Zetsuen no Tempest – 15

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Evangeline, Samon, and Natsumura meet with Hanemura, who accidentally demonstrates his power by making an entire branch of the Tree of Genesis disappear. They bring him to Mahiro for questioning, and then sparring, where they confirm he lacks emotional fortitude. Meanwhile Yoshino and Hakaze are at an amusement park and bump into Junichiro, who shoos Yoshino off and makes Hakaze realize she’s fallen in love with Yoshino, which may be bad considering her position. Evangeline unveils a unique plan, approved by the Kusaribes, to use Hanemura while continuing to test his powers.

Ah, now that’s more like it, Tempest! This was a splendid episode that gave everyone something to do, featured interesting combinations of characters, and quite unexpectedly the funniest episodes of the series so far…an episode of comic undertones that we didn’t  see coming. Seriously, everyone had a comic moment, to the extent it almost felt like a Jormungand episode what with all the jaunty banter flying around. Tempest can at times be a bit stiff and stuffy, so it was nice to see it let its hair down, without sacrificing the progression of the story.

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One of the better moments: when Mahiro mocks Hanemura for wanting to save the world for the sake of his (ex)-girlfriend, he totally shuts him down by bringing up something no one yet dared bring up: Mahiro has at the least, a sister complex, and at worst, is in love with her, and not in a brotherly way. Hanemura may be a little skittish, but he’s not about to take everything lying down. Even funnier, Evangeline and her boss are planning to turn Hanemura into some kind of superhero, and despite Samon thinking it will be a hard sell to Hakaze, she agrees to the plan immediately…without hearing it.

That brings us to Hakaze’s longwinded explanation for why she couldn’t possibly be in love with Yoshino, which eventually ends up proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that she’s fallen for him (she wants to touch his earlobes all night. LOL.) But the ever-pragmatic Junichiro warns her not to let that love get too far: it may end up killing Yoshino’s girlfriend – who nearly everyone still thinks is still alive. Which brings up a good point: could Hakaze’s budding love for Yoshino in the present have caused Aika’s death in the past?


Rating: 9 (Superior)

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Kotoura-san – 03

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Kotoura and the ESP society go to Karaoke, her first time. Yuriko thinks Kotoura should tell Manabe how she feels, or at least start making his lunch. A bitter, enraged Moritani tells her dojo members to “rough up” Manabe, telling them he’s a stalker. He misses school and is in the hospital. Kotoura knows Moritani’s responsible, but doesn’t snitch. She rushes to the hospital, and hears Manabe thinking he’s glad she wasn’t with him when the beating happened. Afraid of hurting him more, she leaves school and moves out of her apartment.

This show keeps getting better. Sure, there’s the familiar fact that Kotoura knows Manabe likes her, but he doesn’t know she knows, so the balls in her court and…well, she doesn’t play ball. She doesn’t sing either, and is (refreshingly!) tone-deaf even when she gains her confidence. Manabe remains extremely into Kotoura (his high jump reaction is frikkin’ awesome), to the extent he’d rather take a beating for her than let her experience any more pain that she already has up to this point. The show does a great job building up the tension, and it’s not immediately clear who’ll come afoul of the dojo-mates. And though they never show him fighting, Manabe also gives almost as good as he got, despite being outnumbered.

But it’s Manabe. We thought when she first got the new of Manabe’s beating she’d think it was because she is the curse so many people told her she was, but she doesn’t, because Moritani makes it clear (in her thoughts) that she ordered the heavys to rough him up (though we can’t blame them, they thought they were protecting Moritani). But once Kotoura is in the hospital, peeking in at a battered Manabe, thinking about how he doesn’t mind getting hurt for her sake, she chokes, and decides to run (though, obviously, not for good). What she has yet to learn is that part of letting people get close to you is accepting that sometimes they’ll get hurt, and so will you. It’s not her fault, nor anyone else’s. It’s just life.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Amnesia – 03

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Shin takes the heroine home from the hospital. The next morning he returns, telling her they’ve been dating for three months. He takes her to her university, hoping to jog her memories, including in the practice room where they first kissed. When she returns to work, the trip to Shinano differs in several details, and Kent and Ikku no longer work at the maid cafe. She asks Shin what happened the night of her accidnent, but all he can tell her for now is that it was “all his fault.”

