To Your Eternity – S2 18 – Bringing Out the Deathless

March is just a hair too late to reunite with her “child”, as all of Fushi’s vessels are stolen from the Nokker in Kahaku’s arm. When he chops that arm off, it escapes and runs off, leaving a distraught Kahaku, March…and Horse. So what now? March gets on Horsey and rides to find a doctor.

Her path takes her through swarms of Nokkers overruning the city and its defenses, which are now crippled because there’s no Fushi to repair structures or replenish ammo. The three immortal warriors are also out of commission. All hell is breaking loose. But March does manage to attract Bon’s attention. He comes to Booze Man’s house, and is soon follow by Eko, who recovers Fushi in orb form, still attacked to the city.

Bon believes the only way to bring Fushi back is to remind him of the sights, sounds, and smells of the ones he absorbed, since there’s still something of them within him in that orb. He achieves this by stabbing himself, dying, and becoming one of the ghosts that once haunted him. Then he, Gugu, and all the other dead vessels place their ghost hands on the orb, in hopes of bringing him back.

That resurrection can’t come soon enough, as Renril has been all but lost to the relentless Nokkers, who as we know are determined to “free” every person on earth from their physical bodies. A desperate fight outside the hospital ends with Kamu getting smashed by a Nokker ball, then Sera getting arrows in the back from what appear to be Nokker-controlled metal puppets.

Eko, who has a Nokker infecting her arm, spends a good deal of the final third of the episode preparing to leap off the tower (a scene foretold in the OP), but that arm stops her fall, and from it emerges Fushi’s head, this time with those purple eyes Bon bestowed upon him way back when. I am not entirely sure what is going on, but it definitely was a lot, and I can only hope that the fortunes of Fushi, his friends, allies, and the people of Renril will improve when all’s said and done.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Vinland Saga S2 – 08 – Way Down In the Hole

Thorfinn awakes screaming from his most frightening dream yet, where he watches a younger version of himself move in on an even younger Einar and his family. When he tries to stop himself, he falls into a deep, dark hole. When he tries to climb out, he is grabbed by the limbs of the dead. He doesn’t remember it all when he wakes, but enough to feel like he’s forgotten something important.

As Einar and Thorfinn’s wheat continues to grow, the retainers resent it. They know Ketil gave orders to let slaves farm, but to the retainers, that’s going too far. After all, they’re farmers; if slaves are allowed to farm, what’s next? No slavery? These are prideful, small-minded men who would rather take out their frustration on those below them than question how they might be leading better lives.

The latest nightmare continues to drive Thorfinn’s feeling that he still isn’t sure how to live life at all. Einar heard Thorfinn say the name Askeladd in his sleep, and Thorfinn tells him it’s the name of the man who killed his father, and whom he joined in battle in hopes of revenge that never came. He admits he no longer hates Askeladd, but in the absence of hate, he feels empty, because hate is all he had and all that drove him.

Sverkel, quickly becoming one of my favorite Vinland characters, overhears some of this discussion, and punctuates it with a hearty “get back to work!” He has another job for them after thatching the roof: net fishing on the beach. His first throw nets a whole bunch of fish, and he proceeds to teach Thorfinn the proper way, telling him if he’s empty, he should fill that emptiness with whatever he can. After all, it’s easier to be reborn when you’re empty.

Thorfinn asks Einar if he believes men can really change—if he, Thorfinn, can close the book on his decade-plus of being a warrior and become someone else’ someone good. Einar tells Thorfinn to simply look at his reflection in the water. He already has changed. Had the two of them met before, Thorfinn might’ve killed him. But no one who sees him now would think he was ever a warrior.

But the window between when Thorfinn is told the words he needs to hear from someone he trusts that it is indeed possible to put the past behind and start anew, and when he is able to actually act upon that, is vanishingly small. For when Einar and Thorfinn return to their crop to find every plant has been uprooted. Einar can tell the wheat was ruined by people who knew what they were doing: the retainers.

Thorfinn talks Einar down from going to kill them, and they go to Pater instead, who promises an investigation. But then they cross paths with those same retainers laughing and joking around. As expected, they play dumb about the ruined crop, instead saying if it were ruined that would be fine, since wheat grown by slaves would be “too putrid” to eat.

