GARO: Honoo no Kokuin – 10

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Sorry for the late review, but I apparently wasn’t in a great hurry to review GARO this week. I’m not sure if that speaks to any waning of my passion for the show, or general late-Fall fatigue as our myriad shows wind down, but I shall endeavor to stick with GARO to the end, if for no other reason than to watch Mendoza get put in his place. God, I can’t stand his smugly evil voice.

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Well, I don’t watch it for Herman’s backside, which we see yet again this week, but his entrance, being chased by a furious husband, was a joke that kind of clanged to the ground. I’m actually glad that Leon and Alfonso are getting along so famously (no prince-vs.-pauper clashes). What I’m not so glad about is that so much time this week was spend on Mendoza’s backstory.

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Yeah, I get it, the guy’s an evil, mustache-twirling caricature. He was branded by the Makai order for experimenting on the very humans he was meant to protect and warned not to procreate, but he tries anyway after Lord Fernando awards him a wife for leal service. He then proceeds to dispose of both wife and newborn son. To his credit, he doesn’t seem to be a sexual deviant, as he refuses Octavia’s advances, but he’s still a bad bad man who didn’t learn his lesson the first time and needs to learn it again.

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Back to what worked: the semi-flirtatious banter between Herman and Emma. Emma is far more willing than Leon to see the good man behind all the tomfoolery, while Herman respects her more than his usual diet of wenches, both her ability and her pragmatism.

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Emma, for instance, declines to join the guys in their raid on Santa Bard, fearful she may lose her life there when there’s still a horror out there she wants to hunt. Maybe we’ll get an Emma-POV episode down the line? I hope so; if only to wash out the bad taste in my mouth from watching Mendoza’s past. For now, we’re in store for a long-anticipated fight between Bernardo and Herman AKA Roberto.

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Fate / stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 09

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Next week, I’m going to pretend this week’s episode didn’t happen and see just how little any of it actually mattered. Seriously, this week’s title may as well have read ‘Shirou and Rin are stupid teenagers and they don’t know what they are doing for half an hour’ and it would have been more interesting, academically speaking.

In a nutshell? This was a delay-tactics episode. Beautiful but the entire thirty minutes could have been cut and we’d almost be none the wiser for it.

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The Summing Up: Emiya’s classmates are carted off to the hospital and expected to recover, Archer finally shows up and gets into an adolescent spat with Saber, Rin implies to Emiya that Archer is acting strange but never addresses that again in the episode, and Saber decides she must sleep in Emiya’s room to prevent him from getting himself almost killed again.

Then Shinji goes to the church to hide, whines about how it isn’t his fault for being a loser and a useless character that I am deeply annoyed no one killed last episode, and is blessed with a ‘reserve’ servant. (fuck you show)

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And then Emiya and Rin spend a lot of time trying to identify Caster’s Master at school, but have no plan and put no thought into what they are doing that it’s just a laborious slog to follow them.

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The Good: explaining that Caster is likely controlling her own Master is an interesting twist, even though it would have been more interesting to have this shown somehow instead of explained by ‘the committee.’ Removing the student council president from suspicion was a good move too.

Developing Rin’s perspective on Emiya, even though she didn’t initially understand that he was looking for her and not Sakura was also nice, though their love-story side plot isn’t particularly interesting.

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Fitting a little context in for Saber on why Emiya is hero-bent was also nice enough but… god I hate Sensei-chan. She’s an anime character, playing an anime character, not a person, and it’s teeth grindingly awful. Ass wagging and all.

Well, basically, anything positive about any development this episode is marred by sluggish pacing, inadequate development quantity, or plane mishandling.

The single best thing episode 9 did was what it didn’t: it totally avoided any ‘awkward teen boy/girl living together scenes’ after Saber declared she would sleep in Shirou’s room.

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That’s not entirely true. Actually the most interesting aspect of the episode is how many scenes it presents us from a view of our characters separated by a wall or a window. It’s subtle, but the idea that we are voyeurs or possible the master of caster ourselves, watching these idiots could be interesting if it pans out.

