Sket Dance – 59

Daisey is harassed by delinquents from Tachi High, but when both Bossun and later Tsubaki offer to help her, she refuses it, not wanting to trouble anyone. She accepts an invitation to meet the gang’s leader, one Yabuka, who wants to make her his woman (he has others). He kisses her, gets her contact info, and steals her Munmun strap. Despite Asahina’s insistence he not interfere, Tsubaki confronts the gang – on his own, refusing help from Bossun. He ends up beaten severely until the Sket-dan shows up anyway, in lame disguises. They take out the small fry, leaving him to deliver a devastating fist to Yabuka’s face. Both he and Asahina learn to accept help from friends when they’re in need.

Asahina (Daisey) and Tsubaki are very much alike; both are upstanding members of the student council, but both have large chips on their shoulder and are incredibly stubborn. When offered or given help, they turn their nose up and say “i didn’t ask for help.” Yet Tsubaki, like his brother Bossun, has an innate desire and compulsion to help those in need. Even those who, like Tsubaki, want no such help – like Asahina. But although they wouldn’t care to admit it, it really isn’t possible to survive without help from anybody, ever.

You never who among the huge cast of Sket Dance will get the focus from week to week (unless you watch the previews), but we were very much on board with a Daisey/Tsubaki episode. Daisey is one of the more underutilized side characters, and this week gave her a little more dimension. We also appreciated Tsubaki voluntarily going to his (slightly) older brother for advice, and that Tsubaki took action confidently after Bossun’s advice mirrored his own intentions. His only problem was trying to go it alone; not practicing what he preached to Asahina. Also, the deer mask makes an unlikely but hilarious appearance, and really dug how Himeko remains the most useful Sket-dan member in a fight by quite a large margin.


Rating: 3.5

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Accel World – 08

Now Level 4, Haru undergoes extreme training so he’ll be strong enough to start helping his legion gain territory. While returning home he finds a tiny, cute red-haired girl in his apartment, baking cookies and claiming to be a second cousin. Suspicious of her story, he does some digging and discovers she is the second Red King, Scarlet Rain, whom he pisses off by accidentally groping her when she falls in the bath with him. She challenges him to a duel, and Silver Crow is no match for her stalwart defense and overwhelming firepower. Rather than kill him, she demands he get her an audience with Kuroyukihime, in the real world.

There’s something to be said for uncomplicated, non-mystical, straightforward stories like this one: legions of various colors led by kings vying for dominance in a virtual game. This series continues its imaginitive execution with a very cool climactic battle against his first king, even if that king is a pint-sized firecracker. We appreciated how her introduction was as a not-so-convincing cute little sister act, and for once, Haru isn’t buying it (in expressing his suspicions in his thoughts, he rather hilariously says the long-form title of Oreimo). Hime may scold him for not doing enough research on the legions, but at least he’s growing less gullible. His only mistake is being in a vulnerable position – in the tub – when she shows her true colors.

Frankly, this Scarlet Rain girl should thank her lucky stars Haru did catch her, even if he incidentally copped a feel in the process; she’d have lost her throne and possibly motor skills had she landed headfirst on the edge of the tub. He saved her life, which is why she spares his in the duel. Well, also because he’s the closest link to Kuroyukihime, whom she likely harbors a vendetta. Hime, you see, beheaded Rain’s predcessor. It could be she did Rain a favor by doing this (it allowed her to take the Red throne), but more likely than not she wants revenge. Hime is reluctant to give Haru details about her past with the first Red King one way or another, so we’ll see.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Moretsu Pirates – 21

The representatives of the Hakuoh Academy, led by Lynn, arrive at the space station in orbit of Calmwind, where the dinghy race will be held. They recieve a most unfriendly record, and Lynn recalls when she was a middle schooler, the Yacht Club at the time employed her hacking skills to change the race route, causing all but two of the 142 entries to crash. The memory of the fiasco is still fresh in the minds of the rival teams and of the chairwoman. When Marika arrives with the Bentenmaru to provide security and the chairomwan learns Marika is a student at Hakuoh, she suspects more treachery afoot.

