Mirai Nikki – 04

Yukiteru’s level of anxiety continues to rise as he contemplates Yuno’s potential to kill him at any time. Meanwhile, Kurusu brings the happy couple with him to check out a cult called Sacred Eye, where he believes Uryuu is being held. The Eye, called Tsubaki, is also the Sixth, and in possession of a “clairvoyance diary” that tells the future similar to Yuki’s. She’ll let them have Uryuu if they help her avoid a Dead End, but everything goes pear-shaped when the psycho Twelfth hynotises the cult into hacking each other to bits with axes, then reanimating the corpses. Axe in hand, Yuno gives Yuki an ultimatum: Tsubaki and death, or her and life.

This episode hikes up the horror factor while revealing two more diary holders, so now we know more than half of them. We also still don’t know exactly what Yuno’s goal is, because with the power she has, if she wanted to kill Yukiteru, she certainly could have. Could it be she’s too conflicted between love (or rather fixation) and the desire to become a god? Whatever the case, this week she’s jealous, and Yuki’s life depends on whether he chooses Tsubaki or Yuki.

Since the episode ended with that cliffhanger, it’s not unrealistic to expect some kind of third way defusing the situation next week. After all, we have the Fourth, Ninth, and Twelfth in play; between those three, We’re confident Both Yuki and Tsubaki could yet emerge with their heads firmly attached to their bodies. We really wish Yuki would take Yuno’s reigns and start manipulating her rather than cowering from her presence, but he’s just not that kind of character. He’s a wuss to the core. But Yuki, seriously: Next time, don’t call a nutcase a nutcase to her face.


Rating: 3.5

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Mobile Suit Gundam AGE – 04

Famous mobile suit ace pilot Woolf Ennacle wakes up from “healing sleep” and immediately claims Gundam as his own. Flit obviously objects, and they decide to settle it with a mock battle, which is interrupted by the UE. The suits that attack them are only the escort for a massive UE warship only detectable by eyeball. Woolf blows up a nearby asteroid to mask their escape, and the UE ship cloaks.

In all the years it’s been around think we’d see a little improvement in the tactics used in Gundam, but alas, some real bush-league shit went down this week. Grodek seemingly has only two mobile suits, but sends them both out, unarmed, to fight each other, then lets the crew simply watch them fight on TV instead of, you know, attending their duties. Did it ever occur to them the UE could jump on them at any minute? The answer is a clear ‘no’.

Add to that one of the pilots is an inexperienced kid with no military training, who only barely won his first battle with the UE, and for some reason decides to give away his position and charge a far superior force. The only people who look worse than Flit, Grodek, and the dawdling engineering crew are the UE themselves, who could have easily detsroyed Flit, Woolf, and the Diva…yet didn’t. At least Woolf seems to know what he’s doing, though he’s a pretty cliched arrogant ace, while I’m fully behind Emily’s concerns about Flit starting to talk and act like a soldier. Forget soldier, or savior…if Flit keeps this up, the only thing he’ll be is space dust.


Rating: 2.5  (dropped)

Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – 03

With Iglasia destroyed, Turan is quickly falling to Ades. Luscinia returns to the capital to convene with Augusta, the young leader of Ades. In Kartoffel, Millia is upset that the Lasas is being cannibalized for parts. When she sees someone bartering for her sister’s silver water goblet, it’s the last straw. Fam agrees to track the sky pirate down and retrieve it. Millia learns how Fam was orphaned as a baby, and owes everything to Gisey, her family, and all the sky pirates who got her where she is now. When they return, goblet in hand, the village releases balloon lanterns to honor the dead that fell in the recent battles. There are murmurs on both sides about the Reaper Ship Sylvius, Fam’s next target.

This week, Millia took steps to transform from a spoiled, helpless, headless chicken to the potential queen of her people. With her father dead and Lillia’s wherabouts unknown, she may already technically be queen. And a queen can’t get all indignant after the people who saved her claim payment in the form of the Lasas. We were with her, however, when she wouldn’t let one thing stand: someone making off with that goblet. It may just be a silver cup, but if her flagship, her capital, and her kingdom are to be torn to shreds, one has to have something to hold on to and maintain hope.

