Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 07

bryn71

Murakami Ryouta didn’t ask for a harem of escaped super-human hotties. He got saved by one of them in a mudslide, felt compelled to help her, and one girl led to another until his Observatory of Love grew to four. Their salvation is his crusade, and worrying over them is a full-time job…though he has a part-time job tutoring nosy pipsqueaks.

bryn72

At his present level of involvement in their…situation, there’s no way someone like him wouldn’t blame himself if some or all of them were to meet their doom, which could come slow when they run out of pills his uncle can’t copy in time, or fast when the next lab-assassin, Nanami, rears her twin-tailed head.

bryn73

His options are all but limited to storming the lab where they escaped from and stealing more pills, and the timing is limited to a month. This is not an ideal situation, and the chances of success with any plan are slimmer than Kazumi’s figure, but in the meantime, the girls still have their lives. If he can’t save them, he’s not going to stop them from living them.

bryn74

To that end, Neko goes to Karaoke and gets hit on, and Ryouta takes Kazumi to what turns out to be a date to Akiba. Here, Kazumi’s gentler, sweeter side really shines through; it’s the kind of perfect day you expect a show to give someone before killing them. I hope I’m wrong, because Kazumi’s kind of the life of the party.

7_mag

One Week Friends – 07

1w71

After the often manic romantic anarchy of Nisekoi, it’s comforting to get back to basics: one guy, one girl. Plus, one supposedly faulty memory, and one surprisingly devoted best friend. Yuuki doesn’t have to worry about other girls, just Kaori…though Kaori is enough, to see how he sometimes struggles, which is where Shogo comes in.

1w72

As Kaori’s friends grow, Yuuki starts to long for the days when he had more alone time with her. But as her new friends say, she’s very “pure”, in the literal sense of the term, they’re right: in her present state, friends of any kind are still a very new thing, so it’s that much more difficult to distinguish different kinds of friends, or the possibility of something more than a friend. In a way, she’s already there, but wouldn’t be able to define it if asked.

1w73

Yuuki isn’t necessarily the best person for this, because he’s in love with her. That’s where the primary conflict comes in: what is Yuuki to her? She says she likes him, but she also likes Saki, Shogo, and Math. Yuuki can’t very well ask if she likes him that way, because she’s probably still figuringout what one “like” is; juggling an entirely different kind of “like” could be intimidating and even lead to regression.

1w74

Okay, so things aren’t as simple here compared to Nisekoi; the romance may only be between two, but there’s still a lot of work for Yuuki to do elaborate on his feelings for Kaori. Sure, he fears losing what he has, but ultimately he won’t be content until he’s knows for sure that Kaori has the same feelings he has for her. It’s likely, she does, but doesn’t understand them yet. She certainly seems to be remembering him better.

8_ses

Nisekoi – 19

nise191

It’s telling that despite getting one of the things he’s always dreamed of—the opportunity to play Romeo to Kosaki’s Juliet—Raku can’t stop thinking about Chitoge. He can’t enjoy being closer with Kosaki knowing something is up with Chitoge. And the more he presses Chitoge about what that something is, the more cold stone walls Chitoge puts up in front of her.

nise192

When Chitoge insists she wants nothing more to do with him—despite what it could mean for their families—and worse still, tells him she never once enjoyed being with him. Raku, taking all this as the gods’ truth, responds in kind, telling Chitoge off to the point she slaps him and storms off. Neither are able to say what they’re thinking, and end up at rock bottom, having scorched much earth in their wakes.

nise193

But the show brings them both as low as they’ve ever been so they can be brought back up. As if the universe acted to right all missteps the two have taken, poor Kosaki ends up spraining and ankle, and with her understudy Marika home sick, Raku must beg Chitoge to step in as his Juliet, putting aside the fact they “hate” each other. It’s a great little moment when he takes her spatula’d hand, proclaiming “Found you!”

nise194

This gets them talking again, and rather than exchange more barbs at one another, they say actually say a bit of what’s really in their hearts. Raku realizes he hurt her at the beach, and Chitoge learns he doesn’t hate her (not by a long shot). He’s still convinced they’d make a terrible real couple, but he knows they make a great fake one, which makes her the Juliet he needs in the here and now. Their mutual relief upon “finding” each other, after lifting the veil of mutual scorn, is palpable. Break a leg, kids!

9_ses

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei – 07

maho71

The seven-episode “Enrollment” arc comes to an end on a high note, providing another nice balance of high-level action and character work that felt earned approached genuine poignancy a couple of times. The episode bursts out of the gate by having the Humvee carrying the assault team barrel straight through the front gate of Blanche’s Japan HQ.

maho72

Aside from a couple of quiet moments where Tatsuya counts the soldiers in the next room, the action doesn’t let up, and when the episode ticks past the ten minute mark, Blance’s hapless leader’s arm is lopped off by Kirihara, avenging Mibu. Erika and Leo don’t even have to do anything in the raid; it goes off without a hitch.

maho73

This was never about whether they’d defeat Tsukasa Hajime and his team of disposable soldiers; we knew going in from the composition of the party that they were going to make it look easy. What was in doubt was whether they’d still make it entertaining, and they succeeded. Tatsuya and Miyuki let no opportunity for a devastatingly bad-ass remark pass them by. For a moment I almost felt bad for Blanche, as the Shibas sounded far more dangerous and diabolical.

