Nisekoi – 13

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One thing that’s been driving me MAD throughout this whole “mystery girl” thing is, why should it even matter? They were FIVE, for crying out loud. It doesn’t matter who Raku liked then; it matters who he likes now. Or I should say, who he likes the most now. I’d say at this point the ranking goes: Kosaki, Chitoge, Seishirou, Ruri, and lastly, whatever other attractive girl happens to get all up in his space. He is still a teenager after all.

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Sure, it could be argued that he’s kept his promise seriously out of a sense of honor and loyalty to that girl…but if that’s the case, why doesn’t he even remember her friggin’ hair color? No, the mystery is an excuse he’s using (likely not intentionally) to avoid making a decision about the here and now. Even if he and Chitoge have to remain in their false relationship for the sake of their families doesn’t mean Raku can’t be upfront and honest with the girl he/likes (most) at present. …Right? (I’m not asking anyone in particular.) But the fact is, even if Raku wasn’t overthinking or obsessing over the hazy past, he’s still in a difficult situation.

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While it may seem he likes Kosaki the most, Chitoge is definitely making inroads with her adorableness, whether she’s drawing nearer to him so he won’t get wet under the umbrella, or jumping into his arms when lightning strikes, their bond seems to be growing, in fits and spurts. And Raku’s dad continues the trend of the dads saying awesome things by confirming what I said, to Raku and Chitoge’s horror: they’re looking less nise and more koi all the time.

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Thank brings me to this week’s Big Reveal: the famous photo Raku finds, the only one from ten years ago, is neither Kosaki or Chitoge. BOOM. Furthermore, before Raku can ask his dad who the third girl was, his dad announces that she’s Raku’s betrothed (or fiancee), and she’s on her way to see him. And you know what? That’s fine with me. I’ve routed for all three girls at different times in the show’s run. I welcome a fourth, eager to see what she brings to the table…not more futility, I hope!

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Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei – 01

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It’s 2095, the world map has been redrawn and three billion people died in WWIII, and yes, people are still classist dicks to each other! Hooray! At the National Magic University Affiliated First High School—a suspiciously fancy and hoity-toity facility considering the world blew the shit up not too long ago—administrators decided to split the classes into elite “blooms” and lowly “weeds”, giving the former fancier insignia to go along with their inflated sense of superiority.

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It seems like a pretty silly idea as opposed to, oh I don’t know, just having separate schools for the two courses…but whaevs. Brideing the Blooms and the Weeds are the Shiba siblings Tatsuya and Miyuki, who are often mistaken for twins because they’re so close—both in age and intimacy. Seriously, no Oreimo-style tsundereness on display here; Miyuki is super-caring, affectionate, dutiful sister who greatly admires her big bro and doesn’t like it when he’s slighted by family or enrolled as a reserve. They may be too close, but if Tetsuya minds, he doesn’t let on. Their quasi-romantic behavior is played up for mild laughter throughout.

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I’m not going to lie: not a whole lot happened this week aside from the show laying out the world’s history, introducing the cast, demonstrating how magic works (it’s a man-made technology here) and setting up future alliances and conflicts. But I also can’t really pick out any glaring flaws; the execution was very polished, with even wide shots of masses of students fully drawn and colored. Ishida Kana did a great job with Aquarion Evol’s female characters, and I’m digging his character designs and classy uniforms here as well, esp. the way the girls’ skirts bear different patterns based on their magical focus.

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There’s also a nice low-key futuristic quality to Iwasaki Taku’s subtle score. I see promise in Miyuki being torn betweeen the two classes, the triangle between Tatsuya, Miyuki, and perhaps Shibata, as well as the playful aggression between Erika and Leo. And Tatsuya’s way of equitably diffusing the fight at the end with his analytical adeptness shows he’s not just a punch-and-kick kinda protagonist. Oh, and hey, nobody’s trying to assassinate anyone!

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Akuma no Riddle – 01

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My Spring 2014 season starts off with Akuma no Riddle, about a “Black Class” of assassin girls (none of whom are black) locked in a battle royale. This is a patently silly premise, but I still enjoyed the stylish first episode, which didn’t waste a lot of time establishing that the main character Azuma Tokaku is a tough-as-nails bad-ass. The balance of the episode mainly consists of introductions, and the girls sizing each other up and exchanging hostile expressions and threats…or in the case of the class softy, Ichinose Haru, beaming at everyone and distributing phone straps.

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While Haru only wants to make friends and graduate, Azuma’s goal is to identify her target and take her out. She believes Haru is most likely her target, as she “smells” different from the others, and gives off a target-like vibe. Haru and Azuma are roommates. They also contrast in many ways: feminine and masculine, optimistic and nihilistic; warm and cool in both mood and color. When Azuma first spots Haru, the latter is gloriously backlit by the sun, throwing Azuma off to the point she doesn’t notice a civilian (their homeroom teacher Akaru) was right behind her.

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Haru’s apparent involuntary propensity for distracting Azuma (or Tokaku-san, as she calls her) and throwing her off her game serves to plant the seeds of a romance between the two, as the whole reason Azuma is so thrown off is that Haru evokes feelings she’s never experienced and cannot describe. Azuma has been a very efficient, businesslike assassin up to this point. It will be interesting to see how she holds her own against the very colorful bunch of mildly psychopathic classmates—while dealing with the burden of those new feelings.

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Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil – 09

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Cecil resumes her investigation of the incident six years ago that led to her mother being sentenced to death (we’ll set aside the fact she wasn’t instantly put to death, as we’ve seen done to other condemned). Seseri warns everyone not to act alone, so Cecil acts alone, rushing bull-headed into all the people involved in the case, and getting stonewalled by all of them.

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After the judge in the trial throws her out of his office, Cecil turns to Shizumu for aid. They have a very interesting, pseudo-romantic scene together in a paddleboat, which is hit by another boat forcing Shizumu to grab Cecil into a compromising position to save her from falling overboard. Throughout this episode we see Shizumu struggling with his conscience. On the one hand, he feels obligated to obey his father, and probably shares a bit of his dad’s hatred for the humans who have oppressed Wuds.

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But his inability to throw away the protective charm Cecil gave him, his confrontation with Quinn, and the look on his face when he’s about to kidnap Cecil using the investigation files as bait all suggest he’s taking no pleasure in deceiving her. But blood proves thicker than water, and if it wasn’t for Sameoka Kiba of Shark Knight (who also spotted Tento Moyo in Canada), Shizumu would have done what his father asked of him: continue preparing “the catalyst” for whatever dread ritual being cooking up.

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We can understand Cecil going to a cop she trusts for help, but we don’t understand why she keeps the rest of the firm in the dark, and doesn’t even enlist Natsuna’s help, even though Natsuna offered it last week. Natsuna’s tsundere defense of Cecil when Seseri chews her out for tardiness (and the other barristers’ shock) was an awesome little scene, but it didn’t result in any collaboration.

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Even when Ageha takes Cecil aside and tells her everyone at Butterfly are her friends whom she can count on, Cecil still goes to Shizumu alone. To uncover the truth about her mom’s case, and more to the point, to stay alive and free, she’s going to have to rely on them more, which means being more open. Of course, depending on Tento Moyo’s true loyalties, even that could backfire.

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