Servant x Service – 05

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Yamagami wakes up in bed with a girl who turns out to be Hasebe’s sister Kaoru, who is also an easy-.going civil servant and also loves to mess with people. When Yamagami stops by Kaoru’s the next day to thank her, she takes her to her brother’s place, which is awkward. Back at the office, Ichimiya warns Hasebe of the perils of dating co-workers. Chihaya lets fly that she and Ichimiya are dating, but passes it off as a joke to cure Yamagami of her hiccups. Chihaya arranges for Miyoshi to occupy Touko while she and Ichimiya discuss their relationship. Touko returns early, adding to Taishi’s stress.

Those who were thinking Hasebe would stoop to getting a room at a love hotel with a passed-out Lucy were soundly rebuked, as he – as Megumi puts it, “acts like a human being.” Still, it’s clear Miss Cowlick won’t be drinking any alcohol anytime soon. He takes her to his sister’s place instead, but her sister, like all the Hasebes, can’t quite help themselves when presented with a mark as easy as Lucy. Kaoru also gets the feeling her brother cares about this mark, and so gets them together on Sunday, hoping the resulting awkwardness will be entertaining, and it is. But with all this discussion about Yamagami and Hasebe as a prospective couple, there’s been a real and long-lasting couple hiding in plain sight: Chihaya and Ichimiya.

It’s a bit out of left field, though if we were to go back and watch all their past interactions in the office, we’d probably find slight clues here and there of the fact they’re a couple, albeit one that doesn’t make it public knowledge at their workplace. For her part, Chihaya is a good sport, willing to be with Ichimiya despite his self-confidence problems and his horror of a little sister. She doesn’t come right out and list the reasons she dates him – and has dated him for a year-plus. But she does have her reasons. For what is worth, we like them as a couple, if for no other reason than it has neither the predatory air of Hasebe’s pursuit of Yamagami nor Touko’s bro-con tediousness.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Yamagami seems to have a closet consisting of nothing but white pants and black turtlenecks. We hope to see this closet at some point to confirm this.
  • Kaoru and Yamagami wait at a metro station with a green circle marked H-07. Thus the city can’t be Tokyo, as H-07 in real life is Hibiya Station on the Hibiya line, which is silver, not green.
  • Enduring Hiccups are a very old comic device, but Yamagami is so cute doing them we don’t mind.
  • Touko’s birthday is Christmas Eve, making it difficult for Ichimiya to keep girlfriends. Talk about a Catch-22…
  • Chihaya loves cosplay, but wearing Touko’s uniform is still pretty darned kinky. We feel like her explanation to Touko shouldn’t have passed muster.
  • That said, that look Chihaya shoots at Touko when she comes in (see above) is pretty great.
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Blood Lad – 05

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Staz is quickly beaten down by Liz’s zombies, but he keeps hitting the challenge button. The zombies report to Liz, who is with her older brother Braz, who learns she’s holding Staz. Braz agrees to teach Staz the secret to human resurrection if Staz lets him remove the bullet that sealed his power, which he shot into his heart to keep him from destroying himself. He wants Staz to dispose of Papladon Akim.

Akim is a creation of Franken Stein, who possesses numerous different demon magics, escaped his creator, and is now running amok in North Demon World. Stein agrees to keep Fuyumi alive if Wolf takes care of Akim. Meanwhile, Staz refuses to play ball, so Braz ends negotiations and sics the zombies on him, using Staz’s opening to remove the bullet. Staz easily dispatches the zombies with his newly awakened power.

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This week we finally meet the infamous Braz T. Blood (not Vlad), and the family reunion is complete. When we hear his side of the story, we learn that he doesn’t actually hate Staz after all, nor does Liz. Liz is simply jealous of the preferential treatment she deems Braz has always bestowed upon Staz while ignoring her, even after Staz left. She also threw him in jail because she misinterpreted his weakness at the time as proof he wasn’t really a true noble demon, unaware of the sealing bullet in his heart.

Braz, meanwhile, is a trickier story: he had no problem poking, prodding and experimenting on his little brother, but once he had done so, he, like Stein with Akim, got more than he bargained for. He released a power within Staz so strong his young body couldn’t take it. Sealing his power with that bullet was an act of mercy, not malice, but now he believes Staz’s return just days after Akim appeared on the scene to be destiny, and he’s not going to pass up the opportunity to finally see the fruits of his labor.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Considering his attempt to decieve Wolf (which would have succeeded had Bell not been there), we wouldn’t be surprised that if he were able to regain control of Akim (the way Braz controls Staz), he’d use Akim to gain power and become a bad guy. 
  • Or maybe he just made Akim simply because he could, with no ulterior motives in mind.
  • Wolf has definitely taken a shine to Fuyumi, and won’t accept any route that doesn’t see her restored to the way she was. Staz had better come on home before his girl’s stolen away…though her dream indicates Staz still has pull with her.
  • On that note, since Akim has already confronted Wolf (and freaked him out by exploding the boarlike North boss), we imagine Wolf getting beaten up until Staz shows up to aid him.
  • As usual, all the serious stuff is lightened up nicely with little bits of comedy here and there: Staz not being impressed with Braz’s slight of hand; Liz almost losing the mini-boulder, etc.

Uchouten Kazoku – 05

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Benten corners Yasaburou at an antique shop where he’s meeting with Kaisei and forces him to attend a night of sukiyaki with the Friday Fellows, with the unveiled threat that they’ll boil him if he isn’t entertaining. He dazzles the increasingly drunk fellows with his transformations, even changing into a sultrier Benten. One drunk fellow, Hotei, waxes lyrical about his love of tanukis, including an injured one he found in a thunderstorm and nursed to health. When Benten gets bored, she grabs Yasaburou and they share cocktails by the moonlight, she reminds him that one day she’ll eat him up.

