Valvrave the Liberator – 08

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L-Elf dreams of the time he escaped from captivity and took a Dorssian princess hostage. He wakes up bound to a table, and predicts that New JIOR will fall in six hours if Haruto doesn’t contract with him. Everyone is shaken by Aina-chan’s death, particularly Inuzuka, but Kibukawa won’t let anyone else pilot Valvraves until he’s determined they’re safe to use. Colonel Cain launches another attack on Module 77, as A-drei infiltrates the module and commandeers JOIR battleships, threatening the school. As the battle inside and out goes badly, Haruto finally agrees to contract with L-Elf, who gives him and Saki precise instructions that foil the Dorssians and save the new nation with no casualties.

By portraying accurately (for once) the plight of a new nation run by students with minimal political and military experience, Valvrave delivered what we consider its best episode since its first. Dorssia was briefly sent off, but they return immediately, because they know all New JIOR has protecting them are two amateur-piloted Valvraves. Constant attacks like this are to be expected when your nation is so vulnerable. What Dorssia (or at least A-drei and Co…who knows about that Colonel Cain cat) wasn’t banking on is L-Elf joining forces with Haruto once again. If L-Elf hadn’t formulated a plan to thwart the Dorssians, it’s a good bet the entire school-nation would have been obliterated, with everyone either killed or interned.

As much as he may want to be enough to protect everyone, Haruto realizes he’s not, not even with Saki fighting by his side. Hell, even if those five other Valvraves were manned and deployed, you’re still talking about civilian students piloting them. No, this episode proves yet again that without L-Elf, this country would have died in its infancy. Once he gets the okay from Haruto, he kicks ass, takes names, and doesn’t look back. Even his elite colleagues are no match for him. And interesting, instead of pounding his desk after the defeat, Dorssia’s Colonel Cain seems to get a kick out of L-Elf’s antics. Something tells us he wants the guy in a Valvrave as soon as possible. Meanwhile, L-Elf’s just trying to reconcile that young princess giving him half her life, saving her from the guards.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Well, looks like Sakurai Aina died after all. Huh! We really thought they’d bring her back to life with some Valvrave nonsense. Oh well. Not like Kayano Ai won’t get more work!
  • Saki says she’s been practicing. She should probably practice more.
  • Potential candidates to pilot the five remaining Valvraves: Inuzuka (who wants to avenge Aina); Yamada (who wants to kick some ass); Satomi (the class president); L-Elf (naturally); and…possibly Shoko. We’ll see how we do
  • The coffee-and-sugar analogy? Kinda lame.
  • L-Elf’s flashback prison looked a lot like the Kremlin, while the bay with all the bridges from which A-drei was bombarding land looked a lot like San Francisco.
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Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru – 09

Yuigahama Yui, Hikigaya Hachiman

Komachi gets her brother to accompany Yui to the Summer fireworks. The evening has all the trappings of a date and when they bump into Haruno, she gets suspicious. While offering them a ride home, she lets slip that Yukino was in the car when it hit Hachiman when he was saving Yui’s dog, something she never told either of them. While Hachiman is walking Yui home, she tells him how they would have met even if it wasn’t for the dog incident, and is on the verge of confessing to him when her mom calls, ruining the moment. The next day, back at school, Hachiman is cordial with Yukino, but believes he’ll come to hate himself for feeling betrayed by her.

The title of this series is long, but it is accurate: Hikigaya Hachiman has something of a teenage rom-com SNAFU on his hands. Think about it: one car accident brought him, Yui, and Yukino together before they even met at school. And however much he wants to stay out of the romantic games young people play, he can’t deny that Yui likes him, he at least kinda likes Yui, and he also likes Yukino, at least until he found out she was in the car that hit him while saving Yui’s dog, yet said nothing to him about it. That’s where the “AFU” really comes into play: up until this revelation, he had never known her to lie or withhold anything about him.