That’s the final straw for Einar, who charges one of the retainers with his fist. Thorfinn slips in front of him and throws the first punch instead, perhaps in hope that if he did it and not Einar, Einar might be spared the punishment of certain death. Instead, Einar keeps brawling. Thorfinn is smacked with a shovel, loses focus, and then falls down the crevice from his dream. Maybe Thorfinn can still change…but not today.

In / Spectre – 20 – Paranormal Succession

Kotoko’s next case is brought to her by her parents, and the client is Otonashi Goichi, the president of a successful international hotel and hospitality chain. He ascended due to the murder by stabbing of his wife Sumi, who was detrimentally controlling the lives of their three children and about to drive the company off a fiscal cliff. The timing of her death was no accident; Goichi comes right out and informs Kotoko that he is the culprit. Kotoko’s reaction is classic Kotoko: cheerfully sardonic!

While Goichi didn’t wield the blade that killed Sumi, it was Goichi, who had cloistered himself in a mountain villa, who turned to the supernatural to solve his company and childrens’ problems. Specifically, a fox ayakashi known as a yoko came before him and offered to kill Sumi for him if he agreed to acquire and develop the next mountain over, where the yoko’s rivals lived. Within ten days, Sumi was slain by an unknown assailant, and Goichi was president.

He held up his end of the bargain, and not only did he back the company off a cliff, he shored up its finances to ensure long-term survival and success. Similarly, with the influence of their controlling mother removed, Goichi’s two sons and daughter could pursue their own life goals. His first son became a successful chef; his daughter married the man she loved (who was also successful); and his younger son became the heir apparent to the company.

Goichi waited for the consequences for turning to supernatural means to kill his wife to arrive, but the never came until recently, when he has been diagnosed with cancer and given about a year to live. Before he dies, he wants his children to know—and believe—that he was the one responsible for their mother’s death, and that what he did isn’t something that should be repeated lest they invite the wrath of the universe upon them. That’s where Kotoko comes in.

After meeting with the mountain yoko Fubuki, captured by his rivals, Kotoko works out a deal: he’ll tell her everything there is to know about his arrangement with Goichi, and she’ll use her stature in to ensure the severity of his punishment for his crimes is lessoned. From there, Goichi gave Kotoko free rein to create whatever plausible lie or web of lies is necessary to get his kids on board with the idea that he killed their mom.

After Kotoko completes her preliminary investigations, she brings Kurou up to speed, and Kurou is characteristically reluctant to be roped into this, even if he knows full well that’s what Kotoko is going to do. Over several rounds of a crane game to win a pack of naughty pens packed with fantastically adorable reactions, Kotoko lays out the basics of the plan.

It’s the classic In/Spectre move of spicing up what is otherwise a scene of exposition by having Kotoko/Kurou engage in something interesting. There’s a fair amount of suspense in whether they’ll nab the pens or not, and when they finally do, it’s because Kotoko is mad that Kurou tells her there’s nothing sexy about her…not even her paisley underwear. Rude!

When Goichi’s second son Susumu, the daughter of his first son Rion, and the husband of his daughter, Koya, are invited to a meeting with Goichi, Kotoko, and Kurou, they are tasked with coming up with their own explanations for how Goichi killed Sumi.

Kotoko, assisted by Kurou, will judge their explanations, give them a chance to amend them over the two-day-period, and will be the one who decides who has the best one based on truth and order. The winner will receive precedence in Goichi’s inheritance, so there is no small incentive for them to take this seriously.

While largely a table-setting episode, the GF/BF interactions between Kotoko and Kurou and the supernatural Succession-esque tale of corporate intrigue make it a table for a meal I’m looking forward to tucking into, especially once we get to know the three contestants.

Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World – 08 – The Messenger of Lightning

Thanks to word of mouth from the three maids, shampoo sales are booming for Mitsuha. One day a gorgeous doll-like girl aristocratic air makes a large purchase of shampoo, plushies, and other products. She thanks Mitsuha and promises to return, but Mitsuha is concerned such a well-to-do young lady has no security detail.

Sure enough, Mitsuha spots a suspicious-looking man following the girl, then grabbing her and forcing her into an alley with three others. Mitsuha puts and end to their human trafficking plot by trying out a nickname “Messenger of Lightning” and demonstrating the power of a pistol-style stun gun…and just plain-ol’ gun gun. The baddies try to flee, but are surrounded by guards in full plate armor: royal guards.

