Yuri!!! on Ice – 08

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The Gist: We meet several new skaters in Russia, JJ being the only direct challenger to Yuri (and Yurio), and see some great skating. Yurio has a rough but acceptable start, and his relationship with Yuri and Victor gets a little boost when they cheer him on lovingly.

But on the eve of the final showdown, Victor’s beloved Dog Maccachin is rushed to the vet, having choked on buns left at Yuri’s family shrine. Maccachin may not make it and Yuri begs Victor to rush home just in case. In desperation, Victor asks Yukov to coach Yuri in his absence, which puts Yuri and Yurio on the same team in a way. The stage is set for an epic showdown.

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In YOI’s world, all skaters are crazy… but in a crazy family sort of way that obsesses internally about their relationships and reason for being…

The Verdict: Awarding a Masterpiece grade mid-season is always more challenging than the beginning and the end because a build up, even perfectly executed, is predictable by design. This is why successful shows employ a mid season twist — a sudden death of a loved character or a reveal that a greater enemy was lurking all along — to make the audience reassess their belief in the Hero’s chances of success.

What puts Yuri on Ice above the rest is how it spins this convention on its head — how it fully bends it to the show’s own style and needs. Yes,  Maccachin may die and that means Victor will not be beside Yuri during the second half of the performance, where Yuri is at his most vulnerable. Yes, Maccachin’s injury subtly setup and Yuri’s insistence that Victor go to his pup is emotionally resonant, but the masterwork is in YOI’s lightness.

Victor runs to his former coach, his current antagonist of sorts, and asks that he coach for Yuri on the coming day. This entirely reshapes the relationship between several characters, totally diverts what would be a strong but conventional conflict (Yuri’s coach isn’t there to bolster his nerve) and absolutely locks next week in for an exciting and totally unpredictable showdown.

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Shuumatsu no Izetta – 09

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This episode’s opening act painted a rosy picture: with Germania not attacking, Izetta continues to build her image across the world by assisting the resistance movements of territories Germania has conquered, and the narrating Lotte is hoping the good times keep coming. Fine even tells Izetta a ceasefire could be in the making.

I didn’t buy this rosiness for a second, since it’s already been established that Berkman has Izetta’s number and has merely been biding his time for an assault, both the map and the crystal are in enemy hands, and even Muller AKA Sieg Reich simply isn’t giving off very trustworthy vibes.

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A reckoning, then, was inevitable, and it comes later in the episode after Izetta ends up on the wrong battlefront and must be quickly transported to the right one. There, the one tactical advantage Eylstadt has over Germania—the White Witch—is taken away, by Germania’s own White Witch, a clone of Izetta’s descendant, Sophie.

The path that led to her creation is hastily told, as Berkman learns of Division 9’s research and cloning methods, and Izetta’s blood is gradually used to “awaken” Sophie from the doll-like clone. Eylstadt’s own recklessness with Izetta’s personal security indirectly led to Berkman’s success.

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At first, Sophie tries to appeal to Izetta’s pride and duty as a witch, telling her what her own family told her: using her magical powers to help affect the outcome of war between non-magical countries is wrong.

But when Izetta insists she must fight for her archduchess and refuses to stand down, Sophie ditches the nice guy act right quick, turning on a dime into Izetta’s enemy, and the two duel in the sky as Germania’s superior military runs the Eylstadt forces roughshod.

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Sophie ends up nullifying Izetta’s magic at a crucial moment, causing her to crash, then for good measure, employs magic chain bondage to crush Izetta’s insides. She’s taken prisoner, photographed and filmed for pro-Germanian propaganda, which is likely to kill morale in Eylstadt as well as anywhere where people oppose Germania.

Now that their “nuke” isn’t unique anymore, or even a threat to Germania, they’re free to attack Eylstadt’s capital, even bombing Fine’s palace. But the lack of chivalry in the assault mirror’s Eylstadt’s own desperate but ultimately foul play: when they couldn’t win with conventional warfare they turned to magic.

They put all their eggs in that basket, and now that basket’s been crushed and burned. It’s not looking good at all for Fine, Izetta, or Eylstadt.

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To Be Hero – 08

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The Gist: Big Prince unleashes his plot to defeat Earth by winning Min-chan’s heart. This starts with a refreshing water mellon, which leads Min-chan down a string of anime conventions where each male archetype has been replaced with a mellon. It’s delicious nonsense and it’s barely a fraction of the episode.

The lion’s share of narrative is dedicated to the Great Emperor’s backstory, which involves many female archetype love interests dying on him, a sham-marrage, the origin of his sons, and the reasons why he’s trying to destroy all romance in the universe. It is non-stop hilarious.

Meanwhile, Team Old Man is about to unleash its plot to prevent everyone in the world from using the toilet at a single moment such that Old Man can return to his parallel earth.

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“Shut Up and watch the Flashback!” – the Emperor’s Minions

Verdict: To Be Hero nails a near perfect score for absurd humor and punchy, dialog. It’s crisp, moves briskly, and never strays into poop humor.

Mind you, it doesn’t really move the story along in a meaningful way but I’m not sure there’s a story to move along in the first place? Old Man was barely even in the episode and his arc from last week, attempting to get back to HIS Earth, may not even be a real thing.

Don’t care. Too busy laughing!

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Keijo!!!!!!!! – 08

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The Gist: The girls finish their training camp with 2 battles. Cockroach-chan eventually obliterates Twin-Tail-chan with a Meteor Hip but they become friends afterwards.

Flash forward 1 month and the girls arrive at the East-West War and immediately dislike Suruga’s girls. To be fair, they are trash talking and obnoxious ‘B-team’ character designs. So who can blame team Cockroach?

After some trash talk and lengthy character introductions, the girls are split into groups of 4 to fight in 2-round races. The first up includes Judo-chan and a jungle gym. Apparently, she’s going to take her swim-top off and get an erect nipple but what the hell that’s all about will have to wait for next week…

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The Verdict: while I appreciated the 1-month-jump forward to cut out any training between camp and the battle of east and west, while I appreciate that this choice trims fat and will make some new moves seen at the war ‘surprising’ …however. However, the episode itself was a completely conventional setup episode otherwise. We meet see Suruga’s team, know they are pompus jerk tools, and know the format for the war but nothing actually happens.

Combine that with the relatively pointless two battles that end camp at the opening of the episode, which really just repeat the joke about Cow-chan being fat and introduce Twin-Tail-chan as… another character of no significance, and the whole experience felt slow.

Judo-chan’s father says it best: “This is just not right”

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