ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka – 08

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ACCA had been teasing us for a while now about who exactly Jean and Lotta are, and last week finally answered that question: they are a prince and princess.

This week gives us more of what I yearned for—specifics—by taking us back 33 years, to when King Falke’s daughter Princess Schnee leaves the royal family and renounces her titles so that she can spread her wings and be, in her view, of more use to the nation, by traveling and learning more about it.

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The four people who arrange Schnee’s “detatchment” from the family (complete with faked death) are the king, Privy Council President Qualm, Schnee, and her loyal aide Abend, who looks a lot like a young Grossular.

The twist is that Abend isn’t the one Schnee falls for: he fades into the shadows and receives reports and photos from Niino’s father, which he then relays to Qualm, who relays them to the king.

Everybody seems to win in this arrangement: Schnee gets to live her life (and fall in love with a commoner, resulting in the birth of Jean and Lotta) out in the world, the king never had to “clip her wings”, and the president rids the royal family of a member who he deemed might’ve caused undue, possibly republican (small r) disruption to the crown.

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After she’s ensconced in Bodan and starts a family, Schnee and her kids are largely on the margins, Abend disappears altogether, and Niino and his dad are front-and-center. Niino’s dad is fiercely loyal to Abend, who in turn is fiercely loyal to Qualm and Falke.

He takes his duty to keep an eye on Schnee and her fam very seriously, but because it is essentially his life, he also takes the time to enjoy it, and imbues that sense of duty, and sense of enjoying one’s duty, into his trusty son. That, and we see where Niino got his sweet tooth.

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The idea is that King Falke was perfectly fine with his daughter leaving the palace, as long as tabs were kept on her. It doesn’t seem like he intended for Schnee and her issue to be some kind of “backup plan” in case his younger daughter’s issue (Schwan) wasn’t up to snuff.

When Jean enters high school, Niino’s dad sends him there to befriend him…even though Niino is ten years older (chalk it up to good genes). Niino also joins the photography club and makes use of the camera given to him by “Master” (Abend). It’s clear both Abend and Niino’s dad are grooming him for the role of Jean and Lotta’s next “royal observer.”

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When tragedy strikes, it isn’t just Schnee and Jean and Lotta’s father who perish, but Niino’s father, who was traveling with them, as well. Just like that, the torch has been passed. The episode then fast-forwards back to the present, where Niino is telling the adult Jean all of this, and Jean is trying to process it.

Jean doesn’t care about whether he’s eligible to the throne (technically he isn’t); he just remembers how Niino cheered him up back in high school after his parents died, and how that helped him be strong for his little sister, who looks more and more like their gorgeous mother by the day.

The end credits play as they always have, but finally in context: the woman isn’t Lotta, but Schnee, barefoot, plainly clothed, and free from the isolation of the royal palace. She gave up everything, but gained freedom and the run of the whole nation, both for her and her children.

Now that Jean (though, notably, not Lotta) knows the truth, what will he do now?

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Little Witch Academia – 08

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The Gist: Sucy concocts a mushroom-based energy drink just this-side of poisonous. Supposedly, it will unlock her full magic potential, which she will use to rule over the world’s mushrooms and/or get rid of anyone bothering her while she searches for mushrooms. However, before she can drink it, she faces a conundrum.

She should test the potion on Akko first, to make sure it works or is safe. However, if it the potion does work as intended, Akko’s full magic potential will be unlocked, and Akko would become ‘boring’ in Sucy’s eye.

Leaving the funnel in Akko’s mouth, Sucy glugs down the potion after all. In the morning, she is unwakeable and soon she begins to sprout mushrooms. Mushrooms that threaten to take over the school…

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As with LWA’s best episodes, what follows is full of lovely details, wild and elastic animations, humor and tons of charm. Everything feels like thought was put into it. From Akko and Lotte choosing not to get the teachers because it could lead to their expulsion, to Lotte using her book knowledge to come up with a plan and Akko offering to be the sacrifice, without blinking an eye. It’s in-character and believable, at least within the rules established by LWA’s wacky universe.