The cutie isn’t just an aristocrat, she’s the Royal Princess Sabine, and suddenly Mitsuha has the gratitude of the entire royal family. She uses this opportunity to present both the king and his chancellor Sahr with reading glasses, which are far better than the crude lenses they’ve had to use since their vision became impaired. Mitsuha assures the king she can procure whatever he wants…except women, of course.

As the king has Sahr look more into Mitsuha’s whole deal, a third party visits Mitsuha’s store: President Nelson Adler of the Adler Trading Company. Immediately condescending to Mitsuha and throwing his weight around, he not only offers to take the store off her hands, but to take her and Sabine in, with some uncomfortable subtext to that offer.

Mitsuha asks him to return the next day, and has Sabine deliver an invite to Sahr, her new “business partner”. Sahr arrives, Mitsuha explains the hostile takeover and kidnapping attempts by Adler, and Sahr throws the book at him, warning him that any interference in Mitsuha’s shop, and Adler will be the one personally punished.

So now Mitsuha has the double-edged sword of a legit royal warrant and the fast friendship of a very cute but very spoiled princess in Sabine, who has quickly become addicted to Japanese DVDs Mitsuha has to live-dub in the isekai language. All she needs now is an actual sign for her shop—a breathtaking oversight on her part to this point!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Fire Hunter – 07 – Lamp Child

This episode stands out as the first one where Touko and Koushi finally meet, but that doesn’t happen instantly. Kira and Touko part ways when the latter says the dog Kanata knows where to go, but when Koushi returns from his excursion with Roroku, Kira tells him about the girl and hound…and also that while she loves her dad, she’s not ecstatic about him treating Koushi like a piece of property.

While Koushi left the city and went into danger with a roving hunter Yuoshichi doesn’t trust, Koushi explains that the experience lent him crucial information for his research and the entire operation, including the fact that Spiders don’t combust before natural flame, and that Roroku can help them bury bottled lightning around the palace and factory in preparation for the battle to come.

Back at Shouzou’s family’s house, Kaho continues to stay by his side, and delcares to Touko and Akira that she’s decided to marry him. Ever since she was sent away by her village she’s thought only of death, but not that everyone, even Touko, have stepped up to help keep her alive, she believes it’s her turn to protect someone: in this case, Shouzou. Also…the Spider kid Kun might be able to warg into bugs?

When Akira declines to take Kanata on a hunting trip, Touko decides to have the hound lead her back to his master’s house in hopes of finding his family there. They only get as far as the front door when a strange ghostly figure appears in the street. That figure is distracted and then neutralized via skyfire by Koushi, and he and Touko run through the rain from what he calls a spy of the gods.

When they find a resting spot, Koushi tells Touko how Kira told him about her and Kanata, and introduces himself as the son of the hunter who saved her. Touko prostrates herself and sheds tears of apology, but neither is needed; for Koushi, this is welcome news. He feared his dad abandoned him and his mom and sister, so it’s comforting to learn he died saving someone’s life.

When Kanata catches the scent of something, Touko spots who she thinks is one of the Treefolk who live in the Forbidden Quarter. Koushi promises to take her there, if she tells him everything she knows about the Spiders’ fire. Little do they know that a spy of the gods is still tailing them. But hey, at least Touko and Koushi have finally crossed paths. With her objective completed, what’s next for the Lamp Girl?

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro 2nd Attack – 09 – That Doesn’t Sound Like You

Who would have thought a four-eyed, fluffy-haired, creepy pervy bean sprout Senpai could rekindle Hayase’s long extinguished passion for judo? I did, because I could see it coming a mile away. But of course it’s not whether everything would work out for these two lovebirds at the judo tournament, but how it would work out.

Obviously Naoto feels he owes it to Hayase to try to snatch at least one win as thanks for her lessons. But he also wants to impress the girl he likes, and show her that he’s not a complete wimp (though she already knows this). On the other hand, while Hayase easily beats her first round opponent, her next opponent is Orihara, a candidate to represent Japan, who easily beats Gamou (who unlike Sakura is no slouch herself).

Not only that, Orihara is the very person who caused Hayase to walk away from judo altogether. Since she was a kid she loved judo, and was good at it. She regularly beat Orihara, who didn’t have as much raw talent, and Orihara bawled her eyes out every time. But she got better with every match, and the day she finally beat Hayase, she was just as elated in victory as she was distraught in defeat.

