Keijo!!!!!!!! – 05

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The Gist: Cockroach-chan faces off against a thoroughbred student who’s bottom does all the fighting for her. Literally, Cer-chan is a seeking-missile of dog-faced chi, and it demolishes everyone. Well, except Cockroach-chan, who’s now fast enough to dodge the attack, and wacky enough to remain unpredictable.

In the end, the Vacuum Butt Cannon comes into play and lobs BL-chan into the drink. That’s right, BL-chan is a huge fan of Boy Love and her mind wanders off to BL regularly during matches.

Oh! All 4 girls are promoted to the elite class. Even Hillbilly-chan, who’s leadership pushed the top student to use a forbidden attack. That’s right! There are forbidden attacks in this show…

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“I’m goin ‘ta tame that Cer-chan of yours!” – Cockroach-chan

The Verdict: Keijo keeps things positive in a way that skirts the flesh-peddling grossness it could descend into. The girls compliment each other and keep competition ‘on the land.’ In it’s own twisted way, the yuri vibes of this show even reinforce that idea. These girls are not mean girls.

Can’t wait to see where this is going. Apparently, a show down with ‘the East’…

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Flip Flappers – 05

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The Gist: Papika and Cocona are stuck in a looping nightmare school that reboots at midnight. Yayaka is there too, and seems to better equipped to handle the situation, though she doesn’t seem able to fully get out of it.

After figuring out some of the puzzle, Papika and Cocona gain access to the school’s bell tower, which is a monstrous death trap. Team Yayaka arrives around the same time but it falls on Cocona to actually collect the fragment.

When they return, courtesy of Yayaka, Cocona refuses to hand over the fragment and the battle line is now drawn…

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blah blah blah well rendered, blah blah blah dream like, adorable, and interesting. Yes, this week’s Flip Flappers was like previous outings in all the good ways.

What made it better than usual (though not enough to score a 10) was the utterly terrifying setting and characters Cocona and Papika were up against. The dolls and ink-face school girls were genuinely creepy, with wonderfully strange synth voices and audio.

And that super cute image of our girl’s base communication’s lady posing was the perfect thing to disarm us for all the creepiness to come.

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The Verdict: Flip Flappers continues to play it’s own particular blend of magic girl adventure story. You could possibly argue that it is playing with genre conventions, with each episode marginally approaching a different kind of magical girl story telling, but I’m not totally sold on that.

In the end, the story is played straight forward and I’m okay with that.

Flip Flapping!

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Yuri!!! on Ice – 05

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The Gist: Yuri competes in a small-fry national match that’s necessary to qualify back into the Grand Prix. His principle rival there is Minami Kenjiro, an annoying little boy with red streaked blonde hair and watery eyes. While Minami is quite young, and not particularly good, Yuri lost to him the previous year during his mental breakdown.

Yuri is cold to Minami at first, and also overly consious of his moves, leading to a luke warm performance. However, Victor’s mix of hugs and scorn drive home the importance of cheering other’s on — motivating them to do more — as a vehicle to motivate yourself.

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Yuri’s second performance is better, leading to the inevitable local victory. (although he falls and smashes his nose at the end)

Capping the episode is Yuri’s interview pre-China Cup, where he talks about his theme, which is Love. Not romantic love, but an abstract sense that love is all around him, from his home, his family, his friends and Victor.

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“That’s a costume from my dark past!” – Yuri

In an interesting move, Yuri’s first dance is almost completely reused from the previous time we’d seen it. This makes sense from a budgetary stand point, and because it is, in fact, the same routine. While that stood out to me, the fact that it was set against a different background and foreground, and that it was very nicely rendered in the first place, there’s nothing to really complain about.

Another interesting decision was to make Yuri the narrator all the way to the second performance, where it flips to Victor. This gives us all of Yuri’s insecurities right up to Victor’s cold reading of the situation, where we are suddenly in the unknown. It plays with the tension but it also plays into Yuri’s later note that he was enjoying himself so much, he wasn’t really thinking at all. He doesn’t really remember the performance.

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The Verdict: Yuri on Ice has the remarkable ability to initially make me think it’s lost its way, only to sell me on its decisions by the end of any given episode. This week, I found Minami really annoying at first, only to appreciate that his character served as a lens for Yuri to see himself ‘a few years back.’ It didn’t hurt that nearly half of Minami’s screen time was dedicated to a spunky dance and cheering for his friends.

Ultimately, Yuri’s interview was the crown jewel of the episode. It really captured the line this show is walking with overt boy-love themes, but with a heterosexual male who’s awakening to greater nuisance in life. Yuri doesn’t know what to call it, but Victor’s arrival and all of the confusion it brought, made him aware of the love his family and town and friends all shared with him and he can’t be thankful enough for that.

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Yuri!!! on Ice – 04

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The Gist: Yuri and Yurio train train train, each homing in on different strengths and motivations. Yuri’s first hurdle is choosing music for his next event, which leads him through a few of his professional contacts and more exploration into why he’s so bashful.

Meanwhile, Yurio joins a former ballerina for serious training, which he plans to capitalize on with his adolescent build. The training is harsh, but it pays off quickly and, in the eyes of his fellow skaters and coach, the fact that he is so dedicated to his craft, is a great sign of his emotional maturation.

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Victor and Yuri continue to bond, which harmonically allows Yuri to contact the woman who he once asked to compose his music (but didn’t ever use), which finally anchors how he will approach the season.

And the Season is already set — he will compete in a National meet first, followed by China and Russia. Should he survive as a top score in all of these, he will finally be able to compete in the Grand Prix.

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I love the choice to make Victor use Engrish instead of Rusianese. It really fits his personality quite well, somehow feels believable, and the voice actor generally gets the pronunciation close to correct to boot.

I also love the cell phones in this universe. Specifically, that they function just like our phones, with characters staying in contact by voice, tweets, photo shares, chat and email, seamlessly across multiple platforms and significant distances. It really works in this show because it is not used as a ‘cell phone scene,’ but rather something that happens naturally during any particular scene.

I also love that Yuko has a lovely understated crush on Yurio, and who’s texting is the vehicle through which Yuri and Yurio remain aware of each other. This works much more naturally than having to force the boys into news programs or to talk directly, which wouldn’t fit their characters.

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even the characters of this world aren’t sure where the line is between sexuality and the physicality of this sexualized male sport…

The Verdict: This was a top shelf build up episode, only falling short of a 10 because it had to explain several aspects of skating to the viewer and ratchet up the cast size to make the world feel more populated. If not for these structural pieces, Yuri’s relationship growth with Victor and coming to terms with his past errors through the growth of that relationship, was masterful.

Special note is definitely warranted by Yuri’s musicless practice: watching Yuri move without sweeping camera work and melody is hard to watch. That chases away the fantasy aspects of montaged training and really grounds the viewer in the hard-as-hell world of elite sports.

Finally, the parallel routines of Yuri and Yurio that cap the episode are wonderful. Not only does it include the music that pulls us back into the fantasy, but the boys have dramatically different body types, which make their movements different. Roll in all the growth they’ve had in a single episode, and we get a pre-pay off to their eventual showdown.

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