Akuma no Riddle – 06

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First and foremost, this was an efficient episode in which three assassins fell, leaving only five (excluding Tokaku) left with seven episodes remaining. But it also happened to be one of the show’s more intricate and affecting episodes, due to the use of the Romeo & Juliet play to serve as a mirror of sorts for the couple of Namatame Chitaru and Kirigaya Hitsugi.

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One of the most famous couples in literature is a very easy well to draw from, but its used effectively here. R&J were victims of their famile’s mutual hate, which is really another way of saying “bad luck”; Chitaru and Hitsugi are similar victims of bad luck, in that the Hitsugi just happened to be “Angel’s Trumpet”, the murderer of Chitaru’s mentor’s daughter, and someone she’d sworn to kill. Had Hitsugi’s victims been strangers to Chitaru, there’d be no reason to kill her.

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But she was, and Chitaru won’t abandon her mission. Still, after some nice swordplay between Tokaku and Chitaru, Hitsugi fesses up, and later forces Chitaru’s dagger into her own heart, killing her. We’ll never know if Chitaru would have actually killed the girl she loved; considering she promptly poisoned herself right after, I’d say probably not. In any case, it’s a suitably tragic end, and we were invested enough to feel bad about it and wish things could have turned out differently.

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It was a good move to combine two assassin’s backstories, though in Hitsugi’s case, we don’t know any more than Chitaru why she killed her mentor’s daughter. Maybe it doesn’t matter; it was a job, and it was the job that made them enemies, even though they loved each other. The short shrift goes to the play’s director, Shiena, who is poisoned by Hitsugi, hospitalized, and disqualified. I guess that saves the show the trouble of giving us her backstory.

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Stray Observations:

  • The reveal of Kirigaya as this week’s baddie is very well done in general.
  • I particularly liked the loud, foreboding music that accompanied the montage of otherwise innocuous candid photos.
  • The civilian students are never shown in color, which may well save cash, but also makes the assassins seem that much more vivid and beautiful.
  • I also approved of the crowd’s predictable swooning at the sight of Chitaru-as-Romeo. She was one debonair girl.
  • There’s just one thing that bothered me a bit: when Chitaru thinks Haru is Angel’s Trumpet and she and Tokaku go outside to duel, Haru was left unprotected, and Kirigaya was free to assassinate her right there. I guess she couldn’t do it in front of the civvies…or maybe clearing up Chitaru’s misunderstanding by telling her the truth was more important. In any case, “the show went on.”
  • We almost forgot to mention: both Romeo & Juliet’s and Chitaru & Hitsugi’s fates served as a kind of cautionary tale for Tokaku & Haru, past enemies themselves. You never know if something about Haru comes up that Tokaku just can’t forgive, or like Chitaru, possibly be able to forgive, but ending up killing her anyway.

Sidonia no Kishi – 05

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Sidonia belts out yet another BADASS episode, that’s very different from the four that preceded it. In fact, one of the only things that held it back from a 10 was the somewhat meaningless cutaway back to Sidonia in the middle for what was nothing but an infodump by Kobayashi and the wierd Bear woman (?)(Why is she a bear? Inquiring minds want to know…). But the badassery of this episode wasn’t due to any flashy battles or explosions.

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No, this was a bottle episode, the majority of which took place inside Takane’s frame after rescuing Shizuka. They’re beyond the point of no return and his fame is out of juice anyway, so they have to do a lot of sitting and waiting for one of two things: death or rescue. This is by no means original, but I have to say, I’m hard-pressed to recall better executions of this kind of lost-in-space scenario.

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Leaving aside the convenience of two love interests being in such close contact for so long. And Shizuka strips down to her birthday suit for a totally practical reason: to photosynthesize! Despite how cold and terrifying space looks out there and how tiny the frame looks compared to it, there’s a warmth from the two of them that permeates their scenes. You get the feeling everything will be fine, because at the very least, if they die, they’ll die together.

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Ten days pass before any hint of rescue, and food and water are exhausted, the latter an example of over-complicated technology coming to bite them ass at the worst possible time. When Takane starts to succumb to dehydration, that same fancypants tech is his savior, as Shizuka is able to filter her urine for him to drink, a touching scene with shades of Princess Mononoke. The act also gives Takane the idea to filter the frame’s lubricant for more water. Wonderful things, these filters!

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The victory is enough for the couple to try a closer embrace, forgetting their suits are on. Further hanky-panky is interrupted by One Hell Of A Dramatic Entrance by the entire defense wing, which disobeyed orders and formed a 256-frame relay ring to come back for the pilot who defeated the Gauna (along with his would-be girlfriend). Their arrival is a powerful moment of jubilation and relief, and a happy ending that neither felt like a cheat nor an inevitability.

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Weekly ED: Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom (Second Cour)

The somewhat redundantly-titled 2009 Beetrain series Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom, was a well-written, smart, patient, imminently satisfying, sometimes heartbreaking action thriller with surprisingly good drama revolving around the lives of young assassins numbered Ein, Zwei, and Drei.

It was also highly addictive; likely a tortorous show to have to wait for every week (we binged it about a year before starting this blog). It also had fantastic music backing everything up.

The songstress KOKIA and the whimsical, frenetic ALI PROJECT did the first cour’s OP and ED, respectively, and they switched places for the second. This lovely lament is KOKIA’s “Transparent.”

Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin – 05

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Aside from having his space invaded by Tensai and Daruku, Juugo is also starting to feel the financial pain of living with Nanana: since she plays video games constantly, the monthly electric bill is a formidable ¥15,765, in addition to more than ¥6,000 in gas and water.

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That’s more than $217 in American, no small sum for a high schooler, even if his father hadn’t cut him off through Yukihime, who insists he return into the fold. When he refuses, she bounces, warning him his face will be an unwelcome sight in the future. With a sense of obligation to remain by Nanana’s side (and a landlady who will happily toss him out onto the street if he doesn’t pay up), Juugo must find a job.

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Whatever Matsuri was up to, he seems quite determined to make it on his own without involving himself with it, though he seems a bit sad to have to turn from Yukihime. While we don’t yet know the whole story, you have to respect his sticking to his guns, even if that’s the more treacherous path. I also liked how the episode managed to slip in a little scene of Juugo admiring Tensai’s fetching disguise, as well as having him reveal a little jealousy toward Daruku’s…proximity to her.

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Hardly a rolling boil of a romance, but there’s definitely something there. When he chooses a job that pays handsomely but is sketchy as shit, he ends up on the wrong side of the apparent utopia, delivering a suitcase of drugs fancy flour to the stylish don of a lawless district who also collects treasures. Juugo ultimately fails to collect his payment (he has to escape a sudden raid), but unless Shiki was just joking (I doubt it), he’d better find another job…or another treasure.

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