Kakumeiki Valvrave – 02

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Saki, Kyuuma and Aina find an unconscious Haruto and L-elf, but they’re cornered by A-drei, H-neun, X-eins and Q-vier. L-elf wakes up, shoots A-drei in the eye, helps Haruto’s friends escape, and goes with them. The Dorssians consider L-elf a deserter and take the Valvrave into custody. Haruto, who is in L-elf’s body, uses his special forces skills to retrieve his own body and the Valvrave.

Once back in his body, Haruto heads into space with Saki and a bound L-elf. Shouko calls Haruto to tell him she’s alive and trapped in a car under rubble. A-drei and Q-vier pursue and pummel the Valvrave whose overboost engages when it hits 666 heat capacity. Haruto cripples A-drei’s Ideal, and when an ARUS fleet arrives, Dorssia beats a retreat. Reunited with Shouko, Haruto still doesn’t confess.

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This episode debunks a couple assumptions we made about last week. First, Shouko isn’t dead, so Haruto’s services as her furious avenger are no longer required. Frankly should have known she’d be back, considering she’s a main character. Second, Haruto, who also cheated death last week, isn’t a vampire per se. Rather, biting necks allows him to “borrow” the body of the bitee, and they’ll have no memory of what he does as them.

L-elf calls him a monster for stealing his body and making it appear that he’s betrayed Dorssia. Frankly, Elfie’s a monster too for participating in a slimy, unprovoked attack on the peaceful, if naive, JIOR. Perhaps more so, since all Haruto pushed was the “resign humanity” button. But that’s enough for him to wave off his confession to Shouko. He takes L-elf’s monster label to heart, and probably fears hurting her and the others with his new abilities. He’s probably not wrong.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • For elite special forces, L-elf’s buddies sure have bad aim, right?
  • On that note, Dorssia retreats awfully fast when the ARUS fleet arrives. They don’t have a problem wrangling up unarmed innocents, but when someone fights back, they flutter off like well-dressed gazelles.
  • 666 is classically the “number of the beast”, but it may actually be 616.
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Kakumeiki Valvrave – 01

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On a Dyson Sphere where 70% of the human population lives, the neutral, peace-loving nation of JIOR falls victim to a vicious surprise attack by militaristic Dorssia, who attack from within with young special forces led by L-Elf and from outside with a squadron of flying mecha. Tokishima Haruto is about to confess to his friend Sashinami Shouko when fighting breaks. Shouko is killed by an errant weapons blast.

A scientist manages to deploy the experimental mecha Valvrave before L-Elf can get to it. A devastated Haruto boards it to take his revenge. After agreeing to “resign his humanity”, he easily dispatches the enemy squadron. His actions are recorded by a hacker and streamed to the world, making him an instant celebrity and a hero. When he exits Valvrave, L-Elf is there, and kills him, but Haruto wakes back up and bites him in the neck.

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9/10ths of this episode is a pretty by-the-numbers shonen mecha story: weak, un-driven kid from a peaceful world is thrust into despair by the loss of someone precious, and is in the right place at the right time to take control of the super-duper brand-new mecha suit. There’s about two dozen characters and there’s only time to paint them with the broadest of strokes. What’s more important is the spectacle and style of everything that transpires around them. Still, Valvrave offers some interesting new tricks to the usually solid, sometimes stolid Gundam formula.

