Pupa – 04

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Introducing Maria: the viral researcher who dresses like a witch and has no qualms about her entire staff being killed when Utsutsu, who had been eaten by Yume, wakes up in one piece, alive and not well. Maria confirms that the siblings’ affliction is a virus called Pupa, and she’s eager to continue “researching” them. With this tidbit-episode, the world of Pupa expands to include science, conspiracy, and potential persecution from the likes of Maria.

Utsutsu has vowed not to repeat his father’s sins and protect Yume, but preserving their “normal life” will require him to resort to abnormal measures, namely let Yume feed off him and only him. But even if they manage to make it work, they’re only upholding the illusion of normalcy. In reality, there’s absolutely nothing normal about them, nor will there be unless they can find the cure. Something tells us Maria isn’t in a hurry to find one.


Rating: 6 (Good)

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Sakura Trick – 04

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As it turns out, Yuu managed to convince Mitsuki that she tripped and fell on Haruka. If that sounds like a cop-out or delay of the inevitable, it helps to remember that this show does its best to avoid protracted conflicts or drama. Instead, it prefers to focus on the little “mini-dramas” that are always prevalent in loving relationships (regardless of gender) in which separation of feet can feel like miles, or hours of being apart can feel like days.

Haruka stresses out whenever Yuu gets near another girl, but Yuu is always there at the end to assure her there’s nothing to fear. We liked how Haruka admitted that she liked how she and Yuu were different heights, and how Yuu was briefly “taller” than her while sitting on her lap. It’s little details like that which prove the show isn’t simply interested in cheap yuri fanservice, but in fully and carefully illustrating why Haruka loves Yuu so much and vice versa.

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Of course, Yuu’s hasty trip excuse wasn’t all that effective, and ever since, Mitsuki has been suspicious and interrogatory,even conscripting Kaede and Yuzu to spy on them for her. Acknowledging that going behind their friends’ back is wrong, they observe the couple anyway, but they show a sort of unconscious loyalty by delivering a crap report back to Mitsuki. We may see Haruka and Yuu making out all the time, but they’ve typically been careful to do it in seclusion; their only slip-up involving Mitsuki’s walk-in. They also rely on a bit of luck, which is what happens when they’re invited out for fireworks by Kaede.

When Kaede is nowhere to be found and lots are drawn, Haruka thinks a test of courage is afoot, and it’s sweet to see her fantasy comes true when a frightened Yuu turns to her for relief. Of course, the one inadvertently scaring Yuu turns out to be Mitsuki, who was trying to spy on them again but got caught up in the innate creepiness of her dark arboreal surroundings. It’s here when Haruka offers a supportive hand to her, and she realizes Haruka is actually a very kind, caring, person. So much so, in fact, that Mitsuki seems to be involuntarily developing a crush on her.

7_very_goodRating: 7 (Very Good)

Kill la Kill – 16

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Leave it to Kill la Kill to earnestly, regretfully inform us from the start that this is the recap episode we’ve been dreading, only to blaze through said recap in less than two minutes, occupying only the cold open before a brand new (and quite spiffy) OP. It’s a great little psychout, and one more reminder Kill la Kill isn’t just kicking ass telling its own story, but also an ongoing commentary of anime in general.

To whit: this week we learn the deep dark secrets of life fibers and kamui, and Ryuuko is revealed as the “Chosen One” who will curtail the Kiryuuins’ seemingly infinite ambitions. But Ryuuko isn’t the only chosen one here; so is Satsuki, who surprisingly undergoes an education parallel to Ryuuko’s: here we were thinking she was in the know about everything (she certainly didn’t hesitate to make Ryuuko think that was the case), but she wasn’t.

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It’s fitting then, that it’s confirmed to both her and Ryuuko at the same time what they had already suspected: each girl is the savior and hope of their respective faction, which makes them diametrically opposed enemies.That deep dark truth? In short, Life Fibers are aliens. They helped humanity evolve to its present level of physical and mental sophistication, and then, like creator gods, they simply sat back and admired what they had wrought. Like farmers, they awaited the fattening of their herds, for Life Fibers use humans as food.

