In / Spectre – 16 – Honeymoon Period

Kotoko tells Masayuki and Yuki-onna that she knows precisely who the culprit is, and furthermore, that the police aren’t really seriously suspecting him at the moment, which explains why they haven’t been hounding him of late.

The reason? Evidence indicates that the victim Mahiru didn’t have any of her effects taken, and there’s every indication that she and the murderer had time to converse. In that time, she would have surely warned the murderer about the formal accusation she’d written up beforehand.

After all, Mahiru wasn’t trying to be killed, and would do everything she could to avoid that outcome. And if Masayuki killed Mahiru, he would have taken steps to obscure her identity and/or the location of her body. And the cops already all but ruled Masayuki out as a serious suspect after he was wishy-washy about his alibi, and unprepared to defend himself from the facts they’d collected thus far.

As for why it looked like Mahiru was trying to write Masayuki’s name on her hand? That was written by the true murderer after killing her. Before Kotoko says the name of the murder—Iizuka Nagisa—the name already pops up in Masayuki’s name as the only possible culprit.

Iizuka was the only one who sided with him when he was forced out of his company. She loved him, and murdered Mahiru and framed Masayuki so that he’d have no choice but to go to her for support. Sure enough, as Kotoko discuss this, Iizuka calls Masayuki, but he doesn’t answer.

Kotoko reveals that she didn’t deduce this from the mere facts of the case as they stand, but from the eyewitness ghosts who were at the scene of the crime when it occurred. They identified a woman that matched Iizuka’s description. If that’s “cheating”, Masayuki can hardly complain, as the information Kotoko gathered from the ghosts categorically clears his name.

With Masayuki’s name sure to be cleared and only a matter of time before Mahiru is arrested, Kotoko gives him and Yuki-onna her blessing—as long as they use protection! Kurou shows up shortly thereafter, terrifying Yuki-onna (as he tends to do). Kotoko then tells Masayuki and Yuki-onna to get lost and bone already, since they’re now in “the optimal mood.” Yuki-onna  scoops Masayuki up and flies them back home.

While riding a flying yokai home, Kotoko and Kurou talk about the case a bit more. Kotoko explains further how Mahiru had overplayed her hand. She wanted a suspected Masayuki in the palm of her hand, but ultimately didn’t go any further lest the consequences of framing him cause him distress. The two conclude that Masayuki has and may well continue to have horrible luck with women.

Even Yuki-onna, who has been good to and for him thus far, is still a thoroughly volatile yokai who could one day freeze him to death for a slight real or imagined. Kurou likens Masayuki’s plight with his own, not just where his ex and Rikka are concerned but with Kotoko. Kotoko is not amused by this remark!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

To Your Eternity – S2 14 – The March Begins

Princess Alme couldn’t afford to take Fushi at his word, but now that she’s witnessed his sundry good words across Renril, she has decided to trust him with her kingdom, capital, and palace. She takes him to meet her father King Boldron, but he’s not in his room. Fushi then senses intense pain and finds him on the balcony.

The king appreciates this stranger’s kindness, but he considers himself a “walking corpse” for which nothing more can be done. In the ultimate gesture that she can now trust Fushi completely, Alme removes the veil covering her face, and gives him her blessing to complete the preparations by dismantling and rebuilding the palace.

One must suspend one’s disbelief in the logistics of such an undertaking; even if it were imploded, the sheer mass of the palace would cause widespread destruction to the surrounding buildings. It’s fine though, it’s Fushi, and this is basically magic anyway. What’s different is that unlike those other buildings, there’s no hiding the palace being torn down and build back up. Fortunately, Fushi now has the trust of the entire city. He doesn’t have to hide anymore.

Pocoa returns to Renril with knights from Uralis, as well as Iris and Chabo. Much of the final days of preparation are from Pocoa’s perspective as she is starved for attention, particularly from men. But she proves a useful rallying voice for the troops, and also gets Kahaku’s Nokker to admit it is scared about what might happen if it departed from Kahaku’s left arm.

When Bon asks Fushi to replicate some of the anesthetic gas he used on the church at his own execution, he ends up passing out himself, which was Bon’s intention. He gathers Kai, Hylo and Messar and summons “Mister Black”, whom he deeps the true “captain” of the ship upon which they’re about to embark.

The Beholder, who seems annoyed Bon and the others can see him, insists he’s only there to observe Fushi, his eventual replacement. When Messar stabs him, the Beholder throws him against a wall and turns his sword into a crumpled paperweight.