The ramifications of that will likely be explored next week, but the majority of this episode is all about Hachiman and Yui, who make a cute couple. Hachiman is fully capable of being a nice, considerate, attentive man. Moreso, while Hachiman still believes the only reason Yui talks to him is because he saved her dog Sable (and later dogsits), Yui tells him even if that coincidence didn’t occur, now that she knows him, she likes to think they’d have crossed paths anyway. It’s kind of lame she just isn’t quite able to come right out and say she likes him. Those unsaid words hanging out there will only add to Hachiman’s SNAFU.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Failed confession aside, the fireworks date was a success, with many cute moments. It not only confirmed to Yui how nice Hikky can be, and also allowed Hikky some valuable time interacting with women in a non-school or club setting.
  • Hachiman may also be perturbed by the fact the Yukino her older sister Haruno knows is so different from the Yukino he interacts with. When he calls her scary, she laughs out loud. That being said, we also find her scarier than Yukino. Kind of a haughty bitch, too!
  • There was less Yukino in this episode than any previous episode.
  • It’s easy to vilify Yukino for never saying anything, but Yui has a point: sometimes the time you want to say something passes you by and you just can’t find another time to do it, and it never happens. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen with her confession. Make your feelings plain, Yui-Yui. He needs to hear the words!

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 09

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Before returning to base, Izuru is forbidden by Suzukaze from discussing with anyone that he saw a Wulgaru up close, and she won’t tell him anything. After waiting for him to come back, Kei goes looking for Izuru and finds him, but he’s distracted by Theoria and runs in vain after her. While the Wulgaru did withdraw, the Rabbits see that the massive losses the GDF suffered take a toll on general morale. Two GDF operators are about to buy them dessert when they are summoned by Commander Simon, who decides to divulge that the Wulgaru resemble humans, and furthermore, their AHSMBs were developed using technology shared with the GDF by a Wulgaru defector,Theoria.

We left last week’s battle thinking Team Rabbits, and Acting Leader Asagi did a pretty good job under the circumstances, but Asagi’s lil’est pit crew member isn’t as generous with praise, dubbing him a “lame pilot.” And it gets to him, at least until Kei tries to cheer him up. There was some nice romantic tension in that little moment too, underlined by the fact that Kei was only there, in his room, because she was waiting to hear about Izuru, whom she cares about a lot. But despite how well the Rabbits may have performed, the fact remains the GDF got pwned by the Wulgaru, and would have been wiped out had the enemy not just sodded off of their own accord. It’s good to see that not even the Rabbits’ eleventh-hour heroics will always save the day.

Earth took heavy losses, and there’s fear and doubt seething through the ranks. As it turns out, the only ones who had any success against the Wulgaru at all were those using tech lifted from those very Wulgaru, courtesy of Koko Hekmatwulgar herself, Theoria. Hey, nine episodes in and we finally learn who she is! She’s also something of Izuru’s Muse/Dream Girl, which pisses of Kei to no end. Until the rest of the team learns why he’s acting so distant, Izuru also has to deal (albeit very briefly) with privileged information he can’t even tell his closest comrades, which is something of a first that would have frayed their bonds had he needed to keep that secret longer-term. Instead, the whole team is in on it, because they’ll be playing a far larger role in the conflict from now on. We look forward to it!


Rating: 8 (Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Interesting how Izuru’s AHSMB won’t move when he tries to pursue Jiart.
  • Suzukaze’s riding crop slapping across the desk was a nice little touch, literally slapping down Izuru’s curiosity. They’re no longer an Instructor and Student, they’re Captain and Subordinate  meaning it’s no longer her job to satiate his curiosity ..it’s her job to issue orders and it’s his job to follow them, period. We liked how that scene underlined the distinction and the resulting change in their character dynamic.
  • Kei pines for Izuru while Asagi pines for Kei, but Ataru and Tamaki prefer to pine for those outside of their circle, which kinda makes them the smart ones, until you realize both of them have unrealistically high standards.
  • While there was plenty of foreshadowing, Theoria’s reveal, combined with the revelation about the AHSMBs being derived from Wulgaru designs was still surprisingly thrilling.