As such, humans didn’t choose clothing, clothing chose them – a concept as absurd as it is awesome. Kiryuuin Ragyo re-initiated contact and has been essentially doing their bidding, distributing dormant fibers to the population on a global scale. Now possessed of this knowledge and their expected roles in the great battle to come, Ryuuko and Satsuki react in appropriately opposite ways.

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When the hatch to the helicopter closed, Satsuki collapsed from exhaustion and her kamui had to be sedated. Her activities have taken a far greater toll than Ryuuko or anyone beneath her know, but she refuses to give in to fatigue or pain. And yet even after her mother essentially fondles her in the bath (what is it with rich people?), and even though there are times when Satsuki seems taken aback by the things she’s learning, she doesn’t (outwardly) hesitate in answering her call to duty.

Meanwhlie, Ryuuko says “fuck that.” Because she doesn’t want to fight? Because she can’t handle that level of responsibility? No: because she doesn’t want her friend Senketsu to be forced into fighting his own kind just because Matoi Isshin made him good at it. At the end of the day, the only one who chose her to be the “Chosen One” was her dad, just as the only one who chose Satsuki was her mom. But we’re certain Senketsu will choose to fight with Ryuuko.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Ryuuko’s dad used to work for Ragyo. This is just speculation, but were they once lovers too, making Ryuuko and Satsuki sisters? It would certainly be fitting.
  • Ryuuko’s dad also founded Nudist Beach, which has an actual nudist beach underground. Neat!
  • Mako isn’t going to stay behind while Ryuuko fights…though she’s not quite resolved to go nude.
  • The new ED is very Mako-centric (not a bad thing), and is what we imagine is what the inside of her head looks like. Kinda like how Kenneth in 30 Rock sees everyone as Muppets.

Weekly ED – Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta

The sepia reminds us of the opening credits to Castle in the Sky; a good start. The musical track—Kaze ga Shitteru (風が知ってる;The Wind Knows)” by Akai Kōen, immediately makes a good impression, contrasting the march-like beat and sharply distorted guitars with soft, supple vocals.

The imagery is straightforward but effective; Kal and Claire on a bike as war explodes above them. A sudden cut to the endless blue skies, where they share another embrace; perhaps a dream, as in the end we return to Kal on his bike in the sepia world, only this time he’s alone.

End-of-Month Rundown – January 2014

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It’s been a cold, snowy, icy January in these parts (We’d never experienced a 4°F (-16°C) morning before this year…Verdict: Not Fun!), but we’ve managed to stay warm with a combination of layers, space heaters, blankets, cats, cocoa, and most importantly, anime.

We’ve got ourselves yet another baker’s dozen of shows to watch (to quote Nobunaga: “It was inevitable!”), though Pupa is really only a fifth of a show so far, so let’s call it a regular dozen, with our reviews typically bunching around Thursday and Sunday.

Other news:

  • You’ve probably noticed some slight design changes to the site. The theme is bluish at the moment, representing Winter. We plan on switching up the colors as the seasons change.
  • Fresh Org Charts for currently-running shows will continue to trickle out as we get a better picture of the shows’ relationships.
  • We’ve received a new (for us, at least) Ghibli movie in the mail, so we’ll be writing a review of that at some point.
  • Thanks to you, dear readers, January 2014 was our best month ever for views and visitors, surpassing December 2013, our previous best. Thank you as always for tolerating our inane drivel!

Now, on to the January rankings:

13. Pupa

Like a moth emerging from its cocoon, Pupa is a slow burn, with its story coming in weekly four-minute trickles, but so far our patience has been rewarded as the episodes have gotten progressively better…and weirder. We still wish they were full-length, as there’s nothing else we’re watching this season that’s as dark or brooding, but it is what it is.