Inside Sucy’s mind is a similarly vibrant and dense space. Akko meets many Sucys that make up the core Sucy personality and all of them are terrible people in a Sucy specific sort of way. (For example, both Devil and Angel Sucy want to kill Akko, just in different ways)

Eventually, Akko meets a not-outwardly-terrible Sucy and has to save her from court-ordered execution. Actually, many Sucys Akko finds more normal and relatable are being executed, and Akko saves them all.

Then Akko hitches a ride to the drive-in movies…

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Sucy’s movie vision has a great retro art style to it and, while they aren’t surprising or terribly complex, it’s interesting to see her take on the people and world around her. While Sucy has hinted about liking Akko all along, capturing the two sides of how she see’s Akko (ridiculous but charming) in a short span of images, and playing them directly against Akko as visual reinforcement effectively drives the plot points home. Even enough that Akko herself gets it.

In a way, Akko learns a bit about herself too. At least, that her friends can find her annoying (or that she can look laughable) but still love her. She also learns that outward appearances and good intentions do not always play best with reality.

That nice little Sucy she saved turns out to be a monster, consumes many other Sucys, and threatens to make the core never the same Sucy again…

lwa8cThe license plate says LWA 008, which is the number of this episode ;)

The Boss Fight provides an exciting climax to an already frenetic episode. Not only is it visually distinct, and visually good at setting tension, but the nature of a tangible enemy, with tangible stakes should it not be stopped, elevate Sucy-Monster above previous episode climaxes.

It also helps that she was introduced as a plot thread early in the episode, and that Sucy herself is a core part of show from the beginning (I’m looking at you wtf polar bear!).

But the strongest aspect of the Boss Fight comes at the end, where the Boss itself watches Akko prepare to French-kiss-inject the sleeping Sucy core with an antidote…which really seems to turn the Monster on! (alluding to a possible additional side to Sucy’s appreciation for Akko).

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The Verdict: LWA is at its best when all of its many moving parts are composed into a complex and coherent whole. This week had character development for Akko and Sucy, world building, a self contained but complete and un-rushed narrative, wild and unique animations, and a warped sense of humor.

Friendship, weirdness and adventure. Not much more you could ask for.

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Tales of Zestiria the X – 20

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Both Alisha’s enemy Bartlow and her “supporter” Lunarre wrongly believe she’ll take the bait of her suffering Maltran, but they’re both wrong. Maltron knows if Alisha does as she taught, she won’t come for her.

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Instead Alisha and her people infiltrate the palace. It’s not at all certain that Alisha’s order that no one is to die is carried out in the process, as both her men and many of the palace guards are injured and shot with arrows, and it’s asking a lot to think none of them will succumb to their injuries.

In any case, Alisha gets an audience with her father at last, but he’s consumed by malevolence. Baltrow enters the room alone and attempts to take out Alisha by himself…which makes no sense. Why did he go in alone, without any backup?

What would be his killing blow to Alisha is blocked by the king in what I gather is one last act of sacrifice to make up for, charitably, over a season and a half of complete inaction.

Then, before the young, athletic Alisha or her knights can stop him, the slow old Baltrow runs outside and jumps off the balcony, spiting Alisha by not being taken alive. Um, why did everyone just stand around and let him do that?

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With the internal power struggle thus hastily ended and Alisha now the de facto ruler of Hyland, she turns to the next existential crisis: that giant tornado. There’s a dragon inside, and Sorey believes he’ll be the first shepherd to purify it, erasing the myth that such a feat is impossible.

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He manages to get the job done, thanks not only to Mikleo and Rose, but his other squire Alisha joining in to help share the burden of the dragon’s malevolence, as Lailah, Edna, and Dezel handle the small fry.

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And once the dragon is purified and the sun shines over Ladylake once more, our heroes get to enjoy the victory for all of ten seconds before Symmone appears, telling them her master will cover the entire earth in malevolence and end the world, and they don’t have what it takes to stop them.

Well, I asked for more action to masked the seemingly increasing blandness characters, and I got it. But with so much significance placed on Baltrow over the last few months, and the immediate introduction of an even bigger threat, then an even bigger one after that, it all felt rather anti-climatic.

And once more, a preview in which 2D Rose and Alisha bicker over whose late master was strongest was more far more engaging than anything either of them said in the actual episode.

I’m quickly doubting whether my master adequately trained me or if I have enough squires to help bear the burden of Zestiria. Because the eye candy isn’t nearly enough to keep me interested.

