End-of-Month Rundown – July 2013

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The almost non-stop barrage of new Summer series made this July just breeze by. It’s not just quantity though; there’s quite a few quality shows and quite a few more that have an interesting quirk or quirks that keep us coming back.

Pretty much every genre is represented, and the shows are also diverse in “volume” – from the loud, bold, brash Gatchaman and Blood Lad to the quieter, calmer Uchoten Kazoku and Tamayura.

Covering fourteen series – the most since the first official season we covered – is proving both challenging and time-consuming, what with all the characters and terms and stories to keep track of. We’ve already dropped one.

Still,  the sheer volume of anime that has piqued and held our interest is a testament to the strength of the season as a whole, so it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to tackling in the weeks to come. Now, on to our rankings:

15. Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyou 5/12 (5.000) – The absurd premise was novel, but the animation is crude, the plotting is random and inconsistent, the supporting cast is horrid, and the little dog is abused too often for our tastes. Dropped

14. Danganronpa: The Animation 4/13 (6.750) – The many, many different character designs are charmingly over-the-top (aside from the intentionally dull lead), and the entire kill-or-be-killed (and don’t get caught!) premise is most entertaining. The use of non-red blood is a clever way to prevent blurry censoring. We really loathe that bear, though

13. The World God Only Knows III (Goddesses Arc) 4/13 (7.000) – How do you renew our interest in a rom-com in which the girls always lose all memory of falling in love with the guy? By restoring those girls’ memories…all at once. Seriously, that stunt has really breathed new life into the franchise, and Keima has never been busier and more driven

12. Love Lab 4/13 (6.750) – We were ready to pass this off as Kotoura-san with less drama and more screwball comedy, but it showed its dramatic chops in uniting the new-look student council leadership. Sayo is a welcome presence, keeping the straight man Riko – who’s hiding a big secret from her friends – off-balance

11. Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince 16/24  (7.000) – Ange is annoying, but we’re liking Izuru’s “transformation”, Amane’s quick rise, and the awesome space battles that sprout up every now and then

10. Servant x Service 4/-  (7.000) – Another nice slice-of-life from the makers of Working!!, this deals with a more mature environment (welfare office rather than restaurant) but the antics of the characters are no less zany. The continued presence of the girl with the permanent angry vein is troubling, but the developing romance between the plain girl and the flirty guy is an interesting one

9. Monogatari Series: 2nd Season – Nekomonogatari (Shiro) Arc 4/- (7.000) – This has started like all -monogataris start; at its own pace, with plenty of talking and fanservice. Consistently very good, but everything thus far has been set-up, and it has yet to elevate itself to “great” territory. Something needs to happen with that tiger

8. Blood Lad 4/12  (7.250) – Darker undertones about existence are generally overshadowed by the poppy comedy of a vampire trying to resurrect a human girl, fighting with his werewolf rival in the process. The latest episode brings his estranged siblings into the mix and gives us some of his tawdry backstory

7. Kimi no Iru Machi 3/- (7.333) – A great romantic drama unfolding that pits a guy’s idealized vision of his former lover against the real-life present day version of her that wants to maintain distance. Even with potential mates all around him, he remains committed to setting things right with who he considers his soul mate

6. Free! 4/12  (7.500) – Perhaps the perfect summer series for making you want to jump in a pool! We had some reservations about the male-dominated cast, but it’s turning out just fine. The two leads are a bit dull, but the supporting cast is strong and lively

5. Tamayura: More Aggressive 3/13  (8.000) – Definitely the most emotionally affecting Summer series, this continuation of ~hitotose~ features a Potte trying to be less wishy-washy and seeing her dreams through

4. To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S –  16/24  (8.000) – We’re surprised with Railgun’s strong second-half showing, as it’s just killing it with a new and improved Kamijou Touma on the scene. His encounter with Mikoto on the bridge in particular was phenomenally stirring stuff, Despite a massive supporting cast, he and Mikoto have gotten the lion’s share of screen time lately, which is as it should be

