Moretsu Pirates – 26 (Fin)

Marika’s fleet arrives in the area of space where the Golden Ghost Ship appeared to face not one but three Grand Crosses. Coorie leads an EW attack, with all other EW techs working in synch. With the fleet fully cooperative and coordinated, they can focus their attacks on the enemy without risk of hitting each other. The two escort grand crosses are eventually blown up, and Marika leads a boarding party to the lead Grand Cross. All three ships were fully automated, with Quartz Christie the only one aboard. After exchanging a few words, Christie escapes and activates the self-destruct. Victorious, Marika sets a course back to Sea of Morningstar to continue her studies and cafe job, determined to continue being a high school girl pirate.

The Grand Cross-type battleships were built up as formidable, perhaps indomitable force to be reckoned with, and the episode wisely raises the stakes by introducing a fleet of three rather than one against Marika’s fleet of ten ships. Numbers make the difference though, as it’s really one spoiled brat (Christie) with three very expensive and flashy toys up against thousands of dedicated pirates hungry for glory; with centuries of combined experience. The battle is the highlight of the series, featuring lots of stuff getting blown up, and Coorie working keyboards with both hands and feet. Christie never had a chance, though she didn’t go quietly. We were a little amused when she told Marika she “won’t run and hide”, right before running and hiding, but someone like her would never allow herself to be a prisoner.

Who would have thought the young, earnest, but sometimes scatterbrained and often overstretched high school freshman Marika Kato would become the first pirate in more than a century to lead a coordinated pirate fleet against a foe? And not only lead the fleet to battle, but lead it to victory? Looking back to the first episode, not us…and yet here we are. She did it. And she did it without flunking out of school or losing her part-time maid cafe job, two things that were then, and remain now, crucial parts of her life. She’d be the first to admit she couldn’t have done anything without all of the help from her amazing crew and loving friends and family, be they involved in her daily life or working in the background. So ends an immensely enjoyable sci-fi pirate series with a lot of heart, easy-to-like cast, and above-average production values.


Rating: 4

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Accel World – 12

Yellow Radio and his legion scurry away, leaving Hime, Niko and Haru to deal with Cherry Rook/Chrome Disaster. Haru is too scared to move at first, but Hime encourages him. Hime is struck down by the armor, then shot in the back by a frustrated Niko, who loses an arm. The Armor then bounds away, but Haru goes after it, using its own tethers against it and driving it into the ground in pieces. Niko delivers the judgment blow. Everyone checks their equipment for remnants of the armor, and find none, though Haru still hears its voice, as a part of the armor has infected his avatar.

And so the Cherry Rook/Disaster story is more complex than a simple matter of a subordinate going off the reservation. Turns out, Cherry and Niko were good friends at a facility for abandoned children, and he introduced her to Brain Burst, not the other way round. He was her guardian, and she was his protege – but she caught up to and surpassed him. In the real world, he was about to move away, and wanted desperately to keep in touch with her through the VR game, so he sought out the Armor of Catastrophe to become stronger. Turns out that was a bad move; since the armor doesn’t just make your stronger, but turns you into a mindless, avatar-devouring animal.

For all the build-up, he’s done in pretty easily, but we chalk that up to Haru getting better at dismissing his inherent fear of being worthless and losing – potentially self-fulfilling prophecies – and tapping into his ample potential. We also liked how Niko hesitated when she had the chance to take Rook out; she’s still a kid after all, and was hoping he could be redeemed. The transition from the dark city to the Castle in the Sky-style lush green paradise dotted with ancient ruins was a nice touch, as was the post-battle scene between Haru and Niko, who have indeed beccome friends, regardless of Niko’s tsundere insistences to the contrary. Of course, with the armor not-quite-gone and apparently lurking within Silver Crow, the second half won’t be all fun and games.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Eureka Seven AO – 11

As Gazelle & Co. investigate the identity of the musician Miller in Britain and America, Pied Piper engages a new scub coral in Australia. Ao sees Truth’s shadow, but his attacks are useless. Upon retrieving the quartz, a strange trapar-based substance attaches itself to the ships, and later the pilots, causing them to hallucinate. Ao and Elena end up trapped in a vivid hallucination in which they’re on the run with Miller, but in real life Miller is made up of the substance. Investigators in Indiana learn that Elena is not really Elena.