It wasn’t that Hayase was being a sore loser per se, just that she had never dealt with defeat before and tied the constant victories to her love of judo. When she leaves the dojo to sulk outside and Naoto checks in on her, she finally opens up to him about this, then walks in wanting to get the loss over with.

Naoto rightly says she doesn’t sound like that Nagatoro he knows. She shoots him a furious look, asking what the hell gives him the right to talk like she knows her. But he does know her, and knows she’s strong and skilled enough to make it a fight. And as he says during his match, he’s decided he does have the right to not want her to make that forlorn face.

Hayase decides to make things interesting: If he can walk the walk and win at least once, she’ll give Senpai an honest-to-God smooch. While flustered by the idea, it nevertheless motivates Naoto. Even when he’s up against a musclebound brute of an opponent in Sasai, he remembers her training, and how size and brute strength aren’t always what decide a judo match.

He fights so hard, Hayase’s friends start to cheer for him, and eventually even Hayase can’t help but cheer for him too. He doesn’t let Sasai get a full point, and while he loses by ref’s decision, he never gave up, and wins not only Hayase’s adoration, but Sasai’s genuine respect.

Next up is the title bout, and as soon as it gets started, it’s clear the two black belts are in a different league than everyone else assembled. But what’s also clear is that even if she’s a bit rusty from being out of the sport, Hayase can still hold her own against a national candidate. That’s not only due to the fact she knows Orihara’s fighting well, but because she too is fueled by the cheering on of the person who likes her.

Like Naoto, Hayase fights hard and with heart, and even gets to show off her signature throw against Orihara. Unfortunately, she’s out of bounds when she does it, and like Naoto, loses by ref’s decision. Finally, she and Orihara shake hands in mutual respect. Hayase promises she’ll beat her next time, and Orihara is looking forward to it. Just a couple of golden-hearted, tough-as-hell ladies throwing down…What else could you ask for?

A kiss, perhaps? A real one, not a peck on the cheek or forehead or with lips separated by something? Well, the deal was Naoto had to win, and he didn’t, so no kiss this week. But Hayase comes up with a new bet, with the kiss this time dependent on whether she beats Orihara next time. She wants to beat Orihara, ergo she wants Senpai to kiss her. She could technically just skip to the kiss, but that’s not how these things work in rom-coms!

When he gets all flustered and decides she’s just messing with him again, she tells him, with a straight face and neutral tone, that no,  despite the title of the show, she is not messing with him in this case. Then she sprints off before her face turns completely pink in front of him.

Thus a challenge has been leveled, and one of the more satisfying, sweet, and heartwarming episodes of Nagatoro-san comes to an end. But with Sana’s little sister(?) about to enter the mix, will our couple’s heretofore smooth sailing hit stormy waters?

NieR: Automata Ver 1.1a – 05 – It Takes a Village

Lily sends 2B and 9S on a delivery mission that takes them through a derelict shopping center. The extreme wide shots that dwarf the two androids, the merging of nature and the man-made, and that terrific Okabe Keiichi score all conspire to set the mood exquisitely as always. After showing his cruel side when he extinguished the ML “family”, 9S seems back to his chipper self.

He dreams of a day when the fighting’s over, the mall can reopen, and they can spend the day shopping for T-shirts. 2B says she has all the clothing she needs, and that “emotions are prohibited”; ironic considering she’s clearly had her share of emotional reactions in the past four episodes. She’s someone wrestling with the contradiction between her programming and directives, and the things she’s been feeling.

If last week’s amusement park demonstrated that the MLs emulating humans without proper context results in a state indistinguishable from madness and psychopathy, this week’s ML village demonstrates that a more tempered and realistic form of humanity mimicry can be replicated by the androids’ enemy. Led by the green-eyed gentle giant Pascal, a large population of MLs live in harmony completely severed from the ML network.

In a scene that is half-Laputa, half-Ewok Village, all shapes and sizes of MLs have their specific functions in the village, but rather than working like a well-oiled machine, their movements and behaviors are thoroughly human. They also have familial connections such as big and little sister (with the big sister being smaller). 9S is simply astonished that Pascal is able to converse with them so eloquently.

2B and 9S are given freedom to explore the village, and when they find a ladder that plunges far below ground into the darkness, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Thankfully, there are no flayed androids, but there is a very strange large head that is neither android nor ML. When 9S hacks it, a number of strange images of fellow androids flash by before his connection is severed.

