Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – 05

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DnH is doing a good job balancing all the simultaneous relationships Kyoutarou is cultivating with the various girls in his life. Last week he got a little bit of time with Kana, then made Tsugumi’s year by agreeing to stick with the Happy Project. He spends the first third of this episode with Tamamo, who he noticed is working extra hard for the very, popular and successful club. I wonder if Sayumi realized just how big a favor dressing the club up in cosplay was going to be.

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Anyway, it’s a cute little segment, which like the others, has a way of making one feel like Tamamo is the only girl he’s having these kinds of segments with, even though as I said, all these dealings with these girls is happening concurrently. Not that he’s being a man-whore or anything; it’s the girls, after all, that seem to be interpreting his kindness as a sign he’s interested in romance. And hey, he catches Tamamo clean: no boob or crotch grabs!

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Another girl whose gotten a fair share of Kyoutarou’s personal attention of late is Nagi, who is a suspicious as ever standing in the shadows observing Kyoutarou. We then find out that observing Kyoutarou with the aim of assessing his fitness to be a (The?) Shepherd is her job, handed down by a mysterious suited fellow.

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The buxom Nagi is simultaneously jealous of all the attention her boss is giving Kyoutarou and resentful that he’s seen as having more potential. She’s taken her duty to the extreme by moving next door to him and coming to his house all the time. Things get closer than ever before, and Kyoutarou even whips out the pre-cog power we’ve not seen since he saved Tsugumi to try to see Nagi’s future. Disturbingly, he finds nothing there but a white void and an invisible wall.

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It vexes him, and when he confronts Nagi at school, a chase ensues. Kana and Senri hear him yell something about “last night”, and the rumor mill springs into action. Poor Ikkei and Gizaemon can only sit in the corner, unable to contribute to what is essentially the girls wondering what the heck Kyoutarou is up to. But Kyoutarou has problems that circumvent whatever awkwardness may be brewing in the club room.

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Something’s just not quite right about Nagi, and he finally pays her a visit in her apartment — her dark, empty apartment where she clearly doesn’t really live. She’s got her: she’s the Shepherd who’s been emailing him (though that doesn’t mean she’s The Shepherd; clever wording on her part). And there’s that same Man in Black waiting for him, saying he’s cleared preliminary examination and inviting him to come to the “Magic Library” he’s seen flashes of in his premonitions. Nurturing romances while propelling the mystery forward: this episode was firing on all cylinders.

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Suisei no Gargantia: Meguru Kouro, Haruka – 01

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So here’s something I wasn’t expecting: a 2-part, hour-long each, OVA extension to the Gargantia series. There it was though and, unlike the ‘unreleased’ and ‘bonus’ episodes that came with the original series’ Blu-Ray release, it’s caca-awful. Still beautiful but man-o-man is this a steamy whale-squid corpse!

Full disclosure: the translation I had access to was laughably terrible. Not even funny ‘Engrish’ bad. Just nigh incoherent and if I didn’t understand a little Japanese, I would have been truly lost by its deep philosophical conversations that were completely missing proper nouns or sentence subjects of any kind.

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For those of you who remember it, Garganita was a lovely, slowly building show about a human from space accidentally re-finding Earth, and finding it not only completely submerged under an endless ocean, but inhabited by space-living-humans’ nemesis: whale-squids.

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It was a pleasantly told story about coming to understand more about people, about machines and momentum that can make conflict keep happening even when it is unnecessary, and it was spiked with great mecha-action sequences and brilliantly detailed backgrounds.

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SnG:MKH keeps the backgrounds and is generally fantastic to look at. However, the first 30 minutes of the story are devoted to a garbled retelling of the series and OAVs to Reema, a new girl in the flying delivery crew.

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I may have been okay with this — I may have been okay with the difficult to follow flashbacks of Chamber set during different times in the previous series that we haven’t seen before OR could have managed the bloated cast that includes all the OAV characters from crazy fleet as well as new ones — but then we got to the bath house/fan service scenes less than 20 mins in…

Really? REALLY??

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I can’t call this OVA bad or even lazy, per se. It does provide original animation for much of it’s flash backs and it’s still lovely to look at. There’s also a new plot, smeared indecisively all over the place too.

Unfortunately, it mostly comes off as talking heads and Reema seems only to exist to flesh out the world for people who didn’t actually watch the original series. Why those people would want to watch this show, and why this shouldn’t be annoying to anyone who did watch it, is entirely beyond me?

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If you can wade through the emptiness of the story telling and don’t mind what feels like an endless number of cameos from characters that don’t matter now (and honestly barely mattered to begin with) then it’s a pretty, unusual looking show with lots of water with no story to tell.

If any of those things annoy you, as they annoy me, or that you haven’t seen the original show already…just skip this thing!

