Ao Haru Ride – 12 (Fin)

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You’ll probably call me naive or even masochistic for holding out hope someone would confess to someone in this final episode, but I still steeled myself to expect a phone ringing before Futaba could get the words out after that excruciating pause. The interruption turns out to be her stomach growling.

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While that’s pretty dang disappointing, it’s not the end of the world; in fact, it’s probably a good thing: Futaba only just opened up that door; shoving a confession in there on the same night is a bit much. Opening the door at all is still a huge victory for Futaba, who hints to Kou that his brother might need to be told he doesn’t resent him for being away when their mom was sick.

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That leads to a really great scene with the Tanaka men all under the same roof eating dinner together like a family for the first time in who knows how long. With Futaba’s cool rushing-to-the-rescue expression and words of encouragement still ringing in his head, Kou takes small first steps to reconnecting with his brother and dad.

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So now Futaba and Kou’s friendship has deepened and maybe started turning towards something more, so it’s a shame there are no more episodes to see how that goes. As if to acknowledge things aren’t quite the same, the two act very self-conscious and shy around each other, unsure of how to act after all that hugging. But Kou shows again how much of an effect Futaba had on him by agreeing to take the study groups seriously, resulting in him scoring higher than the other four.

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Summer arrives, and with it comes a concerted effort by the show to set up a potential second season, what with the Tanaka/Shuuko/Aya triangle being reestablished, Yuuri reiterating to Futaba her intention to court Kou, and another shot of that random kid Futaba accidentally groped. I know of no firm plans for such a season, but I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to another Blue Spring Ride.

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Sailor Moon Crystal – 06

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A statement to the media by the criminal Tuxedo Mask makes the Legendary Silver Crystal (LSC) the talk of Tokyo, in an effort to gather more information. How Tux has the clout to make statements to the media, and why so many people are taken in by all this magical mumbo-jumbo is a mystery, but his efforts end up spooking Beryl, who dispatches Zoisite to Earth.

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Zoey poses as a researcher on the crystal being interviewed on the news, and uses the broadcast to brainwash everyone watching into searching for it at all costs. Is it just me, or is asking/hypnotizing a bunch of random people to look in random places in the city not necessarily the best way of going about looking for something? It’s basically saying “Screw it; I’m going to leave it up to luck.

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Then again, it’s not like the Sailor Guardians are having any more success, either in finding the crystal or identifying their princess. When Luna shows them their secret base under the arcade, then accuses Tux of being responsible for the brain-washings, Usagi gets upset and runs away, which isn’t really a good idea considering the situation.

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As a result, Mercury, Mars and Jupiter end up in their tightest spot yet, though only because their bolts of various colors miss Zoey, but his green bolts take them all down. Turns out Usagi is right: while he’s after the crystal, Tux is a friend, and it’s because of him she gets her confidence back, rescues her friends with her new Moon Healing Escalation, and forces the bad guys to retreat.

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From the numerous plot contrivances to the continued inscrutability of the MacGuffin-like LSC; the repetitive and unimaginatively-combined transformation sequences (split-screen them, you guys!); the fact Tokyo Tower is prominent but the taller Sky Tree nowhere to be found; this show sometimes watches like it was made twenty years ago, though it’s brand new. Regardless, I’m enjoying its charming, almost stubborn throwback approach to anime.

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Sabagebu! – 12 (Fin!)

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The girls of the survival game club throw one final, perfect outing in episode 12. As always, It’s charming, delightfully absurd and honestly funny but above all else, Sabagebu 12 delivers surprising character development and even bigger over the top antics without losing it’s characters and focus in the process.

Truly, Sabagebu 12 is the best finale I’ve seen since Teggen Toppa Gurran Laggan… Time for some synopsis!

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A mysterious and untreatable disease is sweeping Japan and the government has unleashed the National Survival Game Club, an elite but rarely active survival club style imaginary military force to round up the infected post haste!

Unfortunately Momoka has all the illness’ symptoms: Fever, skin that is turning green and her voice sounds auto-tuned. Even more unfortunately, Sakura-sensei has already reported Momoka’s condition and the authorities are on their way.

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Intermittent skirmishes and cameos lead the girls to an abandoned church, which is quickly surrounded by government troops. However, news of Momoka’s escape is broadcast all across the land and soon allies arrive to make a final stand.

Fried Chicken Lemon, Momoka’s Mom, The forgetful old woman and the old man with the cowboy hat, the Hentai Photographer trio, the Yammy fat idol and even the middle school girl are all there, quick roping from Platy and Crabbie’s chopper.

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“Why protect me? I dont deserve it!” cries a voice modulated Momoka

“Youre right. Your vengeance is extreme. You are cruel to the weak and suck up to the strong. You casually crush others underfoot for your own desires. However, I’ve never been bored with you by my side,” replies a stead fast Miou. “That’s more than enough for me.”

Touched and finally coming to feel their friendship Momoka and rises and epic battle ensues.

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What elevates episode 12 to genius is how in character it stays, despite upping the ante in every way: Momoka is as devious as ever, but unable to act due to being sick; Miou is there to lead and to tackle the thrilling challenge at hand; Maya is there because she’s overly nice… and needs to get shot first… in the boobs; Kaya is there because it’s an Otaku’s dream for such a battle, but she’s also pragmatic and the only club member to wear a gas mask to avoid Momoka’s infection and Urara is there because she truly loves Momoka with all her warped heart.

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As each friend goes down, the newly caring — newly having fun for fun’s sake — Momoka actually feels loss for the first time. Platy’s chopper is even shot down with a SAM. Finally, Urara shields Momoka one last time, this time without being purposefully used as a human shield and the emotional damage is done. 

The Virgin Mary statue cries, a dove flies over head and in a swell of classical music, Momoka surrenders, tears in her eyes, at last in love with her friends.

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Then the civil servants receive word that a cure has been found and that it’s simple, over the counter stuff and that they can all go home.

Everyone dusts off, a bit embarrassed about how emotional it all got and the episode ends.

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Except the episode isn’t over! It’s Christmas now, inexplicably, and the club is trying to put together a surprise birthday party for Urara, who never gets to experience a special time of her own due to the date of her birth.

Preparations fail spectacularly: Sakura-sensei bleeds all over the birthday card, Miou decorates the cake before cooking it, Kaya makese paper cranes instead of streamers and the ‘bear’ they purchased for Urara turns out to be a real bear and goes off to terrorize the locals. 

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So the club ties up Momoka and gives her as a present and we end with Urarara sharing a bath with Momoka, happy as a clam, and the narrator saying ‘see you in hell, baby!”

See you in hell, baby!

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As a finale, this was picture perfect. Cheesy, packed and exploding with insanity, but charming and off all the shows this season, it even gave the protagonist some growth!

Who knew a show that’s already featured road-warrior style battles with the elderly and an homage to the alien/predator franchises had bigger sharks left to jump?

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