Gundam: G no Reconguista – 05

What ISN'T it for, sir? What ISN'T it for?
What ISN’T it for, sir? What ISN’T it for?

There are inevitably going to be some parties who believe Recon in G is nothing but a cynical, half-baked cash grab, exploiting an anniversary as the Capital Army exploits Bellri’s kidnapping to break the taboo, and appealing only to the LCD.

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With these parties, I shall make a deal: I’ll spare you a tortured and ultimately futile attempt to convince you that my opinion of the show is as valid as yours, if you’d kindly refrain from raining on my parade!

What the heck's going on here?
What the heck’s going on here?

Yes, G is safe, and derivative, and often pretty damn stupid, and nothing of particular note ever seems to ever happen, yet I’ve still found the last five episodes charmingly goofy, bawdy fun. It could be because I’ve never subjected myself to old-timey Gundam that my natural aversion to it is low.

I like how the contour lines aren't perfectly crisp, but a little uneven, giving the otherwise modern character designs a retro touch
I like how the contour lines aren’t perfectly crisp, but a little uneven, giving the otherwise modern character designs a retro touch

Seed, Seed Destiny, and 00 are the only other Gundam series I’ve watched in their entirety, and while their first five episodes were far superior to G in character, story, and spectacle, their profound seriousness could wear thin.

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From the laissez-faire uniform code aboard the Megafauna (which is the name of the pirates’ spaceship, not a term for the jungle; now I know!)  to the easygoing interactions of Bell, Noredo and Raraiya, this is a Gundam that not only borrows a lot from the past, but also lets its hair down a little.

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I DON’T KNOW HOW TO RESPOND TO THAT?!

Just take the underwhelming battle that went down between Klim in his Loredo and some new Visor Guy piloting an “Elf Bullock”: Their in-battle banter is so over-the-top and cheesy, I was laughing out loud at the TV. This wasn’t really good, per se, but it was enjoyable. Agreeable. Amusing. Genial.

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That might not even have been the producers’ intent, and I can totally understand why it wouldn’t be enjoyable for some, but all I can tell you is how it affected me. There’s a ludicrous onslaught of characters and slipshod tactics and far too much on-the-nose dialogue and none of that mattered. I bought in.

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It’s fitting, then, that this battle was essentially brought to a close with a big water balloon, which forces SuperCool Visor Guy to flee in terror. Though the mechanic Happa was telegraphing the Hell out of those water balls, I was so preoccupied with the Visor Guy/Klim exchange to realize Bell got his cute little flying cockpit off the ground to break up their fight.

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And believe it or not, some stuff did happen. We learned that whether she likes it or not, as a princess, Aida has to thank people who fight for her, even if they were the enemy of her mentor Cahill. This explains why she’s such a piece of work for most of the episode.

Also, while Bellri is really excited about piloting G-Self and becoming a lieutenant in the Amenian army, Noredo still wants to make sure he’s planning to escape at some point with her and Raraiya. We also spend more down time with Klim, and his formerly paper-thin character’s hard edges soften a bit; a welcome change.

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Good game. Let’s go eat!

As far as she’s concerned, they’re spies behind enemy lines, and the sooner they get home, the better. That’s not necessarily where Bell is right now, but we’ll see. Until then, I like how the trio bunch together to scarf down some well-earned grub, looking every bit the motley family.

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Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 12

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We get another “domestic” ATM following the favorable conclusion of another adventure, which is much better than another recap. The Masaki sisters are there to welcome Tenchi as he stands in his genkan, wearing uniforms from his school, having used a Neuralyzer to convince the StuCo to let them man a stand at the upcoming festival.

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Meanwhile, Ryouko, whom we’ve only seen bits of, is busy doing positively awful things in the kitchen, having caught some kind of intergalactic delicacy and seasoning it with mandrake root. The pure ridiculousness of her “avant-garde” gastronomy was enough for a good hearty laugh or two.

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The episodelet ends with a bit of a moral: it’s a sin to waste food, especially when it’s been lovingly prepared. Thus, neither the Masaki sisters or Tenchi can avoid giving Ryouko’s stew of Undagon—native to the planet Kururu in the Andre Galaxy—a taste. Ryouko won’t let them.

