Kyousogiga – 01

For this newest version of Kyousogiga – the first having aired last December and the first of five episodes to air this year – we’ll forgo a synopsis, for two reasons. First; was less than ten minutes long. Second; we wouldn’t know where to begin. We’re not that well-versed in Doctor Who lore, we do know that the TARDIS is a vehicle that is small on the outside – a police box – and massively huge on the inside – containing all the amenities a Doctor would need for his travels. This >10min. episode reminded us of the TARDIS: within its tiny dimensions resides an entire universe.

A lot happens in that >10 min. A lot is covered. Could we make any sense of it, beyond the vague notion of a girl growing up strong and striking out in the world in search of her mother? No, but that’s not the point as we see it. The point is to just sit back and enjoy the artistry, the whimsy, the creativity. The point is to experience a lot in a little sliver of time. To see whole worlds and alternate worlds as through a microscope, but only a taste; a small glimpse. For this >10 min. window, we were transported somewhere else: somewhere we hope to learn more of in subsequent episodes.

Rating: 8 (Great)

Kokoro Connect – 10

The field trip begins with Iori all over Taichi, but when Inaba cuts her finger, Taichi tries to help, and she runs off. Iori follows her, and realizes Inaba is in love with Taichi too. Eventually losing her patience, Iori demands an explanation. Himeko didn’t want to break up the group, so suppressed her feelings. Iori insists she fight her for Taichi; Inaba agrees. Heartseed inhabits Iori to tell Inaba Taichi fell. Fearing the worst, Inaba races to him, but it’s only a minor fall. Back at school, she confesses to him, announces she and Iori will both fight for his heart, and kisses him. The unreleashed desire episodes cease.

Can Heartseed manipulate horoscopes? Because Inaba was warned she wouldn’t be able to hide her feelings for Taichi from everyone any longer, and Taichi’s worst possible luck on the day of the field trip invariably leads her feelings indeed being exposed, but not to Taichi, at first, but to Iori. The central setpiece of this episode is an intense, highly emotional argument between Iori and Inaba. But Iori doeesn’t get mad because Inaba likes Taichi, as Inaba fears: she’s angry because Inaba has such a low opinion of herself and believes her friends will abandon her if she tells them the truth. The powerful, well-acted verbal sparring shows Miyuki Sawashiro and Toyosaki Aki at the top of their games, bringing more life than ever to the characters.

We’re totally okay with these two deciding to engage in a [relatively] friendly, fair fight for Taichi’s heart. “Let the best girl win”, and all that. We now understand and appreciate Inaba’s dogged insistence on suppressing her feelings (the StuCS members are the only real friends she’s ever had) but also give Iori a lot of credit for setting her straight (she’ll love Inaba no matter what). And what can we say: Inaba’s confession and kiss are friggin’ adorable as all hell – especially the aftermath when she’s short of breath and in a state of crying-laughing bliss and surprise at her own audacity – another wonderfully acted scene. Now, everything’s out in the open. Will it all be smooth going? Of course not; love triangles rarely are. But if we have to have a triangle, we couldn’t have asked for a better one.

Rating: 9 (Superior)

Sword Art Online – 10

Kirito loses to Heathcliff in a duel and must join the Knights of the Blood Oath. His first training mission is to clear a dungeon on the 55th floor with Godfrey and Kuradeel, who apologizes for his past behavior. When they stop for lunch, Godfrey and Kirito drink water laced with paralysis poison. Kuradeel is a former member of Laughing Coffin, a criminal guild. He brutally murders Godfrey, then turns on Kirito. When his HP goes critical, Asuna swoops in to save him, and Kirito saves her when she lets her guard down, killing Kuradeel. They spend the night together and agree to fall back from the front lines for a while and get married.

In something like Bleach or Naruto, a battle between a protagonist and a powerful foe or rival can potentially take up dozens of episodes, but here on SAO, it’s literally over in the first five minutes. Kirito loses (in what’s a quick but awesome exchange of sword blows in a Roman-style colosseum), and must join Asuna’s guild. This makes sense; the stakes weren’t that high. All it meant was if he lost, Kirito would have to confront his fear of association stemming from the Moonlit Black Cats and losing Sachi. He tells Asuna this and they share a heartfelt embrace. She tells him not to worry, because she’ll protect him – and we believe it, not just because Asuna is a proven badass, and far stronger than the Cats; but because she actually proves it not too much later on.

It can be said all it takes for evil to succeed is for good to not see evil’s treachery coming. Indeed, both Kirito and Asuna’s inherent goodness and mercy almost get them killed. A good job is done initially showing Kuradeel as genuinely contrite and willing to move on, but when he shows his true despicable colors, he inadvertently serves as the catalyst for advancing the Kirito X Asuna initiative. For this, we forgive his overacting. Watching her in All Business Mode taking out Kuradeel is awesome to watch, and credit where it’s due: Kirito gives Asuna a kiss when she most needs it, and when his intentions couldn’t be conveyed any more powerfully.

