Nobunaga the Fool – 03

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This week we have a battle in which guys with rifles, bows and arrows fight beside mecha, which is patently ridiculous on its face, even if you accept that mecha exist in feudal Japan. Furthermore, Nobunaga is able to take out most of Takeda’s war armor with said bow and arrow, simply by killing their performers, which begs the question, why don’t they have more protection? Fortunately despite how absurd these battles are, they still make for a thoroughly entertaining spectacle.

More to the point, the battles and their outcomes are stylized in the same manner as the flowery dialogue most of the characters employ. Nobu in particular has some particularly juicy lines that seiyu Miyano Mamoru sinks his teeth into with aplomb. If legendary times call for legendarily silly battles, then they also call for legendary words. We also have Jeanne transforming into the male Ranmaru (she looks like a girl to us, but whatever!), and Nobukatsu begging her/him to stand by his elder brother’s side.

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We even see a little of the old guard bristling at the ideas of the new, with Nobu’s suggestion that the Owari clan hire da Vinci being dismissed as foolish drivel. Nobu and his father aren’t very chatty, either. But whether the old dudes are on board or not, when it comes to technology, it’s Adapt or Die for Owari, who are no match for Takeda’s forces, which are led by Shingen himself, piloting a bigger, shiner war armor than Nobu’s, with a difference: he has a regalia, which lends him godlike power and control over flame.

When Shingen’s army first approaches, The Fool isn’t ready to go yet, so Nobu has to hold them off with horse and bow. Jeanne, who is by his side, witnesses him as he single-handedly, single-mindedly decimates the Takeda war armor and rallies the troops, and halts his duel with Shingen to save her life.Then the skies open and Queen Himiko of Yamatai offers Nobu a regalia of his own in exchange for a bond of matrimony, which he accepts. On top of that, Julius Caesar and his pals headed to the Star of the East. Things are getting very interesting.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

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Noragami – 03

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Possessed of a shiny new regalia in Yuki and a cute semi-regular adherent in Hiyori, things are looking pretty good for Yato and his quest to gradually claw his way to celestial prominence. This week we learn just how far he still has to go, as his newest client is Lord Tenjin, the god of learning and something of a celebrity in god circles. Tenjin has is both ways: he can be a but of a condescending dick to Yato and flaunt his legion of regalias, including Yato’s ex-regalia Tomone (now called Sayu).

At the same time, he commands reverence and respect from Hiyori and Yuki. Yato really gets smacked around by all their “Wow, a REAL god!” carrying-on. Tenjin has summoned Yato to handle a phantom problem he doesn’t have time to handle himself, due to exams season; so Yato is taking on leftovers. Yato can’t turn down work, especially from a bigwig, so he takes the job, his first with Yuki. That’s when things get tense between him and Hiyori.

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The job involves people who are being possessed by phantoms and persuaded into committing suicide. Yato doesn’t express any sympathy for these people, saying basically “If they want to die, let them die.” That attitude cuts Hiyori to the quick, and the flees him in disgust, determined to carry out the mission herself. But tough and brave as she might be, Hiyori is not a god, and she’s no match for the phantoms, who have creepy dissonant voices that remind us of the Aku no Hana end theme. Yato saves her from being run over by a commuter train and takes out the offending phantoms with ease using Yuki.

Then Yato clears up his stance: he won’t let people whose should have been possessed by suicidal thoughts die in front of Yuki, Sayu, or any other regalia. After all, regalia are pure souls that exist and can be wielded by gods because they still want to live, even if they’re not sure why (indeed, Yuki remembers nothing of his life). Yato may look pathetic and embarrassing when standing next to the great Lord Tenjin, but he’s still a god, one that can to great things if given the opportunity. We can’t help but root for him.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Space Dandy – 03

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This episode exhibited that sometimes there’s a definite method to the madness; that the chaos is very carefully constructed. Therefore, while a multitude of stuff flies past the screen in the course of an episode, a small, innocuous detail from the beginning could pay dividends in the end. There’s a great cat’s cradle of cause-and-effect that propels Dandy, QT and Meow on their adventures, who all end up partial contributors.