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PSYCHO-PASS 2 – 03

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Not your ideal Friday.

I got into Psycho-Pass so recently, I ended up waiting negative-one week for the sequel a good chunk of its audience had been waiting over two years for. As a result, I didn’t have the same yearning or withdrawal, and so wasn’t as easy on the first two episodes, which while heady and intriguing, didn’t seem to quite match the power of the first season. If I’d had a longer break from the franchise, I can say with certainty those would have probably gotten 9s. That’s how arbitrary our rating system is!

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Well, I can say with great pleasure that Psycho-Pass is officially back, baby…as if it had ever left (it hadn’t).  It gives someone like me who just got done watching the first season a couple weeks ago the impression that it’s back by leaning on all the knowledge I’ve amassed thus far. Frankly, I feel that someone watching this show without having that knowledge is still watching a pretty damn good show, but only a fraction as good if you knew what’s come before.

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Shashiing.

Those first two shots above are from a cold open that quickly and efficiently sketches out a little more about what kind of feller this Kamui is. For one thing, like previous Psycho-Pass baddies, he’s possessed of a very specific and detailed depravity, which is indeed depraved, even by the standards of our “unSybilized” world. Removing Inspector Shiui’s eye, then using it to aim her own Dominator at herself…that’s some twisted shit right there. And yet…somehow, he manages to clear her hue just by talking to her (and letting her bite his finger really hard…yuck!).

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OMG, academics, like, totally REEK, ‘n stuff! Ew. Ew.

The body horror isn’t the only thing that this episode brought back from the good ol’ days…this week Akane pays a visit to Professor Saiga Motherfucking Jouji, one of the coolest SOBs of the previous season. Having turned himself in for helping Kogami, he’s traded the verdant tranquility of his Fallingwater knockoff for a comparatively stark isolation cell. Shimotsuki Mika, who comes along because she’s curious what Akane’s up to now, perfectly sums up her character by covering her mouth and scurrying off at the first sight of the professor. It’s as if she’s allergic to the knowledge and wisdom of yore!

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Akane is not. I believe Mika’s scan of her in her messy flat read something like “38”, a ridiculously low Psychopass for someone who’s been through as much as Akane. She’s stuck between the possibility she’s gone insane and wrote “WC?” on her own wall (possibly while high on second-hand smoke) or the possibility a “ghost” invisible to technology did it without leaving a trace. Saiga can assure her of one thing: regardless of whether Kamui exists, the means to clear hues and write messages on walls without detection most certainly do, which means the answers are out there.

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Like Father…well, you know the rest of that.

Psycho-Pass Classic™ Move #3? Quality time Enforcer Ginoza, whom has fantastic chemistry with Div 2’s Inspector Aoyanagi. Just like his old man, now he has a bionic arm and drinks really old brown liquor in his U-neck and just generally seems to be in a better place. He was always so on-edge and anxious; covering his face like Mika did, too scared of clouding his hue to really live. Could it be he changed for the better? There’s certainly much less of a weight on his shoulders, that much is clear. Aoyanagi almost looks envious of his plight.

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The hits keep coming: Akane visits Chief Kasei to ask permission to investigate the Kamui Case. Now, you and I both know (or you better damn well i if you’re reading this) that Kasei is a freaking full-body cyborg and a direct liason to Sybil. Mika doesn’t have a fucking clue what’s going on between Kasei and Akane in this scene, but we do. That feeling of being in the know is quite…invigorating. While Ginoza was always cowed by Kasei (because like Mika, he just didn’t know the truth), Akane is almost not asking, but telling “her” that she’s taking this case. Kasei has no reason to stop her, because Kamui could be a grave threat to Sybil.

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Togame: Highest coefficient EVER. Gonna keep an eye on that (Sorry, Shisui!).

