Akame ga Kill! – 12

agk122

Night Raid’s decisive defeat of Dr. Stylish and his army of experiments does not immediately lead into another Jaeger fight, and that’s okay by me, since we get to see them enjoy a little down time (or rather leveling-up) time, and we’re formally introduced to their two new members and the new dynamics that ensue within the group.

agk124

First up, Susanoo, who we saw a lot of last week in action, turns out to be Najenda’s new Imperial Arm, having awakened for her in part because she resembles his old master (who was a guy, mind you). Because he was designed to serve as an Imperial bodyguard, he’s not just good at fighting, but is a neat freak and household chore-master. His culinary skills ingratiate him with Akame, and the two make fast friends.

agk122aagk125

The second new member is Chelsea, who dons a school uniform, is almost always sucking on a lollipop, and is voiced by the lovely and talented Nazuka Kaori. Najenda identifies her as one of the rebellion’s top assassins, specializing in deception. Her Imperial Arm “Gaea Foundation” is a cosmetics box that allows her to take the form of anyone, a useful skill the group has lacked thus far. She’s also very laid back, confident, and arrogant, and clashes with Mine often.

agk126agk127

When Mine orders Tatsumi and Lubbock to “teach her a lesson”, Tatsumi ends up learning that Chelsea is the only survivor of her old group, and doesn’t want that to happen with this new one, which is why she won’t hesitate to tell it like it is if she thinks any member of Night Raid is coming up short. There are a lot of battles that have yet to be fought for the revolution to succeed.

agk123

As Night Raid trains in a remote and secluded area, the rest of the Jaegers are also standing by when Esdeath realizes Dr. Stylish has bought it. As the person who gave Seryu her new arms, he is yet another loss for her, putting what remains of her sanity in jeopardy before an increasingly empathetic Esdeath comforts her (beating Wave to the punch). Seryu remains an interesting character in that she is utterly convinced she and the Jaegers are the good guys.

agk128

For her part, Esdeath is still upset over Tatsumi fleeing, and is determined to get him back, but we learn that Run has joined the Jaegers to “observe” her, suggesting he may have plans in mind she may not agree with. We close with the reveal of another new guy who has a big grin and sics danger beasts on miners. One major takeaway from this episode is that there’s plenty of material for the second cour.

7_mag

Space Dandy 2 – 12

sd121

Space Dandy has spoofed a great number of things, but never a courtroom drama until now. What I appreciated was just how polished and professional a courtroom drama it came up with, which still managed to include Dandy trademarks such as a plethora of strange-looking aliens, crazy plot twists, and a story that starts out about as simple as you can get but gradually expands into much more.

sd122

The trial also served as a kind of unofficial retrospective of Dandy’s journey thus far. Despite the fact he, Meow and QT are friends, the “defendant’s affidavit” is a lot more harsh and impersonal about their relationships, while Scarlett is forced to admit from the witness chair that he’s never brought in a particularly rare alien. As the incident of the transdimensional batted ball gets more strange, we enter into the quantum and metaphysical qualities that often surround Dandy. That, and his love of Boobies.

sd123

What made this episode so good was its dedication to telling a story in a calm and orderly fashion within the courtroom confines it established, not matter how crazy the particulars of the incident get (and they get plenty crazy). The prosecutor is big, flashy, and intimidating, yet respectful, while the defender puny and more reserved but just as tenacious in his desire to learn the truth of things. Dandy, notably, doesn’t say a word through the trial.

sd124

Finally, it was just a gas to watch how the twisting trial wove all the individual well-spun threads of the case. A multitude of scenarios presents itself, but the story of the incident is constantly being revised as new information comes to light. Turns out a kid on a faraway planet went a little too far and batted a ball with such murderous intent that it transported the ball into the victim’s apartment and into his head.

sd125

Despite the fact there was ample evidence and motive established to convict either Dandy or Rose (or both of them) of conspiring to kill Guy, all of that turned out to be totally peripheral to the true crime. This episode emphasizes the crucial importance of the presence of reasonable doubt. Ironically, it’s a tweeting juror who happens to be on the boy’s feed that flips the whole case upside down. Oh, and the victim wasn’t dead after all, so no harm, no foul.

sd126

Dandy is free to go, and his buds, while mildly perturbed he described their roles in his life so callously, are glad he’s back…and then, outside the courthouse, there’s an alien army waiting for him. The episode closes with a “To Be Continued”, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the final episode of Dandy doesn’t bother picking up on this. I could just be one more reminder that the twists and turns in a story never stop, and it’s time for the next adventure.

sd127

The super-serious end credits were pretty awesome too.

9_ses

Barakamon – 11

bkm111

“All Work and No Play” – that’s what Handa Seishuu was before traveling to the island. All that work was preventing him from experiencing life and stifling his calligraphy.That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised if the director provoked the punch that sent Sei away on purpose, conspiring with Sei’s dad to get the lad out of his hermetically-sealed comfort zone of Tokyo to a place where he would find new inspiration and where his talents could expand and blossom.

bkm112

Whether it was all planned or the grown-ups used the punch as an excuse, the gambit paid off nicely, as Handa Seishuu is not only doing far more interesting work, but is also a more humble, caring, present person. Of course his growth doesn’t stop him from splashing tea on his “star” masterpiece just seconds before the director has a chance to bestow a grand prize appraisal of it. In other words, it was good enough for the exhibition, but now it’s ruined, so he must come up with another, even better piece.

bkm113

The first we see of Seishuu in this episode, he’s very stern and distant-looking in a suit on a train platform, carrying over the somewhat “stranger-ish” nature of his sudden departure from the island without a word. Thankfully, as soon as he interacts with Kawafuji we see he’s the same old overdramatic overreacting man-child we know and love. And it’s actually not a bad thing to wreck what would have been his exhibition submission, since it challenges him to repeat the brilliance with new constraints of time and location.

bkm113a

It doesn’t go well at first. At his stately traditional-style family home, surrounded by the bustling city, Seishuu finds he simply can’t write the way he did on the island. Trying to have Kawafuji and Kousuke role play as villagers doesn’t cut it, either. Kawafuji determines the only way to get anything out of Seishuu is to bring the villagers to him…via telephone. Hearing everyone’s voices brightens his mood and sparks his imagination, and after pulling another all-nighter, he seems confident he’s again achieved excellence.

bkm114

We don’t get to see that piece yet, but all I know for sure is that this episode achieved excellence for sure. It was an elegant, uncompromising blend of side-splitting comedy (mostly at Seishuu’s expense) and affecting drama—elements not uncommon in any episode of Barakamon but taken up a notch here, and augmented by the fresh setting and hectic circumstances. Seishuu looks to be in good shape for the exhibition, and hopefully he’ll be back in the village at some point during the finale.

9_ses