Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de – 04

ino41

When the first episode aired, and it was pretty much the characters showing off their powers, I thought “This is probably a show whose looks will be its meal ticket this season.” There wasn’t a whole lot to it besides looking fantastic, and even that’s a first-episode standby to lure people in, only to disappoint when the budget runs dry.

ino42
We start off with the gang utilizing Chifuyu’s powers…for cosplay

Well, a quarter of the way in, I’m proud to report that I’d watch (and highly rate) InoBato even if it didn’t look as great as it did; purely on its comedic and dramatic chops its exhibited these past three weeks. Though yeah, I’m glad it looks as great as it does; that certainly doesn’t hurt. :) And mind, you that’s despite the fact the show has not gone down the road of giving the Lit Club a world-saving mission, or even explaining how they got their powers.

ino43

Instead, it’s focused on smaller, more personal stories that flesh the characters out, If there is bigger, more epic stuff in store down the road, it’s a good move to develop everyone now. But even if the world-saving aspect never pans out, I’m still invested in Jurai, Mirei, Tomoyo, and now, thanks to this week, Chifuyu too.

ino44

That’s not an easy feat, as unlike Jurai, I’m not a lolicon (I prefer older ladies, actually). Chifuyu has always been the odd person out; a grade schooler hanging out in a high school club…why? Well, we eventually find out; but not until after we get a story about Chifuyu clashing with her friend because, bingo, she hangs out with high schoolers too much.

ino45

Actually, I really didn’t need any convincing coming into this episode that Chifuyu was a worthwhile character and not just a cute face and voice — precisely because she hangs with high schoolers. Both in the past and this week she’s balanced her uniquely (among the club members) childish way of looking at the world with a calm stoicism beyond her years. But when she refuses to reveal the club’s secret to her best same-age friend Kuki Madoka, it opens a rift between them, one that even Chifuyu’s powers over matter and energy can’t repair.

ino46

Enter Guiltia sin Jurai, Chuuni Knight. At the end of the day, these are grade schoolers who like each other and want to remain friends, so all he has to do is give Kuki a little nudge. But his plan for creating that nudge is, well, uniquely Jurai, something I can say having seen him in action. He knows confessing to Kuki as a rabid lolicon will further degrade her opinion of him (even though she’s already seen him in Chifuyu’s bedroom in nothing but his boxers, which…long story), but it also serves to provide Kuki with a valid explanation for why Chifuyu kept a secret from her.

ino47

Chifuyu and her aunt, faculty member Satomi-sensei, arrive right on cue for the very simple but still cute process of grade-schoolers making-up. Jurai sighs a sigh of relief and he and Satomi look on at the youngins, probably envious of how simple friendships are at that age. Even so, they’re no less powerful at contributing to happiness.

ino48

But wait…didn’t Chifuyu say she was dropping out of school last week? Well, turns out she meant to say she was devoting herself studying extra hard so she could skip grades, with the goal of “catching up” to Jurai, which could be construed as a remark on how Jurai’s stuck in the eighth grade (Chuunibyou), and a desire to court him…once she’s old enough.The other girls confer and giggle with glee at Jurai’s expense.

ino48a

And then, only after the episode comprehensively justified Chifuyu’s character and her presence in the club, to the point where it really didn’t matter how she ended up there, we learn that too, as Satomi-sensei left her in the Lit Club’s care while both she and her sister, Chifuyu’s mother, were busy. It’s a very brief but effective montage, they gradually coax her out of her shell. Between that day and the present, all of them got superpowers, which makes them more than just a club, but a family.

9_ses

Advertisements

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – 04

bah40a
I will never tire of Amira’s many expressions

Put simply, Shingeki no Bahamut simply kicks ass at telling rousing, impeccably-orchestrated stories of adventure. Last week featured a town of illusion and undead ruled by a powerful, devious, but ultimately bored necromancer. Rita ended up following Kaisar looking for a change of pace and a little excitement…and her decision paid almost immediate dividends.

bah40
“D’you even know how to USE that?”

Entitled “Reunion at Ysmenport”, we’re immediately treated to a beautifully-rendered, well-worn and lived-in city; I could almost smell the fish…and other things such cities have. As street swindler ends up giving both Favaro and Kaisar information how where to get where they want to go. Favaro needs to get to Helheim (and can only keep up the lie about knowing how to get there for so long. Kaisar simply wants to get to Favaro.

bah41
Mmmm…you gotta love crab.

