DRAMAtical Murder – 06

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It’s ironic that DMMd brings up the concept of mind control, since that’s what one could call the effect that led me to continue to watch a show that isn’t quite up to snuff and probably never will be. Last week’s action was diverting enough, but only led to more of everyone gathered around the table as Grams talks, and talks, and talks some more. It was boring and tedious.

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The show had been stubbornly maintaing an atmosphere of mystery, and I’d been hankering for some answers, but this gratuitous infodump didn’t satisfy as I’d hoped. Brain research; human experimentation; brainwashing; conspiracies; accidents; latent abilities; it was too many cliches dropped on us too fast, and all kind of ran together.

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I also have found myself unable to ignore the show’s thoroughly lackluster animation. I’ve dropped shows with similarly iffy stories that have looked better than this in much less busy seasons. And the monocled villain and his goals are just…not interesting. I stuck around for six episodes, but there hasn’t been enough improvement to merit continued watching.

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Akame ga Kill! – 06

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While AGK painted super-bleak pasts for all of the members of Night Raid (the most recent bleak past being Tatsumi’s), but their present had typically been painted with an optimistic, jaunty brush, as they defeated target after despicable target with righteous ease.

Not this time.

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Just when Tatsumi was finding solace in the warm kindness of Sheele, she is the first curmember to bite the dust, indicating the show is fully invested in the idea that members of Night Raid can indeed die any day, at any moment, something Tatsumi didn’t understand the full weight of. Bumping off a major character only a quarter into its run was a bold move by a show has never been afraid to be bold, even to the point of ludicrousness.

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The episode is pretty sneaky about it going down, too, starting out with Just Any Other Mission as Tatsumi and Leone sneak into a drug-addled brothel, kill its operators with their usual baroque flourish, and free the women. Leone even licks Tatsumi’s ear! When they wonder whether Mine and Sheele had as easy a time as they did, we cut to that pair, having just completed their mission as well.

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Then the episode did something I didn’t expect: it never goes back to Tatsumi or Leone, but sticks with Mine and Sheele for the rest of the episode, because now is the time Seryu has chosen to emerge from her hiding spot and take out one of the wanted Night Raid members; specifically, Sheele. Her reasons are simple: they’re criminals, she’s justice, they killed her dad and dad figure.

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Let’s get this out of the way: Seryu’s Imperial Arm Coro is ridiculously overpowered, capable of doing…whatever it is Coro (and the show) wants or needs it to do. Still, it wasn’t invincible; if they could find its core they could destroy it; and it would deactivate if Seryu herself was killed. But Mine simply doesn’t find the core in time, and Sheele’s fatal mistake is treating Seryu like normal human being.

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A normal human being whose arms were lopped off would probably be willing to yield, but Seryu was hiding guns in her arms, and even her mouth. This is frankly quite disturbing, and a little random, but there it is. This is an battle where Night Raid comes close but ultimately comes up a little short, and they were always only an inch or a second away from being killed.

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We didn’t get a lot of time with Sheele, but this has always been an exceedingly efficient—if never particularly deep or nuanced—show, and we cared enough about Sheele to feel bad when she was killed. The montage that closed the curtain on her life was another example of doing a lot with a little bit of time and material.

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So…Night Raid can lose sometimes, and they can die. The group of assassins looks particularly vulnerable and shell-shocked when Mine arrives outside HQ with the grim news. With Seryu arm-less but still alive and full of bile and Esdeath arriving in the capital, more of them are likely to die still. Whatever happens, Tatsumi’s honeymoon is officially over.

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Space Dandy 2 – 06

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This week on Space Dandy, love is in the air…sometimes. A co-worked convinces Scarlet to look after her love life better by attending a Space Mixer, but Scarlet is quickly disillusioned and gets too drunk, which leads to her finding seemingly the perfect man: Gentle Nobra, who invites her aboard his giant purple cloud-mansion ship.

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Gentle is a Cloudian, who just so happens to be the alien Dandy & Co. have been searching for in vain for over six months. Dandy is starved half-to-death and has love on his mind, but once he gets some food in him at the all-you-can-eat-buffet, he returns to normal. That buffet happens to be the same mixer where Scarlet is.

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Believing Scarlet was abducted by the Cloudian, Dandy hauls ass to intercept the cloud ship, passing through it like the cloud in Castle in the Sky, but finds that Scarlet is fine where she is and resents Dandy’s mere presence. Then Gentle gets a distress call from Honey, who was abducted by Dr. Gel to get intel on Dandy.

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Dr. Gel underestimates Honey, who is able to escape from his clutches, and an angered Gentle crushes his ship with his. We later learn that Honey is Gentle’s half-Cloudian half-sister, for what it’s worth. Gentle loses his cloud, making him useless as Dandy’s bounty, but he vows to make a new one.

