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)

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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.