GARO: Honoo no Kokuin – 05

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On the day of the New Moon, as promised, Zaruba takes Leon’s life…but only for the day. In this regard, he’s kind of like a werewolf, only during the opposite moon phase, he doesn’t turn into a wolf, but just sleeps all day, as most teenagers do.

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Anyway, Leon being out of action is a perfect opportunity to turn our attention to Prince Alfonso and his new savior, who turns out to be Sir Rafael Banderas, a Makai Knight and a friend of the Old Golden Knight Garo. We learn that Alfonso’s mother was Leon’s mother’s younger sister, making them cousins. That makes Leon’s aunt Queen Esmeralda, who was adopted by aristocrats and eventually became Queen.

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Super-Evil Dude and General Dickhead Mendoza suspected the Makai bloodline ran in Esmeralda and her son, and so acted quickly to eliminate them, as any Makai knights or alchemists pose a threat to his plan to dominate the land using Horrors as his army. But Leon got away safely, thanks to Rafael, while the queen remembers nothing of her past, but is kept alive as a potential bargaining chip. In this, Mendoza shows remarkable restraint. Meanwhile, Octavia continues to keep the king weak and bedridden, but is instructed to keep him alive…for now.

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After Rafael tells him the tale of his lineage, Leon is eager to be trained, but as good as he is with a sword against humans, he’s no match for horrors yet. This is illustrated simply when Rafael hands Leon his horror-slaying sword, which is actually thinner than his own broadsword, but so much heavier it drives itself into the stone ground, and Leon can’t budge it. It really puts into perspective the weight the knights bear; if the sword is that heavy, the armor must be like wearing a tank!

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For a taste of the life of a knight and the struggle against horrors, Rafael takes Alfonso to Valdona, a formerly bustling wine-producing land now ruined and scorched, and whose inhabitants flee in terror from Alfonso’s horse. The Count is a horrifying caterpillar-like horror (it kinda reminded me of Captain Kurotsuchi’s Ashisogi Jizo). A mother, infant child, and harpist have somehow managed to avoid getting killed when Rafael and Alfonso arrive.

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The harpist gets eaten, but Alfonso lashes at the horror ineffectually until Rafael arrives and dons his “Gaia” armor, focusing on defense. One supercharged blow to the horror’s soft spot and it’s taken care of. I’m liking the purple garb of Rafael, though you’d think the more flamboyant Herman would don such a hue. The transformation is also very cool: with a portal of light opening and basically dropping the armor on him piece by piece, again weighing down the ground he stands on.

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After this incident, Alfonso is only more determined to do whatever it takes to save his mother and protect his kingdom, so Rafael agrees to train him. Unlike the easy-going, drunken Don Juan Herman, Rafael is a much stiffer, sterner man. I’m only speculating, but that could be because Herman has dragged his boy around since he was a baby, and wanted to be a jovial presence in his son’s life (something that’s wearing thin on Leon now that he’s growing into adulthood). On the other hand, this “father figure” thing is brand new. It will be a learning process for both him and adoptive “son.”

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Back in…well, I’m not sure where exactly it is, only that it’s not really a when, but a void where time is unchanging, kinda like where Captain Picard ended up with Q after Nausicaans stabbed him (different show). There, the previous Garo, Leon’s grandfather, tells him to not to fear his flames, and to find “that which he must protect” before giving him a hearty slap of encouragement on the back. Hey, Old Garo is alright by me!

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Makai knights protect by slaying horrors. As Herman said, they do not pass judgment, or even raise an armored hand, to ordinary humans, even if said humans hunt down and murder their fellow knights and alchemists as witches. I wonder if they can make an exception in Mendoza’s case, as he’s far from an “ordinary” human. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the way he is because he’s a vessel for a horror, as Marcelo was.

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Amagi Brilliant Park – 05

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Amagi Brilliant Park episode 5 wants us to know the park is totally broke! ‘Good job with that 30 yen special, Seiya-kun!’ ‘Now we can’t even pay our cast members!’ (and, according to the episode’s ending head count, attendance hasn’t edged up much either)

It’s desperation time and everything is on the table though, and Seiya hears the senior staff out. From turning the park into a Red Light District, to starting a Fight Club, to betting everything they’ve got left on horse races, their ideas are, predictably, stupid or illegal or both!

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Perhaps the stupidest idea comes from Moffle, who recalls gossip about a magic cave filled with treasure in the southern part of the park. They are desperate though and Seiya hasn’t seen that part of the park yet…

The Southern part of the park is huge, and almost entirely empty save for the unfinished stadium that was built during the economic boom. A whole sports theme sub-park would have been here and you can see the gears spinning in Seiya’s head, but for now the magic cave is what he has to deal with.

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In brief, 10 years ago a cast member named Dornell got drunk and was dared to explore the cave. He entered and was never seen again. The cast members who followed him returned, barely alive, rambling crazy stories of endless tunnels, traps, and an unreachable treasure.

Even though Seiya assumes this will be crap, the cave does turn out to be the mouth of a vast dungeon…which Tiramie (the pink cat) immediately traps them in.

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Tiramie is a bright spot on the cast. Selfish, utterly absurd, probably a pervert, knowledgeable about weapons and endowed with the best facial expression range you can imagine on a pink cat-mascot, he’s (is he a he?) a joy to watch on any occasion.

Episode 5’s Indiana Jones-style antics dials his opportunities to the max. He’s the best, most totally insignificant side character ever!

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From the get-go I knew the cave was an attraction. Between the silly switch that opened the stone wall and the Gate Keeper that looked like an animatronic toy and the silly ‘weapons’ hidden in each player’s coffin, it was all too staged. Too hand-built feeling.

Sento even gets cell service deep in the cave — and regularly texts the Fairy quartet back at base with their progress. Though she’s terribly cryptic about it and the fairies have no agency to help, even if they understood what she wanted.

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Still, the Orcs were pretty convincing and, it probably wasn’t in their best interest to give Molotov Cocktails (or a shovel, a chain and a bent aluminum bat) to their ‘guests…’

abp5_10Dornell didn’t disapear because he’s a popular ‘girl’ who plays MMOs. Nice!

Regardless, the mystery wasn’t really the point of this episode.  Nor was it surprising that Dornell had lived in the attraction for 10 years, secretly adventuring in MMOs, reading Manga, watching Anime, and building model kits.

Episode 5 was all about fun, building on the core casts interactions, and making fun of how little Seiya cares about his plush companions. When Sento falls into a pit trap, he screams Sento! with longing. When the sheep falls in after her, he looks over, then back and screams Sento! again, with longing.

