Zankyou no Terror – 07

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In preparation for more English dialogue from Five this week, I decided to come at it from another angle: if English is her character’s second language, then her thick accent is totally acceptable. But such realignments and caveats weren’t even necessary this week. There was so much going on I didn’t have time to give a shit how bad the English was or wasn’t.

Just about absolutely everything that went on this week was fantastic. Last week’s ending promised an intricate, precise game of Haneda Airport Bomb Chess between Five and Sphinx. It also hinted that Shibazaki and his colleagues were going to take action of some kind after sitting on their hands too long, and that Lisa would play some kind of role too. , The episode delivered everything we could have hoped for and then some.

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I remain confident in my assertion last week that Five is a cliched villain with a lame personal vendetta and all-but-unchecked autocratic power over the authorities. This week she’s taken down a peg just as Nine and the police were last week. The show sensed that we needed to see Nine land a blow, even a glancing one, on Five, and made it happen. But this episode was much, much more than just a duel between Five and Nine.

Shibazaki & Co. arrive at Haneda faced with the lofty challenge of finding a bomb in a massive, busy airport, but the more he wanders around, the more something smells rotten to the veteran detective. But even he couldn’t have predicted he’d end up helping the very terrorist he’s been chasing for six episodes stop the bombing, while unwittingly providing cover for their escape.

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That last bit is part the genius of this episode. When Shibazaki bursts into the control room and orders the bomb plane turned around, Five tells him he’s being Sphinx’s lap dog, and she’s not 100% wrong. But Shibazaki is also saving lives by picking the lesser of two evils. Five seems to be trying to appeal to his pride and ego, but after both have been trampled on so much throughout his career (most recently by Five herself), he’s not listening anymore. He’s the anti-Five, and thank God he’s here.

It’s a good thing he can, otherwise Nine, Twelve, and Lisa would’ve been SOL and lots of people would have died. Shibazaki is Nine’s trump card; he calls him to explain everything, and Shibazaki decides to believe him, because unlike the higher-ups and spooks, at least Nine is talking to him; letting him in on the loop. And once he’s in, he’s a potent ally. One great scene is how he even gets up the tower: by depending on his police colleagues to open a hole for him in their scrum with security.

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Also terrific was how Nine threw out Five’s book by placing an extra piece on the board, namely Lisa. Yes, Twelve pushed for her involvement, but she herself made the choice to participate. Both she and Nine and Twelve’s plan revolves around turning all of Five’s ample surveillance against her. Ironically, it’s not Lisa, but Nine who’s the decoy—playing chess with Five and keeping her eyes on him.

Meanwhile, Twelve makes use of every camera blind spot to sneak through the airport, while Lisa sets off a flare in the bathroom to set off the fire alarms, which create a blip in the video feed. During that blip—unbeknownst to Five until it’s too late—the real-time footage becomes footage recorded minutes earlier. It’s a full team effort by Sphinx, and as I said, a satisfying setback for the irritatingly haughty Five.

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But Five doesn’t stay down long, because, as she correctly remarks, Nine and Twelve’s new friend Lisa is a weakness, as illustrated when she’s picked up by Five’s henchman and tossed onto an otherwise empty plane with the bomb on board. I’ll admit, the moment Lisa is caught and when we realize how much trouble she’s in, I was crestfallen. But the show’s not going to kill Lisa today…so How Do They Get Out Of This One?

Very Carefully. The thrilling action set piece that concludes the episode brings everything together: Twelve’s fondness for Lisa; Nine’s sense of honor that has him helping Twelve save her; Lisa’s ability to follow directions and quickly make a cloth rope, and Nine’s ability to drive away from the plane before the explosion can engulf them. It’s some spellbinding, superbly directed stuff, and the Kanno soundtrack playing over everything really takes it to the next level, as her tunes tend to do.

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In return for his help, Shibazaki only gets a passing glance at the masked Sphinx No. 1 through a window before driving off into the night. And Five is Not Happy, and has Lisa’s student ID in hand. Which means even if Lisa remains safe and hidden with Sphinx (not a sure thing at all), her mother, wretch that she is, is now at risk.

Can Lisa throw her life away completely? Can Sphinx continue to stay a step ahead of Five? Can Shibazaki get back on the case and reign Five in? What about the plutonium? When’s the beach episode? If there’s no second cour, only four episodes remain to tackle these questions and more. We await them with bated breath.

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Majimoji Rurumo – 07

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Sometimes I know how I’m going to rate an episode right at its start, especially with beach episodes, which can be half-assed chores. So as with most other episodes of its ilk, a “5” or average score is a good early baseline. From there, it’s up to the episode to convince us to either raise or lower that 5.

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For the first three quarters of the episode, it was looking more like the latter: utterly boilerplate beach antics, complete with big bouncy boobs and male mischief. The only hint of originality was the fact that one notable character wasn’t wearing a swimsuit: Rurumo. Turns out she never bought one at the mall, possibly because she didn’t know she was supposed to.

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That proves key, as Chiro (one of the fanservice centerpieces in shellkini-clad human form) manages to find her a swimsuit that just so happens to be “The Legendary Swimsuit” the president of the Occult Club is searching for. It imbues its wearer with romantic assertiveness, and when a witch dons it, it also augments strength and speed.

