Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – 06

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This week’s DnH took huge leaps forward in its overarching story by finally revealing exactly what it was Nagi was involved in, and why she’s been so interested in Kyoutarou. While it had a lot of serious plot to go over, it managed to avoid getting too dry or tedious by blending it with well-timed comedy, mischief, and would-be romance.

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First of all, the library is fairly impressive, if a relatively simple design: a massive cylindrical shaft lined with billions of books. The Beast’s library ain’t got nothing on this place. It’s part The Matrix’s Zion, part Laputa’s Core, and all awesome; just the kind of place a big book reader like Kyoutarou would imagine in a dream…and he did!

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They mysterious man turns out to be the same one who met with him ten years ago. He likes the progress Kyou’s made with the Happy Project; he’s already passed one of the two tests required to become a Trainee Shepherd, which is what Nagi is. The thing is, Kyoutarou isn’t so sure he wants to devote the rest of his life to helping others realize their happiest possible lives. The Happy Project is a means for him to explore the new feelings he’s developed, but that’s a highly personal thing. Becoming a Shepherd means throwing the self away for the sake of others.

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Nagi is determined to become a Shepherd and “leave the world (and presumably a painful past that likely involves Kyoutarou) behind,” but her Supervisor seems far more keen on Kyoutarou getting the job than Nagi, even though Nagi was there first and at least thinks she wants this (Kyoutarou has to think about it). And here’s what puts an intriguing twist on an otherwise ordinary harem: dating and/or falling for someone disqualifies you from consideration. A shepherd must radiate their love out to all who may need their guidance; focusing that love on one person undermines their duties.

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Even if Senri knew anything about this, she wouldn’t care. She’s at a point in her life when she’s tired of doing what’s expected of her — which doesn’t make her happy — and is doing what she wants, like putting the moves on Kyoutarou. I appreciated this bold, assertive side of Senri coming out when the opportunity presented itself; even if Kyou is more flustered than anything else, it’s a good demonstration of what he’d be giving up if he chose Shepherdom. In any case, Senri’s advances are interrupted by Nagi, whom Kyou has to shadow in order to learn the ropes.

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Their “client”, so to speak, turns out to be Sayumi, whom they have to save from a gruesome freak accident that would keep her from realizing her ideal future as a gifted programmer. It’s a pretty clear-cut job, but perhaps in her haste to either show off or because his very presence took her off her game, Nagi makes a critical error, and Kyoutarou has to bail her out in the most dangerous and embarrassing way he can. Why does Sayumi have a machine gun? WHY NOT?!

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When all is well that ends well, Nagi kicks herself for messing up, Kyoutarou comforts her and tells her to keep working hard, as she is his senpai in this situation. His kindness makes Nagi get all the feels, but now we know what a tricky situation she’s in: She’s close to falling for the guy who she has to fight for the Shepherd’s job, which has no room for love. The sooner she can become a Shepherd, the better…but Kyoutarou is learning quickly, and in any case, has been essentially carrying out the actions of a Shepherd already with the Happy Project.

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After returning the club room and finding Tsugumi waiting for him to share a heart cookie (which he eats all by himself out of ignorance), Kyoutarou is no closer to knowing what he wants to do. But as thanks for his bailing her out, Nagi gets the Library Club officially recognized. As Nagi sees it, if the club continues with Kyoutarou in it, eventually one of the girls will snag him, and he’ll drop out of the running. None of them have the slightest sliver of interest in Ikkei, after all. This fact, and his consoling sessions with Gizaemon, are a pretty funny running gag.

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In addition to the revealing of Kyoutarou’s calling and the continuing battle for his heart, we also got a couple C-plots in Senri’s ongoing rift with her former friend Miyu, as well as the Student Council Vice President Takigawa Aoi plotting to “crush” the Library Club. Even as some light has been shed on the central mystery, several smaller ones remain.

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And now, your Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai Moment of Zen:daito6x

PSYCHO-PASS 2 – 06

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Kamui is committed to discovering and exploiting every weakness in the Sybil System, and he continues to prove he’s exceedingly good at it, luring a large force of MWPSBers into an elaborate trap, perverting the same holo software used to “sanitize” military drone footage so operators’ Psycho-passes don’t get clouded.

