Golden Time – 05

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After finding the photo of him with Linda, Banri visits the bridge where he was injured. Kouko declares him a “great friend”, and next morning is acting strange again; too enthusiastic. She and Banri join the festival club, but Kouko struggles with dancing. She bursts into tears, but later apolgizes to Banri for taking advantage of his kindness. In a flashback, the “past” Banri recalls seeing a light in the forest from his hospital room. He escapes and checks it out, and bumps into Linda, whom he doesn’t recognize. Linda doesn’t lead on that he knows her, but she still convinces him to go to Tokyo and start over.

Well…we weren’t expecting any of that! Not that that’s a bad thing; we prefer being surprised to knowing how things are going to proceed – as long as no sharks are jumped. It turns out we were a little premature in celebrating Banri’s confession to Kouko, and with good reason: turns out that wasn’t the perfect time to do so. Kouko is only two days removed from the Mitsuo incident; her emotions are still confused, and if she’s honest – and to her credit, she’s extremely honest throughout this episode – they were confused before, too. She still feels hopeless, and so she’s willing to take whatever kindness and understanding comes her way. But yeah, even she knows by expressing her hope she and Banri can be good friends, she’s essentially rejecting the guy, at least for the time being. Banri is disappointed, but for much of the episode he’s preoccupied with that photo of him with Linda.

Who was she to him, and why is she acting like they just met? As soon as he found that photo, we wanted Banri to simply confront Linda and ask her these question, with the same resolve with which he stepped up and confessed to Kouko. We can take a guess why: it could be Linda’s way of “respecting” the “New Banri.” Whatever her relationship was with him, that was a different person. The show makes a very interesting choice in providing us with answers New Banri isn’t privy to, courtesy of the bodiless “Old Banri”, a device which works for us. The flashback not only confirms that Linda cared a great deal for Banri, but we’re given more evidence for why she’s stayed mum about knowing Banri: in that flashback, he vows to cast away all his old bonds…and though he doesn’t know it, she’s one of them.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Kouko demonstrates that when you’re “good friends” with her, you’d better be prepared to take the good with an occasional side of crazy. The latter is a part of her; it didn’t vanish just because Mitsuo abjured her.
  • The flashback builds on the cold open of episode two, when Banri was walking through the forest. Though this time, it’s not Kouko beyond the light, but Linda.
  • We really dig past Linda’s hairstyle. Wonder if changing her hair had something to do with wanting to “start over” once what happened to Banri happened.
  • We see that  Linda has a motorbike. Was that supposed to make us think she was the one who ran him over in the first place? WHY ARE WE THINKING THAT?!

 

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Kill la Kill – 05

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“Anti-Uniform Guerilla” Kinagase Tsumugu of the Nudist Beach organization arrives at Konnouji to eliminate Ryuuko’s Kamui. His first attempt is interrupted by his old friend Mikisugi who asks him not to target her. Kinagase refuses, certain that if left alone Senketsu could grow even more dangerous than Kiryuin. Satsuki sends Non-Athletic Committee Chair Jakuzure Nonon to deal with him.

Kinagase quickly dispatches the small-fry clubs she deploys, and corners Ryuuko again, and Senketsu flies off her to save her, and he’s pinned down, but Mako puts the kamui back to Ryuuko arms before leaving. When Kinagase threatens to harm Ryuuko, he can hear Senketsu speak and learns the kamui cares about her. Jakuzure arrives and he makes a quick getaway with Ryuuko, leaving her in Mikisugi’s office, telling him he’ll give Ryuuko a chance.

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Last week’s self-contained “no-late-day” story gives way to some meatier story wherein a third party enters the fray between Ryuuko and Satsuki. In the real world, most nudists are regarded as harmless weirdos, but Kinagase is more of a revolutionary, wielding a sewing machine-like gun and utterly devoted to eradicating the scourge of life fibers, which he sees as parasites. We can’t really fault his motives, considering the damage we’ve seen the uniforms do even when their wearers are in mostly full control of them.

