Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda – 05

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Who would’ve thought both Jimon Asuta and Komadori Renge are chronic sufferers of both Voice-Blindness and Hair-Blindness? After all, neither of them had realized they were right on top of one another in a batle between Zvezda and White Light, despite the fact both have fairly distinctive hair and neither disguises their alter-ego’s voice. We know, anime have a certain license when it comes to disguises, so we’ll forgive the fact it takes Asuta seeing a much less noticeable detail than Renge’s purple twin-tails—her homemade strap—to figure out she’s White Robin.

What’s a little harder to forgive is that after teetering so close to the two finding out what their “secret jobs” are, the show pulls up at the last minute. Letting it happen would have been brassy, and there was potential in the scenario of Renge and Asuta knowing each others’ secret identities but maintaining their friendship, with the challenge of keeping it secret from their respective organizations. It would shake up his non-Zvezda life for the first time since, well, running away from home, which happened offscreen anyway.

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About that: knowing full well that White Robin is Renge, Asuta saves her from Kate and Natasha’s terrifying tentacle boss, essentially committing an act of treason against Zvezda not just to save Renge’s life, but to save her from being unmasked and publicly humiliated. That part actually wasn’t bad, because it reiterates the fact Asuta still finds all this Zvezda business a bit silly. He knows Renge is trying her best to be a better person, like him. He won’t stand by and let others burn that down for no reason.

But then Renge had to be wearing a mask under her mask, making it so Asuta now thinks White Robin is a stranger. It’s the easy way out. But no one says she won’t unmask him one day, and they’ll be back at that intriguing crossroads we got a taste of this week. If nothing else, we did get to watch a lot of Asuta/Renge interactions, something we’re a fan of since they have such a natural, relaxed rapport. Her fair, earnest response to him saying he wanted to conquer the world was particularly sweet.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • We liked Asuta’s protests to all the histrionic exposition regarding White Light. There’s only so much BS he can take in one sitting.
  • That being said, we think Zvezda’s definitely rubbing of on him, as he snaps covert photos of Renge all day, sneaks into the girls locker room and rifles through her things, all rash actions he wouldn’t have undertaken prior to becoming “Dva.”
  • We enjoyed all the coded dialogue between Renge and Asuta, accurately expressing their moods while keeping the details secret.
  • As an example that the conquests vary greatly in scale from week to week: this week Kate merely conquers the low bar back flip…barely.

Nisekoi – 05

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Still suspicious of the nature of Raku and Chitoge’s relationship, Ruri presses forward in her crusade to help Kosaki win Raku’s heart. Kosaki herself has reservations about stealing him from Chitoge, but if Ruri can confirm they’re not really together, and that Raku has a crush on Kosaki…well, that’s different, isn’t it? To that end, we get a pool episode replete with graceful swimsuit and changing fanservice.

It doesn’t detract so much as call attention to the fact that this is a SHAFT series and Shinbo doesn’t skimp on close-ups, no matter what it’s a close-up of. In contrast to last week’s ill-fated study session, Raku and Kosaki fare much better during his one-on-one swimming lesson; though Raku does have to run to the nearest seaside cliff to shout his desire to make her his wife. Being in swimsuits also means the locket and key aren’t on their respective persons, only the show teases us yet again by having Raku use the wrong key.

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The picture is very, very slowly being pieced together in the slow-churning minds of the star-crossed lovers: both are entertaining the possibility that the other is the one they made the promise to, but progress remains slow. Meanwhile, while it’s clear Raku has a crush on Kosaki, Ruri is growing more and more perplexed with Raku and Chitoge, probably beause she sees as we do without even knowing it that the fake relationship grows more and more real the more time they spend with each other.