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The facility is also a chance to test out his new convert, Former Inspector Shisui. One major weakness of Sybil is obviously the use of eyes. Granted, few people are able to perform successful eye transplant, if one does, one can control any Dominator as if he was an inspector. And while we saw what torturous ordeals Shisui went through in Kamui’s custody, here she’s actually grateful he took her eye. Among this guy’s many gifts and disciplines, add in psychological manipulation and infectious charisma.

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It’s a another particularly shitty day for MWPSB, who are, after all, nothing but complacent, obedient pawns to Sybil. Even if the drones weren’t hacked and trying to kill them all, MWPSB doesn’t even have enough ammo to destroy them all. Rushing in there was a costly mistake; Division 3 is eviscerated. And we hardly knew thee…

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Back at HQ, the gang isn’t sitting still. Well, they are, but they’re tapping away at computers. Well, Saiga isn’t, but…hey, he’s the over-brains of the counter-hacking operation, planting the idea in Shion’s head that the key to stopping the drones is their own MPS operational servers. Saiga basically helps prevent a crisis from turning into an calamity, and if it wasn’t for Akane, he wouldn’t even be in that building.

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Naturally, Mika is utterly dismayed and appalled by Akane’s actions, most of all putting the safety of lowly enforcers before her own and going after Kamui herself; ushing to the forefront instead of staying back and delegating. It doesn’t help that recent events have had a somewhat clouding effect on Mika’s soul, to the point she mutters that she hopes Akane gets clouded.

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That’s after coming back from Togane’s quarters, where she found that he was taking constant measurements of Akane’s color. Togane can’t help himself when Akane has her back turned to him in the field. He’s astonished by how clear she is, even there, which, as he thinks to himself, makes him want to turn her black that much more. Clearly, Akane needs to watch this guy, but she’s given no indication of being anything other than totally in the dark regarding him. Mika knows something now, but I expect her to keep that knowledge to herself. Why help Akane out, and reward her for breaking the rules constantly?

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Oh, and if you like turn-off-your-brain action, you liked this episode. The running and jumping and shooting and exploding is virtually non-stop, with Akane right in the thick of it; she’s everywhere, kicking ass and taking names. The clever tactics used to bunch the drones together so their guns lock (a measure to avoid hitting one another) is a particularly neat little setpiece, though how Akane and the others survive an ammunition warehouse explosion is uncertain! Really, how are they not dead?

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As it turns out, Mika missed out on all the action, which was probably for the best, as she’d probably only issue orders that would have made the situation worse and cause the deaths of more enforcers and civilians. It’s also nice that Shion, Yayoi, Hinakawa and Saiga pay her no mind while switching off the holo overlays. Yes, it clouds a great many minds, but it also saves their lives. The righteous Mika has the usual arguments about how This Is Not How Things Are Done (clearly unfazed by the Chief’s shutdown last week), and Saiga tells her what we all want tell her: “Quit yer damn whining!” Some problems, he says, simply can’t be solved (or even understood, I’ll add) by doing things by the book.

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Kamui is one of those things. He’s a ghost to Sybil’s technology, and he’s also a cunning creature who’s been able to turn it around on itself almost every time. Now he has at least five Dominators, and the ability to use them all at any time. For her confrontation, Akane brings a real gun, but suddenly remembering Kogami, she can’t fire it, nor does she allow Togane to. Kamui gets away very slowly on his boat (named What Color, LOL), but the standoff ends with Akane still a Dominator in the clear, which she needs to continue to be if she’s going to stop Kamui.

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Weekend OP: Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

A brilliant show doesn’t need a brilliant OP, but it can’t hurt to have one, and Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso has it in “Hikaru Nara” (光るなら; If You Will Shine) by goose house. The song and its accompanying imagery really does shine and shimmer the same way the show and its characters do at numerous points in the episodes. My only complaint is with the somewhat goofy synth trumpet. It’s catchy as all hell; having watched the episode last night, the song popped up in my head the next morning and remains there still.

At the same time, the song balances the joyful with the melancholy, nicely capturing the overall bittersweet tone of the show. Kousei, Kaori, Tsubaki, and Ryouta may experience gloriously perfect moments from time to time, but they’re only moments, within an imperfect reality featuring an unfortunate love rhombus and what could be a ticking clock for Kaori.

