Oreimo 2 – 07

Kousaka Kyousuke, Gokou Ruri

Ruri doubles down on her confession to Kyousuke, telling him she’s sure she loves him more than anyone else. He begs her to let him think about it, and she gives him until tomorrow, after the re-party. Back at home he and Kirino finish making up, and Kirino make shim promise to give serious thought if the “other girl” confesses to him. Manami also tells him to “face Kuroneko sincerely.” After the party, Kyousuke agrees to go out with Ruri. They later plan to meet up in the video game club, where everyone already assumed they’d been going out a long time. After expressing ignorance about what a boyfriend should do, Kyousuke suggests they do what she’s written (and illustrated) in her “Destiny Record”, starting with a first date.

This time, I need to do things right…

Damn straight! What do you know, Oreimo actually surprised us this week! We were fully resigned to Kyousuke further stalling or at worst, outright rejecting Ruri so that he can continue his dead-end quasi-romance with his little sister. Instead, after receiving (sorta)best wishes from both Kirino and his long-suffering betrothed Manami, Kyousuke finally makes the right choice: he chooses Kuroneko. And we couldn’t be happier! Interestingly, this doesn’t mean he’s betraying or abandoning Kirino, just that he’s finally realized they’re two different kinds of love. What’s also great is that while there is some building up, his deliberation doesn’t take up the whole episode. She has his answer by the commercial break. And thus, a huge weight is lifted.

What follows is a second-half that just about makes up for all of the will-they-wont-they torture the last one-and-a-half seasons of the series. Both Kyousuke’s sudden excitement and Ruri’s dilating joy is contagious to behold. She looked as surprised as we were when Kyousuke actually said yes, and the scene when her little sisters see her “break” with giddiness is a lovely, adorable moment. We’re as glad as she is that after creating such a compelling love interest and steadily yet naturally building up her attraction to Kyousuke, the series finally pulled the trigger on a Kyou+Ruri path, and as far as we’re concerned, now that it’s a reality, every minute the happy new couple isn’t on the screen together being awesome is a minute wasted. Sorry Kirino.

Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Kirino’s fake boyfriend shows up. He’s useless with advice on boob-touching.
  • Kyousuke, Kirino, and Ruri apologize to Saori for ruining the previous party. As well they should!
  • It sounded an awful lot like Kirino gave Kyousuke her blessing, so we don’t want to hear her complaining next week!
  • Here’s hoping Kyousuke and Ruri start calling each other by name. We know, we’re pushing our luck.
  • This week’s Aku no Hana was so powerful and Ise Mariya’s performance as Nakamura Sawa was so compelling, that we had a visceral reaction when Akagi Sena (also Ise) started talking.

Suisei no Gargantia – 07

Amy, Ensign Ledo

Word spreads around Gargantua that Ledo has killed a “whalesquid”, a grave taboo, as they are sacred, fierce creatures who only attack if provoked. Ledo is unapologetic, and bioanalysis confirms the whalesquid are genetically identical to his sworn enemy, the Hideauze. Before Fearlock can make a decision, an enormous sea galaxy appears with a huge pod of whalesquid. Amy and Ridgett stop Ledo before he can attack, and the squid pass harmlessly under the fleet. Pinion and Flange, a major ship owner, propose breaking off from Gargantia and using Ledo and Chamber to get to treasure protected by whalesquid. Fearlock is about to refuse, but suffers an apparent heart attack.

It’s trouble in sexy belly-dancing, creepy octopus paradise, as Ledo’s brainwashing (for lack of a better word) supersedes everything he has learned about society on Earth. As long as Hideauze exist, he will fight them until one of them (or both of them) are dead. It’s the only reason he exists, as far as he’s concerned. Chamber doesn’t help matters, as his programming is just as ingrained as Ledo’s: no matter what he may have learned about earth’s philosophy of co-existence, there are procedures to follow when a Hideauze is spotted that renders such educational dalliances null and void.

Chamber is Ledo’s servant and tool, but Ledo is the Alliance’s servant and tool. But is that all he is? Is that conditioning as impermeable as it seems to be here, as Ledo decides that he must abandon Amy, Bevel, and all of Gargantia in order to complete his mission? We will see, but before this new conflict is resolved, it seems inevitable that Ledo will have to leave Gargantia for a time…and Pinion is ready and willing to help make that happen in exchange for Ledo’s cooperation in relieving promising treasure sites of their whalesquid sentries.