Cumulative Rating: 5.000 (3 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 5.22

12. Samuai Flamenco (second cour)

Samurai Flamenco has been straying further and further from our ideal of the show, which was a hero with strong convictions and modest beginnings fighting human beings in the real world. It was less about the “heroing” and more about how Masayoshi’s life and the lives of his friends changed and evolved. With Torture and From Beyond, the show has simply been replicating well-tred hero scenarios with little or no irony or “catch.” It’s not a send-up of Power Rangers, it’s just Power Rangers. It doesn’t help that in a season full of true lookers, when it comes time to execute large-scale battles, the show comes up dreadfully short in the production values department. We’re hopeful the last eight episodes will be watchable, but we’re not sure it will ever return to the quality of the pre-Torture/Beyond episodes.

Cumulative Rating: 6.333 (3 of 11 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 6.94

11. Sakura Trick

The Love Lab of the Winter season wouldn’t do Sakura Trick justice. Love Lab was much better than we thought it would be: with surprisingly funny and often touching stories about the not-so-effective romantic strategizing of a group of girls inexperienced with love. But Love Lab never had any actual romance between two people in it, something Sakura Trick thankfully provides. Also thankfully, the central romance is more or less established right at the start and is mutual (not one-sided) with the couple taking a step or two forward each week, sparing us the stress and drama of two hearts failing to come together before doing so, and the show effectively captures the thrill of high school romance.

Cumulative Rating: 6.667 (3 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.59

10. Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta

While not nearly as beautiful or grand in design as Last Exile, unlike that show there’s a far more effective romance in play right from the get-go, the sweet, budding love between Kal and Claire. A quarter into the series, we the audience now know who the two truly are, and Claire is reasonably sure who Kal is, but we’ll see what the show is made of when it Claire’s fears are confirmed and Kal learns the truth of who Claire is. Does his thirst for revenge against Nina Viento outweigh his love for Claire? The show is doing a good job keeping us in the dark (along with the students) about what exactly is on the horizon, which will also play a factor in whether they have a future together, or at all.

Cumulative Rating: 7.250 (4 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.37

9. Nisekoi

Guy and Girl from warring clans are forced into a relationship to keep the peace: it’s a very old story, but we feel Shaft’s new take on it is well-executed and full of style. Our feelings for Onodera, the girl stuck in the middle, however, are mixed. On the one hand, she’s the victim of terrible luck as her love interest is taken out of play, and she still doesn’t know it’s all fake. On the other hand, she’s had multiple opportunities (even in three episodes) to make her feelings for Raku plain. She’s her own worst enemy right now, and the more she hesitates, the closer and less-forced Chitoge and Raku’s relationship will get.

Cumulative Rating: 7.333 (3 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 8.05

7. (tie) Nobunaga the Fool

In the best tradition of Satelight series like Macross Frontier and Aquarion Evol comes Nobunaga the Fool, in which mecha are blended with both Japanese and European history in an absurd but incredibly fun and entertaining fandango that feels like Final Fantasy with characters borrowed from real-world history. There are some demerits: Nobu can be a chauvanist dick at times, while Jeanne Kaguya d’Arc (not sure why the Kaguya is in there), while initially promising, has so far been sidelined and stripped of her femininity, at least while they remain in feudal Japan. We do like da Vinci’s role as the genius who defected from his home (a la Einstein) to provide the East with potentially decisive technology, as well as the nature of the tarot cards he carries around.
Cumulative Rating: 7.500 (4 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 6.99

7. (tie) Noragami

It didn’t take long for this stylish and witty supernatural new series from Bones to win us over. Having Kamiya Hiroshi voicing the lead role a down-on-his-luck minor god with big plans is a good start. Iki Hiyori is equally fun to watch as the human girl who suddenly finds herself outside her body with a long ethereal tail. Watching her embrace her new powers (and go too far with them), while watching Yato prove his detractors wrong with flashes of badassdom, are all sources of Noragami’s appeal. Iwasaki Taku’s eclectic soundtrack is icing on the cake; a more focused effort than his work in Gatchaman Crowds.

