To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 12

Misaka Mikoto

Mikoto’s plan is to hack the terminal speaking to Tree Diagram in orbit, in order to shut down the Level 6 Shift program, or at least create confusion while she destroys the remainder of the project. Meanwhile, MISAKA 10032 makes Touma adopt a stray kitten. Mikoto infiltrates the Tree Diagram facility all too easily, finds it dusty and long abandoned, and finds reports of the Tree Diagram’s destruction. While waiting for Touma outside a bookstore, Accelerator and MISAKA 10031 arrive, and 10032 goes with them to commence the next experiment.

Mikoto hates it when humans live their lives according to the data and plans laid out for them by machines. It’s a point Gargantia made throughout its run: humans need to be able to think for themselves and make their own choices, even if those choices aren’t always perfect. As we hit the halfway point, Mikoto seemingly finds herself back at square one, with no Tree Diagram to hack and a new plan needed to end the Shift Project. Meanwhile Touma has an encounter with a MISAKA clone similar to Mikoto’s first encounter with the clone who would eventually be viciously murdered before her eyes by the despicable Accelerator (though we love that soulful theme that plays whenever he’s tangling with the sisters, which we also heard in episode five).

From Touma’s perspective MISAKA is neither a clone nor cannon fodder living on borrowed time. She gets sad and mad and annoyed; feels sympathy for a helpless kitten, knows how to guilt-trip him into taking it in. She’s a person; no less worthy of life than the original. We have no doubt that if Touma follows her to her meeting with Accelerator, he too will know the horrors and awfulness that Academy City condones. Only unlike Mikoto, Touma can negate Accelerator’s esper powers with Imagine Breaker. Biribiri has tried doing things on her own, but she’s never been able to last long against the ‘rator. Touma could even the odds, were he inclined to involve himself. And as we all know, he’s never been lucky enough to avoid such situations.

7_very_good
Rating:7 (Very Good)

Aku no Hana – 13 (Fin)

aku131

While snooping around Nakamura’s otherwise normal room Kasuga finds a notebook in which she has recorded all of her encounters with Kasuga, up until after they vandilized the classroom. The rest is blank until the last page, where she laments not being able to go over the hill. Nakamura barges in, tells Kasuga to get out, then runs again. Kasuga chases her and they both trip and fall onto each other. Kasuga’s life flashes before his eyes in reverse, followed by all his interactions with Nakamura. He then starts to see flashes of a possible future with him, Nakamura, and Saeki in which his deviancy expands. He tells her to make a new contract with him, and “leave the den of shit.”

As Nakamura said to Kasuga before they trashed the classroom (loosely translated), “Life isn’t a bowl of cherries.” Remembering that, we were confident that Aku no Hana was not going to end on a happy note. This is a series that loves to torture its male lead and make him squirm, to the point where whenever he feels joy or bliss, or things start to look up, a big alarm goes off: “BOWL OF CHERRIES.” As in life isn’t; not for him. He’s a miserable angsty teen grasping wildly at some kind of justification for his pathetic existence. Just because he thinks he was put on this earth to make sure Nakamura wouldn’t be alone, doesn’t make it so. But still, his obsession with staying by her side is a kind of love, a itch he must scratch.

aku132

How to end a highly controversial anime, not just for its dark source material, but for the way it was translated to animation? With a highly controversial ending, of course! After the initial reveal of Nakamura’s room (we should have known the door wrote checks the room couldn’t clear!) and the following chase that ends with them on the ground, time starts gettin’ all whimsical and shit, full of callbacks to previous episodes, but then goes beyond the first episode and to flashes of his childhood, and then…the classroom arrangement returns and things start to get really weird. The episode ended abruptly with the message “END OF PART ONE.” So were those flash-forwards a montage previewing Part Two?