It’s deliciously funny and spectacular, and the parodies were a huge treat.

abp5_17There’s even an emergency exit in the dragon boss fight room. it has a sign guys!

The fun and silliness of it never came off as jarring or out of tone because none of the ‘sane’ people entering the cave ever showed signs of worry. Even face to face with a dragon seemed more like a funny challenge to Seiya. At least it was a chance for him to use his psychic powers again — for laughs!

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Finally, after defeating the dragon, we learn the whole southern section was built as a cover story to hide the Digerries (mole people) from the Polytia Empire. They’ve been there, waiting for guests this whole time, without official purpose or oversight.

Sadly, they’ve spent all their treasure so the cast will have to survive another way.

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Obviously the mole people and the dragon join the cast and Dornell’s collection of manga and video games gets sold to buy them a little time. But what to do about the long-term financial problem? What to do about the attendance problem that’s even more important than that?

For now, we end with Seiya looking away and a pan to the unfinished stadium…

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Ep 5 was the funniest episode of Amagi Brilliant Park to date. The timing and the facial expressions (and the situation itself) were outrageous and I loved every second.

Some of the humor even transcended the predictable: where shows like DGnHs simply parody or drop homages to tropes and convention, ABP seemed to parody the parody of those tropes.

abp5_2We’d like to order crepes? Hello? Are you…are you a statue??

Over all, ABP continues to showcase why it deserves to be the second highest rated show of the wacky, slightly tragic, magical teen rom-com genre this season.

Not only is it the second best looking, with remarkably well designed and rendered characters of every shape and size, it’s physically large and broadly colored environment gives those characters a greater amount of space to breath than the hallways, class rooms and bed rooms so standard to the genre.

Only Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso competes with it visually, and only that surpasses its energy and character sincerity.

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But I can’t and won’t give it a 10. For all it’s majesty, it lacks that flawless charm so intrinsic to the genre’s best of the best. (Tamako MarketChu2Koi’s first season, and Uchouten Kazoku)

Is it just missing a strong and frontal love story? Is it just not Rom enough to be a Rom-Com?? Maybe. It’s still a top of the 9’s in my book.

SENTO! SENTO SENTO! 

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Gundam: G no Reconguista – 06

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“The ship is too big. If we walk, the episode will be over.”

We get more battles this week, prefaced by long, multi-vehicle journeys through massive space stations, but we don’t get any kind of satisfying explanation for why exactly the Capital Army is committing such massive levels of manpower and equipment and yes, even expanding their arsenal all for the sake of one cadet they’re not even sure is still alive (or whether he defected). Well, besides the fact he’s the protagonist, I mean!

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“You mean I can DVR twelve inane discussions at the same time?”

Bellri’s own mother doesn’t quite understand it, either. She loves her son, but also thinks all this military buildup is a mistake, and “rescuing Bellri” and “restoring honor” aren’t just flimsy motivations; they’re downright ridiculous and reckless. Let’s get down to it, shall we? The Capital Army has been developing all these new toys from the get-go. They’re itching to play with them. They’d probably mobilize even if there was a space cat stuck in a tree.

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YES. FISH. WE GET IT.

Back with the pirates, Noredo and Raraiya are kind of stuck on a treadmill of asking Bellri when they’re going to escape back to the Capital and wondering if Raraiya is becoming lucid. Raraiya, at this point, is poised to become lucid sometime around episode 53. And never has a fish pooping in a glass ball gotten so much attention.

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As for the orbital battle, it’s pretty slick…for Gundam G. There are capital ship evasive maneuvers, dogfights, and the first use of G-Self’s “Reflector”, which absorbs energy from weapons either for deflection or use by G-Self’s weapons. It takes Bellri a while to figure out exactly how to use it.

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But in a nice nod to the fact he’s still ostentibly a Capital cadet, he uses the long leash the pirates have given him to detect the Amerian space fleet, which is moving in stealth as the pirates make a big flashy decoy show for the Caps. The episode shows a lot this week, but it also has its characters constantly spouting too-on-the-nose monologue overstuffed with proper nouns. I don’t have my glossary on me at all times!

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But then, something I’ve seen happen a lot in Gundam takes place: Bellri kills his friend and instructor Dellensen, and doesn’t realize it until he’s already killed him. You’d think with all this technology and weaponry flying around, there’d be some kind, any kind of communications protocol. People identifying themselves before they attack and whatnot. Sure, the heat of the moment and all that, but it still seems like a contrived, highly avoidable tragedy. But like I said, Gundam pulls this all the time.

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This was actually a beautiful little cut to the bridge. I kinda wanna be there

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As a result of his actions, Bellri goes into Depressed Mode, and Noredo can only stay by his side and ride it out. She can’t really ask “Sooo…Can we leave now?”, because, how can Bellri go back to the Capital having killed one of his own comrades, even if it was a misunderstanding? I’d imagine he’s extended his stay somewhat, along with that of Noredo and Raraiya. Which is just fine for people like Aida and Klim, who he impressed this week.

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Speaking of Klim: Here’s your RABUJOI Moment of Zen:

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14 Green-Haired Anime Characters of October

Don't look at me like that...eat some spinach!
Don’t look at me like that…eat some spinach!

I was doing a little research, and learned that October is (or as of tomorrow, was) far more than just Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Believe it or not, it’s also Spinach Lovers Month, which is a perfect segue to the next character trait we’ve compiled our latest list for: Green hair.

Poring through the cast lists of Fall 2014 shows (only shows we’re reviewing here are RABUJOI, mind you, in case you see a glaring omission or two), we learned that green (or green-blue) hair in its various shades is a bit rarer than pink hair among anime casts, and one show accounts for most of the characters on this list.

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1. Acura Akari

Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle • CV: Hara Yuuko

Perhaps the most prominent character on this list, Akari is from the mountain village of Acura, born and raised like her brother Tooru to be a saboteur, her world’s equivalent of a ninja (or kunoichi, in her case), and now serving beside him as Chaika’s bodyguards. Her preferred weapon is a long, thin hammer. Like Tooru, she possesses “Iron Blood Transformation”, which makes her stronger and faster with few if any drawbacks. She also has a brother complex, but unlike typical brocons, expresses her love for Tooru the exact same serious deadpan in which she mocks or criticizes him.

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2. Zita Brusasco

Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle • CV: Kouda Yumeha

Zita is wizard and a member of Post-war Reconstruction Implementation Agency, Kleeman under the Gillette Corps, presently led by Nikolai Avtotor. She also drives “April”, the Gillette Corps’ vehicle. She’s lot less hot-headed than her colleague Vivi, and forms a temporary alliance with Acura Tooru while stuck in Duke Gavarni’s flying castle in the first season.