Cumulative Rating: 7.500 (4 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 8.02

6. Sekai Seifuku:Bouryaku no Zvezda

Zvezda is cute. Not sickeningly-nyan-nyan-cute, but pleasantly impish-cute. The threats involved in the titular secret organization “conquering” various things while moving towards the ultimate goal of conquering the world are not particularly terrifying. In fact, Jimon Asuta, having reached irreconcilable differences at home, has found a home in Zvezda, and settled into a job as their cook. We love cooking, so we think it’s a pretty sweet deal, especially when you get to run around with people in ridiculous outfits doing outrageous things. There’s something quite charming about such a powerful organization being led by a tween with very simple, possibly naive, ultimately pure views about the workings of the world, especially when she backs it up with an as-yet-unexplained power. The only downside is Asuta presently finds himself on the opposing side of his classmate and crush.

Cumulative Rating: 7.667 (3 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.33

5. Witch Craft Works

We’ll admit to being Harry Potter fans, or for that matter, fans of any fiction in which there’s a subset of people with amazing powers living among those who don’t, with their own laws, conflicts, and ways of life. We’re also fans of Kiki’s Delivery Service (which predates HP by quite a bit) for it’s portrayal of a world where witches are not only accepted within society, but valued and esteemed for the services they provide for their communities. Witch Craft Works tends more towards the Kiki side of things, though unlike Kiki there’s a well-defined faction of “bad/evil witches” the good witches are constantly trying to keep from blowing up the world. Another aspect of Kiki we loved: she’s such a tough, independent young lady, but not perfect. In shows with a good/evil conflict, we’ll never take for granted those that give the ladies equal or greater power than the guys. Where this show further excels is in making it plain that while he lacks physical or tactical strength and is protected by women, Honoka is neither a moron or a coward, which makes him worth protecting.
Cumulative Rating: 7.750 (4 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.37

4. Golden Time (second cour)

To his credit, Tada Banri is moving on with his life with Kaga Kouko, leaving whatever past he might/ve had with Linda behind. His ghostly past self, and the show for that matter, are determined not to let him do so easily. We balked a bit at the “mechanics” of Ghost Banri’s interference, but this cour we see it on full display: causing mishap after mishap until he went far further than he wanted and almost killed everyone, which led to a “wake-up call” for Banri and Koko. We also like how Linda has apparently moved on with MItsuo of all people, further complicating Ghost Banri’s plans. The lack of a body is definitely an issue, but time itself is his enemy as well. He’s taken stern measures and didn’t like the taste it left in his mouth. Is his cause, and the cause of all Banri+Linda supporters, doomed to fail?

Cumulative Rating: 8.000 (4 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.94

2. (tie) Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren

The sequel picks up where the Fall 2012 show left off, in which its characters seek to find the proper balance between normal life and the world of magic and fantasy that exists only in their heads. This is an important distinction, as there are no real supernatural elements in Chu-2-koi, only elaborate delusions. The new series brings a new rival for Rikka in Satone and new challenges for Rikka and Yuuta as they determine the full nature and pace of their relationship. It’s quickly established that neither will be conventional. Lao-Tzu said, the flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long. Rikka and Yuuta may not be an out-of-control Bunsen burner, but their mutual affection and chemistry is still very evident, and their interactions are always fun to watch.

Cumulative Rating: 8.500 (4 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 8.13

2. (tie) Space Dandy

Space Dandy is one of those rare, vital shows that does something a little bit (or wildly) different each week rather than settle into a routine, and so far whatever theme it’s tackled, from space chases to culinary journeys to touching life stories to zombies, it’s hit every one way out of the ballpark. We may not have the slightest clue what will go on in the next episode, but we know it will be good, because the people who made Space Dandy know what they’re doing, and furthermore, are having a ton of fun doing it. As with Nobu, we wish Dandy was a less of a dick to women, but at least there’s Scarlett to beat the shit out of him if he crosses a line.