Yet even knowing what a dubious entity has been guiding Fushi so far, the three lads (not sure why a woman isn’t among them), like Bon, have made their choice. Even when Fushi tells them they can still flee and save themselves, they tell him they have no intention of dying in this battle. They’ve all come from places of regret, and their intent now is to restart their lives.

Speaking of restarting: Fushi strategically places the empty bodies of his other vessels throughout the city so he can quickly transfer himself if directly attacked. As long as they’re connected to him via rope. they’ll be fine, he says. But when the Nokkers appear right on time (Eko is their early warning system), the resulting tremors cause March’s body to slide off the top of the wall…and the rope to slide off her wrist.

She lands in a bed of flowers…and opens her eyes. What Fushi had done before will the ill girl without knowing it, he has now done to her—March is back! It’s a big city, and Fushi and his friends will have their hands full simply stemming the tide of Nokkers assaulting Renril. But I can’t wait to see what happens when Fushi notices March is alive.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Eminence in Shadow – 17 – Moonlight Oriana

While sneaking away from his sister (by again flying out a window), Cid notices Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata being played in a concert hall. It’s Epsilon at the keys. Like Gamma and Beta, she’s using knowledge from Cid’s world to advance her position in this one. He doesn’t mind, and even compliments her figure, because he loves the Moonlight Sonata. And why the hell wouldn’t he? It’s the perfect theme song for Shadow.

He asks Epsilon about Rose’s whereabouts, but all she knows is that she is in the underground labyrinth. That’s all Cid needs to know. Alexia is already leading Beta down there, the former by now completely unconvinced that “Natsume” is a weakling. Alexia doesn’t know how fortunate she is that Beta is capable, because they’re heading into a totally unknown and potentially fatal situation.

When an exhausted and bloodied Rose catches her breath, we finally see what she encountered when she met with her father and Lord Perv. The king was clearly not in his right mind, and he and all of the assembled nobles and courtiers were under Perv’s control. Rose lashed out with violence, but now regrets that decision as a princess shouldn’t be so reckless and shortsighted (though considering that’s Alexia to a T, maybe they should?)

The nasty wound on Rose’s chest wasn’t caused by her pursuers; rather it is the early effects of possession; before long she’ll be consumed like Alpha & Co. were before they were freed from their curses by Cid. Just as Cid wishes he could have been there to see Rose go all “rock-n-roll”, Rose wishes she could get rid of Perv and his ilk, marry Cid, and live happily ever after. Now she’s not even sure how much longer she’ll live, period.

Throughout her monologue, which is spoken aloud, I kept thinking Cid would emerge from the shadows to tell her he still believes in her, still has her back. Of course that’s ridiculous; Cid would never act like that. Instead of emerging from the shadows, he appears before her in disguise as Shadow, playing Moonlight Sonata on the piano he borrowed from the concert hall. A gorgeous moonlike light suffuses the hall, and thousands of white feathers fall, all adding to the theatricality. Cid is killin’ it here.

Once the sonata ends, he stands up and asks Rose if she’s going to give up or keep going. Rose isn’t sure how. Shadow tells her he’ll give her the power to do anything and everything she needs and wants to do. With few other options, Rose accepts, and Shadow not only extracts the curse, but imbues her with power comparable to the Seven Shades.

Shadow doesn’t stick around, leaving a single black feather on the piano keys, because he doesn’t have to. Diabolos assassins arrive, but the newly supercharged Rose turns them all into red mist with a single slash of her sword. With this power, perhaps she truly can save her father, her kingdom, and all the other nations threatened by the Cult.

When she encounters Alexia and Beta, the former demands to know what’s going on, but Rose won’t tell her. She doesn’t want Alexia to get dragged into it, and telling her will do that. Alexia won’t take no for an answer, and starts a fight with Rose. While she fights better than Rose expected, she’s obviously no match for her.

Rose leaves an unconscious Alexia with Beta, who doesn’t offer any resistance and even expresses her support for Rose’s future ventures. Their alliance may now be shattered, but Beta suspects they’ll meet again. Beta is hardly one to question Lord Shadow’s actions—if he bestowed upon Rose the same power as her and the other Shades, he must’ve had a good reason.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

DanMachi IV – 15 – Hope Reforged

As Ryuu sleeps and dreams of the past, DanMachi is content to gradually inch us along a tale of unfathomable woe. Ryuu can only watch as her comrades—her family—decide to head down to the Lower Floors to investigate, unaware it’s an Evilus trap. Meanwhile, Bell successfully scares a skull sheep away. They may be ugly bastards, but they’re intelligent.