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Gentle reminded us of Tuxedo Mask from Preston’s Sailor Moon program, while a few of Scarlet’s reactions to him reminded me of Usagi from the same show. There was also a persistent, reverbed laugh track accompanying the cross-banter, lending the episode a distinct sitcom-y feel.

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Perhaps this was just a send-up of how ridiculous and nonsensical romance anime can get, especially when fantasy elements are included. It was also one more opportunity to demonstrate Dr. Gel’s incompetence. It’s nutty, and a little unfocused, but all-in-all not a bad ride.

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Barakamon – 06

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This week Seishuu’s open-ended self-finding country island retreat is suddenly interrupted by fresh outsiders: his longtime friend Kawafuji, accompanied by Kanzaki Kousuke, the 18-year-old who beat him in the last exhibition. As his dealer, Kawafuji believes showing up with a rival will get Seishuu motivated, and no one knows how Seishuu works more than Kawafuji.

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In the process, however, through a misunderstanding the villagers think Kawafuji tried to kidnap Naru, so they take him to the elders meeting, which turns into a drinking party. It’s fun to see how a “normal” city slicker like Kawafuji interacts with the villagers. He’s less a “lamb in the woods” as Seishuu was, but nevertheless ends up incapacitated from alcohol for most of the episode.

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Kawafuji originally had Seishuu go to the island—a place where he’d have to form social connections—as a kind of punishment, expecting Seishuu (who is bad at socializing with people) to give up quickly, return home, and shape up. After all, if Seishuu isn’t on his game, Kawafuji doesn’t make money. But contrary to Kawafuji’s expectations, Seishuu has embraced the community.

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Kawafuji’s drunkenness and hangover mean Kousuke gets time alone with Seishuu (or at least with Seishuu, Naru, and whatever other villagers happen to be hanging around). Kousuke is a dyed-in-the-wool Handa Seishuu Groupie; something Seishuu himself never thought existed in the first place. He’s mortified when Kousuke produces all the literature, photography, and quotes related to Seishuu he could find.

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He even thinks Kousuke is having a laugh with all this, but that’s not the case: Kousuke genuinely admires Seishuu, or at least the Seishuu who made the caligraphy that inspired him to get into it himself. Now he thinks Seishuu’s “vacation” is having an negative effect on his work; using his own win over him as proof.

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But at the end of the day, only Handa Seishuu can define what he is and how he writes. The fundamentally-perfect, textbook work Seishuu produced in the past belongs in the past. He’s trying to find a new Seishuu, one just as legitimate as the last, even if it makes admirers like Kousuke mad. Admirers have to step back and realize they can’t tell an artist what to do. The artist knows best, and Seishuu is staying put.

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Stray Observations:

  • Sawa and Hiro both assumed Seishuu would react a lot worse than he does if he knew who Kousuke was, but he turned out to be more mature than that, to their shock.
  • Seishuu managed to created an A.T. Field back in school. Neat!
  • “Don’t console me wordlessly!” —Seishuu to Hina…perhaps the line of the episode.
  • The three guys crashing at Seishuu’s house are simply too much for Tama, who is, despite what she says, a classic fujoshi.

Tokyo Ghoul – 06

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Ken’s flesh really does the trick, as Touka unleashes her kagune at full strength and is able to take a good-size chunk out of Shuu. He’ll probably heal, but it will take a long time, during which everyone can escape. But Touka goes one step further: she wants to kill Kimi for seeing what she wasn’t supposed to see.

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Only when Touka’s about to kill her, Kimi doesn’t recoil or scream; she calls Touka “pretty”, something Touka simply didn’t have the capacity to process in that moment. Unable to kill her, she flies off, and later spends all her time locked in her room. Later, Ken tells her he hopes Kimi and Nishiki are, like her and Yoriko, examples of how humans and ghouls can coexist: as friends and family.

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Speaking of families, the Fueguchi’s do not have a good week. Hinami gets in a fight with her mom over not being able to see her dad, but eventually they make up. Meanwhile her dad Asaki is used as bait by Mado and Amon to lure the S-Class ghoul Jason into the light. They aren’t able to subdue him, and Jason escapes, but they kill Asaki as consolation, and start looking for his wife and daughter, using his scent to lure the latter.

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So far, Ken’s been teaching Hinami how to read the tougher kanji in her book; trying to contribute to some semblance of a normal life the girl should be able to lead, because aside from needing flesh to survive, that’s what she is: a normal, innocent girl. On this point, the Doves vehemently disagree, to the point of proclaiming disgust at the sight of the “mother-daughter act” before them.

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Hinami’s mom goes into Protector Mode, unleashing her kagune in an effort to buy time for Hinami’s escape that could well lead to her death, and while she doesn’t look like a pushover in the ghoul department, she’s outnumbered four-to-one. Now, as Hinami is about to be fresh out of parents, Ken will have to do a bit more than teach her kanji.

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