DAYS – 03

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The Gist: Tsukamoto experiences his first scrimmage. He’s terrible, as you would expect, but his absurd stamina (and the fact that the other first years rise to follow that stamina) literally drives the other team into the ground.

When those same opponents continue to bad mouth Tsukamoto after the match, after losing 4 to 0, Kurusu let’s them have it:

“You punks just lost the our worst player and we’re proud of that!”

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The nuisance of the various backstories and motivations for the team clicked effortlessly this week. Kurusu is here because he idolizes Kazama’s elegance from afar — but is annoyed by Kazama’s seeming lack of investment. Kazama is here because he’s naturally good but lost his love for the sport when it became a chore.

Tsuka is here because he just wants a place to belong, and that unquenchable thirst to belong AND be helpful, drives everyone else forward. At the end of the day, Tsuka is having fun. Ragged panting fun, but fun, and everyone else wants in on that action.

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a little human centipede while you wait!

The Verdict: The use of CG players for the wide angle scenes works much better than expected, and the smaller animations (like the above centipede) are fluid and fun. Honestly, all the visuals are impressive, even though I know how they are cutting corners.

But Really, I can’t believe this show pulled me in and kept me in three weeks in a row! This is a simple underdog tale, where the underdog is playing on one of the best teams so he probably won’t ever sniff defeat. It is absolutely predictable in a way that should not be enjoyable but it is.

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Mob Psycho 100 – 02

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The Gist: Mob grapples with how he wants to spend his middle school years. Will he spend it working for his mentor Reigen, will he join the Telepathy Club, or will he put effort into winning a girl and enjoying some young love?

The Reigen path forces Mob to dress in drag and defeat a loser-ghost that didn’t live his life to the fullest — and both of these experiences cause Mob a fair amount of discomfort.

The Telepathy Club doesn’t really interest him. However, he considers it because the club members make a good point that middle school is the only time they ever will be able to slack off, and that he would not only be welcome to join in their fun, but be greatly appreciated, since the club will be disbanded by the student council unless a fifth member joins.

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What worked: when the episode got around to having a core dilemma, that Mob’s great power does not make his personal wants any more achievable, MP100 felt compelling. Dare I say it was even remarkable that Mob’s blank expression was able to emote at the height of his stress.

It was also brilliant to make the invert the Body Improvement Club from throw-away bad guys after the Telepathy Club’s room, into an earnest thing Mob would want to be part of — that he needs to improve his physique to get the girls. That’s smart comedy and drama in short span of frames!

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What didn’t work: Reigen continues to drag down the show. Because he is predictable, he adds no humor. Because he’s self centered, he’s unlikable. Because he’s part of the plot, he gets an unnecessary amount of screen time and totally pulls us away from more interesting developments in the plot.

It’s also still an ugly show. Sadly, I get the sense it would be fine as a manga, where the muddy color pallet wouldn’t exist (black and white) and the unproductive Reigen scenes would be easy to skip. It would also match MP100’s humor style, which relies on frame-reveal and deadpan looks in response to dialog.

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The Verdict: There were glimmers of a better show this week. The ‘live paint’ style of the ghost as it spoke to Mob was visually interesting, the character developments in the second arc were interesting and funny, and Reigen was absent for much of it.

However, at 40% to explosion, Mob Psycho 100 is still not a very good show. I suspect it will continue to get better as Mob grows and his sense of hope deteriorates, but making the audience wade through 3 or 4 episodes first is a brave move to make. Brave… or really stupid.

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Macross Delta – 16

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Aside from a brief (and fairly pointless) visit to Windermere and a scene with Mikumo proposing they use the ruins to counter the Song of the Wind, this episode was given over completely to celebrating Freyja’s fifteenth birthday with a surprise party. As it’s the middle of a Windermeran’s lifespan, Maki and Reina wanted to make it special.

In other words, there’s no action whatsoever, nor is there any movement on the galactic war front. The episode is carried only by the characters, so how much you enjoyed it depends on how much you like and/or care about said characters when they’re not fighting (or singing) to save the galaxy.

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I went on record as saying I liked how desperate things had gotten a couple weeks back when the lights went off on the Island Ship, but now that Elysion is docked with it, there’s little difference between the ship and being on Ragna, which kind of undermines the peril.

That said, I did appreciate the efforts made to expound on the Freyja/Hayate/Mirage triangle in a less stressful environment. At the same time, Mirage’s shopping “date” makes it clear Hayate is “denser than a black hole”, as his stalkers put it.

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He’s aware that he has a special bond with Freyja (and even hears her song from afar), but he doesn’t come right out an call it romance, nor is he even a little aware of Mirage’s burgeoning feelings for him. Mirage plays the good friend to both, though, when the night of the party comes.

The party is when Freyja and the episode shine, as her story about when she discovered Earth music and started singing for her villagewas actually very moving. Her surprise and elation at everyone coming together for her sake was also infectious.

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Finally, Hayate is very late to the party, but for a good reason: after a lengthy but fruitless trip to the mall, he realized the best birthday gift he could give her was home, in the form of snow. And if he realized how close he was to Freyja before, their little moment in the snow was likely the final nail the coffin for poor Mirage and her unacknowledged, unrequited love.

Then again, there were moments for both Ranka Lee and Sheryl Nome when one thought the other had won the Alto Sweepstakes, and it ended up being a triangle that was never broken in Frontier. But in terms of who made the most of this brief respite from intergalactic warfare, I’m inclined to place Freyja firmly in the winner’s column.

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