To a casual observer it may appear that Honoka is indeed a burden to Ayaka, both as a result of the power sealed (and now unsealing) within him, and in the growing school unrest with his constant proximity to her. But neither he nor the student body get to decide who’s a burden to Ayaka or not; only Ayaka can—and we know she’s never going to do that. As far as she’s concerned, she exists to protect him, and derives quite a bit of pleasure in doing so.
When the student council’s factulty advisor, Mikage, uses magic to trap Honoka in a fantasy world at the president’s behest, after swiftly defeating him Ayaka realizes they need to try to make Honoka more palatable to the students. Her hastily-prepared plan involves flexing the authority given her by her title as school idol or “Princess”: she sacks the existing president and installs Honoka, then bribes the Vice President into giving up her job. While the coup doesn’t endear Honoka with his fellow classmates, he forgoes Ayaka’s threatening cue cards and simply asks them to bear with the situation and withhold judgement until they’ve given him a chance.
Their new titles will make them provisionally acceptable to the school, but Kasumi is tired of Ayaka edging in on her precious brother time. This week she does a fair impression of a Tower Witch, acting with only her own interests at heart, with the guise of protecting Honoka. She pulls no punches taking Ayaka down with a burning car and tranq darts, but she doesn’t get far on her magical plane when a powered-up, pissed-off Ayaka appears to exact punishment in a fairly thrilling aerial battle.
With Medusa and her crew holed up in Honoka’s house, and no signs of Chronoire after Kazane captured her, the major threat facing Honoka isn’t external, but internal: the white princess gaining power within him. Honoka hasn’t told Ayaka about it, but it’s only a matter of time, and it’s likely Kazane already knows, as she’s coming to his house to talk to his mom/would-be wife. The time may come when Honoka looks with fondness upon such comparatively trivial matters like fostering amity at school or being kidnapped by Kasumi. We hope it happens soon, as we’re growing weary of the general lack of peril.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
A cold open entices us with the grandeur and awe of finally arriving at the Holy Spring, which moves Claire to tears and Makes Kal wish his folks were alive to see the sight. But from there the episode ratchets down the adventure and returns us to Isla, where the students run a restaurant, of all things, capitalizing on Ariel’s superior culinary skills.
While we were a little annoyed at the exploration of the Holy Spring—and the clashes with the Sky Clan that are sure to accompany it—we eventually settled in to the slice-of-life that may comprise some of the last happy times everyone has together as a group before…things go down. The apprehension of those who’ve heard rumors spreads, but everyone works so hard, they forget about those coming troubles.
It was also an opportunity to take stock in the various relationships that are forming: the quiet bond between Ariel and Ignacio; more of the usual Kal and Claire flirting; and the romance between Chiharu and Mitty, who have a sweet little scene. Anything to make these pilots more likable was fine with us, as the aforementioned conflict to follow will carry more weight the more characters we care about.
We also get some time at the “adults table”, learning Luis and Juan go way back, and that the instructors are understandably not happy that their students will be used for recon missions when the sky clan is sure to attack. They may have inferior planes and armaments, but they’re still a foe resolved to stop what they must see as an Incursion by Isla. And the kids are still kids.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Space Dandy has had various criticisms leveled against it: it’s trying too hard; it’s not as good as Cowboy Bebop; it’s too “American”, and indeed its MyAnimeList is hovering around a rather unimpressive 7.5.
But even if it isn’t as universally beloved as we thought it would be, the fact remains it’s pulling away from the rest of the Winter on our Big Board, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything it’s thrown at us.
The first episode was the weakest, in our opinion, with the show indeed trying too hard establishing its footing and be something for everyone. Now it’s confidently, joyfully humming along, tackling a new focus each week and has yet to disappoint with the execution.
Space Dandy’s OP, in a bit of a holdover from that first episode, is similarly unfocused and broad and has the overall look of the inside of a loud, gaudy pinball machine. But after getting brief glimpses of the three main characters’ rooms, the OP’s aesthetic makes sense: it’s what Dandy’s room is like.
Meow has the Lain-like cave room; QT has the antiseptic mod sci-fi room, and Dandy’s is a bright, colorful mess of skin mags and ephemera. And the theme (“Viva Namida” (ビバナミダ “Viva Teardrops”) by Yasuyuki Okamura), while a little derivative and busy, is nonetheless funky, catchy and passionate.