Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 3

This is more like it. Just as Ume was often more interesting than Sadako, Kent is almost immediately more interesting than Kazehaya. While he claims to be a psychic, he may just be very observant and have good ears, because Sadako isn’t all that hard to read. But he’s in a new class, and is obviously bored with normal girls, so Sadako is the perfect project to keep him entertained. And she’s putty in his paws.

That isn’t to say he has ill intent; he may well be genuinely concerned for her well-being and social progression. Unlike Kazehaya, he’s able to speak to her plainly and comfortably. Kazehaya seems more human in this episode, and his chat with Shuu is one of his more heartfelt. He actually gets riled up, realizing he hasn’t made his position clear (one must bang it over Sadako’s head, after all), and with Kent on the prowl, his window is closing.

That Kazehaya just comes out and says he’s a “self-centered, inconsiderate, possessive jerk”, the stoic Shuu doesn’t disagree, only adds that Kazehaya also has a temper. These are the flaws beneath his otherwise perfect exterior that few, other than Shuu, know about. Sadako certainly doesn’t know, as she idolizes anyone who takes the slightest interest in her. This makes her vulnerable to being toyed with; first by Ume, and now, perhaps, by Kent.

Kazehaya hardly makes things better by telling her even more imprecise, cryptic things than he said before, leaving her to try to figure it out in her head…never a good thing. Regardless of the continued misunderstanding due to poor communication skills, this was the best episode of the series so far. Rating: 3.5

Freezing 4

Uh…déjà vu? Another week, another crazy upperclassman with a bone to pick. This time it’s Ingrid Bernstein who challenges Sattelizer, but rather than wanting her limiter like Miyabi, she wants revenge for first-years abandoning her and her friend while they fought off an S-type Nova. She survived, her friend didn’t. So she’s angry. Grr.

I get that, but this still seems like a flimsy premise for targeting Sattelizer. I mean, why her, specifically? Isn’t her beef with all the first-years who were there? Ganessa was too, but Ingrid doesn’t even know who she is. She’s another traitor, yo! Finish what you start! But no: she just wants to fight Sattelizer, with or without a limiter. Aoi offers to join with Sat, but she demurs for the umpteenth time.

What follows is the same battle where boobs are inevitably exposed (that this is so overused really takes away from the serious tone of the series) and despite having a baptism, Aoi saves the day with his unbelievably powerful solo Freezing. This could be the way it’s going to be: Sat doesn’t want to be touched, and Aoi doesn’t need to be her limiter to do what he does, so it seems like a perfect fit. Now all she needs are clothes that won’t fall off at the drop of a hat… Rating: 2.5

Infinite Stratos 4

If I had to describe the first third of IS, I think the most fitting word would be “tiresome”. After this episode, I’m fairly convinced watching the final two thirds will be a waste of time. There’s finally a decent battle, first between Ichika and Rin, then with the two of them fighting an unmanned drone, but slick action alone does not a watchable anime make.

And frankly, there’s nothing else interesting about this anime. The fact that three girls are competing for him is simply ridiculous, especially when it’s clear he has no romantic designs on any of them and is your typical dense dude who is the target of nearly all women around him. This has been done before, and it has been done before better.

While the battles are quick, fluid, and well-animated, I feel I’ve seen all of it as well, in better series like Macross and Gundam, which are augmented by interesting characters and plot lines. This is just a school in an awesome-looking futuristic city that we’ve yet to see any of, where the first thing remotely resembling an enemy didn’t show up until the fourth episode. This show seems to want to spend most of its time on the silly love polygons; I’m better off spending time watching other things. Rating: 2 (dropped)

Fractale 3

This week really elaborated on humanity’s situation in this strange, Ghibli-like world. Most of the world is sheep, plugged into the Fractale system and living as their handlers order. Then there is a bastion of unplugged, self-sufficient humans, committed to taking down that system. Clain sees them as terrorists, and later we find that, well, yes indeed, they are!

This group’s leader, Sunda, is charismatic and passionate in his cause, and treats Clain and Nessa as honored guests more than prisoners. Aside from a couple of cantankerous old men, the villagers are kind and curious about them as well. There’s a lively banquet, and they get some solid digs to crash at. But all the goodwill and friendly faces don’t prepare Clain for what follows.

After a whimsical excursion aboard their airship, Clain accompanies them on a horribly-designed raid of a “Star Festival” designed to keep people brainwashed. Sunda’s idea of “crashing” this festival is to open fire on it…with bullets. Blood is spilled all over the place. Unarmed bystanders and priestesses alike. Sorry, but this is how terrorists act.

Why are they killing? Has it really gone beyond talking? Are the people being brainwashed really better off dead in Sunda’s eyes? WTF? Phyrne also reappears to calm things down. Clain is sick. Neither side is innocent, but I’m left wondering which side (if any) is more in the right here. Rating: 3.5

Yumekui Merry 4

Merry finally stops turning her nose up at Yumeji’s offers to help and embraces the title “Yumekui Merry”, agreeing to destory the dream demons he detects. Heck she even moves in with him, like some kind of dream-world Ika Musume. This week, someone close to Yumeji, his class prez, is possessed by a nightmare. He makes her text and pine obsessively, as if he were her unrequited love.

The personal stake makes this more interesting than last week’s random little girl, in my opinion. Once he daydreams, Yumeji tries to pull a Kamijou Touma and punch the guy in the face. It doesn’t quite work, but fortunately Merry shows up right when he needs her to. They could make a good team…but it’s still not clear why Merry is doing this, and why Yumeji wants to help her, other than they’re both nice. An aside: the brief instrumental tune played during the previews is very pretty. Rating: 3