Fam is her usual strong, cheerful good sport in helping Millia get it back, when combined with the gorgeous, moving Okuribi service, seem to inspire her to buck up, shear off her girlish locks, and portray a more regal bearing. The scenes with Teddy at Gisey’s house were a nice snapshot of a very warm, loving family; you can see why Fam is such a happy girl. This episode was a needed resting point after lots of battle, death, and destruction. But with both the brass in Ades and Fam keen on restoring the “Grand Race” and Fam’s interest in capturing the Sylvius for Millia, big things lay on the horizon.


Rating: 4

Ben-To – 04

You’s cousin Ayame Shaga, AKA The Beauty by the Lake, infiiltrates his school with a uniform he borrowed for her from Hana. Unlike the stoic Sen, Shaga is inappropriately playful, fondling Hana at every opportunity before being arrested by Ume and made to share a bath with her. The primary reason for Shaga showing up on the Ice Witch’s turf is to challenge her at the supermarket. Shaga holds her own for a time, but the Witch’s skill and composure proves too much for her. Sen gives You leave to console Shaga. Meanwhile, an organization in the shadows is planning things for the wolves. You defeated one of their scouts, but all they know about him thus far is that he’s an outsider.

At last, we’re introduced to the Beauty by the Lake, the lovely Shaga, voiced by Emiri Katou (Mayori from Ghostory; Blair from Soul Eater).  She gets a unique, Shaga-centric opening with a 16-bit/karaoke visual theme that fits well with her role as You’s cousin and frequent gaming partner in their youth. It isn’t the introduction we were expecting (we weren’t aware they were relatives), but in hindsight, it wasn’t a bad one. Right off the bat, Shaga is not above using her half-Italian knockout looks to tease You, who for his part stands his ground. Her behavior is nothing to to him, even if she has filled out in recent years. We won’t mince words; there’s loads of fanservice throughout the episode, but all of it was pretty funny and didn’t distract from the story.

For all her good looks, confidence, and predatory behavior towards You and Hana, Shaga is soon put in her place in two areas: the bedroom by Ume (in a scene that really shows how weird and kinky Ume can be) and on the battlefield, by Sen. Both defeats were good character-building moves for Shaga, with wiffs of karma following her handling of You and Hana. The combat continues to impress, punctuated this week by clever use of chopsticks by Shaga. She has skills and heart, but Sen is more graceful and makes dispatching her look easy. This episode also touched on some shadowy organization with “Plans.” We don’t like the sound of this so far. We’ve enjoyed the lack of a centralized authority and infrastructure in the bento fight club. Hopefully, Ben-To will prove us wrong and do something interesting with this. Thus far, we have no reason to doubt them.


Rating: 4

Working’!! – 05

Takanashi and Satou are both sick of manager Kyoko never working and stuffing her face with the restaurant’s food. After they convene with Souma, he agrees to tell Kyoko she’s cut off by feigning an ordering flub. Kyoko is quickly struck by intense food withdrawal, which isn’t helped when Takanashi leaves a lost kid in her care. The girl, possibly sensing Kyoko’s despair, even offers her some of her dessert, but Kyoko declines, showing progress.

So Working’!! keeps chugging along with nice, pleasant, airy slice-of-life in the limited setting of a restaurant, as its predecessor did. Previous episodes of both have touched upon the question of whether Kyoko pulled her weight around Wagnaria, but things came to a head this week. If we were Takanashi, we certainly wouldn’t stand for our manager dropping potato chip crumbs over where we had just cleaned. It’s one thing to be lazy and not doing anything, it’s another to make other peoples’ jobs harder by making messes and eating food meant for customers and not paying for it. Yachiyo has been her chief enabler, but when all is said and done, nobody who works at the restaurant can consider themselves blameless for letting Kyoko continue as she has.

As Takanashi says, someone her age is set in her ways (he should know, having two grown sisters who act like children). But we like Kyoko’s simple philosophy: she likes anyone who gives her food. That’s a girl we can get behind right there. She even shows a little perceptiveness by telling Satou she doesn’t like him as much as Yachiyo does (though he continues to be lame about that) – and we really thought she’d take the kid’s pastry, but she didn’t! She may not do much and she may eat a lot, but her presence is still crucial to Wagnaria’s success. Why, we don’t know. But it just wouldn’t be the same without her.


