Tari Tari – 09

Wakana decides to ask Sawa’s mother if she knew anything about how her mom wrote songs. Konatsu decides the club will put on a musical drama for the White Festival, but it will require a lot of money to produce it. At the Western shopping district association meeting, Shiho proposes they boost business by using “local superheroes” in costumes to bust moves and hand out flyers. She conscipts Sawa and the other club members for this purpose, and Wien gets serious about it. So serious, Tanaka asks why. All of Wien’s letters to his friend in Austria – who shared his love of the “Gambaraijers” – were sent back to him, but he still yearns to be a hero, and this is his shot. The club catches the Vice Principal when she’s distracted and troubled, and she grants them permission to work an after-school job to raise funds.

As soon as Shiho brought up superheroes at the shopowners’ meeting, we knew it was just a matter of time before the Choir and Sometimes Badminton club were being given Power Ranger costumes. We won’t waste time asking silly questions like “Why is Wien so obsessed with the simplistic idealism of the Power Rangers well into his high school years when he should be into girls?” or “Why does Wien have a seven-year-old pen pal?” Suffice it to say, this is his time to shine. He’s going to whip the club into world-saving shape so they can earn that 30,000 yen. Which brings us to another obvious possibility: that the musical drama the club will perform follow the same Power Ranger theme. Why not?

They already have the costumes, so they can spend more money on sets and props. We’ll see. The only snag may be Wakana, who is mired in a songwriter’s block that’s far worse than not having an idea for a song – she’s not even sure what a song is or what it is to write one, as she’s never done so. Her dad isn’t any help, but Shiho tells her to try to ask the mean ol’ Vice Principal, who as it turns out co-wrote that song with her mom. There’s a great moment when her cat lands on the piano, and the tune her paws play isn’t that bad for something totally random. Perhaps a superhero song is a good place to start: full of big, bold ideas and pure, unadulterated emotion.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

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Hyouka – 19

After school, Oreki is irked by Chitanda classifying his ability to form cogent theories as a talent and not luck. So he challenges her to come up with a situation, and he’ll prove he can make a theory up about anything. A strange, specific, cryptic P.A. announcement is made, and she asks him to come up with a theory about that. He theorizes that a “student X” is being called to the staff room to for the crime of using a counterfeit ¥10,000 note to purchase stationary, then writing a letter confessing his crime to the owners. By the time he completes his theory, he forgets the original purpose of the “game.” He declines Chitanda’s suggestion they try to deduce that, and goes home. The next morning, his theory is proven in the paper.

Such is the chemistry between Oreki and Chitanda, and the snappiness of their discourse that they can carry an entire episode by themselves, in the clubroom, without a single cut elsewhere, aside from the neat diagramatic visual aids in their minds. At the start, Chitanda wants to prove to Oreki that he relies on innate talent, not merely luck. Oreki wants to prove the saying that “a theory and ointment will stick to anything” – even his theories. The perfect opportunity presents itself when a seemingly innocuous announcement is made over the P.A. But there’s enough in that message to get the two going in a rousing, ingenious bit of investigative work that isn’t gussied up with any exterior parties. It’s just Oreki, Chitanda, and their constantly-churning brains.

Before their investigation game began, however, we paused the show and came up with a theory of our own, predicting the P.A. announcer was summoning an eyewitness to a crime. We came to this conclusion based on the exacting structure of the announcement: almost like how a trial attorney would ask a witness “Where were you on the evening of the 31st?” We were more or less as right as Oreki, though we gave “Student X” the benefit of the doubt regarding whether they committed a crime or merely witnessed one. It would seem both are true: the student was given the fake cash by an older person, couldn’t turn it down, used it,  confessed, then reported to the staff room as ordered and aided in the apprehension of the counterfeiter. Case closed.

Despite having a good idea where Oreki was going, watching HOW he got there, and all the details that led him there, indeed makes for a rousing spectacle. Factor into that Chitanda is on the edge of her seat the whole time, rapt and ready to spring to action should anything he says not match the facts they have or strain credulity. On more than one occasion, this leads her to draw very close to Oreki (one time, as seen above, even close enough for a kiss). Yet each time both blush and recoil. This behavior – combined with Chitanda’s nervous invitation for Oreki to join her at her uncle’s grave – adds to the already compelling body of evidence implicating them both with barely-repressed mutual attraction and romantic tension in the first degree. Will that potential ever be realized? Regrettably, with a scant two episodes left, we predict not. But we’ve been wrong before.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

P.S. Perhaps part of why Oreki is hesitant to acknowledge his talent is because he wouldn’t be where he was today – with so many investigative feathers in his cap – were it not for Chitanda getting in his face, prodding him, and giving him those maho shojo eyes. She compels him to act, which more often than not leads to success. She’s like his reluctant muse.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica – 03 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 26 Jan 2011 – Madoka and Sayaka tread deeper into the world of maho shojos and witches as they happen to encounter a grief seed while walking around. By this point, we learn that Sayaka will most likely wish for her ill friend to recover, while Madoka’s wish is simply to become useful and be good at something.  It’s also hinted that she has the potential to become an extremely powerful maho shojo.

Mimi warns her that being a maho shojo (at least in her experience) isn’t any picnic, as there’s pain, anguish, suffering, no time for boys, and no one to talk to about the weird shit going on in her life. Mimi puts up a brave front, but inside, she’s a mess. Madoka tells her not to worry; they’ll be a team and she won’t have to wallow in her loneliness anymore. Mimi is heartened.

But Mimi also underestimates the witch (despite some really slick gunplay) and apparently gets eaten. Madoka and Sayaka are moments away from contracting with Kyubei when Homura steps in to clean up the mess. Homura hopes this is a lesson to the girls to not enter her world, but with Mimi apparently gone (and “miracle” in the next ep’s title), there’s a possibility Madoka’s wish will be to bring Mimi back.

We definitely like the conflict already arising between the perks of being a maho shojo (powers, looking awesome, helping people) and the potential pitfalls (saying sayonara to anything resembling a normal, long life; the temptation that comes with those powers). This is no choice for the faint-hearted, and Madoka is so far being presented as someone hardly ready to make such choices.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)