Hataraku Maou-sama! – 08

Emi Yusa, Maou Sadao, Kamazuki Suzuno, Ashiya Shirou, Sasaki Chiho

Suzuno is continuing to cook for Sadao as Ashiya recovers from heatstroke, initially causing a misunderstanding with Chiho. Over breakfast, Suzuno voices her intention to get a job at some point, and Emi agrees to help her secure more modern garb. Chiho reiterates her love for Sadao. When Suzuno meets up with Emi, she reveals her true identity as Christia Bell, Chief Interrogator for the Church’s Investigation Commission. She wants to team up with Hero Emilia to kill Sadao, but Emi isn’t ready to trust her yet. SFC is stealing all of MgRonald’s business, so Sadao sends Ashiya on a mission.

There’s a lot going on in this busy, vibrant episode, but the two main plots involve Chiho and Sadao’s relationship (such as it is) and Suzuno’s true identity and mission. A lot of exposition is covered during otherwise slice-of-life moments that further underline how the motley group of heros and demons is growing closer and more like ordinary earthbound humans. Even Suzuno; it’s her turn to be the fish out of water. She studied Showa-period tv dramas in preparation for coming to Japan. But despite her fear of the ticket machine (a fear we shared when first faced with one) or utter wonder at television (wait, we thought she watched tv?) the fact remains she’s a tough costumer who seems to be biding her time.

Sasaki Chiho, Maou Sadao

She’s also rocking the boat, something even Emi may not want at this point. Emi had a personal vendetta against Sadao, but her hatred for him is definitely fading, and she can’t deny he’s changed his ways. Sure, he and Ashiya still spew nonsense about ruling the new world they’re in, but like Emi always promising to kill Sadao, at this point its more of an obligation to protocol than actual realistic goals. They’re trying to keep their former roles alive, but in this world, anyone can be either a hero or a demon as conditions dictate. Things aren’t so black-and-white here, something Suzuno will learn the more time she spends around Castle Overlord.

And then there’s the budding romance between Chiho and Sadao. There’s not much Sadao is contributing at this point, but he’s at least aware of her love for him, as she makes it clear to him. Before Emi told her about everything Sadao did back in his world, and before he even saved her life, she fell in love with him, because the only Sadao she knows is the one he’s been: warm, noble, kind, diligent, chivalrous. It’s her life and her choice. This means if anyone takes a shot at Sadao, they’ll be taking a shot at her too, which complicates matters.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Chiho had a lot of cute reactions in this episode. We especially liked her speeding off in Dullahan, and then later apologizing profusely to Sadao. Her reaction to the SFC manager was pretty great too.
  • About that blue-haired dude: could he be another person from Ente Isla? He seems a bit off.
  • Just as in, say, Index, all the religious-political crap is some of the least interesting material in the series. We’d rather see the gang enjoying a meager feast together than hear a bunch of whitebeards braying on about some such gobbledygook.

RDG: Red Data Girl – 08

Souda Masumi, Suzuhara Izumiko

Izumiko suggests summoning Himegami so Sagara can ask her to help bring back Manatsu. The summoning fails, and Izumiko stumbles into Masumi’s plane, where she meets him. He agrees to take her to the cave where Manatsu is trapped behind a massive boulder. Izumiko dances to remove it, but Manatsu stops her; he was outside the cave all along, and it is Masumi’s full body as a nine-headed dragon who is stuck in the cave. Mayura and Sagara arrive, but the dragon escapes. Sagara is able to protect Izumiko, and Himegami appears independently to re-seal the dragon in the cave. Izumiko and Sagara return to their plane and Izumiko’s mom is there, detaining Himegami as long as she can. Sagara also tells her he and Wamiya joined forces to protect her.

