Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 08

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Franklin, sorry if I may have insinuated you were a cold unfeeling insect; I may have gone too far. Not to mention, you ain’t got nothing on Shinichi! Or rather, the New, Improved(?) Shinichi who has taken form in the last couple episodes, the result of the further cementing of him and Migi. The title of this episode is “Freezing Point”, and Shinichi seems to be arriving at his with all due haste.

Granted, there’s still plenty of the “old” Shinichi in there; the one who would take a dying puppy to a quieter place to expire; the warm, kind, humane person Satomi fell for. When she sees Shinichi caring for the puppy, she’s relieved to see that side of him after her initial contact with him was chillier and less “him”. Heck, Satomi pretty much admits she felt “safer” when Shinichi’s kindness was mixed with his former nervousness.

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Then Shinichi instantly burns that just rebuilt bridge by unceremoniously dumping the dead puppy in the trash. That action is harmful enough, but the chilly way he explains his actions to Satomi makes things much worse.

He asks Migi what he said wrong (never a good sign!), and Migi replies that he didn’t say anything wrong per se, it’s just that he sounded like Migi; saying the kinds of horrible things that used to appall Shinichi when Migi said them. His mind’s changed along with his body so much, now he doesn’t even realize when he says the same kind of horrible shit!

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What this boils down to (or rather freezes down to) is that merging more fully with Migi may have given Shinichi amazing gifts, but those gifts are wreaking absolute havoc on his love life, to the point that there may no longer be any hope for him and Satomi. Still, I guess there’s something to be said for that being your biggest problem at the moment, rather than, say, being worried about getting killed by a parasyte.

In fact, this is a relatively action and violence-free episode, and ironically the most dangerous-seeming person for most of the episode is Shinichi himself, as we wonder just how much more he’ll adopt Migi’s behavior. Then a Shimada Hideo shows up and changes all that. Claiming to wish him no harm, Hideo was sent by a preggers Ryouko to ‘observe’ Shinichi, saying their seeking ways to coexist with humans without killing.

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Hideo, like Ryouko and unlike A, is a parasyte to be reasoned with, or is at least sophisticated enough to play along with that notion. But I like the idea that he’s come to the school out in the open as a new transfer student, and proceeds to one-up Shinichi in a number of P.E. activities, as if he’s trying to approximate an ego. He even succeeds in attracting the ladies.

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Shinichi considers what Hideo has said, but just because he’s starting to act more like one of them doesn’t mean he’s ready to trust one. Again, the old Shinichi surfaces as he remembers what a parasyte did to his mother; only now his rage needn’t be internal and stewing; now he has the strength to do something about it.

He wears that moment of rage all too openly on his face, startling an already unsteady Satomi in a moment that had me laughing out loud. Along with the easy alley fight with Mitsuo, the puppy-tossing, and the Hideo pissing gym contest, Shinichi startling Satomi with his RAGE FACE are all examples of this episode’s cheeky but welcome sense of black humor. It lightens the mood at times, but not so much that the serious horror themes are undermined.

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Getting back to the theme of Shinichi now having the absolute worst luck with regards to Satomi, Kana is now essentially stalking him, making use of her latent ability to sense him coming, which she’s taken to believe means they’re soul mates, creating a tidy love triangle Shinichi wants nothing to do with. Even so, his gallant rescue of Kana from Hideo is another example of him doing something he never could have done before without even thinking about it: be a hero.

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Kana can’t just sense Shinichi, but Hideo as well, which means she can detect all parasytes. And thank goodness Shinichi gets to Kana and warns her to stay away from others, or Kana would have met a sticky end. Along with Satomi, Shinichi’s late mother and now his self-medicating father, everyone who has a close bond with him knows something’s very very different. In his dad’s case, he simply can’t comprehend how Shinichi can be so calm and cool about the tragedy that just befell them.

He wonders if Shinichi is “made of steel”, another not-subtle dig at his new status as a hero-in-waiting. And like any superhero worth his salt, Shinichi’s abilities and duty also serve to isolate him from everyone, especially those he loves and who love him. It’s a lonely road, but if he really wants to avenge his mother, he must walk it without fear.

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On second thought, a healthy dose of fear might be called for, after witnessing Hideo change his face to that of a model’s to ‘bait’ a random young woman into following him into a dark alley where he proceeds to eat her. Shinichi did tell him he’d kill him if he harmed anyone…he knew.

Still, Hideo was less than honest with Shinichi, as Shinichi rightly suspected. Unless something else is going on here, and Shinichi’s aggressive attitude towards Hideo goaded him into falling off the human-killing wagon. Whatever the case, Shinichi must continue to keep his friends close…and Hideo closer.

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Weekly OP: PSYCHO-PASS 2

My first listen of the indie rock trio Ling Tosite Sigure (“Cold Seasonal Rain”) was actually not by the trio itself, but by it’s guitarist/vocalist TK (Toru Kitajima), in the theme to Tokyo Ghoul, entitled “unravel”. I found the vocals to be an…acquired taste, but one I eventually acquired!