We hope so, because it looks like things get a lot bleaker. Just because you’re devoted to fulfilling the role your admirer laid out for you, doesn’t mean things are going to get any easier for anyone. While we would have liked to see more of what happened after Kasuga asks Nakamura to form a new contract, we can hopefully look forward to all that being addressed in detail in the second season. Until then, it was a very weird, very powerful, very dark ride. Aku no Hana reminded us why we love anime: you can watch months and months of the same old stuff, and then boom, something totally different comes along, fiercely marching to the beat of its own drummer, never apologizing for anything.

9_superior
Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Another possibility: rather than a teaser, everything that happened in that future montage happened, and won’t happen again. What we saw was a highly condensed result of Nakamura entering that contract with Kasuga.
  • Among the disturbing images we see in this montage: burning books; hanging panties around the walls; Saeki cutting her hair Nakamura-short and continuing to obsess over Kasuga; Kasuga holding her down; someone bleeding down their legs; Nakamura passed out; a policeman flashing his badge; Nakamura scratching the shit out of Kasuga’s chest, and other assorted mayhem.
  • Was the present Nakamura embarassed that Kasuga was in his room, learning of her secret notebook? She seemed pretty damn mad he was in there, so we don’t think she ever intended anyone to see it. That being said, she didn’t exactly take great pains to hide it.
  • In her notebook we see pretty much the same cheerfully deviant Nakamura that we saw when she was doing the things she wrote about. There’s a naked earnestness to her; what seemed like a mocking or patronizing manner with Kasuga was actually genuine excitement, concern, and anticipation.

Suisei no Gargantia – 13 (Fin)

har131

Ledo and Chamber learn that Striker is operating autonomously, and has decided that she is a god to be worshiped and served by the human race to keep them peaceful and prosperous. Chamber disagrees, saying depriving people of the ability to think or make decisions is robbing them of their humanity. They engage in battle. Gargantia fires the Heaven’s Ladder at Kugel’s fleet as Pinion and Lukkage evacuate the relic island.

Ledo merges with Chamber using the “Neuroplus” system, but cannot defeat Striker without killing himself. Kugel’s fleet is defeated, and the island is destroyed. When Ledo tells Chamber he wants to be with Amy, Chamber relieves him of duty, ejects him, and destroys Striker in a suicide attack. Ledo rejoins Amy and commences his new life as an underwater researcher on Gargantia.

gar132

Striker may have learned how to operate on her own, but it’s ultimately Chamber who becomes the most human-like of the two. In the time spent with Ensign Ledo and the people of Gargantia, he morphed from the same cold, analytical stick-in-the-mud Striker was to a robot that was willing to stick with his pilot’s will until the end and give up his existence so that his pilot can continue to live, even if he’ll no longer be a soldier. In fact, he feels his entire reason for existence – to support Ledo – is fulfilled by his actions.

This episode carried on the excellence of the previous episode when the huge multi-vectored battle began, and came to an awesome and very fulfilling conclusion. Ledo realized there was more to life than completing one’s overarching mission, or rather, came to a new understanding of that mission, as Chamber did. The mission isn’t to fight and defeat the Hideauze, forevermore. The mission is to survive and live. And he does, with Amy and Gargantia. Hell, he even starts wearing sandals!

9_superior
Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Chamber’s whole “Bitch is you crazy?” dialogue to the Mad Striker is fantastic, culminating in “Go to Hell, Tin Can!”
  • Relieving Ledo of duty for being “psychological unfit” was also an awesome pretense for Chamber to be a badass and save Ledo – and frankly, all other humans – from Striker’s wrath.
  • The Heaven’s Ladder, with its water shock suppression system, was pretty cool. 
  • Bevel’s closing history lecture is a little bit shoehorned in, but we can see why they wanted that in the “so, here’s what’s up now” montage.
  • Pinion and Lukkage seem to end up becoming friends
  • Ledo now has a squirrel friend just like Amy. How sickeningly cute.
  • Haunting parting shot: a huge gathering of Hideauze swimming around the ocean floor.

