Majimoji Rurumo – 12 (Fin)

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“I want to wear that…”

Kouta and Rurumo’s romance was always simple and sweet, based on mutual kindness and fondness, with little in the way of serious drama getting in the way of their happiness. The only kink was Ruru’s training; to complete it Kouta would have to spend all of his magical tickets, whereupon his life would end. But that’s just not how things ended up working out.

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Look at this guy…working a job so he can surprise Rurumo. This is what a man is.

The tickets, in the end, kinda fell by the wayside, along with the vast majority of magical stuff; something I really didn’t mind at all. As much as I enjoy magical shows, I was more invested in the human relationship being cultivated than any magical bureaucratic nonsense going on in the background. The show seems to understand this as well, which is what makes Rurumo’s explanation of what the heck happened for most of the episode a pleasant surprise.

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*touch*

It all starts as New Year’s nears, and Kouta seeks something to present to Ruru as a token of his affection, and finds it in a rather expensive yukata rental he must work a part-time job to afford. First of all, kudos to Kouta: he’s become a fine young man, and his perverse tendencies have become almost as peripheral as the magic tickets. He can’t use those to make money, because it wouldn’t be a surprise.

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Sumiko does look good in a shrine maiden’s outfit, it must be said

He gathers the necessary funds,then falls asleep under the kotatsu, and the morning of New Year’s turns out to be the titular “Day Without Rurumo.” Kouta has no direct memories of Ruru, nor does his family or friends, though there are little clues here and there that tweak Kouta’s memory, though not long enough to fully remember her. This is a little alarming at first, but something about the way it was unfolding told us it would turn out alright in the end.

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Ruru’s awsome look of belated surprise

That turns out to be the case, as as soon as the clock strikes twelve—maybe a second or two before hand—Kouta remembers Rurumo, just as she’s passing him by in the yukata he bought her. New Year’s Eve happened to be the day of her “evaluation”, which meant everyone she knew had their memories temporarily wiped to avoid interference. What seemed like a huge dilemma turned out to be the magical equivalent of an annual review.

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Baaaaaw I’ll miss these two

When he hangs his wish to the future at the shrine, Kouta apologizes to Ruru for not being of any help whatsoever in her training, but the fact is, neither of them want the training to end, not just because it would kill him, but because they like being around each other and don’t want that to end. Like I said: simple and sweet.

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Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – 12 (Fin)

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Chiyo discovers the Valentines’ day candy she wanted to give to Nozaki. Then we take a trip down Valentines day memory lane from Chiyo and Nozaki’s unique perspectives.

It’s charming and Nozaki be so crazy!

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Finally secure enough with herself, Chiyo decides to give Nozaki the candies anyway… Only to collide with Nozaki in the hall and drop them to the floor! However, because Nozaki thinks he’s enraged Chiyo, and because he can’t comprehend a single sentence she says to him, Nozaki decides to eat the candies anyway, straight off the floor.

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Then its festival time and everyone in draw-manga club is there for various draw manga reasons — and food reasons too. Very little productive happens but everyone seems fully set in their relationships, even if only due to mometum.

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Waka will continue to chase Seo and she will be unaware but enjoy his company; Kashima will continue to love Hori, who will continue to be annoyed because he thinks she doesn’t like him, and Chiyou will stay with Nozaki because he doesn’t not like her and honestly enjoys having her around.

… and Mikorin will continue to be a secret Otaku… because we didn’t have time for him to get a love interest in the first place.

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Chiyo and Nozaki end the festival high above on a quiet play ground and Chiyo reminisces about their first meeting. As now, Nozaki was awkward, hard to predict motives, but adorable. As now, it was his contrasting characteristics that drew Chiyo to him: thuggish but wanting dainty things, mean but helpful, and strong but prone to awkwardly falling asleep.

Then Chiyo confesses her love for Nozaki, who doesn’t understand her over the fireworks and confesses his love for fireworks too. Instead of breaking her heart, Chiyo laughs with this pure, consistent Nozakiness and comes to love the moment for what it is: fun, even if he doesn’t love her.

