Bakuman 2 – 15

Mashiro and Miho get in a fight and reach an impasse when he won’t spill the beans on what he knows about Takagi. Since they’re both impossibly stubborn, both Takagi and Kaya feel guilty for letting things affect them. They get first place in NEXT with “Tanto”, but Mashiro cannot concentrate, so Takagi calls Kaya, who agrees to meet him at the zoo to explain things. He bumps into Aoki again, who is distraught over Nakai demanding she date him in exchange for his services. Kaya sees them embracing and runs off, but Takagi stops her by proposing, and he and Aoki explain everything to her. They then tell Miho, and everyone makes up.

There’s one pretty glaring contrivance that’s hard to overlook about this cathartic, reconciliatory episode, and that’s that Takagi tells his suspicious girlfriend to meet him at the exact same spot where he met up with Aoki previously, and where he was ambushed by Iwase. Sometimes I wonder if this guy has a self-preserving bone in his body. If we overlook the second coincidence that Aoki was there, it did end up serving Takagi quite well to have Aoki there to help explain things. Although we’ll say one thing: we’re not entirely satisfied with Takagi choosing Kaya over Aoki. Sure, Aoki is an extremely naive person, and hers may only be a crush on her ideal of who Takagi is, but the fact remains they could well be a good match.

Takagi jokes about changing his mind about marrying Kaya, but there’s a kernel of regret in that joke; Aoki is more his intellectual equal, and Kaya admits she’s prettier, though Kaya’s self-esteem kinda sucks. Of course, numbers, statistics, commonalities and surface traits can very often mean nothing at all when it comes to love. Clearly Takagi loves Kaya more than Aoki, so Kaya it is. As for our haughty friend Nakai, our respect for him just dropped quite a few notches. His demand would be inappropriate no matter who he was talking to. That it was Aoki, who had grudingly accepted him as a friend and colleague, is inexcusable. That slap was well-deserved. Grow up, Fatty.

Rating: 3.5

Rinne no Lagrange – 02

With his comrade Array defeated by the Vox, Izo heads down to earth to take it on. Madoka meets Tadokoro, the fleet captain who runs Pharos along with Lan’s superior, Moid, and a strange girl named Muginami. Madoka is issued a uniform and put her back in the cockpit to battle Izo. When she’s told she holds the fate of the world in her hands, she initially wavers, rendering the Vox ovid inert. After a motivational phone call from her cousin Yoko, who has always been against her piloting Vox, Madoka regains her confidence and the Vox powers up. Izo’s comrade Kirius has joins the fray, while Lan heads to her own Vox.

Not a bad follow-up to the first episode, reiterating how Madoka has been plopped down in the middle of an interdimensional war, a lot of pressure is immediately placed upon her slight shoulders, and she trades her sweats for a tight-fitting uniform like Lan’s. Basically, if she fails, everyone dies, so she’d better not fail. Think Evangelion without all the psychological baggage. Our heroine has never had a problem expressing herself or excelling at any number of athletic disciplines. Since her ovid Vox Aura responds according to the strength of her conviction, it’s important she see this as the life-or-death situation that it is, and not a lark or dawdle. Also, watching her wander the military complex for a decent cell signal was pretty funny.

Meanwhile, Lan, it would seem, seems offput by Madoka’s impression it was ‘easy’ to pilot the Vox. As watching the opening credits, she’s pilot too, but is clear she has some kind of underlying issues that require resolution. As for the third pilot, well, all we know is her name is Muginami, she has big boobs, and her voice is kinda stupid-sounding. She says barely anything and does nothing this week. Madoka, meanwhile, isn’t actually locked in combat all that long. The balance of her two-on-one battle will play out next week, in which she’ll be joined by either Lan, Mugi, or both.

Rating: 3.5

Nisemonogatari – 02

Araragi Koyomi formally introduces his sisters Karen and Tsukihi. Karen is an aggressive athletic tomboy who, while Tsukihi is even more aggressive, but with a more feminine and innocent outward appearence. Koyomi then pays a visit to Sengoku, who seems to be in an unusually playful mood. When her mother gets home, Koyomi migrates to Kanbaru’s, where he busts in on her naked, then teases her by making the case she’s a more normal girl than she lets on.

Things you’re assured to get lots of in spades (besides kuro color cards) in Nisemonogatari: intense, intimate close-ups, particularly of girls; innovative and often downright raunchy poses by said girls; visually stunning ‘sets’  – I mean, a waterfall of books complete with rainbow? Applause. You’ll also get lines like this: “There’s harder BL on a lower stratum!”, made all the better when spoken with utter conviction by Miyuki Sawashiro. In other words, you get lots of weird, offbeat stuff. This season seems to be kicking up the sexual tension.

This episode further reinforced our perception of this series as an ‘anime play’ – it was mostly one-on-one conversations in fixed settings, after all – first, Sengoku’s house, then on the street with Karen (nimble lil’ minx, her), and finally in the liturature-replete home of Kanbaru. We also like how these familiar characters from Bakemonogatari underwent subtle but effective visual makeovers. The busy, kinetic opening focused on Karen as a bee spirit of sorts. There’s a foreboding to Koyomi’s description of his ‘fire sisters’ – as if there are many out there who believe they’re some kind of heroic duo. He contends his kid sisters merely have vivid imaginations and aren’t above exaggeration.

Rating: 3.5