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3. Fueyama Touri

Ai Tenchi Muyo! • CV: Fukada Ai

Besides customizing her school uni with bloomers, crossed hip straps, and knee-high socks, the data-mining StuCo Treasurer’s most distinctive feature is her green bob. She’s also quite…dedicated, as demonstrated by her placing of a tracking device in Tenchi’s Danger Zone.

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4. Gabriel

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis • CV: N/A

We haven’t seen much of her yet, but judging by her name I’d say Gabriel is one of the angel-like beings who inhabit a realm beyond or above the world normal schmoes like Favaro and Kaisar inhabit. Like Amira, her hair is very pale in color.

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5. Lubbock

Akame ga Kill! • CV: Matsuoka Yoshitsugu

Yes, there is a guy on this list! Lubbock is perhaps the least-used Night Raid member. He likes attempting to peep on the girls as they bathe. His Imperial Arm is a rather nifty and versatile garotte wire, which can be used for attack, defense, detection, etc. He was once a rich and privileged member of the Imperial aristocracy and military, but gave it up for Night Raid’s General Najenda, who he’s always loved but never confessed to.

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6. Maki

Orenchi no Furo Jijou • CV: Tsuda Kenjirou

Maki, (another guy! Well…sort of) is a tiny hermit crab…who hasn’t appeared on the show yet. Whoops! Look away!

The Green-Haired Girls of Girl Friend BETA

7-14. Ishida Isuki, Kokonoe Shinobu, Mishina Kaho, Onodera Chizuru, Oshii Tomo, Toyama Misuzu, Tsukishiro Yoko, and Yukawa Kise

Girl Friend BETA • CVs: Omigawa Chiaki, Kuwashima Houko, Mitsui Eriko, Gibo Yoko, Fujita Saki, Endou Aya, [n/a], and Kanemoto Hisako

If you like your 2D girlfriends with green hair, the mobile game Girl Friend BETA, AKA Girlfriend (Kari) (literally “provisionally”) has eight choices for you (plus a couple I didn’t include because they were more on the blue side of the spectrum!). All but one (Misuzu) carry over to the anime, though none are main characters, so we’ve had glimpses of one or two of them over the course of the show’s first four episodes.

Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 16

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With a title like “Tenchi’s Transformation”, I thought Hachiko’s on-stage kiss would be the cause of said transformation. Alas, Tenchi just runs off-stage.

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Yuki replaces herself and Rui with Gooriki for dishwashing duty, startling Ayeka, who unleashes her heretofore unseen weaponry, which is formidable in nature. I’m sure Yuki will mourn the fact that her just-repaired robot is again in pieces…but where’d she get such a big apron?

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Ryouko and Beni continue their pissing contest (for lack of a better word) with Ryouko really opening herself up for a counterattack when she bends a metal pole into a crude dog. Beni takes the sculpture, straightens it, and creates a beautiful bird. Maybe she should change her name to Ben…di?

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But Yuki puts a stop to their “battle” for the next event, the Miss Jurai Contest. Kurihara-sensei again scolds Tenchi for almost kissing Hachiko (even though he was thrown into that coffin by a robot! Perfectly reasonable explanation!), then proceeds to make him up into a contestant. This is his “transformation:” into a tall raven-haired beauty.

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End-of-Month Rundown – October 2014

Click to view full-size
Click to view full-size

Happy Halloween, ya’ll! We’ve compiled the big-ass chart above to illustrate just how much the four of us have watched this month. Some of it good, some of it great…some of it meh, and some of it horrid. Let’s get down to business.

The Top Ten

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Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works

Franklin: F/sn: UBW merges film school theory with fantastic visuals and thoughtful storytelling to create the best show this season. Anyone who claims otherwise is trolling.

Hannah: I would say I respect, rather than love, F/sn: UBW. For all its visual and aural style, It can feel a bit dry and sterile at times. I’m also not enamored of Rin’s derivative character type so far (though it’s early) as the girl who has feelings for the guy but is constantly ragging/looking down on him.

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Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis

Hannah: Where do I begin? There is so much to like about this show, from its colorful, complex characters and excellent chemsitry, a vast, expansive world, intricate magical/mythological milieu and supernatural elements that are all polished to the max. Each episode has told a different story with different genres in play, yet they all fit together to form a cohesive and compelling whole. I can’t belive this is based on a card game!

Franklin: Bahamut contends with F/sn for best looking, most fantastically animated show this season. It may well be better animated, actually. Fluid, less conventional character design, and people of color: it’s only missing Samurai Champloo/Cowboy Bebop’s legendary musical support to achieve maximum greatness!

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Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

Zane: I had no shows at all nailed down for Fall. It was a grab bag I was reaching into in the dark, hoping to find some gems. But I knew at the first glance of Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso’s Shinkai-esque promo art that this had the potential to be something special. So far, it is just that, and not just because it’s so desperately pretty, but because I care about each and every character. And the musical performances…oh, man, the musical performances. So much win.

Franklin: The piano-deaf trope keeps it away from top shelf and the recent ‘hospital hints’ may have spoiled its next tragedy for me – but I’m keeping quiet. This drama’s blond has my heart and, like it’s protagonist, I can’t help but race along behind it!

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Amagi Brilliant Park

Franklin: wears a confident smile beneath is ice-cold gaze. Mystery, humor, lovely visuals and playful style. It beats all but the most Piano’d of quirky teen romantic dramas this season, and only then, because Shigatsu’s got higher stakes.

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Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de

Zane: I’m intent on not directly comparing InoBato to past magical school greats like Suzumiya Haruhi and Chu2Koi; which is a tall task. But I’ve given InoBato all nines because shortcomings compared to those shows (and the pretty dang overt harem aspect) aside, it’s drawn me in. Trigger’s “gorgeously competent” animation isn’t all this has going for it, at least for me. It’s not an all-time great, but it is delivering what its title promised: the rendering of commonplace life in a high school club whose members just happen to have awesome powers.

Franklin: InoBato somehow mashes up the extremely well constructed yet uninteresting nature of Shirobako with the soullessness of a Chu2Koi clone. I respect it. I even appreciate the word play on several levels but InoBato’s cast is shallow compared to similar shows of this season and appallingly so, compared to Chu2Koi. I’m no longer watching.

