Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova – 06

blue61

Haruna creates a Makie decoy and distracts the human soldiers while Kirishima (still in a stuffed bear) protects the real Makie. After her contact with Makie, Haruna finds she isn’t able to kill the soldiers, so attacks them non-lethally. This drains her energy, and the decoy dissipates. The soldiers find Makie and Kirishima and open fire, but Haruna shields them in time, becoming pinned down herself. She pleads for someone to save them, and Iona and the I-401 arrive to do just that.

After last week’s fiasco, we approached this episode in a bit of a sour mood and with much trepidation. Could Blue Steel manage to pull out of this tailspin? Things were looking grim in the first minutes, with Makie’s lame dying creator-dad breaking out this gem:

You were created as a puppet. And yet, I came to care for you. And now, you are attempting to form a bond with the enemies of humanity. How ironic.

It’s not ironic, it’s just freaking stupid. Anyway, we weren’t about to let this show break our spirits and defeat us, any more than Haruna was going to let those army dudes lay a hand on her dear new friend. So we decided to accentuate the positives. Fortunately, there were far more than we anticipated.

blue62

First of all, as the episode progressed we actually bought into Haruna’s sudden friendship with Makie. She’s Fog after all, so a day of contact is apparently enough for her to form an intense bond with a human, to the point she fights with everything she’s got, but stops herself from killing. All her amassed data and observations led to that bond and the development of emotions, which end up circumventing her Fog directives. There’s also a nice symmetry to Kirishima getting caught up in Haruna’s new-found compassion, just as Haruna got caught up in Kirishima’s sabre-rattling in the naval battle.

Secondly, there was no shortage of “Fuck Yeah!” moments throughout: From Haruna stepping out into the hall to face off with the soldiers, to all of her myriad bullet-deflecting and gun-melting, helicopter-killing tactics. Ridiculous as it was, watching Teddy-Kirishima kick ass was still hilariously awesome to behold. And Iona’s timely arrival and subsequent pwnage of the soldiers—irrespective of her past beef with her Fog sisters—was also most satisfying. This episode did much to assuage the grief last week’s stoked; for the moment, the series seems to be back on track.

7_very_good
Rating:7 (Very Good)

Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta – 06

yoza6

Akina and Kyousuke are beaten back by Shinozuka, but Shidou, Touka and Ao rescue them in Shinou’s car. Unable to leave town, Kotoha conjures a railway gun and fires it at the Tokyo Tower, destroying the anti-youkai field. Rested enough to fight, Hime relieves Akina, takes out Shinozuka, and and along with a revived Kyousuke, fights off the numerous lizards their opponent is summoning. When the old storekeeper watches Hime protect her shop, he blows it up, revealing the “Dragon Vein” from which Hime is able to draw the Dargon Lance Sakanade.

We carried lofty expectations into this payoff episode after last week got all the game pieces into place. In the end, this episode didn’t quite meet them. Despite some truly inspired and redonkulous moments of action (Kotoha’s awesome railway gun; Kyousuke hitting a lizard with a telephone pole like a batted ball; Hime’s sundry acrobatics), and some lovely isolated moments (the flashback with Hime andJuri catching the KIshis; Akina grasping Hime’s scarf) the episode suffered from bouts of what we’ll call “Shounen Battle Paradox”, in which a battle actually hinders its own momentum with too many escalations in the combat, thus stretching things out when a shorter battle would’ve had more potency. Take the old bad guy (whose name still escapes us) helping the mayor: He creates giant lizards that Hime and Kyousuke quickly dispatch; then he just makes another batch. Tactical genius, this guy is not.

A smarter villain would’ve retreated as soon as the anti-youkai field dropped, yet he stays put. The battle gets a bit too tag-team happy, with someone showing up just in the nick of time to someone else. And the entire sequence with the old man and the giant crane that pops out of his shop—that just didn’t make a lick of sense to us. Kotoha’s toying around with giant machinery makes sense—she’s a conjurer—we don’t know what this guy’s deal is. He’s just there so he can blow up his shop (inches from where Hime was—a lil’ warning would’ve been nice, geezer!) and show Hime the next escalation in the battle, when she pulls the real Dragon Lance out of the wreckage. The last flaw that keeps this Part II from living up to the potential of Part I? The fact there’s a Part III next week.


Rating: 6 (Good)