The reinforcement squad composed of Tsubaki and Ryuu’s former co-workers Anya, Runoa, and Chloe reach the 24th Floor and find it in shambles. Tsubaki correctly suspects a Floor Boss rampage, but whatever happened, they believe they’re too late to help. That doesn’t stop Anya from leading the charge to scale down the walls to the lower floors in order to meet up with any survivors.

Speaking of survivors, other than Bell and Hestia Familia, Bors is the only survivor of the Ryuu elfhunt. Aisha, Welf & Co. rescue him, but he is the bearer of bad news: he fears even Bell and Ryuu were among the massacred. Lili more than anyone won’t accept this, but it’s Aisha who calmly gets Bors to admit he didn’t see Bell’s corpse, and indeed saw Ryuu healing him. So the mission objective remains the same: find Bell and Ryuu.

But they’ve already met heavy resistance from all manner of lower-floor baddies, and Welf is down to one slash from his fire dagger. Remembering Hephaistos’ pep talk, he decides to set up an ad hoc workshop in a dead end where the familia is catching their breath. He uses the last swipe of his dagger to light his portable hearth and prepares to hammer out some adamantine he found along the way.

All everyone else has to do is guard the entrance to the area they’re in and make sure nothing gets to him, as he’ll obviously be a sitting duck while crafting. But considering they don’t have the weaponry to continue much further anyway, the best move they’ve got is to stay put and let Ignis cook.

To Your Eternity – S2 13 – Fushi for the People

With Fushi having to build quicker to make his daily quotas, he isn’t home a lot, so Eko decides to bring dinner she made to him. It tastes terrible, but it’s the thought that counts. While everyone else is keeping Fushi on task, Eko and Kahaku don’t want him to forget the little things that make us human. But while Fushi appears to be sleeping in his room, it’s just a dummy; the real Fushi is out rebuilding through the night.

One of Renril’s biggest remaining vulnerabilities is its underground water and sewer system, which has to be completely rebuilt to make it Nokker-proof. During this process, Eko notices the water is dirty, tracks down the source of the fouling, and alerts the proper channels, all without saying a word. She even pitches in with the demo work, one stone and plank at a time.

At this point Kahaku has taken on the role of house husband, keeping an Eye on Eko, cooking meals, and keeping the Booze Man’s house clean. He also continues to worry about how hard Fushi is working. Eko lures him home with a clay pot vision of a feast of all his favorites. While he’s initially disappointed to find hot pot instead, once he tastes it, he gives his complimnents to the chef—in this case Eko. It wasn’t her cooking that was bad, but the city water.

Eko’s hard work spurs Fushi to work even harder. Messar gets the princess to agree to extend Founding Day to a week to keep the bulk of the citizens in the festival area, allowing Fushi to rebuild the network of towering walls one by one. The more he builds, the more sensations—both good and bad—he feels. If he focuses too much on them, they overwhelm him. He realizes he can’t help anyone. There are too many people with too many problems big and small.

Fushi’s in a charitable mood the next day, when he agrees to take the fall for Cam in a fighting tournament so he can impress the girl he likes. However, stuff happens that attract the suspicions of the citizen soldiers and Fushi’s little favor to Cam nearly exposes him. That night, the soldiers decide to head out looking for the one doing all the building, wondering if its the Fushi demon the Church of Bennett condemned.

The soldiers end up catching Fushi in the act…of rebuilding a wall. Fushi accepts that he’s been caught with cool resignation—a kind of do your worst, ya ingrates stance. He also boasts that even if the church captures him again, he knows his way out of molten metal now, and will be free again in two days. But by shifting into various forms the soldiers all know, they realize it was Fushi who helped them and their loved ones all those times in the past days, weeks, and months.

The next day, an adamant Fushi decides to walk out onto the streets in his regular form, whatever slings and arrows come his way. But to his surprise, both royal knight and citizen soldier salute him, and he gets nods of approval and thanks from the other citizens. Bon and Messar flank him as he continues his walk, not of shame, but of honor. The people have spoken: if Fushi is a demon, he’s a demon on their side.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

In / Spectre – 15 – So Generous, It’s Creepy

This episode was an emotional roller coaster! It begins by rewinding from Yuki-onna’s request to Kotoko to the police detectives questioning Masayuki. Their reasons for suspecting him of murdering his ex-wife are numerous: Mahiru left a note accusing him should she die suspiciously; the beginning of his name scrawled on her hand; and camera footage of Masayuki with a woman that looks just like her.

