Rail Wars! – 03

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The literal cold open with two unidentified young girls crouch in the snow and record the sounds of an oncoming train, an obvious hobby, is an enticing way to start the episode. Turns out of those girls is Sasshou Mari, a former classmate of Takayama’s who’s joining the OJT.

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It looks like a relatively quiet week for Defense 4, with Koumi bailing out Takayama with her decent English skills and Sakurai having to hand-write and apology for using excessive force on an alleged perp (glad that last part, and Sakurai’s general ruthlessness, is still in force here). But Sasshou provides them their latest “mission” when she reports her friend Kaori is missing.

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With that…it’s time to hit the binders of incident reports, illustrating just how diligent and detail-oriented the operation is; but there’s nothing in them on Kaori. When Kaori’s phone shows up at the lost-and-found, Sasshou’s super-sensitive ears are able to pore over the last sound recording on the phone’s memory and identify the quayside station where she was abducted.

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From there, Defense 4 conduct a thorough search of the station’s environs, finding a bound and gagged Kaori in a dark warehouse. When the drug dealing gangsters who captured her return, The Railway Public Safety Crew is ready for them with extended batons. Unfortunately the battle isn’t shown, but Takayama apparently doesn’t embarrass himself in it, as Sasshou proclaims he was “cool back there” when it’s all over.

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And when this episode is all over what we had was, again, a scenario in which the unique skill sets of certain characters prove decisive in winning the day, from Koumi’s English to Sasshou’s ears. I also enjoyed the pleasant chemistry and subtle flirting between Takayama and Sasshou that overshadowed whatever lingering passion Takayama and Sakurai still bore from last week’s crisis.

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Weekly ED: Zankyou no Terror

My first thought upon watching the ending sequence for Zankyou no Terror was “Damn, this girl knows how to sing.” I’m no expert on vocalization, but she (that is, Aimer) seems to be doing all manner of interesting things with her voice in this song, “Dare ka, Umi o.” (“Somebody, the Ocean.”), composed by Yoko Kanno.

My second thought ws “Damn, this ending sequence really fits the mood of the show”: a kind of dark, melancholy feeling of being adrift, lost, drowning; trying to find one’s form in the world. The two crows/ravens she espies in the sky are a sign of freedom and hope, but also dread.  Your mileage may vary; I just think it’s a gorgeous song and sequence.

Tokyo ESP – 01

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With Tokyo ESP it looks like we have a rare case of me agreeing with a lot of Franklin’s assessment: this wasn’t the worst-looking show (though it did seem like they were proud of their floating Diet building), but the visuals weren’t what I’d call stand-to-attention impressive.

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ESP’s more irksome flaws were in its simple good-vs.-evil milieu and overabundance of characters. It didn’t help that I’ve recently seen X-Men: Days of Future Past, which also featured bands of mutants on a rampage and city landmarks floating around. Call ’em espers, call ’em mutants; it’s much the same thing, and feels a bit stale.

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As Franklin also said, the Good Guys are really just generic good guys, and even say “not all espers are bad” to a surprisingly receptive crowd. They may be good, but the espers who are bad are having a field day with the city. You’d think there’d be a lot more panic among the masses than we see here.

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I also wasn’t at all pleased with the random insertion of the Little Girl+Speeding Truck™ trope, drawn out to a torturous, molasses-slow pace. For a loud enormous truck that looks like its moving at 120mph, it sure takes its time getting to that girl, who’d you’d think was deaf and blind, judging from her reaction to it.

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For an episode that mostly eschewed plot and character in order to serve up some chaotic “in the thick of it” action, some odd choices were made, and there was so much going on around the city it seemed the episode itself had trouble deciding who and what to show us.

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Finally, the person who’s hyped as the savior of the city, who only shows up in the final moments, is the umpteenth Special White-Haired Girl™ (well, sandy blonde). Will she mosh across the masses as they chant “Mhysa”? I think I’ll leave it to Franklin to find out.

