White Album 2 – 03


Haruki’s efforts to convince Touma to join the light music club are ineffective, so Setsuna asks Touma to join her for coffee, then invites both her and Haruki to her house for a meal and to discuss the matter. After eating, Haruki and Touma start bickering, and the evening comes to an abrupt end when Setsuna’s dad forces her to send them home so they can have a family meeting. Before she goes, Touma says she’ll join the club if Setsuna convinces her parents to allow her to sing at the school fair; she does.

Touma Kazusa says no again and again, but we know from the first episode’s cold open (and the OP) that she was going to join the band. It was only a matter of how and when, and we thought this episode was reasonably successful in making those two aspects interesting, if not enthralling. First, the how: Haruki works his butt off to no avail; it isn’t until Setsuna enters the fray that progress is made. Setsuna looks a bit of an airhead next to the tall, prim, composed Touma, but she manages to outmaneuver her in conversation; the moments when Touma doesn’t have an instant response are pretty fun.

Setsuna andTouma aren’t really as different as they look, sound, and interact with family. Both have to deal with reputations thrust upon them with little or no control over them, and both show the world a person different from their true selves. Setsuna trusts Haruki’s insistance that Touma really is a sweet girl, and Touma proves it by making a deal with Setsuna at the perfect time. In the end, Touma has removed her cracked shell and is even smiling. If we wanted to be literal, back at the cafe, she was putting a shitload of sugar in her coffee, so one could conclude she was very sweet on the inside.

Rating:7 (Very Good)

Strike the Blood – 03


Eustach and Astarte retreat and Kojou recovers, but the lightning explosion he created costs billions of yen in damage to the city. Yukina helps him build a case for self-defense, which means finding Eustach, a powerful international criminal. With help from Kojou’s classmate Aiba Asagi, they locate Eustach in an abandoned laboratory. He once again sics Astarte – a homonculus containing an unhatched familiar – on them. She easily tosses Kojou and Yukina aside. Just when Eustach is delivering a killing stroke to Yukina, Kojou steps in front of the axe, which takes his head off.

If the Lion King Organization intended for the fourth primogenitor to be dealt with quickly and decisively, then they may have made a blunder when they chose a teenage girl to observe him. Then again, it’s made clear that, like Eustach with his homonculus girl, Yukina and other girls like her are naught but tools of the organization they serve, and expected to act accordingly. But Yukina isn’t dispassionate. She’s not just her target’s observer and potential executioner anymore. He’s become her savior, her friend…and her crush. Even when Kojou tells her how unstable he is and that he’d totally understand if she decided to eliminate him, she can’t to it.

And it’s not just about thinking he’s dreamy or being grateful for him saving her life. Getting to know him has shown her that he is a good person, worthy of mercy. Kojou causes quite a bit of damage in his self-defense, but it’s a human – Eustach – who is the greater threat, planning to destroy the entire island to get at the gooey “treasure” within. That threat is driven home when Kojou and Yukina barely last ten seconds against Astarte, ending with Kojou’s severed head in the arms of a blood-drenched, stunned Yukina. In classic arrogant villain form, Eustach doesn’t use this opportunity to kill Yukina too, ending any possibility of them coming after him again, but peaces out, sparing her life. You know he’ll regret that later.

Rating: 6 (Good)

Golden Time – 03


The “club” that invited Tada and Kaga to a retreat turns out to be a religious cult. Tada pretends to be interested in order to get Kaga and those who want to leave out of there. However, Kaga stays, and they escape together into the woods. Once they’ve lost their pursuers, they sit down for a rest, both claiming responsibility for getting them into that mess. They end up learning a lot more about each other. They see strange lights ahead of them, and then a flashlight is shone on them, belonging to none other than Linda.

The series continues the practice of placing Tada and Kaga into scenarios common to young adults at college, only with the intensity stepped up. As soon as we saw the “club” members roll up wearing creepy identical tracksuits and snowflake pendants (The Cult of White Album?), we knew Tada and Kaga were in for a long three days and two nights in a remote area with no cell service (There were no cell phones in the original White Album. Hmmm…). We liked how Tada shrewdly used the true story of his post-accident identity loss to stay on the cult’s good side just long enough. Even better, Kaga picked up on his plan and foiled it, not wanting to leave him behind.

The cult adventure doesn’t start out all that pleasant, but ends up being an able vehicle for further cultivating Tada and Kaga’s increasingly intriguing friendship. Tada likes Kaga, but Kaga remains very much devoted to Mitsuo (fittingly absent this week). Kaga’s happiness is more important to Tada than winning her from Mitsuo (at the moment), so he tells her what she wants to hear, while suggesting she modify her approach with Mitsuo. The more interesting part was when Tada tells Kaga the very frightening story of how his past self is basically gone. But Kaga’s reactions made us wonder: did she already know that past Tada? If so, that opens a whole new can of worms.

Rating: 8