3. Stella Jogakuin Koutouka C3-bu 4/13  (8.250) – We kinda miss the earnest, good-natured fun of Girls un Panzer, but Gainax’s new girls-with-guns series is if anything a superior substitute with more attitude, better character design, and nifty combat set-up and execution. The latest episode introduced the notion that Yura’s imaginative daydreams are actually a product of her temporarily changing or merging worlds, Suzumiya-style, opening a whole new can of worms

2. Uchouten Kazoku 3/13  (8.333) – We predict this and Gatchaman to fight for the top spot all Summer. This is the quieter and more thoughtful of the two, an almost Royal Tannenbaum-y story about a once-powerful family brought low…only they’re shape-changing tanukis. The historic Kyoto backdrop is utterly gorgeous

1. Gatchaman Crowds 3/13  (8.333) – Gatchaman is highly-caffeinated, highly-addictive fun so far (small sample size, we know). It’s in a dead heat with Uchouten for best-looking series. The hyper lead girl should be annoying (and is, sometimes) but still manages to be both appealing and badass, and the GALAX social betterment system is a very current concept to explore

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Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyou – 05

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Madoka blames Akiyama for driving her brother crazy, leading to his death. She snatches the dog and jumps out the window. Natsuno meets her in a park, and they have a duel, which Natsuno wins. After the battle they become cordial. Kazuhito then figures out that Hiiragi was responsible for perpetuating the slasher rumors, in order to break Akiyama’s slump. Natsuno hears all of this and chastises Hiiragi, warning her to stay out of affairs. Hiiragi later admits she dealt with the real slasher before Natsuno’s investigation began.

Even had this been an exceptional episode, we still wouldn’t have kept watching InuHasa. Any way you slice it, fifteen shows is too many, and we’re much more interested in the other Gonzo series (Kimi no Iru Machi), so this will be the last InuHasa episode we review. It goes out on a decidedly low note, filled with awful dialogue, random twists, and its centerpiece is an escalating battle full of cheesy cliches that even the characters admit is completely pointless. It also featured way too much of the loathsome, one-note masochist Hiiragi Suzuna, who frankly gives masochists a bad name.

There remain elements of a potentially interesting story: how Kazuhito ended up in a dog’s body; if and how he’ll be able to escape it, for instance. But at this juncture we just don’t see the profit in continuing to wait for the series to get around to telling that story to our satisfaction. Akiyama Shinobu says she believes in her readers and would do anything for them, but there’s nothing she can do for us. If the writers of this series gave a crap about their audience or their product, they would have put more care into these last few episodes. So we’ll put just as little care in our final assessment of InuHasa:

It’s a dog.


Rating: 3 (Bad) (Dropped)

Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen – 04

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Keima is confident Shiori is hosting a goddess, but he can move on to anyone else, he’s cornered in the library by Tsukiyo’s doll, Luna, who reveals that Tsukiyo is hosting the goddess Vulcanus, who cannot move her body but only manipulate other objects. She attacks Keima believing him to be unfaithful. Meanwhile, Nora discovers the miasma-covered Kanon, and Haqua has to explain. Keima gets beaten up to the point Tsukiyo trusts him and gives him a kiss while he’s passed out. The kiss boosts her goddess powers and she sprouts wings.

Diana meets with her sister and Keima takes them to Kanon, where they combine their powers to remove the Vintage Weiss curse. Even so, Apollo is still very weak and casts a “hydration” spell on herself, keeping Kanon unconscious. With three goddesses left to awaken, Keima reaches a deal with Nora to delay her report to her superiors for a week. Jealous of her sister’s wings, Diana/Tenri confronts Keima right as Haqua is insisting he tells her he needs her. Keima apologizes to Diana, and she sprouts wings as well.

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Keima is deep into the RPG of his life, with the role of agent of the preservation of New Hell, only he isn’t playing a game. Whereas the first season of TWGOK, the stakes were limited to his life and perhaps the lives of his conquests, this time an entire dimension is at stake, only the united goddesses can save it, and only he can release them from the girls he’s conquered. So far so good; despite working with limited resources and a very tight-knit network of girls with endless possibilities for slip-ups, he’s comported himself well and even facilitated the release of the curse on Kanon.