Let’s unravel that cradle:

  1. Dandy is having no luck with the alien hunting, getting desperate enough to try to pass Meow off in disguise.
  2. With no money, QT has to stretch pennies to feed the other two, purchasing 365 packages of space food that’s 10,000 years past its sell-by date.
  3. With no money or edible food, Dandy must whip out his Boobies card (also an effective distraction for Meow) It has enough stamps for a free meal, But it too expires in less than three hours.
  4. With no money, edible food, or time to waste, Dandy hits the “Warp” button. Then he gets impatient, and hits it way too many times (waiting for computers to do something can be a torturous ordeal; good to see this won’t change in th distant future.)
  5. Let’s not forget Meow’s role: last week, they spent all their money chasing the Phantom Ramen, with no alien to show for it.

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All of that leads to their adventure: crash-landing on an inhospitable planet littered with skeletons. There are two life-forms there: a swarm of vicious, disgusting-looking monsters, and a blonde hottie named Mamitas, who has also crash-landed. In a classic don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover scenario, the hottie turns out to be the more dangerous, all-devouring Deathgerian; so dangerous, in fact, that the second his men identify her, Dr. Gel turns turns his fleet around. (Her photo in his monster catalog, kneeling in a meadow, is priceless.)

Both the “ugly aliens are evil” and “the pretty lady is evil” are well-established conventions, but both so well executed here that we remained in the dark right up until Dr. Gel entered orbit, even though Mamitas just got finished saying “I’ll eat anything.” Her metamorphosis into a mammoth monster covered in boobs evoked shades of Cronenberg’s “body horror” oeuvre, both aesthetically and in the subtext of Dandy’s somewhat jejune view of women. It’s also just an awesome design in its own right, as is Dandy’s FLCL-inspired mecha “Hawaii Yankee.”

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Back to cause and effect: the fact Deathgerian wants to eat everything becomes it’s downfall, as she swallows a few boxes of the spoiled space food QT bought and gets sick. The monster turns out to be unique enough for Scarlett’s “OK” stamp and a reward of 99,000 Woolongs. All’s well that ends well…except for poor Meow.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda – 02

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Jimon Asuta seems to be happiest at school, a place where he can forget about his problems and expand his knowledge. The problem is, it’s not a boarding school, and after a certain time, the students have to go hope. The school goes by all too quickly for Asuta (School Bell REEEMIX!), at which point his problems reappear: he’s starving and he has nowhere to go. He can’t very well shack up with Renge; this isn’t Chu2Koi!

Yet even under these circumstances, Asuta is weary of following Shikabane Itsuka to Zvezda HQ. Like any healthy lad, he fears the unknown, and would rather not complicate his life even more. But because Itsuka has a sword (and a very intricately-detailed one, at that) and he can’t seem to outrun her, Zvezda HQ is where he ends up anyway. And it’s exactly what you’d expect a secret society led by a weird little girl to look like: Howl’s Moving Castle’s distant cousin, with some Chuck-E-Cheese tubes mixed in for good measure. It’s whimsical and cool-looking (and we later learn it can be hidden from prying eyes).

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When Jimon and Itsuka go inside, there’s a normal genkan with slippers waiting for them, but we still felt a somewhat sinister aura coming off the walls deeper in; as if it was in Jimon’s best interest to stick close to Itsuka lest he Fall Down the Rabbit Hole. Natasha confirms this in her matter-of-fact warning to him, which she delivers while riding a contraption that allows her to move about while lying supine (clearly, comfort is a priority with her). Aside from that, the base is essentially a dorm with rotating chores, where he’s the new guy whose name no one can remember.

There’s a lot of attention to detail this week, both visually (dining room chairs embroidered with the Zvezda logo) and aurally (Roboko’s myriad mechanical sound effects). Not surprisingly, Itsuka is a terrible cook (her food is pixelated; a nice touch) and everyone is afraid to confront her about it, but watching Jimon’s reaction after taking a bite—in which he transcends time and space and possibly catches a glimpse of the beginning of the universe—really drives the point home.

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After Zvezda defeats the giant monster-of-the-week—for which Itsuka’s cooking is indirectly responsible—Jimon is the one who throws caution to the wind and finally calls her out on it. He has to endure her threats for a bit, but ultimately, his cajones led to him finding his place within Zvezda as their cook; turns out, he’s as good at it as she is bad. Ironic that his first act of courage is not in the face of an enemy, but an eventual ally (and Ise Mariya really lays on the surly.)

But not everything is peaches and sunshine: Zvezda has an archenemy in White Light, of which Jimon’s friend/crush Renge is a member (with the alias “White Robin”.) She even encounters Jimon while in her chic White Light garb, but he doesn’t recognize her. Right now he may just be happy he has a place where he can crash after school and be useful. But if he’s joining Zvezda, he can probably kiss Renge’s friendship goodbye.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)