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Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle – 05

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Early on, this episode threatened to deep six itself by freeing the good guys almost immediately thanks to appallingly bad guards, who are basically just like fuzzy stormtroopers in terms of effectiveness. It also cut too often to the horrendously dull, genetic evil Izhmash who orders executions like I order cheese fries and is constantly berating his staff, though considering how poorly they perform, he’s not outside his rights to do so.

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However, releasing the Chaikas, and Tooru, early, is a blessing in disguise. First of all, we can justify it with the simple fact that as tough as these mass-produced demi-humans and Fayla are, our heroes are pretty damn tough too. They’ve been through their share of toughs spots before. While it doesn’t quite excuse how lame Izhmash isI can buy that a highly isolated and reclusive research facility would overestimate the power of their heretofore untested creations against a battle-hardened group of prisoners.

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But back to our friends’ early release: it forces Red Chaika to work with White (White probably doesn’t have a problem working with Red) to escape. This results in some priceless dialogue between the two, both of them speaking weirdly like they do. White Chaika also frees the doll-like Niva Lada from her restrains and brings her along, which proves crucial later in the episode. (Fun note: Trabant, Bogdan, and Lada Niva are all brands Eastern European cars. Not to mention the Acura siblings…)

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It also gives Chaika the opportunity to really let its hair down and play with all the pieces it’s set up the last couple episodes, all RPG-style. The allies are all separate at first, but gradually unite into a mega-party of Tooru, Akari, Chaika, Red Chaika, Niva Lada, David, Selma, Kiril and Ursula (the two scorned demi-human guards). It’s like a big party on the secret island with past enmities being put aside so they can all focus on their common goal: surviving.

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But as ineffectual as the mass-produced Fayla and demi-human troops are, there’s still a crapton of them, and the group starts to get fatigued from fighting off wave after wave of them. That’s where we’re force to introduce another Star Wars similie. All the beasts they’re fighting are being controlled form one central location: a tower that is essentially a giant Gundo. Take out the tower, and the droid Fayla army will shut down.

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When Chaika’s own Gundo can’t penetrate the tower’s defensive magic, Niva Lada assesses the situation and reveals her true form: a gigantic, awesome-looking uber-Gundo that blasts the lame villain to smithereens. Obviously, Izhmash was not prepared for this level of resistance…which explains why the island was concealed from the outside world by magic!

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One thing I didn’t like: when asked about what will become of all the freed Fayla and demi-humans, Kiril just says they’ll eventually just die. Why can’t the beasts just live out peaceful lives on the island, no longer chained by the big Gundo tower? Well, because they were born and bred to be hunters and killers, and I guess they’re not capable of evolving beyond that narrow purpose.

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Chaika, on the other hand, is, even if she’s confused and doesn’t know what to do next. In this, she and Red Chaika differ: Red (at least outwardly) refuses to believe Izhmash’s lies; but even if he was telling her his truth, that truth is worthless to her; she’ll find her own truth. She’ll determine her own purpose. And so must our Chaika. Like Red, she’s not alone, and has friends (and a powerful new weapon in Niva) that give her far more options than base Fayla.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 05

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu episode 5 brings us yet another no name/ no personality Parasyte to deal with… but it’s clever about it. No-name gets a lot of brutal screen time from the get-go, and none of the dots it will connect are clear until it the end.

Cheap? Predictable? Maybe? At least, if you guessed like me about the end-potential of last episode…

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So Nagai, one of Shinichi’s classmates, is being beaten to a pulp by high school thugs of some sort and of course Shinichi has to dive in for an inept rescue. This wouldn’t be so bad if Shinichi ever thought anything through before diving headlong into it (or whining about it) but of course he doesn’t.

I mean, 5 seconds to remember ‘fighting is a bad idea unless I want to lose or accidentally kill someone because Migi has no sense of control or value for human life’ would do this idiot some good.

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Ultimately, the thugs get bored and wander off. However, not before Kana, the maybe-girlfriend of the thug-boss, gets a good deep look into Shinichi’s soul and is massively disturbed by what she sees there.

It looked like an eyeball to me. So, who knows where that’s going but Migi warns that women (and Kana in particular) seem to be better at detecting the energy waves created by the Parasytes.

Hrm… bummer.

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Later, because the evil thug leader wants to teach Shinichi a lesson for being a poser hero or something, Murano gets captured and it’s implied the thugs are going to rape her for a while and…timeout.

Is it me or am I just ignorant of the total shit-hole status of Japan and Japanese culture? I mean, are rape gangs really a thing there? Are there no police and no consequences for rapists? This whole segment just seemed questionable.

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S’okay though: Shinichi & Murano’s whole class show up and, presumably, beat the life out of Mutou’s gang. It’s also implied that Kana was the one that lead them there.

