Junketsu no Maria – 03

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Junketsu no Maria continues to entertain with its unique blend of grounded medieval conflict, diverse multi-faith pantheon of deities weighing in on the state of the earthly plain, and a soft-touch ecchi vibe.

Even though the blushing, teen-angst lovey-dovey plot for Maria’s loins is never far from the front, the depth and complexity of the world around her, and the sincerity of the people who populate it, really elevates JnK to an unusually high level.

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To sum up the story: Joseph puts ethics before faith and actually wins his argument with Arch Angel Michael. It’s a wonderful scene because, to me, it’s so open to interpretation. Was Joseph’s “faith” that doing the right thing must be godly, therefore Maria must be godly, enough to sway God and get Michael to stand down?

Whatever the reason, Michael beams down Ezekiel to follow Maria and ensure that she behaves. If not, or if she loses her virginity, she will lose her powers.

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Ezekiel is immediately outclassed by Maria’s familiars, who find ‘her’ pompous and easy to provoke into revealing too much information. On this last point, Maria learns that Michael is too busy to pay attention to her at all times, and thus is largely able to continue her work to thwart battles.

As an adorable side note, Ezekiel is like the other familiars, in that she is often in bird form. While she is also white, it’s easy to identify her from the Artemis and Priapus by her slim profile and giant cross on her chest. Not subtle but it works.

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Rounding out the new characters this week is Bernard, who’s an interestingly pragmatic monk and beekeeper. While he initially offers Maria salvation and is disappointed that she won’t take it, he’s not especially surprised nor over-the-top outraged by it.

Rather, he sees her defense of urban areas and the peasants as useful and not worth pursuit. Not unless she truly gets in the churches way directly.

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Above all, Bernard has the same authentic vibe going for him that much of JnK does and I greatly appreciate his addition. He’ll be an enemy, sure, but there’s nothing pure evil or laughing-madman about him.

He’s just a guy, a deeply devout guy, who has several objectives that must be accomplished any way he can. In many ways, he’s exactly what A/Z’s Slaine seems to have become, but without all the red herrings along the way.

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The episode ends with yet another deity showing up to talk with Maria and, like all the rest, this one is pretty sure Maria’s goals are impossible to achieve. People suck and kill each other. They always have and always will.

Again, like the Valkaries last week, JnK greatly benefits by showing that more than Christianity is going on. What makes it even more interesting, though, is that the Non-Christians don’t disagree with the Christians about Maria. She’s no herald for another side. She truly is her own side, her own person, and that freedom is what sets her apart from the setting and the time.

I really look forward to how this develops. Even with the eye-rolling ecchi asides, I don’t remember the last show that had this much nuance and precision, within pseudo-history, without feeling agenda-ized or gross. Good job, JnK. Good job!

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Gundam: G no Reconguista – 17

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Don’t you hate it when you’re just trying to get some decent shuteye after a busy day of killing people, and the ladies run the damn vaccum?

Well, this is kind of like that, only the ladies are piloting mobile suits to try to collect as much soil and debris is possible from one of Cyarno-5’s ruptured agricultural modules. And Rara at least has Ringo to boss around.

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“Um…no…but if you guys want privacy, maybe you should talk in some kind of, I don’t know…isolated space conference room?”

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Manny: “Sooooo…why does Captain Mask always yell your name like that?”
BARARAAA: “Hrm……Tourette’s?”

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…Meaning there’s still room in his life for someone he can use…like a woman?

Seriously, Manny, quit dicking around and just walk up to him, take the damn Mask off, and ask him what the fuck his problem is.

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As everyone starts sending out mobile suits—Capital Army, Amenia, Dorrette—people start getting into a very tiresome hissyhit about who engineered and manufactured which particular mobile suite when. Lots of pride on the line, but not a lot of debris being cleaned up!

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Ah, the sacred ship that delivers photon batteries to Cyrano-5 to be sent to earth, making electricity possible—as seen through Noredo’s slingshot.

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On the Megafauna bridge, everyone seems to have a say in what their next move should be. Bell suggests that some parties may be trying to use this debris to-do as cover for an attack, and everyone heads to their mobile suits.

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Rara yields G-Self to Bell and pilots a 1,000-year old Neodu, but accidentally flips the Nitrous lever. Her ship goes berserk, bumps into the experimental suit Bifram BARARAAAA is test-piloting…

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And Bifram goes all General Grievous on Rara.