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Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: The Drinking Game

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Few of our readers know this, but RABUJOI gets its name from a color-coded line of novelty beverages (Does not! -Ed.) RABUJOI 10, which is in a Dark Blue can, has been described as a divine mixture of chocolate and cherry, so light that it evaporates the second it hits the drinker’s tongue, leaving only a tantalizing kiss of flavor while RABUJOI Nahm’ba One! is rumored to contain spilled water from the Fukushima reactor mixed with vintage Tab cola. (Too Soon, Frank… -Ed.)

By contrast, RABUJOI 4’s Fizzy Mustard with a hint of pickle is not so bad. (yet not very good either!) So it is fitting that we pair it with this, a drinking game and primal way to survive the 20+ hours of the not-very-good Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam!

Read on…but beware!

1. Did a female character sacrifices herself so that an ally may fight on? Take a shot!

1a. Did a captain of a battleship sacrificed his entire crew for the sacrificing character no less than 10 minutes earlier? Take one shot per character seen on the bridge!

2. Did someone smack Kamille for being a jackass? Take a shot!

3. Did Kamille fall in love with another Cyber Newtype and choose to protect her despite signs she was bananas crazy and/or obviously out to kill him? Take a shot!

3a. Did Kamille ultimately kill her ‘tragically’? Take a shot!

4. Did Jerid lose another fight? Take a shot!

4a. Did Jerid, a trained adult soldier in his, get beaten in hand to hand combat by an untrained teenager? Take two additional shots!

4b. Was Jerid on crutches, still unhealed from the last fight? Take another shot!

Zankyou no Terror – 02

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Nine and Twelve are most definitely, as Shibasaki’s old cop partner/boss and current head of the terrorist investigation says, trying to pick a fight with the country. I can take an educated guess why: the country they’re picking a fight with is the one that made them the super-intelligent, resourceful terrorists they are. Or heck, maybe it’s not revenge after all, but just a simple challenge: “If there’s someone who can stop us, come forward; we’re waiting”.

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Maybe the likes of Nine and Twelve can no longer go on living out their existences devoid of challenges or legitimate checks on their abilities. Someone does indeed answer the call, after a fashion: Shibasaki, the washed-up detective sharing a dark, dank office with another cop who spends most of his shift surfing the web, which is ironically how Shibasaki was exposed to the YouTube videos “Sphinx” posts before each attack. This week, they get all “Oedipal.”

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This was a particularly literary episode of Zankyou no Terror, as the police pick apart that Sphinx nickname in an attempt to try to piece together the M.O. of their adversary. Interestingly, as brash and devastating as last week’s attack was (the Tocho cost taxpayers so much money it’s nicknamed “Tax Tower”), there were no fatalities, which if anything is an even greater sign these two kids know what they’re doing. It’s also easier to root for them when they’re doing all they can to minimize public harm.

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Speaking of which, that first attack was also apparently the first time their desire to minimize casualties took a more specific form, vis-a-vis, Mishima Lisa. Nine doesn’t simply call her an innocent witness, but an accomplice. He twists the dagger by telling her there’s no going back. And yet there’s barely any further contact between them this week, save one scene where Twelve cruelly threatens Lisa, saying he’ll kill her if she puts a toe out of line. I guess he thought his Nine’s approach was too soft?

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I like the idea that Twelve thinks Lisa needs a stronger message, because it means he sees more to her than a helpless, hapless little girl. I’m hoping to see more of the strength and guile still hidden within her that we caught a glimpse of last week when she took that leap of faith. It’s also encouraging that Shibasaki was very close to foiling their latest attack on a police station, after he dismissed the most obvious answer to their YouTube riddle.

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Again, the details this week shine: Lisa being almost perpetually dunked in an inky darkness, so much so that when she’s finally out in the bleak sun she looks terribly vulnerable; the devious noodle delivery service-as-bomb delivery system; the Sophoclean analysis. There was also the feeling the mouse was still very much in control here, but the cat has woken up, stretched, and is alert and ready to hunt. How many more brilliant attacks can Sphinx pull off before they’re caught? Will Lisa become a true accomplice?

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