Rating: 8 

Stray Observations:

  • That plan-view map of Gargantia is pretty slick…we wouldn’t mind something like that on our living room wall!
  • Pinion isn’t just on Ledo’s side for greed and pride…but to avenge a brother.
  • Fearlock is full of great lines. We wish we could watch more of him and Dr. Oldham shooting the breeze, but first he has to live another day!
  • We’re thinking more and more that Ledo is in the distant future, long after the war between Hideauze and Human has ceased, and the two essentially share Earth together. We believe this because a lot of that underwater treasure is likely tech from Ledo’s time, which the whalesquid would naturally not want humanity to get its hands on, lest the cycle repeat.
  • On that note, perhaps the Hideazue/whalesquid are “aliens” at all, but a naturally-evolved check against human development, in order to save it from itself? Think the toxic jungle of Nausicaa.
  • The show is doing a good job showing that brainwashing aside, both sides have reasonable arguments for why they’re acting as they are. The only thing tripping up Ledo is the fact that he’s trying to start a war where one shouldn’t exist, and obeying orders of what could well be a long-extinct Alliance.

No matter what the reality of the situation is, accepting it is a privilege for those of us who are alive.

Aku no Hana – 07

Saeki Nanako, Kasuga Takao

Kasuga pays a visit to Saeki’s house to deliver her handouts. Saeki asks him if he has any secrets. Cursing himself, Kasuga tells her he doesn’t, and she trusts him. Kasuga tells Nakamura about his new sin, and how he wants to come clean to Saeki about the uniform. He and Nakamura meet at midnight and break into the school. When Nakamura balks at the plan she has for him to confess to everyone, she washes her hands of him. But as she’s leaving, Kasuga writes a confession on the blackboard, and does more when pressed. The two then tear the entire classroom apart.

Holy shit. Back from the forest, we decided to start playing catch-up with the show we most look forward to watching week in week out, and that’s Aku no Hana. The show told us it was only going to get better, and it did. Kasuga adds to his sins and the relationship between him and Nakamura becomes even deeper, more intimate, and more fucked-up, culminating in one of the tensest, sexiest, most powerful sequences we’ve ever seen on television, period. This series’ gutsy style and fierce confidence in the story it’s telling (almost bordering on arrogance) shines through, and its impeccable dramatic timing and moving, unsettling score were firing on all cylinders.

Nakamura Sawa, Kasuga Takao

In the end, all of the guilt and doubt Kasuga has bottled up finally finds a sudden and seemingly purifying release. What happens to Kasuga on that magical moonlit night definitely signifies another wall he has broken through. And it isn’t only because of the threat of being found out. Instead, it’s when Nakamura voices her disgust at the realization that he’s just like everyone else in the school and the world she hates. It’s when she releases him from the contract and tells him not to speak to her again.

Ironically, it’s when she gives him what he wanted: for her to just leave him be. In that moment of abandonment, earning Nakamura’s anti-respect and keeping her in his life is more important than Saeki or his own survival. He goes the extra mile to prove to the other girl in his life that he’s every bit the deviant he promises to Saeki he isn’t. And without simply coming out and saying it, his actions are an affirmation that Nakamura is right about Kasuga: he’s a horny, debauched deviant on the edge of frenzy, and perhaps most importantly, he’s not boring.

Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

RABUJOI World Heritage List

Stray Observations:

  • We’ve grown to love the crazy dirge that accompanies the end credits, and this week brought us an even bolder, quirkier, darker, more beautiful arrangement, using tablas for the beat and turning Kasuga and Nakamura’s classroom rampage into a hauntingly gorgeous dance, almost as if the characters and even the show had gone into some kind of trance.
  • Despite being rotoscoped from live action, the trope of the face turning pink when characters are aroused is carried through here, to good effect, as Nakamura has never looked happier or more turned on.
  • Saeki seems to think that there’s something going on between Kasuga and Nakamura. And she’s right, there is.
  • We reiterate, until something comes to light that suggest she may also have deviant side: Poor, poor Saeki.
  • Another sign Kasuga’s path to Saeki is almost un-satisfyingly easy: she has a very liberal mom that leaves him alone in her bedroom.
  • Those final five orgasmic minutes of the episode really were transcendent anime; one of the best sequences of cathartic release/letting the fuck go we’ve ever seen, animated or otherwise. Someone posted it to YouTube, but who knows how long that’ll last.
  • For a brief moment we feared that was Nakamura’s blood spilling on Kasuga’s face rather than ink. Thank goodness things haven’t gotten that dark…yet.