Oreimo 2 – 13 (Fin)

oreimo13t2

Kirino used to adore her big brother, but as he grew older they grew apart, and as she strived to surpass him, he stopped seeming as amazing as she once deemed him. She suspects Manami’s influence, but Manami tells her the amazing Kyousuke Kirino loved never really existed. Kirino made a friend in Ayase through modeling, and also discovered siscon eroge, which she had to keep a secret, until it grew out of control, and she finally had to ask her average, unremarkable brother for advice, and he performed his brotherly duty admirably, if not as cool and confidently as he once did.

The last episode of Oreimo for some time serves as a prequel to everything we’ve seen thus far, and documents the evolution of Kirino’s feelings for her brother, leading up to their current, cordial relationship. Basically, the younger she and Kyousuke were, the more amazing she thought he was, and the more he was willing to spend time with her. But he eventually outgrew that arrangement before she did, leading her to aim to surpass him. So we can imagine her disappointment when Kyousuke devolved from the driven, talented, cool brother she once knew into a lazy, unmotivated layabout. The person who drove her to become better than she was had gotten worse. Since the very beginning, it’s been clear that Kirino is a big, hopeless otaku, but this episode finally confirms why: she was seeking the ideal brother Kyousuke no longer was.

She shunned her real brother in exchange for the brothers in the games she played, who would always do what she said and be with her no matter what and be just as amazing as she wanted them to be. But they were no more real than that youthful ideal of her real brother. Kyousuke is and always has been Kyousuke, and regardless of how much he disappointed her, he was always going to protect her, as he does when he passionately defends her hobby to their fatheer. Now Kirino is mature enough to realize that Kyousuke may not be perfect or even particularly cool, but he’s her brother; her only brother. He’s all she’s got, and he’s really not all bad, as big brothers go!

7_very_good
Rating:7 (Very Good)

Chihayafuru 2 – 25 (Fin)

chi2_251

After the tournament, Chihaya sees more specialists, who determine she has enchrondromatosis in her right index finger. She decides to undergo surgery, which will require anesthesia and a week-long stay in the hospital. She spends her time studying a film of Arata’s match given to her by Coach Sakurazawa, and calls Arata, who tells her he always things of the time he and she first played karuta in his apartment when they were young. Chihaya also composes some poetry, some of which Oe recognizes as Chihaya expressing feelings for Arata. Oe prods Taichi to try harder with Chihaaya, and arranges for the two to attend a Fujisaki karuta camp on their own once Chihaya is discharged. Arata prepares to move to Tokyo to attend college.

With all the karuta matches played and champions decided, we were thinking this would be a pleasant little epilogue to wrap up loose ends. And while it achieved that, so much more stuff went down here; stuff that sets up an almost assured third season that we don’t think we’ll be able to resist. This was a beautiful episode that had Chihaya cooped up in hospital, leaving her little to do but study Arata, think about Arata, talk to Arata, and summon feelings for Arata that she doesn’t understand; i.e. love. She realizes that her love for him and karuta are intertwined; her means of proving to herself and him that she’s worthy of his love. But she may already have it; the most fun Arata ever had is when he played with her, and it’s the very thing that keeps him calm whatever the nature of the match he’s playing. She contributes to his greatness.

chi2_252

Also brilliant was the use of Chihaya’s poetry, as read by Oe (by far the best character in the show at reading poetry) to indicate that Taichi’s window is rapidly closing, and further dalliances only make his climb steeper. Those poems, and watching her connect them to moments of Chihaya’s behavior, moved us deeply. Oe the Yenta is firmly on Taichi’s side, likening him to a figure from the hundred poems she so adores, and one who she doesn’t want to lose, so it’s cute and awesome that she takes steps to get Taichi into a position to make a move, any move, to keep him in the gate versus Arata.

As Oe says, Chihaya can’t possibly stay clueless forever, especially when she’s unconsciously writing love poems to Arata as it is! Perhaps, after the second season finally gave Mizusawa taste victory at the top, the third season (again, we’re just assuming there’ll be one) will address the love triangle with more authority, while also continuing Chihaya’s rise to defeat the queen and face Arata. Until then, the fine quality of this season was every bit the equal of the first, and even surpassed it in some regards. We can only move forward.