But as much as the guy scowls and threatens to strip girls, he’s not so bad a guy: when he sees that Ryuuko and Senketsu aren’t just a parasite and host but actual friends, he has a change of heart, even saving Ryuuko from Jakuzure. Jakuzure’s role on the periphery of Kinagase’s pursuit of Ryuuko is a calculation by her and Satsuki; sending cannon fodder at him in order to collect combat data. Even if it’s a rout, it’s a highly enjoyable one, as Jakuzure conducts an orchestra as the battle unfolds.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • We’re amused at how raucous and nutty Mako’s family behaves, and yet they’re concerned about Ryuuko being weird just because she talks to her uni.
  • Jakuzure is voiced by none other than Shintani Mayumi, whom we hadn’t heard since her role as Haruko in FLCL.
  • Mako proves she’s a brave and loyal friend by standing up to Kinagase and delivering another long-winded, passionate monologue.

End-of-Month Rundown – October 2013

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We said last month we were hoping to keep our Fall watchlist under a dozen, and we seem to have settled on a dozen exactly, eight of which are currently rated 7 (Very Good) or higher after 3-4 episodes. So how has it all wrung out in this first month of the Fall?

12. Strike the Blood 4/-  (6.000) – A very by-the-numbers supernatural buddy rom-com that breaks no new ground, but has a certain inscrutable charm to it, which has a lot to do with the couple, who have nice chemistry (once you get past the awful pervert gags).

11. White Album 2 4/12  (6.750) – A classic example of a show not trying to do too much; just getting two girls and a guy together in a band and watching how things get complicated when they all start to like each other. Don’t read too much into that!

10. Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta 4/13  (6.750) – The second of two non-sequel franchise “re-imaginings” (the other being White Album), this richly-detailed supernatural slice-of-life with occasional spurts of intense action got off to a very promising start, but its creators clearly didn’t know what they were doing in the last episode, which is troubling.

9. Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova 4/12  (7.000) – The bizarre concept of haughty “mental models” – avatars of anachronistic Japanese warships – coming to appreciate the value of humans through their defeats appeals to us, and the battles are awesome. But if the cel-shaded characters have the Uncanny Valley effect on you, you won’t like this one bit.

8. Kakumeiki Valvrave 2nd Season 3/-  (7.333) – Three episodes is a small sample size, but Valvrave’s second season has yet to make any serious missteps. Of course, last season’s worst episode was its fourth, so knock on wood. We still couldn’t care less about the esoteric “Magius” business, but we like how characters like Akira and Marie are getting more fleshed out.

7. Kyoukai no Kanata 5/- (7.400) – After completely changing gears with the innovative, guy-centric Free!, KyoAni returns to its well-worn “adorable goofball girl” formula. We were initially dubious that this series had anything new to say, but when what it does say is said in such riveting fashion as its fourth episode, it’s hard not to keep watching.

6. Monogatari Series: Second Season 4/12 (including 1 recap)  (7.667) – Sengoku Nadeko’s arc is notable in that there is no happy ending, only setup to a possible conclusion in the indeterminate future. After the recap we shift to a new arc that explains why Koyomi was mostly absent for Nekomonogatari(Shiro). It just started, but we like the sound of learning more about the lil’ vampire’s past.

5. Nagi no Asukara 4/26  (7.750) – Aside from being utterly gorgeous, we like the worldbuilding/mythos behind this show, how it’s been dealing with societal issues like ingrained prejudice, and how it’s underscored how fragile and possibly doomed the sea people and their culture are.

4. Golden Time 4/12 (including 2 recaps)  (8.000) – Don’t let it’s #4 ranking here mislead you: Golden Time is a smart, sweet, top-tier series with some really solid writing and character development. It took an obnoxious brat of a character and made her sympathetic, and the male lead didn’t waste any time expressing his feelings for her. The college adventures are also fresh and relatable. It’s also covered an impressive amount of ground in four episodes, considering it’s running for a full 26.

3. Kill la Kill 4/-  (8.250) – It’s clear both from the first four episodes of this show and all of the shows they’ve made before that the creator(s) are very well-attuned to the primary purpose of anime: to entertain. Kill la Kill is insanely fun to watch, but also tells a coherent story. It’s replete with fanservice that cleverly serves that story: modesty lessens the power of the uniforms.

