Mawaru Penguindrum – 17 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 4 Nov 2011 – Himari is getting better thanks to Sanetoshi’s medicine, but the Penguin hat possesses her once more to reiterate that if they neglect the penguin drum, her bros will lose “what they treasure most” – but hesitates when asked whether the diary is the drum. Meanwhile, Yuri and Tabuki’s grudge against the Takekuras for their loss of Momoka comes to a head when both prepare an assault against Himari. Masako intercepts Yuri, wanting the other half of the diary for Mario, and they duel with words and weapons. Tabuki isolates Himari and Ringo, and makes his intentions known.

Wait…what is this? There’s too many episodes left, there can’t be a showdown! And yet, that’s exactly what we get, on multiple fronts, too. All the players and motives and vendettas continue to intertwine like strings of yarn in a sweater or subway lines on a map. Everything’s, like, connectin’, maaan. This episode gives us the warm highs of a happy, reunited group of siblings, and all the while the wolves wait at their door, wanting blood as payment for their parents’ crimes. It give just about everyone a little bit of screen time too, evoking a real feeling of…penultimateness.

The Penguin hat wants the drum, for what reason we still don’t know. Masako wants the diary to save Mario at any cost. Yuri wants it to transfer fate; for revenge. But most (and least) surprising is Tabuki, who we’ve hardly seen at all recently. Even after playing the Devil’s Advocate with Yuri, he turns out to be no less dead set on punishing the Takekuras. And then there’s Sanetoshi, whose minions warn Himari better hightail it back to the hospital, or they’ll punish her. As for Kanba, it’s hinted that his heart – the thing he’s using as currency to keep Himari alive – is the penguin drum. Well, both have a beat. Hey, why not?

Rating: 9 (Superior)

Shiki – 19 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 12 Dec 2010 – The war begins between the surviving humans and the Shiki, as Chizuru is very publicly exposed and staked and Toshio is finally able to convince a mob to join him in driving out the “pests”. Yet we’re on the fence as to who’s truly in the right here; since we’ve learned so much about the Shiki. They aren’t killing because they’re evil demons. They’re killing because they need human blood to survive.

The Shiki must kill humans to live; the humans must destroy the Shiki to live. No wonder coexistence is so tough. Even if a segment of humans were okay with giving blood to feed them – and there is – there will always be extremists on both sides who will sabotage any chance at peace. Both overly wild and violent vampires and intolerant humans won’t agree to even the most mutually amicable compromise.

Sunako sheds tears not only for her child Chizuru, but because after coming so close to realizing the dream of a Shiki village, Toshio now threatens to crush that dream. Even worse, when day breaks, she falls asleep, leaving her defenseless. Who has been charged with protecting her in the basement? A supine, anemic, Seishin. Meaning if the mob finds them, they’re toast.

Rating: 7 (Very Good)

AnoHana – 05 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 14 May 2011 – It’s one thing if you’re haunted by your dead friend, it’s quite another if even she doesn’t know why she’s there, and can’t talk to any of her other friends, who used to be yours too. Yukiatsu, it turns out, doesn’t understand why Jinta can see him and he can’t. While Jinta called her ugly the last time he saw her alive, Yukiatsu confessed his love for her (or like, at least). But as more of the gang wishes they could see her, Menma’s inability to grasp her “wish” or talk to others makes her despair, as Poppo tries to communicate right in front of her.

Yukiatsu at least has a catharsis of sorts, as he confronts Jinta – in drag, no less – and tells him what he didn’t know: he also blames himself for Menma’s demise. His obsession with Menma since her death took a different form, but was nonetheless a powerful force in his life, though it didn’t keep him from school. Tsuruko is glad this side of him is finally revealed, but less interested in helping him prop balance his self-esteem. If she wasn’t before, Tsuruko is the biggest enigma of the gang.

As for Anaru, she gets herself in a little trouble with her jailbait outfit and friends, and it’s only thanks to dumb luck and coincidence that save her from an unwanted liason with a buzzed salaryman. Yukiatsu gets her to confess that she can’t stop thinking about Jinta, though she isn’t sure whether this means she likes or loves him. What’s clear is that everyone seems to be held back by the past. Everyone save perhaps the always-gregarious Poppo: if he is unfulfilled or unhappy with his life, he hasn’t indicated it…yet.

Rating: 9 (Superior)