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

Stray Observations:

  • The reaction of horror of her friends at the news of the name of her condition is pretty priceless.
  • Chihaya’s practice swings (and the nurse’s scolding) were also quite adorable.
  • Coach Sakurazawa proves she’s quite the decent sort, providing Chihaya with a wealth of education (and very accurate!) karuta analysis of Arata and Shinobu.
  • Everything about Chihaya’s phone call to Arata was just flippin’ fantastic.
  • Arata happens to be looking at a magazine cover with Chihaya’s sister Chitose in a swimsuit when Chihaya calls and mentions Chitose. Weird, but great!
  • Porky is wearing a t-shirt with PORK on it. WE WANT THAT SHIRT.
  • In a nice surprise and blast from the past, the end credits role with the OP from the first season, which we liked a LOT more than the second one. Still love it!
  • That’s fifty episodes of Chihaya and the gang watched. It was a fun ride, and we hope there’ll be 25 more in the future.

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru – 13 (Fin)

Shiromegumi Megumi, Yuigahama Yui, Yukinoshita Yukino, Hikigaya Hachiman

The Volunteers Club starts taking up “Cross-Chiba Counseling Emails”, the latest being one from student council president Shiromegumi Megumi, who wants their help planning the main events for the athletics festival. Hiratsuka shoots down everyones’ ideas, so Hikigaya recruits Ebina Hina and Zaimokuza Yoshiteru. Zaimokuza comes up with a “Girls’ Chiba Citizen Cavalry Battle” for the girls, which Team Red wins, and Ebina devises a pole-toppling contest, which the red team also wins, but is later disqualified for foul play.

Another day, another series wrapping up, and Oregairu does so on an ellipsis rather than a period, with the core of Yui, Yukino and Hikky tighter than they’ve ever been, despite the occasional barbs exchanged between the latter two. So confident are they in their bonds, they’re already looking forward to spending next year’s festival together, even if they’re not still on the same team. But while at first glance following up one festival with another seems like a bit  of a dawdle, this series pulls it off admirably, holding our interest with plenty of peppy dialogue (some of our favorite exchanges are on our tumblr) and action.

Yukinoshita Yukino, Shiromegumi Megumi, Yuigahama Yui

The episode also gives pretty much all the side characters one last chance to shine before taking a bow. Shiromegumi, she of bubbly but inspiring energy and optimism (not unlike Yui!) requests the mission. Ebina and Zaimokuza play the important role of devising unique and ultimately fun and memorable main events, though both chose the events they chose for purely selfish, not altogether savory reasons. Hayama has the ladies in his thrall and knows it, while Totsuka inadvertently makes every member of the same sex melt because of his excessive cuteness.

We can’t believe we’re saying this, but we wouldn’t mind a second season of this, although we no of none in the works. After this season brought the three misfits together and threw challenges at them to strengthen their bonds, we’d like to see a season in which, now firmly established as their own little posse, face more challenges, such as the romantic tension between Hikigaya and the girls, while continuing their service work, perhaps with a fourth freshman member? But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Regardless of whether this story continues, it ultimately left us satisfied and glad we watched.

7_very_good
Rating:7 (Very Good)

Valvrave the Liberator – 12

Renbokouji Akira

221 years into the future, Rukino Saki tells a silver-haired boy the story of the “Founder”‘s battles for Module 77, where he encountered the “Magius.” Back in the present, Saki rejects Haruto’s marriage proposal and tells him to go save Shouko. He meets up with L-el as the Dorssian drill is ascending the module towards the school fast, releasing posion gas as it goes. Colonel Cain outsmarts L-elf, shoots Haruto, then beats L-elf up, aiming to take the red Valvrave.

Meanwhile, Shouko is injured while racing to save Akira from the approaching drill. Akira finally leaves her shelter to save Shouko, and finds a purple Valvrave on the way to her. She resigns her humanity and boards it, and her “hacking” weapon disables the drill and all the other Dorssian bogeys. L-elf escapes Cain’s custody with Haruto and they board the red Valvrave and launch a barrage of weapons fire at Cain, but he isn’t scratched. He reveals himself as a “Magius.”