When I rushed to watch the first run of Psycho-Pass before the sequel came out, I heard that distinctive falsetto wail again, this time by the whole band, in the show’s opening theme “Abnormalize”. Not fixing what wasn’t broke, LTS returned for the opening theme of Psycho-Pass 2, with a song called “Enigmatic Feeling” and combined with much of the same dizzying cyberpunk visual style as the first show’s sequence.

I’m not typically one for wailing or whining in my vocals, but even I have to admit it just works here, and admire the vocal gymnastics that are going on in this song. Both TK and Miyoko “345” Nakamura make a male-female vocalization is a perfect match for the dark, brutal, yet beautiful mood of the show, as well as the immense inner and outer struggles the Tsunemori Akane must tackle.

While dark and desperate, there’s also a hefty portion of high tech sci-fi glitz to the visuals, distressed and distorted much like the music playing over them. It’s an OP I look forward to each week. It’s a show-defining sound.

Gugure! Kokkuri-san – 08

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san picks up more or less where it left off last week. Kokkuri-chan is a woman, Shigaraki is head over heels drunk in lust with her, and no one else really cares.

I probably shouldn’t be so surprised that Gugure! Kokkuri-san carried this theme over from last week. This show has been all about its consistent, evolving, development driven plot after all. However, for some reason, I just expected Ono to be back voicing a male Mister Fox, with no real explanation.

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I couldn’t find who voiced Kokkuri-chan, but the voice sounded vaguely like Club President Miou from Sabagebu!, which I’m very okay with. Whoever it was, she captured Kokkuri-chan’s slightly timid, flustered voice very well, which worked well and really made me empathize with the character. (YES PRESTON I HAVE EMPATHY!)

I guess I would have been more impressed if the voice was done by Ono, or the show runners had found someone who could capture an Ono in female tones. Maybe I’m asking for too much but Ono has a very specific pentameter and a sort of dryness to his pallet that is very specific. (It’s almost like he has a perpetual summer cold).

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Understandably, Kokkuri is not especially interested in staying a woman. Knowing this, and knowing he can exploit the situation, Shigaraki wins some tickets to a hot spring in a town that is rumored to have a curse-breaking-hot spring.

Kohina implies that Shigaraki spent almost all his allowance on the lottery in order to win the tickets. So it seems like Shigaraki may be doing this as much because he really is a friend to Kokkuri-san as he is a lecher. He did save Kohina from the spirit and get a nasty scar after all…but I’m not really sure. Shigaraki’s pretty lusty and it’s a perfect setup for some ogling and heavy petting.

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So it’s going to be a hot spring episode, which I guess makes sense for the middle season, even if it does feel a bit out of left field. We get plenty of the things you’d expect: well drawn bodies, skin, decent angles, conventional girl-on-girl boob feeling and peeping-tom jokes.

It’s cliché but harmless by most standards. In fact, I’m almost willing to give the show extra credit for playing with the conventions: the girls are wearing Bikini’s because they know Shigaraki will peep, by girls I actually mean mature Women, and we can’t forget that two of them are basically male in female form.

The whole thing is reminiscent of 4Chan dare to fap games… which I’m not going to explain in any greater detail than that :(

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On the topic of unexplained, Yomomoto the alien and Tama the cat god are both in this episode because why not? When you have a big cast of one-off characters, making fun of their continued reappearance without context can be a joke in and of itself. Almost.

To be fair, I did enjoy Kohina, Inugami and Kokkuri’s conversation after running into Yomomoto in the hall. There’s something honestly funny about the characters not knowing which one of them is supposed to be friends with the alien. Everyone assumed it was Kohina, since she’s in his class, but she insists the alien likes Kokkuri… who doesn’t really like him back.

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It’s cute and works well enough. Certainly Yomomoto works better than Tama being there. Tama doesn’t even have jokes to tell or to be told about or anything. She’s just there for a bath, to fight with Inugami once, and provide a pair of legs and boobs.

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As for the primary lot and character developments? In between fine meals and baths Shigaraki… takes Kokkuri-chan to more baths. They play a carnival style shooting game and win prizes and have a bit of fun with each other but nothing brings Kokkuri closer to being male again, which is obviously the point.

That’s not really a complaint — these characters have good chemistry. Kokkuri is so feminine to begin with, and all his/her demands to be self reliant and stand offish and vulnerability just entice Shigaraki more.

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The best moment shows us that Kokkuri is so much smaller than he/she’s used to, he/she can’t even carry the bags of prizes they won at the shooting range. However he won’t let Shigaraki carry them for him. So Shigaraki picks Kokkuri up instead.

Then they kiss and turn back into men.

Without that resolve, which deliciously pokes fun at true love’s kiss as a convention, it would have been decent but typical. With the resolve, and the narration that this brutal resolve was the intent of Kohina’s ancestors, who appear to be a bunch of malicious prankster jerks, I was sold.

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So, basically, this week’s entire joke structure revolves around Kokkuri-san already being a woman. In fact, Kokkuri notes that he stopped transforming into a woman ages ago even though he loves house work, cooking, and skin care products because men couldn’t leave him alone.

I suppose everyone’s response to him as a her is as cliché (or at least as predictable) as it was in his other gender. Still, I can’t help but agree with Kohina-chan. I’d find Kokkuri-san more interesting as an actual woman…

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