Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 – 02

Hatsuse Karila, Kashima Sonora, Hinata Yachiyo, Mutsu Honoka, Kirishima Rento, Yamato Yura

Yura meets her senpai and roommate, senior Kashima Sonora, who has returned from sharpshooting in America. Meanwhile, the C3 Club continues its attempts to recruit Yura, who remains unsure of what to do. Karila proposes a battle, and “escort mission” with Yura as Sonora’s bodyguard against the other four members. Sonora guides Yura throughout the mission, and they end up winning, meaning Yura doesn’t have to join the club. But having had so much fun, she decides to join anyway.

As soon as they meet, the tomboyish Sonora intimidates Yura – she first encounters her butt-naked, fresh from the bath after a jog after a transpacific flight. But when Sonora tries one of Yura’s onigiri, she knows she could well be dealing with a natural marksman. You see, the perfect rice ball is one that is firm but not stiff, which apparently is also the best way to hold a gun. It’s a connection made by someone whose marksmanship master made her make onigiri again and again until she got it right. That master, by the way, used an airsoft gun to casually prune his bonsai, which just might be the best fucking thing we have ever witnessed.

In any case, while the rest of the club falls over themselves trying all-too-obvious and high pressure methods to get Yura to join up, Sonora, having gleaned Yura’s potential, sits back and lets whatever will happen happen. If Yura is meant to join, she will join, even if she wins the battle that will settle the issue. It’s an awesome battle, just like last weeks, too, albeit a totally different kind of battle, one in which Yura is the hero who must lead Sonora, her VIP charge, to safety from the four others. Just by being the badass she is, Sonora shows her just how fun the club can be, and shows her that she’s welcome and has a place there if she wants it.

Ultimately Yura decides being in the club is preferable to continuing to eat her lunch on the toilet, which is a no-brainer if you ask us, but teens are weird.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

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Gatchaman Crowds – 01

Hibiki Joe, Ichinose Hajime, Paiman, Tachibana Sugane, O.D., Utsusu

High schooler Ichinose Hajime has her “NOTE”, the manifestation of her soul, extracted by the godlike JJ and becomes a Gatchaman. After watching her classmate and fellow G-man Tachibana Sugane dispatch the enemy, known as a “MESS”, Sugane takes her to the underground Gatchaman base, where she meets her peers: Hibiki Joe, O.D., Utsusu, and Paiman, their miniscule alien leader. Their mission is to eradicate alien criminals and and other anomalies that have infiltrated Earth. Hajime joins Sugane for her first official mission, in which the MESS has taken the form of a bus.

The cool, slick, quick, fun, and fashionable Gatchaman Crowds arrives fashionably late this Summer, but it was worth the wait: this was the coolest-looking first episode of anything that preceded it. It introduces its characters and scenario with blinding speed, and Hajime is our avatar as the newbie who is also seeing everything for the first time, getting swept up in it all, and going with the flow. She can be a bit bubbly and grating at times, but we liked her spunk, positive attitude, and just how game she was about joining the Gatchaman crowd. And a colorful crowd it is, hanging in colorful, abstract digs and fighting colorful abstract enemies.

We really dug the character design (by the same guy who did the excellent Macross Frontier), and C’s director also brought along Iwasaki Taku, one of our favorite current anime composers, who adds great atmosphere to the proceedings. The CGI Gatchaman suits remind us a bit of Tiger & Bunny, though possibly better integrated with the traditional animation; things moved so fast it was hard to gauge, but that’s not a bad thing. This was a super-caffeinated start to an addictively series that so far is complex in visuals but mercifully simple in concept (transform; beat the bad guys; don’t get noticed by ordinary people), and we can’t wait for the next dose.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Speaking of caffeine  Uchida Maaya, whom we’ve come to know for far quieter roles like Rea and Rikka, must’ve downed a couple of Red Bulls for her super-perky performance.
  • We’d have KILLED to wear school uniforms like the ones Sugane and Hajime sport. So classy.
  • Tachibana Sugane reminded us a lot of Tsubaki from Sket Dance; the uptight hall monitor who speaks and acts formally; the perfect foil for Hajime.
  • The “MESS” baddies resemble very colorful Silver Pictures logos, though that’s probably a coincidence.
  • The OP was awesome, and does what all great OPs should do: get you fired up for what’s to come!
  • We like how when a character is in his Gatchaman suit, his/her voice is muffled. Nice touch.
  • Paiman is voiced by none other than Hirano Aya…who wouldn’t have been a bad choice for Hajime. In fact, Uchida seems to be channeling a little of Haruhi’s carefree spiritedness.
  • Isn’t Utsusu cold in that skimpy get-up?

