Kill la Kill – 20

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Episode the Twentieth: Wherein Ryuko, crying bitter tears inside, abjures Senketsu, Mako, and the others to go alone to Honnouji to destroy Harime Nui and Ragyo; in which Satsuki finally engineers her daring, naked escape; in which Nudist Beach unveils its aircraft carrier courtesy of the Takarada Conglomerate; and in Nui reveals she’s a life fiber being as much as Ryuko, and thus understands her plight; and in which Ragyo forces Junketsu upon Ryuko. Thus Ryuko shifts from being the pawn of her father to that of her mother; and is brainwashed into doing her bidding. Thus do Ryuko and Satsuki officially switch roles, with Ryuko as the frighteningly-powerful and arrogant villain, and Satsuki and her Elite Four as the scrappy underdogs with their backs to the wall.

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What started out as a simple selfish tantrum of self-loathing and anger, leading to her running off on her own, turned into something far more potentially devastating, as Her Hot-headedness is perverted through Junketsu into an instrument that could potentially destroy what’s left of a free mankind. And better still, it’s a transition that makes perfect sense. That’s right: no unsightly leaps in logic or ridiculous contrivances are necessary to justify Ryuko’s inversion: she’s always been susceptible to manipulation, and much of her exploits thus far have taken place while she was unwittingly serving as a guinea pig or pawn to others. Every time she’s learned the truth about her involuntary roles in the schemes of others—many of whom have turned out to be her relatives—she’s grown more bitter and lost. Here she was, thinking she was living her own life, while all along others were truly driving her course.

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She’s not even sure who or what she is anymore, and it disgusts her, so she lashes out at everyone close to her and sets of on a nihilistic errand. Harime, who has the same life-fibrous heart as hers, even asks point-blank what Ryuko hopes to get out of killing her and Ragyo. Ryuko doesn’t have an answer, because she hasn’t thought that far ahead, and falls into yet another trap. The blissful montage she sees when Junketsu wears her is a life that never was, but it’s enough to overpower Ryuko’s already brittle grip on her identity, and thus reality itself. Koshimizu Ami changes up Ryuko’s voice accordingly, to something simultaneously more feminine and unhinged—in other words, a lot more like Ragyo’s!

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Fortunately for Ryuko, there are those less quick to rage and reckless action who are determined to get her back. Among them are Mako, the Mankanshokus, the Elite Four, Mikisugi and Nudist Beach…even Satsuki. She may have had her own problems to deal with this week—breaking out of prison with a sharpened false toenail in unfathomably badass fashion—but as contentious as her interactions have been, we don’t think Satsuki wants to lose Ryuko to darkness and evil. In this, she and Senketsu are of like mind, which is why in a sensational latest twist, Senketsu lets her wear him, thus giving her at least a chance against her sister. The two have been in quite a few scraps, but this one is gonna be something else.


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

RABUJOI World Heritage List

Sakura Trick – 08

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The two stories this week share a theme of assumptions based insufficient information. The first, in which Yuu gets the idea she and Haruka are getting married right away, turns out to be wrong. While it’s not her fault the phone connection was bad, she let her imagination get ahead of itself, bypassing simple logical hurdles like the fact Haruka didn’t even propose. But while it turns out to be someone else’s wedding, both Yuu and Haruka revel vicariously in the ceremonies.

Like Yuu assuming they were geting married just like that, Haruka assumes that because her dad doesn’t want “some guy off the street” marrying his daughter, it means he’ll be fine with her marrying a girl, when that very well might not be the case. But as is made clear when they can’t resist kissing and are nearly caught by Haruka’s mom, while their assumptions may be unrealistic (or at least premature), their passion for one another is very real indeed, and powerful. So powerful, in fact, that the couple hits the first legitimate bump in their relationship, which is explored in the second half. Here, Mitsuki assumes that Yuu and Haruka are acting far more distant towards each other than usual.

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This assumption turns out to be right; even if Mitsuki isn’t yet aware of the depth of Yuu and Haruka’s love, she knows the two aren’t squared away, so she decides to help them make up at the Christmas illuminations. But even when Mitsuki gets the two alone together (getting herself separated from everyone else in the process), Haruka and Yuu are still reticent and tentative, like we’ve never seen before. Each is afraid of letting their passion take over and go too far too fast with the other, harming what they have.