Hataraku Maou-sama! – 09

Kamakuzi Suzuno, Yusa Emi, Suzuki Rika, Ashiya Shirou

While preparing to assist Yusa with what she deems to be a “lover’s quarrel” with Maou, Suzuki Rika takes her and Suzuno to the same SFC Ashiya is investigating. He confronts Yusa when she insults Maou, and ends up telling Rika an epic, semi-fictional tale of his and Maou’s rise, fall, and impending redemption. Impressed and even a bit smitten with Ashiya and his friendship, they move to the MgRonalds, which is nearly empty despite the Sasahata Tanabata festival going on outside. After a few failed attempts to lure customers, a friend Maou made at community service delivers a bamboo tree for decorating, which along with the cute Chiho, build up the interest of the festival crowd and get MgRonalds buzzing again, further impressing Rika.

Taking place entirely within either the SFC or MgRonalds and consisting of quite a lot of sitting around talking and observing, this was a compact, no-frills, yet vibrant episode that we really enjoyed. By making the outsider Suzuki Rika the nucleus of the episode, its a way of taking stock of the lives Maou, Ashiya and Yusa have built and the people they’ve met, whom Rika, as an impartial third party, considers to be amazing, inspiring, and just the kind of passionate, driven, modest (and cute!) people she believes hanging around will enrich her life. This despite Yusa’s constant attempts to paint Maou as a villain, because let’s face it, he used to be. But as we said last week, this is a world with shades of grey, and Rika is open to hearing both sides of the story.

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And Ashiya’s side is simply epic. The sprawling, dramatic story Rika tells would be impressive even if he were making shit up, but the funny thing is, he merely adapted pretty much what actually happened between him, Maou and Yusa into a form that an ordinary human like Rika could understand. He’s actually being pretty damn honest with Rika; more than even Yusa was prepared to be, and presenting his tale in a way Yusa never would have considered. He and Maou have fallen, but they’ve dusted themselves off and have gotten back on the ladder. And while it could be argued that Rika could be being a bit of a busybody, her advice for Ashiya to be proud of supporting Maou (not wallow in shame and self-pity) is proof she’s also a kind and decent person.

We especially liked that while her first impressions of Maou were less than inspiring, she seemed aware that she wasn’t catching him at his best, taking to heart the things both Ashiya and Yusa said about him. She trusted she’d see a glimmer of the former “Maou Inc.” owner eventually, and her patience pays off, in a scene where Maou raises the moral of his troops and brings in new business with his sheer will, charisma, and resourcefulness. It’s a lovely little final scene, though all the pleasantness is somewhat interrupted by some ominous purple energy coalescing outside, followed by a thousand-mile stare by Suzuno directed at Maou. To us this meant that while Rika is sold on Maou’s goodness – as we pretty much are – Suzuno still isn’t sold, and in any case has a mission to carry out.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • The blue-haired manager of SFC continues to make every female character he interacts with feel extremely uncomfortable. We’re still thinking he’s another dude from Ente Isla.
  • Ashiya’s stories were accompanied by a montage of raw, hard-scratched illustrations, a nice change of art style that adds to the drama.
  • This week Yusa and Suzuno were on the sidelines because of Rika, but both Ashiya the Strategist and Maou the Field General and Warlord, were in top form, doing exactly what they were always meant to do, only in a vastly different scale and setting.
  • We liked Rika’s blushing upon hearing Ashiya’s tale, followed by what could be embarrassment over falling for someone who cleans another guy’s underwear :)
  • We also liked how Chiho inadvertently started a commotion among the male patrons of the festival, but not instantly…word had to of the cute team member had to spread first.

RDG: Red Data Girl – 09

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Houjou Academy commences preparations for the school festival, the main theme for which will be the Sengoku (Warring States) period, including a combat game commemorating the bloody 1590 siege of the nearby Hachiouji Castle. Takayanagi asks Izumiko to side with him rather than Mayura. Izumiko has a strange hallucination and wakes up in the nurse’s office, where Yukimasa warns her of impending trouble.