First of all, the modern double-edged sword of social meda rears its head early, and as the official factions war, a hacker in a dark room can influence millions. Haruto also has to deal with fame at the same time he’s dealing with terrible loss, both of his love and his innocence. Oh yeah, and Valvrave makes him lose his humanity, and not in a figurative sense: he literally turns into an immortal vampire beast of sorts. Which is very sudden and weird, but we certainly like the clashing of genres, and are eager to see where they go with it.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Stray Observations:

  • For a series clearly not afraid to show blood and graphic deaths, the “romance” between Haruto and Shouko was over-tame by comparison. Then again, not even having time to say he loved her before he lost her must sting particularly hard.
  • Yes, the mecha designer has done most Gundams, including SEED/Destiny and 00, the two series we’ve watched in full.
  • Valvrave is suitably menacing and powerful looking, and moves with equal parts grace and fury.
  • Dorssia, the evil empire where you can never get a table.
  • Why the hell did there have to be five “transfer students” instead of two? At least two of those guys are extraneous…
  • This is our Spring “dark horse”;  the series we hadn’t even heard of but decided  to jump into late. Previous dark horses include Kotoura-san and Penguindrum.

Oregairu – 03

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Hikigaya meets the androgynous Totsuka Saika, who asks him to play a match with him and then asks if he’ll join the tennis club. Later, Yui brings him to the Service club so he can formally ask for help practicing, at which time Yui officially joins the club so the mission can be taken on. While practicing, the “it-crowd” led by Yumiko and Hayama asks if they can use the courts; Hikgaya bristles, but agrees to a mixed doubles match to deide who will coach Totsuka. Using the winds he knows from eating lunch in solitude and an assist from Yukino after Yui sprains her ankle, they win the match, but Yumiko runs into the fence and gets all the attention.

For all his proud internal monologue about living life the way he wants to – as a loner – rather than by circumstances, Hikigaya is not entirely content with his situation, which is why he actually welcomes the friendships of Yukino, Yui, and now the very girlish Saika (voiced by a girl; Komatsu Hikako). He curses himself for instinctively bowing submissively to Hayama, even though he gets his name wrong. He’s made do as a loner for years and tries to convince himself that’s the ideal state of being for him, he cannot deny a measure of envy towards “normal” or “popular” peers.

The thing is, Yumiko and Hayama are boring as shit, and two-dimensional. The friends Hikigaya has made are weird and socially awkward, like him. The fact is, he’s not alone. This week he learns that whether he’s alone and awkward or in a group and awkward, that popular clique will sill look down on him. And just because the unpopular people happen to get lucky and beat the popular people in a tennis match doesn’t mean they’ve magically moved up the social ladder. But as far as inter-group conflict goes, everything was pretty civil, which is about all you can ask for on the battlefield that is high school.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • We challenge this series to avoid the temptation to put Saika in a maid outfit (though his seiyu was also maid/pirate Marika Kato). Bonus points if they can keep Yukino and Yui out of them, too.
  • Her tsun-tsun moment when Yui calls her a friend: predicable, but cute. 
  • We also liked Yukino’s line about how in spite of all the insults and remarks she lets fly, she’s never once lied. And she doesn’t: Hiki does win the match.
  • When the tennis match happened, we knew the “wind changing at lunch” remark Hikigaya made earlier would probably come into play.

Hataraku Maou-sama! – 03

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The day after Emi spends the night at Maou and Shiro’s, the guys are picked up by the cops when Maou’s bullet-ridden bike is found. After someone calls Emi at work threatening to kill both her and Maou, she goes to the cops to grudgingly sign off as their guanantor, and explains the situation. Chiho arranges a date with Maou in Shinjuku to discuss the earthquake, but Emi and Shiro tail them. Chiho tells Maou she’s heard voices and he realizes the other world is trying to contact him. A large earthquake strikes, ravaging the underground mall and trapping the four in rubble. Emi uses a spell to put Chiho to sleep after reassuring her, and Maou emerges in his true form, to attempt to free everyone.

We figured Chiho would get dragged deeper into this alternate world heroes-vs.-demons mess sooner or later, and she does this week, by hearing communiques in the aether intended for her ears, but which she can hear and understand nonetheless, likely do to her extended proximity to Maou. The title “Maou-sama goes on a Date” doesn’t do justice in an episode where a lot more goes on than a date. Both Yusa and Maou have a mutual enemy; he’s already taken shots at them. That means as much as Emi has been conditioned to loathe Maou and his general, a temporary alliance is in everyone’s best interests.

