Kabukimonogatari – 04

mono101

Thousands of zombies converge on Koyomi and Shinobu, but a shower of rice disperses them, launched by a grown-up Hachikuji Mayoi, who is still alive in that dimension. She has a letter for him from Oshino, asking him to confront Shinobu of this time, AKA Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade, who is only half-dead and still a threat to the survivors. Content with his fleeting encounter with Hachikuji, Araragi goes to the shrine with Shinobu, and both double-wield “Kokoro-Watari” demon swords as Shinobu calls out for her.

The half-burned Heart-under-blade arrives, but does not attack. She is so relieved and heartened by seeing her alternate self by Koyomi’s side, she offers her own energy (i.e. blood) to enable them to return to their own timeline, killing her in the process and saving the alternate Hachikuji’s world. Koyomi returns to the present, late for the school ceremony, and the regular Hachikuji barrels into him, having left her backpack at his place.

mono102

We thought this was the strongest episode yet of Monogatari’s second season, completing a second arc that  seemed far less dilatory than the first. The series could have introduced the older Hachikuji Mayoi in last week’s cliffhanger, but chose to defer to this episode so that we have the briefest possible time with her, like Araragi. Hanging out and catching up with her is pointless; this Hachikuji doesn’t know him and vice versa.

Their momentary encounter was enough to make him content, as well as convince him that he wouldn’t let the world where she survived be destroyed. He confronts Heart-under-blade fully expecting a vicious battle that could end with him and Shinobu getting swatted like flies. But as with him with Hachikuji, Heart only wants the briefest glimpse of her alternate self and her “minion” – just long enough to be reassured that there’s a better world out there, in which she didn’t go down the spiral that’s left her a half-dead wretch that still threatened the world.

While Koyomi is glad the alternate Hachikuji and her world will live on with Heart’s demise, he’s also glad to be back in a timeline where he met Hachikuji, even if he couldn’t save her life, they know each other here, and always will. At the same time, the young Hachikuji doesn’t regret dying, because that’s what led to her meeting Koyomi. Finally, Shinobu is glad to be back, and glad even the alternate her that “failed” so fantastically still eventually made amends. To Koyomi, the world he wants is one where Hachikuji knows him. To Shinobu, the world she wants is one where she’s with him. It’s fortunate then that those are the same world.

9_superior
Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Had to mention: Alternate Grown-up Hachikuji is an awesome-looking character.
  • Oshino’s verbose letter was exposition medicine that went down easy thanks to the slick “time-travel-as-rock-climbing” visuals that accompanied it.
  • The Koyomi of the alternate timeline also dated Senjougahara. We guess that makes them multi-dimensional soul-mates, huh?
  • Shinobu’s – or we should say, Sakamoto Maaya’s – summoning scream was pretty frikkin’ bad-ass.
  • We thought we’d part with one of the many gorgeous vistas we were treated to throughout the episode:

mono103

Advertisements

Love Lab – 10

lovelab10

The other council members try to give Sayo a makeover. Sayo’s boyfriend Yamazaki Yuu narrates the story of how he met her in elementary school, where her aloof personality and strength won him over. Suzu tells the story of why her siblings are wearing dog ears in an old photo taken with her. Later we follow Suzu on a typical school day, offering commentary on Sayo, Eno, Maki and Riko.

After the last two weeks focused on a single main story, this was a bit of a tuna noodle casserole of an episode; by that we mean it was made up of many smaller disparate parts that, if served separately, wouldn’t quite be enough for a whole meal. Unlike a casserole, we’re not sure the whole is worth the sum of the parts, as some parts outperformed others, and there wasn’t much rhyme or reason to their ordering.

Eno’s interactions with her NEET brother weren’t that interesting, and the “Suzu’s Day”, while admirable for trying to show us things from her perspective, didn’t really show us anything new. On the other hand her flashback with her doting brother and sister was surprisingly charming. But the star ingredient in this dish was Sayo’s flashback as told by Yuu, in which we get to see a pint-size Sayo who is no less tough, resolute, and shrewd as her present-day self.


Rating: 6 (Good)

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S – 21

railguns21

Heaven Canceler tells Mikoto Febri’s body creates a poison that must be neutralized with her lollipops. Finding her creators is the key to helping her, but they’re likely in the underground. Mikoto plans to look for them herself, but after Kongou tells her about her similar situation, she decides to tell Kuroko, Saten, and Uiharu, who immediately begin an investigation. After analyzing the candy, Canceler determines Febri has only 72 hours to live without more lollipops. When Mikoto tells him she’s resolved to save her, he arranges a meeting between her and the incarcerated Therestina.

Early in the episode, things were starting to feel all too familiar: Mikoto learns a dark truth about her charge; Mikoto decides to keep it all to herself and not get her friends involved; Mikoto conducts a sloppy, inefficient investigation, gets caught, and gets her ass kicked. Fortunately, she too realizes she’s on well-trodden ground. Last week Kongou saved her and the others; this week Kongou saves us by unwittingly convincing Mikoto that this time, she should tell her friends, since true friends share joys and dangers. Her encounter with an oblivious Kuroko before setting out is the catalyst that induces her to tell everyone about Febri’s nature, her suspicions, her past dealings with dangerous people.

After saying all this and voicing her uncertainty she’ll be able to protect them from the coming “darkness”, as Canceler puts it, the three girls react exactly how we thought: they don’t give it a second thought and thrust immediately into Investigation Mode. You can see it on Mikoto’s face as she beholds this: she may be good at kicking ass and making powerful enemies, but these girls may well be better than she is at this kind of stuff. It probably also occurs to her that things may have gone more smoothly had she also called upon them to help her in the Sisters arc. But the important thing is, she’s no longer doing things herself, which means those who must answer for their misdeeds will have more than just her to deal with.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Nice assist by MISAKA 10032, whose observations makes Mikoto suspect Nunotaba Shinobu is involved in some fashion (as the audience, we know this to be true, though we don’t know why).
  • We really wouldn’t mind a Railgun spinoff starring Kongou, Awatsuki and Wannai.
  • Febri is actually pretty good at drawing Gekota. Her drawing of Mii is less impressive.
  • We also love how the girls are all discussing the investigation as a restless Febri simply goofs off like a real kid does in such situations. Very accurate depiction there.
  • We’ve always seen Anti-Skill’s Yomikawa Aiho as a stickler for the rules, but when HQ nicks her evidence, she’s pissed enough to hand a crucial component they missed to Mikoto, which is definitely against the rules.
  • We were concerned about the lollipop supply before Canceler instituted the 72-hour ticking clock, but you mean to tell us this medical genius can’t make a serviceable facsimile in the interim? C’mon!
  • Ah yes, Therestina, the villain from the first series, and definitely knowledgeable about the underground scientific world. We see and intriguing if uneasy partnership ahead.