MM! 11

Mio’s a little too rough on Tarou, and he ends up with amnesia. Everyone immediately starts messing with him even more: his mother and sister convince him he’s impregnated them; while Noa hits him with some kind of mind control device. Arashiko tries to help him recover by going on a date, while Mio is tormented by the fact that Tarou looks at her like a stranger.

This results in a face-off between Arashiko and Mio, in which Arashiko finally confesses to Tarou but Mio whacks him with a baseball bat and his amnesia is gone, along with the memories of when he had it. So curing his masochism has made way for the more pressing issue of the love triangle threatening the friendships of all three. I’m relieved that the show only takes Mio and Arashiko’s feelings seriously; the others girls’ affections are presented as relatively ludicrous and shallow.

After all Tarou has exhibited enough kindness and loyalty to warrant the affections of both of them; but the fact remains we’re moving nowhere fast as long as Mio can’t face her feelings for him and Arashiko can’t touch him without putting him in the hospital. It doesn’t help that he hasn’t exactly spent anytime wringing his hands over who he should choose. There’s only one episode left for them to make their respective moves. Rating: 3

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To Aru Majutsu no Index II 10

Fukiyose was merely knocked out and is out of immediate danger, but Touma still wants to make Oriana pay. Since the shorthand is gone, Stiyl is able to locate her position with a spell, and Touma and Tsuchimikado corner her, thanks to her boarding a bus that just happens to have a bomb spell attached to it, and just happens to have no one else aboard.

Coincidence aside, it becomes pretty clear that Touma would eventually be cut up and exhausted enough to be killed if he fights Oriana enough; she can cast spells instantly with the tear of her little notebook, and she mixes and matches the spells to keep him off guard. It’s an excellent fight, but she goes easy on Touma, who’s able to call Oriana’s bluff and send a right cross to her face, enabling him to take her package…which is merely an ice cream sign.

The real stab sword, it turns out, isn’t a sword at all, but St. Peter’s Cross; wherever it stands, the Catholic Church will be in control, even if it’s Academy City. It’s an instrument for world domination, not destruction; for distrubing the balance of science and magic,  and making everyone “nothing but happy”, whatever that entails. So they can’t let them have it. Only problem is, Oriana is quite crafty and extremely powerful.

In the midst of all the chasing and battling, Touma still manages to bump into Cheerleader-Index (who is attention-starved at this point), and when he arrives for lunch with his parents, he’s surprised to see not only Mikoto, but her mom as well. Index and Mikoto growl at one another, and scene. Both Mikoto and Touma’s dad pose an excellent question: what is Touma doing with an underage English girl in a cheerleader’s outfit? Even he doesn’t know...Rating: 3.5

Gundam Unicorn 1 & 2

It’s been a while since I saw the first Gundam Unicorn, so I watched it again before number two. It is glorified setup; with Banagher bascially being swept along in a semi-dazed state, still unaware of what’s in store. The first OVA is a gorgeous symphony of sci-fi action and drama. Number two propels the story forward and sets the stakes.

Unicorn could be the best-looking Gundam I’ve seen, particularly the outstanding high-speed space duels, pyrotechnics, rich character design, and fluid animation. It’s apparent little expense was spared in crafting the look and feel of this new Gundam chapter. The score is appropriately grandiose. There are also some nice details: mobile suits with airbags, prison cells with gorgeous vistas, for instance.

All the production values in the world won’t save a bad story. Luckily, the story isn’t that bad. It’s typical Gundam, to be sure…you have your plucky hero (Banagher), his civilian friends, a flamboyanty-dressed, masked antihero (Full Frontal); your rival ace pilot, your strong, brave princess (Mineva), the jealous other girl (Micott) and your kickass tomboy (the stoic Marida Cruz, perhaps my favorite character thus far). Thematically? Fighting to end war, transcending sides for justice, doing the right thing, best intentions leading to tragedy, et cetera.

Sometimes sticking to a formula works, and so far I’m impressed. Part of me would have preferred a 26-episode series like 00, but the superior production values are an amicable trade-off for having to wait so long between installments…which is now the position I find myself in. Rating: 3.5