Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 – 11

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Sono tells the C3 club that she’s returning to America soon, so they plan a farewell airsoft match for her. Rento finds Yura in an arcade to invite her, and ends up telling her off. Rin visits Sono, who realizes that throughout all the ordeals in her life she puts up a stoic facade to run from reality. As Sono’s farewell match commences, Yura wanders town aimlessly until she arrives at the shrine, where the human form of Choujirou tells her she must accept herself before others will. When Sono has defeated all the C3 girls, Yura arrives with Choujirou in hand, ready to fight.

Shameless enthusiasm for airsoft: Rin remembers her old friend Sono having it, and Yura has it too. Rin thought she could “save” Yura from going too far, but lost control very quickly, and had to cut her loose (you could call it a defeat for Rin, but ‘discretion’s the better part of valour’, and all that.) Yura didn’t manufacture that enthusiasm; that was just the way she was. Her unrelenting path to airsoft perfection ended up isolating her from everyone, but she couldn’t be forgiven or accepted until she forgave and accepted herself.

She is who she is, and maybe sometimes she’s going to rub some people the wrong way, or hit rough patches with those she’s closest to. She’s going to piss them off sometimes, and they’re going to piss her off. It’s no reason to settle for playing bad video games in the dark corner of an arcade with bags under her eyes. The world belongs to Yura just as much as it belongs to Honoka, Rento, Karila, Yachiyo, Rin or Sono. But while her friends all want her back, it’s Yura who has to actually come back, on her own. Her joining Sono’s farewell match is an encouraging first step.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

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Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 23

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After the Straggle Laser and sublight missles fail, the Wulgaru start to wail on the Earth forces. An impatient Jiart sorties hoping to draw Izuru out, and Dorgana fights with Ange. When Suzukaze runs out of options, she grudgingly lets Izuru sortie, allowing Asagi and Tamaki to refuel. Theoria and Daneel launch, and she orders the Wulgar to retreat. The Straggle Lasers recharge and fire at the gate again, but are destroyed by Dorgana. Simon orders the Star Rose evacuated in preparation to ram it into the gate.

We’d be lying if we said there wasn’t a part of us that believed the battle would end this week, allowing the finale to be all aftermath/epilogue. That didn’t happen, as the battle rages on, but we have to hand it to this episode for successfully sustaining the heated action. At the end of last week the humans were down, but not out. There was some hope non-energy weapons would be able to penetrate the gate’s armor, but that hope fizzled out as well. Then, just when the six hours needed to recharge the lasers passes and they re-fire, they’re extinguished in an instant. The Rabbits and Theoria do their part, but ultimately that gate will have to be closed using the only projectile big enough to do any damage: Star Rose itself.

As soon as Star Rose accompanied the battle fleet, it became “Chekhov’s Star Rose”, a weapon whose mere presence assured it would ultimately be used. Simon seems poised to pilot the thing to the target, saving Amane from sacrificing herself. But before it gets there, there’s still a lot of battle yet to be fought. Much was made of the fact that Izuru’s next sortie would be his last, and here he is sortieing. Simon looks poised to go out with a bang as well. Predictions about who will live or die aside, that gate’s gotta come down; its just a matter of how and how quickly mankind secures victory, allowing the rest of the finale to deal with the aftermath.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Kimi no Iru Machi – 09

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Haruto tells Asuka about his “non-date” to FantasyLand with Rin, and she’s okay with it, but when he shows up, Yuzuki is there; Rin tricked them both into the date. They only go in briefly so Haruto can get a phone strap for Asuka. Rin admonishes him afterwords while he’s at work, and when he sees Asuka next, he lies about having seen Yuzuki, who visits him at the market to tell him she’s visiting his parents in Hiroshima. The next day Asuka is down, leading Haruto to think Rin blabbed, but it turns out she has to take care of her mother on the date they planned to go on their trip. Haruto tells her it’s fine, and they’ll make other plans.

Has Haruto’s relationship with Asuka devolved into one of obligation? Now that he’s gotten a taste of a date with Yuzuki (courtesy Rin), are his feelings starting to stray? In a word, no…not yet at least. As on-edge and dicey as things got this week, the episode still ends with Haruto on top of Asuka, again co-victims physics and their hormones – until his sister shows up at the worst possible time. Haruto may have lied to Asuka – AGAIN, the dick – this week, but he got away with it…for now. The fact remains he told Asuka he went with Rin when in truth he was with Yuzuki. Rin said she wouldn’t tell Asuka, but Haruto shouldn’t have been dumb enough to believe her and create an alternate story.

We know why he did it: telling Asuka that he met with his ex again in a date-like atmosphere wouldn’t have sat well with her at all, but let’s not forget, Asuka still trusts Haruto implicitly in addition to loving her. We think he loves her too, which is why he probably feels he’s “protecting” her by not telling the truth. But that’s bullshit; if and when Asuka gets the skinny from Rin, or finds out some other way, she’ll be hurt anyway. We’re not saying he needs to tell her everything, but he shouldn’t have to lie, and he certainly didn’t need to go out with Rin in the first place, especially when he knows what Rin is capable of vis-a-vis Yuzuki. We have a bad feeling about him returning to Hiroshima the same time the Eba sisters.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • We said before the big plans to go to Okinawa had the feeling of a (relationship) death flag. That the trip is postponed doesn’t bode well.
  • Yuzuki was oddly game about the whole date thing, seeming disappointed when they decided to part ways, then relieved when Haruto called her back.
  • We’re imagining Haruto’s manager at Lawson: “What the hell are all these ladies coming in here talking to you while you’re on the clock? SHAPE UP, KIRISHIMA. Of course, he won’t…
  • Asuka’s layered reaction to Haruto stuffing his face in her crotch was pretty fantastic! We love Asuka to bits, we just wish she had a better boyfriend…

Free! – 10

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In a flashback, Rin transfers to the same school as Haru, Makoto and Nagisa, and convinces them to swim with him. Back in the present Sasabe Goro starts coaching the team, and whenever they reminice about the past with Rin, Rei gets more upset. He confronts the others about what caused them to drift apart from him. Haru tells him about how he raced and beat Rin. Afterwards Rin said he’d quit swimming, which led to Haru quitting out of guilt. Rei confronts Rin outside the practice facility.

This week we see some sustained flashbacks in which the guys with the girly names have girly voices as well, but they’re very much the same people, just younger, smaller, and higher-pitched. The series finally dives in the past that formed the lads we’ve followed thus far, but also presents the perspective of someone who had nothing to do with that past, namely Rei. He’s not delighted to be constantly reminded that he hasn’t always been around, nor does he like what the past is doing to Haru.

Once Rei learns what actually happened between Haru and Rin, he’s even more upset with the one he essentially replaced on the Iwatobi Swim Club. Returning from Australia, a cocky Rin challenged Haru and lost, but then made such a meal of his loss that he manipulated Haru into quitting altogether. What’s worse, Rin was lying – he returned to swimming, gaining a head-start on Haru. Sure, no one told Haru to nail himself to the cross by quitting, but the fact Rin has such a strong power over him irks Rei to no end, and he can’t abide standing by and letting him get away with it again.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • The multi-angle film sequence was pretty cool, though we kinda wonder how Sasabe has the time to coach these guys gratis. Who delivers the pizza…ITSELF?
  • Hot pot on a hot summer day with no A/C…kinda sweat-lodgy. Sounds healthy, in any case.
  • We finally learn about Amakata Miho’s past too: she was a swimsuit model, not merely and Coach Sasabe recognizes her because he has a stash of her mags lying around his flat. Sweet, gross, or both?
  • Rin is strangely absent from all the flashback scenes.