Colonel Cain

So yeah, obviously there was going to be more Valvrave coming after this episode, because there still so many storylines not even close to being resolved yet, but we were still pleasantly surprised by the sheer amount of stuff that went down in this episode, as well as the high level of tension it maintained throughout it’s running time. Module 77 its most immediate and potentially mortal crisis, while Colonel Cain proves that even a superhuman like L-elf doesn’t stand much of a chance against his non-human “creator.”

They also chose to give Akira the most she’s ever done or said in an episode by far, and we thought her tortured emergence from her security shell was very well done. This is a girl with serious emotional trauma, but even she couldn’t sit and watch her friend get killed. That said, we wonder if she’ll ever leave that cockpit now that she’s in there! Just one of many dozens of things to be sorted out this fall, when the second season airs.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • We’re very intrigued by the Future Rukino prologues, all two of them; and that was the problem: all this bigger picture stuff like the two-century jumps forward and the Magius had to fight for screen time (and lost) with things like the presidential election and that horrible music video the school did. We want to see more.
  • Cain’s very thorough beating of L-elf was intense, for no other reason than L-elf has only ever been superior to everyone else in everything…but not against this guy.
  • Akira may share her name with an iconic film, but she and her now-vacated lair have reminded us more of an iconic anime, namely Lain. It was awesome to see her finally spring into action, and we look forward to seeing/hearing more of her.
  • That little silver-haired princess girl L-elf met when they were young – in the OP she’s grown up. Here’s hoping we get more of her story this fall.
  • “It’s THUNDER, Damnit!” The day someone finally actually calls him that is going to be some day.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – OVA

Takanashi Rikka, Togashi Yuuta

With Christmas approaching, the club agrees to throw a party. The school is closed, so Dekomori hosts everyone at her enormous mansion. While playing cards Dekomori and Rikka get drunk off of alcoholic pastries, briefly loosening their tongues about their feelings towards Shinka and Yuuta, respectively. Yuuta carries her home, but she feels better on the train and they go on a Christmas cruise on a sightseeing boat. When the time comes to speak up, they agree to keep things the way they are for now and everything will work out. Dekomori and the others join them on the boat.

This was a nice little nugget of Chu2Koiness to bridge the gap between last fall and the forthcoming second season, one that we said at the end of the first we hope will further flesh out Yuuta and Rikka’s relationship. They don’t really make any significant progress towards officially becoming a couple, such a major development, if it occurs, will occur next season. Their interactions here underline the fact that there’s no rush, but if they’re still just tenderly holding pinkies deep into the second season, we’ll be disappointed. Even Kuroneko and Kyousuke became an official couple, for crying out loud!

Speaking of tiresome, Dekomori Sanae should really be intolerable to us, but we get a kick out of Uesaka Sumire’s very playful and vibrant manner of speaking. We also get an awesome quasi-battle with an unarmed Yuuta versus a very tipsy Rikka and Sanae totally going all out with the weaponry. Along with the lovely Yuuta/Rikka chemistry, these battles were one of our favorite things about the series, and hope to see more of them next season. We also like Shinka helping Rikka out with trying to get closer to Yuuta, as Rdikka is still new to this kinda thing.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Hataraku Maou-sama! – 13 (Fin)

Yusa Emi, Maou Sadao

Chiho has a dream about Maou returning to Ente Isla, but he tells her he used all his power fixing the city. Suzuno and Chiho cover for Maou running out during his shift. Emi believes Maou is up to something, and Chiho is worried it relates to leaving, so they follow him until they’re caught. He and Ashiya are working side jobs to pay for the transmitters he used to locate them and save their lives. Urushihara falls victim to a scammer who duped him out of 128,000 yen in merchandise. Emi lets Maou know about the “cooling off period” he can use to make the scammer take the stuff back.

