OreShura – 02

Masuzu informs Chiwa that she’s dating Eita. Masuzu wants to help Chiwa become more popular with the boy by inviting her to the hastily-formed “Club for Young Maidens to Recreate Themselves”, or “Nice Self-Creation” for short. She also conscripts Eita. After Chiwa picks her target of seduction, Masuzu suggests she carry a guitar case around, pretending to be an artist. Chiwa fails in her first attempt, but makes an impression with her target’s younger brother. Masuzu reminds Eita that fake boyfriend or not, he belongs to her.

There’s a possibility we’ll look on these first episodes of OreShura with fondness, as they chronicled a time before it devolved into Masuzu and Chiwa going at each other in mutual contempt, or before those other two girls show up to give complete Eita’s harem. But maybe that’s being too pessimistic. Chiwa may not like the fact that Masuzu is dating Eita, but she doesn’t outright hate her guts, and has even agreed to be taken under her wing. We also learn about Chiwa’s back injury that pulled her goal out from under her, and how Eita respects and admires his childhood friend and neighbor for how she’s handled things. It was a nice little backstory that fleshes her out a bit more.

This leads Masuzu to the obvious conclusion that Eita, on some level, loves Chiwa, and not just on the level of a childhood friend. Thus Masuzu uses her body to remind Eita of his duty to her, and the pain he’s in for if he betrays her. Eita continus to be cowed by Masuzu’s looks and forceful personality, and he doesn’t show off his quick intellect as much in this episode as the first. He even lets himself be forced into a completely random club (What is it with these “nothing” clubs?) composed of just him, Masuzu and Eita – despite the fact it’s a club for girls. This is silly, but at least Masuzu and Chiwa’s interactions were downright civil and endurable.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Vividred Operation – 01

In the near future, Isshiki Akane and her crotch live on the Utopian Izu Oshima island with her sister Momo and grandfather Kenjirou, who invented the revolutionary Incarnate Engine that provides clean energy. On the day when Akane’s friend Futaba Aoi is returning to the island, a powerful “Alone” also approaches, overwhelming UN defense forces.

Kenjirou finishes his latest invention, but as a result his consciousness is transferred into a stuffed weasel. He leads Akane to the Incarnate Engine, atop which Aoi’s plane crashes, and in her flying motorbike, Akane rescues her from falling. Her clothing then changes, and gramps announces the activation of the Vivid Sytem.

This episode does a competent enough job introducing a futuristic world and a brave girl who must get over her fear of heights and utilize her grandfather’s technology to save her island from a fierce baddie the military can’t scratch. When it’s not randomly shoving Akane’s crotch in our faces, that is. Fanservice aside, it’s bright, shiny, and visually arresting at times. There’s no question the production values here are very nice.

We love us some futuristic sci-fi action. But for all its flashy packaging, Vividred feels a bit…routine. Akane is not the most interesting, original heroine (yet). Having watched so much quality sci-fi last year – series that had something to say beyond “girl dresses up fancy/saves world” (They all had that, sure, but that wasn’t all they had.) Vividred will have to find a way to stand out to keep us interested. Less ass shots, more talking weasels.


Rating: 6 (Good)

From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 15

The igloo is gone, presumably leveled by Maria and Mamoru, so Saki and Satoru continue their search, following a queerat who spotted them. Saki falls down a snow cornice, but Satoru saves her. They are welcomed to the Robber Fly Colony, which is showing signs of vastly increased technology, and they have lobotomized their queen and set up a representative government. Squealer, now called Yakomaru, guides them to the Goat Moth colony, accompanied by organized soldiers. They find Squonk, who tells Saki he doesn’t know where Maria and Mamoru went, but has a letter from them.

We knew the search for Maria and Mamoru wasn’t going to be easy; in order to survive  they felt they needed to erase all evidence they were still alive. It’s a big world out there, and with Canti, they can move quite fast. And while we knew from the preview that this episode would feature Squealer, we would never have guessed how far things have come in the years since they last crossed paths. On the one hand, its a good time to be a Robber Fly; on the other hand, their civilization is developing at a frightening pace, so much so that Satoru is worried the queerats’ ultimate goal is to replace humanity, adopting the material culture they abandoned. It’s not a farfetched concern. They already vastly outnumber them.

After seeing how the queerats ended up solving their “queen problem” (they need them to breed, but they’re too tyrannical and unstable), it’s not a big leap to say they would take a look at solving their “god problem” in a similar way, if humans threatened their survival or even attempted to curtail their progress. Squealer is as hard-to-read as ever; his obedience seems more reluctant that before, and he has much more confidence. Ruthless and violent as queerat queens were, they were always a natural check on over-development – almost an extension of human dominion over queerats. Now that check is gone. If we were humans living in Saki’s time, we’d be very, very nervous.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha – 02

Maou decides to begin agricultural experiments and education in a small village. Yuusha meets Maou’s longtime Head Maid. One night two serfs – sisters – break into the stables. The Maid is ready to turn them in, but Maou and Yuusha let them spend the night, and the maid eventually offers them jobs as maids. Maou begins enriching the land and educating the village youth, the first small step in her and Yuusha’s crusade.

Whenever characters have such well-defined traits and limitations – be it a queen, hero, maid or serf – there’s the risk of them becoming mere allegories in service of the plot, at the cost of emotional connection to them. Indeed, every character here is a manifestation of an idea/worldview first and foremost. The Maid is cold, logical, and unyielding, but tempered by her master’s authority. While she may sound cruel in making no distinction between serfs, slaves, and insects, she knows no other way to express these concepts. Her role doesn’t require her to distinguish between insects and humans who can’t or won’t determine their own fate.

But there’s something very weird and cool going on here: despite the characters being such strong archetypes, the sense of order that ensues is comforting and reliable. And Maou and Yuusha remain a cute, warm, and surprisingly witty couple; even if Yuusha doesn’t seem to be doing much yet, it’s clear just his being with Maou lends her emotional and moral support. We like how she gets into the nitty-gritty of agriculture and illustrates just how much careful, intricate preparation will be required to achieve their ultimate goal of peace.

On top of all that work, Yuusha isn’t even sure what peace is and where his place will be in that peace, other than by Maou’s side. After all, who needs heroes in a perfectly resolved world with no enemies to defeat or battles to win?


Rating: 8 (Great)