As the details of Keima’s grand mission and the myriad complications from all sides pile up, the entire series is ever on the cusp of being swallowed up in plot, but this season has been very clever at dispensing huge amounts of exposition while keeping the story moving with swiftness and urgency. It also knows just when to lighten things with a quip or observation that all of this is, in fact, quite absurd. An example of this is the fact that while the girls who remember loving Keima are all competing against one another, so too are the goddesses they host, and even Haqua is competing with Nora for Keima’s favor. Never a dull moment for this guy.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Tamayura: More Aggressive – 04

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Potte and Kanae snap pictures all over school and town, but still haven’t decided on what to perform at the Cherry Blossom Festival. Dougou suggests they perform a dance as he plays the guitar, with the photos as a backdrop. They then visit the stage in the middle of the park, which contains one thousand cherry trees, each one planted in honor of someone. Potte and Kou’s mom tells them they have trees too, but they were planted somewhere secret. On the day of the festival Dougou is injured, but Potte and Kanae improvise, singing and dancing to a folk tune, and the crowd responds favorably. After the performance, Kou and Komachi show Potte and the others their trees, which Momoneko helped him locate.

In Bleach, Senbonzakura is the name for Kuchiki Byakuya’s bankai, a devastating cloud composed of millions of tiny petal-like blades. But here, it’s just the name of a cultivation project in Takehara’s public park. (Go figure.) One thousand trees were planted, each in honor of people the planters loved. In the case of Kaoru, Potte, and Kou, they were planted when they were born, and have grown larger and stronger as they did. Those trees are one more discovery that brings Potte closer to her dad, to the point where she even gets to “see through his eyes” by taking a photo of the tree from the same angle he did. The tree changed from photo to photo, but the sky and mountains remained the same.

They’ll be the same long after both Potte and the tree pass away, as well. But until then, Potte wants to return the love her father had for her and the town by making her mark on it as he did, through photography. When her performance hits a snag, President Potte refuses to give up, and she and Kanae put on a show not just to stir up interest in the club, but as thanks for everyone who pitched in with ideas, assistance, and emotional support. They didn’t bring the house down, nor did they perform beyond their abilities, suddenly turning into talented idols. They just hunkered down and did their honest best. We wouldn’t be surprised if they’re rewarded with more prospective members.\

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Blood Lad – 04

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Bell agrees to open a portal to the Demon World Acropolis, but Wolf kicks Staz in before she’s finished, and Staz ends up in her apartment. After taking showers, Staz tells Bell the story of how his brother Braz T. Vlad performed endless deadly experiments on him as a child, culminating in shooting him in the heart with a magic bullet that sealed his powers. Bell, attracted to men more powerful than her, wants Staz to make his brother remove the seal.

Meanwhile, Wolf and Mamejirou look after Fuyumi, but when she exhibits acute leprosy and starts to turn transparent, Wolf speeds her to a demon physician Frankenstein. After Bell drops Staz off outside the base of the Acropolis, he’s promptly ambushed by his little sister Liz T. Vlad, who throws him into her jail. He presses the “Challenge” button in his cell, and he’s sent to a room where Liz presents him with two powerful zombies he must defeat to be released.

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You can’t say Blood Lad offers you great bang for the buck, as quite a bit goes on, some new foes are introduced, and everyone is given something to do in this episode. We also liked the seamless blending of casually hanging out with more serious themes. About those foes; they’re technically Staz’s family, but they no longer acknowledge him as blood. Hell, Staz can’t even get near the castle, as his sister is determined to destroy him. While that’s going on, Wolf is babysitting Fuyumi, unaware that she needs regular infusions of Staz’s blood to stay solid.