The police have reasonable cause to suspect, but not arrest Masayuki, and his failure to definitively state he had no alibi doesn’t help his case. But what choice does he have? He can’t tell the police he was having tempura and drinks with a yuki-onna on the night of Mahiru’s murder. Why, they’d think he was nuts…even though it’s the truth! Days pass and the police don’t bother Masayuki again, but it’s still looknig bad.

Then Yuki-onna, who was present in rabbit form for the entire talk with the police, asks him if she looks like his ex-wife, and he admits that she does, so it was Yuki-onna in the camera photo. Hers was the face of the one person in his life who didn’t betray him, but he admits he felt bad for marrying for whom he was otherwise unsuited.

Masayuki decides he’ll head out and try to find the real culprit, but Yuki-onna tells him to wait, and when he keeps going with a full head of steam,. she freezes him in his tracks—literally! 

Yuki-onna correctly diagnoses this as Masayuki being impatient and restless and wanting to prove his innocence at any cost, but with no leads and nothing to go on, the best move is to stay put, eat some food, get some rest. Then she remembers that her Ladyship, the Goddess of Wisdom, is just the person to solve this case, so she reaches out to her.

Yuki-onna flies Masayuki deep into the mountains to a cave where Kotoko is waiting. Rather than her going right into the particulars of the case, Masayuki gets a better taste of who Kotoko is, namely someone still quintessentially human despite her status as a goddess to supernatural beings near and far. That’s because Kotoko is upset that Kurou blew her off and she had to get cold pork cutlet from the local konbini.

I was so happy to see my favorite goddess of wisdom meeting my new favorite human-yokai couple, about to dish out the solution to their problems. But that’s where the roller coaster starts hurtling down to the earth, as Kotoko points out that not only does Yuki-onna’s wishy-washy sense of human time make her a poor alibi, but Masayuki might have capitalized on that poor sense to manipulate her into trusting him implicitly.

With Yuki-onna’s unwavering trust, Masayuki could kill his ex-wife one night, have tempura with Yuki-onna, and say they were doing the latter on the night of the murder, thus making him look innocent in her eyes and persecuted by the police. He could even convince her to kill the business partners who betrayed him.

Kotoko is so precise (as always) in laying out this theory that it even had me questioning if Masayuki really did have such a diabolical plot in motion, and had pulled the wool over Yuki-onna’s eyes with food, drink, and companionship. But you know who didn’t suspect Masayuki, even after hearing all this? Yuki-onna herself. She prostrates herself, says Masayuki has a truly kind heart, and demands that her Ladyship reconsider her stance.

Kotoko responds to Yuki-onna’s display by making it clear she’s all too aware that Masayuki isn’t the culprit, and that everything she uttered about otherwise was a lie. Among the reasons she trusts Masayuki? He’s been refusing Yuki-onna’s sexual advances! If he’d wanted to gain her trust quickly, he’d have swept her off her feet.

While Kotoko’s theory of Masayuki being a yokai-manipulating criminal mastermind was harsh and at times cruel, it was still crucial for her to say what she said, so she could enlighten Masayuki to the fact that Yuki-onna trusted him so much, she was even willing to defy her goddess for his sake.

By underscoring the courage Yuki-onna demonstrated for him, Kotoko hopes Masayuki will make the effort to regain some of his own courage. Even if this criminal investigation is all tied up with a neat bow and he gets off scot-free (as he should), Kotoko suspects that won’t be the end of Masayuki’s troubles.

A new start is in order. Masayuki owns up to being terrified of interacting with people—that lack of interaction is why he doesn’t have a human alibi—and tenderly gathers Yuki-onna’s cold white hand into his to thank her for going to bat for him. As for the true culprit of his ex-wife’s murder? Naturally, Kotoko already knows that too!

Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World – 03 – Swiss Army Mitsuha

With all of Mitsuha’s intricate preparations complete, all that’s left is to get chummy with the nobles of this world. When she’s stopped at the gates for lack of appointment or invitation, she improvises. She pretends to have been struck by the Count’s sons’ carriage, and they bring her right into the manor. This way, their first interaction is one in which they have done her wrong and owe her amends.