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Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 45

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The calm is over; the storm is here, and it’s going to be a bad one. IBO wastes no time plunging us into this, what everyone is calling The Final Battle. As there are still five episodes left, I didn’t think the battle would only last an episode, and so it didn’t. But a great deal of damage was done to the good guys, and though key pieces still on the board mean they can still turn things around, they have lost and will lost a lot to do so.

Rustal Elion shows what a ruthless sonofabitch he can be, quickly splitting McGillis’ fleet and focusing on the rebels and Tekkadan, confident if he takes them out the Regulatory fleet will go over to him. He even has a mole among the rebels, who fires a Dainsleif at Rustal’s fleet, making it legal to return fire with the same weapon, only a hundred fold.

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The results are devastating as round after round pierces allied ships. Even Shino takes a big hit, but manages to get back to base, where Yamagi fixes his broken arm, and Yamagi reveals (to us, not Shino) his feelings for him. This…seemed a bit rushed, frankly.

Shino’s great, but from the way he fights I kinda always knew what end he was headed for. Adding this extra wrinkle out of nowhere as incentive to want him to avoid a violent fate doesn’t harm my like of the character, but doesn’t elevate it; it’s just there.

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McGillis tries to dazzle the stage after over half his forces are destroyed (along with Tekkadan’s Hotarubi) but I couldn’t help but think how similar Macky’s posturing felt to Carta’s empty pageantry, which is worth less than nothing if the enemy doesn’t fight with honor, as Rustal certainly doesn’t. He’s playing to win, as well as for survival.

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Even the look in McGillis’ face—a truly “Oh Shit” moment when Rustal looses another massive volley of Dainsleifs—seemed Carta-like in a sort of entitled Things aren’t supposed to go this way! outrage. Bael looks like a shining knight on this stage, but there’s increasingly little he can do to stop the crumbling equipment and spirits that surround him.

Meanwhile, Tekkadan’s only hope is to use one of their crippled ships as a shield in a last-ditch effort to get Shino close enough to Rustal’s bridge to take him out with his “Super Galaxy Cannon.”

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…It doesn’t work. Once more, a potentially huge pressure-releasing moment is denied the audience, just as Naze and Amida were denied their final revenge. In a way, repeating this pattern is a strategy of diminishing returns.

With Julieta somehow holding her own against Mika (which seems dubious) and Gaelio lurking around Macky and Isurugi, Orga down to one beat-up ship, and nowhere left to run, our iron-blooded orphans are in the direst of straits yet.

With Barbaros and Bael still on the board, it’s not quite time to throw in the towel. But will these two namesakes of the franchise possibly be enough to grab victory from the jaws of defeat, and how many more familiar faces won’t live to see it?

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3-gatsu no Lion – 19

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We step away from the Kawamoto sisters this week, but we see their warm caring nature reflected in Rei as he takes care of Shimada. Flashbacks indicate he’s had often-crippling stomach pains since he was a teenager, likely due in part to the pressure his small but well-meaning village put on him to become a master. He doesn’t want to let them down any more than himself.

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The Lion King Tournament with Souya is really doing a number on his already shaky health, so Rei comes by to make him a delicious udon bowl, stating his father (not Kouda-san) had the same stomach problems. Rei doesn’t cook for himself at home, but he’s happy to do it here, and is actually good at it. I can just imagine Hina’s joy (as well as Akari and Momo’s, but particularly Hina’s) if he whipped up a bowl for her!

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Rei goes against his better judgement and acquiesces to Shimada’s demand to play shogi with him, despite the fact what the dude needs most is sleep. But Rei is flattered to hear the reason why: like Souya, Rei is an all-rounder with similar “viewpoints” on the game Shimada can’t get elsewhere. Rei may be a stopgap (i.e. nowhere near as good) but he’s better than nothing. Souya even used the same word to describe the 3-g silver (or whatever) move: “disturbing.”

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From his house, Rei gets Shimada on the shinkansen, into his hotel room, and thanks to an altruistic assist from Souya, Shimada’s role in the pre-match reception is mercifully brief. The day of the match, Rei still second-guesses staying and playing with Shimada instead of insisting he rest back home, but there’s nothing he can do about it now. All he can do is hope Shimada has enough left in the tank to grab a win.