This week, Ao gets all trippy and surreal again. We’re jumping here and there with the characters, and things are happening which may or may not be real. It’s a little disorienting, but that’s the point; the most effective way to portray the character’s disorientation is to put the audience in their shoes. This time the secret doesn’t take the form of an angel-like alien spaceship, but infiltrates thebodies of the child pilots. It makes quick work of scrambling their brains, presumably in order to scatter them far away where they won’t be a threat.

Ao asks a lot of questions about secrets and the scub coral’s origins that Georg isn’t able to explain in the alotted time. So we’re left wondering: are the secrets sentient beings, or do they operate on pure instinct, and this hallucinatory sand-like trapar is their latest survival tactic? A little more confusing is the role of Elena Peoples / Miller. We had a feeling they were the same person, but by episode’s end we’re meant to believe neither the pilot nor the rock star are really the real Elena, for real. So who exactly is she? For now, an enigma.


Rating: 7
 (Very Good)

 Car Cameos: Gazelle & Co. drive around in America in style, rockin’ a 1975 Chevrolet Caprice Estate Wagon, one of the more interesting rides we’ve seen in an anime. The MiBs also investigating Elena drive a fairly-new Cadillac CTS.

Sket Dance – 64

When Bossun (with Himeko inside) is momentarily left alone, Saaya approaches him wanting to talk. She asks him what he thinks of Himeko, and Himeko tells her “he” has no special feelings. Himeko then asks her what she thinks of Bossun, and all she can tell her/him is that “he is on her mind.” Later Himeko has to sleep with Bossun in the only spare futon in Chuu-san’s room, and asks Bossun if what she said about her was what he would have said, and he concurs. In a post-credits omake, the Sket-dan and other classmates are in an RPG world trying to assign themselves jobs, but hardly any are desirable thanks to Remi’s writing errors.

One of the more annoying aspects of Sket Dance is that it is constantly, well, dancing around the issue of Bossun and Himeko’s relationship. Clearly, the two of them are closer to each other than Switch, and yet both are either oblivious or petrified of their relationship ever being given a concrete definition. They’re always in limbo. Even Bossun’s apparent aggrement with Himeko’s improvisation as him – that he harbored no “special feelings” towards her, isn’t enough to quell our doubt.

It’s all in the wording: what she said (as him) may match what he’d say were he in his own body when Saaya talked to him, but it’s not the complete truth. That’s what he’d say, not what he truly thinks. We think these two have feelings, but just won’t acknowledge it. Alas, until whenever this series ends, it’s probably an issue that will never be resolved to our satisfaction, so all we can say is c’est la vie, and Saaya apparently has a chance at Bossun, since Himeko didn’t ruin it for him. As for the RPG omake, it was good for a chuckle or two, but nothing outstanding.


Rating: 3

Sankarea – 12 (Fin)

Furuya starts wavering in the face of the responsibility of caring for Rea. Is it posssible to give her the normal life he promised, or is he holding her back? Rea insists she’s fine with the way things are, but wants to start going to school. When the fireworks festival rains out, Ranko suggests they have their own. Rea continues to feel uncomfortable with Ranko, but they have a talk while Ranko helps her into a yukata, and make their rivalry official. Furuya and Rea return to the bowling alley where they met, where Rea converts to zombie mode and bite-kisses him.

With Dan’Ichiro’s reluctant blessing and bestowing of his daughter’s welfare upon Furuya, the final episode of Sankarea marks mostly a return to the status quo; a comfortable resting spot upon which to wrap things up (although the very end was a little confusing; more on that later). Furuya doesn’t find a miracle remedy for Rea’s body rot; Gramps doesn’t have another lucid moment in which he reveals anything useful, and even though he has two girls gunning for him, he’s still not interested in making a choice between the two, because he’s more concerned with other things.

Ranko was thankfully toned-down in this episode, with her boobs never occupying a full frame, and her quick, direct “Yes, I love him” to Rea was as good a way as any to make her understand she won’t just let her have Furuya without a fight (Not a physical fight, obvviously; Rea would win easily). So much is left unresolved. Then there was the final scene, where Rea suddenly becomes dead-eyed and embraces Furuya. We imagine forget her hydrangea leaves, but with the series ending right there, it’s one final statement about how neither Rea nor Furuya have an easy road ahead. Perhaps the second OVA will expound on that.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Natsuiro Kiseki – 12 (Fin)

The day of the audition repeats; Yuka messes up at the audition again; they tour Tokyo, and all wake up back in Sumida again. They realize they wished on the big rock’s cousin for summer to never end. The day repeats numerous times; some days they go to the audition, other times they do other things. The only change to anyone else is Rin’s mother, who sees her off by saying something different each day. When her mom asks her when she comes home, Rin figures it out. The four have to thank the rock and say goodbye to summer vacation and the miracles it gave them. The wish is released and tomorrow comes.