2. Kyousougiga 3/10  (8.333) – While Kill la Kill will almost always out-crazy this show in a head-to-head crazy duel, Kyousougiga’s focus is on history, family, and love, much like last season’s Uchouten Kazoku. Like that tanuki-infested gem, this show is full of lively characters, all with their own agendas.

1. Samurai Flamenco 3/22  (8.667) – We’re not in middle or high school anymore, so we always rejoice when a good show featuring adults comes around. And this show is very good indeed, having a lot of fun with the audience’s expectations of how far the superhero milieu will go. Like Kick-ass and real-life viral superheroes, it looks like this will stay grounded in reality, which is just fine with us!

Kyoukai no Kanata – 05

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Mirai joins the literary club at Akihito’s insistence  officially meeting Hiromi and Mizuki. The four go to the Nase residence, where Izumi confiscates Mirai’s hunting license for a month due to her actions. Mizuki and Mirai work together to destroy a youmu possessing a passerby. Mizuki helps Mirai get a part-time job minding Ayaka’s store and posing for photos. Depressed after his transformation, Akihito skips class. After much convincing, Mirai gets Mizuki to end her embargo and attend the lantern festival, where they’re joined by Akihito and Hiromi.

There’s really nothing quite like a well-funded Kyoto Animation series, and little this season can match its frame-for-frame grace and beauty. Lovely details abound: characters rapidly cycling through facial expressions, lessening the need for spoken words; characters playing with their hair; swirling ice in a glass; arrogantly sipping on a juice box. If this is a guilty pleasure, we don’t want to be innocent. In contrast to last week’s focus on one big central story-line – defeating the hollow shadow – this week is a veritable smorgasbord of little vignettes that make up the day and night Mirai spends mostly with Mizuki, leading to something resembling the start of a friendship.

When Mizuki first shares a space with Mirai this week, you can tell there’s tension. We’re assuming if Mizuki had her way she’d simply be able to “observe” Akihito in peace, free of interloping bespectacled strumpets. But the more time she spends with Mirai, her notion of her softens, to the point she’s even laughing and smiling around her. Perhaps a part of her admires Mirai’s willingness to reassess her ascetic outlook in light of recent events. Mizuki’s stoic sister admonishes her that she’ll always be alone due to her calling. But in truth, everyone is “all alone” at one point or another, so its something everyone can relate to.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • A kind reader pointed out something to us we had somehow missed up until this week: that the episodes titles refer to a common visual motif in that episode, in this case, “Chartreuse Light”, which is everywhere: tea, a sweater, a soft drink, and of course, lanterns.
  • Akihito puts up a brave front in the opening scene (for once, confiding with Hiromi on Mirai’s “little-sisterness” in a way making him worthy of her and Mizuki’s scorn), then kinda going off by himself to mope.
  • Mirai’s tendency to “whine on her blog” is a pretty funny aspect of her character, and in reality great way of letting off steam.
  • Ayaka does run a studio, and Mirai did need the cash, so the photo shoot counts as Justified Fanservice.

Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova – 04

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Fog fast battleships Kirishima and Haruna launch an assault on Yokosuka, breaching her defensive wall, entering the harbor within and laying waste to the human navy. Chihaya employs a number of unconventional tactics to keep the battleships off-balance, but lacking the firepower to pierce their Klein fields, I-401 has to goad them into docking together and charging their supergravity cannon. They fire a torpedo from a remote launcher hidden in the sunken museum ship Mikasa, which passes through the temporary hole in their foe’s field, sinking both ships. Haruna’s mental model barely escapes with Kirishima’s core, and is found unconscious by a human girl.

This week Blue Steel returns to its strengths, serving up its most exciting battle yet, and the I-401’s most improbable victory. Iona is outnumbered 2-1 and outgunned by a large degree, but once again, her human crew nullifies the shortcomings of her specs. The fog battleships seem to have more power than they know what to do with. The aggressive, arrogant Kirishima simply lashes out, getting more and more annoyed when things don’t go her way, and while the calm, analytical Haruna sees some value in human communication, she allows herself to be caught up in her partner’s intensity, and pays dearly for it, understanding in her moment of defeat the true feeling the word “regret” represents.

