Sword Art Online – 18

Lyfa and Kirito leave the city bound for Arun, the base of the World Tree, but when her fellow party member Sigurn protests, she decides she’ll be a renegade with Kirito. Recon asks him to take care of her while he stays behind to investigate something. Oberon tells Asuna he met Kirito in the real world and doubts he’ll come for her, but Asuna knows better, and discovers the code for her cell door. Kirito experiences “rotating out” for the first time, but neither he nor Suguha notice the other is still in the game. Kirito has the feeling they’re being watched, and Suguha mentions the possibility of an animal “tracer”, in this case a bat.

The series seems to be committed to following Suguha everywhere, even places where she might not be fully clothed. While we know this is just fanservice, showing her in her underwear and naked in the bath could be construed as visual metaphors for her vulnerability as she struggles with her feelings for her brother and the nature of this new Kirito guy who has totally upturned her VR life (which isn’t a bad thing). Her comatose bro inspired her to start playing Alfeim Online, to see for herself the world her brother loved so much. One wonders why her mother allowed her daughter (and only conscious child at the time) to start playing VR games after what happened to Kazuto. Maybe she doesn’t know.

Her adventurous spirit in Alfeim doesn’t show through in the real world, where she decides against barging in on her brother. If she had, she could’ve discovered he’s Kirito, which would make things very interesting, but the series seems to be saving that revelation for another time, which we understand, as it’s a big one. Whenever it happens (and it better effing happen) the awkward situation between Suguha and Kazuto is at least more intriguing than seeing Oberon poking Asuna in her cage. Seriously, dude…you mounted a mirror so that the keypad could be seen in the reflection? We’re hoping that’s intentional, to give Asuna a glimmer of hope to later snuff out, ’cause that’s not good prison design.

Rating: 7 (Very Good)

P.S. The view from the top of that tower that Kirito and Lyfa jump off is inded quite nice. Also, honorable mention to Yui, who gets some cute scenes.

Sukitte Ii na yo – 05

Yamato is enjoying taking care of his kitten Kuro, which Mei found and insisted he take care of. He suggests Mei come over to his house with her cat Marshmallow to meet him. She comes over and meets Nagi, who doesn’t like her. Mei trips and falls into Yamato’s lap, and they maintain the resulting embrace when Nagi enters with tea and apple pie, and flips out. Yamato sends her to her room. Yamato tells Mei about Nagi’s situation, and when he briefly leaves to help Nakanishi out, Mei goes to Nagi’s room with her stuffed rabbit, Yamato #2. She tells her about her similar past, but also not to give up on making friends altogether.

The streak of Yamato leaving Mei alone with someone continues, but the streak of the ensuing confrontation being unpleasant thankfully ends, as Mei is able to come away in the win column with the initially-irritating Kurosawa Nagi. We’re still not sure why Yamato keeps getting called away in these situations, but that’s neither here nor there. Mei also learns not to panic and calm down when in a friendly embrace with her boyfriend, but unfortunately she’s one of those characters who has trouble dropping honorifics. Say it with us, Mei: Ya-Ma-To. Not hard. You won’t get divine retribution for calling a guy by his  given name.

It’s pretty easy for Mei otherwise, though, as Yamato isn’t really forcing her to have sex with him despite inviting her into his room, and Nagi, while initially dismissive, would have been hostile to Yamato’s girlfriend no matter what, because she’s going through a phase similar to a younger Mei in which she believes friends will only ever betray you, so fuck ’em. To her credit, Nagi has stayed productive in her time as a hermit, exploring her innate talent for both cooking and crafts. Mei wins her over and forms a bond through mutual experience, but Mei is now firmly on the pro-making friends team, and tells Nagi to give her and others a chance.

Rating: 8 (Great)

P.S. Marshmallow and Kuro’s parallel arc of tentative belligerents growling to best pals curled up together paralleled Mei and Nagi’s nicely.

From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 06

Trapped in the cave but alive, Saki recites Rijin’s words and somehow Satoru’s Cantus is restored. He uses his powers to bust them out of the cave, but many perils await them on the surface. Satoru seems to have fun killing Ground Spider queerats, and when Squealer and the Robber Fly remnants offer to escort them to safety, Satoru agrees. He defeats ambush after ambush, but begins to experience death feedback, and his powers weaken. Squealer shows them an enormous queerat army awaiting them up ahead.

When Saki somehow restores Satoru’s Cantus, he wastes no time putting on a psychokinetic clinic, kicking ass left and right by dividing boulders into cubic bullets, lifting trees out of their roots and turning them into burning missiles, and directing the flow of water, deflecting boulders launched at them, et cetera. But throughout all this, Satoru changes from the kind, gentle kid of just last week to someone crueler, more arrogant and vindictive. He’s having too much fun. Defense isn’t enough for him. He takes the fight to the queerats, and allows himself to get drawn into a war.

Satoru’s refrain is that if they simply run away, reunite with the others, get back in their canoes and go home, they’ll be pursued. He thinks running would be suicide. He wants to instill crippling fear in the queerats – every last one. But Satoru is just one person, and not nearly as disciplined as the monk Rijin; the extent of the pain and suffering hes causing to living creatures starts taking its toll fast. Thus far Satoru’s actions have only extended and worsened his date from hell with Saki. If he passes out, she’ll be all alone in a sea of queerats with no Cantus to stay afloat; a terrifying prospect.

Rating: 8 (Great)

Btooom! – 05

Sakamoto and Taira enjoy their first meal in a while, and Taira praises Sakamoto as a hero. The corpse of fat man who tried to rape Himiko falls down a waterfall, and when Sakamoto scouts, he sees Himiko at the top of a cliff. She drops a gas bomb, which draws him out to a clearing where she’s ready with four players’ worth of BIMs. He manages to talk her down, but when he steps forward, she throws a BIM at him, but has bad aim.

In their struggle and she ends up shocking herself unconscious with her stun gun. After fighting off temptation, Sakamoto takes her to the stream with Taira, where she tells them how they ended up on the island. Taira insists they still try to get off the island to work things out back home. They’re then surrounded by a pack of giant monitor lizards.

We knew Sakamoto would have his work cut out for him if he ever crossed paths with Himiko, which he was sure to do as the two of them are together in the OP. We weren’t wrong, as he relies on her bad aim and clumsiness with a stun gun. When she wakes up in his arms, she’s still ready to take herself out along with him. Her dealings with men thus far have her convinced that no matter how nice Sakamoto seems, he will end up raping and killing her. Sakamoto even has a moment of weakness when he realizes he could take her panties without consequence, justifying her suspicion.

Thankfully, he deduces why the fat man was pantsless and stops himself. She only ceases her resistance because the stun gun made her numb, but Taira and Sakamoto assure her they’re not her enemy, and just want to go home. Himiko doesn’t,  believing there’s nothing left for her back home. Sakamoto, meanwhile realizes it was probably his mother who voted him away for running down her husband when he was hiding being laid off. Sakamoto was a haughty little shit, and whether his plight is just or not, had he been a nicer son, he wouldn’t be on this island.

Rating: 7 (Very Good)