Rating: 3

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai – 04

When she returns to what was her “naptime room”, ten-year-old nun Maria is manipulated by Yozora into signing off as the official moderator of the Neighbor Club. Kodaka is weary of a potential stalker, who turns out to be first-year named Yukimura, who looks like a girl from any angle, but is actually a guy. With Yozora’s approval, he joins the club and serves as Kodaka’s underling, and Kodaka is charged with making him more manly. When Kodaka hears an explosion in the “science room”, he runs in and carries an unconscious girl to the infirmary. When she recovers, this girl, Rika, thanks him profusely and joins the club as well, revealing her extremely dirty mind as she “seeks his DNA”

Had this episode been all about Maria’s introduction, or Yukimura’s, or Rika’s, it might have worn a little thin by the end. But by introducing all three in one episode in a steady progression, the comedy stays fresh and interesting. Now the whole cast from the sneak peek in episode 00 has been unveiled. Back then we unavoidably formed opinions on these three characters. Assuming Kobato was a classmate, when she’s actually Kadoka’s sister. Assuming Yukimura’s a girl, when he’s actually a very girly man in drag. This episode rewrote those characters in our heads, and they’re better for it. Having met and gotten to know the three mains of Kodaka, Yozora and Sena,, these three are the side dishes to the ‘Neighbor Club bento’, adding spice and variety.

While Maria’s youth and naivete and Yukimura’s submissiveness make for somewhat passive characters occupying the background, I like Rika the most so far. Yes, her filty mind and lewd commentary is a little overdone, but one has to admire her stubborn honesty and forwardness in contrast to the pussy-footing of Yozora and Sena vis-a-vis Kodaka. She’s on screen for only a few minutes and is already able to do what they never could – outwardly express their feelings. Her ‘mecha-as-ecchi’ bit was also pretty spot-on. Meanwhile, as most of the school still fears him and takes every word he says out of context, Kodaka may be correct that the club is actually making his reputation even more infamous. But he cannot deny that the club has netted him new friends he lacked previously, which is the point of the club. Sure, they’re all weird, but a club full of ordinary kids would be painfully boring.


Rating: 3.5

Mawaru Penguindrum – 16

This week delves into the life and the past of Masako Natsume of the incredibly wealthy Natsume Clan. Her grandfather Sahei seemed determined that his family never be happy, and drove his son, her and Mario’s father away. She continually dreams of killing Sahei in elaborate ways, but when she wakes up, he’s always out in the yard practicing with a wooden sword. A poorly-stripped blowfish finally does him in, rather than any action by Masako, but he returns from the grave through Mario and challenges her to a similar blowfish challenge. She eats both plates, and while her body works out the poison, she dreams of a train where Kanba and her father are now servants of Dr. Sanetoshi, chosen to “put the world back on track…”

This series seems to know when a character is getting either too mysterious or too annoying, and then comes up with an episode that lifts that character up to a far more sympathetic and likable stature. Enter Masako, who finally gets some meaty backstory. She comes from strong stock; as not even death by blowfish could keep her gramps from messing with her life. As per usual, the devil’s in the details this week, and all the details here work.

From Strauss’ Blue Danube playing over a day in Masako’s life, to the hilariously random ways she dreams of killing Sahei, to Sahei’s equally hilarious and ridiculous feats of strength, and all his misogynist “Saheisms” like this nugget: “I like my tea like I like my women: as young as possible.” But also telling is how much Masako takes after the grandfather she hates. She too has a will of steel. And at the end of the day, her ultimate goal is the same as her stalkee Kanba’s: to protect her younger sibling and have a happy family. But it would seem she’s not quite ready to make the same sacrifice he made to save Himari. She wisely does not trust Sanetoshi, and neither do we, at least not until his backstory is told…


Rating: 4

Sket Dance – 30

First half: Himeko is initially annoyed by Bossun and Switch’s mutual obsession with capsule toys depicting characters from half-baked hero shows, but is soon ensnared herself in the maddening struggle to “collect ’em all”. Second half: Momoka’s former gang comes to the Sket-dan to report a troubling development: Momoka’s many moe voice-acting roles have transformed her into a moe character called “Momotan”, whose verbal ticks and slang render her both sickeningly cute and nearly impossible to understand. By thwarting a paparazzo eager to expose her delinquent past, Himeko dispatches him, firing Momoka up. On a talk show, she comes out of the delinquent closet and quits the voice-acting business. Her moxie nets her a fresh gig as a TV actor.

