Chihayafuru 2 – 05

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Mizusawa plays Homei in the Tokyo Regional Finals, but even though both of them will move on to the Nationals, both Chihaya and Retro are desperate to win it. Retro chose to play Mizusawa’s order straight despite his new president Kameda’s desire to play a low-energy match. Kameda faces off with Chihaya, but she spends most of the match trying to emulate Wakamiya Shinobu’s silent style. Nishida is the first to lose. Chihaya decides to try combining the strenghs of Queen Wakamiya and Master Suo, taking a card from Kameda with authority.

Men should never begin a sentence with the word “but”!

When he hears his players bickering, Mashima remembers his overbearing mom’s words, which are good ones to live by even if you’re not a man. Saying “but” is like saying the world owes you a favor. Life isn’t fair; you get over it and move on. Mizusawa is already moving on, but they still face Hokuo. Last year, they owed part of their victory to their player order working out. Kameda, ever focused on the next card; the next match; wants to slip into the Nationals like an old man into a tub; nice and easy. Not so fast, says Retro-kun: there’s something to be said for preserving one’s pride.

This is an old and venerable game steeped with honor (Mizusawa’s hakamas are a very visible reminder of that); applying modern pragmatism…cheapens it a bit. This week, Chihaya is figuring things out. She is gunning for Wakamiya, who may well still be out of reach, but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t try. That means a lot of her match with Kameda involves trial-and-error. We also liked how former Hokuo ace Sudo is the reader, and how Oe, at least briefly, trusted him. It’s good to see other players doing well.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

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Vividred Operation – 05

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Akane and her three friends invite their classmate Kuroki Rei to be in their group for the upcoming summer trip, but she refuses. On her way home Rei saves a child from an I-beam, and her master, speaking in the form of a crow, warns her not to waver in her duty. That night she tries and fails to infiltrate the Manifester facility herself. Akane finds her washed up on a beach and takes her home. When an Alone alert sends Akane away, Rei follows her, but passes out before she can fire the arrow. She wakes up again at Akane’s, but refuses to be friends. Akane’s mom tells Akane not to give up on Rei.

By merit of being her grandfather’s granddaughter, Akane ended up fighting to protect the Manifester engine he invented. By merit of becoming friends with Akane, Aoi, Wakaba, and Himawari ended up on her side. They’re the “Good Guys”, but Kuroki Rei is different. She shoots arrows at the Alones to make them stronger. She’s on the side of the “Bad Guys”, and her contact is a sinister crow. Why? Because they’ve convinced her they can restore the world as it was – when her beloved parents were still alive. She’s decided she’ll do anything – including destroying the current world – to bring them back. And yet Akane and the good guys want to be friends with her, and don’t know she’s their enemy, working against them.

On her extremely badass, Mission Impossible-style night raid, Rei frags the robots that snapped her picture. Her incriminating bow and arrow vanish before Akane finds her. When Rei asks Akane if she’d do anything to bring back her dad and get her mom out of the hospital, Akane says sure – as long as it doesn’t end up troubling others. But on her current path, Rei is going to trouble and hurt a lot of people. She’s signed a deal with the devil, and it’s unlikely they’ll let her back out unscathed. And yet even if Akane learned the truth, I doubt she and the others would rescind their offer of friendship. After all, there’s nothing like bringing a Bad Guy over to the Good side.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

OreShura – 06

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Akishino Himeka wishes to join the club, and after reading from Eita’s notebook about his previous “angels”, Masuzu gives Hime an assignment: writing a poem about what she wants to accomplish in the club. While Masuzu, Himeka and Chiwa are cleaning the pool, Masuzu’s sister Mana shows up, telling Suzu their father wants her home in Sweden pronto. Masuzu initially surrenders, but while she and Chiwa are gone Hime arrives with her poem. Mana swipes it and reads it mockingly while her driver keeps Eita back. They eventually shame Mana into returning the book and Masuzu makes her apologize and refuses to go with her. Hime joins the club, but the hall monitor Fuyuumi Ai threatens to shut it down.

She may express it in an overly stylized and florid, fantastical way, but we don’t doubt that Akishino Himeka’s feelings for Eita are real, nor do we question how she arrived at them. There’s nothing unrealistic about admiring someone who fights to protect those he loves even when the odds are against him. His convictions also inspired Hime, a shy and introverted girl, to believe that she too can break out of her shell and make more friends. The only minor contrivance is that she was in the right place at the right time to witness the spectacle that made her aware of Eita’s existence and led to her falling for him (or as she puts it, unlocking memories of her past life.)

We respect Hime because while we fully understand why Chiwa and Masuzu like Eita, it’s Hime, shy as she is, who is the first one to clearly express her feelings for him. No fake boyfriend pretense; no hanging back and admiring him from afar. She grabs ahold of what she wants and knows why she wants it. Rather unexpectedly, it’s Hime’s newfound courage and resolve – putting herself between a battered Eita and that bitch Mana’s bodyguard – that inspires the haughty Masuzu to take a stand and not go running home to daddy just because there will be hell to pay if she doesn’t. Now she has friends she can lean on if and when the consequences arrive.


Rating: 8 (Great)

From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 19

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Saki and Satoru join a group of three others and patrol for queerat stragglers. When they arrive at the hospial, everything is dark and there’s a gaping hole in the building. One of the group heads in, Satoru realizes there are queerats around. He and the other three set the fields ablaze, killing a queerat force. They slowly investigate the hospital, and find three survivors who are paralyzed with fear. Their initial attacker returns, and kills two of the group. Saki and Satoru split off from the rest and escape in the boat, but they’re being followed…

The darker horror elements of this series return with a vengeance, and though they were never entirely absent from any episode thus far, things are definitely kicked up a couple of notches. What was once an omnipresent but subtle feeling of tension and dread has now completely inundated the picture. This shit is dark. As in, better watched at night so you can see what’s going on. The episode itself is called “Darkness”. Rather than comfort us by letting a few days pass after that harrowing surprise attack, we’re still with Saki and Satoru on a night from hell that just won’t end.

No good can come from investigating spooky hospitals with holes in them in the middle of the night. Duh. But Satoru is tired of being in the dark; he wants to know what’s happened in there. Be careful what you wish for: the culprit and nemesis of the episode is either a fiend or karma demon, and it’s not friendly. Even more chilling is the prospect it was the one that annihilated the Giant Hornets. Could this thing be on Yakomaru’s side? If it is, that’s very bad news. It means the defeat of the humans is no longer outside the realm of possibility. As if it ever was…


Rating: 8 (Great)