Oreimo 2 – 03

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Kyousuke, Kiriko and Ruri visit Saori’s house for a surprise birthday party, and she arrives home from school out of her otaku disguise. We flash back to when her sister Kaori first introduces her to her otaku friend circle, “Pretty Garden.” The desperately shy Saori makes friends there and has fun, but when Kaori suddenly ups and leaves, the other circle members drift apart until Saori is alone. She promises she’ll show her sister up, doing so by starting a new circle. Back in the present Kaori and her friends have reunited, and give the older, taller, more sociable Saori their regards.

Ayase was the focus last week, but this week she’s absent as the focus is entirely on Saori Bajeena, AKA Mikishima Saori, a very rich, high-class, beautiful young lady who presents herself to her otaku friends as a lurchy otaku dork with oversized novely glasses. They don’t even recognize Saori when they see her. Now that we can see her eyes, face, and hair properly, it’s like we’re meeting the character all over again, only now she’s on more of an equal footing with Kirino and Kuroneko. And hey, it turns out she’s an imouto too!

Her backstory is one of her older sister practicing tough love: introducing her into a sink-or-swim situation where she must show her face to people and talk to them, and once she’s comfortable there, indirectly breaking up the circle, removing the proverbial training wheels from Saori’s social development. It’s sad, but people grow up and move on; it doesn’t mean they’re not still friends. And Saori’s experiences gave her the strength and wherewithal to find her own circle of friends, and the cycle continues. We liked learning more about this non-bespectacled Saori, and hope to see more of her.


Rating: 8 (Great)

 

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Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S – 02

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While on her way to some shopping, Shirai shows Misaka a shortcut to the mall that turns out to be busier than she’d expected. They find an unmarked envelope with a cash card and turn it into Judgment, where Uiharu says its one of dozens found so far. After searching for more with Saten, Misaka overhears four Skill-outs who plan to ambush a girl they think is the source of the cards. When they arrive, the girl proceeds to “kill” them all one by one with her “esper ability” (a paper gun with anesthetic and a black light) Misaka arrives, and the girl calls her “the original.”

Now that we’ve been reintroduced, Misaka and the gang get drawn into a fresh mystery that ultimately leads Misaka to someone involved in the scientific experimentation she agreed to as a child, involving cloning her. Having watched Index II we’re already aware of Misaka’s clones, including the little one, but we’re guessing this series takes before that? We’re not entirely sure, so we’ll just treat this as an isolated timeline for now. The important point is that Misaka was a little kid being shown someone with muscular distropy. Would any sweet little kid refuse to help after seeing that?

Likely not, but we maintain she was too young to be given that choice. She wasn’t old enough to fully grasp the consequences, and even if the shifty-ish scientist told her exactly what he was going to do with her DNA mapping, she’d probably only understand a fraction of it. So not only has Misaka grown into someone who insists on going her own way to help and protect others, she made a choice at a very young age to allow herself to be cloned for medical and esper research. Quite a contrast in circumstances to Shirai, Uiharu and Saten.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Aku no Hana – 03

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Kasuga tries in vein to dispose of the Saeki’s incriminating gym uniform. After school at the library, when he fails to produce an essay for Nakamura, she strips him down and dresses him in the uniform, telling him she’s a deviant like him. She tells them they’ll be hanging out after school, and they do. His friends and parents start to notice is strange behavior, culminating in him standing up to defend Nakamura when a classmate accuses her of stealing lunch money.

The Devil pulls the strings by which we’re worked:
By all revolting objects lured, we slink
Hellwards; each day down one more step we’re jerked
Feeling no horror, through the shades that stink.

How much weird shit can you get up to before you become a “deviant?” Is there a specific line that must be crossed, which Kasuga assures himself he hasn’t? He still clings to the notion that as long as his feelings for Saeki remain pure, he’s good. Nakamura, on the other hand, thinks about how great it would be if all the gloom within her spread across the world. She manipulates and sexually assaults Kasuga, who is too weak and shocked and cowed to resist.

In Kasuga, she sees what she wants to see: a kindred spirit. He still feels horror in what’s happening but she seems at peace with herself. She’s accepted what she is and is excited at the prospect of Kasuga being just like her deep down. Kasuga tells her The Flowers of Evil is like him – something that will never be understood by the un-literary people of his town. But count Nakamura among those townspeople in that she doesn’t give a shit about Baudelaire. All she wants is Evil Kasuga: Unplugged.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Stray Observations:

  • The undressing in the libarary is the most disturbing scene in the series so far, but we doubt it will be the last. It really underscores how little power Kasuga has.
  • That said, Kasuga appeals to his good side by standing up for Nakamura in spite of what she’s doing, since the truth is Nakamura was with him at the time of the money theft.
  • Rotoscoped animation really is a perfect fit for the tone of this series. Anime like Gargantia soars, but this series slinks and slithers.
  • Yamada’s sudden kung-fu greeting was pretty funny.

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.

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.