Like the made-up sports and board games of previous episodes, the first half was a nice commentary on the nature of completing a collection of useless junk. It’s not really about the having, but the getting here. Himeko dismisses the guys as acting like dumb kids, but the first cute character she lays eyes on has her sold on the idea. The first ones the machine spits out for her are totally unexpected and repulsive “Anthonys”, but the trio spend thousands of yen collecting everything, and trade with a very sweet lil’ kid to get the one they were missing, only to descend into “abject emptiness” upon returning to school. They got too caught up in the moment.

On to the second half, it’s a Momoka sketch. It actually makes sense that her character has changed, as we haven’t seen her in so long, combined with her need to become the cutesy characters she voices in order to be successful. Bossun is smitten, Switch is talking like she does, but Himeko doesn’t want Momoka true self cast aside – along with her friends – as the price of success, or as she said it “bury her past and replace it with sci-fi” (which sounds so cool we wanna try that as soon as we’re done typing this!) She’s unsavory; she has to be loud and proud. And lo and behold, doing so nets her a new, more fitting job that lets her be herself. Everybody wins…though she doesn’t gain a persona or a pair of shades…


Rating: 3.5

Persona 4: The Animation – 04

Chie and the guys’ search for Yukiko leads them to her other self. She is torn between two psyches: the girl like the bird she rescued and lovingly cared for, heir to an inn that is also her cage, waiting for a prince to come and rescue her, and the side that wants to break out of that cage and fly away, like her bird eventually had the courage to do. When Yukiko rejects her other self, she only makes matters worse, but as keep the shadows at bay, Chie confesses the jealousy she felt for her that kept her from seeing her problems. That everyone has a dark side, but one can only acknowledge it and move forward, which Yukiko does, gaining a persona in the process.

And so, the last member of the quartet graduates to persona-hood. The group may have gained strength after each received a persona, but the foes within got stronger too. After all, these are themselves they’re battling. It does no good to cover your ears and yell “la-La-LA-i’m-not-listening”; that’s a surefire way of letting the other self take over, and no one wants that, because frankly, they’re all bitches. But all they’re ever capable of telling is half-truths, as they’re only half of a whole themselves. Harmonious union is required if one wants themselves a persona. And not die.

This episode really taught us a lot about Yukiko (the second inn-heir this season) and her inner struggle. We like what we learned, too. We feel like we’d previously seen her through her “prince” Chie’s rose-tinted, somewhat envious lenses, because she’s more socially anxious than we’d thought, being more inclined to save an adorable baby bird than prattle on about irrelevant crap like most of her peers. Living seemingly only for the inn and family started to weigh upon her, and that birdy was always there as a kind of mirror to her predicament (btw, we’re also glad the birdy didn’t die, but just flew away ^_^).


Rating: 3.5

Un-Go – 03

Kaishou Rie summons Shinjurou and Inga to the Sasa household, where its heir Kazamori met a most unusual demise on the seventh anniversary of the death of his adoptive father, Komamori, previously the foremost authority on AI before his research was shut down by the government. When Kaishou determines it was murder and not suicide, the other members of Sasa become suspects. Inga asks the widow who Kazamori is, she tells her there was never a human Kazamori, but an android; a creation of her late husband. Kazamori’s program is still integrated into the house.

Wow, what amazing twists befall this show! Unveiled at just the right moment after careful and intricate build-up, we had our suspicions that the masked Kazamori could be anyone or anything and that the manner in which he burned up suggested something not human. And yet, for seven years after a wing of Komamori’s house blew up – with him in it – his “adopted son” essentially ran the family business, without ever revealing his face. The widow found out quite by accident, but even as she was suspected in his murder, she stayed tight-lipped about it – until Inga, of course.

Once we dive into the engrossing Sasa story, it’s east to forget the first act, in which Shinjurou is helping an…ahem…companion, restore her iPhone contact list, in the ruins of Shinjuku. Terrorists bombings claim the NTT Docomo Building and Takashimaya Times Square, and the station is a mess. It’s great how this series continues to build the very strange, possibly insane world in which Shinjurou, Inga, and the other detectives operate. They represent the enduring human spirit in their own way. The series also continues to maintain fantastic production values, and the ending sequence is the best of the season.


Rating: 4

Guilty Crown – 03

Inori not only transfers to Shu’s class, but moves in with him as well, so that she can teach him about drawing out peoples’ voids. Everyone’s void takes a different form based on the “shape of their heart”. Gai instructs him to find a witness to their operations in Roppongi before the GHQ does. The witness Yahiro, a student at his school with a reputation for kindness and caring. In reality, he’s addicted to a drug called Norma Gene. When Shu confronts him, he wigs out, but after returning his void, they agree to keep each others’ secrets, rather than let Inori kill him. Yahiro then immediately rats Shu out to the GHQ, and Major Segai arrests him.