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PSYCHO-PASS 2

Hannah: I mentioned in my reviews a slight “Psycho-Pass fatigue” that made my buy-in a bit slower compared to the first series, but three episodes in, both the show and I have found its groove. It takes storylines like Akane’s unique relationship with the Chief/Sybil and the fate of Ginoza, and gives us a new villain who may not be quite as brilliant as Makishima, but has more noble intentions. I consider Akane the best all-round character of the Fall.

I have Nothing. I am Nothing. I will live. Kill and live. That is all.
I have Nothing. I am Nothing. I will live. Kill and live. That is all.

Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo

Franklin: Cross-Ange shows us the beauty in misery and the misery in objectified beauty. Blood, mecha, betrayal and dragons are only half it’s value. It takes guts to use objectification so knowingly. Even the characters seem to hate it.

Hannah: Cross-Ange seems to be suffering in the MAL rankings, and I can understand that: sometimes it’s simply hard to watch. But unlike other shows that are hard to watch but so on-point in their message that you respect them while not necessarily loving them, I also love Cross-Ange. It has guts; both the kind that takes risks and the kind that splatter all over the place.

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GARO: Honoo no Kokuin

Preston: This is, I believe, the only show we’re reviewing this Fall focusing primarily on a father and son…and what a father and son these are! The father tends towards hedonism while the son is straight as an arrow – and all the more naive for it. Together they make a great duo, and it’s a treat when they whip out their armor. That being said, the bad guys in this are pretty generic. But I love the show’s offbeat style and the action music is brash assertive in the best way.

Franklin: CGI is good but lacks fidelity and integration of F/Sn or Bahamut. It also has a dreadfully dull world, populated by paper-thin politics, emotionally dull villains, and everyone with facial hair looks idiotic to me. By no means is it anything less than an 8. However, it is by no means something I’m still watching.

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Grisaia no Kajitsu

Franklin: promised a deeply weird sense of humor and an unsettling environment for its unsettled cast. It remains visually unique, yet not unbelievably so, and by episode 4 we’re starting to see the truly weird world under its candy-sweet harem exterior. It’s taking it’s time though, and not in a good way.

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san

Franklin: mash up of Inuyasha and Barakamon feels better on paper than in practice. It gets me laughing to be sure but lacks soul and has a bland look. However, like Kohina-chan’s ramen addiction, I can’t seem to stop eating up GKs’ cheap artificial thrills.

Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu

Franklin: Parasyte creeps me out, makes me smile, and gives me nightmares to laugh at in the morning. The perfect off-kilter mid-level genre defier for the season.

Preston: Talk about marching – or rather slithering to the beat of its own drum (or rapidly-beating heart). As its title suggests, Parasyte burrows itself into your soul and nibbles away, setting off your primal reptilian fight-or-flight response, but also tantalyzingly toeing the line between pain and pleasure. There’s also a really good romance at its core, but you can’t help it’s SO doomed!

Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji

Zane: The title and synopsis suggest this was going to be another flash-in-the-pan misogynistic rom-com that I’d have a little fun skewering until skipping it off a creek like a smooth, flat rock, never to be seen again. How wrong I was! While the titular Wolf Girl is indeed treated badly (or rather, like a literal dog) more than occasionally, it’s a situation entirely of her making. The show already seems to be exhibiting signs of moving past that initial goofy charade, as both girl and guy definitely have legitimate feelings for each other. It’s just a matter of making the transition.

Sanzoku no Musume Ronja

Franklin: Ronja hangs on by a thread on my watchlist, and that thread is a 3-year-old boy who asks me to watch it once a day, all week long. It partially shows how underwhelming Garo’s CGI truly is and, unlike Garo, frustrates me by how good it would look without that CG. Pretty, safe, remarkably fresh compared to western children’s television but not meant for me.

Preston: That’s weird, I never once thought GARO’s CGI was that bad, it was just being used for a very specific, special purpose (for the armor). Meanwhile, the content of Ronja is pretty and happy and pleasant enough, and by the end of the first two eps I was even mostly used to the CGI. But then the end credits rolled, showing the same characters in 2D, and I thought to myself “Dagnabbit…why doesn’t the show look like this all the time!”

SHIROBAKO

Franklin: This show will be remembered for being consistently the highest rated show I see no reason to watch. Flawlessly constructed, it’s massive cast held together, yet utterly uninteresting due to it’s pedantic subject matter. Shirobako is the define of unnecessary self indulgence. Dropped.

Akame ga Kill!

Preston: From the start, this been mostly big, loud, colorful, goofy, over-the-top fantasy action, but I’ve found it extremely watchable nonetheless, and when characters are killed off, it’s done a reasonable job making those ends emotionally resonant, if uncomplicated. Most of all, I’ve enjoyed the Tatsumi-Esdeath quasi-romance, but there’s sadly been precious little of that.

Denki-gai no Honya-san

Franklin: is savagely awkward, charming, and intentionally ugly. Also very funny.

Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle

Preston: Chaika is like a slightly more serious and well-made Akame ga Kill!, further underlined by the fact that like Akame, it’s got a lot of past material to build upon and a huge cast. Chaika’s ten-episode second season is all about discovering new truths, most of them disconcerting, horrible, and, for the main Chaika, life-upheaving. But the chemistry between the choppy-speaking loli and the sibling bodyguards has always been decent.

Franklin: Chaika: AB doesn’t work without it’s first season, which was only mid-quality to begin with. Now that Gillet is back, and probably evil for a short eye rolling plot arc to come, its narrative cowardice is plain to see. Not terrible but I no longer find it worth watching.

Sora no Method

Preston: Zane told me after getting somewhat burned by the often-inscrutable Glasslip, he was taking a break from P.A. Works, which fielded SHIROBAKO this year (which Franklin has dropped). But Sora no Method feels an awful lot like my last P.A. Works piece, Nagi no Asukara, which also started slow and got better and better with time, like wine. One notable difference with Sora is that it’s not about a love polygon, just a circle of friends who have drifted apart. Still, it’s showed polish and promise so far, and its setting is sleepy but lushly rendered.

Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete

Franklin: WareMete could be brilliant if it even lived up to the ending of its first episode. Unfortunately, as with that episode pre-tragic twist, it’s rather unremarkable now. Slow to the point of feeling delayed, not fantastically animated, and not confident in its purpose. I’m no longer watching.

Zane: I am, but if things don’t pick up soon (and they did a bit last week), I may not be for long. Seriously, that was a great first episode (not necessarily from start-to-finish, but that finish!). Can it fnd that magic again?

Sailor Moon Crystal

Preston: In the last installment (episode 8), this new Sailor Moon (my first exposure to the franchise ever) really hit its stride, earning its first 9. The final guardian has revealed herself, Usagi is no longer just a bumbling airhead depending on her man to save her, and the war against an admittedly very shallow and repetitive force of bad guys is heating up. My long-standing major criticism of the show remains its momentum-hampering biweekly format.