After learning a simple self-defense spell from Miyuki, Izumiko models for traditional clothing, which requires her braids be undone. However, the Himegami appears after she has re-braided her hair, while Miyuki is scolding Izumiko. Now fully “synchronized” with her body, Himegami can come and go and do as she pleases. Miyuki takes her to Hachiouji Castle’s keep, where he tells her who and what she really is.

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Hailing from a country with less than three centuries of history, we are easily intrigued and even astounded by the histories of far older countries like Japan. We are also, sadly, dreadfully ignorant of most of it, despite our interest. This episode was made richer by the historical background, especially when you consider the forces that be may be using the entire festival, and the impending battle, to decide which school faction will advance in the competition for World Heritage. A “not so safe” battle is coming, and Izumiko will have to choose a side.

Even more fascinating is everything we learn about Himegami: how she’s not really a god (though she is god-like), but was once just another human, who lost her body many thousands of generations, and indeed three timelines ago, and fears the fourth, the one in which Izumiko is her vessel, may be her last chance to avoid the annihilation of humanity. This episode has to feed us a lot of new and important info, but it never felt anything like an infodump. The stakes have been raised significantly, making the petty conflict between Souda and Takayanagi seem peripheral, even irrelevant…though it probably isn’t.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • When Izumiko hear’s someone screaming “Milady!” prior to passing out, we can’t help but think she’s inhabiting the memory of the castle’s lady, during the siege in which the lord wasn’t home and thousands of women and children died horribly.
  • Dressing Izumiko up in a period costume wasn’t just random, but a potential plot by someone who may have wanted to bring out the Himegami.
  • Himegami has some nice fish-out-of-water moments in Izumiko’s body, taking note of her “stifling” braids, her exposed legs, and her unfamiliarity with the legal drinking age
  • Himegami can draw Wamiya out of Miyuki to protect Izumiko. That being said, Wamiya doesn’t much like him!
  • After spending the better part of a day with Himegami, at its end, all Miyuki wants is for Izumiko to come back. The episode ends without her returning.

Memorial Day 2013

ribbonToday we honor the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. We would not be here, living how we want to live, watching what we want to watch, and writing how we want to write, if it weren’t for their sacrifice. We thank them, and all who still serve.
– RABUJOI STAFF

Aku no Hana – 08

Kasuga Takao, Saeki Nanako, Nakamura Sawa

Kasuga and Nakamura walk home hand in hand. Kasuga can’t sleep. Saeki is outside the school to meet him the next morning. They enter the classroom together, and Kasuga discovers all the ink obscured his name. A school meeting is called and the school is dismissed for the day. Kasuga retches behind the school, but Nakamura tells him he should be proud for breaking through one of his walls. Then Saeki confronts them, and Kasuga says they should break up. Saeki recognizes the drawing on the classroom floor from the cover of The Flowers of Evil and asks Kasuga if he wrecked the classroom and stole her gym uniform.

During Kasuga and Nakamura’s long moonlit stroll through town, tightly holding hands, they don’t just look like a couple who just had a lot of fun; it’s a pretty direct symbol that Kasuga has tied his fate to Nakamura. She has poked and prodded him into doing something that destroyed his old world – the one in which he could pretend to be normal – and created a new one. And when does creation not require a degree of destruction? Kasuga and Nakamura stay connected until the very last moment when they have to part ways to their respective houses. It’s the first time Kasuga is detached from her and alone in this brand new world, and the disorientation causes insomnia, and the dread is palpable.