Once she’s “recovered”, Mitsuha formally introduces herself as “Mitsuha von Yamano” of the distant land of Japan. Her story is that she was separated from her traveling companions and her life was in danger, but she was saved by the people of this land. She offers a Swiss army knife of all things as a token of her gratitude, and her hosts are impressed by its craftsmanship.

That night she wows them with an evening gown and pearls, which while the cheaper cultured kind, are deemed so perfect by the Count’s wife Lady Iris that she goes on a tirade about how they can’t possibly exist in this world. She also meets the Count and Lady’s two sons and daughter, all younger than her, and explains the true reason she’s here was due to a succession dispute in her land.

Freed from that dispute, and from the titles and riches of her homeland, Mitsuha is determined to start over and make her own way by opening a general store in the capital. Mitsuha manages to appeal to Lady Iris by offering her “priceless” necklace because she reminds her of her own mother. She also tells them that all proper ladies in her country are trained in the “knife arts” and carry a blade on them at all times.

As the night goes on, Mitsuha continues to entertain her hosts over tea with her stories and ideas about how they can boost their flagging crops, her ambition on full display. The Count notes how it’s so fun chatting with her he’s lost track of time, and when she accidentally knocks over her cup, she’s suddenly reminded of a real interaction she had with her parents back when they were still alive. She realizes that she never truly wept for her lost family members, and finds herself unable to hold back genuine tears.

After how the interactions with her brother were happening in her head for mostly comedic and expositional purposes, it was surprisingly touching to see that this interaction with another family made her yearn for her own, and properly grieve them for the first time. And even though that wasn’t her intention, it only supported her calculated plan to gain the nobles’ trust and affection.

The next morning they send her off on a carriage to the capital with attendants with both the financial and moral support to get her empire started, with the understanding that she’ll always be welcome in their home. It’s a win-win-win situation for Mitusha “von Yamano”, and her future is looking bright!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Eminence in Shadow – 16 – Gesundheit!

With one third of their alliance suddenly a fugitive, Alexia and Beta ponder what do do about it. Alexia wants to get at it, but Beta warns caution. At this point in their frenemy-ship Alexia can tell Beta is putting on an act, and doesn’t like how Beta is keeping stuff from her. But in the end, Beta is looking out for the headstrong Alexia, not just as a friend, but as Lord Shadow’s Number Two.

While Cid departs from the arena as himself in order to get into character for his match, an elf woman passes by him, and can smell elf on him. She asks if he knows any, particularly one that looks a lot like her. Her name is Beatrix, and she is Alpha’s aunt. But Cid isn’t about to tell a stranger about Alpha’s whereabouts. While likely no match for her niece, Beatrix can handle herself with a sword, but Cid puts on a weak, normal guy act that she buys.

Two warriors who don’t quite buy Mundane Mann’s act are Annerose and Quinton, who compare notes. Quinton admits he hasn’t been able to actually see what Mann is doing to win his battles, only that he knows he’s doing something. Annerose can see, but only for a scant moment.

For instance, in Mann’s fight against the Unbeaten Legend Goldy Gilded, he cracks his neck to avoid a fatal blow and throwing the strutting golden peacock into a rage, promising Mann will never get another chance to beat him. He charges at him again with his ultimate Golden Dragon Sword attack, but Mann sneezes and Goldy is knocked out by his own momentum.

Annerose can’t quite believe what she’s seeing, but also can’t dismiss Mann’s moves as mere luck or coincidence. That said, her running commentary to Quinton is so farfetched that he storms off not believing any of it, and looking forward to his fight with Mann. Left alone, Annerose finally cuts loose a bit, cracking her neck and sneezing in rhythm before realizing she’s practically surrounded by spectators, blushes and flees.

As for Princess Rose stabbing her husband-to-be Perv Asshat, when Princess Iris visits the lord, he seems perfectly fine. Meanwhile, Rose’s father the kind looks very much not fine.

The heavy implication here is that Perv has him on some kind of drugs and/or under some kind of brainwashing or hypnosis. In any case, Lord Perv does not seem like a savory guy, and certainly not someone I’d want someone as awesome as Rose to marry!

Speaking of awesome, Annerose confronts Mann after he easily handles Quinton, to tell him that she’s “seen his evervy move” and warn him that those same moves won’t work against her. She may be several orders of magnitude stronger than Quinton or Goldy, but she’s no Mundane Mann. Still, I love how she basically bluffs in order to try to get something from her next opponent (she has no idea about his true ability).

