Psycho-Pass – 19

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Getting back to basics, Kogami practices loading and unloading a revolver, reminding me a bit of Travis Bickle. But he still isn’t sure of Makishima’s next move, so he borrows Masaoka’s sportbike and tears off, Tetsuo-thru-Neo-Tokyo style, to the home of his mentor, Professor Saiga.

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This is an exceedingly quiet episode of Psycho-Pass, even quieter than the last, which was dominated by Kogami’s goodbyes, but it’s also an episode in which the full extent of what Sybil has done to the country comes to light for us he audience. And even though nobody knows what Makishima knows about Sybil, it’s almost as if they sense it—in their guts and in their hearts.

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It didn’t occur to me, for instance, that agriculture is completely automated, or that history is no longer studied, but that’s simply because the show hadn’t really turned its gaze on those aspects of its world until now. This is a truly FUBAR world, for all its aesthetic similarities to our own. Most of the population has accepted it, while intellectuals like Saiga retreat to the forest, unable to harm anyone with knowledge.

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Of course, being intellectual means you can find ways around the system of control that essentially imprisons everyone else. Take the chat rooms Saiga participates in, hosted by offshore servers. Kogami’s visit proves more fruitful than picking the professor’s brain and saying another goodbye: when presented with the thread “How To Bring Down Sybil In Five Days”, the chat room participants have at it, providing a wealth of diverse ideas.

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At first Kogami just sees them as a bunch of nerdy jokes, but as Ginoza says to his worried therapist about maintaining his hue, it’s about how you look at things. So Kogami picks the “joke” he thinks is “funniest” – meaning the plot most likely to fit Makishima’s cynical style.

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That is to cause a food shortage that will force the government to interact with the outside world. Once the gates are cracked, people and knowledge will spread like antibodies, nullifying the entire crime coefficient system, and dealing a critical blow to the superiority the powers that be value so highly.

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Meanwhile, Akane deals with the fact that Kogami is gone, and that if they ever meet again her orders are to kill him. She deals with it initially with a stiff upper lip, refusing to be depressed. When Shion gets her to open up, Akane voices her worry that because of her freakishly pure Hue means she’s cold and unfeeling.

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For a moment there, I thought something was going to happen with those two, which would have been an interesting development considerin how relatively asexual Akane has been portrayed thus far. Her talk with Yayoi in the cafeteria is far less charged, but just as devastating in that they continue to detail everything wrong with the world they live in, that Akane is only just starting to realize.

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Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – 01

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“It’s not what it looks like!”

W-Won’t you make school fun with me?

Even if it isn’t Oscar-worthy stuff, sometimes you simply have to admit you were overly pessimistic and doff your hat an anime for being far better and more interesting than you thought it would be. Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai (A Good Librarian Like a Good Shepherd) managed to be one of those cases.

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Public humiliation fetish?

Part of that is that the show looks a lot better than the promo art suggested, part of it is that all the characters have an intrinsic charm and vitality about them, and most encouraging of all, despite the “shepherd” epithet, this is not a misogynistic show. Sure there’s a boob grab, but it’s incidental to a desperate rescue from a train derailment.

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Ironically, misunderstanding of the material at hand befalls all of Kakei Kyoutarou’s giant school, Shiomi Academy, when out-of-content pics of him groping classmate Shirasaki Tsugumi circulate about the web. But Kakei is no molester. All he’s interested in is reading, and maximizing the time he has to read. He’s like the Katsuragi Keima of books.

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I like. This cat.

He also has a certain degree of precognitive intuition, hence predicting the train would derail, necessitating his grabbing of the introverted Shirasaki. She’s the Sekiya Naru of this show: someone who is tired of being mousy and inert. She wants to start something—even if she’s not sure what that something is—something new.

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That’s what ultimately sways Kakei to join her “Shiomi Happy Project” until Golden Week, despite the possibility it will take time away from reading, and the Student Council President Mochizuki Maho’s objections to him wasting his abilities on”activities with ambiguous goals, objectives, and motivation.”

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Kakei’s position is thus: to him, books “shed light unto the darkness,” but Shirasaki and her Happy Project could be another source of light, so he’s willing to give it a try. He’s joined by his friend Takamine Ikkei and Shirasaki’s friend Sakuraba Tamamo. Once the club members are set, they all receive a text message at the same time.