Pascal joins the two and notes that this giant head is the one who inspired him to stop fighting (something he’s apparently done for thousands of years), and is now an object of worship. 9S gathered enough data to identify it as a creation of humanity of yore, perhaps also as a weapon, but like Pascal it seems to have found a new reason for its (now sedentary) existence. The vivid palette of Pascal’s memories is a neat contrast to the subdued earthy tones of the village.

The more 9S observes this seemingly perfect society, the more he resents them as “selfish” for deciding to suddenly stop fighting a war both they and the androids were designed to fight. It’s clear that like 2B, there’s a part of 9S that wants the fighting to stop, and a part of him that believes its the only reason he exists. For her part, 2B asks her assistant bot to properly map this place so that she and 9S can return someday, to buy those T-shirts. The clouds part, and 9S’ mood brightens when she says this.

When the two return to the village to say their goodbyes, they see a group of ML “kids” bickering and getting violent over a music box one of them found, so like humans, the ML village isn’t without its problems.

What was the deal with the images 9S saw when he was hacking the head? Was the visual glitching he experienced—during which time the very environment around him and 2B changed—related to that hacking session? As an anime-only NieRer, I’ll have to wait to find out.

As for Adam and his brother Eve, the two highly evolved MLs are evolving steadly, going from wearing tighty-whities in the cold open to full-on pants and gauntlets in the parting shot. They don’t just look dangerous, they look just like YoRHa androids. Coincidence…or design?

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Urusei Yatsura – 19 – Pickled Pink

Ataru, Lum, Shinobu, Ryuu, and three dudes from class are invited to Mendou’s vast family compound to meet his horde of prized octopuses. We’d previously Ryouko walking them when Mendou was unable to, and now we see how important they are as a living symbol of the proud Mendou clan. Everyone else…tries to keep an open mind.

In a facility that spares no expense in recreating an Antarctic environment dwells the Matsuchiyo, Mendous’ most special octopus. But when he reveals himself, he’s identical to the other octopuses…only blue. Because nearly every character in this show is rude as hell, the insults about how underwhelming Matsuchiyo is compared to the build-up.

But octopuses are very emotional creatures, and Matsuchiyo gets distraught and flees the Antarctic environment for the adjacent rainforest environment. There, the kids encounter leaches and leopards, and learn that Matsuchiyo is “special” because he grows to enormous size in high temperatures. The girls are snatched in his tentacles, the guys hesitate and bumble, and Lum manages to save the day with her electricity.

Her and her cousin Ten’s alien physiology, while extremely resistant to intense spicy heat, appears to have a weakness: the famously sour pickled umeboshi plums. When Ataru feeds Ten one, the little rugrat gets completely sloshed and starts hiccuping flames. When Lum eats one, she gets drunk, rips off her uniform, and goes on a drunken rampage.

As she glides haphazardly through the halls, she shifts wildly from lovey-dovey to tearful to enraged, all of those emotions centered on Ataru, whom she blames for looking for Ten before her. That said, Ataru isn’t the only victim of her electricity (or Ten’s fire): anyone in her path gets zapped. Unlike Matsuchiyo being neutralized, this skit ends without resolution, leaving us without a hungover Lum.

That said, the episode ends with a collective threat from three aliens who appear to be the self-professed nemeses of Lum, Ran, and Benten. They’re planning to attack the other girls, starting with Benten. Will they pose a serious threat to the status quo on Earth…or will their personality flaws be their undoing, like basically everyone else in the show?

DanMachi IV – 19 – No Time to Die

This week starts with a flashback chat between Ryuu and her diminutive colleague Lyra (a prum like Lili). Lyra warns Ryuu not to try to create the answer to “what is right” by gathering everyone else’s opinions, but to determine what that means for herself. Knowledge is a weapon, info is a friend, and wisdom is what is needed to use both to save others, and oneself.

At this point on the 37th floor, Ryuu’s only remaining purpose in life is to make sure Bell is armed with as much knowledge and information as possible so he can turn them into his own wisdom, just as she did. She is now the teacher Lyra was to her, and she’s able to come up with a plan Bell would never have thought of.

They can’t go around the coliseum—they have to go straight through it to reach the normal route and the stair to the higher floor. But with the monsters in the coliseum infinitely battling each other and re-spawning the instant they’re killed they won’t be able to fight their way through. So they wear a skull sheep pelt, cover themselves in barbarian heart blood, and try to sneak their way through the closest thing to hell we’ve yet seen in the Dungeon.

