Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 12

kise121

In this heart-crushing powerhouse of an episode that marks the halfway point of the show, it felt like Parasyte had finally put all its visceral and emotional pieces together.

Like Migi, it’s been an often cold and calculating show that more often than not punishes anyone who takes actions based on emotion alone, and takes things to their logical conclusion. But with both Shinichi’s occasional romantic interactions with Satomi and the tragic events of this week, the show proves its blood is still red…’for now’.

kise122

Kana is still having dreams in which Shinichi is rescuing her from a monster than sweeping her off her feet. Considering he’s with Satomi, you’d think she wouldn’t want them, or the feelings that go with them, but a.) she can’t help how she feels and b.) all of this stuff going on supports her belief that she is the only one for Shinichi.

Meanwhile, Migi is all worked up (and playfully complex in his forms) about the prospect of his own kind running for and even winning elections, as farfetched as it seems. He even takes a cynical but not inaccurate dig at politics, stating that anyone with a grasp of psychology can succeed in that arena.

One great thing is that as stuck together as they are, Migi still can’t read Shinichi’s mind. That’s good, because Shinichi is far more concerned with Kana than the mayoral election. To Migi, that kind of ‘concern’ could get them both killed.

kise123

Not willing to give up, Kana ‘bumps into’ Shinichi again, whereupon he takes her aside and reiterates the danger of approaching signals she thinks are him. Mitsuo spots the two and assumes Shinichi is trying to steal Kana from him. Shinichi telling him “it isn’t like that” is hardly convincing argument after Mitsuo hears things like “you make me feel like no one else can.” Somebody’s jelly.

kise124

Migi doesn’t like this persistent interaction with the unpredictable (or perhaps all-too-predictable) Kana, and warns Shinichi that her welfare is not more important than his, and if Shinichi goes and does something that threatens his safety, Migi won’t hesitate to act on his own. It sounds like a threat, because it is. Because Migi has no sympathy.

kise125

Well do, so it hurts to see Kana get so obsessed with Kana through no fault of her own; she’s only following the ‘power’ she’s suddenly gained. She has a very close call when she runs out into the night and comes across a parasyte, but isn’t attacked. I’m going to chalk that incredibly lucky result to the parasyte having already eaten its fill that night.

kis126

Shinichi meets Kana somewhere private for a ‘serious conversation’, and her infatuation makes her get her hopes up that he’s going to confess to her. When he instead tells her about everything – the parasytes, his right hand, all of it – she’s not shocked; she’s disappointed! More to the point, she doesn’t quite believe his story, either, especially since he can’t morph his hand, as Migi is asleep.

She then tells Shinichi that she can now discern his signal from the signals of the other monsters, furthering her self-imposed narrative that they are meant to be together. In exchange for this secret, she makes Shinichi promise to show her his squiggly right hand sometime, even making a cute little Migi-like hand gesture.

kise127

Migi and Shinichi are both surprised to find the mayoral candidate won, meaning the parasytes now have a safe haven and food source, but there’s nothing to be done about that at the moment, so Shinichi and Satomi arrange a movie date.

Again, Kana is not far from them, and even tries to will Shinichi to look back at her. She can’t believe Satomi, who doesn’t have the power she does, could possibly be right for him. But only Migi looks back at her (which she doesn’t notice).

kise128

Mitsuo shows up again, apparently stalking the stalker, and Kana’s frustration boils over. However, as much as a loathe Mitsuo, I like how Kana walks back her harsh words, since she and Mitsuo have clearly been friends long enough that he’s not someone she’d dispose of so easily, even if she can’t return his feelings.

And she definitely can’t…she’s in full Shinichi Fixation Mode, writing their names on the pillar of her hideout. Then Shinichi learns from Migi that Kana herself was putting out a signal, making her and even more vulnerable and conspicous target for parasytes, should she run into the wrong one.

