DanMachi III – 06 – Sagrada Familia

As Ikelos smirks his smirk atop a great tower…somewhere, Ganesha’s suppression force engages the armed monsters. Ryuu, Aisha, and Asfi arrive but cannot find Bell, who is in disguise. That disguise doesn’t last long, however, as he eventually crosses blades with Lyd, who admits his kind destroyed Liviria as revenge for poachers killing their kin.

Lyd can’t quell the rage of Gros or his other kin, which means any hopes for peace between their races has been all but dashed. But if Lyd really wanted Bell to return to the surface and separate himself from this business, he wouldn’t have mentioned that Wiene was among the Xenos captured.

Ryu, a good friend in a tight spot, comes between Lyd and Bell, but when it’s clear Bell isn’t about to head home with her, she provides him with something he might find useful. Of course, that something becomes useful immediately after they part ways, and when Bell encounters Fels.

The orb acts as a key to heretofore unknown man-made passages to the Dungeon, which lead to a labyrinth built by Daedalus centuries ago. Out at the entrance of Babel, the rest of Hesita Familia can only watch from the bushes and wait…until Lili gets the idea to ask her former captor about the network of smugglers.

Lyd, Gros, and the Xenos take a different route through the labyrinth with a another key, but both they and Bell/Fels end up in the same place: a staging area where the captives are imprisoned. They start breaking cages and chains, but they’re interrupted by Ikelos Familia and Dix, who have homefield advantage.

Dix reveals he’s a direct descendant of Daedalus, who went mad trying to surpass the Dungeon by his own hands. His monumental work, Knossos, remains unfinished to this day (like Sagrada Familia in Barcelona), but monster and Xenos smuggling is one of their revenue streams for continuing construction, and Dix & Co. are bound to continue the work Daedalus started…even if he doesn’t seem like a big fan of his ancestor

After activating a curse that has a Confuse and Berserk effect on the Xenos, Fels tells Bell their only choice is to defeat Dix in order to lift said curse. Oh, and by the way…Dix is Level 5. Nevertheless, if Bell wants to save Wiene, he’ll have to get through Dix.

The arrival of an arrangement of the DanMachi main battle theme is welcome, but I wish this episode didn’t feel like so much overly clunky plot mechanics engineered to put Bell in a duel with Dix. The duel itself, however, should be a lot of fun, even if there’s not much to Dix other than he’s, like, a bad dude. Hopefully Fels can provide some magey support to help even the odds…

TONIKAWA: Over the Moon For You – 06 – Benefits of a Bigger Place

Nasa is endlessly fascinated by his wife Tsukasa’s “ferality” while asleep. Her tied-up hair always comes loose, her covers are always strewn about, and when she half-consciously gets a glass of water, sometimes he steals his sheets.

Only one night, she gets into bed with him, leading to him being the big spoon to her little. In such a close embrace, you’d think she’d be upset upon suddenly awakening…but instead she leans in for a kiss, and before Nasa knows it, she’s rolled off his bed and back onto her futon.

Nasa ends up not sleeping a wink after the incident, but he becomes very gung-ho about getting a bigger bed they can share (being on the same “surface level” with one’s wife is important). That leads to discussion of getting a bigger place: one with a dedicated living room, sofa, and bath.

Tsukasa likes the intimate space they share, which enables her to remain close to her darling at all times, but when he accidentally walks in on her changing, she becomes more open to discussing a move…especially when Nasa carefully presents the pros that appeal to her most: like a projection system for movies and built-in shelving for her DVDs and manga.

But getting a new place means securing a guarantor, which is currently Nasa’s parents. Both he and the show seem to realize at the same time that he has yet to inform his parents he’s married. The resulting phone call doesn’t go too bad, and he and Tsukasa decide it best to visit them so they can meet her.

Because they live in Nara by way of Kyoto, Nasa sees this as a perfect opportunity for them to go on an official honeymoon. Tsukasa concurs, but first procures a digital camera, but not for sightseeing: she wants them to keep a daily secret record of their lives, to remind them that each day with someone they love is precious. Daaaaaaw. The two proceed to take lovingly candid pics of one another.

While Nasa assured her they could afford the faster Shinkansen, Tsukasa is fine, and indeed excited by the prospect of a bus adventure, citing that it once took two weeks on foot to get to where they’re going…150 years ago. More evidence that she’s Kaguya, or is she just a big ol’ wierdo?