When Staz and Bell and Wolf and Fuyumi split off, you get the feeling they’re pairing up, too. After all, Bell is well aware Staz is more powerful and less stupid than he lets on, and gains a lot of sympathy for him after hearing his harrowing tale. Wolf also seems to be into Fuyumi, and you have to wonder that whatever Frankenstein cooks up to halt her vanishing will clash with the original purpose of Staz’s quest: find out from Braz how to resurrect her.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • As proponents of the inclusion of people of all shapes and sizes in anime, we’re pleased with the fact that the two female leads aren’t model-thin, but have some curves on them, which Bell is certainly not afraid to flaunt.
  • Even Bell is a little disappointed in herself for only falling for guy who can kick her ass, or in Staz’s case, have the potential to
  • Always go out for sushi before starting a quest to revive a human and unlock one’s latent powers.
  • When her mask is on, Liz makes the exact same Darth Vader breathing sound.
  • An assist to Staz’s prisonmates, who throw pretty much every prisonmate cliche at Staz before he peaces-out with the red button.
  • Google translates Liz and Braz’s last name as “Vlad” and Charlie’s as “Blood”, so we’re sticking with those for the time being. It makes sense he’d change his name when he ran away.

Uchouten Kazoku – 04

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The night of the Gozan Fire Festival arrives, and the Shimgamo family ascends into the sky with the port wine-fueled tearoom. Akadama gradually accompanies them, and they’re joined by his friend; the two recount the “False Nyoigatake Incident” and how Soichirou scattered the Kurama tengu.The Ebisugawas arrive in a grand flying boat (with Benten aboard) and harass the tearoom with fireworks. Yasaburou and his mom return fire, ignoring Yaichirou’s pleas for calm. The Ebisugawas grab the tearoom with an anchor, but Yasaburou ruins their ship and blows them all overboard with one of Benten’s folding fans. Akadama drinks the last of the wine, the tearoom crashes, and Yasaburou loses the fan.

There’s nothing like a great party, and the Kyoto tanukis certainly know how to hold one. Being suspended high in the air aboard grand ships and eating and drinking way too much is definitely a way to do it, but another tradition, their annual antagonism of the Shimogamos via sky battle, goes too far and strikes a nerve. Yasaburou in particular, disgusted by his older brother’s sniveling propriety, decides to take up the mantle of protector of the family’s pride and honor, if only for the night. He and his mother know that sometimes bullies need to be given a bloody nose. Benten, meanwhile, literally floats above the fray, drink in hand and aloof smirk on her face.

Interestingly, someone we don’t see is Yasaburou’s betrothed, Keisei, whom you’d think would be on the family boat he ultimately sunk. The party environment would have been a good chance for them to interact, but things got too adversarial too fast. We also enjoy how the party was also a venue for Akadama to stop pining for Benten for five minutes and reminisce on better times. The flashbacks continue to portray Soichirou as every bit the awesome badass everyone builds him up to be, making it that much more shocking that Benten made him into soup. Benten helps Yasaburou this week, but is she merely sizing up her next meal?

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • It goes without saying, but the launch sequence of the tea room, and all the subsequent scenes of the floating “pleasure cruisers” made for an incredibly beautiful sight.
  • We liked how the upstart Kurama tengu dressed in suits like Yakuza; one more insult to the heritage Nyoigatake Yakushibo stood for.
  • Yajirou was also absent, which was kind of sad.
  • If the tearoom isn’t rebuilt (it looked pretty far gone), the Shimgamos will have to find another cruiser next year. But more urgently, they’ll have to explain to Benten why her tearoom was destroyed (and her fan lost).

 

Kimi no Iru Machi – 03

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Haruto knows Yuzuki is home, but Rin tells him she’s out anyway. He’s reminded of the time he got sick working so hard to support Yuzuki, worrying her; it leads to her kissing him. He takes it the wrong way and the have a fight, but reconcile after he picks her up in the rain. Back in the present, Haruto goes to festival at Yuzuki’s school with his classmate Nagoshi Mina in hopes of finding Yuzuki, but Mina thinks it’s a real date. Yuzuki sees the two of them in the haunted house, and after Haruto searches the school, Yuzuki confronts him in a classroom and tells him flatly that she’s already dating someone, and to forget about her.

