” of escalator-watching.


The point is, everything is “fun” for someone, even if it’s boring for others, or even most people. Majime finds observing humans on the go fun. Matsumoto and Araki find dictionary-making fun—why else be in the business so long? And Majime’s new job, for which he seems preternaturally well-suited, also looks like a lot of fun.

His new office is an old, dim, dusty building (once the main building for the company), and there are stacked books with colored tags and shelves full of tiny cards, containing hundreds of thousands of words and their definitions. It is, to use the symbolism of the show, a shipyard—the place where the ship The Great Passage will be built, patiently, steadily, over a period of ten years.


Majime seems pleased with his new position, and eager to contribute…but it’s working together with other people (rather than simply observing them) that troubles him. He’s unsure he’ll fit in, and even more worried he’ll let the others down.

His landlady Take asserts that he really shouldn’t be sweating such things at his age. Socializing with people is give-and-take, plain and simple. Take the two of them: she essentially exchanges hot, tasty meals for company, but through multiple encounters over however many months or years he’s lived in the boarding house, and it’s as if a different symbolic ship has been constructed—a friendship, to quote Mr. Burns—and Take’s able to say with confidence dictionary editor is the perfect job for young Majime.


This episode is called “Encounter”, and it’s not just his new job, his new colleagues, and the great new undertaking he encounters. It’s a beautiful young woman, posed perfectly in front of a huge yellow moon, whom he encounters by chance while looking for his big fat orange cat Tiger.

Majime is literally taken aback by the sight of this striking person, and likely even more intrigued that she’d playfully take the words meant for Tiger (“There you are…I’ve come to get you”) as words he meant for her. No doubt she’ll play a big role in Majime’s growth in the coming episodes.


Sousei no Onmyouji – 28


Ya know, when the first Basara Kamui first showed up – a super-powerful, sentient Kegare with something of a distinct moral code, I was a bit excited. But like the Arrancar in Bleach, there have now been so many different Basara with such short lifespans, they’ve become less fascinating and more, well, boring. This week’s Basara Kinasa doesn’t help matters, even if he’s got impeccable manners and a gun from Puella.


The predictable Roku and Benio pattern of encountering a foe, throwing everything they’ve got at it to absolutely no avail, and getting bailed out by a third party, is similarly wearing thin; not a good sign considering there’s so much more show left.

Kinasa is merely filler to stop our heroes in our tracks, but they don’t really learn anything or gain any new strength: they’re merely saved, once again, by Sae’s mysterious powers, after Sae disobeys them for the hundredth time. I’m also baffled that Kinako never conjures child locks while in RV Mode.


What makes Roku and Benio look even weaker is when Unomiya Tenma, the most powerful of the 12 Guardians, arrives, just ’cause, and dispatches both Kinasa and the Dragon Spot with one swing of his sword and one word (“Close!”).

We’ve been led to believe that with resonance this duo can really make things happen, but it’s almost as if they’ve regressed. Granted, perhaps the Basara are getting more powerful, but the same pattern has played out each time, and I don’t really care about the Basara, so it’s hard to gauge how tough an enemy is. They seem to either defeat it instantly, or are totally overpowered and in need of outside help.

In any case, this last dragon spot drop until Kyoto, and Tenma will be their escort. Sae seems eager to go, so Benio and Rokuro follow.  Mayura’s episode was a nice change of pace, but a return to the same-old-same-old just didn’t do it for me. I want to see more movement in the plot and less disposable Basara.