The bus is clean, but the seats aren’t comfortable enough for Nasa to nap on. I know how he feels; I can’t sleep on most planes for the same reason. Naturally Tsukasa goes out like a light, and her husband marvels at her toughness and ability to adapt to suboptimal conditions without complaint. She’s also super excited for a midnight rest stop run for on-the-go food. I can’t argue with her there; I love that shit too!

Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to them so far, they are being tailed by Chitose and her two disapproving but duty-bound maids. Chitose is outraged Nasa is taking Tsukasa to meet his parents when she still hasn’t approved their marriage at all. That said, the bond between Nasa and Tsukasa doesn’t feel like something easily rent asunder by a mere honeymoon. It’s more likely Chitose will come around.

Halfway through the season, TONIKAWA has proven strikingly consistent, with four stars across the board and an excellent balance of romance, comedy. The only thing really keeping it from higher scores is its production values, which don’t exactly…shoot for the moon. That said, everything else about the show is so charming and warm and fuzzy and competent, it’s been easy to overlook its occasional visual shortcomings.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina – 06 – Truth is the Sword, Lies the Scabbard

Elaina’s next destination is an island city-state whose name has recently been changed to “Land of Truth-Tellers”. Their king has initiated a barrier around the whole of his domain in which no one can lie, either verbally or by writing. Elaina is weary of entering such a place but deems it worth the risk if it makes for a good story.

This being our ever-confident Elaina, she first tests the truth-telling effect by trying to say “I am not beautiful,” and later tries to write “I have a twisted personality”. Instead she ends up saying she is beautiful and writes that she’s pure of heart—both of which are the unvarnished truth.

Despite the seeming benefits of a society without lies, she finds the town quiet and oddly tense. She’s also approached by an unwashed young woman who asks non-verbally via a notepad if she’s the witch dispatched the United Magic Association. Again Elaina tells her the truth: she isn’t.

It’s when Elaina witnesses two young men fighting in the streets while others do nothing and watch that the problems with a lie-free society become clear: if everyone always says the truth, it’s much easier to end up in fights, which is why most people simply stay quiet. If you don’t have anything nice to say, etc.

But one witch decides to break up the lads’ fight mid-punch—Saya “the Charcoal Witch”, who is the UMA witch dispatched to the town! She’s so elated to see her beloved Elaina that her time-freezing spell dissipates and the lads punch each other square in the jaws. Elaina tries to take Saya’s extremely heavy feelings in stride.

Another effect of the truth barrier is that Saya, who is naturally quite the chatty person, will and does say everything rattling around in her mind, including all the things she wants to do with Elaina. But duty calls: she meets with the notepad woman, Eihemia the Quicksand Witch, who gives them the full situation.

When the King (with whom Eihemia was secretly infatuated) demanded she make his kingdom free of lies, she went all out to do so, locating a sword (which he’d later truthfully declare “lame”) powerful enough to serve as a vessel for the truth barrier’s magic. Unfortunately, in doing so Eihemia loses all of her magic and even her voice.

That means even though she did exactly what the king wanted, she ended up losing all the things that made her a useful member of his court, and she was banished from the palace. Had the episode wanted to go darker it could have explored what Eihemia has been forced to do to survive on the streets in a town with no lies, but it does not go there, which is probably for the best!

Her solution is clear: destroy the sword, and her magic and voice will be returned—as will the ability of the kingdom’s people to lie. Elaina and Saya get around having to write the truth by cleverly piecing together separate sentences then putting them together to gain access to the palace.

Once inside, they soon end up fighting off magical attacks from the king and his sword, one of which hits Saya square in the back and hurts like a bitch. When the king’s guards arrive, Elaina has Saya take care of them in the background while she reasons with the king.

The crux of her argument for destroying the sword: good people sometimes lie, while bad people will always find ways to bend the truth through the various loopholes in the barrier magic. To keep people from the little white lies we tell each other to get along every day will eventually be the kingdom’s undoing.

If truth is a sword, Elaina puts succinctly, lies are the scabbard that keep us from swinging that sword recklessly. Of course, scabbard in Japanese is apparently Saya, so Saya momentarily thinks Elaina called her name. Elaina then uses her broom to disarm the king and conjures a hammer to smash the sword to bits, thus lifting the curse of unchecked truth from his kingdom.