With the last Big Bad dealt with (though he inexplicably ends up in the MgRonald freezer), this episode puts its feet up and kicks back with a series of lightweight stories. Both Chiho and Emi dream of Maou leaving and conquering, respectively, in truth Maou can’t go anywhere for the foreseeable future, having once again exhausted his demon powers in the service of good, rather than evil. Meanwhile, he and Ashiya have to keep working menial jobs to pay the bills, an enterprise that is almost underwhelmed by Urushihara’s carelessness with e-commerce.

Emi continues to not trust Maou even after he practically saved all of Tokyo and her own life for not the first time, but we can’t really blame her. While the event never had much impact beyond her pent-up animosity towards Maou and his cohorts, the fact remains her father was killed and village destroyed by armies under Maou’s command. It doesn’t matter to her how many degrees of separation; he was in charge of the ones who did that. Nevertheless, the pleasant cease-fire continues, with her offering him advice that gets him out of a financial pickle, and even gives him an umbrella to replace the one she took and threw out: his first, but not last, act of kindness that led to their unlikely friendship.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Aku no Hana – 12

aku12

After staying up all night writing his essay to Nakamura, Kasuga tries to offer it to her while she’s walking home. She refuses to take it or speak to him, so he reads it to her as he chases her, until a car nearly hits him and she gets away. He rushes home to find Nakamura’s address, and when he goes there to drop the letter in the mail, he bumps into Nakamura’s dad, who invites him in and for dinner. Kasuga asks to use the toilet, but comes upon the door to Nakamura’s room. He turns the knob and enters…

“Girls can be difficult,” says Nakamura’s dad, who lives in a small flat, we’re assuming it’s his mother’s, who lives with him. He divorced Sawa’s mother when Sawa was just five, and he still can’t understand what’s going on in her head. Not that having a stable mother figure would have changed the way Nakamura is (daughters – and sons – are just as likely to equally “hate” both parents during their teenage years), but we’re a little relieved she doesn’t live in squalor with an abusive/drunk father. By all outward appearances, Sawa and her small family are like night and day.

Of course, like Kasuga, we still know very little about the details of Nakamura’s life, despite this introduction to her family. But assuming there’s no hidden unpleasantness, perhaps at this point it is Nakamura – Sawa – who is being backed into a corner by Kasuga, like she did to him. She pushed him so hard to be the deviant she wanted him to be he ended up disappointing those unrealistic expectations. Now he’s pressing hard to remain a presence in her life – any presence – as long as she doesn’t feel alone. Without necessarily intending to, he’s tearing down her walls of swear words and silence and scowls. And she fears those walls falling as much as he feared his.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • The “chase scene” was pretty fun/chaotic. And having seen how fast Nakamura can run from previous episodes, we knew Kasuga wouldn’t be able to keep up, car or no.
  • Sawa’s granny is almost painfully nice.
  • That beer pour made us really want a beer, which made us wonder why they didn’t go for more product placement.
  • Another episode that ends before Kasuga walks through a door? C’mon now, Nagahama-san…you’re killin’ us!

Suisei no Gargantia – 12

suisei121

Kugel’s underlings put Pinion to work in a huge warehouse of treasure, assessing what materials can be restored as arms, and is welcome to whatever else there is. Rukkage tells him she’s sick of Kugel’s methods and plans to rebel soon. Ledo begs Kugel not to Gargantia, but he ignores him. Flange meets with Pinion, worried about how the people of the fleet they’ve joined act like ghosts. After witnessing a sickening mass human “sacrifice”, Ledo has had enough. He sends Melty out to warn Gargantia, and Amy saves her from falling into the sea after passing out.