Sword Art Online II

Hannah: The GGO arc bogged down pretty hardcore, but pulled out of its stall and ended strong. After both a stock-taking episode and a recap, SAO has returned to ALfheim Online and, largely, back to the RPG procedural basics of the show, which I think makes for a nice change of pace. Of course, there are two glaring problem with the present arc: One, their lives aren’t on the line, just their game progress. Two, so far Sinon has been relegated to supporting character duty. Neither are enough for me to give up (I rarely give up on shows), but they’re concerns.

Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai

Zane: First InoBato, then Daitoshokan…what is it with these unapologetic harem shows that are actually not bad at all? Daitoshokan is aided by great character chemistry and just-above average production values for its genre. It has demonstrated it’s not afraid to dive into the usual harem tropes without really putting any kind of spin on them, but it’s also capable of more heartfelt development.

Gundam: G no Reconguista

Franklin:  G wants us to remember the 80s and get all warm and fuzzy about how incoherent, sluggish, and stylistically ugly shows were back then. It’s playing at ‘its so bad its funny again’ but I just reviewed 90+ hours of bad Gundam this summer, thanks. I’m no longer watching.

Hannah: Well, there’s your problem: Don’t watch 90+ hours of bad Gundam before watching this show! In fact, don’t watch this show at all unless your able to get on board with its cheeky, semi-serious tone and intentinally clunky action. I will say that the character designs, at least for me, are above reproach, coming from the same hand that penned Eureka Seven. I’m not going to sit here and say the plot is coherent, but you can tell that a lot of work and love was put into this show, but it doesn’t quite feel like a complete show quite yet; more a love letter.

Franklin: To be fair, I liked about 24 hours of the Gundam I watched this summer. Stardust Memory, 06th Team, War in the Pocket, and Unicorn were visually striking and interesting takes on life during mecha warfare, politics and love. However, Gundam G is nothing like those shows. It’s like Zeta and Double Zeta, which were absurdly nonsensical, awkwardly comedic 80s romps through looking down on women, space-magic, and mecha-savior-spaceboy fetishism.

Magic Kaito 1412 and Tribe Cool Crew

Franklin: Both shows succeed as pleasant, fun shows that I encourage watching if you’re into their genres. Nothing bad here, just unremarkable and draining to maintain in the review schedule. I’m still watching Kaito.

Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru

Franklin: Where the heck did you come from? Average in all categories without Wheelchair-chan but interesting because of her. Will it continue to have legs? Probably not but it’s good junk food in the meantime.

Donten ni Warau

Hannah: I tried to get into this affable period piece about three brothers in a alternate version of Japan’s tumultuous period where Western and Eastern culture clashed. But…it kinda just fell by the wayside. There just wasn’t anything that hooked me.

Girl Friend BETA

Zane: Yes, this is based on a cell-phone game and yes, there are more than one million characters, but I’m liking its simple but relatable stories about friendships and its unabashedly positive outlook.

Madan no Ou to Vanadis

Franklin: Vanadis is a lazy, ugly failure, populated by powerful women with giant breasts who, generally speaking, hate other women and squabble over men. Vanadis’ attempt at world building is so pathetic that we are told about scenes of exposition that happened off screen. The old saying ‘Show not tell’ has never been so needed as it is here. Dropped.

Preston: Wow, way to condemn a show based entirely on one dud episode! Wizard Barristers also had a dud late in its run (because they forgot to animate it), and while the timing was awful, it didn’t ruin the series. It was just a bruise, not a mortal wound. Vanadis’ fourth episode was a little more troubling, but I really enjoyed the first (which introduced us to the world) and third (which gave us what I thought was a pretty nice battle). I’m hoping those episodes are a better indication of what we’re in for moving forward, and that week four was merely an unfortunate aberration. No, the big boobs aren’t going away, but big boobs alone do not a show ruin!

Franklin: My criticism of the show far out strips a single episode and big boobs. The total lack of world building has been an issue from the get go, as has the simplistic cast of pure villains, as has the hand-wavy resolution of any conflict in Tigre’s favor. The fact that woman hate each other for no good reason only makes it despicable as a show, as opposed to an empty Shonen masturbation piece.

Preston: Your outrage is noted.

Ai Tenchi Muyo!

Zane: ATM! is short, sweet, and stupid, but also pretty fun and surprisingly addictive. That’s all it needs to be, and that’s about all there is to say about it! Oh, and compared to previous shows in the franchise, the character design kicks ass.

Orenchi no Furo Jijou

Franklin: is droppable but continues to sucker me in with a low low three minute commitment each week. It’s empty but inoffensive and its worth 30 seconds to know the sea-creature/boy mash of the week.

Trinity Seven

Franklin: teeters on the edge of being dropped. Witty banter aside, the character motivations are unreasonable and feel contrived for the plot. Otherwise, it’s just another boob-grabbing harem with a smirking demon lord/boy as the central hero. If it doesn’t get interesting soon, out the window.

Akatsuki no Yona

Franklin: for a show I dropped in the first week, I’ve sure reviewed a bunch of these haven’t I? Honestly, it’s generic, uneventful, and cheaply animated and has no hook at all. For now, I’m respectfully watching it because of its harmless, easy to review nature.

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Franklin: is balancing out with Orenchi, in that they are both completely harmless, not especially funny, nor especially clear what they want to do with themselves shows. Otaku Husband is starting to develop a bit of a plot… and Orenchi isn’t. Expect their ratings to flip flop in the coming weeks.

Denki-gai no Honya-san – 05

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Denki-Gai no Honya-san reminds us that Spring means panties and that means its time for the Spring Panties Festival!

Sensei-chan is challenged to truly appreciate panties by Director — and warned that her manga will never succeed if she doesn’t! Tapping her love, Protagonist, for all he’s worth, she and we all learn the depth we never knew!

dgnhs5_13this display incorporates a fan and a plastic pair of legs from which a skirt may flutter!

Did you know panty stories are always best in spring due to the stiff breeze? Did you know not showing panties is as important as showing them, because it implies nudity?

The entire act is delightfully pervy and fully of confusion for Hiotan, who consistently hears odd segments of conversation and always assumes the worst. The details too, are hysterical and so lovingly exposed that you can’t see how seriously the show (and the characters) takes its source material.