Just as the tanukis ride pleasure barges through the sky during the fire festival, the Friday Fellows partake of tanuki hot pot every year because it’s what they’ve always done. “It’s the rule,” says one, warning that questioning it could spell excommunication in this very exclusive club of highly successful men plus the enigmatic, capricious Benten. As the alcohol loosens his tongue, Hotei points out to his fellow fellows that he doesn’t eat tanuki out of obligation to tradition, but because he truly loves them. He sees no hypocrisy in rescuing one tanuki – probably Yasaburou’s mother – then turning around at the end of the year and eating another – one of which was Yasaburou’s father.

Knowing Yasaburou and his family and the intricate lives and tanuki society, we still have a bit of a problem with Hotei’s glib attitude towards devouring them – and Benten’s similar feelings toward Yasaburou. Benten even admits that it makes little sense to eat what you love, because eating is a form of destruction, and then the thing you like will be gone, which is sad. But they almost can’t help themselves. Ultimately, despite our disagreement with their tradition, it’s fairer to look upon them not as villains, but as predators. Nature placed them higher on the food chain, and they’re only exercising the rights that position affords them. Eating what they love is their version of “idiot blood.”

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Yasaburou’s secret meeting(s?) with Kaisei are pretty cute…but we still haven’t actually seen Kaisei in the flesh. Show yourself!
  • Even though we stuffed ourselves with barbecue fare prior to watching this episode, that sukiyaki still made our mouths water.
  • We see Benten at perhaps her least adversarial as she has a cocktail with Benten (at the coolest “bar” in the universe). While she threatens him as usual, she makes it clear she actually really likes him, and is lamenting the fact she may not be able to stop herself from ultimately eating him.

Nekomonogatari: Shiro – 05

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Black Hanekawa reads her mistress’s letter, which boils down to a plea for help, so no one is hurt because of her. Black Hanekawa accepts the plea and confronts the tiger Kako just as she is about to burn down Senjougahara’s house. Kako will hear nothing of returning with Black Hanekawa to their “older sister’s” heart, and Black Hanekawa is only able to delay her for a few minutes. However, that delay enables Araragi to arrive in time to subdue Kako with the Kokoro Watari sword. Hanekawa re-absorbs both Black Hanekawa and Kako, giving her striped hair. She confesses to Araragi, is rejected, and asks her parents for a room of her own in their new house.

As we expected, the last four episodes were all carefully building up to a confrontation between Hanekawa and her wayward “younger sisters.” They were monsters created by her eighteen years of attempting to be as pure, white, perfect, and inoffensive to others as possible. They were pieces of her heart that were shorn off and took on lives of their own. Once those pieces threatened her life and those of her friends, she had to take a stand and decide to go back on those eighteen years of purging imperfection and embrace her humanity; the black and the white. Her heartfelt letter is beautifully rendered with a clever graphic narrative of traveling the world aimlessly, and that letter moves Black Hanekawa to act on her mistress’s behalf. Her other “little sister”, Kako, fueled by envy (not stress), is far more powerful and wild and far less sympathetic.

Kako doesn’t consider Hanekawa family and believes she’s reaping what she’s sown. Whatever she wants but cannot have will be burnt. Black Hanekawa is no match for the tiger, but she doesn’t have to be. Part of the imperfection Hanekawa needed to embrace was the willingness to rely on others besides herself (and Black Hanekawa was just herself). Her attempt to stop Kako was enough to delay Kako just long enough for her love, Araragi, to arrive with a helping hand, aiding her transition to true humanity. The new, bi-color Hanekawa may dye her hair all black to avoid strange looks at school, but she’s no longer averting her eyes. From now on, she’ll confess her love and let herself be hurt and cry, and let herself demand a place in her rightful home. She will accept all the parts of herself, and love all of it.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 17

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Mikoto, Shirai, Saten, and Uiharu are all prepping for a study group. Shirai notes how peaceful Academy City is, Mikoto checks in on the sisters, who are on the mend but will require treatment to extend their lifespans. Shirai bumps into Kongo, and later she and Mikoto cross paths with Mugino and Frenda. Mikoto, Shirai and Uiharu arrive at Saten’s place with their diverse yet complimentary ingredients  and they have a hot pot feast, which Haruue eventually joins as well.

With the Sisters vs. Accelerator arc completed, Railgun S exhales with a transitional episode with lots of light, pleasant slice-of-life which takes stock of where everyone is and, more importantly, serves as a vehicle to reunite the four core girls with something non-life-threatening. Mikoto’s duty had definitely distanced her not only from Shirai, but Saten and Uiharu as well, and the “hot pot study group” was a nice way to shorten that distance, at least until the next crisis (which isn’t hinted at this week; something we’re actually thankful for).

This episode was also a means of having various supporting characters make an appearence, including the Frog-Faced Doctor (AKA Heaven Canceler), Kongou Mitsuko (as stuck-up as ever), Shirai’s clover kids, and, perhaps most surprisingly, members of ITEM. Mugino/Frenda jaw with Mikoto/Shirai (and Shirai’s ignorance of who they are help the comedy here), but things don’t get out of hand, underlining this episode’s commitment to being peril- and stress-free, which after so much of both in the last arc, was welcome.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Editors Note: We apologize for being a bit behind on our weekend anime schedule, as we are currently engaged in various non-RABUJOI activities. Please excuse the lateness of the subsequent reviews.