Yet again Raku and Kosaki’s progress is mitigated by a similar development with Chitoge, as he is the one to drop everything and dive in after her when she cramps in the pool. Kosaki is spared having to see them lock lips (she doesn’t need mouth-to-mouth, though Shuu tries to make it happen for Raku), but Chitoge learns yet again that Raku isn’t the gutless bean sprout she’d created in her mind…except, apparently, when it comes to going after who he truly wants.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • The Girl’s locker room is apparently “very retro”, which is why the key is so easily mistakable for an ornate locket.
  • We don’t know if the voices of the characters are sped up in production, but if they’re not Touyama Nao and Uchiyama Kouki deserve props for some seriously articulate high-speed, spirited arguing this week.
  • There’s no official episode count for Nisekoi as of yet, but it’s starting to look likely there’ll be two cours, since there’s two main characters hiding in the shadows of the OP that haven’t even been introduced yet.
  • We like how the omakes typically add texture to the main story, rather than act as random standalones. To whit: we catch insightful glimpses of Chitoge, Raku and Kosaki dealing with Valentines Day in junior high.
  • After that, Chitoge visits Raku’s house for New Years and learns he’s a kickass Enka singer. Nothing much manlier than that!

Samurai Flamenco – 16

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Given the ample resources of the Prime Minister, he can shout his lies loudly and consistently enough that the public comes to believe them as truths. Masayoshi has hit rock bottom not because his career has been destroyed and he’s homeless, hungry, and filthy, but because he has almost lost hope. He feels a fool for allowing the government to manipulate him, and sees world around him as a hostile enemy.

Stuck in this downward spiral and unwilling to steal or ask anyone for help lest he hurt more people with his selfish actions and dreams, he ends up becoming the recipient of aid from a Good Samaritan in the form of a poor, nearly-blind chap living in a tent in the park. After Masayoshi regales him with the abridged version of his story, the man tells him his: he was in the same spot Masayoshi finds himself: angry for being fooled and devoid of hope for the world. When a thug started beating him, he was ready to give up and die. Then Samurai Flamenco saved him.

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All it took was one kind, decent, good act for the man to realize he was wrong about the world. He started to help people, and they helped him and others in return. His world became a better place, but only because he refused to give in to despair and cynicism. He returns the favor, facilitating Masayoshi’s escape from a patrolling cop. The encounter reminded Masayoshi that even heroes need saving from those psychological villains. So he finally pays Gotou a visit, and Gotou asks what took him so long.

This is the Gotou who took Mari in when she too became lost, but also allowed Mizuki and Moe to confront her when she’d spent enough time stewing in her own angst. We mercifully, finally see that confrontation, and it’s a heated one, with lots of thrown punches and scathing remarks that cut to the quick. Mari hates Moe’s face right now because it reminds her that she’s a coward; that Moe volunteered to die for her in order to show her up. Like Masayoshi, she feels the world has turned on her, and she just wants to curl up and die.

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The other two M’s don’t let that happen. Even after she rips them to shreds about how much they depend on her greatness (Mizuki doesn’t dispute this, but hates the pathetic creature Mari has become) and flees to the place where King Torture tortured her, where she vomits and lies in it. Moe and Mizuki find her, and Moe, wearing a bag on her head, convinces Mari to return to their world, which isn’t complete without her. It was a showdown we’d been waiting for, so kudos to the show for finally giving it to us. It didn’t disappoint.

We also appreciated the symmetry of Masayoshi and Mari, at the end of their ropes, seeking out and being sought out by their best friends, respectively, and that the entire episode was devoted to the characters and relationships that had been neglected of late. It was welcome reparation for all the From Beyond shit the show put us through. With wounds healed, friendships repaired, and faith restored in the inherent, indomitable goodness of the world that shines beneath even the most well-funded lies, everyone’s in good shape for the final six episodes.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Kaname Joji is in full Hannibal Lector prison regalia, which is hilarious. Looks like his wife (who doesn’t know Sakura’s a flamenger, btw) could play a more important role soon.
  • Even at rock bottom, Masayoshi ain’t stealing bread. Dude’s for real.
  • It may seem a little contrived, but we like how a past recipient of Samurai Flamenco’s herosim is the one to pull him out of the abyss. Blind or no, that guy wasn’t going to turn him in.
  • Moe’s crush on Mari earlier in the show was played for chuckles, but we like how it evolved into genuine, unswaying love, which proves crucial Mari out of the abyss.
  • We actually liked how Mari and Moe’s embrace turned into a makeout session…Moe earned the hell of out that! Mizuki’s reaction is also pretty priceless.
  • Alright, show of hands: who thought that bright glowing vomit Mari spewed out was going to turn into something evil? We thought so; the show’s pulled that crazy shit out of left field before. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.