Things don’t get any easier for our poor delicate heroine this week, as she wakes up in a hospital, back in the beginning of August, after an employee retreat that she remembers happened days later. And it isn’t just dates she’s confused about: people who used to work at the cafe are now just random acquaintances. There was no meteor shower. And the “photographer” guy? He helped them look for her, but now he seems to vanish into thin air when she’s not alone. Consistent  facts elude the heroine at every turn. We’d be pissed, but she handles it all with grace and patience.

All we know for sure (we think!) is that she fell off a cliff and was injured How, and why and to what extent she was hurt, we don’t know. Nor do we know if the last episode was just a dream, or if this one is. Shin isn’t forthcoming, because he’s not confident enough to discuss it calmly, or something. Beside their frustrating discussion, a juggler juggles, providing a not-so-subtle visual aid of what the heroine is trying to do. And then, to complicate matters further, Orion, who had been absent in this time, tries to re-establish contact.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

P.S. The heroine’s university is Rikkyo University in Ikebukuro. We happened upon the real thing while on a trip  there and were struck by its Western design. It looked like someone plopped down a patch of England right in the middle of Tokyo! Also, like Shin, we love melon soda.

 

Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke – 03

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PANDRA attends a summit in the Kingdom of Monarch, whose leader Princess Sophie is in favor of normal-esper coexistence. They cross paths with Minamoto and Sasaki of the BAse of Backing ESP Laboratory (BABEL). Sasaki steals a USB drive from Hyoubu that contains a video game, which unlocks state secrets when they beat it. Meanwhile, PANDRA kidnaps Sophie after Yugiri had a premonition about her assassination. Minamoto finds out that an anti-Esper member of the government arranged the assassination. PANDRA successfully foils his plans and he is arrested.

There’s comfort in easy wins, but not much excitement. Sometimes, you want the good guys (or in this case bad…ish guys) to be truly challenged; to have to put everything on the line and expend the maximum amount of energy and resources to achieve their goals. But that’s not yet the case, and part of it is because PANDRA and Hyoubu Kyousuke are so damned powerful, they more often than not make humans look pitiful, powerless, and silly. The number of humans who hate espers may outnumber those espers by quite a degree, but they can’t kill an esper with a thought.

So: easy wins. This is certainly one. The outcome was never in doubt; Princess Sophie wasn’t going to get assassinated. The trick was to get the assassin – the mastermind, if you can call him that – to reveal himself. To do so, Hyoubu arranged a clever set of lures, including the princess herself. But the time spent wandering the city with her and watching the BABEL guys play a video game, while fun, feel like padding, and the animation didn’t look particularly good this week. One redeeming quality: the princess was neither a high-pitched squirt nor spoiled bitch. She was an adult, and a very pleasant one.


Rating: 5 (Average)

Org Charts Winter 2013 Update

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New season, new anime, new charts. Of course,  most of these are incomplete. We’ll fill in the characters and their relationships as they appear in the episodes. Note: Dotted lines indicate a former/uncertain/indefinite/suspended relationship.

Legend:


 

Amnesia (2/12)

Chihayafuru 2 (2/25)

From the New World (Shin sekai yori) (16/25)

Kotoura-san (2/12)

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (3/12)

OreShura (3/13)

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Sasami@Ganbaranai (2/12)

Tamako Market (3/12)

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Vividred Operation (3/12)

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Zetsuen no Tempest (14/24)

Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Hyousuke (2/-)

OreShura – 03

Masuzu borrows from Eita’s notebook to write a script for a dramatic presentation between Eita and Chiwa that will make them more popular. They pull it off, and when Chiwa asks Sakagami out, he accepts, and arranges a Sunday movie date. Eita prepares a celebratory feast for Chiwa, but she doesn’t know why they’re celebrating, and doesn’t know why Eita is okay with her dating another guy. Flashback to when she is first released from the hospital before high school. Eita promises he’ll become the top student, become a doctor, and heal her injuries.

After this episode, we found ourselves disliking Masuzu more than Chiwa, and we honestly didn’t think that would happen. Chiwa loves Eita, and not just as a little brother (she’s actually three months older than him). That was clear in the flashback, when Eita’s parents have abandoned him and her kendo career has been cruelly  prematurely cut short. She wants to make sure he isn’t going anywhere, and he assures her he isn’t. (We also learn that he applies himself in high school for Chiwa’s sake.) So they remain neighbors and very close friends, but never anything beyond friends. Enter Masuzu with her fake relationship with Eita, bourne from her possession of his Chuunibyou notebook.