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Next it’s raining and all the girls except Sensei-chan have hair troubles. Kameko, who is wearing a Kameko shirt that’s probably a joke I don’t understand, is especially troubled. Her fro is fan-tastic

But the real madness sets in when Sommeliier shows up without a shirt…

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Everyone, including G-man/woman, loses their shit in a drooling phone-camera panic. It’s not even clear why Sommelier is shirtless, just that he is and it’s going to sell an awful lot of BL comics!

Extra points must be awarded for making the guys the most physically exposed, sexualized objects of the show. More importantly, when the guys are drooling over a girl, it’s usually because she’s an artist or an author they are really into…

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Act three could be entirely imaginary, or an art project run by Kameko, or actually what just happened to Sommelier from his own perspective. It probably makes no real difference because it’s in a totally absurd black and white art film filter.

In this… film… Sommelier protects a wet cat only to learn that it is a well taken care of animal owned by biker thugs who love it and even shampoo it! The movie is silent-style, with ‘dialog’ cards. This section too is wonderful and absurd and lovely retro music and visual effects sell every second of it.

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Finally we end on a Director focused act. Well, focused on his ex anyway. She’s a former employee turned manga writer and cosplay enthusiast. She acts just like Hiotan and Hiotan is insanely jealous!

But not in a Vanadis terrible way — Hiotan wants to learn from Director’s Ex. Hiotan wants to know why he loved her and why he doesn’t now and how she can get in that loop. At least, that’s what her actions say. Hiotan is a hot mess and doesn’t really know what she wants!

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I’ve decided Denki-Gai no Honya-san is actually about women in fandom, more than men. Its ‘protagonist’ has consistently gotten less screen time than the main girls, and when you’re about the boy loving on a girl, we see it from the girl’s perspective!

If i didn’t know any better, i’d say you were trying to make a statement. Especially with your average lookers. Even your blonde is a bit dumpy. (and Fu-chan is physically repulsive)

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What’s more, each of those loves is different. Sensei depicts the love of and for a fan, and the trouble that brings when that love is so obsessed with fandom in general.

Fu-chan’s love is for the hot guy who doesn’t belong in the industry (but probably has a weird festish below the surface that strands him there). It’s the Ugly girl who could maybe almost win the hot guy if he just has a weird enough reason to be around her story… that we basically never see anywhere else before.

dgnhs5_4Shin-chan parody? NICE!

Lastly, Hiotan’s love for Director is the love for a guy who’s in the industry, who knows what is going on and is willing to share it, and how she’s such an outsider wanting in.

Each of these loves makes the guy a guide in a way but they equally show case how incompetent at love these guys are. At life too.

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DGNHS is visually dense, quick, ugly as hell, and from an unusual perspective that I bet most people don’t even notice! It’s smart, educational, and full of heart and it’s built in a way that all those things come through clearly, but subtly.

That, in my book, is worth major major props!

8_ogk

PSYCHO-PASS 2 – 04

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“Look, we can do this the east way, or the adorable way.”

This episode didn’t just disrobe a mental health facility’s patrons of their clothes. It laid bare just how appalingly ill-informed, ill-equipped and ill-prepared the MWPSB is to do battle with this season’s Big Bad, Kamui.

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“Empirical data suggests the accuracy of my earlier contention that your weapons against me are without merit!”

Makishima Shougo facilitated latent criminals with the materials they needed to “thrive” so they could show him something; treating it almost like art. Kamui, on the other hand, is all cold, calculating science. He’s not necessarily interested in making a big loud fuss; rather, he’s content to stay on the sidelines as he uses citizens, enforcers, and inspectors as guinea pigs, with a particular focus on the possibilities of Dominators.

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Most. Worthless. Inspector. EVER.

“Ghost” is such a fitting term for him, because that’s what he remains in the minds of most MWPSB personnel, even after this week’s shocking events. He’s still treated like an apparition cooked up by a bunch of crazy people. Mika is so sure Kamui is just nonsense, and Eustress Deficiency is just an urban legend, that she simply stands outside the site of a hostage situation that escalates in horrific massacre. She literally does absolutely nothing in this episode, except jaw at Akane, stand around looking stupid, and worry about getting in trouble.

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Wonderful stuff, Metamucil!

Of course, that’s the way Kamui wants it. It’s as if he’s observing a group of rare animals that don’t fear man or even acknowledge his presence or existence. Their actions and protocols are utterly predictable, and he can work within and around them as conditions warrent with little or no fear of detection or reprisal.

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DIV 3 in the hizzouse

Just to underline just how bad things are, of the only two “good guys” (we use that term in a relative sense) who entertain the fact that Kamui even exists, one is a latent criminal locked in an isolation facility no one will talk to for fear of hue contamination. The other is the only person who will talk to him. And even Akane neatly fits into a part of Kamui’s plan, in that her sprawling investigation of his actitivies takes up most of her time this week, sidelining her from the central crisis.

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And then there’s Inspector Aoyanagi. I was pretty sure her nice chat with Ginoza was either a sign she’d soon turn into a latent criminal like him, or simple a death flag. Turns out it was both. It’s a shame we had so little time with her before she went, but she at least tries to go upholding her duty to protect the innocent. The only problem is, she fails to protect anyone, as they’re all ruled as targets for lethal elimination as soon as they’re released from captivity.

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That crazy old man went and made a latent criminality bomb out of people who were “fine” earlier that day, then manipulated the MWPSB into executing their own inspector as well as all of the hostages. And he did it all gladly, grateful as he was for Kamui “saving him” from a catatonic existence caused by eustress deficiency.

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It’s just a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for the MWPSB. What’s worse, just as Mika excuses her criminal inaction with “I wasn’t given instructions”, Division 3 are “just obeying orders.” They’re just cogs in the machine. But so were those random people buying drugs to regulate their mental state. Oh, but the MWPSB now has an “Assault Dominator” that can kill through walls! That just screams “bad idea.”

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Who knows, Akane…who knows?

Division 3, whom I don’t believe we hadn’t seen before, were sent to take over the case on Chief Kasei’s strict orders. When Akane arrives at the scene, it’s far too late to help anyone, and she’s just as sickened as I am by the spectacle before her. Worse still, she of all people knows this was another sweeping-under-the-rug job by Kasei. When faced with such situations, Sybil breaks its own rules with impunity, but the cache it’s amassed from perceived infallibility means nobody takes notice.

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Something like a dozen people died this week as a result of Kamui’s experiments, but this is far from over. Akane needs to find this creep soon, or a lot more are going to die in what he probably deems to be “the service of the greater good”, freeing humanity from the shackles of Sybil and its MWPSB minions. I’d also like to think this was a wake-up call for someone like Mika…but I’m not going to hold my breath!