It’s a real pleasure to watch the underdog I-401 crew poke and prod their superior foes as they navigate the sunken ruins of old Yokosuka, finally playing their trump card at the most opportune moment. It’s a very close shave, but as Captain Haddock says, “All’s well that ends well.” While she’s still afloat, Kirishima’s demonstration of her arsenal makes for an imposing spectacle, even more so when she and Haruna literally part the friggin’ sea, then merge into a single unit (which leads to their downfall, as they also become a single target.) As Chihaya defeats fog ships with Iona, he’s also converting them; being defeated by humans means seeing value in them; value Kongo ignores at her peril.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta – 04

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On an unusually hot spring day, the office has a pool party, after which Yuuhi warns Akina that the Seven Pillars will bloom in a year or less, merging the human and youkai worlds. Hime’s nine-year-old cousin Kohime, who is running for mayor of her town, joins Hime patrol; they’re observed by Kohime’s incumbent opponent. After a party thrown for Kohime at Hime’s house, Akina tells Hime about the Pillars upsetting her. Ao and Touko answer her doorbell and encounter a strange white mass filling the doorway…

Yozakura Quartet dispensed with the pretense and simply devoted nearly half of the episode to a pool party that is nothing more than an opportunity for the animators to draw the girls in swimsuits (and only the girls; the guys curiously elect not to swim, despite the heat). Yeah, you could say it portrayed how sweet life is now compared to what Yuuhi warns is down the pike, but it still seemed overindulgent and a careless use of time considering what’s looming. We also could have done without the new character, a hyperactive nine-year-old who is running for mayor of her town for some reason. We’re not sure what she adds besides shrillness. Less full orchestra, more quartet, please.

The episode wasn’t a total wash, as it did a good job laying out the respective weights both Akina and Hime carry on their shoulders. Akina is staring down the very real possibility of the town being destroyed by the very apparatus his ancestors erected. The pillars will bloom, and may well bloom sooner than expected due to all of the unsavory elements working to make it so. Meanwhile Hime harbors doubts about whether she can ever fill the shoes of her late and universally-beloved granny; she’s shaken by an old man calling her a failure and even more troubled when she hears the truth about the Pillars for the very first time from Akina. They both face tests in the near future, as does this series: can it dig itself out of the hole it’s digging after a promising start?


Rating: 5 (Average)

Kyousougiga – 03

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Koto visits the Kurama temple, lending Shouko her hammer, Aratama, and meeting with Shouko’s assistant Fushimi and the Chief Priest Kurama. In a flashback, Yakushimaru meets the siblings his father created for the first time. Kurama excels at his studies, calligraphy, and woodworking, and his father creates the Mirrored World so Kurama and Yase can visit the capital. Shouko loses her PSP, in a retelling of the second OVA. Meanwhile, Kurama is hopeful the arrival of Koto could lead to the fulfillment of his dream: to see the outside world.

This series is taking events from the earlier OVAs and adding material around them that augments and refines the overall story. It blends events in the present with Koto to events of the distant past with the three siblings, this time from Kurama’s perspective in both timelines. He was clearly designed to be a model older brother; when his siblings sobbed when their parents were suddenly gone, he took up the dual mantles of family head and watchful guardian of the town. He keeps Myoue and Yase in the loop, but he runs things.

Kurama sees Koto, the first-ever visitor to the Mirrored City, as his possible key to the outside world. He envied his brother’s actual humanity; and envies Koto’s as well. He’s pretty much achieved all he can in the Mirrored City; and yearns to leave the drawing and return to the real world he only had the slightest glimpse of as a child. That could have untold ramifications for both worlds, but we really can’t see Kurama as a villain executing a grand evil scheme here. He has just as much right to follow his dreams as Myoue, Yase, or Koto.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Onimonogatari – 01

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Hachikuji Mayoi accompanies Koyomi to his house to retrieve her backpack, but just when they’re about to go to lunch, they both witness a strange orb of “darkness” approaching them. Koyomi and Mayoi jump on his bike and he speeds away, but the darkness gives chase. Ononoki Yotsugi assists by flying them to the abandoned cram school, asking only a kiss in return. When Shinobu wakes up, she tells Koyomi the orb he saw is something she’d dealt with before, over 400 years ago, and that if not dealt with properly, could bring the town to ruin.