When the race commences and the dinghies enter the atmosphere, a gunship from the Bisque company opens fire on them. Marika draws them away from the other pilots, winning the chairwoman’s trust, and the Bentenmaru risks atmospheric flight to deal with Bisque. Ai helps the pirates by telling them which winds are coming, so the gunship will glide into the line of fire. Before their ship goes down, Bisque launch an EM ulse that knocks out Ai’s electronics, but she opens her canopy and finishes the race, navigating by the stars above.

We can’t get enough of races done right, and Moretsu Pirate’s version puts a novel spin by making it a race of dinghies with limited propellant in which the race pilots must make use of the planet’s unique atmospheric properties to succeed. Add to that a couple of different palls: the one cast by a past Hakuoh Yacht Club’s deviousness, and the one cast by jealous parties who want to put the young pirate Marika Kato out of comission. And for good measure, the sun Calmwind orbits decides to unleash a massive solar flare in the middle of the race. There’s a lot going on here, but it’s all under control.

There’s a lot to like, too: Hakuoh’s desire to clear their name by flying a clean race; the intriguing physics of the dinghies free-falling from orbit in a gorgeous waterfall-like cascade; the surprise high-risk appearance of the space-only Bentenmaru in a very tricky planetary atmosphere. We also like Ai Hoshimiya in this episode. She’s a smart cookie who knows how to use the stars to navigate – like mariners of yore – and a seemingly inocuous scene of her buying a book of Calmwind’s constellations proves crucial to her being able to finish the race. We also like how she didn’t win; realistically she just wasn’t going to be able to overcome a total lack of avionics and make up the time lost helping the Bentenmaru. Chiaki won. And, for one glorious moment, Ai wasn’t wearing that stupid roast turkey hat…though unfortunately it seems she has spares.


Rating: 4

Eureka Seven AO – 07

Without warning or declaration of hosilities, Truth singlehandedly wrecks havoc upon Generation Bleu, easily breaching security forces and eventually entering the hangar bay. Ao launches Nirvash with Truth clinging to it, and he unleashes a huge monster. Scenes unfold back on Iwate island, where a trapar factory is being built on the site of the scub coral. Naru approaches the coral and is met by Ao (actually Truth in disguise). He shows her she doesn’t need her inhaler, and she can fly if she wants to. The real Ao shows up and chases Truth, but Naru makes him stop and flies off with Truth, her “sea giant”. Ao wakes up in the hospital next to Fleur and Elena, but they show him a news report of Naru’s abduction.

What do Nazo no Kanojo X, Sakamichi no Apollon, Hyouka, Natsuiro Kiseki, Jormungand, and Sankarea all have in common? They’ve all had at least one episode we’ve seen fit to award a “9” or “Superior” rating. Eureka Seven AO has yet to accomplish that feat, despite being a remarkably consistent, entertaining and well-made series. This week is no exception. While imbued with exciting action, a rousing siege situation at Gen Bleu HQ, and some very strange psychological dream sequences, we found ourselves a bit lost throughout the episode. It’s not impossible to enjoy a story that leaves us in the dark, but in this case, the intrigue was overshadowed by our frustration. In short: we wanted the episode to throw us a bone, and it refused to do so.

Chalk up a lot of our frustration to this “Truth” fellow. After a quick and rather random introduction last week, this week he goes right at the heart of Gen Bleu’s strength, in search of “truth”, which is also his preferred name for himself. He goes after Ao at first, apparently knowing his mother Eureka, but when he sees Ao isn’t going to play ball with him, he goes after Ao’s friend Naru. Hardly anything Truth says makes any sense; he’s trying way too hard to be cryptic and mysterious, and his motives strike us as just as perplexing. His plan changes in the middle of the episode, and we’re suddenly back in Ao’s hometown. Super-omnipotent god-like beings are often tricky because there are so many directions you can take them, and their potential can be overwhelming. That was the case this week; the episode lost us and didn’t bother explaining anything.


Rating: 5 (Average)