If last week’s episode had ended with the first moment of this one – Natsumi waking up in her bed at home in Sumida, then opening her curtain to see Saki standing there – if it had ended just like that, we would have been satisfied. A sudden end, sure, but one that left open the fascinating possibility of a literally eternal summer. One in which Saki never moves; they have infinite chances to nail their idol audition, and they can essentially do whatever they want. But since this is not a noitaminA series, it has twelve episodes, and it decides to not only show us that timeloop, but how the girls ultimately get out of it, and grow in the process.

One reason we love timeloop episodes so much is that deep down, they’re, well…they’re creepy. For humans, time moves forwards and that’s it. When it starts behaving strangely, it opens up a whole can of worms about the nature of our very existence, which can be be unpleasant. Not only that, it’s fun to watch the characters react to this anomaly. A never-ending summer sounds fantastic, but it gets old fast, because it will always get old fast as long as you wake up in the same place at the same time you did yesterday. Everytime the day resets, you feel you exerted all that energy yesterday for nothing; it wears on you.

As a timeloop, it employed lots of montages, which did a good job of quickly portraying the fact that many days were passing and they were getting a lot done, but Rin’s mom, who introduced them to the big rock, subtly prods her daughter to end it soon, or “come home”, as she calls it. The rock’s miracles are…miraculous, but they aren’t everything. Life for the girls can’t truly continue until they release their wish and return to normal time. Life goes on, and Saki moves, but the girls wish one more time – on the now dormant rock – that they’ll stay friends forever. Bawwww.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Sakamichi no Apollon – 12 (Fin)

With Sentaro gone, Kaoru sticks to studying, not returning to the shop basement to play. He has a falling out with Ritsuko before graduation, and after apologizing, he leaves town for college in Tokyo. Eight years later, Kaoru bumps into a pregnant Yurika, who has a photo of a young priest that resembles Sentaro. Kaoru travels to the remote island village, finds drums in the church, and starts to play “Moanin'” on the pipe organ. Sentaro comes in and jams with Kaoru as the orphans he’s caring for listen with glee. Ritsuko, having recieved news Sentaro may be there, arrives at the island.

We expected a bittersweet conclusion to this often moody, sometimes elated, always musical series, and we got one. Never able to shake the memory of Sentaro, Kaoru elects to cut his ties and leave town, leaving Ritsuko behind. While we understand the guy’s gotta look after his education and future, we thought the two had something special, and it was a shame to see their relationship simply die not long after it started…not that we’re saying a long-distance relationship would have worked, either.

Anyway, the series takes huge leap forward in time, not one or two but eight years. We’re not quite sure why it had to be such a long time, other than the fact they wanted Kaoru to have become a rookie doctor in residence. You’re telling us he never went back to his former home once? Never wrote to or laid eyes of Ritsuko again? Harsh. The kids are no longer kids, but there is a slope, with a church atop it, where Kaoru goes on a hunch that turns out to be right, and we get one last triumphant jam session from the two (amplified by the church’s unique acoustics), and in the end, the three friends are reunited. We stop lamenting what could have been and start thinking about what could be – like the rekindling of friendships. Which is as good a note as any to end on.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Jormungand – 12 (Fin)

Gregoire gets the jump on Ugo, but Lehm is able to incapacitate him, while Liliane is dealt with by Koko herself. Ugo drives Koko out of danger, but Dominique follows and a chase ensues, ending in Dominique’s car being wrecked. Koko lets him go if he tells her who hired him, and he does. Meanwhile, Valmer drugs Jonah and asaults the refinery on her own, cutting her way through Daxinghai until she reaches Cheng and kills him. Later, Karen catches up to and shoots her, but Jonah shoots Karen back, and gets both women help in time to save their lives. Valmer vows to stick with Koko henceforth. A CIA chief with many nicknames meets in Paris with R.