Eihemia’s voice and magic are restored, and she and the king reconcile when he agrees that some degree of lying and being lied to is necessary in any society. She returns to the court, and the king apologizes to his people. All’s well that ends well, and Saya gets paid for her trouble!

That turns out to be a good thing, since she had recently spend all of her money on matching dolphin necklaces for her and Elaina for when they crossed paths. Before heading back to UMA HQ, Saya takes her time tenderly putting the necklace on Elaina. Then the two pinky-swear to meet again someday.

This week was Elaina very nearly at its best. I for one don’t mind the darker stories like the one with the princess and dragon, but this was also great stuff; a feel-good fable-like high concept adventure that’s balanced by solid comedy. And of course, it is improved immeasurably by the return of the delightful Saya, voiced by Kurosawa Tomoyo, who brings so much effervescent vim and vigor to her characters.

Assault Lily: Bouquet – 06 – Trial by Fire Lily

After a decidedly slice-of-life episode last week, Assault Lily delivers an almost entirely action-packed outing at its halfway point. The new Hitotsuyanagi Squad (notably named for Riri, not Yuyu) was going to simply sit back and observe as Alfheim takes care of an approaching Huge.

But this isn’t any old Huge: it’s a battle-hardened Restore that’s able to withstand their Neunwelt Tactic finishing move. With Alfheim’s Magie spent and their CHARMs damaged or destroyed, Riri & Co are thrust into a real battle far earlier than expected.

For her part, Riri doesn’t shrink before the task at hand, rushing to pick up the ball Alfheim dropped. Yuyu joins her, but is soon paralyzed by the discovery that the captured CHARM at the core of the huge is her old CHARM Dainsleif…the weapon with which she stabbed her old senpai Misuzu.

Yuyu’s PTSD kicks in and her Rare Skill Lunatic Tracer is activated, and her chaotic, indiscriminate slashing makes it impossible for the others to join the battle. Riri jumps in to try to calm Yuyu, blocking her attacks and trying to reassure her that she’s not alone and needn’t despair.

It’s Misuzu who told Yuyu that Lilies are essentially Huge who have retained their hearts and thus aren’t controlled by the Magie they wield. But if there’s a Lily closer to an out-of-control Huge than any other, it would be Yuyu while under the influence of Lunatic Tracer.

Yuyu snaps out of Lunatic Tracer, but she’s still an emotional mess. As the other team members rush in to harass the huge and pull Dainsleif out of it, Riri tries to pick up the pieces with Yuyu. Yuyu starts to tremble and weep, calling her Rare Skill nothing but a horrific curse that makes her hate and attack everyone and everything.

She doesn’t even want Riri to look at her, she’s so worthless and volatile … but Riri isn’t interested in Yuyu’s self-pity party. She doesn’t care how many times she has to pull Yuyu out of her berserk rage or how much she’ll be cut in the process, she’ll never stop doing it. Yuyu can take that to the bank. Yuyu sports some wonderfully subtle facial expressions and her seiyu Natsuyoshi Yuuko really nails her anguished state.

With Yuyu sufficiently calmed (perhaps thanks to Riri unknowingly using her “Charisma” Rare Skill) and the CHARM removed, the squad regroups and Thi Mai produces the Neunvelt bullet, which she has Fumi fire first, producing an orb of Magie that changes color and grows in power as it is progressively passed from one CHARM to the other. Nine Lilies, Nine Worlds.

It’s a beautifully choreographed sequence that almost feels like a game of aerial lacrosse. Riri and Yuyu catch the final pass of the orb together and thrust it into the heart of the Huge, obliterating it once and for all, and the nine Lilies of Hitotsuyanagi Squad spread themselves out on the soft sunlit grass, reveling in their first victory.

It’s a huge win (no pun intended) as it shows that despite its members’ individual eccentricity, they had both the talent and the leadership to get the job done, while bailing out an established squad that didn’t have their best day. As Alfheim’s Lilies have their CHARMs repaired by Moyu, she doubts it was only Dainsleif that contributed to this latest Huge’s power. This was a great win, but it might end up looking like an easy one if the Huge have other tricks up their sleeves.

Rating: 4/5 Stars