To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 20

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The robots that attacked Febli had no batteries, leaving Antiskill scratching their heads. Mikoto, Saten, UIhau and Shirai take Febri out to eat and to a bathhouse. While on their way home, they keep running into detour signs, corralling them into a dead end where they’re attacked by a giant robot deployed by Aritomi and his fellow researchers. Mikoto’s electricity has no effect on it, but Kongou swoops in to save them. Febri develops a fever and is hospitalized. Mikoto & Co. spend the night there, and in the morning Heaven Canceler tells Mikoto Febri is man-made.

“Those who rely on their powers are powerless,” says one of the researchers now targeting Mikoto. They’re bold words, infused with a degree of bitterness and jealousy, spoken by someone who is tired of the espers getting all the attention. But they also ring a bit hollow in light of what’s happened so far. It may be more accurate to say “those who rely on their powers will be bailed out by their friends’ powers.” Kongou is proving to be the X-factor of this arc, foiling the brainiacs’ plans at every turn in her usual arrogant-but-elegant style.

It’s also hard to take these guys seriously though, considering how slowly this episode went. There’s absolutely no hurry to reveal who they are or how they plan to defeat the espers. We hang out with the girls as they entertain Febri, and the battle is almost an afterthought, thanks to Kongou just happening to be in the right place at the right time. Still, Febri being present for both instances of machines working without internal power and the revelation she’s an android got us a little more invested. If she’s the source of the machines’ power, then Kongou’s attack harmed her too.


Rating: 6 (Good)

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Gatchaman Crowds – 08

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Berg-Katze kisses Rui and transforms into his doppelganger, depriving him of access to X. Hajime implements a PR campaign to out the Gatchamen, starting at a preschool where she and Sugane transform for both the kids and the press. While on camera she invites Rui join them. Berg-Katze-Rui tracks down Umeda, one of the recently exiled hundred, and invites him to join the “Neo-hundred”, while the real Rui comes across a child making a grave for her father, who collapsed while using GALAX.

There are many cases where bringing about something new means doing away with something old. With their new foe Berg-Katze, Hajime is convinced that the Gatchamen have to do things in a new way, out in the open, gaining the trust of the people. Shrewdly, she starts with innocent little kids; “if the Gatchamen are okay with them,” people will think to themselves, “they can’t be all bad!” And not only does it effectively promote the Gatchamen as the good guys, playing with the kids also cheers up Paiman, Sugane, Utsutsu and OD (Jou, still disgusted with himself, is a no-show).

Even though it’s Rui Hajime invites, it turns out to be a challenge to Berg-Katze to “come and play”, only he’s already busy continuing to torture Rui, who has lost his security blanket in X. His CROWDs are gone, his power is gone, and his control is gone; all he has is the last outfit he left his place in and his wits. Berg has stripped it all away, destroying everything Rui was, because Berg has fun doing it and screwing with the world. Rui will have to find a way to come back without those things he’s lost, because someone having that much fun won’t stop all on his own.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Tamayura: More Aggressive – 09

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As the town prepares bamboo lanterns for the annual Walk of Longing, a high school friend of Potte’s father, Natsume Nozomu, pays a long put-off visit. He doesn’t mince words while criticizing Potte’s work. When she and Kanae bump into Shihomi while snapping pictures, she tells them she’s also endured her share of criticism, and encourages her to keep cultivating her love for photography. Potte, Kanae and the others have okonomiyaki at Hoboro’s with Nozomu. Later he tells Potte a little about what her dad was like in high school, and is glad he visited, and lets her take a parting photo of him.

This week is an interesting new exercise in subjecting Potte to perhaps the prickliest person she’s had to deal with all season, someone immune to her charms and seems determined to pop her pleasant little bubble, and Kanae’s along with it. He says what some of us may have been thinking all along: all she does is impulsively point and shoot at things, keeping her subjects right in the center, just like her dad. As a guy who has no qualms about dispensing with pleasantries and picking on his dead mate’s daughter, having missed his wedding, her birth, and his funeral. He also stopped taking photos, even though he was the one who inspired her dad in the first place.

So this guy’s just a pompous dick, right? Well, fortunately, the more we see him interact with Takehara and Potte, the more he softens and becomes (slightly) more likable. His other mate Hinomaru knows the sourpuss is just a front. Kanae talks a lot about how Potte’s heart races when taking photos, which leads to the hearts of the people who see them also racing, as if catching a wave. Nozomu admits that while Potte’s dad’s (and her) photos aren’t the most technically adventurous, he admits that they’re all “overflowing with love.” Enough that they, along with a nostalgic taste of okonomiyaki and a wistful tour of the Walk of Longing, touch his heart.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

End-of-Month Rundown – August 2013

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This month flew by almost as fast as July, but being the middle month of the three-month Summer season, there was a slight shift downward in cumulative episode ratings. Unless all these series have horrible endings, September should be as strong or stronger than July, when they all began.