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It’s congratulations from the titular “Shepherd”, a school legend that grants wishes to those who maximize their potential. We later learn that Kakei himself is a candidate to join “Shepherd”, which really exists and is more than one person. While the promo art and basic synopsis of Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai suggested a potentially iffy harem, what we got was a lot more nuanced and refreshing.

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Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle – 01

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I believe this is the first time we see Gaz clearly.

Ah, it’s good to be easing back into the warm, tingly bath that is Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle. The show picks up pretty much where it left off, with the hunt for Gaz’s remains continuing. The heroes they’ve had to face have varied wildly on the moral spectrum, but their latest opponent, Lady Claudia, is possibly the nicest out of all of them, and is willing to give Chaika Gaz’s heart as long as she’s just giving him a funeral—but only if they can defeat her.

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Chaika has always been a show about finding a purpose. Chaika’s purpose is to bury her father. Tooru and Akari’s are to help her. After executing Gaz and paving the way for the Six Nations and peace, Lady Claudia became a different kind of hero: a Lady Eboshi-type of entrepreneurial woman who provides good jobs to veterans with nothing else to do. Her bucolic vineyard and winery is a kind of microcosm of the ideal world that was meant to be after Gaz was dealt with, and even if it isn’t quite that, it’s at least far better than the bloodshed and chaos that went on for three hundred years.

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Speaking of purpose, that of the Gilette Corps endures, even after its namesake has been slain. Even if our Chaika doesn’t intend to build a weapon that will end the peace and restore Gaz to power, we’re still not exactly sure that’s not exactly what she’s unwittingly doing, and in any case there are many other Chaikas out there who want to. It’s up to Gillette and its new Captain Nikolai to see to it that doesn’t happen.

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Which is why it’s so tricky that Vivi is, without a shadow of doubt, one of said Chaikas. Even if she denies is, the fact of the matter is, if that spectral dandy Guy pays you a visit, you’re a Chaika, The End. He’s there to make sure Chaikas carry out Gaz’s directives. Still, Vivi is still shaken to the core by the death of her love, and it doesn’t look like she’ll so easily be able to return to the live she lived before Alberic was killed.

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But back to the winery: when their first attempt to fight Claudia ends in a draw, she offers them the swanky hospitality of her establishment, plus a second chance, on the condition the three of them are able to score a victory between tomorrow’s breakfast and tea. Like Chaika, she’s a Gundo wizard, but far more skilled and experienced. Six months of hiatus have not dulled Akari’s extra-dry wit a bit, but even an all-nighter can’t improve Chaik’s incantation speed.

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I really enjoyed the decency and chivalry of Lady Claudia; it’s not every day you get such an understanding and accommodating adversary. When the hour of battle is upon them, they march out to some more awesome Final Fantasy boss music; the show’s soundtrack remains a delight in general. Tooru assures Chaika if they can’t beat her they’ll just steal it, but Chaika isn’t a saboteur, or a thief. She wants to honor Claudia’s terms if she can. Judging from the start of the battle, I wonder if the Acuras would even be able to take the heart without Claudia’s leave; she’s quite formidable.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 01

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This is how you design an original, shocking, and completely screwed up super natural/scifi high school slice of life story! The world? As it is today! The danger? That people may not be who they seem, and if they are not, they will eat you. Even if you aren’t human anymore either!

Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu (Parasyte – the maxim-) starts us off right by having a husband eat his wife’s head for breakfast. No warning. No real explanation. We only get bits and pieces from what protagonist Shinichi Izumi thought was a dream and, later, through the conversations he has with his hand.

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So what’s going on? Shinichi narrowly escapes being carved out by an alien parasite by tying off his arm with his headphone cord (his head phones preventing the parasite from entering his ear the normal way)

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After a few weird moments the following day, where his hand appears to be up to its own business without his input, Shinichi learns that his hand now has an eyeball, talks to him, and can stop a speeding car. Stopping the car was good for the little girl it was about to flatten, but I imagine splat or save would have given him equal trauma.

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Later, after the hand has read many books and improved its speaking skills, the situation is laid out between them: they’re gonna need to coexist or at least one of them will be dead and the other won’t have an arm anymore.

Also, lots of strange murders going down around Japan but that’s probably just a coincidence…

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Parasyte is very well drawn, in that the characters are of average design and style, but the creepy hand monster is extraordinarily dynamic and fluidly animated. So far, we’ve only seen a short fight with an overrun dog but I’m sure, when the stakes are high enough, we’re in for an animated treat.