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GSN dash K strolls out the door with a graceful charm that almost hides how little it has evolved over these past 12 episodes. Sure! It’s a slice of life piece and those almost never go anywhere, but good grief! Not even Kashima’s singing side plot gets resolved!

Still, episode 12 was a solid piece of story telling. The use of flashbacks were especially effective at reminding us how much has happened, antics wise, if not emotionally for the characters. (I dont remember why Nozaki was always in bandages in the beginning!)

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Thanks to Zane for handing this one off to me. always charming, usually funny, only a few girl-hitting bumps along the way. GSN dash K deserves a place in the top pics of the summer season.

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Glasslip – 13 (Fin)

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MAL has been decidedly hard on Glasslip, with its score plummeting to 6 as I write this, and now that the show is over, I’m starting to finally understand why: Glasslip is stingy. It shows you an awful lot of stuff, but most of it could be seen as idle, even lazy slice-of-life. What it doesn’t do is clearly lay out to you what’s going on beneath or parallel to these goings-on. To a casual viewer; especially one who is watching a lot of other, more direct stuff, seeking Glasslip’s subtle deeper meaning can feel like …work.

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Further occluding that meaning is the fact we have three couplles of nearly equal stature, but for the fact the main one, that of Kakeru and Touka, includes all this “future fragments” business. At a crucial point in this finale, Touka’s mom confesses to seeing such fragments after flashes of light, when she was younger, and thought they were the future. This is actually a case of Glasslip being generous in its hintage as to what’s going on with Touka, and it’s surprisingly simple: her mom was merely growing up, just as Touka is.

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Glasslip isn’t just about a “slice-of-life”, although it excels at that admirably. It’s about the transition from childhood (middle school) to adulthood (high school and beyond). Kakeru’s dad makes the point to Kakeru that it’s his life to live and his shots to call. Touka was seeing possible futures in her head out of weariness of the future and all the change it entailed that would disrupt the nice thing she’s had going thus far.

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Shiny stuff just happened to stimulate the flashes, and during the fireworks at the beginning of the show when she and Kakeru share that moment wasn’t just pure chance, it was their wills at work: he wanted to see her and she him. Kakeru’s fears about hurting Touka with the fragments were just his fears about being with her hurting her in another form, and by the end it seems both of them are on the same page, not only about what the fragments could have meant and, obviously, how they feel about each other.

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The fruits of the summer were as follows: Yuki and Yana started to run together, suggesting they may have become a couple in the background. Hiro and Sachi are still the cutest item in the world, with Hiro so excited to see her he gets up early for school. Touka walks to school alone, and Kakeru isn’t there when she turns her back, but she doesn’t seem troubled. The tent in his yard is gone, but he’ll be back to see those winter fireworks with her.

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The Secret of Kells

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Thursday night is movie night in my neck of the woods, and sometimes we want something short and sweet rather than a three-hour action blockbuster. That’s when a friend happened upon the Oscar-nominated The Secret of Kells. As it was his week to choose, we went with it, and I’m glad we did. It’s only 75 minutes long, but it makes full use of that runtime to create and achingly gorgeous world where danger is always lurks but hope endures thanks to the titular book.

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We follow Brendan, a redheaded young monk under the care of his uncle, the stern, stoic Abbot Cellach (voiced by veteran Irish actor Brendan Gleeson), whose Isengard-like Abbey is ringed by the tents of refugees escaping the scourge of the horn-tipped, beast-like “Northmen” (read: Vikings). A thick high wall surrounds the abbey and its grounds, but that wall looks like Swiss cheese, and some aren’t even sure it would keep the barbarians out even if it was completed, which is the Abbot’s one and only concern.

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Because he only wants the wall completed before the Northmen arrive, he is frustrated whenever Brendan is doing anything other than contributing to that goal, like asking the other monks about the Book of Iona, then getting into the practice of making ink and drawing his own pages with brother Aidan. This is a really neat reference to the fact that in the darker ages of civilization in Europe (and likely elsewhere), it was the monks who preserved the history that had come before in the form of elaborately bound and illustrated books, which you can still see in museums and even open up and read in old libraries.