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Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – 04

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I think I’m still in shock. Happy shock. My heart is still racing. What the hell just happened? What did I watch? What did I just experience? I’ll tell you what that was: It was far more than a violin competition entry with piano accompaniment, play-by-play, and color commentary. That was a frikkin’ journey with no clear destination. That was nothing less than one of the finest and most riveting episodes of anime I’ve ever seen.

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Perhaps so strong a reaction is a product of having sat through most of half hour with almost no dialogue whatsoever, aside from the occasional comment from a stunned onlooker. We’re in that audience along with them, in this vast dark, dusty chamber that’s only a room until someone picks up an instrument and starts to wield a kind of wordless magic.

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That pure sound emanating from piano and violin taps into our most fundamental emotions of joy and pain. The silence is a canvas; Kaori and Kousei are charged with filling it. And fill it they do. But first, the buildup. Oh, God, the build-up before the Big Game. Once off that bike and miming the sheet music, things start to get real for Kousei, and he starts to get lost in that black and white.

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Kaori headbutts him, even a little harder than she intended; she’s nervous too! But neither of them are going out there alone. They’re going to play together, and she belives the two of them can do it together. She leaves no room for protest as she grabs his hand and leads him to the stage. We, and Kousei, don’t know it, but this is the moment of departure on the journey Kaori takes him on. He says she’s “freedom itself,” out loud. “I’m not,” she rebuts. “Music is Freedom.”

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With that, they take the stage, and Kousei endlessly adjusts his bench as some in the crowd starts to recognize him. They’re voices he can hear; they sound similar to the voices he heard when he was a prodigy, when his mother had essentially placed him in a hermetic prison with musical bars he could not hope to bend. But back then, just as now, he does not blame his mother. He felt honored to be the recipient of her wisdom and guidance; whatever pain he felt, it was the price of being able to bear that greatness.

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Trying to remember Kaori’s words — music isn’t a prison, it’s freedom — the two begin, and Kaori goes easy on him at first. Her initially docile play gives him time to find his bearings. Almost like riding a bike, his body remembers what to do, and the fact he can hear his own notes encourages him. Then Kaori gives him a look, and he knows she’s about to turn off the main road of their journey and enter some dense brush. He can keep up like she knows he can, or he can get lost.

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I knew as soon as the started playing that things could go south at any time without warning, like they did at the cafe, so I watched with a lump in my throat and a slight weight in my chest. The brilliance of the episode is its depiction of Kousei getting lost back in his deep sea, the water and darkness washing around him and us. The gradual and increasing distortion of the music is as emotionally effective as it is technically impressive.

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Eventually, things get so bad for Kousei, he can barely hear anything at all, and he stops, worried he’ll ruin Kaori’s playing. Then Kaori stops too. When they both stop, everything from a competition standpoint is over. But this isn’t about a competition, it’s about Kaori and Kousei’s journey. He’s tripped and fallen and can’t – or won’t get up, but Kaori isn’t going to leave him behind. She doesn’t want to continue on alone.

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But wait…we’re only a little over halfway through the episode. Things are bleak, but a comeback is still possible! Lest we forget, a tearful Kaori begged Kousei to help her prove she could do this, that they could do this. She’s not annoyed Kousei stopped; she’s scared. He has to get up and they have to keep going. “Again,” she says. They start playing again, but Kousei is still in the trippy sea, the currents choking the notes.

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Then Kousei remembers his mother singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” during a happier time. He remembers her telling him “The Piano Is You.” Caress it like an infant and it coos; bang its keys and it roars. Kousei digs deep and changes his strategy: he’ll stop worrying about hearing the notes and merely imagine them, playing with his whole body.

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He starts playing like a man possessed; like a man one with the piano, and he even starts getting into it with Kaori, as he stops being her accompanist and morphs into her opponent. He’s back on his feet and racing ahead; and she’s more than game to chase him!

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He’s no longer behind the musical bars. Kaori, and the music, has sprung him, and sprung him righteously. He’s no longer looking down, he’s looking up, looking at Kaori, smiling, full of joy, and Kaori’s looking right back at him, no less overjoyed that they’ve recovered so splendidly. This is what she saw in him.

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POOR TSUBAKI!!! T_T

And as they get lost in each other’s eyes and music, they put the whole of the audience under a spell. Tsubaki, who jumped up and cheered when he started playing again, adopts a pained, defeated expression when she realizes what’s going on between the two. Next to her, Ryouta becomes ever more lovestruck with Kaori.

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The episode realizes that just because they’re both musicians doesn’t mean this performance makes them a couple now. She even still calls him “Friend A” up there, though at this point it could just be an ironic pet name. It’s not as if Ryouta is done; in fact, he still probably has the inside line. A harrowing love rhombus has been built this day.

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But that doesn’t matter to Kaori or Kousei right now; Spring has Sprung and they’re on Cloud Nine; the change of Kousei’s scenery effectively illustrates that point. Things are getting brighter and more saturated until they finally bring the piece to a stirring close, bringing the house down…

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But the performance, which was perhaps as long and energy-draining a performance as she ever gave, brings Kaori down as well. She left nothing left in her tank. Kousei got bloodied while dismounting from Tsubaki’s bike, which provided a measure of symmetry to this closing shot, But while that was a joke, this isn’t. It suddenly, ruthlessly imparts the episode’s title – “Departure” – with unspeakable dread and foreboding. The episode plummets from the dizziest heights to the lowest depths. Not again, Kousei may be thinking; God, don’t do this to me again.

10_sesRABUJOI World Heritage List

P.S. That up there is a 1,158-word review. When I really like something, I tend to ramble.

Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru – 04

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YYwYdA takes a second week off from the Vertex to focus on the girls, their relationships, and surprisingly very little on how they are coping with their do-or-die status as heroes. This week it’s Itsuki’s turn to stand under the spot light and man is she worried…about singing in front of her fellow music classmates!

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You two! You will not have much to do this episode!

Playing the episode so low stakes actually works really well. We learn some important details (Fu and Itsuki’s parents were killed by the Vertex some how and the world has been cleansed by a plague some time earlier) but the girls are given tons of breathing room and it sells their relationships. It sells them as people.

Alternatively, while I may find those stakes low, Itsuki obviously doesn’t. She’s lived in her sister’s shadow — willingly — since her parents were killed (somehow?) and is desperate to carve out an identity. A reason to carry on.

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“Don’t worry. You got four of a kind. So that’s a good thing… right?”

Tarot reading plays a role in this episode too, and it was a great framing device for what is no doubt going to be a massacre next week.

