Panty & Stocking 9

It’s never a dull moment when the angels have to square off against their demonic counterparts, and this week’s part one is no different, as the two pairs of sisters engage in a beach volleyball duel. The angels actually win, but the demons respond by releasing a plague of sea-based ghosts. The segment is sprinkled with the requisite trash inter-rival talk.

However, its the second part that really caught my attention. Panty & Stocking both actually seem to exhibit personalities and emotions – a rare thing indeed – as Stocking falls head-over-heels in love with an extremely uncouth, rude, and apathetic guy who also happens to be a ghost. Panty is necessarily concerned, and aims to take out the ghost until Stocking intervenes.

Stocking is willing to ditch her duties as an angel along with her sister in order to elope with the ghost. But when he puts the ring on her, he ascends into heaven, as the yearning keeping him tied to the world has now been fulfilled. There hadn’t been this kind of ghost resolution thus far in the series, and it was surprising, considering how contemptuous of ghosts both sisters have shown throughout. For one of them to fall in love so completely – without explanation – was certainly unexpected. Rating: 3.5

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Nurarihyon no Mago 21

We have what looks to be the last calm before the storm, as both sides have resolved to attack the other with as much force as they can muster. In Tamazuki’s case, he’s lured an enormous army of Shikoku yokai into Nura territory and are itching to start the war. The hot-headed Shoei can’t wait, though, and storms the Shikoku’s tower alone. He is nearly killed before the crows show up and rescue him.

This is a revelation to Rikuo; simply waiting around while his clan’s defense gets shakier is not an option. He can’t let the fact he’s a weakling during the day be an excuse anymore. The elder youkai tell him it’s time for him to start a night parade of his own, so he does; starting with Yuki-onna and his other bodyguards. He also makes a pact with Night Rikuo. He’ll handle protecting the humans, while Night Rikuo will protect the yokai.

When Shoei, wounds still fresh, insists on going back to finish his fight; Rikuo stops him. But not to keep him from going, but to join him. The enemy is serious about wiping out the Nura clan and conquering its territory. The time for talk is over…hopefully. With only four episodes remaining, there’s plenty of time to deliver a satisfying resolution. Rating: 3

Shiki 16

One of the really neat aspects of any vampire-themed narratives is the ridiculously long lives vampires live. When Toru can’t seem to get over killing Natsuno, he’s summoned to the mansion to meet with Sunako. Who had been just your typical creepy little ghoul girl became orders of magnitude more interesting when she shared her rich and harrowing life experience with Toru. Killed, buried, then risen; she embarked on a quest to find her parents that spanned human lifetimes, all the while killing kind and weak humans for food. Compared to her, Toru has absolutely no reason to kvetch.

The Kirishikis would prefer all of their vampire servants to have an attitude more like Megumi. Parts of her human personality remain – her cheerfulness, fashion sense, and love for Natsuno, for instance – but she’s also become totally desensitized to the actions she now takes nightly as a risen. She’s not going to let anyone rain on her human-draining parade.

This week Toshio meets covertly with Natsuno, who is a daywalker…and seems to now get fashion tips from Megumi (I’m not knocking it; after all some people have to look correct in this backwater village). However he’s dressed, he’s not interested in falling into line like Megumi; he wants to help Toshio get rid of the Shiki, including himself. But they must bide their time. I’m curious to learn how they’ll do it, and why they have to wait until the moment the vamps think they’ve achieved irreversible victory.

Not a party to these planes, Akira takes it upon himself to start the war early, but fails pretty quickly when the blue-haired daywalker appears. It would seem Akira is a goner, which will leave poor timid Kaori as the only living Tanaka. One thing’s clear: if the living are to take back the village, an uncoordinated direct attack won’t work. Rating: 3.5

Amagami SS – Rihoko Sakurai Arc

When this arc began, I was wondering how they were going to make someone as dense as Tachibana even notice Rihoko Sakurai, let alone fall in love with her like he has the previous four girls. Well, it turns out this series was wondering that too, and wasn’t able to answer that question. Of all the arcs, this one was the most anti-climatic: things pretty much end the way they began; with Rihoko hoping “her feelings will someday reach him.” Okay…

So yeah, this was kind of the worst arc, IMO. Nakata Sae’s wasn’t that much better, but at least it ended with a substantive exchange of confessions of love. And while putting the focus on Rihoko really brought her character to life, this arc was definitely Tachibana’s worst showing; I’ll allow that he’s a dense guy who’s either unwilling or unable to deepen his relationship with his childhood friend…but most of the time he’s just dull and wooden.

I suppose I should have seen this coming. All of the previous arcs had quite a bit of momentum by the end of the third episode, but this time I still had no idea how the heck Tachibana was going to fall for Sakurai, short of a love potion. That isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with the relationship they end up with at the end, it just seems like a cheat, because she never had the guts to confess to him. Rihoko likes things to stay the same – and they do. One girl left: the prim, proper class prez with intense bangs. Here’s hoping it doesn’t end with naught but a hearty handshake, eh? Rating: 3