Shinichi decides to cancel his date and meet with Kana again, a move Kana again interprets in a way that supports her fate theory. Confident she’ll be able to find Shinichi with her power alone, she wraps his plucked hair around her finger and sets out…without her phone.

kise129

As much as she wants to sense Shinichi and only Shinichi, and even though she told Shinichi she had that power, it turns out she doesn’t, and even though I knew this situation was a long time coming, my heart still sank down below the foundation of the house as she ran into the hideout to find another parasyte feeding.

kise1210

And that…was just it for Kana. In this case, the show took her obsession and her increasing vulnerability to its logical conclusion. She may be able to sense parasytes, but she can’t fight them, or even run away. Her knight Shinichi does arrive, just as she hoped, but not soon enough to save her. [Bangs fist on desk] DAMN IT!

kise1211

Shinichi’s retribution is swift and chilling in its grim efficiency. He tells Migi to “handle the defense”, rushes the parasyte, dodges his attack, and rips his heart out, impressing the hard-to-impress Migi.

kise1212

But while I’m sure the gesture felt good for a moment to his still-human psyche, it is far too late to save Kana. He holds her as she bleeds out, and she tells him this is just how it went in her dreams, before quietly passing away. Then Shinichi looks up to find she died right in front of the pillar she wrote on, making it a gravepost.

kise1212a

With her sensing power, Kana was special, no doubt. But did that power go further into a kind of precognition? Did she dream of things that then came to pass, with just the detail of her surviving being different? It’s neat to think about, even if its hard to connect those more ‘magical’ concepts with the more scientific reality of the parasytes. But maybe that was the point. In any case, losing Kana was very upsetting. I didn’t realize how much I liked her until she was taken from us. She deserved a much longer life.

kise1213

Detectives with knowledge of the parasytes questioned him thoroughly but let him go, (he’s mostly above suspicion because they plucked his hair), though they’re faced with the mystery of who killed the parasyte who killed Kana. Mitsuo, who has seen (and been on the wrong end of) Shinichi’s strength, gets in face and starts pummeling him anyway for failing to protect Kana, who from his perspective had strayed into Shinichi’s arms so willingly.

Mitsuo is even more upset that Shinichi takes the beating so calmly, and didn’t even shed a tear for Kana, as if he weren’t human. All Shinichi can to to respond is drop Mitsuo with one blow, say “that’s right!” to the non-human claim, and curse Mitsuo for ‘going down so easily.’

kise1214

He’s not just talking about Mitsuo, though. He’s talking about Kana, who went down so easily, and his mom, who went down so easily, and those cops at the school who went down so easily, and those yakuza who went down so easily. Humans are so goddamn frail and weak, they can’t protect themselves or anyone else from the parasytes.

Only Shinichi, who is no longer fully human, seems capable of protecting them. And yet, he couldn’t protect Kana. For once, I agree with Migi that Kana was probably a hopeless case anyway, but that doesn’t change the fact that none of his awesome powers were worth a damn when it mattered most.

There’s simply too much on Shinichi’s plate; too many people to protect and no good way to do it. And it’s tearing him up inside.

10_mag

P.S. Kudos to Sawashiro Miyuki for some fantastic work voicing Kana.

Advertisements

Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – 12 (Fin)

daito121

I’m not shy about my love for shows that are efficient enough to wrap everything up with an entire episode to spare, but this final DnH reminded me that yes, a show can wait until the last episode ever and still finish things in a satisfying manner without feeling rushed or overstuffed.

lot goes on this week, but it’s well-organized and well-paced. Virtually no time is wasted, and what idle time it does have it uses on nice character beats, which are also curtain calls here in the finale.

We start with Minafes(t), which we learn immediately turned out to be a great success with a huge turnout. Meanwhile, as karmic comeuppance for her attempts to poach Minafes patrons for her little symposium, Aoi’s auditorium is effectively deserted. Waah-waah…

daito122

That idle time I mentioned above makes sense, because once Minafes is off and running, our club members are backstage spectators until their own performances. Kana and Senri spend it trying to cozy up to an unwitting, Kyoutarou before shooed off by Tamamo, who does the same exact thing.

It’s cute and true to all three characters, while also underlining that these three were always the more superficial of Kyou’s suitors, below Nagi and Tsugumi. Tsugumi, meanwhile, remains the only one of the club members who knows Kyou has become a Shepherd and will gradually disappear.

daito123

Bitter over losing to Minafes, Aoi succumbs to pure mustache-twirling criminality, loosening the screws on the light assembly fated to fall upon Tsugumi. But she’s caught red-handed by the crack Shepherd team of Kyoutarou and Nagi, the latter of which makes good use of her strong legs and big breasts to subdue the perp.

daito124

But while occupied with Aoi, the lights fall anyway, just as Tsugumi is below them. With just a moment to work with, Kyoutarou does the only thing he thinks he can to save her: use a book to transport himself, Nagi, Aoi, and the lights away. Tsugumi looks up at the now-empty catwalk, confused, but very alive. Success!

daito125

Aoi ends up…somewhere else, and is so upset, she unleashes a vicious, incriminating tirade about how she just wants Kyou to disappear so she can create her perfect academy…and have President Mochizuki all to herself.