But while they were worrying about that, they were harming what they have anyway. Yuu remembers and repurposes her sister’s words of advice (which regarded a platonic relationship), and the two figure it out. They learn they’d been harboring the same concerns, as hearts that are destined to come together are wont to do. Hearts that are new to this kind of love can lead them to ache—as running around and doing physical stuff without stretching taxes the muscles and lungs—but Haruka and Yuu are resolved to soldier through it.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

 

Weekly ED – Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt

Oh God, Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt was good stuff: GAINAX anime with a distinctly American art style (Genndy Tartakovsky and Craig McCracken-esque, specifically). But then it would randomly jump into totally different styles particularly when the titular (heh-heh) characters powered up.

It was the Honey Badger of anime, and sat near the top of our first full season of reviews here at RABUJOI four years ago. Our only issue with the show is that it ended on a cliffhanger and, to our knowledge, a sequel that resolves things has yet to be announced. Which is a damn shame.

The OP was literally like ten seconds long, but the ED was a full minute, as shown here. The combination of serious but very catchy music (“Fallen Angel” by Aimee B) with colorful, cutesy portrayals of Panty and Stocking in horrible, potentially fatal situations was always a great way to end the craziness.

End-of-Month Rundown – February 2014

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Still Winter. Still Cold. Better to conserve energy. Let’s get right down to it:

13. Pupa

The three-minute segments continue to get darker and more disturbing, as not only does the lead guy have to endure his sister eating him as a matter of course, but behind their backs Maria has used their genetic material to impregnate herself. Definitely less “Huh?” and more “OH DEAR GOD!”

Cumulative Rating: 5.429 (7 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 4.79

12. Sakura Trick

No matter what situation Haruka and Yuu find themselves in they ultimately end up making out before, during, or after said situation, as the episode calls for. This is, on the surface, admittedly one-note, but we actually like the low-stress slow burn the show is on, which realistically portrays a very affectionate relationship between two girls who know each other very well and really really like spending time with each other.

Cumulative Rating: 6.429 (7 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.48

11. Samuai Flamenco

(second cour, episodes 11-22)

Since the From Beyond fiasco of episode 14, Samumenco has really gotten its act together, finally addressing all the interpersonal conflicts of the characters (hell, focusing on the characters period was an improvement in and of itself) and essentially “reforming the band” when, after the Flamenger thing doesn’t work out, Masayoshi returns to his best friend Gotou, who’s more than willing to help. The Flamenco Girls’ harsh argument and subsequent reconciliation is also powerfully wrought. Here’s hoping the series finishes strong.

Cumulative Rating: 7 (6 of 11 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 6.88

10. Witch Craft Works

We still commend the flip-flop of classic male-female roles in WCW, but have been disappointed by the poor caliber of foes Ayaka and Honoka have faced. Then it dawned on us: none of the Tower Witches are really meant to be a serious threat; the true threat is inside Honoka; the White Princess whose first seal has been broken. WCW presents a clear and clever distinction between what kind of man Honoka is and the archetypal pathetic weakling. In short, Ayaka is his strength because summoning his own would have calamitous consequences.

Cumulative Rating: 7.125 (8 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.42

9. (tie) Nobunaga the Fool

That brings us to Nobu, who has been given every opportunity and motivation to summon his strength and grab power. Unlike Honoka, he has no qualms about using it, and those around him are eager to see what he can do. He had been hampered by his father’s stubbornness to change and his peace-loving brother’s popularity, but both of those obstacles (we know, it’s cruel to call them that, but it’s true!) are out of his way, and he’s feuled by their loss and the near(?)-loss of his betrothed. Speaking of Himiko, maybe he’ll marry her for real if she wakes up. It’s the least he can do. That aside, his battle with Shingen is great fun, all bluster and honorableness and bashing. Then the crafty Caesar throws a wrench into everything.