And it works, kinda! Cid removes his armguards and when he drops them on the ground they’re so heavy they make craters in the concrete. In the funniest moment of the episode, Annerose counterattacks with an adorable neck crack and self-satisfied smile—both of which are met by Cid simply shuffling away. I love how in addition to being stoic as hell, she’s also a delightful goofball. She should have sneezed too!

The fact Perv is uninjured and also seemingly controlling her father tell me that Rose is on the run because she tried and failed to stop Perv from whatever he’s scheming, and Perv framed her for assault, a crime for which even a princess can be severely punished.

As such, she’s on the run. It also tracks that Rose wouldn’t want to burden Alexia and Beta—possibly her first and only friends—with her personal issues, but she should know better. Hopefully she doesn’t have to suffer this ordeal alone for much longer.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

DanMachi IV – 14 – Towards the Sunrise

As she and Bell take turns keeping watch, Ryuu begins to experience flashbacks to when she met Alise and was part of Astraea Familia. It’s a reminder of all the people she’s lost, but also a rallying point for her: she’s going to make sure Bell survives this, even if it costs her her life. It very nearly does too soon when three beasts attack, but Bell wakes up in time to kill the one Ryuu isn’t able to.

Meanwhile, much further up, both Mikoto and Haruhime announce that not only are they not dead, but their spells give their comrades the opportunity and power boost they need to finish of Amphisbaena. Mikoto demonstrates what a fool I was to think being underwater and surrounded by piranhas would be enough to do her in, by casting her biggest spell yet: Futsu no Mitama, which freezes the boss in place.

While it’s not clear how Haruhime survived the brunt of the boss’ breath attack, she’s able to dig deep and cast Uchide no Kozuchi. Ouka, who had used an ice ramp created with the last Welf’s magic sword to climb up into the ceiling of the chamber, brings his axes down on one of the boss’ heads and slices it clean off with Kokuu, while Aisha leaps right up to the remaining head’s mouth and unleashes a mega-Hell Kaios.

Cue victory fanfare…or rather a few blessed moments when the party is able to catch their breath. Aisha tends to Haruhime and Chigusa and Ouka tend to Mikoto, who are unable to walk. Then tremors begin, and the entire cavern threatens to collapse on top of them: the “coffin” from Cassandra’s premonition is still in play. Aisha and Daphne urge the party to flee up to the 24th floor like Turk and his team.

Cassandra, however figures out that “towards the life-giving sun” doesn’t mean a person or a place, but a cardinal direction: East, the direction of the sunrise. That happens to be through a recently opened tunnel down to the 26th floor. Daphne doesn’t believe Cassandra’s premonitions, but after Cassandra pleads with her and sheds tears, Daphne decides to believe Cassandra, the person.

Lili and Welf were already prepared to descend in order to locate Bell, so now everyone is in agreement. And with absolutely no time to spare, either, as the party witnesses what would have happened if they had gone the way of Turk & Co. The branches they were climbing collapsed, and then they were buried in stone, crystal, and plant debris.

It’s the rare instance where the 26th floor is a lot safer than the 25th, because it’s the place where they’re all still alive. They’ll have to keep descending quite a bit to get close to where Bell and Ryuu are. Perhaps they can meet in the middle? But I don’t want to forget what an impressive boss victory the party managed to pull off without Bell.

That win should give them confidence that, even in their weakened, battered state, as long as they stick together, they have a chance to find Bell and Ryuu and make it out of there.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

In / Spectre – 14 – Youkai Alibi

In/Spectre can really spin a good yarn. This week we meet Muroi Masayuki, who is pushed off a mountain by his best friend. As he lays contemplating his imminent death, a spunky yuki-onna (Yuuki Aoi) pays him a visit. She’s not there to kill him, though she does think long and hard about it when he knocks her looks!

Yuki-onna subverts Masayuki’s idea of her kind by building an conjuring an igloo around him so he’ll last the night, then flying him down the mountain in a princess carry, all for half of the cash he’s carrying. Once back in town, he’s able to walk in on his former friend lying about what happened and finger him for attempted murder.

Eleven years pass, and Masayuki moves back to the town by the mountain where he met the Yuki-onna. As luck would have it, he doesn’t need to search far for her, as she’s enjoying soft serve in human form. When he tells her about the time he met a yuki-onna she’s initially furious he broke his vow of silence, but he’s sure she’s the same person, so he technically isn’t.

