Tari Tari – 11

Konatsu has written a script for the musical drama, and sets the club to work preparing. Wakana is writing the song, Sawa is doing the choreography, Taichi the sets, and Wien the props. However, the principal finally makes an announcement to the teachers, parents, and eventually students: the White Festival is being cancelled and the school is being shut down to make way for luxury condominiums. The club drifts apart as construction vehicles descend on the school, but one afternoon they all meet by chance in the hall. Wakana announces she’s finished her song, and wants everyone to sing it.

In Hanasaku Iroha, the Kissuiso inn was a character in and of itself: old and unappreciated by the winds of change, but beautiful, traditional, and warm. With five lively characters to keep track of, it could be easy to overlook the school they attend, but when we think back, it’s also a gorgeous building, with its gleaming hardwood floors, intricate outside tiling, ample natural light, neat half-moon sliding doors. We’ll bet the students took the beauty of this place for granted, and are only now appreciating it now that news has come down that it will be taken from them. This is something hinted at for some time, but it comes as a complete surprise to all.

The meek pushover principal procrastinates far too long, and culture fair preparations are already in high gear when he belatedly brings the hammer down, and a cruel hammer it is. In a painfully ironic scene, he cites Japan’s declining birthrate as Mrs. Takahashi’s newborn is crying, as if in defiance. For as big and beautiful as the school is, higher-ups have deemed it too big and occupying too valuable a property to allow a dwindling student body to continue using it. They want rich people living there. That baby isn’t the only one protesting: festival or no, Wakana wants her song heard, and the club is willing to sing it with her.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Advertisements

Puella Magi Madoka Magica – 10 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 10 Mar 2011 – Did all that just flipping happen? After fleshing everyone else out previously, all that remained was Homura’s story. We got it, and it was fucking epic. Nothing in this episode would have made any sense without knowing everything that preceeded it, and at the same time, this added so much more dimension to an already excellent series by throwing time and causality into the equation.

Homura was once an innoncent, ditzy human, who transferred to Madoka’s school and befriended her. But in this timeline, Madoka and Mimi were already Maho Shojo. When the Walpurgis night comes, Madoka sacrifices herself to save Homura. Not yet a Maho Shojo herself, Homura contracts with Kyuubey with the wish that she be given the ability to change time – as in reset the timeline to the point she first met Madoka – and protect her instead of the other way around.

Not only is the initial role reversal of Madoka and Homura outstanding – Madoka is, in most timelines, a full-fledged, bow-wielding maho shojo – but the fact that things keep going so wrong – Madoka keeps dying and Homura keeps resetting – really drives home how tortured Homura is by the time we meet her in episode one. Hell, things go so awry, there’s even a scene where Madoka has to kill Mami by her own hand!

So Homura was never so much an aloof bitch. She’d just been downtrodden by so many lives and so many undesirable outcomes, and won’t stop trying to protect Madoka, out of her powerful friendship for her, no matter how many attempts she has to make.

This episode cuts back and forth through time a ton, yet stays expertly and confidently held together without a hint of repetition. We love Groundhog Day-type situations like this, but in this case the causality loop is neither involuntary or unwanted; it’s Homura’s will. The entire series we’ve seen thus far is only one of an untold number of timelines that have already run their course. And yet, Madoka seems almost fated to be seduced by Kyuubey – one way or another – fight Walpurgis, and become a witch so powerful she destroys the world.

The episode ends just as the series begins, only this time we hear what Homura is screaming in Madoka’s “dream”: “Don’t contract.” And to Madoka’s credit, she still hasn’t, as of episode nine. Will this finally be the time Homura is able to defeat Walpurgis on her own, without Madoka contracting? We’ll see. Fantastic stuff.


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

RABUJOI World Heritage List

Mawaru Penguindrum – 09 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 9 Sept 2011 – From the aquarium gift shop, Himari follows Threetie to a massive, bizarre library where she meets the librarian Sanetoshi, who reads from numerous books stories that reflect events in Himari’s past, focusing on her former best friends and Hibari and Hikari, who she broke up with. They are now famous idols.

Well, for those who wanted a dedicated Himari episode, and we count myself among them, look no further. Beginning, middle, and end, this was All Himari. That’s because it was all a dream…but what a dream! We learned things about her we never knew. We credit the series for including so many little foreshadowing visual puzzle pieces which this episode proceeded to assemble to create a picture of her past. The fact it was all a dream also allowed for some pretty cool Willy Wonka-esque visuals. The library itself is an architectural gem.

Now we know who the girls in the subway PSAs are! Now we know the significance of the three girls in the ending sequence! Now we know that pink-haired girl in the opening…isn’t a girl! Himari was a spoiled brat who scarred her mother for life. She also could have been in a idol trio named “Triple-H” (a name you can be sure the WWE would have a problem with), but blew it. So much new information, so many new questions. Sanetoshi is real, despite appearing in a dream. And he calls Himari the “Bride of Fate.” Himari wakes up to the news that Shoma has been hit by a car. Not a great way to wake up.


Rating: 9 (Superior)