She comes up with a scheme to get Chiwa a boyfriend, but the only boy Chiwa is really interested in is Eita. The two have had a long, wonderful, caring, real relationship, something far more substantial than Masuzu’s selfish, flimsy desire to deflect attention from herself. But the blame doesn’t rest with Masuzu alone: Eita earns some for being so imperceptive to Chiwa’s feelings – despite improving himself for her sake; while Chiwa earns some for not making those feelings clear enough for someone so dense. Masuzu has only exasperated their romantic impasse. And that’s why we don’t much care her right now.


Rating: 8 (Great)

From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 16

Saki and Satoru read the farewell letter Maria wrote to her and gave to Squonk. She tells them why they can’t go back to the village, tells them not to go looking for them, and to tell the village that they died. Saki and Satoru leave the Robber Fly Colony and search for a second day, this time splitting up, but there’s no sign of their friends. Saki has a nightmare in which a faceless boy tells her to stop the search. She and Satoru sleep together on the second night, with only one day remaining before they must return to the village.

The intense emotional resonance of this episode would not have been possible without all of the episodes that preceded it, and thus serves as a testament to their quality. As Maria narrates her letter and we watch flashbacks of her life with Saki, from meeting in harmony school to sharing their first kiss, it’s a heartbreakingly beautiful sequence. What could easily come across as mushy in other works, is honest and affecting here. We couldn’t help but tear up a little as Saki did when the letter concluded. What’s so awesome is that it serves as both a touching love letter and, at the same time, a scathing treatise on society in this new world – one in which adults fear their children.

Saki can’t argue with any of the notions Maria expresses about their village, but now that Tomiko has handpicked Saki to succeed her, she’s not torn between loyalty and love of her friends, of which now she only has one, Satoru, and that Tomiko, who trusts her to one day take the reins, and the bad with the good. The way mankind lives isn’t perfect; in fact, it can be as fearsome and deranged as Saki’s chilling nightmare. But no matter how mankind has chosen to live, there will always be that one dark egg in a million that contains a demon. Perhaps the faceless boy (Shun?) told Saki her lover Maria had to die, because opinions about society like Maria’s may lead to its demise.

Saki and Satoru still have one more day. After that, they really may be all alone in the world. But they’ll still have one another.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha – 03

With the crop experiments in the village proceeding well, Maou and Yuusha travel to a convent in Lake Country to share knowledge of potato cultivation. The prioress turns out to be Onna Kishi, a member of the hero’s original band. She tells him another member, Onna Mahoutsukai went looking for him and hasn’t been heard from. Kishi agrees to Maou’s terms and will join them at the village where the first new convent will be built. They return home, and Yuusha sets out to find Mahoutsukai.

Last week got an 8 and we feel it deserved it. It didn’t shy away from the inherent cruelty in this world, or the implacable human compulsion to sort themselves by class. We couldn’t find it in ourselves to give this episode the same rating. This week was a little more clinical; we felt like Maou was constantly giving us lectures. Onna Kishi’s introduction was…underwhelming, and Maou couldn’t help but label any female friend of Yuusha’s as an “old flame.” These new characters make Maou weary, even jealous.

In the end, one of them draws Yuusha away from Maou, at a time when Alliance members are talking about assassins. We get it: if a hero hears that someone is in trouble, he has to save them. But leaving Maou alone just seems dumb; even her tagging along would’ve been safer. And why has nothing. gone on between them in all these months? You’d think he’d have the guts to give the woman he’s promised himself to a goodbye kiss on the lips at the very least…but you’d be wrong. Needlessly slow romances annoy us…and the Chief Maid is with us on this!


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

P.S. Goddamn is that ED theme beautiful.

Chihayafuru 2 – 02

Sumire follows Taichi to the karuta society, watches him play, and laments that someone like him is so into it. The first-years are greatly reduced to four in the next lesson, then only two, including and Tsukuba, who played second-verse karuta in Hokkaido with different cards and rules. Sumire isn’t willing to sacrifice her nails for karuta, and runs off when she accidentally blurts out she’s only there to be close to Mashima. Ooe runs after her and gets her to come back, where she starts studying the poems and clipping her nails.

