Aku no Hana – 02

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Kasuga gives in to temptation and takes Saeki’s gym uniform home with him. The next day the teacher reports the theft and requests info. On the way to the bookstore, he runs into Nakamura, who knows he took the uniform. She wants a ride, but he runs away, leaving her with his bike. He contemplates fessing up the next day, but he can’t gather the courage. Nakamura makes him meet her in the library where she ambushes him with Saeki, pushes him into Saeki’s bosom, and then tells him they have a “contract”: she’ll stay silent, but she’ll take “something precious” from him in return.

We decided to watch Oregairu before this this week, and you know what? Aku no Hana was the better episode tonight. Last week was very much a setup of Kasuga Takao’s existence, but we were left hanging with only our assumptions about what would transpire. This week he springs into action, letting his hormones get the best of him, hating himself for committing such a heinous sin, and of course getting caught in the web of the quiet, weird, sullen girl who get’s a very devlish grin on her face when she’s about to torture him.

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I’ll fess up. I’ll apologize before Nakamura can tell everyone. I’ll give Saeki her clothes back tomorrow.

Of course, Kasuga does none of these things. Even feaing Nakamura squealing, he just can’t face the consequences of confessing. Nakamura gave him the day to do so, but he didn’t. She calls him a coward and weakling, and then she has him. Sitting directly behind him, perhaps she’s jealous of all the attention Kasuga showers on Saeki from a afar; she who has done nothing to deserve such adoration. Perhaps Nakamura even likes Kasuga, but can’t express it properly, so she’ll choose to bully him. Or maybe this is just how she gets her kicks. The fact of the matter is, Kasuga did do something wrong, and she’s not going to let him off easy.

For the second straight week the series proves adept at building scenes fraught with tension, both by the somewhat unsettling character design and the understated ambient score. The rotoscoped characters are jarring (whoa! They’re human-looking!), but we won’t deny it’s refreshing to see such realistically-proportioned and naturally-moving characters. It sets itself apart visually from anything else we’ve seen this year, and fits well with the whole uncomfortable vibe of this world. And that ED themetrippy as shit.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Oregairu – 02

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During lunch Hachiman observes how Yui’s more popular friend Yumiko treats her. He tries in vein to stop it, but it’s Yukino who arrives to put Yumiko in her place. Afterwards Yui finds the words to explain to Yumiko why she hasn’t been around. Chuunibyou sufferer Zaimokuza Yoshiteru comes to the Service club to ask them to read his light novel. Hachiman and Yukino get through it in a night (Yui doesn’t read it) and while their collective criticism is harsh, it ends up inspiring Yoshiteru to keep writing.

So it’s starting to look likely that each episode will open with a haughty monologue by Hachiman that looks down on society in some way in order to make him feel better about the fact he’s socially awkward. We weren’t big fans of the first monologue, and we don’t like this one that much either; something we and his teacher have in common! At any rate, while he may decry the pack mentality of high school, he can’t deny that he’s not alone anymore. He, Yukino and Yui have formed a pack of their own.

The episode did a fine job portraying the Queen Bee Yumiko as a self-involved bitch, but also the power of saying what you mean to say and not mincing words. When Yui keeps apologizing, it pisses her off, but once she speaks her mind, she’s at least somewhat receptive. The club’s next mission is rather underwhelming, involving giving a Chuunibyou (we’re a little Chuu-speak-ed out, frankly) their frank opinion of his light novel. But the mission does further underline the club’s commitment to forthrightness.

That can cause some prickly and even hostile interactions to occur. It’s also possible for Yukino and Hachiman to say bunch of stuff so the other will believe it’s them being forthright, when they’re actually concealing their true feelings. Yukino and Yui can’t possibly mean all the mean things they say to Hachiman, or why would they hang out with him?


Rating: 6 (Good)

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 02

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MJP Team Rabbits is awarded a medal of merit for their successful defense of Undina Base. After an…interesting and highly publicized press conference, the media dubs them the “Majestic Princes.” Their commander immediately re-mobilizes them; their task is to set up new satellites to replace those destroyed as the cameras roll. However, four Wulgaru ships appear, toy with the Princes, destroy the satellites and withdraw before Princes are able to enter battle formation. Suzukaze and Saionji tell them not to worry about the setback and to rest up for the next mission, but opinion of them on the net take a dive.

Ah, ya can’t win ’em all, right? Certainly not here, as Team Rabbits suffers a humiliating defeat against a squad of four Wulgaru ships that catch them with their pants down and make quick work of the satellites. They couldn’t even slow them down. Of course, we don’t quite know the disposition of that Wulgaru squad; for all we know, that weird-accented pilot dude was older and far more experienced than Hitachi & Co. Or he could be a kid like them, and just happens to be better for the moment. Also, the Wulgaru didn’t have to deal with cameras and the constant feed of snide comments from the net…to say nothing of goofy, Tiger & Bunny-style corporate liveries.

The scene when the civilians they saved greet and embrace the Rabbits was a really nice touch; how often do mecha pilots in these kinds of series get to interact with those they save? The press conference was pretty funny, and went about as well as you could expect from a group of kids not used to the gaze cameras. Asagi gets stomach pains, Irie drops the mic…on her head, Kugimiya says two words, Suruga’s geeks out on his arsenal, and most embarrassing of all, Hitachi presents his feelings in the form of a goofy drawing. It’s not smooth as silk, nor is the mission that follows, but they’re learning. It’s a process.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Our only main beef with the execution here is that the Princes are totally unprepared to go to battle, and the time delay in getting them ready is a bit contrived. Basically, they never had a chance, and it wasn’t entirely their fault.
  • This series, not Hataraku Maou-sama is directed by Motonaga Keitarou, who did Jormungand. And hey, Itou Shizuka is voicing a girl with white hair here too!