This week chronicled the threefold raids on Kobe, Kyoto, and Osaka by Gamagoori, Jakuzure (with Inumuta), and Sanageyama, respectively, and it’s a thrilling powerhouse of an episode. The Honnouji forces, enrobed in Goku uniforms and supplemented by shards of Senketsu, come up against stronger resistance than we’d foreseen, and that resistance comes in the form of the cities’ unique cultural attributes—distilled and amplified to a ridiculous degree, of course.
Kobe’s defense is bolstered by students in American football armor, tanks, and Kobe beef; Kyoto is protected by illusion-conjuring sorcerers, and Osaka is under the control of a powerful conglomerate like Kiryuins, which uses cash to mobilize every man woman and child in the city to resist Sanageyama’s onslaught. Mako ended up in the Osaka contingent, and she quickly shirks her duty to explore Osaka’s abundant culinary bounty.
As Satsuki said to them earlier, the Elite Four’s loss to Senketsu was merely a rite of passage; something that prepared them for the campaigns they’re now heading up. It’s clear from the relish with which they press their attacks that they’ve all got their mojo back, and it’s fun to see them in action again, even if they’re ostensibly the bad guys. That brings us to the good guys: Mako is just goofing off, so what’s up with Ryuuko? Well, that small scrap of Senketsu she managed to hold on to happened to be his eye, and he can still communicate with her.
Much to our delight, Ryuuko doesn’t spend a whole lot of time sulking at rock bottom, donning a sweet tracksuit and red motorcycle, crashing the three already gloriously chaotic battles, and snatching back every last scrap of her friend. In the process she demonstrates that even with just a scrap of Senketsu round her neck, she’s become a formidable warrior. The last piece of him left is naturally on Satsuki’s person, setting up their next one-on-one confrontation. It should be a good one.
Rating: 9 (Superior)
The show’s two-parter format continues this week, as the first half centers not on the established item that is Haruka and Yuu, but on Kotone and Shizuku. The first bump in their relationship is bourne out of a simple misunderstanding; Kotone comments that she likes staying at Shizuku’s house because it’s close to school and her mom is nice.
Shizuku takes this to mean Kotone doesn’t really care about her, but once Shizuku makes Kotone aware of this concern, it doesn’t take Kotone long to clear things up: she likes staying at Shizuku’s place primarily because Shizuku is there. It’s a fairly simplistic little dilemma that’s easily mended, but it’s good to see the show is confident it can handle more than one relationship at the same time.
The second half returned the focus to Haruka and Yuu, who as we know have been into each other from the start. However, they’re very different people: Yuu is more confident and assertive, while Haruka wears her heart on her sleeve and is constantly getting stuck in her head, but also happens to be more academically gifted. As she notes, this isn’t middle school anymore, and if Yuu isn’t careful she could fail her classes and be held back.
While Haruka considers the benefits of an underclassman Yuu addressing her “oneesama”, the fact is, because their school is closing, she’d be expelled and forced to attend another school at the lower grade. The prospect of being torn apart by Yuu’s bad grades compels Haruka to take drastic but ultimately clever measures: using kisses as positive reinforcement while tutoring her. So when Yuu passes her exams, it further validates their relationship as not only something that makes them happy, but also keeps Yuu on track to a bright future, which is more easily attainable when you’re not held back.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Happy Friday! Our first Weekly ED is of a show we missed last Summer, but marathoned in the hiatus between Fall and Winter: Sunday Without God.
We count the ED high on the list of the many things we loved about it. Just as good as the ED itself, a soulful ballad called “Owaranai Melody wo Utaidashimashita. (終わらないメロディーを歌いだしました。; I Sing This Never-ending Melody.)” by Mikako Komatsu (the voice of Princess Ulla, as well as Captain Marika from Mouretsu Pirates), is the way the episodes transitioned into it, often coming to a close right at the line “LIFE ON THE PLANET.”
It’s a very beautiful song, one we unashamedly confess to welling up a little every time we hear it. It starts out very melancholy and wistful, but eventually grows brighter and more optimistic. And while it’s cut off in this particular video clip, the little piece of music that accompanies the next episode previews is also very nice. In fact, the entire Sunday Without God soundtrack was fantastic, and we encourage its purchase.
Last week was foreboding, portentous, and left us more than a little concerned that the second half would be a long drag careening toward disaster, but as it turns out, we were getting ahead of ourselves. Ghost Banri’s curse may yet have teeth, but it has yet to assert itself. Meantime, we get a very pleasant slice-of-life episode that garners two unexpected surprises.
The first is that Chinami and Koko become friends, in spite of Koko’s insistence that such a thing not be allowed to happen under any circumstances. It all starts with Koko eavesdropping on Banri’s phone call with 2D-kun (Hey, 2D-kun!) in which she learns Mitsuo hasn’t been able to hang with Banri all Summer, suggesting he may have a girlfriend. Because they’re like us, we assumed that would be Chinami, but the show played us and played us well: Chinami hasn’t seen Mitsuo all Summer either. And since they’re there, Banri, Koko and 2D hang with Chinami, ultimately deciding to go on a beach trip.
Early in the second half of the series, episodes like this where collected friends simply hang out is a good thing; in Chinami’s case it allows us to learn more about her. One reason for the beach trip is to get her mind off her immediate troubles: her parents are moving back to her hometown, so she needs to find a new apartment. Chinami was already nicely fleshed out in the amusement park episode, but it’s satisfying to see her grow from simply an adorable foil to Koko and potential love interest to Mitsuo into a genuine friend, someone Koko can talk to candidly about Banri. Without even knowing it, Koko has gained something she’s never had before: a confidant—although it could be argued she that with Banri, back when Mitsuo was her object of affection/obsession.
One reason Chinami and Koko end up hitting it off so well is the knowledge that Chinami isn’t going out with Mitsuo, which eliminates her as a threat. But another reason is the second surprise of the night: Mitsuo is going out with Linda. That’s a really brilliant move, if you ask us, and damn do they look good together. The moment we saw them, we felt the same dull pain in the chest we’re sure Koko must have felt when she saw Banri’s subtle but unmistakable reaction. Banri may be totally cool with Mitsuo and Linda as an item. But even with Chinami’s assurances, it will take more than that to convince Koko that she doesn’t have anything to fear, which is why she initially plans to wear as little as possible on the beach trip. Banri—the present Banri, that is—has set his course. Now we’ll see if he can keep to it as the seas get rougher.
Rating: 8 (Great)