Cumulative Rating: 8.500 (4 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.49

1. Kill la Kill (second cour)

Getting back to flames, in the case of Kill la Kill, Lao Tzu’s saying doesn’t apply: this show keeps burning furiously like an eternal flame continuously replenished by the hidden power of the universe. Ryuuko’s odyssey from face-down in the dirt with just one scrap of Senketsu to a return to fighting form stronger than ever was enough to earn the legitimate respect of Satsuki herself, and we dig Ryuuko’s realignment of priorities from seeking revenge for her father’s death, which was never going to end well, to stopping evil and opposing the regime of fear in which Satsuki seeks to wreathe the world. Ryuuko has often played the role of  pawn and guinea pig in Satsuki’s machinations, but Ryuuko’s recent battle to a draw suggests that may be coming to an end.

Cumulative Rating: 8.667 (3 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 8.02

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – 04

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We’ve always automatically assumed Dekomori Sanae was our least favorite member of the (whatever it’s called) club in Chu2Koi, but it’s episodes like this that remind us that she comes out ahead of Tsuyuri Kumin, who has an even more irritating voice and does little but wisecrack and sleep. Meanwhile Sanae is a far more complete character with conflicts and useful skills. She’s actually an extremely capable, resourceful, charismatic young lady. She also happens to worship Mori Summer like a god.

When Satone of all people confirms that Nibutani Shinka is in fact the real Mori Summer (having met her in person before), Sanae’s enmity towards her evaporates instantly. After so many brutal battles, watching her not only put less stress on her desus but act civilly and submissively towards her former nemesis is a refreshing change in behavior. She also confirms what a competent right-hand woman she can be in politics as Shinka seeks the student council presidency. Sanae’s newfound deference to her couldn’t have been better timed.

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So where did it all go wrong? Likely conditioned by so many past ambushes, it’s likely Shinka had a bit of whiplash when she suddenly found herself in the regular presence of a normal, friendly Sanae. But Sanae wasn’t really acting “normal”, she was just being nice to her as opposed to hostile. The Chuunibyou was still there, under the surface, and Shinka grew less strict about being called Mori Summer, then, as a reward for all of Sanae’s hard work (and beautifully-made cookies!), she whipped out the Mori Summer garb one more time. And that was the final nail in the coffin for Shinka’s candidacy.

Being in the presence of her exalted master sparked Sanae’s zealotry. She couldn’t help but modify her speech to honor Mori Summer, and using the one photo Shinka let her take. Mind you, Sanae wasn’t being vindictive (though for a moment we thought she was, but she’s not that mean). No, she’s just really into Mori Summer, and in her Chuuni-tweaked state, thought announcing it to the whole school was a good idea. Shinka freaked, which tipped off Sanae that maybe she was a fake after all, and just like that we’re back to the status quo ante, which is a bit of a shame, because we actually didn’t mind Shinka and Sanae getting along.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Shinka’s impression of Yuuta as Dark Flame Master is pretty good.
  • Yuuta utterly fails to properly distract Sanae so Shinka can talk to Sanae’s class without incident. Sanae hides in the lectern where she speaks, leading to some hilarious changes in Shinka’s voice patterns.
  • Shinka kinda stole Sanae away from Rikka this week, but we liked how Yuuta stepped in to participate in the blue moon ritual thing.
  • Sanae is apparently popular in her year, which suggests she suppresses her chuunibyou most of the time while around her peers. It’s another testament to her intelligence that she can live comfortably in both worlds, which ironically makes her more like Shinka than Rikka or Satone.

Golden Time – 16

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This episode was called “Wake-Up Call.” There really couldn’t have been a more appropriate title. There were many such calls, starting with Banri waking up in time to stop the car before it went off a cliff. The last thing he sees in his dream? Linda visiting him at the hospital, at a time when he didn’t remember who she was. That was a desperately tragic scene, one in which Linda was powerless to set right Banri’s misunderstanding about her feelings, such that even a second-long flash back to it in the episode’s opening moments was devastating, especially under the circumstances.

That was only a taste of the emotional devastation to follow, starting with the mortified look on Koko’s face after the accident, followed by a long period of her being incommunicado, even to Banri, who eventually decides to visit her house, leading to an amazing scene that was simultaneously Banri and Koko’s first real fight (and making-up), and another wake-up call to Banri about the kind of person his girlfriend is.