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Demi-chan wa Kataritai – 08

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The Gist: Headless-chan scores 5th place in the school midterms, which Vamp-chan resents ever so slightly. Meanwhile, we learn that Snow-chan really likes corny joke manga but is embarrased about this fact and tries to keep it a secret from Sakie-sensei, who has found a joke manga book Snow-chan accidentally dropped. Through their conversation, we see how pop-culture has responded to Demi-chans and how the Demis respond to their place in pop culture as well.

Then the Demi-chans hold an arm-tasting contest in the biology office, which Sensei loses, followed by improved scores for all the girls on their national proficiency tests.

It’s probably telling that I no longer retain any of these characters’ names…

demichan8bJust because you are a vampire, it doesn’t mean your exams should all be red…

The Verdict: As always, Demi-chan’s comedic writing is tight, albeit reserved for only two or three jokes each episode. Sakie’s flashback to breaking a bully and making him beg for more anguish was well animated, interesting, and fleshed out her character a bit too.

Unfortunately, the pop-culture segment contained no conflict, which makes its inclusion pleasant, but not compelling. Also, it lacked connection with real-world sub cultures, which deleted its ability to serve as a foil.

Demi-chan sort of laughs at its own jokes, both literally with its characters and more conceptually with its stucture. This makes it feel harmless and inviting, but limits the impact the narrative and characters are able to convey. At the end of the day, this show continues to be pleasant and watchable by design, but that’s not enough for more than a seven in my book.

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Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu 2 – 08

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After a taste of Kyoto-style rakugo (which has a lot more props than Tokyo style…not sure I like it) courtesy of Mangetsu, who is trying to make a comeback after ten years out of the game, We see a frail and withered Yakumo showing his grandson one of Sukeroku’s albums.

Higuchi and Matsuda then come in to show Yakumo the veritable bonanza of recordings and memorabilia the professor has collected over the years. Higuchi leaves it up to Yakumo whether the recordings and such were ever to be released to the public, or destroyed. Yakky says he’ll think about it.

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In a really, really lovely scene, we see the happy couple of Yotaro and Konatsu relaxing on a warm night, and Konatsu rests her head on Yotaro’s broad back and asks him to perform some rakugo, and is no doubt soothed by the vibration of Yotaro’s voice as he does so. It’s personal rakugo; not for a crowd, but for someone close.

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Yotaro can’t get far in his story before the couple notices Yakumo walking onto the nearby bridge; he feigns a desire to get out and about and a bout of sickness, but Konatsu knows what he’s up to: he was trying to off himself, something she won’t allow until he “atones.”

Or at least, that’s how she chooses to label her love for the man who brought her in when she lost both her parents and raised her into the fine woman she is. Yakumo concedes that fate may not be ready to let him die.

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Yakumo visits Kido Isao, an old friend and who owes him a “debt that can’t be paid”, knows how to keep quiet, and longs to hear Yakumo perform again. Then, one night, after seeing a play with Matsuda, Yakumo finds himself the victim of his loyal servant and family’s machinations.

To wit: he’s being forced into a performance before a small, select audience of old friends, colleagues, and patrons. When he threatens to leave, the lady of the Yanashima Inn “insists” by hilariously shoving him onto the stage.

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But before Yakumo has to perform, he yields that stage to his “dunce” of a student, who performs “Shibahama” to his master’s shock. When asked how he learned it, Yotaro confesses to having watched the film, though doesn’t go so far as to hear the truth of what happened at that inn so many years ago.

As for his “Shibahama”, Sokuroku’s was, in my opinion, far superior. But to Yotaro’s credit, he uses his tendency to weep easily well here.

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When it’s finally Yakumo’s turn, he introduces himself with an air of “whelp, I guess I can’t rest easy yet, so despite my dry tongue here goes”…only to be rudely interrupted by a police raid that has come to arrest Kido Isao. Have those coppers no decency?! 

One also wonders if, like when his suicide was thwarted by the sudden appearance of Yotaro and Konatsu, if there’s something to the fact that he was so harshly silenced just when he was about to do rakugo again.