Last week was about helping The Little People. This episode was about cleaning up the mess, while Shu learned what voids were all about. We kinda knew as soon as Shu got home that he’d find Inori there. We also found out pretty darn fast that Yahiro was “Sugar” the witness. But that didn’t make the confrontation any less tense. Shu’s experimentation with classmates (including accidentally groping Kanon, his rep) and all the strange, random voids he drew out, provided some levity to the proceedings. But once he had his man, things got real stern and serious real fast.

Shu’s fatal mistake this week was believing in Yahiro’s nice guy persona, when he really didn’t know the whole picture. Meanwhile, Inori’s instinct to shoot him, while cold, was spot-on. There’s also a kind of ironic cruelty that Shu’s own mom, a researcher at Sephirah Genomics, is involved in the operations to wipe out Undertaker. The early foreshadowing about Major Segai’s success in investigation the Norma Gene industry was nicely connected to Yahiro’s addiction. Segai uses whatever methods are necessary to achieve his goals. We’d like to hate Yahiro for his sudden but inevitable betrayal, but it was certainly Segai pulling the strings behind him. And now Shu is seriously in the shit.


Rating: 3.5 

Mobile Suit Gundam AGE – 03

As the clock ticks down on Nora, Grodek has the core tethered to the Diva for extraction. A UE enters Nora and destroys the base where Bruzar was standing by to separate the core. He’s seriously injured, but is able to make it to an older section of the base where the separation can take place. Meanwhile, Flit buys Bruzar and Grodek time by keeping the UEs busy. With Yurin’s help, he’s able to learn the patterns of their movements and keep up with them. The last UE makes for the core as the Diva pulls it from Nora, but Flit blocks it, and it withdraws. Bruzar sacrifices himself by ramming a pylon that was blocking the core. The Diva and core escape, and Nora blows up.

If we were Flit, we imagine our laps would be a bit numb after having Yurin sitting on it for an extended period. But it was certainly a good job he rescued her, yeah? I mean, he’s just firing wildly into space and barely moving as the UEs toy with him, but she settles him down. What’s her deal? Is she somehow affiliated with the UE? We don’t learn anything today. And once the operation is over and everybody’s safe and sound, Flit and Yurin part ways just as quick as they met, though not before she give him her ribbon and a very loving look indeed. The character design may be simple, but there are nice subtleties in expressions when it matters.

As for Nora, well…so long, we hardly knew ye.  We shudder to think how much time and money went into it, only to be destroyed by a mere handful of UEs. If Flit’s is the only mobile suit that’s a match for them, what’s stopping them from attacking other bases, in larger numbers? More importantly, why did that UE just…um, leave when Flit ran out of ammo? Enemies retreating to fight another day is a core Gundamism, and in this case, it showed these UE are more than just mindless killers. There’s a plan in place, and killing Flit and letting the core go is part of that plan.


Rating: 3

Tamayura ~hitotose~ – 04

Potte, Kaoru, Norie and Kou pay a visit to the island where Pottes grandfather lives, and stay at an in owned by Maon’s family. Watching her work hard at the inn and put her customers before herself, they all come to the conclusion her parents are grooming her for inhereting the inn. When they confront them about it, Maon assures them her work at the inn is just as important to her as her musical dreams. It’s also revealed that she has a tendency to change her dreams with great frequency.

This series is like a cool, breezy day by the seaside. It’s so happy and fluffy, and yet so sincere, we can’t help but be charmed. Norie can try our patience when it comes to her energy level and rivalry with Komachi, but this week she gets serious and speaks up when it looks like her friend’s parents are pushing a very timid and reserved Maon into a future of servitude. It turns out to not be that big of a deal; as Maon is wishy-washy. As for the parents, they’re just ecstatic she has actual friends.

Ever the photorecorder, no one is safe from the crosshairs of Potte’s Rollei. She has a wealth of material, as she’s surrounded herself with warm, loving people. The gorgeous quaint island village setting is like a tall glass of fuzzy sunshine. Also notable, Potte’s grief is all but gone from this episode. She sees her father in her grandfather’s face, but doesn’t fret. She watches Maon with her father and isn’t envious or wistful, but joyful.


Rating: 3.5