That’s not to say this was a subpar month; far from it. That downward shift was very slight (as in, something like a tenth of a point). Rather, this was a steady and consistent month. Fully familiarized with all the series and their casts and settings, we saw what those series ended up doing with them.

In Danganronpa’s case that meant killing a lot of them off. In Servant x Service, it meant bringing them closer together. In C3-bu it meant drawing them apart. In Uchoten Kazoku, it meant giving us more of an initially foggy picture of the past, and in Monogatari, it meant changing the past only to destory the present.

At any rate we’ve stuck with all fourteen series we began the month with, and with all fourteen we have little or no idea how they’ll end, and are looking forward to how those endings will unfold, what it will mean for their characters, and whether any of these series will continue into the Fall. On to our August rankings:

14. Danganronpa: The Animation 8/13 (6.500) – This show brings up the rear, but it’s not awful. While we’re pretty sure Naegi will end up winning, we’re sticking with it to learn how: will he end up killing someone to avoid being killed, or will he and Kirigiri lead a revolution against that awful bear, allowing other students to survive?

13. Love Lab 8/13 (6.500) – While obstensibly a comedy consisting of the comics loosing barrage after barrage of jokes at the straight men, we like how the characters are gradually getting more developed. Rika’s continues to perpetuate the lie about being a romantic expert, and even the antagonistic Sayori gets some depth

12. Servant x Service 9/13  (6.889) – With almost all sevens, SxS is nothing if not steady, but has yet to produce an episode that truly stands above the rest (not surprising for a steady slice-of-life series). The love story between Hasebe and Yamagami is progressing at a very deliberate pace

11. Kimi no Iru Machi 7/-  (7.000) – This is a romantic drama full of big, dramatic gestures and plot twists. Haruto started out having to fight his dying friend for his ex-girlfriend, but now that that friend is dead. Sometimes we feel like the show has no intention of bringing him and Eba back together…which might be the point

10. Majestic Prince 21/24  (7.000) – It’s been a steady month of sevens for Team Rabbits, as the final confrontation with the Wulgaru looms, Amane has risen almost as high as she can, Izuru must deal with the fact that he won’t be the hero, and Theoria will be fighting against her people and her family. It looks to be another awesome battle in a series full of them

9. Blood Lad 8/12  (7.125) – The series has been shifting between Staz’s quest to resurrect Fuyumi, his reconnecting with his siblings, and Bell’s developing feelings for him, creating a triangle. We’re looking forward to meeting the whole Hydra family in their strange Laputa-like world

8. The World God Only Knows III (Goddesses Arc) 8/13 (7.250) – With so many girls to conquer and so many different approaches and situatons required to do so, there’s never been a dull moment in this third season of TWGOK. One thing we’re hoping for is that it doesn’t end with another complete reset button, since at least one of the remaining girls has actual, genuine feelings for him despite not hosting a goddess

7. To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S 19/24 (7.429) – There were just three episodes of Railgun this month, wrapping up things with the Sisters arc and starting things up with a new arc involving a tiny orphan girl and a shadowy group of student researchers targeting Level 5s. His role apparently complete, Touma utterly vanished this month; a shame considering the chemistry he has with Mikoto

6. Monogatari Series: Second Season 8/-  (7.429) – As is typical of -monogatari series, Neko (black) stepped up its game for the finale, as Hanekawa embraces herself and defeats the tiger oddity. The new Kabukimonogatari arc involves Koyomi and his sidekick Shinobu travelling back in time to save Mayoi, only to return to a ruined present. Can’t wait to see how they get out of this one

5. Stella Jogakuin Koutouka C3-bu 4/13  (8.250) – The Suzumiya-style metaphysical can of worms was quickly closed after episode four, but replaced with a story about Yura continuing to improve and become more serious about airsoft, until she’s poised to leave the titular club altogether. This isn’t what we thought we were getting, and it’s a bit slow at times, but it’s not bad

4. Free! 8/12  (7.750) – Free! has definitely been a breath of fresh air this season, fully committing to a predominantly male cast with the girls on the margins, exploring the guys’ relationships with emphasis on how the pool brought them together – and in the case of Haruka and Rin – could still help them reconcile

3. Tamayura: More Aggressive 8/13  (7.750) – As consistent as Servant x Service, only a cut above in quality. From road trips to fireworks festivals to the opportunity to exhibit work in a real gallery, the adventures of Potte and her friends continue to provide some of the most touching and beautiful storytelling this season

2. Gatchaman Crowds 7/12  (8.286) – Now the Big Bad, Berg-Katze is known to all and his mission is clear (destroy the world), and the Gatchamen have met the GALAX founder Rui. Rather than exchange insults, the plucky Hajime has a calm Q&A with the villain, trying to find a solution without letting him hurt anyone else

1. Uchouten Kazoku 8/13  (8.500) – With every episode, another thread explaining how the Shimogamo family ended up how it did is woven into an increasingly rich and satisfying tapestry. Soichirou’s last night in the world is pieced together from multiple sources, showing that no one person was to blame for his death, and regardless of how much or little power the family retains, he’ll be happy as long as they simply stick together