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Geez…you’re asking me? I gave up trying to answer that question last season.

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Noredo, meanwhile, feels the “empty nest” around her now that Rara has her facilities back. The other ship’s crew members give her stuff to do, but there’s still a bit of a “What is she doing here” kind of vibe to her presence on the ship now. Other than babysit Rara, she’s really just been there to provide company for Bell.

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Of all the things a lack of electricity means, you choose that? You can heat the water with a wood or charcoal fire, for crying out loud!

Still, all the warring sides eventually put down their arms and pick up nets for a collaborative debris clean-up. Peace through space chores.

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Keep saying stuff like that, highness, and it will certainly become true. If it isn’t already. In any case, you’re one cloudy mess of a character!

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How I wish this Gundam series called itself a specialist.

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Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – 16

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Cross Ange is completely comfortable changing its tone, mood and focus each week and sometimes what it chooses to be can be interesting and other times… not as much. This week, it was an over-the-top comedy, followed by a dreadfully terrible conflict sequence.

If I wanted Cross Ange to be a comedy, I think I would have enjoyed this week a decent bit. Unfortunately, that’s not really what drew me to the show sixteen episodes ago and I was completely un-engaged from start to finish.

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To sum up, this week pitted Salamandinay against Ange at an arena, where we get to laugh at how seriously they take each recognizable earth sport, or how sports-anime-like their rivalry goes.

Then the girls become friends through their rivalry and a space time tornado shows up and destroys things until Ange takes command and gets Salamandinay to fire her world-destroying weapon in a way that saves the day and only unnamed side characters die mostly off camera so all ends well.

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Honestly, nothing worked at all in this episode, so I’m going to hop right into what didn’t and that starts with Ange herself. Ange’s spiteful, confrontational personality felt out of place last week and, while the show desperately tries to sell me on the idea that Ange knows Sala wants to use her as a tool, Ange misses every opportunity to use Sala back… or make any workable alternative plan of her own in the mean time.

Worse, after some sports the princesses become best friends, which makes Ange’s outbursts here and last week feel pointless and plot delaying.

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Even without Ange’s personality draining my interest, the conflict that consumes the final third of the episode was just a drag. Yet again, we as viewers have to sit through a lengthy scene where characters say how terrible it all is but ARE SITTING THERE not doing anything except telling us how terrible it is.

There’s no sense of tension in the tornado scene. It’s there, doing… something… to the Dragon city but it doesn’t seem to be in a hurry. At least, not unless it’s threatening Vivian’s mommy. Otherwise, it’s just there waiting to be solved by our heroines.

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If I had to choose one thing I actually liked, it would be the unintentionally funny scene where we see Vivian’s mother’s family photo where she and Vivian are posed together. Sure, Vivian is younger and happy and we’re meant to accept that this proves that she really is Vivian’s mom.

Except she’s wearing the same clothes that’s she’s worn since she was introduced 2 episodes ago. Which would mean she hasn’t changed in the decade since Vivian went missing…

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Braverade’s Take:

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Cross Anko is a show in search of a higher score, but my conditions for bestowing one depended on whether we’d be past the crossroads Ange reached: would she decide what to do? Yet, for everything that happened this week, she’s not that far removed from her position at the end of last week. That’s not a lot of movement, so 7 it is. Don’t get me wrong, I consider a 7 a fair and respectable score for what we got.

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While Ange still isn’t clear what to do yet, it’s ultimately the desire to protect Vivian that motivates her to heroic action, requiring collaboration with “Salako.” Unfortunately, that teamwork occurs during a spacetime attack, apparently by Embryo, that was very confusing and free-wheeling. If he was capable of wreaking this level of destruction on the Dragon world, why is it even still here, let alone maintaining large sports centers?

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Along with the requisite AngexTusk “Rom-antics”, I actually quite enjoyed Ange and Salako going at it in tennis, baseball, ping-pong, auto racing, golf, etc. Heck, even Twister suggested these two were quickly running out of ways to ‘fight’ each other (and was half-surprised Tusk didn’t find a way to fall on top of them).

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The games improved Salako’s opinion of Ange, just as her cooperation improved it to the point Salako wants to be friends with her once the danger passes. I like the fact we have two princesses, one of whom is trying to get the other out of forced retirement. But is Vivian, dear as she is, really the only thing Ange cares about protecting?

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