Or it could purely be a stylistic choice and then forget I mentioned it.

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The Not-So-Good: Shinji is too simple a villain for this show and dragging out his participation, especially right in our view, deserves a permanent .5 deduction from Fsn’s over all season score. Period.

Worse, we still haven’t advanced Sakura’s plot, still known nothing about Caster, and it’s absurd that Berserker and Lancer would choose to ‘hang around doing nothing’ for so long.

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Episode 9 captures the travesty that is broadcast-length television. This serious obviously has enough content for more than 12 episodes but 22-24? With a break forced exactly in the middle of that count?

No. No I don’t think it does.

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The Verdict: there was nothing wrong with this week’s episode, exactly. The characters were well acted and evolved, the plot developed, and it was beautiful as always. More beautiful than normal, at times, actually. However, everything moved at a glacier’s pace.

This is typical of a late-middle season episode of any show, good or no, but typical is hardly inspiring. Beyond padding the overall play length, there’s no reason to drag out the Sakura-as-master reveal. Not when it’s been implied so heavily leading up till now. Not unless Fsn wants to pull a fast one… and that risks coming off as obnoxious more than clever.

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Sailor Moon Crystal – 11

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Many times during this run I wondered what the heck Queen Beryl and her minions ere trying to accomplish. While her earlier attacks-of-the-week had a certain poetic justice to them, they lacked punch and seriousness, and weren’t helped by the fact that Usagi & (later) Co. were able to defeat them despite just coming to grips with their power. They were potshots.

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No more. This week, Beryl goes right for Usagi’s heart, first by delivering the shock of Mamo-chan being alive and well in the arcade, then making him her latest instrument of evil. Usagi is experienced and wise enough to know something’s not right, but her heart is constantly in conflict with her head this week.

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The Guardians don’t have their best week, either, letting Usagi slip away right into the lion’s jaws. Then Makoto confronts the ‘quasi’-Mamo-chan alone and falls for his power of suggestion to lead everyone else into a trap at the Command Center.

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In this regard, Beryl finally hit that magic formula to emerge as a legitimately nefarious threat using insidious tactics that take advantage of Usagi’s love for Mamo-chan, something she couldn’t do as effectively before with other pawns. Usagi only really snaps out of things when Mamo smacks a lunging Luna across the room.

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Beryl gets the crystal, and then rubs salt in the wound by revealing the Tuxedo Mask with her is no impostor or double, it’s the real Chiba Mamoru, only obviously under some kind of evil spell. She thought it fitting for Usagi to be killed by the one she loves. Ice Cold.

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Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete – 10

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Who is Furukawa Yui?

Sure, she’s an artificially-created body sent back in time to save Kaori. But that mission has made her far more than that. With each failed attempt that resets the timeline, she amasses more memories and feelings, becoming a more and more integral participant in the mission, rather than a simple observe-and-protect role.

Again and again the universe finds a way to kill Kaori, and Yui feels close to a solution that’s an intricate balance of intricate planning and limited intervention. But working alone without the ability to ask for help from anyone else (for obvious reason) put her at an instant disadvantage against the universe, and it doesn’t play down to its opponent.

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Yui even has time against her. While she’s been able to go back a great number of times (dozens? thousands?), going back has very real consequences. More and more of her afterimages appear, stirring up rumors of ghosts, while anyone who comes in contact with them falls into a coma and never wakes up, a “syndrome” that is probably their consciousness being sucked into a different timeline. Yikes!

After seeing how hard the rest of the Astronomy Club and a haunted Sou in particular worked to make Yui’s mission possible last week, this week did everything from her perspective, and really made a case for just how difficult juggling the cumulative variables has become for her, including one variable that has nothing to do with temporarl oscillations or runaway buses.

That variable is love. Her love for Sou, in particular. Remember that Yui was originally a prototype for a body that would hold Kaori’s consciousness, freeing her from the body the accident had destroyed. I maintain that some if not most of Kaori either transferred or copied to Yui unbeknownst to Sou or the others.