The arcs of this season of Monogatari have not unfolded chronologically, so after taking us right to the precipice of Koyomi and Co.’s rematch of Sengoku Nadeko in the last arc, it rewinds to just after the end of the arc before it, when Koyomi and Shinobu had returned from their time-travelling adventures. While we kinda wanted to see what would happen next – and the ‘to be continued” at least teased that we may – we’re going to have to wait. In the meantime, Monogatari has another story to tell. If measured only by the amount of action that took place within it, this was one of the slighter episodes of the second season, not counting the three recap episodes.

But Monogatari arcs always start out this way; stage-setting; piece arrangement. Koyomi’s usual, seemingly uncontrollable depraved behavior towards Mayoi finds a vehicle – literally – in the bicycle chase, during which Mayoi does whatever he orders her to do in the name of safety. But that’s just window dressing. The meat of the story to come once again involves Shinobu, and why not? She’s by far the oldest character, having lived so long we’ve still barely scratched the surface of that long and eventful life, so we’re intrigued to see her account of what transpired four centuries ago, long before any of Koyomi’s exploits.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • This arc takes place at the same time as Nekomonogatari (Shiro), the first arc of the second season. Makes sense, since Koyomi was absent for pretty much all of that.
  • Ononoki admires good muscles, like Matsuoka Gou from Free.
  • We’re not so sure Senjougahara would take kindly to Koyomi kissing not one but two girls in this episode (though one is technically a shikigami and the other a vampire).

Strike the Blood – 04

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Kojou comes back to life, and learns that Asagi is trapped in the Keystone Gate, which is being attacked by Eustach. Yukina allows Kojou to drink her blood so he can control his familiars. They confront Eustach and Astarte at the gate’s lowest level, where a stolen relic belonging to the deacon’s church is being used as Itogami City’s cornerstone. Kojou unleashes his “Arm of Regulus”, weakening Astarte’s shield, which Yukina shatters with her spear, and Eustach is defeated shortly thereafter. Yukina prepares to return to her organization for further orders, but when her spear is sent back repaired, Kojou takes it as a sign her mission as his observer is not over.

The “Right Arm of the Saint” that gave this opening arc its name rightfully belongs to Eustach’s church, and it was an injustice for that holy artifact to be used in the construction of Itogami City. Kojou can’t argue with that. But it’s also clear Eustach went about trying to retrieve the arm in completely the wrong way. Not only did he essentially enslave a young girl to be his shield, he is also perfectly okay with killing a large number of the city’s 560,000 denizens. He also cut Kojou in half. And as we said last week, not finishing off Yukina led to his undoing this week, as Yukina’s blood ensures Kojou can control his powers enough to defeat him.

This episode also shows that Kojou has no qualms about getting up close and personal with Yukina, and how much of this behavior is due to his status as the primogenitor and how much is just him being a guy is a matter still up for debate. Some of his scenes looming on top of an unwilling Yukina (and using her as a “fluffer”) are a tad icky, making him deserving (for once) of the derision all the girls dish out at him later. Of course, Yukina needed his power in check to have any chance against Eustach, and so willingly offers her blood, tying the two even closer together. This was the intent of her superiors all along, as we’d suspected: she was sent not just to be his observer, but his lover.


Rating: 6 (Good)

White Album 2 – 04

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Touma sets to work whipping Haruki into shape, making him practice 10 hours a day at her house until he can play “White Album” without any mistakes. When Setsuna and Takeya join them for a full band practice, they’re delighted by Haruki’s progress. They agree that the second song they’ll play will be an Ogata Rina number, which requires quite a bit of technical guitar playing, but Touma promises Haruki that he’ll can do it, even with just a week to practice. After showering at Touma’s house, Setsuna notices Haruki’s travel kit by the sink, proof he’s been spending the night there.

