Accel World – 19

Black Lotus, Crikin, Dolphin and Merrow face off against Sulfur Pot and his pet legendary monster, Nidhogg, which he acquired through cheating. The young girls collect metal while Lotus and Crikin take the brunt of the fire-based punishment. In the real world, Megumi finds Hime, Ruka and Mana passed out in the dark, and decides to join the fray. Her special power forces a world transition to the ocean stage, neutralizing Nidhogg’s fire. Dolphin and Merrow pin Sulfur down and Lotus cuts the reins. Nidhogg eats Sulfur and he loses. Back in the real world, Megumi doesn’t remember her participation in the battle, dismissing it as a dream she’s going to write a story about.

This second part of the two-episode Hime mini-arc tried its darndest to be interesting, but with a boring, idiotic, one-dimensional foe whose demise was never in doubt for a second, it had its work cut out for it. The battle is dull and repetitive, and Black Lotus doesn’t seem all that useful. It takes intervention from Megumi to turn the tables, but how are her actions not cheating too? Do two wrongs make a right? And what was with the ghost of her childhood visiting her and telling her to plug in? Just seemed random.

With the series returning to the main clash between Haru and Nomi, we got the feeling the characters Hime met wouldn’t be getting any more screen time anytime soon…which is fine with us. With five episodes left, Nomi has to be dealt with, and it’s better for the series to focus on its core characters than simply coming up with new, half-baked ones for the sake of variety.

Rating: 4 (Fair)

Eureka Seven AO – 16

President Blanc decides to initiate Operation Polaris, in which all of Gen Bleu’s quartz will be launched from space and lure the secrets that have emerged to its landing spot in the North Pole, where it will be detonated, destroying the secrets. Naru fights a secret off in Iwato, while Pied Piper counts down the hours until they spring into action. Goldilocks takes out rogue Russian missles launched by a cyberattack, but the shock waves knock the quartz off course. Fleur and Elena take it as far as they can, and Fleur hands it off to Ao, who uses his third engine to get it back in orbit, where it transforms into a weapon. He destroys the secrets, but when he returns to Earth, something’s different…

The Olympics are over, and the Astral Ocean is back in full force, with a stellar action-packed romp that’s full of suspense, explosions, and more E7-esque surreality. To whit: Generation Bleu’s President Blance puts all his eggs in one basket (and asks Pied Piper to bring back South American coffee), and they have just one shot to get rid of the secrets that have popped up everywhere. Ao is determined not to let that shot destroy northern Scandanavia, where the McCafferty sisters’ family is at. When the stakes are as high as they can get and he’s the only hope, Ao steps up and gets the job done, even if orders are stretched. He does so with one of the more colorful and elaborate explosions we’ve seen in a while.

Before his heroics, we were getting a little worried about Ao – either due to recent events, the drugs Gazelle gave him, or a combination of the two, Ao having experiences, then abruptly waking up in a camp with Fleur and Elena nearby. He has a bizarre and unsettling dream involving Naru. He still thinks Eureka is his mother. And stranger still, while his actions avert a disaster in Norway, suddenly nobody’s ever heard of Maeve, Chloe, Maggie, or Goldilocks. It’s as if they’ve been erased from existence, or never existed in the first place. Ao is the only one remembers. What exactly did that crazy Quartz Cannon do?

Rating: 8 (Great)

Mawaru Penguindrum – 01 (Retro Review)

Rather than posting nothing during the weekly gap between Monday and Thursday, we’ll be posting “Retro Reviews” of episodes we’ve watched in the past, cleaned up a bit and updated with our new ratings. We’re starting with three of our favorite series of the past couple years: Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Shiki, and Mawaru Penguindrum.

Originally posted 8 July 2011 – Wow…very nice! we weren’t expecting all that. We like surprises, and with Mayo Chiki looking so disappointing, we picked this up series instead. We almost immediately liked it. It has such a bright, shiny, colorful presentation. Its characters are full of life…even if they die briefly.

Brothers Shoma and Kanba have to take care of their terminally ill little sister, Himari (Amazingly, she doesn’t sport white or silver hair). Funnily enough, their hair (blue, red, and yellow, respectively) is the same triad as Star Driver. Anyway, after a lovely day when she’s allowed out of the hospital, she suddenly collapses and is rushed back, where she dies. Shoma muses about the age old question of why God lets bad things happen to good people.

But then something happens he knew to be impossible: Himari wakes up. While wearing a creepy penguin headdress he bought her at the zoo gift shop, she seems to be possessed by some strange entity – which may be an extradimensional penguin. She’s good as new, so they go home, and a frozen package containing ominous ice eggs awaits them. Like the dragon eggs in Game of Thrones, these are valuable things.

When they hatch, they become adorable little blue penguin helpers that only the siblings can see. But the opening credits write some big checks that suggest the three siblings will have to pay those extradimensional beings back in exchange for the miracle of extending Himari’s life. What exactly that recompense is, we’ll learn more next week. Really fun and zany introduction. Major style points throughout. We particularly like how Tokyo Metro signage is used in all transitions, and the coaltar of the deepers ED rocks.

Rating: 9 (Superior)

Natsuyuki Rendezvous – 07

Hazuki remains trapped while Atsushi continues seducing Rokka, not caring who she thinks she’s spending time with. They go to the sea, spend the night at a hotel, and make love. When Rokka wakes up, Hazuki isn’t there, but Atsushi has left a note with the same unique character he gave her when they exchanged numbers on their first date. Atsushi spends the day making bouquets for Rokka. When Rokka sees them, she’s overcome by emotion, seemingly unsure of which man Hazuki is.

This series has an uncanny ability to consistently keep us in the dark about what’s going to happen next, but it manages this unpredictability with such grace and subtlety, we can hardly complain, and in fact, welcome the surprise. We really thought Atsushi would finally give Hazuki’s body back this time, but he wants a little more time. He’s perpetually aware that his is a “vain struggle” and that resisting the truth of his situation is futile, but he just can’t let go yet. Rokka has opened her heart – and body – for Hazuki, not him. Even in Hazuki’s body, there’s nothing he can do. Well, almost nothing.

Like last week, there was a frustration simmering in the background the whole time Atsushi interacted with Rokka, and once again, Hazuki misses out on a milestone of his currently hijacked relationship. Let this be a lesson to everyone out there: never get drunk around the ghost of the husband of the girl you love. We feel really bad for Hazuki this week – though being underwater and being able to breathe and talk is pretty sweet. We also feel bad for Rokka; she’s being royally messed with by Atsushi. This hasbeen an interesting situation,but we’re hoping the mermaid’s right and this won’t last forever. There are just four episodes left: we hope Hazuki gets his body back soon. Even if no one’s sure who the main character is anymore, we’re still rooting for him.

Rating: 8 (Great)