I was a ball of anxiety throughout the sneaking session, just waiting for one of the monsters to notice them (or for Bell to step on the pelt and expose them). Turns out the former happens when a skeleton grabs him, and from there it becomes a race to the other end of the coliseum before they’re completely overrun by the beasts zeroing in on them en masse.

When they reach a certain point, Ryuu asks Bell to go to the other end of the bridge and clear the way while she holds off the monsters on her side. Bell says “I’ll be right back” but after he kills the monsters on his end, Ryuu uses her wind magic to fly him to the other side of the bridge…and then collapses the bridge. She’s ensuring none of the coliseum monsters can get to Bell…and also sealing her fate.

When Ryuu contemplates her imminent demise and reunion with her long-lose Astrea companions, saying it was worth it if Bell survives, Hayami Saori does some of her absolute finest work. But unlike Ryuu, I had a distinct feeling Bell wasn’t sprinting as hard as he could towards safety. Instead, he ran all the hell the way around the coliseum to meet back up with Ryuu, and is ready with his signature Bell-Tollin’ Firebolt to deal with the monsters surrounding her.

When Bell unleashes that Firebolt and sets the entire coliseum and everything in it ablaze, he is making his ideals a reality, exactly what Arise told Ryuu is what true heroes are capable of doing. Ryuu misunderstood something crucial about Bell. No matter how scared he was or helpless he seemed, there was never any chance he’d let her sacrifice herself to save him.

I know Ryuu has a low opinion of herself for being the sole survivor of the extinction of Astrea, and many of the awful things she’s done since then. But for all her amassed knowledge, she didn’t have the wisdom to realize she wasn’t going to get one over on a hero, or that sometimes it doesn’t matter what you think of yourself, but what others think of you.

Bell considers her a dear friend and mentor, not an irredeemable wretch, and used the power he had to stop her from sacrificing herself. She can call him an idiot, but until she can start turning ideals into reality, she’d sure as hell better accept his idiocy, ’cause he ain’t changing!

Tomo-chan Is a Girl! – 08 – The End of Now

This week was a non-stop smorgasbord of excellence, starting with a girl’s sleepover in which Carol perfectly imitates Misuzu when Tomo won’t. That is to say, Sally Amaki perfectly imitates Hidaka Rina, while Takahashi Rie voices Tomo with her usual exquisite blend of haminess and sweetness. Sweet ham!

When Misuzu wins “King”, she orders Tomo to ask Jun to go to the fireworks together—just the two of them. They all go next door, Tomo asks, and Jun agrees easily, but also seems a little out of it to Tomo?

That night, as Carol snuggles with Tomo, Misuzu is almost on the verge of tears as she rues the day she ever set Tomo on a path that would only take her further away from her.

And yet Misuzu also quietly declares there’s “no going back”, and probably wouldn’t even if she could. That morning, she mysteriously wakes up right next to Tomo while Carol is sleeping peacefully in the bed.

Carol also invites Misuzu to join her and Kousuke at the festival, and while Misuzu doesn’t want to be a third wheel, Carol won’t let her be alone. That said, Kousuke demonstrates how easily Carol gets lost in crowds, and how quickly he’s learned how to retrieve her. Misuzu says he must “have it rough”, but Kousuke would never say or think that.

As for Tomo, she shows up looking so damn good in her red yukata, she is briefly too dazzling for Jun’s eyes, and she causes a sensation with the festival workers who can’t believe what a beauty she’s become. She and Jun-bo are notorious for winning every game they can throw at them.

And yet, as tough as Tomo is, she still freezes up when a couple of older guys try to chat her up. She makes the mistake of saying she doesn’t have a boyfriend, which only makes them more interested. But when Jun firmly pulls her away, the guys can just tell that a real Capital-C Couple is walking away.

Tomo starts to think that Jun’s shift in behavior is because he’s finally starting to notice her, but the truth is he hasn’t stopped noticing her since she confessed her love to him. Turns out he assumed she didn’t mean that kind of love. These two…I swear to God…

Tomo decides she’s going to try to confess again before the fireworks, but then realizes that when she does, it will be “the end of now, and the start of something.” That’s pretty damn poetic for Tomo! But it also happens to be true: not being quite sure exactly what “something” means, it’s always easier to settle back into “now”.