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It comes up quick, but this is the turning point of the episode, because we know Rurumo harbors (and is trying to repress) feelings for Kouta, and we know Kouta is still invested in “reaching new levels.” This leads to Rurumo, under the influence of the swimsuit, making the first move on Kouta. Can Kouta resist? He can.

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Watching a slightly sunburnt Rurumo doze on the train home, Kouta admits to a certain degree of regret he didn’t let Rurumo “have her way”, but considering how he’s treated her so far in the show, it’s really, as he said earlier, “better this way.” If and when Rurumo plants her first kiss on his lips, he’d rather she do it while of sound mind and frail body, not under a spell with him trapped under a concrete tripod.

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After all that beach blandness, the episode finishes strong, reinforcing the show’s overarching premise that having Rurumo a persistent fixture in Kouta’s daily life continues to bring out the best in him. When push comes to shove, he can—and more to the point, wants to—set his hormones aside and do the right thing by her. And that’s what elevated this beach episode’s rating from the default of 5.

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Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!? – 05

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The roommates’ time at the beach turns sour as the Yakuza Bros turn out to be ghost hunters and steal Ghost Girl. With a little guidance from Sakuraba, Satomi leads the remaining roommates in a daring attack to get her back and defeats a giant ghoul-lady-ghost boss monster along the way. Happy endings and deeper friendship ensue.

This week’s RnS thankfully ignores the fact that it’s the second part of a beach & hot spring fanservice episode and jumps right into what really matters: introducing even more characters with inane, unexplained motivations!

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No seriously! I appreciate the vague explanation about who the Yakuza are and what they are up to but it wasn’t necessary to introduce another sexy-lady-ghost into the mix. Especially when she doesn’t seem to have survived her fight with Team Roommates.

Likewise, if we’re honest, we didn’t need to know anything about the Yakuza either, since they too are throwaway, nonsensical, and not very funny characters.

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And humor is ultimately RnS’ central problem. Specifically, when you get past the quirky ‘skins’ applied to the cast, their bones — their archetypes — are completely pedestrian, which puts all the weight on RnS’ visuals and Story. Sadly, RnS’ visuals are average at best and the narrative is soft-ball goofy for-goofy’s sake and not really funny either.

So here we are at episode 5 and we’re watching a comedy that isn’t especially funny, dotted with a little fanservice, which isn’t drawn especially well either. So why am I watching this?

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Technically, there are two mysteries behind the narrative that we haven’t uncovered yet (the shrine and what Satomi is knitting) but the suspicious lack of shrine since the premiere leads me to suspect it will either come out of nowhere to wrap the show up or never return again and the specifics of Satomi’s knitting is hardly enough to justify more episodes…
At best, we could be rooting for one of the girls to ‘happily ever after’ with the protagonist. I’m not sure I care, though.
Do you?

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Sabagebu! – 07

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While lost in the mountains, the Survival Club stumbles upon a village in distress. Vermin (raccoons, deer, etc) are devouring the village’s food supply — but the girls can’t bring themselves to shoot the cute little creatures. Then they meet an old hunter and learn about hunting culture in Japan and, ultimately, are incensed to become legal hunters. (end act 1)

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The girls attempt to ‘feel like men’ by dressing up but Momoka can’t get it right. Enter Kaya’s cosplay skills and soon Momoka is transformed into a mega hottie prince. Being Momoka, she wanders off from the group and tests her skills as a lady-killer. It goes great until she goes to far and all the wolfishly boy-hungry girls of her girls-only-school chase her around. 

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Trapped in a room with a tiny window, Momoka is forced to strip and smear herself in oil to escape. The clothes she left behind start the myth of a fairy boy living on campus and being naked in the bushes leads to some awkward photographs. Also, some leg-grindingly awkward molestation by Urara.

What am I watching? Love Stage?? (end act 2)

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A stranger invades the school and the club sees their chance to shine…only to get completely destroyed. Uraura’s bangs are cut straight, Maya ends up in a track suit with french braids, Miou ends up in pig tails. Even with a minigun the attacker can not be stopped!

Turns out it’s Momoka’s mom, who wanted to slip onto campus undetected in order to give Momoka lunch without embarrassing her in front of her class mates. It’s weird. It’s funny. It’s another sign that Momoka’s mom is not what she appears!

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There’s a great “im going off to die” warrior vibe to the old man hunter, musically and visually. it’s snot bubble funny too, since the last gunshot he fires off in the distance would usually signifying his death…but he’s fighting cute and physically harmless woodland creatures!

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Additionally, the opening arc was very very very very talky about the decline of hunting in japan and the process to get a license and the law around it. I can’t verify how accurate the info was but it’s interesting to think that an bonkers crazy anime could actually be an effective marketing tool for a societal concern.

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Act 2 was a little weaker than average. I guess it was funny but it was so short, like the Yakuza plot last week, it just didn’t grab me that much.

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Act 3 was short too, and light on humor but, because it flashes back to Act 2, the segment felt like it was part of something larger. Besides, who doesn’t like Momoka’s weird ninja mom?!

I can’t wait for a Momoka’s Dad episode. Who knows what kind of weirdness that’ll cook up.

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Another good week but a hair down from last week and certainly Sabagebu! is struggling to top the toilet incident two weeks ago. I can’t really complain though. The weirdness is just more specific and more personal than the other B-list comedy competitors this season.

Above all else, the Survival Club Girls are having FUN! And it’s fun to watch them have it.

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