RDG: Red Data Girl – 03

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After her possession by Himegami has no ill effects, Izumiko and Miyuki return to the village. Her classmates ask her to deliver a souvenir to Wamiya, as an apology for them forgetting him. Wamiya asks her about Miyuki and gets upset when he learns she’s changed her mind about hating him. Using classmates as puppets, Wamiya has Miyuki attacked. Miyuki and Izumiko escape in a car driven by Nonomura, but Wamiya chases them in the form of a crow, and forces them off a cliff.

Wamiya gives Izumiko an ultimatum to stay in the village with him, demonstrating his power by creating a storm over the village. Miyuki doesn’t believe he’s capable of fighting Wamiya, but Izumiko stands up to him, and makes him submit to her. Izumiko decides to attend Houjou Academy with Miyuki, and performs a dance to release the crow god – Himegami’s familiar – from Wamiya Satoru. Later, Izumiko arrives at Houjou with her folks, and meets her roommate, Souda Mayura.

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Suzuhara Izumiko and Sagara Miyuki are weak beings, but by this episode’s conclusion, neither intend to stay that way for long. In fact, after Miyuki protected her last week (if only by staying by her side and taking her hand), this time it’s Izumiko who saves Miyuki (and Nonomura) from the wrath of a nasty crow god that is the embodiment her wish to make a friend who understood her. That friend – Wamiya Satoru – is really a familiar to Himegami, who if brought to heel by a confident Izumiko, will go out of control.

That doesn’t happen, and the harrowing experience Izumiko and Miyuki share strengthens their bond, as they’ll continue on a path together for some time. The dance Izumiko performs to release Wamiya is what pumped this up from a high 7 to an 8; it was a truly beautiful, lyrical sequence that reminded us of Yuna’s sending dance in FFX. Both it and her taming of the familiar showed both us and Miyuki that there’s more to Izumiko than meets the eye.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Stray Observations:

  • All episode titles contain the phrase “First [something]”, and each episode has thus far delivered on putting Izumiko in a new situation.
  • We like how far Izumiko and Miyuki have come in only three episodes. Miyuki’s naked contempt has evolved into cordiality and reverence, and he’s far more amenable to staying by her (and by extension the Himegami’s) side, since it will make him stronger. Also, her dance enchants the hell out of him.
  • That Lexus they went off a cliff in is really safe!

Spring 2013 Schedule

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After two weeks, we’ve finalized our Spring 2013 schedule with nine shows, including Winter carryover Chihayafuru 2. It’s got some nice symmetry to it: three episodes on Friday flanked on either end by two and one-episode days. Monday and Tuesday are the down days.

Note that the days above are when we plan to watch and review the shows. The schedule may not always go like clockwork, but usually it will, and we can only humbly ask your forgiveness if and when we’re late with a review due to staring at sakura trees.

We apologize if some of the series on our Season Preview list didn’t make the cut, but we were hoping to keep this season’s watchload to under ten series to ensure we can spend enough time with each series and don’t get too confused with all of the casts.

We also feel we have a little of everything: sci-fi, fantasy, school, romance, optimism, and darkness, as well as an eclectic range of artistic styles. Here’s to an entertaining Spring 2013 season!

– RABUJOI STAFF

Suisei no Gargantia – 02

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Red gives up Amy but hides behind Chamber, and remains in a stalemate as the fleet leaders decide how to proceed. Amy volunteers to commence dialogue, and shares a roasted fish with Red in a ritual of welcome to Gargantia, a floating city. Red shows her there’s no one inside Chamber, and Amy tells him about her world’s history and how they harness energy from the ocean. When pirates attack Bellows’ salvage fleet, Amy begs Red to help them. Red and Chamber proceed to destroy all pirate ships and vaporize all pirates, leaving Bellows’ ship and crew unscathed.

You know how first episodes can mislead you by being extremely pretty and well-animated, only for the episodes that follow to reveal the budget limitations of that series? Well, didn’t happen here. While about half of last week was space battle porn, this week was all verderous steampunk porn. If anything, it was more beautiful, and we found ourselves pausing the action often to gaze at the staggering stills. This has the look of a Ghibli film, and it keeps up this quality – and we have no reason to think it won’t – this could end up being one of the best-looking series we’ve ever watched. But like a Ghibli film, it’s not just about the eye candy. It has heart, too.

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We loved watching brave, peace-loving Amy make steady progress with Red and Chamber (voiced by the voice of Kyon and Switch!), and we learn with Red about this gorgeous world. Red’s ancestors left earth when an irregularity in the sun caused the entire planet to freeze over. Presumably, they never went back, because if they had, they would have discovered the ice melted, making it a waterworld, and the humans who remained survived by lashing together anything that floated, and harnessing electricity from “lightbugs” that absorb lightning in the sea in “galaxy currents.”