When the person under the ghost sheet that scares Yuzuki’s date into grabbing him tighter turns out to be Eba Yuzuki, Haruto’s target, the series seemed to be asking us: is Haruto chasing a ghost? The flashbacks paint a picture of an idyllic romance with rough patches leading to green pastures, and it’s all very romantic. But that’s all they are; flashbacks, from his point of view. Since Yuzuki left, a lot of time and distance has built up, and the girl he knew, whom he fell in love with, and the girl he’s desperately pursuing in the present aren’t one and the same, and it’s dangerous to let the past Yuzuki inform him so completely. But it’s hard to sympathize with guys like Haruto who are after the one girl they can’t have, even if it’s a relatable scenario.

That’s simply because he’s not exactly lacking in the potential mates department. The series seems to go out of the way to portray his relationships with Mishima Asuka as sibling-like and unromantic, but there’s potential there. As for Nagoshi Mina, she’s an really cute single girl who literally falls in his lap, but again the series underplays their compatibility with her irritating score-keeping (accidentally lifting up her dress didn’t help matters.) So Haruto is trying to re-stoke an old flame, the damp wood is only making smoke, and he can’t see the forest for the trees. Worse still, Yuzuki’s rejection isn’t as clear-cut as it looks on paper: Haruto could easily dismiss it as more of her trying to act tough when she’s a crybaby. Haruto doesn’t believe in ghosts; he thinks Yuzuki’s the same as she always was.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Apologies…we went a bit idiom- and metaphor-happy up there! Something about this series brings it out…
  • Anyone who’s watched Chihayafuru,will have noticed that Haruto has the same voice as Arata, as both are voiced by Hosoya Yoshimasa.
  • Mina is voiced quite appropriately with the in-your-face enthusiasm of Yahagi Sayuri, who also voiced Saya in Bakuman. Mina’s a bit of a scaredy-cat though, no?
  • We have to admit, the timing of Yuzuka’s first kiss of Haruto is pretty sweet; stealing it right when Nanami’s outside on the phone.
  • Haruto took it as more teasing from the city girl, and while he was overly harsh in his victimization  we can see how he could have jumped to the wrong conclusion.
  • Kyousuke shows he can be a valuable friend when he offers to help mitigate the damage Haruto’s about to do taking an unwitting date to a school festival in hopes of meeting with another girl. Naturally, Haruto doesn’t avail himself of that help!
  • The red balloon with an unknown wish Yuzuki releases at the end…glimmer of hope for Haruto, or red herring?

Kimi no Iru Machi – 02

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While Haruto is telling Rin she can’t dissuade him from meeting with Yuzuki to learn how she really feels, the episode flashes back to when Yuzuki first moved in with him. He was starting high school with all his middle school friends, including his crush Kanzaki Nanami, andd rumors about him and Yuzuki spread fast. At first Haruto sees Yuzuki as selfish, but her actions, which bring Haruto and Nanami closer together, prove she’s always thinking of others, even at the cost of her own.

Haruto’s relationship with Eba Yuzuki, the girl he’s uprooted his life just for the slightest chance of another shot at, had a rough, modest start. Her dad knew his dad, so suddenly she was in his house, on his bike, and at his school. Had she never entered his life, he’d have probably been fine, as there no evidence his life was any the worse for wear before she entered it. However, she did enter it, at the best possible time to create unwanted complication for Haruto. This episode efficiently laid out the conditions under which Haruto eventually fell for Yuzuki; and when he learned of her tendency to go out of her own way for others, putting their needs before hers.