Cumulative Rating: 7.286 (7 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 6.91

8. Nisekoi

Onodera missed a golden chance, and now there’s a third girl interested in Raku, with a fourth on the way, if the promo art is to be believed. Meanwhile Raku and Chitoge are growing closer together and coming to understand and respect one another, even if they still tend to put on antagonistic airs around each other. They’ve gotten better at pretending to be a couple, too. While the mistaken gender issue was kind of silly, we actually liked Tsugumi Seishirou’s introduction, and she’s a fun and vibrant character thanks to Komatsu Mikako. Of course, her intro means less time for Onodera, but it’s not like she was doing much with the extra time she had, anyway.

Cumulative Rating: 7.429 (7 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 8.02

6. (tie) Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta

We have now seen two distinct Pilot’s Love Songs: the one Before they reached the Holy Spring, and the one After, when our plucky trainees get their first taste of combat. It’s a stark transition from everyone having fun running a cafe in the dorms to seasoned enemy fighters plucking their bumbling trainee planes out of the sky one by one. Some of the youngin’s buckle under the pressure, others, notably Mitsuo, Ariel, and Kal, rise to the occasion, but the fact remains a ton of damage is done to Isla and many lives are lost. It’s all very intense and harrowing, and the show doesn’t blink or sugar-coat.

Cumulative Rating: 7.5 (8 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.37

6. (tie) Noragami

The show has become less about whether or when Yato will ascend to his rightful place in the pantheon of…well, gods, and more about whether he (and by extension, Hiyori) will even be able to survive with the increasingly troubled Yukine as his shinki. Hiyori once aimed to shelter Yukine from Yato’s negative influence and dehumanizing nature (which to be fair is kinda apropos, as Yukine is no longer human), but now she’s realizing it’s Yukine who’s hurting Yato. Thus the show continues to balance serious dramatic issues with the lighter comedic elements, while expanding our understanding of its engrossing mythos.

Cumulative Rating: 7.5 (8 of 12 episodes + 1 of 2 OVAs watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 8.15

5. Sekai Seifuku – Bouryaku no Zvezda

It’s always a pleasure every week checking in with our favorite gloriously whimsical secret society of bad guys, and the last month of episodes has done nothing to reduce its charm factor. Asuta is becoming gradually weaned off of “normalcy”, or rather Zvezda and its feud with White Light are becoming his new normal. But the thing he seems to have run away from in the first place—namely his dad—and the political power he wields looms large as Zvezda’s next foe, which may prove less conquerable than the jungle gym.

Cumulative Rating: 7.714 (7 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.29

4. Golden Time

(second cour, episodes 13-24)

While we’re eager to see how Golden Time manages to clean up the terrific mess it’s made of Banri’s brain (if it even plans to do so), we’re a bit sad that the show will be over in just four short weeks. It’s been a long and at times very emotional ride full of cruel twists of fate and luck, but not without its moments of joy and levity. Ironically, Banri is perhaps the least compelling major character on the show, considering if you strip away is unique circumstances there’s not much of a personality there. But there’s so much win around him it’s hardly mattered.

Cumulative Rating: 8.143 (8 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.92

3. Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren

There are plenty of great shows that have never had sequels and may well be the better for it; but there was a lot more story to tell on multiple fronts, and Chuunibyou 2 is proving that those stories are worth telling and worth watching. The show has settled into a nice groove, switching between episodes that inch Yuuta and Rikka closer together, followed by episodes that focus on the other members of the club.

Cumulative Rating: 8.250 (8 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 8.05

2. Space Dandy

Chuunibyou is pretty damn good, but Space Dandy has been a little better, making it the undisputed king of the Winter two-thirds into the season. It’s done it by telling a totally different story week to week, jumping from one genre to the next, but exceling with its take on all of them. Our favorite so far was the story with Adelie, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Dandy pulls something even better out of its hat later on. All we ask is that it keep things relatively episodic; we’re enjoying the unpredictability the weekly reset button.

Cumulative Rating: 8.625 (8 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.6

1. (tie) Kill la Kill

(second cour, episodes 13-25)

Dandy is king of the Winter, but Kill la Kill has, in our humble opinion, already cemented its place among the best four or five anime of this decade (sure, it’s only been four-plus years, but still). Honestly, if we didn’t have a constant stream of new shows to watch every season, we’d sit down and watch it all over again almost as soon as it ends. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves: there’s still six episodes left to watch, and a world to be saved from alien clothing.

Cumulative Rating: 9.143 (7 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 8.11