Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! – 08

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I feel like the things I like about Binan Koukou change each week. At least, the particulars do but, if I boil it all down to a core, each particular leads to the same place: a sincere, fun loving, focus on friendship between some really cool hetero guys stuck in what is definitely not a traditionally hetero scenario.

They’re cool, because they are amongst top scoring, wealthiest, most popular at their high school. They’re cool because they enjoy hanging out and BSing through the natural boredom of high school. They are cool because, even though it’s totally not how they want it, they enjoy each other’s company and they’ll fight to keep that company.

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This week’s monster is a shut in and BK goes out of its way to say HAKIMURI: IT’S ALL YOUR OWN DAMN FAULT!

No, seriously. En-chan’s transformation into a friend-chasing-away jerk is all on him. He becomes erratic, unreasonable, and so touchy (due to the monster) that his best friend can’t even give him space without getting an ear full. It’s very ‘no matter what you do, this kind of person will always be upset.’

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Fortunately, En-chan is also pissed off enough as a cool guy by this to turn his wrath onto the monster who caused the transformation in the first place. That, and Green is a cool guy who won’t backs down on love… erg, places a premium on their friendship.

Together, they beat the crap out of the monster and Yumoto even lets them do the two finishing moves. They even get to say ‘love is over’ to the confusion of the rest of the Battle Lovers.

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Best moment? Probably when Yumoto transforms in front of the club room but realizes mid speech that he’s the only one doing it. Nice touch that he says ‘I feel like all my effort was for nothing’ by the end too, because he really wasn’t necessary for 90% of the conflict.

As silly as it was, I also enjoyed watching Blue and Green get to wield the Love Stick and beat the (nicely designed) monster to bits. The cup of noodle on top of the monster was also a nice touch.

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So a super simple episode, lacking the complexity of last week’s but fun and well paced all the same. Really, the pacing had a lot to do with it, as it never felt like it was dragging on, nor did the ‘arguments’ have enough screen time to wear out their welcome.

As always, it’s light and fun. If you can live with that ‘lower art’ treatment than Yurikuma, or its less dramatic setting than Death Parade, and the lack of a richly detailed historic setting as seen in Junketsu No Maria, you may well find this to be the top show of the season.

I know I do, even if my ratings peg it a few notches lower.

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Yuri Kuma Arashi – 08

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Is it just me, or are we getting our money’s worth? I can’t remember the last time Yuri Kuma Arashi wasted a spare moment; probably because it essentially hasn’t. Eight episodes in, and while things are hardly ideal for Ginko, Kureha, and Lulu, most of the big mysteries have been revealed. That’s the efficiency of a one-cour, 12-episode run: pleasantly brisk storytelling that engages and excites without feeling rushed.

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One mystery that wasn’t was whether Yuriika was a bear baddie; what remained to be known was just how bad of a baddie, and why; the latter of which would determine her quality as a baddie. In her flashback, it’s revealed she was an abandoned orphan bear cub picked up by a man in high heels he likes to click (like Dorothy), who regards the school as his “box.”

Box, hive, whatever you want to call it, it’s where Yuriika had instilled in her the idea that only unsullied things kept in boxes had value. Somewhere down the road, her father lost interest in her and tried to leave, so Yuriika killed him.

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Abandoned a second time in her life, a very beautiful Yuriika fell in love with Reia, who didn’t care whether Yuriika was a bear and urged her not to keep everything locked inside, for that’s pretty much the same as not having those things at all. But whereas Yuriika’s love for Reia went beyond friendship, even past their school years, Reia grew up and had a baby. To Yuriika, Kureha becomes a squirming, cooing symbol of Reia’s betrayal.

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That’s the third time Yuriika is abandoned, and it’s the last straw, as she decides to give up on love, and return to being a box. It is Yuriika who eats Reia, trying to fill the box that is her by force. She ate her just moments after Reia gave a departing Ginko her pendant, in hopes she and Kureha will one day reunite. And getting back to the idea that putting something in a box forever is the same as not having that thing, eating Reia only left Yuriika empty, still starving and yearning.

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Enter Kureha, herself a box containing Reia’s love. Yuriika considers that love rightfully hers, stolen by Kureha, and proceeds to formulate an intricate and devastating life-long con on her; a scheme that makes Kaoru’s bullying seem like child’s play, which it was. Kureha is her titular “bride in a box;” hers to do with what she pleases at her own pace.

Only Ginko and Lulu can interrupt those plans, but she has Kureha believing Ginko is her mother’s killer, restoring the blind rage with which Kureha dispatched Yurizono. Lulu takes this opportunity to suggest she and Ginko run back to the other side of the wall; that Kureha is a lost cause; that Ginko at least has Lulu, and she her. Ginko isn’t ready to throw in the towel. She’s so determined to win Kureha back, she abandons Lulu in an important moment, ignoring her pleas not to leave her.

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The court orchestrates a confrontation on the school rooftop, and it’s interesting how they’re perceived as ageless, having delivered a very similar verdict to Yuriika years ago that they delivered to Ginko and Lulu, only with different stipulations. Yuriika gave up on love, Lulu on kisses, but Ginko gave up on neither.

Things don’t go as smoothly as Yuriika hopes, as even though Kureha is in Full Bear-Ruining Mode thanks to the incorrect information on her mother’s killer, Kureha hesitates to shoot Ginko, because Ginko isn’t backing down. It’s dawned on Ginko that perhaps the only way to get a kiss from Kureha is through a bullet…a LOVE Bullet…which explains that part of the title.

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Ginko awaits that bullet as the only way Kureha’s love for her, lost when they parted ways, will reawaken, which is obviously the absolute last thing Yuriika wants in her moment of triumph over the one who stole Reia’s love from her. It’s as if someone is opening all the boxes and dumping the contents on the dirty ground, sullying them all. But there’s also a distinct pathos to Yuriika on that roof, egging Kureha on; whether those boxes are full or not, she’s empty, and this is all she has left, and no matter the outcome, it won’t fulfill her either. She’s as tragic a figure as everyone else on that roof.

But then, suddenly, Yuriika gets a surprise assist—from Lulu. Obviously hurt from Ginko flat-out abandoning her, she hurts her right back by relaying to Kureha the what she learned from the anonymous note (which was written by Yuriika, making Lulu her trump card), which is the particulars of Ginko’s “grave crime”, which we had thought to this point was doing nothing as Yurizono ate Sumika.

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The sound of the rain drowns out everyone’s voices (a little heavy-handed, but effective), but we do hear Lulu say that Ginko “is Sumika’s…” and it’s clear from Kureha’s reaction (re-training her gun on Ginko, her rage renewed, and firing) that Lulu’s next word was something like “killer.” That could be another of Yuriika’s lies, but like so many of she’s told Kureha, this lie got her the desired effect.

At the same time, Ginko wanted Kureha to shoot her, and she did. But I doubt Kureha killed her. She may have even missed. But whatever happened when that shot was fired, Kureha, Ginko, and Lulu have never been further apart, through a combination of their own choices and Yuriika’s conniving. With three quarters of the show complete, it’s tempting to believe these girls have reached their nadir, but one shouldn’t underestimate Ikuni’s capacity for plumbing new depths.

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