Mika dismisses the wide berth as favoritism. Mika is…kinda dumb so far. But she’s a perfect product of the system, as Akane once was. Also, we have the luxury of knowing Akane’s absolutely fuckin-A-right about Kamui really existing, even if he’s spoken of by Norma latent criminals as if he were some kind of prophet or savior. That Kamui managed to kill an enforcer, kidnap an Inspector, keep her Dominator active, and steal the impact absorber from a bomb-defusing drone…to what end God only knows.

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Meanwhile, Aoyanagi get’s a call from Shisui and agrees to meet her at some kind of combination pharmacy and internet cafe, where an old man is being crotchety and starts assaulting an employee. Yet the geezer’s clear Psychopass locks her Dominator, and starts to whale on her. Like Kamui, he wants to “save” everyone from Sybil, presumably starting with those who most directly carry out her will: the MWPSB.

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Amagi Brilliant Park – 04

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From sun up to sun down, Seiya-kun is amazing. He knows the full day’s schedule without needing reminders, knows what he wants to do before his staff members even have a chance to bring up worries, and makes snap decisions when they need to be in order to keep things moving along.

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Unfortunately, his great success only makes Izumi’s failure as acting manager for a year all the more painful for her. Worse, when Izumi ‘plays it calm’ and just threatens Moffle and the other costumed mascots with her gun instead of listening to them, Seiya has to step in and point our her inadequacies, which only makes her feel worse!

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However, one of Seiya’s snap decisions comes back to bite the park in the butt, hard. In unusually strong rains, the flood prevention pumps give out because Seiya had the reserve pump, which was falling apart, shut down.

Not that he had much other choice, but ABP’s underground facilities are on the verge of overflow and they could lose a month to repairs and tons of money for all the merchandise, costumes, and materials.

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As an Imperial Guard, Izumi is ready. Her command center is set up and communication lines are open. Staff is sent out with the firefighting equipment being repurposed as make-shift pumps and, where those can’t be spared, cast members are sent with buckets.

Izumi is sharp, precise and cold-hearted but this disaster brings out the best in her. More importantly, the cast sees it and all her fears about being hated melt away as the park is saved to carry on another day.

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Amagi Brilliant Park week 4 dropped much of the previous three’s gags for a focused Seiya/Izumi focused emotional affair. We got to see both characters’ ticks and strengths and came out the other side with some growth and a few hints of the mystery plot too. Giving the skimpy-clad fairies more screen time helped keep it tokidoki too!

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Over all, it was a pretty, exciting, early middle season episode. Conflict, character development, and success before a true adversary can raise its head — and It had my attention and admiration all the way through!

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7 Boob Grabs of October

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Boob grabs, whether by mistake or intent, are pretty commonplace in anime, spanning across virtually all genres. This month has had its fair share of cops, and we’re not talking about law enforcement. If anything, fewer shows relied on them than we first realized, though many went the “Accidentally Saw Panties” route instead. At any rate, here are seven offenses, and their extenuating circumstances, if any.

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1. Cross Ange – 01

As the end credits of Ange’s first episode begin to roll, we get a somewhat jaring cut from the awful assault of Ange by Jill to the sumptuously-appointed chambers of someone we later learn is Captain Zola, First Troop leader. She’s grabbing the boob of Hilda, one of her…lovers? Companions? Bedwarmers? Subordinates?…without any context. We later learn Hilda is probably a little bit of all of those things.

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2. Cross Ange – 02

I won’t say Hilda was necessarily enjoying Zola’s treatment; she may legitimately like/admire/desire Zola, or she may just be currying favor by banging her commanding officer. What I can say is that what Zola started to do to Ange in the second episode, before she was stopped by the battle alert, wasn’t merely a boob grab…it was straight-up sexual assault.

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3. Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – 01

Yikes…let’s move on to lighter fare, such as when Kakei Kyoutarou attempts to catch Shirasaki Megumi as she’s falling. Once he realizes what he’s caught hold of, he releases immediately, full of shame; It’s not like him to do such things intentionally. Still, when pictures are distributed via the school’s online news stream, it takes emphatic convincing from both grabber and grabbee to get a correction published.

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4. Parasyte – the maxim – 01

Kyoutarou was the victim of bad luck, but not as bad as poor Izumi Shinichi. He likes Murano Satomi and she likes him, but with an alien parasite taking the place of his right hand, he’s not always in control of what it does – like when it grabs the odd mammory. Satomi eventually forgave him.