Masayuki is coming off a divorce from a woman who cheated on him and tried to kill him, as well as the hostile takeover of his company by another former friend. Understandably distrustful of future human interactions, he sought her out. Yuki-onna is eminently interested in human food and drink (and cars!), so he agrees to buy her booze and cook for her at his bachelor pad.

An adorable, mutually beneficial friendship ensues. The connection to the In/Spectre we know finally comes when Yuki-onna speaks glowingly about her lady and Goddess of Wisdom, Kotoko. Yuki-onna cleared befriending Masayuki with Kotoko, and even got approval for sexual relations with him should things go that way (as long as they use protection!)

The good vibes suddenly sour when detectives come to Masayuki’s door to inform him that his ex-wife has been murdered, but that’s where Kotoko comes in. Yuki-onna reports that she knows for a fact Masayuki wasn’t the culprit because she was with him at the time of the murder. The problem is she can’t go to the cops and Masayuki can’t say the source of his alibi is a yokai.

It looks to be a fascinating case, and one that has a lot more resonance now that I’ve come to know and become quite fond both Yuki-onna and Masayuki. They make a surpassingly cute and charming couple whose playful banter and cozy chemistry rivals Kotoko and Kurou, and if anyone can get this out of this legal dilemma, it’s the Goddess of Wisdom.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

To Your Eternity – S2 12 – Biting Down Hard

Last week gave us insight into Kai’s past and why he wants to help Fushi. This week we get the same with his other two new allies, Messar and Hylo. Turns out Messar is casual with Princess Alme because they once played that reversi-type game together as kids. Alme promised to give him anything he wanted if he beat her, but he never got to as he was shooed away as a servant’s son.

When Booze Man!Fushi rebuilds the waterwheel building, he gets offers from impressed and amazed citizens hoping he’ll rebuild their houses as well. Because both the new building and Booze Man’s house are extensions of Fushi, eventually the whole of Renril will be of Fushi as well, and thus far easier to defend from Nokkers.

Fushi finds Hylo sparring with the citizen soldiers in order to gain their trust, and Fushi can sense he’s taking and concealing a huge amount of physical punishment. Hylo tells Fushi that as a child he had his teeth pulled and was isolated from the rest of the world, with only his adoptive mother as a companion. The reason for this is that the church believed he was possessed by a demon.

Due to having complete control over his life and upbringing, the Supreme Pontiff made Hylo a holy soldier, but Hylo vowed to free himself from that charge at the nearest convenience, which is why he’s now with Fushi. One of the citizen soldiers, Cam, listens in, and is brought into the fold. He doesn’t like Fushi’s insistence that no one but him fight. The people want to fight and protect what they love.

Fushi now understands Kai and Hylo better, but what of Messar? To Fushi it looks like he just lazes around playing games. But Bon tells Fushi that Messar must have ties to the royal family, as they met and became friends at a gathering of nobles twenty years ago.

The reason Messar is so focused on playing the game (and having Kai teach him how to win) is that he remembered Alme’s promise, and decides to cash it in now. He doesn’t want the throne, he only wants the princess’s trust. So they play. For her part, Alme is happy Messar remembered the promise, and to be able to play with him again.

Messar ends up beating Alme, and she grants him her “trust”, which translates to the crown convincing the population and coordinating demolition so Fushi can rebuild at a faster pace. Still, Alme insists that real trust only comes with time and actions, not won or lost bets. To this, Messar walks up to her and blows her veil away, revealing her beautiful face, much to her chagrin.

Messar then reveals to Bon that he’ll never be king, because he and Alme are half-siblings and he’s the king’s bastard son. He’ll never tell Alme this, so Alme may continue to harbor romantic feelings, but if their brother and father die, he’s determined to be the one to protect her, hence his alliance with Fushi. Less than three months remain until the Nokker attack, but preparations are progressing smoothly.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World – 02 – Sweating the Details

Once Mitsuha determines the products from her world that would do well in the new one, and learns that the village is ruled by a local lord, she decides it’s time to move on to bigger and better things. That means saying goodbye to Colette and her bone-crushing hugs, but she promises she’ll return someday.

While aboard the horse-drawn carriage out of the village, Mitsuha realizes that not only is she not appropriately dressed to credibly pass as a merchant, she also stinks from having not bathed in while, so she returns home, washes up, slips on her business suit, and gets down to business.

Before Mitsuha even starts wheeling and dealing in another world, she’s determined to be prepared for any threat that might befall her. To be fair, that’s the right move; she’s all alone in that world, and fairly petite besides. So she uses her cash savings (which she’ll be able to replenish with gold coins) to get the best self-defense and marksmanship training money can buy.