The camera stays close to her for the duration of the rant, but due both the lights above her and the reverb in her voice, I already knew she had been teleported onto the stage of her precious symposium!

What’s so deliciously awesome about this is that it not only punishes Aoi for all her misdeeds, but also ensures she won’t take any further action, since she’s now effectively confessed both to Mochizuki and a fair amount of the student body. The jig is up. Crime doesn’t pay, Aoi.

daito126

With Tsugumi’s future saved and Aoi neutralized, it would seem our two young Shepherds are on a roll. But as they confer with their boss atop the school library, it’s clear they erred. Well, it’s clear they erred when they teleported onto a stage with dozens of people watching! They’re supposed to work in the shadows.

Kyou doesn’t care. He did what he felt he had to do to save Tsugumi, he doesn’t regret it, and he’d do it again. For those reasons, the boss laments that he’s not Shepherd material after all, even if Nagi is. The problem is, his book is already gone, so Shepherd or not, he’ll still disappear from everyone’s memories. Bummer.

daito127

Tsugumi, neither as dumb as she looks or as weak as she says, knows what Kyou did for her and why. And even though she’s sad about losing him, she realizes The Show Must Go On. Compartmentalizing her pain, she takes the stage and delivers a hell of a speech about just how far her Happy Project went, thanks to teamwork, camaraderie, and love.

daito128

She then passes the mic to Senri, who sings a beautiful but melancholy song that could serve as a lament for the loss of Kyou…who as it turns out got back in time to hear the speech and praise her for it.

He tells her his situation, but she assures him she won’t forget him, or let him go away, no matter what happened to his stupid book, and he draws her in for a big ‘ol hug. As it happens, his ex-boss re-makes his book for him, owning up to the fact he was wrong about Kyou being Shepherd material.

daito129

Aoi formally apologizes, having been both chastened and moved by Tsugumi’s speech and under the forgiving Mochizuki’s guidance. The Happy Project gets its club room back (buh-bye, random guys!) and things return to normal. When Kyou comes home one day to find movers at Nagi’s old apartment, he looks a little sad, now that the newly-made Shepherd has moved on…

…But as it happens, Nagi is in his apartment, leaning on his bed watching the ‘tube as always. Turns out she was made Shepherd of Shiomi Academy, so she’s not going anywhere! Then Tsugumi and the rest of the club arrive at the door, and Nagi is eager to ‘make another scene’ to give them the wrong idea, and it’s medetashi medetashi.

But ‘Wait’, you might ask: ‘What about consequences?’ To which I’d respond: ‘lighten up!’ ita pleasant, charming rom-com that was always more about the threat of bad things happening and how to avoid them, not bad things actually happening. Besides, not being a Shepherd is a pretty big blow, and the fact Kyou still has to juggle six girls, and I’d say he still has challenges in store.

9_ses

RABUJOI’s Top 19 Female Characters of 2014

agk2310a

Note: Characters are listed alphabetically by name. We may love some more than others, but there’s no official ranking.

1. Esdeath

Akame ga Kill! – Yeah, her name is kinda silly, but the ice blue-haired general was more than just an evil villainess. Sure, no one can argue that she was a murderous, bloodthirsty, and highly prolific conqueror and torturer, but she was a product of her upbringing. She was taught that the strong slaughter the weak…and that’s it. But most importantly, her own heart rebelled against that dark philosophy and the Imperial Arm that propagated it. For all her scars and wrong-headed ideology, she still fell in love. One of the bigger tragedies of the show is that Tatsumi wasn’t quite able to turn her away from evil. Making us feel for such a fundamentally awful villain is no mean feat.

aku105

2. Hanabusa Sumireko

Akuma no Riddle – Sumireko was the self-appointed class president and a gorgeous, well-bred young lady of impeccable manners. She sat behind that desk, being nice and polite as girl after girl tried and failed to assassinate Haru, and when it was finally her turn, she did not disappoint, ditching her prim uniform for revealing combat attire, showing absolutely no mercy, and delivering one of the most elaborate, over-the-top battles of the show.