19 Blue-Haired Characters of Fall ’14

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1. Aoi Rui

Ai Tenchi Muyo! – Statuesque, curvy, and shy, if Yuki is the brains of the Science Club and Beni’s the brawn, than Rui’s the beauty. She also typcially dons big brown boots and eats a lot, but doesn’t seem to have any particular skills.

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2. Acura Tooru

Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle – While his sister sports green hair and blue eyes, Tooru has the opposite. He also has a somewhat tiresome will-they-won’t-they-they-won’t relationship with Chaika, which hasn’t gone anywhere since they kissed last season (though that was technically a kiss of life).

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3. Amira (Demon Form)

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – While in human form, Amira has that cotton candy pink hair, but in demon mode she glows a bright, icy blue. Her moves in said mode are so quick and elaborate that still images are hard to come by.

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4. Asada “Sinon” Shino (ALO)

Sword Art Online II – Sinon was relegated to side character in the past Excaliber arc. Like Silica, she chose to be a member of the Cait Sith race, but is armed with a bow rather than a dagger, in keeping with her GGO background.

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5. Chris

Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – One part of Captain Zola’s harem which also included Hilda and Roselie, Chris and Roselie now comprise Hilda’s harem. As such, the three are pretty much of one mind on all things, including teasing/hazing Ange. She sports a steel blue hair which stylishly covers one eye.

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6. Esdeath

Akame ga Kill! – Esdeath is one tough cookie, but the immensely powerful, sadistic pale ice blue-haired general still has a soft side, which Tatsumi brings out without fail. I’ve always liked that about her, but the show has made it pretty clear she won’t be joining the rebellion any time soon.

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7-8. Hakubi Ryouko & Masaki Sasami Jurai

Ai Tenchi Muyo! – Two-thirds of Tenchi’s household harem, Ryouko and Sasami are highly protective and devoted to the teacher-in-training. It’s also implied they’re not human, but who and what they really are and what their story is isn’t covered in this iteration of the franchise.

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9. Lancer

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works We’ve only seen Lancer in what the industry dubs “blue-filter night”, so the guy may just have shiny black hair, but most GIS results on the guy bring up someone with a dark blue hair, so he’s on this list.

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10. Matou Shinji

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works At this point in UBW, all we know about Shinji is that he’s rough with his kind, gentle sister, is as a result a bit of an ass, and is voiced by Mr. Despair himself. The rest will have to wait for a Shinji-centric episode.

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11. Mikuni

Orenchi no Furo Jijou – Mikuni isn’t just blue-haired, he’s blue, period. Because he’s a jellyfish. He also looks like a woman.

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12. Mizuno Ami, AKA Sailor Mercury

Sailor Moon Crystal Perhaps the most well-known and venerable character on this list, Ami is a bookish girl whom Usagi eventually wrests from her shell and befriends, then her powers as a Sailor Guardian manifest.

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13. Noel

Sora no Method’s resident wish-alien-fairy-mascot thingy, Noel follows Nonoka and the others around a lot, and is closely related to the saucer, if not a manifestation of the saucer itself. When Nonoka brings the friends together, she’s able to manipulate the surface of the saucer to project fireworks, which is neat.

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14. Pazuzu

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – Pazuzu is a demon and Azazel’s strong right arm. Still, the blue-haired brute finds that going up against the teamwork of Favaro and Kaisar isn’t something to be undertaken lightly; the humans manage to escape with Amira.

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15. Raphael

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – Like Gabriel, Raphael is some kind of fancypants angel, but we really haven’t seen nor heard much of anything from her yet. Still, she definitely has blue hair, so here she is.

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16. Susanoo

Susanoo is another massively-powerful character in Akame ga Kill!, but he’s not a human, but rather Najenda’s Imperial Arms. Belying his ability to wreak havoc and destruction upon his foes on a vast scale, the guy’s also an anal retentive.

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17. Ureshino Sayumi

Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai While she may be button-cute, Sayumi the cafeteria girl is an extremely shrewd businesswoman, who doesn’t offer information on the legendary Shepherd without something in return – in her case, having the library club hand out flyers in cosplay.

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18. Wave

Akame ga Kill! – Perhaps the most well-adjusted member of he Jaegers, Wave seems like a perfectly decent guy; a Bizarro Tatsumi who has no business being on a team of heartless killers. Still, a Jaeger he is, and what with his big-bro attitude towards Kurome, a Jaeger he is likely to remain.