With Valmer and Jonah out of the picture for the time being and Lehm, Lutz and Ugo in deep shit, Koko & Co. looked decidedly vulnerable last week, but to our surprise, Team Dominique is dealt with in the first five minutes, and no one is killed or maimed. Huh. So much for lasting consequences! The balance of the episode was about Valmer. She’s a big strong Finn on a mission to avenge her comrades – and her eye. We like how she tries to keep Jonah out of it, but he’s a harder kid to shake than she’d thought. Her rampage through Daxinghai’s refinery is thrilling, especially, because it’s such a cathartic, cleansing event for her.

It’s good that Valmer can put (the majority of) her past behind her, because new threats are on the horizon that spell trouble for Koko in the future: the fact she has a CIA mole in R is most disturbing – up until this point, we’d assumed everyones’ loyalties were secured , if not by Koko’s reaching out to them (as she did with Jonah, Valmer, and Ugo), but by the big bucks she pays them. Alas, there’s a chink in her armor. That mitigates the ease with which she dismissed the threat of Dominique (though he and his are still alive). There’s a lot more to cover in the second season, which won’t arrive until October. We’ll be waiting anxiously.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Kokoro Connect – 01 (Pre-air)

A motley crew of five students with disparate interests form the vague “Cultural Research Club” (CRC), and find themselves suddenly beginning to switch one another’s bodies. (This was an 11-minute pre-air preview).

Our first taste of Summer 2012 season was a little underwhelming. With so many school club-related series under our belts, repetition is unfortunate but inevitable. Here we have Hyouka-like setting (only not quite as pretty or detailed) involving five relatively normal students. Like Hyouka (and Sket Dance…and Dusk Maiden) they’re in an unusual club.

Like Natsuiro Kiseki, something strange and supernatural is starting to happen, involving their changing bodies. That’s about all we know. There were also a couple boob gags and talk of erotic newspaper articles. We’ll withhold final judgement until after we’ve watched the first episode in full, but nothing novel jumped out at us here.


Rating: 4 (Fair)

Sankarea – 00

Seven months prior to the events of Episode 01, Furuya travels to Tohoku with his father, Mero, and Ranko to help an uncle donate his large book collection. Dan’ichiro just happens to choose the same village as the setting for his latest photo shoot with Rea. A drunken Aria takes her frustrations out on Rea, leading Rea to consider “disappearing.” While sifting through books, Furuya finds an old photo of his deceased mother, and the wind blows it to a hole in the floor where he finds the occult recipe book. When he gets separated from Mero and Ranko, he happens upon the very hot spring where Rea is bathing, leading to their meeting for the first time.

Yes, Rea and Furuya met before he saw her yelling into a well at an abandoned hotel – though it was so brief (and stressful to both), perhaps it was struck from their memories. It matters not; from that point onward they were fated to meet again. After all, this is where Furuya found a book containing just the thing that would help Rea escape her life and become reborn as someone else. It is a book we know his gramps knows about (or knew about before he got senile), and for all we know, whatever happened to his and Mero’s mom may have involved the same dark powers he employed to bring Babu and Rea back.

As extra episodes go, this is a good meaty one, painting a picture of the horrible life Rea lived that led her to start screaming into wells in the first place. Her dad is a freak and she knows what he’s doing isn’t right, but is too frightened and cowed to fight him. She’s respectful to her “mother” Aria, but gets only contempt and disgust from her. Divorcing Dan’ichiro, while a good and sensible idea in theory, would mean giving up on all the wealth and power she worked so hard for, so she sticks around, drowning her sorrows. More than anything, this episode perfectly illustrates how much better off Rea is with Furuya and his family than she was with her fucked up parents…even if she had to die to be free.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)


Car Cameos:
Furuya’s family piles into an original Mini Cooper. A flash BMW 6-Series follows them through the tollbooth.

Hyouka – 10

Oreki details his dismissal of the amateur detectives’ theories with Irisu over tea, and she tells him she knew they’d fail, which is why she sought him – not the classics club – out. She coaxes him to stay on the case, and he comes in to school to do just that, shocking Fukube and Mayaka. Re-watching the video with Mayaka’s suggestions and Fukube’s notes at hand, he figures it out: the culprit is none of the six actors, but a seventh actor – the one behind the camera. With this in mind, the film is completed and shown to a satisfied audience at the festival. But there is one thing Oreki forgot about: the rope Hongou requested.