Haruto may not be aware of it, but the minute Yuzuki meets Nanami and knew Haruto liked her, she began to sublimate herself for their sake. Ironically, that humility only ingratiated her more to Haruto, solidifying the triangle she created by showing up in the first place. Back in the present, Haruto thinks her behavior is an attempt to retreat from the battlefield and break that triangle, something Haruto isn’t cool with. In any case, he’s here to settle the matter once and for all (assuming it can be settled). Even if Yuzuki won’t answer texts, and even if she has a boyfriend as Rin claims, if Haruto is right, there’s still hope for them.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • We realize Haruto is being both self-righteous and a little pretentious with his presumption Yuzuki really loves him but is sacrificing her feelings so she isn’t in the way of his other prospects, i.e. Nanami.
  • Along those lines, no one can dictate how someone else decides to back out of something as Yuzuki has, but Haruto seems to think she still owes her further explanation, so it’s a battle of wills.
  • Clever camera angles and placement of limbs hid nudity (instead of blur or bloom censoring), suggesting this wasn’t meant to show anything, which is fine, as nudity’s not that important to the story. Suffice it to say, none of the girls in Haruto’s life are what you would call homely.
  • It is pretty funny how Haruto believes for an extended period of time that Yuzuki is going commando, when it turns out that wasn’t the case. An early sign they’ll experience difficulty communicating clearly in the future.
  • Fewer cats this week, which is good, because the animation of the one incidental kitten in Free! kicked the ass of all the cats we’ve seen in this or Railgun thus far.
  • We felt she was perfect for Ranka Lee, and we maintain our love for Nakajima Megami in her role as Yuzuki, bringing a similar vulnerable ebulliance subtly tinged with repressed pathos.
  • Every proper bathhouse or hotspring had sure as heck better offer fruit milk!
  • We love talking into fans. Who wouldn’t want to sound like an advanced A.I.?!

Nekomonogatari: Shiro – 04

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Hanekawa wakes up in Koyomi’s room and finds a white hair, a sign she’s becoming the sawari neko again. As she leaves for the day, Koyomi’s mom tells her she’s welcome as a guest, but the Araragis can’t replace her family, and she has to stop averting her eyes. While out, Hanekawa runs into the half-vampire Mr. Episode, who has come at the behest of Oshino Meme‘s senpai, and a woman named Gaen Izuko, neither of whom can help her with her tiger problem, which Gaen says Hanekawa will call “Kako.”

After visitng the burnt-down cram school and researching “kako” in the library, Hanekawa talks with Senjougahara on the phone about it. Senjougahara points out that both of the places where Hanekawa has spent the night burned down in sequence, and if the trend continues the Senjougahara and Araragi houses will be next. She returns to the Araragis and plays cards with the Fire Sisters while they discuss fire, passion, justice, anger, and it dawns on her that envy is the reason for her predicament. She starts to write a letter to Black Hanekawa.

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Up until this episode, Hanekawa has been lost and aimless; drifting from friend’s house to friend’s house, her life on hold as she contemplates exactly what’s going on. Well, half of her is, anyway. She’s also torn in two, and the second half, “Black Hanekawa” is once again acting as her stress valve. But all of her interactions this week convince her that it’s time to stop the drifting and depending on others and her other half to help her. This tiger problem needs to be nipped in the bud, lest the house fires continue.

The Araragi matriarch (her face obscured) is the first of the people in the episode who tell Hanekawa it’s time to face her problem, which by the end she believes to be jealousy. But jealousy of what? That Senjougahara has Koyomi, to be sure.That he has a stable, loving home and family. That Black Hanekawa remembers her, but not vice versa. Even that the Fire Sisters live with such certainty (and have boyfriends). We’ll soon see how she plans to deal with all this jealousy, which could involve possibly never seeing Koyomi again.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • From Hanekawa’s perspective the story skips from chapter 26 to chapter 52, doubtless a most worrisome gap in time during which any number of things could’ve gone down.
  • The Araragis eat dinner together every morning, something, like the parents, we’ve oddly never seen. More proof that we only see glimpses of these characters’ lives, not the whole picture. Another example is the Fire Sisters’ BFs. 
  • Between the sugar cubes and the paper cranes, Senjougahara possesses  some rather obsessive (and, where Koyomi is concerne, possessive) qualities, no?
  • The cameos of Mr. Episode and Gaen Izuko didn’t mean anything for us, having not reach the source material. They also seem quite useless, though the story requires that they be so, in Hanekawa’s case.