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5. Nanatsu no Taizai

Aw..C’mon, man. What is wrong with you?!

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6. Trinity Seven – 01

While it makes anime logic sense that the protagonist is reaching out in his dream and then grabs his cousin in real life, his happy “Whatever” response to the situation is more than a little creepy. The extra squeeze seals the deal. None of Kakei’s shame.

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7. Sanzoku Musume no Ronja…?

Well…to be fair…this is just Lovis milking a goat. Aaaaand that’ll do it!

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – 03

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Kaori knows about Kousei. Of course she does; any musician worth their salt knows of the “human metronome” who played with a symphony at eight. He’s a celebrity, but he’s one you always talk about like “Well…yeah…shame about that guy…he was really going places.”

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We open this episode with Kousei a bit annoyed he’s gone from “extra” to “substitute”, but he has no idea of Kaori’s true interest in him, though he probably has an inkling that she knows who he is…or rather was. But we see firsthand along with her just how deep and dark an ocean he’s fallen to the bottom of, where a mental block suddenly kicks in, depriving him of color and hearing his own music just when he’s getting into it.

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It’s a cruel affliction, but Kaori isn’t interested in attending his pity party: she’s on a mission of rehabilitation, not commiseration. Arima Kousei fell into the deep, but she’s come to pull him out. He’s gotten too comfortable in that darkness, to the point painful emergence is inevitable. But Kaori has faith there’s still a brilliant pianist in there, which is why she decides to make a bold decision: to choose Kousei as her accompaniment in the second round of her competition.

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Kousei refuses vehemently, and his reasons are many; insufficient training for accompaniment; inadequate time to rehearse; rustiness; inability to hear the piano…but it all comes down to fear…not even necessarily fear that he won’t be able to do it (of which he’s not at all confident anyway), but because he’ll be leaving that deep dark sea where he’s grown so…accustomed. It will be so bright and loud and scary out there…it will be different.

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But again, from Kaori’s perspective, that’s the point. That sea is a kind of limbo, where he constantly bathes in currents of self-doubt, self-loathing, and self-pity. Kaori means to wean him off those currents. The tactics she takes frankly border on the excessive, and she and Tsubaki kill a forest’s worth of paper plastering all of the walls in Kousei’s life with the sheet music for the competition: Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. (I’m sure there’s probably some symbolism in that choice of music, but I”m gonna play my musical tourist card at this juncture.)

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As Kaori sees Tsubaki put everything into trying to get Kousei to agree to play, she also sees the feelings Tsubaki plainly has for him, though she says she considers him more of a little brother (just like he considers her a big sister) than a romantic interest, the fact remains, she loves him. She’s doing this for selfish reasons…for “family” reasons: she doesn’t want to see her kid brother continuing to “live life halfway.” So you’re he’s Beethoven. So what? Beethoven’s a baseline. Play it backwards, upside-down; with a frikkin’ distortion pedal. Stop hiding. Stop running. Start playing.

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What neither Tsubaki nor Kousei know, however, is that Kaori isn’t asking him to play just for his sake, but her’s as well. No matter what crappy stuff has showed up in her life, she’s always kept playing…it’s how they (musicians) survive. On the rooftop, where she finds a Kousei frustrated she’s still pressing the issue, Kaori finally tells Kousei: she’s in a moment where she’s about to lose heart, just as he did so publically and brutally years ago. She needs his support now as badly as he needs to be saved from his sea of silent darkness.

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We close with a heartwarming, Ghibli-esque scene of youthful energy on display in the heart of Spring

It’s there, when she shows that heretofore unseen side of herself, where Kousei realizes Ryouta was right: ‘the girl will let you know.’ He realizes maybe what he thought was impossible wasn’t. He won’t be alone on that stage, Kaori will be right there with him. Alone, they probably wouldn’t have a chance. But together, perhaps they can pull out a performance that may not be perfect, but will propel them into that big bright scary unknown where they both must go to keep surviving.

I. Cannot. Wait to see it.

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