To Aru Majutsu no Index II 7

For the second straight week, Index II outdoes itself. This episode is a veritable smorgasbord of shattered glass, wood, bullets, and electricity, of course. starts with a vicious follow-up battle between Shirai and Awaki, in which they both kick the shit out of each other. Awaki even pulls out a gun an shoots Shirai, who’s already had a restaurant full of furniture dropped on her. Shirai’s seemingly superhuman endurance is stretched to the limit of credulity, but more important than how she’s still going is why she’s still going.

That reason is the same reason Touma and Misaka come to Shirai’s aid: love for and unwavering devotion to one’s friends. In the case of MISAKA, the one who warns Touma (who then warns Misaka when he bumps into her) she is acting to protect her original. The most important thing to MISAKA is Misaka, so in her own un-emotive way, she’s a friend too. Same with Last Order. She either pokes Accelerator to dispatch Awaki (who is easy pickins’ once he intercepts her) or he does it on his own, for the Misaka mini-me: It would seem the troubled gent has taken a shine to her.

As I said, the action hardly ever quits, with just about everyone (save Index, which is okay) running all over the place and heavily involved. The Tree Diagram remnant Awaki stole is busted to pieces by Accel, so this two-episode dilemma is wrapped up convincingly. Touma has shown he will protect not only people he cares about, but the people they care about as well (e.g. Shirai, whom he barely knows). Despite all the wounds and trauma she endured, it’s clear Shirai would do it all again in a heartbeat. More importantly, Misaka needs to get used to the fact that her friends won’t let her fight alone. Rating: 4

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru 7

The first segment involved Sanada encountering a sleepy Hotori on the bus, and then deciding to play hooky and “elope” with her for the day. They used to play together all the time when they were younger, but it’s revealed that when Sanada got into his “girls are icky” phase, he stopped. He’s clearly into Hotori now, though she doesn’t know it, of course. It probably hasn’t crossed her mind. They’d probably be dating by now were it not for his reticence and her obliviousness, but neither are easily overcome.

The second segment is a similar escape, only this time, it takes the form of an evening adventure for Hotori and her litle bro, who drank one of her energy shots and can’t sleep. This is a very cute segment in that it shows that Hotori is actually a pretty cool big sister when the cards are down. It’s pretty funny when Takuto almost has an existential crisis when the clock hits midnight – after all, he’d never been out this late before.

Soredemo serves up two more lovely slices of life this week, continuing to cement Hotori Arashiyama’s place among my favorite characters this fall, if not this year. She’s just an ordinary girl who’s a little eccentric and over-imaginative (and lazy), but I cannot overstate how thoroughly the writers and animators brought her to life. No one pops out of the screen more than Hotori. Even asleep, she oozes personality. Rating: 4

MM! 8

This week was about change, transformations, and the great cycle…of masochism. Mio’s latest scheme to cure Tarou involves hypnosis, but it all goes terribly wrong when he wakes up and they find that he’s no longer a masochist, he’s become a lolicon, and falls for Nao on sight (Nao thankfully has limited screen time here). She hypnotizes him again, but he just becomes a more deranged pervert who terrorizes girls at random.

After still more hypnosis, Tarou is seemingly cured, as neither Mio’s physical and verbal abuse turn him on; quite the contrary, he’s simply in pain. Tarou and Yuuno celebrate finally curing him, and he indeed seems to have lost the only thing that defined his character to begin with…until the next morning, when it’s revealed he now likes dudes; Tatsuchiki specifically.

He goes far to woo his chum, including dressing in drag for the first time (it had to happen eventually). No matter how much Mio and Yuuno attempt to hurt or seduce him, he won’t start liking girls again. Yuuno all but confesses her love to him and it’s like talking to a wall…until a surprise attack from Mio sends him into the stratosphere.

When in this cerebral limbo, Tarou re-opens the door locked by the hypnosis and re-merges with his masochist id. When he wakes up, he’s back to normal. He’s still a masochist, but everyone is relieved, because that is the new normal. This is the closest they’ve gotten to curing him…one wonders what’s left in Mio’s curing arsenal, after nearly destroying Tarou’s brain… Rating: 3.5

Panty & Stocking 8

Part I starts in the middle with P&S and what’s left of the town barricaded in the police station from hordes of zombies. This is all thanks to the demon sisters, who are coming at the angels hard and fast now. When P&S clear a path to the the gun store and it turns out to be a sex store, their sexy weapons only do so much damage. They retreat to their Hummer, where a zombified chuck waits for them. Now zombies themselves, they wait for dawn, when they believe they’ll change back…only they don’t. It’s open-ended, like so many zombie movies. Also worth noting: this segment had the most Engrish swearing of any episode thus far.

Part II is within the construct of a TV show called “Judgment Day” when the host and prosecutor – the demon sisters in disguise – get P&S indicted, convicted, and sentenced to the electric chair for murdering a nonviolent ghost (who is a dead ringer for Stimpy). However, the electricity just turns the angels on, and turns their chimp attorney into a genius who exposes the real culprit ‘Stimpy’s’ wife…’Ren’, a ghost who then goes loco until dispatched by customary gun-and-sword combo. It’s good to see the series still coming up with different fresh ideas. Rating: 3.5