Hand is gross and funny and creepy and adorable all wrapped up in one. I found myself missing subtitles just because I wanted to see him stretch and waggle his eyeball stalks around.

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Parasyte culminates in a showdown with another ‘failed’ alien (they only want to eat their host’s brains). Dog, as he is given no name, does not trust protagonist because, unlike all the other aliens, Shinichi is partially still human.

The fight is short and sweet and there’s nothing to complain about: a small dog sprouted organ-looking wings out of its face to chase a high schooler around a park. Unique!

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I have no idea where this is going to be honest and I love it. I assume Shinichi’s family and 2 school friends will bite it or get infected or become his enemies, at least for an episode.

However, there’s no sense of the aliens’ goals, reasons, or what we’ll see beyond people getting eaten. You have my attention, Parasyte! (and my nightmares!)

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Moving forward, Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu reviews will be shared by Oigakkosan and MagicalChurlSukui.

Psycho-Pass – 18

Another nice father-son moment
Another nice father-son moment

Kogami Shinya is a sharp felow. Since the day he met Makishima Shougo, and resolved to judge him, he’d probably suspected he wouldn’t be able to get the job done if he remained a detective under the law. The bizarre actions and motivations of Chief Kasei this week serve as the final nail in the coffin for his career as a detective, a career he ends on his own terms. It’s a heartbreaking end, in particular for his colleague and friend Akane, but it was inevitable.

"Yes, prove your usefulness by killing your ex-partner. LET THE HATE FLOOOW."
“Yes, prove your usefulness by killing your ex-partner. LET THE HATE FLOOOW.”

But first, Kasei, or rather, the Sybil “brain trust”. Faced with the prospect of further challenges to their perfect little system at the hands of Makishima makes them bolder and less concerned with decorum. I mean, trying to pass off the plane crash as an opportunity for Ginoza to sweep his failures under the rug is one thing, but doing it after he and others just saw a body being carted away from a plane that only had Makishima and drones aboard – pretty brazen!

In case there was any doubt, yes: Tsunemori Akane is the shit.
In case there was any doubt, yes: Tsunemori Akane is the shit.

Things get worse when Ginoza, fully aware Kogami is his best detective—better than he’ll ever be—tries to bend the rules a little and get Kogami on Division 2, searching for Kagari. It backfires, and this time Kasei puts her hand on Ginoza’s Dominator as it’s being aimed at Kogami, transforming it into a Lethal Eliminator. Ginoza hesitates pulling the trigger long enough for a particularly gutsy Akane to shoot Kogami instead with the Paralyzer (for the second time sinc they’ve met; both times to save him).

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Because she was technically performing her duties, and said she believed Ginoza’s Dom was “malfunctioning”, she gets off without punishment, but there can be no doubt that Sybil will be looking very carefully at Akane from this point on, illustrated by naught but Kasei’s cold cyborg stare. There can be no overstating how masterfully this show stages incredibly tense situations.

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That tension is followed up by some of the best character work yet in a show that’s brimming with it to begin with, as Kogami prepares to go off the reservation. Karanomori lets him take the last remaining helmet, telling him he has six days before Sybil countermeasures render it useless. She knows he may not come back, too, so wonders aloud if she should ever have slept with him. Then Masaoka pours him some of the good stuff and gives him the key to a safe house he used back in the day.

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As this is all going on, Akane is still asleep by his hospital bed. Akane, who made him promise to keep being a detective; not to think of himself as merely a hunting dog to do her dirty work. What Akane didn’t realize is that, if they could talk, a dog would promise anything to you out of loyalty, regardless of whether they could keep it.

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Unlike that hypothetical talking, promising dog, Kogami has the benefit of knowing he’s making a mistake out of a largely selfish determination to pursue Makishima and stop the killing. But he’ll do it anyway, because he won’t be able to live with himself anyway if he lets Makishima get away. Tears well up in Akane’s eyes as she reads his farewell letter, but as Masaoka said, far better to have written that then left without a word.

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What’s her next move?

Kogami has six days, and then he’s a big blinking light on Sybil’s Big Board. I recall Akane saying stopping Makishima is more important than her remaining an inspector. Would she become a latent criminal to save her beloved colleague from himself, or will she let him do what he feels he needs to do, and hope they won’t cross paths. She won’t be able to just use the Paralyzer a third time.