The show really goes into intricate detail describing and animating the types of weapons she’ll be handling, which I guess speaks to the fact the original creator is a gun otaku. At no point does Mitsuha explore non-lethal forms of self-defense, and even gets into a philosophical debate with the memory of her brother, a stalwart pacifist.

After more gun training and research on feudal societies, Mitsuha procures a scooter with which to get to the village more efficiently, but is almost detected by a group of adventurers. She transports back into her room, scooter and all. I enjoyed how the episode got into the nitty gritty with details like this.

And while I wish Mitsuha weren’t so gung-ho about labeling enemies she doesn’t even have yet as less than human and vowing to eliminate them without mercy by pumping them full of lead, the fact that she’s a stranger in a strange and unpredictable land (and the last surviving member of her family) still stands.

Once she prepares a selection of goods from her world and procures a bespoke wardrobe that’s appropriate to the style of the other world, Mitsuha transports over and is finally ready to do business. So far her charm, humor, practicality, and ambition make her an appealing lead. Hopefully would-be thieves or brigands will steer clear, because they are not going to want her smoke!

The Eminence in Shadow – 15 – Riding the Wave

One thing that keeps me coming back to Eminence is that it’s just plain fun as hell watching Cid having fun. And with the Sanctuary arc all wrapped up and the Bushin Festival gearing up, he’s having a ton of fun this week in particular.

It’s also fun watching his idea of fun, which isn’t just to sign up for the festival and obliterate everyone. Nah, there’s an order to this, and he wants to build up some mystique. Gamma gives him a new face and identity for this purpose: the on-the-nose “Mundane Mann”.

Between his weak look, wan complexion, poor posture, he becomes an immediate target for stronger fighters to warn him off the festival, starting with the very polite and to-the-point Annerose, one of the favorites to win it all. She tells Cid to back out now to avoid permanent harm.

Cid asks her to kindly not judge a book by its cover, but when a much larger Quinton picks a fight, Cid exercises discipline and doesn’t show his hand. He lets the guy wail on him, which is free marketing for how unlikely a champion this Mundane Mann guy is.

Annerose asks Quinton to stop lest she step in, and apologizes to “Mundane” for letting things get so out of hand. She says it’s better for him to get his ass beat now than enter the Bushin Festival and suffer even greater pain from certain defeat.

But when Cid simply hops back up and strolls away, Annerose is confused; even after being beaten on by that guy for that long, he doesn’t seem hurt at all! It’s a subtle but very effective strategy by Cid to get Annerose thinking maybe there is something to this weakling.

Since Bushin is held in Rose’s hometown, she and Cid end up bumping into each other at a fountain, after Cid has a thorough chat with Skel regarding betting over “Tuna King” burgers. Rose reports that she, Beta (in her alias as Natsume Kafka) and Alexia have become fast friends.

She also says she has a prior engagement: her father is going to introduce her to her fiancé Perv Asshat (what a name). She’s not looking forward to it. But she’s determined to live her live as a dark knight, something she’s always wanted to be since she watched a younger cid fighting those brigands years ago. That’s right: Rose met and fell for Cid far earlier than she realizes—and she wouldn’t be the knight she is without him!

The next day, the preliminary matches begin, and Cid tags along with Skel as the latter continues to bore him with his betting strategies. Skel does end up attracting another fighter, Goldy Gilded, the Ever-Victorious Golden Dragon (Skel murders the name many times.)

Goldy tells Skel that he assesses fighters and assigns a “power level” to each of them. Cid slips away to take a dump, and moments later Mundane Mann arrives. Goldy doesn’t think much of Mundane, giving him a scant 33 versus over 1,300 for his opponent.

And yet, in the blink of an eye, Mundane’s opponent is out cold on the ground and Mundane is the winner, which means he’ll be Goldy’s next opponent. Goldy is confident, and Annerose is intrigued by what she (and likely no one else) saw—Mundane delivering a devastating double punch to the loser’s chin. All of this is just what Cid wants to create more anti-hype with a tinge of mystique.

The next morning, however, Cid’s fun looks destined to be curbed, as Skel bursts in with a newspaper article alleging that Rose stabbed her fiancé and ran off. I don’t think that’s what Cid meant when he suggested that she “relax”! I know Cid is pretty indifferent towards most people, but maybe it’s different with Rose? Will he try to track Rose down in time to make his match with Goldy?

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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