His second long, silent walk is done alone. We have no idea what to expect, but he expects the worst: expelled, possibly arrested, and definitely detested by his whole school. As the school looms over him, he nearly bolts in fear, but Saeki is there to block his escape. Now he has to go inside and see what he’s wrought, and with her. And it’s just as devastating to Saeki as he imagined. Nakamura is satisfied with her classmates’ reactions even if the ink covered up Kasuga’s name. But while his other classmates don’t know who vandalized the classroom, Kasuga’s desire to share Baudelaire with his muse was his undoing here, and Saeki is welcomed into the fold of secrets along with him and Nakamura.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Whew…for a while there we weren’t sure there was going to be ANY dialogue in this episode. Nakamura finally breaks the silence nine minutes in: “Hey…I live over there.”
  • Kasuga attempting to wash away his sins in the early dawn. The ink goes down the drain, but his sins remain.
  • We can understand Kasuga getting so hopped up on adrenaline he wouldn’t realize he was covering up all his blackboard confessions with black ink, but what about Nakamura? Did she plan for the ink to prevent their instant implication? Saeki still found out, but only because of the book cover.
  • The atmospheric soundtrack continues to kick ass.
  • Saeki may have been overly naive to trust Kasuga, but she’s no fool; she probably instantly recognized the flower on the floor.
  • How in the hell is Kasuga going to squirm out of this predicament?

Suisei no Gargantia – 08

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Before Fleet Commander Fairlock passes away, he gives command of the fleet to Ridgett. It’s a surprise even to her, and not popular with other ship owners, who are eyeing Flange’s imminent departure. As Fairlock’s funeral procession makes its way from one end of the fleet to the other, Amy and Saya say goodbye to Melty, and Amy learns Ledo is also leaving. When Bevel confronts him, Ledo tells him his mind is made up. Ridgett manages to say goodbye to Fairlock before his sand-filled boat slides into the sea, and she asks the assembled citizens of the fleet to lend her their strength. Ledo says goodbye to Amy, and Flange’s fleet pulls away.

As that summary made clear, this is an episode of many goodbyes. Gargantia is about to say goodbye to Flange’s fleet, a huge loss that affects everyone aboard, but then Fairlock’s death means they must also say goodbye to him, while Ridgett says goodbye to her training wheels and assumes command. Amy and Ledo also say goodbye, but because as Amy said, they hadn’t made much progress as a couple anyway, and she can’t leave Bevel, the Doctor, and Saya behind. Heck, even Melty is leaving. All these goodbyes, and the deftness with which the episode juggles and presents them, made this the saddest episode of Gargantia yet, but also one of the best.

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After Fairlock dies, the rest of the episode’s events wrap around the central event of his wonderfully conceived funeral rites. He is placed in a boat at the bow of the fleet and sent aft, as people fill the boat with sand one by one. He’s then sent down a slide at the fleet’s stern, and sinks to the bottom of the sea he plied his entire life. It’s a gorgeous centerpiece without a speck of melodrama. In fact, the episode does a great job showing the pain everyone with cause to feel pain feels (Pinion and Ledo, notably, don’t shed any tears). Even Amy tries to keep it together, but can’t. Her new friend is going away and may never return, after all.

This was an episode full of solemn grief, and every emotional moment is earned. But Ledo has Amy’s welfare at heart, and doesn’t believe he can adequately protect her or anyone else if he stays on Gargantia. In a way, he has the same problem as Ridgett has earlier in the episode – he can’t see beyond himself, his own abilities or weaknesses or obligations. But Ridget is going to seek help from her colleagues and friends to become a better leader for Gargantia. Ledo is going to go kill things underwater to line Pinion’s pockets.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Obervations:

  • Just wanted to note again how badass that funeral ceremony was. We’re also glad Ridgett didn’t miss it.
  • The schematic on the wall in Ridgett’s office, with the lights going out on the connections to the Flange ships, is another subtle way of showing the loss going on in this episode. And when a couple lights come back on, it’s a relief.
  • The pic of ‘Lil Ridgett is adorable.
  • We’re wondering if he and Melty will meet up on the new Flange fleet; though she hasn’t shown more than a superficial attraction to him.
  • Amy and Ledo don’t have a long goodbye, or even spend their final moments alone. It’s almost a non-goodbye. Though we can’t imagine they’ll never see each other again.

Chihayafuru 2 – 20

Mashima Taichi, Ayase Chihaya

The team receives their championship awards and banner, but Chihaya’s finger has swollen and Miyauchi takes her to an emergency clinic, where she’s diagnosed with a chip fracture and told to avoid strenuous activity. At the inn, Chihaya lies down beside a sleeping Taichi and recalls the matches that got them to the championship. The next morning she decides to use her left hand to play rather than simply forfeit. The four classes split off, and Chihaya first faces off against Akashi’s aggressive Yuube Keiko, who takes an early lead when Chihaya’s left hand proves too slow.