White Album continues on a safe, steady path, neither embarrassing itself nor knocking any socks off with its earnest, un-ironic storytelling. The more Haruki hangs out with Touma, the closer they seem to come together. With practically the entire school save Haruki not really knowing the true Touma, it’s not surprising that even Touma isn’t quite on the ball about her confidence; in fact, she doesn’t believe she has any talent at all, at least not compared to her famous mom. Like Haruki, she works incredibly hard to maintain her skill level, but when he masters that song, its as if she’d suddenly started to believe anything is possible, which wasn’t the case before.

Of course, Touma’s new-found closeness with Haruki presents a problem: Setsuna likes him too, and looks pained and betrayed when she sees his toothbrush in Touma’s bathroom. Even if in reality nothing’s going on, her mind is sure to race at the possibilities. The scene when Setsuna is flirting with Touma at lunch while his friends look on awkwardly is mirrored when she and Takaya watch Touma laughing at/with Haruki, showing how close they’ve gotten in so short a time. We can see why Touma chose not to bring in Setsuna until Haruki was good enough, but in doing so she may have inadvertently opened a rift in the new band – likely the first of many to come.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Valvrave the Liberator – 15

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The New JIOR crew abandon their crashed ship, which landed not far from the Karlstein Facility, where L-Elf and his former colleagues were “made.” L-Elf comes up with a plan to secure a new means of transport from there. He infiltrates the base with Saki and Akira. One of the child sentries shoots Saki, but she survives due to her contract with Valvrave. L-elf takes the two sentries out, and Saki and Akira possess their bodies. The rest of the crew plants bombs in the tunnels near the base. Marie sneaks into Haruto’s Valvrave, where Pino treats her like an old friend. Kyuuma and Yamada deal with the Dorssian “Ideal Blumes.” Haruto’s role in the plan is interrupted when Marie confronts him about what he is. L-elf shoots her in the head to preserve Haruto’s secrets, but she rises up soon after, unharmed.

Gee, what a coincidence the ship just happens to crash land within walking distance of the compound where L-Elf was created and raised! That aside, he takes full advantage of his knowledge of the place and formulates a plan to get everyone mobile again as soon as possible. As his original infiltration of JIOR early last season proved, it doesn’t matter whether he’s in space or on the ground, L-Elf knows how to get things done, using what he has at his disposal. Fortunately, that includes five Valvrave pilots, who use their body-swapping ability for the first time in a while. It’s pretty upsetting when that kid soldier just shot Saki in the chest, but we knew she’d be fine, even if Akira didn’t.

What was more surprising was that L-Elf was willing to kill Marie to protect the secret of the Valvraves. We had assumed Marie already knew about Haruto’s “curse”, but apparently she was kept out of the loop; more to the point, keeping the Valvraves’ secrets is important enough to L-Elf to warrant shooting her in the friggin’ head to preserve them. Like Saki’s shooting, seeing poor Marie take a bullet was no less upsetting even though we were reasonably certain at some point in her past she too resigned as a human, only she forgot about it. But if she was once a pilot, it stands to reason she could be a pilot again; that is, if she doesn’t become a psychological wreck.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Nagi no Asukara – 04

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Hikari refuses Miuna’s request to help break up his sister and her dad; prejudiced surface dwellers refuse the sea dwellers’ food; Hikari gets in a fight when he suspects they vandalized the Ojoshi-sama. He’s sent home, and Manaka follows; they rescue Miuna’s dad Itaru from drowning and take him home, where Hikari learns he’s a widower; Miuna confesses to ruining Ojoshi-sama. While visitng Uroko, Akari goes over how she met Itaru’s family and wanted to fill the void his late wife Miori left behind. Manaka tells Hikari she wants to start protecting him, and convinces him to apologize to the kids he wrongly accused; the next day he and Manaka get on their knees, and are both forgiven. Kaname catches Miuna’s friend Sayu – the real Ojoshi vandal – and makes her apologize to Hikari.