When she wakes up she tells them about Ledo’s plan. Amy pleads with Ridget and the fleet leaders to fight by Ledo’s side rather than run. As Kugel is about to commence the attack on Gargantia, Ledo and Chamber confront him, and Striker attacks. They duel in the skies while Pinion provides support fire from below. The Flange and Rukkage ships rebel against Kugel’s, and a huge battle erupts. Ledo grabs hold of Striker with chamber and slams him into the funnel of a ship. When he open’s Striker’s cockpit, he discovers that Kugel is already dead, and Striker has been acting independently using his voice.

suisei122

The epic, cinematic scale of the opening episode returns this week, as the dire situation comes to a head and those who caused it through their past, rash choices are now faced with the fact that they’ve chosen the wrong side. We’re talking about Pinion and Ledo, of course. Pinion saw a future of unbridled riches, power, and prestige, but once Kugel came in, he was reduced to just another drone towing the company line by any other name. Like Rukkage, his underlying yearning to be free was eventually going to overcome his complacency. Watching mass murder under the guise of a religious ritual can’t hurt either! Ledo had been willing to defer to Kugel’s judgment in accordance with the oath he took to the Galactic Alliance to obey his commander, a man who was also a friend and mentor.

But after that sickening ritual, like Pinion, Ledo is all like: “Fuck THIS shit.” He can’t be loyal to a Kugel who allows the destruction of society any more than Pinion and Rukkage can survive under the new order. The ensuing multi-vector battle is a stirring symphony of chaos and awesome laser blasts, and Gargantia isn’t even in the picture yet! And of course, the reveal that Kugel is dead and Striker is operating on her own is a great twist that not only redeems Kugel (he was never this much of a jerk!) but also proves yet again that there’s a point at which humans will have to decide exactly how far they want to progress technologically, before they pass the point of no return: self-destruction.

9_superior
Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • A clue to something not being quite right about Kugel: he repeats himself verbatim in telling Ledo not to waver. 
  • Also, looking back, we never saw the guy except in holographic images.
  • Thankfully, Ledo doesn’t have to fight long with Chamber to convince him to fight Striker. Maybe hanging around on Gargantia changed him too, eh?
  • Melty plays a crucial role in this episode both by relaying Flange’s concerns to the isolated Pinion, and more impressively, traveling by surf kite to Gargantia to warn them. She rocks!
  • If the anti-“Kugel” forces combine, they’ll outnumber the “Kugel” fleet by quite a bit, but we’ll see how many of “Kugel”‘s followers are true believers who will fight for him with their last breaths. Also, superior numbers will be meaningless against Striker. She’s at least the equal of Chamber in firepower, and if she wanted, she could wipe out every last human in all the fleets. She’s gotta be stopped.
  • We wonder what “Heaven’s Ladder” is…sounds cool.

 

Chihayafuru 2 – 24

chi2_24

In the Class A final, as Taichi and Chihaya enter to watch, Arata has built a good lead against Shinobu using his combination of a nearly flawless game plan and calm demeanor that even throws Shinobu off her game. She breaks a sweat and swipes more aggressively, starting a comeback. But in the end, Arata defeats her by two cards, then finds out Shinobu was playing with a fever from being drenched in the rain. For her part, she’s happy someone finally put up a fight against her, even if she did lose for the first time in years.

This was built up to be quite a match, and it did not disappoint in the slightest. Shinobu is the Queen, and Arata is Heir Apparent to the Master’s throne. Even the karuta boffins are in awe of what they are watching. The atmosphere is so thick you can slice it with a knife and chew it. After watching Shinobu so easily dispatch all below her, Arata puts the screws to her, and we see her growing more emotional and desperate. Both Porky and the Fujisaki dude, other victims of Arata, know that it isn’t just his skills and sadism that intimidate; it’s the easy smile and serene calm he exerts while doing so. But that wasn’t always the case.

Shinobu was born great, but Arata was merely born into greatness, and had to work his ass off to get there. Also, his greatness didn’t fit his younger body; it wasn’t until he became fully grown that the karuta he visualized matched his body. Now that he’s in synch, there may be no stopping him, though Master Suo is a pretty mythic figure in his own right, and if there’s ever a third season, we can easily see Arata losing to him. But for now, he’s the individual champion. He proved Shinobu wrong: she may be more connected to the cards, but her strength wasn’t quite enough against chihayafuru – the perfectly spinning top – the impassionate one.