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First of all, a couple things about how the aftermath was handled. First of all, it infantilized everyone involved, who are, lest we forget, college students; young adults, not children (yes, even the button-cute Chinami). But that’s pretty much what happens when you get in an accident: you feel helpless and humiliated…you know, like kids. Not that we can excuse Koko’s father’s frankly over-the-top slap to Koko’s face. Forget child abuse, that was battery, and we’re not sure we’d have stood by if we were one of the friends present.

To do such a cold, horrible thing to your child when you knew full well her fragile emotional state smacks of sadism. After that slap we kinda washed our hands of her dad, even when he makes nice with Banri and is followed by that damn cat (What, cat’s can’t be bad judges of character?) But then Koko works herself up into a post-fight frenzy when her dad walks in on her and Banri (they were just hugging), and he calmly tells Banri to make him ramen. Banri returns to see the dad (and cat) sitting there seeing Koko off to sleep, looking very fatherly. It doesn’t forgive that awful slap, but it would appear he does love his daughter.

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We won’t deny the fact that Koko has exhibited a short fuse, and when she melts down she melts down. Still, the self-hating things she spouts under her sheets are heartbreaking, and we’re right there with Banri in not quite knowing how best to resolve the matter with words. Suddenly Banri and the others’ talk about it being everyone’s fault—which made perfect sense at the time, but Koko thinks it’s laughably ridiculous. We noted how  many times both of them asked what the other was talking about: sometimes it seems like different languages are being spoken.

Afraid that if he doesn’t handle this talk right, he may never see Koko again (a very real possibility, considering this show), he tries everything he can to stay in the room and try to talk Koko down, even bringing up reset buttons, which leaves him wide open for Koko’s Pillows of Truth: He’s allowed to reset his life and abandon everyone from the old one, but no one else is? It’s a fair question, and Banri doesn’t help matters by bringing up the fact Koko insisted he give up on his past, no sir!

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She thought she had to do that, so that she wouldn’t lose him. She’s feared all along and her new dreams confirm it: that he’ll leave her someday; cut her out like he cut out Linda-senpai. Perhaps we read Koko’s look at Banri in the car all wrong. Maybe she wasn’t mortified by her stupidity, but dejected that even though Banri said he’d stay by her side and keep her awake, in the end he fell asleep, retreating to his past in his dreams. He left her to drive alone.

We’re probably reading too much into that particular scene, but it makes sense that Koko would read too much into everything Banri says and does, knowing his past. An accident changed him forever, and while the car was a close call, she fears the next accident will take him away from her. But she can’t think that way. Even if her fears are as clear and official-looking as the road signs telling her to get out of the car, she should listen to the voice of the one she loves telling her to stay in the car and hang in there, because that’s what he’s going to do no matter what.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Linda and Past Banri sit out this episode. We knew we’d be getting less Linda once Banri cut her off, but we hope to see her again soon. As for Past Banri, well, we were kinda glad he didn’t show his face after all the trouble he caused. That’s right: this was really all his fault. Damn ghost!
  • Our hears sank when Chinami revealed she was bleeding; we assumed the worst and thought she bit her tongue off. Luckily it was just a busted lip.
  • Nana whacks Banri in the head with a baguette and tells him to get the fuck over whatever it is he’s pissed about, because she’s sick of dealing with his drama. Nana is the best.
  • Another lesson Banri (and we) learn: no matter how crazy he (or we) think Koko is, she’s crazier, but so is Banri. Both are wounded souls, but we think they can find comfort and happiness in each other.
  • Banri calling to Koko to resolve her bad dream was a beautiful little closing moment, and sleeping Koko’s little “mm-hmm” was damned adorable.

Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta – 04

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With Kal and Claire lost at sea and a worried Ariel waiting at the air base for his return, there’s not a lot for anyone to do in the present but wait out the storm…and think about the past! We have to credit the show for giving us an unforced, logical vehicle for conveying a good amount of backstory. The episode gave us fresh insights into several characters and built up interest in the events to follow, while being entertaining in its own right.