Like last week, this episode deals with the competition of multiple agendas in the karuta club. Nishida is focused on the upcoming prelims. Chihaya is focused on the first-years, to Nishida’s chagrin. Sumire is focused on her looks and on Mashima, to Ooe’s chagrin. Tsukuba wants to expand his karuta repertoire  If the club is going to succeed at anything at all, some parties are going to have to convince others to adopt their priorities, or at least compromise on their own. And that’s what happens this week.

“Is this all there is”, Sumire asks herself, already bored with her new “friends”. But karuta intrigues her, so she decides to clip her nails and try – not just for Mashima, but for herself. Ooe tells Sumire that the love poetry has only endured so long because it followed certain structural rules, and so must she. It turns out Chihaya blames herself for her team losing the championship, even though no one else does, but now they understand why she cares so much about the team growing, so Nishima decides to train the first years.


Rating: 8 (Great)

 

Vividred Operation – 02

Aoi transforms like Akane, only red, and they use their boomerang and hammer to attack the Alone and deflect its weapon blasts. The Navy assists them in taking out the Alone’s core, but Akane and Aoi can’t “dock” for somereason. A mysterious girl fires an arrow at the Alone, reviving and strengthening it. Aoi confesses what she was hiding – she’s always hated tomatoes – and she and Akane “dock” successfully, joining bodies and minds into one form – Vivid Blue – and destroy the Alone. The next morning they learn their school has also been destroyed, so they’ll have to transfer.

Vividred is keeping things nice and simple so far. There’s a monster; only the girls can prevent forest fires defeat it (by yelling a lot); so they’re given hip sci-fi outfits and told to go have at it. And they do! We’re clearly in maho shojo territory, with only a thin film of sci-fi trappings. (Neat-looking) systems, hardware and abilities are explained, but not in any kind of detail, and that’s a good decision in our opinion. Less technobabble dumps, more action,and Stuff Getting Blowed Up. And a lot of the action is pretty frikkin’ sweet. Lots of flying around in a perfect blue sky, and much firing and dodging of weapons.

Memorable images that flash past the screen include the sight of tiny, sickly Aoi in her cybersailor costume holding up an F-35 with her bare hands and gently setting it down on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, or the two girls flying in formation with said joint strike fighters. There’s probably double the crotchshots from last week, but that’s okay, they’re quick and not that distracting. Also, Aoi’s Big Dark Secret holding back their docking was…teehee, she doesn’t like tomatoes! We kinda doubt the families of the dozens if not hundreds of people killed in the delay she caused could laugh about it like Aoi and Akane did…not a great moment, there.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Sasami-san@Ganbaranai – 02

Tsurugi notes that an unusual number of students are skipping school, including her colleague Kamiomi’s sister Sasami. Kagami believes they have become addicted to an MMORPG, so the Yagami sisters travel to Kamiomi’s home to investigate, using Sasami’s many computers. Worried they’ll shut the game down and erase all her progress, she attempts to sabotage their efforts, but fails. Eventually, everyone is sucked into the game, where a divine monster is keeping the game alive. Kagami deduces that the monster is the produce of Sasami’s wish for the game to never be shut down, as it was when the company was in financial trouble three years ago. She bids the monster rest in peace and the MMO is shut down.

After primarily showing last week, the beginning of this episode is all about telling. Specifically, that Sasami is most likely “unmotivated” beause she once possessed the powers of Amaterasu, the most powerful of the myriad gods that inhabit the world (In the Shinto religion, sheis the goddess of the sun and universe, from whom the Emperor of Japan is directly descended.) Emphasis on once. Now, apparently, her faceless brother Kamiomi has that power, and he accidentally used it to turn the world into chocolate last week. This week Sasami must deal with something accidentally done in service of her wish for an MMO game to never be shut down.The game was her escape three years ago, and all the other lesser gods heard that wish and made it come true.

It resulted in an unpopular game suddenly becoming all the rage, and that game’s central monster trapping the 10,000 players inside, thus the game will never end as she wished. From what little we see of it, it’s not the best game, and Sasami seems to realize that when the time comes to free all those people. Keeping the game alive was nice and all, but she didn’t need it anymore. And so we have another instance of the entire world being altered because of a misinterpreted whim made by those who just happen to have the powers of Amaterasu. or was this just the three Yagami sisters inviting themselves into Sasami’s house, messing up all her shit, and playing video games in the dark? It was both, and more.