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19. Yuuki Asuna (ALO)

Sword Art Online II – Like Sinon in the latest arc, Asuna has had criminally little to do since being rescued from Mr. SuperEvil by Kirito in the first ALO arc. But she returns to ALO despite her horrible coma experience, this time with blue hair.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – 06

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This week’s Uso showed me something: that it didn’t need a rousing central musical performance to earn a 10. In fact, this episode made the music look like glorified window dressing; icing on the cake: sweet but ultimately unnecessary. What takes center stage here is character and relationships. We start with dual aftermaths of jumping from that bridge; first in the past, when Tsubaki carried Kousei home even though she was injured herself…

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…to Kousei inviting Kaori to his house to dry off and change. Just as she wriggled her way into his heart, she does the same into his home, and proves just as positively disruptive; relieving his piano of all the books and boxes and dust that had accumulated on it. Ever the breath of fresh air; the new bright beacon of redemption.

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Then Kaori throws open the window to reveal Tsubaki next door, and, well…what the heck is Tsubaki supposed to think, considering how she feels about both Kousei and Kaori? One is the guy who’s always been with her and vice versa; the other is the girl who seems well on the way to snatching him away. This is why early, straightforward confessions are so important…but in reality, they’re far harder to get out.

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Kaori’s invasion extends far beyong Kousei’s heart and home; she’s all about fully restoring him to the stature he once had, only this time, not simply for his mother’s sake, but because it’s what he wants to do. To that end, she enters him into a prestigious competition with Chopin as the set piece, and essentially coaches and bullies him to prepare for it.

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Ever so gradually, the music comes back to Kousei. It’s not that good yet; it still sounds like his greatness is submerged in a deep sea, but to see Tsubaki’s serene, relieved face listening next door is a beautiful moment…but so it Kaori nodding off in the music room as Kousei practices.

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Things are not looking good for Tsubaki, especially when Kaori shrugs off her devotion and care towards him as simply “looking out for a hopeless kid brother.” Tsubaki saw how they looked at each other; she knows it must be more than that. Feeling desperately alone, when Saitou calls her, she suggests they go out.

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Meanwhile, as if to confirm Tsubaki’s suspicions, Kaori turns right around and heads back to school where Kousei is still working. She takes what Tsubaki said about Kousei suffering through it all, and tearfully begs his forgiveness for pushing him so hard so fast. Kousei’s reaction surprises her, even though she told Tsubaki the best music is derived from exposure of one’s innermost emotions: he’s grateful Kaori dusted off his piano and threw open the shutters.

He knows he has a long way to go, and he may look like he’s suffering, but such is to be expected when crossing “uncharted waters”. But he’s also suffering because he loves the girl his best friend likes…and clearly Kaori isn’t merely looking out for a little brother.

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I know I say this every other episode…but “Poor Tsubaki!” She tries, damnit! She tries so hard not to feel this way about Kousei, to move on to someone more attainable and uncomplicated, like Saitou. But it just isn’t there. Talking with him, she always comes back to talking about Kousei. Seeing him cheer her on with the angelic Kaori beside him is enough to totally break her focus in a crucial softball game, trying for an inside-the-parker when she only had a triple, and being tagged out at the plate by a foot.

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While it’s generally a pretty good episode for Kousei, it’s The Worst for Tsubaki, but not all is lost, as she finds when walking home from her defeat. Kousei is waiting for her, and knows just where to kick her to necessitate him carrying her on her shoulders, mirroring the cold open’s flashback. He knows because he knows her, as she knows him. Music may make words seem trivial, inadequate, or mundane, but the time and the memories they’ve shared over so many years trump both music and words, at least on this night.

As terrible she feels about losing the game and as present as the threat of Kaori taking him will remain tomorrow, in this moment on this night, on Kousei’s warm back dampened by her own tears, Tsubaki wants nothing else than for time to stand still right there.

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So do we, Tsubaki, so do we. Don’t get me wrong, Kousei and Kaori’s romance is compelling as all-get-out, but so is Tsubaki and Kousei’s. Heck, even the weakest romance, that of Ryouta and Kaori, is still stronger than most because we know Ryouta to be a decent guy and…well, just look at the two, they look like the ideal Representatives of Earth. As for Kousei’s return to the world of music, a couple of rivals who have been waiting for that return are sharpening their teeth. Even in uncharted waters, one can chance upon acquaintances. It’s a small world.

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