What ensues is perhaps the most complete and exciting episode of the series so far, a journey on the high seas with giant sea monsters of varying tastiness, demon sailors, zombie sailors, demon sailors fighting zombie sailors, demon girls fighting sea monsters, et cetera, et cetera. There’s a lot going on!

bah42
Taking an undead necromancer hostage: Not a good idea

But it’s not just action: after three episodes of Kaisar chasing Favaro across the ends of the earth, we finally learn why: Favaro’s dad was the one who attacked the convoy carrying the king’s tribute, which was overseen by Kaisar’s father. Kaisar and Favaro were childhood friends despite being from different classes, but Kaisar saw what happened as a betrayal, and his desire for revenge has driven him on a continuing quest to nail Favaro to the wall.

bah43
Ruff! Ruff!

Oh, and also…the demons in demonworld finally stop commenting on what’s transpiring in the regular world and spring into action! I’m not the biggest fan of the dog-demon-girl with her puppets Cerberus (!), but at least these guys are consistent. Every time Amira transforms, they’re able to locate her.

bah44
All that work, and it tastes like crap.

Amira does so when that giant crab emerges from the deep and threatens the ship…and Favaro. While there was probably no way Favaro could have dealt with the beast himself, it was still a risky move that ends up giving Favaro’s dad’s old friend and fellow “honorable thief”, Captain Amon, an opportunity to reveal himself as having “gone into business for himself”, just like Favaro. The jewels he and Favaro’s dad stole were filled with magic that brought forth killer demons, and only Amon survived, but he did so by becoming a demon himself…a bounty-hunter demon! And right now, Amira’s price is so high, Amon is fine simply killing Favaro rather than turn him in.

bah45a
So boss.

Meanwhile, Kaisar and Rita have not been standing still. They secured passage on another ship, which turns out to be pirates who aim to rob Kaisar and sell the girl. What’s so great is that so many people would find this a relatively alarming situation, but Kaisar knows what he’s doing and easily dispatches several pirates with his superior swordsmanship.

bah45

Also, Rita isn’t really a “girl” anymore; not entirely. What she is is someone who you most definitely want on your side. The pirates numbers are meaningless; she kills them all then reanimates them as a freaking Zombie Pirate Crew under her command. It just keeps getting better!

bah46

She rams her newly-acquired (and much larger) ship into Amon’s and that’s when the previously-mentioned battle between amphibious demon sailors and zombie pirate sailors commences, with Favaro, Amira, Amon, and eventually Kaisar literally above the fray in the rigging. Up here we get some Pirates of the Caribbean-style tightrope combat for good measure.

bah47

Frankly, I really liked Amon as a friend of Favaro’s and as a link to his past, but not all baddies can become allies like Rita. Speaking of baddies, after Amon is vanquished, the head demon dude Azazel sends a giant tentacle to pluck up Amira, inadvertently bringing Kaisar along for the ride, too. He stops Cerberus from killing him instantly, but whatever he has in store for the bonus human can’t be good.

bah48

I…I didn’t see that coming! Who am I kidding, I hardly saw anything coming this week, and that’s why it was so fantastic. I was almost always on the edge of my seat. Now we have quite a predicament on our hands: both Favaro and Rita’s traveling companions have been taken prisoner by powerful but unknown foes. Will these two team up to get their respective partners back? I’m guessing Favaro still wants to get rid of his tail, and Rita wants to turn more things undead, sooo…yeah.

10_brav

Weekly OP: GARO: Honoo no Kokuin

GAAAARROOOOO!

“Honō no Kokuin -Divine Flame-” by JAM Project is pretty much the perfect song to open this show about a bunch of pariah knights darting around in awesome suits of armor punching grotesque monsters in the FACE.

It’s bold, it’s burning with passion (listen to that dude belt it out!), and it’s an interesting blend of (sorta) traditional Japanese singing style with contemporary orchestration. The fluid, morphing animation is pretty rad, too, as is the idea of making a Western font based on the Makai tattoo designs.

GAAAARROOOOO!

Orenchi no Furo Jijou – 04

orenchi4_3

Orenchi seems to get shorter and shorter with each passing episode. This week, we meet Mikuni, a jellyfish boy who Tatsumi worried was a ghost.

Takasu and Wakasa appear to to know Mikuni, though they too were worried at first. Weird…

orenchi4_5

Anyway. Mikuni is a very nice fellow/BL character and he is want for nothing more than some water. In fact, he’s so ecological, all he can think of as a special treat from Tatsumi is fresh bottled water.

Tatsumi is very taken with him and very very happy to get him that bottled water and… this is getting pretty BL at this point isn’t it?

Orenchi4_1

Thankfully, Orenchi no Furo Jijou doesn’t seem interested in making its BL aspect especially physical, which is probably for the best. It’s goofy enough — awkward enough — as it is.

I’m not sure there were any jokes this week, which… uh… uh… I don’t know what to make of, really? There isn’t much to this show and calling it harmless over and over is an awful strange thing to say as a critical response.