A student who is always ignored by his/her classmates follows them to a seedy theatre. They know he’s there, but aside from a momentary glance they pretend he isn’t. Suddenly, the kid pops, and when everyone else is out of sight, he kills one of them and makes it look like a locked room mystery. It’s a home run of conclusion that seems to fit all the facts, and even more impressive is how quickly Oreki comes up with it, drawing from everything he’s seen and everything he’s heard. The rope question is a hole, but as the original intent was to make a successful film, it didn’t matter. Or does it?

This episode was a turning point for Oreki. Chitanda wasn’t here this week to flash those majo shojo doe eyes at him (she was hungover). It’s Irisu who exhibits confidence in him he never had himself; who tells him to take pride in his talent; who calls him extraordinary numerous times for dramatic effect. Oreki’s never done anything he didn’t have to, but now he finds that solving mysteries is not only something he has to do, but something he wants to. He may have given the film a culprit, an ending, and even a title (Out of Sight, Out of Mind; heh heh), but the thing he wants and needs most of all is to find out the truth.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Aquarion Evol – 26 (Fin)

Amata, Cayenne and Yunoha try to attack Mikage’s machine angel directly, but he’s too powerful. Meanwhile, Kagura, deep in Mikage’s mind, finds Zessica, who asks him to kill her. Instead he frees her. Mikage creates a second sun that dries up the oceans on the planet. Andy and Mix relieve Yunoha and Cayenne, who transfer to Gephard along with Chairman Crea; the spirit of Shrade returns to fight with them.

Mikono seeks to reconnect the damaged souls of Toma and Mikage, but Amata won’t let her die alone and races to her rescue. Zessica and Kagura help him blast through Mikage’s armor and snatch Mikono away, whereupon they declare their true love for one another and kiss. Aquarion Evol becomes Aquarion Love, and its tears of joy refill the oceans. Bodyless, Mikage is absorbed by Fudo Zen, reuniting Apollonius and Toma. Life on earth returns to normal, and Mikono and Amata return victorious.

Just like the finale of Kawamora’s epic Macross Frontier, Aquarion Evol’s end spares no expense of the big, the bright, the loud, and…the little bit cheesy. But we can forgive a little cheese in a series that has been all about love and destiny. So lots of big bombastic music, tons of yelling at the top of various lungs, etc. Even the bad guy ends up esentially where he always wanted to be; in Apollonius’ heart. And unlike Macross, the guy chooses a girl: Amata chooses Zessica. Whoopsie, haha, we meant Mikono. He chooses Mikono! Frankly, it’s about freaking time.

But he and Kagura remain two seperate people. And while it was very satisfying to see Amata and Mikono finally embrace, we don’t discount Kagura and Zessica’s role in the finale. Free from Mikage’s hold thanks to Kagura, Zessica – having learned a lesson – moves on. Perhaps those two crazy kids can find solace in one another; Kagura did save her life, after all (albeit after choking her). We would have liked a little more epilogue, though perhaps there’s a movie or something in the works that will address that…


Rating: 4

Sket Dance – 63

Bossun and Himeko switch personalities. Tsubaki is hypnotized into believing he’s a cat. The only person who can help them has no motivation. Saaya is thinking about confessing to Bossun. Switch, who encouraged Saaya, now has to keep her away from Bossun, who is actually Himeko, who has to keep Himeko, who is actually Bossun, away from her body and other girls. Roman, who is omniscient, knows Bossun’s secret, because it’s how she’d write a high school trip anime. Enough going on for ya?

These situations, on their own, would make for pretty thin episodes (or half-episodes). But all of these things are going on in one episode, making for a dense, multifaceted episode with a manic pace. There’s so much going on here, all of which matches the established lore of the characters thus far. It’s no surprise to us that both Himeko and Bossun would think it would be easy to imitate one another, and not think further ahead to all of the awkward situations they’d get themselves into. Something as mundane as bathing with her fellow female classmates suddenly becomes a big deal. Things are chaotic.

Switch’s clandestine role to ensure Saaya won’t speak to Bossun when Himeko’s in his body – despite having prodded her to do just that last week – works well. Saaya’s own constant insistence that Bossun’s a “kind creep” hits fever pitch, and Bossun (with Himeko’s personality within) only fuels the fire. We also like how the generic student extras check off many of the things the Sket-dan has done (mentioning the events of previous episodes) and it’s true, to the mis- or under-informed, it might look like the club screws around more than it helps. But those extras respresent how dull the school would be without the Sket-dan, or their legion of eccentric friends and the student council, for that matter. Such a school would carry no interest for us.


Rating: 3.5