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.

Gatchaman Crowds – 03

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After Hajime “tames” the MESS, all other MESSes worldwide cease all activity and all the absorbed humans are safely returned. O.D. believes Hajime communicated with the MESS through gesture (in her case, scissors). Meanwhile, Ninomiya Rui, creator of GALAX, moves among the masses observing how and why they use his system. He returns hope for updates from the controlling AI, X, and his 100 chosen GALAXters who coordinate missions to “update the world.”

Hajime and Sugane participate in one such mission, stopping a shipment of spoiled milk to their school. The operation is moderately successful, but proves to Rui that there are many who still don’t trust GALAX. When a helicopter collides with a cable car, GALAXters are mobilzed once again, but X cannot work out a fix with present resources, so Rui is forced to summon the “Crowds” to aid them.

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As he glided through groups of his fellow citizens using and enjoying GALAX totally unaware of it’s creator’s proximity to them, the cross-dressing Ninomiya Rui reminded us of the MESS: no one can see it, but it’s constantly changing its shape. Last week Hajime showed that they’re not necessarily an existential threat to humanity, even uprooting Paiman’s understanding of their mission. As Gatchaman operates as a force for good, so too does Rui’s immensely more visible and popular GALAX network.

The elusive, reclusive Rui is also the reigning monarch of a digital hive. Just one GALAX user is required to be present to notify all the rest, now numbering in the hundreds of millions. But that’s still a small number in a world of 7 billion, and if there are no bars or battery life left, those users are on their own again. So the system, while incredibly useful in building a better world, is neither perfect nor without skeptics. We’re eager to see what’s up with those elite-looking “Crowds”, and see if and how Rui and Hajime ever cross paths or join forces. They both want the same thing, after all.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Rui derides those who “can’t see the joy in helping others without reward.” While we’re sure Hajime didn’t save her school from sour milk for points, GALAX did, in fact, award her and her classmates for saving the day.
  • We’re operating under the assumption that Rui is indeed a boy, and happens to cross-dress while in public (and also often enough in private). Nothing wrong with that, especially when you’re as rich as he apparently is!
  • That super-stylized baddie morphs into another evil doppelganger and wreaks havoc just as that helicopter accident happens. We’re also pretty sure he said something to Rui via telepathy. All this shows pieces continue to tentatively circle one another, yet to fully settle.
  • The GALAX OS startup sound is pretty badass. We’re going to try to get that for our computer
  • Notice the little bat on Rui’s sweater? That’s right: Rui is Batman.

Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 – 04

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Yura is having fun in the C3 Club, but her technical skill is limited, so Sonora decides to train her at a shrine. Sonora gives her a Scorpion vs. 61 and her first lesson is to hit a 5-yen piece from a distance. Yura sees a white fox while climbing thr shrine’s stepes, and the coin becomes a warrior Sonora mentioned died young and was enshrined there. When they call it a day, Yura leaves the gun behind. When she goes back for it after dark, the young warrior confronts her, calling himself Choujirou.

He tells her her the world in which she sees “delusions” is a real realm that is resonating with his own. He transports her to a medieval battlefield on the day and moment he is to be killed by an arrow. A real vz 61 in hand, he asks her to intervene on his behalf. After discussing her ordeal with Sonora (who tells her the gun’s name is Choujirou)Yura returns to the shrine with Rento, and both are returned to the world. Rento watches Yura shoot the arrow down, and in the real world, the airsoft pellet lodges in the hole of the coin. Back in the clubroom, her friends tell her Choujirou died an old man.

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We’ve seen the shy new girl trying to find a place where she belongs, watched her participation in the club stir up passion, and watched her battle a rival club. None of those things are all that different from what Miho experiences in Girls und Panzer. But this was the episode that separated the women from the girls (und Panzer). This week, the ancient surroundings have a powerful effect on Yura, and there she not only discovers “her idea of airsoft”, but also manages to change history itself.

One could dismiss the awesome, fantastical elements of this episode as just that: Yura’s delusions but only at first. That all goes out the window when Rento goes side with Yura and sees the same scene as Yura – and is so freaked out she doesn’t speak of it to anyone! And when Yachiyou tells her Choujirou died an old man, that seals the deal: shooting down that arrow saved Choujirou’s life and ended his need to “fight forevermore”. And thus all of Yura’s past “delusions” so far in the series, and going forward gain deeper significance. The ramifications are positively spine-tingling, and elevate C3-bu to a whole other level.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Yura receives her gun, and it’s a beaut. She also almost whips it out on a train…not a good idea considering what a realistic replica it is!
  • Sonora’s whole lesson at the shrine is a succession of awesome lines…”You fail because you seek success” and such.
  • Looking back, the tone of the battle and Yura’s mood in the moment all determine the nature of the “delusions” that form around her. Very Suzumiya Haruhi-ish.
  • The moment the gun in the battle scene suddenly changes from plastic to metal – and becomes much heavier in Yura’s hands – is one of our favorite moments of the episode. Shit’s literally gettin’ real.
  • We’re eager to see how Rento processed what she saw, and whether she’ll ever bring it up to Yura or the others. Then again, other club members near Yura may eventually see what she’s capable of anyway.
  • The series could always downplay this “power” of Yura’s but we hope it doesn’t drop it altogether in favor of more battles with rival clubs. That would be a huge shame.
  • These developments mean Yura can now visit any shrine with a restless spirit and help them out…as long as marksmanship is required, of course!