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If that’s the case, the love triangle of Yui, Kaori, and Sou is really a triangle of two different Kaoris and Sou; one more complication in what’s looking like a mission that was doomed from the start.

At the same time, Yui can’t be passed off as a mere copy or knockoff of Kaori any more than she can be dismissed (or dismiss herself) as a tool; not after everything she’s been through. All of those trips, all of those wonderful memories she has with Sou and the others before Kaori dies, keep building up, and each time she touches The Box they all come surging back.

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Sou may only be joking when he says Yui is like “an old woman” for sitting out in the sun, but perhaps she is very old indeed, in terms of her life experience and the amount of cumulative time and happiness she’s spent with Sou (none of which he could possibly know about).

Right now, with time running out, Yui believes the only way to Kaori is if Sou loves her. Each time we’ve seen her die was before he could properly respond to her, so there’s something to that. But Yui may be overlooking something, because to her this is a Mission and she’s an expendable element. 

Maybe the only real way to save Kaori is for Yui to let herself love Sou. If there’s a part Kaori in her consciousness, the clashing of that part with the Kaori in the past could be what’s triggering the latter Kaori’s death, as if time and the universe were correcting the paradox of two girls with identical love for Sou.

I’ll admit I may be a bit free-wheeling (and way off!) in my theories and analysis here,  but I love how this show really gets the ol’ noggin churning, which can’t be a bad thing!

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Sword Art Online II – 22

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Asuna is troubled and confused after Yuuki suddenly disappeared and didn’t come back, and Siune doesn’t make things better by meeting with her and not answering any questions before quickly logging out herself. She did assure Asuna that it wasn’t because of anything she did…just that this has to be goodbye.

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While it would have continued her own dependence and time spent using a device her mother has threatened to take away if it makes her late one more time, Asuna was still excited at the possibility of continuing her friendship with the Sleeping Knights, even after they disbanded. But all the while she thought she was opening a book, they recruited her with the intent of closing a book, at the time and in at way of their choosing.

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Thanks to Kirito’s involvement with full-dive tech, he finds out where Asuna may be able to find Yuuki. Again, Kirito plays a small but crucial role, not only being a shoulder to lean into, but the source of the information that could give Asuna the answers she desires so badly. But unlike the previous episodes, where there was a battle to be fought and victory was achieved, those answers show Asuna that Yuuki can’t win the real-world battle she’s fighting.

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Now I finally understand why Kirito thought there was something “long-term full divey” about Zekken/Yuuki. Reinforcing the idea that you truly know someone by fighting them, he saw the same tendencies he himself has in VR combat as a result of his two years there fighting for his life. The real Konno Yuuki has been in full dive continuously for three years, because in the real world she’s bedridden in a hospital clean room, suffering from incurable, drug-resistant AIDS.

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The reveal of the rail-thin Yuuki surrounded by machinery, as well as the tragic story of how she ended up there, is desperately sad and tough to watch, yet also calls to mind the kind of reveal a mad scientist-type villain would pull to show Asuna he means business. Refreshingly, that isn’t the case here; Dr. Kurahashi is a good man and this is simply the future of medicine, though it’s more than a little strange and frightening to contemporary eyes.

On the other hand, considering Yuuki’s irreversible condition, being able to escape the body that failed her to new virtual worlds is a tremendous gift, and that’s how Yuuki sees it and how she saw her time with Yuuki on the Sleeping Knights’ final mission.

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Throughout Kurahashi’s discussion with Asuna, Yuuki is listening, but once she sees Asuna only wants to see and talk to her again, she invites her to dive into ALO to meet her. There, she explains that the Sleeping Knights are all hospice patients (hence the ‘sleeping’) with terminal illnesses. They decided as a group that the next time two of them were told they didn’t have long to live, they’d disband.

Thanks to Asuna, they were able to do so on their terms, and even leave their mark on the memorial wall. They wanted Asuna to forget them to spare her the pain of knowing the sad truth of the Knights, but Asuna isn’t that kind of person, and Yuuki knows that now.