This was a gorgeous episode surging with an otherworldly mystical atmosphere (and eerily gorgeous moonlight) as Izumiko literally steps into another world. As Masumi notes, hardships make her stronger, and there’s no hardship worse for her now than seeing Mayura cry. As far as Izumiko is concerned, she owes Mayura for all she’s done for her, and in return she’s going to do everything she can to bring Manatsu back. And while all she knows how to do is dance, that’s enough to get the job done. We love her forceful determination: she’s done standing on the sidelines. If there’s even the slightest chance she can help, she’s going to.

Her trip to Manatsu’s plane has, as we said, a spookily beautiful aura to it. On more than one occasion we were reminded of the ancient forest in Princess Mononoke – a place ordinary humans don’t quite belong. Of course, Izumiko, Sagara and Manatsu are not ordinary humans; they have spiritual powers. But we like how it takes collaboration with Wamiya for Sagara to stop the dragon, and even then, he’s not powerful enough to return it to a slumber. That takes Himegami, through Izumiko’s mother. Proof that both Izumiko and Sagara still have much to learn – and they’ll learn together.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Izumiko handles getting hit on by ghosts quite well.
  • She also gets to dance again. Her dances are always lovely and entrancing.
  • The back-and-forth banter between Izumiko and Sagara this week was often quite amusing. We particularly enjoyed Izumiko equating Himagmi to a cellular signal, and going into 20 Questions mode as soon as she spots wings on Sagara.
  • A tearful but relieved Mayura hugging Manatsu while warning of future repercussions for running off in the first place was a very sweet moment.
  • As soon as we saw those black wings, we had a feeling Wamiya was involved.
  • Izumiko brought Manatsu back, but he has the same heart condition that took Masumi’s life, so he’s still in danger.
  • If there was any doubt before, it’s pretty clear by now that Sagara has a budding romantic interest in Izumiko. Why else would he care what her type is? Ganbatte, Shinkou!

Summer 2013 Season Preview

sum13b

As usually happens when it comes time to do one of our season previews, we’re trying something a little different. Rather than just list the series we’re thinking of watching, we’ll also offer a little blurb about why, aside from enticing promo art. We’ve identified eleven upcoming Summer series that we’re either definitely, probably, or maybe going to watch, plus two Spring carryovers.

We’re bringing this out a couple weeks earlier than usual, but that shouldn’t effect our choices, as we’ve learned pretty much all we want to learn before simply watching them for the first time. In case you’re new here, we here at RABUJOI prefer to know as little as possible about what we’re going to watch, and depend solely on the promo art, studio, and people involved to determine what to watch. Click on a title for more details, courtesy of MAL.

So, here’s what’s on tap come July or thereabouts:

Definitely Watching

445941. Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince

(episodes 14-24)

Why? Because we’re watching the first half, and until it starts to totally suck, we’re watching the second half too. Also, despite not being quite as good-looking as Valvrave, unlike Valvrave we can name off the top of our heads three characters we actually like (Asagi, Kei, and Lt. Amane).

475472. To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S

(episodes 14-24)

Why? After a middling start, the drama and peril has been bumped up, as Mikoto decides to take on the military scientific complex that is letting Accelerator murder thousands of her clones. We’re fans of the franchise and in it for the long haul.

494433. Monogatari Series: Second Season

Shaft (Comedy, Ecchi, Romance, Supernatural) – Jul

Why? The various “-Monogatari” anime aren’t for everyone, but count us among those who they are for. We love the weird direction, ultra-stylish, stylized locales, and straight-laced ecchi elements. We even like the long-winded conversations, because they make the bursts of action that do occur in the meatier episodes that much more impactful.

488134. Servant x Service

Aniplex, A-1, Half H.P (Comedy, Slice of Life) – Jul

Why? Several reasons. We were great fans of both seasons of Working!!, and this is from the same original creator, Takatsu Karino. It’s also about adults doing their jobs, something we can relate to more than high school at this point, since we’re in the workplace. Also, it’s a solid-looking voice cast, including Aki-chan, Ai-chan, and Mai-chan.

