Tari Tari – 10

The “WestShopRangers” make their debut in the district. Their tempo and timing are off, but the improve with each performance, going up against “baddies” – the shop owners in disguise. When the vice principal takes them to task for having a job, they remind her she approved it, and keep doing it. Wakana goes back to ask the vice principal, Naoko, how her mother wrote songs, just when “Nao” is remembering the only time she visited Mahiru before she died. She repeats what Mahiru told her: song isn’t work; it flows from the heart. During a show, Konatsu’s purse is snatched by a cyclist. Wien chases him down on foot, and the rest of the rangers back him up. They get the purse back and teach the guy a lesson through song. Wien writes Jan of their victory.

We like how Wien propels the others into rushing straight into their ranger show. They’re nervous and uncoordinated, but they get the job done. Even funnier is watching the old owners battle the rangers, and one throws his back out, which pits Sawa against her mother Shiho. It’s all great fun and you can totally see shoppers getting into it – most especially the kids. Also, they get better with each performance. There’s no mention of the nature of the drama they’ll be putting on for the White Festival, but it seems like it would be easy to make that a Rangers-based narrative – almost as if these shop performances were practice.

In between these shows we delve into Naoko’s memories – even in high school she was a serious girl who rarely smiled – but she shared a love for music with the more outgoing, outwardly passionate Mahiru. There’s a scene when Mahiru tells Nao she’s not going to make it that makes us tear up – it’s pretty grim statement, but as it turned out, a true one. Now Mahiru’s daughter is at Nao’s school – like a little Mahiru – and while she won’t show favoritism to a friend’s child, Nao does offer solid advice – don’t overthink, have fun, and the music will come. We also get a taste of Wien’s near-obsessive determination. He simply doesn’t quit, pursuing a thief across half of town and even taking a couple punches. For a second there, we thought he’d be defeated, but then the other rangers showed up. It was a great victory – and this was a great episode, with a little of everything.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Car Cameos: Cars passing by in the shopping district include a JDM Honda Odyssey, Mitsubishi eK, Suzuki Swift, Toyota Vitz, Mercedes-Benz C-Class (W203), Nissan March, and a fourth-generation Toyota HiAce.

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Puella Magi Madoka Magica – 06 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 15 Feb 2011 – The more we learn about the world of Maho Shojo, the darker, more twisted and messed up it gets. While Sayaka didn’t think about it at the time, she’s come to the realization that most Maho Shojo aren’t like the kind, gentle Mami, but more like Homura and Sakura – in it for personal gain and/or self-ingratiation. Mami was the exception, not the rule. Maho Shojo aren’t (always) good people.

Still, strong in will and ideals, Sayaka refuses to back down. She’ll fight whoever threatens what she holds dear – even other Maho Shojo. The only problem is, living a good pure life means living as a weak Maho Shojo: grief seeds must be collected to gain the power Sayaka desires. It’s a vicious cycle, and the weight on her slight shoulders is palpable when Sakura corners her outside her boyfriends house. Sakura is not weak or inexperienced. She’s been playing to win. If they fought seriously, Sayaka would be toast.

Meanwhile, the more Kyuubey says to Madoka, the more her reservations mount about becoming a Maho Shojo herself. She wants instead to be the angel on Sayaka’s shoulder that will tell her not to fight. But this insistence on peace leads Madoka to carelessly toss Sayaka’s soul gem over a bridge. Sayaka, in turn, goes unconscious and limp, as if dead, revealing one more tidbit: A Maho Shojo’s soul resides not in the body, but in their soul gem.

This is something even Sakura didn’t know, and when she learns of it, she’s devastated, putting her petty fight with Sayaka on hold.  This Kyuubey is quite the trickster – stirring up trouble in every life he enters, and putting them on paths he sets up. We wonder if there are other Kyuubeys out there, and if they’re such cold, calculating bastards as this one is. There have also been numerous situations in which Madoka could have contracted and saved the day, but this has yet to happen. Kyuubey has to be growing impatient with her at this point, but we’re not, considering what contracting would cost her.


Rating: 9 (Superior)