The focus returns to Hikari this week, as he’s called an octopus on not one but two occasions. The landlubber Sayu means it as a derogatory term, but Manaka uses it more thoughtfully: like Octopi, Hikari tends to “spit out ink” at “unfamiliar fish”. Rather than try to settle problems with the landies, he lashes out at them and jumps to conclusions. It’s a pattern of behavior that was likely to further isolate him at school had someone not stepped in to steer him right, and to his surprise, it’s Manaka. She used to hide behind everyone else, but she’s becoming stronger and more assertive week by week, even if she still cries a lot. Hikari can’t help but attribute at least part of that growth to Tsumugu’s influence, as he certainly didn’t do anything to incite it. Hikari is understandably conflicted about this.

Still, hotheaded chural that he can be, he does ultimately arrive at a detente with the surface-dwellers, and even if they’re not BFFs, they at least understand each other a little more. The balance of this episode filled in the blanks of the Itaru/Miuna/Akari picture. Miuna’s bluish eyes were an early sign that her late mother was indeed a sea-dweller, meaning Miuna faced the same kind of bullying as Hikari and the others, only at a younger age. But Sayu, a surface-dweller, eventually befriended her, admiring her ability – no doubt developed by necessity in a harsh social environment – to not let the abuse of her peers get to her. Miuna only cares about the opinions of people who care about her. At the same time, Akari cares about Miuna and loves her father, but can’t so easily fill the void left by her mother.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • We thought Sayu and Miuna sounded familiar, because they are: we know Sayu’s seiyu as Madoka from Lagrange, and Miuna’s as Captain Marilka from Mouretsu Pirates.
  • Sayu really did a number on that Ojoshi-sama. Ya went too far, kid.
  • Had Itaru succeeded in using his borrowed diving equipment properly, would it have been fair to call his actions “SCUBA-stalking?”
  • What was that about Chisaki saying she’s “big?” ‘Cause she really isn’t. Either a case of skewed body image on her part, or a disconnect between writers and character designers who can only draw ridiculously pretty characters.

Golden Time – 04

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When Kuoko sees Mitsuo hitting on Chinami, she verbally attacks her. Mitsuo and Chinami walk away, leaving Banri with Kouko, who realizes she went too far. Mitsuo meets with Kuoko and Banri at a cafe, where he tells her categorically that he likes Chinami and intends to date her. Kouko’s protestations fall on deaf ears, as Mitsuo leaves her with Banri again. He follows her to a punk concert, where she climbs up on the stage to rage out; whe she falls, Banri catches her. He takes her home, where they talk, leading to Banri confessing to her. The next day Banri stops by his house to look through a box of high school stuff, and finds photos of him with Linda.

Early in this episode Kouko reverted right back to her obsessive possessiveness vis-a-vis Mitsuo, and we were worried about a regression, but on the contrary, Kouko’s character progressed more than ever this week, for which we are very glad. Ultimately, moving on wasn’t possible as long as she harbored a sliver of hope that Mitsuo would be her boyfriend and marry her. Once he utterly rejects her, it’s like a page turning in her life. Once the shock wears off, Kouko realizes that practically everything Mitsuo said to her was true, and she realizes she probably wouldn’t be happy even if he decided to date her out of pity. For the first time in her life, Kouko isn’t living for Mitsuo. So she does what any adrift soul would do: seek sweet solace at a punk show!

It’s on this crucial night that she notices the one who has persistently remained by her side, looking out for her, and when he says one day his original memories could return and overwrite the person he is there and then, she tells him she doesn’t want him to forget about her – which leads to him confessing his feelings for her. It’s a beautiful conversation that picks up on what was said in the woods last week, and there was great relief in hearing Banri pull the trigger right when he should have. The final twist confirms that Linda (not Kouko) knew Banri before his blackout, and may well be his childhood friend. Not an earth-shattering revelation, but a nice additional complication in Banri’s life. We’d been rooting for Linda despite her limited screen time, but now we’re just as engaged in the Kouko route; a testament to the excellent writing.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)