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Fuuka – 09

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Wow, we’re already nine episodes into this? Wow, that’s pretty far. What better way to celebrate than Yuu going on a date with Koyuki. Wait, whuuuh? Last time we saw them, they were locked in a hug on a pier, now they’re touring Little Edo, AKA Tiny Kyoto.

Koyuki starts out wearing a ski mask, but removes all disguises except for magic glasses that make it impossible for anyone to identify her. Also good news: her voice is “back to normal”…but I’ll believe her when I hear her!

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In any case, inertia plus history plus chemistry equals these two becoming something of an item this week, which doesn’t go unnoticed by the band. Yuu is late for practice after all, and while Nachi jokes about him being busy with his girlfriend, Fuuka is less enthused.

After practicing the same damn HEDGEHOGS song for the thousandth time (aren’t they sick of it by now?) they go to Denny’s and Fuuka presents her Next Great Idea: she’ll write an original song…by ear. Yuu ducks out to talk on the phone with Koyuki, and when Fuuka goes out to see where he went, he hears their flirting and remains…not enthused.

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A song-writing montage ensues, filled with still images, one of them showing them going to Denny’s again in short order. Honestly, how can these unemployed kids afford so many trips to Denny’s? They must get allowance out the wazoo! You’d think they were already a successful professional band what with all the cash they’re throwing around.

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They get the instrumentation done, so all that’s left is the lyrics. I’ve never been in a band, so I supposed some bands do the music first then the lyrics, while others do vice versa, while still others do both at the same time. Fuuka, at least for this The Fallen Moon song (ugh, I forgot that’s the name they picked for their band), goes with the first strategy, but gets lyricist’s block, no doubt exacerbated by her heartache.

Then one day Sara’s brother asks Fuuka to have a meeting with him and a music producer, who heard her sing at the school riot. The guy is perhaps unreasonably obsessed with her from a single impromptu recording, but goes on to say she “ate Koyuki alive” on that modest stage, the implication being, for the first time, that Fuuka is just flat-out better singer than Koyuki.

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But Fuuka doesn’t even say she’ll think over the producer’s offer to make her, and only her, a pro. She’s sticking with her unfortunately named band. Her selflessness is rewarded when she once more runs right into the middle of a private Yuu x Koyuki interaction.

The show is really piling it on in terms of Yuu and Koyuki rubbing their longer relationship all up in Fuuka’s face. Girl can’t catch a break! But she can’t worry about stuff like this right now; The Fallen Moon (UGH) is opening for other bands in like, no time at all, and she needs to get those lyrics written or she will LET EVERYONE DOWN.

Still, I’m sure no matter what happens, cash will somehow continue to appear out of thin air for the band, with which they’ll continue to buy fried food and sundaes at the local Denny’s. Eat more fish, kids.

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Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen – 08

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It was great to watch Shiemi finally kick some ass after sitting on the sidelines for so long, and for the gang to get back together and head out as a team. The question was, could this episode keep the momentum going as we draw nearer to the final battle with Todo and the Impure King? The answer, unfortunately, is not really.

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Sure, lots of things happen: the exorcists summon a fire vajra to give them more strength against the rot, the kids find Bon’s dad, who Kurara is keeping alive, Kurara is transferred to Bon, which is a pretty big deal, and Bon and Rin ride MegaKuro closer to the place where they’ll have to destroy the Impure King’s heart.

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But none of it feels that significant; it’s as if the show is intentionally holding back and content to show us more preparation for the fight. We’re told many tens of thousands of innocent people are at risk, and the billowing rot of the Impure King is a nearly constant and menacing presence, but the fact remains: the episode felt slow, almost plodding, and I didn’t like Rin’s group splitting up so soon after getting back together, even if it makes sense to the plot.

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Yukio has never been my favorite Exorcist character, what with his occasional temptations to cast away the burdens of his family and cross over to the dark side. Todo spends a lot of time toying with him in an interminable one-sided duel, with the apparent intent of bringing Yukio over to his side. I mean, if that wasn’t the case, he could have killed him many times over.

Chances are Rin will be able to unsheathe the Koma Sword, but only in the moment he needs to the most. That means the Impure King’s heart is probably not long for this world. The true wild card is Todo, especially if he manages to turn Yukio. But it wouldn’t be particularly satisfying if he could be turned so easily by a brief monologue.

