End-of-Month Rundown – November 2013

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Four weeks later things have shuffled around a bit, and by the looks of their average ratings, we’re dealing with no less than five Certified-Great Fall shows so far, plus Monogatari, a carryover Summer show. Below that lofty group, things drop off a bit.

11. Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova 8/12  (6.375) – Never thought we’d see, let alone enjoy, a battleship avatar beach barbecue preceeding a decisive battle…but we did

10. Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta 8/13  (6.625) – This show simply isn’t as good as we thought it would be, but it still has its charms, chief among them the Akina/Hime dynamic

9. White Album 2 8/12  (7.250) – The show moves beyond the climactic concert in which the guy and two girls put on a hell of a show. It’s when Setsuna makes her move when things start getting interesting

8. Kakumeiki Valvrave 2nd Season 8/-  (7.375) – Literally bringing the main cast down to Earth was a good move, giving us a glimpse of Dorssian society while giving everyone something to do to reach their goals, most prominently L-elf. And then it all blows up in his face! This show is not afraid to kill off seemingly crucial characters

7. Nagi no Asukara 8/26  (7.625) – It seems cruel that a bunch of middle schoolers have as many problems as  the ones in this show, but they do, and it’s hard to watch, in a good way. Because they’re still kids, not only are they unable to adequately express their feelings for each other, but their lives are still by and large controlled by their parents

6. Monogatari Series: Second Season 21/- (including 1 recap)  (8.000) – Shinobu’s soliloquy chronicling her past was the highlight of the series and the Fall season in general, and Hachikuji Mayoi’s sendoff was very affecting. Now we return to the Nadeko predicament, which doesn’t start flashily but shows great promise

5. Kyoukai no Kanata –  9/13  (8.111) – Whether it’s a comedic standalone episode, Mirai and her late friend’s sister dueling, the introduction of the titular “Beyond the Boundary” and Izumi’s machinations, and Mirai’s choice to kill Akihito while she still can, “KyouKan” has proven it can tell whatever kind of story it wants with confidence, style, and precise craft

4. Samurai Flamenco 8/22  (8.125) – We were wrong about this show staying firmly grounded in reality, but ever since it abruptly unveiled King Torture and his army of evil/goofy monsters, we haven’t had cause to complain; higher stakes mean Masayoshi and Mari teaming back up. As they hit their respective professional strides, so is the show

3. Kill la Kill 9/25  (8.333) – Kill la Kill remains insanely fun to watch, but its overarching story remains coherent. We really liked Mako’s family getting rich quick culminating in a badass Mako fighting Ryuuko, and are really enjoying Satsuki’s Elite Four getting fleshed out

2. Golden Time 9/12  (8.444) – Only a relatively slow start is keeping this show from owning the top spot of the season. It’s carrying the most momentum into December, with a full cast of interesting, sympathetic adult characters you can’t help but root for. Right now, it can do no wrong

1. Kyousougiga 6/10  (8.500) – The first five episodes took the material from the arcane OVAs and put whole new spin on it. In retrospect, those OVAs seem to have been made intentionally enigmatic to entice viewers for the TV show, which reveals some but not all answers in a satisfying and absorbing way. It was also great to get a live action tour of real-life sites around Kyoto that inspired the show

Valvrave the Liberator – 20

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Haruto and the rest of the team that went to earth successfully stop the Phantom headed to Module 77 and return to a hero’s welcome, as Shoko has been gathering support and media attention. She has also arranged an international summit, where ARUS and other powers have pledged to condemn Dorssia’s actions. L-elf has isolated himself in a cargo hold. When the summit starts, the Dorssian Fuhrer commences a broadcast announcing they have Rukino Saki in custody. Cain stabs her through the heart and everyone watches her revive and heal, proving she isn’t human.

Last season we weren’t shy in expressing our reservations about the viability of an independent country ruled for and by a bunch of high schoolers. We’d spent so much time with the Earth-bound team recently that we nearly forgot the bulk of the country was still on the Moon, trying not to wear out their welcome and forging alliances. Haruto also forgot that Shoko and the others were fighting while he was otherwise occupied. It’s a shock to see the fruit of his labors in the form of tearful family reunions and hard-hitting media interviews by journalist who have dealt with his naive sort before, who make him wonder if he really is tilting at windmills.

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Kyuuma also tells Haruto he’ll go mad if he tries to fix all the myriad problems currently on his plate, and should enjoy life while he can; for tomorrow, everything could be over. Haruto shows a glimmer of reception to that, as he’s well aware he’s running himself ragged trying to do everything when he can’t. There’s no more powerful reminder of the result of that path than poor L-elf, who executed his plan all the way to the end but ended up losing the most important thing in the world to him. Now he’s lost, inconsolable, and New JIOR is immediately worse off for it, as Dorssia proves they can fight a P.R. war with the best of them.

Now that the secret of the Valvrave pilots is essentially out, New JIOR will likely find themselves standing alone, and all of Shoko’s diplomatic work blowing up in her face. That unfortunate and sudden reversal of fortune is the Council’s doing, as they’re tired of these children and want them out of the way. Even if L-elf was 100% back on his game, the fact remained they left Saki behind. And almost as a cruel self-rebuttal to that horrible music video the JIORans made in more innocent times, the show has Saki viciously stabbed through the heart on live TV to an audience of hundreds of millions. Valvrave does not mess around.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)
)