Ariel’s friends stay by her side as she waits, so she tells them how her dad came home one day with this blond kid and announced she and her older sisters had a stepbrother. Not surprisingly, Ariel is initially unaccepting (especially as he’s exactly one day older than her) but eventually finds a place in her heart for him, as proven by her intense concern for him in the present and rush of emotion when he returns safe and sound.

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Kal certainly couldn’t ask for a better person to be stranded with then the girl he likes. The storm looks pretty precarious, but eventually the seas calm, the two fall in the drink trying to drain the dinghy and have to strip, and even snuggle up for warmth when night comes, with only the occasional bout of embarrassment. For her part, Claire also seems to enjoy having Kal as her fellow castaway-for-a-night, at least until he picks up the story where Ariel left off, revealing more details about himself in hopes of learning more about Claire in return. But the more Claire learns about Kal, the more worried she gets as she connects the dots.

Kal is looking more and more like the crown prince of Balsteros rumored to have snuck aboard Isla for revenge against Nina Viento. When they return to home and Claire quickly conveyed to her manor where maids strip her of her flight suit and transform her into Nina Viento, we’re left unsure whether she’s upset at the prospect of Kal being the prince because of how it will affect their friendship, or if she’ll feel compelled to kill the last “wicked” la Hire in order to complete the revolution. In any case, Kal is right about he and Claire being alike in at least one way: both are hiding their true identities from the other.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

 

Witch Craft Works – 04

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Takamiya Honoka’s innate magical power is so great that when he’s in Kagari’s proximity, she’s virtually invincible. This begs the question: why hadn’t Honoka ever been attacked while Kagari wasn’t around? They’re close, but they’re hardly inseparable. This episode answers that question, both for us and the Tanpopo-led Tower Witches who make another ill-fated attempt to attack Honoka: someone else is protecting him. Namely, his little sister Kasumi (a very sharp, indignant performance by Kayano Ai).

In hindsight, we should’ve known Kasumi would step out of the shadows and margins of the frame and have a bigger presence, but we didn’t think it would be this fast or this big. Frankly, we liked the idea of keeping her in stealth-stalker mode for a few more episodes, but the whole reason she was doing that turns out to be because Kagari was stepping on her toes by hanging out with Honoka on a weekend. Kasumi is a jealous, possessive imouto who is resolved to protect her brother, who while slightly taller is far weaker in the magical tactics department.

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Faced with the intolerable prospect of more of her precious time with her beloved brother being sapped away by the Princess, Kasumi takes action, subjecting Honoka to a tense bathroom interrogation, then (successfully) guilt-tripping him by mentioning she’s being picked on by the masses at school upset with his closeness to said Princess. But when Tanpopo’s crew distract Kagari, it’s up to Kasumi to save Honoka, arriving atop a gargantuan stuffed bear. Tanpopo counters with a giant rabbit, and a huge, silly fight ensues, resulting in much destruction of property, but ultimately not as fun as last week’s broom ride.

Yet again, the baddies look like hapless fools, with two exceptions: Chronoire, low on mana after her first encounter with the “King and Queen”, smartly uses Tanpopo’s crew as pawns to keep the pressure on, and later collects all 30-odd Tower witches in town for a powwow. All the while, Tanpopo’s crew’s boss, Medusa, has escaped from SuperMax confinement, meaning we could soon see an “if you want something done right, do it yourself” scenario. Still, after their impressive displays of power and collective devotion to Honoka, we don’t expect Kagari or Kasumi to shrink in the face of whatever evil threats are converging.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Weekly OP – Occult Academy

We were very wet behind the anime-reviewing ears when we watched Occult Academy, an Anime no Chikara anime-original. It was a very nice-looking, immersive show we’d suggest to anyone who enjoys supernatural mysteries.

But we were always pumped up to watch an episode by its very spirited opening sequence, in which the leads run and jump and fly through all manner of occult impedimenta to the rousing rock tune of “Flying Humanoid” by Nakagawa Shoko.