Probably Watching

499395. Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyou

(InuHasa/Dog & Scissors)
Gonzo (Comedy, Supernatural) – Jul

Why? We’re huge Gonzo fans, and it’s good to see them still in the game having survived some serious financial troubles. That being said, Last Exile cashed in on a known quantity, and while Shangri-la was gorgeous, the story was a bit lacking. We’d prefer if Range Murata was handling the character design here, but this is a freshman effort for both designer and director, so we’ll see how they do. Also, the premise sounds nuts…in a good way!

497956. Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C³-bu

(Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C³)
Gainax (School, Military) – Jul

Why? This looks like another girls-with-weapons series, something Gainax knows a little bit about. After the bright-eyed forthright idealism of Girls und Panzer (not that there was anything wrong with that), we’re hoping the veteran studio brings its trademark zaniness to a very well-worn genre. We’ll be looking for something new; risks, like they took with P&S. Where the heck is the rest of that show, by the way?

Maybe Pile

476777. Blood Lad

Brains Base (Comedy, Demons, Vampire, Supernatural, Seinen) – Jul

Why? “Demon With A Heart of Gold” has become a rapidly propagating trend in the last couple seasons, and we’re not opposed to continuing to watch that trend unfold, as long as it’s quality. Brains Base does quality work and is good with both ensemble casts and creating vivid, lived-in settings. Fujisaki Kenji is handling character design, which doesn’t look quite as retro as his work on Ozma.

469738. Danganronpa: Kibou no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Koukousei – The Animation

Lerche (Action, Mystery, Horror, Psychological) Jul

Why? 
Kishi Seiji directs, and we enjoyed his work in Angel Beats! and Kamisama Dolls thoroughly. Scriptwriter Uezu Makoto also worked on Dolls as well as six of the Katanagatari episodes. One thing we liked about Persona 4 was Morita Kazuaki’s crisp, clean character design; he’s also on the team. While we’re not fans of that two-faced teddy bear, everything else about this series sounds good; it will all come down to execution.

492219. Gatchaman Crowds

Tatsunoko (Adventure, Sci-Fi) – Jul

Why? The promotional art for this series has been very minimalist and vague, which we kinda like. We don’t want to dig too deep into what this is, but it looks to be one of the few sci-fi series of the summer that piques our interest. Nakamura Kenji directs (he also did [C]) while Takahashi Yuuichi (Macross Frontier) handles character design. That’s about all we know.

4882310. Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi

(The Sunday Without God)

Madhouse (Mystery, Fantasy) – Jul

Why? It sounds pretty dark, but dark can be good. Amnesia was ultimately underwhelming, so we’re looking for a good new mystery. This is Irie Kimihito’s first work, and it won a Grand Prize so we’re hoping fresh blood breeds fresh ideas.

4936911. Love Lab

Aniplex, Dogakobo (Comedy, Romance, School) – Jul

This one actually looks like it might be a slog, what with the “club full of anime cliches” premise. But it has one thing going in its favor from where we’re standing: both the director and scriptwriter for Kotoura-san are involved. We really enjoyed that series, so we know these guys are capable of good works.

4658712. Tamayura: More Aggressive

TYO (Comedy, Slice of Life) – Jul

Why? Tamayura ~hitotose~ was an above-average slice-of-life/drama about growing up and finding a passion in life. Unless there’s a significant drop in quality, the only thing holding us back from watching this second, “more aggressive” season is that there may be too much new stuff on our plate. We hope that’s not the case and it’s as good or even better than its predecessor.

4771713. Uchoten Kazoku

P.A. Works (Comedy, Fantasy) – 16 Jun

Why? After the more serious RDG, Tari Tari, and Another, P.A. Works looks to be letting its hair down a bit with what looks like more of a comedic series involving tanukis. The original creator also did Tatami Galaxy, one of our favorite series in recent years, though how much of its excellence was due to his participation, we don’t know. Still, the strength of the studio is enough to warrant giving this a look. Also, tanukis are awesome.