nanana115

3. Ikkyuu Tensai

Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin – While her cute blonde looks belie her samurai-style name, Tensai wasn’t just another pretty face. She was a genius detective, as well as a shameless self-promoter who happened to be able to back up her own hype with results. She really stood out among an otherwise meh cast, and her verbal spars and ‘chess games’ with Juugo were always a highlight of the show.

hanam53

4. Kanbaru Suruga

Hanamonogatari – I know, this was technically a movie, but it was structured like five episodes of television, and that’s how I reviewed them. Suruga was (due in no small part to her seiyu Sawashiro Miyuki) always one of my favorite Monogatari characters, and she gets the spotlight in this wonderful arc that explores action and inaction, regret, adolescence…and the perils of sleeping in the nude.

zvezda52

5. Komadori Renge

Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda – You wouldn’t think Renge had much in common with the violent and domineering Esdeath…but you’d be wrong, and I’m not just talking about their tendency to wear white. Like Esdeath, Renge has fallen for the enemy…only in her case, she’s on the ‘good guy’s and he’s with the ‘bad’, only doesn’t know Jimon is part of Zvezda at all until quite late in the show, and even then, like Esdeath, those feelings don’t change. It’s quite fun to watch the two lovebirds walk a tightrope, both trying to keep their alter-egos secret, and while in their respective disguises.

maji013

6. Maji Mojiruka Rurumo

Majimoji Rurumo – While not a particularly serious-looking show, MMR had a serious (if simple and sweet) romance at its heart, and Rurumo was the slightly better half of it. Always derided and placed in a box labeled ‘slow and inept’ and pushed into training that will eventually take Kouta’s life, her time with him compels her instead to extend that training indefinitely so she can be with the person she’s become so fond of, despite their wildly different backgrounds.

uso412

7. Miyazono Kaori

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – The brilliant violinist who yanks Kousei out of his dark sea of self-loathing and regret and shows him the true beauty and light of music, Kaori is a bundle of energy and charisma, capable of engendering laughter or tears at will. It’s a shame then, she seems to be dying.

8. Murano Satomi

Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – If this list were ranked by luck (rather than the alphabet), Satomi would be pretty high, just as Shinichi would be high on the guy’s list. Her life isn’t all that bad…except for the fact Shinichi isn’t Shinichi anymore. What she doesn’t know is exactly what that means. Her love for him, tinged with her crushing fears, are ably expressed by Hanazawa Kana.

rw012

9. Sakurai Aoi

Rail Wars!RW! was a flawed and sometimes just-plain-dumb show that just happened to have awesome trains, but the extremely badass Aoi was a definite bright spot, as was her tenuous relationship with Naoto. The proud (and very apparent) daughter of a cop, Aoi formed the ‘muscle’ of Defense 4 along with Shou. But her considerable confidence in combat was contrasted with her insecurity with her femininity and struggles with her feelings for Naoto. Aoi was many things, but never boring.

10. Salia

Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – Big changes seem in store for Arzenal in the near future, but at this point in Cross Ange’s run, Salia has been the poster child for a typical Arzenal Norma life, with emphasis on ‘child.’ We’ve explored the many ways in which Arzenal is basically a kindergarten you never leave. It’s the only home she’s ever known, and inspired by the likes of Jill as well as magical girl stories, she’s always dreamed of becoming its savior. Unfortunately, like Jill, she doesn’t quite have what it takes to be the heroine or even the troop leader, and must be content in a supporting role, which doesn’t sit right with her at all.

ange94

11. Hildegard “Hilda” Schlievogt

Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – The opposite of Salia in many ways, Hilda did know a life before Arzenal. It was an idyllic life, like Ange’s, from which she was cruelly ripped away once she was revealed to be a Norma. Rather than working and fighting to become the hero like Salia, all of Hilda’s scheming and screwing has been to find and secure a way out, back to her original life…which didn’t go well at all.

bryn118

12. Kazumi Schlierenzauer

Gokukoku no Brynhildr – While she starts out as a callous and annoyingly flirtatious pain in the ass, but steadily grew into the most compelling and endearing of the girls, embracing her mixed-up adolescent tendencies and raw humanity with abandon. Her seemingly always-imminent death terrifies her, and you can’t help but feel for her.