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Youjo Senki – 07

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The Gist: Tanya’s Battalion is the leading edge of a surprise naval invasion against the Alliance (alt-Finland). They paradrop on top of what was thought to be the perfect fortress and quickly obliterate all the coastal guns, paving the way for a quick defeat. They engage Colonel Sue Anson along the way and quickly kill him and all his men.

Outside of that event, we learn that Anson has sent his family away to the United States, that his daughter gave him a submachine gun that has his initials on it, and that’s about it.

Roll Credits?

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The Verdict: If he’s dead, and that seems like a safe assumption, I’m not sure why Youjo Senki spent so much time with Anson? After all the build up, he presents no challenge for Tanya to defeat, and beyond having a daughter who is now in America, his only lasting impact on the narrative seems to be that Tanya kept his gun? (And his initials appear to be used heavily in the Youjo Senki branding)

There was a glimmer of possibility, when Anson began to pray, that something unexpected would happen, but there was no payoff. Worse, we haven’t see the rest of the world react to Tanya enough to get a sense that Anson is praying because Tanya prays before she slaughters. We certainly haven’t seen enough of Anson to know if this was a change brought on by an outside factor, or if he prayed normally anyway.

What I’m getting at is, battle aside, what was the point of all of this? So the Empire has de facto won against the Alliance, which moves the war along, but who cares? We know the Republic will fall in the Spring, followed by the Kingdom, but that’s just alt-history fantasy stuff that doesn’t carry any tension because no characters or sympathetic evidence has been presented to give us a reason to care. (In fact, from the Empire POV it appears these other powers were the aggressor in the first place)

For a show that’s halfway over, setting up long-game goals seems in order (developing characters, revealing another layer of mystery, or establishing a worthy opponent). Instead, mostly action sequences. Shrug?

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Masamune-kun no Revenge – 08

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I was right at the edge with Masamune-kun no Revenge, and with the gang planning to hang at the pool, it looked like we were in for another color-by-numbers harem outing. Instead, things got a little more serious…all because Masamune’s photo is gone, and he suspects Neko of taking it—which she did.

While meeting Akagaki at a family restaurant so she can give him back luggage he left at her villa, the photo distracts Masamune to the point where Adagaki is insulted by his distance and leaves. The minute she leaves (without paying for the four sundaes she ate) Masamune gets a call from Neko, which leads to him asking if they can meet so he can somehow bring up the photo she stole.

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It’s here where things get hot and heavy in a hurry, and very unexpectedly so. Neko doesn’t jump his bones like a cat in heat, no; in fact, it’s Masamune who sneaks into her room to look for the photo, then comes across the same romance novel she saw at his house.

Neko catches him snooping, but thinks nothing of it, and before long owns up to the theft of the photo, saying the young him—not the young Adagaki—was just too cute for her to resist. His self-image poisoned by his interactions with Adagaki and others, Masamune never once considered himself cute, but Neko means it.

So what if he was fat? Well, the fact he was once fat means everything to Masamune, both in terms of his present obsession with fitness and his vendetta with Adagaki.

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Masamune is so messed up, to the end he believes Neko is working some other angle, some ulterior motive he’s on the cusp of discovering. So when she advances on him, he questions whether she really likes him, then takes the photo and leaves, telling her choosing Adagaki is his…revenge.

After he leaves, Neko doesn’t seem like her plan had failed. She looks heartbroken, and says as much. For his part, Masamune is pretty messed up too – he just had his first kiss with a girl, and having rejected her out of hand, his stomach hurts something fierce. He’s just not sure whether he did the right thing, only that he can’t get Adagaki off his mind.

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The pool party is an afterthought, both narratively (because the Neko incident takes precedence) and practically (there’s no animation, just a bunch of panning stills). But that’s okay; what matters isn’t what happened at the pool, but who didn’t attend: Neko told Futaba she wasn’t feeling well. And again, Masamune feels frustratingly far away to Adagaki.

While everyone is leaving the pool, Neko’s attendant pulls up, asking what Masamue did to her, as she’s now missing and without her meds. That’s right: Neko isn’t just some vitamin junkie; she’s a very sickly young woman and a seizure risk. Masamune was wrong. So he tells the truth – he went to Neko’s to tell her he couldn’t go out with her because he was choosing Adagaki.