9_superior
Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Hey, Midori sneaks Chihaya and Taichi into the match. She’s not so bad!
  • The poem Kana refers to Hanano is pretty spot-on!
  • Cute Chihaya moments: when she suddenly realizes she and Taichi are now officially rivals; and when she starts practice swinging during the match and Taichi has to stop her.
  • You know you have a badass reputation when people are shocked when you start sweating after five matches.
  • For perhaps the first time, some of the queen’s swings don’t make that bell-through-water sound, indicating she’s off her game and taking risks to stave off defeat. Nice touch there.
  • Arata’s grandfather was very firm and direct, but not cold or strict. He could probably see that Arata wouldn’t rise to greatness until he’d risen a bit in height.

Valvrave the Liberator – 11

valv11

As Module 77 draws closer to the neutral Moon, the new ministers of JIOR gather for a photo shoot. Haruto and Saki skip it, instead visiting an abandoned part of the city to talk privately, but Saki won’t let Haruto apologize. Their talk is interrupted by alarms; a massive Dorssian fleet is bearing down on them. Shoko speaks to their leader, Admiral Wartenberg, who shows her her hostage father being prepared for execution and offers a deal: peace for the students of Module 77 in exchange for the Valvraves and giving up on the rest of JIOR. Shoko’s dad implores her to move forward, but before she can make a decision, Haruto uses his harakiri blade to obliterate most of the fleet, killing her father and the admiral. Colonel Cain uses the chaos to break through the bottom of the module and start drilling through its core, something L-elf apparently hadn’t foreseen.

What Haruto did to Saki last week was unquestionably a sexual assault, but unlike a case where he was drunk, or high, or just a fucking asshole, it happened because of something completely outside of his control. A real-world parallel would be a mental illness for which there is no known cure. Under those circumstances, while we condemn his actions we can’t fairly condemn Haruto the person, and neither does Saki, who was in kinda love with him anyway. She doesn’t want him to apologize, not just because what happened happened because of the curse, but also because he agreed to bear that curse in exchange for the power to protect everyone else. Part of it could also be simply because she can’t give up on the one person who could deliver her from a life of loneliness and despair, at least in her mind. And when he’s not “possessed”, Haruto indeed doesn’t want Saki to feel like she’s alone anymore, because she isn’t: in the Crazy Event of the Week (CEW), he proposes to her before going to deal with the Dorssian intruders. He’s taking responsibility for what  he’s done, even if it means spurning Shouko.

Of course, you could also throw in another CEW, involving Shoko, the new prime minister. Up to this point she’d held out hope her father could be rescued and restored to his old position, and everything could go back to the way it was. But as he himself tells her, that’s thinking backwards to a time that can never be again. She has to weigh her love for him with the fate of Module 77 and all who inhabit it, and little does she know L-Elf has a gun ready to kill her before she makes the wrong choice. It’s a tense scene, especially when Admiral Wartenberg coldly lays out how adults attain ends regardless of means; they’re okay with getting their hands dirty as long as they get the desired results. It’s all well and good for Shoko to condemn this philosophy – and it sounds pretty evil to us – but let’s not forget that in order to achieve their ends, Haruto, Saki, and the rest of the Valvrave pilots resigned their friggin’ humanity. The (Late) Admiral Wertenberg would be proud of such adult choices, right?

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • The fleet is destroyed, but it worked out to be a giant diversion while Cain and his elite team infiltrated Module 77. They immediately start stirring up some serious shit, and once again the students are backed into a corner.
  • The material with Akira seemed a bit extraneous to this episode. Yeah, we get it, she’s deathly afraid of human contact of any kind. What else ya got?
  • What with the Dorssians knocking on Module 77’s door every week, utterly ignoring the threat of Valvrave falling into ARUS hands, we’re a little surprised we haven’t seen any counter-moves by ARUS.
  • Cain himself is on point this time, and he’s confident he can stay a step ahead of L-elf. We’ll see about that, won’t we?