Rating: 8 (Great)

 

Zetsuen no Tempest – 14

Mahiro reawakens on New Years Day, and he’s told by Samon, Evangeline, and Takumi that they’re on the lookout for the Mage of Exodus, the one with the power to change the world that is now controlled by the Tree of Genesis. They believe Yoshino may be the mage. Samon goes on to say Hakaze has a crush on Yoshino, and chosen him as her partner as she travels around assessing the change Genesis has brought. They encounter Hanemura Megumu, who believes he may be the mage. Hakaze tests him with a duel, and while he posssesses the power to neutralize her magic, he lacks Exodu’s merciless will to kill and destroy.

Everything has gotten more complicated in the world, but the long and short of it appears to be this: Kusaribe Hakaze still has the power to decide the fate of the world, Takigawa Yoshino has inadvertently stolen her heart (though neither have quite grasped it yet). That means Yoshino has the power to influence her, which means he has the power to decide the fate of the world. So far, Samon, Evangeline, and Takumi are operating under the possibility Yoshino is the Mage of Exodus, which means he could be trying to erode Hakaze trust in the Tree of Genesis, which has created a world without war or social problems, but at the cost of billions of lives (like Jormungand on steroids).

But wait, who’s this wimpy guy with the red powers who is able to stand up to the Princess, who we get to see in a one-on-one battle for the first time? Well he could be the mage too, though like other “The Ones”, while he has the gift, he’s not ready to use it. In a series full of fated encounters, it’s fitting Yoshino randomly bumps into him on a train platform – and that Hakaze instinctively dropkicks him. But thankfully, he’s not your typical “nice evil guy who loses it”…not yet, at least. And we like how Samon playing Mahiro off Yoshino – and using his dead sister as a carrot – is going to continue.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Kotoura-san – 02

Kotoura and Manabe are recruited into the ESP Society by upperclassman Mifune Yuriko and meet its president, Muroto Daichi. Mifune, daughter of a clairvoyant who committed suicide after beoming hated and feared wants to scientifically prove the existence ESP to mankind and protect psychics from their prejudices. Manabe constantly spending time with Kotoura irks Moritani Hiyori, who likes him, so she and her friends start bullying her as payback. Mifune hears of this an informs Manabe, who confronts Hiyori, chastizes her, and admits he likes Kotoura.

Just because Kotoura’s made one, two even three friends up to this point (or one friend and two senpai), things aren’t getting any easier for her, or anyone else with ESP who lives amongst the normals. We meet the rest of the core cast, which includes Hanazawa Kana as Mifune, doing a normal voice. We could see her doing Kotoura with her shy-mode, but she makes a good senpai too, and in any case, after her nicely layered performance as Yui in Kokoro Connect, we have every confidence in Kanemoto Hisako. (As for Daichi, it’s good to see midget representation this season!). Mifune may not have ESP like Kotoura, but her mother did, and it was literally the death of her. Mifune may have a selfish reason for wanting to enlist Kotoura, but it’s an honorable one; trying to clear her mom’s name, and Kotoura stands to gain from the situation too.

As for Moritani, she and her goons are tremendously nasty bitches this week, transmitting so many awful thoughts to Kotoura that the poor thing barfs, making her even more an object of derision and mockery. She’s so used to it, she doesn’t make a peep about it to Manabe, which is where Mifune comes in. Proving her worth, she makes up for putting Kotoura in that position in the first place by making sure Manabe hears about the bullying, and when he brings the hammer down on Moritani – confessing to liking Kotoura for good measure – it’s very satisfying. Manabe may not be psychic, but he’s no fool; he knows there’s no way the bullying wasn’t hurting Kotoura, and wasn’t going to let those responsible get away with it.

That said, both the OP and ED suggest that Moritani won’t remain so vicious, and while her actions this week are inexcusable, they don’t come out of nowhere (another example of characters’ actions having clear origins). She too knows loneliness (though not nearly to Kotoura’s extent), and Manabe was one of the few guys who wasn’t offput by her family running a dojo. Now he’s preoccupied with Kotoura, and she can’t help but feel like she stole him…even if she never officially had him to begin with. In any case, we hope Kotoura has an episode down the road where she doesn’t have to suffer so terribly…though considering all she’s been through, the fact she’s kept on living is proof she’s far tougher than she looks.


Rating: 8 (Great)