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This surprisingly ambitious little movie is just as lush and imaginative as much of that almost impossibly intricate real-world work; rich in color and texture. Every character has its own distinct look and manner of movement, be it jerky or smooth; lightning-quick or molasses-slow. The film also features one of the best fictional cat’s I’ve seen in a while: Pangur Ban. All characters and animals are full of expressiveness and verve. My favorite of these was the mystical fairy-wolf-girl Aisling, whom Brendan meets when looking for seeds to make ink.

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Aisling is kind of a perfect storm of cuteness (in both appearance and voice) and utter badassdom, who saves Brendan’s life (more than once) and befriends him because, well, why not? Brendan’s nice to her, and also clearly enchanted. When Brendan ends up imprisoned in a tower for disobeying the Abbot Cellach, she breaks him out by singing a hauntingly beautiful song to the cat, transforming it into an ethereal specter that can pass through bars and spring him. The jist of the Irish lyrics:

There is nothing in this life but mist,
And we are not alive,
but for a little short spell.

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When the Northmen arrive at Kells it’s an almost instant rout, and the Abbot immediately regrets such a short-sighted strategy for the abbey’s defense. It’s sad to see the beautiful environs of Brendan’s home go up in smoke and flame, but not all is lost. Years pass, during which he completes the Book of Iona with Aidan, renaming it the Book of Kells, which is a real and very revered thing, incidently.

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After Aidan passes away, Brendan arrives back in the woods outside his home, where the wolf-Aisiling leads him to the abbey. Just as Abbot Cellach is about to lose hope, his nephew arrives and shows him the great book, providing him comfort in his waning days. At once a gorgeous and inventive story steeped in stirring Celtic mythology and a moving coming-of-age tale in which a sheltered boy expands his world and finds his calling, The Secret of Kells is a must-watch for any fan of animation.

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Zankyou no Terror – 11 (Fin)

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The perpetrators of the failed Athena Project meant for its child subjects to be discarded and forgotten. Nine and Twelve’s plan wasn’t about revenge, but about making sure they and the others weren’t forgotten; that those still alive who were responsible were plucked from beneath the rocks they’d hidden under. With increasingly stunning yet nonlethal attacks, they gradually built up their stature, until no one would be able to forget what they did, and by extension, that they lived.

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The most stunning yet is the high-altitude detonation of the stolen atomic bomb, which ended up not harming anyone but disabled all electronics in Japan. While it was yet another means of gaining attention and exposure among the masses, it also served as a firm counter-riposte to the efforts of the members of the Athena project to use technology to artificially enhance mankind. For at least a time, the EMP emitted from the bomb reverted the country to a far simpler state.

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Shibazaki became the Oedipus to Nine and Twelve’s Sphinx, looking past easy answers to solve the riddles of where they came from, what they were doing, and why. They unwittingly helped him to solve the case that had ruined his career, and finally learn what those he suspected of wrongdoing were up to, and putting them away for it. Justice tastes a lot better when it is acknowledged not just by oneself or amongst a few individuals, but by the same system that once helped shelter the wrongdoers.

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I will say that even in a series of a mere eleven episodes, Five’s arc was ultimately a bit of a detour, though as the only other surviving Athena subject, her actions tore Nine and Twelve apart, threatening the whole enterprise, only to bring them back together as strong as ever following her demise. She represented an alternate effect of Athena: that of unchecked chaos and rage. It’s also worth noting that after the end of the facility, she was and remained alone right up until her final confrontation with the others, while at least Nine and Twelve had each other, which had a grounding effect.

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Even so, just before the bomb goes off, when Lisa isn’t sure whether the world is about to end, Twelve tells her he and Nine were never needed by anyone until they met her and everything changed. Neither were ever ones for true, honest human interaction, let alone feeling what it was like to care for someone so much that you’d do anything to save them, which Twelve got that with Lisa. Even if he and Nine didn’t (nor intended to) survive the gestation of the better world they sought to build, they didn’t take Lisa down with them.

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On the contrary, through her adventures and their many rescues of her and acts of kindness towards her, Twelve and Nine instilled a fresh appreciation for life, and while many will ask her what it was like to be “Sphinx’s hostage” for all that time, she could never tell them much, because they’d never fully understand: she wan’t their hostage. She was their friend; their little sister whom they kept safe without fail. And they gave her hope.

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