This is especially true if Emi wants to minimize harm to innocents, which she does, because she’s a hero. Here’s the thing: when it comes to Chiho, it would seem Maou’s a hero too. He’s talked of his return to glory once he regains his powers, but once he finally gets them back after the earthquake, his first thought is to help others, not further his own goals. Emi even considers pulling out her trump card to slay him in this opportune moment when they’re isolated, but doesn’t go through with it simply because, well, Maou just isn’t acting evil. In the other world, things were black-and-white, but here, so far, things are different.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Emi speaks passable English, but the true awesomeness was when she attempted to converse with her enemy while maintaining the pretense that she was chatting with another customer. She doesn’t entirely succeed, but it’s an excellent, well-written exchange that is simultaneously serious and funny…something this series is proving good at.
  • We enjoyed Emi’s comment to Shiro about how an empty fridge is a sign he’s failing as a general in this new world.
  • However, Shiro proves her wrong by breaking out a strategic fund to upgrade Maou’s wardrobe from his usual “Uniclo” (not that there’s anything wrong with Uniclo!) Chiho notices.
  • We love how Chiho doesn’t back down from Emi for a second, beliving her to be a jealus ex of Maou’s, which is actually the most logical presumption, from where she’s standing.
  • A hotel we’ve stayed at is in an establishing shot of Shinjuku.

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 03

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After thorough examinations, Team Rabbits is assigned a new mission, but first they have 36 hours of down time at a luxury space resort. After they all try to relax in their own ways, they’re placed under the command of GDF’s Vice Chief of Staff, Captain Komine, who orders them to launch a surprise attack on a Wulgaru supply fleet. That fleet turns out to be an advanced and heavily-armed recon squad, but Komine orders the Princes to charge ahead anyway. In the process, Tamaki loses her shields and takes damage…

“Majestic Princes”, as it turns out, is a pretty fitting name, as it describes Team Rabbits even better than “The Fail Five.” They’re majestic because, well, just look at how beautifully they dance through space in their suits. Even when they’re overwhelmed, they still look great in action, and their first mission provided a hint of what they’re capable of when firing on all cylinders. But like princes, they didn’t choose the paths they’re on. Their memories were wiped at a young age, and they’ve been engineered to work in concert with each other and the JURIA System of their suits.

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Also like a Prince, they inherited great wealth (their suits and the budget to use them) and great responsibility to put those resources to good use, and there’s a war on so their hands aren’t going to be held along the way. Only they can decide if they are going to be good and successful princes or keep thinking they’ll always be screw-ups. It’s a lot for a quintet of kids to carry on their shoulders, and the series thus far has done a good job putting them through the professional ringer, but at the same time not skimping on their personal interactions.

We like how Hitachi is dedicating himself to being the leader and hero, and even more enthralled that the others aren’t fully behind him yet. It’s not just the Princes either: everyone seems to give someone a disapproving or dubious look, and everyone’s little quirks bounce off the others’ in interesting ways. It also helps that things move along at quite brisk pace, although there’s not enough time to show their latest mission in full – in which, naturally, the odds are stacked against them and they’ll have to perform miraculously to not only prevail, but survive. And survive they shall.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • The series has been painting very detailed pictures of the five princes’ personalities through their idle chatter, but goes a step further this week by showing how each of them spend their free time, with great success.
  • Kei’s baking marathon was pretty darn cute. Did she put that icing on her cheek to see if Hitachi would notice it?
  • Hitachi doesn’t so much meet the white-haired chick so much as he meets the fist of her bodyguard-handler-whatever. Zero-G pools FTMFW.
  • Tamaki wants pickled fish guts, Tamaki gets pickled fish guts.
  • Lt. Amane makes damn sure Komine introduces her. Lady’s got ambition.
  • Suzukaze is apparently allowed to suck on all the lolipops she likes while on duty.
  • Apologies for the late review; we were out watching baseball.