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Hi Scoool! Seha Girls – 01

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To be fair, this hot mess of a 10 minute anime mcoks Sega’s legacy hardware as much as it spends time reveling in that legacy’s games. Dial up modem jokes, blocky graphics, the 3 second Sega theme song is the school’s theme song and the fact that the dreamcast is kinda vapid, are worth a dull smirk. If you skin hasn’t melted off in horror first.

HSSG is painful to watch though and should never ever have been designed to run for 10 minutes. It’s just so empty of soul.

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If you want to learn more about Sega’s hard ware history and some of the games that made it popular, ask your parents… or grandparents. If you want to live in the past and revel in Sega’s glory, go buy a console on eBay.

Whatever you do, just don’t watch this anime.

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Orenchi no Furo Jijou – 01

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Well this was unexpected! Orenchi no Furo Jijou is a delightful, nicely styled, 4-minute format show featuring a merman who’s living in a human’s bathtub.

It has a bit of Arakawa Under the Bridge feel to it, though there is no question that Wakasa is a real merman. Still, Wakasa is totally a goofball who is taking advantage of his host’s inability to kick him out.

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Orefuro is a nice and tidy 4 minutes. We see Tatsumi save Wakasa from the side of the river, not entirely realizing Wakasa is a merman. Then we learn from Wakasa that he used to live above the dam but construction has chased him out.

When Tatsumi tries to get Wakasa to leave, Wakasa breaks down crying over how awful the river is and his hatred of green water. Then they share a pink bath and Wakasa demands hamburgers, shampoo, etc.

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It’s charming, harmless, and under five minutes. With that checklist, I will certainly give it a chance!

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Trinity Seven – 01

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Trinity Seven is not exactly an odd mashup of elements…it feels like we get a super-powered male transfer student to a magic school is identified as a demon lord with a harem angle almost every season these days. However, T7’s vibe feels just a hair different.

Maybe it’s the magic school, which reminds me of Occult Academy? Maybe it’s the absolutely bleak opening where Arata, our hero/demon lord, learns that his cousin and childhood friend Hijiri has been wiped away along with his home city by some sort of…black sun…thing?

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Still, as hopeful as I am about T7’s darker spin on the Demon Lord Magic Harem genre, I’m hesitant to get invested. For one, the episode opens with boob-grabbing and continues with that level of objectification even after Arata learns about magic and remembers the not exactly death but like death of his cousin.

I mean, really? is now the time to be so self-assured and forward about liking boobs? It just disconnects me from the tension of the narrative.

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Interestingly, Trinity Seven makes a reasonable explanation as to why more girls are mages than boys (and that they tend to be more powerful). Simply, magic is the study of a mage’s own mind and emotions.

Our hero finds this satisfying too and muses about being open with his true desires and feelings. Or he’s playing along, since he’s talking to a female student ninja who just implied that she’s rather good in bed.

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As for the seven girls our Hero must harem…erh…defeat:

Lilith Asami, the first mage Arata meets, is you standard mild prude who’s put off by our hero’s nature but obviously already likes him. Levi Kazama is a ninja and has already implied she wants to sleep with him. We’ve only seen Akio Fudou and Mira Yamana through a window but they look like the big boobed tomboy and prickly academic, respectively.

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Lastly is Arin Kannazuki… who Arata-kun meets in the boys bath. She’ll be playing the “doesn’t get it girl” archetype and also looks like Arata’s cousin Hijiri, which is weird and unexplained. Arin’s timing and interactions are the best of the bunch, as she actually takes Arata out of his comfort zone and doesn’t play into his hand.

Levi is also good, if only because her goal is more or less to tease everyone in the same way Arata does already.

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On another note, Trinity Seven uses really dull and muddy colors. I’m not sure if this was due to a bad stream (it was fairly low-res, as you can see in my screen captures) but I did find it a little weird how much the characters blend into the backgrounds at school.

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At the end of the day, T7 is about a teen guy who suddenly gets magical powers, who suddenly has to learn to use them to get his friend (and lover?) back from the void and the only way he can do that is to go to magic school and defeat the seven top magical students, who happen to also be girls.

As the headmaster says: “Magic allows for all possibilities.” So I’ll give it a Chance. T7 has good timing and a few charming characters but…all season long? You guys may have to give me some encouragement!

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