Perhaps it would be better to get down to brass tacks: we can tolerate the wacky direction Samurai Flamenco has gone in (to a point), but we don’t have to like it. By giving over most of its running time to completely implausible and often tacky situations while the smaller, more intimate, more human realism takes a back seat; that just feels backwards to us. We miss the old Samumenco, dicing with petty crooks and litterers. Yes, the show has been taken to dizzying heights and depths of lunacy and adventure, but, well…let’s hear it from Dr. Ian Malcolm, shall we?
I’ll tell you the problem with the power that you’re using here, it didn’t require any discipline to attain it…
We think that applies especially at this point in the series, because Samurai Flamenco no longer strikes us as a smart, savvy satire of superhero shows; it is just another superhero show, full stop. There has been less and less ironic subtext, and more and more going through the bland, unsatisfying motions, ostensibly recycled from the superhero trope repository. Back to you, Doc:
…Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.
Replace “scientists” with producers. Here we have an enormous, potentially Japan-shattering “all-out attack” by the 65,000-odd members of From Beyond, and the execution was sorely lacking in every way. The bad guys were pathetically lame; the superheroes who showed up with Kaname (surprise! Ugh.) weren’t much better; and there just wasn’t any artistry or creativity in any of the action. The show clearly didn’t have the budget for these things. Someone should have stopped and thought about whether they should have done them at all.
Throughout the big battle, we were far more interested in watching Maya’s forced reunion with the other two-thirds of Mineral Miracle Muse. But the show isn’t interested in the same things we are; not in this episode, at least. The final twist is that From Beyond’s last man standing is Masayoshi’s doppelganger, which is so random and out of left field we’re not sure what, if any, reaction we got aside from a figurative shrug of apathy. This episode was way too much WTF and not enough TLC.
Rating: 4 (Fair)
When Kill la Kill goes all out, it’s truly something to behold. Osaka’s forces continue to put up a fight thanks to Takarada Kaneo’s deep pockets, but then Satsuki arrives and teaches him that it’s fear, not money, that rules the hearts of mankind, scaring all his forces away. Cornered and alone, Kaneo counters with a giant crab mecha, but the new 3-Star Goku uniforms arrive just in time, and Uzu defeats him easily, sticking his katana where the sun don’t shine.
Satsuki & Co. are acting so cool, and Takarada is so loathsome, that up to this point they look like the protagonists. But at the end of the day Kaneo is the wronged party, defending his territory from aggressors, and he’s the one (momentarily) saved by the timely arrival of a very reinvigorated Matoi Ryuuko. Satsuki knows Ryuuko can’t transform without the glove in her possession, and wastes no time wiping her face in it. That proved to be a miscalculation, as it only convinces Ryuuko to take the next step in her symbiotic relationship with her kamui and allow Senketsu to use her skin to synchronize.
Satsuki had been treating Ryuuko like a pesky housefly, but underestimated the lengths Ryuuko would go to, and also failed to divine Ryuuko’s new motivation, which is no longer wholly revenge. The more grand plans for conquest and subjugation Satsuki carries out, the more forcefully Ryuuko will butt in; no longer a housefly but a formidable, unpredictable hornet. Ryuuko’s not afraid to gamble with her own life to attain victory, but unlike Satsuki she’s unwilling to let others sacrifice their lives in the service of her selfish goals. Now Ryuuko’s goals align with those of Nudist Beach, much of which seemed to have been wiped out by Jakuzure while Ryuuko fought Satsuki.
And theirs is a hell of a fight, winding through (and ultimately obliterating) a souped-up Osaka tower in some of the best and most manically-animated combat of the series. It’s also an immensely satisfying battle, as Ryuuko is able to fight toe-to-toe and even deliver a crippling punch to Satsuki, albeit by playing “dirty” (the ol’ sword-blood in the face trick). More than anything, Ryuuko and Satsuki displayed quite a bit of mutual respect; Ryuuko’s no longer after Satsuki’s head, but wants to convince her to stop her villainy; while Satsuki gets a refresher in Ryuuko’s staying power and seemingly bottomless font of spirit. One could totally see the two as friends, were circumstances different.
Rating: 9 (Superior)
- We really dug the “Ryuuko Entrance Fanfare” of these last two eps, which always started with her motorbike’s engine revving.
- We reiterate: Takarada never looked anything other than lame and slimy, but the Elite Four in their new threads look simultaneously mighty and correct.
- Ira doesn’t want to hurt Mako…another cool quasi-friendship in the making.
- We like how Ryuuko tells Mako to go somewhere safe, which Mako determines is by Ryuuko’s side.
- We finally see Nudist Beach forces, who were Satsuki’s ultimate target (of course). They don’t wear any more than they need to, so they’re certainly the polar opposite of uniform-obsessed Honnouji.
- The more encounters Satsuki has with Ryuuko, the more emotion she seems to express.
In case anyone forgot, this isn’t just a show about the progression of yuri couples, but about a dying school, and the latter provides an opportunity for Haruka to show her love for Yuu. She doesn’t just want to kiss her; she wants to make her happy, even if it means going out of her element. So she joins the school committee and lobbies to have Yuu’s beloved cheerleading reinstated for the Sports Fest. She takes the opportunity when presented; spurred on and inspired by Kotone, who also fought (and won) to live with Shizuku.
Fulfilling Yuu’s wish means going toe to toe with the President, who just happens to be Yuu’s sister Mitsuki. Haruka has never met Mitsuki despite many close calls, who can’t even place a face on her, settling on a penny loafer. But Mitsuki not only meets Haruka this week, but learns that she and Yuu are far closer than she could have imagined. When Yuu learns what Haruka did for her, she rewards her with a make-out session on the floor of her room. Mitsuki walks in on them, but then the A-part simply ends with her surprised reaction.
As the B-part progresses, Mitsuki is clearly suspicious of the two, but there’s no indication she took a stand on the incident one way or another. Perhaps she meekly slunk away, closing the door she had so briskly opened? In any case, it’s clear she’s not so strict a big sister that she’d put an immediate kibosh on the lovebirds. Haruka gets bolder in the B-part, sewing declarations of her love for Yuu on her and Yuu’s swimsuits. They get some private time in the old pool supply room (another opportunity borne from the dying school) We half-expected Mitsuki to walk in on them in there, but she merely finds the incriminating needlework.
Mitsuki may not be fully aware of the extent of her sister’s relationship with Haruka, and so she may not yet have a concrete position on the matter, but it’s clear enough to us that with each episode the two seem to grow closer. Their friends have long since accepted them as an item (two of which being an item themselves). At the moment, it appears Sakura Trick is more interested in exploring the couple’s love rather than putting obstacles in their path or forcing drama for drama’s sake—something we’re on board with. Introducing Mitsuki was the first, best obstacle so far, but she didn’t get in their way this week, even when she caught them, well, not exactly in flagrante delicto, but certainly not merely combing their hair, either!
Rating:7 (Very Good)
Bonus ED! We’re posting this today because frankly, we’re not sure the video will last long on YouTube! We won’t lie: there’s a lot going on here; maybe too much. But it fits with the “futuristic spin on world history” theme of Nobunaga the Fool, and “J-Dubstep” still hasn’t gotten old for us.
This isn’t exactly a masterpiece, but it is damned catchy, and the juxtaposition of chibis with the far darker witch torture aspects is a suitably quirky finish to each episode of Witch Craft Works. That said, we still don’t know the names of these five witches aside from Tanpopo, who has a perfect “chibi” voice.