But “now” is already long gone for Jun, as after Tomo says goodbye to him, he admits that while he hasn’t quite sorted out all his feelings, he knows for sure that he’ll never be able to punch Tomo in the face again.

The next day at school, Tomo is full of long, restless sighs, as ever since the fireworks, Tomo has seemingly treated her with kid gloves, only grazing her shoulder with his pinky in the morning (which I agree is creepy!) She tells Misuzu and Carol about it, and Carol later tells Misuzu that exactly what she planned is going down…and Misuzu doesn’t want to hear it.

She may have helped facilitate Tomo getting closer to Jun, but she’s starting to regret it, in part since it could mean less Tomo for her down the road. It’s not clear whether Misuzu has romantic feelings for Tomo, but you could definitely interpret it that way.

Needless to say, she’s in a sour mood, which is not improved when the thugs who Tomo and Jun beat up before decide to target her. Her sharp, venomous tone and dark aura momentarily stun them, but alone aren’t enough to keep them at bay.

When Carol shows up, Misuzu tells the thugs that Carol “has nothing to do” with her or Tomo. As they start to escor Misuzu away, Carol whips out a stun gun and zaps the hell out of the thug leader. But when Misuzu takes her hand for them to escape together, Carol twists out of her grip…and faceplants in a mud puddle.

Misuzu and Carol hide out in a warehouse, where Misuzu says she only said she had nothing to do with Carol to protect her, and even says the truth is she considers her like “something of” a friend. That’s enough for Carol to forgive her and try to give her an enormous Carol Olsten bear hug. But it’s also enough to give away their position the thugs.

Fortunately, Misuzu and Carol don’t have to stew in terror for long, as that terror becomes the exclusive property of the thugs once Tomo and Jun arrive. Misuzu actually called Jun and specifically told him not to tell Tomo, but of course Tomo could see the murderous intent in Jun’s face (even Jun has an amazing face game this week!) and insisted on coming along.

When Jun makes it about him and accuses her of not trusting him to handle a few punks, she immediately corrects him. This isn’t about her not thinking he can handle himself. It’s about how completely against her entire being to sit around in safety while her friends are in danger. Her friends, her fight. Jun does smack one of the guys unconscious with withering nonchalance before Tomo yells at him to stand down and let her cook.

I hasten to add that Kousuke also learned that Carol was in danger and followed Tomo and Jun. While those to are fighting, he looks for the girls, and finds Misuzu helping Carol take off her wet muddy clothes. Kousuke assumes the thugs did something indecent to his Carol and Tomo and Jun have to work hard to keep him away from said thugs before Carol clears up the misunderstanding. I see you Ko-chan!

After the fight, Misuzu tells the others to buzz off so she can have a private chat with the defeated thugs. She explains to them that Tomo is the only daughter of the head of the Aizawa Dojo (whom they know to be a famous master delinquent) and promises the thug leader that he’ll be held personally responsible if any of the punks he’s gathered come near her, Tomo, or Carol again. It’s Mizusu at her most hostile, threatening, and scary.

Jun hangs back anyway to walk Mizusu home, citing the fact that scary she may be, she’s still a girl. Mizusu points out that so is Tomo, and immediately regrets it as Jun then starts talking about Tomo in a way Mizusu would rather not hear. She doesn’t want to hear it from him or “that squishy bitch”, which might just be the best nickname ever.

Balancing genuinely funny comedy with genuinely sweet romance and genuinely powerful drama…it’s just Tomo-Chan Is a Girl! and its immensely talented seiyuu firing on all cylinders.

Tenten Kakumei – 08 – Brother’s Keeper

Laine’s life has been one ordeal after another. First she was born a commoner, hardly the most desirable station in this world. When her parents died, she was sent to an orphanage, where her unconscious power caused her to attract the adoration of some and bitter resentment of others.

Then Baron Cyan adopted her, and before she knew it she was the Crown Prince’s handpicked bride. It’s that latter part she thinks back on while looking into her tea. She saw a poor girl fall in the street and thought There but by the grace of God go I. She also remembers admiring Algard.

She admired him because he vowed that when he became king he’d demolish the walls between nobility and commoners. But now, like Euphie before her, Lainie is feeling lost and useless, and Ilia is there to give her small comforts like tea and kind words of support.