She seems to overestimate the level of those intentions when she suddenly kills the lights and cyber-strips in front of him, ready to go all the way. It looks like we’ll get the second straight episode in which the guy turns down a half-naked girl’s advances, but they do indeed sleep together. (We initially thought he didn’t, but on second viewing, he did. Thanks for keeping us on our toes, readers!) This is illustrated in a very subtle sex-cut, going from an Asuna power punch to…er, a lamp…to Kirito waking a content-looking Asuna up post-coitus.

Having shared her bed, he’s now ready to wed her…and settle down for some time in a lower level. Considering they were both almost murdered by a fellow guild member, Heathcliff shouldn’t have a problem with that. We’re glad their relationship has progressed so quickly, and with more than a cour left, there’s plenty of time to test them. We can’t help but think how awesome it would be if they beat the game, wake up, and meet in the real world…amarite? but unlike Kirito and Asuna, let’s take this one step at a time!

Rating: 9 (Superior)

Accel World – 22

Haru teams up with Blood Leopard to lure Rust Jigsaw into a duel in Akiba. After they defeat him, Haru spots him in the real world. Taku tells Haru that Chiyu is fighting alongside Nomi in Accel World. Haru visits her, and she tells him she’s pairing with Nomi by conscious choice, not coersion. After poring over information, Haru determines Nomi is staying off the lists by using an obsolete, banned brain implant chip. He confronts Nomi with this info, and Nomi challenges him to an all-or-nothing duel.

Thanks to some sleuthing and an assist by “Pard” (whom he gets to ride!), Haru finally has some leverage against Nomi: knowledge of his illegal implant that could get him expelled, and in any case would be removed as soon as it’s detected. Game Over for Nomi, right? Well, apparently Nomi still considers the changing room video he fabricated to be equal in value. We disagree. Nomi is guilty of something that can be proven, and wanting to keep that secret gives him all the motive to frame Haru. Still, the narrative treats their leverage against each other as equal, so we’ll go along with it. Rather than settle things in the real world, they’re going to have a duel in Accel.

Haru’s implant chip epiphany happened when he realized a gesture Nomi was making was of closing a virtual window, despite his not wearing a neuro-linker at that time. This suggests, in this case, Haru has a keen eye for observation and is able to connect the dots and successfully corner Nomi. Unfortunately, Haru isn’t so observant when Haru takes her friggin’ shirt off and tells him she’s in a place where he can touch her if he wants to. Uhh, she wants you, brah. Gotta at least acknowledge it. Also interesting is that in Aceel World Chiyu has chosen not to tag along with either Haru or Taku; and she’s rapidly becoming a force by Nomi’s side. Also something Haru has to watch out for: overuse of the Incarnate system leads to the Armor of Catastrophe.

Rating: 6 (Good)

Eureka Seven AO – 19

Tanaka and the allied forces launch an attack on Gen Bleu HQ, which experiences a blackout when Big Blue World cuts them off. Truth talks telepathically with the Big Secret Head, but doesn’t like what he hears. Naru tells Truth that the masive scub bust on Okinawa ten years ago bore him into the world, a secret who lost his quartz and thus his memory, in human form. He flies into space and manipulates satellites into destroying Poseidon Base.

As allied forces descend on Gen Bleu HQ, including Maggie Kwan, Elena tells Ao and Fleur she’s from another world and wants Ao to take her home. Truth takes the form of Christophe Blanc, but Fleur sees through it and shoots him. Her real dad gives her and Ao a chance to escape, closes himself in the basement chamber, and detonates the quartz within in hopes of incapacitating Truth.

Which world is the right world? Who is the true enemy, the Scub Coral or the Secrets? Who is leading whom, Naru or Truth? These are just a few of the many questions brought up and explored as the shit hits the fan hard at Generation Bleu HQ. We had a feeling the company had a tough road to follow, but we didn’t expect its absolute obliteration. Their space station is destroyed before the commercial break, for crying out loud! This is a big, loud, dramatic powerhouse of an episode that doesn’t hold back for a minute. Things move incredibly fast, but the characters aren’t simply swept up as pawns in the plot, but shine though and have lots of great moments. We found ourselves fully engaged in every single plot thread in play this week, because every one dealt with a revelation.

Elena’s reaction to her download being cancelled (very meta) and her hilariously-creepy Evangelion-referring sight gag belie a very serious and fatigued girl who’s sick of living in this crazy, messed-up world. Fleur’s love and trust in her father prove decisive to her survival, and she has the strength to shoot whom she suspects to be Truth. Truth has never been better, less bwahaha-y and more vulnerable and confused. Christophe, seemingly out of options, goes out with a bang. He’s left the stage to Ao, Fleur, and Elena – youth – hoping they’ll determine the answers to all those questions, free of the regrets and prejudices adults like him must bear. We were royally blown away by the events of this episode, and are extremely excited to see what comes next.

Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)