Love Lab – 04

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With the ranks of the Love Lab increased, Maki suggests they re-commence love research. Sayo immediately tries to call into question Maki’s ability to serve as an expert on matters of love, but despite constantly prodding her, Maki only digs her hole deeper, keeping up the lie she’s a “love sniper.” Eno, meanwhile, lets slip that Maki’s dad runs a lingerie company. When a suggestion box request asks what the best gift for a boy is, the members distribute surveys to guys they know. Because the client was anonymous, they plan to hijack the PA system to announce the compiled results.

The addition of Eno and Sayo to the Love Lab gets off to a bumpy start, mostly because the “expert” on all matters romantic is in reality no expert at all, but is simply perpetuating Maki and Suzune’s assumptions about her. Riko’s the “Wild One”, so of course she’s had loads of suitors, right? Wrong. In fact, the only one with a boyfriend turns out to be Sayo, though she hasn’t seen him since they started dating six months ago, so that’s not much to work on. We derive a lot of pleasure from Sayo making Riko squirm.

Sayo makes it clear to Riko that she’s highly skepical of Riko’s romantic prowess. The thing is, she isn’t just being sadistic. Riko knows that it’s not right to keep perpetuating a lie to her friends, who eventually pick up on Sayo’s behavior and scold her for doubting Riko. This is a perfect opportunity to fess up, but Riko just can’t do it. You have to think if she doesn’t do so soon, at some point it’ll end up hurting her friends. In any case, it’s an unenviable position, perhaps best resolved by…dating a guy!


Rating: 6 (Good)

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 16

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The Sisters dissipate Accelerator’s storm, and Mikoto tells him she won’t let him kill any more sisters. When he’s about to attack her, a blood-soaked Touma stands up, walks to Accelerator, breaks his hand, and delivers a decisive blow to the face. Touma is hospitalized, and in the night, the MISAKA he saved visits him, saying the experiment has been cancelled. Mikoto visits him in the morning with cookies. Mikoto meets up with MISAKA, and learns that it may not be that hard for them to learn to be human beings and not just guinea pigs. Mikoto bakes homemade cookies for Touma, but misses her change to give them to him, but she does gets him to call her by her name.

And at long last, that squealing, tiresome little shit Accelerator is finally brought down to earth, just when he thought he was about to gain absolute power. And throughout the episode, we learn that people can move beyond what they were programmed to do. The Sisters were born and immediately ingrained with the idea that they only existed to be killed in service of elevating Accelerator to Level 6. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to live; it’s that it simply wasn’t an option they knew of. Now that Touma and Mikoto have treated them as humans and put their lives on the line for them, they can finally move beyond that laboratory programming and see themselves as human beings, and Mikoto’s sisters.

Similarly, Accelerator was brought up being told he was the most powerful, which meant he’d always run into conflicts with those who wanted to challlenge his power. So he was further instructed to achieve a level of power that no one would ever challenge; that’s how he’d validate his existence. The thing is, that was never going to be possible as long as Touma was around, and after Accelerator is soundly beaten by a Level 0, Touma’s prediction comes true and the whole program is scrapped. Unfortunately, after this ordeal Mikoto returns to being pretty much her usual tsundere self towards Touma – a little discouraging considering how productive their exchange was back on that bridge.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • We get flashes of Accelerator’s childhood beford Touma does him in, but frankly we weren’t moved. Guy’s a dick.
  • Touma’s esper power isn’t just Imagine Breaker; it’s the ability to endure epic beatings and lose almost all his blood and still be able to stand and punch people. All in all not a bad ability to have!
  • We loved the little interlude in which Mikoto is worried about how her Sisters will adjust to suddenly having lives to live, only to have her thoughts interrupted by MISAKA swinging while standing and trying to brainwash an older sister to do whatever her younger sister says. They’ll do fine, with Mikoto’s help.
  • Mikoto buys expensive cookies, but Touma isn’t shy about his view that they should really be homemade. See, he’s kind of a dick, too!
  • We only catch the slightest glimpse of Index running down the hall, but she doesn’t get any lines. That’s fine with us…we really didn’t need to see a tiny nun biting a recuperating Touma’s head.