I guess she’s trying to figure out Shinichi and, juggling her thoughts about him already having a girlfriend, trying to figure out what to do with him?

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Then Shinichi’s mom gets her head cut off by the nameless Parasyte that was crawling around after the car wreck. Apparently they can only control one gender after their initial blending so it needed a fresh lady and Shinichi’s mom just happened to be on a near by oceanside cliff and bang: plot convenience!

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Before coming, Mommasyte gives Shinichi some time with his two ladies. First up was Murano, who confirms that Shinichi is no longer really human — he’s too nice and goes too far to protect others. He basically asks if she wants to have sex tonight but she smiles and goes home.

Second is Kana, who wants to apologize and also get a closer look at Shinichi. Not much happens beyond a hand shake and a glum face. Migi says she’s dangerous and should be avoided if possible. I assume she’ll just become a Parasyte soon, get killed, or both mere minutes after having sex with him.

May as well just get that over with…

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Then Shinichi’s dad calls to tell him about the murder monster, then probably dies in a public phone booth. Then Mommasyte shows up and Shinichi loses his shit and she kills him with her stabby-blade-head.

He’s obviously not dead but next week will take some explanational back-bending to tell us how it didn’t happen.

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At it’s heart, Parasyte is a discussion about what makes a human human. Is it our culture? is it our individual behavior? A-chan looked like a man, and could even make human babies, but he is a murderous beast.

Not too different from a lot of selfish people we’ve seen in Shinichi’s world, really.

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Questions and philosophy aside, this week was a little bumpy, flow-wise. I really did find Shinichi’s mom’s murder a little eye-rolling and Shinichi’s rather constant whimpering about being human or not got a little tiresome. (In all fairness, he is a teenager)

Regardless, the action was good, the people are weird, and the character development is obvious. All good things, creepy and brutal, and it has my attention all the way.

Lets just hope none of the female characters get bitten by a snake any time soon!

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Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de – 05

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InoBato is keenly aware that its best duo, at least so far, is Jurai and Tomoyo, as evidenced by their prominence in the bulk of this episode. Hakoto, Sayumi, Chifuyu and Mirei just don’t click on as many things. This week Jurai accidentally learns a lot more about Tomoyo, but none of it is shocking, and it ends up bringing the two a little closer together.

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After an intial isolated scene involving electric guitars that really only serves to create a reason for Jurai to leave his bag in the club room, he returns to find Tomoyo not only practicing Chuuni lines in the mirror, but writing a light novel for an author’s prize. When she sees that Jurai isn’t going to laugh at this, she asks him if he’ll cheer for her.

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This is where InoBato’s careful use of language comes into play: considering Tomoyo to be too close a friend to cheer for “recklessly”, he’s more willing to worry about her going down an uncertain path. He agrees to keep it secret as well, so when she gets through the first round, he offers to treat her to dessert to congratulate.

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Because it’s a secret, Tomoyo has no choice but to accept going alone with Jurai. She spends an inordinate amount of time choosing what to wear, and is then relieved to learn he’s forbidden form buying clothes, and so looks perfectly normal. They have a lot of fun on their date, but Tomoyo can’t quite work up the courage to arrange a future one.

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But while I’d be just fine with them continuing to develop a romance, the fact that it’s all in secret is a little problematic with their otherwise so-tight-knit club-mates. As Mirei learned when she pursued Jurai, the balance of the club centers on none of the girls going after Jurai, but keeping him at a distance to avoid complications.

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Without even trying, Tomoyo has upset that balance, and Hakoto seems genuinely pained both when she stops waiting for Jurai as he’s busy talking to Tomoyo, and when she more overtly witnesses the two on a date in the city, happy as clams. Her expression seems to say, “How long has this been going on?”

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Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 18

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The culture fest and beauty pageant are over, and Tenchi believes his cross-dressing days are as well, but an ardent Saryuu Hana isn’t satisfied. She visits his house to drop off a very well-drawn yuri doujinshi involving herself and “Tenchi-onee-sama.” She also wants Tenchi to cross dress again for the upcoming sports festival, leading to visions of Tenchi in a midriff-baring cheerleader outfit.

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Ryouko and the Jurai sisters can’t help but hear his conversation with Hana, and decide they’ll work hard to make him a sensation. They also sneak a peek at the doujinshi (well, the two older ones do) and are both shocked and a little turned on. The book itself glows with Hana’s love (or lust), both closed and open.

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About that sports festival: both the StuCo and Science Club are vigorously preparing, as is Kurihara-sensei, who dons her “carnivorematrix” garb to whip Tenchi dummies to shards, remarking “this farce is over.” I guess whatever plan she has for Tenchi is going to the next level.

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