The World God Only Knows II 3

And so we finally meet another demon in Haqua. She seems more mature and accomplished than Elcee at first, but all it takes is for her to ask Elcee how many loose souls she’s captured to reveal that she’s all talk. Loud and annoying as Elcee is, she likes red fire trucks (so do I) and is honest, which is more than I can say for the so-called “section chief”.

This episode also laid out exactly why cute girls refer to themselves as demons from hell. See, there was a brutal, savage hell way back when, but the demons who lived there split in too, with Elcee and Haqua’s half starting up a new Hell based on order and logic, whatever that means. So the girls are new demons fighting old demons. And this is the first time we see a loose soul gaining enough power to become a true threat.

I like how Keima doesn’t flinch in the midst of Haqua’s self-importance or her threats and teasing. He sees right through her almost immediately, but because she possesses knowledge he hasn’t been able to pry from Elcee, her presence is fortuitous. Now she’ll surely have to work with Elcee in order to defeat the soul she let escape and become more powerful. Derp derp…Rating: 3

Ao no Exorcist 2

Let me get one thing out of the way. When Rin (voiced by Nobuhiko Okamoto) starts screaming in that shrill, high-pitched tone, it isn’t pleasant. And unfortunately, he screams a lot. When he’s confused, angry, sad, pumped up…it seems like he’s going to scream a lot. I hope it doesn’t ruin my experience with this series, because I really dig the ending sequence, and it otherwise looks to be an interesting series. But the screaming isn’t helping. No it isn’t.

Anyway, in the midst of Rin’s shrill screaming, things actually go down this week; serious things. The monastery Rin was living in? pretty much leveled by demons. The dude he fought returns, and he’s 10x powerful; so much so that a whole brace of exorcists have trouble bringing him down. And when they finally do, things get worse: Reverand Fujimoto, Rin’s de facto father, is possessed by the devil, and has no choice but to stab himself to protect Rin. Thus Rin’s father dies, literally moments after Rin cursed his name and disowned him for keeping his demon ancestry from him.

Full of guilt, Rin, now part-demon in body as well as blood, and in possession of a glowing blue katana that embodies his strength, he sets out on is own, carrying nothing but that sword and a phone with one number; the number for Sir Pheles. Besides resembling the dude in Control, he allows Rin to join the ranks of exorcists, despite his standing orders to dispose of Rin now that his demon within has awakened. Now the story truly begins with Rin sent off to True Cross Academy, shown in both the opening, closing and preview as a Minas Tirith/Dead City style whimsical metropolis. There, hopefully he’ll learn a more dignified scream. Rating: 3

Hyouge Mono 2

Another episode of Sasuke’s inner conflict between the aesthete and the warrior. He resolves himself to be a full-on warrior from henceforth (didn’t he do that last week too?) only to fall off the wagon at a crucial time. The strengths from the first episode: eminently watchable characters, addictive fancy-pants dialogue, a curiously satisfying pace, anachronistic soundtrack, and a whole lot of novel ideas about the self.

Sasuke has a relatively nice life – one could even say luxurious for the time frame. He has the favor of his lord, a sublime wife of ideal disposition for her time and place, a cute young daughter, a decent crib, and a smart wardrobe. His scenes with his wife – exchanging apologies to each other before getting it on – only to be interrupted by news of a rebellion – are resplendent in their austerity. Despite everything he has though, he remains deeply conflicted. His humbling meeting with a tea master – someone, to his mind, far better at this than he – reveals that it isn’t just his warrior side he doubts, but his aesthete side as well.

His true love of the way of tea clouds his judgment as a warrior. His bluff of all bluffs – threatening to kill his wife (the rebel’s sister) unless his brother-in-law surrenders – is a desperate attempt to show those around him he’s a serious warrior. But when he corners another escaping rebel, he is bribed into sparing him by, what else, another legendarily exquisite piece of ceramic. Had there been other witnesses, Sasuke surely would have taken the rebel’s head…eventually. But to possess the mettle of a warrior, one must do things of one’s own accord, without outside influences bending him either way.

Thus Sasuke falls of the wagon and we, the audience, still question his credibility as a warrior. But that’s why we love him. Better luck next week. Rating: 4