Nekomonogatari: Shiro – 01

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As Hanekawa Tsubasa heads to school, she bumps into Hachikuji Mayoi, and then encounters a huge white tiger. She discusses it with Senjougahara Hitagi at school, as Araragi Koyomi is absent. Before the day is out, Tsubasa’s house is obliterated by fire, and she seeks shelter at the abandoned cram school. She wakes up to a beside-herself Senjougahara, who was out all night looking for her. She invites her to her place to shower with her and get some rest.

Welcome to the first in a fresh sequence of “-Monogatari” arcs, starting with one focusing on Hanekawa. The last arc we saw took place before Araragi met and fell for Senjougahara; we’re not exactly sure when this one starts, but it’s after the two have become a couple. Araragi is notably absent in this first episode; the only sign of him existing being a text telling Senjougahara and Hanekawa not to worry, as he’ll be busy for the forseeable future; with what, who can say. As for this Hanekawa-heavy episode, it does a good job underlining how rough it must be for someone who lacks a true family or home, even before the house she lives in with two people who are her parents in name only burns down.

She blames the shock of the fire for shacking up in an abandoned building, worrying Senjougahara, but perhaps that was the tiger oddity that haunts her, preferring to sleep in a less domesticated place than a friend’s house. Senjougahara fills in for Araragi which is an interesting dynamic when you consider she was the one who won the heart of the boy Hanekawa admits without hesitation that she still loves. Whatever this tiger thing is, they may have to solve it without him. Other than that, it’s your pretty standard “-Monogatari” episode: slow pace, mostly conversation sexy close-ups and cards displaying colors and inner thoughts.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

 

Love Lab – 01

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The popular school tomboy Kurahashi Riko has become bored with school life, until she walks in on the also-popular student council president Maki Natsuo making out with a dutch wife. Riko gets caught up in Natsuo’s skits and schemes dealing with training for a romantic relationship. The training includes the toast-in-mouth bump and the handkerchief drop, but while Natsuo is supremely capable girl, she often goes too far with the training, to Riko’s chagrin. Still, she agrees to keep advising her and they become buddies.

Having seen so very many of these school comedies in which a handful of students start a club about nothing and banter for most of the episodes, something like Love Lab has to offer something different in order for us to stick with it for this very busy Summer season. And we’re not going to lie; this wasn’t awful, and we found ourselves laughing at the comedy and ridiculous action on numerous occasions, even if it somewhat heavily relies on swift escalation, randomness and sheer absurdity. But that kinda stuff is often up our alley, so we didn’t really mind.

Like Kill Me Baby!, we’re dealing with a classic double act: Maki Natsuo is the erratic, eccentric comic, while Riko is the straight man, who often comments on the strangeness and inappropriateness of the former’s behavior. This series differs in three key places: the comedy is less random and simplistic, focusing on the subject of love; both characters are actually immensely popular at their school for different reasons (Maki’s a princess, Riko’s a badass); and the animation is really top-notch (rare for these kinds of series), which when combined with the crackling dialogue and quick pacing, compels us to keep watching, at least for now; we’re suckers for pretty series.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 13

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Learning that Tree Diagram is gone and unsure of her next move, Misaka takes out her aggression on the nearest Sisters facility, which is evacuated as she tears the place apart, vowing to destroy everything. However, when she watches MISAKA 10031 being killed by Accelerator on a monitor, she breaks down. Touma looks for MISAKA and hears gunshots, but by the time he arrives in the alley, only a puddle of blood remains of her. He informs Antiskill, but the mess is cleaned up once they arrive. Touma meets the sisters and learns about the experiment, and heads to Misaka’s dorm to talk about it.

Kamijou Touma has been blissfully unaware of the Level 6 Shift experiment and the existence of more than one MISAKA sister, but that’s all over now, as he meets a whole company of ’em, performing cleanup work after one of the ones he met met a sticky end. Flash back to Accelerator’s very first fight against a clone, when he easily disables her, but is initially weary about killing her off until the gold-toothed scientist assures him they’re merely puppets, and for the clones’ part they won’t stop trying to kill Accelerator until they’re dead or physically unable to. Whatever sliver of remorse he had in that first fight has completely evaporated, and now he has “fun” with the experiments, tossing out riddles and such before going in for the kill. It’s awful.

Also awful? Kamijou Touma finds out about the fight going on too late. Even if the sister wouldn’t have allowed him to intervene in the experiment (i.e. not let him save her life) there’s a chance he could have at least slowed Accelerator down. When he reports the death to normal authorities, he is too late again, as the sisters had cleaned up the mess, but the fact remains, if Touma continues to pry, he’ll be a target too. As Misaka is growing desperate beneath the weight and scope of the task before her (destroy everything and everyone involved, playing every bit the righteous “villain”), now would be a good time for Touma to step in and help in some way, any way, before she goes nuts, destroys herself, or both.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)