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Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 14

Theoria, Hitachi Izuru

Izuru succeeds in getting Ange to interact more with the team, but the newbie only proceeds to school everyone in everything from physical training, war games (at which Asagi excels) knowledge of weaponry and marksmanship (at which Suruga excels), and even baking desserts (which is Kei’s passion). Still, the team is scared of setting him/her off, and so grin and bare it. Theoria strikes up a conversation with Izuru, confirming that he hasn’t changed from the boy she was friends with, and still considers him both a friend and a hero. She asks him to promise to always come home alive.

The Rabbits are ordered to resuce a supply ship piloted by the Dobermans, which has gotten stuck in the irregular gravity belt, “Ship Grave Attractor.” When they arrive to make repairs, Jiart ambushes them. Ange snaps and tries to attack Jiart, but is unsuccessful. Izuru, buoyed by Theoria’s words, crosses swords with Jiart once more. His harmonic levels hit a personal high and keep rising, and Red 5’s frame evolves and eventually cannot process Izuru’s commands fast enough. Jiart also evolves, but the Dobermans’ ship is repaired and opens fire, causing him to withdraw.

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Having thoroughly terrified his teammates, everyone is extra careful with Ange, who immediately becomes the most petulant, most schizophrenic, and ironically most capable Rabbit of them all. It’s both humorous and somewhat irritating to see him soundly destroy everyone at their own game while maintaining his polite, modest composure. But once he enters a real battle, he simply loses it and will not cooperate or respond to any order. Last week that served him well, but this week he’s merely swatted away by Jiart, no doubt a humbling experience for Ange, who’s never faced a challenge he couldn’t clear with obnoxious ease.

As for Izuru, he proves to be more than capable of holding his own against the Wulgaru Prince who has tagged him as his personal “lumata.” This is because his harmonic levels are tied to his confidence and overall happiness, both of which were enhanced immeasurably by his princess, Theoria. We may be fans of Izuru+Kei, but the fact of the matter is, Theoria and Izuru have a history, they have chemistry, and most importantly, Izuru is aware of her feelings for him. It’s not the most romantic relationship, but it’s enough for Izuru to fight so hard, Jiart actually has to break a sweat.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • This episode managed to blend some of the better comedy of the series with some of the best action, hence the high rating.
  • We still don’t quite know Ange’s gender. The boys hope to use porn to change that…rather than, you know, asking him/her.
  • Note that Ange doesn’t one-up Tamaki at anything, because her skills are, shall we say, harder to quantify…or identify.
  • We did like how she likened the gravity belt to a kind of “space water slide.”
  • After being such a pill, it was nice to see Jiart of all people take Ange down a couple of pegs. He may be a one-dimensional villain, but this week he was the man.

Servant x Service – 02

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Constantly attracting elderly people who converse with her at great length, Miyoshi has taken to hiding under her desk. Her predicament is put on hold when “Touko-sama” arrives; an abrasive high school girl who coaches the newbies, only to get exacerbated by their quirks. Taishi coaxes Touko off, and the newbies learn she’s his little sister. Chihaya decides to use Touko to train Miyoshi to speak her mind and draw the line with clients. Her words get Touko upset, and Taishi has to shoo her away again, but Miyoshi assures her she’s welcome back (every second or third day) to continue their “counselling.”

After the first episode showed us a lot of clients, there were almost none this week, aside from the tiny old lady who is always rambling to Miyoshi. This was ostensibly to focus on what goes on with the servants in between the stretches of civil drudgery. Or, we should say, instead of them. Chihaya takes the day off and we learn that no only is she an otaku, but their line of work is very otaku-friendly, due to the holidays and such. It’s a neat little detail, and we like how a lot of her suggestions involve dressing up her not unattractive co-workers in cosplay.

As for Yamagami, Miyoshi, Hasebe, and Taishi, a lot of their time is taken up by the imperious Touko, your classic tsundere sister. It doesn’t take long for everyone to notice what Taishi doesn’t: Touko is always hanging around the ward office because she wants to be with Taishi. Her encyclopedic knowledge of welfare code and procedures is both a pretense and side-effect to that. We’ll admit though, we were a little annoyed that a kid showed up to steal time away from the adults, and like Miyoshi, we hope she doesn’t dominate too many more episodes like she did this one.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Stray Observations:

  • We’re not familiar with Touko’s seiyu, but does a good job with both sides of Touko; she sounds like a mix of Taketatsu Ayane and Kugimiya Rie.
  • Yamagami seems to have led a sheltered life, at least where video games, manga, anime, and fashion are concerned. Perhaps she dresses plainly (and sees herself as plain) as a possibly subconscious revolt against her space cadet parents who gave her a dozen names.
  • Miyoshi may have started to learn to draw the line, but Hasebe crossed a different one by asking Yamagami to disrobe not once, bit twice. Yeah, it was a joke, in an office environment, there’s another term for it: sexual harrassment. 
  • As for getting Touko’s email? A bit creepy.
  • Another true-to-life office moment: the “random meeting” that Chihaya called. Those do happen!

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