The episode ends there, with us wondering how much those words may have affected Adagaki, and knowing that with Neko who-knows-where without vital meds, this isn’t a game or test of courage. They’ve gotta find her first, then deal with the romantic ramifications.

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Kuzu no Honkai – 07

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Moca startin’ the day of ACCA-style!

The morning of her date with Mugi, Moca is on cloud nine, but she doesn’t have any illusions about suddenly winning his heart. Having an elegant breakfast and getting all dolled up is as much or more for her than for Mugi’s sake. Still, she has to try today, for she, a student of fairy tales, doesn’t think people should settle for replacements.

This week Moca accomplishes something neither Hanabi nor Mugi have been unable to in seven: confront her unrequited love head-on, face the object of that love, and, through a clean-ish rejection, be able to move forward. By doing so, she becomes, by default, the bravest of those three people.

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While Mugi is off on a date with Moca (unbeknownst to her, obv) Hanabi continues her half-cocked mission to seduce Takeya, but soon learns it isn’t so easy to elicit love in someone. All Takeya wants from her is sex right now, Hanabi doesn’t give it to him, so he leaves her to go bang some other chick.

That’s where Takeya is at at this point. It looks pretty hopeless for Hanabi, and I must have mistaken all the confidence she seemed to exude at the end of last week when getting her “project” off the ground.

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Moca, meanwhile, is always on the verge of tears, she’s both so happy about the dream-like date with Mugi, and devastated that the happiness is tempered and sullied by the fact Mugi feels obligated to take his childhood friend on a date.

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Since we’re in Moca’s head most of this week, we learn a lot, like how she’s always loved Mugi, since they were little kids, and how with waterworks, she knew precisely how to get him to do her bidding and acknowledge their special bond.

Mugi and Moca got used to this cycle of behavior for years, and the nature of their past is ultimately what stops things from going too far in the present.

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Moca is cute. She knows she’s cute, and while in Mugi’s bed, she thinks it might be enough to hear it from Mugi to allow her to keep on living (just as his not recoiling when she held his hand did). Mugi curses himself as a pathetic coward who is going straight to hell, because there’s something deep within him that is screaming this is Moca; this is wrong, and things go no further than the removal of clothes.

For too long she was, as she says, a sacred ornament to be admired, and he can’t sully her, even though he tries his darnedest. At the same time, now that things have gotten so real with Mugi, the “dream” of the two living happily ever seems to shatter for Moca. This is the way she and Mugi are; she’s “important” and “special” to him, but that only goes so far. They can’t be a man and a woman.

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Moca really put herself out there, and by the end, there’s a kind of release of pressure. And she also becomes a kind of catalyst, as Mugi’s night with her has the same general effect as Hanabi’s lonely, aimless night, and one fine day on a hill overlooking the town, the two agree that they’ll tell Akane and Onii-san how they truly feel, before the end of Summer vacation.

They are cowards, they admit that. But Moca showed them they don’t have to stay cowards. And if they’re both rejected, Hanabi wonders what will happen next; whether she and Mugi will start to date for real; whether they’ll both be able to say goodbye to their respective loves forever and accept what life has given them…or another path is needed.

Playing the Moca Card this late in the game turned out to be another good move. She’d been the weakest, least developed character in the love polygon to this point, but this week really fleshed her out nicely. More to the point, both by staying on Mugi and keeping him from Hanabi, she inadvertently showed them the only way forward.

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Everyone Eats and Drinks Almost Constantly in ACCA

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If you’ve been watching ACCA, you’ve probably thought to yourself: “Goddamn, they’re almost always stuffing their faces or drinking on this show!” And, well, you’d be right; they are indeed! In fact, so much of each episode is given over to eating, drinking, purchasing, or talking about food and where to get it, you could take out all the scenes without food and drink and still have a pretty sizable episode left…as I shall demonstrate:

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Episode 01 – We start with Jean and Lotta’s usual breakfast of toast with jam. Then we move on to his co-worker’s ten-o’clock snack of roll cake from Hachikuma. Once in Famasu, Jean chows down on what looks like a Reuben while Eidar orders a cheeseburger. The Five Chief Officers have tea and biscuits. The next ten-o’clock snack at Jean’s office is a five-pack of flan.  Jean buys more bread at a bakery with Knot while Rail and his colleague eat donuts. Jean joins the Five at a cafe for coffee. Jean has beers with Niino.