sidonia311

13. Shinatose Izana

Sidonia no Kishi – Speaking of feeling for someone, one can’t help but sympathize with Izana’s unenviable position as the ‘neglected best friend.’ Add to that the fact she transitioned into a woman (from her original third gender) because of her feelings Nagate, who can’t see the forest of Izana for the trees of Shizuka (who was lost to the Gauna) and the artificial copy of her (which lingers in the ship’s lab).

ook85

14. Shinohara Erika

Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji – This list is full of flawed and imperfect women, and Erika is no different. But she knows what she wants: friends, and a happy high school life; if she has to lie about having a boyfriend to get those things, so be it. She gets her comeuppance, but eventually comes to want something else: for her fake boyfriend to become real, and love her as she comes to love him. It’s a rough road before that happens, but that’s what makes it so satisfying.

nagi183

15. Shiodome Miuna

Nagi no Asukara – Miuna’s one of those characters you won’t learn much about by reading her MAL profile, nor will you really get her unless you watch her full arc, which spans several years and in which she grows from melancholy girl to increasingly strong and selfless, even heroic young woman. Voiced by Komatsu Mikako in what I believe to be her finest voice work to date, Miuna was one of the richest and most beloved characters of the year, full stop.

Sab11_7

16. Sonokawa Momoko

Sabagebu! – There are characters you love to hate, but the pink haired Momoko is someone you almost hate to love, because she is, at best, not a particularly good person, and at worst, a scheming, morally bankrupt scoundrel who’d happily tread upon the corpses of her friends to snatch victory. That being said, all the violence is make-believe (mostly) and she’s immensely entertaining to watch.

chu2-3-3

17. Takanashi Rikka

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – Was Chu2Koi 2 as good as Chu2Koi? No. Is it still some very strong KyoAni romantic comedy with a healthy dose of fantasy? Yes indeed, and Rikka is a big part of that. Her insecurities about the nature of her relationship with Yuuta (which are largely resolved by the end of the show); the elaborate chuuni ways in which she communicates with Yuuta; her competition with Satone; heck, just the way she says Yuuta…it’s all gold. Watching her and Yuuta grow steadly closer brought a lot of warmth to the cold, snowy Winter.

pp248

18. Tsunemori Akane

PSYCHO-PASS 2 – The guy’s list had a gumshoe in Shibazaki, but male or female, I don’t think there’s anyone who can stand up to Inspector Tsunemori in terms of wits or pure badassery. Maybe Esdeath, who has command of ice; or Miuna, who can breathe underwater…but Akane would give them a fight. Sure, she did much of her finest work in the first season, but she doesn’t exactly embarrass herself in this somewhat rushed and action-oriented sequel, either. In fact, she cracked the biggest case of them all: getting Sybil to start cleaning up its act.

saoii182a

19. Yuuki Asuna

Sword Art Online II – Perhaps the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the year was the fact that after undervaluing, undermining, and marginalizing our favorite SAO character in the second half of its first season and the first half of its second, the show not only brought Asuna back to prominence, but made her the unchallenged star of the show in its final arc which not only explored both her real and virtual families, but had her join another, which led to some of SAO’s best narrative and character work.

Ai Tenchi Muyo! – 46

atm461

Things start to get a little weird on ATM! this time around, with Tenchi traveling to different times and places like an animated Desmond. His first stop is a snowy, black-and-white world where he’s the only one in color, aside from the red umbrella of a Momo how doesn’t recognize him until they come into contact, which causes Tenchi to jump to a new place.

atm462

Back in the world we know, Beni is gung-ho about descending into the ship she and Momo first arrived in, and Ryouko is there to make sure she doesn’t fall to her death. Meanwhile, Washuu is in custody, but the Galaxy Police is running into complications what with time being out of joint, the earth being cleaved into at least two parts, and earthquakes raging. Washuu sits in her cage, unconcerned and pompous as ever.

atm463

Tenchi ends up in a colored world this time, though the school before him is unfamiliar, and a young Momo sits on a swing. This is clearly not what he had in mind when he wanted to set things straight. I wonder if the Galaxy Police will swallow their pride and release Washuu…or if Beni getting to her ship will do anything.

6_ses