Star Driver 15

Ooo…nice change of pace. I’m a fan of the cybody battles, but finally, Star Driver decides to omit it from the episode formula, replacing it with the drama of the You sisters. Mizuno has fallen hard for Takuto, who is predictably dense about it. I want to wish he’d just choose which girl he wants already (s0 does Sugata!), but I don’t think he adequately understands his choices enough to make one anyway. His “popularity” can grow thin at times.

In any case, when the sisters learn their deadbeat mom has returned to the island, Marino and Mizuno , all but twin sisters, finally disagree: the former wants to at least talk to her, while Mizuno’s reaction is of extreme repulsion. She can’t talk to her mother. She doesn’t want her to be back. So she does something a maiden shouldn’t: she tries to leave the island.

This results in a really nicely-done, creepy Groundhog Day-esque timeloop that quickly scares the shit out of Mizuno. Fortunately fellow maiden Wako senses the disturbance in the Force (for lack of a better term) and comes to her aid, helping Mizuno return to reality. But it’s still clear the island isn’t big enough for MIzuno and her mom. Will she be tempted to figure out a way to leave, ruining all of her sister’s efforts to protect her? Who knows; but the secret is definitely out. Mizuno is no more safe than Wako now. Rating: 4

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Bakuman 15

Bakuman continues steadily progressing as a year has passed in the series timeline. Moritaka and Miho have both made strides toward achieving their goals. Miho doesn’t believe herself either pretty or a good singer, while Moritaka is well aware that there are better artists out there than himself. Still, they work hard, and both are gradually getting results.

I like how Moritaka didn’t immediately reciprocate Niizuma’s invitation to friendship: he’s their rival, after all. He is honest and forthright and makes his position clear: his goal is to surpass Niizuma. Niizuma, who became a much more interesting character last week, reacts exactly as I’d hoped: nothing petty or immature, just a firm, enthusiastic “you’re on.” Even in private, he says he liked their work (proving he wasn’t patronizing them), and probably likes the idea of a direct challenge.

Then again, Niizuma and Moritaka/Takagi’s approaches can never be the same, so it will be intriguing to see how both attain success with their wildly different methods of creating manga: Niizuma’s visceral, spontaneous, freeform style, or Moritaka and Takagi’s calculating, precise, by-the-book style. The latter will have to get a move on though, as Miho has entered the world of voice-acting. Rating: 3.5

To Aru Majutsu no Index II 14

The second season of Index II starts out as a bubbly Venetian excursion for Touma and Index, and then somewhat coincidentally bumps into Orsola and Amakusa and even thought Amakusa is just helping her move, you know that their mere presence portends a fresh confrontation between the churches.

This is soon confirmed when catholic assassins attack Touma, Orsola and Index. Some quick thinking and incantations from Index combined with Touma’s fist seems to pacify the situation, until, well, something strange happens. An enormous green glass/ice ship pops out of the water. I don’t quite get this, but I guess if you have magic, you can do anything.

Orsola and Touma are along for the ride, but Index is left behind as the ship goes out into the water and joins an armada of identical ships. Then Agnese shows up again, apparently to again get punched in the face in a future episode. Rating: 3