But suddenly, that pleasant moment is interrupted by one of Anis’ alarms and the lights going dark. Ilia tells Lainie that the villa has an intruder, and quickly whisks her away to the safety of the castle. I already admired the hell out of Ilia for many reasons, but add to those the fact she doubles as a bodyguard!

And she’d be an effective bodyguard against most anyone…except royalty like Prince Algard, who brutally impales her with a spear of light and then snags Lainie up like a fish on a pole. He tells Lainie he won’t apologize, nor will he seek forgiveness, before impaling her through the chest as well.

We know what he’s after: her vampire magicite. It is probably what he’s been after all this time, but Anisphila once again ruined his and Lord Chartreuse’s plans by harboring Lainie. At this point he believes he knows what must be done, but also knows he can’t do it without stealing someone else’s power.

The post-lecture gathering goes on seemingly forever, with Anis totally checked out. Then Moritz approaches her and is extremely pushy in his apologies for what went down with Euphie. Then the alarm goes off and he physically restrains her, and his friendly mask drops.

Moritz is Chartreuse’s son and Al’s buddy, and his job is to keep Anis and Euphie here while Al gets the magicite. The plan almost worked too, because Anis and Euphie took a summons that amounted to an elaborate diversion as a sincere attempt to sway some of the magical ministers.

When Moritz starts raving about Princess Anisphilia suddenly going mad, Anis says eff it and unleashes her dragon power to force him to let go of her. When a magical attack is thrown her way, Euphie is immediately there to reflect it.

Just when it looks like the two are in for a protracted fight against the guards who are swayed by Moritz’s ranting and Anis’ odd behavior, Tilty steps in and immobilizes everyone but Anis and Euphie, allowing them to fly off without delay (this time with Euphie carrying Anis). Great teamwork all around!

They arrive at the villa courtyard where Ilia and Lainie lie bleeding out. Anis assures them both they’ll be fine. Euphie starts using healing magic but isn’t sure she can save Lainie, but Anis tells her to do her best and hopefully Lainie’s vampiric body will heal itself.

That said, with the magicite now in Algard’s possession, all bets are off. While Anis had a dragon tattooed on her back, Al goes the Final Fantasy Big Bad route and just shoves the magicite straight into his chest. After a little wrenching in pain, his eyes turn red, and he looks much more like an opponent to be worried about.

More distressing than what Algard has done is why he’s done it. At the end of the day, both he and Anis have the same basic vision for the kingdom: one where everyone will be on equal ground. Except in his case that will be achieved through the wielding of the absolute power the vampire magicite provides.

A life of waiting has thoroughly curdled Al’s personality, to the point where he’s not even going to try a peaceful or bloodless path to reconciling nobility and commoners; he’s just going to kill and subjugate who he needs to until he’s satisfied a new kingdom has been born.

It goes without saying Al doesn’t believe magic should be used to make people happy. He sees his magical ability and his position as heir apparent to the throne to be nothing but curses, so of course he has no problem exacting suffering on others.

On the surface Al’s your typical deranged villain who is probably going to end up destroying himself before being beaten by our heroes. But there’s a lot more dimension to him. I still find him a pitable man (probably the last thing he’d want to hear). For someone who says they’re abandoning emotion (like his genuine affection for Lainie), he seems awfully angry!

What I can’t say is exactly how much Anisphia contributed to the creation of the present villainous monster that is Vampire Bro Prince. Al truly hates her for having so carelessly cast aside her birthright, and it could be she spent so many years buried in her magicology she neither spent enough time nor kept a close enough eye on her increasingly troubled little brother.

Now, desperate for power, Al took a shortcut and stole it from Lainie. Can we really say Anis is any better for having killed an ancient and noble dragon and taken its power? I don’t know, but at least Anis wants to make the world a better place for humans the right way, with cooperation, understanding, and rad inventions.

But at the end of the day, if Algard insists that the one with the most power wins, then she’ll indulge him by using her power—which she is confident far outstrips his shoddily stolen vampirism—to stop him. It should be one hell of a battle.

Kubo Won’t Let Me Invisible Delayed

Well, shoot.

Due to Covid-related production delays, episodes 7 -12 of Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible have been delayed until April. So there goes our Tuesday pleasant palate cleanser after Vinland Saga. Alas, it’s good to know it will be back at some point to warm our winter-chilled hearts.—RABUJOI STAFF

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