Valvrave the Liberator – 11

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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?

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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?
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Oreimo 2 – 12

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All of the girls in Kyousuke’s life attend his moving-in party and eventually start bickering over who is going to take care of him for the rest of the month he’s living on his own. Kirino breaks up the fight and makes the decision for him: Ayase. She does his cooking, cleaning and laundry. Ruri’s sister Hinata stops by and they must explain it’s not what it looks like. One night, Ayase apologizes for mistreating him for so long, knowing that he’s really a good, kind guy. Kyousuke passes his mock exams, and he moves out of the apartment. Ayase stops by once more to confess her love for him, but he rejects her, saying there’s someone else he loves. Ayase eventually accepts, and after a surprise parting kiss, departs.

We’ve always found Ayase a bit troublesome, due to the way she always insulted, mistreated, and physically abused Kyousuke, when we knew she was doing it out of frustration for not having the balls to tell him how she really feels. As a result, after her transformation from the generic sweet cute girl the first time we met her to the more complex, often unhinged, potentially dangerous cute girl, she grew a bit one-note, though Hayami Saori’s velvety voice  was always a pleasure to listen to. Handcuffs, drop-kick, unreasonable accusations of sexual harassment. This Ayase could do well to visit Academy Citythat’s where she’ll find some real harassment (seriously, what is with the roving gangs of would-be rapists? Sorry, wrong show.)

But hey, guess what? After this episode, we like her a hell of a lot more, because she finally did find the courage to say the things she needed to say. There was never anything unreasonable about her fearing rejection, but she took it too far and lashed out at Kyousuke mercilessly, repaying his honey with vinegar every time. No more. She tells him the truth: she loves him, a lot, and wants him to be hers. We both love and hate that Kyousuke is so direct with her; “No”, “Sorry”, “I love someone else”, “I’ve made my decision”...after Ayase’s tearful confession, it’s hard to watch these daggers fly at her one by one, but then, just when you think she’s going to give him one last drop kick, she kisses him. This episode is almost enough for us to wish we hadn’t gotten so invested with just Kyoususke and Kuroneko. Almost.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Wow, that party was some kind of harem nightmare! Even Saori entered the fray. Kyousuke, like us, are like “What? you too? Arrgh!”
  • Amazingly, it’s Kirino who breaks everything up, having not participated in trying to tear limbs from Kyousuke. Their exchanges this week are markedly cordial.
  • So every Japanese kid requires his own apartment and servant to pass a mock exam? Those must be some tough exams.
  • Ruri’s little sister Hinata – what is she, ten, max? – and she’s presumably taken a train (or trains) to Kyousuke’s apartment at night, by herself? What kind of society is this?!

 

 

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 11

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Mikoto crosses paths with Kamijou Touma while he’s wrestling with a money-stealing vending machine. Kuroko rushes to the two of them in horror, but leaves when she realizes they’re not a couple and Mikoto is happy. A MISAKA clone then shows up, ruining Mikoto’s mood when she tells her the Level 6 Shift project is proceeding on schedule. She does some digging and learns 183 facilities have been contracted for the project, and realizes all of Academy City may be in on it, so she decides to take the whole city on, even if she has to oppose Kuroko and Judgment.

No rest for the weary…well, hardly any, as Mikoto doesn’t have much time with Kamijou Touma putting her at ease. This episode started with an ordinary guy (who can negate any esper power) and an ordinary girl (who can summon lightning on a whim) having a few precious normal moments. But by the end, Mikoto is almost certain she’ll have to shed any hope of living a normal life if she wants to deliver justice to those who wronged her and her clones, the dead of which now number 10,021.

But while Mikoto is going to take on this massive burden, she can’t abide the clones getting all up in her face; that just makes things worse. Sure enough, by episode’s end Accelerator is chewing on the ear (we think) of the clone who meets with Mikoto. We learn how he became involved with the Level 6 Project, and well, it doesn’t really do much to humanize him; he basically joined up because he liked how fucked up the human experiments were. So yeah, still a heel. And while Mikoto is determined to keep Kuroko out of the impending action, she’s also conscious of the fact they may not be on the same side when the shit hits the fan.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

 

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru – 12

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The festival is a huge success, but when the closing ceremony draws near, Sagami is nowhere to be found. Yukino, Yui, and Haruno perform an impromptu rock concert while Hikigaya searches for her, finding her on the roof sulking. Determined to “do things his way” like Yukino, he tells Sagami exactly what he thinks of her, and that they’re more alike than she’d care to admit. The vicious dressing down happens in front of others, and so after Sagami goes back down and gives the closing speech, rumors spread fast of how mean Hikigaya is. Hikigaya goes to the club room to work and finds Yukino there doing the same. Yui comes in and waits up for them to finish before going to the after-party.

Hikigaya can’t help but stand back and admire just how much Yukino did things her way as the shadow festival director. It was her duty to make sure a successful festival took place under the ceremonial leadership of Sagami, and she did it. Hikigaya wasn’t about to allow Sagami to jeopardize Yukino’s mission at the last second, so he had to find her and bring her back. Inspired by Yukino, he too does so “his way”, making life for Sagami so uncomfortable up on that roof that anywhere would be preferable to her, even on stage in front of the whole school, which is where she needed to be to officially validate the mission. He also succeeds.

So during this festival, both Yukino (at the beginning) and Hikigaya (at the end) help others by hurting themselves; Yukino because she won’t get the credit and esteem of having run the festival, and Hikigaya for making his already-tenuous reputation even worse by verbally unloading on Sagami with both barrels, despite, or perhaps because much of it was absolutely true, and Sagami knew it. In any case, after hurting themselves Yukino and Hikigaya return to the club room to be alone, but end up comforting one another with their refreshing banter, followed by Yui, who knows both of them are better people than they’d ever believe.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Hey, Yui and Yukino both took a dose of IMT (Instant Musical Talent) potion before taking the stage.
  • Hikigaya asks the most depressing kid he can think of where he’d go to cry, and finds Drama Queen Sagami right there.
  • Last week Hikigaya and Yui were very chummy, but this week it was him and Yukino. 
  • He goes about being chummy with them in totally different ways. For one, Yui would never be able to keep up with the haughty banter he and Yukino spew…and that’s not necessarily a mark against her!
  • Two possibilities next week: Hikigaya comes closer to choosing one of the two girls, or the status quo is maintained with some explanation about how that’s best. Frankly, we hope it’s the former, because, in honor of the series’ title, that wouldn’t be what we expected!