Kamisama Hajimemashita – 04

When Nanami handles a white snake that got into the school, she gets a strange mark on her arm. Tomoe warns her it’s a “Mark of the Betrothed” and is worried the snake spirit will return for her before long. He insists on guarding her at all times, and so poses as her classmate. He falls asleep and she wanders off and is kidnapped by the familiar Suenagaku Mizuki. She wakes up in his shrine, which is frozen in time. She’s to marry him, and cannot escape. Before long, Nanami realizes Mizuki’s deity is gone, as no one has prayed to the shrine in many years. Tomoe arrives just as Mizuki is about to force himself on Nanami. Tomoe is about to destroy the plum tree that holds the shrine’s plane together, but Nanami stays his hand.

Just as there are good people and bad people, there are good spirits and bad spirits. This week Tomoe learns once again that his master is only a fragile, mortal girl, and a ripe target for the bad ones. This Mizuki guy was more pathetic, tortured, and obsessed than evil, but the fact of the matter was he sought to take Nanami for his own, and she had no say in the matter or recourse. If it weren’t for Tomoe, she’d have been trapped in that underwater shrine without a deity, displaced from time, for all eternity. It’s a pretty grim prospect.

But Mizuki was only a familiar, and one Tomoe could easily defeat, had Nanami not decided to be merciful. There will be more adversaries, and they will be more powerful and perhaps more malevolent (there’s another one coming next week, in fact!). With all the free food and cute sprite servants and the regular contact with a very nice-lookin’ fellah, Nanami has to stop taking her new role lightly. There are bad gods out there who are just waiting for the moment Tomoe dozes off or she slips up. She must be vigilant. We’ll say this: her life has definitely gotten more “interesting” than those of her classmates, whose only foundation for existence seems to be hanging around hot guys…or picking on snakes.

Rating: 8 (Great)

Girls und Panzer – 03

Mako jumps aboard Team A’s Panzer before being run over, and while attempting to cross a bridge, a shot from another team knocks out Hana. Mako takes the controls, and Team A successfully immobilizes the other four teams, winning the mock battle. Hana, Saori, and Yukari name Miho their new commander, and Yukari grudgingly joins as driver. The class president arranges a friendly practice match against the elite St. Glorianna Girls’ School, and names Miho mission commander. The Ooarai township makes port as the match is to take place on dry land.

In spite of the inherent ridiculousness of the premise of this show, we find ourselves eminently charmed by its elegant execution and the earnest portrayal of its many characters. This is a world that is confident in its convictions and in its ability to tell a straightforward story that also entertains and delights. We still aren’t quite sure how no one gets injured from shells being fired at one another (even non-explosive ones – shrapnel, anyone?) but there’s clearly some underlying technology ensuring the girls’ safety (including those automatic white flags). It may lower the stakes, but it also makes a high school tankery team more plausible if the girls aren’t at risk of getting maimed each time they roll out.

We also liked how the various teams decked out their tanks: from feudal banners and war paint to gold-plating. One team even had the temerity to paint their M3 hot pink. Tank history buff Yukari makes sure the Type IV is spared external “personalization”, but the inside is made more livable with cushions and knick-knacks. While it’s never explained why the town is on the flight deck of a huge ship, an even huger ship shows up to dispatch the St. Glorianna contingent, cementing Ooarai’s new Tankery team as green underdogs. They’ll be leaning heavily on Nishizumi Miho’s tank pedigree, experience, and leadership.

Rating: 6 (Good)

Tank Cameos: The St. Glorianna’s team operates British Matilda II tanks, led by a single Churchill Mk VII. (thx Sonya!) Their insignia is of a Western tea service.