Karuta is such an obscure game, even in its native Japan, that the physician who tends to Chihaya’s finger has no idea just how intense it can get. Yet even within that incredibly narrow, specific world of karuta, we’ve learned that there’s a universe of complexity, beauty and strength. We also learn that the Chairman of Japanese karuta has a similar belief as Shinobu: that team tournaments are no big deal and even chaotic and “messy” compared to the peerless artistry of the individual tournament. It’s kind of mean for the show to pile on the team-hate immediately after Mizusawa played their goddamn hearts out to win the highest team honor there is.

And even if she values the team matches much more than Shinobu or the Chairman or even Arata, even Chihaya can’t help but buy into the superiority of the individual matches. But she also made a promise to win in every class, and that can’t happen if she forfeits. Thus her motivation to play is just as much honoring that promise to her team as it was buying into the primacy of the individuals. There’s no rest for the weary, and when her first ginger attempt to strike the mat causes extreme pain, Chihaya rolls the dice and switches to her left hand. The initial results are less than inspiring, but who knows, maybe she’ll be able make that hand match the speed of her ears and sense.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Porky’s sister makes her brother’s team congratulatory tees in a new deeper blue color. She’s a class act, plus we were getting bored with the powder blue.
  • These individual matches will either continue into a future third season of Chihayafuru, or be so brief as to be anticlimactic  But its not like the team tournament could’ve been stretched across the rest of this season’s episodes…that would have frankly been torturous.
  • Chihaya lies down beside Taichi, but perpendicularly…a nice visual representation of just how differently they think about each other. 
  • Arata is going to college in Tokyo and Taichi is not happy with that.
  • Sumire learns about the childhood friend love triangle and wigs out. Ironically, if Taichi was into her, everyone would be happy…unless Chihaya isn’t really romantically interested in Arata.
  • Shinobu means to crush everyone. So as it turns out, she learned nothing. Oh well!

Oreimo 2 – 08

Gokou Ruri, Kousaka Kyousuke

Kuroneko, now the sacred “Kamineko” goes on her first date with Kyousuke. They go shopping, gaming, and have lunch in the park, and it’s all very pleasant. The next day Kyousuke visits Ruri’s house. After watching an anime, she goes to the bath, and her little sisters meet Kyousuke. The next day Ruri hangs out with Kyousuke at his place. Kirino suspects something’s up and barges in on them, but they’re just playing a game. They also go to see fireworks. With only a few days left of summer, Ruri unveils the last ceremony to perform: breaking up with Kyousuke.

Oreimo giveth, and Oreimo taketh away. Let’s get it out of the way, as surprised as we were that the show did the right thing by making Kyousuke and Kuroneko a couple, we knew, despite our initial excitement, that it probably wouldn’t last that long, so we knew we had to savor the bliss while it lasted. Turns out, barring the first ceremony in Ruri’s Destiny Record to not occur, we were right; this is the only episode in which Kuroneko and Kyousuke are together throughout. And if you’re not a fan of Kuroneko or this new union, then it was a pretty rough and tedious episode to watch. As for us, we loved every last moment.

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The couple takes to dating with gusto, with Ruri even changing her cosplay persona and handle to something less sinister. In her mind, she was once a fallen angel, but Kyousuke raised her up, andthey don’t waste their summer together. They go out a ton, have lots of fun, and Kyousuke ends up learning far more about Ruri and liking her much more than before. We love seeing Kyousuke like this, because lord knows he’s earned the right to have an normal relationship with a smart, beautiful girl who isn’t his sister. Too bad it may be that Kuroneko never meant for their relationship to last past the summer.