Like everything else, the Tarot is played for smiles and laughs. Itsuki keeps flipping death and she’s worried that it means she’ll totally bomb her music singing test.

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So everyone comes together and the core of this week’s mission is established: help Itsuki pass her test. Obviously, the best place to do that is a karaoke bar!

Even with a bathroom confrontation scene between Karin and Fu, the bar scene is totally understated, cheerful, and sells Hero Clubs internal friendships. (Everyone jumping to military attention when Togo sang a military marching song was my favorite highlight.)

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With their help and repeated support, Itsuki finally gets over her fears, wins the admiration of her class (she’s a year younger than the other heroes) and finds what she wants to do: sing.

Then she flops another Death Tarot from her bag while recording a song on her laptop.

…and the Vertex arrives.

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Giving us such a long break from monster fighting, with no expositional dumps in the process is a fantastically brave move on YYwYdA. It not only lulls us into a super comfort zone but it actually gives us enough time and sense of place to care about the girls that I hope get butchered horribly next week.

If YYwYdA does that, then no matter what it does later — no matter how much it wavers — I will be satisfied.

have I just typed that?

Hero Club! 

8_ogk

Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 15

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As the festival continues, Tenchi continues to find himself the center of attention, as if it’s all been planned or something… >_> … <_< …First, Gooriki makes a return, though this time he’s tame enough to hold an egg without breaking it (cue Victory Fanfare!) Tenchi is initially spooked, and instinctively holds Momo tight once again. What is going on with him?

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When Beni spots Tenchi, she allows him to cut in (the ridiculously long) line to arm-wrestle with her, no doubt remembering when he stopped her blow like it wasn’t no thang. Frankly, I would have loved to see him beat her, but Ryouko doesn’t allow it, and she wrestles with Beni instead. They nearly rends the earth asunder, but end up in a draw.

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Ryouko tossed Tenchi aside, and he landed in Gooriki’s eggs. Gooriki then threw Tenchi even further aside, and he lands in a coffin, which turns out to be on the trap door of a stage where Hachiko is performing as the prince. The script says she’s to kiss the person in the coffin, and her fellow actors egg her on to do so, though she refrains from doing so in this episode. Lots of simple but neat little cause-and-effects and callbacks going on this time.

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Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken – 05

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I Don’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying stripped away the side characters this week and slugged us with all the lovey-dovey married couple antics we could handle in three minutes or less!

It also stripped off their clothes…more than once!

Kaoruta-chan has a bit of a drinking problem you see. She doesn’t get drunk very quickly, but when she does, she’s totally nuts. Nuts for her husbands nuts DOINK!

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“I’ll rape you in under ten seconds” – a new romantic standard is achieved!

Unfortunately, Kaoruta doesn’t remember any of this at all so she challenges her husband to prove it with video and takes him out to a nice place to eat and drink. Secretly she also wants to see him drunk but secretly he wants to avoid drinking and, as you would expect, four beers in, the bra hits the fan and all mania cuts loose.

I love how not sexy they are drawn. Even Kaoruta’s boobs, which are enormous, have  a worn down look. She’s unpleasantly short and disheveled. It’s all very ‘real person,’ which I find delightful.

Picture 2In the morning, she still doesn’t remember anything…

Calling IDUWmHiS delightful isn’t quite on the nose. It’s quick, punchy, barely-animated and horrifyingly like my marriage during the holidays some times.

This week was the first time I actually felt a connection to the characters and, building on the previous four episodes of their cute happy relationship, it was a charmer.

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Structurally, the gender reversal works in that playing it up for laughs — making fun of how silly Husband and Wife are — make the rape scene possible. Yes! There was a rape scene in which the husband cried and it was so mind-blowingly absurd I was dying laughing!

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Otherwise, I have no idea where the show is going at all or if the drinking issue will even come up again. We’re just watching two people who like each other goof off and it’s not even framed as a joke half the time.

But I’m loving it and I hope you are too!

7_ogk

Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – 04

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Books had always been Kakei Kyoutarou’s Truth; he couldn’t hope to ever encounter anyone as pure, elemental and honest as black words on white paper. So he found companionship in books. He Befriended books. Dated books. Other people were merely obstacles that got in the way of his reading. He saw from a young age how hypocritical and false they often were. Better to get lost in books, which wouldn’t put on airs, betray or hurt him.

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Kyoutarou is kind of a messed-up individual. Sure, all kinds of people loath their birthday, but to have a sepia dream about hospital staff (or something) pretending to have a fun birthday party for him when he knew they’d rather be someplace else? Frankly, treating all people as if they were like that is as silly and wrong-headed as Senri thinking Tsugumi had ulterior motives for nursing her to health.

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Obviously, Kyoutarou’s time in the Library Club has switched on entirely new lights in his world, ones that have nothing to do with books. When he flags down Senri and gets her to believe Tsugumi’s intentions were good, and Senri asks him what good good intentions are, it’s a reflective moment for him. Seeing Senri run from the club mirrored the turmoil in his head regarding whether to stick with it past Golden Week, along with his past distrust of anyone and everyone’s kindness.

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We say “past”, and used the past tense above, because while Kyoutarou still clings to his old reslusive bookworm persona, the reality is he is transforming into something else altogether; something far more sociable. And it’s understandably strange, frightening, and even a little fanciful feeling (the cosplay and the high level of attractiveness of his clubmates also contribute to the “too good to be true” vibe, or rather the “I’ve never felt like this before, so it must not be for me” vibe.

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Sure, it’s a bit bizarre and potentially problematic that every girl in the club seems to have varying levels of feelings for Kyoutarou, as exhibited in how they react to learning Nagi’s his neighbor and has been in his room. The bathhouse segment also seemed to be little more than an opportunity for the girls to be nude, compare boob sizes, but to their credit, the guys stay on their side and don’t try to sneak a peak. Saints! 

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But really, that’s all pretty painless and is over relatively quickly, and the episode moves on to Kyoutarou’s choice: whether to stay with Tsugumi, the others, and the Happy Project, or go back to being alone with his books. Neither choice could necessarily be called wrong, but the latter is certainly safer and more mundane. He’d be returning to a path already well-worn…by himself.

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In the end, even after all the fun and new experiences he’s had, Kyoutarou heads to the library club prepared to take that safer path anyway. “It’s been enough,” he thinks to himself, totally unprepared for a surprise birthday party, suggested and organized by everyone. In he presence of such unbridled joy, Kyoutarou’s heart stirs. It’s a feeling that’s inscrutable now, but like a good book, he wants to dive into it and continue to discover all he can about it, so he decides to stick with the club after all.

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