Zankyou no Terror – 09

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Betray your brother, run away, or die with the girl he’s come to care for. The day Twelve had been dreading, when things go bad and he has to make an impossible choice, arrives much earlier than he probably hoped. With a ton of bombs strapped to her and not enough time to defuse them, Twelve ultimately makes a choice based on where he is there and then. Giving up the location doesn’t mean Nine’s certain death, just the destruction of their alliance (in all likelihood) and the jeopardizing of their grand scheme.

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But with Lisa sitting there—covered with bombs, initially trembling with fear; but after comforting words, becomes calm and accepting of her impending death—there’s no choice. Twelve can’t let her die. If he could give his life to save hers, he probably would have, but that wasn’t one of the options Five gave him. I must say, Five really did make good use of Lisa, and I’m alternating between the great risk she took and the reality that Twelve had already demonstrated to her that he would do anything to protect her, even sell out Nine.

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But despite being fairly certain, as Five was, that Twelve and Lisa weren’t going to blow up, did nothing to deflate the raw, horrifying, virtuoso tension of that Ferris Wheel scene. Yes, Ferris Wheels are a goofily poetic place to stage such a scene—as they’re supposed to be a place where joy is experienced, rather than despair (Deadman Wonderland FTW)—but the music sells the shit out of it, as does the animation of the characters’ faces. Not to mention, with two episodes left, it’s not impossible for them to die now—just highly unlikely. I’m glad they didn’t.

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This episode’s awesome continues as Shibazaki and Hamura pay a visit to Aoki, one of the researchers who participated in Project Athena, in which human pharmacological experimentation was performed on 26 numbered orphan test subjects, with the goal of synthesizing an artificial “savant syndrome”; an exercise in eugenics that went far beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct. Aoki gives a weak “Befehl ist Befehl” defense, but he knows he’s a monster; in fact, he’s glad someone came so he could make his confession before he died.

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What brings everything together isn’t just that Shibazaki is now aware of Twelve and Nine’s past, and that they have a very good reason to be pissed off; nor is it merely the fact that Twelve and Nine didn’t steal plutonium, but an experimental and probably highly destructive nuclear weapon. No, it’s that the one who gave Aoki his marching orders to poke and prod helpless kids to death, was none other than the politician who Shibazaki came so very close to bagging before he was demoted for peering to deeply into the abyss.

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Shibazaki can add thus add this to his heavy satchel of regrets: all those years ago, he might’ve had an opportunity, however small, to expose and put an end to Athena, had he rejected his demotion, gone rogue, and continued his investigation outside the law, as he is doing now. How far will he go this time? How far will the powers that be let him? It’s also implied from talk of “being out of time” and Five collapsing, that the remaining three subjects wont live much longer, even if they put aside their troubles. Now I’m thinking maybe Lisa outlives everyone else.

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Glasslip – 11

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—She’s kind and indecisive. She gets pushed around. She has trouble with it. And I’m making her even more confused. She made me realize I don’t know anything.
—I see. You like her.

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That’s one hell of a great line by Kakeru, followed by a great response by his mom. The description of one’s love for someone can and has filled great libraries throughout the ages, but at the end of the day, love is just love. As the Oracle said, you just know when you’re in love, through and through. Kakeru’s heart knows, even if his busy brain hasn’t caught up.

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Hina’s such a good sister. Lucky for her, Touka isn’t up to anything THAT bad.

First of all, this was a great episode for people who don’t like everyone being miserable and mad at each other for extended periods of time in these kind of shows, for every couple is where they should be: together, and more to the point enjoying being together, whether it’s Yuki going to see Yana dance, then running together, Sachi and Hiro going on a hike together, or Kakeru and Touka for nearly the whole episode.

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After their kiss, which neither regrets, Kakeru wonders if he’s just trying to make himself think he likes Touka. All due respect, Dr. Kakeru, Ph.D., but you’re still in friggin’ high school. I think you’re overthinking things. But then again, when you’re seeing what may be flashes of possible futures, perhaps you can’t afford not to be serious.

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When the two decide to watch his mom play piano with her family present, like when they spend the night in the art room, Kakeru and Touka are experimenting; attempting to experience conditions that might stimulate Touka’s ability. But when Touka’s parents (and Hina, who really went to bat for Touka the previous night) actually come, and mingle pleasantly with Kakeru’s, he also wonders that maybe that’s enough.