Danganronpa: The Animation – 04

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With the first classroom trial overcome, Monokuma opens up the second floor of the school, where there’s a pool, locker rooms, and a library. The students learn that Hope’s Peak Academy has been shut down for some time, meaning someone else took the place over and imprisoned them there. One night, Naegi catches a smitten Fukawa Touko stalking Togami Byakuya, who sends her away.

The next day, Fujisaki Chihiro is found dead crucified in the locker room, apparently killed by a blow to the head with “Blood Bath Fever” written on the wall in blood. The students start collecting clues; Togami recognizes what happened to Fujisaki as the MO of the serial killer Genocider Syo. Just before the second trial begins, Naegi witnesses a very suspicious exchange between Togami and Fukawa.

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The students may have just voted to send one of their own to their doom, but it was the first time that had to happen, and they had to do it in order to save their own lives. Because of this, many are still willing to give friendship and coexistence a chance. Oogami and Asahina were friends coming in; Ishimaru and Ohwada clash at first but an all-nighter in the sauna makes them friends; even Celestia deigns to allow Yamada to serve her tea. Fujisaki considered everyone friends, too, only to become the latest victim.

That brings us to the unlikely “pairing” of the ambitious, rich and powerful conglomerate heir Togami Byakuya and the plain, paranoid, antisocial girl, Fukawa Touko (voiced very nervously by Sawashiro Miyuki). He’s playing to win this sick game, but he wants to be challenged and entertained. She admires him and drools from afar. And their proximity and interactions suggest Togami got her to kill Fujisaki, despite her apparent aversion to blood. Though knowing the twists the trial can throw at us, it’s just as likely neither of them had anything to do with it.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Servant x Service – 04

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Chihaya confides with Miyoshi how she’s secretly taking Yamagami’s measurements for cosplay, when they walk in on Yamagami and Hasebe hand in hand; he’s teaching her sign language. Later, Chihaya tells Hasebe they’re rivals, and warns Yamagami to be careful with him. Hasebe asks her out and she rejects him, but not because of him. Undeterred, he takes her out to eat often. The newbies finally meet the section manager, Kenzo Momoi, who has the body of a pink stuffed rabbit, and once worked with Hasebe’s father. He takes everyone out drinking, but Yamagami gets smashed instantly. Missing the last train, Hasebe takes her to a hotel for the night.

Inter-office romances have a reputation for being very tricky, and can obviously end badly, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad or should be discouraged. If that someone you happen to fall for just happens to work with you, that fact isn’t a dealbreaker in and of itself. It just means treading carefully is called for. Hasebe is a ladies man with hundreds of emails, but he rarely if ever is the one doing the asking out…until Yamagami. There’s clearly something about her that moves Hasebe to ask her out, and when she instantly rejects him out of fear she’s too boring and wears glasses, is he discouraged? Not at all; it just means he has to gradually win her over.

Yes, Hasebe can be creepy, and he does get away with too much, but we don’t think he’s a creep, and we think he has a genuine interest in Yamagami (besides her figure). Perhaps the fact that she shows no interest in him is enough to tickle his fancy. Or maybe its her inherent naivete and vulnerability about seemingly everything. This is a girl who was seemingly put on this earth to be a civil servant and nothing else. If it weren’t for Hasebe taking her out or Chihaya lending her books, it would seem like she has no life beyond her job and going home to sleep. So even if she’s unsure of Hasebe’s true intentions, it’s good that she’s experiencing new things as a result of her exposure to him and the others. Work isn’t everything.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Yes, the remote-controlled(?) robotic(?) stuffed rabbit-as-section manager is a hard pill to swallow…but at least he’s less annoying than Touko. Much less, frankly.
  • Of couse Yamagami can’t hold her liquor in the slightest…
  • Is the series going to tease us all season about Yamagami cosplaying, or will Chihaya make it happen? She really just has to ask Hasebe for her bust measurement, though now that he knows they’re “rivals” he may not be forthcoming.
  • When Yamagami wakes up, she assumes she’s home and thinks she’s lying next to a “woman.” What’s going on? There’d better be follow-up next week.