maho74

Another reason to make this such an easy fight was to demonstrate that Tatsuya isn’t just Miyuki’s brother, he’s her physical and emotional protector. All the arrogance and aloofness he’s displayed is explained by the simple fact there’s no reason for him to even be in high school if he doesn’t want to be; he’s already learned everything the school can teach him, and far more. But he does want to be there, by Miyuki’s side.

maho75

While it was a little neat and tidy for Sayaka and Tsukasa’s bro to be let off the hook due to hypnosis, we’re glad the arc stuck with Sayaka through her physical and more importantly, her emotional recuperation. She gets kudos from me for being so open and earnest about her feelings for Tatsuya and Kirihara, and how she came to see the latter as the better fit, as she fears she’d never catch up to the former.

maho76

Miyuki, meanwhile, is committed to staying right beside her brother, as long as he will allow her to—matching her steps to his is a cute way of showing this—even if he blasts into the heavens at light speed. But Tatsuya tells her he’s not here just to fulfill his duty, but because school could be his last opportunity to live a normal life with her, before his responsibilities preclude any pretense of normalcy.

8_mag

Sidonia no Kishi – 06

sid61

Hero. Idol. Tug-of-war Rope. Pawn. Fuck-up. Scapegoat. Nagate’s a little of everything this week, like the episode itself. We start off with the jubilation of him and Shizuka being rescued by all the other Gardes (a goosebump-inducing scene we’re glad was repeated), and he gains instant celebrity status upon his return.

sid62a

Before the celebrations, Nagate and Shizuka undergo extensive medical tests. A little yellow light on Shizuka’s readout appears to be nothing serious, but it sets a foreboding, optimism-eroding precedent. Nagate, Shizuka, Kunato and En are promoted to full Gardes pilots; a mere formality considering they did what the Elite Four couldn’t: defeat the Gauna and return alive.

sid62

Nagate makes a point to visit the huge memorial to the Fallen Four, which only ingratiates him further with Yuhata, who enters Full Pursuit Mode at the post-promotion party. Izana remains thoroughly annoyed she has to share Nagate with anyone, but Shizuka takes a more pragmatic approach.

sid63

In the ensuing bathysphere excursion, we get the closest thing Sidonia’s had to a harem quarrel, as the girls are literally jammed in the door, with Shizuka ending up alone with Nagate by sheer dumb luck (and physics). The mere fact they’re in their own bathysphere blushing at one another is more foreshadowing, lest we forget what became of the last couple we saw in one of these.

sid64

As his peers revel in Nagate’s heroics and much of the greater public slurps up the feel-good narrative, Kobayashi consults with the elder council (whatever they’re called; I forget), who see Nagate as a valuable pawn in the never-ending quest to extend their own lives preserve Sidonia. And if he proves less pliable or competent than they envisioned, Kobayashi is to dispose of him.

sid65

That leads to Nagate’s final roles this week: fuck-up and scapegoat. He and Shizuka can’t even complete their love cruise when they’re ordered to sortie against a very nasty and tough-looking “hive-type” Gauna. But we don’t see the battle; that’s likely to come. Instead, we go straight from Shizuka giving Nagate a parting salute the camera dwells on (the episode’s title) to him waking up in hospital.

sid65a

Like him, we have to piece together what happened, but unlike him I know immediately it’s nothing good. When the Honoka sisters give him eye-daggers and Izana says nothing, he has to get it from the TV, which slowly, cruelly reveals by steady text crawl what has happened: much of the Gauna was defeated, but Shizuka was lost. Another devastating gut punch, driven home by locking the camera on his stunned face.

sid66

Throughout this episode we saw an adjustment in Norio: while watching Nagate receive All The Laurels, he resigns himself to absorbing rather than outwardly projecting his contempt for it all. He extends an olive branch, bides his time, and in the end, it looks like he comes out on top. Because to the masses, the only hero that matters is the one that just saved you.

8_brav

Mekakucity Actors – 06

mek61

Did you go into this week thinking we’d see what became of Shintaro, Konoha, Hibiya and Ayano? I did, but I forgot that this show has exhibited a penchant for non-linear storytelling, and further reinforces that this week with an intriguing flashback.

mek62

A big part of its intrigue is the fact that it centers on two close friends (and potentially something more), Enomoto Takane and Kokonose Haruka. We’ve seen these two before, but in this flashback, Takane isn’t a digital avatar and Haruka isn’t a futuristic-looking fellow with superpowers. They’re just normal high schoolers, the only two members of the club they’re in.

mek63

They decide to hold a shoot-em-up video game challenge for the school festival, and Takane dominates everyone who steps up to challenge her, eventually revealing that she is the celebrity gaming sensation “Ene” on the web. Already, we see her building what may become her future digital self.

mek64

She’s been something of a one-note character since the beginning of the show, but this episode fleshes her out more, showing her as just as shy, insecure, and vulnerable as many of the other folks we’ve come across. The events this week shed some light on how she came to become a constant “companion” of Shintaro, as she promises to serve him and call him “master” if she loses to him.

mek65

She does lose to him, decisively, which shakes her confidence, but falling from the pedestal the masses of people she beat is also liberating in its own way. There’s also a bittersweet quality to seeing Takane, Haruka, Shintaro and Ayano (who we know is now gone) hanging out as friends at school, considering what’s become of them in the present.

7_ses