Therefore despite its comparably primitive level of technology, Amy’s world is most likely Red’s future, not his past. The Galactic Alliance he swore allegiance to may still be out there somewhere, or it may have crumbled centuries ago. We just don’t know, and the mystery is most intriguing. But as we said, look past all these huge fleets and huge ships and huge ideas, and there’s the message that as long as people keep talking, peace can be achieved, good things can happen, and unlikely friendships and new alliances can be formed. Of course, in the end when asked to assist against pirates, Red may have frightened his new friends by not holding back.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • The fish sharing scene was perhaps the highlight of highlights. Aside from the warmth and comedy of the exchange, that fish looked delicious, and the sunset backdrop was achingly gorgeous.
  • First ep not Ghibli enough for you? This week Amy shows us how they use gliders to fly from ship to ship, and even the pirates use power-assisted kites. Pure awesomesauce.
  • In Ika Musume, Kanemoto Hisako voices the weird alien. Now she’s the normal human. But both like fish!
  • The upside to Red eliminating all the pirates is that rumors of “Gargantia’s new superweapon” won’t spread so quickly. But it will still spread, and the fleet’s leadership will see Red as a double-edged sword.

Oreimo 2 – 02

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Kirino gets hooked on an innovative new dating sim called “Love Touch,” in which you can interact and text your lover in realtime. Worried she’s losing her friend to a video game, a desperate Ayase approaches Kyousuke for help. After a talk with Kirino, she gives the game to him, and he plays it thoroughly. Kyousuke reports that the character his sister likes looks and sounds very similar to Ayase, so she should try talking and acting like the character to win Kirino back.

Kyousuke can’t win for losing. Ayase tolerates and trusts him enough to come to him when she needs advice, and even affectionately calls him “Onii-san”, but when he offers the very advice she ultimately uses, she slugs him and runs off yelling “pervert”. Kirino is short and hostile with him until he mentions the new game she’s playing, and it’s like a personality switch is flipped in her head. When he obeys his sister and plays the game, Manami bursts into his room and then she’s on his case. Okay, he’s an ass to Manami. We guess he should count himself lucky he doesn’t have to deal with Kuroneko this week; his plate is full enough.

We know Kyousuke is a selfless kinda guy, so it’s not surprising how he takes all of this abuse in stride. Kirino and Ayase tell him they hate him and want him to die, but then always come back to him for help, advice, or support, and he always gives it. At this point he should know better than to push Ayase’s buttons; she packs a wallop. Or perhaps he likes her angry violent side. As for Love Touch, well, it looks pretty lame but it’s not our cuppa tea; we can still see people like Kirino getting addicted. But we liked how Manami and Ayase demonstrated how creepy it is when real people start acting like virtual characters.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • The episode’s opening shot looks a lot like a confession. Too bad for Kyousuke he doesn’t know any normal girls who’d do that.
  • Ayase may have romantic feelings for Kirino.
  • Manami actually stands her ground against Kyousuke this week. She and Ayase apparently have an alliance to keep him in check.

 

Chihayafuru 2 – 14

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Mizusawa’s semifinal match against First Akashi Girls School continues. Nishida is again the first to lose, but Kana wins shortly thereafter, releasing the tension somewhat. After Chihaya takes two of Megumu’s treasured “name” card, Megumu counters by taking Chihaya’s “Impasionate gods” card. Taichi wins, but Chihaya loses, leaving Desktomu as the deciding game. He gambles and takes the winning card, and Mizusawa moves on to the final against Fujisaki.

Before we return to the hot Mizusawa/Akashi action, the episode checks in with Arata, who is finishing up his novelistic apology, and Shinobu, still in his clothes and bored. The Fujioka West team finally arrives, and the queen takes the opportunity to voice her disdain for group matches. She wants to “kill time” with an individual match with Arata, who refuses because it’s a day for teams. Teams like Mizusawa, which thanks to the Fujioka coach, tells him is still alive and fighting.

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It’s kind of sad that Shinobu doesn’t give a shadow of a shit about the outcome of the group tournament. All queens, even Karuta queens, carry the responsibility to ensure their kingdoms thrive. But all she’s interested in is playing and winning alone. As long as she reigns, the karuta kingdom will languish. Ayase Chihaya and Ousaka Megumu aim to usurp her, and from the look of their epic game this week, they’ll put up a fight.

The team won, but Chihaya lost, and she doesn’t know why she lost, to the point her obsessing causes her to dig her nails into her hand, something Taichi stops with a tender gesture. It’s great to see Oe win, even though it leaves her too exhausted for the final. And Komano not only contributes to the actual match, his is the decisive match, and he even has the guts to gamble to win. Hokuo gets its clock cleaned, so Mizusawa will not be able to hold back in the final against scary Fujisaki.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Another twist: Megumu not only doesn’t delete the photos her fan club snaps, she asks if she can have them, to remember her last team match. From here on out, it’s Queensville or Bust.
  • We were a little disappointed that there was no Komano/Sumire scene after his big win. She did blush in awe when he won.
  • We like how Hokuo is eliminated off-camera. We don’t really like Retro-kun.
  • Shinobu’s spidey-sense picks up a card reading in the group match, and she employs circular breathing to study cards. We love her, but maintain her reign is poison for the game.