Kuroneko is still in love with Kyousuke, but she’s also a good and selfless person…maybe too selfless. When she sees how Kirino reacts to her being in Kyousuke’s room as his girlfriend, and Kirino declares her her friend, and can’t stick around hang out with them, we kinda had a feeling this would happen before the hammer falls in the last moments. Kuroneko’s ultimate goal is for both Kyousuke and her friend Kirino to be happy. She can’t see how Kirino could ever be happy with her friend dating Kirino’s brother, so she can’t keep dating him.

Frankly, if we were Ruri, we’d tell Kirino what she told a bruised Kyousuke in their opening scene: “Deal with it.” Sometimes our own happiness comes at the cost of others.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

  • Kamineko’s get-up is indeed quite audacious, but if we were Kyousuke we really wouldn’t mind either.
  • Kyousuke worries about getting a nosebleed from holding Kamineko’s soft, dainty paw, but it’s Kamineko who gets the nosebleed. Kya.
  • We lost it just as Kyousuke did when she suddenly went to the bathroom. Surely she doesn’t want to move that fast?!
  • Ruri’s sister Hinata is a smart cookie. We hope she’ll scold her big sis for dumping Kyousuke.
  • When Kirino put her ear to the wall and heard Kuroneko say things that could definitely be misconstrued…
  • Bravo to Hanazawa Kana for a surperb, layered performance. Ruri has many different ways of speaking depending on whom she’s talking to and what role she’s playing.
  • Poor Kyousuke. Can he convince Ruri to reconsider? We doubt it.

 

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 07

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Mikoto starts her secret night attacks on all of the Sisters labs in the city, causing significant damage to the experiment. Unable to oppose who he suspects is the culprit, the lab administrator considers a third-party “remedy.” With Onee-sama always out and not telling her what she’s up to, Kuroko grows concerned with the distance between them, and her inability to help her.

Kuroko helps out a young girl, Minori, who is moving away and wants to find a parting gift for her friends. Because Judgment can’t allow her to keep a lost cash card, they help her search for four-leaf clovers instead. When Mikoto is on her way out again, Kuroko tells her to take care; Mikoto thanks her. By the end of the night, only two labs remain operational.

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We’re always a little tentative whenever Shirai Kuroko is the focus of a Railgun episode, because she’s usually used more for comic relief in the form of expressing sexual desire for her “Onee-sama” Mikoto never has any interest in reciprocating. It can get tedious. Kuroko is best when her character is being treated seriously, as it is this week. She’s dealing not only with increased distance from her best friend, but also concern about what she may be up to. Not knowing for sure makes her feel that much more useless; how can she help Onee-sama if she’s kept in the dark?

If we have a complaint with this episode, then, it’s not in Kuroko’s portrayal of an concerned, antsy, loving friend. We weren’t even that miffed that Kuroko didn’t take it upon herself to insert herself into Mikoto’s business (not yet, anyway). She was distracted by Minori, the girl who stands in the middle of a busy street knowing full well that kids in anime who do that always get run over (fortunately for her, this anime has teleportation). Minori, longing to show her love for her fiends, becomes a parallel for Kuroko. For Mikoto, it’s enough that Kuroko is covering for her with the dorm supervisor. For now, at least.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Those clear jelly buns look weird (and “novel”) but we’d still try them. We bet they’re tasty…
  • Don’t stare too long at Uiharu’s flower crown. It doesn’t make sense.
  • We can only imagine Kuroko’s reaction if she ever saw her Onee-sama in her delivery girl disguise, complete with ponytail. Some drool would likely flow.
  • The lab guy, not afraid to let somebody else do his dirty work, will likely recruit another Level 5 to deal with Mikoto. This is why we think Kuroko won’t stay on the sidelines for long.
  • We don’t think he’ll sic Accelerator on her, since that would taint the experiment.
  • That driver needs to have his license taken away. He seemed to have the reaction time of a ninety-year old in a coma.
  • FWIW, we personally believe a four-leaf clover plucked from a verdant riverbank is a more tasteful gift for your friends than a cash card you found in a dirty street. Safer, too!

