Hyouka – 20

Chitanda invites Oreki to a shrine for New Years to show off her kimono and deliver a bottle of sake to its owners on her father’s behalf. They also visit Mayaka, who is helping out as a shrine maiden. She is in charge of lost and found and selling fortunes. Oreki gets a “misfortune”, and he and Chitanda end up trapped in a storage shed. Not wanting her father’s friends to get the wrong idea, they throw personal items out of a hole in the shed so they’ll be taken to Mayaka. Satoshi arrives when Mayaka receives Chitanda’s purse with a string around it, which Satoshi recognizes. He races to the shed and frees them.

Oreki Houtarou would argue even now that his investigative and deductive skills are simply a matter of good luck, but an ominous mis-fortune spells trouble, and this week he has none of his usual luck. Don’t get us wrong: Oreki is not unlucky because he’s trapped in a dark, cold shed with Chitanda Eru in a kimono that makes her look like a perfect doll. He’s unlucky because he’s locked with her in a shed on the grounds of a shrine whose owners are friends of the Chitandas. Oreki gets a little bit of how rich people interact, and if one’s young, attractive daughter were found locked in a shed with a peasant like Oreki, Chitanda may not have to commit seppuku or anything, but it wouldn’t look good. One gets the feeling Chitanda wouldn’t even mind if this situation had happened elsewhere, and if it wasn’t cold.

So yeah, even if something was going to happen, or if it would be construed that way by a third party, nothing can happen. In this regard, there was a little less romantic tension between Chitanda and Oreki this week than last. After exhausting escape plans that would draw attention and/or destroy the shed, they must rely on the very efficient lost-and-found network of the shrine, in which lost items are sent straight to Mayaka without delay. When subtle items don’t work, Oreki gets lucky again, in that Fukobe recently watched the same Nabunaga historical TV drama he did, and will understand when Chitanda’s purse is sent with a string around it, it indicates they’re “trapped like rats.” Another fine standalone episode with a beautiful setting (when not in the shed) and festive atmosphere.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

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Rinne no Lagrange – 21

Michiko starts to badger Madoka about turning in her “future form” after a less-than-great report card. Madoka is busy with Jersey Club activities and a going-away Christmas party for Kirius and Array. Meanwhile, Moid has made off with the stone tablet, compressed into a jewel he gives to Dizelmine, who undergoes painful testing, presumably to gain the power of Vox. Back on earth, Asteria informs the Nuvomundus team who she really is, and they start researching what Moid’s up to. Right after Kirius and Array depart, a huge La Garite fleet jumps into Earth orbit.

Kirius is going home to help his rich but beleaguered family. Array is going home to teach at the Royal Academy. Izo is staying on earth to become a chef. Lan is going home to help her brother. Muginami is going home to fina a way to help U-Go. Everybody but Madoka seem to have a path for the future. The future makes Madoka uncomfortable. It’s almost as if she was destined to live in times that never stood still. Times in which the present is everything; in which helping and protecting others is everything. Those times may be coming. While events will likely put wrenches in everyone’s plans, she has no plans to ruin. We can easily see Madoka being a great teacher, bodyguard, coach, cafe owner, party planner (seriously, that was a kickass party!) or any of the other things she’s done as a Jersey Clubber. The problem is, she doesn’t want to choose.

Through her actions and ideals, she’s changed many lives for the better; giving them directions while having none herself except forward, dealing with whatever may come when it comes. Well, something’s coming. It apppears Moid is appealling to Dizelmine’s darker tendencies, and a fresh betrayal is in motion. Earth may again become a battlefield, and even the graveyard it was 20,000 years ago when Vox was last unleashed. All things considered, planning for the future is definitely premature. If they want a future, they’ll have to fight for it – or at least talk others into stop fighting. To his credit, Villagiulio wants to believe Dizelmine won’t go to war with him. But Dizelmine may not be himeself after those…experiments.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – 10

Bridges returns to congratulations from his friends and more scorn and mocking from Latrova’s men. He sits out the victory party, and begs Yui to let him go on a close-range melee sortie, she tells him she’ll do what she can. During his 36 hours of standby, Latrova approaches him, telling him to cut ties with those who “spoil him”. He participates in the mopping-up of the remnants of the Beta, but another, larger surprise force suddenly approaches the base – from underground.

The humans in this series are in a tough spot. They now possess a weapon that can quickly obliterate an entire charging army of Beta in one shot (Yuuya kills more than 3,000 of them). But there’s only one Type 99 rifle, and the Japanese don’t want to share the technology. Also, being a new and highly secrative piece of kit, it’s fussy; shutting down without warning and unable to be reactivated. Those who could fix it are in Japan, and aren’t coming. The Beta may be the humans’ ultimate undoing, but all their distrust of one another isn’t helping matters.

Yuuya shows more growth in this episode, letting all the sarcastic remarks slide, being respectful to Lt. Takamura, and even agreeing with her when she suggests he sit out a sortie. He’s caught the interest of Cmdr Latrova (much to her unit’s unease), who insists if he’s going to continue growing, he has to stop blaming others and hanging out with those who let him. Ironically, this commander of a group of grunts from conquered nations is Russian, the nationality they despise. We also learn she’s fighting for her kid, whom she had to give away, and for all the children of her country. With a surprise Beta attack on the base imminent, it will be all hands on deck – and Yuuya will likely get the close-range combat experience he’s itching for.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Sket Dance – 73

Himeko falls victim to a peeping tom. At first Bosssun and Switch are uninterested, but they eventually determine the tom would have had to spider climb up cedar trees to get vantage point, which points them to Saratani, who has actuallly fallen for Takahashi, not Himeko. Yabasawa alerts the student council, and Katou acts alone to apprehend Saratani.

In the second half, faculty advisor Kezuka pits the Boys’ and Girls’ Manga clubs against each other Saotome Roman chooses Bossun as her partner, and they combine to create a more “interesting” manga that wins the day over Magarfunkle and Sainon’s more generic fare.

This episode starts with another crimefighting mission in which the Sket-dan competes with the new-look student council. We understand that Bossun is usually blind to Himeko’s beauty, so it makes sense that he’d initially shrug off her complaint. Making the peeping tom the very person on TV that was distracting them was also an interesting – and convenient – touch. Tsubaki gets a good laid-back pep talk from Agata, who counsels patience with the unusual newbies.

The second half turns into another vehicle for Himeko’s commentary. She stands in for us as the voice of reason and confusion at the two bizarre manga offerings. We agree that the conditions laid out by the advisor were more creatively handled by Team Roman/Bossun – splitting up the word for sports festival (undoukai) into a romantic dialogue filled with “uns” (“sure”) and “doukais” (“how ’bout it?”) Also amusing is juxtaposition of Roman’s crude, demented character designs with Bossun’s impeccably rendered backgrounds.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

P.S. We have no idea what the deal was with Kezuka-sensei’s little turn at the cosmic piano, but it was damned hilarious.