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All these supernatural flashes and visions are really a more direct manifestation of the fear of loneliness Kakeru would have anyway. Life has given him a choice: his mom is willing to take him abroad with her, or he can go to school and get closer to Touka. But that choice is set aside for now, and they hold hands listening to his mom play, and a vision of snow falling on the town takes over. Is winter coming?

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I don’t want to discount the awesomeness of the other two couples; while they got less time, they made the most of it. During a blissful mountaintop picnic, Sachi apologizes to Hiro, while Yuki and Yana are now much better, to the point Yana isn’t even upset when Yuki says he has to talk with Touko one more time. The couples are all together now, but whether they stay that way depends both on circumstances and the choices they’ll have to make once they run out of summer.

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Rail Wars! – 11

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A good action story rule of thumb is that things are always more exciting on a speeding train. A train job is more exciting than a bank job; a bank train job would be the ultimate. Heck, a train shower is better than a shower in some lame stationary structure. Rail Wars! instinctively understands and capitalizes on this fact in its penultimate episode.

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Like the draisine miniarc, the characters are almost constantly on a speeding train here, which lends a lot more adrenaline and momentum. Prince Bernina doesn’t take up a lot of time here, as she’s whisked off to safety by Iida after D4 successfully fends off the thugs and captures two of them in a team effort (and thanks to that really weak taser). With the guest star out of the way, we can focus on the regulars; a focus I favor, especially so close to the end of the run.

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When the other thugs take Haruka hostage and tell them they’ll exchange her for the prince, Naoto dresses up as the prince. It’s a gambit that doesn’t work a moment longer than it needs to for D4’s heavies—Aoi and Shou—to do what they do. It gets a bit hairy, but in the end the bad guys are vanquished and Haruka is safe and sound. Unfortunately, the train’s controls are also vanquished, thanks to all the gunfire.

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That’s what’s so great about employing trains in an action scenario: it ain’t over till the train is successfully stopped. Naoto does the brave thing: deciding to disconnect the engines so the cars behind will slow and eventually stop on their own. Not wanting him to steal all the glory, Aoi stays with him to decouple, but she later reveals the shootout left her wounded. But when Naoto has his chance to jump off, he stays right there with Aoi.

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He says it’s because he was scared, but let’s be real: he’s not the kind of person to save himself and leave someone behind, especially Aoi. He tenderly dresses her wound, and catches her in his arms when the track turns, and for maybe the first time, Aoi looks like she’s finally going to confess. Hey, if they’re about to die, why not?

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Alas, the cavalry interrupts their lovey-dovey moment, but what a cavalry: three DF51s in tandem going down the up line! RW has had a huge wealth of equipment to work with throughout its run, and has always been adept at breaking out the big toys when the situation warrants it. Fittingly, the episode ends with Naoto, looking every bit the shining prince, gallantly carrying Aoi off the train, to reunite with their colleagues.

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Majimoji Rurumo – 10

Paradisu!!!!!
Paradisu!!!!!

Placed in such a compliant environment as an inn with a mixed bath, Kouta can’t help but revert to his unrepentant, er, horndogging around. Smartly, the ladies prepared by having towels on under their towels, should he rip them off (which he does). Thus Kouta doesn’t accomplish everything he had hoped to, but just sharing a bath with the ladies is heaven enough for him.

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Table tennis is wonderful.

The second half of the episode puts him through hell, as Senpai makes him drink an innocuous-looking bottle of water as payment for letting him goof off instead of accompanying the Occult Club on their trip to the Ookami shrine. That water turns out to be “oomizu”, or water that transforms the drinker into a wolf. Thus Kouta becomes the exactly what he can sometimes be described: a dog. A real one.

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Requiem for a Wolf

Moreover, he believes it’s divine punishment for his perverted transgressions. Unable to talk, only growl and howl, getting through to anyone is impossible; putting him in one of his biggest predicaments yet. But he learns he has nothing to fear, because whether he’s in wolf or human form, he’s Rurumo’s contractor, and she’ll always be able to recognize him and be there for him.

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“I’ll be right…here (points to heart)…”

Rurumo’s rescue literally saves his life, which is a nice reciprocation of all of the ways Kouta has helped her. But this more than just a transactional give-and-take in which the two keep score of who’s saved whom how many times. Rurumo and Kouta just intrinsically want to help and protect each other. I’ve long given up on declarative statements of romantic affection, but their actions have spoken louder than words.

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