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It was great enough that SAO finally got around to using my favorite character, and give her something important and exciting to do. It’s even better that they gave Asuna something she couldn’t do, no matter how strong she became: save Yuuki’s life. It also puts into perspective just how trivial her own problems with her mother and her life direction really are. After all, she haslife ahead of her, period. That alone makes her blessed.

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But while Asuna can’t save Yuuki’s life, she asks her what else she wants to do before it ends. When Yuuki says she simply would like to go to school, suddenly Asuna has something she can do for her, for the same reason she was able to find and speak with Yuuki at all this week. Kirito. His research on trying to give Yui a real-world experience could be used to let Yuuki experience school.

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Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 36

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You know, I’m glad I watched this right after Gundam Recon in G, because this particular episode of ATM! demonstrated how Sci-fi Bureaucracy meeting should be done: with clarity, irreverence and humor, and above all, with speed. The show tells us these guys are after Washuu in the space of less than a minute. Brevity is the soul of wit. Don’t waste my time. ATM! doesn’t.

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Back down on earth, Touri and Hachiko are working on most important part of the upcoming presidential elections: the poster. Hana rejects their goal to make a sexy poster, making them do something more conventional. She knows they have to be on their guard where the Science Club is concerned.

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Ironically, Fuka Yuki goes right down the very avenue Hana rejected, photoshopping her slight bust into something far more, well, Hana-like in scale for her sexy poster. The gloves are coming off. The bras, too!

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Gundam: G no Reconguista – 11

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I held out hope that space would be a kind of clarifying salve for Recon in G; a fitting venue to restore some measure of structure and cohesion to the story after going astray or running into dead ends down on the surface. Something that would encourage me to do more than simply snark-watch.

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But that was only false hope, a fool’s hope; for all who watch this show are fools. But like Mask, I shall embrace my failures and continue to be handsomely rewarded for them!

This week, the G-Self applies SPACE LOTION to Megafauna. But because its pilot Bellri was Bred For Combat and not piddling manual labor, he struggles with even this relatively simple procedure and must be watched like a hawk lest he smash a hole in the ship.

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None of this has anything to do with anything, Bell’s Mom. This is the credo of Recon in G.

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Poor Deck Scruber Fifth Class Manny Ambassada. It’s clear from Mask/Luin’s interactions with Barara the Eureka Seven Reject that the two are sleeping together. Just look at that foot caress. I’ll bet she gives great mask.

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Aida’s Dad (Is it Aida’s Dad? I can’t keep track of all the olds) makes one hell of an entrance, crashing a ship-launching ceremony, and proceeds to have a very public argument about how to proceed with the man at the lectern, whose name is President Zucchini and is apparently Klim’s Dad. The crap these two spew wouldn’t be out of place in that horrible senate babble scene in Star Wars Episode I.

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Either this is an air show, or a very expensive music video is about to start. But no matter what anyone says, I think eleven members is just too many for a rock band!

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Pray, would that be experience as a BODACIOUS Space Pirate, or just a Regular one? Ya know what, forget it. Just stay in the ship and don’t do anything, Princess.

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That line was old in the sixties, man. Get new material.

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DON’T ENCOURAGE HIM! Whoever you are.

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Bellri is face-to-face with his nemesis for the first time, and this is his first observation. Never change, Bellri.

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NOW you’ve done it; he’s never going to shut up! He’s quite proud of that mask. If only it actually helped him win a battle, which he still has yet to do. Probably should have stayed in his cockpit. Why exactly was EVA necessary here? Seemed like a ridiculously unwarranted risk.

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I’m not the biggest fan of Mask’s weird Mack Knife mobile suit with its splaying legs. After getting kicked in the balls by G-Self, I’ll bet Mask isn’t either! How many times now has this state-of-the-art suit gotten its ass handed to it. Now it’ll have to sing “Mack the Knife” in soprano.

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I know that’s the name of his fairy-like comrade, but from the way Mask belts it out it seems like BARARA! is also a curse word.

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LOL YOU’RE JUST REALIZING THIS NOW? Go home you’re drunk Rara.

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