Why am I still watching this? Somebody? Anybody??

5_ogk

Gugure! Kokkuri-san – 04

gks4_1

This week is all about Shigaraki, the old tanuki, the most recent uninvited spirit in Kohina-chan’s house. As was obvious last week, he’s a drunk mooch and no one likes him. Not even the viewers.

He’s the first truly unlikable character Gugure! has given us and I guess it works because he gives everyone an unapologetic antagonist to work against. Except, compared to Kokkuri-san’s fights with Inugami, no one seems to be putting much effort into getting rid of this douchebag.

gks4_8

Shigaraki literally has no redeeming qualities. He ruins everyone he haunts and, unlike Inugami, he doesn’t even give them a short period of success before burning them. He’s so selfish and/or delusional, he sees nothing wrong with his actions either.

If his gags weren’t so funny, Shigaraki would be an incredibly difficult character to watch on a regular basis.

gks4_2

Desperate for some reason not to kill him like the methheads who live in the trash across my street, Kohina-chan asks to see Shigaraki’s animal form. As you can see, this is surprisingly horrifying and funny. What you can not see is his bulging human genitalia…

gks4_6

Then Shigaraki either misunderstands Kohina when she admits to preferring his human form or is just being a jackass when he turns into a hybrid of the two and chases Kohina around the house…

gks4_4

However, he soon realizes he’s crossing the line and that Kohina may chase him out of the house somehow. So he bribes her with a million yen… that immediately turns into a leaf.

Yes! Shigaraki is so lazy his tricks don’t even last long enough to trick anyone!

gks4_3

Gugure! Kokkuri-san was outrageously funny this week — and I’m not even going to talk about the gray-skin Martian that sits next to Kohina at school!

If you need a criticism of the show, it’s that I have no confidence that a deeper mystery will ever manage to surface in a meaningful nor ham-fisted way. That, and it’s Ranma 1/2 style ’90s visuals will keep it at an 8 for most of the season. But what a fun little 8 it is!

8_ogk

Grisaia no Kajitsu – 04

gnk4_1

This week’s Grisaia no Kajitsu didn’t quite know what to do with itself. Was it trying to parody Bakemonogatari with its stoic psychological conversations about life after death? Was it trying to lead us astray with Michiru’s surprise split personality disorder?

None of these new threads play nicely with the panty shots and harem motif that continues to fuel the show. Worse, none of it furthered Yuuji’s assassin plot or the counter assassin plots of the other girls.

gnk4_2
Werewolf/vampire talk foreshadowing time…I guess?

While Yuuji is certainly in Episode 3, I argue that he’s just there for our point of reference and that the true central character this week is Michiru Matsushima. Michiru can be funny and her interactions with Yuuji last week (where he started yelling military commands at her and renamed pieces of her hair after military formations) were hysterical.

Not this week though. Last week’s quick and poppy and bizarre dialog was replaced by a slow and dull musing about death…

gnk4_6

I get that Grisaia no Kajitsu is setting up a foreboding mood and that we’re supposed to worry about a Michiru possibly having a terminal illness or that someone else could be about to die, but the whole conversation feels like it’s ripping off Bakemonogatari.

And that doesn’t work with Michiru. Not when we see her wandering around in a ‘hair bleech’ haze a few scenes later. She’s too goofy to sell the introspection.

gnk4_3

Then we get a few scenes where Michiru’s eyes turn from blue to green and she’s a totally different character and, again, we get a very Bakemonogatari-like scene. In this, the tsundere straight face asks the straight-man what a kiss is like and then they kiss.

As with the death-chat scene, it feels like Grisaia is warning us that Michiru is about to exit the show, via crazy or something else, but I couldn’t take any of it seriously. Well, not with a double personality at least. The kiss scene would have worked nicely without it honestly…

gnk4_4
Just the girls watching shark man with a stuffed tuna

Then the black cat that’s been hanging around at the edges of the show since the first episode is run over by a car and Michiru loses her shit.

Set in the back of a taxi, Michiru tries to give the cat some of his favorite treats. He eats a little but then coughs a blood bloom and twitch-dies. It’s a horrific scene, actually.

gnk4_5
This gag was actually funny but too complicated to explain!

So was it good? Bad? Something else?

I’m on the fence. Killing the cat was a surprise mood (for most of the episode anyway) and the death scene was handled with a brutality that makes me hopeful that, whenever the assassin stuff finally does hit the fan, it will be spectacular.

gnk4_7

However, it was a slow, unmemorable, eye rolling episode otherwise. Introducing a split personality out of nowhere — as a minor side plot — isn’t bold, it’s not a good idea. Yeah I like Michiru but not that much. Not enough for her to get the amount of screen time needed to make such a crazy plot work.

7_ogk