Yozakura Quartet ~ Hoshi no Umi ~ OVA 2

Ye gods, the first YQ OVA was pretty damn gorgeous in its own right, but this next one took the pretty visuals up to eleven. The character design is downright bangin’, the combat is as creative as it is lyrical, and the stakes for the town of Sakurashin have also been raised. Rin has become the puppet of the one who originally took her in, Zakuro. She’s under the control of Enjin, and has turned bad. She’s come to claim Rin back, but the YQ won’t let her have her without a fight.

And what a fight. Hime chasing her across rooftops was fancy enough, just as Yae’s awesome little battle in the first OVA. But the bulk of the fighting was done by everyone’s favorite half-youkai, Kotoha, who simply puts on a clinic of conjuring, sending, among other things, thousands of B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers, an Airbus A380 Superjumbo, and a bunker buster into Zakuro’s summoned earth golem. I can’t overstate how sweet animation for this fight was.

But it was all for naught, as Rin finally surrenders herself to Zakuro in order to forestall future killing. But despite being momentarily touched by the gesture, Zakuro isn’t her own boss, and Enjin soups her up into an even more powerful killing machine, who promises to wipe out every single life in the town. While I’m confident Hime and the rest of the YQ will be able to deal, we won’t find out how until OVA #3. Rating: 4

AnoHana 5

It’s one thing if you’re haunted by your dead friend, it’s quite another if even she doesn’t know why she’s there, and can’t talk to any of her other friends, who used to be yours too. Yukiatsu, it turns out, doesn’t understand why Jinta can see him and he can’t. While Jinta called her ugly the last time he saw her alive, Yukiatsu confessed his love for her (or like, at least). But as more of the gang wishes they could see her, Menma’s inability to grasp her “wish” or talk to others makes her despair, as Poppo tries to communicate right in front of her.

Yukiatsu at least has a catharsis of sorts, as he confronts Jinta, in drag, and tells him what he didn’t know: he also blames himself for Menma’s demise. His obsession with Menma since her death took a different form, but was nonetheless a powerful force in his life, though it didn’t keep him from school. Tsuruko is glad this side of him is finally revealed, but less interested in helping him prop balance his self-esteem. If she wasn’t before, Tsuruko is the biggest enigma of the gang.

As for Anaru, she gets herself in a little trouble with her jailbait outfit and friends, and it’s only thanks to dumb luck and coincidence that save her from an unwanted liason with a buzzed salaryman. Yukiatsu gets her to confess that she can’t stop thinking about Jinta, though she isn’t sure whether this means she likes or loves him. What’s clear is that everyone seems to be held back by the past. Everyone save perhaps Poppo; though if he is unfulfilled of unhappy with his life, he hasn’t indicated it yet. Rating: 4

Deadman Wonderland 5

The date of the much bally-hooed duel between Crow and Woodpecker finally arrives, and Ganta gets himself into trouble almost immediately. While backing off of Crow and perching himself on the high ground seems like a good idea, not only are his blood projectiles ineffective at long range, they soon put him in shock from loss of blood. The Branch of Sin doesn’t always mean instant victory, especially when facing off someone with the same power, but knows better how to use it.

So Crow knocks the tree down and starts laying into him with his blood-blades, sharp and deadly, but not anemia-causing. The battle looks all but over until the typical usually-weak shounen Gets Back Up (TM) with nothing but Willpower. When stuck in the bowels of the prison with Yoh, Shiro tells him that’s Ganta’s trait; but like I said, he’s hardly unique amongst shounen protags when it comes to taking punishment. When he defeats Crow, Ganta isn’t bitter, and even gives him a fist bump for a well-fought fight. The situation ends up giving Ganta hope that things may end up okay, only to lose that hope when Crow, the loser, has his eye removed without anesthesia on live TV.

As for Shiro, Yoh tricks her into starting a one-girl riot in the watchtower so he can save his own ass and be rid of her. I initially think this is the end for Shiro, but she becomes even more ruthlessly violent, destroying everyone in the tower and the tower itself. Watching all the bodyparts rain over Yoh’s head is a disturbing sight, but not nearly as much as Shiro’s CREEPY grin she cracks while standing atop a pile of rubble, with someone’s head in her hand. Somebody show this girl Ganta, quick! Rating: 4

[C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility 5

This episode elaborated on Mikuni’s and the Starling Guild’s mission: to balance the two worlds, the ordinary and the financial. Both are realities that aren’t going away, and so Mikuni would rather dirty his hands keeping the balance and the peace than the alternative. There are other, less charitable “men of means” who let greed rule their desicion-making. They enter into extremely violent and expensive deals that make a huge impact on the real world. Negating those effects is also an expensive job.

It’s hard to argue with Mikuni’s strategy, he and the guild are wealthy enough to shoulder Japan’s national debt singlehandedly, and he does this for no other reason than to minimize the suffering of the innocent. Bad deals can ruin not just the lives and futures of the entres involved, but the countless people their real world ventures support. Case in point, when an fat-cat entre loses big, he is indicted for embezzlement in the real world and his pharma corp goes bust. Mikuni has to buy off their debt to prevent 10,000 people from being kicked to the curb.

The first time Yoga tries to minimize the damage in a deal, he barely loses rather than barely wins. He is unnerved when afterwards his driver tells him sometimes even a minor loss in the financial world can have a disproportionally large negative effect on the real one. Fortunately, for Yoga this consists only of appendicitis for his aunt and a failed test for him. Hanabi is unaffected. But he’ll have to be careful in the future if he wants it to be livable. His poor professor is now alone, his wife having left him, and his place is a mess: a walking, talking admonition. However little future is lost is lost for good.

For now, Yoga still seems to harbor a vague dislike for Midas money, and he isn’t altogether unjustified in doing so. But nor can he find an alternative to what Mikuni and the Guild are doing, so he joins. He also seems to be perhaps the only entre who treats his asset as less of a tool and more of a sidekick, even feeding her ramen. But I hope Yoga takes a clearer stand one way or another and stops waffling about his role moving forward. Rating: 3.5

Denpa Onna no Seishun Otoko 5

Underneath a glass-top coffee table while Meme sits on it wrapped in a futon; the inside of Ryuushi’s orange drink box; a forty year-old in twin tails offering her daughter, then herself to her nephew; a ‘cycloptic’ granny — Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko is full of unique angles and images. It’s the same ‘easily-distracted’ camera Akiyuki Shinbo has made a part of his visual style. It especially fits a series in which Mako is trying to bring his cousin back down to earth: back to reality. Because reality can be as, if not more, amazing than fantasies in one’s head.

It’s working, as Erio wants a part-time job. Gravity is pulling her back to society even more than Mako initially thinks: while he finds it odd she’d rather work than return to school. Meme later tells him, Erio is worried about the financial burden returning to school would be, hence working and saving up first. Getting shot down in her first interview – due to her infamous reputation around town, no less – crushes her, but its only temporary, as Meme points them to a candy shop where the old lady needs a hand. Meme does this while watching the end Mimi wo Sumaseba! SHIZUKU! I LOVE YOU!!

Of course, this may be a case of one step forward and two steps back, as the granny candy shop owner turns out to be an alien enthusiast who is obsessed with the possibility she could become a victim of cattle mutilation. The look in Erio’s eyes as this is revealed is troubling. After two seasons of a fairly static Nino in Arakawa, is it wrong for me to want Erio to not continue to regress into childlike eccentricity, and to continue striving to become normal? Rating: 3.5