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Episode 02 – Jean and Lotta have a breakfast of what looks like eggs on toast with cucumbers and mayonnaise. Lotta asks Jean to buy tomato bread from Mugimaki, where he runs into Mauve. Lotta enjoys some chocolate cake al fresco at Picidae. Niino tucks into a sundae. Once in Jumoku, Jean samples the giant burgers, fries, and fruit at Basswood. Jean buys local produce to bring home. Lotta and Owl sample a nut cake at Honig. Niino and Jean have a huge dinner of meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, and bread, and wash it down with beer and wine. Later, Jean takes Niino on a drunken trip to the supermarket.

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Episode 03 – Jean gives his co-workers a 10-pack of cream puffs from Hachikuma for their ten-o’clock snack, and a package of fancy cookies for Lotta. Lotta and Niino have a dinner of meatpotatoes, and salads. Lotta receives a parcel of potatoes in the mail, with which she plans to make gratin. Jean has dinner with Mauve at Veil, consisting of fine wine, rare steaks with black truffles. Prince Schwan samples some fine pastries. After dinner Jean has more wine with Niino, along with grapes, pretzels, and a selection of cheesesPrior to Schwan’s celebration, Jean, Nino and Lotta attend a catered affair at the palace with pastriesbreads, and various jamsjellies, and sweets. That night, after the King’s address, they enjoy various desserts like Dowan nut cake and strawberries.

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Episode 04 – In the episode with the least food and drink, Niino and Lotta have tea and chocolate layer cake, as she packs chocolatenuts, wine, and other gifts for the building owner. At Chez Pierre in Suitsu, Jean has a bowl of rustic stew. Warbler buys some loaves of bread. Lotta polishes off a bowl of something, as one of Magie’s underlings eats an elaborate sundae. Pastis drinks some brown liquor. Jean’s captives give him some bread

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Episode 05 – Schwan has tea and cookies. Lotta has blueberry pancakes at Kakesu. Rail introduces Magie to toast made from sandwich bread. Jean’s co-workers plan to make microwave potato chips. Lotta has a snack of some kind of pink confection with an orange soda. Later at Mugimaki she orders two-centimeter slices of walnutcheese, and chocolate bread. Birra district’s branch chief presents a spread of local foods to Jean for dinner, including rye bread (to go with the wheat bread not made there), the local grog, meat and potatoes. Magie introduces the joy of buttered toast to Schwan. Niino takes Jean and Lotta for a dinner of steamed mussels served with bread and french fries. While Jean is in Rokkusu, Niino takes Lotta out for vegetable, meat, and cheese fondue.

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Episode 06 – Jean’s co-workers have apple cake for their snack. Jean invites them to his and Lotta’s apartment building party where they have drinks, and a buffet. Both Rail and Owl give Lotta cakes as New Years presents. The Five have tea and coffee in their common area. While in Hare, Jean is treated to an elaborate, sumptuous feast consisting of grilled meat and shrimp skewers, whole fish, red and green curry, beef stew, pork belly, salad, and more, washed down with quite a lot of beer, to the point Jean refuses to share a bottle of booze with Niino later. Jean and Lotta have toast with jam for breakfast when he’s back.

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Episode 07 – Magie puruses a catalog listing all of the flavors of bread Mugimaki makes. Jean passes by fancy cakes at Patisserie Fuchs in Dowa, searching for famous flavored snowball (“Yukinotama”) pastries Lotta wants him to bring home. Niino takes him to Cafe Berg, where Jean orders the snowballs and tries one for himself, then joins King Falke over a spread of fruit and nut tartspies, and rolls. Jean and Niino have wine with a platter of sausagesmeatspatecheeses, and other snacks. Jean samples Mugimaki’s new walnut mugwort bread. Niino eats squares from a chocolate bar. While in Korore, Jean inspects all of the chocolatiers the district is known for.

Please, dear readers, I implore you: Don’t watch ACCA on an empty stomach. Have some food and drink nearby. I’m going to go eat some bread now.