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru – 08

Yukinoshita Haruno, Hikigaya Hachiman, Hiratsuka Shizuka, Yuigahama Yui, Yukinoshita Yukino

Hikigaya and his classmates plan to use the nighttime test of courage to help Rumi. Hikigaya’s strategy is to sic the popular kids on them, who act threatening and demand the group of friends choose three of their own to stay behind, essentially betraying them. They choose Ruri first, but have to choose two others, and they start to turn on each other. Before they choose the third girl, Ruri hits the older kids with her camera flash and saves all of her peers. At the end of the trip, Yukino’s sister Haruno picks her up, and Yui and Hikigaya both suspect her car is the one that almost killed Yui’s dog.

The saga of helping Tsurumi Rumi with her social problems wasn’t quite enough to occupy two episodes, so Oregairu pads part two with fanservice, first with all the girls (plus Totsuka) frolicking in the river in swimsuits, then with random cosplaying, Yui’s little Dominatrix get-up being the most egregious. In both cases Hikigaya has no choice but to commend Yui on her sexiness. But by the episode’s end he seems no closer to forming deeper bonds with either Yui or Yukino, aside from a few moments of interaction.

But while the mission to help Rumi was the primary focus of these episodes, it also offered an opportunity for Hikigaya, Yukino, and Yui to bond more with the “it” kids: Hayama, Yumiko, and Kakeru. They even join forces to teach Rumi’s friends a lesson, though they don’t have to complete the lesson, as Rumi seems to sorta fix things by saving her peers. Still, nothing’s wrapped up with a neat little bow, and in the end, it still seems like Haruno has a strange hold on Yukino – much like Masuzu and her sister/rich family. But it’s still too nebulous to make any judgments about it. That’s a bit disappointing, considering we’re more than halfway through the season.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Ginga Kikotai Majestic Prince – 08

mjp8

The battle to destroy the Wulgaru base Ragazza commences earlier than planned, and the GDF first line of defense crumbles. Team Rabbits mobilizes, but once Izuru is locked in single combat with Pleguzes Jiart, the team starts act independently and erratically. Izuru gives Asagi command of the rest of the team, and they start coordinating their efforts to great effect. The GDF’s heavy laser is able to get a second shot off, but is destroyed out by another Wulgaru force from above. Jiart cracks the housing to Izuru’s cockpit, and the two adversaries see who they’re fighting. Jiart withdraws, vowing they’ll duel again.

The key to a good space battle is keeping things interesting and tension levels high, and this episode excelled at both, putting the battle in the last episode of Valvrave to shame. Despite taking up the entire episode, we weren’t bored with the action for one minute. It also flowed very fluidly, as opposed to the choppy, somewhat jarring, and inelegant Valvrave battle. Hell, this battle lasted so long, people had to return to base to resupply on weapons and ammo. And for the second straight mission, Team Rabbits distinguished themselves. The battle started out rocky, with everyone holding their own against the Wulgaru but no one working together, since the leader Izuru was off fighting Jiart.

His duel was vital in distracting and stalling Jiart, who was so excited to be fighting someone near his own level, he didn’t bother participating in the attack on the vulnerable GDF fleet. Once Izuru gives Asagi command of the Rabbits, shit starts getting organized, and before long the team is a well-oiled ass-kicking machine. It’s a superb transition that even they notice and revel in. As for Jiart, once he sees the dude inside Red 5, and Izuru sees him, it’s for the first time, and rather than finish him, he flies off, hopeful for a future encounter. Izuru can’t help but notice the resemblance between his Wulgaru opponent and Theoria, the white-haired girl that interests him. So we’ll see where that goes.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Asagi really does a bang-up job as the leader, not complaining about his stomach once and making snap decisions to best utilize his teammates.
  • Everyone is useful in this battle, from Suruga, using his weapons knowledge to make sure he’s fully equipped; Tamaki launching herself at the Wulgaru and laying waste; and Kei coordinating units even faster than her Doberman counterpart can manage.
  • Komine very nearly loses the battle with his absolutely dreadful command decisions. The guy is a liability, and we sorely hope Lt. Amane takes action to rectify this soon.